A SUMMER spent on dirt tracks across Victoria continues to reap rewards for Chris Bellman.
The Purnim formula 500 driver received a late-season accolade when Speedway Victoria officials crowned him their 2013-14 aggregate series victor.
The series was contested at four meetings during the summer, at Simpson, Laang, Avalon and Horsham, with points awarded based on A main placings.
Bellman, 19, finished with 71 points for a win and three thirds. He beat Warrnambool’s Shane van Duynhoven (52) and Bannockburn’s Andrew Rae (50).
The accolade, which he received at Hamilton on the weekend, made amends for what had been an otherwise up-and-down second season in the class.
Bellman was third in the Jettco series, eighth in Speedweek and down the standings after a stop-start Victorian Stampede Series.
“I didn’t go out to contest the (Speedway Victoria) series as such. I knew there were a couple of rounds I had been to,” he said.
“When I did get invited, I knew I’d placed in it but I didn’t think I’d won it. Shane van Duynhoven and Andrew Rae both had pretty good years.
“But I’ll take it any day. I had a pretty good year, not as good as the previous year. We had a few things go wrong and maybe under-prepared some meetings.”
Bellman, who turned heads with his Speedweek results during his rookie season in 2012-13, said car troubles were behind his modest return last summer.
But he believed he had improved as a driver, particularly considering he had become one of the drivers to catch rather than a fresh-faced unknown.
“In terms of my own driving I think I’ve taken steps forward in some places and gone backwards in others,” he said.
“I definitely had a lot of pressure on myself to try and do well ... obviously I pushed that on myself and made it worse.
“I put a lot of effort in to trying to be really smooth on a slick track, which is where I’ve struggled the most (in the past). I definitely improved there.
“But I’ve gone backwards under pressure, whereas last year I didn’t care. That was a confidence thing.”
Formula 500 commitments have taken a back seat to playing football with Panmure during winter, but thoughts of this summer are never far from the mind.
Bellman said he wanted to “stay consistent, run in the top 10 or top five of every meeting and win a couple”, with Speedweek his biggest priority.
He credited his crew — chief Chad Sullivan, parents Roy and Ros Bellman, girlfriend Karli Pyke and Michael McDonald and John Dawes — with his success.
Bellman was one of a handful of south-west drivers who earned recognition at the Speedway Victoria presentation night.
Among other class results, Allansford’s Jack Bell was second in the junior sedans series, while Cobden’s Rhys Baxter was second in the wingless sprints series.