In what was his first hit out in almost three months, teenager Rusty Hickman returned to the driver’s seat in strong fashion during last Friday and Saturday night’s 410 Sprintcar doubleheader at Darwin’s Northline Speedway in the Northern Territory, capping the weekend with a pleasing result.
Having not raced since his Easter Trail campaign back in early April, Hickman, from Bendigo in Victoria, could be forgiven for being slightly out of practice as he took to the 400-metre clay track in Australia’s Top End for last weekend’s doubleheader event; however, he proved that his time on the sidelines wasn’t enough to prevent him from standing on the podium.
“It was great to get back behind the wheel after nearly three months of no racing,” commented the 18-year-old racer.
“Although our weekend wasn’t without its challenges, particularly on night one, the team and I were rapt with our overall speed and performance over both nights.”
While the opening night of competition ultimately didn’t deliver Hickman with the result he was hoping for, experiencing a disappointing DNF in the 20-lap feature race after a collision with the wall which resulted in minor damage to his car, consistency wasn’t an issue throughout the night, with him having won his opening heat race and placed fourth, from a position 10 start, in heat-race two.
Determined to bounce back on the Saturday night, Hickman set the pace from the outset, recording the quick time in hot laps and going on to win his opening heat race. A fourth-place finish in his second heat race was enough to earn him a front-row start for the 20-lap feature race.
Slipping back to fifth in the opening handful of laps, Hickman was able to regain his composure during the middle stages of the race, making his way back up to third and holding off his rivals to claim a well-deserved podium finish; a feat which he was quick to credit to his supportive parents: Sandie and Darren.
“I have to say a massive thanks to mum and dad for their support and help throughout the weekend,” expressed the pilot of the Maxwill powered Vic # 40 Hickman’s Tree Maintenance / Peerless Products Pty Ltd supported J&J car.
“A number of our regular crew members weren’t able to travel to Darwin for the weekend, so it was just the three of us, and it was awesome to be able to reward them with a podium result.”
Last weekend’s minor podium result has come at the perfect time for Hickman, who is planning to return to Northline Speedway in mid-August to participate in the hotly-contested Chariots of Thunder Sprintcar Series, which will be fought out over two doubleheaders on August 17-18 and August 24-25.
“This event at Northline Speedway has been a great lead up to the Chariots of Thunder Series next month in terms of getting some laps at the track under my belt,” he added.
“The series attracts some of the best Sprintcar drivers in the country, so it certainly won’t be easy, but I’m hoping to be able to build on last weekend’s result and be able to enjoy a consistent run over the four nights of racing.”
Unable to compete in the upcoming Northern Territory Title at Northline Speedway on August 10, due to work commitments, Hickman’s next hit out will be the opening night of the Chariots of Thunder Series on the Friday night of August 17.
Hickman is proudly supported in the 2018-19 season by: Hickman’s Tree Maintenance, Peerless Products Pty Ltd, Victory Lane Racegear, Tasco Petroleum, Mobil 1, Choice Graphics, Jackal Fencing, Beeps Auto Parts – Bendigo, Advanced Engine Dynamics, Camden Signs, and J&J Auto Racing. Special thanks must go to Sandie and Darren (mum and dad), Amy and Olivia (sisters), and Frog, Jett Speed and Ricky Clarke (crew members).
To find out more about Hickman and the Hickman Motorsport team, LIKE them on Facebook by searching Hickman Motorsport Vic 40.