‘It’s the biggest race of the year’
If Britten Wins Syracuse, Victory Celebration Will Span the Globe
Australia native ready to tackle NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week XLII
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Oct. 2, 2013 – Peter Britten and his Australian accent are no longer novelties around New York. He’s a proven contender on the Super DIRTcar Series tour. Even if his native tongue still turns some heads in the pits, Britten is hoping his performance at the Oct. 8-13 NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week is what draws all the attention.
Britten started on the front row last year in the Syracuse 200, the world’s biggest Big-Block Modified event. His finish? Well, it was another learning experience for the native of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. One he believes will help him this time around.
He’s only 26 and grew up halfway around the world from the Moody Mile, but that doesn’t mean the importance of Syracuse is lost on him. Britten would love for nothing more than to earn his first Super DIRTcar Series victory in the Syracuse 200.
“It means the same to me as it means to every other modified racer across the Northeast, it’s the biggest race of the year,” said Britten, whose ties to Billy Colton and Troyer Race Cars span two continents. “There’s only one Syracuse. Me coming from Australia, you hear little bits and pieces, but you have no idea on the spectacle and how tough the week is for the racers and the crews, all the effort that goes into Syracuse. To put that much effort into a car and race on a mile-long dirt track is just a totally different experience and something we look forward to coming over here. The first year I did it I was fortunate enough to have some of my buddies from Australia come over and help out. We had our own little Team Australia going. It was a really good experience, a lot of fun for me. I feel like our performance has slowly improved over the last couple of years and hopefully this year will be no different and we’ll be in for a good week.”
Britten hasn’t traveled the 9,500 miles from Brisbane to Syracuse just to log laps. He’s here to upset the favorites like six-time Syracuse winner Brett Hearn and three-time series champion Matt Sheppard.
“Basically, as the old saying goes, I’m not here for a haircut, I’m here to try and better myself,” Britten said. “The ultimate goal is to be the best in your chosen field, and my chosen field is DIRT Modifieds. It’s a tough deal coming over here. Obviously, I had some appreciation for the talent that was over here and just how tough it was, but once I came over here we had to re-evaluate our goals a little bit. There’s an enormous supply of really good DIRT Modified racers up here. It’s really tough to get to a level like Brett Hearn or Matt Sheppard, those sort of guys that are consistently up front in all of the big races. It’s hard to get to that level. I’ve had some really good runs in big races and some not so good runs in some big races, but you look at those guys and they’re always there in the fight. If something goes their way, or they’re just a little bit better that one night, they’re pretty much going to win the race. The ultimate goal is to get to that level and be regularly beating these guys. We really enjoy modified racing. The scene over here is good, it has a lot of good people involved. We get to go to a lot of cool places like Syracuse and Charlotte, doing the extra distance races like Eastern States with live pit stops. It’s something that’s pretty unique on the dirt track for the Modifieds. It’s definitely a pretty big talking point when I go back home and do TV or radio interviews. Everyone wants to know about Syracuse. It’s just something totally different.”
Since he first arrived in 2009 to work with Rich Scagliotta and race at Weedsport, Britten has steadily improved, even posting a victory on June 21 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Clearly the competition has helped to make him a better racer.
“I’m at the stage now that I’m comfortable in the car, it’s just a matter of getting myself to that next level to challenge the top guys week in and week out,” Britten said. “I’ve got a feel for different setups that I like at different tracks. The experience I’ve gained running on the Super DIRTcar Series has helped me a lot. Now when I go to a track that I haven’t raced at I can go out there and normally be pretty competitive right from the word go. It doesn’t take me two or three nights at a track to get competitive. That’s something you learn going on the road and that’s why we did it. The only way you’re going to beat these guys is to race with them week in and week out and eventually beat them.”
It also helps to have a little help from your family. The Brittens are a close-knit bunch, and it’s not easy for Peter to be in New York while everybody else is Down Under. In fact, his brother, Kevin, made the journey over and was in the pits when Peter won at Albany-Saratoga. It made that night extra special, and has led to Kevin returning to work on Peter’s pit crew at Syracuse.
“As much as little brothers can annoy you sometimes, it was definitely good to see him,” Britten said. “I’m really close to my family and it gets hard sometimes being away for so long. Whenever mom or little brother come over it’s really good on all levels. The first night he shows up we go out and grab the checkered flag at Malta. It was obviously a pretty good feeling and he was all pumped up to be here, as well, taking all the credit for it. It was good fun. He was here for about three weeks and the last weekend he was here we rolled my backup car out at Canandaigua and Rich’s car at Malta so he got a couple of races in and realized it’s not quite as easy as he thought it was. It gave him a little bit of a reality check and the ribbing he gives me sometimes kind of eased up. It was a really good experience for him to come over and learn a bit more.
“We prepare our cars very well at home, but the timeframe that you get to do everything over here is nowhere near what you get at home. The racing is a lot tougher on the cars, as well, especially the extra horsepower with the motors so it was a really good experience for him to get involved in that. He’ll be coming back over here to help me get ready for Syracuse. I don’t know if anyone has seen my little brother before but he’s a pretty big guy. I can’t really call him my little brother, but he’s my younger brother. He’s going to be on the fuel jugs on the pit stops at Super DIRT Week. Hopefully he can get all the fuel in the car and we can go out and get a good run.”
There’s a quiet confidence surrounding Britten now as he gains experience every time he hits the track. That carries over off the track, too. Britten is as easy-going a driver as you’ll find, which adds to his popularity.
“Pretty much everybody in general over here has been very warm and very welcoming,” he said. “It’s been a great experience so far. I really enjoy talking with the fans, mixing with them. At Super DIRT Week you’ll most likely see me out and about mixing with the fans. I get a real kick out of it and I know some of them do, too. It’s good for all involved. You know, us Australians are pretty easy going. We like to have a good time. That’s what it’s all about.”
It’s that attitude that makes it so easy to root for Britten to succeed. Still, all his fans across the world want to see him park his car in victory lane at Syracuse, but only he can figure out the formula to make that happen. He’s already received all the advice he needs from drivers like Hearn and Sheppard, and mentors like Colton and Scagliotta. Now it’s up to him.
“The biggest thing everybody tells you is to get comfortable,” Britten said. “I was fortunate enough to talk with some of the more experienced drivers the first time I was there and they reaffirmed that, as well, the biggest thing is to just get comfortable. Once you get comfortable you can start pushing the envelope a little bit more, don’t go out there and try to set the world on fire in your first hot lap session. The danger is very real at Syracuse, if you miss your entry and get into the wall it’s not going to be pretty what’s left of the car. That adds to the anxiety. So the biggest thing is to get comfortable and the rest will follow.”
It’s safe to say that Britten has found his comfort zone. Now the world will watch to see if he can find victory lane.
For more on NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week, click www.SuperDIRTWeekOnline.com.
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Chevy Performance Parts, NAPA Auto Parts, and Safety-Kleen. Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Performance, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, Superflow and Wrisco Industries. Super DIRT Week sponsors include: Beyea Headers, Draco Springs, Fast Shafts, Fluidampr, FK Rod Ends, Fox Shocks, Pro Fabrication and Turbostart. Lighting for Super DIRT Week is brought to you by Musco Lighting.