South Australian Super Sedan star Dave Gartner and Victorian Modified Sedan and Street Stock gun Matt Nelson took out the big wins at Redline Raceway on Saturday the 10th of February with Gartner picking up his first Victorian Super Sedan title victory after finishing second a whopping seven times previously whilst Nelson who is now heading to Adelaide for the Australian Street Stock title won the first ever Ern Overall Memorial for Modified Sedans.
The ‘JP Automotive’ Victorian title for Super Sedans field was small however nominations pointed towards the likes of Mick Nicola, Mick Nicola Jnr, Ash Bergmeier, Brad Wicks and Gartner figuring in the battle for the title win.
Qualifying race wins were won by six different drivers with none of the victory margins greater than two seconds, in fact five races were decided by less than a second. Wicks won the first heat by 1.651 seconds with Mick Nicola Junior recording the fastest one lap time of the night in this race of 14.731
Neil Witnish then won the second heat by .653, Mick Nicola Snr won the third by .015 in a superb finish, Bergmeier won the next by .850, then Nicola Junior picked up a win by just .422 and finally Gartner won the last qualifier by .946 of a second. Bergmeiers win was also the fastest recorded ten lap race time of 2 minutes 30.419.
Gartner after three heats to each competitor was the top qualifier for the thirty five lap title race with Nicola Junior, Wicks, Bergmeier, Nicola, Trent Wilson, Witnish and Lionel West the top eight in the line up.
With the drop of the green flag Gartner led the field away with Wicks quickly moving into second early. Ten laps sailed past with fifteen cars ripping around Redline before local racer Sean Lister became the first driver out of the race pulling infield.
All fourteen competitors left managed to compete 31 laps as a minimum of the 35. At the fifteen lap Gartner despite numerous attempts from Wicks to sail underneath him in turn two was still the leader from Wicks, Nicola Jnr, Nicola Snr, Bergmeier, Witnish and Wilson.
Wicks manage to make a move stick underneath Gartner from out of turn two and half way up the back straight with a nose in front of Gartner before the two cars collided resulting in Gartner being spat out and turned around onto the infield.
The stewards were called into action and after deliberating for a few moments decided they didn’t have enough evidence from their position to decide who caused the stoppage and Gartner was re-instated as leader.
Wicks tried a higher line on the track and stepped out of the queue and over a number of laps just past the twenty lap mark he and Nicola Snr traded places across the start finish line as they went side by side. Witnish, Bergmeier and Wilson were having a great battle exchanging their positions fifth, sixth and seventh all trying to get onto the top five podium.
Gartner led Nicola Junior past the thirty lap mark before Junior pulled infield and out of the race and by this stage Nicola Snr had the better of Wicks and moved into second. As the race wound down, Nicola Snr put pressure on Gartner however the South Australian champion held his nerve and picked up a Victorian title victory to go with his current SA1 plate winning by just .666 of a second from Nicola Snr, Wicks, Wilson, Witnish, Bergmeier, Ben Faulkhead, Anthony Nicola and Kym Jury all on the lead lap with Gavin Cooper picking up the final position.
Gartner was understandably emotional after the win. “It’s been a long time trying to win this thing and it is now finally done. I can’t thank all my supporters and family enough, I am honoured to be a Victorian title winner with such great competitors in the field. Thank you to the Victorian officials and the Redline venue and officials for their efforts to run this event, we love coming to Victoria to compete and the track was fantastic tonight.”
The first ever Ern Overall Memorial for Modified Sedans to celebrate the life of a local Ballarat businessman who had a lifelong commitment to the Redline Raceway venue as a financial supporter was a highly sort after victory for all the drivers on hand and nine heat races determined who would start where in the thirty lap final event.
Robbie Faux from Mildura won all three of his qualifying heats driving for Perry McCowett. Faux won all his races in close victories. Wins went to Wayne Ramsdale, Kye Walters, Faux, Nelson, Faux, Russell Bent, Daniel Simpson, Brock Atkins and Faux again.
A pole shuffle victory to Faux confirmed his position from the front of the field and the green flag greeted Faux, Blackwell, Nelson, Rusty Felsovary, Atkins, Simpson, Walters and Nick Cockerill along with the rest of the field.
Faux led Blackwell and Nelson on lap one. A furious group trying to manoeuvre into second behind the leader seen Blackwell drift back a few spots, Atkins move into second, Nelson third, Walters and Cockerill in fourth and fifth with Blackwell back to sixth.
A nasty rollover eight laps into the race down the back straight to Dale Hallett wrecked his car and exited him from the battle and soon after Atkins was the first of the fancied runners to head infield and out of the battle.
Brad Warren moved into the top six at the ten lap mark in his first ever Modified Sedan race meeting. At the front of the race Faux led Cockerill on his home track and Nelson, Walters and Blackwell.
Nelson moved into second with a dozen laps done and put his race car up as high on the track as he could leaving one wheel in the remaining tacky part of the track and the other three in the sick black line two thirds of the way up the track. Nelson over a number of laps worked the high line and was running side by side with Faux before sticking his car out the front at about lap seventeen and was never challenged from there. Cockerill passed Faux on lap twenty one, Blackwell passed Walters and David Smith did the same with one lap to go.
At the chequered flag Nelson had defeated Cockerill who came on hard towards the end finishing just .877 behind in second place with Faux, Blackwell, Smith, Kye Walters, Leigh Bourke, Matt Gerlach, Peter Walters and Ramsdale rounding out the top ten.
Nelson was thankful after the race to his family who each and every week with one race car or another support him. “After this win I would love to race Modified Sedans again next week, however we have an Australian Street Stock title in Adelaide and I can’t thank mum and dad enough for everything they do for me. We love going racing and winning the Ern Overall Memorial in its first year is something we will all remember. Thank you to Redline, the VMPA, my family and supporters and all the other competitors for a great night.”
Belmont Speedway Drivers club thank Peter Scholer Builders for their support of the Modified Sedans.
In support race action the Street Stocks had a small field with their national title being run the weekend after and Geelong racer Mitch Viney came out on top with Adam Timberlake, Scott Purdie, William Giacometti and Jacque Whatmore rounding out the top five and in the Sports Sedans Lucas Conder who had won all three qualifying heats won from Jay Dickson, Steve Akil, Josh Service and Codey Millican.
Redline Raceway returns on February the 24th with the Formula 500 association and the Sports Sedans Masters and the Standard Saloon Chivers Memorial as the main events.
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Written by Dean Thompson DMT Sports Media For Belmont Speedway Drivers Club
Dave Gartner won the Victorian Super Sedan title (C) Dean Miller Photography
Matt Nelson won Ern Overall Memorial for Modified Sedans (C) Rock Solid Productions
Lucas Conder won the Sport Sedans final (C) Rock Solid Productions
Mitch Viney won the Street Stock final (C) Dean Miller Photography