Sunday, November 09, 2008
Over the past few weeks I have noticed other speedways have opened and completed up to 3 or 4 meetings of their calendar already. Aucklander's were ready for some speedway action and a beautiful sunny Saturday finally meant the Waikaraka Park faithful would get their "Grand Opening & Fireworks" meeting to start the 2008/09 season. During the off season there has been the usual dramas behind the scenes that unfortunately have become synonymous with Waikaraka Park in recent years so there was some trepidation as I entered the pits...
I quick look around and it was obvious that some classes were going to be light on numbers and apart from 3 new drivers in Stockcars there were basically no new cars in the Superstocks or Stockcars present. The registered drivers in the programme for these classes lists 49 Stockcars and 15 Superstocks so numbers on paper look okay but whether we get to see them all will be the real test.
I got some 'same old-same old' food and took my seat amongst a fairly large crowd (no doubt boosted by the attraction of fireworks) and noticed the big ugly burnout pad in the middle of what looks like a smaller infield track inside the usual track... improvements perhaps, not likely if you are a purist and there to watch speedway but for this meeting they were not used thankfully.
Out came the first race for Stockcars (15 cars) won by 168a Billy Neill and so the season had begun. The programme featured Sidecars (6), Supersaloons (4) boosted by running with 1nz Phil Towgood and 59a Bryan Skelton, Ministocks (25), Saloons (10) and Superstocks (6). I wont go into much detail because I think I glazed over from about race 5 (the ministocks) up until race 13 when the Stockcars came out for their second heat which had Billy Neill using his bumpers a bit to spice things up. After a fairly decent fireworks display that ironically would have been safest to view from the area cleared for safety reasons, there was a round of feature races for each class and a jalopy race to finish on an odd note and to remind us how really boring speedway can be if they think "outside the box." Perhaps I'm out of sync with what the public want these days as some of the biggest cheers of the night came during the ministock and jalopy races, sad but true or perhaps the rest of the racing was below par. A large volume of people left after the fireworks so as I have mentioned often, the opportunity to showcase speedway to people whose priority is sparklers and hotdogs was probably missed.
I have found it really hard to be enthused about speedway recently and this meeting hasn't done anything to remedy that. In the printed programme the first paragraph states "Welcome Race Fans, it is a brand new season. Things will be different this season, better, brighter and more entertaining..." and then there is a picture of a boy racer doing a burnout. In many areas speedway is making huge steps forward in presenting a professional and exciting show at other clubs, I'm not quite sure where WP is heading right now.
Meeting rating 4.5/10