Epic final battles see champions and event winners celebrated in Mildura

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An extended final round of the 2019/2020/2021 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series at the Mildura’s Sunset Strip brought to a close what has been a protracted season of racing at the weekend across March 12, 13 and 14.

The ANDRA Grand Final was extended from two to three days to ensure wet weather on the Saturday would not interfere with a successful conclusion to proceedings.

The 2019/2020/2021 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series season had been extended in the face of COVID-19 to not only deliver successful completion of the current competition, but also a record prize pool thanks to Summit Racing Equipment.

Following an epic final day of racing battles, the season champions and event winners were enthusiastically celebrated on Sunday afternoon with plenty of ANDRA Christmas Tree Trophies being handed out along with the prestigious John Storm Memorial Trophy.

Also recognised at the ANDRA Grand Final presentations were Tony Frost who received the Vinyl Wraps and Graphics Best Presented Award, Cory Pocock who was awarded the Crow Cams Best Engineered Award, and Paul Garbellini who earned the ANDRA Longest Distance Travelled Award.

Here is a rundown of how each of the championship brackets unfolded over the weekend.

SUPER GAS – Champion: Colin Griffin. Championship runner-up: Michael De Rose. Event winner: Adrian McGrotty. Event runner-up: Jason Wilson. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Renee Cockerill.

Colin Griffin – last season’s Super Gas championship runner-up – secured his third title in the class thanks to a semi-final lose to eventual event winner, and defending champion, Adrian McGrotty. McGrotty had earlier taken on and defeated championship runner-up Michael De Rose in the first round, before facing off against Griffin in the semi and Jason Wilson in the final. Wilson meanwhile had taken wins from Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier medallion getter Renee Cockerill (round one) and Charlie Saraceno (semi) on his way to the final.

“It is great to go one extra step up higher compared to last year, and it is special to now have secured the title three times – I have been trying for this third one for a long time now, so it is really good to get it done,” said Griffin, who had previously taken out the 1998 and 2017 Super Gas championships.

“I just have a great time with the Super Gas guys, we do a shootout between us and it is just a really great environment. We enjoy it and we have good fun, and I am already looking forward to next season.

“I would like to thank ANDRA for sticking with this series, it was pretty drawn out and it took a while to get to this point, but it was a good result for me in the end.

“I would like to thank my wife, she is always there helping me; as well as Summit Racing Equipment – I hurt the car today, so I will be using some of that Summit Racing Equipment prize money to fix it up!

“Thank you also to all of the volunteers – without them we can’t do what we love, so thank you to them for putting in the hours and making our days a hell of a lot better.”

SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT JUNIOR DRAGSTER – Champion: Sarah Donnelly. Championship runner-up: Jake Berias. Event winner: Daniel Carranza. Event runner-up: Sarah Donnelly. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Brooke Camilleri.

Sarah Donnelly was celebrated as the champion for the Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster bracket following the second round, with title runner-up and last season’s champion Jake Berias having to settle for the runner-up spot after being defeated by Zac Knezevic in this round.

Donnelly would go all the way to the final of the event, taking on Daniel Carranza in the final following earlier victories over Lachlan Walker (round one), Todd Wagner and Sarah Osborne ahead of a bye run in her semi-final. Carranza meanwhile had earned his spot in the final and the eventual event victory – his first ANDRA Christmas Tree – with victories over Chelsea Sammut and Billy Kuhn ahead of a bye run in the third round and a semi-final against Dylan Knezevic.

“It is all still a bit unreal still (to have won the championship),” said 17-year-old Donnelly.

“I was hoping to take both of them (the Championship and event win), but I am still happy with the results.

“The car was good all weekend, my lights were good, and apart from the rain it was a good meeting.

“I would like to thank my sponsor Supashock, Greg Hayes Performance Engines, and my whole family – especially mum and dad for traveling me around the whole country – for all of their support.

