Sunday, February 22, 2009
Jenkins Group Modified Dirt Cup / Ollie Browne Superstocks
A rain out last weekend, and it was looking like the same for this weekend but fortunately a break in the weather allowed the meeting to go ahead. No surprises then that most of the visiting Mods were strong contenders from Stratford, or from nearby tracks to add to the locals giving us a quality field of twenty including 1nz and 3nz. The other attraction for the night was the Ollie Browne Memorial SuperStocks only managing 15 cars including 8 locals, 3 from Rotorua, 3 from Huntly and 1 from Kihikihi.
Modifieds Heat 1
With this many Mods on the track the feeling as the green flag dropped was 'let the carnage begin' but looking back over the whole night it wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. A few quick retirements in the opening laps took out 31h and 78h, early leader 121s Rose was barged out of the lead by a rampaging 10s Willie Noonan who was impressive mainting that position for the heat 1 win. 19r Scott Lane was unlucky to roll while avoiding 11a Fox who had been impeded by a spinning 64a caught out in a rut on turn 2 that would cause problems for all drivers throughout the night. The other main casualty of heat 1 was 8h Dean Martin who rolled end over end on cemetery bend finishing his night. The restart after the 19r roll caused problems with 7a Drake being left at the front of the field, also 56a Blakely spun out being sent to the rear of the field. Result: 10s, 6a, 11a, 121s, 1nz, 4s, 41a 3nz
First heat winner Noonan roared out of the pit gate and then retired to the infield. Scott Lane's miserable night continued with a spin bringing on the yellows, 3nz Pierce lead for the whole race and made easy work of picking off the lapped traffic. 7a and 64a had a coming together ending 7a's race and with about 10 laps to go the track started to dust up big time. Most of the interest in this race was from 2nd place to 6th with 1nz Jackson, 18r Hansen, 4s Dixon, 6a Jesen and 11a Fox putting on some stunning racing. Result: 3nz, 1nz, 4s, 18r, 6a, 11a, 41a Stratford finish 1, 2, 3.
A pole shuffle for the top six was a great initiative and I think a winner with the crowd, possibly the best way of earning a front row grid unlike the ridiculous inversion thing they do with Sprintcars. 11a Fox managing to move up from 4th highest to eventual pole position for the big final. 121s defeated 18r, 11a df 121s, 11a df 4s, 11a df 3nz, 11a df 1nz, 6a df 11a but chose grid 2 for the final.
11a Fox took the lead from the first corner over an impressive 6a Brian Jesen, 36a Crumpe and 10s Noonan had contact resulting in the two cars being locked together. 19a Lane spun bringing on the yellows. 29a Wade retired and 121s Rose and 4s Dixon collided spinning Dixon who was sent to the rof. Lane pulled off at this point ending his wretched night. Fox looked home for all money at this stage until coming up behind 41a Gary Parker who he couldn't get passed which closed the field up behind him. The yellows came on again for 78h who had spun but from then on it was all Fox who took a resounding victory over a depleted field of 10 cars. 4s Dixon had made up a huge amount of places and could so easily have been on the podium if not for the early spin. Result: 11a, 6a, 3nz, 1nz, 4s, 56a, 18r, 41a, 7a.
Good racing from this class and a top quality field deserving a much bigger crowd than what was on hand. A heartfelt speech from Jamie Fox was well recieved and so was the win for this popular Aucklander. There's no doubt that this class should be the jewel in the crown at WP but I can honestly say I didnt see or hear any promotion of the event at all leading up to Saturday and I can only guess that perhaps the promoters didn't think the meeting would go ahead? Whatever the case, this class always has the potential to really rock every time they have a decent field and once again they delivered the goods. I did like it when Bunter Pierce was asked about the comparison between driving a saloon at WP and a Modified and his response that the Mod wins hands down, 'absolutely awesome to drive'.
As for the rest of the night, the Ollie Browne racing was fairly tame and two wins and a fourth placing were good enough for 66r Steve Hampton to claim the title. I believe 515r Stan Hickey and 414a Warwick Ansty rounded out the top three. Carlos Chestnutt took on the driving duties in the new 63a Marx car in a quiet night for him. Also quiet on the night was the disappointing small field of 13 Stockcars, 6 SuperSaloons and 13 Saloons. Sidecars made one appearance on the infield track. Apart from the Modifieds, the meeting felt a little bit flat to me but at least it was good to get some racing in. Once again the amount of visiting drivers must be a concern, lets hope the numbers increase for the SuperStocks North Island title which should be the next big meeting for WP.
Meeting rating : 6/10
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
A mate from work said he had a few WP programmes he would bring in to show me. What he didn't say was that he had nearly 90 of them! Jealous!! Hurt muchly to give them back but anyway I managed to quickly scan a few at lunchtime today and here is the first flashback:
Often mentioned in speedway circles, WP even has a meeting named after him. Not often do you see many pics of the late John Webster, so here are some from an early 70's programme. Wonder what he would say about Waikaraka Park these days...
