Following last week’s announcement of David Murcott departing from the Victory Lane Racegear 410 Sprintcar team, we caught up with team owner Mathew Eastham earlier today.
With the future all up in the air in regard to a replacement driver for the upcoming 2020-21 season and beyond, we spoke to Eastham, to get his top-five highlights of the Victory Lane Racegear team from the past 16 years of the team’s existence.
The inaugural running of the $5,000 to win Bill Wigzell Battle of the Bridge at Murray Bridge Speedway (SA) in 2008 turned out to be Eastham’s first major win, and the driver on the night was Western Australian livewire Ryan Farrell.
“We had been running a limited schedule since starting the team four seasons earlier, so we were far from an established team,” explained Eastham.
“Ryan (Farrell) had been running with us on a part-time basis and for him to fly in and then drive to our first major win was something really special to our whole team.”
Photo: Dean Miller
President’s Cup Success
Stephen Bell and the Victory Lane Racegear team romped to an impressive victory in the 2011 running of the President’s Cup at Geelong’s Avalon Raceway (Vic).
“This is without a doubt the biggest win in the team’s 16 years of racing so far,” a proud Eastham expressed.
“The President’s Cup is one of the most prestigious events on the season calendar and always attracts a solid field, which includes quality American drivers, and the 2011 running of the event was certainly no different.”
Photo: Corey Gibson Photography
Australian Championship Podium
Darwin’s Northline Speedway (NT) host the 2010 Australian 410 Sprintcar Championship and it saw Bell come away from the weekend with a second-place finish behind a young James McFadden.
“This was our first big trip interstate and, to be quite honest, the goal for the weekend was to just make the final night’s feature race,” commented Eastham, who that year had Darren Hickman drive the team’s transporter up to Northline Speedway for the event.
“For Belly to not only qualify into the feature race but to finish on the podium was a remarkable achievement and something I’m very proud of.”
Photo: Paris Charles
Apart from the President’s Cup victory in 2011, the Victory Lane Racegear team were no strangers to success at Avalon Raceway.
“Although we haven’t done a whole lot of racing at Avalon Raceway in recent seasons, we have always performed strong there – no matter who we have had driving for us,” Eastham said.
“There has been Belly winning the President’s Cup, but also he dead heated with Robbie Farr for the win there in the 2012 Victorian Title, we won the 2015 Victorian Title there with Daniel Pestka, and picked up an Avalon Raceway Track Championship with Pestka, too.”
Murcott Goes Back-to-Back
In the seasons of 2017-18 and 2018-19, the Victorian Title was held at Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway, and it saw Murcott and the Victory Lane Racegear team score back-to-back wins.
“To win successive Victorian Titles at Premier Speedway and have local hero Jamie Veal finish second on both occasions is something that I’m very proud of,” remarked Eastham, who has so far picked up five Victorian Title wins, two with both Murcott and Bell and a single win with Pestka.
“What made it even more satisfying was the fact both of Murcott’s wins were when Jamie (Veal) was in top form, so when you can beat him fair and square, you know you have well and truly earned it.”
Photo: Corey Gibson Photography
Victory Lane Racegear Driver Roster:
David Murcott (Vic)
Stephen Bell (Vic)
Jamie Veal (Vic)
Matthew Reed (Vic)
Daniel Pestka (SA)
Trevor Green (SA)
Ryan Farrell (WA)
Erin Crocker (USA)
Daryn Pittman (USA)
David Gravel (USA)
Greg Hodnett (USA - RIP)