March 2nd, 2023Race tragedy shocks speedway community
A founding member of Daylesford Speedway has spoken of the shock in the
wake of last month’s tragic death of a driver following a high speed crash.
Poowong resident Stephen Douglas, 48, was competing at the Daylesford
Speedway track around 7.30pm on Saturday, February 11 when his Ford Falcon
crashed, horrifying spectators.
“It was a very, very unfortunate accident,” Daylesford Speedway founding
member, past president and promoter Harry Carman says.
“It’s the first time there’s ever been a tragic accident at the speedway in all of
the years since it began in 1956 so that’s about 67 years. It’s subject to very rigorous
scrutineering and safety protocols. It’s very strictly controlled.”
Harry was at the track on the Saturday night when the accident happened,
but was working on the gate and did not personally witness the high-speed crash.
However, he saw the aftermath with Mr Douglas’ vehicle left upturned, while
onlookers described the incident as “surreal”.
Mr Douglas, a Poowong resident and CFA volunteer known to friends and family
as “Dougo”, began racing almost three decades ago in 1994. A photo had been taken
after he won a heat just hours before the fatal crash.
“We’re just very sorry for the family,” Harry said. “My personal condolences go to
the family. And I would also like to convey my gratitude to all the emergency services
who attended – including ambulance, Vic Police, SES…they were really on the ball.
All the emergency services were very fast on the scene.”
Having previously served as the Daylesford Speedway president and promoter for
26 years, Harry is a Daylesford local whose personal history with the speedway dates
back to his own childhood. He is among local residents and Speedway community
members left shocked and saddened by the incident.
“The speedway started in 1956 and it all started to raise funds for the RSL,”
Harry said. “It’s been going for so many years and it brings a lot of money into the
town. I helped my father and grandfather plant pine trees there as a little kid. The
trees aren’t there now though.
“It’s got a good track record. We may have had a broken arm or leg over the years,
but this is the first time we’ve ever had a tragic accident in all those years.”
Race tragedy shocks speedway community
Left, the late Stephen Douglas after winning his heat in the Chivers Memorial
race, right, Daylesford Speedway founding member, past president and
promoter Harry Carman
Mr Douglas, who worked in the agriculture industry, was an experienced driver,
having raced competitively for around 10 years and volunteered at Nyora Raceway.
He was also a member at Drouin Speedway and a Country Fire Authority
volunteer for his local community of Poowong, 116km south-east of Melbourne.
A second man was taken to Ballarat Base Hospital in a stable condition with upper
Daylesford Speedway held a gathering on February 16 for those struggling to cope
with the incident, calling for any volunteers, helpers, officials, drivers, spectators and
their families to attend. Counsellors were on hand to help.
If this story has raised any issues you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or head to
Beyond Blue at www.beyondblue.org.au
Images: Contributed & Kyle Barnes