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CJR Torco Trio at Toowoomba's 10 for 10
February 15, 2014

A selection of the world's best Midget car drivers converged on Toowoomba last Friday and Saturday night for the inaugural 10 for 10 two-night show ($10,000 for 10 miles 42 laps) and CJR Motorsport was there in force with three Torco cars nominated on the entry list.

It was an immense feeling of satisfaction for CJR team owner Colin Bell and the CJR team to be a part of proceedings for the national anthems and watch all three CJR cars as they rumbled around the 'Speedbowl' in honor; representing three different countries. Images and footage went viral on Facebook but this was just one of many highlights for CJR during the event.

Flying the American flag in the #USA82 Breka/Toyota was ex POWRi Midget champion Andrew Felker, piloting the #NZ1 Breka/Toyota was Michael Pickens who is six-time New Zealand Midget champion and round four winner of the World POWRi Midget championship and representing Australia in the #Q82 Breka/Mopar was VIC and SA Midget Car state title holder Brendan Palmer.

Competition on Friday night comprised of Time Trials (TT), three heats and a Preliminary Feature. Michael got off to a blinding start; he clocked fifth in TT's with a 14.355s on the heavy track and then won all his heats. In his third heat he came from the rear to slingshot into first just inches from the concrete wall countless times, thrilling spectators. Andrew advanced through the field to finish third, second and sixth trying many different racing lines in the process. Brendan's car developed a misfire during his second heat so he and the crew chased gremlins for the remainder of the night; his heat results a fourth, a DNF and a second place finish.

The 20-lap Preliminary Feature ran an inverted format which saw the fastest starting from the rear – Michael Pickens. Andrew launched from 16th and Brendan was to start from 10th but decided to preserve the car and pulled to the infield just prior to the start.

The CJR highlight of the weekend was this drive that Michael put in during this feature; ridiculously quick and insanely fast he sliced through the middle of the pack and within two laps had taken the lead. He lapped up to fifth before the first caution light came on with eight-to-go, dominated off that restart and again pulled away from the field off the next restart, but with five laps remaining he blew a diff and handed the lead to the American Jerry Coons JNR. Andrew put in a great drive through traffic to advance an almighty 13 positions and finish a credible third place on the podium.

Night-two, Saturday night, the wind blew up and competitors headed out to do battle on a very wet and slick track, it was just as well because it retained moisture throughout the night as the wind began to howl. All three CJR cars ended up drawing the same two remaining heats together. Michael won the first, Andrew the second and Brendan overcame electrical issues to finish with a second and a fourth (starting from ninth in that final heat). At the conclusion of heat racing, it was the Kiwi who held second highest in points, the American was in fourth and our Aussie sat just outside the top ten in eleventh.

Both Pickens and Felker made the Top Ten Shootout which ran as a TT format. Michael was fastest and so started the Main Event from pole position, Andrew would start from fourth and Brendan from 10th. The Feature ran flag to flag for the 42 laps, Jerry Coons JNR took the lead in the opening stages but Michael quickly rebutted and reclaimed the number one spot. It was around lap five that he overshot turn four, had to correct and lost a heap of momentum which allowed Jerry to sail on by. Michael had enough of a lead to salvage second place and that's where he eventually finished after battling it out with 2013 Australian Midget Car champion Nathan Smee for 35 laps or so. Andrew fought traffic and had is own battle with American Alex Bright which was thrilling to watch. Very versatile he was able to put the car where he wanted to and brought the #USA82 home in fifth. Brendan made it up to fifth position before having to pull infield around lap 20 with mechanical issues.

Colin Bell and the promoter of the Toowoomba Speedbowl, Allan Woods, instigated this inaugural event and worked in with officials make it happen. Colin said it was a very successful race meeting, the drivers and cars the best you could get anywhere. "The drivers were good, they competed without major incident and all seemed happy, they enjoyed it and everyone got paid," he continued.

Already the event is set to grow in 2015, all the sponsors have pledged again but this time many are wanting to contribute even more next year.

CJR Motorsport sincerely thanks Serco/Torco for all you've contributed in making our two-car campaign possible for the Australian rounds of the Inaugural POWRi World Midget Championship and also in running three cars in the inaugural 10 for 10 at Toowoomba. We greatly appreciate your continued support.

CJR Motorsport is ringing its Bell after POWRi Win

Two of America's best Midget Car drivers joined forces with CJR Motorsport for the Australian sector of the inaugural POWRi World Midget Championship and the team are still celebrating the round eight win last night at the 'Bullring' in Lismore as Christopher Bell 'held it pinned' in the #USA2 Breka/Toyota to take the top spot on the podium while Andrew Felker had a dog-fight on his hands to bring the #USA82 Breka/Toyota home for a top ten finish.

The USA young gun from Oklahoma, Christopher Bell, shook off a string of second place finishes and was ecstatic after his win last night.

"The track was really nice and track position was real big tonight so thankfully I was able to get enough points last night and be able to start up front and take advantage of it. We've had a really good Australia trip, I've run second every night so it felt good to finally get a win for the team 'cause they really deserved it," he said.

