Thorn in side on the track
SPEEDWAY racing is a popular sport in Grafton and Lismore, as proven by the large and enthusiastic crowds attending each program at the showground racetracks in the two centres.
It is so much a family sport, too, but few could match the involvement of the Rose family, of Grafton, with father Col, mother Leanne son Geffery and grandson Damian competing.
Dallas, a son of Col and Leanne, will join them as soon as his age permits.
Dallas recently turned 12 and is a Year 7 student at Grafton High School this year.
He is still too young to compete, with speedway rules stating that a competitor must be 14 before they can take part in the junior racing. Dallas is finding it hard waiting for those two years to pass.
As well as the family's contribution to racing competition, they are also heavily involved with the administration of the Grafton City Speedway Club.
Col, who had been the club president in past years, is back at the helm in that capacity. His wife Leanne is race secretary, Geff Rose is vice-president, and Geff's wife Lisa is club secretary.
Colin Geffery Rose was born at Bellingen in 1946, the son of Ron and Estelle Rose. He has a son Geffery (Geff) and daughter Sandra from an earlier marriage.
Geff has his own automotive engineering business, Motortorque Automotive at South Grafton, and is married to Lisa (nee Shuemacher).
Geff and Lisa have four children. Sandra and her partner Sean Sullivan and four children live in Emerald, Queensland.
Col remarried in 1985 to Leanne Barnier, with the ceremony within the picturesque surroundings of the Grafton racecourse.
Col's first schooling was at Fernmount Primary near Bellingen and he added three years at Bellingen High School to gain the Intermediate Certificate.
His main sports in those days were tennis and boxing. Most of his boxing was done at school or at inter-school competitions such as tournaments against Macksville High School students.
"I loved boxing and the one-on-one challenges it provided as well as the good mateship that goes with it," Col said.
"Similarly with tennis, it was great and I was able to win a championship or two at Bellingen."
After leaving school Col's first job was 18 months of farm work for his brother-in-aw 'Viking' Frewen on his property at Rocky Creek Road, Dorrigo.
Deciding on a trade it was going to be in the mechanical side of things and to his delight he gained a five-year apprenticeship with Burbridge's Garage at Dorrigo. This also meant one day a week at Coffs Habour Technical College for trade classes.
With the trade certificate in his keeping he then worked for Don Carter Ford Sales and Service in Coffs Harbour for four years, becoming the workshop manager.
Col bought his own business, The Shell Service Station at Mullaway. Eventually he sold that and moved to Woolgoolga as owner and manager of the Caltex Service Station near the Woolgoolga Caravan Park.
Col began speedway racing in the early 70s at the Grafton Showground track driving an EK Holden in C-grade saloon car events and won his share of races.
"Queenslander Dutton Stibbard was the speedway promoter in those days," Col said.
"I came to live in Grafton in 1976 working for Eddie Cooper in his smash repairs and panel beating business in Bacon Street.
"Still competing in speedway I went from my original EK Holden to an EH Holden and then to a Falcon but had a bad smash in 1979."
Col fractured his left leg and broke the right leg more seriously and spent a month in hospital.
On coming out he did little on the competition side of speedway for some time, not resuming competition driving until 1983, when Ben Hall was the speedway promoter.
Even then Col did little in speedway except being a club member and some seasons, on and off the club committee, until getting the urge to compete again in 1998.
Col built a four-cylinder Ford Cortina to race in the new four-cylinder class which was an exciting new event.
Col is renowned for his uncanny way of being able to round up the rest of the field on a wet track and the fourcylinders 'see' a lot of wet tracks.
Col then built a six-cylinder Cortina which had a short racing career, being written-off in a racing incident in Lismore.
He has now taken over the wheel in an XE Falcon Streeter, formerly raced by his now retired wife Leanne.
Col's son Geff started racing in 2003 in the Streeters, racing in the same races as Leanne and soon was a familiar face on the podium, taking to racing like a duck to water.
Geff's eldest son Damian is now in his first season of racing competing in the juniors driving a Ford Telstar.
Damian won his first feature race at his third race meeting.
Leanne Rose has quite a story as a competitor, owner and trainer ? involved in many sports ? including owning, training and racing thoroughbreds and the same in harness racing with pacers.
Actually her crammed and colourful sporting career began when she was just a youngster and into pony club events.
She could competitively ride ponies at two years of age and when she turned four she followed her older brother and sister into riding at the Grafton Pony Club.
Leanne attributes her riding success and great love of all types of horses to the commitment from her mother and father Glady and Keith Barnier, who both loved good horses and good riding.
Leanne competed both locally and interstate in pony club and shows as well as Brisbane Royal as a young girl.
She was a part of the Grafton Pony Club jamboree team from age eight to 16.
All this led to Leanne breeding, training and riding horses for racing and showing on the competitive show circuit.
Leanne has become one of Australia's most well-know competitors in showing.
"My best horse was Vancouver Bay. He was a top five finalist at the prestigious Grand National for two years running as well as being a Royal Show winner at Brisbane and Toowoomba royal shows," she said.
The Grand National is run by the Show Horse Council of Australasia and the judges for this event are flown in from the United Kingdom.
It is highest level of competition for show horses in Australia.
Leanne also gained a trainer's licence with the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and won races at both the Grafton and Ballina tracks and many placings at other Northern Rivers race tracks.
"I watched, learned and listened to advice from former top jockeys Wayne Burris, Garry Kliese and Bob Conn who also helped me with my track work," she said.
Another venture was into harness racing driving and training pacers in 1990.
"I learned the ropes from already wellestablished driver trainers Barry King and Judy Hambly," Leanne said.
"Besides the local show circuit I raced at Border Park and Rocklea in Queensland with my horses and brought in winners on both tracks.
"My best two horses were Young Scotch and Robyn Dawn. Young Scotch was given to me and I was told I would never win a registered race with him but we proved the old owners wrong, we won plenty," Leanne said.
Leanne retired from harness racing in 1994 when Dallas was born as she considered the sport a bit too dangerous for a mum with a new baby.
Leanne took up speedway in 1999. She she started out in a six-cylinder Ford Cortina which she drove in the Streeters.
In 2000 Col built her a new car, an XE Ford Falcon, which is the car they race today.
Leanne was well-known at both the Grafton and Lismore tracks and had a large group of fans who loved to see her beat the blokes.
She won the Streeters track pointscore at Lismore in 2003 and won the women's overall track pointscore for a couple of years and placed fifth in the State title in 2002.
"The men I raced with were great. They didn't treat me any differently to any other driver and they certainly never went easy on me," Leanne said.
Leanne has now retired from speedway racing to take up another high adrenalin sport in cutting.
Cutting is a sport introduced by the Americans and has fast become one of the most exciting equestrian sports in Australia, along with being second only to horse racing so far as prizemoney is concerned.
She has purchased a five-year-old gelding that was trained by Frank Green, the 2004 Australian Cutting Champion.
Leanne regularly has lessons with Frank Green and attends clinics with other top cutters such as Ian Frances, 2005 champ, and is attending a clinic with Graham Amos, who has just retuned back to Aust- ralia from the USA this weekend.