While their individual plans for the 2019-20 season were quite different, it seems the stars have aligned for 360 Sprintcar drivers Shaun McClure and Dan Evans, who have decided to commence a partnership that has already seen Evans steer the McClure family-owned machine throughout multiple events.
Having often competed against each other in the Wingless Sprints class prior to moving into 360 Sprintcars, the rivals turned teammates always had a bit to do with each other at the track and had kept in touch over the years, paving the way for what would later become an encouraging pairing.
Stepping into 360 Sprintcars in 2016 after three seasons in Wingless Sprints, McClure experienced varied success. However, it seemed to be plagued with ongoing engine problems that came to a head midway through the 2018-19 season, sidelining him just as he was finding his feet with setup and increased pace.
Making the decision with his dad Paul and uncle Allan Mason to strip the engine down and rebuild it on a budget, McClure struck gold when renowned engine builder Bryan Galley offered his expertise to the father and son, while John Sidney also assisted with identifying mechanical gremlins.
It was a message from Evans, who had planned to spend the 2019-20 season on the sidelines, that sparked McClure to offer him the driver’s seat.
“Dan and I always got on great and we were always willing to lend a hand to each other in terms of setup advice, so it’s great to have him in our car,” commented 30-year-old McClure, from the small town of Irymple near Mildura, Victoria.
“We’ve been lucky that Dan fits in the car without any modifications, which has made things easier, and coming from the same racing background, we have a similar driving styles but Dan has been able to find some added speed.”
Getting off to a challenging start and struggling to find the setup during their practice session, Evans travelled to Mildura’s Timmis Speedway with Paul and Mason for the second All Stars Series round and things were looking up, with a win in his second heat race and an outside second row start for the feature race.
Despite becoming involved in a crash on the opening lap, causing significant damage to the car, Evans still managed to cross the finish line in sixth place.
Carrying some pleasing form into another series round at Murray Bridge Speedway, Evans lined up fourth for the feature race, but once again fell victim to another first-lap incident, ultimately being relegated to rear of field. On the restart, Evans stuck to the low line, making quick work of many of his rivals as he went from 14th to an impressive fourth.
Following some additional changes to the car, the team arrived at Horsham’s Blue Ribbon Raceway only to find that more work was required as the engine wouldn’t fire. Working tirelessly on the tools, Evans made it out on track, eventually earning another fourth-place start for the feature race.
Wasting no time in taking control of second place, Evans quickly caught up to series and race leader Michael Tancredi, pipping him for first place and looking likely to claim the outfit’s maiden victory. However, the mechanical dramas aboard the Chev-powered VA # 8 Viking Projects Concreting and Bobcat Services supported U-MAX Maxim Chassis dashed their hopes yet again.
“We’ve been picking up some strong results at each of our race meetings, but some bad luck and mechanical woes have prevented us from finishing feature races,” explained Evans, a 23-year-old from Lyrup, SA.
“I’m still learning the new car and engine package, but so far I’ve been qualifying better in Shaun’s car than I was in my own. It would have been nice to get the win at Horsham and we definitely have a top-three car, we just need to avoid the bad luck and try to get the mechanics under control.
“I have to say a huge thanks to Shaun for giving me the opportunity to race his car as I wouldn’t be on the track if it weren’t for him, along with Paul and Allan for their help at the track. There’s a great family vibe within this team and we’re having a lot of fun.”
Taking each race as it comes, the team plan to continue the season together, hoping to bank as many All Stars Series points as possible. Their next outing will be this Saturday night for a club show at Murray Bridge Speedway, followed by another All Stars Series round at Timmis Speedway the week after.
McClure and Evans are proudly supported by the following 2019-20 season sponsors:
Viking Projects Concreting and Bobcat Services
Mallee Performance Oils
Fast Print Studio
Savage Shots Photography
Total Equipment Solutions
Hoosier Tire Australia
To find out more about the McClure and Evans duo, follow their progress by joining their Facebook group: JAMR.
Photo: Shayne T Wright Photography