Pete Styles, Club President of the NSW Lightning & Litre Sprintcars for the upcoming season, looks back on the 40 year history of this racing category.
In 1981 a breakaway from Compact Speedcars was formed at Terry Thomas’s house. The concept came from an article in Peter Burns’ magazine “Hunter Valley Motor Sports Action” showing the emerging Litre Sprintcars in Queensland that had formed a few years prior.
Terry, Les Begg, Ken Begg, George Winder and Jimmy Pyne saw the emerging possibilities of wings on top of a Compact Speedcar – AND THAT WAS ALL IT TOOK!!!
These five blokes made the jump into a new and exciting category.
The first official season and establishment of the division in NSW was the 1981/82 term. The competitors started by agreeing back in the pits before the meeting who would win each heat, dicing it up for a show, but then all would “go for gold” in the feature. Soon after, the Litre cars raced with the GP Midgets to boost numbers on track as we grew.
By July, 17, 1984 at the Auburn RSL Club, the association was officially formed and a name chosen – the United Formula Ovaltrack Racing Association of NSW. (The UFOs were born.)
Barry Ashton was first President, Ken Begg Vice President, Gary Guest the Secretary and Chief Steward, assisted by Trevor Sheen, Les Begg Treasurer assisted by George Winder, Terry Thomas the publicity officer and finally Jim Pyne and Alan Birkett as general committee. The atmosphere in the early days was one of mates, families, laughter hard racing and a few beers later.
The original foundation remains the same today. Diff or chain drive, car engine or bike motor, it all came together in a mix where the drivers picked the package they felt best in order to hit the track. Engine capacity was always limited to the 1L range.
Through the late 80s and the 90s the division became known as Litre Sprintcars and quickly exploded in popularity. Clubs grew and formed often competing with each other through fierce rivalries. Northern Rivers, Northwest, Newcastle, Sydney and the Southern All Stars were formed each strong in its own right.
Newcastle Motordrome was the Mecca of our division at the time. With a division that big we even had pre-programme qualifying events just to get everyone track time. Through the 90s and at the turn of the century, the division had well over 100 registered cars in NSW with 60-80 cars rolling up for a race meeting.
It was also a time of mechanics races as younger generations and tongue-twisters got a chance to drive. Celebrities made appearances through the years, too. Yes they even managed to stuff Wally Lewis the Rugby star into a Litre Car. (Wally became a regular racer and showed he could race competitively with the best – Dennis Newlyn).
At the turn of the century after starting as one club and growing into five racing organisations state wide, the division amalgamated back into on state based NSW club. That’s where the NSW Litre Sprintcar Association we remain registered as today began. The effort of Grant Heeley in particular is called out in the history books by the paperwork but it took the efforts of many to make this a reality.
But change was coming.
In the early 2000s another big moment occurred with a profound impact on our division: The closure of the Newcastle Motordrome – our Mecca at the time!
This hit the division hard.
Heading toward 2010 the division saw a lift again, both in appearance and pace, as teams stepped up a notch again. Teams like Darley, Wright, Geering, Laneyrie, Priest, Cooper, Paton CCMG and many more invested heavily in development of engine packages. Promotion was lifting with partnerships in the USA bringing Shane Stewart out with the Ayers, Kick It race team. Everything was possible and the internet was really making it known.
Change again came from 2008 to really 2017 as a division run by members, for members challenged itself to adapt to emerging self start pressures that all support divisions faced. The division had reigned strong in a push start configuration but pressure came from many angles to adapt. The chain-driven, purpose built cars started to flood in and after 20 years of teams raising the bar, things became uncertain.
Many saw value in single engine divisions like Wingless, or the next generation of kids were taking hold in Go- Karts. During this time, the division saw a decline in car counts. The Newcastle closure was still hurting, but Valvoline Raceway remained our Mecca until 2019. The club saw some of its toughest years through many reasons, but tenacity and commitment got us through. By 2020, as a club, we had redefined our vision for the future and committed to it through a simplified and locked rule book. Car counts rebounded and we stood poised for a big year in season 2019/20. That’s when the closure of Valvoline Raceway hit suddenly. Then Covid 19 right after that. Despite that, our division has grown in NSW. Even with short seasons, rain outs and a venue closure, our guys have rallied back to fields not seen on the country tracks in 10 years.
