O'Rourke Motorsport's Perry Maxwell has this year celebrated 20 years with the team - celebrating the milestone at the same time as his 56th birthday during the 2015 Fuchs Winternationals.

"I think I have celebrated around twelve birthdays at the Winternationals," laughed Maxwell.

While Maxwell's involvement with the O'Rourkes is long, his participation in drag racing as a whole is even longer - spanning some 39 years.

"I had a panel van which I drove at Ravenswood Raceway when I was 17 years old, and then I played around with some street cars with Wayne Keys and it progressed from there," said Maxwell.

"In 1994 I met Grant at the Australian Nationals. I had never met him before, and I had heard that a young guy had broken his engine pretty badly on his first pass, and there was a lot of people trying to take advantage of his situation and rip him off.

"So Mr Keys and I went down there and introduced ourselves and had a bit of a chat to him about what we thought he should do."

From there the relationship would progress to see Maxwell eventually appointed as the team's Debbies Crew Chief.

"After meeting Grant I did some sponsorship work with Debbie while she was racing sports sedan - at the same time, I was lucky enough to be driving Wayne Key's Super Gas sports sedan," said Maxwell.

"At the time I had my own business, and I actually sponsored about five different people at Ravenswood Raceway at that time, and I started sponsoring Debbie's car.

"It started out just as a friendship basis really, and then in 1999 we were over in Queensland at the Winternationals and we were rained out, and at the time I was in a position to help so I spoke to Grant and Debbie and offered them some financial assistance, first in a small way and then more.

"At the time, Grant and I had been working on cars and I was helping with some stuff on this new car he had built, and it progressed from there.

"Deb and I were spending a fair bit on sponsorship, and then more time with Grant building cars, and when he decided to race two cars I stepped up and said 'well, I'll help Deb with that side of the car' and that is basically where it started from.

"My brother and my nephew were also involved with Grant on his Doorslammer when he stepped up to that, but basically I have spent a lot of time looking after Deb's side of things - whenever Grant and Deb were racing you would find me alongside Deb's car."

After twenty years with the team, it is no surprise that Maxwell can only manage to narrow down his proudest moments to a 'top three'.

"There are probably three key achievements that come to mind for me," said Maxwell.

"One of them was Grant becoming Top Qualifier at the Winternationals, the second was again at the Winternationals when Deb entered into the SuperCharged Outlaw field and it was the first time that anyone had really put a clutch- powered doorslammer in that field and we ended up taking the runner-up spot in a delayed final. With us running at 11.00pm at night there was no way you could get proper horsepower into the track and we decided the safest thing to do was idle down the track in protest in the car - if we hadn't have done that she would have won.

"Thirdly was obviously Grant taking his maiden Top Doorslammer event at Adelaide International Raceway in 2014.

With such a long career in the sport, Maxwell has paid witness to a lot of changes both on and off the track.

"I have to say that safety is probably the best change that I have seen, and the track themselves - you know, I come from an era where we used to run cars down an asphalt track with an amcor railing on the side, and in those days Top Fuel was doing just over 200 miles per hour, and that's pretty scary stuff! Track safety has definitely improved - as has car safety and driver safety," said Maxwell.

"I have witnessed some pretty horrific crashes, and I have seen people get out of them very well, so I think that is very important.

"Nowadays to walk around a group one pit is like going to the circus - it's a pretty big deal, considering that years ago I used to watch nitro funny cars getting towed into drag strips on the back of trailers. That has completely changed.

"The downside of the circus is obviously that the guys that are paying for it are the ones paying out of their back pocket to race their cars, and they aren't necessarily getting any rewards. For the effort and the money that they put

into it, I don't believe they get any reward other than personal reward - that is the only downside of drag racing that I have seen."

Perry Maxwell and the O'Rourke Motorsport team will next be on-track at the Perth Motorplex for the next round of the 400 Thunder Series. For more information on the team, go to

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