by Bailey Dixon
Rivals and mates alike battling it out. Visors down. Engines revving. Wheels spinning and smoke flying. How great it was to be back at Albury-Wodonga Kart Club racing again after a three-month sabbatical. There were, however, some challenges.
- Freezing temperatures.
- Random grid order.
- Slippery track.
Things that get a Karter’s heart pounding! And at AWKC on Sunday the 28th of June, they took these conditions on with excitement and enthusiasm. Covid-19 may have held them inside for so long, but it would not stop them this time. Challenge accepted!
The younger members of the club were sent out to brave the tricky conditions first, early in the morning before the clear skies and warm sun had evaporated the moisture on the track. Random order had a negligible effect on the Cadet 9 class, which, at this race meet, was an all-girls class; something to be proud of for both young drivers Ashleigh Brett and Taylor Taborsky! At the end of the day, Ashleigh claimed the top step of the podium while Taylor finished in second place, the pair both racing intermingled with the Cadet 12s, providing them with heaps of extra experience as an added benefit.
A longstanding rivalry resumed right away on Sunday, with Anthony Alessi and Blake Tracey fighting it out for the top step on the podium. However, this month, a newcomer entered the ring. Noah Dixon, moving up from Cadet 9, got straight into the top three fight, giving Anthony and Blake a run for their money throughout the day. Heat two saw perhaps the most excruciatingly enjoyable racing of the day, with Blake and Noah going at it to claim the second spot behind Anthony, who had scampered away while they raced. Back and forth, side-by-side, swerving right and then left, dodging lapped runners; this battle truly had it all! Add to that the massive grins on the faces of both the boys when they returned to the pits and you have the ideal racing scenario. Holding their own behind these boys, James Brett, Ryan Taborsky and Dylan Wyllie, who were fairly evenly spaced, worked on their own race day, poised to take advantage of any mistakes the leaders might make. Meanwhile, Jaxson McKinna and Benjamin Roberts had their own smaller fight further down the field. In amongst these two was Eli Patten, who was taking part in his first club day and getting up to speed in a strong fashion. He did a great job, mixing it up with the regulars in the class for some solid racing! For this class, Anthony Alessi took first place, Blake Tracey second and Noah Dixon third.
Vic Combined Light were the next racers out on track. Standard procedure that started in heat 1 and settled in for the day was for Blake Worboys to pull away out front, while Dylan Muller and Daniel Taborsky scrapped for second place. A couple of incidents ensued between the pair, namely when Daniel tried to pull an overtake around the outside of turn five and the pair collided on the ultimate lap of heat three, but they were still very entertaining. Behind them, another battle pack formed for fourth place, with Toby Robins, Rob Mullavey and Kevin Mullavey enjoying their own three-way battle. At the times when the leaders were evenly spaced, and not on each other’s bumpers, these three were still going at it hard! Behind these packs were Myall Hoffman running his own race and cutting laps, and Jade Macreadie giving his first club day a go in the white number 47 kart. Overall, and the top step of the podium went to Blake Worboys, second to Dylan Muller and the third step to Rob Mullavey.
The four stroke karts that make up the 4SS class are one of Karting Australia’s newest additions, proving an affordable option for those looking to race with mates on a budget. Three racers were running these loud beasts on the club day-Damien Ryder, Joel Tyrrell and Mark Chaston. With similar velocities, they kept close on the same stretch of tarmac for the majority of the day. In the end though, Damien claimed the top step of the podium, with Joel in second and Mark bringing it home in third place.
The roar that accompanied the ten Vic Combined Medium runners leaving the out-grid and taking to the track was deafening. Yet it was worth it; this class proving one of the most intense and exciting classes to watch for the entire day. The margin between the top six karters was virtually non-existent, with nose-to-bumper racing prevalent. Blair Van Ree took the day, his superb race craft keeping him at the front of the battling pack, while behind him, David Galley and Jackson Rice fought hard over second. Mere inches behind these two, Herman Van Ree, Ryan Van Ree and Corey Drummond were having their own intense scrap in the midst of the overall six-kart battle pack. Side by side nearly every corner, these boys swapped and changed positions like there was no tomorrow. However, aside from the extreme racing on track, these boys were also having fun off the track. While sitting on the grid for heat two, they joked around while in their karts and gave each other friendly grief, laughing and having a blast before the gate opened and seriousness crept into their demeanour. There was a newcomer in their midst, just like the Cadet 12s. Adam McKinna, father of young cadet Jaxson McKinna, was racing in his first ever club day in the Vic Combined Medium field, cutting laps in with the hard and competitive racers in his number 42 Intrepid kart. Blair Van Ree took victory for the day, with David Galley coming home in second and Jackson Rice in third.
The Juniors were the final class of the day, combining three different categories into one mix. KA3 Junior, the fastest of the karts, featured Tahnee Blair winning the day over fellow competitor Jordan Chapman; mostly due to him having a day of mechanical difficulties that he will want to forget. Engine issues in three out of the four races resulted in a horrible day for him, but the fighting spirit remains. Flynn Twyford and Piper Muller were the two KA4 Heavy runners, resuming their continuing battle for supremacy. The solitary Light runner, Eddy Cooper tagged onto the back of these two, getting in the competitive mix and providing entertainment for those on the side of the track watching. The three of them remained glued together throughout the course of the day, but ultimately, Flynn emerged victorious for this club day over a determined Piper, while Eddy won his class.
The return to racing was many things. Competitive. Exhilarating. Refreshing. No matter what machinery you had under you, it was good to be back at AWKC. The light at the end of the tunnel was, for quite a while, imperceptible, but the club meet on Sunday gave the Albury-Wodonga members hope.
Hope for more races this year.
Hope for enjoyable and exciting racing.
Hope that somewhere along the line we won’t have a race meet where the only way you can get close to your friends is on the track.
Until that time, hang onto that hope karting community, for things will change eventually. History has shown that they always do. In the meantime, remember that social distancing is helping to keep our karting on track. And that handwashing is important, not just to get rid of engine grease.