With the weather gods shinning upon the racetrack, Avalon played host to 26 Sprintcars and a support class of 25 Wingless Sprints for the 2016-17season opener.
The track crew had put in the extra effort needed following one of the wettest starts to spring on record and with a healthy coat of green grass the stadium was set to host eager race fans.
Hot laps presented our drivers to the crowd and then the random draw sorted the 2 qualifying races. With the unique format of the Jackpot Invitational the pressure to gain a high start position was palpable and this was evident from the cheers and gasps coming from the crowd as the grid was randomly drawn. Qualifier number one starts and straight away we see contact in the first corner and V3 Ian Louden cuts down a rear. By the end its V37 Grant Anderson, V17 Dennis Jones, V73 Charles Hunter, V90 Corey McCullagh, V70 John Vogels and V52 Darren Mollenoyux who progress into the semi final. Qualifier number 2 and the V88 of Daniel Pestka leads V2 Domain Ramsay, V68 Brett Milburn, ACT83 David McKay, V72 Jacob Smith and V60 Jordyn Charge to the line. The non-qualifiers roll out for the Last Chance race with only 6 moving forward to the back of the Semi-final. Then what starts as an unfortunate collision between Brad Warren and Michael Tancredi escalates rapidly after fuel ignites around Tancredi. Michael’s quick reaction and the skill of the fire crew quickly have the situation under control and both drivers walk away unharmed.
The semi-final offers 20 laps with only the top 12 to progress to the Time Trial. This constant pressure for teams to back up each time the green flag falls has the crowd on the edge of their seats.
Three laps in and there is contact in corner 2, we loose Jones, Doukas, Louden, Mckay and Charge. With 12 cars remaining its now about driving smart to progress to the time trail. Then with 4 laps to go Brayden Parr clips a tyre barrier and the front end is destroyed. Word come down the line to fix the car asap for the chance to run in the next event.
The time trial throws some top speed, single run action at the back of the night. Steve Lines takes quick time while Vogels cooks it in corner 1 and joins Hunter to watch the final from the infield.
The final rolls out for 15 laps with one lucky driver to pocket $10,000. For the majority of the race a very quick Steve Lines has control then with just 2 laps to go and with one hand on the payout he clips the tyre barrier and Grant Anderson surges to the lead. From there its Anderson, Mollenoyux and McCullagh for the podium.
A special mention must go to Brett Milburn and all the teams for organizing the race night raffle to assist the Parr family and to the race fans who jumped on board by buying a ticket.