“This will be my last big meeting in the Junior Dragster class, so it is pretty good to finish on such a high. It is all pretty surreal.”

MODIFIED BIKE – Champion: Shane Walker. Championship runner-up: Bryan Finn. Event winner: Shane Walker. Event runner-up: Bryan Finn. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Gavin Dohnt.

The Modified Bike title chase came all the way down to the final, with 2017 champion Bryan Finn taking on Shane Walker, who was hunting his breakthrough title after more than two decades of trying.

It all came down to that last race with both competitors declaring their respect for each other prior to the final, and ultimately it was Walker who would take the win over Finn to claim the event and championship victory.

On his way to the final, Walker took on and defeated Archie Fabian (round one), Derryn McGregor and Michael Cristoforo while Finn had booked his ticket to the final with victories over Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Gavin Dohnt (round one) and Greg Oberti before he enjoyed a bye run in the semi-final.

“This is unbelievable – I have been racing for 22 years and for the last seven or eight of those that has been over here after I moved here from Tassie to chase the championship. I have come close a couple of times, so to finally get it, I am pretty happy!” Walker enthused.

“I wasn’t feeling overly confident heading into the weekend. I had a good event at Portland so that was all right, but you can never be confident against these guys. None of them are slouches and you just don’t know what will happen. For instance, Gavin (Dohnt) went out in the first round at Portland, and I would have bet my house that he wouldn’t go out first round again this weekend, but he did.

“You just don’t know, so you can’t be too confident. We are all good riders and there is nothing between us – a lot of the time it is whoever buggers up the least or has the most luck – there is a fair bit of that involved!” he laughed.

“The weekend went all right for us, in the second qualifier the bike misbehaved and I had to change out some electronics and that fixed it for the third qualifier, and then we got lucky in the second round of racing against Derryn McGregor as the bike had a real big hiccup when I picked up third and I was nowhere near him, but he didn’t look over his shoulder! I think I will buy him a set of rear-view mirrors for his birthday!” he chuckled. “But that is what it is, you have to be lucky!

“Thank you to my wife Monika, my friend Anthony who crewed this weekend for me for the first time as Monika couldn’t be here and did a fantastic job, and also Penrite Oil, Jordan Speed and Custom, Burson Auto Parts, Motorlights Australia, Peter Stevens Geelong for the time off, and all of the track staff, volunteers, fellow racers and of course Summit Racing Equipment for sponsoring the series.”

SUPER STREET – Champion: Paul Garbellini. Championship runner-up: Nikolas Karanovic. Event winner: Paul Jennings. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Brian Christian.

While Paul Garbellini was defeated by event winner Paul Jennings in the semi final of the Super Street bracket, it was still an overly successful weekend for the WA racer who claimed the Super Street championship and also the ANDRA Longest Distance Travelled Award in Mildura.

Jennings enjoyed a solo pass in the final to take the victory after Chris Whittaker was unable to front for his semi-final bye run. Jennings – the defending champion for the Super Street bracket – had earlier successfully taken on Rodney Kerr (round one) and championship runner-up Nikolas Karanovic before enjoying a round three bye ahead of his semi-final against Garbellini.

“I would like to thank my wife Lisa for letting me come out and do this stuff, and for letting me steal parts off her race car when mine breaks” Garbellini laughed.

“My thanks goes to ANDRA, Brett, Scott, Kingsley and everyone at Mildura – this is a great place to come and race and they pushed so hard to get this event finished.

“I would also like to thank Mitch and Deb at WA Performance for giving me such a consistent car to work with, it makes it pretty easy – it is usually me who stuffs it up! Thanks also to LSX Powertrain, WADRA, Millsy back home, Red Nut Racing and everyone else who has supported me.”

SUPER SEDAN – Champion: Martin Mirco. Championship runner-up: Chris Lioulios. Event winner: Matthew Cockerill. Event runner-up: Gary Vogelsang. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Adrian Dal Broi.

