In a sport where competitors often peak in their late teens, a 56-year-old Narrandera entrepreneur is eyeing a prestigious world title.
Trevor Whitby, who runs Betta Electrical stores in Narrandera and Leeton, flies off to Brazil next month to represent Australia in the planet’s premier karting event.
“I know I’m the oldest competitor in Australia. I’ll soon find out if I’m the oldest in the world,” he said.
Whitby recently placed among the top five in the Australian Rotax Pro Tour circuit, which earned him qualification as one of 72 racers to complete in the masters (over 32-year-olds) category at the Rotax world titles in Brazil from 26 November to 1 December.”
“More than 60 countries will be represented at the event. If I can finish in the Top 20 I’ll party for the rest of the month,” he said.
Whitby will be among three Aussies defending the world title for their country, with Victoria’s Troy Woolston winning the corresponding event last year.
“I know Troy well, we’ve raced each other quite a few times. I actually beat him at an event in Dubbo earlier this year, but I had a dream run on that day.”
The Narrandera stalwart’s achievement is all the more remarkable given he took up the sport at an age most competitors have already passed their peak.
“A lot of the guys I compete against are in their early 20s, or even younger. Some of them even reach their peak at 18 or 19-year-old”. Whitby was just past 30 when he discovered karting.
“I first had a go about 25 years ago, when I was in Canberra for a corporate day. I won the event and wanted to know how I could keep going. I found out there was several tracks near here.”
“I started going to the Griffith track most weekends and spending about three to four hours there.” But Whitby has always felt the need for speed.
“I grew up on a farm near Narrandera, and we used to ride all sorts of vehicles. I had a dune buggy as a kid.”
“Karting is the perfect sport for me. I see it as the purist form of motor sport there is. Some people race as a stepping stone to bigger things such as F1 and V8 Supercars but I love karting for the sport itself.
“It’s a lot harder than people think. Controlling the kart requires real skill and upper body strength”. The speeds that can be reached are phenomenal for such small vehicles.
“I can get up to about 140km/h, but what’s really exciting is how fast you can change speeds. When you hit the brakes, you can go from about 140 to 60 in just a few metres,” he said.