Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2016-04-20 Contents PAGE 16 – The Courier SPORT Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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BRINGING YOU THE BEST HILLS SPORTING
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By Jeff Pistola
Adelaide Hills dirt track racing fans are
set to reap the benefits of a major change
in promotion at the region’s nearest
speedway venue at Murray Bridge.
As the result of a special general meeting convened
last Tuesday night, Murray Bridge Speedway will
be leased to Made Too Go Pty Ltd for a minimum
period of three years, with the option to continue for
another two five-year tenures.
Made Too Go Pty Ltd is the parent company of
Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway and also administers,
manages and promotes speedway racing at the
Queensland provincial city of Toowoomba.
Previously known as Riverview Speedway, the
Murray Bridge track was first used in 1958, as a
group of local businessmen were initially involved
in establishing the track within a sloping paddock.
Many early competitors were members of the
Murray Bridge Sporting Car Club and Motorcycle
Club (MBSCC&MC), which eventually purchased
the site in 1962 and have owned and operated the
The 23ha venue boasts a 360m circumference
track which provides tight and spectacular racing,
grass mound spectator areas and corporate and
decking viewing from an impressive clubroom
Ranked as one of the best speedway facilities in
Australia, the venue is scenically positioned against
the backdrop of the adjacent River Murray.
A majority of the 300-plus members of the
MBSCC&MC were present at last week’s
meeting held in the clubrooms to ratify an earlier
recommendation by the club’s executive to pursue
a lease agreement with the Made Too Go group.
An almost unanimous vote to accept the proposal
will provide a huge financial benefit to the club, as
well as the opportunity for a new vision, upgraded
facilities and improved racing program for fans,
suggested club president Barry Merritt.
“I guess the situation arose after some
communication with Made Too Go managing
director Steven Green and following a letter of intent
back in August, the wheels were set in motion,”
“As an executive we had to weigh up what was the
best outcome for both the club and the members in
regards to the future.
“Costings and budgets certainly played a large
part in the proposal, one that would financially
benefit the club very well.
“There were plenty of loose ends to tie up and the
terms of lease for both parties were drawn up and
an agreement reached.
“After the executive committee’s recommendations
were tabled, it was up to the members to ultimately
approve the proposal, which they have done in
almost unanimous fashion.”
During last Tuesday night’s meeting, Merritt
addressed the members, while local Murray Bridge
real estate identity John DeMichele outlined the
terms and conditions of the proposed lease.
A delegation from Made Too Go Pty Ltd –
including Green, media manager Wade Aunger and
company owners and directors Barry and Felicity
Waldron – were in attendance, and were involved
in a presentation of the projections for the venue’s
future, accompanied by video images, and a
searching question period, before the motion of the
lease proposal was voted on and accepted.
Among the conditions of the initial three-year lease
will be the retention of all benefits for Murray Bridge
club members – together with continuation of
involvement by volunteer officials – inclusion of big
screen use at all major events, which will be also
televised through the Clay-per-view on-line facility,
greater access to nationally rated competitors
through affiliation with the Ultimate Sprintcar
Championship (USC) concept, and the opportunity
for the club to pay off a long lasting loan within the
coming 12 months.
The Made Too Go lease will also provide the
club with greater resources in the fields of
marketing, graphic designs, video production and
broadcasting, while upgrades in spectator facilities
are also planned.
“One of the great benefits of the agreement is the
move to make Murray Bridge a track which provides
entertainment for fans, competitors and sponsors
alike,” assessed Green.
“We are fully focused on not only providing quality
racing, but a fun-filled and value-for-money night’s
entertainment for the entire family.
“While the lease will certainly be a benefit for
the local club, we want to have the entire sport
of speedway within SA to once again grow in a
positive and revitalised manner.”
“Through the success of the USC competition
and the other high standard categories we run at
Sydney and Toowoomba, I am confident Murray
Bridge will also flourish in a case of giving the fans
what they want – both on and off the track.”
