A BUSY off-season is far from complete for members of the Simpson Car Club.
As always a number of projects were undertaken towards the continual improvement at the speedway complex, and with the season opening event less than two months away, the club is facing a race against the clock to achieve the desired outcome.
Club president Alan Symons was recently notified by the sport’s governing body, Speedway Australia, that a series of changes were required to safety features at the racetrack.
Speedway Australia stipulated that Armco railing, which had previously been given approval by their organisation just five years earlier, was to be removed from above the outside retaining wall.
The Armco was an extension of the existing concrete structure in order to meet safety regulations for competitors following Simpson’s decision to add more banking on its clay surface in 2012.
Removal of the Armco means that to fall in occordance with Speedway Australia’s insurance policy, the concrete wall will need to be replaced in its entirety.
Symons said while it would be a costly exercise, it is something that simply has to be done.
“In order to go racing we need to make these changes,” he said.
It comes at a major cost to the club, who were last year hit with two washouts from a seven-race schedule.
Simpson has received $10,000 in grant money towards the project from Speedway Australia, however that figure is expected to only cover around half of the total outlay.
Symons said it will be a big undertaking for the club.
“The estimated cost is just in materials and products,” he said.
“We’re lucky enough to have people who are willing to donate their time to help us out manpower wise.
“Chris Rodda (WestVic Sheds) has donated a load of concrete to us and we’ll probably be needing some more assistance with that sort of thing as well.”
Symons said a wet start to spring has delayed commencement of the project.
“The weather has been our biggest enemy so far,” he said.
“We can’t access the track, it’s just too wet.
“Once we get going it’ll be a bit of a race against time to get things finished for opening night.”
Prior to being notified of the required changes, the club had already been proactive in making sure the venue was satisfactory to cater for a variety of high-horsepower classes.
Members have completed work to heighten the fence between the track and the pit viewing area.
“We’ve already raised the catchfence in turns three and four,” Symons said.
“Since we put the banking on the track it had got a little shallow and we want to make our track as safe as possible.”
Another exciting addition is the purchase of a new timing system.
While electronic timing provisions have been in place at the track for over a decade, the club will now be self-sufficient with its own system.
Following on from the installation of a new timing loop last year, the club decided it was time to take the next step.
“This year we’ve gone out and bought new computers and software so we can have our own timing system at every meeting,” Symons said.
“Our vice-president (Steven Woolstencroft) has undergone the necessary training and is up to speed on making this happen.
“It really does make things just that bit easier for our volunteers rather than relying solely on manual lap scoring.”
Simpson has scheduled a six-race calendar for 2017/18, one less event than last season.
A noteable change is just one 410ci Sprintcar event being held at the venue, dropping the March long weekend race meeting from its calendar, which Symons said was no longer profitible for the club.
The Sprintcar All Stars Series returns for its annual 360ci Challenge event in January which pays $10,000 to the winner.
For the second time in three years the club will host the Victorian Wingless Sprint Title, while annual blue ribbon events including the Trevor Podger Memorial for Super Rods and Peter Merrett Trophy Race for Wingless Sprints will again be keenly sought after.
The predominantly Gippsland-based VSC Sprintcars made their debut at Simpson last season and will return for a further two events in the back half of the season.
There will also be a good variety of sedan classes in action for lovers of tin-top racing, as well as a blast from the past with two appearances by the Victorian Vintage Speedway Club.
Race dates for season 2017/18:
Saturday, December 2: Wingless Sprints Series, Formula 500 Stampede Series, V8 Dirt Modifieds, Super Rods.
Wednesday, December 27: Eureka Sprintcar Series Round 8, Formula 500 Speedweek Series Round 1.
Saturday, January 13: 360ci Sprintcars All Star Challenge, Formula 500 Simvegas Nationals, Super Rods, Junior Sedans.
Saturday, February 3: Super Rods Podger Memorial, Junior Sedan Promotions Association Series Round 2, Standard Saloons, Vintage Sprintcars.
Saturday, February 17: Victorian Wingless Sprint Title, VSC Sprintcars, Marsh Modifieds.
Saturday, April 7: Wingless Sprints Peter Merrett Trophy Race, VSC Sprintcars, Super Rods, Street Stocks, Vintage Hot Rods.