Compiled and remembered by Sarah Dunston-Wilhelms with additions by Pete Wilhelms
Mid to late ‘90s
The very beginnings of our quad club began within the Trike and Odyssey Racing Club (TORC). Victorian quad enthusiasts had nowhere to ride and race or even socialise with other quad riders. The TORC club did their best to accommodate us, running meetings at various locations around the state. But there were no rules in place to follow – not yet. Neither the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) nor Motorcycling Australia (MA) knew just what to make of “quadcycles”, and as such, our racing with TORC was unstructured and uninsured. Then one ordinary race afternoon at the old Blue Rock Track, TORC Secretary Mark Beechey gathered together the dozen or so quad riding TORC members to float the idea of starting “our own club”. I remember the excitement in everyone’s voices as Mark told us all about how popular quads are in America and all the different quad racing disciplines. We exchanged ideas and voiced our hopes and expectations, and that ordinary afternoon became the point we now look back on as the birth of quad racing here in Victoria.
The following year (1997), those same TORC club quad riders, along with any other quad riders we each knew of, gathered together for a black-flag meeting at a small track in Hallam’s industrial area. We ran a few races, although it was a strange collection of miss-matched machines ranging from an old Kawasaki farm quad, right through to a highly worked Suzuki LTZ. But the one thing that united us all was our love for quads and an enthusiasm to see quad racing started in Victoria. We continued to meet up regularly, a raggedy group of just 11 members. But the success of that first small meeting in Hallam, led Mark Beechey to begin the formalities of creating The Quad Riders Club of Victoria, officially beginning in 2000.
From those very humble beginnings, we launched our first motocross series as a support class, attending meetings run by other motocross clubs including Colac, Cobram, Werribee and Ballarat. Our first “Victorian State ATV MX Champion” was Anthony Maddalon on a dealership-sponsored ’99 Yamaha Banshee. Craig Spiers took that title from him in 2001, and then successfully defended it in 2002, on his ’88 model Honda 250R.
Beechey was always on the look out for opportunities to let us be seen by the wider motorcycle community; to recruit new club members and spread the word about our unique sport. Yarrive Konsky provided the chance to be included in his very popular ThumperX series, which drew large crowds and gave us a big publicity boost. We had just a single open Senior class and a Junior 90s class in that series.
Year by year, our membership base soared and we had to add more and more classes. It wasn’t long before our numbers grew to the point where we could no longer be the support classes in someone else’s meetings – and so Beechey found the Viper Club, a small vintage MX club in decline which provided us with the support classes to begin running our own motocross meetings in partnership with them.
In his endless quest for promotion and growth, Beechey arranged with Yamaha Australia to invite American quad TT legend Tim Farr to Victoria to help launch Yamaha’s new YFZ450. Farr stayed long enough to help conduct our first ever motocross ride school, a two-day intensive coaching course for seniors and juniors. Beechey also organized Australia’s very first Quad Nationals, held on a natural terrain track in Scoresby in Melbourne’s outer east. Farr easily walked away with the title of course, but it was the first national quad event to be held in Australia and attracted riders from as far as Western Australia, Tasmania and even New Zealand, all keen to meet and race along side the great Tim Farr. It was also the first quad event that our very own quad superstar Paul Smith started at (he just happened to be pitted beside Pete & Sarah Wilhelms. A fateful coincidence that sparked the beginning of Paul & Pete’s racing partnership).
Trail riding with the club began in 2003, with organised rides through private properties around Dargo, Yarram, and Mansfield. It quickly gained popularity and we began to see a natural divide in the club: the motocrossers, and the bush riders.
The QRCV donated $1500 worth of riding gear and merchandise to “Brendan”, a local youth with a love of quads, who was suffering from Leukaemia. We also organised and ran a family ride day at Delhuntie Park in Trafalgar to enable Brendan to ride with the club.
Victor Bonacci successfully campaigned to get quads included in two rounds of the Victorian Off Road Championship (VORC). This was the first time our members experienced sprints and cross-country racing on quads. It had a strong following, with 15 riders stepping up to the challenge. Overall winners after the two rounds were Stephen Cooper 1st, Steve Wood 2nd, and Scott Stevens 3rd. A total of six VORC rounds were opened up to us the following year.
Sarah Wilhelms successfully campaigned for our first Womens class, which was then split the following year into Womens Expert and Womens Novice classes. Almost half of these women were travelling over from South Australia, just to compete in our series.
By 2004, as much as a third of our members interstater, travelling to Victoria to compete with our club, most from South Australia and New South Wales. The QRCV had become widely regarded as the national leader in quad sport development; the club that other state clubs looked up to. Our club membership base peaked in 2004 at just over 300 members.
Many of our members enjoyed success at a myriad of events across the country. We hosted another ATV MX Nationals, this one was held at the Korrumburra track in Outtrim. In the Pro class, Paul Smith claimed 2nd, with Adam Siemensma 4th and Luke Beechey 5th. At The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs, Paul Smith finished 2nd.
The QRCV donated $1500 towards the purchase of a bi-pap oxygen machine for “Alysha” a local youth awaiting a heart and lung transplant.
