An enormous crowd packed into the Castrol Edge Lismore Showground Speedway this past Tuesday night to watch the third round of the NSW-QLD state’s series.

A stacked field of 27 cars was on hand for the night’s racing. It included some of the best drivers in Australia, with stars like Brooke Tatnell, Lachlan McHugh, Luke Oldfield, Ian Madsen, Marcus Dumesny Brock Hallett, and the  Australian Open winner from last weekend, Jock Goodyer, as well as Californian superstar Justin Sanders, all among those that made the journey to the historic Northern New South Wales venue.

Lachie Mchugh set the overall Quick time in qualifying with a best lap time of 12.009 seconds. Justin Sanders and Brooke Tatnell set the fastest times in their respective qualifying groups with lap times of 12.594 and 13.156, respectively.

Ian Madsen had recorded a lap time of 11.986, but due to mechanical gremlins, he could not set a time in his designated spot in the qualifying order.

There were two rounds of heat racing action; Sam Walsh bested the field in heat 1, defeating Luke Oldfield and Brooke Tatnell.

Hard-charging Queenslander Randy Morgan put in a great drive to claim victory in heat two from Current Australian champion Marcus Dumesny and Justin Sanders.

Heat 3 went the way of Ian Madsen, who got past Karl Hoffmans and Brock Hallet.

Tatnell, Sanders and McHugh were the victors in the second round of heats, with Tatnell winning heat four from Jock Goodyer and Luke Oldfield, Sanders prevailing in heat 5, defeating Jy Corbert, Dumesny, and McHugh leading home an all-Queensland trifecta in heat six from Brock Hallet and Cody Maroske.

The Queensland- New South Wales States Series utilises a Bronze, silver and gold shootout format (exactly like what was used in the World Series Sprintcars for many years) to set the top 8 starting positions for the A-main. For those that are not familiar, this shootout format works as follows:

It is like group qualifying, four cars at a time. In the Bonze Shootout, Cars 5-8 time against each other, with the fastest two advancing to time against cars 3 and 4 in the Silver shootout. Again, the fastest two advance to time against the two highest points scorers in the Gold Shootout to determine the first two rows of the feature grid.

The shootout was made even more critical given that track position had been a key talking point throughout the night due to the track at Lismore’s unique design.

Being small and circular in shape, with no real straightaways to speak of and having little to no banking meant that finding a place to pass was always going to come as a challenge.

Ultimately, after the shootout, McHugh sat on the pole with Oldfield starting on his outside for the 35-lap A-main. Justin Sanders would begin the race in third.

Oldfield made the best of the start, racing away from McHugh and quickly building a sizeable gap before the race’s first yellow flag flew on lap 3 for Cody Maroske, who had spun in the middle of turns three and four.

Oldfield again got a great jump on the restart but began to catch the back of the field within two laps. McHugh played this to his advantage, sweeping under Oldfield as he tried to negotiate lapped traffic in turn three on lap 6 and storming into the lead.

Mchugh took a commanding lead, making quick work of the lapped by using the outside line to slingshot past.

The race would take a dramatic turn with 17 laps remaining when early leader Oldfield found himself out of the race after colliding with the turn one wall. He was running second at the time.

Mchugh got away brilliantly on the subsequent restart from a now 2nd-placed Brock Hallett, but it amounted to nothing as the caution lights came on again, this time for a spun Harry Delamont.

On the next restart, McHugh again rocketed away from the field and began to catch traffic within three laps.

In the laps that followed, Hallet, Sanders and Marcus Dumesny found themselves in a thrilling battle for positions second through fourth, with that pack remaining within striking distance of McHugh.

A brilliant drive for Dumesny (who had started the race in 8th position) unravelled with nine laps remaining when he rolled his car onto its side after hooking a rut whilst attempting to pass Sanders on the outside of turn two for third.

Dumesny was able to restart the race at the rear of the field, but with severe damage being sustained to the top wing of the Australian champions machine, all his hopes for a decent finish were dashed.

McHugh got away on the restart once again, but it would only take two laps for the yellow flag to fly again, this time for Anthony Vanderreyden, who had spun in turn 4.

This would set the scene for the race’s final restart and one of the most dramatic finishes to a Sprintcar race you will ever see.

As he had done all race long, McHugh sped away from the chasing field, building up a strong lead in a few laps.

The race would take another dramatic turn on the last lap as McHugh encountered a group of lapped cars. Unable to navigate a way past, McHugh’s once comfortable lead evaporated to nothing as Hallet and Sanders closed in rapidly.

Coming to the chequered flag, Hallet worked alongside McHugh but didn’t quite get the momentum he needed, finishing just 0.063 of a second behind. Sanders rounded out the podium placings, only finishing a car length behind the lead duo.

In a town that only a few short months ago was mostly underwater due to being severely impacted by devastating floods (This included the race track itself!), this event was a much-needed morale boost to the local Lismore community, and everyone involved in putting this event together and making it the great success it was deserves to be congratulated for their tireless efforts.

The NSW- QLD States series now heads north across the NSW-QLD border to Toowoomba’s Hi-Tec oils Speedway for Friday and Saturday night’s Red Hot Summer Shootout.