Off the South Gippsland Highway is the town of Nyora. Its recreational reserve is your typical small-town sports club with a cricket/football ground. However, right next door is the Nyora Raceway, a 380 metre sunburnt clay speedway. The All Star Sprintcar series along with Dirt Modifieds, Standard Saloons and Mini Sprints all headed to this small racetrack to put on a show.
Like most racetracks, Nyora began as a safe place for young guys to drive their beat-up cars back in 1960. Now it holds numerous events throughout the Speedway season with various categories from Sprintcars to demolition derbies.
Get a seat on the hill and you have a great view of the night's racing. Certainly, one of the better speedways for spectator viewing that I've been to. And when the darkness falls, it has an extremely well-lit infield, I'd say better than Avalon.
Before the big cars took to the track, the Outlaw Karts had their heat races in the shorter infield track. Outlaw Karts are go-kart sized Sprintcars with single cylinder engines yet still similar power to weight of a standard Sprintcar.
The category was split into two classes, Juniour and Open. According to V8 Supercar champion Rick Kelly - who was racing in the Open class that night - these are some of the best bang for your buck race cars you can drive. Watching them slide around and get up on two wheels as they were pitched into the corners was enough proof.
Furthermore, this is why many kids racing in Speedway start in these karts which are growing ever more popular. I wonder if there was a future Australian Sprintcar champion racing at Nyora that night? Only time will tell.
Soon enough, it was time for the big dogs to head on track. As always when Sprintcars are in town, they set off with the hot laps and time trials, as teams work around the cars in the infield, one of my personal favourite parts of photographing Sprintcars.
Brett Milburn would not only set the fastest lap of qualifying, but a new Sprintcar track record of a 13.194 in front of a packed house at Nyora Raceway.
Milburn would continue to show his speed, winning the first of the four heat races, as Mark Caruso, Steven Loader and Todd Hobson would claim victory in the other three respective heats.
In between the anticipated Sprintcar heats, Dirt Modifieds, Saloons and Mini Sprints took to the clay in their heat races, setting the grids for the final races at the end of the night.
Warrick Taylor in his pink Dinoco #43 would win the first and third heat races in the Dirt Modifieds as State champion Daryl Hickson would claim victory in heat two.
In the Juniour Saloons, Beau Stuchbery would win the first two heat races in his blue #24 Ford, wilst Harry Cecil would claim the heat three victory, lining up alongside Stuchbery on the front row in the Final.
Mark Miles and Shane Stewart would be first to the chequered flag in the first and third Open Saloon heat races. Ryan Lansdown would not only win the second of the three heat races in the Open Saloon class, but also claim a new 8-lap track record in the process of a 2:26.457.
Mini Sprints, also known as Lightning Sprints, are midget car sized Sprintcars often powered by a 1000cc chain driven motorcycle engine. Visually, they dive into the corners like a formula ford on a paved circuit, although drivers still find ways to slide these cars on the high lanes of the banking.
Lap times fell during the Mini-Sprints heats as Michael Conway set a new 8-lap record of 2:09.543. Andrew Burleigh would win heat two as Ally Moore would win heat three.
After the final heat races, the Outlaw karts returned to the infield for their final deciders. Young Cruz Farrell would become victorious in the Juniour class, as the aforementioned Rick Kelly would win the 15-lap Open Class final.
Now it was time for the finals as the full 380-metre clay speedway was re-prepped. Some saloon drivers weren't happy with the track conditions, so decided not to race in the final as to not damage their car. And on lap 1, a three-car pile-up brought out the caution. After a tricky start, Rhys Lansdown would claim the chequered flag in the Open Saloons final with a new track record of 4:40.234.
Despite a couple of cautions during the 15 lap Open Saloons final, Harry Cecil would be victorious, leading from start to finish.
With darkness covering the circuit, the Dirt Modifieds put on a show, belching flames decelerating into the corners, as Daryl Hickson demonstrated why he is state champion, winning whilst setting a new 20-lap record for Dirt Modifieds at Nyora with a time of 5:09.865.
Michael Conway would be quick once again, setting a new Mini-Sprints Nyora lap record of 13.825, only 7 tenths slower than the fastest full size Sprintcar time of the night.
The thirty-lap Sprintcar feature race would be full of drama. Jeremy Kupsch in the #47 would spin but able to continue, as Chris Temby would be the first to exit with tyre damage. Boyd Harris would have the first rollover of the night on lap 18 whilst David Donegan and Steven Loader would tangle on lap 25, causing a skirmish, and putting Dan Scott in the #91 in a rollover.
It looked like Chris Solomon had the race wrapped up after leading the entire race at this point. However, both Solomon and Mark Caruso in second had chewed through their tyres, causing them to go flat with only two and a half laps to go. This would hand the win to local boy Brett Milburn, who knew he'd have to nurse his tyres if he was going to finish. Just look at the tyre on the number 25 (as pictured), it's something you'd see at a drag strip rather than on a dirt oval.