VISITORS FILL NELSON FIELDS

21 RACES FOR 20 BUCKS

Written by Pete McNae

With just over a fortnight til Christmas, money is tight and tough calls need to be made on that twenty dollars tucked away in the wallet. Sorry, Auntie Barbara, no box of Favourites for you this year — that green note is going to the speedway on Saturday.

After a couple of rain-plagued meetings, the Nelson Speedway Association is looking to send patrons into the festive season with a wallop this weekend at their final meeting before Christmas.

Leading the programme is the IHC Charity Shop South Island Streetstock Championship. Strong support comes from a stockcar teams race with the Dean’s Truck Services Tasman Thunder hosting the Greymouth Grizzlies, while there are open club championships for the stockcar and superstock classes and the production saloons running for the Trackman Trophy. Youth ministocks round out the show at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway from 6pm.

Association president Wayne Martin said the out-of-town interest in Saturday’s meeting has created a hectic programme.

“I don’t think anyone could complain about value for money this weekend,” Martin said. “The streetstock class have supported their championship and, with the other tracks we try to work in with not running, we have had a pretty pleasing list of visitors wanting to come and race here.”

The streetstocks, with entry numbers standing at 31, will need four qualifying races before three finals heats. The stockcar teams race is the third event on the programme with three championship heats to come while the superstocks have a three-race championship. Productions will run two heats and a final and the youth class is scheduled to have four races. That’s a total of 21 races and plenty of tow truck time.

The streetstock list includes drivers from Christchurch, Greymouth, Blenheim and Nelson. If numbers hold up by the drivers’ briefing on Saturday, races one and two will be group qualifying with reverse grid second heats to follow as races six and seven. The three finals heats will be run over 12 laps each. If numbers drop for any reason, qualifying could be shelved with the full field heading straight to the finals.

“We’re on that edge now with the number we have,” Martin said. “It’s a decision for race night but it wouldn’t be the worst thing to put all the cars on the track and send them straight into a championship. It’s going to be fairly hectic.”

The teams race, four cars on four at the request of the Grizzlies, could see the Thunder debut of Levi Collier, Hamish Carter or both with survivors heading into a field of 30 cars for the open club champs. Again, support has come from Blenheim, Greymouth and Canterbury.

Thirty cars is a huge field and would require a steward’s approval but, realistically, the teams race is likely to cost a couple of cars. “We’re rapt with the out of town interest. A field that size on our track is going to be entertaining.”

Canterbury’s superstock class rep says five cars will head this way after Nelson’s drivers have made three or more visits to Woodford Glen already this season. Among those listed to turn up are two current Glen Eagles teams racers; Asher Rees and Jayden Ward, alongside Peter Field, Mat Lunam and Matt Hand. Former South Island champion Nick Fowler is likely to get a drive in Shane Harwood’s 18N in one race as he begins a buildup to an appearance at the New Zealand champs in the New Year. A friendship with chassis builder Steve Hampton has seen Fowler invited to run the top-of-the-line 66R Hampton tri-rail superstock at the nationals and Fowler needs to complete three meetings to be eligible. He will complete a meeting at the car’s base in Rotorua on December 21 before bringing it south to race over Christmas.

Visitors are also lining up for the production and youth ministock classes while, finally, the forecast looks positive.

“No one in Nelson looks at the weather apps more than I do. I have two on my phone and sometimes they say different things, but this week, both are promising it’s fine and warm for Saturday,” Martin said.

The week of rain won’t have hurt either, as long as it stops by tomorrow. “It’s going to help our cause, the rain will have soaked in nicely and the track should be perfect.”

Super saloons were to have raced this meeting but withdrew and rescheduled for December 29 due to a lack of numbers available this week. With three championships, a teams race and 21 events carded, an extra class might have been an embarrassment of riches.

  • Gates at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway open at 5pm with racing from 6pm. Adults $20, pensioners and club members $12, children 5-15 $10 and under-fives free. A family pass for two adults and three children is $40.

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