If there was one thing Todd Hazelwood could change about his breakthrough day at Sydney Motorsport Park, it would have been the ability to have his family trackside for the occasion.
Stories of the Hazelwood family’s efforts to make his racing dream a reality have been well chronicled, including countless fundraising sausage sizzles.
However, the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions meant his strong drive to a maiden podium yesterday afternoon had to play out with his loved ones watching on remotely.
After saving both of his soft tyre sets for the finale, the 24-year-old roared home to sneak by David Reynolds for third on the last lap.
An “over the moon” Hazelwood admitted it was odd to not be able to immediately celebrate with family – a feeling all the more exaggerated by the fact that prior to the COVID break his mother Sharon hadn’t missed a race meeting in 15 years.
“My parents are actually in Uluru at the moment so they’re watching from there,” said Hazelwood after the race.
“They planned to be travelling up to Darwin at this time of the year but obviously they’re not going to be able to make it [to the race weekend].
“[Last month] was actually the first time my Mum missed a race meeting since 2005, in go-karts, so it has been a long time since I haven’t had at least one part of my family alongside me.
“It is a little bit weird to be honest but I’m sure they are riding the emotions with me.
“All of us drivers, we wear our heart on our sleeves in this industry and a lot of sacrifice and effort goes into what we do and when you get that moment and particularly a breakthrough moment it’s very sweet and very special.
“I’m just so fortunate I was given an opportunity this year to do what we’re doing.”
Hazelwood graduated to the main game with Matt Stone Racing in 2018 after winning the previous year’s Super2 title – but it became clear that partnership would meet an end during last season.
With his full-time career on the line, an opportunity arose at Brad Jones Racing with Tim Slade departing, and Hazelwood hasn’t looked back.
“[Thanks] in particular to Brad Jones I suppose for signing me up this year and taking a punt with a younger guy and introducing me to the team,” he added.
“I’m really thankful for all their hard work behind the scenes.
“I haven’t been able to stand on the podium since 2017 so any time you can taste any sort of success is a special day.”
Hazelwood is 12th in the overall standings, with the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown next to take place across August 8-9 at Hidden Valley.