Victorian Ace Travis Mills won the inaugural Skip Palmer Speedcar Memorial last night (November 18th) at Avalon raceway and promptly handed back the unique, one of a kind trophy, to Skip’s step dad and former car owner John “Flux” Fitzgerald in a magnificent gesture.
“I feel privileged and honoured to have won the first ever Skip’s race but I think it is only fitting that this trophy be given back to Fluxy (Fitzgerald)” said Mills in a magnanimous from the heart moment when presented with his first place trophy (see photo below).
Mills’ comments summed up exactly the feeling amongst most of the field who either knew young Skip personally and/or raced both with and against him.
Completing the podium was runner up Michael Stewart in Ben Dillons #SA9 and Domain Ramsey in his own #71.
For the first time in possibly decades, there were more Speedcars competing in Victoria than there was open class Sprintcars with a stellar field of 25 cars on hand.
The action started right from the first lap when sentimental hopeful David Alford in Fitzgerald’s V18 when he spun and the car fell over onto its side. Queensland’s Anthony Chaffey (JDS Motorsport & Racing V26) was also caught up in the incident but all cars restarted with Grant Patton (Mech-N-Air/Klasev Building Group V0) going on to take a narrow win from rookie Mitch Whiting (MWI MidWest Imports V17)and Justin McMinn (McMinn Motorsport V12).
Heat 2 was a straight forward affair with South Australian Brett Ireland (C1 Speed/The Speedway Shop SA83) scoring in a non-stop affair from Glen Shaw (SP Valves and fittings supplies/Atlantic Performance Oils V72) and newly crowned and inaugural Tasmanian Champion Joe Lostitch (Kerby Kerb V22).
Paul Farrell spun early in heat three in his Tim Fisher owned Essendon Ford/MWI MidWest Imports #V2 but then shortly after the restart Ryan McKenna rode out a wicked flip in his Surfcoast Tree Service/Angry Ant Mini Loaders & Wood Chippers V14 after he got high on the back straight and turned the car off the wall but down onto another car. McKenna was okay but his once pristine car was out for the night. The race which had been a beauty at the front was declared early with Mills (Redline Engineering/Dutton Garage V10) getting the win from Andy Pearce (Lucas Oil V15) and Matt Papa (V25).
Whiting cemented his burgeoning promise with the win in heat 4 from Ramsey (MidWest Imports/Indy Race Parts V71) and Stuart Ferguson (Bass River Motors V4).
Heat 5 went to Mills from Luke Ferguson (Bass River Motors/Atlantic Performance Oils/Alpine Water Cartage V44) and Pearce.
Heat 6 finally saw Stewart finish a heat and win in the Mainlne Dynolog Dynamometers/Devil Race Karts SA9 from Ashley Booker (I Saw Concrete/Frankies Garage/Power Racing V59) and Papa.
21 cars would take the field for the first ever Skip’s Race with Mills on pole from Whiting, Ireland, Pearce, Booker, Patton, Papa, Luke Ferguson, Ramsey, Shaw, McMinn, Stewart, Lostitch, Stuart Ferguson, Alford (Alfie’s Excavation & Plant Hire/TEH Transport Equipment Hire), Farrell, Craig Smith (Parken Engineering V88), Glen Wiles (Trueline Engineering V5), Jordan McKay (V.E.K. Tools/Penrite N41), Jack Day (bjs Motorsport/Cazberg Earthworks V8) and Ben Moulden (Westside Meat Australia/MidWest Imports V21).
Into turn 1 on the opening lap and Whiting spun with Patton getting caught up but just behind them a bigger melee was occurring that saw Farrell roll over. More than half the field was caught up in this action which included Smith, Lostitch, Wiles, Stuart Ferguson, Moulden, McKay, Alford, Day and Shaw. Whiting, Patton, Farrell, Wiles and Shaw didn’t make it back for the complete restart.
When racing got away Ireland led the first lap but Mills quickly took over on lap 2 and was never again headed. Behind him however, were some great battles as Stewart was working his way through. Lostitch spun on lap 4 and Day did the same on lap 12 as Stewart and Ramsey were in a fierce battle for second place.
On lap 16 Papa spun and Alford, Stuart Ferguson, Pearce, McMinn and Day were all involved so the race was declared due to time concerns with Mills scoring the win from Stewart, Ramsey, Ireland, Booker, Papa, Lostitch, McKay, Day, Smith, Alford, Stuart Ferguson, McMinn and the non-finishers of Pearce, Moulden, Luke Ferguson, Alford, Patton, Shaw, Farrell and Wiles.
Once presentations were over a free BBQ was held followed by a sombre moment when most competitors and Skip’s family joined together on the infield to spread Skips ashes.