Matt Smith, driving the Gavin Ohlbach owned Bullet/Toyota, overcame a strong field of adversaries to win the annual ‘Brisbane 50 lapper’ at the Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday May 5. The race was the ‘Jim Holden Classic’ as well as a round of the Polar Ice Series.
New Zealander Hayden Williams (Western Landscape Supplies Boss/Stanton SR 11) finished top of the qualifying points and after drawing ‘10’ in the draw inverted the front half of the field. He nominated Smith to start beside him with Nathan Smee and Chris McCutcheon in row 4, Scott Farmer and Rusty Whittaker row 3, Jason Bell and Taylor Clarke (NZ) row 2 and Anthony Chaffey and Darren Vine at the head of the field.
On the first start Vine (Mike Vine Turbos Spike/Esslinger) jumped into the lead only for the yellow lights to appear in the back straight for a restart with Vine sent to the second row. Anthony Chaffey (Bell Motorsport Breka/Stanton SR 11) won out on the second start and collected the first $100 lap money but Vine was quickly into stride and led the next couple as Chaffey withdrew with a blown right front tyre.
By lap 5 the order had changed with Scott Farmer (TFH Spike/Esslinger) now at the head of line with Vine and Sydney 50 lap winner Taylor Clarke (Seamount Toyota) next while both Smith and Williams had charged into contention and were positioned in fourth and fifth respectively. Behind this quintet Rusty Whittaker (Boss Chassis Aust Boss/Esslinger) and Sydney’s Nathan Smee, aboard the Graham Racing Developments Eagle, were looking to improve their position. Chris McCutcheon (Century Batteries Aggressor/Stanton SR 11) had been shuffled backwards early in the race but lap by lap was picking off cars.
The first yellow occurred during lap 6 for a spun car with Farmer leading the high-speed freight train to the line for the restart. Smith progressed to second a couple of laps later and closed on Farmer as Williams did likewise to Vine. Smith was the new leader when 15 laps were completed and began to draw away as Taylor Clarke joined Smee and Whittaker in a three battle behind the top four. Troy Ware (Ware Constructions Spike/Mopar) had started from the eighth row after dropping a heat but had charged forward to eighth by lap 20 and was seventh a couple of laps further on.
As the race moved towards the half way point the leaders were amongst lapped cars. Unfortunately, Williams, who had advanced to third, got caught in between some lapped cars and after a tangle was left stranded in the middle of the track. While attempting to miss him both Vine and Ware glanced the concrete wall with all three out of the restart. Smith was slow getting back up to speed at the restart and had Farmer and Smee all over his rear push bar. Also, Clarke came back into the picture with some big outside runs and grabbed second for handful of laps before Farmer reclaimed the position.
On lap 34 Brad Dawson spun and then fell on to his side bringing on the red lights. Coming up to the restart Nathan Smee slowed and pulled up in the main straight with a broken left front shock. The three-time winner of this race was out of the running just as he had manaeouvred into a good position. Both Brad Harrison (Nu-Pave King/Mopar) and Chris McCutcheon came on strong as the race headed into the final 10 laps sitting behind Smith, Clarke, Farmer and Whittaker. After McCutcheon passed Harrison and Farmer and Whittaker moved ahead of Clarke the two Kiwis raced side by side for a lap or two until they touched in the main straight. Fortunately, it didn’t result in an accident, but the damage that was caused forced McCutcheon to the infield.
Matt Smith went on to win his maiden Brisbane 50 lapper ahead of Farmer, Whittaker, Clarke and Harrison with ten cars completing the journey. Brad Young (Federal Tyres XXX/Gaerte) and Mark George (Flashlube Breka/Porsche) battled to and fro for most of the race with the former getting the nod by centimetres.
The night began with Timed Hot Laps in groups for their respective heat line-ups. Overall Matt Smith (NSW) was the quickest with a 13.513 lap ahead of Taylor Clarke (13.944), Hayden Williams (13.979), Darren Vine (13.995) and Cal Whatmore (14.089).
The first round of heats saw the fastest qualifier start from P10 and then the second round was an inverted line-up. The first heat went non-stop with Chris McCutcheon (P2) leading Brad Harrison (P1) and fast finishing Troy Ware (P6) to the line in 2:25.912. Matt Smith (P10) showed amazing track craft to pass Brendan Palmer (Eastlink Air Breka/Esslinger) late in the race to win Heat 2 after a couple of spins punctuated the race.
Hayden Williams was untroubled to take out Heat 3 after a couple of yellow lights slowed proceedings. In one mishap Troy Ware’s exhaust was left pointing straight up in the air and consequently was sent to the infield which really hampered his quest for points. Smith started from pole in the last heat and set a fast pace as Vine, Clarke and Chaffey tried to stay in touch. However, as it often is in racing the unexpected occurred when a lapped car spun in front of Smith and he had to stop to avoid an accident and was sent ROF for the next start. Vine carried on achieving maximum points ahead of Clarke and Chaffey.
The Top 10 in points were:
Hayden Williams (NZ) – 108
Matt Smith (NSW) – 102
Rusty Whittaker – 97
Nathan Smee (NSW) – 94
Taylor Clarke (NZ) – 93
Darren Vine – 92
Scott Farmer – 90
Anthony Chaffey – 66
Jason Bell – 86
Chris McCutcheon (NZ) – 86
A sincere thank to everyone who bought the ’Stay Strong 76’ stickers for Reid Mackay. Some people also made donations when the drivers went through the crowd during interval and Bob Baker who donated $1000 towards the fund. All the money raised will go directly to Reid to help with his medical costs. A big thank you to Dwayne Neilson for arranging and Liam Williams for printing and donating the stickers.
The annual ‘Brisbane 50 lapper’ would not have been possible without the numerous sponsors. Our major sponsors American Tire & Racing Services (Mark Cooper), Ron Wanless and Polar Ice (Jack Berry). The many lap sponsors who made it possible for the leader of each lap to receive $100. None of this happened by accident, it took a lot of work behind the scenes especially from Sid Whittaker and Dwayne Neilson who worked the phone to raise the money.
The 2017-18 season will culminate with the Polar Ice Midget Series Grand Final at Archerfield on Saturday May 26. Scott Farmer looks set to be the winner but the remaining places in the Top 10 are still to be decided.
1 Chris McCutcheon (NZ) 2 Brad Harrison 3 Troy Ware
1 Matt Smith (NSW) 2 Brendan Palmer 3 Scott Farmer
1 Hayden Williams (NZ) 2 Rusty Whittaker 3 Nathan Smee (NSW)
1 Darren Vine 2 Taylor Clarke 3 Anthony Chaffey
1 Matt Smith (NSW) 2 Scott Farmer 3 Rusty Whittaker
4 Taylor Clarke (NZ) 5 Brad Harrison 6 Brad Young
7 Mark George 8 Dallas Sharp 9 Tim Farrell
10 Paul Murphy (NSW)