10 August 2020

Wet weather puts the brakes on tonight's speedway meeting

| Michael Weaver
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National Capital Motorsports Club

Ashley Hodak at a recent event at the ACT Speedway. Photo: Supplied.

A wet weather forecast for this weekend has put the brakes on tonight’s ACT Speedway meeting at Fairbairn.

Vice-president of the National Capital Motorsports Club Murray Johnson made what he called “the gut-wrenching decision” to cancel the event, which would have been the second of three night speedway meetings following a campaign to get night-time speedway racing back on the Canberra sporting calendar.

Following last weekend’s downpour of rain and another 10-20 mm forecast for today (15 February), Mr Johnson told Region Media there was no choice but to cancel tonight’s event.

“It was a really hard thing for us to do, but we had people coming from Queensland, Victoria and throughout NSW so, unfortunately, we had to cancel,” Mr Johnson said.

He added that, given the late notice approval to run the night-time speedway events, the promoters had to lock in three dates that didn’t clash with other events in the region.

Mr Johnson said the first night-time speedway event on 14 December was an outstanding success and they were looking forward to building their momentum with tonight’s second speedway event.

Now, organisers are gearing up for the third on 4 April.

The events are being run under strict noise-testing conditions after complaints from residents at The Ridgeway and Oaks Estate threatened the future of the sport.

For 20 years, speedway events have been conducted during the daytime but the viability of staging races during the day on a clay track came under question because of the amount of water required to keep the track race-worthy. Night races require half the amount of water on the track.

Mr Johnson said the December event was very successful, with a noise limit of 55 decibels, which can be increased to 65 db with the use of noise credits at some meetings.

Noise monitoring is carried out at the testing location at Ridgeway in NSW, two kilometres away.

“We will still do self-management and there will be independent noise testing,” Mr Johnson said.

Night racing has been more than 10 years in the making and Mr Johnson praised the presidency of Danny Hodak to achieve that outcome and many other improvements to the track.

“ACT Speedway was granted a 12-month period to conduct meetings to evaluate noise from the venue. The future of night racing in the ACT now hinges on the final night event to be held on 4 April,” Mr Johnson said.

“We had 60 drivers for the December meeting. A heap of drivers came down from Sydney and also the Illawarra, South Coast, Canberra, Queanbeyan and Young.”

There have been numerous meetings with politicians, the Environment Protection Authority and some residents from The Ridgeway. It appeared they were gaining little traction until a meeting with ACT Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury gave the speedway a second chance.

The EPA has since given the National Capital Motorsports Club the green light to stage night events during daylight-saving months with a more realistic noise limit.

Ashley Hodak driving

Ashley Hodak in the driver’s seat at the ACT Speedway. Photo: Supplied

One of the up and coming drivers is Ashley Hodak, the daughter of club president Danny. Danny’s wife Carolyn, son James and Ashley’s sister Kirsty are all heavily involved in the club and the running of the venue.

Ms Hodak, now 25, said she has been racing since she was 15 years old.

“I started in junior sedans and have moved up the ranks and have now been racing in the legend cars division for four seasons,” she said.

“In August last year, I was lucky enough to be offered and taken over to Malaysia by Legend Cars Australia to race a legend car on bitumen — by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my racing career.

“With a lot of time and effort put into the club, it is awesome to finally see some movement with night racing at the track. It’s been a long 10, or more, years in the making,” Ms Hodak said.

Visit ACT Speedway for information about future events.

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