A highly competitive Super Sedan bracket brought plenty of action to Mildura’s Sunset Strip at the weekend, with Matthew Cockerill ultimately taking the event victory over Gary Vogelsang while defending champion Martin Mirco took back-to-back title wins over runner-up, Chris Lioulios.

While not making it all the way to the final, Mirco went further than any of his other championship rivals with a semi-final loss against Cockerill to secure his title following earlier wins from George Tipoukidis, Charles Pitt and Alex Blias.

Before beating out Vogelsang in the final and Mirco in the semis, Cockerill took on and defeated Brett Matthew (round one), Des Jeffree and Peter Tzokas. Vogelsang meanwhile had emerged victorious from battles against Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier medallion recipient Adrian Dal Broi (round one), Chris Farrugia, Steve Hunt and Lance Larcombe on his way to facing Cockerill in the final.

“Thank you to my wife, my family, Brett, ANDRA, Summit Racing Equipment, Kingsley and all of his crew here in Mildura, and everyone back at home at the Motorplex,” Mirco said.

“Also, Michael from One residential, Mark from Lost Racing, Tony from WA Bolts, Jason from JD Automotive, WADRA, Dimoff Transmissions, AllFast Converters, Final Drive and Tony from Comp Engines – thank you for all of your support.”

MODIFIED – Champion: Adam Mundy. Championship runner-up: Kenny Stewart. Event winner: Craig Baker. Event runner-up: Shane Wynd. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Adam Mundy.

Adam Mundy got his championship defence off to a great start in Mildura by claiming the Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Medallion in Mildura before ensuring he could secure his second consecutive title in the bracket over closest rival Kenny Stewart with a semi-final appearance against eventual event runner-up, Shane Wynd. While both Mundy and Stewart would lose their semi-final races, it was enough for Mundy to secure the victory as he headed into this weekend 20 points ahead of Stewart.

Taking out the event win was Craig Baker, who was in his dragster this weekend thanks to the fact this his son was unavailable following the arrival of his baby boy on the Friday of the event. Baker took the event victory from Wynd following earlier triumphs over Matt Ponton (round one), Stuart Mitchell and Stewart. Wynd meanwhile had ensured he had a place in the final by successfully facing off against Marino Gregoric (round one), Peter O’Connell and Mundy.

“I am absolutely stoked with this result,” Mundy said.

“I was very nervous coming into this meeting and Sunday went really well; the car was just perfect all day.

“Going into the semi-finals I was feeling pretty anxious (as both he and Kenny were still in contention, with Kenny facing Craig Baker).

“Craig and Kenny’s run was right before my semi-final race, and when I saw the win light come up on Craig’s side I knew on the spot I had the championship, so that brought a big sigh of relief for me just as I was getting ready to do my burnout. I think I owe Craig a beer!

“Thank you to my crew, Des Mundy and Ron Beaucaris, Leon and Lisa Davies and Adam Davies for helping out.

“A big thank you also has to go to all of the competitors who have travelled along this journey this season, to Summit Racing Equipment for continuing to support Australian drag racing, and to ANDRA for trying to get through all of this – we finally got it done!

“I also want to congratulate everyone at the Sunraysia Drag Racing Association on a great effort to get the meeting finished. It was a great job by Tim Reidy, and Allan Ward we love you too.

“Finally, I want to give a shout out to Steve and Leanne Braggs for building such a great car and for all of their help along the way – I wouldn’t be here without them.”

SUPERCHARGED OUTLAWS – Champion: Christine Steffens. Championship runner-up: Justin Russell. Event winner: Dale Tucker. Event runner-up: Christine Steffens. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Jayden Talbot.

In the Supercharged Outlaws battle, Christine Steffens was appointed the champion following the second round when her nearest rival and 2018 champion Justin Russell was knocked out of the running by Mike Evans. The champion elect then went all the way to the finals where she took on Dale Tucker. Tucker would ultimately take the event victory from Steffens following earlier wins over Tim Stewart (round one) and Lucas Woodburn before enjoying a bye in the semis.

