Monday, November 03, 2014

Fireworks Opening Night at Paradise Valley

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Opening Fireworks Meeting
Paradise Valley, Rotorua
Nov 1, 2014

Something I've learnt over the years is when clubs don't put out lists of drivers attending, its usually because the roster is a little 'lean' shall we say, conversely when someone puts out a list like the Rotorua Club did mid week, they should be shouting from the rooftops! Despite the fact it was an opening night, which can be a snorefest, they had big numbers in the classes I like. So Saturdays weather played ball and off to Paradise Valley I went. I stupidly left my glasses and phone in the car and just as the pits closed I reached my seat realising I had left them behind, I spoke to the guy on the pit gate as my car was right by the back entrance to the pits and was given a stern "no, you have to walk around the track" I was pissed off but it was my own fault and so I can report that the pit policy at PV is robust and as per club rules!

About 35 stock cars were in the pits and so they ran the format of having 3 groups of cars with 2 of those groups racing together in each heat. We had four heats with about 24-26 cars racing at a time. Heat one was pretty good with a bit of niggle going on specially between 141k Matt Nilsson and 78r Tony Savage but we had little idea of how these guys would turn it on later in the night. I got the feeling the Rascals members were going to use the racing to test their cars and that they did. 95r Dale Stewart winning the first race. 93r Brent Stewart the second and third heats and 81r Damian Orr the last race. Heat 3 though was the race of the night with 3 cars being rolled in spectacular fashion, 33r Roger Hines the best one I saw. Despite the fact there are some pretty flash cars registered to Rotorua, there was no lack of contact and a core group of drivers were behind most of the mayhem, Nilsson, Holland Snr, Holland Jnr, Savage, both Orr cars 81r and 99r and 29r Terrence Peri-Woods. There is also some incredible pace and visiting drivers will do well to survive let along win a race at this track. Kihikihi visitor Nilsson was dealt to eventually by a group of three cars including 9r Malcolm Gray leaving the black tank stuck in the wall on turn 1. I hadn't expected too much from this meeting, but this class alone was worth the entry fee. Only a few seasons back I lamented the fact that Rotorua stockcars were fast but boring with little or no contact. Ironically they had no Rascals team racing at that time either, but how things have changed.

Superstocks had a strong field of locals numbering 14 cars although the 4r of Ian Elsworth never made it out onto the track. Rotorua is the home of the Top Gear Superstock and both 118r Bryce Steiner and 23r Lance Ashton made a meal of all three heats, Ashton winning two and Steiner the other one. Some good fast racing with a bit of action bringing on a few red lights. Ex Auckland driver Paul Vasey looked right at home and despite a puncture in heat 2 when he was running third, managed a 2nd and 3rd placing in the other two heats.

Ministocks (2 groups), Production Saloons and 10 Streetstocks completed the programme. An impressive first night out, lets hope they can keep the action and numbers up and I'm guessing a few more people will choose this track when tossing up where go when multiple upper North Island tracks insist on running on the same night.

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