Monday, October 31, 2011
Rees Shield, WP Meeting 2
Stockcar Teams Race, Meeting 2
Waikaraka Park, Auckland
The featured event for meeting two at Waikaraka Park was the yearly visit from the Gisborne Gladiators stockcar team. With the added bonus of the winner taking home the Rees Shield a new Ranfurly Shield style challenge, there was a little more on the line than usual. Last season the Gladiators came as close as you can to beating the Alleycats and on the back of a some strong performances late last season, they had a very real chance of taking it out. The Gladiators were represented by 61g Allan Giddens, 64g Ian Barron, 65g Jason Jones, 66g Nick Hutton and 67g David Kingsbeer. The very strong Alleycats squad consisted of 383a Gary Lonergan, 833a Bernie Fox, 137a Jamie Fergusson, 388a Trevor Mason and 838a Tony Gavin.
During the warm up laps it was obvious there was a problem with Bernie Fox's car, one of the standout performers last season became the reserve for the Alleycats. 61g Giddens sat it out for the Gladiators. From the green flag 66g Hutton put 388a Mason up the wall by the start finish line, Mason was able to drive off but first blood to the G's. Lonergan and Gavin did the running for Auckland and Jones and Kingsbeer did the same for Gisborne. 67g had a shot at 137a Fergusson then the Auckland blocker did exactly what his role is and took out the Gizzy runner 65g Jones. Hutton had a shot at Lonergan and was left stranded on the infield for a few laps. Mason took out Ian Barron and the Aucklanders had the upper hand until Gavin was spun and unable to restart on turn four. 66g had rejoined the race and Lonergan had managed to avoid most attempts to stop him but 64g Barron blocked him and then hooked reverse while being spun almost managing to block the race leader in the wall. By this stage 65g Jason Jones and 67g David Kingsbeer had caught up and were in 2nd and 3rd places. It was edge of your seat stuff as only 66g Hutton stood between Lonergan and the chequered flag and he managed to spin the 383a in turn 3. Lonergan was able to right the car and finish ahead of the two Gizzy boys. A good close race but the vital win to Auckland : 383a, 65g, 67g, 137a.
A good race then and a good start to the night, it didn't seem like there was too much damage to the cars either as most of them made it out for the normal heat races and I think I can honestly say heat one for the stockcars was waaaaay better than the teams race! In fact there was carnage, the Gisborne cars were given a great big Auckland welcome from the locals and head of the welcoming party was 9a Cameron Kenworthy. This guy took it upon himself to introduce the visitors to his bumpers, the wall, the grass and everywhere in between. It wasnt all one way though, Ian Barron gave as good as he got and was awesome to watch. The reason the Gisborne team are so popular is their never say die attitude and they gave as much grief to the locals as they could. A bloody good race. The second heat and feature were exactly the same, stand out class for the night and well worth the entry fee. Gary Lonergan not only won the teams race, he took out heat 1, heat 2 and came home second behind Mason for the feature. Performance of the night.
The rest of the programme included 10 Saloons, 6 Streetstocks, 8 Modifieds, 30 Ministocks and 21 Stockcars. Apart from the Ministocks, fields were fairly light and probably the only gripe I could mention. Hopefully numbers will increase asap, as its the only glaring issue at the moment. The meetings flow well, there is a newly painted pole line, an improved printed programme from last weeks version (with driver listings included) and a really good buzz about the place. A couple of drivers worth noting too, 11a Lynn Yates in the Saloons probably drove better than I've ever seen before and in the feature held out 1nz McClymont for a number of laps which was great to see. Also the stunning 85g Ministock, not sure of the driver but talent to burn, stood out in a huge field.
Final thoughts, this shield is going to be a winner, not only did it bring five Gisborne cars to the track, there was a great buildup and more importantly, the four Stockcar races for the night were outstanding solely because there were five out of towners here to stir up trouble. Not only that, we now have the prospect of another team coming to have a go which means five more cars to add to the local mix. Its a simple idea, easily promotable and its only going to get better and better.
Meeting rating : 7/10
Programme : $1 Colour cover, good value
Food : Some things never change, Hamburger $7
Competitor numbers : 75 over 5 classes
Driver of the night : 383a Gary Lonergan
Parking : Free