All posts by Mark Cowin

Sporties Challenge to celebrate Kev

by Mark Cowin

With heavy hearts with the passing of class patriarch Kevin ‘Kev’ Baker last week, Horshams Limited Sportsman drivers will again be vying to take home the coveted Kevin Baker Challenge trophy.

Always a great supporter of the Limited Sportsman class, and a proponent of giving everyone a ‘go’and putting on a show for the crowd Kev loved to watch battles throughout the whole field during an event and the format of the event reflects his love.

The format will see points accumulated throughout the heat races with the highest point scorers starting at the rear of the field giving all competitors a great chance of victory and Kev’s dream was to reward all those competitors that turn up race after race for the love of the sport above all else. It also gave the dominant drivers a chance to ‘show their stuff’ in the always entertaining class.

The Sporties live the speedway life from a time where winning was a goal but having fun and helping other racers to learn the sport in a family oriented safe and supporting environment with others which was Kev’s goal for the class.

As the promoter of the Challenge, Kev’s son Clint sponsors the event and has carried on the tradition with his own company Compass Powder Coating always having a sporty or two in the yard ready to be worked on to keep the class going and growing. Last years winner Mark McDonald is sure to have his tail up with the likes of Nathan Buckley, Jock Baker, Godfrey, Ansell, Matthews, McKenzie and a legion of drivers promising to make the trip out to celebrate Kev’s life and legacy and maybe take home a trophy as a bonus.

PHOTO: Kevin “KEV” Baker doing what he loved best!
Courtesy M&L Speedway Photography

Wingless Sprintcars will be ending their WWS Super Series at Blue Ribbon and if the last few events have proven anything these drivers will not be holding back to be number one. Following on from strong showings at recent outings the event promises to be well contested.

With in excess of 20 of these high powered light weight cars nominated at press time the numbers are sure to grow and with the Kalkee surface sure to be in great conditions fans can be assured that this will be a must see event.

After a season of ups and downs will this be the time for Steven Hateley to shine in his Horsham Offroad/ Carmans windscreens hot rod on his home track or Jordan Nicholas and Braden Parr to dominate or will we see Carly Walsh show the boys a thing or two. With these cars anything can and usually does happen.

PHOTO: Steve Hateley in action at a recent outing
Courtesy M&L Speedway Photography.

The mighty minis of the V8 powered Super Rods will bring their best to Horsham as their long season continues. With the return of Shaun Walsh to the ranks the season has been a revolving door of winners with Coad, Walsh, Gange and Gleeson joining series Champion Ewan McKenzie in the lineup. After securing his fourth title in 37 years of competition the never aging McKenzie is sure to be up front proving that ‘it aint over till its over’ as these V8 powered machines steam around the 440 metres of Wimmera clay.

V8 trucks and a full program of supporting classes will also run so remember to pack a blanket and a chair or arrive early and secure a spot on the bank and watch from the warmth of your car. Gates open 4:30 with racing getting under way at 5:30

Daniel Slays The Dragons

by Mark Cowin and Jamie Collins

Speedway action at Blue Ribbon Raceway on Saturday night showed the fickle nature of motor racing resulting in a very popular win by local Horsham Motorsports racer Daniel Simpson to become Victoria #1 in Modified Sedan competition.

In the lead up to the championship Simpson’s chances of a title looked very challenging when an encounter with the wall at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool left a very damaged race car parked high in turns one and two. Two weeks of hard work saw the HO 33 of Simpson on track for first heat. The cars of Matt Gerlach and the sentimental crowd favourite Graham West in his very fast LJ Torana also suffered significant damage at Warrnambool but were also ready to do their utmost to keep the title in Victoria after a trip to Queensland with Aiden Raymont also intent on keeping it.

