Speedway’s big boost

SPEEDWAY: Brad Keller claimed the Iron Triangle Sprintcar Gold Cup in December 2017. Photo: Greg Sketcher
SPEEDWAY: Brad Keller claimed the Iron Triangle Sprintcar Gold Cup in December 2017. Photo: Greg Sketcher

The Whyalla Speedway Club has received a major boost for their South Australian 410 Sprintcar Championship meeting this Saturday night, with the nomination of two superstars of sprintcar racing in Australia in Kerry Madsen and James McFadden.

Both Madsen and McFadden have a proven track record on the national circuit with Madsen a four-time Australian championship winner. McFadden also has an impressive record as a past dual Australian champion.

Madsen, who had won three championships in a row before the start of the season, flew back from the USA to Western Australia in early December to easily win the WA state championships in Perth.

Since that win Madsen has been contesting the major events around the nation, resulting in a third placing in the blue-ribbon event the Warrnambool (Vic) Classic behind Robbie Farr and Jamie Veal, held over the Christmas/new year period.

“Both Madsen and McFadden have a proven track record on the national circuit with Madsen a four-time Australian championship winner. McFadden also has an impressive record as a past dual Australian champion.”

At Mount Gambier, Madsen was the leader on points after the heats when the meeting had to be cancelled due to rain.

His quest for a four-in-a-row ‘Aussie’ championship held in Brisbane two weeks ago had a setback when a spin-out and a contact with another competitor in a heat on the opening night.

But he recovered to just make the final field (grid 15) to finish a creditable eighth placing behind Andrew Scheuerle, James McFadden and Jamie Veal.

But he will be eager to make amends for his disappointment in Brisbane with another state championship.

James McFadden, who resides in Queensland, has been responsible for some solid efforts at recent meeting with a fifth placing in the Warrnambool Classic and was leading the Australian Championship Final in the later laps when passed by the eventual winner.

McFadden did win the World Series Sprintcar Championships last season, and with this season’s final round in Western Australia at the end of this month, McFadden finds himself in third placing 126 points behind the leader in Kerry Madsen.

If McFadden is able to repeat the Brisbane effort and gain the lead, he will be hard to hold out around the Whyalla circuit.

The pair are part of a club record 19 entries with the accomplished drivers not only restricted to the visitors with many of the South Australian drivers are ‘household names’ having vast experience with many wins behind them.

Some of the highlights so far this season has seen Luke Dillion winning the Bill Wigzell ‘Battle of the Bridge’ at Murray Bridge. Matt Egel came from midfield to overcome a quality field to win the ‘Ultimate Pink’ feature also at Murray Bridge in early December.

Brad Keller was the winner of the Iron Triangle $10,000 last season, and is the holder of the one-lap track record of 11.82 seconds, which is in danger of being broken during the evening.

Keller has had a productive WSS this season holding down sixth position on the points table with Steve Lines in second position, the only other South Australian driver in line for a top three podium finish.

Strathalbyn driver Daniel Pestka has his first sprintcar drive at Whyalla as a 16-year-old, and 10 years on has going on to make a name for himself as a contracted driver for the WSS organisation.

Ryan Jones was a winner at Murray Bridge at Murray Bridge in early December and was the 2017 King of the Bridge winner and is another WSS contracted driver.

Jones made the long drive to Brisbane for the championships, but had a tough time with the conditions and never made the final, but may find this assignment a little easier.

Others drive who are in the mix for championship contention include Keke Falland, Steve Caruso, together with Chad Ely, a past national 360 sprintcar champion and Lisa Walker, who has had success in formula 500s before making the switch to a sprintcar where she has been more than competitive in this grade.

New to the Brown Racing garage is the #52 sprintcar which has secured the services of current Northern Territory champion, Chace Karpenko, who will be a great assistance to the hometown team as they are still learning the ropes of setting up the car.

Plus, Karpenko will add to the list of high profile and talented drivers to further showcase the spectacular racing.

Karpenko will be joined by fellow Territorians Lachlan Cole and Jamie O’Neill, with Victorian Jack Lee making up the interstate visitors.

The hot laps and time trials will also play an important role in shaping the competitors’ night of racing as they come to terms with the Whyalla track layout.

The lead up heats will give all drivers every possibility to gain valuable points for the make up of the front row grid position for the 30-lap final.

The high-powered action will continue with super sedans supporting the sprintcars.

A field of eight drivers will use this meeting to fine tune their supers for the next meeting the SA Championships on March 23.

Brown Racing is going to have a busy night with a two-car team, with Michael Brown behind the wheel of #52, with Kym Cottrell taking the drive of #51.

Joining the pair are Kym Jury, Steve Schwarz, Jason Ganz, Paul Blenikron, and new to super sedan division are Adrian Wright and Mick Brougham. The street stocks line up is dominated by Whyalla drivers with Andy Maxwell Snr, Jarrod Hamilton, Byron Brown, with young Heath Thorne from Strathalbyn the odd one out.

The blockbuster night of action will end of a crash and bash note with the demolition derby with a number of local lads like Gerry Simatos, Chris Klicek, Brad Page and Anthony Grillett all possible winners.

Just to add to the evening’s entertainment, legendary Australian speedway commentator Wayne Aunger will pass on his vast speedway knowledge to the general public. The club will have a promotion display at the foreshore on Friday between 2pm and 8pm.

The gates open at the Iron Knob Road complex at 4pm, with hot laps at 5.45pm, with racing to commence at 6.15pm for potentially the best night of speedway seen at Whyalla since the revival of the club 15 years ago.