Racing is in the blood for Tweed's Brendan Strong
BRENDAN Strong's first memories at the race track are as a four-year-old.
It was there he would watch, enthralled, as his old man screamed around the track.
When he wasn't at the track, Strong was watching his dad work on his XU1 Torana in the garage.
"I would sit out there day and night,” Strong recalled.
Between his early childhood education of cars and racing and oil and mechanics, Strong attended Terranora Public School and Lindisfarne. His first job was at the local Maccas.
Now 27, Strong's formal education has helped him start his own businesses in the Tweed - B-Strong Electrical. His first education, track-side, has him on the grid at next weekend's Gold Coast 600.
Strong has raced on the Kuhmo V8 Touring Car Series, the circuit two below the V8 Supercars, since 2014.
His dad, Graeme Strong, achieved success on the Sydney racing circuit, and it wasn't until Strong started go-karting at the age of seven that he could first start properly imitating his father in the driver's seat.
"It was an awesome childhood growing up in the racing scene,” Strong said.
"I met a lot of good people throughout the years and it allowed me to travel throughout Australia at a young age, which was special.”
After excelling in the go-karts, Strong stepped into cars at age 13. He raced in New Zealand, returned home with the skills to compete in Australia, and had graduated to V8 touring cars by 2014, joining the Kuhmo Series driving what was once Cameron McConville's VX Commodore.
Over his five years on the circuit, Strong's passion, hard-work and fierce commitment has been tested by the rigours and realities of his life as a racer and, concurrently, a full-time business owner.
Damaging crashes aren't cheap to repair, repairs aren't quick to make, and making it in the racing industry requires not only skill and dedication, but a healthy dose of luck to secure sponsors and financial backing.
"It's a hard game trying to do 70/80 hours in the business and then go to race meetings,” Strong said.
"But it's extremely rewarding when you get the results. Now I've learned to deal with it a lot better. At the start it was a shock if you got damage - you might panic. But now we know the procedure and how to turn things around.”
It was once Strong who was there every step of the way when his dad was racing sports sedans.
Now, Strong said he was blessed to have his father as part of his racing crew.
"My father and I are pretty much a team,” Strong said.
"It's great being able to bond, doing something you both love.
"It's a small team we run. A lot of the guys that help us are volunteers, and slowly we're becoming more professional as a team and competing with the bigger and more pro teams that run in the series.”
Strong's racing results have been trending upwards as his experience on the tour has grown, and this year has been his best season to date, with a second place at Queensland Raceway in the privateer class helping him to a sixth place finish in the Kuhmo Cup.
"Our results have been more consistent and we're slowly developing the car to get more pace out of it,” Strong said.
"We've had good qualifying results up the front, but unfortunately we've been taken out of a few races that would have led to a podium.”
Strong is now geared up to compete at next weekend's Gold Coast 600, where racers in the Kuhmo Series will raise the curtain for the V8 Supercars.
"Being a local around here we haven't ever had one this close to home,” Strong said.
"We drive the streets every day around the Gold Coast. It will be good to get a race car down and see what it's like with the grandstands surrounding you.”