Heat one saw Simpson show the depth of his desire with a flag to flag win by 10 second over Jetson followed closely by Chrystie and Gerlach. Heat two saw the cars of Raymont and coming from the back end of the grid to challenge Atkins mid race with Drewett taking the win over Atkins and Raymont with only .03 secs seperating them ad West in fourth. Heat three saw another hard charge from the rear of the field with Martin Hawson took the lead on lap four and held on with Kye Walters in second and Chris Hayden holding off Blackwell by .3 seconds, Hawsons fast lap of 20.334 seconds set the tone for the night. Heat four saw another hard charge from the rear of the field with Simpson off the back row getting to fourth by lap three and with starting and finishing one/two Simpson got the better of Blackwell on the last lap for third after a six lap battle by half a second. Heat five was a run away win for Darren Cockerill from pole with an eight second gap on a charging Russell Bent .03 seconds ahead of Jetson in third the cooling temperatures saw Cockerill lower the lap time below 20 secs to 19.699.

Heat six line up had the cars of favoured runners Raymont, Walters and Hawson pitted against each other in what was a hard fought battle for the minor placings with Hawson running away with another low time of 19.294 and Walters and Raymont battling for six laps Walters taking second with one to go. Heat seven again saw Jake Drewett in the MDA 18 charge from the rear of the field to take a narrow win over Hawson who fought through the field from last half way through the heat to miss first by half a second with Rachel Pratt five seconds back in third. Heat eight saw Daniel Simpson start near the rear of the field but by lap three was chasing down Matt Nelson and eventually taking the lead on lap eight only to lose it one lap later to finish second to Nelson with Walters in third and only .6 seconds seperating the top three. In one of the closest heats of the night eleven seconds sperated the field of nine over the ten lap race. Places changed constantly during the heat with the car of Leahy taking the lead on lap two and the minor placings being decided by lap six with the final placings Leahy, Cockerill and Burr setting the scene for a barn burner of a final.

Twenty one cars lined up for the final and after the formalities of driver presentations set off for 35 laps to determine the Victoria #1. MDA 18 Jake Drewett got a holeshot on the field at the flag and looked strong but was challenged on lap 8 by the MDA 72 of Martin Hawson who took the lead. By lap twelve the cars of Matt Gerlach and Russell Felsavory were infield followed one lap later Rachel Pratt, Russel Bent and the reining Vic #1 Aiden Raymont followed shortly after by Graham West all from contact. This left a wide open track for the field to battle for the title. Leader Martin Hawson was also involved while leading but continued on.

Lap 30 saw the car of Hawson leading Simpson, Chrystie, Cockerill and Blackwell and all lapping within view of the chequered flag. Dramatically coming out of turn four while being chased by Simpson, Hawson pulled onto the infield to the shock of the crowd and Simpson took the lead on lap 32 and would not be challenged from that point to take first place and the title of Victorian Champion by four seconds from Chrystie and Cockerill followed by Blackwell and Walters for the podium. Seven seconds separated the top six finishers and Simpson’s best lap was a 18.556 at 100.884 km/h.

Simpson now has the right to carry the Vic #1 on his car for the next year and after not knowing two weeks before if he would even make the field his win was a huge effort and brings the title back to Victoria.

Caption Victoria #1: Horsham’s Daniel Simpson celebrates his win in the Victorian State Title at Blue Ribbon Raceway. Photo Courtesy of Jamie Collins.

Blue Ribbon to host Modified Sedan Title

by Mark Cowin

Horsham Motorsports Club is proud to announce the running of the Modified Sedan Victorian Title at Blue Ribbon Raceway proudly sponsored by Horsham Auto Wreckers on April 6.

After the hugely successful Australian Title held at the raceway last season the club was pleased to be offered the chance to hold the title at the last minute after issues with another Victorian facility and in a very short time had secured sponsorship to hold the event.

