Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Nathan Herne says he soaks up every second with Marcos Ambrose as he gets to grips with the speedway scene.
Herne made his Sprintcar debut yesterday at Carrick Speedway, his qualifying laps marking the first time he’s set foot in a winged 410 Sprintcar.
The 19-year-old progressed through the night and lowered his best time by several seconds at the end of the event, but eventually suffered a puncture in the final race.
Nonetheless, it was a productive day for Herne who relied on former NASCAR driver Ambrose.
“Marcos, he’s a top guy, he’s been around the block a couple of times,” Herne told Speedcafe.com.
“He’s one of Australia’s most experienced guys in all forms of motorsport and he’s taught me a lot.
“I’ve only known him for a short time and he’s only really been there as a mentor for a short time in my career so far, but the lessons and knowledge I’ve learned from him are that money can’t really buy.
“I’m lucky to have him in my corner. He’s sort of the king of Tasmania. He knows a lot of guys here.
Herne is no stranger to speedway at all, having grown up watching his father on the dirt.
Despite his desire to race, the speedway circles were reserved for his sister while Herne had the asphalt all to himself.
Having recently joined the fold of Garry Rogers Motorsport as the team’s competition director, Ambrose decided to set up the speedway program for Herne.
“Working with GRM now, Marcos came and worked with us shortly before the last COVID lockdown,” Herne explained.
“We were just in a dining room and talking about racing in general like you do, and I was telling him about my family history and the speedway and how I grew up racing paddocks bashers.
“I always wanted to speedway but never had the chance. My sister forbade me to speedway because it was her thing with dad. So I was never allowed to do it, I was glued to the asphalt.
“I saw the cogs turning in his head and then I was called to a meeting with him, Garry and Barry about a week later and said they wanted to put me in a Sprintcar and try something different.”
Herne’s first success was an eye-opening experience.
More used to the S5000 and TA2 cars he has driven in recent years, Herne said he was surprised by the grip offered by the Sprintcar.
“It was very different, it was completely the opposite of what I expected,” he said.
“I thought the car was going to try to keep turning on me and turning around.
“I did a lot of laps in the basher paddock at home before coming here. I went back to Lismore to see my family for Christmas and spent the whole day doing laps around the paddock.
“I was worried about the wrong thing. I was afraid it was going to revolve around me but it was so planted.
“My first session I looked like an absolute Gumby I think. After the first session I understood and trusted the wing and the grip of the car and really started to drop head and think about it.
“I had enough people there to teach me. Even being able to beat a few locals who also made five rounds here, overtaking them in the hot laps was pretty cool.
So far, Herne has completed all 21 laps on earth.
Tonight he will have his second hit-out at Latrobe Speedway where he hopes to build on his first crack.
“I’m learning at a rate that I certainly didn’t expect,” Herne said.
“I expected to be a bit offbeat, especially this first meeting.
“I really impressed myself and a lot of other people at the Tasmanian speedway.”