News & Media

Top fuel champs in Wemen brigade

By: Leith Hillard

Category: People

  4.21 PM 9 April, 2013

Location: District 18 News, District 20 News

Views: 1731

The three Lamattina brothers from Wemen Fire Brigade in the Mallee also form a top fuel championship racing team.

Phil Lamattina took out the first round of the two-round Australian Top Fuel Championship at the Perth Motorplex under the new Maximum Exposure format. He headed into the Easter Super 3 Extreme Drag Race meeting at Willowbank in Brisbane as the points leader, having made every final in the season so far, but Steve Read defeated Phil in the elimination round with a 4.95.

Phil and arch rival Darren Morgan are now locked together at the top of the ANDRA points standings. To read more, see

Brother John Lamattina has now also joined the elite group of licenced top fuel pilots after a first day of licencing at Sydney Dragway in mid February.

To find out more, see

Brother Angelo is the fourth lieutenant at Wemen and part of the Lamattina pit crew.

There’s a strong work ethic in the family with Angelo starting work with his brothers when he was 14 helping their father. “Our dad Rocky had been in business with his brothers and he wanted us to go out on our own the same way; build something as a family and think big,” said Angelo. “Wemen was chosen because of water, access to major transport routes and the major markets of Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.

 “The whole family moved in 1991 to farm and now we are one of the biggest carrot growers in Australia. We grow 25 per cent of the carrots in the fresh domestic market and have got 2500 hectares at Wemen and another 2500 at Kaniva where there’s artesian bore water.”

See the Lamattina farms website.

The family arrived before the fire brigade but unfortunately their business produced the largest structure fire the area has ever seen with Wemen Fire Brigade formed not long afterwards.

“About two hours before the planes hit the Trade Towers in New York,” said Angelo, “our packing, storage and transport facility along with staff amenities went up in flames. We ran a temporary operation for about 17 months. Only about 10 per cent of businesses come back from a loss like that but we are a strong family and have very loyal staff.”

District 18 Operations Manager Bill Johnstone estimates the fire cost the business about $32 million but the resilient family has built it back up and now also runs a fleet of trucks to ensure market supply.

“Actually, the drought was worse for us than the fire,” continued Angelo. “We had three or four really bad and expensive years when we spent a few million on water.

 “Still, we have seven children between us now and we’re operating in a good spot. There’s a good future here. This whole area has been underestimated for its potential.”

As for the brigade, Wemen has 15 members with about half of them being operational. They turn out between five and 10 times a year.

Last Updated: 15 April 2013