April 28th, 2012
I'd like to think the thought of a Rees Shield stockcar teams race bought the fans through the gates, but it was probably the addition of fireworks that dragged their sorry asses through the gates on a cold April night at the wrong end of the season. Despite it almost being May, it still feels like I didn't quite get my fill of racing these last few months, rain of course played its part but I wasn't quite ready for it all to end. Thankfully, after a delay for the ambulance to turn up and another late start to the meeting, the night delivered some action and plenty of good racing.
The Rees Shield challenge was the Alleycats second defence and the Waikato Raiders had sent a very strong looking team. Worryingly, the home side were in trouble before the green flag even dropped with Gary Lonergan having steering box issues forcing him into the reserve role. Andre Stenson sat it out for the Raiders. Rod Smythe and Justin Hutchby took the early lead for the Raiders chased by Bernie Fox before the Alleycat blockers locked onto their targets, McNabb holding up the 95h and Jamie Fergusson in the 137a doing the same to Hutchby. This gave Fox a lead he was never going to relinquish. 838a Mark McNabb's next target was 97h Scott Gallop who he took up the wall in turn 4. After a mid race attack by Hutchby on McNabb in front of the main grandstand he backed out from the wall and was hit full noise by Bernie Fox who was stopping for no one and was driving the race of life. A sickening blow brought on the red lights to remove the 98h car. At this point with 4 laps to go the race order was Fox, Gallop, Smythe, Hazelton, Krizo. One last attempt by Smythe to block the leading car of Fox failing with the 833a sending him into the turn 4 wall, Fox going on to take an impressive win for the Alleycats.
28 Cars filled the other three stockcar heats, which turned on some great action. 741a Craig Chatfield lent his car out to Shane Bessant who took a brilliant win in heat two and almost had the feature sewn up until a wheel guard came loose and officials removed the car from the race, boo hiss! It makes the impending sale of the awesome looking red superstock tank even more depressing, I'd love to see what Bessant could do in the tank for the Auckland class that is crying out for numbers. Heat wins went to 29a Scott Tennant who has had an incredible season, 741a Bessant in heat two and 64a Carlos Chestnutt the feature. Great stirring in the heats by 92h Stenson, 9a Kenworthy and 95a Lonergan who before the night had even started had taken out the season points for the fourth year running, this time for all heats and the feature, an astounding achievement. Stockcars as a class have been the highlight of the Auckland season in my opinion.
The Streetstocks turned out in good numbers with plenty of support from Kihikihi cars and easily turned on their best racing of the season. They have really struggled this year to provide a show for the crowd but if they raced like this each night the class would really earn its place on the programme. The very talented Bryce Dibley was one of the Ministock graduates racing at WP for the last time in the distinctive silver 6a, but I was disappointed to hear his next step is into a Production Saloon at Huntly next season, he will be a loss to the Park. Also announced was that 2nz Bernie Fox will be retiring from Stockcar teams racing, 64a Grant Harris and 29a Paul Wade retiring from Modifieds. Thankfully announcements about retirement in Speedway have about as much strength as rumours of Elvis being dead, so lets hope we see these guys back in October!
The other two standout performers of the night and in fact the season were Jamie Fox in the Modifieds winning all three heats in exactly the same fashion as he did on opening night, and 46a Nigel Ross in the Saloons, who was Mr Spectacular all night. He has had a very memorable season, possibly his best ever. So that was it for season 2011/12, a great final night, not sure if it was a great season overall but the club appears to be on the right track at last. I look forward to 2012/13!
Meeting rating : 7/10
Programme : $2.00 A5 some in colour
Driver of the night : 11a Jamie Fox
Parking : Free
Best Moment : 242a Bernie Fox, unstoppable in the teams race.