VSDA – Presentation Night

The worlds’ oldest Speedcar (Midget) club, the Victorian Speedcar Drivers Aassociation (VSDA) held their annual presentation night las t Saturday (8th July) and at the same time inaugurated their own, long overdue, Hall of Fame.

“This club has an 83 year history as the oldest Speedcar club in the world, and we thought it was time to recognise our won Hall of Famers,” stated co-organiser and presenter David Parker.

“We have many people within this club that will never fulfil the criteria to become life members but they’ve had hall of fame careers and should be reciognised,” added club president and car owner Tim Fisher.

“We know there are many, many worthy inductees within this club and we welcome nominations and suggestions for future inductees, but we decided that the first group would be drawn from those that were still currently active within our great club.” Fisher continued.

And with that, the first five inductees were announced:

The Beasley Family,

Eric Smith,

Robbie Brown,

Barry Power, and

Mark Brown.

The Beasley Family’s contribution started way back in the 1930’s with Arthur “Pop” Beasley and then continued with his sons Alf and Stud and into the present day through Stud’s son Leroy who proudly accepted the award on behalf of his family.

An emotional Eric Smith said very little but was clearly humbled to be inducted.

Smith was a long time competitor starting back in 1956 and raced for over 30 years before fielding cars for his sons Shane and Craig and now his grandson Toby.

Smith is also the clubs scrutineer and Chief Steward a role he has held for over a decade.

Like Smith, Robbie Brown is part of a Speedcar family dynasty having followed in the footsteps of his father as a racer and then car owner for the likes of Ian Lewis before his own son Mark took over the seat at 16 years old. Robbie’s grandson Kaidon has only recently taken over from his dad, Mark, making this a fourth generation effort.

Robbie is still actively involved mentoring his grandson and maintianing machinery.

The family theme runs deep in this historic club and the fourth inductee was another with multi-generational roots – Barry Power.

Powers influence and effect on this club can never be underestimated, as he almost single handedly kept the club alive during the late 80’s and early 90’s when the club really was on life support and the last rights had been read.

Fielding a team of two or three cars, Power Racing made up the bulk of the field for a time keeping the club alive and unprepared to let it die with drivers such as Ray “Noddy” Bishop (surely a future inductee) and his own sons Craig and Darren, and with Barry taking on the role of Club President as well.

The larger than life racing stalwart still fields cars today with the larrikin Ash Booker currently at the helm of the Power Racing #59.

The final inductee, Mark Brown, was by far the youngest having only just retired during this current season.

Brown stated he “was embarrassed” to be inducted when there are so many other great people not yet included in the hall of fame but was humbled and honoured to be inducted alongside his dad Robbie dedicating it to his mother.

Despite his own misgivings Mark was a worthy winner as he totally fitted the criteria having had a stellar driving career and now being a car owner for his son – 4th generation racer Kaidon.

Mark Brown was also awarded the VSDA life time achievement award.

“Although I live in NSW, this is my club,” stated Brown. “My family has such a long history with this club and I am a Victorian at heart, and that’s the reason we run V97 on Kaidon’s car.” he added.

The other significant award of the night was the prestigious Club Person of the Year which went to John “Fluxy” Fitzgerald.

As Club President Tim Fisher stated when handing out the award “He had 101 reasons to walk away from Speedcar racing but he didn’t”

“Flux” has had a tough couple of years with the death of his step-son Braeden “Skip” Palmer and the inauguration of Skip’s Memorial race at Avalon where post-race, in the semi darkness surrounded by family and friends, Fluxy spread Skip’s ashes on the Avalon raceway track surface.

Not surprisingly it was an emotional Fitzgerald who said through tears “This is all for Skip, I loved that kid.”

Video/photo collages of all the Hall of Fame inductees can be seen on the VSDA facebook page and website.

The seasonal awards were also handed out on the night with The Mills Motorsport Group and driver Travis Mills winning the VSDA Drivers Championship, The VSDA Owners Championship, the Avalon Track Championship and the Best Presented Car & Crew.

Mills was also tied with Kaidon Bown for most feature wins.

The prestigious peer voted Drivers Driver award was also a tie and this time Mills was forced to share it with Joe Lostitch who had a banner year also winning the National Six Crown award to go with his Tasmanian Championship.

The other important drivers award was the Rookie of the Year which went to Mitch Whiting who stunned the club by becoming the quickest ever rookie to win a feature, and if not for a late season engine blow-up Whiting may have finished higher than 3rd in the Drivers Championship behind Mills and runner up Ash Booker.

Bookers 2nd place in the Drivers Championship and third in the Avalon Track Championship also gave car owner Barry Power third in the Owners Championship behind his old mate Robbie Brown whose son Mark, and Grandson Kaidon, combined to give him 2nd in the Owners title. As Mentioned earlier Mills Motorsport Group won the Owners Title.

The Braedon Palmer/John Fitzgerald Most Improved award went to Jack Day, while 13 different drivers were recipients of the Upside down award.

The Mark Bateman Chaplaincy Sportsmanship award went to Anthony Chaffey.

As mentioned in the Avalon Track Championship Travis Mills was the victor ahead of Kaidon Brown and Ashley Booker.

Top three in the VSDA Drivers Club Championship each received a brand new wheel courtesy of Max Wheel.

Completing the nights entertainment was a magician wandering from table to table amazing guests with his sleight of hand tricks and a caricature artist. Numerous raffles were held and then to top of the night Ash and Renae Booker made a magnanimous gesture of putting up a sizeable tab on the bar to finish off the night.