Let’s chat – Jamie McDonald

Quick fire questions
Years racing: 27 years
Home track: Western Springs
Feature wins: 66 Feature wins
Classes raced: Quarter Midgets, Three Quarter Midgets, Midgets, Six Shooters, Sprintcars
Sponsors: Hikoki NZ, J A Russell Ltd, Gearwrench, KBL Earthmovers, Marley NZ, Lee Design, KP Tanks, Lucas Oil NZ, Chemz NZ

When did you start racing and how did you get into it?

My Father and Uncle started racing when I was 8 years old, and this began my interest in racing. I started racing Quarter Midget when I was 9 years old.

What classes have you run over the years?

I started in Quarter Midgets and then moved into a TQ Midget and then onto Sprintcars. I have also had opportunities to race Midgets and Six Shooters occasionally.

What are you most proud of in your racing career?

I am most proud of building great long-term relationships with people who have partnered with us to sponsor our race car. Its because of these relationships we have been able to field a top Sprintcar team year after year.

What titles have you received while racing?

I have been fortunate to win every SNZ Sprintcar Title in the country (NZ Title, NI Title, SI Title & NZ GP) as well as placing in them numerous times. We have won a total of 66 Feature wins which include 2 Gold Cups, 2 Western Springs Track Championships, winning the Barry Butterworth Feature from the back row and many more other races.

What is your all-time favourite track to race at and why?

I would have to say consistently it would be Ruapuna Speedway in Christchurch. The track always produces great racing. It is an expensive and long trip to Christchurch, but the promotion, track and fans keep us coming back every year and make it worthwhile. Everyone down there goes out of their way to make us feel welcome!

So, tell us about your retirement a few years ago and why you decided to come back?

For starters it was never retirement it was only a break. I had been racing for 27 years in a row and really wanted to take a year off to spend some family time and freshen up. It was probably the best thing I could have done because when I came back, I enjoyed/appreciated the racing even more.

What are you currently doing in the off-season and how do you prepare mentally and physically for this sport?

Because our off-season is so long you naturally get more and more excited for the coming season, and you have plenty of time to go over what worked and what did not and prepare mentally. I have always trained at the gym every morning before work mainly because I enjoy it, but nothing beats laps and seat time to get race fit. It normally takes a couple of shows to settle in again after the off-season.

What do you hope to achieve next season?

I hope to win every race I enter. Specifically, I want to improve on a few things from last season and have a few personal goals around that.

What characterises to you think is important to becoming successful in racing?

Determination, hard work and a never quit attitude. Obviously, you need some natural ability but that only gets you so far.

What is happening with your car in the off-season any major changes we should look out for once the season starts?

Plenty! At the end of last season, we sold everything! The race car, truck, trailer, pit mule and spares all went out the door, so we decided to re-invest in the sport that we love and have gone about building a whole lot of new stuff. We will be running a NZ made chassis this year manufactured by Harris Race Cars which we are really excited about.

Speedway racing can be fast and dangerous, looking out towards the fans, what do you think is one thing the fans will never understand until they are behind the wheel of a race car?

I think what most fans would not see or understand is the amount of work required before you even get to be behind the wheel. Building a Sprintcar and the necessary equipment with the right bunch of guys is no small task and the maintenance required between race meetings is massive. I respect anyone who makes it to the racetrack to compete because I know what is involved.

What is your favourite race on the NZ race calendar?

I always enjoy boxing night at Western Springs because of the big crowds and great atmosphere. It is a buzz seeing the stadium full and everyone enjoying the racing.

Who do you admire most in motorsport and why?

I have never been much of a fan boy in general but without a doubt it would be Scott Dixon. Hands down an absolute legend and someone I really look up to for what he does on and off the track.

You now have a little fella of your own Jackson; will we eventually see him out racing on dirt?

Jackson has been riding his dirt bike since he was 3 and (he is now 6) and loves it. If he wants to race one day, I will definitely support him but also if he didn’t, it wouldn’t worry me one bit.