Now, as we stand poised for the 40th season, we stop to reflect on the 39th season.
It’s a hard season to summarise.
On one hand, Covid took a huge toll on planning events right down to this very presentation, on the other, it was rain-outs and the continued closure of our home track Valvoline Raceway. While it wasn’t what we hoped it would be when the season started, some might say it’s what we needed.
The country tracks have always been a big part of our racing season and 2020/21 it dialled up times 10 this year. The racing was epic from the get go, starting at the wickedly-fast Dubbo Speedway, venturing south to Nowra on a night so juiced up we blew records sky high.
Turning back to Gilgandra for the NSW Championship, which rained out on both occasions. Goulburn stepped up with tricky conditions, quickly leading to a racy track that had every driver giving it their everything at the end. Finally we capped off at Nowra on the card with the mighty Midgets, proving once again how fast this division of ours really is by setting quickest times of the night.
Beyond the challenges, our drivers knew we found something very special out there. The atmosphere in the pits and the action on track was one point, but we went back to our roots in a club now founded on stability and enjoyment of our racing. New blood met head-on with proven veterans.
We saw drivers like Chris Davis laughing off car damage after ripping the front end out in a dog fight with four cars. The racing was clean but hard.
That is exactly what our club is about. Race hard Saturday – clean the car Sunday, then go back to work Monday.
THE 39th SEASON AWARD WINNERS
Now with that brief trip down memory lane its time to turn to our formalities this evening.
Thee efforts of Club President Matt Reed were acknowledged at the start of presentations for his sterling efforts over the past three years. He now turns his attention to the NSW Speedway Kart Club. I welcome the opportunity to take on this new challenge.
I also extend the same appreciation to Chris and Mel Davis both taking time off the committee after years of involvement behind the scenes.
The awards night recognised those who excelled this past season, while those organisations who have invested in the Litre Car state division were also acclaimed and acknowledged at the start of proceedings.
Astral Industries & Maintenance
The Geering Family (formerly C&A Mobile Sound and Communications)
Hoosier Racing Tyres Australia
American Racing Tyres
Door Systems Australia
Sesame Garage Doors
SFR & Jettco Developments
Brett Wheeler the man on the mic from UDTV
Design EFX Signage – Jeff Byron
A/Ok Trophies – Bob Moir
Fast Forward Graphics
Peter White’s Speedway World
Photographers Garry Reid, Crashys Image In Eight, The Art of Speedway – Gavin Skene, Ray Green, Lone Wolf Photography, Pacemaker Race Photos, Jasons Digital Photos, Maximum Action Photography and Hawkeye Speedway Photography.
The club is excited to welcome Syndicate Communications as naming rights season championship partner for the upcoming season!
The following award winners for the past season were:
Encouragement Award: Garry Simpson
Rising Star / Brightest Future: Kyle Thomas
Most Improved Driver: Scott Moir
Wild Ride: Daniel Kleinig (for his spectacular dump at Dubbo Speedway.)
Best Presented Crew: Team Stone Racing
Best Presented Car: Scott Wither
Crew Chief of the Year: Jeff Byron and Team Binskin
Club Person of the Year: Danny Stone
Strata One Hard Charger/s Award: Scott Moir and Matt Reed.
Most Feature Race Wins: Jordan Binskin.
C&A Mobile Sound & Communication – Rookie Of The Year:
This season the club said goodbye to Craig & Anna again as Naming Rights sponsor for the Rookie Series, as they took on new business prospects, handing over the keys to C&A Mobile.
The battle was fierce all season with multiple rookies joining the field through the year. While most rookies had their fair share of bad luck all found their feet on track.
Matt Elliot brought a unique energy to the club. Piss takes were never far. ecstatic taking his first heat win at Nowra before the season closed. Garry Simpson, Kevin Ottey, and Jake Fisher all found time on track with pace building through the season.
Most dominant in pace and taking Rookie of the night honours was Graham Lagerlow. His pace through the season was brilliant, matched with consistency, too. Fair to say when he ran he wasn’t far from the front. His season averages were data fit for Shaun McDonald’s notebook. But consistency is key, with a big crash and a dropped round hurting his run to the championship.
