Saturday, July 26, 2014

Workshop Update 981r Steve Gray

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981r Steve Gray
Hometrack: Paradise Valley, Rotorua

Here's another workshop update this time from Steve Gray, formerly from Huntly and now one of the Rotorua Rascals who made such an impression on the teams front representing Paradise Valley, remaining unbeaten all season, and taking the Rees Shield off the Alleycats. An off season rebuild for the tank should see Steve once again in the action, here's a 5 minute interview:

What got you into stock car racing? 
Got into racing as I always went as a kid and my father raced at Forest Lake. I also went a lot as a kid with my Uncle racing modifieds.

What year did you start out?
Started racing production saloons in 03/04 season and stockcars in 05/06 season.

Do you know the background on the car you have?
Car was built by George Duncan 23v in about 1981. Then went to Bill Peat, then became Chris 'bomber' Brittons first tank. The went to Hawkes Bay to Tony Darroch 68b, then to Auckland with Shane Waldon 89a. It then disappeared for a few years and came back as a stockcar with Micheal Stanaway 42a, then to Tony Whyte 83h (this is when I started racing it) then I brought it half way through 2010/11 season.

How many cars have you had since you started?
This is my second car, first stockcar was shared with my father and was Rees car number 13, Rob Miers first car.

Any injuries over the years?
I've had 2 ko's, couple of cracked ribs, 2 broken bones in my left foot and I broke my tail bone at this years War of the Stocks meeting.

What's your favourite track to race?
Favorite track would be Stratford, Rotorua and Palmy isn't too bad, fun wall!

Goals for this season?
Goals for the season are to concentrate on the Rascals and teams racing, it's my new passion, also the NI title at Rotorua.

Will you be a the NZ Title in Nelson or focussing on the teams racing?
Not going to New Zealand champs this year as its a bit out of my budget.

It was an awesome run for the Rascals last season, favourite moment for you?
Favourite part of the season with the Rascals was the whole season! Amazing team to be a part of, on and off the track. We're all best friends and racing together is a pleasure, super proud to be a Rascal!

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Did that hit you took in Palmy hurt much, the tank looked a little sick afterwards?
The hit at Palmy didn't hurt at all. Looked spectacular, but only damage to the tank really was a broken rim and a broken axle. Had the car ready for next race but decided to save the car for teams. A series of photos from this incident can be found (and ordered) HERE from Square Photography.

Any changes or updates to the tank?
A few upgrades this season, got a new O'Conner race engine ready to go in, changing rear end to floating 4 bar to get the new power down, and just a tidy up and a few other updates.

New colour scheme or sticking with the black?
Tanks finally going away from the black but you will have to wait and see what the colour is as I haven't even decided yet haha!

Anything else you wanna mention?
Just like to thank all the people that have helped me over the years and to the fans, they're the ones we put a show on for. Also if anyone is interested in sponsoring the tank this season get in touch as I have pretty much no sponsor and some help would be great. GO THE RASCALS!

Facebook page and contact: HERE login to Facebook first...
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Workshop Update : 14r Matt Nilsson

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14r Matt Nilsson
Home Track: Paradise Valley, Rotorua
Mad Matt as he is known, has been stirring it up since his first meeting at Huntly Speedway in the green 4h flatty way back in December 2009. He's a photographers dream as he is constantly in the action either dishing it out or on the receiving end! He's determined to put on a great show next season and is racing in memory of Dirty Keith from Aussie Spares who sadly passed away earlier this year. Here's a few questions I threw at Matt:

What got you into stock car racing?
I started doing demo derbies but the cars were too weak and I needed something stronger, so my father in law (Coombzy) bought a stock car and I have raced ever since.
Do you know the background on the two cars you have?
The flatty was ex 74i Phillip Connor and before going to Invercargill was Steve Hogan's of Gisborne. The tank was ex 95c, but was built in Whangarei by Neville Macken.
Is the flatty retired or just in hibernation?
Lets just say I plan to finish my career in the car I started in, perhaps in the Golden Oldies class.
Which is more fun to drive?
They are both fun to drive, I can't choose, any stock car is fun to drive!
Any injuries over the years?
I fractured my spine in Nelson 2012/13 season and took four months off and also fractured my foot when I smashed the wheel gate off with a sledge hammer and it smashed my foot!
What's your favourite track to race?
Waikaraka Park, Auckland
Goals for this season?
Nail the reliability on the car, finish more races and roll more cars!
Did you race for the Rascals last season?
No, car was not reliable enough.
Any changes or updates to the tank?
All new steel, new roll cage, new steering setup, just trying to find something strong enough to take the hits.
New colour scheme or sticking with the skull and crossbones?
To be confirmed...
Do you have a Facebook page, website or link the fans can follow you on?

