Eighteen-year-old former National Speedcar Champion Kaidon Brown took title honours as New Zealand contingent fail to fire in tour opener.
46 Speedcars and Midgets signed in to contest the 77th running of the New South Wales Speedcar title at Valvoline Raceway in Parramatta, Sydney. This prestigious race holds the weight due to the illustrious list of former winners including Australians Ray Ravell (3), Johnny Stewart (2), George Tatnell (2), Barry Pinchbeck (6), Brett Morris, Robbie Farr, Adam Clarke (6), Mark Brown, Nathan Smee (2) and Formula One icon Jack Brabham to name but a few.
Many Americans have also contested this race with their first win coming in 1969 by Hank butcher. Other Americans to win were Larry Rice, Lealand McSpadden, Cory Kruseman, and Tony Elliott.
Further research from our preview article shows that New Zealand has several past winners being Michael Pickens in 2011, Barry Butterworth in 1971 and our first International Speedway legend Frank ‘Satan’ Brewer who won on 4 occasions in the ’50s but is listed as being American.
During hot laps Kumeu, Auckland driver James Earls’ motor went sour and the team was unable to compete in the rest of the event. Later inspection revealed the problem too big to fix in time for next week’s race also. A devastating blow for this Family team on its first International racing trip.
BSL Racing driver Hayden Guptill had the fastest time in hot laps followed by locals Matt Smith, Dean Meadows and New Zealand’s Chris McCutcheon with Troy Jenkins rounding out the top five.
Heat race wins went to Troy Jenkins, Hayden Williams, Michael Stewart, Travis Mills, Brad Mosen, Cal Whatmore, Brown and Michael Pickens.
The schedule C Main was dropped with all cars transferring to the back of the B Main which was won by Leon Burgess over Tom Payet, Troy Ware and Scott Doyle who all transferred through to the 30 lap title race.
The A Main line up had Mosen on pole with Troy Jenkins, Mills, Brown, Pickens, Clarke, Matt Smith and Wallis occupying the first four rows.
As the race started Jenkins quickly moved into the lead on the low side of the track with Mosen losing several spots to Mills and Brown.
In the early laps the field searched for the tracks sweet spot. Most cars eventually choosing to run the bottom as a preference though some cars persisted pioneering the blackened highline.
One of those to use the highside to great effect was Brown who got around Jenkins on lap 5 then move low to cover. One lap later brother of Troy, Darren Jenkins and Guptill found their cars entwined amongst each other’s bar work which brought out a caution.
At the restart the front running cars still chose the bottom as preference. Smith running in 5th was the first car to venture to the empty top shelf hoping to take advantage of a crowded lower groove. After passing Pickens and Mills for 3rd Smith moved immediately to the bottom to protect.
By this stage the battling behind him had put Brown into a clear lead as he hit is marks and extended the distance to the following cars. Meanwhile Kiwi and over all event favourite Pickens, after being passed by Smith, tried the high line but lost several spots and also moved back down the track.
With great persistence Mosen endured on the high line and eventually took advantage of a Mills-Stuart tussle to gain several spots, finding himself back up into 5th with 18 laps remaining.
At the halfway point Brown had established a 3 seconds lead over Jenkins with Smith, Mosen, Matt Jackson, Stewart, Pickens, Mills, Wallis and Clarke in pursuit.
As Mosen and Smith began sparring for third position the yellow lights came out for a spun Payet.
Brown controlled the restart to perfection and once again led the field utilising the poleline.
A few laps later Mosen jump the cushion losing several spots and when attempting to re-join the race found himself immediately back above the racing surface via Mills’ early occupation of the contested track territory. Mosen haemorrhaging time and distance to the leaders and placing himself in the sites of Pickens.
A moment later Mills followed suit jumping the cushion letting Kiwis Mosen and Pickens past. Mosen then found himself above the banking twice more in the following lap giving up four spots.
Smith & Jenkins entered into a side by side duel for second position as the lap count dwindled. Jenkins bobbled in turn 2 which gave Smith the position. This duel afforded Brown maximum comfort space and he went on to win by 2.3 seconds over Smith, Troy Jenkins, Jackson, Stewart, Pickens, Smee, Williams, Clarke and Mills in the top ten.
When asked of his when Brown said “This is amazing. The track was really tricky but this car was such a pleasure to drive. It’s probably the best it’s ever been. Hats off to all my boys.”
The Trans-Tasman Midget and Speedcar racers now turns their attentions to the Sydney City 50 Lap Classic presented by Seamount Racing and CEJN. This two day show has preliminary qualifying races this Friday with the prestigious main event on Saturday evening at Valvoline Raceway.
With only two of the highly rated New Zealand drivers finishing in the top 12 the New Zealanders will be expecting a stronger showing at the weekends racing.