Sunday, March 25, 2007

Make some noise!

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Possibly the biggest crowds of the season for Waikaraka Park (maybe for the last few seasons) had me wondering why? Could it have been the fact that there were genuine teams rather than last minute groups of ringins, was it the very welcome return of the Nelson Tigers after an absence of a few years? Was it the heavy radio advertising during the week or the inclusion of the Midgets from Western Springs? Whatever it was, this meant the crowd would expect some top class racing and some professionalism from the promotion. I had no doubts the racing would fulfil it's side of the deal...

If you want a detailed review of the racing, there's an excellent review of the two nights of racing here.

Unfortunately Friday nights racing was dominated by delays and appalling commentary. A lack of information about some of the teams, incorrect names and even completely wrong teams being given out before the racing started. There were too many classes racing and although most of the classes did their bit to add to the show, it almost seemed like the teams racing took backstage. I'm not a huge fan of the Midgets but once they had the starts sorted (and again this was a massive time waster) the actual races were great. Is it just me or do they appear to go faster at WP than at the Springs? I hope the Midgets get added to the roster at WP more often if the present situation at the Springs continues. They are aggressive and awesome to watch specially when they race 'hit to pass' as they appeared to.

The format for the meeting meant 8 teams races on Friday night but only 4 on Saturday which to me was odd. The racing on Friday was good, not as aggressive as in past years but it was the Wanganui Warriors who provided the best action in all their races with their never say die attitude. 16v Kerry Podjurski was the class act of the four Tanker drivers on display. Isn't it great to see them back at their best. Although there were eight strong teams, I got the feeling after Friday's racing you could engrave Palmerston North's name on the cup such was their clinical performance and dominance.

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Saturday nights programme as mentioned only had four teams races but little did I realise the final between Nelson and Palmerston North was the last race! Now is it just me or is it bizarre to make the two best teams wait until the last race of the night bearing in mind that going on Fridays performance this could be past 11pm!

The support programme for Saturday was less ambitious but still ran long and I think the Vintage Stocks should only have had one race with perhaps someone with knowledge of the cars talking us through it. A second run could have happened if the meeting was running too fast or if teams needed more time for the all in final which should have been the last race of the night so that the words 'all' and 'in' actually meant everyone could enter! How crap must the night have been for the two reserves for Nelson and Palmy to not even get one race? In previous years the final Grand Slam has been the absolute stand out race and something special to the Auckland meeting, but it had the guts ripped out of it and turned into a weak flag race.

The Ministocks are not my favourites and this meeting was not for them, but you could have fooled me. Driver interviews, countless races over both nights, convoluted format, teams and teams of them with flags ahoy, I couldn't keep up and didn't want to.

My biggest gripe of the whole weekend was the commentary and associated 'crowd entertainment'. Aaron Drever is in danger of becoming the Jan-Marie of WP (If you've been to Western Springs you'll know Jan-Marie). Don't go there Dreves. His enthusiasm is great but just needs to be more focussed on the racing perhaps? The free giveaways are a great improvement on previous years of virtually no interaction with the crowd but just not during a race. I'll give you some examples and you judge for yourself. Now I'm not showing off here but I believe I know a bit about stockcars and even with that knowledge I was unsure of who was who in the Hawkes Bay team. Pat Westbury is one of the major characters in Superstocks and especially with his prior history at this very event but by the end of the Hawkeyes first race I was still unsure if he was 34b or 35b. 35b was actually Steve O'Dwyer (or Steve Dyer as he was constantly referred to) one of my favourite teams racers. There had been a major opportunity to build the crowd up with the return of 'Yahoo Pat' but it was lost completely no doubt to some important information about glow sticks or maybe our umpteenth request to 'MAKE SOME NOISE!"

During the all important final between Nelson and Palmy my view was blocked by 'The Baldy Man' throwing freebies into the crowd! This race was the reason we were all here and we had kids clambering past us to get free stuff, not clever.

Someone on the mics should have at least gone into the pits to check out the teams, got some info and familiarised themselves with who was who or at least what numbers they were racing under as the programme as usual was lacking information and was not helpful in the slightest. There was no list of previous winners and the article reprinted from a previous programme had comments like "...the Panthers weren't even in attendance, they had pulled the pin after a dispute over money, but their non-appearance that year wasn't missed..." talk about win friends and influence people!

The texting has run it's course unless you want to hear that the infield DID infact need watering (which was dismissed as not their problem) and other texts that actually were helpful rather than just birthday callouts which seemed more important. The texting concept could be quite good but not for more pointless drivel, there was no shortage of that already.

Poor Percy. I would never have left my seat if I was you! I was expecting Steve Clout to come at you with a rugby tackle but it was worse, made to walk out onto the infield and then challenged to run a derby car in the Smashfest after having to do a track inspection. It all just made me uncomfortable but you did well considering. I thought Yaz was about to get a summons too...

What can you say about the Palmerston North Panthers? It wasn't that long ago when everyone was saying they were too scared to come to Auckland and that their own Teams meeting was rigged and countless other conspiracy theories. This team have taken over the mantle left vacant by the Bay Park Busters and I think they will continue to win everything going for a while yet.

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Also a special mention to Gary Ellis who raced his last teams race on Saturday night. His dedication to the Allstars for quite a few years now has been really appreciated by this one eyed Allstars fan. It was great that he got that win on Friday night but it will be strange seeing an Allstars lineup without the familiar 5a in the team.

So there you go, another year another Auckland Teams meeting. That's a good thing because only a couple of seasons ago it was so close to being axed. This meeting has the bones to be one of the best of the year but it needs some polish and a bit of direction or something. It most surely needs the format to be changed, whether the drivers like it or not, it didn't work for the crowd. I did enjoy it as I'm sure most of the crowd did but how could you not, Superstock Teams racing is still the best entertainment on the Speedway calendar.

Meeting Rating : 7/10

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1 comment:

NZSC said...

Great coverage as always. Awesome photos! Why did you think I was going to get a summons as well? :) I thought the Friday night did run long, but I was happy with the way Saturday night went! Regards, ~ Yaz.