Oldfield Unstoppable in Archerfield Finale

In a fitting end to more than 40 years of speedway competition at the venue, the last ever Sprintcar feature race at Archerfield Speedway delivered a fairytale result for hugely popular local star Luke Oldfield as he withstood the best efforts of Australian champ Jock Goodyer to win the 50-lap finale, secure a $20 000 payday and clinch the East Coast Logistics Track Championship along the way. In a faultless performance, Oldfield launched from the outside front row in front of a capacity crowd and survived a clash with a lapped car to ultimately lead every lap, with Jamie Veal finishing third ahead of Brock Hallett, Aaron Kelly and Brent Kratzmann. It was certainly a race worthy of the occasion, but also proved somewhat bittersweet in that it served as a vivid reminder of just the how much the sport is losing with the closure of the track.

With a dominant win in the 50-lap Midget feature race, New Zealand’s Michael Pickens not only became the last ever Midget race winner at Archerfield, but also the last in a long line of international drivers to find success here. Pickens was in a class of his own and, despite a couple of late restarts, finished well beyond the reach of second-placed Troy Ware, with Scott Farmer home third ahead of Kaidon Brown and Rusty Whittaker.

The only other feature race winners on the night were Sam Gollschewsky (Modlites) and Luke Manttan (Development Sprintcars)

The racing was preceded by a presentation to John and Kathy Kelly from Speedway Australia in recognition of their efforts over the last 20+ years as the promoters of a venue that has consistently served up more race meetings every season than any other track in the country.

With four drivers failing to return for the second night of competition, 54 cars hit the track for the final round of heats and it was Veal who got proceedings underway with a win over Jy Corbet and Goodyer in the opening heat. As one of the real surprise packets from opening night, Luke Dougherty was presented with an ideal opportunity to climb even higher in the standings, only to throw away his pole position start with a spin in turn two that saw him collected by Dylan Menz.

In heat 12, Oldfield advanced from row three to chase down Mark Pholi, with Liam Williams home in third spot.

Kaydon Iverson held on to win heat 13 over Kratzmann and Hallett, with heat 14 falling in favour of Randy Morgan over Kelly and Charles Hunter.

The final heat of the weekend would see Ben Atkinson victorious, with Tim Farrell and Cody O’Connell filling the minor placings.

The D Main would see Luke Thomas lead home James Matthews to secure the top two spots respectively and advance into the C Main, with the weekend coming to an end for Daniel Helmore, Harrison Swan and Josh Fort.

Will Carroll was unchallenged in leading throughout the C Main, leaving the rest of the field to fight for the remaining transfer spot. Thomas halted proceedings with a spin in turn three with six to go, with Dan Murray looping in turn four with a lap remaining to set up a green/white/chequer finish. Kevin Britten would secure second spot and the final vacancy in the B Main field, with Tyler Stralow advancing from row four to relegate Jack Bell from third with two laps remaining. Nathan Pronger, James Kennedy and Peter Campbell were next, with Brad Ayres, Tarhlea Apelt and Brett Hobson rounding out the top ten.

Despite having endured a series of setbacks on opening night, Ryan Newton refused to accept an early end to his weekend as a possibility and set about securing his place in the feature race field, advancing from the outside of row four to win the B Main, rounding up the likes of Atkinson and Jy Corbet along the way. Newton swept to the front on lap 12 and would skip clear to finish almost three seconds clear of Liam Wiliams, who had taken the lead from Darren Jensen on lap two and remained in front until Newton assumed control. Corbet and Atkinson finished third and fourth respectively to dibs the remaining transfers, leaving fifth-placed Adam Butler to rely on a provisional to secure a spot in the feature race.

Bouncing back after his Friday night wipe-out to secure a place in the Boss Hogg’s Steakhouse Pole Shootout, Goodyer would progress through both of the preliminary stages to reach the final showdown. In the opening stoush, Goodyer downed Kelly, Walsh and Robbie Farr before following up to outpace Kelly, Hallett and Farrell in round two. The final clash would see Goodyer lock in pole position for the main event, upstaging Oldfield, Veal and Hallett in that order.

