TOO GOOD TO REFUSE

500-PLUS HORSES FOR COURSES

Written by Pete McNae

The phone call must have sounded like an out-take from the British sitcom, The Vicar of Dibley, when old Jim would say “No, no, no, no … yes”. That’s pretty much how 2002-03 New Zealand superstock champion Jared Wade ended up with his current car.

Wade, a 36-year-old manager for Waikato Scaffolders Ltd, was ready to move up from the car he had been running, a Keith Gill chassis with a Nissan V8. The plan was to order a new Gill and a fresh motor to have a crack at the big superstock meetings this summer, including the New Zealand champs at Woodford Glen and the New Zealand Grand Prix, a week later at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway in Nelson. Then he got a call from 2011-12 1NZ Joe Faram. Was Wade interested in his Hampton tri-rail with a Marsh Motorsport Chev? The answer …. “No, no, no, no …. yes.”

“It was a bit bizarre how it all went down,” said Wade, who will have the car in Nelson this weekend for the Nelson Speedway Association’s opening night and 50th anniversary celebrations. “Joe said it was silly, him having two cars in the shed that were seeing no use and was I interested? I had a budget and a price range and there was no way Joe’s car was going to fit either, but I also knew what an unreal piece of kit it was.

“So, probably in the space of five hours, I had Joe sending me pics of the car, baiting the hook, me trying to sell the car I already had, a few people telling me to stay away from the Chev and play it safe with the Japanese engines and others going, ‘man, you have to do it’. Long story short, we found some support from people involved with the team, my car found a buyer and we bought this new one and, mate, not one regret at all.”

Wade had only practised once in the car when we called, he was due to head out again the same day for more seat time but already he knew the car ticked every box — and some.

“I guess on that first day, I tried five different ways of driving it and the car responded to every one. It feels special. With the Japanese motor, you hammer it to get the most out of it and there is no way you are doing that with this Chev … you roll the throttle until it’s safe to plant your foot because there is so much in there. It’s completely different to any other superstock I have driven, definitely the fastest car I have been in, in this class.”

Wade knows how to pedal. After a long stint in superstocks driving for his uncle Paul (NZ superstock champion 1987-88), the Wade family needed a break from collision classes and Jared raced a midget, running well enough out of Western Springs to earn a 3NZ in the 2015-16 summer. While he loved the huge power-to-weight figures of the midget, and their unpredictability, superstocks were his first love. The Gill-Nissan was his entry back into the class, but this Hampton-Chev is where he was headed.

“Superstocks are slow, compared with the midget, that’s just basic physics — but this car is very quick in its class. There are maybe only eight Hampton cars out there, Steve (Hampton) is just down the road, Tony (Marsh, the engine builder) a short trip away and I believe the package is special, the engine, the chassis, the shock package is so well co-ordinated. It’s bizarre how it came about, and so quickly, but even after one practice, it feels like the right decision.”

The other big off-season call was where Wade would register. The midget ran out of Auckland but his superstock career has been under the H (Huntly, in Waikato). After a few guessing games, the new car was revealed as 85K, signalling a commitment to the Kihikihi club that no longer has a superstock field. Why? Because Wade wants to travel and head to the meetings that attract his interest and, with Kihikihi running superstocks three or four times a season at most, he doesn’t need regular dispensations to leave his home club and race elsewhere, Nelson this weekend, for instance.

Then there was the teams racing aspect. Wade put a lot of effort into the Waikato Wanderers last season and he feels that detracted from his own focus. “Palmy (the teams champs meeting in Palmerston North) is all-consuming and while it can draw people together, it can also create issues. This season, by running with Kihikihi, there is no team to take that time, money and energy from what we want to achieve with the car in other events. If the phone goes in the New Year as clubs try to pull teams together (Jared Wade in the Tigers, there’s a nice thought), I’ll answer it but there is a clear plan for this year that doesn’t involve weeks and weeks of drawing a team together for one weekend.”

The trip to Nelson this weekend — dad Alan has also entered a classic stockcar in the meeting — is part of that plan. Nelson hosts the GP, the team has always enjoyed its Easter racing here and Nelson is one of the first clubs to get the season started to iron out any early bugs.

“We love a roadie. We like loading up and racing at another club for the experience and the social side of it and I like a lot about the Nelson club and the guys there. Up here, we are spoiled for choice — there are 10 tracks within our reach. Down there, you are down on cars, Christchurch is a long way and they are doing their thing, so we are looking forward to getting down there for the anniversary meeting and helping out the numbers,” Wade said.

One thing followers of Wade’s Facebook page will have noticed is that the car has a range of different liveries — colours and sponsorship stickers. One meeting it might be in the predominantly white kit, the next black and orange (hmmm) and, for the Nelson meeting on Saturday, the “Mello Yello” variant carrying Waikato Scaffolders logos. Wade says it’s important, when you race with strong sponsor support, to ensure they all feel valued. A promotional event at one major sponsor simply sees one body kit come off and the appropriate one added while, if he crashes, there’s no need to miss a meeting.

“If I get tipped up and we tear up a body and wing, you can’t get that all back together in a week. This way, that one comes off and gets repaired and we don’t miss a meeting,” he says. “It’s a small price in the scheme of things to have those spares there so we never miss a chance to promote a sponsor. Funny thing is, now there are three or four options, people are telling me they like one but not the others as much — if we just gave them one, they’d never know any different!”

After becoming the youngest national superstock champion in the sport’s history and the long stint running Paul’s cars, then a much easier maintenance schedule with the midget and even more success, the decision to go back to the future and run his own superstock might seem strange to some. Wade disagrees.

“At the time, all those options were the right ones, but I woke one morning and told myself it was time to own my own car — and it would be a superstock. Paul set me on the trail and for that, I will always be thankful, but he’s keen on the open wheel stuff and in my heart, I wanted to run back in the class I came from.”

  • Jared Wade races with the support of Ingham Hyundai, Waikato Demolition, Zic Motor Oils NZ, Waikato Scaffolders Ltd, Pickerill Auto Electrical, Jazz Print, Motorworks HB, Rotor Force Aviation, Metallic Recycling ltd, OK Health, Dura-Seal Paint Protection, Mickey Thompson Tyres NZ, Foster Engineering, Red Star Signs, AWS Graphics, PJs Panel and Paint, Ultra Paints.Follow the team on www.waderacing.co.nz and on their Facebook page, Wade Racing.
  • Nelson Speedway Association opening night, featuring their 50th season anniversary celebrations, this weekend. Meet and greet at clubrooms, 5pm-late Friday night, car show and shine Saturday 11am-3pm in the public carpark at the track, racing from 5.40pm Saturday featuring Trackman Trophy for all classes and three races for the historic/classic stockcars, formal anniversary dinner at The Tides restaurant Sunday evening. The club will have a commemorative book and other anniversary memorabilia for sale — tickets are still available for the Friday and Sunday evening gatherings.
  • Saturday’s programme gets underway at 5.40pm with a youth ministock race before the grand parade and racing from 6pm sharp. A 23-race programme includes features for classics, TQ midgets, superstocks and super saloons.
  • Follow the latest club news, meeting previews and reviews at www.nelsonspeedway.co.nz, through the Nelson Speedway phone app and on Facebook through the official Nelson Speedway Association Inc page.