Celebrating 50 Years of Motor Racing at Wanneroo Park/Barbagallo Wanneroo Raceway

by Rob Janney

The Wanneroo Park Raceway has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1969. When it opened its gates to the public for the first time on March 2nd that year, there was a 15 event race program for three categories which attracted an entry of 43 cars. 50 years later the Golden Jubilee has attracted 238 entries featuring 12 categories of racing in an ambitious two day 44 event race program.

With the resurfacing of the circuit, Tracey Roberts (City of Wanneroo Mayor), along with Mick Murray (Minister for Seniors and Ageing; Volunteering; Sport and Recreation), joined our Club President Russell Sewell to cut the ribbon at the start line to get the celebration of 50 years underway.

To add to the atmosphere and the history of motor sport, many Car Clubs were invited to display their cars which added to the spectacle. A special display of cars in the paddock represented the types of cars that raced in the early days of the Wanneroo circuit. They included The Craig McCallister Macon Formula 2 car, now owned by Neil McCrudden, the resurrection of the Mike Vanzetti XP Falcon Sports Sedan, and Dick Wards Fiat Abarth that also competed in the Formula Classic events. Adding that little bit extra to the classics of the past was Murray Charnley’s  Lotus 23 B which he has been competing in since 1970, now competing in Formula Classic.

Two great days of fine weather made it perfect for great racing. Drivers were keen to try out the new track surface and see if they could break some lap records. Whilst there was no prior practice before this meeting I guess it would have been difficult to know how many lap records would be broken. Grant Johnson was the first in Saloon Cars setting a new lap record in the first three races slashing the old lap record of 66.120 secs. to a new lap record of 65.731 secs in the 3rd VT/ AU Saloon Car race. He went on to win all races leading home teammate Mathew Martin as the pair dominated, with the Falcon AU of Rick Gill finishing 3rd. The EA/VN Saloons saw Nicholas Hanlon’s Falcon narrowly take victory over the Commodore of Brandon  Sharpe with the Commodore of Brock Ralf was 3rd.

The return of Tony Ricciardello in Chev Alfetta, the most successful Sports Sedan in Australia, was not to disappoint. After recovering from a disastrous run in his first race finishing in 12th he recovered to win race 2 and set a new Sports Sedan record of 54.59 secs. In the first of two races on the Sunday, Ricciardello again stormed to victory after an early race collision that saw Ken Coppins Ford Falcon and John Rodericks Lotus Exige have a coming together in the esses which had the race Red flagged. Ricciardello once again lowered the lap record to 53.168 secs. Grant Hill in the Ford Falcon BF topped the Points for Sports Sedans winning the final race ahead of Darren Boland’s AU Falcon Supercar, and Ryan Humfrey’s Ford Falcon XE Sports in 3rd, however finished 2nd overall.

It was a Nissan Trifecta in Street Cars, with the Skyline R33 of Denver Parker winning all 4 races. Andrew Souvertjis R33 finished 2nd on points ahead of the Nissan 180sx of Drew Cheveral’s BMW M3 in 4th.

Historic Touring Cars was dominated the HQ Monaro’s of John and Brian Bondi finishing first and second in all of the scratch races. The Mustang of Simon Northy was 3rd in the first two races, with the Mustang of Graeme Woolhouse taking 3rd in race 3. The reverse grid final saw the Cortina Mk1 of Randle Beavis take the chequered flag first ahead of Woolhouse followed, by the Chev Corvette of Thierry Michot, and Laurie Lapsley finishing 4th in his Jaguar Mk2.

The Formula 1000 was a mix of the open wheelers and Radical SR3 Sports cars. This saw a great battle between Jordan Oon and Adam Lisle in the Stohr F1000’s having two wins each. However Lisle’s 3rd place in race one was going to cost a chance of outright victory. That went to Ben Riley who finished 3rd in race 2, however was a scratching for the rest of the weekend. Stuart Kostera Jnr. was 3rd overall, with Mitchell Johnson Finishing 4th just ahead of Stuart Buns in the Phoenix F1K.

Braedyn Bowra (Stealth) impressed once again in Formula Ford 1600 winning the first two races, narrowly over Joshua Mathews. However race 3 and the pair tangled and were out of the race which saw Rob Appleyard (Van Diemen) take the win ahead of Simon Ridgwell (Van Diemen) and Daniel Gate (Stealth S3) 3rd.

The final race was to see Ridgwell come through to take the win ahead of Appleyard, with Tom Hamlet (Van Diemen) an impressive 3rd. Appleyard topped the points score from Bowra, and Gates a close 3rd.

Marc Watkins and  Michael Howlett battled it out for HQ Holden supremacy, however Watkins’ win in the first and final race along with two second places sealed it. Howlett‘s 3rd place in race 2 was going to make it difficult to get back on top. Rory Sharp raced consistently throughout the weekend to take 3rd overall, ahead of Michael Woodbridge and Ryan Davis.

Matt Cherry in his Monaro V2 completely dominated the Improved Production Car field winning all four races while John Callegari in his Commodore VN GpA battled it out with the Monaro V2 of  Reuben Romkes for the minor placings. Nic Mitic in his BMW M3 was consistent taking out 4th ahead of  the Subaru WRX Sti of Michael Sciorio, Mark Jolly’s Falcon AU and Adrian Scharenguivel’s Commodore VF.

The rather mixed field of Formula Classic  saw Michael Henderson have little trouble in taking out all four races in his Ralt Rt4. Simon Alderson in his Van Diemen FF2000 put in a solid performance to finish 2nd overall, with Ricky Virago taking 3rd overall in his Ralt RT-5 Supervee. Leon Magistro in his Ralt RT4 was 4th ahead of Craig Tompson’s Van Diemen FF2000. Russel Sewell in his Lola T800 had a good run in race one to finish 5th. However an engine fire in race 2 saw him head to the paddock with the Fire Crew in pursuit .

Formula Vee, as usual produced close entertaining racing. David Caisley (Jacer) with two solid wins and two minor places took out the “1600” class narrowly over his main rivals Cody Hill and David also in Jacers. In the “1200” Franz Esterbauer (Ribuck) was dominant winning all four races. While a solid performance by April Welsh (Jacer 98) saw her take out 2nd place narrowly on points from 3rd placed Andrew Locket (Ajay 99), closely followed by Jackson Scoble (Williams) and Campbell Gow (Elfin).

Excel Cup is the newest category of circuit racing to come to Western Australia, and has grown very quickly into a competitive category of racing. Interestingly their first race saw 4 drivers go under the existing Excel lap record. They included Robert Landsmeer, Dean Hill, Andrew Malkin, and Carlos Ambrosio setting a new lap record of 73.924 secs. Landsmeer took out the first race ahead of Hill, Ambrosio, Malkin and Stephen McGregor. Race 2 went to Hill followed by Landsmeer who lowered the lap record to 73.281secs. Natasha Passaris work her way up to finish 3rd ahead of Malkin, followed by Ambrosio and Jake Passaris .

Landsmeer was to take race 3 ahead of Hill, Ambrosio and Malkin.

The final race saw Hill take out first place overall leading home Ambrosio and Malkin. Though failing to finish the final race, Landsmeer finished 3rd in the points.

What a way to kick off the 2019 racing season. An ambitious event this was and could not have occurred without the keenness of competitors wanting to be part of it. But also to the great band of volunteer officials who without it would not have happened.