Saturday, April 18, 2009
I likes a good fest
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