THE CONTEST FOR TRACKMAN TROPHIES

Surface A TRIBUTE TO TEECE

 

Race report by Pete McNae

 

You wouldn’t find a more fitting tribute if it had been tailored in a back street in Bangkok. On the night when the Nelson Speedway Association honoured the late Murray Teece with the Trackman Trophy meeting, the club delivered a track surface right out of Muzz’s manual.

Opening night at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway has taken on extra urgency since the trophies were introduced, initially as a gesture by the Teece family and later, after track prep guru Murray died, by the Nelson club in Teece’s name. Last night was no different. A tame opening round across seven classes became more aggressive and urgent once the points were tallied. Round three meant mayhem. And a key component was the track surface delivered by Sam Satherley despite equal doses of rain, sun and wind. Hardpacked, slick and smooth — with a decent icing of dust – it was a Teece special. And the TQs and sidecars in particular, lapped it up. Those two classes are probably the ones most affected by a wetter, more drivey track, the sidecars sitting out a number of races last summer when a surface designed to keep the grip up and dust down rutted too badly for their safety. Last night was a brown billiard table.

With decent fields in both of those classes, they delivered some of the better entertainment, too. The sidecars had seven combinations on the grid, four from Nelson and three with Blenheim, although a couple of those had a distinctly hometown look about them. Adie Drake and swinger Kieran Satherley were straight back into the groove with the most likely challengers being the Takaka twosome of Shaun Solly and Rosie Taylor. Knuckle Hill and Neil Bruce, sporting 7E, had added a yard of pace since last season. And that’s how they finished, three wins securing another trophy for Drake and Satherley on 9 points with Solly/Taylor and Hill/Bruce each winning heats to tally seven.

The three-quarter midgets also took their lumps last season when they found the odd rut and they relished a shiny race line. Doesn’t mean that they didn’t have their moments though …. with promising newcomer Jason Jones clouting the wall hard just off turn two, Dylan Bensemann having a strong first heat and a dizzy second one and Darkie Armstrong missing the final after running second in race one and then riding Jeremy Webb’s wheel in heat two. With the class using the heat races to establish grid positions for a 15-lap final, consistent efforts from Canterbury’s Kyle Glover and local Jayden Corkill (who won a race with four yellow flag interruptions) ran from the front. Each season Nelson’s field gets a little deeper and a little stronger but, yet again, Webb and Glover had just too much for Alicia Mclauchlan and Corkill when the trophy was decided.

The other class to run a two-heat plus feature format was the super saloons with three Nelson supers joined by one from Rotorua via Christchurch, two other Cantabs, a Southlander and two Blenheim-registered saloons. Three-time national champion Mark Osborne was the short-odds favourite and won the first heat but punctured in the second when he bumped race winner Mark Carey while Bluff’s Campbell McManaway was not about to be outdone and shed the left rear wheel in heat two. Canterbury’s Trevor Elliott started the final off the front row and ran for his life but a yellow light gave Osborne the break he needed to slip by a determined Elliott on lap 11. Shane Carey was strong in third as another Nelson driver, Dave Manera, rode sideways around the turn four wall before recovering for sixth.

The production saloon field had just one visiting driver, Blenheim’s Dave Allan, who has almost become part of the furniture this side of the divide. And, while he was in with a sniff, the Trackman Trophy left with Tony Diedrichs, his nippy Nissan good for two wins and a second in the last heat, behind Eddie Frans. Final sums had Diedrichs on 34 points with Frans totalling 30 and Allan 27. Cam Lankshear stood out on his first official race night for fifth, behind Vaughan Cornelius.

In the crash classes (sorry, productions) the season saw its first rollovers and a trophy win for a popular visitor in the streetstock field. In a preview to the meeting, former 1NZ Dave McSherry said the Trackman Trophy was one honour he hadn’t gathered and he was keen to take one home last night. Box ticked. While the 2014-15 national champion certainly didn’t have an unmolested run at the silverware, his win and a pair of second placings were enough to earn McSherry 27 points to see off Bradley Evans and Paul Leslie. Nelson’s Ryan Musgrove, after a flatulent first heat, finished strongly but was picked off in a de facto Nelson/Christchurch teams race in heat three. Again, the gap to the Canterbury cars is closing, but the visitors have a happy knack of pinching the prize.

Seven superstocks fronted, five local cars including three newly-built wagons, and two Leech team cars from Christchurch. Ho-hum, seven superstocks, right? Wrong. Jamie Hamilton drew a line in the dust in heat one when he barrelled Brett Nicholls into the turn three wall and had a jab at Alex Bright on his way to a win. Heat two was notable for Bright returning the favour and Hamilton unloading a heavy shot on Trevor Lineham in a race Nicholls cleaned up, ahead of Ant McKenzie in the fresh-out-of-the-box 84N. Heat three was a humdinger, with Nicholls giving Hamilton a payback nudge then lining him up in turn three and nosing the Canterbury car up and over for the first roll of the season. Nicholls and Lineham were both excluded from the final placings for showing excessive aggression in turns 1 and 3 (it’s in the rules),  the overall win going to a quick and clean Alex Hill, from McKenzie and Kevin Clive.

A rainout in Greymouth delivered two more stockcars, alongside 15 locals, Dave Houston Jnr and Britty Carpenter making a late change of plans.  Starting alongside Carpenter was former Woodford Glen competitor Morgan Dumelow. While ladies have had the vote in New Zealand since 1893, having two young women on a stockcar grid in Nelson still rates a mention. Troy Currie swapped an E for a N on his car in the offseason and looked set to stir things along but an early shot on Shane Brooks ended his night with Levi Collier the other wrecking ball, feeding Adam Hall’s Tank into the wall in heat two. After the first two races, Brad Neiman led the standings from Keightley Teece and Dylan Clarke but Clarke was rolled in the decider by Houston and Neiman failed to finish after piling into the back of Carpenter’s car. A race three victory saw Teece with the overall win, the Trackman Trophy going home again. Second overall was Collier with Neiman getting up over Craig Tatnell in a runoff for third.

The next meeting at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway is guaranteed to put bums on seats and kinks in necks with the Coca-Cola fireworks display headlining the show on October 28.

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