While Steffens – who enjoyed a bye in the first round and went on to defeat Mark Kuhn and Evans on her way to the final – was unable to secure the event winner’s trophy, she still had her hands full at presentations as not only did she claim the national title for her bracket, but was also awarded the prestigious John Storm Memorial trophy.

Commissioned in memory of Mr John Storm, the first National Director of ANDRA, the John Storm Memorial Trophy is an annual national award made to the competitor in Group Two, Three or Four who scores the highest total overall points from all rounds of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series, including the final event. In the 41 seasons of this accolade being awarded, Steffens is only the second woman (alongside Kelly Bettes, 2010) to claim the award.

TOP SPORTSMAN – Champion: Sam Cardinale. Championship runner-up: Vlado Turic. Event winner: Sam Cardinale. Event runner-up: Darren Saliba. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Darren Saliba.

The race for the Top Sportsman championship came all the way down to the final pass of the weekend. Sam Cardinale was an outside shot of claiming the title heading into the weekend, but then his fellow championship contenders were all eliminated from racing by the close of the second round. This meant that if Cardinale could claim the event victory, he would also claim the title, otherwise he would finish third in the standings.

Ultimately, that is exactly what he did, taking the event win over runner-up Darren Saliba to claim the championship title over Vlado Turic.

On his way to the final, Cardinale had plenty of opposition, taking on his championship rivals Glenn Henley (round one) and Vlado Turic (round two) before facing off against Stuart McBain in the semi-final. Saliba meanwhile had faced off against title contender Leon Davies (round one) and Mark Attard before enjoying a bye in his semi-final.

“To win the championship is just mind blowing,” Cardinale said.

“I really didn’t think it was within reach and I am still in shock to be honest. We were doing the calculations on the morning of race day and everyone was saying that I had a chance, but I really didn’t think I did – especially as I had three number ones that had to be knocked out for me to get it, I just didn’t think it was possible.

“But somehow it is mine and it really is weird, I just didn’t expect this at all. The event win I was definitely going for, I wanted that badly. But the championship itself, I just didn’t think that was within reach.

“It was probably the most consistent weekend I have ever had, except for Q1 which was a bit rusty. I feel like I was pretty much on the money all weekend. I am quite a nervous person, so I have been working on myself to try and calm myself down when I am in the car and that seems to be helping, and the other racing I am doing between events at Tailem Bend also has helped I think, especially with my reaction times.

“I would like to thank my crew, my father, my wife, my daughter, my sponsor AusDig, Dino Cecere for my engine, Ryan at RT Race Craft, Kingsley and all of the volunteers, and Summit Racing Equipment for supporting the series.”

COMPETITION BIKE – Champion: Levi Addison. Championship runner-up: Rob Cassar. Event winner: Joe Khoury. Event runner-up: Edge Mallis. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Joe Khoury.

Levi Addison was in the running for championships in both Modified Bike and Competition Bike, and while his Modified Bike hopes came to an end early in the weekend, he was exceptionally happy to secure the title in Competition Bike despite an earlier than hoped for exit from the day’s racing. Addison was also second in the rankings for the John Storm Memorial Trophy, behind winner Christine Steffens.

While Addison took the championship over last year’s title winner Rob Cassar, it was Comp Bike debutant and Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient Joe Khoury who took out the event honours over Edge Mallis with the pair facing off in the final.

“We are so stoked with the championship to be honest!” Addison said.

“I am pretty happy to take this out. The John Storm Memorial would have been nice to win as well obviously, but second is pretty good.

“There were a few ups and downs on the weekend, it was a bittersweet one as we red lit in the Modified Bike class so that sort of brought the mood down a bit, but then we ended up with the title win in Competition Bike which brought everything back up again! On a whole the weekend was pretty smooth, and we are happy.

