Despite a few setbacks with the weather this season Horsham Motorsports Club wrapped up their 2016/17 schedule with a stellar week end with their Winter Speedway Carnival featuring Wingless Sprintcars, Limited Sportsman, Three Litre sedans, Ladies, Juniors, Street Stocks and open sedans and the annual visit of the Vintage heavy Hot Rods, Stock cars and the addition of a new class of vintage sedans (Tin Tops) debuting for the first time at the Track in The Paddock at Kalkee.
Day one on Saturday saw a thick layer of fog settle on the facility as the very capable and dedicated track crew worked their magic on the track surface and as drivers gathered at trackside there were a lot of nodding heads and knowing glances as lines were looked for well before the rubber hit the clay.
With nominations for the event numbering almost 120 cars already in the books the club was thrilled to have over 130 cars in the pits by race time due to the cancellation of a meeting in Sydney and last minute decisions by others to have another “Kick at the Can”.
With the pits rapidly filling with cars regular drivers were having to find new places to park after discovering their favourite spots already taken.
First on the track for the weekend were the very popular Vintage Stock Cars that bought many an old race driver to their feet with the sounds of 60 and 70 year old side valve V8’s and 6 cylinder “Flatty” engines in cars of the same era bringing back the nostalgic feel of speedway racing from “Back in the Day’.
Being able to put on their demonstrations on a fresh race surface was a treat to watch. A number of these cars are original cars lovingly rebuilt to their former glory and others are replicas of actual cars from the 40’s 50’s 60’s and 70’s, as are the drivers, and all as a labour of love because as a demonstration class no prize money or trophies are awarded and the cars and drivers are restricted to “Spirited Demonstrations”.
Of the 21 cars nominated for the week end only one car, driven by Dennis Bald failed to finish the week end after leaving engine parts and oil on the front straight in the second last run of their week end.
Wingless Sprintcars featured on both Saturday and Sunday nights with Cobden’s Carly Walsh and Melbourne driver Peter Logue starting off the front row in the final on Saturday. Logue pounced off the start and left Walsh to challenge him throughout 20 lap race. Logue would win followed by Walsh and Nic Green in third. The race was called on the final lap with the 57 car rolling in the Horsham turn doing a lot of front end damage and as the recovery was taking place the fog returned and made conditions unsafe to continue for the night.
On Sunday, Walsh started the final in pole position after claiming a first and a second in her heat races. Horsham Driver Jeremy Beddison started along side her in the final after earning a first and a third results in his heat races. At the drop of the green flag Walsh took the lead on the field and set up a good gap on the cars battling behind her and despite the two restarts kept them at bay until four laps from the chequered flag when Logue, who drove through the field from his start position of seventh, took the win in the 20 laps final which saw a number of retirees but only two stoppages making it a fast and furious race for the fans.
Bendigo drivers featured in the Three Litre Sedans with a good field of cars contesting the weekend with furious racing in the heats over the two days.
Lennie Clark of Bendigo took a commanding lead in the final on Sunday leading the field on Sunday from start to finish. Fellow Bendigo driver Daniel Wilson made it close in the final laps battling with Clark to came a close second. Ballarat Driver Lucas Condor claimed third in the final laps to make for a thrilling finish to the night.
In the very popular Street Stock division a number of Horsham Club drivers battled the opposition and the track all night with some having more success than others. The Horsham turn seemed to trip up some of the drivers with club media representative Jamie Collins facing a field of very fast cars heading his way after a spin with all of the cars being able to make it by and coming out unscathed.
Morris ‘Oggie’ Ahearn of Mortlake, was unstoppable all weekend taking the win in all five heat races, he would then go on to win the final race of the weekend.
Horsham’s Luke James would follow close behind in second in the and Paul Razum of Mt Gambier in third taking the third spot on the podium.
The growing number of Limited Sportsman cars put on a great show all weekend with a good field of competitive cars.
Jock Baker was the quickest of the group winning two of his three heat races as some of the other favourites battled the fast but greasy track surface.
Pimpinio’s Baker started the final race and took a commanding lead on the field while beside him Adam McKenzie of Minyip kept the pressure on to keep Baker honest. Baker won the final while managing to lap every driver except McKenzie who claimed second followed by Jevon Duff getting a hold of his new engine package and getting a great result. Another local favourite, Mark McDonald struggled with the handling of his 44 machine and found the wall in the Horsham turn and was clipped by another car in the final race of the weekend ending his day.
Horsham’s Travis Matthews was awarded the best-presented car award for his impressive purple and green machine.
Not to be out done the Ladies put on a great show of speed and ability with a good field of entrants and battled hard all week end.
Casey Langan of Ballarat could not be beaten on the weekend and was unbeatable in the heats. After claiming all five heat races, she went on to win the final race taking the victory over Horsham’s Emma Hutchins who, after an 18 month absence from the driver’s seat, quickly got back into the pace and earned the second place along with Melbourne’s Felicity Roycroft in third.
With the addition of a number of late entrants in Open Sedans the field doubled in cars due to the cancellation of the Sydney meeting and it was decided to split the field into two classes. Production and Three litre and Modified Production
Horsham veteran Graham Gerlach ruled the field of Open Sedans during the heat races and won three of the very closely contested events showing that he has not lost his edge.
In the final two heats Dehne Sparrow of Hamilton claimed a win along with Swan Hill’s Benny Mannix.
The final turned out to be as closely contested as the heats with Sparrow taking win followed closely by Gerlach in second and Mannix in third.
Junior drivers from all over the region lined up and split into two groups and the racing was, as usual, fast and furious.
It is said that people doing some thing for the first time don’t really know what they can’t do before knowing what they can and these junior drivers have that in spades.
With the drivers driving through the turns three, four and at times five wide the inevitable results were seen with cars pointing in differing directions on the exits of the corners.
In the Junior A group, Brad Garner took the top spot followed by Oskar Tanner and Jack Tanner.
In Junior B top place went to Bella Rizzoli followed by Bing Bellman and Brayden Claridge.
If what we witnessed on the week end is any indication speedway racing has a bright future ahead with these youngsters.
The trucks had a couple of runs over the weekend without stalwart Wes Bell due to a hand injury prior to the meeting.
As usual the trucks were well received and put on a great show with Redda taking the top spot followed by Fletch and Brenden.
During the weekend a number of drivers offered up their pride and joy cars to new and novice drivers to experience the thrill of driving a car on track, some for the first time ever and some in cars they have never sat in before some with success and some not so much. No real damage was done and a great time was had by all and there were smiles all round, after the cars were back in the pits and inspected.
Horsham Motor Sports Club Would like to thank all the members and volunteers that help get the meetings to run despite some of the weather problems this year and all the sponsors that always show up to support racing.
We would like to also recognise the support of the racing community and the fans who are unfailing in their support and who, without their interest and love of speedway, we would not be able to put on such good racing.