Saturday, April 25, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
PlaceMakers Huntly Speedfest
It felt odd to be heading out for my speedway fix on a Thursday afternoon but when you have as many classy drivers as the Huntly website promised, you would be mad not to go I guess. A big crowd turned up which is something I haven't seen much of this season and it creates a great atmosphere immediately. There were a few drivers who had pulled out for various reasons but all in all it was a damn fine show that ran fairly smoothly as a lead in to the big Hamilton 400 weekend.
Essentially this meeting is the same as the John Webster in Auckland, the best drivers in the best classes from both sides of the speedway family with the open wheelers represented by the Midgets and MiniSprints for this showcase of speedway racing. Whereas the Midgets stole the show in Auckland, I think the SuperSaloons were the standout at Huntly. The Cardwell v Waddell battle for the lead (in heat 2 I think it was) had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Both classes of Stockcars didn't really stir it up too much but still provided some great racing. The rest of the programme included good numbers of Saloons and MiniSprints.
There were some good interviews with some of the drivers who for once weren't going to get away with just saying "yeah, nah" to every predictable question they were asked, so well done to Mintie who had put some thought into it. Credit is due to the drivers too who actually have something to say, they've come a long way in the past few seasons and its part of the entertainment getting some 'inside info' into what's gone wrong or right with a car during the breaks between races. You get a sense that the sport is taking these tiny steps forward and shaking off that self-deprecating image that has held it back for so many years - well at some tracks at least.
The printed programme was light years ahead of the usual ones at Huntly so well done and it was a buzz seeing a few of my photos in there too. Was going to mention the quality of the photography these days at tracks is fantastic but will save that topic for my end of season wrap.
Perhaps a few more of these types of meetings each season would be a good thing, at least you know for your $20 you're going to get full fields, good racing and no hotdog classes that bore the pants off you. In a strange way it is almost the 'travelling circus' idea that did the rounds a few years ago. I wonder how many meetings next year will have the word 'fest' added onto them as it seems to drag the crowds in to stadiums! Huntly are on to a winner here in much the same way that the Rotorua club have created a strong calendar of events each season by initiating a few new ideas outside of the traditional titles available. Good on them, because I'm sick of sitting in stadiums being outnumbered by seagulls and watching boring racing with low numbers.
Meeting rating : 8/10
Monday, April 06, 2009
Kihikihi Stockcar Teams
The Rotorua Rascals retained their hold on the Stockcar teams trophy at Kihikihi on Sunday with wins over the local Crusaders team bolstered by two Stratford cars and then a brutal final win over the impressive Auckland Alleycats who were looking for their first ever win at this event. Auckland had beaten the Waikato Raiders in their first race and did well to get a full team out for the final. The two hits that will standout from this event were the 6h tank of Lindsay Trotter ending the Auckland runner Gary Lonergan's race and the huge rollover of 43k Dave Maxwell in the runoff for third place. Good size crowd, good weather and possibly the best bacon and egg burger I've ever had at a speedway track! Although very dusty at times, Im sure that will improve once the grassed infield is sorted and quite a 'relaxed' approach to the running of the meeting will be interesting to see how they step things up for the big SuperStock meeting next season.
Rotorua Rascals def Kihikihi Crusaders
Auckland Alleycats def Huntly Raiders
Huntly Raiders def Kihikihi Crusaders for third place
Rotorua Rascals def Auckland Alleycats for first place
Meeting rating : 5/10
Barry Butterworth Classic and John Webster Memorial
This years version of the John Webster (the 10th running believe it or not) had no Superstocks on the programme which was odd considering it was John Webster's passion, but I have to say that was the only foot they put wrong on Saturday night in a very cohesive show that included the Midgets and TQ's from Western Springs along with Solos, Stockcars and SuperSaloons. Great racing in all classes in front of a decent sized crowd with the 40 lap 'Barry Butterworth Classic' Midget race delivering one of the best races of the season to put the full stop on what has been an indifferent year for the club.
Peter Hemi 38h took out the Auckland SuperSaloon title from the only other real contender 96a Lance Jennings, who's car is for sale now that he is retiring which will leave a huge hole in the class at WP. The Midget title also came down to a two horse race between 1nz Shane Alach and 54a Michael Pickens with the latter taking the spoils in a truly awesome race. A big field of 22 Stockcars took to the track but it was only really 23a Tony Baldwin who took to the rest of the field in a pretty quiet end to their season. Numbers dwindled during the night and a few cars were missing due to the Kihikihi Teams event on Sunday.
So a quality show that deserved the good reviews it has been receiving, if only we could get this consistency each week, and to think they still had Superstocks, Streetstocks and Modifieds up their sleeves in reserve...
Meeting rating : 7.5/10
Footnote: one of the odd (but funny) rituals of going to WP this season is to check the programme for who is being maligned in the Abrahams rant each week. Usually it is SNZ or Palmerston North who are the targets, but instead this week it was the entire internet community. See how cleverly it was woven into an article about Barry Butterworth of all people:
"...these days thanks to the internet anybody can become a self promoting legend of their own keyboard and spread their opinions around the speedway community anonymously. Barry Butterworth earned the right to have opinions the hard way, he earned respect with his on-track (and off-track) actions. He was no shrinking violet, firing pot shots from the safety of a padded chair, behind closed doors and too ashamed to put his real name to his opinions..."
Boy oh boy have they sung this song a few too many times. You can just imagine the pained expression on his face as he spewed out the word "internet" in the sentence above. Please someone, send them a telegram informing them that the internet is not going away anytime soon. People have always had opinions, good, bad or indifferent and it would probably be easier to fix the problems in your own backyard rather than shooting the messengers.