Speedway sister act
By TONY WHITE
TYRO speedway racer Sophie Wiblen's pink 1984 Sigma sedan looked like it had been in a demolition derby after a horrifying crash at Lismore speedway last Saturday night.
It was the second time in successive meetings Wiblen had experienced every drivers nightmare ? a high speed race crash.
Fortunately the spritely 15-year-old teenager was in far better shape than her race car which rolled several times at 80kmh, escaping her latest mishap with only a sore neck, bruises and dented pride.
"She was more worried about damaging her car ? again," Sophie's relieved father, chief mechanic and panel beater John Wiblen said.
"She's had two in a row now.
"There's a lot of safety aspect in the sport and while it didn't look good at Lismore they (officials) took about five minutes to get her out of the car to make sure everything was right."
The previous dust-up came after Sophie was attempting to pass her 14-year-old sister Demi at Grafton Speedway.
"Demi slid out and hit Sophie while she was trying to overtake her," John Wiblen recalled.
"Sophie's car rolled.
"Sophie has been unlucky. Both times it hasn't really been her fault, she's been a victim of circumstances.
"There had been a lot of rain before the meeting at Lismore and there were deep ruts in the track and Grafton was just one of those things that can happen in motor racing.
"But two in a row is getting a bit hard to take.
"It took two weeks to get Sophie's car rectified after Grafton and I've spent four or five hours a day getting it right again. It's not so much the money, it's the time involved.
"It's funny, her younger sister (Demi) has driven around in the same races and virtually hasn't got a scratch on her car."
The Wiblen sisters took up speedway racing following in father John's footsteps.
"I raced for five or six years and now the girl's have taken it up," John Wiblen said.
"Their elder sister (Nichola, 20), wasn't interested in racing but she helps the girls out. The whole family go along to watch them race."
Sophie and Demi gained their licence after a two-day theory and practical course sanctioned by National Australia Speedway Racing.
"They both got through first time," Wiblen said proudly. Both race in the 14-17 years junior category.
Sophie, racing for around six months, has a feature second to her credit and Demi, with a best placed sixth, since December last year.
The South Grafton High School students both got into racing "because dad used to do it."
"I like driving, I like going fast and trying to win," Sophie said.
With the brashness of youth she matter-of-factly brushed off her multiple roll over at Lismore.
"The track was really bumpy, I hit one of the ruts and flipped over," Sophie said. "All I was thinking about was 'oh no, not again, my brand new car.'
"They (officials) unbuckled my harness and I climbed out the window. When I got out the bloke (announcer) asked me to say something on the microphone. The crowd just clapped and stuff.
"I just had a sore neck and some bruises."