A RASH decision to buy a crumpled Ferrari 308 GTB in the 1980s started Charlie Clements' career in racing.

But it was no easy feat for the Nanango man, now 68 years old.

"I came home one day and said to the missus I bought a Ferrari and she said, 'No, you didn't!'" Clements said.

The offer was just too good to turn down for Clements, after the previous owner was desperate to get rid of the car.

"I got it real cheap. The price was all I could give him, about $45,000," he said.

For years Clements had only dreamt of owning the car after he saw it on the covers of car magazines.

Even then it was hard for Clements to get his hands on the car.

"When I was seven years old my father used to get a magazine once a month," he said.

"He never used to read them until he had the new edition."

That was around the late 1970s when the 308 was just launched, so it fast made its way to become Clements' favourite Ferrari.

After Clements paid for it, he was left with a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTB in a terrible state as it had been crashed.

"I took it all to bits and put it back together," he said.

Luckily Clements had the knack with automotive engineering after he studied it for four years at university.

Clements often finished second in his class, a result he would turn around years later on the race track.

While piecing the car back together wasn't too much of a challenge, finding the missing pieces did prove troublesome.

"It took me two-and-a-half years to get it started," Clements said.

Once completed Clements wasted no time in getting it on to the track.

Clements had always been a fan of speed, influenced by his father's passion for cars.

But when he was younger he also had motorbikes.

Clements had a serious crash which took almost a year to recover from and influenced him to make the change from two wheels to four.

Not that it changed how fast he drove.

In a speed trial event Clements said he attempted to break the 200mph mark but rain started to fall on the track.

Nevertheless he gave his all but fell just short at 182mph.

Since the 1990s Clements has travelled the world and raced Ferraris in Italy, England and Australia.

"I have raced on every track in Australia but one," he said.

With a cabinet full of trophies he has had more podium finishes than he can remember.

One of his stand-out wins was at the Darlington Park Motorkhana in Victoria, where he beat drivers with much newer Ferraris.

Now 68, Clements said he was too old to get back into racing after he retired three years ago.

"I'm getting too old for it now, my reactions aren't quick enough," he said.

In the meantime he has taken up golf and still drives his signature red Ferrari to the club house.

"You can fit your clubs in there," he said.

To this day, stooping down to get in the driver's seat still brings a smile to Clements.

"It's like Christmas," he said.

"It's something I've always wanted."

South Burnett

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