Since he was two years old Simon Bestmann has been around the dust and adrenaline of speedway.
His dad was building wings for Formula 500s, Litre Sprints and Sprintcars, and Simon was more than happy to tag along.
“Going with him to the track every race meet, on the shoulders, I formed a love of Speedway and basically from then on my involvement was helping the old man and then eventually one day I wanted to race myself,” Simon shared.
“I had to wait until I was about 30 until I brought my first car.”
It was only when he settled into working in the mining industry he was able to purchase a wingless sprintcar that he ran for eight seasons predominantly at Parramatta Speedway, but also travelling around the east coast and into Queensland for some events.
“Back when I was racing every week there were around 40 to 50 cars, so it was always a hustle to make the A main and we only ever missed one at Parramatta which I am pretty proud of,” he said.
Another impressive feat, that we don’t want to jinx, is that Simon has never ended up on his roof.
Tony Prior, Roy Urpeth and Chris Alcon are just a few of the names that come up when talking speedway with Simon, they are Hunter locals who are respected in the racing community.
Their influence, along with the opening of the Lake Liddell Speedbowl, inspired Simon to buy a Formula 500 and give that a crack.
“I am currently running a Formula 500 or they are also called Australian Micro Sprint 600cc, they have a Yamaha motorbike motor and they run on methanol. They only weigh about 450 kilos, so the power to weight ratios nice and fast. They’re pretty much the second quickest division to Sprintcars in speedway,” Simon explained about his current car.
Local speedway is often a grass roots sport with most drivers working on their own cars or seeking help from those around them, and Simon is no exception.
“Doing the wingless sprint cars for eight years and then doing the Formula 500 there’s not much difference, they both have very similar chassis and shape, they both still run torsion arms, radius rods, front and rear ends are pretty similar. So picking the knowledge up from running the wingless over the years and also get the guidance from people like Roy and Tony – if you have a question or anything you talk to them, they’re more than happy to help,” he said.
Into his second season with the new car Simon is enjoying spending time with his mates at the racetrack, but the father of four also loves nothing more than having his daughters and partner trackside with him.
“They enjoy it and that to me that’s the best part, I love driving around the track and see the kids on the hill screaming go dad. I’ve had three of the girls so far drive go-karts and nothing too promising. My lucks all lined up with the fourth one hopefully. She loves the race car, she loves hanging out the trailer,” Simon said with a laugh when talking about if there is a next generation racer in the family.
Being able to have family around while doing his hobby is something Simon really enjoys about motorsport, especially now that the Lake Liddell Speedbowl has opened up giving him a track super close to his home in Singleton. The local track is perfect for go-karts, an outlet that Simon encourages anyone to consider.
“If you’re one of those young kids that are out doing things in your car, get a go kart. Who knows where you’ll go from there you might really enjoy it and then go into further into Speedway,” he said.
“I find Speedway probably over the last 10 years has been my escape, you get on the track and all you’re thinking about as car in front of you and how you’re going to beat it, and if you’re in front, how you’re going to stay there. It’s always been that really good escape from anything in the world.”
|Check out Simon’s speedway podcast, Passing Points Down Under, that aims to share Australian speedway news and drivers with the rest of the world.|