“I would like to thank my pregnant wife Ashley, my mum and dad, Addison Memorials, Cartel Detailing, The Collective Family, Harley Heaven, Fasta Moto, Garry from Moto Shack, K Rock Automotive, SRT Signs, KLS Property Maintenance, Australian Auto Air and also Summit Racing Equipment and ANDRA.”


SUPERCOMP – Event winner: Matt Forbes. Event runner-up: Steve Norman. Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient: Steve Norman.
COMPETITION – Champion: Craig Geddes. Championship runner-up: Terry Waterman.
SUPER STOCK – Champion: Matt Forbes. Championship runner-up: Steve Norman.

The classes of Competition and Super Stock were combined as the one SuperComp class in Mildura, with one event winner announced for the class and champions appointed for Super Stock and Competition Eliminator respectively.

By simply qualifying for the event, Craig Geddes secured the Competition championship over runner-up Terry Waterman. This marked Geddes’ seventh national title in total, his sixth in the Competition Eliminator bracket, and his fifth in a row.

“This is just fantastic. It is really amazing, and we have been helping Matt Forbes as well in the Super Stock championship so for us to both get through is just amazing,” Geddes said.

“I am just rapt that we could get the event done, and I send a huge thanks to everyone involved who helped ensure we actually saw it through to the end. I am already looking forward to next season and seeing what that will bring.

“Thank you to my sponsors, DecoGlaze Glass Splashbacks, Quicks Freight Express, Jax Tyres, The Cleaners Room, Lucas Oils, Patterson Elite and CHS/Broadbent Grain, and of course a huge thank you to my business and racing team partner Rob Martin and my crew, Hippie and Ethan.

“I am just so proud to be a part of this series and part of this group of people that travels around Australia racing, I can’t see us doing anything else for quite a while yet. Thank you to Summit Racing Equipment for supporting the series, to ANDRA for digging deep, and to my wife, my family and my mum and dad – this is just fantastic.”

In Super Stock, the championship battle came right down to the final race of the weekend with championship contenders Matt Forbes and Steve Norman heading to the SuperComp final on equal points in the Super Stock title rankings.

When Forbes took the event win over Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion recipient Norman, he also claimed the Super Stock Championship.

On their way to the final, Forbes had taken race victories from Michael Caroscio and Geddes, while Norman had walked away victorious from a round one battle against Adrian Vella ahead of a bye run in his semi-final.

“This is a dream come true,” Forbes said.

“This is not an individual award, it is a team effort, so thank you to Craig Geddes and Rob Martin who give us a lot of support with Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks, to Gilbert and Jill who own the car, my crew, my long-time business partner Les Waight, Max who was with us this weekend, Lucas Oil, Dominator Converters and Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions – without these guys, we wouldn’t get to do what we do. Also thanks to Kingsley and Lauren and their team here in Mildura, without them we can’t go racing here either.

“We are very fortunate – two years ago we had a crazy dream over a beer of entering Super Stock and we never thought we would get as far as we have, but we also weren’t looking to lie down early.

“The guys have been terrific to race with, they have all welcomed me in and shown me the ropes. Even (championship rival) Steve – we were pitted across from each other this weekend and were talking and having jokes all weekend. Through each and every pass it was neck and neck between us and heading into the final we were on equal points. He is a good guy, a gentleman, and I have a lot of respect for him.

“We had to use everything we had all season long and then on Sunday, we were turning over rocks every pass to try and catch Steve and try and stay ahead of him – he is a real class act, and his car is one of the nicest in Australia.

“These are the guys I grew up watching race so to be able to come and race with them means a lot to me. They push us all the way and you have to be up to the fight, and luckily (on Sunday) we were.

“Thank you to all of the volunteers at all of the tracks, and also to ANDRA and Summit Racing Equipment for supporting the series.”

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