2002 Nats photosA description of the Nationals Bendix Race held at Albury/Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian state border, commencing December 2002.


1.  West Australians Jim Stivey and Richard Bellis with their 'Shoestring' racer.

2.  Andrew Heath and his OPS powered 'Sparrowhawk'.

3.  Queensland's John Taylor with Super Tigre.34 powered racer.

4.  And the winner for the second year in a row, Bob Fry with his record breaking 'Shoestring'.

5.  John Hallowell piloting 'Nemesis' in company with Bob Fry and Jim Stivey.

Nine teams lined up to race in ideal conditions. Contest Director Ken Hunting completed all the safety checks and soon the event was underway. The head to head battle between the top teams from W.A., QLD, VIC & NSW was much anticipated. This was somewhat dampened when the McDermott Shark was withdrawn during practice with engine failure.  Mark is as keen as mustard about his Bendix racers. To come all that way from Ipswich and not be able to fly against the others was a real kick in the guts.

Defending champs Bob Fry and Alasdair Taylor came from even further across the country and really set the ball rolling with a top gun like 3.22.86 with their big case Nelson and Shoestring combination.

The Keith Baddock built Nemesis was expected to really challenge the W.A. champs. It had a slight edge on speed but blew a plug in the first heat. The pressure was on in round two. Keith and John responded and a FTD and new heat record of 3.22. This time beat the old heat record of 3.22.55 set last year by Bob & Alasdair. Only 10ths of a second separated the top two teams. It showed just how close the racing was

The evergreen dynamic duo of Tony Bonello and Andrew Heath were always going to have a big say in the composition of the final, particularly with McDermott watching from the fence. The OPS 'Sparrowhawk' was sounding great and flying fast and smooth. Their first round 3.33 meant that the other teams were under the pump. The pressure was on. Who was going to crack?

Junior champ and Top Gun test pilot Murray Wilson flew sensationally well in his first ever flights of a big Bendix with a Nelson 29. With a few more laps and a bit more speed, the potential of this model could be realised. Perhaps a N.36 is the answer. Murray's smooth landings gave chief mechanic Mark Ellins an armchair ride in the pits. Dad's position as a future Bendix handle holder may well be in jeopardy.

Another big hope was Queensland's John Taylor. His Super Tigre.34 motor had the necessary grunt and he had John Hunting flying for him. They made the final last year but could only manage a best of 3.40 this time. Richard Bellis and Jim Stivey flew well and were consistent, but lacked the outright speed of the other W.A. team. Jim was always smiling, so at least we know he was having a good time.

Jim and Colin Ray were there waiting for any slipups from the more fancied combinations. This time it didn't happen. I'd like to see a Nelson in the nose of their Ray Cote Shoestring. Peter Camps and Nowra Nats winner Ian Gapps enjoyed the event, but they know you've got to post a time of well under 4 minutes, or it's a case of helping out with the lap counting while the 160 lap dash takes place.

The final was a cracker. In fact you could say it exploded for Keith and John when they blew a plug at the first stop. The Jim Stivey video replay showed they lost at least 15 laps and any chance of a record breaking win. That's what happens when you race on the ragged edge! At least the Nemesis managed to pass the Shoestring... a small airspeed victory of some sorts... but the major honours were again the property of Bob and Alasdair. A smashing win in an amazing 6.54.31, a time that blew the old record to pieces. Alasdair's pitwork was superb, with good catching and fast restarts. They really deserve to hold the title of 'Captain Bendix' for the next 14 months. Bonello / Heath soldiered on but needed more mph to threaten this race. Tony was heard to say after the race that it might be time to consider using a Nelson engine... However, I think Andrew would prefer to further develop the existing OPS setup. Let's see what happens. Roll on the 57th Nats at Busselton, WA.

Results of Bendix Team Race at the 2002/3 Albury Nationals:

1. Fry / Taylor 3.22.86 3.59.90 **6.54.31

2. Hallowell / Baddock 3.59.59 *3.22.37 7.33.52

3. Bonello / Heath 3.33.43 69 laps 7.55.11

4. Hunting / Taylor 3.40.16 4.17.28

5. Camps / Gapps 3.57.97 72 laps

6. Bellis / Stivey 4.40.61 4.14.60

7. Wilson / Ellins 4.36.97 4.24.41

8. Ray / Ray 4.27.20 4.29.00

9. Justic / McDermott DNS DNS

* new heat record

** new final record

John Hallowell
VH 1984.

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