Click for larger pic
Click for larger pic
Click for larger pic
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Palmerston North SuperStock Teams
Every year there is usually one moment that is remembered and becomes the link that people associate with that particular Palmy teams meeting. Last year it was Wanganui's Kerry Podjursky giving Stu Smith Jnr a spectacular ride along the wall and lesson about tanks that captured everyone's imagination and I think this year it will be the British Lions introduction and subsequent 3rd place podium finish that will be the standout. Of course I was hoping to put "...and the Tigers magnificent win" but of course as we now know the truly unstoppable Panthers not only won but collected their record equalling 4th title on the trot. Strange as it may seem, that should be the thing everyone remembers but with a team as good as this, you kinda got the feeling at the conclusion of Fridays racing that only an upset would stop them from winning.
As always there were many individuals who performed well, 17v Steve Guilford was a standout, 7p Peter Bengston, 99r Mark Decke, 03gb Stuart Smith Jnr, and 8p Scott Miers as always, but even in teams who on paper had a miserable meeting both 95d Aaron Penberth and 96d Donny Inns showed amazing determination and guts to 'keep on going' no matter what. The cougars remind me of the Glen Eagles when we first started going to these meetings years ago with the crowd just willing them to get a win and look at the Glen Eagles now, one of the strongest teams there.
Friday night qualifying is always my favourite speedway night of the year bar none but this year something didn't quite spark. We left feeling a bit flat and I don't know if it was because we didn't have our Auckland Allstars team to support or because there wasn't as much action, the broken big screen or because we were in different seats to our usual ones or maybe it was because we had to sit behind some of THE most annoying Waikato supporters I've ever had the misfortune to sit behind. Honestly there is supporting your team and then there is just being drunk, loud and a pain in the arse to everyone around you... I'm going for the latter. I was 'lucky' enough to be sitting behind the drunk bumblebee with airhorn and cowbells that he managed to ring or blow constantly throughout the night even when Waikato had long since departed the competition. Even when there was no racing, in fact 'car of the week' was cause for cowbells, airhorns, dancing and stumbling and another round of booze. Any info from the pits, points or stuff about the Shane Penn disqualification was drowned out with noise. We had considered bringing my 6 year old niece who had begged to come but luckily she wasn't there getting hit on the head with the inflatable penis that apron guy was stroking throughout the night, not that she would have seen much as most of the group stood up blocking everyones view constantly. Now I dont want to sound like one of those spoil sports who moans about everything and to be fair whenever we asked them to sit down they did, and in no way did we feel threatened as they were not violent in any way but it does impact other peoples enjoyment and as the guy sitting next to me said "I paid money to see this show too" and that is the point I'm making, there is absolutely no consideration for the people around them just so long as they can get loaded and be loud.
Saturday night was a completely different night for us, back in our usual seats and surrounded by equally lucid fans who's focus was on the racing we felt like the new format really delivered. In the past, Saturdays racing was a bit watered down with filler but having the extra teams races just took it up a level and hopefully the promoters will stick with this format. It was great to see the Rotorua Rebels back in finals action and looking formidable most of the weekend. As I said earlier, Nelson did look like the one team that were really capable of taking the Panthers crown but after a couple of laps of the final and even with the Panthers down to three cars, once 85n had abandoned his running role & 81n was stopped things kind of went pear shaped and the Panther machine took over with Penn, Bengston and Miers almost synchronised in their ability to read what the others are thinking and doing - awesome to watch even if you were cheering for the Tigers. Really pleased I was there to see something special too with this version of the Panthers surely becoming one of the greatest line-ups they've ever fielded.
There were a couple of other moments that gave you the 'feel good' factor too, the standing ovation the British team got after their win over the Mustangs and general response the team got all weekend was really great and well deserved. Honestly how many people (like me) thought the Brits would be complete toast after their first race? The collection for the injured Australian Sidecar rider Mick Ing where people were really going out of their way to give money just showed you how great the speedway community really is when one of their own is in need and also the banner someone had on Saturday night for Peter Barry who was badly injured Friday wishing him the best was a nice touch and just like everyone else I really hope he recovers soon. The amount of really professional promo items that teams had, I managed to get myself a Ngatai calendar, two copies of the teams programme which once again raises the bar for info, awesome photos and stats, many posters, caps and T-shirts were also available. There's money to be made with this stuff!
Anyway if you are wanting a comprehensive review of the meeting look no further than the Palmerston North website here and some great photos too. Unfortunately I will end on a low note, being able to see the people that were sitting where we had been on Friday, I noticed they were having a few verbals with the drunks we had to endure for over 5 hours and things were getting a bit heated, someone else's night ruined... and there in lies the problem, do you make changes to a meeting that's one of the best because of a few louts or let it slide and hope you're not sitting next to them next year?
Meeting rating : Friday 7/10, Saturday 9/10
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Just a few photos from todays Club Day at Waikaraka Park. Fields were fairly light except for Ministocks but okay for $5 I guess. Although it was a club day and very casual, I was surprised when the commentary team announced half way through the second round of racing that there would be no more comments for the day as "it was hard to be enthusiastic to a small crowd and that they were heading to Rosebank Road for the meeting there..." or something along those lines! First time I can say I've experienced that, gave the admittedly small crowd a chuckle at least but gees you have to wonder... anyway before they did go they mentioned that UK driver Murray Harrison was driving the 116a Headington car which performed well and that Ryan Harrison was in the 57h Stockcar. I was also impressed with the driving of 82a Robert Neill and the 36a Streetstock who had a great feature race managing to spin every other car.