Four times Australian Speedcar Champion Adam Clarke led from the green to the chequered to win the opening round of the 2018 – 19 Polar Ice Midget Series at the Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Saturday September 22.
It was the maiden appearance for Jack Berry’s new Spike/Inglis Hawk and Clarke came away with the big prize. Despite a smaller than expected field there was plenty of spirited racing for the minor places. Darren Vine, in the Ian Boettcher Race Parts Cool/Esslinger, held second from the outset but was under siege from last seasons ‘Rookie of the Year’ Mitchell Rooke (Rod Singleton Racing Spike/Esslinger) until Vine pulled away leaving Rooke to deal with Rusty Whittaker (Cricks Boss/Esslinger) and Cal Whatmore (Speedy Air Conditioning Spike/Gaerte Buick).
Whittaker worked his way into third during lap 11 but two laps later was out of the race with a suspected crank trigger issue. Rooke and Whatmore also had problems with untimely spins that ruined their chances of a top three finish. Brad Dawson (GSA Advanced Machining Spike/Eagle) had been watching with interest as the raced unfolded and when the others fell by the wayside he was in the right place at the right time and held off the fast finishing southerner D J Raw (Spike/Esslinger) to secure his first podium finish.
Clarke set the pace in the Timed Hot Laps and with a time of 14.709 was ‘Quicktime’ for the night. Clarke was handed $ 100 for his efforts with Ricki Harrison (Nupave Asphalt Services) and Dylan Byrne (Nexgen Transport) sponsoring the ‘Quicktime Award’ for every round of the Polar Ice Series.
Darren Vine dominated the heats driving the Boettcher Cool which he describes as ‘a pleasure to drive’. Vine’s normal car wasn’t ready for the meeting and he slotted into the Australian built chassis without any problems.
Rusty Whittaker, in the Neilson Motorsport Boss/Esslinger, started the night full of determination to give some exposure to the team’s new sponsor motor dealer Cricks of Nambour, however things didn’t go to plan. In the first heat he was up amongst the leaders when the battery failed which sent him to the infield. In the second heat he finished second but was relegated to fourth for a restart infringement. Things looked better in the A Main when he worked his way from the third row into third place only to finish his night on the infield. There is little doubt that the former state champion is very talented and will run at the front of the field during the 18 – 19 season.
One new driver fronted on the night, Tom Clauss. The surname will be familiar to those who have been around speedway for a couple of decades as he is the son of former F500 standout, Peter Clauss. Tom purchased the former Rodney Harders Eagle/Eagle during the off-season and after a couple of practice nights the ex moto-crosser was ready to get amongst the four-wheel action. Unfortunately, a niggling ignition problem during the heats slowed his progress but he managed to get in some valuable seat time during the feature.
The next outing for the Brisbane midgets is Round 2 of the Polar Ice Series at Archerfield on Saturday October 27 with many more drivers already indicating they will be ready to go for that night.
A couple of dates to keep in mind for 2019 are the Stan Burrow Stampede at Archerfield on Friday January 4 and the Queensland Championship at the Lismore Speedway on Saturday January 19. The Stan Burrow night will be a HUGE night of great speedway action as it is also the qualifying night for the Australian Sprintcar Open which will include American sensation Donny Schatz.
To hold a Queensland Championship at a track in New South Wales sounds unusual but, in fact, it isn’t as a couple of speedway sections have held their Queensland Title at the picturesque showground venue. With the close-proximity of Lismore to Brisbane it is regarded as a ‘local’ track by Brisbane drivers. Its size and shape make it conducive to close and exciting speedcar racing.
Adam Clarke – 14.709
Rusty Whittaker – 14.873
Darren Vine – 14.886
1 Darren Vine 2 Brad Dawson 3 Cal Whatmore
1 Darren Vine 2 Mitchell Rooke 3 Cal Whatmore
1 Adam Clarke (NSW) 2 Darren Vine 3 Brad Dawson
4 D J Raw (NSW) 5 Mitchell Rooke 6 Tom Clauss