HERVEY BAY, QLD. – If there was a long tow award given at the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s, Frank Packer would be a shoo-in.
The Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod driver calls Hervey Bay in Queensland, on the east coast of Australia, home. He’ll end his latest extended racing vacation to the United States by racing at Super Nationals for the first time.
“I like the close competition. All the cars in this class are fairly even and that’s what attracted me to it,” Packer said. “I originally planned to race about 25 times but now it looks like we’ll be able to get in more than 30 nights.”
He’s a teammate of Modified driver Jon Snyder and has lived with Snyder’s parents in rural Boone since arriving in the United States in June.
“I helped John at Super Nationals last year,” Packer said. “When we got there the track was flooded. There was water everywhere. I was impressed with how they got the track ready, the number of cars, the driving style, the number of people camping, everything there.”
Their travels this season have included weekly stops at Marshalltown Speedway, Boone Speedway and Southern Iowa Speedway and trips to special events at 141 Speedway and Luxemburg Speedway in Wisconsin, Hamilton County Speedway and Hancock County Speedway.
Packer’s best feature finish was third, at Marshalltown on July 10. He was a heat winner at Boone on Aug. 1.
“That night at Boone was one of my highlights this season,” Packer said. “I’ve always wanted to race here and to get a heat win was really satisfying.”
Packer started racing a production sedan, similar to a Stock Car, at the age of 17. He took time off from the sport after starting his own plumbing business.
Now 54 years old and retired, he’s made nine visits to the US and taken in races ranging from Sprint Cars at Knoxville to NASCAR to southern-style Late Models.
What caught his attention about IMCA was the rules and the emphasis on affordability.
“It’s unbelievable how many races I get on a tire here. Tires are $260 each back home,” he explained, adding a plug for the work done on racing surfaces here in the states.
“Australian tracks are usually shorter than Boone. The surface at my local track is decomposed granite, which is more suitable for motorcycles,” Packer said. “When you race here, you pretty much know what the track is going to be like from hot laps to the heat and then the feature. Back home, track prep is more of a crapshoot.”
He’ll start the journey home to Australia on Sept. 14 and has already made plans for coming back to Boone in 2016.
“I’ll do it all again next year, the weekly shows, Wisconsin and Britt,” Packer said. “What I don’t know yet is if I’ll be in a Modified or a Northern SportMod. I’ve talked to Chase Allen and he wants me in one of his cars.”
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