Speedway fans, competitors and members showed their class in remembering long time club president Mick Fitzgerald at the club’s first meeting of the year on December 29.
On a night when hearts were heavy Horsham Motor Sports Club conducted the first event of the 2018/19 season, with the feature event the Country Cup for AMCAs and the return of the vintage hot rods and saloons cars supported by limited sportsman and Horsham’s own V8 trucks.
The event began with a Grand Parade which featured the first appearance in many years of Mick’s own Wimmera #25 EH sedan which is currently being restored by Brian Constable in Beulah. The honour of driving was awarded to club member Steven Hateley.
Drivers, fans and members were then asked to observe a minute’s silence broken only by a lone cricket, after which a short history of Mick was read over the PA system, the continued silence a credit to the man and a credit to fans and competitors.
This was followed by Mick’s own command “Righto enough of this - let’s go racing”.
AMCA competition was a wide open affair with a mixed field of Chevy crate engines and the older and reliable Holden V8s.
During the heats it became clear that Neale Peachey had the car to beat, but his night was not made easy with the cars of Bill Lodwick and Darren Bloom intent on taking home the prized Country Cup.
Peachy got away to lead the final with a great fight behind with the cars of Lodwick, Bloom and newcomer Chevat taking turns chasing the leader.
Victoria #1 Greg Firmin came on in the closing laps only to spin and drop to the back of the pack.
Final placings saw Peachey winning all heats and dominating the final in a great show of driving, setting up a top year ahead.
Lodwick followed by Chevat in third, followed by Firmin, Bloom and Howard closed out the field.
In heat 1 of limited sportsman Adam McKenzie took the advantage from the green flag, and stayed ahead with most competitors taking turns trying to track down the leader to no avail.
Heat 2 saw Dinky Parker’s 71 take the lead on the green before Dean Baker took the lead for the rest of the race, with Parker spinning out of second.
In heat 3 Dean Baker again dominated the field from the green flag and, with the track tightening up the field, the 7 of Clint Baker and Matthew McCallum’s 97 took the minors, setting up a great final.
As the cars gridded up for the final Dean Baker was missing from the field.
At the drop of the green McCallum took front position and ultimately claimed the win over the hard fighting Clint Baker with Adam McKenzie in third.
Horsham’s truckies were not about to let the little guys take all the glory as they came out for the first time this season.
An obvious scratch from the first heat was the 57 of Luke James who was seen working under the bonnet of his truck on the dummy grid, the second time he has been spotted under the bonnet of a truck this year.
Fletcher Mills took the opportunity and left from the green leading all the way with the 67 of Jaryd Carman in his first outing, battling for the minor placings with the crafty Wes Bell.
Heat 2 saw the emergence of the 57 of Luke Redda James who decided to take his normal spot on the wall, chasing down Bell on the final lap to take the win, with Carman in third.
Heat 3 again saw Redda high, wide and handsome over Nathan Bird finding his comfort zone and Bell in third.
The final was a battle to the end with Redda again taking the win, but the final placings were in doubt to the chequers with Bell and Whiteside fighting for second in the closing laps and Carman keeping them both honest.
Final placings were James in first, Bell in second followed by Carman in a credible third then Bird and Whiteside.
The next event will be held on February 2 when the All Star Sprintcars bring their revved up road show to town supported by vintage hot rods, street stocks, open sedans, limited sportsman and SSA Ladies.
February 9 is the inaugural Down Under Modified Tractor Pull Association event at the speedway.