Here’s a question for your next Quiz Night; who is the only Whanganui driver to have stood on the top step of the podium at Bathurst?

No; it’s not Earl Bamber, although he does have a walk-on role in this story. The answer is Brad McDonald.

“So what’s that got to do with speedway?” I hear you ask. For the last three summers, McDonald has peddled one of Bob Smith’s fleet of Minisprints around Fast Lane Spares Oceanview Family Speedway, even picking up a few flags.

Growing up in Whanganui, all Brad wanted to do was race motorcycles, but his parents weren’t keen. When his class was tasked with writing to someone they admired, most of the class chose the likes of Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, but Brad chose Kiwi motorcycle racer, Andrew Stroud. He was the only one who got a reply.

McDonald was steered in the direction of Karting and later to circuit racing in an RX7. That brought him into contact with a man by the name of Bob Smith, and over a couple of Sunday afternoon beers at the Speedway Garage, McDonald’s story panned out.

McDonald in his office for the day

Through Karting, Brad had become a good mate of Earl Bamber. The drive came about through a mutual contact of the pair in Singapore, with the Kiwi invited to join a team for the 2020-21 Bathurst Six-Hour Production Car race. Sadly, COVID-19 intervened.


McDonald did, however, finally get his chance on Easter 2022 when the team finished fifth in their class in a Toyota 86.

With unfinished business on his mind, McDonald was disappointed when a rule change led to the team pulling out of the 2022-23 race.

However, he was put in touch with a team owner by the name of Trevor, and after a number of emails was contracted to drive a six-litre V8 VF Commodore in Class B, for normally aspirated high-performance vehicles. Apart from an enduro fuel tank, the car ran in standard trim on MRF tyres; the event tyre sponsor.

A couple of pre-event trips to Sydney then followed, firstly to be fitted out for the car, then for testing at Sydney Motorsport Park where the car ran flawlessly on Toyo tyres. He was part of a three-driver team with Australians Brent Edwards and Cody McKay.

Easter 2023 rolled around, and McDonald, his parents, and Vaughan from Pulse Performance in Whanganui headed for Bathurst. Vaughan became one of the heroes of the weekend, finding a rear-end issue with the car after practice which was affecting the car’s handling.

McDonald weaves his way through the dipper.

McDonald describes Bathurst as a “magical place” that commands respect and says that watching racing there doesn’t do the place justice. In particular, the drop-off from the top of the mountain has to be driven to be believed. He says there is a very fine line between going well and wrecking, and describes the speed down Conrod Straight as “amazing”.

Edwards qualified the Commodore, placing fourth in its class and 40th overall, before taking the opening three-hour stint as lead driver come race time. McDonald then did an hour and three-quarters, before McKay did the final run, bringing the car home at an impressive qualifying pace.

The Kiwi’s stint was largely uneventful, apart from the team’s sister car throwing a rod and dumping a load of oil on the track, nowhere near McDonald, thankfully. That led to fifteen minutes on pit road under red flag conditions, with the only work on the car permitted being a tyre change. When his drive ended, the Commodore was leading the B2 division and third overall in the B class.

As a Type 2 diabetic, keeping his blood sugar levels stable is essential, meaning McDonald was quick to rehydrate and have some food following his drive. He left his race suit on “just in case”, but McKay had no issues on the run home.

Well, almost no issues!

The safety car came out with three minutes remaining, and it looked as though the race would end behind the safety car. Race Control got the track cleared with great speed and called a one-lap dash to the chequered flag. That lap produced plenty of carnage, but most of it was further back in the pack.

A Kiwi and two Kangaroos took on the mountain and won.

Going out to the pit wall to cheer McKay to a class win was a highlight, but McDonald had a private dread of the podium ceremony in case he was asked to speak. Instead, the victory ceremony was a real thrill, with the team’s trophies being presented by Supercars legend Mark Skaife.

McDonald says he is unsure whether he will go back next year for a third crack at the Six-Hour. Part of him yearns to, but as a family man, he’s also concerned about the cost of at least three trips to Australia. There’s no prize money, and in Brad’s words, “We’re amateurs trying to be as professional as possible”.

There’s also the small matter of the speedway season. McDonald now owns Matt Buckley’s former Midget chassis (there’s a rumour that Peter Rees is building something a bit bigger than a Midget for Matt!) along with the motor out of Dylan Smith’s 1NZ car. Bob Smith and Laurie Mildenhall will be looking after the car and Brad is keen to step up and be competitive during the Minisprint championship season.


And the other guys and girls on the grid had better watch out; they have a Bathurst winner in their midst!