The crowd of race fans at Wangaratta Speedway were witness to a fantastic display of motorsport on Saturday the 14th of January with Victorian title victories in ‘A Grade Removals & Storage’ Late Model Sedans going the way of Goulburn NSW competitor Ben Nicastri & in the Mini Sprints to Geelong’s Brad Lowe whilst also on the program local Sedan racer Martin Heiner from Wangaratta took a great win against a very strong Sports Sedan field.

Nicastri qualified at the front of the field in the Late Model Sedan Victorian title with Ryan Fenech. Getting away quickly at the drop of the green flag was Nicastri with Fenech, Daniel Barton & Darryl Grimson earlier challengers. Cameron Pearson was fighting off a long line of challengers to his position before clicking another gear and moving towards the front-runners in a hurry.

Drivers to succumb to damage, flat tyres and or mechanical gremlins included Ed Borg, David Doherty the defending champion, Darryl Grimson, Steve Vaughan, Tim McPherson & Fenech who was running in second at the time of his demise.

Ben Nicastri - Photo courtesy of Kalari Photography
Ben Nicastri – Photo courtesy of Kalari Photography

Pearson picked off his teammate Barton, whilst Nicastri led the field continuously through traffic. At the end of thirty laps, Nicastri was the Victorian Champion for the second time in three seasons with Pearson from Badger Creek second then Barton, Scott McPherson from Canberra, David Robertson, Wayne Belk, Warren White Jnr, Tim Bink, Brock Edwards, Kristin Vermeulen & James Cornfoot.

A delighted Nicastri spoke to media after the event. “I applaud the local Wangaratta club for their efforts, after so much rain the night before, to even be able to give us a track to compete on that was such a wonderful effort. The fans here were great to come out and get behind the event and of course we cannot thank the clubs sponsors enough for getting behind the event, it was sensational. We are very proud to have won the title once again & we will do our best to be in the region for racing again next season.”

Nicastri earlier on the tackiest of tracks Wangaratta could offer was reeling off laps in the 15.5 second bracket when he won the first heat race, Grimson won the second, Belk, Bink, Pearson & Fenech all had wins also.

Wangaratta Vice President Ray Ussher thanked the sponsors who specifically got onboard to help with the financial part of the Late Model Sedan title. “We want to give big thank you to Craig at A Grade Removals & Storage for his significant contribution to financing this event. He, like us want to put on the best entertainment that we can for our community & still come out with finances to do it again the next month, we have achieved this with his support this weekend.

Also Shannons Insurance supporting us was greatly appreciated, Tuff Tyres in Wangaratta, Tailor Made Kitchens, the local council at Rural City of Wangaratta, BarUp Bullbars in Wagga & Winton Motor Raceway. Thank you to all them people.”

Brad Lowe - Photo courtesy of Kalari Photography
Brad Lowe – Photo courtesy of Kalari Photography

The Mini Sprint Victorian title for a small field produced good competition with a slight favourite by the time the final came, with the potential for anybody though to win. Brad Lowe, Owen Schnoor & Lowe again took the heat wins before Lowe in the twenty lap final took the championship win from Jason Lynn, Darren Schnoor, Peter Schnoor & Kyle Stathopoulos.

As last lap stoush between father and son Owen & Darren seen the two cars tangle 15 metres away from the finish line with Owen ending up in the fence & Darren limping across the finish line on the lead lap. Officials penalised Darren Schnnor putting him to the end of the lead lap, which meant since only three cars were on that lap he still picked up third place, Owen Schnoor was going to be penalised however because he did not cross the finish line, that was penalty enough.

Sprintcar action was the quickest racing on the night, the power to weight of these cars is just incredible no matter which V8 engine they run. Booby Daly took a win in the first heat and was just .6 of a second faster than the Late Model Sedans, however in the second heat Shane Steenholdt blew any thought that anybody was faster than the Sprintcars out of the water by running a 13.649 second lap time, around two seconds quicker than the Late Models on his way to a win. Adam Greenwood won heat three & then Steenholdt won the feature event in spectacular circumstances having not crossed the finish line after a crash.

Steenholdt was ahead of the chasing Bobby Daly and had just passed David Dennison when Owen Bulman in front of him at turn four lost control and slid sideways in front of Steenholdt. Dennison went low & was trying to avoid Steenholdt, the Steenholdt car rode a wheel on Bulmans car and launched up and over and in between Bulman & Dennison and spun around on the infield with a broken front end thinking his race was ruined whilst the crash crew attended to Bulman’s car. However the Victory God’s smiled upon Steenholdt as the Steward declared the race on the lap priors positions which meant Steenholdt who hadn’t caused the stoppage got his win.

Daly was second, then Mark Laity, Mark Noonan, Greenwood, Dennison & Andrew Nielsen.

A large car count in Sports Sedans put on a great display of their own in the feature event with a number of cars whom on appearance and on results could have been expected to win or at least be in the top three missing out. It was to be a V6 powered VL Commodore driven by local from Bowser on Wangaratta’s outskirts Martin Heiner who would record the win ahead of Rhys Collins in a V8 powered Commodore then Steve Kershaw from Melbourne finishing third. The first Ford home was Aaron Bunton in fourth place ahead of Nathan Shortis.

Toby Carmichael won the Junior Sedan final, Darryl Joosten picked up a win for the Albury based family team in the Standard Saloon final with a hard charging Jared Burder closing in fast ahead of Trevour Goldsworthy, James Heiner & Andrew Robl.

Wangaratta Speedway returns to action in February with their next event on February the 4th including the Darren Levy Memorial for Sports Sedans, Compact Speedcars, Goulburn Ovens Sedans Association, Marsh Modified Sedans & SDAV Hot Rods along with the club classes.

Wangaratta Speedway Club Supporters for 15/16:
SuperAxe Woodsplitters – One Mile Motors – Crosher Constructions – Wangaratta Auto Care – Wangaratta Radiators – North East Fasteners – A Grade Removals & Storage – Enzed Wangaratta – McDonalds Wangaratta – Alpine Truss – Gardenview Lodge Motel – IGA Wangaratta – APCO – Thommo’s Cash for Scrap – Solimo Towing – Ussher Plumbing – Patton Automotive – Ryan’s Refrigerated Transport – Wangaratta Tourist & Caravan Park – Meyland Trophies – Rural City of Wangaratta – Wangaratta Club – Grimshaw Signs – Conway Printers Jindera – Wangaratta Bearings – Keam Fertilizers


Written by
Dean Thompson
DMT Sports Media

For Wangaratta City Speedway Club