DRAG racing is certainly a strange hobby for a man who makes his living from crafting headstones.
But across the 2015/16 season Ballarat drag racer Matt Forbes again proved his worth behind the wheel by claiming his first Australian National Drag Racing Association’s modified championship.
“I got to 18 and realised some of the cars I had were probably a bit fast for the street so I thought I better take it to a safe environment.”- Matt Forbes - ANDRA modified champion
The 42-year-old had been a two-time champion of the Sportsman Drag Racing Series’ Super Gas category in his 1957 Chevrolet Corvette, but made the switch to the modified competition in search of a fresh challenge.
“There was a lot of racing going on in some other classes,” Forbes said. “We’ve had a ball and pretty much cleaned up all season.”
The $100,000 American built dragster utilised by Forbes had proven to be the difference between the Ballarat team and his competition in what was Forbes’ first season driving the pointy-nosed car.
The 1200 horsepower vehicle is one of the few dragsters which features suspension, and is capable of hitting 300 kilometres an hour in just over seven seconds.
Forbes said the addition of elite equipment was just one of the many factors needed to take out amateur drag racing’s most coveted prize.
“Excellent equipment, an excellent crew, a good driver, preparation, and a little bit of luck, “Forbes said. “Without one of them you don’t win.”
The father of three who grew up in Wendouree was a collector of cars from a young age, with a passion for GT Falcons, Monaros and Toranas.
“My family has always had a lot of cars but the high performance side of things was always me,” Forbes said. “I got to 18 and realised some of the cars I had were probably a bit fast for the street so I thought I better take it to a safe environment.”
Through sponsors Forbes has also been able to travel to the U.S annually to compete against some of the best in the business. Forbes will now look towards July where he will contest the modified category again, which will kick off in Alice Springs.
“Now we get to wear the number one next season, which will let people know we’re coming to race but it will also put a target on my back.”
Between now and then the Ballarat businessman will take some time away from the car to focus on the cemetery. Forbes started Ballarat Memorials five years ago with a friend, and describes the work as “fantastic”. “It’s like working in the botanical gardens,” Forbes said of the somewhat morbid job.
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