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2010-11 Season
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2011-12 Season
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2012-13 Season
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2013-14 Season
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These updates were pretty popular last year, so if you have shots of your car and a workshop update let me know and I'll put it up on the page, Ill also hunt out all the photos I have of your cars and add them to the posting like Matt's above. Send to

Sunday, July 06, 2014

SNZ Awards Night

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A couple of weeks ago I attended the SNZ Awards night at Te Papa in Wellington and was lucky enough to pick up the Speedway Website of the Year trophy. It was a huge honour and something I'm really proud of. I put a lot of effort into this website, and it's something that has grown from posting a couple of photos up and writing down what meeting they were from, to what I believe is a genuine review and document of a meeting that hopefully people can look back on and get an impression of the atmosphere, who was there and what that meeting was like. Sometimes it can be quite hard to review a meeting that hasn't lived up to expectation, and back in 2005 that was a lot of meetings. My favourite track, Waikaraka Park was going through some turbulent times and it was really easy to pick the place to pieces, and many people did to the point that I thought they might shut for good. WP wasn't the only track like this and it won't be the last. I made a conscious effort a few years ago to at least try and put something positive or say nothing and just post photos when a bad review seemed pointless. Sometimes we all forget that nobody goes out of their way to present a bad show, and that even the best in the business get it wrong sometimes.

Fast forward and the improvement in the sport has been immense. There have been a few times when a negative review has been unavoidable, two that come to mind were night 1 of the NZ Superstock title at Meeanee recently and the NZ Stockcar title at Blenheim a few years ago. The funny thing is that these postings always seem to get the most hits (by a huge margin) which no doubt is the same reason that good news is always an after thought in newspapers and on TV news broadcasts, bad news means more viewers and more hits for websites! The next step in the journey of this website was the books, which came about when a mates website was hacked and he lost everything. I decided to create a book of the reviews in case anything ever went awry with the website and when I showed a couple of people, they wanted a copy too. One of these people was Gavin Evitt, better known as Pallmall, who became a good mate and was very encouraging with the website, photography and just has passion for the sport which was infectious, a walk around the pits with Gavin was sometimes the highlight of the night because of his immense knowledge and grasp on the history of the sport. There have been many more people I've met, drivers, crew, volunteers and fans alike who make Speedway the rush that it is.

Five books and one magazine later (with two books coming hopefully before christmas) and a SNZ award last year for my review of the 2011/12 Season, things seem to be humming along nicely. The magazine I put together along with Brendon Learmonth, track photographer from Palmy, was also nominated this year, another massive boost to my ego! The books are yet to make a profit, but I don't care, I like having a tangible record of my speedway journey and if other people get a buzz out of them, then that's even better. I began the website in 2005, so next season will be 10 years of work - a whole decade of speedway - drivers have come and gone, clubs have changed, grown and even moved in the case of Baypark, and the entire Speedway network has grown massively online. Where the sport is headed I don't know, I just know I want to be part of it, and hopefully the website, photos and books I create are a worthy addition.

First posting: 2005 WP Meeting One
NZ Stockcar Magazine: 2013 Woodford Glen Meeting

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

BK Supersaloons & Stockcar Rumble

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Burger King Pro Dirt Supersaloon Series
Waikaraka Park, March 1st

Here are a few photos from the final round of the Pro Dirt Series raced at Waikaraka Park last March. Mark Osborne pretty much had the series wrapped up by this stage and really didn't need to overdo it but still showed the class that has made him back to back New Zealand champion this season. Split into two groups, heat wins went the way 24a Ben Harding and Grant Flynn in group one, and 88w Bryan Comerford and 81m Dean Waddell in group 2. Harding's performance in heat two of group one was a standout as he ran the outside line almost around the whole field. Then the BK pole shuffle was completely dominated by 6b Grant Flynn seeing off Dean Waddell who had put out Lance Jennings, Jennings having defeated Kristen Vermeulen. Flynn then probably provided the highlight of the night victorious over 3nz brother Grant and beating 24a Harding in the final shootout, moving up to pole for the final.

