Rocket Rod just happy doing his job

Tuesday 07 April, 2020
Photo: Shifting Focus
Rodney McDonald has always been a man who has enjoyed perfecting his craft and it’s this attitude which has helped him become a highly sought after official in Queensland.
 
His work is so revered by some that he was named as the State Official of the Year at the 2019 Queensland Motorsport Australia State Awards earlier this year.
 
But it’s not just the work he does during race meetings which earned people’s respect, it’s the attitude he does it with, as McDonald is often cleaning racing surfaces prior to each day’s activities and during the officials’ lunch break at each event – all on his own accord.
 
Despite being one of the most admired and highly regarded officials at club, state and national level events in Queensland, McDonald himself was still shocked to receive the award.
 
“I am really happy with this award. I enjoy doing what I do and clearly, I must have done something right somewhere because I don’t even know who nominated me,” McDonald said.
 
“When I first got the letter, I thought it was just Motorsport Australia looking to sell some tickets for the State Awards, but my wife told me to read it again and when I did, it was a nice surprise.
 
“I did a public speaking course many moons ago but all that practice went out of window during my acceptance. I had even written a speech out the size of a toilet roll but couldn’t get it out properly.
 
“There are a lot of people I would like to thank but mostly Paul Overell and Ian Mayberry. They are very gentle with their feedback and they had the confidence in me to go out, do what I do and become who I am now.
 

“This award is great because it shows that I am doing good job. I hate heights or driving on steep hills but I have no fear running on to a track in the middle of a race to pick up an exhaust pipe.”

McDonald’s history in motorsport began in the early 1990s when he was driving past Lakeside Park one day and saw a race meeting taking place. His curiosity was soon converted into interest following a brief encounter with some officials at the meeting and shortly after, McDonald was signed up. 

A casual motorsport fan himself growing up, McDonald would watch as much of the Australian Touring Cars Championship (now Supercars) as he could, often deafening his family when he would have the volume turned to maximum capacity during the opening laps of each televised race.
 
But it was his first time as an official at a race on the Gold Coast which really made him fall in love with the sport and now almost 30 years later, he has forged a shining reputation as a marshal and for his efficiency in retrieving broken down vehicles.
 
Despite having received many positive reviews from drivers and officials, as well as having the silverware to prove it, for McDonald, there are other aspects of what he does which he cherishes even more.
 
“My 23-year-old son has followed my footsteps and become an official himself,” McDonald added.
 
“I am really proud to see him take after me and it’s nice how inspired he is. It’s great to see people giving him a chance to prove himself and he is going along great.
 
“I have been taught by some really good people and now he has been taught by those same people. I am just as proud of him as I am happy with my own achievements.
 
“There are many memories from my time in motorsport outside my son doing well, but a particular one I treasure, was when a driver once had a pretty bad crash at a meeting once and I went and helped him out of the car and got him back to safety. I was just doing my job. 
 
“The next day, his eight-year-old son found me at the track and thanked me for saving his dad. His dad was never in any trouble, but it really got me. It was an honest remark from a child and honestly to this day, it’s the best compliment I have ever received.”
 
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