HOW BUNDY WON ME: Todd visits region
MOTORSPORT: In more ways than one, Bundaberg has won the heart of Supercars driver Todd Hazelwood.
The Matt Stone Racing team driver was in the region last weekend competing in the opening round of the Central Queensland Kart Series at Dromeside Raceway.
Hazelwood competed in the Tag 125 light series and finished outside the top five as he battled the best around the region.
But for the Dunlop Super 2 Series champion from last year, it didn't matter.
"It was nice to get a weekend away, I haven't had one since November last year helping to get the team ready for Supercars,” he said.
"I had a lot of fun and it was good to take it to some of the blokes that I haven't raced before.
"I had a different kart configuration to the rest so I was a bit handicapped.”
Hazelwood wasn't in the Rum City for just the racing.
He also visited his partner Alice Litzow (inset) and her family.
The couple has been dating since late last year and you will see both of them at many Supercars events over the year.
"Fortunately we met through the motorsport industry and her family's links with Hydraulink,” he said.
"We spend a lot of time with each other at race meets as she is a grid girl as well.
"I'm very proud and happy to call her my girlfriend.”
The relationship did present an interesting challenge last weekend.
Hazelwood was forced to compete against Alice's brother James who also competed in the same class.
James was able to get one up on the Supercar driver by winning the overall round with two wins in the heats and second in the final.
"It was very cool racing against him,” Hazelwood said.
"It would have been a little bit awkward at the dinner table if we tripped over each other, so thankfully that didn't happen.”
The 22-year-old said while last weekend's racing wasn't serious, two weekends from now it will be.
Hazelwood will compete at the Australian Grand Prix in the second round of the series after racing in Adelaide in the first round.
The Ford driver finished 22nd and 21st in his first two races in his debut full season in the series.
The South Australian said it was a tough, challenging and rewarding weekend, racing at home.
"It was a fantastic weekend, I was overwhelmed by the support,” Hazelwood told the NewsMail.
"For us it was getting the small wins and working towards an end goal.
"You need to walk before you run.”
Hazelwood felt he did that by giving the car back to the team in one piece.
He said his focus was now is on improving as the season progresses.
"Ideally we want top 10 finishes but it is a tough field,” he said.
"I'd love to finish inside the top 15 in the championship in the first year.”
Hazelwood said he has a soft spot for the region and comes here as much as he can.
"I love Bundy,” he said.
"I grew up in a country town and the area really reminds me of that.”
Hazelwood competes in the next round from March 23-25.