Former dual World Sidecar Champion, Mick Headland and Brenton Kerr, took out the prestigious Keith “Curly” Carmes trophy in the Robinson Plumbing, 46th Mildura Sidecar Spectacular at Mildura’s Olympic Park Speedway in front of a large, vocal and expectant crowd on Saturday night.
The Headland / Kerr combination topped the points scores after their 5 rides in the 20-heat program and then won through the 1st Semi final to take first choice of gate two in the Carmes Final.
Byren Gates / Mick O’Loughlin finished the heats next on 13 points while Broken Hill’s, Max Howes / Riley Commons and Mick Headland’s Grandson, Nate Headland / Jaxon Rayner, were next with 12 points each. Next down the list was Trent Headland / April Cottrell on 10, SA’s Kym Menadue / Shane Dolan, 9, while Ricky “Bartman” Stephens / Nick O’Brien were together next with Melbourne’s Chris Walker / Eric Melton, who scored 7 points but were unable to accept last place into the Semis, so Zac Campbell / Jason Williams took the spot with 6 points from a countback with locals Nathan Cock / Brendan Johnson.
The 2023 / 2024 Competition season began with the teams engaged in the pre-main event, as they contested the, now very popular and much anticipated, “program starter”, which is the Exposed Signage and Apparel “Dash for Cash.” In the Dash, each team gets to compete alone, on the track in a one lap dash of the 300 metre Mildura circuit, run totally against the clock. Some teams were tentative early, until we saw the Mick Headland / Brenton Kerr team, disturbing the soil of Olympic Park, recording a very slick 14.91 seconds for the 300-metre journey. The SA team of Kym Menadue / Shane Dolan were also pretty slick recording a 15.01 lap but the very best went to a “quite surprised” Byren Gates / Mick O’Loughlin, who recorded a very fast 14.81 seconds, to take the prize money from the other contenders. While riding smoothly, Gates had not been aware of how fast his machine was actually travelling. The Dash for Cash is now expected by the Olympic Park crowd and the Club sees the great response made by patrons towards each team as they all do their lap.
The vibrant and expectant crowd started the night in a sombre mood as the Club asked patrons to join with them in paying tribute to the six members and Club associates, who had sadly passed away since the conclusion of the previous season in March 2023. Written tributes to each man were contained in the program, highlighting the strengths each of those members passed.
A special highlight was the “official” naming of the “Shaun Stephens Start Gates”, with the sign being unveiled by Shaun’s two children, daughter Chloe and son Joshua. The late Shaun had been a long time “Starter, Flag Waver and Official” at Olympic Park and the Club had sought and gained permission from his family to remember Shaun and his wonderful contribution and dedication to the Club in this way.
A further “naming” was made when the daughters of the late Bob Crump, unveiled the sign which now commemorates the great work, for over 50 years, of Bob opening the “Bob Crump Gate”, which allows all riders on and off the Olympic Park track. Janet Pietsch, accompanied by husband, Stan and Gill Tremelling, accompanied by husband Nigel and daughter, Brooke, were on hand to unveil the memorial Gate in memory of the patriarch of the Crump family.
Two semi-finals were used to get to the final four teams who would contest the main event, but during the heats some excellent racing was witnessed.
Wins went to both Headlands, firstly to Grandson Nate in heat one, while Mick took the win in heat 2. The Broken Hill youngsters, Max Howse / Riley Commons, won the third heat while SA visitor, Kym Menadue / Shane Dolan looked the goods in heat four.
Headland, the Elder and Howse saluted again against others in round two, as they again did in round three while Gates / O’Loughlin took good wins in rounds 2 and 3, after getting a close second to Howse in the opening round. Trent Headland /April Cottrell, took a while to get going together but finished strongly with three solid wins, making their case to feature in the Semi-finals as did Menadue, and Broken Hill’s other representative, Ricky Stephens / Nick O’Brien, while Zac Campbell / Jason Williams gave themselves a chance to fill in the last final spot after Chris Walker / Eric Melton had some bad luck in their last heat and could not make a return to the track.
The two finals were set with Mick Headland allowing Howes / Commons to take the inside gate in Semi-final 1, while Trent Headland selected the White, gate three. Stephens / O’Brien were left with gate four for their attempt to go on.
Positions in the second Semi-final were, as expected, with Gates / O’Loughlin selecting Red, Nate Headland in gate 2, Blue, leaving Menadue / Dolan to take gate three, leaving Campbell in the outside gate, gate four.
In semi final 1, Trent Headland / April Cottrell did not get the best of the start and were quickly out of contention, while Stephens incurred the wrath of the Referee by coursing infield and was excluded. The result was easy, as the only two finishers came straight through to the Main event.
Semi final 2 was a better affair as Nate Headland / Jaxon Rayner, quickly disposed of Gates / O’Loughlin, who managed to hang on the second place ahead of Menadue and Campbell, who both would have been pleased making it into a Mildura final.
The Gates team were conspicuous in the first attempt at the Carmes final, as they “blasted” out of gate four with great speed. Although they did not touch the tape with such a quick start, the Red lights were shown by the Referee and the race was re-started with all four riders at the start once again.
Second time was not so lucky for Gates, who knew that he was giving away a lot of horsepower to the others, but he fell into a previous rut and was stranded off the line as the other riders departed with great speed and good drive. Mick Headland / Brenton Kerr dominated from the line and through turn one, exiting turn two with a small break over grandson Nate, who had got the better of Howes / Commons and the Gates team who languished at the back. As the race progressed it was obvious that Headland the elder would win quite comfortably and Headland the younger would make it into second against Howes / Commons, who were also able to take care of Gates, so the podium was set comfortably.
The support class for the evening was a keenly contested Classic Sidecar group, who all fought hard even though some riders did have some mechanical problems, including Rob Kemp, but it was a successful night for Simon Cohrs / Ashton Murtagh, Rodney Gebhart / Greg Black and Marc Bowen /
Next meeting at Olympic Park will be on Saturday 18th November, which will feature Modern Solos and Sidecars and Classic Solos and Sidecars in what promises to be a great contest.
Ends …………………………… 5th November 2023
For further information, please contact:-
Brendon Gledhill Ph: 03 5027 4225 Mob: 0419 174 225 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org