In an AMCA Nationals class that’s dominated by the Panther brand of race car, Daniel Brooks has certainly held his own throughout the 2016-17 season, showing great speed aboard his custom-built Evolution car.
After making the decision to build his own custom race car with good friend and crew chief David Harrison, a project that was 12 months in the making, the Bothwell, Tasmania-based driver managed to debut his new car at the beginning of this season. Off the back of achieving an impressive hat trick of Tasmanian Titles at Carrick Speedway, Brooks then chose to travel to the mainland in order take on the best of the best at a number of blue-ribbon events.
While his mainland campaign didn’t start in the best of fashions, suffering a disappointing DNF while defending his NSW Title at Gilgandra Speedway, after winning last season’s running of the event at Narrabri's Newton Park Speedway, Brooks managed to bounce back a fortnight later.
Taking a huge chance in what was a largely un-trialled car, Brooks made the long trek to Western Australia to contest the Australian Championship at Kalgoorlie International Speedway and came away with a fifth-place result.
Heading to Esperance Speedway the following weekend for the Western Australian Title, Brooks continued to improve, qualifying on the outside of the front row for the feature race and making the best of the start to take the lead, before being forced to retire due to heartbreaking gearbox issues.
The South Australian Title at Waikerie’s Sunline Speedway saw Brooks perform strongly throughout his qualifying heat races to once again line up in the second spot for the feature race. However, the run of bad luck continued, with Brooks being forced to retire on the opening lap, due to mechanical dramas.
Despite his ongoing hardship, it’s been a fairly positive 2016-17 season, with Brooks having collected six feature-race wins, including the Mark Triffett Memorial at Carrick Speedway and the Northern Rivers Classic at Lismore Speedway, as well as finishing runner-up in the Andrew Walker Memorial at Grafton Speedway.
“Having taken a big gamble with our custom-built car, we definitely exceeded expectations this season in terms of speed and consistency throughout qualifying, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with the mechanical issues we encountered,” admitted the 27-year-old racer, who is running a 253 engine and a quick-change differential, while a number of his fellow competitors are currently running Chevrolet engines.
“In saying that, our performance throughout the season is really encouraging, particularly having gone up against the country’s best drivers at some unfamiliar tracks on the mainland. I have to say a huge thanks to David (Harrison) for helping me build the car.”
Having spent seven seasons in AMCA Nationals, Brooks has previously won two State-wide Series, as well as Track Championships at both Carrick Speedway and Latrobe’s Gulf Western & Independent Oils Raceway. Before beginning the endeavour of building his own chassis, he previously ran an Alexander chassis, built and owned by fellow Tasmanian Marcus Alexander.
Last season saw him reach new heights in the class, after broadening his experience by racing on the mainland and winning the NSW Title, as well as qualifying for the Australian Championship-deciding feature race at Lismore Speedway (NSW).
Next season, Brooks will be focusing on contesting more racing throughout the mainland and hopes to improve on this season’s results by potentially claiming another title victory.
Brooks would like to thank the following 2016-17 season sponsors for their continued support: Toxfree, The Carpet Company, Visualise Kerbing & Concreting, Dobson’s Monumental Works, Coventry Mechanical Services, Motorsport Solutions, DB Welding & Maintenance, Reggie Motortech, Gunn Fabrication and Kempy Race Pipes. Special thanks go to the Harrison brothers Dave and Matthew, Kodie (cousin), Matt Bellette, Shane Newstead, Ann Clarke, and the rest of his family and friends.