Oct 28, 2015
TOP 10 DRIVERS - No. 9 DES WALL
CELEBRATING it's 10th season, the Shannons Nationals has set out to rank the top ten drivers to have raced regularly at our rounds since 2006.
Selected by a panel of industry experts and assisted by more than 2500 votes from an online fan poll, our top-10 really is a who's who of Australia's racing elite from the last decade. We will be rolling out the full list in the next two weeks, with the Number One driver to be announced on the Friday morning of the 2015 Shannons Nationals finale' at Sydney Motorsport Park this November 13.
At number 9 it's Australian Sports Sedan racing legend, Des Wall.
THE OUTPOURING of sincere emotion that flowed when Des Wall died following a brief battle with Cancer in November 2012 was a validation of the kind of human being he was.
His easy inclusion in this list adds to that legacy by remembering his remarkable skill behind the wheel that saw him leading, and winning, championships in Australia’s fastest tin-tops right up to the point that the illness forced him from the driver’s seat.
The legend of Sports Sedans dominated the New South Wales scene in his Toyota Supra during the 1990s but it was his emergence as a force in the national Kerrick Series in the second half of the 2000s that reminded people at a national level of his abilities.
His defeat of Tony Ricciardello in the 2009 Kerrick Series is the stuff of legend, edging out the West Australian driver by just twelve points despite winning just three races that season to Ricciardello’s six. It was his consistency, however, that did the job – he finished every race and never finished one of them outside of the top five.
To make things more interesting Darren Hossack finished third in the championship that year, just nine points further back behind his year-long Alfa rival.
A partial campaign in 2010 saw Des complete just two rounds, though he still grabbed a race win at Wakefield Park in the season opener.
He sat out the 2011 campaign however was back to his best in 2012, running third in the championship and well in contention following the first three rounds before he was forced to hang up the helmet. Sadly, he’d never race again.
A statement issued by the Sports Sedan fraternity soon after his passing spoke volumes for both his driving ability and character out of the car.
“Whilst his performances on the track and his victories spoke volumes for his ability behind the wheel it was respect for his fairness, gentlemanly nature and dedication to his family that equally impressed the motorsport community.”
Outside of Sports Sedan racing, Des Wall was fast in anything he drove – leading the charge in Alan East’s Mitsubishi Lancer in Production Car racing in an enterprise that allowed him to race with his son, David.
The pair, with Trevor Symonds, crossed the line first in the 2010 Bathurst 12 Hour however were later excluded due to a technical issue.
The Sports Sedans now have a marquee race each year called the “Des Wall Trophy”, while the family racing legacy is in the very safe hands of David, who along with being a factory Volvo V8 Supercars driver also manages the family racing firm and a fleet of historic cars – including Des’ old Supra and the iconic ex-Pete Geoghegan Mustang the pair bought before Des’ passed.
There is no doubt that Des was a successful enough racer – in the last decade of Shannons Nationals competition alone – to be included in this list.
Did sentimentality play a role in Des Wall’s inclusion in this list? Almost certainly.
And that, for us, makes his inclusion even more apt: In this fiercely competitive, corporate, cut-throat world we live in it’s nice that a bit of sentimentality can creep in every now and then.
- By Richard Craill for www.thenationals.com.au
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