Consistency and perseverance is the everything in championships.
3rd Place – $100 Jake Spencer
2nd Place – $200 Graham Lagerlow
And your C&A Mobile Sound & Communications Rookie of the year is
1st Place – $300 Matt Elliot
Drivers’ Driver: A dead-heat between Danny Stone and Matt Reed
B Grade Drivers Championship:
3rd Place – Scott Moir
2nd Place – Graham Lagerlow
1st Place – Matt Elliot
Stones Windscreens Country Series / 2020 2021 Club Championship
10th Place – Rookie Jake Spencer
9th Place – Chris Davis
8th Place – Kyle Thomas
7th Place – AJ McTaggart
6th Place – Scott Moir
5th Place – Graham Lagerlow
4th Place – Jordan Binskin
3rd Place – $200 Matt Elliot
2nd Place – $400 Danny Stone
1st Place – $600 Matt Reed
(Huge thank you to Shaun McDonald for stats and historic data.)
A MOMENT OF SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR AJ McTAGGART
We cast back to 2005 when Bruce Darley asked a young AJ McTaggart to step into the committee to take on the Treasurer role as he saw a chance to bring his financial background role well suited to the position.
AJ, happy to help out, nominated for the role. At AGM held at Rosehill Bowling Club on 5/6/2005 members voted and AJ was elected as Treasurer.
Now some 17 years later AJ still stands as our club Treasurer. Every year he puts it out there for someone to do it and every year he gets nominated to stay on in the role. It’s become a real laugh at AGM as AJ now finds himself trying to work out what’s the easier way to get off the role – resign, or swap with someone!.
He’s more than just our Treasurer, though. He is the guy who draws our grids at the track using a digital system that assures everyone gets fair grid placing. He keeps track of the championship points and when it’s time to get paid, yep he does that, too.
I have often described him as a lynch-pin in our club. He is the voice of reason and logic when you need it most. He has that firm grounding that reminds you where past mistakes lead to bad endings. Cool, calm and collected, he puts as much into the club as he does into his racing. He is big part of what makes this club so great.
AJ McTaggart was presented with the highest honour our club can bestow in this our 40th season – life membership!
NSW CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER
The first recorded NSW Championship winner at Parramatta City Raceway goes right back to the 1988/89 season, when Queensland’s Dean McComb claimed an upset victory. The McComb name has a decorated history in the Litre Car division, with multiple state and national titles.
Ironically, (much to NSW disappointment), the last recorded winner of the NSW title held at Parramatta was Queensland driver!
On a hot 30th December 30 night in 2018, Queenslander Jason Rae took the win from hard charging NSW rookie Alex Mahony and NSW driver Pete Styles placed. With a newborn on the hill, It was a brilliant result for J-Rae, claiming both the NSW and Queensland title that season.
THE AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
The first winner of the Australian Litre Championship at Parramatta City Raceway was crowned in 2002/03 and the winner on that night was Stephen Brown.
A dominant force in early Litre Car days, Steve was a well-known front runner, so it comes as no surprise to see his name in the record books.
With Covid 19 cancelling the event scheduled for March 6, 2021, the farewell to Parramatta title race stands remains what could have been. Accordingly, the last ever winner of the Australian crown at Parramatta came when Lismore based young gun, Kurt Wilson claimed his first Australian Litre Car Championship..
The 2015/16 title went to Kurt Wilson from AJ McTaggart and Darren Salmon. The race went right to the wire with battles involving the top three placegetters, young talent Matt Geering and defending champ Sean Iacono. None could deny Kurt on this night now forever etched in the history books.
THE GOLD CUP
This event commenced in 1995/96 as the Hunter Valley Gold Cup at the famed Newcastle International Motordrome with Darrell Kime one of the first winners.
When the event moved to Parramatta for the first time in 2003/04, it was none other than four time winner Sean Barnett who claimed his first on that night. The year after the late Scott Darley claimed it, too. Many of our biggest names have held it, precious few more than once, as is the case with AJ McTaggart and DJ Raw both two time winners.
