When you head north out of the Victorian town of Horsham, you are greeted by a single straight road. You’ll drive past silo’s, brown grass in large empty paddocks and red dirt as a wind farm is spotted in the distance. After not long however, you’ll pass a faded sign welcoming you to Blue Ribbon Raceway.
This sandstone and clay 410 metre speedway has only been around since 1996, the local motorsport club has existed a lot longer.
From 1959 to 1969, the Wimmera Light Car Club held race meetings for road going cars on an oil bonded track, close to where the Wimmera Go-Kart track in Dooen is currently, approximately 19km away from the aforementioned Blue Ribbon Raceway.
In 1967, Horsham Motorsports Club would bring focus to purpose-built speedway cars, as members competed at the speedways in Portland, Warrnambool, Hamilton and the Inter-Capital Speedway in Nhill which is no longer. During the 1980’s however, the growing club assisted in repairing and upgrading Nhill’s speedway.
Throughout the 1970’s, Horsham would advocate for their own racetrack to be built, but it wouldn’t be until the early 1990s where enough local support and fundraising allowed Blue Ribbon Raceway to be built.
The 31 large Wingless Super Series grid would be supported by the AMCA Nationals, F500, Production Sedans and the local 1200 Sedans and V8 Trucks.
With so many categories, racing would start at an early 4:30 in the hot afternoon, and the action on track would finish past midnight.
One of the main reasons I wanted to head to Blue Ribbon Raceway in the first place was to photograph the unique V8 Trucks.
These colourful trucks call Blue Ribbon Raceway their spiritual home, whilst racing across Western Victoria. Built from classic light truck platforms, they are limited to 345 ci petrol engines, whilst having dual wheels at the rear with no weight in the back, meaning they literally tear up the track.
Despite so much action on track, I was mainly here to cover the Victorian Wingless Sprints once again.
Hot laps before the first Wingless heat race would show that the track was not in good condition. For reference, just look at Tom Norvill turn all the way left, just to get around the corner. The marshals decided to bring out the next lot of cars to run more laps.
The track was now suitable for the Wingless Sprints and Heat 1 would get underway. But it was off to a bad start for Ryley Hammerstein, who had his front left wheel depart way from his car as he was leading the race. I’ve never witnessed a wheel fall off a speedway car before, but this wouldn’t be the last time tonight. William Caruso would come from the back of the grid to take victory in Heat 1.
Blake Walsh - who was successful during the Wingless Summerslam in early January – would pull away to win Heat 2.
The drivers for Heat 3 would finally get their chance to race, with James Rodda taking the victory during a race that had battles everywhere.
Even with more and more laps being complete on the sandstone and clay, the track was still extremely tricky in the evening sun, with many going into the wall or spinning during their hot laps before the heats.
William Caruso would put on another clinic, going two from two, winning from pole position in Heat 4.
Leigh Estlick would lead the majority of Heat 5, holding back the quick Braydon McKay, but Robert Whiteside would snatch the victory in a photo finish.
Kahn Aston would hold off Blake Walsh to finish first in the final heat race of the night.
As the sun disappeared, the track came alive and became very racey, showing the hard work done by the crew at Blue Ribbon Raceway.
Craig McDonald took the B-Main lead as the green flag waved and would stay there until with 7 laps to go, he lost his speed and fell all the way to the back of the field. Jack Regan would also suffer woes, with a flat left tyre ending his race. Both times I’ve photographed Wingless now, Jack has suffered a flat tyre during a main race. Sorry Jack, I must be a bad omen.
Cameron O’Brien would take the B-Main victory followed by Nick Ryan and Luke Johnson as the top six all transferred to the A-Main.
William Caruso and Blake Walsh would lead the A-Main Wingless finalists to green with Blake Walsh taking the lead, quickly asserted dominance sending it more sideways than anyone else.
A chain reaction in Turn 4 with 22 laps to go would lead to Leigh Estlick upside down and Ryley Hammerstein also out of the race. Three laps later, Luke Johnson would slide up the track into the wall bringing out the second yellow flag, but luckily, he was able to continue.
With fourteen laps to go, the third and final yellow flag would be brought out as Robert Whiteside had a hard hit into the Turn 2 wall.
Blake Walsh was unstoppable, taking the feature race victory ahead of William Caruso and Blaine Densley.
It was no doubt an action-packed night at Blue Ribbon Raceway, and everyone was extremely welcoming and accommodating. It's a great little racetrack that I highly recommend visiting if you're in the area.