Grand Prix Midget Australian title at Wangaratta City Raceway won by Anthony Lea
The Victorian Grand Prix Midget Club played host to the 44th annual Australian title for Grand Prix Midgets at Wangaratta City Raceway. The class with so much history with titles previously having been held at Latrobe in Tasmania, Ballarat, Canberra at Tralee, Avalon, Newcastle, Parramatta, Hobart, Wagga Wagga, and Bendigo amongst historic speedways of the past and present with champions of the past since the Australian association was formed such as Dennis Myers, Lester Appleton, Noel Freeman, Phillip John, Bob and Peter Redpath, and Garry Coleman means the world to many of the people that are still involved currently in the class.
With great support from the host club Wangaratta Speedway Club. Pitstop Mowers and the Victorian Grand Prix Midget Racing Association, a large prize pool and an incentive for the title race was put together. Unfortunately, the title race incentive of $1500 to win the title from the rear of the field for the top qualifier, was not taken.
Into heat one of four with all drivers competing in three of them, the Australian title night started with the following grid. Travis Florrimell, Shawn Ward, Matt Kamolins, Riley Bowyer, Adam Buckley, Alex Myers, Daniel Meredith, Jack Ward, Terry Brown, and David Bacon
Stinger Chassis proprietor and engineer Travis Florrimell (# V81 – T & M Lineboring & Engineering – Stinger) got off to a brilliant start as he led Shawn Ward the New South Wales champion and Riley Bowyer through the first lap. Bowyer was moving quickly and by lap five of ten laps he hit the lead with Florrimell and Shawn Ward now chasing until Ward lost power steering on lap ten. Brown didn’t start due to fuel pump issues whilst Meredith suffered brake locking concerns.
Bowyer with a race time of 2:59.825 was the winner ahead of Florrimell by five seconds with Myers, Kamolins, Shawn Ward, Buckley, Jack Ward, Meredith, and Bacon rounding out the finishers.
Jack Ward began from pole position in the second heat with Myers, Meredith, Brown, Chris Fowler, Anthony Lea, Gary Bowyer, Bacon, Riley Bowyer, and Buckley (# N67 – Shore Hire – WAR) completing the line up. From the third row, Lea was quick to scorch to the lead of the race with Myers, Jack Ward, Fowler, and Brown chasing.
Fowler moved into third past Ward on lap three before Gary Bowyer made the pass on Ward the next lap. At the chequered flag Lea had completed ten laps in 2:49.569 with Myers three seconds behind. Fowler, Gary Bowyer, Riley Bowyer (# N50 – Dynamic Signs and Auto Elec – WAR), Jack Ward, Brown, Meredith, Buckley, and Bacon all finished on the lead lap with Bacon spinning across the line and into the concrete wall damaging the rear end of his car.
Lea started heat three his second of the night in pole position with Gary Bowyer alongside. Fowler, Brown, Jack Ward, Myers, Meredith, Shawn Ward, Kamolins and Florrimell completed the starting order.
Lea was quick out of the blocks to lead Fowler (# V13 – R & P Stainer Grinding – HMJ) and Myers. On lap three Fowler assumed the race lead whilst Kamolins exited the race when his chain dropped. Florrimell moved into fifth spot having started at the back of the field and Gary Bowyer raced by Myers on lap seven. On the very last lap of the race Lea took control the lead once again strangely on the eleventh lap of ten whilst the leaders had lapped Shawn Ward, Meredith, and Brown.
With a margin of just .275 Lea had beaten Fowler in a race that took 3:04.440 with Gary Bowyer third then Myers, Florrimell, Jack Ward, Shawn Ward, Meredith (# V8 – Revenant Tattoo – PBC), and Brown. Gary Bowyer was also only .313 behind Lead at the finish line in a super close finish for the top three.
Lining up for the fourth and final heat race Buckley drew the pole position spot with Bacon, Riley Bowyer, Gary Bowyer, Florrimell, Shawn Ward, Kamolins, Fowler and Lea completing the starters.
