Katherine Speedway vice president boycotts club over licence debate

Tom Pfennig is disappointed the Katherine Speedway has not supported him.
Tom Pfennig is disappointed the Katherine Speedway has not supported him.

The Katherine Speedway Club’s vice president has withdrawn from the season’s last races in protest of a controversial licencing issue. 

Tom Pfennig has boycotted the club after new ruling was established mandating he switch his National Dirt Racers Association (NDRA) licence for a Speedway Australia licence. 

According to NDRA national secretary Anne Dicker, Speedway Australia is “dictating that any other licence or insurances could affect the [Katherine] track’s public liability.” 

“[Speedway Australia] is saying they can’t race with any other licence but theirs. 

“That is third line forcing and they can’t do that,” she said. 

Ms Dicker said the NDRA has been trying for more than 10 years to cut through Speedway Australia’s power “but no one has the money to go to a solicitor to fight it.”

“They are making mega bucks out of this,” she said. 

Mr Pfennig, a major sponsor of the Speedway Australia sanctioned track for the last eight years, said he has never been given a reason as to why his licence – with about eight months left until expiry – needs to be replaced. 

While Katherine Speedway said they would honour the current NDRA licence until the last race of the season, happening on October 20, Mr Pfennig would have to pay up for a Speedway Australia licence come next year. 

This orange car will not be racing in the last event of the season.

This orange car will not be racing in the last event of the season.

“Speedway Australia does not own the track, does not fund the track and they can’t dictate what I spend my money on,” Mr Pfennig said. 

“I have been part of the club for eight years and a major sponsor. No one has the right to tell me I have to change and no one has given me a reason as to why my NDRA licence is no good,” he said. 

“I have documents from Speedway Australia’s insurance company and they said there is no issue with multiple insurers competing in the same event, that it would not affect their public liability.”

Taking eight other members with him in protest, leaving the club bereft of race cars in the NT Sedans class, the Katherine local said he has been “thrown under the bus”. 

“The president of the club knew of the change over well before the rest of the committee and there has been no documentation to back it up,” he said. 

“We service our own cars, sponsor the track, contribute our time and our money and what all of this means is the club can put on regular races and attract big audiences. 

“Now the club has much less cars in [the NT Sedan] class people are not going to go and watch.”

Katherine Speedway secretary Rebecca Thomsen said the club had been fighting the ruling and had agreed at the start of the season they would honour the NDRA licence until the end of the season. 

She also said drivers had to “follow the rule book”.

“The track is insured by Speedway Australia and if you are running on their track then you need to have their licence,” Ms Thomsen said. 

“We are looking at it as a committee, but we want to look at it with all the information to see if there is some way to make it work to have the benefit of racing no matter which licence a driver holds,” she said. 

“At the end of the season, as a club we are going to gather the information to put to both organisations to come to a consensus. 

“[Speedway Australia] can’t enforce a ruling that is direct violation of the ACCC.

“We’ve had a busy season and we just need more time to work it out as a club,” she said.