With Titman also granted a provisional to join the field, 24 cars would contest The Last Race presented by East Coast Logistics, the final 50 laps of Sprintcar competition ever to be staged at Archerfield. Oldfield sat alongside Goodyer on the front row, followed by Veal, Hallett, Kelly, Farrell, Walsh, Farr, Randy Morgan, Kratzmann, Cam Waters, Lachlan McDonough, Lachlan Caunt, Stewart, Menz and Andrew Corbet, with the B Main quartet and the two provisional starters completing the line-up. At the drop of the green, Oldfield zoomed to the front, leaving Goodyer and Veal to quibble over the minors. Lap two saw Farrell throw away his chances of a podium appearance when he spun to the infield in turn two and resumed at the back without any need for a restart, the first of which came on lap eight when Menz spun to a halt in the same spot, forcing Oldfield into evasive action to avoid a collision. Three laps later, the race was halted again courtesy of a spin from Morgan, with turn two again the location of choice. Resuming at the rear, Morgan would only make it as far as turn four before crashing out, to be joined on the infield by Waters. Back underway and Goodyer started closing in on the leader, sliding underneath Oldfield through turn one on lap 18, only for Oldfield to counter immediately through turn two to reclaim the lead. Two laps later, Goodyer went back ahead with an outside run through turn four, only for Atkinson to spin in turn two to instigate another restart that would put Oldfield back at the head of the parade. At the halfway mark, Oldfield continued to lead Goodyer and Veal, with McDonough having rounded up the likes of Hallett, Farr, Kelly and Walsh to be sitting fourth with a podium finish in his sights. With 16 laps to go, Oldfield loomed upon tailender Andrew Corbet, who lurched to the left as Oldfield drew alongside, the contact sending the race leader bouncing back down to earth and, fortunately, able to continue. Goodyer went back to the front with 17 laps to run, only to his move negated once again when another restart was called, this time courtesy of turn three spin from Titman, who retreated to the infield. Just two more laps were completed before McDonough’s mighty run ended upside down in turn one, with another restart following immediately when Farr flipped out in turn two. Once underway again, Oldfield continued to lead, with Goodyer executing another slide-job through turn four with nine laps remaining that would once again be countered immediately by Oldfield. When Goodyer, who had used the outside line from the outset, ran a smidgen too wide exiting turn four and climbed the wall, he was somehow able to bring the A1 back to earth seemingly devoid of damage and continue without dropping a spot, but his victory hopes were dashed. Oldfield completed the remaining laps and was met with an almighty roar of approval from the packed house, driving onto the podium for the final time after an infield detour to execute some celebratory donuts. Goodyer was gallant in defeat, while Veal enjoyed a somewhat lonely run into third ahead of Hallett, who inherited fourth upon McDonough’s demise. Kelly capped a very great weekend with a fifth-place finish, while Kratzmann continued his strong end-of-season form to finish sixth ahead of Williams, Jy Corbet, Walsh and Farrell, with Caunt and Menz the only others to go the distance. Emulating his Friday night heroics, Stewart had climbed from 14th to six, only to exit the contest with just three laps remaining to join the likes of Newton, Butler, Atkinson and Andrew Corbet on the infield.

The final heat of Development Sprintcars for the weekend went the way of Carlo Moiola, who usurped Adrian Josefski from the lead on lap two and skipped clear to finish four seconds up on second-placed Ron Hendrickson, with Luke Manttan third.

Come feature race time though and it was Manttan who proved too pacey as Moiola could fare no better than fifth behind Manttan, Jared Desmares, Anthony Vanderreyden and Noah Ball. Following Moiola to the flag were Hendrickson, Thomas Clarendon-Blair, Libby Ellis, Steve Bateman and Adrian Josefski.

After a less than stellar season blighted by low car counts, it was great to see a strong field of 30 Midgets on hand for their final 50-lap showcase. It was Rusty Whittaker who launched from the outside front row to lead, and subsequently win, the opening heat ahead of Charlie Brown. In working his way forward into third spot, Pickens was the only driver to clock drop under 14 seconds.

