There’s something in the numbers, and then there’s something growing strong within the Victorian Speedcar Drivers Association as third generation rookie Dillon Ghent took his maiden Speedcar win on lap 27 of the 2nd annual Skip’s race (Skip Palmer Memorial) driving the Ghent/Jordan number 27 racer.
On top of that fellow rookies Chris Nankiville, and Toby Smith, both 3rd generation racers took 3rd and 5th place respectively in a tyre frying event that again showed why Speedcars are truly mini-muscle machines with some awesome three wide, multi car battles throughout the event.
2nd generation racer Harley Bishop was wedged between the top two cars after leading the majority of the race, and surprisingly considering his hard charging style, still having some tyre left when many others around him did not and could not go the distance.
A stout field of all Victorian racers fronted to battle it out for a race that meant more to most drivers than many other events and after four heats that were won by defending winner Travis Mills, Bishop (2) and Domain Ramsey and a triple flip by Matt Papa a full grid of racers lined up headed by Bishop, Ramsey, Mills, Justin McMinn, Luke Ferguson and Andy Pearce.
Ghent would start 11th, Nankiville 7th, Toby Smith (the Permatex Hard Charger) 14th and fourth place youngster Jack Day 9th.
Bishop made the best start and led away from Ramsey. Mills McMinn with Nankiville quickly up to 5th.
Bishop had a slight gap over the squabbling Ramsey and Mills who were fighting fiercely as if they were racing for an Aussie Title (remember what I said about this race being important to the Victorian squad).
Mills had just taken 2nd place when both Ferguson (engine) and Craig Smith stopped bringing out the yellow.
Mills was forced to restart back in 3rd and immediately recommenced harassing Ramsey and took 2d again just before his mate Pearce tagged the turn 3 wall and rolled but Ramsey had retaken the spot just in time to hold it.
For the next ten laps these two absolutely carved each other up as they also tried to take the lead from Bishop even going three wide at times.
One attempt by Ramsey for the lead proved controversial as he unsuccessfully dived up the inside of Bishop going into turn 1 losing some momentum. With the track being black and slick Ramsey got a little out of shape on the exit of turn two and got loose just as Mills was coming through without any loss of momentum. Whether Ramsey was already going around or Mills forced him became a point of conjecture when Ramsey was allowed to restart in 2nd with Mills in 3rd (Watch the youtube footage on the VSDA facebook page and make up your own mind).
It really didn’t make much difference however as Mills was soon into 2nd after the restart as Ramsey’s ill handling car plummeted through the field before retiring with many cars now smoking their right rear tyres.
Bishop was wisely holding onto the bottom of the track but was under immense pressure from Mills, Nankiville and Ghent as McMinn fell out.
On lap 20 Mills took the lead and opened a gap and seemed destined to win back to back events but the young Ghent was on a charge and in a sweet move on lap 26 swept around the outside of both Nankiville and Bishop in one move that proved to be the winning pass when on the next lap Mills blew his tortured rear tyre and hit the front straight wall and rolled.
With the race being declared at this point Ghent had taken his first feature, in his rookie season from a struggling Bishop, Nankiville, Jack Day and Toby Smith.
As a measure of Ghents speed he set his fastest race lap on his last lap.
Multiple Sprintcar series champion Brett Milburn was out of luck like many but made a solid debut in the Fisher #23 after being forced to start rear of field all night as an absolute Speedcar rookie but thoroughly enjoyed his debut although he no doubt bent the throttle pedal trying to find the extra horsepower he’s used to in his 900hp Sprintcar.
Next-up, the Bill Evans Classic
The growing group of local hero’s now heads to Redline raceway (Ballarat) this weekend for another milestone event, the Bill Evans Classic, where they will be joined by the current Aussie Champion, teenager Kaidon Brown, whose grandfather Rob Brown raced here many decades ago, with the likes of South Australia’s Norm Moore who will be the only competitor who actually raced here back in the heydays of the 60’s and 70’s.
Nankiville and Smith can also both relate with their respective grandfathers both being regular racers, and winners at the legendary track.
Nominations are not yet closed for this event but already it is shaping up to be a great field of competitive local and interstate racers.
The Speedcars were for many years the headline class at Redline under the promotion of the late Bill Evans and most of the Nations’ best drivers such as Gary Rush, George Tatnell, Rex MacKay, John Fenton, Johnny Stewart, Blair Sheppard and Dean Hogarth to name a few competed there at various times during events that were often televised live.
Many past and present drivers, crews, family and media have been invited for this unique event that is designed to bring the past and the present together in an exciting atmosphere of speed and reminiscence.
Keep up to date with any late nominations or changes via the Victorian Speedcar Drivers Association Inc. Facebook page or the club’s website – www.vsdaspeedcars.com
VSDA 2018 race calendar (subject to change)
March 24 Redline – Bill Evans Classic
April 7 Wangaratta 21 Avalon – Round 6 Track Championship.
Further details and a complete list of nominations can be found on the VSDA Facebook page – Victorian Speedcar Drivers Association Inc. or on the VSDA website at VSDAspeedcars.com