Speedway star McLeod sits out race

BEN McLeod is known throughout speedway and yet has never driven on his “home” track at the Rockhampton Showgrounds.

In 2007 McLeod was the Australian number one in Formula 500s and that is no small achievement as the class of racer is well patronised.

Even though the Formula 500s are the feature class at this Saturday's meeting, McLeod will not be one of the 22 starters as he is waiting for the arrival of a new vehicle from America.

Instead McLeod will be sitting in the grandstand as his parents are sponsors of the Formula 500 Rocky Resort Stampede.

It is the opening round of the series and McLeod believes the Rockhampton public are in for a treat.

“They are good fun,” he said.

“They are a little bigger than the Midgets; they are like a scaled-down sprintcar.”

McLeod won the Australian title at Maryborough but does most of his racing in Victoria.

Little wonder as all the competitors in this class are from outside Rockhampton, the nearest being from Gladstone.

Although McLeod has raced against most of the drivers who will attend this meeting, he is reluctant to name anyone as a pre-race favourite.

“They'll be out to get each other,” he promised.

When pressed, McLeod did name Garry Hart as one to beat.

Another who has nominated for the series opener is Nathan Pronger, who should know what the track offers as he was runner-up when the Formula 500s came to Rockhampton last year.

McLeod explained that the Formula 500s were a light machine weighing just 240 to 260kg and most had either a Kawasaki or Yamaha RX 600cc motor under the bonnet.

Despite being a small vehicle they do generate a fair bit of grunt and will be extremely quick around the small Showgrounds track.

Rockhampton Saloon Car Club publicity officer Mark Hogan agrees the Rockhampton public is in for a treat on Saturday.

“They are a very fast, purpose-built race car,” he said.

Hogan said the drivers nominated for the opening round of the series will be coming to Rockhampton from as far away as Cairns to Brisbane.

Once upon a time, Hogan said, this class of racing was a “backyard mechanic's” dream - but that is far from the case today.

“Now they have a proper chassis and it is all very professional,” he said.

  • There is a great opportunity to get to know more about these small speed machines before the big night.

Tonight at Arnold's Advanced Tyres on Musgrave Street there will be a big screen and race footage on display while tomorrow the Formula 500s hit Rockhampton.

During the day there will be plenty happening at Rocky Resort Motor Inn, Gladstone Road, with a mobile barbecue and signage while in the evening some of the cars will be on display at Arnold's Advanced Tyres, and that will be a chance to meet the drivers.

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