Tight and technical is how driver John Lodge jnr describes the Newcastle 500 supercars track.
The champion speedway driver won his way onto the starting grid in the V8 Utes at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
“I am so nervous,” he said.
“Just to be in Newcastle for the race is enough for me. But now I have a lot of friends and family coming and everyone is watching me.”
The technical driving required for the city track is different to his usual fast-paced speedway course.
“It is definitely not my usual scene,” the 28 year old said.
“A lot of different driving techniques and the way you approach the track is a lot different.
“There are more corners and way more stuff to go wrong. It looks pretty tight and technical.”
The Sawyers Gully local has stopped in to check the track out himself in the lead up to the race, hoping to get an insight into what is needed on race day.
On Sunday all of his driving skills will be put to the test, but this moment would not have been possible without a surprise birthday present from his father.
“I was rapt when dad said he had entered and paid for me to go in the Aussie Driver Search as an early birthday present,” Lodge said.
“I thought that’s pretty cool, I’ll have a go, but never thought it would progress any further than a great day out.”
Lodge ended up qualifying fourth of five drivers from the NSW section at Eastern Creek on October 2, then progressed from the top 15 to the top eight and then the final three.
Australian V8 Ute Racing Series leader and three-times champion Ryan Harris judged the final 15 and narrowed down the would-be drivers to Lodge.
His prize, a start in Harris’ 2016 Ford V8 ute in the final race of the 2017 Australian series at Newcastle on November 26.
“I didn’t expect anything. I’m speedway driver I never thought I’d have a chance. I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d do go that far.
“I was just driving a ute, that’s what I do.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.