The Lammers family was badly affected by the devastating floods in March. But with the help of friends, family and the karting community, young Joel was able to get back in a kart and won the 2022 ACT State Title.
“It was always going to be hard to get back to karting after our house, shed, karts and kart trailer were flooded by almost two metres of water during the floods that devastated Lismore, Woodburn and surrounding areas in March this year” Nathan Lammers (Joel’s dad) informed KartSportNews.
It took almost a week before the family could access their property (by canoe!) to assess the damage.
“It was as bad as we expected – house contents destroyed, motorbike and kart engines and exhausts full of water, electrical terminals starting to corrode, steel starting to rust and once shining sticker kits covered with a film of fuel & oil residue.”
The Lammers were homeless and living with friends. “All our vehicles were flood damaged and our lives turned upside down over night.”
At the time, Joel was already entered for the opening round of the Rotax Pro Tour at Canberra, which was less than three weeks away.
“We made him a promise that we would do everything we could to get him on the track, but it was going to be tough as the Pacific Highway at that stage was still closed and under water, and the town of Woodburn decimated.”
But then the Karting Family kicked in.
“Troy & Lorraine Farley first contacted us and said ‘if you can get your engines to us, we will fix them ready for Canberra’. Then Richard Bethane from Racemax – ‘Mate, whatever you need, don’t be shy to ask’.”
Messages, phone calls and offers of help came from friends, family and the local community. “We even had people call into the property from Sydney and Queensland with their cars and trailers full of food, drinks and fuel offering help” Nathan added. “This was before the supply hub was set up by the army in town and the generosity of these people was truly amazing.”
Lammers said the support in those first few weeks was incredible as the family was trying to sort out a place to live, organise insurance claims, replacement vehicles and getting both kids back to school.
“We made it to the Canberra Pro Tour with the Tom Williamson Race Team. Joel started strong but began to drop out of the top 5 in the heat races after injuring his ribs during Thursday Practice. Determined to make it through the event on pain killers, Joel finished the Final in 5th Place with a smile after giving the race everything he had.”
The next challenge was the ACT State Titles.
With their local Lismore track closed due to flood damage, the Lammers felt under prepared; they had not been able to test the Kart Republic chassis that had been flooded, nor the rebuilt MiniRok engine.
“We had Tom Williamson & Don Maclean for TWM only a phone call away for kart set up and Brett Staples from the Kart Shed trackside for parts, plus Troy & Lorraine on speed dial for engine advice.
Friday practice started great for Joel, with only minor changes to kart set up and the MiniRok engine performing strong. He recorded the best lap time of the day in the 4th session of 51.5 seconds. Saturday was looking to be a better day for Qualifying and Heats 1 & 2 with the track warming up quickly in the morning sun, Kev “The Noise” Davies on the microphone adding to the race atmosphere and the pits filled with the smell of egg and bacon rolls coming from the canteen – “things just don’t get better”.
Unable to get clear track and the engine appearing to be “off”, Joel qualified 3rd which was probably the best starting position for the heats considering the nature of the 1st corner at the Mark Webber Circuit. In heats 1 and 2, Joel was the quickest on track until the engine started to heat up, then it developed a miss at 10,000rpm which gradually slowed the kart to be a second off the pace.
“That night, Brett Staples serviced the carburettor and the next morning we replaced the wiring loom, coil, spark plug and plug cap hoping to fix the problem.”
But for heat 3 on Sunday morning, same issue. Joel recorded the fastest lap time during the race but had no power out of the corners and up the hill.
“Again, Brett to the rescue replacing the Stator and Rotor with KNSW Official’s permission during the lunch break to make the final just in time for the 19 lap finale.”
“Joel was determined to lead (the start of the Final) from the opening lap and we could only pray that the engine would last the distance.”
Joel took an early lead to pull a three second gap by mid race before backing off for the last five laps to bring it home for a well deserved and challenging win to be crowned ACT State Rookie Champion.
“His only words when he got out of the kart were ‘We did it Dad’. It was a race that we will both never forget.
“Again, thanks to everyone who has supported us from the beginning of Joel’s racing career and especially during the past few months to get us back up and racing again” ~ Nathan Lammers