The running of this Saturday night’s Ballistic Exhaust by Berklee Speedcar 50-Lapper at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway begs a number of tantalizing questions.
The first of which being “can Michael Pickens be beaten?”
If you ask his nearest rivals in last Saturday night’s NSW Speedcar Championship and Speedcar Super Series finale (in which he won) they’ll say he’s brilliant but can certainly be beaten.
“You can’t afford to give him any sort of advantage,” says Michael Stewart, the man who finished second to Pickens last Saturday, “and even if you run him down you just know he’s going to go up a cog when he sees you. You can’t ever think you have a guy like Michael covered.”
That being said, has Stewart conceded defeat?
“Anyone’s beatable,” says the Bungendore youngster, “and anyone can win on their night. That’s the beauty of Speedcar racing at this level. Our aim is to win Saturday night and I know that everyone wants the same for their own team.”
Known marathon man Matt Jackson concurs.
“We’ve got an extra twenty laps this time, and that always comes in handy. The starting line-up for the 50-Lapper is different this Saturday to last weekend so Michael might even be starting behind me whereas last weekend I gave him a huge head start by qualifying badly. None of us can afford to give someone like that any sort of advantage.”
Jackson stormed to fourth place from deep in the A-Main pack.
There were ominous signs however sent out by the 7-time NZ Champion has he blitzed the 16-year old one-lap track record previously held by Craig Brady with a sizzling 14.287 and in a later heat clocked an amazing 14.040s lap that was perilously close to a thirteen second rotation!
Pickens isn’t the only New Zealander that Australian drivers should be wary of with Brock Maskovich showing plenty of potential last Saturday night and the always hectic Hayden Williams now joining the line-up driving for Moree car owner and fellow racer Jason Bell.
Williams was rapid in last season’s Australian Speedcar Championship and looked to be a podium contender before getting caught up in a remarkable late race incident that harpooned his weekend.
The army of Aussies who want revenge on Kiwi Pickens however (particularly just days after ANZAC Day last Tuesday) is considerable with four times Australian Champ Adam Clarke certainly looking for redemption.
Clarke smoked to 14.322s lap in qualifying behind Pickens and won the Dash to start on the front row before fading to a disappointing 6th place in the 30-lap A-Main.
Sydney Supremo (and 50-Lapper Champion) Nathan Smee gave Clarke and Pickens a big head-start on Saturday but charged back to fifth by the fall of the chequers.
West Australian Dayne Kingshott was particularly impressive on his way to an eventual third place finish last Saturday night and endured a spirited battle for second place for much of the feature with Michael Stewart.
Victorian Travis Mills was a livewire for his eventual 7th place in the Speedcar Series A-Main and the Sydney Jenkins brothers Darren and Troy ran 8th and 11th respectively – both will be looking to step it up this weekend.
Mitch Brien was impressive in his top ten finish and he’ll be looking for a similar result this time around.
Teenager Kaidon Brown races in the 50-Lapper as the sport farewells his legendary Dad Mark as the “Brown Dog” officially hangs up the helmet after sporadic appearances since his enormous crash in Sydney last season.
Brown openly admits that he’s committed to son Kaidon’s racing program and is getting far more enjoyment from that side of the sport now.
The reality, and the beauty is, an event of this significance and this length always brings out the best in drivers and plenty of drama to boot.
The Ballistic Exhaust by Berklee Speedcar 50-Lapper headlines a program that also consists of the thundering Late Model Sedans and the Kevin Waters and Sons Towing Lightning Sprint Gold Cup that also doubles as the final round of the Complete Parts and Equipment Solutions Track Championship for the class.
The highlight for thousands of fans will be the running of the time-honored and blue ribbon “Trailboss Towbars Caravan, Boat and Dunny Derby.”
This hilarious event is the pride and joy of the hardy Fender Bender daredevil men and women who drag caravans, boats and portable toilets around the track at the end of the night in a frenzy of twisted metal and toilet paper!
Gates open at 2pm, action on track from 5.30pm this Saturday night at Valvoline Raceway.
Adults $30 Concession $20 Juniors (13-15yrs) $15 Kids 12 and under – FREE Family Pass – 2 adults and 2 juniors - $70
Valvoline Raceway is located at 21 Wentworth Street Clyde.
Check out www.valvolineraceway.com.au or like us on Facebook