Buckley settled in the lead on lap one with Bowyer son and father Riley and Gary behind and a fast-moving Fowler into fourth spot with Lea behind him. Lea passed Fowler on lap three into fourth as Gary Bowyer took the lead on lap five. Lea then on lap seven passed Riley Bowyer as Shawn Ward (# V44 – Dominant Detailing – Pearce) exited the race with no power steering.
Lea dropped a couple placings on lap nine back behind Riley Bowyer and Fowler and then a spin on the last lap by Buckley resulted in the Stewards calling the race declaration with Gary Bowyer the winner from Riley Bowyer, Fowler, Lea, Kamolins, Buckley and Bacon (# V36 – DB Cleaning & Kanga Hire – PPC). Gary Bowyer set the fastest one lap time of the night scorching around in 16.023 and Florrimell didn’t start the race due to battery issues.
Lining up for the twenty lap Australian title race Anthony Lea and Riley Bowyer headed an all-New South Wales registered front row. Gary Bowyer, Fowler, Myers, Florrimell, Jack Ward, Buckley, Kamolins, Meredith, Bacon, Shawn Ward, and Brown (# V88 – Aust Clean Numurkah – Stinger) were the official thirteen qualifying positions.
The green flag waved the field off to a start with Riley Bowyer the first to lead the race with Lea, Fowler, Gary Bowyer, and Myers (# V11 – Automotive Super Balance – PBR) in tow. Myers was the first of the podium chances to come undone when his drive chain came off and he headed infield. Kamolins moved into sixth on lap four ahead of Jack Ward (# V4 – Bordy’s Graphix – Anskaitis) and Buckley followed him into seventh.
On lap five Lead took the race lead and two laps later Gary Bowyer passed Fowler into third spot. At the halfway mark Lea led Riley Bowyer, Gary Bowyer (# N5 – Arjan Motors – WAR), Fowler and Florrimell whilst Buckley was in sixth with Kamolins behind him.
Fowler made a pass back by Gary Bowyer on lap fourteen and into third. The speed, the closeness, and the passing through traffic of the top four drivers in particular was impressive. As twenty laps came up Lea (# N7 – Prestige Smash Repairs) hit the finish line and the chequered flag with a margin of .590 between he and runner up Riley Bowyer. At just .781 behind was Fowler with Gary Bowyer a second further back. Florrimell finished in fifth with Buckley, Kamolins (# V5 Pitstop Mowers – Stinger), and Bacon rounding out the finishers of the race.
Contingency awards presented by the Victorian Grand Prix Midget Racing Association included a hard luck award to Alex Myers after he dropped out of the title race on lap two. A hard charger award to Riley Bowyer and a best presented car to Adam Buckley.
Buzzing from his victory, Anthony Lea has been in contact with the Victorian club and our media representative DMT Sports Media and has provided the following quote on his feelings and his emotions. It is important to know that his Grandfather (Pop) is the late great Clive Pollett, and his stepfather is Garry Coleman another great of the Grand Prix Midget class. Pollett passed away ten years ago and whilst Coleman himself won the national title in 1987.
“This is a feeling I have never had before. My feet have not even touched the ground. Winning is very satisfying yet humbling as this is a combination of a life spent around this class and my New South Wales Club gaining knowledge. It is humbling to have had all the help that I have and that so many people can feel a part, small or big of this result. The stars for me aligned on race night and I want to thank my and remember my pop Clive so very much and my personal supporters Telco Rigging Solutions, Seared Burger Bar, Panther Prestige Smash Repairs, JAS Transport, R & B Bulk Haulage and A -Ok Trophies.
This class is in my blood, the club means the world to me and it’s important that both the Victorian and New South Wales clubs continue to build and be amazing as they were many years ago with all the champions of the sport we have had, we can continue their legacy. “Shared Lea after the race.
The Victorian Grand Prix Midget Racing Association thanks:
TM Lineboring & Engineering
Automotive Super Balance
Wangaratta Speedway Club
DMT Sports Media
Jackie & Vern Parker DVD & Photography
Media written by Speedcafe contributor DMT Sports Media – Dean ThompsonSign up here to receive our daily newsletters and breaking news alerts, sent straight to your inbox.