(January 21, 2024) — Australia’s biggest sprint car race is in the books as American teams will start their trek home following the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic while Australian teams will regroup for the upcoming for their title race to be held at Premier Speedway next weekend. Here are my takeaways from the biggest three days in Australian sprint car racing.
- Aaron Reutzel and the Saller Motorsports team made a calculated effort to start their Australian season earlier this year in hopes of accomplishing the moment they achieved Saturday by winning the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic.
It’s a move I believe other American drivers will need to duplicate if they expect to have Classic success.
The competition down under, much like in the United States, has become good enough over the past 15 years even the best American driver is not going to sweep in and win that event.
Early results during Reuzel’s Australian tour with Saller Motorsports unremarkable, but right around the start of the new year they started to hit on things, moving forward in main events. They were fast off the trailer at Warrnambool for the Classic.
Post race that was as happy as I’ve seen Reutzel to win a feature event. Remarkable for a driver that has accomplished several major during his racing career including a multiple All Star Circuit of Champions point titles, 360 Knoxville Nationals win, and earning the pole position for the Knoxville Nationals.
It will be interesting to watch the early stages of the 2024 season in America to see if Reutzel’s momentum from Australia carries over with the Ridge and Son’s Racing Team and serves as a catalyst for Reutzel to win of the Sprint Car Racing majors in America.
- The 2024 Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic will be remembered for the missed opportunities for some as much as it was for Reutzel’s victory.
Last year Sheldon Haudenschild had the checked flag in site for the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic in site coming off the final corner before Brock Hallett snatched the win away. Haudenschild had a rough tour of Australia coming into Classic week but rebounded with a win at Borderline Speedway during the Kings Challenge and during his preliminary night at Warrnambool.
Haudenschild had the same issue many other contenders had throughout the week at Premier Speedway, tripping over the track’s tricky top side which also ended James McFadden’s chase for a third Grand Annual Sprintcar Title in the process.
Young Chase Randall’s stock continued to rise with strong performances down under, but a blown right rear tire upended his opportunity at being in contention for the biggest victory of his career.
Carson Macedo showed tremendous speed coming into Classic weekend, but one stumble on his preliminary night seemed to have Macedo fighting from behind the rest of the weekend, eventually being one of several drivers to encounter minor damage that needed to be repaired during the open red halfway through Saturday’s main event.
The bad luck wasn’t limited to the American contingent. The defending Austrlaian Sprintcar Title winner Jock Goodyer had shown tremendous speed coming into the Classic weekend. Goodyer suffered a similar fate with a hard crash during his preliminary feature that relegated him to the B-Main. Goodyer rallied on Saturday to transfer to the feature and charged to a fifth-place finish.
The same could be said for Jamie Veal, who put in countless hours leading into the classic helping the Premier Speedway club work on the quality of racing (more on this in a moment) also had issues on his preliminary feature that forced him to come from the B-Main to fourth position in the feature.
Marcus Dumesny also had to overcome adversity from his preliminary with a flat tire to earn hard charger honors.
- The Premier Speedway club needs to be commended for all the hard work that was put in leading into the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic. There had been a lot of criticism of the racing surface at Warrnambool, which has seen some rubber down conditions since putting down some new clay several years ago.
While that surface is slated to be refreshed during this off season, to help improve the situation the concrete curbing was removed from the infield (with the assistance of Jamie Veal’s family-owned company) and the track surface widened into the infield.
There were some track rework delays, but overall, the surface was much better than I had expected coming into the Classic weekend. While there was significant tire wear in the feature, the racing in the preliminary nights was good.
It will be interesting to see how things play out for next week’s Australian Sprintcar Title that is also being contested at Premier Speedway to see how the surface plays out. Hopefully during the off season the club can hit on the racing surface and possible some reshaping to make the bottom lane move even with the top that has been dominant for some time at the Classic.
- Bonus Take: Huge thank you needs to go out to Jarred Ash and his entire staff over at Clay Per View for making Australian Sprintcar Racing more accessible in America. Ash and his team worked a deal for Americans to be able to view the WA vs USA with just the base monthly subscription to the site, and also worked with Floracing to have the Classic available to a larger American audience.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the Australian sprint car scene, the racing is highly entertaining contested on small racetracks (most around ¼-mile in length) with a lot of talented drives we see in American during the summer and several I wish we could see make the trip over during the Australian winter.
Hopefully in 5-6 years I’ll be writing these takeaways from Warrnambool instead of my living room, but for now we live in an amazing time where we can witness these events many of us used to just read about in real time.