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  • With the international Sprintcar season having wrapped up last week, attention now shifts to the mighty Midgets as they embark on a series of big events that have lured competitors from America and New Zealand to Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway to take on Australia’s very best drivers. The action kicks off this weekend (Friday and Saturday, January 20/21) with the first Australian round of the 2017 World Midget Championship featuring two-time Chili Bowl winner Rico Abreu and three other American Midget superstars, plus New Zealand’s very best in Michael Pickens, who also happens to be the current Australian Champion.

    It is stellar line-up of Midget stars who will hit the track on Friday night for the first of two consecutive nights of competition, with drivers from as far afield as Western Australia trekking to Archerfield for an opportunity to take on the American and Kiwi stars. If the quality of racing produced so far this season in both the Polar Ice Track Championship and Super Series events is any indication, the action this weekend will be stupendous.

    Joining Abreu in representing the United States will be Andrew Felker, Brady Bacon and Zac Daum, all of whom have raced in Australia previously with success. In addition to his remarkable exploits in Midget competition, which include a win in the prestigious Belleville Nationals, Abreu has also accumulated wins in Sprintcars and NASCAR Stockcars. In each of the last four seasons, Abreu has finished top ten in more than 50% of the events in which he has competed across the various racing categories and he returns to Australia firmly established as one of the very best in the dirt track business. Felker is a feature race winner in both the POWRi and Badger Midget championships and was superb in this event last year in finishing second behind Pickens.

    Also returning to Archerfield for the second consecutive year, Brady Bacon will be looking to add an international feature race win to his litany of successes accumulated on home soil since debuting in the USAC National Midget Car Series in 2006. In addition to his success in Midget competition, Bacon has also found success in non-wing Sprintcars, taking out the 2016 USAC Championship. Zac Daum is a regular visitor to Australia and has, among other successes, won the Victorian Championship. The 2014 USAC National Midget champion returns to our shores fresh from a 7th-place finish in the Chili Bowl, the iconic indoor Midget event that attracts more than 300 competitors each year.

    The Kiwi contingent might be small, but they have certainly sent their best in Michael Pickens, a feature race winner in three countries and widely regarded as the best Midget driver to come out of New Zealand. Pickens won this event last season in sensational fashion and followed up with his victory in the Australian Championship in Sydney. Chris Gwilliam is a familiar face to Archerfield fans, having already scored a feature race win here earlier this season and he brings good form into the event as the second New Zealander in the field, his familiarity with the track perhaps providing him with an edge over the other internationals.

    If the overseas invaders look strong (and they most certainly are), the Aussie representation is certainly not lacking in quality with Sydney-based quartet of Nathan Smee, Matt Jackson, Troy Jenkins and Matt Smith bringing a wealth of experience and success into the mix. Lee Redmond is making the trek from Western Australia, while teenage rookie Kaydon Brown has been impressive and will relish the opportunity to take on the internationals. Of course, all of the local stars will be out to play as well, including current Queensland champ Michael Harders and former titleholder Rusty Whittaker, along with Brendan Palmer, Anthony Chaffey, Brock Dean and more than a dozen others over two nights of racing.

    Also on the program this weekend is the Australian Compact Speedcar Championship in which Darren Vine will be chasing his 8th championship win. The strength of the Queensland Compact Speedcar scene at the moment has resulted in only a small interstate contingent backing themselves to upstage the locals on home soil. Whilst Victorian champion Justin Paull and the NSW-based duo of Jason Essai and Mark Heaton will be the only interstaters in action, the upside is that should Vine be unable to snare his 5th consecutive win in the event, the likelihood of yet another Queensland win in the event seems very high. Whether it be Robbie Stewart, Wayne Corbett, Steve Swingler, Nathan Mathers or perhaps Emma Harris, there is no shortage of locals capable of emerging victorious in Saturday night’s championship final.

    Both the World Midget Championship and the Australian Compact Speedcar Championship will be staged over two nights of racing on Friday (January 20) and Saturday (January 21) nights. Lightning Sprints and Ford v Holden v Sigma sedans will provide the supporting action on Friday night, while Saturday will also feature Modlites and Open Sedans plus fireworks and the crazy chaos of the Caravan, Boat and Dunny Derby. Gates open at 4.00pm each day (3.30pm for online ticket holders) and early racing gets underway at 4.45pm both nights, with Midget time trials from 5.30pm on Friday. The main program kicks off at 6.00pm and the racing in both the World Midget Championship and Australian Compact Speedcar Championship promises to be something very special.

    For more information, follow Archerfield Speedway on Facebook or head to the track website at www.brisbanespeedway.com.au for event information and to purchase online tickets to secure early entry.
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