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