READY TO GO: Bega-based 16-year-old Ryan Harris is ready to take on the country's best at the SSA National Junior Sedan Title at Maryborough Speedway.
READY TO GO: Bega-based 16-year-old Ryan Harris is ready to take on the country's best at the SSA National Junior Sedan Title at Maryborough Speedway. Cody Fox

Long road to the nationals for Harris family

HARRIS: When Ryan Harris first sat behind the steering wheel of a junior sedan, it was the moment he joined the family business.

His father is a long-time speedway driver who still occasionally hits the track, while his brother Lachlan will also hit the Maryborough Speedway track for the national titles.

"I started watching dad at speedway, he races super sedans so I look up to him,” Harris said. "He got me into it.”

Speedway could not be a better fit for this family, based at Bega on the south coast of New South Wales.

The 1600km-plus trip to the Heritage City venue is estimated to take about 18 hours without a break, and with two junior sedans you can imagine it could be a task.

But a custom-made tour bus and trailer has allowed the Harris family to turn their adventures into a New Year's getaway incorporating at least three major events.

Harris raced at the Junior Sedans Silver Crown at Maryborough on December 29-30, then finished fifth at the Junior Sedans Queensland Title at Gympie last week.

"Gympie was a good race, I went backwards a little bit but it was all right,” Harris said.

He approaches the national title, where he and more than 80 drivers will try to put nine-time state champion and reigning national title-holder Ardie Jonic in his rear view mirror.

"I'm a bit nervous but I'm pretty keen for it,” he said.

"I've driven for about two years. The Australian title in Darwin last year was pretty cool, there were about 60 cars entered. I came from 15th to fifth then was taken out.

"I got spun around and it knocked the fuel pump out which was disappointing. It's all right, that's racing.”

Harris hopes to reach the A Main feature, but to do so will have to excel in the heats.

Being parked across pit lane from Jonic could have its own detrimental effect on his confidence - Jonic's reputation as the best junior driver in the country is hard to look past - but once the teenagers get behind the wheel it doesn't matter who they are.

"It's all the same,” he said. "When you're out there, it's just another driver, he's just another person on the track.”

Harris has previously raced at Maryborough as part of a series which included races at Gympie and Toowoomba.