Late Model speedway driver Brent Vosbergen will be chasing his first feature win with emotional motivation at the Di Candilo Steel City Roof Off Roar at Perth Motorplex this Saturday, following the passing of his legendary grandfather Bert Vosbergen last week.
“Big Bad Bert” spent four decades racing Super Sedans and Late Models around the country, developing a reputation as one of the fiercest drivers in speedway sedans.
Brent, 27, grew up watching his grandfather and dad Craig dedicate their lives to speedway, a love that flowed through the generations.
“Growing up (Bert) was my best friend and my hero,” Brent said.
“Even though every second of his day went into working on his race cars he still found time to come watch my sporting events.
“He never missed many, rain, hail or shine,” he said.
“He always gave me confidence and I’ll never have a bigger fan.”
While there may be $5000 in prize money on offer for the winner at Perth Motorplex, Brent wants to win the Roof Off Roar to honour his grandfather’s memory.
“It sure does (change my view on the race), I’ll be even more hungry to win,” he said.
“It would be a dream to go out this weekend and win for him.”
Meanwhile, this weekend’s speedway event at Perth Motorplex is known as the Roof Off Roar because the Late Model teams will remove the roofs from their cars.
While the concept is something of a novelty, Late Model frontrunner Michael Holmes said it made subtle changes to the aerodynamics of the cars.
“Having the roof off makes the cars a little tighter as more wind gets on to the deck and the rear wing which creates more down force,” he explained.
“People would be surprised how much ‘aero’ is on a modern Late Model. Sprintcars have wings but the whole body on a Late Model is designed to create down force.
“As a driver you also notice the extra light and visibility.”
The Roof Off Roar is a 40-lap feature race, which Holmes said made tyre choice and race set-up vital.
“This will be a great event for the fans,” he said.
“With the roof off you can see right down into the cockpit and get a feel for how much (steering) wheel work it takes to muscle one of these cars around the Motorplex.
“With the extra laps you will see some strategy at play with some of the older, wiser heads saving some tyres for the end of the race — so expect lead changes late in the piece.”
Holmes has enjoyed a great season so far, enjoying a consistent run of strong results.
“We really got going mid-November with a win and a string of podiums,” he said.
“Apart from a disappointing DNF (Did Not Finish) at Bunbury last week we haven’t finished lower than fifth in WA since November.”
Chalmers pushes for podium
Late Model driver Joe Chalmers believes he is his own hardest critic when it comes to his racing, so will have something to prove to himself for this Saturday’s event at Perth Motorplex.
“This season has been surprising,” he said. “So far we have had some good results and started running a little more towards the front. I’d love a podium somewhere before the season’s out.
“I’m my hardest critic, if it doesn’t go right or to my expectations I then try to work twice as hard to make it better next time out.
“Consistency is all I’m aiming for. I just want to be better each time we go out on the track. The wide open spaces of the Motorplex allow for a little bit of error here and there when I’m trying to drive as hard as I can to keep up with these guys.”
Like many in the Late Model field, Chalmers will be racing with his heart on his sleeve following the passing of legendary driver Bert Vosbergen.
“Without the help of the Vosbergen family I’d be nowhere. They have helped me all the way which has been great. My Dad served on Bert and Craig’s crew all through my childhood.”
As far as the novelty of taking the roof off goes, Chalmers said he does not see much difference once the green flag waves.
“I hardly notice it while I am racing, but I do in pre-race as it opens up my vision a lot more.”