Bump and grind for Kaikoura quake


Written by: Pete McNae


Dwayne Westley summed it up in one word on Wednesday: “excellent”.

When the Nelson Speedway Association announced that its feature promotion for Saturday’s meeting at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway was a $500 cash prize for the stockcar stirrer of the night, Westley was well-pleased. That was even though it was going to be just his second meeting in a new car, having made a brief entrance in to speedway seasons ago in an old workhorse of a stockcar that was dealt to severely in turn one, one night. Nope, the idea of getting cash to crash was simply “excellent”.

And he was a man of his (one) word, collecting the $500 after three reasonably hectic races on a club night when the Nelson association donated a percentage of its gate takings to quake relief in Kaikoura. The loss of the feature promotion, the Challenge Cup superstock teams race between Nelson’s Tigers and the Palmerston North Panthers was certainly a setback, but the show of support for those hammered by Monday morning’s earthquake was well received by a moderately sized crowd.  What the club couldn’t counter was small fields in three of their six programmed classes. Competitors did their best to plug the gaps but the wide-open spaces were obvious.

Not in stockcars, though. They rallied up 18 cars with 17 making the grid for heat one of the Stockcar Stirrer 500, among them Liam Smith in Ben Keys’ car, Alistair Greig filling in for Phil Krammer and Levi Collier debuting a new Higgins-Holden. Troy Currie’s Blenheim-registered car entered but his second weapon, the Ford V8 flat chassis made famous for its ability to give and take a shot, didn’t get through greensheeting.

Heat one was the most passive, Tony Frost and Michael Paynter swapping paint and Dan Mclauchlan aiming up on Paynter before a big turn three impact took out Greig and Westley.  Keightley Teece led home stockcar rookie Connor Rangi with Ben Smith third. In fact, Teece was untouchable in all three races, winning by wide margins in each. But Saturday wasn’t about flags so heat two was notable for a wall ride for Paynter, Dylan Clarke playing roughly with Ben Smith and Westley and a wily passing move that saw Tony Frost, who has three decades in speedway behind him, outwit Brad Neiman for second place.

The fistful of dollars was still up for grabs going in to the third race with 14 cars mobile. Teece won from John Everett and Clarke but, behind the leaders, Westley and Mclauchlan were fighting out the five hundy. Mclauchlan got seven laps before he killed his car in a big prang with Westley and Liam Smith, Westley going on to hit Clarke as Neiman tore the springs out of Currie’s car.  There was little between Mclauchlan and Westley in the final tally, the 72N car narrowly getting the nod.

Other promotions included the Mark Thorn Memorial Trophy for sidecars, a best pairs in the youth ministocks, hit to pass for the streetstocks, round one of the TQ club champs and superstock open racing. The superstocks were thin on the ground although Canterbury’s Kevin Clive was a welcome arrival in the pits. Race wins were claimed by Brett Nicholls, building on his recent run of form, Trevor Lineham, Alex Hill and Blair Cunningham, who had his Tank hustling in a bonus race at the end of the meeting. Cunningham had earlier proved he was still the big dog in Nelson when it comes to blocking rival cars, Jared Gray also using his back bumper effectively to delay Lineham before finishing his meeting on three wheels on the infield.

The streetstocks had some issues hitting to pass with just seven cars fronting, including Blenheim’s Daniel Honey. Bradley Evans was out after race one but, to their credit, the remaining cars kept aiming up on each other. Gordon Ingham, Cody McCarrison and Ryan Musgrove were race winners with McCarrison’s activity earning him the hit to pass honours.  A lap timing malfunction in heat three had the drivers lapping as quickly as 3.10s at a speed of 399kmh.  Holden and Ford Australia would still doing good business, if those numbers were genuine.

The Mark Thorn is prized by the sidecar class and would normally draw visiting riders but, on Saturday, just had five local combinations performing. Two wins from three starts were enough to give Adie Drake and Kieran Satherley another turn with the trophy, by three points from heat two winners Shaun Solly-Rosie Taylor with Stuart Anderson-Shaun Harris third. Given recent events in the class, Saturday’s five teams were bold to race hard on a track that cut up badly in Shop Corner.

The TQs had made it this far without a rollover this season but that record went out the window when Scott Madden had a big moment in heat one of the club champs. It ended Madden’s evening, with mechanical fragility also counting against heat winners Hayden Mortimer and Morgan Frost.  Mortimer won twice but missed the feature and Frost had a tidy lead in heat two before pulling infield. That gave Alicia Mclauchlan an opening to lead the club championship after round one, from Mortimer and Dylan Stone-Cuthbert. There were strong showings from George Crosbie, Jayden Corkill and Mark Bezett, Corkill getting his first class win in an extra race at the end of the night.

Corkill came through the youth ministock ranks and there was good numbers and real talent on show in the class, with 18 drivers entering the drawn pairs competition. Hamish Carter was on a mission, winning all three races but he cut the pole line off the start in the third and was relegated to fourth, handing the win to Wade Sweeting. When the pairs were announced after the third heat, Sweeting and promising first-season driver Sophie Rangi had a three-point buffer over Carter and Jonti Austin with Caleb Jessop and Holly Donaldson another three back in third. Jessop improved one place in each race and looks capable of challenging the frontrunners.

The next meeting at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway is on December 3 and will feature the Hydraulink War of the Wings for sprintcars, alongside the South Island stockcar championship. As Dwayne Westley might say, “excellent’”.


Photos by: Tom Laney, www.imagepress.co.nz

Stockcar photo by: Robbie Reihana, www.imagepress.co.nz