On December 7, 2019, in the 25th running of the event, it was young gun Tyler Stralow who stands as the last and youngest ever winner of the Gold Cup. At just 17, the Queensland driver “stole” the Gold Cup trophy, taking it north from hard charging AJ McTaggart and defending holder Chris Davis.
A record that now stands for all time with Tyler marked the last winner of the Gold Cup at Parramatta.
THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME – Most Feature Wins
There are some big names landing in the Parramatta City Raceway all time win list, with most quickly turning attention to the mighty Sprintcar division for that record.
The immortals of Sprintcar racing are well known. The records of statistician Shaun McDonald has Garry Rush with 96 wins, Robbie Farr 49, Max Dumesny 45, Brooke Tatnell 39 and Donny Schatz 36 wins. All stand proudly as the legends of the Sprintcar division at Parramatta venue.
The most wins at Parramatta for the Litre Car Division?
None other than Sean Barnett with 44 feature race wins spanning a 25 year career at the venue.
Much like Garry Rush in Sprintcars, Sean’s run doubles that of those marked next in the all-time win list, AJ McTaggart, Andrew Wright and Scott Darley for the Litre Car Division.
When the Gold Cup moved to Parramatta for the first time in 2003/04, it was none other than Sean Barnett who claimed his first Gold Cup on that night. PCR was a hallowed ground for Sean, as he went on to win four Gold Cups and three of his four Australian titles among those 44 wins at the venue.
Gold Cup 2002/03; 2004/05; 2005/06; 2008/09 Australian Championship 2004/05; 2006/07; 2012/13
Club event wins: 37 Blue ribbon event victories: 7 Feature race wins at Parramatta: 44
PARRAMATTA TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP
The battle for the track championship has always been hard fought.
After many years coming oh so close, the record books are forever stamped with a last winner that has tasted his fair share of near misses in his relentless pursuit of this award. This one did not come easy. He even took a massive crash on his way to securing the track title.
The honour of the last ever Valvoline Raceway Track Champion stands with Chris Davis.
Chris finally claimed it in season 2019/20 and what a year to take the celebrated prize. The last VR Track Championship ever also signals the retirement of the perpetual trophy that goes with it.
While Chris holds the last, veteran AJ McTaggart stands in the history books as the driver who has won this Track Championship more than any other. AJ has won this award an impressive six times since it was first recognised as its own perpetual trophy.
It’s very fitting that these great mates off track, and fierce rivals on track share this honour together.
PCR RECORD BOOK’S FINAL STAMP – Last feature race winner
The last race meeting Lightning Sprints / Litre Sprints held was on leap year night, February 29, 2020. On this occasions it was podium regular, Anthony McTaggart claiming the win and the nights ‘King of the Clay’ honours.
AJ took the victory from Chris Davis and Jordan Binskin but in another Mac-1 Racing McTaggart twist, on that night club stalwart and NSWLSA Life Member Vic McTaggart also took the Bullet Racing Wheels Hard Charger award. This rare return drive for a guy normally standing back on the spanners these days came on a night we never realised would become the last.
After 20 years chasing an Australian title win, it’s very fitting that the McTaggart Aus#1 Triple X Machine should find itself in Victory Lane that last time. A result now inked in the history books forever.
The FASTEST LAP
The last race meeting Lightning Sprints / Litre Sprints ran was on leap year night, 29 February 2020. After this night (February 29, 2020) the lap record book was forever locked away and holders of the quickest times now stand for all time in the history books.
The fastest ever timed lap goes to Jordan Binskin at 13.787 seconds was set on November 25, 2017. No driver has ever secured a lap time in the 13.7 second bracket since.
The fastest ever qualifying timed lap was set by Litre Car gun, Andrew Wright on June 12, 1999 at 14.568 seconds while the fastest ever timed lap by a traditional Litre Car is recorded by Dave Fanning after lapping the venue in a blistering 14.08 seconds.
The official lap record book stands for Parramatta City Raceway / Tyrepower Sydney Speedway, Valvoline Raceway as follows:
1 lap (timed all)
25 November 2017
1 lap (timed Litre Car)
1 lap (official qualifying)
12 June 1999
26 March 2005
12 October 2013
8 November 2003
12 October 2019
4 February 2016
26 October 2013
28 September 2019
11 March 2006
7 May 2011