Our trail and social riders had another very full calendar this year, and the committee role of Social Secretary was split into a sub-committee of three to help lighten the load. Club members enjoyed many recreational weekends at Stump Hill in Mansfield and trail riding adventures through Yarram, as well as our popular annual Sandfest holiday at Kingston dunes.
Rick Beer started the QRCV’s domination of Class 9 at the Finke Desert Race with a solid win.
The QRCV again hosted The Quad Grand National MX, this time in Wonthaggi. Luke Beechey was back to claim 2nd in the Pro class, and Adam Siemensma took 3rd. For our 8 round state series, this years Pro class winners were Luke Beechey 1st, Adam Siemensma 2nd, Paul Smith 3rd.
Luke Beechey travelled to the USA to compete in 2 rounds of the GNC Series; claiming 2nd in 4 Stroke B Class and 3rd in 4 Stroke Production class at the Unadilla Circuit, and 2nd in 4 Stroke Production Class at Loretta Lynn’s in Tennessee.
The QRCV donated $1000 to Luke Beechey for his 2006 American GNC campaign.
Many of our interstate members competing in all 8 rounds of our club series (known as the Victorian Super Series 8) travelled from as far away as Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland. Pro class winners this year were Paul Smith 1st, Adam Siemensma 2nd, and Jy Stokes 3rd.
Luke Beechey remained in the USA for the 2006 race season, competing against America’s best. He returned to Australia in time for The ATV MX Nationals, held for the first time outside Victoria, at Wanneroo in WA, and claimed 3rd in the Pro Class.
Paul Smith won Production Class at the ATV MX Nationals in Wanneroo WA. He finished 4th at The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs, and also travelled to America to claim 7th in the 4 Stroke B class at the Budds Creek circuit.
Rodney Scale won the Quad class at the Finke Desert Race ahead of Rick Beer.
The QRCV ran a number of fundraisers throughout the year to assist in the purchase of a quad for “Gabriella”, a 2-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. The quad (approx donation $3000) allowed her parents to transport her around their farm so she could be by their side for the full-time care she requires.
The Victorian State MX Titles were run as a two-day single event for the first time, meaning that the state titles were separated from our club series for the first time ever. The event drew the largest amount of interstate riders to date, largely due to the fact that it was run on the same track to host the Nationals later that year, the Maffra-Sale Club circuit, thereby giving riders a warm up to the Nat’s. It was also the first time that we did not have any club members on the Pro podium. Our 8 round club series ended with Paul Smith 1st, Aaron Ovens 2nd and Anthony Delios 3rd for the Pro’s.
A very successful finish for QRCV at The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs, with Paul Smith 1st, Aaron Ovens 2nd, and Brett Clissold 3rd – all mounted on Suzuki LTR’s: the weapon of choice for the ‘07 season.
The 8 rounds of our closed-to-club motocross series, now dubbed “The State 8”, incorporated a three round inter-club sub-series cup named “The Tri-State Series” with rounds in Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT. The Pro class podium for the Tri-States Cup was Luke Beechey 1st, Aaron Ovens 2nd, and Anthony Delios 3rd. State 8 winners were ??
A new ATV offroad event was also introduced this year, the Thumb Pump 300, run by 47industries. The inaugural 300 km race was held near Ouyen in NW Victoria and attraced riders from all over the country. Daryl Watson was the best placed QRCV member with a 1st place in the ironman class while Pete Wilhelms placed 2nd in the 4×4 category. The team Beer Van duo of Rick Beer and Rob Van Vliet held out for 2nd place in the teams class ahead of the unlikely combination of Chris Marks and Darren Schnoor. Jeanette Lindsay took the top spot in the Ironwoman category with Vicky Eden in 3rd
The ATV MX Nationals were held in Smithton Tasmania, but it was the West-Australians who took the top three spots in the Pro class.
Once again, QRCV members cover the podium at The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs, with Paul Smith in 1st, Luke Beechey 2nd and Rick Beer 3rd . Aaron Ovens finished 5th.
The world-renowned Australasian Safari, having moved to WA, accepted quad entries for the first time this year. QRCV members Paul Smith and Lincoln Marks finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
American GNC champ Joe Byrd visited Australia to run an MX school in Darwin and also at Ararat for our club.
Mitch Van Vliet took the top honours in the Thumb Pump 300 taking the outright win as well as the Pro 450 Class and Brett Clissold stood on the top step of the podium in the Mens Open class. Rick and Rob again claimed 2nd in the teams class.
Former QRCV member Luke Beechey won The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs, and Paul Smith close behind in 2nd . Brett Clissold and Cameron Wade took 4th and 5th.
Paul Smith claimed 2nd in The Australasian Safari in WA against some top level, overseas competitors.
The Pro winners of our four round club MX series, were Cam Wade 1st, Rick Beer 2nd, and Mitch Van Vliet 3rd.
Cameron Wade was the only Victorian to make it onto the Pro podium of our Tri-State series, with West-Australian riders taking the top two spots.
