KEN Willsher always enjoyed going big and the tribute race being organised in his honour will be no different.
The Ken Willsher Classic, which will run at Laang Speedway on April 27, is the biggest event in the history of Formula 500 racing in Victoria and at the late father-of-four’s home speedway.
The newly created event is also now the richest in the history of the class, with $5,000 on the line for the win and $400 to start the feature.
Ken, a life member of the Victorian and Australian Formula 500 Associations, sadly passed away from a heart attack in June 2018, leaving behind his family – wife Cheryl, 52, and four children Brett, 32, Kylie, 31, Melissa, 29, and Stephanie, 28, – and an everlasting legacy the sport’s association felt it needed to honour.
The former Laang Speedway president had a successful racing career, including five Victorian F500 Titles – the first of which was in 1985 and the last in 2005 – one Tasmanian title, two South Australian titles, two Jack Willsher Cups, four Drivers Series Championships (now Speedweek) and a two-time runner-up in the Australian Title.
“The Victorian (Formula 500) Association came to us with an idea and we had a incline that somebody may have wanted to to something,” Cheryl said of the process behind the creation of the event.
“We had a few ideas and we sat down and had a meeting and it all started from there.”
Cheryl knew the event would eventually come but she didn’t anticipate how quickly the idea would gain traction.
“With Ken being such a prominent person in speedway in the district we thought there would be something to happen in the future and we weren’t really sure when or what time frame it was going to take place,” she said.
“But it all happened fairly quickly and we (her family) had a bit of a chat and put down a few of our ideas down.
“The things we discussed was obviously the venue and the time of year and we thought it deserved to be a stand-alone race and that forced us to find a suitable date.
“That happened to be April 27, which Laang had programmed Formula 500s on that meeting but it hadn’t been confirmed what they were going to be doing that night but they were open to it happening on that date and it evolved from there.”
Cheryl said she and her family were jumping on the ride to see where the event, which has already attracted a large amount of interest and support, could end up.
“Not quite sure (where the race will go in the future). we will see how this year goes and see whether it becomes an annual event,” the 52-year-old said.
“We will just wait and see how we feel after it and just process it after that.”
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