SIMPLY GILBY….Photo: at work
BY PARIS CHARLES
Kym Bonython (Speedcars / Rowley Park), Clem Smith (Speedcars / Mallala Motorsport Park), John Hughes (Super Sedans / Speedway Park and World Series Sprintcars), Bob Sincock (Speedcars / Speedway City) and Robbie Stevens (Super Sedans / Sunline Speedway Waikerie) are all iconic South Australian Speedway promoters who were also competitors.
While it is fair to say that Kym would be the most famous of the above mentioned, there is another name that needs to be added to the alumni and that is MARK GILBERT who has passed away after a battle with cancer.
As a kid, I first learned the name Mark Gilbert when he raced Speedcars alongside some of the South Aussie greats like Phil Herreen, Garry Dillon, Philip March, Peter Smith, Trevor Green and Chas Calandro. Other than the first two names, the others would all go forward and continue to race together in the Sprintcar class treating the South Aussie fans to a great crop of competitors throughout the 1990s.
During this time and to this very day, Mark had great support from friends which include Peter Morris from Maxwell Racing Engines and Peter Cox at Freightmaster Semi Trailers where I believe that one of my framed prints of Mark racing in close quarters through turn 1 at Speedway Park with Danny Smith in the Bill Barrows SA6 and Aussie 1 Garry Brazier still proudly hangs over Coxey’s bar.
When Mark left the Sprintcar scene he soon crossed over into Monster Trucks and with his Gilbert Racing identity, he moved into promoting world class racing events at the Adelaide Showgrounds, Wayville just five minutes out of Adelaide’s CBD. These events consisted of two three and four wheeled speedway in addition to some attractions at the Adelaide Royal Show and his annual Monster Truck Slam in conjunction with Scott Anderson. At these events not only did Mark manage and promote he also featured behind the wheel of well-known truck Monster Patrol.
My memories of many of these events are all filled with positivity, but to every ‘Ying is a Yang’ and I do recall one time where dates clashed between Wayville and Speedway City which caused a ripple between Mark and Speedway City Promoter Wendy Turner that was publicised in David Tapp’s Speedway Racing News. Now the reason I mention this happening is because great things happen and from, this Mark and Wendy not only became good friends, they united forces for the greater good of South Australian speedway. That is just one of many stories that show the power, passion and positivity that comes from people who love South Aussie speedway.
Away from racing and promoting Mark has also been generous to other competitors as a sponsor and for many years Mark promoted his Wayville events on Trevor Green’s s4 Sprintcar and currently a proud sponsor of young gun Ben Morris’s #3 Sprintcar through his MDG Transport company where he continues his association with long-time friends Peter Morris, Philip March and Scott Cameron, etc.
In recent times I have had some good conversations with Mark, two of the more recent and memorable occasions were December 21 on the infield at Mount Gambier’s Borderline Speedway where Mark told me how much he missed Sprintcars and still has the fire to do it. The second was February 22 when he shared with me he would dearly love to host a 500cc solo bike speedway event at Wayville.
If the future bike event happens or not, and I so hope it does, the one thing I can be sure of is that as a racer starting in Solos before Speedcars, Sprintcars and Monster Trucks, Mark was fearless and as a promoter Mark gave it his all to present the very best events possible which over the decades has created many everlasting memories and miles of smiles to the faces of race fans young and old.
For one day a year he is my boss but for but for 364 other he is my friend. His name is Mark Gilbert but to many he is simply Gilby.