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John Webster Memorial Speedway Spectacular
 
Ray White Mini Sprint Series
Auckland Super Stock Championship
Auckland Super Saloon Championship
Saloon Teams  4x4 Challenge
 

Review 28th April 2007

 

It was called a Spectacular, the John Webster Memorial Speedway Spectacular, and it was.

There was a big gold cup on offer at the meeting, The John Webster Trophy awarded to the most outstanding competitor on the night.

 

The trophy was awarded to Skinny Colson for his spectacular driving in his Sprintcar. There were other contenders for the trophy.3310

The New Zealand #1 Sprintcar of Jamie McDonald did a spectacular dump in Cemetery Bend. McDonald got sideways, floored the throttle, got grip, pulled a massive wheelstand, then got side bite and went a-tumbling.

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Ross Holton dumped his TQ after getting too much bite on the track, at the end of the straight. In about the same place Gavin Hinsley got it a wee bit wrong and a little tap had his #58a up-ended and pointing its wheels skywards on the last lap of one of the Saloon races.

 

In another Saloon race, that for the Super Saloons, Warwick Taylors cornering went amiss, he danced over the sodden infield, clipped a drum marking a no-go zone, bounced up in the air, landed fair square on top of another 200 litre drum, and there the car tettered till the end of the race. In fact in the Super Saloon class there were other contenders for the most outstanding competitor, Shane McInteer was spectacular, he won a race, was leading another when the car broke, he smoked up real bad, he took Peter Hemi out of a race, it was a racing incident but the #99a dove, admittedly under brakes, into the #38 and took out the Holdens left front wheel. In the first race for the Supers McInteer, clipped the wall, understeered badly some laps, bounced both wheels into the air in a power wheelstand in some corners, blew smoke, caught fire, but ran fast laps. Paul Carter had an outstanding night and in the final race couldnt have had the car more crossed up without having to drive eyes peering through the rear vision mirror such was his spectacular broadsliding. The Caddy Shack Mustang had the crowd enthralled especially as Steve Williams fought on with a disintergrating left rear tyre in the second heat.

 

Williams was also spectacular in the Saloon class. Getting around the phenomenal Phil Towgood, round the outside, in one race, taking out the whole Auckland team in one of the 4x4 inter club challenges then running over Gavin Hinsley whilst disputing last place in the final 4 lap race of the series. The crowds voices still rose in unison to show approval to Steve Williams and his spectacular efforts to win as the perched atop his spare car, his fellow team car for Huntly, driven on the night by Mel Hills, as the 121h car did a victory lap after beating the locals.

 

Even in the Mini Sprints there was a contender for the big trophy, Shaun Cooke was unbeaten on the night and was running quicker times than the lighter and more nimble, albeit wingless, TQs. Neville Stanaway was outstanding in winning the Auckland Super Stock Championship and Jared Wade provided plenty of thrills in his tank, especially in the final race when he took to all and sundry to ruin their runs for the chequered flag.

In the Stockcars one outstanding move by Steve Fox sent Gary Lonergan skywards in a crash that on other nights would earn the accolades as most spectacular of the meeting. 

 

The meeting started, delayed by rain, on a sodden track.3190 It finished, prematurely, with rain pelting down, straight after a spectacular Fireworks display, with four races, including two twenty-lap features, washed out.

The delays during the night played havoc with the Firework display. The dew was coming down and wet gun powder is not ideal for explosions, the head honcho in charge of flicking the switches to make the bangs was due on a flight out of the country in a short while, the rain it was a coming and because there were mortar shells to be launched that were at the absolute maximum permitted size allowed from inside an arena, the permit to fire the rockets had a proviso that they could not be launched over public. There would have to be a delay before letting the fireworks go skywards whilst a section of the crowd was cleared to provide the prerequistite people-free zone over which the mortar shells could be launched. Fortunately the crowd co-operated, unfortunately there was rain falling and some of the fireworks didnt launch as intended, they blew up but much closer to the ground than anticipated. One complete frame of flamers didnt fire at all and another needing some extreme bravery in the form of a human hands intervention to reset the fuses whilst there were explosions going off all around. Fortunately all the mortars fired on cue and the huge shells went high into the skies.

