With the 2020-21 speedway season fast approaching, the Nelson Speedway Association is still coming up with new ways and means to add value to their season calendar. And, with the first scheduled practice now less than a fortnight away, the club is excited to announce the inaugural Sunshine Classic.

Set down for Nelson’s final meeting of the new campaign on April 17, 2021, the Collision Centre Sunshine Classic is a standalone sprintcar event that organisers expect to become a must-do for competitors along the lines of the Gold Cup (sprintcars) or the superstock class features, the Battle of the Stocks and the PTS Superstock Stampede.

Rather than try to piggyback off a national event, the Collision Centre Sunshine Classic has been set down for an end-of-season date that should mean most drivers will pencil in a final blast before the off-season rebuild. In fact, the Nelson meeting is inked in for the week before the CTRA Nationals at Ellesmere, giving North Island drivers a second bite at the South Island cherry.

Nelson’s meeting is a cash night, sponsored by former open-wheel competitor Landon Dawson from his paint and panel shop, the Collision Centre in Richmond. While Billy Bob’s Hot Rod Emporium is in charge of spectacular trophies for the event, the main lure will be a $3000 winning purse, with prizemoney already totalling $9000 and set to grow as the event catches sponsors’ attention.

Depending on the size of the entry list, the Classic could be run in groups, leading to a B Main and a feature or heats and a feature. Either way, first across the line (if legal) is $3000 better off.

Organiser Kevin Freeman believes the standalone concept is the way to go.

“They are easier events to promote, you set your date and you put up the prizemoney and then you’re not trying to shuffle around title meetings,” he said. “It is late in the season but the weather seems to be staying better for longer and it  (April 17) gives us a clear run at drivers from all over the country.”

Nelson is aiming to emulate the Gold Cup, which is a major meeting on the sprintcar calendar. It doesn’t run on a set date in the season and has built its prestige and profile to the point that it draws the best drivers available.

“We aren’t looking at this being a one-off,” Freeman said. “And it won’t cut across our War of the Wings round or the South Island title. It’s standalone, cash paid and something we aim to make a regular feature for the Nelson club.”

The Nelson Speedway Association are still waiting to hear if they can get a resource consent hearing with the Tasman District Council in the near future. The calendar that is currently published on and on the Facebook page Nelson Speedway Association Inc is the working document until any change happens through the council process.

Alicia Hill photo: Rebecca Connor Maling, BM Photography

Sunshine Classic poster:  Cam Mayne, Lab 17