With nominations in excess of 30 competitors coming from across Australia to compete for this prestigious title including current Victoria 1 Aiden Raymont coming down from Queensland to try to hold onto his crown. After a long and busy season the ‘mods’ have put in a ton of laps at tracks across the country and it has taken a toll on some of the cars but all the teams are working overtime to be ready. With Raymont wanting to hold onto his title and any number of challengers aiming to bring the title back to its home, with issues at the last round of the VMPA series the cars of Daniel Simpson, Matt Gerlach and the super fast little LJ Torana of Graham West have had a lot of shed time to iron out the wrinkles from various bumps and bangs but have all got their eyes on the target. Not to be outdone the cars of Micheal Hayden, Aaron Bunton and Kye Walters, are not to be ignored.

With the absence of the winner of the final round and the Di Watson Memorial at Premier Speedway, David Smith, due to family commitments the field will again be wide open. The controversy of the final being shortened by nine laps still leaving questions among the drivers that will be settled at the drop of the checkered flag at Blue Ribbon Raceway.

Defender; Defending Vic 1 Aiden Raymont aims to hold his title. Photo courtesy M&L Speedway Photography

Following on from the success of the Australian Title last season Horsham Motorsports Club has put a lot of effort into finding sponsors for the event and the business community has come to the party with the event being predominantly fully sponsored and with the support of the speedway community it will be a huge night of racing.

Also on the program will be the Victorian Mini Sprints and Production Sedans. The mini sprints are virtually smaller versions of the popular Sprintcars but powered by motorbike engines and with their size and low weights they can get around the race track as quick as any of the other classes.

Tight: Racing will be competative in the Production Sedans. Photo courtesy M&L Speedway Photography

The Production Sedan competitors have had a long season showcasing the best drivers in the class with seasoned drivers and rookies running bumper to bumper with basically stock and equal cars depending on skill and nerve and will, as usual, put on a spirited display for the local fans on what will be a big night of racing for all classes.

Blue Ribbon regulars rewarded

by Mark Cowin

Extreme temperatures ahead of Saturday nights action did not phase the enthusiasm of Blue Ribbons regular fans and competitors alike with the running of the Robin Thomas Memorial for V8 trucks, the Les McMaster memorial for Limited Sportsman and the return after more than two decades of the SDAV Hotrods.

The extreme weather pushed the track crew to the limit and the clubs decision to push the start time back for the safety of the competitors and fans alike and gave the crew more time to prepare the surface. The positive attitude of the drivers was bought out in a comment, “its dirt not blacktop lets give them a show”, and that’s what they did.

Limited Sportsman

With the prestigious Les McMaster Memorial on the line Sportie drivers were focused on the goal from the drop of the flag and with the challenging conditions of the night it was going to be survival of the fittest. Two fields of sporties were split into three heats each and with previous winners Mark McDonald and Jock Baker aiming at taking the trophy home it was not going to be easy with Adam Mckenzie, Craig Ansell and Travis Matthews showing good speed.

In the heats Baker showed a clean pair of heels to the field taking the win in all three of his heats without giving up the lead at any time and showing how to set up his car on a track that was hard for the low slung cars to get around. McDonald was not to be denied taking a second and a first before secoming to a flat tyre in the third heat and a DNF. McKenzie and Aston took the remaining heat wins to put the question mark on the final.

After a track resurfacing the drop of the flag saw the SA 1 of Baker get the holeshot on the field with the cars of McKenzie and Aston in pursuit. With Baker moving further ahead the racing in the midfield became intense with positions changing continually until lap 7 when the 74 of Stevens dropped from the race followed by the 13 of Carpenter on lap 10 and the 27 of Matthews in the final laps. Jock Baker took a convincing win over a fast finishing Adam McKenzie and Mark McDonald finishing a close third from a start in the mid field.

Powering; Jock Baker on his way to his 6th Les McMaster Memorial.
Photo courtesy M&L Speedway Photography

V8 Trucks

Robin Thomas’s legacy with Blue Ribbon Raceway is long and varied and the V8 trucks was one of them, truck drivers in the club look to this as the high point of their season and with new trucks coming into the class the competition was intense.

