How racing changed this teen's life
MOTORSPORT has transformed teenager James Balls' life.
James, 16, suffers some learning difficulties and can have trouble communicating.
But over the past two years he has come out of his shell.
In 2014, the quiet youngster had his first on track experience at Queensland Raceway's dirt track with the Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club.
In the beginning, James placed last in almost every race.
Then at the end of 2017, James was placed third in the club's junior Autocross competition.
Club president Dave Cullen, who has watched James' development since joining the club, jumped for joy when he heard the results.
"It was so great because he has worked so hard at it," Mr Cullen said.
As James' confidence has grown, he's become a valuable member of the club even putting his social anxiety aside to help the younger kids.
"Being involved in the club can make a real difference for kids and not just kids like James," Mr Cullen said.
"We've had kids that had been in trouble with the law, or at school, and it's really turned their lives around."
For Frank Ball, James' father, the difference in his son today compared to two years ago has been remarkable.
"He would never really talk to people and could find it hard to answer a question," Mr Ball said.
"Having a car to focus on - one he can personalise - and being involved with the club has been a massive benefit to him socially.
"His confidence has really improved and for him to achieve third place - when we thought he would never be able to drive a manual - has just been outstanding."
Next Sunday, the club will host a come and try day for anyone over the age of 14.
It will be the first event of the year involving multiple tracks and challenges.
How you can get involved Come and try day Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club
- When: Sunday, January 28 from 7am
- Where: Champion Way, Willowbank
- Cost: $60 + $25 for a one day CAMS licence
Sign on (off road bikes) Ipswich Switches Junior Speedway Club
- When: Saturday, February 3 from 8am
- Where: Champions Way, Willowbank
- Cost: from $40