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.
Sprintcar fans from across the region helped celebrate the 100th round of the All Star 360 Sprintcar series at Blue Ribbon Speedway on Saturday night with the large crowd kept entertained throughout the evenings program.
With 26 of the best 360 drivers competing on the night the competition was intense with no quarter giving on what turned into a great surface for Sprint car racing. In front of a large crowd of appreciative fans. Time trials produced a top speed and quick time from the South Australia 33 Mark Caruso at 14.232 seconds at 108.769 kph on the 430 metre racing surface and only 3 seconds separating the full field.
Six heats were run splitting the field of cars and the heats started to show the teams that were able to get the handling right and were able to keep lap times consistently in the high 14 seconds and were relatively trouble free. The third round of heats saw the 77 of Brayden Parr who, after contact, ran a number of laps with his front wing broken pulled onto the infield with a fire evident under his car and entering the driver compartment. With an excellent response from emergency personnel and officials Parr was removed from the car and the fire extinguished without further damage to the car and the driver was unhurt.
As the track crew worked to set the track up for the final the facility was plunged into darkness as there was a failure of the electrical supply to the lighting. Fortunately the fault was rectified quickly but the lights needed extra time to cool before being able to be turned back on. To the credit of the fans and the commentary crew every one took the delay in style and entertained themselves with renditions of Nutbush City Limits and the Chicken Dance.
After the break a shortened B main was run the top finishing cars transferring to the A main and with times into the low 14 seconds it was looking to be a great final.
After the now regular four wide salute to the crowd the 20 car field got under way with the drop of the green flag and it did not take long until contact saw the cars of Solomon, Cambell and Enderl pulling infield and a series of restarts before four laps were completed with Mitch Smith slamming the turn three wall doing serious damage but walking away unhurt. The most serious incident occurred on lap four when the cars of Daniel Scott and James Wren touched in turn four resulting Scott barrel rolling into the pit straight tearing off the wing but due to the safety features of these cars walked away shaken but unhurt.
The race continued unstopped for 10 laps and after another stoppage for a spinning car the race continued to the 30 laps finale with the hard charging Mathew Reed taking the chequered flag over Micheal Tancredi and Jordyn Charge the top three in the 100th round of the All Star series.
Three Litre Saloons
A field of 8 very competitive three litre saloons where on hand to compete in the GV Bearing’s feature event and the heats showed the field was very tight and it would be a hard fought event.
Heat 1 saw the 35 of Ben Naismith out front for 8 of the 10 laps, led only mid race by Jason Ahearn who kept Daniel Wilson at bay in third, heat 2 saw the 66 of Horshams Steve Honeyman take the lead from Shane Simpson on lap two and hold it from Simpson and a hard charging V2 of Lennie Clark.
Heat three was again a tight race with Andrew Ahearn taking the lead from the green flag and held it to the finish with Mick Boyle starting to get a hold on the track in second and Jason Ahearn in third. Local drivers Honeyman and Graham Gerlach again struggling with the track and set up.
Heat 4 again saw a dominant run by Andrew Ahearn from the front row to take the win followed by Mick Boyle with Naismith and Jason Ahearn fighting for third with Ahearn taking third.
The final run over 15 laps turned out to be a very hard fought and fast paced race with the front row of Clark and Andrew Ahearn running nose to tail until lap 11 when Ahearn pulled infieldto join Gerlach, Daniel Wilson and Naismith.
Coming up fast through the field Horsham’s Honeyman was waging a fierce battle with Swan Hills Boyle with both cars swapping positions in the latter stages of the race. With three laps to go Boyle got the run on Clark and Jason Ahearn and took the checkers in a very entertaining race followed by Clark, Shane Simpson who got by Ahearn on the last lap and Honeyman dropping back in the field.
Vintage Hot Rods
A field of six Vintage cars ran three rounds of demonstration events during the night giving the large crowd a look at what it was like back when cars were built in back yards and sheds and in farm yards for weekly trips to the picnic races.
A small field of Limited Sportsman ran a series of short sprint runs in packs that showcased the speed and agility of these very popular cars and will be sure to produce more great racing at Blue Ribbon this season.
The next event to be held at Blue Ribbon Raceway is Saturday February 9 when the Modified Tractor Pull.
Horsham Motor Sports Club brought their 2017/18 season to a close over the Queens Birthday long weekend with an old fashioned Sunday Butchers Picnic.
Featuring Wingless Sprints, Limited Sportsman, Three Litre Sedans, SSA Juniors, Street Stocks, three Vintage Classes and Horshams own V8 Trucks and, as a salute to the past, mechanics were strapped into the cars they work and set loose to strut their stuff.
A small amount of rain hit the track in the days before and the track crew worked hard to prepare the racing surface. As usual the track came up beautifully and it was a credit to the team. Continue reading Speedway Season Ends with old Fashion Picnic