As the Perth Motorplex speedway season ramps up, there is perhaps a changing of the guard afoot.
While some veterans take a break, there has been an influx of keen rookies keen to make their mark on the high banks of the legendary Kwinana oval track.
The Bonza Bradford 57, in honour of former WA Sprintcar champion Ian Bradford, takes place this Saturday at Perth Motorplex. Getting a better seat than most to the action come Saturday will be speedway photographer Richard Hathaway. The seasoned shooter captures the intensity of drama of speedway racing around the world, and we decided to get his list of the drivers and teams to watch for the season ahead.
Adrian Haywood will be doing a limited schedule of racing after a year away, but the strong lines of the Plus Fitness car have certainly got Hathaway’s attention in the off season.
“Adrian is getting back into it after a year off to make sure he had everything he needed,” Hathaway said. “He has the 410 motor now and the car looks professional.”
Reigning champion Jason Kendrick is back once more and with some veteran teams yet to announe their schedules, Hathaway said it will be interesting to see who can match the powerhouse Kendrick team.
“He will be the one to beat and the question is who takes the challenge to him?” Hathaway said.
After a foray into Sprintcars, the talented Kaiden Manders is back in Speedcars for this season. Hathaway thinks the time in the big cars will have seen Manders improve his skills even further.
“When he got out of Speedcars to go to Sprintcars he looked good then, so we will see how well he goes with no wing to hold him back now. He was able to throw a bigger car around with ease.”
Hathaway loves watching drivers make spectacular passes and one that sticks in his mind from last season was watching Tom Payet slide a midget under an opponent for the position.
“Tom will slide from the start of three halfway into four and probably did the best slide job I have seen in a midget, and hold it, last season. He is an untapped talent and he is also doing an eastern states program this season.”
Brent Vosbergen shot to prominance earlier in the year with his first feature win in Late Models, just weeks after his grandfather Bert passed away.
“Brent has only had a few shows running the car but he has already been a winner, even winning at Ellenbrook from 12th position. He has been a hidden talent but as soon as hit the field he has been making ground,” Hathaway said.
While eyes will be on Brent, Hathaway said the Late Model division in general will be a highlight of the season and it will be hard to pick any driver to be dominant.
“I said two years ago the Late Models would be the premier division, and with quality drivers week in week out with 25 cars every show they are doing that.”
So will Richard’s tips for the ones to watch be accurate? There is only one way to find out – be at Perth Motorplex this Saturday for the Bonza Bradford 57!
Story Credit – Luke Nieuwhof
Photo Credit – Richard Hathaway