Monday, April 04, 2011
John Webster / Glen Turner Memorials
John Webster Memorial, Glen Turner Supersaloons
Waikaraka Park, Auckland
The John Webster for 2011 had looked a little shaky during the week leading up to Saturday. No Sprintcars or Superstocks on the agenda and fairly vague numbers being tossed around for most classes. But upon entering the pits you could see there were going to be full fields in most classes. Also the feel of the meeting would be different from previous years with the open wheel classes more dominant having Midgets, MiniSprints and TQ's present. I was a little alarmed with Streetstock numbers (which have been low all season) and predictably they were the only class that failed to fire on a night that's original intention was to showcase the best of speedway in Auckland. This is a class that really need a shot in the arm, or a shot to the head depending on your enjoyment of Streetstock racing.
Overall I thought the racing was pretty good, the SuperSaloons completely stealing the show up until their feature race, when we were treated to a four wide salute in honour of Glen Turner, a stalwart of Auckland Saloon racing. The field of 14 cars was top quality and the feature was going to be something really special. 8h Craig Cardwell absolutely overcooked the start of the race and looked to have blown all chance of winning before they had even reached the first corner. He slipped back to about 8th place from his front row grid but little did we all know that within a lap it would prove rather fortuitous as a spinning 99a Shane McInteer would be involved in a melee that would take out six cars and pretty much rip the guts out of the most anticipated race of the night. The remaining contestants basically left a 24h Harding v 8h Cardwell battle that could never reach the heights that the pre-race hype had built. It was a pity but take nothing away from Harding, he powered his way to a great victory.
I didn't quite get the gist of the way the Midgets were doing the qualifying for their final, then the cars that seemed to have been most successful on the night didn't start off the front. The feature was action packed with a few changes of leader and although their were a few yellow light incidents, it didn't turn into a marathon of endurance for the spectators. The big guns didn't quite get to the front of the field resulting in a great battle between 27a Hayden Williams, 9h Angus McLeod and 4a Dave Gick. Williams picking up the win. Of interest to a lot of WP regulars was the performance of former commentator Aaron Drever who was racing the CRC 71a, and huge respect to the guy for having the kahunas to get out there and then put on a pretty decent performance! Apart from a spin in heat two and a few tentative first laps in heat one he was on the pace, drove clean and looked very capable, great effort dude!
Stockcars were the other standout class. Twenty four cars turned out including 898s Sandy Flett and 16h David Ingram in the old Vic Neal chassis looking pretty cool. Lots of contact and good fast racing with 137a Jamie Fergusson and 168a Billy Neill doing most of the stirring. Wins went to 95a Gary Lonergan, 69h Callum Whiter and the feature to 29a Scott Tennant who is having a brilliant debut season in the class. The 74a stockcar was given to Streetstock pilot Jody Hooker for the feature but just as he was getting into his stride a red light incident that he was too slow to stop for meant he was sent infield robbing the race of some action.
So that was another Webster "Speedway Expo" (as it was originally called) completed. Five of the six classes on show were great and compared to a normal nights racing, $20 for all that action and quality fields was a great deal. Whether the promoters take on board comments about the intent of the meeting - the 'best of the best' concept (which the Huntly club have embraced with the Speedfest meeting) is anyones guess. I hope they do, John Webster was a huge figure in Auckland speedway and any meeting bearing his name should be something a bit special.