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Thursday, May 30, 2024


WAKEFIELD Park Raceway closes today but not without having made a mark on many in the motorsport game, including some familiar Supercars faces.

The New South Wales venue hosted an annual round of what is now the Dunlop Super2 Series from 2001 to 2008.

It was the location of maiden Super2 race wins for the likes of Mark Winterbottom, Jonathon Webb, Simon Wills, Paul Dumbrell, Tony D’Alberto and Tim Slade.

Slade in fact was the last ever Super2 round winner there, an achievement particularly close to his heart given it was during his days of running his own Slade Speed squad.

“We did it as cheap as we possibly could and I guess the reason why I was in my own team is because we were nowhere near being able to afford doing it properly with a top team,” the now 37-year-old told V8 Sleuth.

“James Rosenberg owned the car and we had a lot of different mechanics come and do the race weekends throughout that year.

“We actually had Mick Caruso, Michael’s dad, he was on the front that weekend.

“There were proven guys in the series like (Steve) Owen and (Dean) Canto, Jack (Perkins) was in there, and I think it was the first or second year for both (David) Reynolds and I.

“It was a very special moment in my career, having my first race and round win there in Super2, just the way that we were going about it.

“Dad would drive over from Adelaide and drive the car to the track and it was my own team and I did the work on it myself during the week.

“I literally jumped back in the truck that night and drove back to Melbourne because I had to work for Mercedes the next day at Sandown.

“We definitely ran it all on the smell of an oily rag. It was just very satisfying.

“I put it up there with one of the highlights of my career, so I do have fond memories of Wakefield for that reason.”

Slade also competed at the 2.2km circuit he described as a “bullring” in Formula Ford and before that in go-karts.

It was there that he came across the Croke family, who he purchased a go-kart trailer from.

Ben Croke nowadays is team principal at the Shell V-Power Racing Team.

Ben Croke (left) with Scott McLaughlin in 2020. Pic: Supplied

A product of nearby Taralga, Croke and his brothers were members of the Goulburn Kart Club, setting the wheels in motion for his career in motorsport.

“It’s pretty sad that a facility like that and the drawcard and economic benefit that it is for that region, to see it come to a decline,” Croke told V8 Sleuth.

“In terms of a modern-day circuit, it was quite a short lap but it had plenty of character: a quick Turn 1 and then a couple of slow corners, then uphill to another reasonably fast corner.

“As a go-kart track it was temporary chicanes, these little concrete buttons that we used to put out that were massive axle benders if you got it wrong.

“It was a facility that kind of did everything from Super2 to club go-kart racing and it worked for that community and that area.”

Croke still vividly recalls one particular go-kart triumph he enjoyed at Wakefield Park.

“Probably one of my best victories actually was beating Grant Denyer in a race there one day. He would never remember that but I do!”

Mark Winterbottom won on Super2 debut at Wakefield Park in 2003. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Wakefield Park Super2 race winners:

3: Adam Macrow

2: Simon Wills, Paul Dumbrell, Mark Winterbottom, Dean Canto

1: Craig Harris, Dale Brede, Brett Peters, Alan Gurr, Mal Rose, Andrew Jones, Shane Beikoff, Terry Wyhoon, Chris Alajajian, Jonathon Webb, Tony D’Alberto, Steve Owen, Tim Slade

Dale Brede, Owen Kelly and Paul Dumbrell in 2001. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith
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