Thursday, June 14, 2007

Season Review 06/07

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This was never going to be a huge speedway season for me as my main goal for this year was saving for a trip to England in September. Something I hadn't realised when booking the trip was that I will be there at the same time as Peter Rees for the Formula 1 Stockcar World Final where he will be representing NZ. Unfortunately, and in keeping with my rather low key season, I leave the UK the day before the Final so the most I can hope for is to catch him at one of the warm up meetings he might be doing. The opportunity to see the English stockcars in action, and in particular Frankie Wainman Jnr would be great though. Considering the reaction Stan Hickey got one year for his 'hardman' racing style, the mouth waters at the prospect of seeing what they will think of Peter Rees!


Anyway, looking back at the season just gone my options were pretty slim with the NZ Superstock title being held in Dunedin that meeting was out, along with the Palmerston North Superstock Teams (that really hurt) and the Wellington Stockcar Teams which basically left me with the NZ Stockcar title in Auckland and a couple of trips down to Rotorua. I did manage to go to meetings at Whangarei and Dargaville which was something new for me and was a good way to end my season.

At times during the season I had wondered whether it's worth writing up reviews and putting time into a site when you get such a backlash if your review isn't glowing, or emails questioning why I thought I had a right to comment on things (I always love the "do you race a stockcar" comment to anyone who dares to have an opinion) and then just recently an editorial in NZDTR that was ill thought out and probably damaging to the magazine. Also really badly timed to send me the resubscription slip with that issue too. I'll quote some of the editors comments:

"...I confess, I used to scroll through the drivel on these sites, I would sit there, blood boiling, sitting on my hands, aching to set things straight, but I have refrained. Why bother? These people don't want to know, their lives are so insignificant that all that motivates them is to rate Tracks, Drivers, and Referees, select race Teams they think should have been chosen and pick apart performances..."

Now most of her rant I assume was aimed at the Discussion Board on Macgors site rather than individual websites and there is no denying that often there are stupid comments and drivel, but there is also alot of really good content and it doesn't take long to work out who's postings are worth reading, a bit like her magazine ironically. Launching into a tirade against a huge amount of your readers who no doubt are members of these sites is probably not good business.

"...Speedway cannot move forward to a professional era whilst we have people continually going online bagging our sport, competitors and officials. If they channelled as much energy and enthusiasm into promoting Speedway in a positive light people wouldn't be so depressed with the rubbish they see online and engage in proper discussion. These comments are not aimed at those people who use these discussion boards for the intended purpose of obtaining information and sensible debate..."

Sites like mine have come about after sitting through meeting after meeting of appalling racing, small fields, disappointing facilities and little or no opportunity to express your displeasure. If moving to a professional era is your goal then the internet is a valuable tool and clubs that have embraced it like Rotorua and Palmerston North are profiting from and presenting a very professional image. Also the internet isn't going to go away, so you'd better get your head out of the sand and embrace the future or your magazine wont be around for much longer. Even a column in the NZDTR reprinting some of the more interesting comments or threads that unfortunately get deleted after a while would be a step in the right direction. In my opinion the one thing that NZDTR holds over the internet is it's permanence. You can always go back to an old issue and re-read it, quite often, as seen with the awesome MIA section of Macgors, once files are gone they are lost into the void of cyberspace.

I would just like to end this section with the important point that if I go to a meeting that's good, I make sure I say that, but if I've just paid $20 to sit through a substandard meeting I'm going to comment, it's only fair and who wants to read a site that's just full of track propaganda (everything is good) or angry rantings (everything is bad)? I personally believe that Speedway in general is better since the involvement of online sites. On that note, lets have a look at the meetings I did go to this season and the ratings for each one (click on the meeting title to read the review if you want):

Opening Meeting Fireworks WP 5/10
Huntly Teams 5/10
Demo Derby Night WP 4/10
Auckland Streetstock Title WP 6/10
Meeting Five WP 6/10
Auckland Modified Title WP 6/10
NZ Superstock Title Dunedin Review by Del Nield
World 240's Rotorua 8.5/10
NZ Modified Title WP 7/10
NZ Stockcars Practice
NZ Stockcar Title Qualifying WP 8/10
NZ Stockcar Title Finals WP 9.5/10
Woop Ass Saturday WP 6/10
Saloon Nationals & Auckland Mods WP 6/10
Auckland Superstock Teams Nationals 7/10
Club Night WP 5/10
John Webster Memorial WP 7/10
Whangarei & Dargaville Final Meetings
Taipa Queens Birthday

That's more meetings than I thought I'd see this season and an average rating of 6.4/10 which is way better than last season's wrap up which I think had an average of 5/10. From a spectators point of view, things have definitely improved at my local track Waikaraka Park. This is one track that sometimes takes a beating on the internet but have shown recently that they do respond to constructive criticism and with numbers in a few classes like the Superstocks improving perhaps some more good meetings are ahead. I hope so, because as this season proved to me, when you can't travel as much as you'd like to and pick and choose your meetings, then you really are at the mercy of what your local track puts on each week and I'm sure there are loads of people that aren't in a position to travel everywhere following the big fields.


The continuing trend in Driver's and Fans coming online and having a website is great but as with any website you have to keep updating it and that's the hardest part. Just have a look through the links on Macgors and see how many sites are either out of date or have "sorry for the lack of updates but..." a few sites that I always check and enjoy reading because they are always current and interesting are 14a Horridge Racing, Rees Race Cars, Marx Motorsport, Harwood Racing Team and other sites like StockCarScene, Percy's site and as mentioned earlier club sites for Palmy and Rotorua and of course Macgors site which has been at the forefront of the online community for some years.


This class has now officially become Gregobro's favourite! Add to that the burgeoning scene in the South Island and the quality of machinery that seems to be migrating south, the future for this class is brighter than any other. It truly is a national class with almost every track having stockcars and quite probably within a few years will be able to have teams championships for both islands and will need qualifying for the teams event currently held by the Wellington Young Guns.


My expectations for this season weren't particularly high with little travel involved and one of my overriding memories will be sitting on the computer during the NZ Superstock finals run in Dunedin constantly hitting the refresh button only to be told there were too many people logged on to Macgors desperate to see who had taken out the title! 72p Simon Joblin won in a meeting that many predicted was too big for the Island Park club to run. By all accounts it was a cracker and much like the title held at Gisborne a few seasons ago the smaller clubs shouldn't be denied the opportunity to host the big meetings as they seem to have a knack of pulling it all together.

Seeing the improvements that have happened at Paradise Valley first hand and the ambitious changes that are being undertaken right now for next season make you feel positive about the sport and that hopefully the example being shown by Rotorua might flow on to other clubs.

Finally my trip up to Northland Speedway in Whangarei was one of the best trips I've had in ages. Apart from the unusually sunny weather, meeting some of the guys was great and hopefully the numbers up there will continue to grow. I was a bit concerned seeing the 99wr, 346wr, 343wr and 344wr cars all being sold recently, hopefully it's because new cars are headed that way for the Northern Bulls stockcar team... there I go starting another rumour, it must be the off season!


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