With the drop of the flag in the first heat it wasn’t long before Luke ‘Redda’ James took his usual position up high on the wall at the head of the field and Wes Bell and Nathan Bird in pursuit until the truck of Bird suffered engine issues and was out for the night. The second heat saw James again running high and taking the win in a green white chequer finish over a fast finishing Fletcher Mills and Brendan Jackson making for an interesting third heat and final. Heat three was one of the best fought races in recent meetings with Fletcher Mills in the 44 and James in the 57 trading paint and positions all race long with James taking the win with a low pass over Mills followed by Bell in the 22. The final of the Thomas Memorial looked to be a barn burner and James took the lead over Mills, Bell. Entering turn two the truck of James took a right turn and hit hard into the wall and suffered a broken steering box and was out for the night, a very rare occasion for Redda. On the restart Mills and Bell battled as did Jackson and Carman changing positions throughout the race. Mills took the win over veteran Bell with Carman in third ahead of Jackson.

Lesson learned; Student Fletcher Mills battled the teacher, veteran Wes Bell to win his first Robin Thomas Memorial trophy.
Photo courtesy M&L Speedway Photography.

SDAV Hot Rods

With over two decades passing since the last visit of the SDAV to Blue Ribbon Raceway competitors and club members were excited at seeing these cars on the wide open spaces of the speedway. After their Victorian title in Bairnsdale the week prior the members had a lot of work before getting to Horsham and new Victorian 1 Stan Marco Snr wanted to stay out in front of the pack. Heat races saw the 84 of Shannon Meakins take a flag to flag win in a car that was not rebuilt until 9am Saturday morning before making the trip after a big roll over in the title followed by Stan Marco Snr and Jnr taking the minors. Heat two saw Stan Snr take the lead on lap 3 from Phil Jenkins and held the lead to win over Stan Jnr and Shannon Meakins. Stan Marco Jnr, showing the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with a flag to flag win over the hard charging Meakins and Stan Snr chasing the duo home for a strong third. The final for the hot rods again looked to be very tight with Meakins and Stan Marco Snr battling wheel to wheel for the entire race with some extremely close passes right to the flag with Marco Snr taking the narrowest win over Meakins followed by Stan Marco Jnr, Kali Hovey, Phil Jenkins and Russ Hovey in a great return to Blue Ribbon.

Epic Battle; SDAV Hot Rodders Stan Marco Snr and Shannon Meakins waged a great battle in the final before Marco took the win.
Photo courtesy, M&L Speedway Photography

Production Sedans

Production sedans had a run at the track in the paddock sponsored by Alice Mobile Car Detailing, with local driver Ryan Queale wanting to prove his mettle in front of the home fans. With Australia 2 Dehne Sparrow in the field it was going to be a hard ask for the competitors and it came to pass with Sparrow taking two heat wins and a second and winning the final. Adam Wilson took the win in the third heat but did not finish the final with Shane Hammond in second Zak Calderwood in third and Queale a creditable fourth place in a great effort.

Pressure; Horshams Ryan Queale puts it where he needs to bring home a creditable fourth on home clay.
Photo courtesy M&L Speedway Photography.

Horsham Motorsports next meeting will be held on April 6th proudly featuring the Victorian State Title for Modified Production Sedans and support classes.

Pioneers Celebrated

by Mark Cowin.

Blue Ribbon Raceway will come alive on Saturday night with Open Wheel action and celebration as Horsham Motorsports Club hosts the Les McMaster Memorial for Limited Sportsman and the Robin Thomas Memorial for V8 trucks supported by the SDAV Hot Rods Production Sedans and Street Stocks.

Limited Sportsman

Limited Sportsman drivers from across the state will converge on the Kalkee track in search of a win in the prestigious Les McMaster Memorial that has previously been won by Jock Baker and Mark McDonald among others and both have shown great support for the event and have battled hard over the years to take the victory. Both drivers are nominated and will be sure to battle again for the trophy that personifies the class that Les had a hand in progressing until his passing and the legacy that the trophy brings to the class. Not to be out done by the guys newcomer Katelyn Worthy and Jenny Godfrey will be trying to show that they can give as well as the guys and will be out to prove that point.