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After the Fireworks the Sprintcars came out for their feature but the clay surface was a skating rink and the big winged cars were never even fired, simply returned to the pits. A smaller than expected field fronted in the Sprintcar class. Paul Blakeley was having a run in one of the Phillip Game machines and got to grips reasonable well with the big grunt on tap, well enough to win one of the six lap dashes. In an interlude3346 Marty Rostenberg, a very accomplished Rally driver, had a few laps in the #77 Elf machine that Phillip Game himself drove in the races.  Game a veteran of Waikaraka Park when he raced Modifieds ran a 13 and a bit second lap on his last round of one of the six-lap dashes. That time around the 460 metre oval that is Waikaraka in spite of the track having been saturated by heavy overnight rain the night previously, and, earlier, having so much standing water on the pole line in the top bend that the floating high-volume pump was still trackside as the patrons came through the gate prior to the meeting.

 

The Sprintcars were all spectacular, fast as, and although the brake rotors were glowing cherry red the first time the Sprintcars took to the track, the drivers were lifting the throttle but by mere millimeters and then for only mere moments. During that race James Dahm was pulling wheel stands down the straight, Skinny was pulling well away from the field, Game was glancing off the wall and of course the NZ Champ was flipping after pulling his front wheels too far skywards. Jamie McDonald 3325 was back out after is spectacular flip, with a white wing rather than his mangled black one, and won the very next race he contested.

Another to win a race after he had rolled in an earlier event was Gavin Hinsley in the Saloon class. The red #58a went over on the last lap of one of the Saloon heats then came out to replace the stricken #63a of Nigel Mouat in the final two 4x4s of the Waikato versus Auckland Challenge. In the first go around Hinsley and Steve Williams tangled, the #21h getting a bounce over Hinsley in the run to the chequered flag coming off pit bend. Williams car was done, a flat right rear and he couldnt take his place on the grid, on pole, for the final 4x4. Hinsley made no mistake in winning that final race but the Waikato pairing had enough points to take the challenge. In the first go around in the inter-club rivalry, (although latte sippers from Jaffaville point out that both Mal Hills and Steve Williams live in the Auckland region even though they register to tracks beneath the divide that is the Bombay Hills), Steve Williams had a moment. Leading the race his car understeered so severely after the apex of Pit Bend it did a partial reverse spin and Williams had to hit the picks hard to avoid spearing head first into the wall. Both the Auckland cars following Williams towards the last lap flag crunched into a nose to tail prang.

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As the three cars all reversed out of the crash, what looked like a broken rotor (it wasnt a rotor but a mount) was spotted lying on the track, meanwhile Mal Hills raced to the win in the other #21h car. Fortunately Mouat realized that there was something amiss with his car before he tore the blue, much-traveled Saloon apart and the #63a was taken infield. Mouat was out for the rest of the night hence the recruitment of Hinsley to represent Auckland in the next two four by four dashes.

Steve Williams3460 has an aggressive style of racing that makes him a favourite with the paying fans. In the first Saloon race Williams who had tried in vain to haul in lead cars during the race, on a track that was fast but had patches that caused severe understeer mid-corner, had smote the wall after the chequered flag. Back in the pack the most spectacular drive was that of 61a Roy Walker, 3207 unitl he damaged his right front, meanwhile Phil Towgood had an outstanding drive, even when he caught the lappers, to take the win. In the next Saloon race Williams hunted down Towgood and went around the outside to take the win. The Saloon feature was one of the races that fell victim to the downpour that called a halt to the entertainment, five full hours after the meeting had started.

Williams was only one of the entertainers in the Super Saloon section that had three races on the night but lost their twenty-lap feature. McInteer won the first heat but had to get around Lance Jennings to take the lead. The #99a started to blow smoke and coming off one turn had a huge tongue of flame under the car, fortunately the fire went out, but the smoke returned later in the night and the engine started to make sounds suggesting the oil smoke werent just a little leak onto the headers. McInteer had the lead in the second heat when a right front tyre went flat in hurry and left the #99a stranded on the high line and needing a towie and a hooker for relief from being stranded coming off a turn.

