Monday, November 28, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
My third meeting of the season was the Stockcar Teams Invitation at Huntly Speedway. Finally the weather was playing it's part and a good sized crowd turned up to see six teams battle it out for the title.
It's been a while since I've been to Huntly, but one thing I notice every time I go there is that it improves. There is a real desire in the club to lift their game and it shows. The track is looking great and although the seating is still a bit basic there is definately a more professional look and feel to the place. I could actually hear Malcolm Sines on the PA system which might be a first for me at Huntly.
The pits were full of stockcars, always a good start, and this was the first meeting I've been to in a while that had a decent Superstock field for a meeting that wasn't a championship of some sort. The fact that it took cars from four tracks to do it was a little worrying (A, H, R and K) but still it was better than watching ministocks or minisprints or mini anything else. Mini usually means hotdog time in my book and with the proposed MX Extreme display we didn't need any more filler classes.
The presentation of some of the teams was excellent, Auckland's new Mainfreight sponsored bodies really stood out and as always Rotorua and Huntly were well presented.
The sight of Dave Tennant in the pits meant one more 'A' car to add to the ranks but Dave had a night to forget with gremlins finishing him off early in the evening. Also the debut of a new Lance Ashton stockcar that had problems early on but as we saw in the final consolation race he started to mix it up and get the crowd excited.
The Northland Hounds no-show was not a good start to the meeting but the organisers gathered together an invitation team that on paper looked good enough to take the title.
Some of the teams races lacked a bit of passion or teamwork or something, the spark just wasn't there. There were a few drivers though that never disappoint and Wootton, Rawiri, McIntosh and Chestnutt performed like they always do lifting the action and entertaining the crowd.
Although some teams go to all the trouble of getting matching team bodies I think they need to keep their normal racing number. With so many cars having the same shape, it can be difficult to keep up with who's who. Auckland stuck with their usual racing numbers and it makes all the difference for the punters.
Not a single tank in the pits! This is teams racing!
I'm sorry but the MX Bike display just did nothing for me. Maybe I'm a bad person but I really wanted one of the bikes to hit the guy with the mic standing on the ramp. Then when they came out for their second display it was dark and as they climbed the ramp you couldn't see them anymore! They could have had hamsters riding the bikes for all I knew. I'm sure some people enjoyed it and promoters have to try new ideas but for me it was a lemon. Starting the meeting with the first display was a mistake too, by 7.20pm we were hanging out for some stockcar action, not updates on how "Dave Clements" and his squashed nads were doing in hospital! *For those who weren't there, Dave was one of the MX riders who crashed off his bike before the meeting even started, and as the woman behind me said in a very loud voice "his balls went up through his eye sockets." I'm not sure if she was a nurse.
We can land men on the moon but we just can't make a roving microphone work. Poor Mintie probably had lots to add to the meeting but most of it was distorted and unlistenable and stockcar drivers must be the worst interviews you can possibly do. You could ask them what they had for lunch and the answer will probably be "yeah, nah", few if any of them are keen to talk and unless you have real characters like Barry Hunter present, it should be a no go area.
Overall the meeting was good, the programme was good by Huntly standards and the food was okay. I took a friend who only occasionally goes to speedway and asked for an unbiased rating out of ten for the meeting and was given a solid 6/10 which seems fair to me. For the record, Rotorua beat Palmy in a workmanlike but unremarkable final and although a few stars were missing from some of the teams only a few of these six teams will be in the running at the Teams Nationals in Palmy on January 13 + 14 when I assume Wellington, Bay Park and Hawkes Bay are added to the mix. Does sound like an exciting prospect though...
Meeting rating: 6/10
Monday, November 14, 2005
This car has been mentioned lately in the MIA Stockcars on Macgors. It's under the thread about Steve Malaquin with someone asking did he build the space frame 'ladder tank' as it was called, but as another person correctly pointed out John Mercer had it first...
" ...wasn't it the other way around, after Steve Malaquin had that tank Red Jones, Ross Bryson raced it as a std stock out of Rotorua, then raced by Dayne Condor out of Huntly, I haven't seen this car 4 a while..."
I'd love to know where it is now, look at the siderails, solid little bugger isnt it! It's definately one of my all time favourite stockcars, which sounds like a good idea for another posting...
*The photo is from the 1986 Air NZ Teams Champs programme from Palmerston North and I'd like to put a credit but there are no photo credits in it unfortunately, and I'd love to get some more photos of this beastie.
Friday, November 11, 2005
As the NZ Standard Stock champ from the season before at Palmerston North, Graeme Ward bravely fronted at Huntly in 2003 to defend his title, but there was to be no fairytale back to back wins, massively outnumbered and with major damage to the car he failed to qualify for night two. His never say die attitude and spectacular driving style always makes him a target, but I'm sure the 1NZ will reappear on the car in the future.
Here's a site that has a report from his title winning meeting the season before: NZ Standard Stock Title
Monday, November 07, 2005
My second meeting of the season was at Waikaraka Park on Saturday night for their fireworks "spectacular" which I think will be remembered more for being a fizzer than anything else. I arrived at around 6pm and there was a light amount of rain which almost had me turning the car around but I went in anyway and my first thought was that the pits seemed to have less cars than the opening meeting. I'm not sure of the numbers but unfortunately the first taste of Superstocks was going to be entree size as there were only six of them including two Huntly cars. Their first race was a little light on action and speed but understandable. The programme mentioned that Mark Decke will be running as 99a this season and that probably was the only highpoint for the Superstocks all evening.
Stockcars were there in force and thankfully performed like they always do, in fact their first race was the standout of the night with 96a Nick Krznic driving his old car and causing all the mayhem after a long absence from the track. In their second race they were combined with the remaining superstocks and that was there lot for the night, which makes me wonder why the ATV's were given 3 races, in fact quite a few odd decisions were made throughout the meeting and the best one was the decision to stop the meeting and have the fireworks while it was still light because of incoming rain... the rain never appeared, some of the fireworks never exploded (which really summed up the meeting) and then there was a half hearted effort to restart the programme after the lights were turned back on only to be told by the commentator that there was some MORE fireworks so we'll stop the meeting and have those instead.
At this stage I made like a skyrocket and left the stadium.
As usual the sound system was below par, which is a pity because they managed to get Paul Vasey in to talk about the Superstocks (including his own which is still a few weeks away) and the Stockcars including the team to go to Huntly (89a, 71a, 12a, 99a... was all I heard) but most of the commentary is lost on the public as you can only ever hear it when there is no background noise.
I always think that these Meetings are a good chance to grab a few new punters who come along basically to see the Fireworks and yet the supporting meeting usually is pretty lame and reinforces the feeling that most people tolerate the racing just to see the fireworks. It's a major marketing opportunity that is completely wasted every season.
I'll try and end on some positive notes, the new track surface looked good, Kevin Moore and Shane McInteer were great in the Supersaloons, the Modifieds were good and the food was okay and... we've just found EVEN MORE fireworks!