Peter Britten, better known as ‘Batman,’ is the Australian wheelman from Brisbane, Queensland. At a young age, Britten took the chance of a lifetime and moved across the world to chase his dream of becoming a professional race car driver. This is his story as he told it to me.
"I didn’t have a racing background at all. Growing up I played sports and was always active. I played cricket, rugby, cross county running, you name it. I was a sports freak. That was my life growing up.
"It got to the point when it got serious enough that I had to pick a sport that I was going to stick with. I could have had a pretty good shot at playing cricket professionally, but my dad always enjoyed going to football games, drag racing, and even went to a dirt track that was pretty close to where we lived as well. My dad always had a passion for speedway racing and never had the opportunity to do it himself."
His First Car
"When I started getting old enough, around 14, we bought a street stock. My parents gave that car to me and my brothers for Christmas one year. We started tearing up the back. After two years of racing in the backyard I guess it got to the point where every time I took the car out dad threw a shovel at me and told me to go fill in the holes I tore up. It got to the point where we decided to try our hand at some real racing. I didn’t have any mechanical background at all. I liked cars but never worked on them. My dad had very limited mechanical knowledge. It seems like every dad knows a little bit about cars, you know, how to change oil, that was the knowledge we were banking on. We went out and had fun. I developed a good liking to it. I got better and before you knew it I was winning races and wrecking stuff along the way. I didn’t know how to fix anything, so every time that happened I learned how to fix it. It was a fun time, there was no pressure. We were just racing for the love of it."
Racing vs. Cricket
"We had a couple years off from racing because we didn’t have the money. It got to the point where I was around 17 or 18 and work started going better again so we bought a car similar to a UMP Modified. That was our first serious race car, at least for us. We brought a pretty good used car. From the moment I started racing it I started ruffling feathers because I was a young punk kid doing well. It got to the point where racing was getting busier and busier. My cricket commitments were getting busier and busier too. I had to make a decision on which I’d keep doing. It was a hard decision. I enjoyed doing both but while playing cricket I realized I was constantly thinking about racing, so that’s what made my mind up. I didn’t expect to do anything crazy with it, but I knew it’s what I wanted to do."
Bettering His Knowledge
"I figured that if I’m going to run a race car someone better learn how to be a mechanic so I did a mechanical apprenticeship. When I got qualified, I built performance engines for two years. One of my strengths now is that I understand every component aspect to a race car whether it be motor, frame, rear, you name it."
"We raced UMP modifieds for a couple of years. I did really well with it and decided we wanted to move up. We didn’t know if we wanted to go sprint car racing or modified racing. In Australia sprint cars are the top dogs but at that point in my career we didn’t feel like we had the experience to tackle that. The modifieds were fast but not quite as fast or as high leveled racing as the sprint cars in Australia. We thought it would be a good stepping stone for us then maybe in the future we could go to a sprint car."
The Deal That Changed It All
"We bought a real cheap modified the first year. We had some pretty good success with a car that definitely wasn’t up to par. That gave us some enthusiasm. In the 2008/2009 season we started looking for a better car to buy. There was an opportunity to buy a Troyer through someone who was looking to start up a Troyer dealership. One thing leading to another and we became partners with this Troyer dealership. From the moment we brought that car out we had instant success. We won the Australian championship that year which was pretty cool. To be an Australian champion in any category is an honor that everyone strives to get. To get that the first serious year racing that car was pretty amazing."
"We came over to the states and watched some racing. Jokingly, my dad said if I win the championship we can come over to the states and race. When I did that I reminded him of that after we won the championship. Luckily, we were able to get help from Troyer, at the time H&H Motorsports, now known as HBR, also helped us fill in the pieces of the puzzle to do a little bit of racing. I did five races in 2009 in the states. It was a big learning curve. I realized I had a long way to go to get any success."
"I definitely got bitten by the bug. Towards the end of the year I had the opportunity to come over and work for Rich Scagliotta, build cars and do some racing. I jumped at the chance. I accepted the position in 2010. Rich was running two nights a week and the Super DIRTcar Series. I was hired as the crew chief, car chief, truck driver, you name it. That was my in to get over here. At the same time, we put a car together to run Weedsport on Sunday nights. It was a pretty busy year working on cars fulltime, chasing the series, plus running your own car. At that point I was just a sponge taking in whatever I could. I couldn’t get enough of racing.
"From there I got more and more serious about racing. Rich felt I needed to race a little more. He figured I’m already going to series races, so he stuck my car in his trailer, the second year over here and I was running the series. I knew I wasn’t ready but there’s no better way to learn than racing with the best guys.
"In between then and now I’ve had the attitude to get a little better every time. I just trying to see that improvement. As long as I can keep doing that, I can confidently say I’ve gotten better. It’s promising to look back and see the progression, it gives me hope."
"People don’t understand the racing side of it. It’s a small component of being a professional race car driver. It’s all the hours in the shop, dealing with sponsors, trying to do other work to pay for everything. There’s not a lot of money to be made in racing unless your winning all of the big races. Any racer can tell you it’s a big burden, but you can’t do it without the support of a lot of people. I’m fortunate to be able to do this as long as I have. I’m appreciative of all the people along the way that have helped me"
Super DIRT Week Surprise
"I started racing for Ray Graham at the end of 2017. Ray’s relatively new to dirt racing. He ran super modifieds for a long time and was looking to do something a little different and looked into the big blocks. Their first attempt was with Tim Fuller. One reason or another it didn’t work out. As we got towards September months, Ray was looking to try again and bring in a different driver. I was lucky enough to come into contact with him. Myself, Bill Colton and Ray came to an agreement to field a car for Super DIRT Week last year at Oswego. There was nothing apart from that. It was a ‘hey let’s do this deal for Oswego and talk about what happens after that.’"
Just Keeps Getting Better
"We did Oswego and we almost won the damn thing! Obviously, that hurt a lot to finish second but for a new team it was good results. It was a good start to our relationship. From there we went to Charlotte the next month. We were competitive there.
"Over the off-season we kind of talked about what we’d do. We ended up agreeing to run the Super DIRTcar Series full season. I think we’re building something awesome here. I think it’ll show in the next few years. I think we’ll have potential to be one of those guys to beat down the road. I have to keep pushing forward and hopefully I can keep doing this racing thing for another 25 or 30 years."
Words of Wisdom for Future Racers
"It seems like a really cool job to have. You have to realize there’s a lot to being a professional race car driver. There’s a lot of work and sacrifice involved. You have to make sure it’s something you really want to do. It has to be your absolute passion because you’re going to give up a lot in this life to chase races. If you’re not fully committed, then it won’t work out. I’m fully committed and willing to take the ups and downs, but it takes a lot to be able to do that. It’s not for everyone."