Jenny Godfrey hoping to give the boys a run for their money in the LTD Sporties Les McMaster Memorial
PHOTO; M&L Speedway Photography..

V8 Trucks

Horshams own V8 trucks will again be out in force to compete hard for the Robin Thomas Memorial trophy on the wide open spaces of the Track in the Paddock, and they need it. Celebrating Robin Thomas, a stalwart of the club over many years as a Jack of all trades and a, I’ll get it figured out, type of guy and a man that held many positions within the club, from a volunteer to President and grader driver to V8 truck driver these guys have shoes to fill, big ones. With Luke ‘Redda’ James, Fletcher Mills and Wes Bell all keen to secure the win the field will be spread track wide all race with Redda on the high line as usual wearing the paint off the wall and a flock of screaming V8’s in close pursuit. For those that have not seen these trucks in action it is a sight to see these drivers wrestling the big race trucks around the circuit.

V8 TRUCKS; will sure to put on their usual great show in the Robin Thomas Memorial.
PHOTO; M&L Speedway Photography

SDAV Hot Rods

After an absence of over two decade the SDAV hot rods are returning to Kalkee to become reacquainted with the wide long track and will definitely put on a great show. With names such as Marco, Hovey, Jenkins, Meakins and West, names that show a long lineage in hot rods, in the line up for their Thunder Down Under series the long history of this club can not be denied. Only one driver in the current crop can claim any racing knowledge of the track and that is Phil Jenkins who has been racing ‘hot rods’ since the earliest days and throughout the transition to today’s high tech machines from the backyard racers of yesteryear. Beginning in the early 50’s the ‘A Grade’ hot rod has grown from a cut up 30’s model Ford or similar car using side valve V8’s through the years to 6 cylinder and finally small block V8’s today. The Hot Rod was the catalyst for many other forms of racing including Sprintcars and Super Rods of today and are a light weight version of the Heavy Hot Rod more commonly seen in the West of Victoria and South Australia. After his victory in the State Title last weekend, Stan Marco Snr, who’s Father also Stan Snr dominated hot rods through the 70’s and 80’s, will be looking to continue his winning ways on Saturday night. There will be 4 Marco cars in the line-up on Saturday night. A unique feature of the appearance of the SDAV cars will be the use of an original restored SDAV car from 1973 as a pace car for the night. This car ran against many of the drivers in Saturdays meeting driven by Maurie Moss throughout Southern Australia and is a great contrast to today’s cars. It is still demonstrating on track and owned and driven by Leanne Shanks and Mark Cowin of Beulah who restored the car.

SDAV Hotrods; Kali Hovey member of one of longest standing racing families in the history of SDAV.
PHOTO; M&L Speedway Photography

Production Sedans

Proddies will be making an appearance with a nice field in what has been a very busy schedule racing across the state for these teams. After a hectic Title held at Hamilton recently and the absence of the interstate and intrastate teams this could be the time for the locals to shine. Sophomore driver Ryan Queale has shown promise this season with some nice finishes and tempered with some dissapointment getting tangled up in other cars issues, Ryan is more than determined to put on a good showing for his legion of local supporters. Team Queale has put together a very professional squad with their team uniforms and dad Shaun is doing his best keeping the car pointed in the right direction as well as, of course, keeping other teams cars on track as is the family atmosphere of the class. Ryan will have to contend with the teams of Sparrow, Calderwood and Wilson among others that will keep him honest. Street Stocks will also be putting on a good showing in their own way with tight and very entertaining racing that will have the fans on their feet all night.

HORSHAMS Ryan Queale looking forward to a run on his home track
PHOTO; M&L Speedway Photography