The COVID-19 crisis has proven to be one of the biggest challenges to face the world in sometime with nearly every corner of the planet touch by the pandemic in some way.
Even some of the most remote communities have had to put in controls to stop the spread of the highly infectious virus from entering their part of the earth.
With such extreme travel restrictions imposed on most people, tourism has practically stopped overnight which has caused widespread ramifications for some of the most desired locations especially here in Australia.
The township of Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia best known for its ironic Cable Beach and near perfect days has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a large number of its 16,000 permanent residents heavily relent on the tourism industry for an income.
It is quite remarkable then that in amongst some of the most challenging times to face the Broome community, that their local Speedway Club will be bursting back into life this Saturday Night (4th July).
“We honestly thought that we weren’t going to be able to run a race meeting in 2020 as the border restrictions came down in late March pretty much preventing anyone from outside entering the town” says Broome Speedway Club President Tom Oliver.
“The last few months have been extremely taxing on so many of the local businesses particularly as they were gearing up for our busy time of the year during the dry season (May to September) where our population grows to 45,000 people due to the incoming interstate and international tourists”.
Restrictions have began to ease significantly in Western Australia over the past few weeks which has allowed many Speedways in the Northern half of the State to commence operations for their normal race seasons albeit a little bit later than normal.
Oliver goes on to explain the impact the restrictions have had on the Broome Speedway Club, “A number of our regular sponsors are a bit up in the air at the moment as to whether they will be able to support us this season as they are waiting on how many tourists come up to visit over the next few months from the south of the state. It’s just a game of wait as see as alot of businesses in town are struggling but we are all starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak”.
The club have held two practice days in recent weeks in the lead up to this Saturday Night’s season opening race meeting with many competitors in a race against time to have their machinery ready after thinking a few months ago that the season wouldn’t go ahead at all.
“We have a few new drivers this season along with the regulars and some of the guys from Derby are keen on coming down for a few of our meetings. Last season we held a Broome vs Derby Challenge which proved to be quite successful and we are doing the same again this year which will help with numbers at both clubs, although they got the better of us by sheer weight of numbers but we are hoping to turn the tables this year” says Oliver.
The biggest meeting for the season the annual Shinju Matsuri Festival Race Meeting is scheduled for Friday 4th & Saturday 5th September which often attracts competitors from around Western Australia and beyond most years as Oliver explains, “We had twelve cars come up from the South West last year and we hope to be able to put together a tow money package to entice competitors to come up again this year. It’ll come together late in the piece but we are very hopeful of having enough support to make it happen and have great fields for Shinju as we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the club”.
Oliver went on to thank one sponsor who has been the absolute life blood of the venue for the best part of the last two decades, “We really have to thank everyone from McCorry Brown Earthmoving for maintaining our facility and preparing the racetrack for every race meeting. The amount of work Tony (Brown) and his team have done here over the years is quiet extraordinary and as a club we can’t thank them enough”.
Despite the remoteness of the Broome Speedway Club they have still managed to produced a number of competitors to achieve highly in the sport none more so then former National Super Sedan Champion Kodee Brown. Former Western Australian champions Warren Minshull (Super Sedans) Mick Johnson and Jeff Steele in Modified Sedans along with Phil Barton who just completed another successful campaign on the East Coast all learned their trade on the Pindan dirt.
The stars of the future Cody Mackellar and Riley Dunne represented the club with pride in last season’s SSA National Junior Sedan Title held down in Collie with the club always looking to invest heavily in Junior Speedway.
We will continue to bring you stories of Speedway Sedans Australia categories returning to racing at venues across the country in the months ahead as the sport plays its part on the road to recovery.
Broome Speedway Club President Tom Oilver