While leading the MBSCC&MC through the
biggest decision of an existence dating nearly 60
years, Merritt is also confident of a bright future for
“It is very positive for us as a club and for the sport
in general in this State,” he said.
“I think it will allow us to look after members in
a more positive way, given all the funding and
expenses associated with the speedway side of
things will come under the auspices of the lease
“Given the proposals and planned implementations
by a professionally-run body, this place won’t look
back and we focus forward to becoming one of the
nation’s premier speedway venues.”
With the lease agreement set to commence on
May 1, the Murray Bridge club will conduct the final
program under its own promotion for the closure of
the 2015-16 season with a Sunday night meeting
on April 24.
The SA Show Jumping Championships
held earlier this month featured a
testimonial to Wistow veteran Jeff Evans
prior to the senior titles.
The championships and riders reunion held on
April 8-10 attracted a large crowd to the Royal
Local personality Taddy McLean conducted the
testimonial with support from 1964 Olympian
John Fahey – who travelled from NSW to attend –
Sydney 2000 Olympian Geoff Bloomfield from Mt
Pleasant, and Athens 2004 Olympian Laurie Level.
The testimonial paid tribute to the longevity within
the arduous sport of Evans – who turns 70 in
September this year.
During the function, Evans recalled his first rides
undertaken at the Royal Adelaide Show as a five-
year-old, and graduating through to initially having
success in the young boys category.
Throughout the tribute a series of photos were
displayed including Evans jumping the legendary
mount, Cygnet Rambler.
Among the testimonials received from people
unable to attend were comments from successful
Olympian Wayne Roycroft, who suggested that
although the equipment has changed from the
1960s, Cygnet Rambler was such a good horse he
would still be successful in today’s competition.
Photos included during the display included
Evans competing in an Australia team in NZ,
and holding three horses War Gem, Arcadia and
Cygnet Rambler whilst waiting to be awarded first,
second and third places in an event at the Adelaide
Riders present during the start of Cygnet
Rambler’s career still talk about the horse’s
jumping ability and always mention that he had to
be ridden in a small stock saddle to ensure Evans
was not dislodged.
Jeff Bloomfield volunteered a story from the Dapto
Word Cup in the late 1990s where Evans finished a
round with his arm raised as if saluting to the crowd
after jumping a clear round.
However, it was only when he did not put his
arm down that riders in the practice ring realised
something was amiss.
The following day Evans was diagnosed with
a broken ankle – certainly an incredible feat to
complete a round over 1.5m obstacles with a
Fahey directed some of his comments toward the
pleasure he had over the years competing against
Evans, who was always difficult to beat.
Over his long and illustrious career, the Hills based
rider has claimed two Australian championships
and 13 State titles.
Many prominent equestrian people also sent
letters of congratulations to Evans, including
school friend Lyndon Barry, West Coast identity
Frank Bawden, NSW rider Colleen Brook and Art
Utendale from Victoria.
Utendale suggested in his usual humorous style
that it was great SA was recognising the career
of Evans while still competing, while highlighting
the skill involved as Evans had jumped seven foot
obstacles on several occasions.
The testimonial concluded with the SA Show
Jumping committee presenting Evans with a
painting donated by local jumping rider and artist
Darcy Watkins of the legendary Cygnet Rambler
jumping a brick wall.
Evans thanked the committee for the tribute
before walking onto the arena to inspect the course
used for the 2016 Senior State Championship,
which won by Victorian visitor Jess Barton aboard
New speed era at Bridge
Iconic jumper honored
Made Too Go Pty Ltd managing director Steven Green (left) and Murray Bridge
Speedway club president Barry Merritt shake hands after last Tuesday’s general
meeting of members to endorse an exciting new lease agreement of the dirt track venue.
Iconic Wistow competitor Jeff Evans takes Fieldbrook Corunia over the rails during
a round in the John Bruggemann Grand Prix category at the SA Show Jumping
Championships held earlier this month at Wayville. The three-day event also featured a
special testimonial presentation paying tribute to Evans’ long career in the saddle.
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