Michael Kendall would lead the opening laps of heat two until an inside pass from Kaidon Brown didn’t quite go according to plan, resulting in Kendall coming to rest in turn two and forced to restart from the rear, while Brown headed to the infield. Following further interruptions courtesy of Drew Fenton, Tim Devine and Nathan Mathers, it was South Australia’s Jack McCarthy who prevailed over Farmer, with Kendall fighting back to salvage third.

When Alan Day was deemed to have jumped the start in heat three, Matt Geering was elevated to pole position for the second attempt, only to throw it away with a spin in turn two on the opening lap. In the end it was Ware home first ahead of Nathan Smee and Matt Jackson.

Heat four would see Dean defeat Charlie Brown and Kendall, with heat five falling the way of Farmer over Dylan Menz and Smee as Kaidon Brown struck trouble again with a spin in turn two on the opening lap.

Pickens made easy work of the final preliminary, finishing more than four seconds clear of the field, with Jackson second ahead of Scott Doyle.

An inversion of some sort for the 50-lapper would deliver a front row comprising McCarthy and Cal Whatmore, with the latter launching from pole position to lead the field away as the fancied runners made their way forward. As the race continued without interruption, Whatmore extended his lead while Pickens proceeded with his advance from deep in the pack, moving to eighth on lap five and then into sixth on lap 10. Jackson occupied second spot ahead of McCarthy and Ware, with Pickens fifth after 15 circulations. Whatmore would maintain his advantage beyond lap 20 before trouble struck and he would retire to the infield, putting Jackson at the head of the queue momentarily before Pickens swooped to round up Ware, McCarthy and Jackson in quick succession to take over the front running on lap 25. Once in front, Pickens never looked under any threat as he raced clear of the field to establish a sizeable lead. Further back in the pack, some highline heroics from Kaidon Brown were slowly paying dividends as he edged his way forward. The first interruption did not come until lap 44 when Smee opted to park mid-track in turn four. Unfortunately for Jackson, his race would end just three laps from home when he speared into the turn two wall, elevating Farmer into third. The final laps were completed without further incident as Pickens cruised home ahead of Ware, Farmer and Kaidon Brown, with Rusty Whittaker fifth in front of Kendall and Charlie Brown. Unable to reproduce his state championship-winning form, Menz was next in line, trailed by Geering, Brad Dawson and Matt O’Neill, leaving DJ Raw, Ty Horne and Barry Gibbes as the remaining finishers.

Australian champ Sam Gollaschewsky advanced from the third row to snatch the lead from Tyson Snow on the last lap in the first of the Modlite heats, with Cruise McVie coming from even further back to finish third.

Kyle Honour and Dan Lewis were untroubled in winning heats two and three respectively from pole position. Honour downed Sean Rose and Gavin Thomas, while Lewis outpaced Callum Beerling and Abi Meehan.

A tandem run through the field would carry Rose and Gollschewsky to the top two spots in the final heat, with Terry Leerentveld home third.

Gollschewsky was in a class of his own in the 20-lap feature race, leading throughout for an emphatic win ahead of Rose. Even a late restart to necessitate a green-white-chequer finish could do nothing to halt Gollschewsky as he was able to gap Rose by more than a second in those final two laps. Having fallen as far back as eighth in the early laps, Terry Leerentveld slowly moved his way forward in a drive that serves as a reminder of just why he has been the most successful driver in the category. Committed to the outside and refusing to consider any alternative route to the podium, Leerentveld demonstrated patience, persistence and precision as he worked his way forward to eventually land in third spot. Honour, Beerling, Snow, Lewis and McVie were next in line, with Mitch Pammenter and Nathan Politch rounding out the top ten.

And so ends an era spanning some 40+ years of action at Archerfield Speedway. The track has played host to the biggest names in the sport, staged some of the most memorable events, served up fabulous racing week after week and proven a breeding ground for so many talented new competitors across a wide range of race categories. The farewell show certainly proved an emotional time for many amid the realisation of what the closure will mean for competitors and fans. Certainly, John and Kathy Kelly have done a marvellous job to keep the speedway operating for so many years despite the many challenges and setbacks they have endured and deserve the utmost appreciation and recognition for their tireless efforts

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