Rushworth Speedway fired up on Saturday the 22nd of October and if the first meeting is anything to go by the Goulburn Valley Auto Club is in for one very big season to be punctuated by close battles across all club classes & sensational visiting class action to give race fans a great night, every night.
Wins through the evening went to Dean Heseltine in the AMCA Nationals division which are a Australian national category in every state and territory accept the ACT & Nash Harris in the Marsh Modified Sedans a class based in Bacchus Marsh & local winners were Mark Cecil in the Goulburn Valley Open Saloons, Geoff Meyers in the GV Production Sedans, Chloe Lamb in the GV Ladies Saloons & Lachie Fitzpatrick in the GV Junior Sedans.
Amca Nationals arrived at Rushworth with a class field with the likes of multiple state champions Tim Reidy & Jamie Collins amongst the steerers, at the end of the feature though; neither of them would be standing atop of the podium.
Reidy qualified in pole position and in what can only be described as a rip roaring finale to the AMCA racing for the evening Reidy got a hot start and ran away with the race early but hot on his tail was Collins, Dean Heseltine & Grant Cullinger. For much of the race a blanket could have been thrown over the top four with tight, fast and clean racing and positions changing too frequently to count.
Laps started to wind down and the lapped traffic came into play with Reidy leading the front runners into the back markers and getting himself trapped behind a lapped car. Heseltine and Cullinger took their opportunity & passed Reidy and ran neck and neck for the last two. As they came off turn number four for the last time, they split around another lapped car and the feature was too close to call for the race announcer. After a quick check of the live timing it was revealed that Heseltine edged out Cullinger by just eight one thousandths of a second, Reidy would have to settle for the third spot with Collins and South Australian Jeremy Moore rounding out the top five.
Earlier to qualify for the big feature event six heat races were won by Cullinger, Reidy, Frank Thierry from Mildura, Heseltine & then a second win each to Reidy & Heseltine in the last round.
Goulburn Valley Auto Club have four club sedan categories & what you would describe as the big banger class the GV Open Saloons look like they might just have a season where the champion driver Phil Lamb could have his work cut out for him trying to secure a victory.
Regular open wheel Compact Speedcar racer Mark Cecil started his Modified six cylinder Falcon off pole position with the rumbling V8 of Phil Lamb on his outside and a big field behind them including the V8 powered FG Falcon with Adam box behind the wheel.
Action from the drop of the green flag with Cecil & Lamb side by side cleanly tearing up the Rushworth Speedway lap after lap after lap, as they approached back markers in the field Box entered the stoush and it was an out and out battle for the win between three.
Cecil had his car locked on the bottom of the track forcing Lamb & Box in their more powerful machines to have to go the long way around. Phil Lamb made a slight error on the exit of turn four leaving just enough of a gap for Adam Box to squeeze through; Box then had a chance to have a go at Cecil. The pressure was on the leader but when the dust cleared the Cecil in the modified six cylinder was first home edging out Box by just .764 of one second with Phil Lamb picking up third followed by Jay Nicolaisen in fourth spot with the rookie who was stepping up from Junior Saloons where he competed last season Thomas Conboy rounding out the top five.
Heat races were won by Lamb then Cecil when Lamb struck mechanical failure whilst former Australia # 1 Junior Sedan racer Brock Atkins competed and finished in sixth, then Cecil won the last race from Lamb by just .654 of a second setting up the classic feature race.
Lachie Fitzpatrick was simply unstoppable in the Junior Saloons after winning all three heat races by a minimum of five seconds and a maximum of eleven, there was no stopping Fitzpatrick who stormed to a huge six second win from Josh Cecil in the Junior Saloon final. Daniel Smith finished in third spot on the podium in his very first race meeting, fourth was Kodye Basten and Tristan McGraw finished strongly in fifth place also in his very first race meeting.
Nash Harris who these days races on the asphalt at the Benalla Auto Club owned Winton Raceway as well as on dirt made a sensational return to dirt racing after a few seasons away from it when he qualified pole position in the feature for Marsh Modified Sedans. Harris got off to a flyer and it was then a game of catch him if you can with Greg Knight throwing everything his Falcon had on the high and low side of the track, simply Harris was to good through lapped cashing in with the win, Greg Knight settled for second place with Paul Botheras crossing the line in third a lap down with Stewart Knight and George Potts also a lap down making up the top five.
Harris won the first two of the three heat races with Tim Knight picking up the last.
The Ladies Sedan fields last year grew and grew as the season progressed and Rushworth is in for another great season from the gals, and they did not disappoint in the first final of the year after another tight battle between the divisions young gun & club champion Chloe Lamb & Jacquie Fitzpatrick.
Lamb was able to secure the feature race lead early and did not relinquish as challengers behind her fought hard. Jacquie Fitzpatrick finished second this time, however expect the battles to come in the season to be even tighter as the aggressive Fitzpatrick continues to gain a handle on her new car, third place went to the always consistent Belinda Chalcraft who is never far from the pointy end of the field, fourth place went to Kelly Nadort and rounding out the top five was the Echuca local Maddison Naismith.
Earlier Lamb won the first of three heats with Fitzpatrick too good in the next two scintillating heat races with margins less than a second as the Ladies crossed the finish line.
GV Production Sedans were another exciting battle on track. The driver to catch looked to be Leigh Jeffery, moving fast early the contest heated up around lapped traffic with Shepparton racer Geoff Myers able to make a sensational passing move stick using the outside of the track up near the wall to take the lead and march on to victory lane with a .3 of a second buffer back to Jeffery and Geoff Lee in third spot. Corey Gregson and Scott Burchett rounded out the top five.
Rushworth Speedway will roar to life again on November the 19th with the powerful Late Model Sedans bringing their state point score to town, 3.3 Litre Sedans have a feature on the same program with all club classes acting as the supports.
The Goulburn Valley Auto Club would like to thank the following supporters:
Super Balance Automotive – WG Panels – Goulburn Valley Oil Supplies – Provac Poultry Services – Bourke Fencing – Kyabram Motor Wreckers – The Rushworth Hotel – Kyabram Bearings – Autobarn Shepparton – Dave’s Lawn Mowing & Small Engine Repairs – Marty Turpin Mechanical – Ipta Fibreglass – FunCity Entertainment Complex Shepparton – Ross Adams Cartage Contractor – Rushworth Bakery – Maxam Printing
Dean Thompson & Harley Tindal
DMT Sports Media
For Goulburn Valley Auto Club t/a Rushworth Speedway