Tuesday, April 20, 2010
2010 John Webster Memorial, WP
The 11th running of the 'John Webster' took place on a chilly Saturday night at Waikaraka Park and I left the place not quite sure if it was a good meeting or not. There were high points including the complete dominance of both 8a Ryan O'Connor in the Sprintcars and 19a Brock Mascovich in the TQ's - is it possible for a guy in a field of 22 TQ's to finish 1st and 5th since he lapped every car except those in 2nd, 3rd and 4th? Sensational I think was the word the commentary team used. The third heat in the Stockcars where both Brown brothers from Rotorua 109r and 291r were set upon, 291r put up the wall early by 95a and 82a, but 109r Jason Brown proving more elusive and finally caught while leading just metres from the finish line by a core group of determined Aucks 11p, 95a, 22a and 82a. It was also 'pick on Krizo' night but he was up to the challenge and Tony Gavin in the 14a was stirring it up big time giving 33a Cossey a huge wall ride and rollover. Excellent racing and sets up a very interesting last meeting for this class next week.
The Supersaloons third heat was a demo derby, great for us to watch but not great racing by any means and apart from a Steve Williams pass early on that got him safely into the lead, all hell broke loose further back and it just became a case of who would survive to the chequered flag. 24m Ben Harding and 57a Shane McInteer were the standouts in this class as far as entertainment goes.
The Superstocks, who failed to reach double figures (there were 9 of them with only 4 locals) did actually put on a decent show and possibly the biggest hit of the night with 73a Bryce Marx sent on a massive roll by 45s Steve Guilford. There was even some Stratford v Stratford action in the second heat. This is where we head in to the negative part of the review...
During some of the Stockcar racing the red lights came on a couple of times for cars that appeared only to be 'stuck in mud' to be honest. Then we got the massive hit on Marx Superstock (check the Petrolfumes video here) and the lights stayed green? Now sometimes we all bemoan the fact that red lights come on too often but this looked like a genuine red light occasion. The mere fact that they both fired up and took off again was incredible but then of course the entire wing from the Marx car was left lying on the track for the remainder of the race. During all the confusion immediately after the roll there were red flags, green lights and infield staff running towards the scene and general indecision.
Five of the drivers listed in the programme for Superstocks never appeared and there were no lists for Sprintcars or Minisprints making you wonder why so many appeared just two days earlier at Huntly and didn't commit to this meeting. There were no Huntly Stockcars or Superstocks in attendance at all. And then there were the Minisprints... seven of them to be precise and as the night wore on there were 5 and then four for the final, and only three finished. Abysmal. Totally wrong for this meeting if that was all that they could muster (and like I said on my Speedfest review giving my reasons for not usually liking the class and I'll quote "Maybe because the only times I've ever seen them is usually with about 7 or 8 cars..." they should have been canned. I'm beginning to notice a pattern this season, when WP dont mention any specific car numbers or drivers attending it usually means they are struggling. This meeting had little promotion anyway but only Sprintcars numbers and a list of TQ drivers had filtered onto Macgor's discussion board.
The track was very wet to begin the night and it wasn't until about half way through the second Supersaloon heat that it started to come right so basically the first two-thirds of the meeting was pedestrian apart from the second Stockcar heat. The Sprintcar shootout was also fairly bad with many restarts and even Barry Brown at one point saying "just flick the green light!" to get the racing moving along. Shoot-outs can be great but this one was a lemon.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the John Webster Expo as it used to be called was a HUGE night with a huge crowd and the best classes with big fields. This crowd was not big, the atmosphere was lacking and a big percentage of the night was unimpressive. Perhaps the howler of the night though was when John Webster was referred to as a 'living legend' which is technically not correct. The damage done to the fence after the Marx incident required the crowd to be moved for safety reasons. Will this be another area roped off from the public next week? Going by the crowd size last night, it shouldn't be a problem. This review may seem a little harsh but when you have an almost identical meeting at Huntly two days before to compare it to, I think its honest.
Sprintcars : 8a Ryan O'Connor
Supersaloons : 21h Steve Williams
Stockcars : 91a Paul Chatfield
Superstocks : 5k Brad Ridland
Minisprints : 9a Stevie Walsh
TQ's : 19a Brock Mascovich
Meeting rating : 6/10
My trust old Sony Cybershot finally died a death last week after years of speedway dust inhalation, so I borrowed a camera of a guy at work and had a few problems once the sun went down. So many options, so little knowledge. New camera for next season...