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It was his love for the sport that kept Charles Hunter going these past 18 seasons as he attempted to achieve his maiden podium result in 410 Sprintcars, with the racer’s determination finally rewarding with the milestone last Saturday night at Geelong’s Avalon Raceway.

Having contested his debut season with the class at the age of 16 during the 1999-2000 season alongside his dad Butch, Hunter’s career had been highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the 2003-04 Victorian Title, along with qualifying into the preliminary feature race at last season’s Grand Annual Classic; however, last Saturday night delivered him a new highlight when he ventured to Avalon Raceway for the 12th Eureka Garages & Sheds Series round.

Charles Hunter and Podium Corey Gibson Photography cropped

Photo: Corey Gibson Photography

Starting out of fifth in the 30-lap feature race, after a runner-up finish during his qualifying heat race, the Werribee, Victoria-based driver was still sitting in his starting position with just two corners to go on the final lap.

Noticing that second-placed Rusty Hickman was rapidly slowing in the approach to the chequered flag, Hunter moved to the middle of the track, where he managed to slip past John Vogels, who had his eye on Hickman, to take over third place, scoring his maiden podium result in what was well and truly the 11th hour of the race.

“After trying to make it on to the podium for almost 20 years and then to finally have it happen in such a sudden way was a surreal feeling,” explained the 35-year-old racer, who has previously collected numerous heat-race wins throughout his career, along with a number of fourth-place finishes, most recently at Hamilton’s Western Speedway a fortnight ago.

“My family is also a huge part of the reason I’ve kept racing over the years, so to it’s really amazing to be able to give something back to them after all they’ve done for me. I really can’t thank them and my sponsors enough for their continued support.”

Enjoying his most consistent season to date in 2017-18, Hunter has only missed out on three feature races, with his added consistency being credited to his change in chassis, after trading his GF1 for a Maxim.

Charles Hunter 1 Corey Gibson Photography cropped

Photo: Corey Gibson Photography

“We knew we had a good engine, but we wanted to try something new with the chassis this season,” added Hunter, who believes that the change has quite clearly paid off, having noticed an immediate difference in the car.

“We’ve definitely still got a bit more to learn about the new car, but I think that given our results over the last month, we’ve got a fairly good idea of what we need to be doing going forward.”

For his next appearance, Hunter will be returning to his home track – Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway – to contest the final Eureka Garages & Sheds Series round. Currently sitting fifth in the series point standings, Hunter looks likely to improve on last season’s overall 10th-place finish.

Hunter would like to thank the following 2017-18 season sponsors for their support: Paint Works – Werribee, SRJB Roofing, Rock Constructions, AAC Electrical, Auspac Exhaust, Gully Earthmoving, Mick Kerr Rendering, Main Street Café – Winchelsea, Parr Motorsports, R.A.K Davis & Sons Cartage Contractors, and Icon.

Special thanks go to Butch (dad), Sue (mum), Heath (brother), Nicole (sister), niece and nephew, Lea (partner), Billie (daughter), and Peter and Tam (family friends).