Tamworth has been left without a speedway operator after Wide Open Promotions announced it has closed its doors after a dispute with Racing Sedans Australia.
The company attributed its sudden demise to the blow-up with Greta-based RSA, which came to a head on Wednesday night during a heated phone conversation and text message exchange, although losing the canteen at Oakburn Park last season and the impact of the coronavirus had also affected it.
Oakburn Park is scheduled to host two state speedway titles this season - ANCA and micro-sprint events - while Wide Open Promotions had been in negotiations to stage the Speedway Karting Association of Australasia nationals, said Daniel Gesell, who co-founded Wide Open Promotions in January, 2015, with his father Darren and elder brother Trevor.
Daniel Gesell said the company's closure was "definitely gonna hurt the region".
He said: "The closest tracks are Gunnedah and Narrabri, which aren't holding many meetings this year. But I dare say they may get a few more now, and bigger crowd attendances."
In a Facebook post on Thursday morning, the trio said: "This decision [to close the company] has not come lightly and we are sorry for those that it will effect [sic].
"But as most of you know it has been hard times trying to break even with the lose of the canteen.
"And after events last night and being threatened by the President of RSA to cancel [the] registration of any and all RSA cars that attend our track ... we are pulling away from RSA and anything to do with them at this point in time."
On Wednesday night, Daniel Gesell had a heated phone conversion and subsequent text message exchange with RSA president Adam Parker, in which Parker threatened to deregister RSA-affiliated drivers who competed at Oakburn Park.
Gesell said there were up to 30 such drivers in Tamworth and its surrounds.
"So rather than do that to the locals, we just shut the doors," he said of the deregister threat.
Gesell said Wide Open Promotions was launched in order to revive speedway in Tamworth after the closure of the Tamworth Speedway Club.
Parker said he gave the Gesells a chance to work productively with RSA and when that failed, he was left with no option but to threaten to deregister drivers.
Parker said he had spoken to the operator of Oakburn Park, the Tamworth Motorcycle Club, as well as Speedway Australia and he "guaranteed" there would be speedway in Tamworth this season.
Parker said the sport in Tamworth would now be run in a different, and better, direction.
He said: "I have on multiple occasions tried to work with the Gesells. Every single positive thing that goes up on Facebook regarding the RSA, the Gesells have a negative remark to put back towards the RSA.
"Now, I have attempted to work with them, to no avail.
"My job as the president is to protect the RSA's identity. And when you've got people like that, who want to continue to beat the RSA up, I've gotta make a move."
Parker said he had "very positive things in place at the moment" to continue speedway in Tamworth.
"There's many different avenues we're looking at at the moment," he said. "Rest assured, it's [Tamworth speedway] only going to be bigger and better."