Achieving one podium result in a title event is good, but collecting two in the space of just four days is fantastic, and that’s exactly what Lee McKinnell did during the recent Australian and Queensland AMCA Nationals Titles.
While he hasn’t raced much since stepping back into the AMCA Nationals class early last year, McKinnell, who is the son of four-time Australian AMCA National Title holder Shane, has proven on several occasions that a lack of track time isn’t much of a hindrance to him.
With just three race meetings under his belt prior to the title events, each of which took place at Brisbane’s Archerfield Speedway, the 23-year-old racer, who came home second in his first appearance of the season, was relatively confident heading into last weekend’s Australian Title at Toowoomba’s Hi-Tec Oils Speedway.
Sitting an impressive third in points following what was a consistent run during night one’s qualifying, a fourth-place finish in his remaining heat race the following night saw McKinnell start the feature race from the inside of the fourth row, where he had the difficult task ahead of catching the leaders .
Making the most of his start, McKinnell was full throttle off the starting line, making his way into fourth place during the opening laps. Well and truly earning his result by battling for position and passing each of the cars in front him throughout the middle stages of the 40-lap distance, McKinnell pipped Tony Blanch for second place with just eight laps remaining, managing to fend him off to greet the chequered flag as the new Australia # 2 driver.
Still on a high from this result as he prepared to contest the Queensland Title just four nights later at Archerfield Speedway, the pilot of the Qld # 85 Hooked on BBQ Trailers supported 350 Chev powered Kempy car, which is owned by Thomas brothers Darryl and Max, qualified seventh for the 30-lap feature race.
Similarly to his Australian Title assault, McKinnell wasted no time in making up spots as the feature race got underway, powering into third place during the opening five laps, and doing well to remain there through to the fall of the chequered flag, once again sharing the podium with fellow Australian Title podium-getters Matt Hardy and Tony Blanch.
“It’s been a pretty amazing week for us with two podiums in our last two title events and we are very pleased with the results,” enthused McKinnell, who ran second in last season’s Queensland Title, which also took place at Archerfield Speedway.
“I can’t say thanks enough to Darryl and Max (Thomas) for once again giving me the opportunity to race their car. The track was tricky over the Australian Title weekend, but the car was consistently strong. These results are a great reward for them, as much as the rest of my hard-working team.”
From the town of Jimboomba in Queensland, McKinnell’s introduction into speedway racing came via the Junior Sedans class, before stepping into AMCA Nationals, where he spent three seasons which were highlighted by running second in a NSW Title and third in a Queensland Title.
Later making the move to V8 Dirt Modifieds, where he piloted another car owned by the Thomas brothers, McKinnell’s standout results during his two and a half seasons included winning a round of the Mr Modified Series at Lismore Speedway and placing 10th in Australian Title at Rockhampton Speedway.
Playing the rest of the 2018-19 season by ear, McKinnell looks forward to hopefully contesting a full schedule in the 2019-20 season. His next major event appearance for this season will be the NSW Title at Gilgandra Speedway on May 4.
McKinnell would like to thank the following 2018-19 season sponsors: Hooked on BBQ Trailers, Kempy Race Pipes and Chassis, and Motorsport Wraps. Special thanks go to his dad Shane McKinnell, car owners Darryl and Max Thomas, and Luke Gaerte.
To find out more about McKinnell and his team, LIKE them on Facebook by searching McKinnell Motorsport.