For this week’s Where Are They Now piece, we have caught up with former V8 Supercar racer and 2008 V8 Ute Racing Series Champion Layton Crambrook, who kicked off his motorsport career on the speedway dirt tracks in the Northern Territory.
How did you get involved in speedway?
I’d grown up around speedway and both my dad, Rick, and my uncle, Kevin, started out by racing Fender Benders.
Then what happened?
I started racing at the age of nine and a half in Junior Sedans. My first season wasn’t much to talk about. After that, the next three seasons I won just about everything, such as the Darwin Titles and Darwin Club Championships. When I was 13, I was able to special dispensation to step up to seniors and race Street Stocks. In 1996, the National Title was held at Arunga Park Speedway in Alice Springs and I ended finishing fifth in the feature race. I stepped into Sprintcars at the age of 15, when we ran a Paul Quinlan-owned Gambler. Half way through the first season my family purchased our own car from Geoff Murphy in Western Australia. I ran the Sprintcar for about two seasons.
What was your speedway highlight?
Being able to race against my dad and uncle in the one class was a fond memory. Another one was after finishing fifth in the National Street Stock Title despite having a mechanical issue (my dad ended up finishing in second) aboard my XD Ford Falcon. I came out the following weekend at Arunga Park Speedway and won the ‘Dash for Cash’. It was great to come out the next weekend with all the big shots from the National Title still around and pick up the win. The Dash for Cash paid $2500 to the winner. Another highlight was finishing third in the 1997 Northern Sprintcar Territory Title behind Ryan Farrell and Warrenne Ekins.
What was your lowlight in speedway?
I’d have to say when I was running second in the feature race during the final round of the Northern Territory Sprintcar Trail in 1997 at Arunga Park Speedway. I had spun to the infield and then came back onto the track and was t-boned by NSW-based racer John Shore. A lot of people said it was one of the biggest crashes they had ever seen. Unfortunately, it turned out to be my last ever drive in any form of speedway car.
Why did you get out of speedway competition?
During my final season of speedway I was doing road racing in HQ Holdens. As soon as I had done the required amount of race meetings for my log book and had turned 17, I started in V8 Supercars. My goal was V8 Supercars and with the commitment that was required for them I had to step away from speedway all together.
What happened after your time in speedway?
I ended up running V8 Supercars for a couple of years before the costs just became too much and I couldn’t do it anymore. After V8 Supercars, I stepped away from motorsport in general and back into HQ Holdens in 2005. From 2007, I competed in the V8 Ute Racing Series for a total of three years. I won the 2008 title and I was unfortunate to miss out on back-to-back wins, due to a so-called technical breach that turned out to be an incorrect call, which cost me the overall win. At the beginning of 2010, I contested the opening V8 Ute Racing Series round in Adelaide before I pulled out of the remainder of the series, due to a falling out with our major sponsor. From there, I had stepped away from motorsport competition.
Would you make a speedway return?
I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, as it’s a great sport and one that I thoroughly enjoyed as a youngster. A few years ago, there was an opportunity for me to run a couple of Sprintcar race meetings back in Darwin, but that didn’t eventuate due to my V8 Ute Racing commitments at the time.
What are you doing these days?
I enjoy spending time with my family, along with my work commitments in the pool industry. Recently, I stepped back into HQ Holdens and I’ve been having a lot of fun.