Autumn Nationals Endures

It was a night when everyone deserved a trophy, especially the healthy crowd who braved near gale force winds in the grandstands. Rain during the last 2 days had made track prep hard to judge, do you pour more water on or hold off in case of more rain?

Youth Ministocks were competing for two championships as full fields contested the PENN MASONRY Boys and Girls titles. A great lineup of visiting drivers made both these titles hugely competitive creating some of the closest, fastest, hardest racing yet from the next crop of Speedway stars.

89w Ella Robertson set the tone in the opening race by storming off for the win. 55b Asha Penn was back on the gas after suffering rollovers in the previous two meetings and took the win in heat 2. The points battle was tight going into heat 3, and a mid-race spin for Penn meant it was race and chase time to get back to the podium. At the flag the championship went to 89w Ella Robertson from 55b Asha Penn and the consistent 22p of Riki-Lee Kauri 3rd.

The Boys title was always going to be fiercely competed for and these kids literally threw everything they had at it. 11r Jack Cunningham crossed the line for the win in heat 1 from the always quick 88r of Cohen Wright and fast finishing 72b Bailey Smith. 21b Tom Steele was challenging for the win but some over driving eventually saw him suffer a DQF and his chance of the crown was already gone.

Heat 2 and a titanic race developed between 98b Deegan Butcher and 88r of Wright. Both drivers forcing their way to the front with 61b Steele in the hunt also. 78b Blake Baraclough was having a strong run for the front but at the line it was Butcher who pulled off the win from Wright and Henry Steel.  72b Bailey Smith started on a rear grid and such was the pace of this heat could only manage to finish 11th.

Heat 3 and it was all or nothing for Steele as he led the race and it was all eyes on Wright to see how far through the field he could go. Baraclough was having another outstanding heat sitting in second behind the leader and 72b Smith third but needing still more points to reach the podium. At flag fall Steele had won the heat from Baraclough, Smith and Butcher.

The points were tallied. 3rd on the podium was 78b Blake Baraclough on 74pts but it would be a run off for the championship between 61b Henry Steel and 88r Cohen Wright on 77pts. At the drop of the green the crowd witnessed one of the most incredible run offs seen from the Ministocks as Steel and Wright swapped for the lead with never more than a car length separating them and often locked side by side at full speed. Neither driver would lift off the loud peddle and it took a last turn roll of the dice for Wright to somehow squeeze around the outside to, excuse the pun, 'steal' the title away from Steel in the closest finish of the night.

An impressive lineup of Superstocks fronted for the annual BJ'S BAKERY & CAFE Autumn Nationals. Split into 2 groups with 2 heats each to sort the top 13 who would then go onto race over three 15 lap heats for the title. It was a busy night for the Supers and kept the pit crews flat out working on the cars changing setups for the testing track conditions. Setup was a guessing game as the Ice rink was still proving to be tricky.

Once the top 26 qualifiers were locked and loaded... it was finals time! The first heat and young rookie 99b Jacob Buckrell quickly found out if you're going to put a hit in, make sure they can't hit you back, which is exactly what the 89w of Robertson did on the Pit bend eventually tipping over Buckrell. This heat had an incredible 12 drivers listed as a DNF including contenders 2nz Jason Long, 4k Chad Ace, 971c Jayden Ward, 52p Scott Joblin and 38v Zane Dykstra. At the finish 5w Keegan Levien took the full points on offer from 5g Prentice and the impressive 29g of James Clarke.

Joblin had suffered a DNF in race 1 and was determined to play spoiler by racing off for the second heat win just 0.4 of a second ahead of 5g Prentice who now had two 2nd place finishes and was top on points. 96w McGee was on fire coming home 3rd from slick track master 66a Randal Tarrant. With the track glazing over even more the drivers were continually second guessing setups and it was obvious to those in the know as to who was struggling with it.

Points leader 5g Prentice was off the front row for the third heat and it was his title to lose. This was a race of who could hook up on an Ice Rink with the top 10 cars posting lap times within 0.3sec of each other. Prentice stormed off to a lead and championship he never looked like losing as 2nz Jason Long gave chase 2 sec behind. 52p joblin would come to rue his DNF in the first round as he was once again gassing it in 3rd and 23r Caleb Ashton fourth. 66a Tarrant had stormed up to 5th from a back grid and needed at least 2 cars between himself and 5w Keegan Levien for 2nd in the championship chase.

The points were added up but it was obvious Mr Consistent 5g of Josh Prentice with two seconds and a win was the new BJ's BAKERY & FOOD PRODUCTS Autumn Superstock Nationals Champion with 76 pts. Second and third were yet to be decided as both Tarrant and Keegan Levien had finished on 68 points and we awaited another run off on the night. Levien who had already started packing away the gear came over to Randy T and with a Gentleman's shake of the hands gave the 66a 2nd place on the podium. 4th went to 29g James Clarke but it was most certainly an impressive debut and possible warning to his rivals in 5th that Regan Penn was now on the Superstock scene.

TQ Midgets were competing for their Autumn Nationals and another quality field fronted up. Heat 1 had the first shock of the night as pre-meet favorite 6b Duane Todd ended up on his lid. 14b Chris Wiffen drove a blinder to come home first from 91b Scott McIntosh and 32b Chris Gillies. The speed of 27w Vaughan Smith as he hurtled into turn 3 had to be seen to be believed in this race.

Race 2 and hot Toddy bounced back to win from 11b Adam Coonan and 66b Tony Meechan. This meant Todd would start from grid 8 for the 15 lap Autumn Nationals final. As good as he is we didn't think it was possible to come from that far back on a track that Ice Skaters could only dream of.

At the start it was Coonan and Meechan fighting out front as Todd using his years of experience patiently made inside slide jobs and fence scraping passes to eventually tear the field apart and go on to win from Meechan and Coonan. Even Duane said it is so unusual to run that high at Meeanee and his Western Springs experience certainly paid off.

Saloons/Super Saloons had combined races and the super slick nature of the track threw up some excellent racing. 27p Josh Smith took a race win, but the standout driver was 34w Amy Eckersley who pulled off the pass of the night as she drove around 41b Jeremy Browne on the last bend to deny him a heat win. 16r (58p) Peter Bengsten continues to impress in his new Super Saloon as speedy Pete got the better of 33b Chace Rodda three times.

The Sidecars were due to run 3 heats and it was clear from race 1 the track was going to be tough for the Bike guys. One heat was completed with 26b Justin Lincoln & Dean Harding continuing their winning form from the meeting before. Unfortunately the crews decided in round 2 that the track wasn't raceable for the 200hp brakeless beasts which was certainly the correct call.

It had been another great night of Horsepower at Meeanee and amazing to watch the drivers adapt to such an unusually slick surface.

The final event of a long season comes to a conclusion this Saturday the 28th May at 4pm. It's the final Demolition Derby as well as Stockcars, Production Saloons, Ministocks, TQ Midgets and one other class yet to be confirmed.

Get your backside Trackside one more time race fans. Seeya there 

Mike Wilson

Full meeting results can be found here -

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