By Duane Ranger (courtesy of Redcliffe Paceway)
Redcliffe Harness Racing Club Treasurer, Reg Vidler, has both seen and experienced mammoth changes since he first went to the trots at the Nowra Showgrounds in the early 1960s.
“There were no passing lanes then. We had wooden rails and wooden gigs that used to create friction when they touched. Floodlights were nowhere to be seen either,” Rothwell-based Mr. Vidler said.
Fast forward more than six decades and Vidler is now experiencing harness racing technology – 2023 styles!
“I’m at every meeting installing the new saddle-cloth tracking devices. I come in on a Thursday, I meet with the office staff, and I activate an app to pay all the accounts.
“Technology has taken over, and made everything a lot simpler. I have lots of fun and some anxious times, but this is the future of racing. I am proud to serve on the committee as well as being their RHRC treasurer,” Mr Vidler said.
“Harness racing is my favourite sport. I don’t bet, but I hardly miss any of the races on TV. It’s a bit harder on race-days when I’m working though,” the 79-year-old retired bus driver, and farmer, added.
In fact, Nowra-born and educated Vidler only retired from his bus duties in North Brisbane last year.
“I was driving for disabled school children. I’ve actually driven buses for a big part of my life. I’ve done a few jobs over the years. I’m probably the worst treasurer Redcliffe has ever had because it seems technology does everything for me,” Mr Vidler said.
Educated at Nowra High School, Vidler’s first job in the mid-1950s was working on a dairy farm next to the property he was raised on.
He said he missed the good old days of Nowra, Kembla Grange, Harold Park, Fairfield and the other New South Wales racetracks, but was no stranger to Redcliffe Paceway.
“I had 11 years there before I went and milked goats in Dural. I did about 18 months there before I went and worked for the Prospect County Council in Paramatta delivering white goods to houses and flats in the western suburb of Sydney.
“I’ll never forget those steep and narrow-staired hallways, and my body trying to carry what felt like an elephant on me. I preferred driving buses,” he said.
Mr. Vidler drove the Coolah school bus run in Western NSW, but he and his wife Janice were drawn to Brisbane because of his father-in-law’s stroke and resulting ill-health.
“We used to travel 2,000km some weekends from Coolah to Brisbane return just to be with him. In the end the travelling got a bit much.
“We put our house on the market and after waiting two years for it to sell, we relocated to Rothwell here in the Moreton Bay region 19 years ago. It was a great decision. We love it and this is definitely home now,” said Mr. Vidler who has been married to Janice for 50 years.
Mr Vidler worked for the Townsend Bus Company for 12 years before his retirement last year – relief driving on call for 18 years all up. The Vidlers have two adult children and six grandchildren.
“Janice and I love it here. The weather and the people are warm. The Redcliffe Harness Racing people are brilliant.
“Whether it be the drivers, trainers, owners, the public, workers or fellow staff, they are all so friendly and nice to be around.
“I especially enjoy working with our office lady, Michelle Smith,” Mr Vidler said.
So how did Mr Vidler end up as the RHRC Treasurer?
He said he had been to Redcliffe many times in his lifetime visiting family in Scarborough.
After relocating here, his Redcliffe harness racing connection came via Julie Mason.
“Julie became a friend, and then through Don and Terry Hancock we heard that Graham White was trying to sell El Magic. I told Julie and then the Hancocks bought him.
“That’s how it started. We have been friends since and that was my introduction to the sport. Before long I got asked to stand on the committee and then be treasurer. That was about seven years ago,” Mr Vidler said.
“As for Bernie, he does a fantastic job, but he owes me ‘big-time’ for putting you onto me,” he joked.
Bernie is Bernie Ring, the hard-working Redcliffe Harness Racing Club President.
He said the Club was proud to have Mr Vidler onboard.
“Reg is a hard-working committeeman behind the scenes. He goes above and beyond as a volunteer. It’s people like Reg that make clubs like Redcliffe a success,” Ring said.
“I do several other jobs. I wash the colours, and every three weeks I go to Albion Park to collect boxes of molasses, which we put in the horses water,” Mr Vidler added.
For the record Mr. Vidler is one of two siblings. He has a sister. His parents’ names were Roy and Mavis.