Pic by Peter Roebuck
The 2012 Watsons All In Sprintcar Express (“The WAISE”) well any truly lived up to all the pre-race hype and promises of great racing and fun for everyone on Saturday 28 April.
Run in the country Wheatbelt town of WA Pithara last weekend, a final car count of 54 across four classes of Sprintcars – 320’s, Limiteds, 360’s and open 410’s guaranteed plenty of elbows up action. Throw into the mix a Live Band for entertainment, a full-blown Corporate Marquee, a Mega BBQ, multiple Spit Roasts, refreshments galore, fireworks, prizes and give-a-ways, and it’s not hard to imagine how this event turned out to be the massive success that it was.
Mother Nature had a shot of raining on “The Parade” around the official 2:30pm start time. The rain wasn’t heavy but delayed the program by about an hour. Another small spot of rain around interval threatened to extend the night even further, but Pithara Speedway President Phil Waters and the Committee had planned the event superbly and combined with a well-rehearsed push car team, the evenings racing was completed around 10 pm.
The overall winner of 2012 “WAISE” was Geraldton’s Mark Wells (W21) driving his 410 open Sprintcar. Second across the line was up and coming young WA Driver Trent Pigdon in a brilliant drive in his 360 CI machine, while veteran Jeff Leisk came out of retirement and raced the Rocca Zemunik owned #27 Limited to secure the final podium placing.
The Watsons All In Sprintcar Express is a unique race – one of a kind where 320’s, Limiteds, 360’s and 410’s all race a series of 15 lap heats in their own category, and then a feature of 15 laps for each category.
This is where the program gets interesting and injects excitement and anticipation into the evening.
The top 4 finishers from each category’s feature race are then pitted off against one another in the ultimate Finale – The Watson All In Sprintcar Express final run over 15 laps. It’s a handicap affair where 320’s are off the front, Limiteds further back, 360’s ½ a lap down and finally 410’s at the rear and one full lap down.
“The WAISE” is an awesome concept that is not paralleled anywhere in this country. And don’t think for one minute the 410’s had it all their own way. There were some top shelf 360’s competing and a host of Limiteds and 320’s that ran essentially the same running gear (less engine of course) as the 410’s. The preparation on some of those cars was simply stunning and their performance matched their looks.
Four John Day Utes attended the meeting to add a bit of visual flare with flashing lights, burnouts and donuts. Official push car duties were allocated to the usual season-long Pithara experts – thanks from everyone for that guys. A great job, efficiently done and kept the “WAISE” program on the rails beautifully, especially after the rain delayed start.
It was also great to see Stephen Ford make a comeback in a Sprintcar after illness.
After racing concluded the party kicked off in earnest with Live Band “Just 4 Kix” playing until around 3 am. There was so much quality food and refreshments on offer that no one could say they went to sleep hungry or thirsty. Many of the massive crowd elected to party hard and stay on the Speedway Grounds and camp the night.
Pithara Club President Phil Waters was really happy with the track. “The rain at the start of the event was a bit of a concern, but looking back it did us more good than harm. The track was hooky all night and the 360’s were pulling giant wheel stands left, right and centre. There were multiple race lines and it stayed dialled in all night long. Many spectators in the crowd commented that it was the best track surface that they had ever seen. I tend to agree!”
320 Feature: 1st Darren Gibson (# 1) 2nd Lauren Koberle (# 19) 3rd Jason Fernie (# 5)
Limiteds Feature: 1st Jim Chisolm (# 56) 2nd Jeff Leisk (# 27) 3rd Mike Armstrong (# 71)
360’s Feature: 1st Trent Pigdon (# 15) 2nd Brett Leslie (# 48) 3rd Wade Randall (# 84)
410’s Feature: 1st Shaun Bradford (# 57) 2nd Mark Wells (# 21) 3rd Rob Watson Jnr (# 66)
(All first place getters in their class took home a Huge Sidchrome toolbox)
And so to the big one………………
All In Feature: 1st Mark Wells (410) 2nd Trent Pigdon (360) 3rd Jeff Liesk (Limited)
Mark Wells drove a great race, some of it without any brakes after an altercation earlier stripped the #21 Murphy of a rear calliper. Wells found extra grip down low on the race track in the closing stages which gave him the slight breathing space he needed after a yellow restart. Wells paid tribute to the organisers of the Watsons All In Sprintcar Express and was excited to finish his season on a high, having had only a fair to reasonable season this year.
Trent Pigdon powered home in second in an EX Donny Schatz car complete with #15 on the tailtank and wing. It was a gutsy drive in the 360 CI powered unit.
Sprintcar Statesman Jeff Leisk was all smiles crossing the line in 3rd in his Limited entry and indicated that it felt good to be back – albeit briefly for this extravaganza !
Naming rights sponsor Rob Watson Snr from Watsons Express Transport was ecstatic at the success of the event. “You know this is the 3rd running of the Watson’s All In Sprintcar Express and this is by far the best car and crowd count. The track was awesome all night and it is a credit to the curators and Pithara Speedway. I would like to thank all the Sponsors who helped make this unique event the massive success it’s been – your generosity is unmatched in WA Speedway”.
In the Limited Class, young 16 year old WA Sensation Brayden Miller drive solidly in his two heats and came 6th overall in the Limited Feature, just missing out on the transfer into the All In Feature.
Brayden is definitely going to be a young talent to keep a very close eye. In this event, (only his third Sprintcar race), he was able to overcome some highly fancied and experienced Drivers – all done on a shoestring budget that partly relies on using pre-raced hand-me downs from the bigger teams.
Anyone looking for an opportunity to secure great Corporate Exposure should talk to Team Principal Mark Miller on 0408 926 154 – as you can see there is plenty of spare advertisng space on this up and coming Driver’s car.
Well that’s it for another year of The Watson’s All In Sprintcar Express. I am told the Organising Committee for “The WAISE” are meeting next week to have a debrief and commence the early plans for next season’s event – it’s going to be hard to top this year’s event guys!