Sunday, April 20, 2014
Limping to an end...
John Webster XV
April 19, Waikaraka Park
The 15th running of the John Webster was slightly different to previous years with only 2 classes from each of the Auckland tracks, Sprintcars and Midgets from Western Springs and Superstocks and Supersaloons representing Waikaraka Park. There was also a demo derby and fireworks to pretty much guarantee a big crowd and a 6pm start to make sure all the ingredients were there for a great night. I don't know if its just me or if Im a bit jaded or what, but from there it all went pear shaped. The night was late starting, the track was slushy (understandably though) for the first few races and then I felt the meeting never really lifted to any great heights, in fact it had the foul odour of "end of season" hanging about sadly.
Supersaloons were undoubtably the biggest let down, last year they managed to gather 5 cars and 2 Saloons to boost the numbers, this year it was 6 cars and not much action, 46m Matt Smith taking the Glen Turner Memorial after a race long tussle to get passed 96a Lance Jennings. If this class can't reach double figures they should be dropped from this event, its supposed to be the best of each track being showcased and there are other classes from WP that would fit the bill better than these guys. The other class representing WP were the Superstocks who at least managed to front with a decent field of 17 cars although the 49m Brown car never made it out on to the track. 95r Tony Fabish was the pick of the drivers along with 23r Lance Ashton. 11a Carl Hodge provided the only real action of the night hooking reverse while being spun and tipping 97r Pat Westbury over. The three heats were okay I guess, 5a Brad Ridland taking out the feature. Again nothing stunning to report here and so the two classes from the host track get a "must try harder" on their Webster report card. It was odd seeing the local cars all shoved down the far end of the pits at their own track while the Sprintcars and Midgets had the prime spots. Would this happen if the meeting was held at Western Springs... am I too late for stirrer of the year?
Midgets probably provided the best race of the night (but that's not saying much) with their 30 lap feature. 3nz Hayden Williams repeating his complete domination of the race in a carbon copy of last year. No one was even close to matching his pace and his win was made to look easy. I think he also took the decent cash prize for the shootout provided by the Outlaw Club. Sprintcars were similarly dominated by 3nz Jamie McDonald although 21w Stephen Taylor looked pretty good and lead for a while in the feature race until every car that challenged him decided to give him a shunt, nudge or tag until he was taken out of the race altogether! The track surface for these races was excellent and the saving grace of the show. The night finally dragged to a close with the fireworks and then a demo derby which was still going when I left after 10.30pm. The whole point of an early start lost on the organisers unfortunately. A pass mark then for the Springs two classes, but only just. As mentioned by Macgor on his website the other week, I too am getting a bit over endless shootouts, four wide salutes and jostling for positions on a restarts. These are all good when the programme is running swiftly but last night it wasn't. WP has one more meeting for the 2013/14 season, the King of the Park on April 26th.