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Too many broken ribs lead to $765,000 grant for Orange sporting club

July 31, 2022

Stock image.

By Peter Holmes

In the end, there were just too many broken and bruised ribs. Something had to give.

The Orange Kart Club was one of the first in Australia, and the track is fondly regarded by many in the racing community in the Central West of NSW and beyond.

However the years had taken their toll, and the 853m of track - in three configurations, one including the hairpin - was in desperate need of resurfacing.

Lisa Darley, the vice-president of the club, pointed to a section of the track where the rippling was particularly bad.

“There was a really big bump [on the track] - my husband broke his ribs, we had two women break their ribs, and another man,” she said.

Sam Farraway MLC preparing to launch. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

“It was so jarring, and if you look at the karts they've got [enclosed moulded plastic] seats that sit [low], and they were getting banged against the seats. We were desperate to get it fixed.”

Around $815,000 was needed. After two unsuccessful grant applications, the third - for $765,000 from a state government fund - was given the green light. The $50,000 shortfall would be covered by the club’s own fundraising.

“It’s just awesome, isn’t it?” said a beaming Darley on Saturday. “We plugged away, and Phil (Donato) and Sam (Farraway) and council were really helpful, but the biggest thing was we ended up getting 70 letters of support.

Club members on Saturday. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

“I reached out to the go karting community and from all over NSW we had support - people saying, ‘If you get this track resurfaced, we will come back’. It's a very iconic track, known for its undulating surface and views, and it was one of the tracks in Australia, so a lot of people said we can’t lose it.”

State MP Donato and state MLC Farraway were at the track on Saturday for the official opening of the new surface. Dozens of club members, preparing for the Sunday meet, were in attendance.

Although they represent different parties and may even go head to head at the state election in March, there was a sense of goodwill between the two politicians.

Club vice-president Lisa Darley and club president Dan Curran. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Farraway said go karting was enjoying a resurgence in NSW, and that the Orange track had needed to be “brought up to spec” so it could be accredited to host the recent Southern Stars meet, plus other championship and regional events.

He encouraged young drivers from the club to aim high: “A lot of racing car drivers start in go karts and you never know, one of you youngsters might be racing in Formula 4, or V8 supercars - it all has to start somewhere, and maybe this track is the starting point for a big career.”

Donato said the Central West had a “long and proud history” of go karting, and echoed Farraway’s thoughts by saying the sport provided a “wonderful grassroots entry into motor racing”.

“It can happen, don’t kid ourselves,” Donato said, pointing to drivers including Mark Winterbottom who “raced at this very track”.


SATURDAY was a come-and-try day at the track. Among those who fronted up to have a go was the deputy mayor Gerald Power.

The site, on the outskirts of Orange, was buzzing, as club members had been arriving and setting up for Sunday’s meet since Friday night. Cars, utes, caravans and trailers were parked in rows, while the members’ worked on their go karts, which were propped up on stands.

A few weeks ago, there were 150 competitors and a total of about 500 people here for the Southern Stars event.

For Lisa Darley, the club members have become akin to a second family.

“If somebody told me three years ago I'd be doing this, I would have laughed,” she said.

“I got involved when our son wanted to do the sport when he was 13, and he and my husband came along. I thought it was something they could do - I didn’t come for the first few, and then I got involved and just loved it.”

Darley said she had experience in local rugby, soccer and athletics clubs, and said “this is the only club where all of the family are involved”.

Sam Farraway (hat) with Phil Donato and a young racer at the club. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.,

“So on race day, the whole family comes. The dads help in the pit crew, the mums help with time keeping or being an official, and a lot of this community travels together every weekend.”

There are six meets each year just for the Orange Kart Club members. There are also zone and other events. Darley said the club was hopeful of hosting a state meet in 2023.

Children as young as six are able to start practising, and at seven they can race. Darley said there are people racing in NSW into their 80s.

The novice category is for ages seven to 10; rookie is for ages 10 to 12; junior for ages 13 to 16; and senior for over 16s.

“There are different classes - four-stroke motors, which require a bit less maintenance, but most of the kids race two-stroke, which require a lot more work.”

Darley said an entry level go kart costs about $2,500. If you’re serious, think $5,000. Then you need to get it to the track in a trailer, truck or ute.

The more competitive or cashed up drivers will regularly replace the tyres, at about $250 per set. Entry to a race in Orange is $80.

Darley said that although the resurfacing of the track only took two days, club members had spent several months this year working on the site.

Mounds of dirt had to be moved and then returned, as did the walls of safety tyres. Lines had to be marked, concrete corner barriers painted, among other tasks.

Now the members get to enjoy the fruits of their labour, and the taxpayers’ largesse.


DURING his short speech, Farraway said he’d like to get out on the track. He suggested Donato might like to join him.

“I’ll race you!” Donato replied, to the crowd’s delight.

MP Phil Donato exits the capsule. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

The men suited up, and Farraway was given a helmet featuring a painting of a woman in a short skirt. The Orange News Examiner is not entirely convinced that he realised it was there.

The pair of pollies completed some laps and then hand gestures were made across the track suggesting it was time to race. Donato slowed and stopped at a point on the track and waited for Farraway.

They sped off and history will record that nothing of any great significance occurred. Other than on one turn an ambitious Farraway spun out and came circling to a halt.

Club vice-president Darley offered commentary.

“It’s a good thing,” she said about Farraway’s spin cycle. “It means he’s pushing it. He just pushed it, but either oversteered or understeered and spun round. Unfortunately if you do that you’ll hit something and the chain comes off.”

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