The 25 lap final had 1nz Osborne starting way back on grid 9 of the 17 starters, 24a Harding winning the jump for the lead over Flynn in the first corner but a bottleneck of cars would cause some grief with 4m Trevor Rogers almost into the wall and 13b Mick Quin receiving some panel damage. The front four cars would make a break on the field, 24a, 6b, 3nz and 81m until bonnet damage on the 43m John Roberts car would bring on the caution lights. 1nz had moved up to 5th by this stage, before our next couple of incidents including a spin for 4m and a coming together of the luckless 24w Martin Halcrow, who had a miserable night, locked together with Comerford before separating on the back straight only for the 88w to be hit by 66h Craig Marsh. 88w, 66b and 13b all retired at this stage. The battle at the front had been epic only for 6b Flynn's car to erupt into an expensive cloud of smoke retiring 5 laps front the finish, Harding taking the win ahead of 3nz Flynn, 1nz Osborne and local legend Jennings. An excellent evening of Supersaloon racing in a series that is a must see.

Also on the night was the Stockcar Rumble drawing a great field of about 40 Stockcars. This also required a couple of 10 lap heats for each group to find our finals field of 32. Wins for the two groups went to 29a Scott Tennant and 741a Craig Chatfield in group one and 95a Gary Lonergan and an impressive 82r Darcy Meurant for group 2. A number of incidents and retirements probably meant everyone qualified for the 3 heat finals for the Rumble anyway, but who's gonna complain about extra stockcar races on the programme! Rumble heat one provided plenty of biff and bash and a huge number of retirements. 23a Tony Baldwin and 14r Matt Nilsson were into stirring mode immediately while 32a Brad Wearing went for a wall ride in turn 4. 95a Gary Lonergan and 57a Aiden Eustace were both taken out of the lead and held up by 14r giving the lead to Craig Chatfield before the 741a retired to the infield joining 91a also dnf'ing. The 2nz Palmy car driven by Chev Taniwha took over the lead before red lights after a nasty incident, 88a Ian Smith and 14r ploughing into the wall and the 14r reversing out of the wall being collected by 45a Corey Baker. With two laps to go, 57a fired 42h Lance Gribble into the pit wall. 2nz surviving an action packed heat to take the win ahead of Tennant, 34a Mark Wearing, 441h Andy Weir and 22a Leigh Cossey.

Heat 2 had a few gaps on the start grid but no lack of action. 25a Jason Rowe driving over the front of 27h Brett Aitken while 23a held up 2nz pushing him back to last place. Lonergan had the lead ahead of 651a Troy Power before our first big incident, 22a Cossey taking 82r Meurant up the wall with 42h Gribble also involved. Unfortunately the reds came on too quick for Cossey to get down off the wall robbing us of some good stirring and by lap 3 we already had 5 cars on the grass. A spin in turn 4 for 57a dropped him to the rear of the field while 27h was tied up by 61a Leroy Neill. 42h Gribble had another massive hit into the wall in turn 3 while the reds came on for the stricken 145a of Jessica Peat. Lonergan, 10a Chanelle Gordon, Power, Weir and Tennant were the leading bunch before two more red lights stoppages. Gordon spun and retired with 2 laps to go while Neill held up Rowe dropping him well down the field.

Heat 3 had only 18 cars roll out of the pits, a measure of the action we had been treated to. 82r Meurant and 2nz Taniwha lead out for the first lap before being held up by 15a Mike Harris, letting Scott Tennant into the lead. Taniwha then decided to have a go at the locals putting in a huge shot on 45a Baker before 23a landed a heavy shot on the Palmy car. Meurant and Lonergan battled for second place for a number of laps before Taniwha ironically landed the killer hit on Meurant spinning him, Meurant hooking reverse and taking the 2nz to the wall also, both drivers chances gone just laps from the finish. Tennant took an emphatic win ahead of Lonergan, Weir, Ash Wearing, Jason Rowe and Craig Chatfield. Overall points and the Northern Rumble win went to 29a Scott Tennant (99pts) ahead of 441h Andy Weir (92pts) and 95a Gary Lonergan (90) in third. Ash Wearing (89pts) in 4th with 2nz Chevron Taniwha and 651a Troy Power tying for 5th on 83pts.

Superstocks and Ministocks rounded out a great night at WP, two feature events that really proved their worth and an excellent nights entertainment.

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