HE IS the son of a two-time Bathurst champion and an all-round Aussie motorsport hero, but Ben Grice is ready to begin carving his own name for himself at this weekendâ€™s Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals round at Mallala, near Adelaide.
22-year-old Grice, son of Allan, will make his national-level racing debut in the Hi-Tec Oils Australian Suzuki Swift Racing Series this weekend, driving a car sponsored by Gold Coast company, Finance EZI.
The Queensland-based apprentice signwriter was yesterday announced as part of a multi-tiered driver development program instigated by Finance EZI, that includes two Shannons Nationals categories â€“ the Swifts and Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series, in which owner Maurie Pickering races.
Last year, Josh Hunter was sponsored by the company en route to his V8TC title win â€“ and now races in the V8 Supercars Dunlop Series with their support.
However, Grice is ready to make his own mark this weekend in what is his first attempt at a national-level campaign â€“ and it comes with the full backing of his legendary father.
â€œThis is the first chance Iâ€™ve had to race a full national Series, Iâ€™m excited and will be giving it a real crack,â€ Ben Grice said.
â€œThe Suzuki Swift Racing Series is a fantastic Championship which has some really strong competition this year. The best part about the Series is that all cars are totally in parity, they are reliable and cost-effective to run. I was given a taste for the Series in a pre-season driverâ€™s challenge and was consistently setting times quicker than the defending Series Champion, so from there we decided that it was a worthwhile opportunity.â€
â€œDad does offer great support. Heâ€™s been a huge assistance on the mental side, teaching me patience and about controlled aggression behind the wheel. Although the driving side you really have to figure out yourself, a lot of the basics that he has been helping me with are greatly appreciated, I get a real benefit from working with him.â€
Allan Grice will be present this weekend, doubling up his role as a racing dad by spending time in race control as the Swift Seriesâ€™ Driver Standards Observer.
Grice also performed a driver coach role at the pre-season Swift Drivers Challenge event that saw young driver Callan Sayers take home a $50,000 scholarship for a full-season drive in the series this year.
â€œHeâ€™s put in the hard yards to get to this point,â€ said Allan Grice.
â€œHe is completely dedicated to one thing and thatâ€™s motor racing. Heâ€™s only 22 now, he has the opportunity to be anything in the sport. Itâ€™s OK having talent, but you need a little bit of talent and tonnes of dedication, particularly in motorsport, which can be a tough game.
â€œThe Suzuki Series is something that I support, I have always supported single make categories even back when I was driving, I entered the Alfa-Romeo and Pulsar Series – they really allow good drivers to shine in equal equipment.â€
Ben Grice will be part of a strong 12-car field entered for this weekendâ€™s first round of the 2013 Swift Series that includes defending champion Allan Jarvis.
Jarvis won the title last year by a tiny margin, but will face an even sterner challenge this year against a tough field.
Amongst the field will also be Adelaide â€˜drifterâ€™, Tom Monkhouse â€“ the brother of Rally hero, Jack.
Tom won his drive this weekend after a strong performance in the Mallala-based G1 Drift seriesâ€™ opening round recently and is one of several new faces to suit up this weekend.
The Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series will tackle three, 12-lap races this weekend including a Saturday evening twilight race prior to the 40-lap Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge enduro.
The Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car Series, Kerrick Sports Sedans (racing for the Clem Smith Cup on Sunday) also feature alongside the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Kumho V8 Touring Cars and Hi-Tec Oils Swifts this weekend.
Tickets are available at the gate for $40 for a weekend pass, or $25 per day.
Saturdayâ€™s big program will include racing into the evening with V8 Touring Car and Swift Series races to precede the Porsche enduro Saturday evening.
All of Sundayâ€™s racing will be streamed live via TheNationals TV â€“ on the Shannons Nationals website.