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