Tania Smith waves the chequered flag after winning the Grenville Anderson East Coast National at Lismore Speedway on Saturday night.
Tania Smith waves the chequered flag after winning the Grenville Anderson East Coast National at Lismore Speedway on Saturday night. Tony Powell

Tania takes out title

ON a night of high emotion, local super sedan driver Tania Smith took out the 50-lap Grenville Anderson East Coast National at Lismore Speedway on Saturday.

Smith led Ian Brims and Wayne Brims to the chequered flag after she took over the race lead with 15 laps remaining.

Despite some yellow-light caution periods Smith, who started from third position, had too much speed for her rivals.

The significance of the victory was underlined by the outpouring of emotion immediately after she took the chequered flag.

It was not only one of the biggest victories of her career, but a win that Smith rated as ‘more important than an Australian title’.

Grenville Anderson, who died in 2004 from injuries sustained in a Brisbane race crash in the 1990s, was a legend of Lismore Speedway.

The story behind the win on Saturday night is what made it so heart-warming.

Smith is a qualified nurse who cared for Grenville Anderson after his crash and she was one of the last speedway people to see him alive.

When she started her racing career more than two decades earlier, Grenville Anderson was the driver she set as her role model, looked up to and admired most on the track.

The fact she has now won the memorial race, named in his honour at her local Lismore Speedway where she competed against Grenville Anderson many times, carries deep emotion.

Among the first people to embrace Smith following the win were members of Anderson’s family with whom she has had a close affinity for many years.

“To have raced with the guy (Grenville Anderson), watched him drive, looked up to him and admired him as a driver, this is my Australian title,” Smith said.

“To have also put my nursing skills into practice when he was doing rehab, I cared for him as a nurse and a friend – and close friend of the entire family.”

Smith was there for wife Sue and Grenville in the last days of his life.

“I cannot find the words to describe the emotion I am experiencing. I know he was riding with me in the race,” Smith said in tears.

She later admitted that earlier in the day she was almost ready to withdraw from the second night of competition due to the pain from a nagging leg complaint that has plagued her racing over the past five years.

It was only a visit to her acupuncture specialist hours before the race that cleared her to drive.

Another aspect that made the win so memorable was that Smith drove a car out of the local Rocket Chassis Company owned and operated by her husband Danny. It was a home-town victory for so many reasons that will be remembered for many years.

“Danny had my car set up perfectly and I knew I could win it with how the car handled,” Smith said.

The icing on the cake for the Rocket Chassis Company was a 1-2-3 podium result.

Other feature race winners on the night were Bruce Hall (wingless sprints), Jordan Biviano (junior sedans), Scott Quirk (street stocks) and Michael English (four-cylinder sedans).



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