It’s always special when an individual reaches a significant milestone in motorsport.
Whether it be the athlete, coach, official or volunteer, to be part of the sport for so long is always worth celebrating.
And when it comes to the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships, an event that has been going for almost two decades, there aren’t many who can say they’ve been around since the start.
Darren Smith, who has been behind the microphone at Shannons events for many years, notched up a milestone of his own - taking part in his 100th Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships round at the 2021 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour last weekend.
The familiar voice also entered a fraternity that only four others before him have reached, including Auto Action’s Garry O’Brien and The Race Torque’s Richard Craill.
Starting his involvement in motorsport as a driver, Smith then made the switch to the commentary box, where he has been calling the sport for two decades, most recently as the course commentator for the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships.
Smith was there at the first ever round of the Shannons back in 2004, when it was simply known as the Premier Racing Series and only racing at Victorian circuits. Having been part of 100 rounds since then, he has seen it change and develop over the years.
Now having officially called his 100th round, the 50-year-old was honoured to be able to have the longevity of being involved in one of his biggest passions.
“I am massively proud to become a centurion. There are only a handful of people who have notched up 100 rounds, so it’s super special,” Smith said.
“I just love circuit racing. It’s my sport. I’m not into AFL or Rugby or anything like that, motorsport circuit racing is the focus for me. I like rallying but circuit is my real passion.
“I started out racing cars, but then gave that up and tried my hand at commentating at just local and state rounds.
“A few years later, Rob Kirkpatrick and Sean Henshelwood approached me at Mallala in South Australia to get me on board with this new series, which of course I was happy to. I didn’t know what it was but thankfully I’ve been doing it ever since.
“It’s great that Motorsport Australia has seen the value of having me along for the ride and have continued with me for so many years, so in that sense I feel a bit lucky.”
While he does consider himself lucky, Smith has worked hard to get where he is today and has put in plenty of effort to earn his own luck.
Over the years, he has witnessed the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships grow from just some state categories competing at a few local events to the huge national platform it is today.
And of course, for someone who has been to now many 100 events, Smith has seen many magical moments unfold.
“There is no specific round that is a standout to me, but there is one particular race that I’ll never forget. One that I am sure other journalists and photographers would also say is their favourite race,” Smith explained.
“It was in 2013 at Queensland Raceway in the Sports Sedans. Two legends of the sport in Tony Ricciardello and Darren Hossack just battled it out. It was two guys who wanted to win so badly and in what was an amazing race from start to finish.
“But outside of that, there have been many highlights throughout the years. I mean when I first started it was nothing. It was so long ago and it started from zero because there was no motorsport on the national level - only Supercars.
“But there have been a lot of great people to help shape what it has become now.
“From what began as an event on a little Sunday afternoon show to every round being broadcast live on Seven, the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships has just flourished and I am thrilled to have been a small part of it.”
The next round of the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships takes place at Sydney Motorsport Park on 30 April – 2 May.