Sunday, November 20, 2005

The good, the bad and the ugly

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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.

The Good.

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.

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The Bad.

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!

The Ugly.

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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

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