Cam Wade also stood on the top spot for the Thumb Pump 300 in the Pro 450 Class (and Outright) with Aaron Ovens in 2nd While Luke Beechey and Paul Smith went 1st and 2nd in Mens Open. Rick Beer and Rob Van Vliet finally cracked a win in the teams division and Aaron Ovens also took a 2nd in the first running of the Highbeam 100 night race while Pete Wilhelms was the only other QRCV Member to finish the night time event, coming home in 6th.
Another successful year for us at The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs, with Luke Beechey once again taking the top spot, and our Victorian boys Paul Smith, Aaron Ovens and Cameron Wade each taking 4th, 5th and 6th respectfully.
Over in WA, Paul Smith won The Australasian Safari on a Honda 700XX.
Our four round club MX series had Pro’s Mitch Van Vliet 1st, Adam Siemensma 2nd and Jake Van Vliet 3rd.
At the Thumb Pump 300 festival Adam Larson took the outright win and Pro 450 Class ahead of Cam Wade while Luke Beechey again took out the Mens Open Class, Jeanette Lindsay won the Womens class for the second time. Jake Van Vliet and Adam Siemensma took out the teams class ahead of Jono Wade and Ray Cole while Ben Wade made short work of the Junior 300cc race with Michael Beer in 3rd and Pete Wilhelms managed 4th in the Highbeam 100 event.
Paul Smith, Jake Van Vliet, Mitch Van Vliet and Rick Beer all had Top 10 finishes at The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs.
Jake Van Vliet took out the top spot in the Pro class of our three round club MX series, ahead of Mitch Van Vliet in 2nd, and Adam Larson 3rd.
The QRCV ran two club Enduros. A two-day event at Broadford, consisting of a cross-country and sprints, had outright winners Liam Glover 1st, Pete Wilhelms 2nd, and Jackson Evans 3rd.
Jake Van Vliet also topped the Pro podium at our Victorian State MX Titles, with Cam Wade 2nd and Mitch Van Vliet 3rd.
At the Thumb Pump 300 Robinsons dominated the Junior classes with Aidan taking out the 125 class and Kellan the 300’s. Mitch Van Vliet was 2nd in the Highbeam 100 while Cam Wade and Adam Larson were 2nd and 3rd in the Pro 450 Class. Darran Paulo just snuck onto the Mens Open podium having to push his quad across the line.
The QRCV hosted the Australian ATV MX Nationals at Maffra, with our own Mitch Van Vliet taking 3rd in the Pro class for that round, although no Victorians made the series podium.
Our Victorians showed up en masse at the South Australian ATV State titles, hosted by The Quadriders Association of SA at ACUSA Park in the Adelaide Hills. Of the six Championship Titles to be contested, QRCV members walked away with five, as well as two 2nd places! Jake Van Vliet took the top honours.
Paul Smith once again wins The Australasian Safari on his Honda 700XX, as a warm up to his Dakar debut in January 2013. Jason Lucas, our only other club member competing, came home in 4th.
Mitch Van Vliet, Paul Smith and Brett Clissold took out 3rd, 4th & 5th place at The Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs, which this year split the very popular quad category into two classes.
The QRCV donated $1000 to Paul Smith for his 2013 Dakar campaign.
Paul Smith finished 7th overall in the quad division of The Dakar Rally in South America, as well as winning stage 11 of the Rally. Smith was the first ever Australian quad rider to compete in the world-famous Dakar Rally, and the first Aussie (on 2 or 4 wheels) to achieve a stage-victory since the late Andy Caldecott back in 2008. Smittys Dakar campaign was, of course supported by our own Pete Wilhelms, who spent a month in South America to keep Pauls TRX700XX going throughout the event.
Aidan and Kellan Robinson again dominated the junior categories at the Thumb Pump Festival taking out the 125 and 300 class respectively, Cooper Van Vliet brought home 3rd in the 300 class.
Keeh Bradfield was our top runner in the Open class with 4th while Rick Beer took out the Vets Class. Cam Wade and Ray Cole smashed the teams class ahead of Jono Wade and Liam Glover while Pete Wilhems got his first Highbeam 100 podium with a 2nd place.
The Finke Desert Race Class 9 was again won by a QRCV member, Mitch Van Vliet taking top honours with another Van Vliet brother, Harry, in 3rd. Brett Clissold again was in the mix with 5th in class 9 while Rick Beer was 5th in Class 10 (Quads over 40)
The QRCV also ran its first offroad enduro series with 3 rounds, Won outright by Liam Glover with Pete Wilhelms in 2nd and Rick Beer in 3rd.
The QRCV created a replacement event for the traditional Thumbpump 300 that was held over Easter with the Sea Lake Slam taking over as a 2 day desert style cross country ( it was also 1 of 3 offroad rounds) The series was won outright by Pete Wilhelms ahead of Keegan Ballantyne
Mitch Van Vliet went back to back at Finke taking his 2nd Class 9 win becoming the third club member to have won the event twice in a row.
The MX Nationals came back to Vic again for 2014, this time with the help of the Horsham MCC, and Mitch Van Vliet became Victoria’s first official Pro ATV MX Champion