This Easter Long weekend saw the Horsham Motor Sports Club host the Octane Alley Speedway Sedans Australian Title for Modified Sedans at their track in Kalkee, in what has been called one of the most successfully run title events in recent seasons.
Positive comments from representatives of Speedway Sedans Australia and Speedway Australia were confirmed by competitors and the huge crowds over the three day event. The HMSC members can be very proud of the event which is only the second National title awarded to the club since the track was built in the mid ‘90’s.
Club members are hoping this success will lead to offers of other national titles with the club being awarded ‘Three Star Status’ which allows the club the latitude to support the larger fields required for National events.
Friday saw 56 of the 57 entrants pass through scrutineering to begin practise and it did not take long before the cream began to rise to the top. The hope for the weekend was to have a hard fast multi lane surface and practise saw lap times continue to drop as the track turned black with rubber. The two hour practise session was only stopped once when Jason Gray lost a wheel two minutes before the scheduled close of practise. The car of Taleah Dolic did not make practise due to an engine failure.
By the end of practise twenty six drivers were separated by less than a second with the cars of Andrew Blackwell (Vic) and National Champion Matty Smith (Qld) holding low times until late in the session before V8 Supercar driver Cameron Waters lowered the time to a phenomenal 18.381 seconds 0.33 second ahead of Blackwell and Smith a further 0.03 seconds back in third.
As a test for the track the club decided to run the session uninterrupted without any track repair and in excess of 1000 ‘car laps’, (heats x cars x laps) were run at speed with the track getting better throughout to the great pleasure of the club, organisers and in particular the drivers who were very positive for the weekend ahead.
Saturday’s heats proved to be a battle for all the competitors with an Australian Title on the line and no quarter to be given. Australia #1 Matty Smith had handling issues all day and Matt Gerlach suffered similar problems during the heats.
Fastest time in practice, Cameron Waters took the first heat with a win over the soon to become crowd favourite #56 LJ Torana of Graham West of Bendigo, who showed that his over 40 year old race car would be the cat amongst the pigeons this weekend.
The most serious incident of the evening occurred in heat 7, when the car of Marcus Reddecliffe had contact with Steve Blackburn. Reddecliffe suffered a dislocated shoulder and a broken thumb which ended his title hopes. Also notable was a heavy hit by Russell Bent into the turn 4 wall which destroyed the front of his car possibly ending his weekend also.
Top 6 points leaders after night one saw Aiden Raymont with 100 points, leading Cameron Waters with two heat wins on 89, Brock Atkins 89, Kye Walters 81, Brad Warren 79 and the very fast Graham West on 79.
Sunday action saw the final heat races to be followed by the C, B and A-Main Feature races. In the C-Main 15 cars contested the 16 lap race with the first two place getters transferring to the B main. Starting in the pole position of the C-Main was the Vic 72 of Martin Hawson who battled through the race, with outside pole sitter Qld 62 of Tim Smith who separated themselves from the rest of the field to take the transfer spots in the B-Main.
The B-Main contained a surprised with the appearance of Russell Bent, who pulled an “all-nighter” to rebuild his car after a huge shunt the night before to start in position 9.
The top four finishers would be relegated to the rear of the field for the A main.
In a complete reversal of the C-Main the field was bunched up and contact was inevitable with six of the field not finishing including the pole sitter the NT 77 of Dave Clapson who retired before the start with a fuel leak and the last chance for local racer the Vic 33 of Daniel Simpson. Final placings for the B-Main saw the Qld 2 Tim Atkin, Vic 13 Russell Bent, Vic 72 Martin Hawson and Tas 35 Brad Herbert the first Tasmanian to reach an A-Main feature race on the mainland in a Modified Sedan.
The front two rows of the A-Main featured Vic 4 Brock Atkins and Qld 28 Aidan Raymont followed by the Vic 46 Kye Walters and the hard charging Vic 56 Graham West. Fast time and multiple heat winner Cameron Water was back in the middle of the field among a number of champions including the Aus 1 of Matty Smith back in 16th spot.
On the drop of the flag Trevor Mills retired with a flat tire as West and Raymont fell back through the field, with the race gaining a rhythm until lap 15 when Robbie Faux and defending champion Matty Smith came together resulting in Smith retiring from a broken steering castor rod and a fuel leak. A lap after the stoppage Waters was able to get by Walters to take the lead for good, a further stoppage on lap 26 saw the cars of Faux, Bent and Drew involved and was followed by the last stoppage of the race on lap 28 set up a barnburner of a finish.
Waters pulled away on the clear fast track and Walters was not able to close in. Raymont finished and equal distance back in third with the hard battling West finally getting the better of David Smith for a very popular fourth place.
During the presentations Matty Smith removed the #1 roof plate of his car and presented it to Waters in a sign of great sportsmanship. Waters thanked the Horsham Club, committee and volunteers for their hard work and was very happy to have taken out the title.
When interviewed for his 4th place West was asked why he still raced the Torana. His answer was pure West, “I’ve run this car for 30 years and it is still competitive, when I start getting in the way I will reconsider but until that time we will just keep having fun”.
Also featured over the two days of racing were the boys and girls of the JMPA Junior Sedans, who put on a great display of racing for the fans. There were multiple winners over the heat races with the Todd Atkins of Hamilton coming out on top in the A-Main on Sunday.
These young racers show no fear and push their cars to their limit and are the true base of our sport. Without new blood our sport can not prosper and we need to help more families enter the sport and get their youngster a grounding in a safe family oriented sport.
Three Litre sedans also spent the Easter weekend at Blue Ribbon showcasing their talents which included a number of local drivers having mixed results over the two days of racing.
Michael Boyle of Swan Hill earned the top spot over the weekend finishing with consistent results over the cars of Honeyman, Burrows and Ellis who all had a few struggles but provided excellent support for the title event.
The Horsham Motor Sports Club would like to thank all the sponsors, volunteers that made this event the success it became and thank the public for their continued support and will continue to bring top class speedway action the Track in the Paddock.