Dennis Syrmis shows the way at Willowbank

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When Willowbank Raceway celebrated its 25th anniversary at the weekend, a very special tribute was announced.
In recognition of his efforts in steering Willowbank Raceway through the early times with a foresight which continues to guide them today, the management committee of Willowbank Raceway have named the quarter mile of the facility ‘Dennis Syrmis Way’.

Last night Sue Syrmis, wife of Dennis and a Director of Willowbank Raceway, alongside John Winterburn, President of Willowbank Raceway, turned on the lights of the ‘Dennis Syrmis Way’ sign for the very first time.

Winterburn was the one to announce the new addition to Willowbank Raceway during his speech for Sunday’s festivities, in which 17 officials were awarded for 25 years of service as were two suppliers, Specialised Security and Randy’s Signs, as were Lex Swayn and Stan Dunbar for their services on the Elapsed Times – Willowbank Raceway’s official magazine.

“We at Willowbank Raceway are very proud to be celebrating in 2010 the 25th anniversary of this venue,” said Winterburn.

“This facility has a lot of people to thank for how it exists today, so many people who are part of the Willowbank family and who without them this track would not exist, and we were happy to have the opportunity on Sunday to formally thank them for all of their efforts.

“What we were most proud of though was being able to honour Dennis for his contribution to this place, as he is such a large piece of the puzzle here at Willowbank Raceway.”

Dennis Syrmis was the manager of Willowbank Raceway from 1983 until he resigned due to illness in July of 2002.

“Dennis resigned as the National Director of the Australian National Drag Racing Association to take the position of Manager at Willowbank Raceway,” said Winterburn.

“At that time we did not have much money available, and Dennis worked for nothing because he had faith in what we were trying to achieve, and he was very efficient at controlling those purse strings when needed!

“He was not only a great administrator but a very fierce and respected racer, with a knack of thinking and seeing forward and to know what effect changes to rules and the like would have on our future.

“Dennis lived and breathed drag racing, and in recognition of his legacy the board of management of Willowbank Raceway made the decision to honour him by naming the quarter mile of Willowbank Raceway ‘Dennis Syrmis Way’.

“The reason for this is because it was HIS WAY that got us here to where we are today and it was HIS WAY that has shown us the future – and this is how we would like to say thanks for showing us the way.”

In addition to this special tribute for Dennis Syrmis, a number of other awards were distributed at the weekend.

“We are extremely proud of our vast volunteer base, and on Sunday we had a total of 17 volunteers awarded for 25 years of service to the track,” said Winterburn.

“I remember vividly the early days when we were building this track – the mums and dads would bring the kids out and let them run wild, they had a ball, and now those same kids are running the meetings here, they are our Meeting Directors, our Announcers and our Staging Officials.

“They are members of the Willowbank family, and we know that this place is in good hands to move forward into the future.

“A big thanks must also go to our many sponsors, and also to our racers who continue to support us and represent us all around the country.

“Thanks must also go to two others, Lex Swayn and Stan Dunbar, who tirelessly work year after year on the Elapsed Times, our hallowed Willowbank Raceway publication, and I am glad we were able to recognize them on Sunday.”

Those to receive awards on Sunday are as follows:

25 Year Officials
Bruce Casos
Mary Casos
Wendy Clark
Keith Dean
Royce Kahl
Margaret Kreis
Doreen Ord
John Winterburn
Sue Syrmis
Dennis Syrmis
Paul Casos
Jeff Rice
Lex Swayn
Russell Mensforth
Dell Davis
Donny Power
Arthur Cumming

25 Year Service Providers
Peter & Rita Conroy – Specialised Security Services
Randy Kelly – Randy’s Signs

Elapsed Times
Lex Swayn
Stan Dunbar

Willowbank Raceway was completed and ran its first drag racing event in September of 1985, and celebrates in 2010 its 25th anniversary.

It currently holds four ANDRA Pro Series events per season including the largest drag racing event outside of the US, the Castrol EDGE Winternationals.

It also hosts year-round drag racing including bracket events, Test N Tunes and other well known events such as the Nostalgia Nationals and the Jamboree.

For more information on Willowbank Raceway, please visit

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