Cam Waters sets sights on NASCAR debut: 'I definitely have a dream to one day get over here and race full-time'

Cam Waters is, by now, an established veteran of the Repco Australian Supercars Series with quite the resume.

A championship runner-up in 2020 and ’22, the Victoria native has 11 career wins and plenty of experience with paved road and street courses. But never has he experienced something like racing a stock car — or stock truck — on a short, paved oval.

Good thing that’s what’s in store for him Friday night.

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Waters, 29, will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut Friday in the Long John Silver’s 200 at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in the No. 66 ThorSport Racing Ford.

“I’m absolutely pumped,” Waters said Tuesday in a media teleconference. “I‘m super excited to be finally having a race over here in a truck. I‘ve always followed NASCAR and done a little valuable stuff myself on dirt in Australia, so to do a pavement oval is pretty cool for me and something I‘ve always wanted to do.”

Waters is not the only Oceanic native to make the journey to the United States for a taste of NASCAR’s unique style of racing in recent years. Shane van Gisbergen and Brodie Kostecki both have roots in Supercars racing and made their Cup Series debuts a season ago, with SVG famously winning the inaugural Chicago Street Race with Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 program and beginning a full-time Xfinity Series campaign this season.

Waters’ own pursuit of stock-car racing began almost exactly a year ago — with a trip to the same 0.526-mile oval on which he will make his NASCAR debut.

“We came to Martinsville 12 months ago and watched a race and that‘s what probably sparked a bit more interest in me to pursue it,” Waters said. “I‘ve just been chipping away in the background over the last 12 months to make something happen like this.”

Though SVG and Kostecki have already hit the track, Waters said his talks with ThorSport predated van Gisbergen’s deal with Trackhouse.

“It’s something that I’ve been looking at doing for a long time,” he added. “I’ve been racing sprint cars for three years with dirt late model stuff before that. So yeah, this hasn’t just come out of nowhere. Where it leads to, I’ve got no idea. But at the moment, it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a bit of a bucket-list thing and I think it’s gonna complement my Supercar program.”

Unlike most NASCAR teams, ThorSport is not based in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Instead, the team is based in Sandusky, Ohio, which meant a flight into Cleveland for the Australian Waters.

“I got blown away by how big ThorSport was and their whole operation,” Waters said. “I was blown away with how cold it was in Sandusky because we‘re coming out of an Australian summer. It was freezing there and then we did a road trip to Charlotte and have been here since Saturday or Sunday. I‘ve been at the (Ford) Tech Center and doing a little bit of sim stuff today, so we‘re ramping up the efforts for the weekend and trying to learn as much as I can in a short period of time.”

Cam Waters drives in the Supercars Championship Series in the Bathurst 1000.
Cam Waters drives in the Supercars Championship Series in the Bathurst 1000.

A bucket-list item might make this NASCAR venture sound like a neat one-off for Waters to check a box, head back to Australia and return to life as he’s known it. That’s not quite his plan.

“I definitely have a dream to one day get over here and race full-time NASCAR,” Waters said. “But to get there it‘s such a long journey and I‘ve got a pretty cool thing going on in Australia racing Supercars. For me to do the odd NASCAR race like we‘re doing this weekend is pretty cool, so we‘ll go through this weekend and have a bit of fun and work out what NASCAR is all about and see what happens in the future.”

The influx of drivers from Down Under is not lost on Waters, despite the clear differences among Waters, van Gisbergen and Kostecki.

“I guess we’ve got a relationship going from years of racing against each other. We (drivers) all kind of talk,” Waters said. “I went and caught up with Shane the other day. We went and played some Top Golf together here in Concord (North Carolina). I talk to Brodie all the time. We’re always trying to help each other when we can when it‘s not in the Supercar series. Obviously, it’s a little bit different now with Shane going and Brodie’s having a year off. As much as we’re competitors, we want to see each other do well.”

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Friday’s showcase is scheduled to be a 200-lap doozy, an event that typically features crinkled fenders and bent tempers, preceded by 20 minutes of practice and two laps of time-trial qualifying. Waters is not terribly concerned about the length of the race, noting three-hour stints while racing at Bathurst. But he’s also not underestimating the challenge of what’s ahead.

“I’m sure the race will be pretty full on, so, I’m going to be pretty tired at the end of the race,” Waters said.

Oh, and he also has no intention of racing and making a hasty exit for the house once his event is over.

“I want to get out there and experience NASCAR as a whole. The whole weekend,” Waters said. “I’m going to stick around and watch all the races and just take it all in. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty wild races out there.”