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Words with Cam Waters: Getting down and dirty

Monster Energy V8 Supercars driver Cam Waters reflects on his two-year journey into the world of Late Model speedway racing – and how it helped him become the driver he is today.

Words with Cam Waters: Getting down and dirty
Cameron Waters
Cameron Waters
Cameron Waters
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Mark Winterbottom, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford and Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia

In a way I grew up with speedway. My dad did a lot when he was younger, which meant it was a part of my younger years as well. But in terms of my actual racing, as a junior for me it was all about asphalt.

I never did any dirt racing at all when I was younger. I started karting on bitumen, to Formula Vee, to Formula Ford, to the Dunlop Series – pretty traditional.

But when I got to the Dunlop Series – which is the second-tier V8 Supercars championship – in 2014 we started to look at Late Models as something to compliment my V8 programme.

What got us into Late Models is that every Easter there is a big race meeting at my hometown in Mildura. A couple of years ago my Dad and I were there watching and we got chatting to some competitors… and it started from there.

I was racing in the Dunlop Series, and it’s only seven rounds for the year, so we were looking for something to give me a little more seat time. Late Models looked to be the best bang for your buck around, so that’s the path we took.

I raced the Late Model in 2014 and 2015, the two years I was racing for Prodrive in the Dunlop Series. It just complimented my Dunlop Series programme. It was so good to be able to drive something else, and fill in those big gaps in my calendar.

Craig Vosbergen and his family from Perth was instrumental in it all. They are the Rocket chassis importers, so they hooked me up with that, and gave me a lot of support with the car. We couldn’t have done it without them, I owe them a lot of thanks for that.

Culture Shock

A Late Model has 750 horsepower and weighs around 950 kilograms – so it is quicker than a V8 Supercar!

To race one of them, with that much power on dirt, it was really good for car control, and for seat time. So it was a smart move. And I really loved the experience, it was fantastic fun.

When I first jumped in a Late Model, yeah, it was massively different to what I’d been used to. But at the end of the day, there were enough aspects that were similar to what I knew as well; you’re still driving a car, your still trying to get in and out of the corner as quick as you can. Sure, you’re on dirt and the track is always changing, but there were still some similarities.

The biggest thing with dirt racing is that you’re always changing how you drive the car based on the track and the set-up. Even through a heat, through a single race, the track can change two or three times. You’ve got to change how you run, and you’re always looking for grip.

I think that’s helped my asphalt racing quite a bit. Even in a V8 Supercar you’ve always got to be thinking about how to get the most out of the car, and sometimes that means changing your driving style to maximise it. The speedway racing helped me realise that.

Speedway teaches you plenty about race craft as well. You have to be pretty aggressive in Late Models, or you’re going to get walked over. You’re always door-to-door, and you’re nearly always sideways, so you have to learn how to race closely. That’s another lesson you can take from speedway to V8 Supercars – how to run close to another car when you’re right on the edge.

That’s what speedway is all about. It’s a tight track, and you’re in a big car. And it’s all happening very quickly.

It’s always good to learn another discipline of motor racing. Look at someone like Shane van Gisbergen; he does all sorts of things, even drifting. Whatever he can drive, he drives. It all helps.

Focussing on V8s

I had a bit of success in the Late Model, too. Just before we sold the car I won the South Australian Championship, so it was a nice high to bow out on.

When I got the full-time promotion with Prodrive for 2016, I decided to step back from the Late Model stuff. I was basically doing it all myself, including the preparation and set-up.

If you want to be competitive in any form of motorsport, you have to dedicate time to it. Ahead of a race there was a day or two grooving tyres and doing all that kind of prep. And then there was another few days afterwards just in cleaning and general maintenance.

It would have have been too much for me to keep doing it, because my V8 Supercars programme has gone from seven Dunlop Series rounds, to 15 or 16 events. I just don’t have the time, and the main V8 Supercars series has always been my dream. I have the chance to do it, and I want to take it with both hands and do it properly.

So it meant I had to say goodbye to the Late Model car. Hopefully one day I’ll come back to it, because it was great fun. Maybe I’ll get the chance to drive a Sprintcar – that’s something I’ve always had my eye on.

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About this article

Series Supercars
Drivers Cameron Waters
Teams Tickford Racing
Author Cam Waters
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