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Herne lands full-time American drive

NATHAN Herne will move overseas in a matter of days after signing a deal to contest the full 2023 American Trans Am Championship.

The 20-year-old will link up with Stevens-Miller Racing, with whom he made a stunning cameo last November, placing fourth on debut at the Circuit of the Americas.

Such was the impression he made, Herne will line up at all 12 rounds this year in a CUBE 3-backed Ford Mustang TA2 car.

He will split his time between Indiana and Michigan, the respective homes of Stevens-Miller Racing and chassis constructors Howe Racing Enterprises.

“It doesn’t feel real to be honest, I don’t know how to feel right now,” said Herne, who last year added the S5000 Tasman Series crown to his two Australian Trans Am titles.  

“Joe Stevens and Howe Racing are really putting all their eggs in my basket to try and win the 2023 title, so it’s daunting, but also pretty cool.

“They want to get the championship. It is very competitive over there, and there are a bunch of NASCAR teams now putting their junior drivers and main game drivers in the category to groom them for NASCAR.

“NASCAR is going more towards the road course route and TA2 over there is the biggest road racing series they have, so it’s a bit of a pinch yourself moment to think I’ll be in the category in just under two months’ time.”

Team owner Joe Stevens believes Herne has what it takes to deliver them a title.

The car with which Herne raced at COTA last November. Pic: Supplied

“Nathan brings a wealth of racing experience and impressive accomplishments to our team, and we are confident that his skills behind the wheel will propel us back to winning championships,” he said.

Herne admits the future could go two very different ways: “I’m going to give it everything I have, and if worse comes to worse, I’ll come back to Australia with a year’s bucket list ticked off, but best case, I stay in the States and build on a great year and make the most of the opportunity.”

Having never been able to make a Super2 campaign happen to propel himself into the Repco Supercars Championship, Herne wants to be a trailblazer for others.

“Hopefully Trans Am becomes a pathway for young guys coming out of Formula Ford,” he continued.

“Not everyone can afford the big-budget categories, and I guess you can say I’m being a guinea pig for the guys like myself to push and break through the hurdles here in Australia.

“I think what I am doing proves that this is a genuine pathway for young drivers.

“The world’s a big place and we do forget that. I never thought America was an option, and I was bloody stressed midway through the year about how I sat in the Australian motorsports landscape, although the Trans Am series has put me on this pathway, so I just have to sit down and strap in and see where this leads to.”

The 12-round American Trans Am Championship kicks off at Sebring International Raceway on February 23-26.

Among other high-profile stops on the calendar are Road Atlanta, Road America, Watkins Glen and COTA, plus the Detroit and Nashville street circuits in support of IndyCar.

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