Christopher finished second on both nights at the previous rounds in Brisbane last weekend and second in Friday night's preliminary feature race in Lismore. Sixth fastest in Time Trials facilitated his point's package and as he progressed through the heats, gathered enough momentum to make the Top 8 Shootout where again, he finished a haunting second.

In the opening stages of last night's 40-lap feature, Bell fought with pole sitter, New Zealander Brad Mosen, who had cleaned up on night one but after taking the lead, Christopher was able to pick and choose his line through lapped traffic on a multiple-lane race track. As in Brisbane, caution lights deprived him of the extended lead he'd built but like a champion, he drove his own race and didn't falter.

'Missouri Missile' Andrew Felker diced-it-up mid pack with Jerry Coons JNR and Alex Bright (who had transferred from the B-Main) and it was hard to take your eyes off this high-speed trio as they exchanged position countless times. After clocking fifth fastest in Time Trials, Felker's night-one didn't go according to plan. He DNF'd in two of his heats and came home eleventh in the Preliminary feature so the crew rallied to chase set-up for night two and changed almost everything except for the driver. Andrew narrowly missed out on making the Top 8 Shootout, if he'd have finished one of those two heats the previous night, he may even have made the top four.

Collectively, the CJR Motorsport team held its breath for the final two laps of the Feature as Bell emerged through lapped traffic to find Felker next in line. Oblivious to his clear lead, Christopher stayed hard on the charge but Felker was just as determined to win his own battle; not knowing Chris was right on his tail.

The twin Torco Breka/Toyotas screamed in protest as these two demanded everything on offer. Both nearly came unstuck, bouncing through the rough in turns one and two then almost swapping wheels through a very fast three and four but the CJR pair were saved by the chequered flag; crossing the finish line virtually side-by-side.

Night one post-mortem, Felker's crew uncovered a bent shock, a bent torsion arm and heims; damage done in the two heats he DNF'd. They took a gamble on tyres and set up for the feature and Andrew conceded that starting that far back you just have to go for it. He moved up to sixth on the first lap but the remainder of the race proved otherwise.

"I had a good car up top and I thought the bottom would come in sooner, well it never even got there. We gambled and went to the bottom a couple of times and it cost us three or four spots. It didn't work out for us tonight but the crew gave me a good car and hopefully it will be better for Toowoomba," said an optimistic Felker.

CJR Motorsport team owner Colin Bell is very satisfied with all that's been achieved after the effort that's gone in to bringing Andrew and Christopher over from the US and providing a racing package that's worthy of their talents. Colin has raced for over twenty years and it's taken a lot to elevate the team's profile to the heights it's enjoying now.

"We do it because we love racing and this is something we needed to do; it's a great achievement. It's taken a lot of effort to get to this level and we now have, arguably, the best Midget Car team in Australia and we're rated very highly in the world," said Colin.

"We couldn't have done it without the help of Rick and Kylie Dryden (of Dryden Signs in Brisbane) they've made it possible for us to do this series. We had nowhere to work on the cars but Rick kindly gave us the use of his shed at Dryden Signs and a lot of his time over the whole ten days; he helped get things tidied up, fixed and sign written," he continued.

Rick also formed part of the CJR crew; which numbered around 20. He worked alongside Danny Felker (Andrew's Dad) all of the CJR regulars and Tim Clark and the boys from Clark Performance in New Zealand; Colin Bell is extremely thankful to all for the efforts.

The podium for last night's Feature had Christopher atop with #NZ7 Brad Mosen second and Australia's #N13 Matt Smith in third; however, it's USA's Bryan Clauson who now leads the points and can now claim bragging rights as winner of the Australian sector of the inaugural POWRi World Midget Championship. Christopher is in second and Californian Darren Hagan holds third.

There's a great camaraderie but also a friendly rivalry between Felker, Bell and Clauson and the three of them shared a few laughs last night in the pits, reliving a week spent on the Gold Coast between races (namely at a certain Go-Kart track). Clauson said it's pretty cool to be the first guy to be leading the points heading home from this deal (the inaugural Australia sector) obviously with the calibre of guys that took part in the two Australian rounds. He said there's still a lot of racing left to do but it was a great trip and he couldn't thank everyone enough; not only the people that put the races on but the people that brought the drivers over, the car owners and those that do everything that goes into doing these trips. It was a lot of fun for us as racers he said. CJR Motorsport second's that.

"Just for the record, I let Bell win tonight because I have a 17hr flight home with him and he was starting to get pouty," joked Clauson.

The series has been signed up for another three years and CJR Motorsport would love to have Andrew and Christopher back again. Keep an eye out for the March edition of Oval Express Magazine and the story on CJR Motorsport. The team now shifts focus to this weekend's inaugural 10 for 10 race and will roll out the third car in an all-out assault at the revamped Toowoomba Speedbowl. Check Facebook/CJRMotorsport and Twitter for updates.

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