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Super Gas racer Renee Cockerill has selected this weekend’s Sunset Strip Nationals event as her comeback to the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series after a number of years away.

This weekend’s event in Mildura marks round three of the 2019/2020 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series and will be held across the 21st and 22nd of September.

A driving motivation behind the 42-year-old’s decision to return to the national ANDRA series is the fact that despite having two decades of racing experience behind her, she is yet to secure a prestigious ANDRA Christmas Tree trophy.

Cockerill is well-known for her 32 Model A Roadster but in recent years has been competing in a Ford GT 500 Mustang at local events.

“I have been racing for 20 odd years now – at the start I had a 32 Model A Roadster back before I had my daughter and we used to do a lot of travelling. When my daughter came along I took some time off and when I came back, I decided that I wanted a roof so we brought the Mustang over from the States,” said the Adelaide Hills racer who works as a new car stock controller for a Mount Barker car dealership.

“We have done a little bit of racing with it over the last five years but we have struggled to get a proper handle on it and have been chopping and changing things a lot trying to get it down the track reliably. Hopefully this time around we have got it right!

“I have decided now that I want to get back into the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series and run a few meetings this season.

“The biggest driver for me is that I have never been able to secure a ANDRA Christmas Tree trophy – I have come close, I have been the runner-up, but I have not yet been able to get my hands on one and that is a real goal for me now over the next couple of years to get that done.

“The Sunset Strip Nationals event is the start of that and with our journey with the car to date and the fact we have no data with this particular package at the moment this weekend might not see us come away with a trophy but it will certainly be a start!”

With it having been a number of years since she lined up in the national series and raced regularly, Cockerill reports some nerves ahead of her trip to Mildura.

“I am a little nervous as I haven’t been in the car since the start of the year and it has been a while since I raced regularly, but when I get in the car and start it up, those nerves go away a bit,” she explained.

“I love watching the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series – I always follow it as it unfolds – and I am excited to be coming back to the Super Gas ranks.

“The first meeting back with no data will always be a bit tricky as you are trying to get everything sorted in three qualifiers, but I am excited and looking forward to meeting up with old, familiar racers and some new racers too and seeing what we can do.

“I like racing at Mildura and it will be good to get back there – the people who run it are so hospitable, they are welcoming and do the best they can to help you out and the racing surface is really good too.”

Ahead of her national comeback, Cockerill has a number of people she would like to thank for their support.

“The main thank you has to go to my husband Steve – he puts a lot of work and effort into the car and he is the main brains behind the operation equal with Craig Johnstone of Craig Johnstone Performance who does a lot of the engineering behind the car and the running gear,” Cockerill said.

“I also have to say thank you to my 11 year old daughter Tayla for believing in me and encouraging me to get out there and do my best as well as my step-son Matthew Cockerill. Matthew will also be racing this weekend in Super Sedan and he is always helping Steve out in the shed working on my car and I really appreciate his support.”

Cockerill will be one of more than 150 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series racers to hit the Sunraysia Drag Racing Association’s Sunset Strip across September 21 and 22 for the Sunset Strip Nationals, round three of the 2019/2020 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series. For more information, visit www.sunsetstrip.org.au or www.andra.com.au

Image credit: Mark Cuffe/DragsSA.com