The Toyota 86 Racing Series is the amateur platform aspiring Aussie drivers have needed for so long

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    Cameron Hill came out on top in Townsville. (Image supplied by Red Agency)

    Growing up with a father who spent most of his free time either tuning cars or racing them, my passion for motorsport was always a foregone conclusion. I remember, as a kid, the first time I sat in the cockpit of one of dad’s track cars; it absolutely cemented my obsession.

    Last weekend I had the opportunity to rekindle this passion once more when I was offered a ride in the passenger seat of a Toyota 86 Racing Series car, while V8 Supercar driver Steve Owen powered it around the Townsville 400 street circuit.

    As I sat in the bucketed racing seat, fully harnessed, helmeted, and grinning with childish glee, I experienced first-hand the root of motorsport’s appeal for so many fans and drivers alike: sheer, unbridled fun.

    Expertly piloted, the Toyota 86 ate up every corner and negotiated every hairpin with aplomb. While we coursed through the street circuit at a pace hotter than the blood that audibly thumped about my head, I could feel my heart had established temporary residence somewhere within my throat.

    Townsville 400 street circuit

    The Townsville 400 street circuit is an exciting layout for drivers and spectators alike. (Image: Shaun Glover)

    This raw excitement is the impetus that propels so many toward amateur racing and beyond. It’s motivation enough for thousands of motorsport enthusiasts around Australia to spend every spare hour preparing for weekend track days.

    It’s said that luck is created when preparation meets opportunity; fortunate then that initiatives like the Toyota 86 Racing Series (now in its second year) are growing as a platform through which Australian motorsport enthusiasts can capitalise on their preparedness and embark on professional racing careers in earnest.

    In a testament to the opportunities the series affords aspiring drivers, Will Brown, who took out the championship last year, has this year moved into the Dunlop Super2 series, considered the feeder class for the V8 Supercars.

    Cameron Hill driving Toyota 86

    Cameron Hill rocketing his 86 toward a first-place finish in qualifying. (Image: Shaun Glover)

    At Townsville last weekend it was 20-year-old Cameron Hill who established dominance, netting a clean sweep; he led every lap, took pole and won both races. I had the chance to catch up with Hill, after he qualified in first by a series record margin of 13.2 seconds.

    “It’s great to have Toyota’s support, and the series has just gone from strength to strength,” he said.

    “The cars are a fantastic platform and the budget is by far the most affordable at this level of motorsport. They do everything well that the standard 86 does, as well as a bit more thanks to the racing kit on them.

    “They’re a good platform to introduce young drivers to a style of car that will be similar to the cars they’ll drive later in their careers.”

    Declan Fraser

    Declan Fraser is the youngest driver in the series, at 16. (Image supplied by Red Agency)

    It’s exciting to see these amateur racing drivers’ dreams of professional success become realities. Historically, the barrier to entry into professional motorsport has always been significant, both from financial and accessibility standpoints.

    Every Australian motorsport fan is keen to see this issue remedied, and there’s no doubt the Toyota 86 Racing Series represents a huge step in the right direction.

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