Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Grand National weekend at the speedway

WORLD V8 speedway sedan champion and two-times US champion Jimmy Owens will headline a stellar line-up for this weekend’s Tasmanian Grand National at the Mountain Dew Ice Raceway near New Norfolk. The state’s longest-running speedway feature event, which started in 1971, will also double as the final round of the National Super Sedan Series this Saturday and Sunday nights, attracting the best drivers in the country, plus a talented contingent of Tasmanian competitors.

Owens, from Newport, Tennessee, is the reigning world dirt track sedan champion and also won the 2011 and 2012 US late model speedway sedan (the equivalent of Australian V8 super sedans) championship. The man known as “The O Show” and “The Newport Nighmare” will race a car prepared by six-times Tasmanian champion David Nichols, of Launceston. However, in what will be his first time racing in Australia, Owens won’t find it easy with the cream of the Aussie crop equal to the task of taking the world’s best.

Racing on Saturday night will include nine heats for the super sedans, plus two 20-lap finals, which will all carry over points to the second night of racing. Support racing on Saturday will include street stock sedans, wingless sprints, Formula 500s, bombers, sidecars and speedway karts, with racing for karts and sidecars from 4pm and the main program getting under way at 6pm.

Sunday night will include three more heats for super sedans, plus four four-lap pole dashes and a 50-lap grand final. The support program will include the Tasmanian Junior Sedan Championship, the postponed Bombers Cup final, street stock sedans, modified production sedans, and speedway karts.

Speedway karts will be competing over both nights for the Speedway Kart Mini-Grand National in three classes for modified clubman, juniors and 125cc karts, with racing also starting at 4pm for the karts, followed by the main program at 6pm.

While Owens will be the man to beat in the main event for V8 super sedans, the national series will still have to be decided, ensuring the locals will also be fighting amongst themselves. Former Hobart driver Darren Kane, now based in Brisbane, is currently leading the series and the former Australian and four-times Tasmanian champion would love to wrap it up on his former home track. Queensland’s Matt Pascoe, Kodee Brown (WA), Dave Gartner (SA), former three-times Australian champion Mick Nicola (VIC) and last year’s Tasmanian Grand National winner Lachlan Onley (NSW) are all within mathematical reach of the series lead, ensuring it will go down to the wire.

Reigning Australian champion Jarrod Harper, from Hellyer Beach, did not contest the national series, but will be keen to show his interstate rivals he is still one of the best in the country, while his son and current Tasmanian champion Callum Harper, will also make his presence felt. Defending national series champion Brad Smith, of Devonport, won’t take out back-to-back series crowns after striking engine dramas in South Australia, but he will be keen to bounce back and end the series on a high note in front of a Tasmanian crowd. Former Tasmanian champion Steve Latham also contested the national series this season and is currently in 10th place and hoping a strong performance on his home track this weekend will catapult him onto the top 10, to also finish his season on a high.

Admission: Adults $30, Concession $27, Student (aged 13-17) $25, Child (12 & under) Free
EFTPOS available

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