For this week’s Where Are They Now piece, we have managed to track down three-time NSW Speedcar Champion Aaron Benny.
Firstly, how did you get involved in speedway?
I was born into the sport, as my dad Gordon raced Speedcars throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s – he even had a few cameo appearances during the 1980s and 1990s while I was racing. A lot of kids went to church on a Sunday, but my church was the speedway track on a Friday or Saturday night.
Why did you choose Speedcars?
I always wanted to go Speedcar racing and follow in my dad’s tyre tracks. Prior to stepping into Speedcars as a 16-year-old during the early 1980s, I had competed in motocross and gymkhana competition on two wheels. My first opportunity came from a guy named Ron Madden, who was someone my dad had briefly driven for and Garry Rush also had his first drive of a Speedcar with Ron.
How were your early days in Speedcars?
I was juggling my university commitments studying marine engineering and doing a handful of race meetings with Ron Madden a season. We were running an older car that was powered by a Volkswagen engine but despite the budget restraints I was competitive enough to keep at it. During this period, guys like Peter Craft, Ian Saville and Bob Campbell made appearances in the NSW # 12 car when I was unable to drive the car.
By the late 1980s, you really stepped up and by the early 1990s, you had amassed quite a lot of achievements, what were the standouts for you?
After finishing with Ron, following his passing in the late 1980s, I went out and bought my own car and still ran the NSW # 12 car to honour Ron’s memory. By early 1990, I had upgraded my car and it turned out to be the first owner of a Beast chassis in Australia. I was based at Parramatta City Raceway and would travel to major events, such as the Australian Championship, when my budget would allow. The highlight of my career was winning three NSW Titles, which all took place at Parramatta City Raceway. In all my NSW Title wins, I certainly had to work for them and in two of them I had to come from the back of the field. These wins weren’t handed to me, that’s for sure.
Is it true that you once had an opportunity to go Sprintcar racing?
Yes. That is correct. In the early 1990s, I had some preliminary talks with Peter and Richard Craft to run one of their Grizzly Sprintcars. I had said to them, I wanted to do a few race meetings to see if I could do it before committing to a full season. However, the talks broke down and that was as far as it got.
Tell us about your trips to America?
I visited America on two occasions. My first trip was in 1990 to do some sight seeing and to drink beer. The second trip in 1993, I did a handful of Midget race meetings in Wisconsin. As it turned out, my last ever Speedcar race meeting was during that trip in America.
Why did you get out of Speedcar racing?
By 1993, I had become really frustrated with all the politics within Speedcar racing. The early 1990s was a really difficult time for the class and there were several things that didn’t sit well with me. I’ve never been a real people person, and I think during my time in Speedcar racing that worked against me – as there were a lot of occasions when I got the rough end of the stick when it came to officials and their rulings. As I always said, when it’s not fun anymore then it’s time to get out, and that’s exactly what I did.
Benny (inside) battles with the late Joe Farrugia (middle) and Steve Brady (outside)
Photo: Rob's Race Photos
What did you do post retirement from speedway competition?
When I stepped away from speedway racing, I focused on my work as an engineer within the family business. In the early 2000s, I decided to move into the motorsport side of data engineering by firstly starting with MoTec, before moving into V8 Supercars with Dick Johnson Racing and then Brad Jones Racing.
One final question, what are you up to these days?
I moved away from the motorsport side of things with the data engineering about 10 years ago, and I’m now 55 years old and am driving a truck for a living. When I moved into V8 Supercars in the early 2000s, I moved to Queensland and I’ve been here ever since. A few years ago, my dad and I bought a Speedcar, which was a Hawk powered Spike, and we had firstly New Zealand racer Caleb-Antonio Rooney and then Queenslander Scott Doyle drive for the 50 Lapper events at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway. Last year, we ended up selling the complete car to Sydney’s Cameron Ware. Dad and I might buy another car shortly and get back out there with another driver, but who really knows at this stage.