Sunday, February 14, 2010

WP Fan Appreciation Night


You don't get a lot for five bucks these days and that's just what I expected last night at Waikaraka Park. I was pleasantly surprised then with a fairly decent meeting and a pretty big crowd. The idea of a cheap night drew enough people through the gates to have a good atmosphere but the only real downer of the night for me was the feeble number of stockcars in attendance - three! Obviously with Huntly having the Waikato title and 13 or so cars travelling down there, it just killed the class at home. The Auckland Stockcar title is in two weeks, do you think the Huntly cars will reciprocate and turn up in big numbers... wont hold my breath. The stockcars that did turn up raced with the five superstocks which basically was a Marx (53a, 63a, 73a) vs Masons (7a, 99a) teams race. Wins to 99a, 73a and 73a again. Good to see Trevor Mason with the ex Tony Whittaker 66p. Must be quite a few superstocks in sheds in Auckland at the moment, hope they start getting back to the track soon.

The standouts for the night were easily the Modifieds (11 cars) and the Saloons (17 cars) with four Supers tagging off the back. Good close racing that resulted in both feature races providing great duels. 59a Bryan Skelton v 48a Phil Towgood and in the Modifieds 64a Grant Harris holding off 1nz Foxy in an incident filled race with many stoppages and some uncharacteristic problems for the 1nz who twice had to come from the back of the quickly diminishing field. Sidecars (6 with visitors from Gisborne and Kihikihi) and Streetstocks (9 with 51r Gerrand from Rotorua) rounded out the programme.

The programme ran so smoothly that most classes got a 4th heat in, and I was home by 10pm. The rain held off until the last race. There was no printed programme but for $5 entry that's what you would expect. They now have pizza and a carvery in the food area by the end of the grandstand and the bouncy castle was getting a good thrashing by the kids in turn two. A few more cars in the pits and this would have been a simple but great meeting. Big ups to the Saloon and Modified reps or whoever manages to get such good fields each week for these classes, they were the backbone of the meeting. I'm surprised more out-of-town competitors don't show up, the track surface is good, the fields are big and as Saloon 18b said "what else would you do on Saturday night" when asked why he was at WP. This fan appreciated the effort, this meeting could be a winner in future.

Next meeting for me is going to be a big call but the Super Dirt Cup with Auckland Stockcar title on Sat Feb 27th might be just that bit better than the NZ Superstock Qualifying (can't believe I just typed that...)

Meeting rating : 5/10 (Five bucks gets five points!)

Saloons: wins to 27a, 6a, 48a and 59a won the feature
Sidecars: 4k, 43a and 43a
Modifieds: 56a, 1nz, 64a and 64a won the feature
Superstocks: 99a, 73a and 73a won the feature
Streetstocks: 13a, 91a, 15a and 66a won the feature
Stockcars: 45a took all three

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Year of the Tiger


Palmerston North Superstock Teams 2010

The heading for this posting was either going to be "Year of the Tiger" or "Oh, the Shame..!" depending on whether Nelson or Great Britain won the final last night. After 29 years of competition there are still a number of clubs that haven't ever won this title and for GB to come third last year and then claim a win in just two years would have been too much for this kiwi stockcar fan to take. This is taking nothing away from their performance or ability, they would have been worthy winners but the Nelson Tigers were just that bit better than every other team including a vulnerable looking Palmy Panthers who finally relinquished their crown as reigning champs these last four years.

For the first time in the years I've been going, the promotion failed to get 12 teams to front and of the 11 that did turn up, a couple required the services of ring-ins. This meant a rejig of the Friday night qualifying programme which worked well - unless you were an Auckland fan like us, drawn to face Great Britain and Palmerston North and sadly finishing Friday night with 35pts, a rollover and last place. It was a big ask but at least we had a team competing this year. Kihikihi Kings and surprisingly the Rotorua Rebels would be the other teams culled from Saturday nights final 8. Friday night was a little slow to start and the crowd and racing also a bit tamer by comparison to other years and I did wonder if the English style of teams racing (can you have a style after only one year competing?) of not going for the massive hits was being adopted by a few teams. Still it was a good night and for once not a hint of rain to spoil the weekend.

For me Saturday night stepped the action and atmosphere up a few notches and the two major semi finals - Great Britain v Waikato and Palmerston North v Nelson were easily the best teams races I've seen in ages. Edge of your seat action. A pivotal moment during the Nelson/Palmy race when 5p Peter Rees was rolled (right in front of us) essentially saw the most dominant team in Superstock racing history capitulate as one by one the Panthers were picked off, failing to get a single car over the finish line. The end of an era. I guess you couldn't sum it up better than Rees when he said "...I could hear the roar of the crowd even as the car was being rolled..." The British Lions managed to take the other semi when Waikato's runner 85h Jared Wade lost a wheel mid race. Valiant attempts by 95h Warwick Ansty to halt the GB runner failed and the buoyant Mooloo fans cowbells were silenced... well they are never completely silent but as close as it was gonna get.

The final lived up to expectation with 81n Brendan Higgins giving us the performance of the night in a team that were prepared to do anything for that elusive title they last held in 2000. 85h Dale Ewers problems that prevented him racing in the semi had well and truly been solved and he did the running duties taking the win. The British Lions gallant run was over with only 01gb Frankie Wainman jnr finishing. A spectacular night capped off with easily the most popular team rewarded for years of oh-so-close disappointments. As team manager Sandra Birdling said before the final "'s the year of the tiger.." and as far as Superstock teams racing goes it certainly was.

1 Nelson Tigers
2 British Lions
3 Manawatu Mustangs
4 Waikato Wanderers
5 Palmerston North Panthers
6 Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes
7 Stratford Scrappers
8 Christchurch Glen Eagles
9 Rotorua Rebels
10 Kihikihi Kings
11 Auckland Allstars

Meeting rating : 9/10

Footnote: I have noticed on Macgors the familiar "Speedway and Alcohol" thread re-appear like it does every year. At last season's teams champs we sat next to some idiots who all but ruined our Friday night with their drunken antics and again this year we were next to some Huntly fans who were also drinking but major diffence though was they could hold their liquor and were great fun and in fact made our night even better with their comments and enthusiam. Just like the draw for the teams, sometimes you get a good night and other times you get the Panthers and the Lions!