by Pam McKay
SPEEDWAY SOLOS: Hugh Skidmore raced to victory in the 500cc solos at the MEM Handlebar Heroes Speedway Bike Spectacular at the Rockhampton Showgrounds.
The Tweed Heads-based rider held off a fast-finishing Zaine Kennedy of Brisbane to greet the chequered flag in a hotly contested final on Saturday night.
The 2000-plus crowd was treated to more than five hours of high-octane entertainment in a jam-packed program that served up some spectacular racing and some drama.
The headline act, three-time GP world champion Jason Crump, crashed out in his first race of the night.
It is believed he suffered several broken ribs and was unable to take any further part in the program.
Event organiser Bill Warwick-Day said that opened up the 500cc field and the talented Skidmore took his opportunity.
"This was Hugh's first professional event in Australia for nine years,” he said.
"He's only been back in the country for a month after racing for Sheffield in the UK for the past nine years.
"I think he finished the night with a perfect record of five from five but he had to work hard to hold off Zaine Kennedy who nearly got him right on the line in the final.”
Warwick-Day was thrilled with the huge spectator turnout for the spectacular, which he said was one of the biggest speedway events in Australia.
"There are normally 25 events at a regular speedway meeting. We had 80-odd events on Saturday and it was a great night of racing,” he said.
"We had well over 2000 people there, which was fantastic considering everything else that was happening in town at the weekend.”
A feature of the night was the inuagural Solo State of Origin, which saw some of Queensland's best riders go head-to-head with their NSW rivals.
The teams could not be split and the event ended in a draw.
Warwick-Day said a highlight of the Origin was the performance of Rockhampton's Zane Keleher, who beat former international rider Kozza Smith in his shootout.