Chris Solomon takes Out the Hickman’s Tree Maintenance 360 Sprintcar Challenge. 

By Ian Vale

Chris Solomon drove a steady race to take out the win in the Hickman Tree Maintenance 360 Sprintcar Challenge last night at Heartland Raceway from Brenten Farrer and a recovering Matthew Reed in the final racing event of the Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria 2015-2016 season in front of a healthy crowd.

Group time trails opened the Sprintcar Action for the night with both Farrer and Reed setting the fastest times in their groups to give them a front row start in the first round of heats but neither driver converted that to a win.

Heat two saw both Matthew Reed and the event sponsor Darren Hickman line up on the front row for their first heat. At last season Hickman’s Tree Maintenance 360 Challenge A Main these two drivers fought it out all the way for Reed to just take the win in the final lap by three hundredths of a second.

Now Darren was having only his second drive for the season but he was not about to have Reed beat him again, at the drop of the flag for this heat Hickman won the start to open a handy gap before an engine problem looked to deny him the race win. Engine problem or not he was not going to be beaten on this occasion and took a narrow win from the fast finishing Reed.

Soon after the race was over word came thru from the pits that Hickman was out for the night with a dropped valve but added that he was happy as he was retiring and he did this with a win in his final race. The news was not all bad as Darren son Rusty was still there to fly the team’s flag.

Darren also had another win on the night when the Ambulance service officers voted  his car the V40 Sprintcar know as the Rusty Bucket due it colour scheme the best present car award sponsored Ascot Vale Sports & Trophies.

So with the heats race done and won by Paul Solomon, Darren Hickman, Eddie Lumbar and Chris Solomon it was time to head into the shootout to set the final field for the 360 Sprintcar Challenge.

As so often is the case the top six ends up with a few changes, sixth on points and the first car out was Rusty Hickman in the ACT 40 car setting the time to beat, now the wait to see if the time could be beaten was on, the next four challengers, Chris Campbell, Paul Solomon and Chris Solomon did not match Hickman’s time and with one driver Matthew Reed to go Rusty was guaranteed a front row start, well Reed was looking good all night and secured pole position for the Main event with the fastest time in the shootout.

The order was set, on Pole would be Matthew Reed with Rusty Hickman alongside,

row two would be the Solomon Brothers Paul and Chris, row three Brenten Farrer and Chris Campbell who would be followed by Jack Gartner, Eddie Lumbar, Brad Foster, Jordyn Charge, Anthony Foster, David Aldersley, Michael Holt and Andrew Thomson.

A repeat of last season event with Reed and Hickman on the front row but his time it was Rusty Hickman and he wanted what his father didn’t get last season, to win the Hickman Tree Maintenance 360 Sprintcar Challenge.

At the drop of the green Flag it was a drag race into the first corner with Hickman on the outside of Reed going into turn one and two to come out in front going down the back straight for the first time with Reed in pursuit followed by Chris Solomon. Lap three and the caution lights were on for a spinning Michael Holt.

Back under way and Hickman lead the way opening a gap on Reed and the pursuing pack, it was not long before the leaders were into lapped traffic that would see the gap between Hickman and Reed close down and then open up again as they worked thru the lapped cars. Chris Solomon was holding down third place ahead of his brother Paul who had Farrer hard on his tail leaving Campbell, Charge and Lumbar in their own three man dual.

Farrer found a way past Paul Solomon to take the challenge up to Chris for third place but up front the young rookie driver Hickman was driving like he has been racing for years lapping car after car up to fourth place when the next caution light came for Reed who made contact with Lumbar as he was lapping him that would damage to the front end of the Act49 car and spin to a stop. Reed was sent to the rear for the restart.

As the field rolled around for the restart with Hickman in the lead he showed a clean pair of rear tires and opened a gap back to the new second place man Chris Solomon on the restart. The order was now Hickman from Chris Solomon, Brenten Farrer then Paul Solomon in fourth place and then the rest of the field one lap down with the exception of Reed who was still on the lap.

Lumbar, Charge and Campbell were a little further back still duelling it out for fifth place, as the laps started to wind down Reed was working his way back thru the field with a damaged race car. Hickman was out by himself when disaster struck as he was lapping another competitor hitting the turn three wall that damaged the right rear wheel ending his night with a flat tyre bringing the caution lights on once.

With the chequered flag in sight the new race leader Chris Solomon made sure he would not make the same mistake driving a steady race to keep Farrer at bay, Reed had made his way back up to fourth place for the final restart to take third place from Paul Solomon who was driving an ill handling car with the top wing side board collapsed.

Four laps later and Chris Solomon greeted the Chequered flag in first place to take the Hickman’s Tree Maintenance 360 Sprintcar Challenge from second placed driver, Brenten Farrer, third home was Matthew Reed and Paul Solomon survived to take fourth place, round out the finishers were Eddie Lumbar in fifth place followed by Chris Campbell, Jordyn Charge, David Aldersley, Brad Foster and Andrew Thompson. The three cars of Anthony Foster, Michael Holt and Jack Gartner all pulled in field together on the last lap.

David Aldersley also picked up the AUTOPREMIER Fleet Maintenance driver of the night $150 award for his efforts.

The Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria thank the following

360 Sprintcar Sponsors.

AUTOPREMIER Fleet Maintenance 03 9394 1901

Hickman’s Environmental & Tree Maintenance www.hickmans.com.au

Parr Motorsports                                               www.parrmotorsports.com

Ascot Vale Sports & Trophies                           www.ascotvalesports.com.au

Also the Eureka Garages and Sheds Sprintcar Series sponsors:


Eureka Garages & Sheds                       www.eurekagarages.com.au

KTM Australia                                        www.ktm.com

Essendon Ford                                        www.essendonford.com.au

Hoosier Tires Australia                          www.mdmotorsport.com.au

Camden Signage & Building Services   www.camdenneon.com.au

Essendon Mitsubishi                              www.essendonmitsubishi.com.au

Steelpipes Pty Ltd                                 www.steelpipes.com.au

The Metric Men                                     www.themetricmen.com.au

Eliminator Race Wings                           www.crossmotorsport.com

Parr Motorsports                                      www.parrmotorsports.com

Sprintcarworld                                       www.sprintcarworld.com.au

Corey Gibson photography                    www.gibsonphotography.com.au

Maxam Printing                                     www.maxamprinting.com.au

D& F RACING PRODUCTS                       03 9775 0558