Tom Drane is pretty comfortable being at the front of the pack on the motorcycle track, but he's taken his racing career to a new level with a remarkable runner up on debut in the American Flat Track Lima Half Mile.
Not only that but the 16-year-old from Forbes snatched Dash for Cash honours from overall winner Kody Kopp - commentators haling that he was the first rider to overtake Kopp in months.
The AFA was a step up into professional racing for Tom, who plans to explore his options in this field in the very near future
He was one of just four riders at the meet to qualify for the Dash for Cash, they had four laps to gain the upper hand in the race.
"That was one of the highlights - being able to win that," Tom said.
"I just watched (Kody) all through the day, saw what he was doing, and tried my best when we had to race each other to try to beat him."
Riders had their practice laps before qualifiers and semi-finals, with the top eight lining up for the main event - and it was pretty amazing Tom was able to race at all.
He'd blown an engine on his own bike racing at Mount Pleasant earlier in the tour, then the team he'd signed on with blew an engine during testing.
The Dranes had an engine from Tom's bike back home urgently shipped from Australia, and it was delivered at 10am the day of the final races.
It was dropped straight into the bike just in time for Tom to win the Dash for Cash, and settle down for the final that night.
The title race was eight minutes plus two laps - about 21 or 22 laps of the dirt track.
"You've got to make sure your tyres last ... that you'll be able to finish at the end with good lap times and not drop off," Tom said.
Tom roared in second to Kopp in that race, to join him and Chase Saathoff on the podium with the celebrations an update on 2019 when the three shared the podium at the Amateur Nationals.
"That was pretty cool," Tom said, adding every time he's returned to race in the US he's continued to make connections and learn as a rider.
Now home, Tom's straight back into training not only on track but on his physical and mental endurance.
"You've got to do heaps of cycling, you need a lot of endurance to be able to do long races," he said.
"A road bike race goes for half an hour and it's a lot more physical on your body.
"You've got to be a minute 30 or so a lap, you've got to be able to do your best lap times the whole way through and you've got to be focussed on what you're doing."
He's back racing Super Bikes in Australia - making a beeline for Morgan Park without even time for jetlag after returning to Australia.
He extended a big thanks to everyone who got him to the States and supported him throughout.
Tom was travelling with his parents Matt and Lisa Drane, and younger brother Sam who scored major success at the AMA Flat Track Grand Championships - his story here.
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