Fireworks display a cracker

Stockcars light the fuse

Written by Pete McNae

The good outweighed the bad and the ugly on the second night of the season at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway.

Falling squarely in the good camp was a hectic three-heat series for the stockcars, with places in the Tasman Thunder at stake; the consistently impressive Coca Cola fireworks display that dragged in patrons in their thousands; and entertaining racing from the three open wheel classes. Not so flash, an expensive turn one, lap one crash that has set back one of the club’s talented young sprintcar drivers and the continual questions swirling around the superstock class, who were stood down due to a lack of numbers. The ugly was undoubtedly the arsehole behaviour of a small criminal element who chose to take advantage of those thousands of fans and families enjoying their night to tamper with cars and, ultimately, inflict an injury on a patron who interrupted them. The Nelson Speedway Association extends its sympathies and best wishes to the young woman involved.

Inside the fences, there was plenty going on as the momentum from opening night was maintained. Scene stealers were the stockcars, tuning up for the Nelson Automotive Solutions-Jacks Tyres Teams Brawl on November 11. Two Blenheim drivers pitched in, along with Nelson’s Willie Simpson, who debuted his new Tank, purchased from Gisborne last weekend. A squad of six will be needed for the Thunder and, although there were a couple of drivers unavailable, the team named will give the Southern Spartans, Canterbury Crushers and Greymouth Grizzlies a hurry-up. Regulars Michael Paynter, Adam Hall, John Everett and Brad Neiman will be joined by Dylan Clarke and Craig Tatnell in a fortnight’s time. Race winners were Paynter (twice) and Clarke but the aggro was what was most notable. In heat one, it was Troy Currie taking on Josh Nell, and Clarke, and Keightley Teece. Race two, Teece and Tatnell put the squeeze on Clarke, who nobbled Nell as Everett lined up Levi Collier and Teece dealt to Everett, who tipped over gently. KC Rose in Shaun Mahon’s ride was a popular target for the likes of Collier and Neiman. In the last one, Currie went after Rose, Paynter put a big shot on Matt Inwood and Currie got tangled with Collier, the Currie car getting a broken nose. The crowd loved it but they won’t be the ones running the angle grinders and welding torches for the next two weeks.

The damage to Connor Rangi’s sprintcar might go a bit beyond grinding. In a field of seven for the Trackman Trophy, a bit of first turn wheel bumping saw Rangi spear into the wall and roll, with the chassis taking a major bend. Greg Teece had a tough night, trying three times without getting a race start while Blenheim’s Scott Valk was another to fail to go the distance. Front running for much of the meeting was the immaculate 89N of Jason Smith, who had a second behind Kris Gerard and a win in his two heat races, then put the hurt on the field in the 15-lap feature, getting home two-and-a-bit seconds ahead of a flawless Alicia Mclauchlan with Gerard third.

Eleven cars arrived for round one of The Stables Restaurant and Bar Southern Midget Series with some notable new machinery, especially the King chassis Esslinger in the hands of Jeremy Webb. A Webb-Tom Lumsden-Glen Durie scrap seemed likely but a heat one win followed by a third lap DNF in heat two saw Webb’s car on the trailer. Durie took that heat to go into the pole shuffle as top qualifier but Lumsden, from position three, ran the table to get a front row start in the feature. Credit to defending series champion Durie, he hung on to the lead for six laps until Lumsden got by for the win in the 15-lapper with Gary Chadwick third. Meeting and series points saw Durie lead with 57 from Lumsden on 55 and Cantabrian Scott Miller on 48. Jamie Brown is the best of the locals with a nice drive in the feature and 38 points overall.

The depth in Nelson’s TQ midget class was amply illustrated in their two heats and 15-lap feature, Six, maybe seven cars, have a shot at winning races, the actual honours going to Darkie Armstrong and Alicia Mclauchlan, with Morgan Frost taking out the feature, which saw the flag fall after 14 laps. Luke Dilworth, George Crosbie, Jayden Corkill and Dylan Stone-Cuthbert are all capable of racking up wins with another three less-experienced drivers picking up the pace with each outing.

If Frost got his win with a lap up his sleeve, there was a strong belief that the sidecars went one extra in the third of their three heats. Adie Drake and Kieran Satherley started off a handicap, having won their first two races and were just a wheel behind Brent Steer and Kyle Ball in the third, although there’s a sneaking suspicion that the extra lap might have made the finish so close.

In the production saloon field, Blenheim’s Allan family were prominent with David snaring a win after Vaughan Cornelius had taken out an opener in which Joseph Sutton’s car was pinballed around the track by his opposition. In the last race Tony Diedrichs rediscovered his winning ways but the efforts of young Jarod Fisher (fifth, second and second) were eye-catching.

Biggest field of the night, by far, was in the youth ministocks. They just kept rolling out the pit gate for their Trackman Trophy meeting with one visitor from Christchurch and three from Blenheim adding to the strong local numbers, with every driver listed in the programme making it to the track. Race wins went to Brayden Nell, Hadley Boyce and Baiden Mailman Byrman, who pipped an unlucky Connor Blackbourn. In the final reckoning, Mailman Byrman became the new holder of the Trackman Trophy with Blenheim’s Boyce second and Nell in third overall.

The programme took a break before the final 15-lappers for the sprintcars and midgets to put on the popular Coca Cola fireworks display. Even after seeing 20+ of them over the years, the show never gets old and is a guaranteed people pleaser.

Nelson’s next meeting at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway features the Stockcar Teams Brawl on November 11. The advertised McCall Trophy superstock race between the Nelson Tigers and Canterbury Glen Eagles is still being worked through as Nelson struggles for numbers. The club is working hard to find a solution with details to be published on this site as they come to hand.

Photos by Tom Laney,