Supercars rookie Bryce Fullwood is relishing local support, his mum’s cooked meals, and a chance to race at his home circuit in Darwin for two weekends straight.
Fullwood is the only current competitor in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship from the Northern Territory.
The championship heads to Hidden Valley Raceway once a year. However, in 2020, the circuit will host back-to-back rounds due to disruptions to the calendar caused by COVID-19.
For Fullwood, it’s a major moment in what is his first full season as a Virgin Australia Supercars Championship competitor.
Having won last year’s Dunlop Super2 Series crown, Fullwood stepped up to Supercars with Walkinshaw Andretti United.
Since his signing earlier this year, the home town event has been a highlight of the calendar he’s been excitedly awaiting.
However, there was a period where Fullwood was worried he might not have a home race after hotspot declarations by the Northern Territory Government threatened to detail the event.
“Obviously I’m super pumped,” Fullwood told Speedcafe.com.
“That was something that I was really looking forward to when I got the gig at the start of this year, knowing that I was going to get to race in Darwin in front of a home crowd.
“It was sort of a little touch-and-go if you like over the last couple of weeks whether we were even going to get here or not.
“I was anxiously waiting to find out if we were going to be here, but I’m super excited that we’re finally here.”
The 22-year-old said he takes pride in being the only driver from the Northern Territory, which comes with significant local support.
“One of the coolest things for me is being the only Territorian, I’m the only one where this is my home event,” he said.
“It feels a lot more special for me. I’m very, very excited about that. I’m just so happy to be here and in the main series.
“I have a lot of support in Darwin and as I’ve gone up the ranks more and more people have become aware.
“We have a pretty strong motorsport following in Darwin. It’s a pretty big event usually. I must say, I do have a lot of support up here and I’m pretty lucky that I’m the only Territorian driver.”
Now based out of Melbourne near the Walkinshaw Andretti United workshop, Fullwood only has a few opportunities every year to see his family up north.
The coronavirus pandemic has made that tougher, but the double-header in Darwin has given him valuable time to spend with his family.
He did, however, get a bit of a surprise when he arrived home late last week.
“I’m at home in my bed and I’ve got home-cooked meals again,” said Fullwood.
“It was pretty funny, I walked into my room where I used to have all my trophies and it was bare.
“Since I’ve been away dad has built a little room to watch me race and he’s raided all my trophies and put them all in there.”
COVID-19 mitigation rules mean that Fullwood won’t be able to have his family at his side at the two Darwin events.
They’ll watch from the sidelines this weekend and will have a supporters event at his home on the following weekend.
“It’s a bit of a bummer not to have them in the garage,” said Fullwood.
“They like to be at as many events as they can.
“They’re going to come to the first one and the second one, they’ll have an event at home with friends and some of my sponsors who have helped me through my career.”
Performance-wise, Fullwood said he’s pleased to be sitting in 16th overall and be the leading rookie ahead of Jack Smith (P20).
He also finds himself just behind Penrite Racing driver Anton De Pasquale, who is in his third year of full-time competition.
For Fullwood, it’s been a reversal of form after a slow start to the season at Adelaide saw him record finishes of 21st and 17th.
Since then he’s claimed a season-best seventh at the most recent event at Sydney Motorsport Park.
“Adelaide was a really bad event for me,” he said.
“I felt like I really put my worst foot forward. Coming out of Sydney, I feel a lot better in that I felt like I was able to show what I could do a bit more.
“If you had told me that I was going to get a top 10 finish this early in the seasons I would’ve told you you were kidding yourself.
“Looking at where the other rookies are as well, I’m really happy with my progress.
“To be P16 in the championship and just behind Anton is massive for me.
“After the last round, I looked at the championship standings and saw the person in front of me was Anton and I was like ‘far out’ he’s pretty handy behind the steering wheel.
“To be up there mixing it with those guys and racing a bit higher up than that in some races.
“I feel like with our recent form we might be able to go up from there.
“Even still, I’m just really happy with how everything is going, learning the car, learning the team, just hoping we can keep going forward.”
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship begins a four-weekend run of events this weekend with the Darwin Triple Crown.
Rookie Practice gets underway at 10:10 local time/10:40 AEST.