Family-run racing teams were once commonplace in the upper echelon of Australian touring car competitions.
They didn’t bring wads of cash from lucrative sponsorships – instead, scraping through, nickel and diming their way to each race.
Now, professional racing teams rule the roost, making privateers largely a thing of the past.
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However, there are a few brave families taking on the TCR Australia Series powerhouses like Garry Rogers Motorsport and Melbourne Performance Centre.
In the TCR Australia Series, Zac Soutar is the leading privateer.
While many teams bring swathes of experienced engineers and mechanics, it’s very much a family and friends vibe for Soutar.
His dad is the team boss while his best friend from high school has taken up the role of engineer, despite not having any engineering experience prior.
Soutar’s cousin is a mechanic while his brother and other family friends help with odd jobs here and there.
Despite the small team of weekend warriors, Soutar has had success.
He won at the season-opening event at Symmons Plains and claimed podiums at Queensland Raceway and Sandown Raceway.
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“It’s awesome,” Soutar told Wide World of Sports.
“It’s great to reward everyone for their hard work. I’ve got a team full of volunteers and family and mates. Everybody volunteers their time to come racing.
“To have got a few podiums for them, it makes me really happy.
“I thought I was crazy at the start when we did the privateer thing, I thought maybe we could never get there. It’s good to prove to ourselves that we can do it.
“I’m looking forward to next year to see what we can do over a full season now that I think we’ve got our feet on the ground and we’re off and running.”
As one of just two drivers to compete full-time in a Honda Civic Type R, the Melburnian is among the contenders for this year’s title.
While the 25-year-old admits he is an outside chance without something dramatically going amiss for series leader Tony D’Alberto, he’s still happy with his season to date.
“If you had told me we’d have a race win and three more podiums at the start of the year, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” he added.
“To be honest, I don’t think we are realistically in with a shot at the championship. Mathematically, we are, but I think Tony would have to have a monumentally bad one to lose it from this point.
“For me, my goal is to try and finish in the top five of the championship. In saying that, a good way to make that happen is just to focus on purely the result in the moment.
“I’ll be going to Bathurst with no pressure on myself for the championship and just do a good job to get a good result for myself and my team.”
Even though this year’s title chase isn’t over, Soutar is already looking towards the 2023 season.
Their Honda Civic Type R is currently on the market and plans are in the works to purchase a brand-new car next year.
It’s all part of a bid to become the first privateers to win the series.
“Next year will definitely be angled on winning the championship,” said Soutar.
“To be honest, I think we’ve done okay this year. We haven’t had any test days at all. It’s always pretty hectic in the lead-up to a race meeting to get there.
“I think with a little bit more time going into next season, we’re going to do a lot more test days and get on top of those little one-percenters that maybe hold us back.”
The TCR Australia Series comes to a close at the Bathurst International as part of the SpeedSeries season finale on November 11-13.
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