 

The Auckland Super Saloon Championship was raced over three heats. In the second heat Kevin Salle had headed off in the lead until Shane McInteer went around the outside. 3382 Paul Carter was chasing the #99a and also went past the 31h but after McInteer had retired Salle went under the chequered flag in second place. When the points were tallied after the two heats, going into the decided, Carter, Jennings and Salle were all tied up on 21 points. One of those three pedallers would be Champion. Salles hopes went awry when he got clipped by a car squaring off the corner and the right front tyre went flat.  Carter would finish 4th and Jennings behind him. Glenn Turner had followed the winner Williams home in the third heat and scored enough points to be level with Salle when all was tallied. A run-off was required for third but after Salle didnt front at the get-go Turner in the #45a ran his last four laps, he retired from racing after the meeting, around Waikaraka by himself, but as smoothly as ever.

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Although the fire under the hood of the Super Saloon #99a blew itself out, a fire caused by oil on the headers on the Super Stock #44r of Jason Riedinger needed a puff of powder to be extinguished. Twenty-two Super Stocks fronted to try for the trophies that were on offer for the Auckland Championship and John Webster Memorial. Wayne Whitaker took off in the first heat. There was lots of speed, lots of rubbing during the race. 52a Scott McEwen brought on a red light stoppage. McEwen was struggling when his car stalled, sideways to the traffic, against the concrete exiting Pit Bend. After the restart the 17a of Deon Ansty stalled in the same spot, but rear bumper to the on-coming traffic, and he was left to await his fate by the referee, correctly judged as the maybe-collision never happened. When the mud stopped flying it was Neville Stanaway who had won the race, Whittaker was second and former Auckland Champion, several times, Dave Tennant was third. Stanaway won the next race from John Booker, up from Stratford for the meeting, with Gary Ellis taking third. In both races Dayne Wright had finished fourth. The #7r was second on points going into the deciding race and at the head of a pack of eight cars all within seven points of each other.

3395 3422

The final race was a win for Aaron Headington. The tank of Jared Wade was the entertainer of the race. In the second heat Wade had tried to run the #36a of youthful Blair Mitchell up the wall in front of the crowd.

A crowd that disappointed in numbers, the meeting deserved much more, but the rain that had fallen, the rain that was promised, the nip in the air and a Radio Station telling their ears that the Speedway was cancelled had combined to keep people enscounced lounging on couches in the comfort of their homes rather than butting their behinds on the cold concrete of the grandstand.

 

 In the third heat Mitchell was delayed by a spin at the start, then another spin, in front of the pack, a few laps later. As the #36a was barreling down the straight, the back straight, in front was the slow moving Wade tank. The #85h was seeking out cars in the top ten to deal to, but Mitchell decided on payback and never bothered to spare the gas as he rammed hard into the rear of the tank.3160 The Wade machine spun and the bonnet lifted but both cars continued. Inevitably when the 85 and 36 were next on the same part of the track more contact was made, but that time Mitchells race was run, a wire from the coil was dislodged in the impact.

The tank continued, making hits, and had a decent shot at the Stanaway machine on the straight as the 62 headed for the chequered flag. Both finished the race, Stanaway in second, Wade as last placed finisher. The Tank had done but eight of the fifteen laps but those circuits had been seen by all as it was where Wade was that the action had happened. Third across the line was the other Tank in the race, that of 3296Ross Ashby which seems to have a liking for the surface at Waikaraka and is a genuine contender for Championships based on speed around the big clay bowl.

 

The Stockcar class3033 was fully subscribed, 28 cars fronted, all locals,3447 there was no room for non-club members. It was the wily old veterans who frothed to the top after the racing was done. The first heat had been raced with the pole line a mud bath. There had been plenty of contact but the bigger hits were to come in the third race. Whilst Steve Fox was barreling Gary Lonergan, a rookie who has had a great first season, Rose Halfpenny was being stranded on the wall on the back straight. Rose who was booked to fly out to the UK the day after the meeting, got caught on the outside of an attack by CJ Chesnutt, who is always in the thick of the action, on 69a Richard Fletcher. 

 

Going into that race only four drivers had more than fifty points in their tally. 89a Tony Gavin, 441a Andrew Weir, 81a Rodney Smythe and 168a Billy Neil. In fifth place after two heats, with 48 points, was Carlos Chesnutt. The 64a won the race but Weir won the trophy by finishing second in the deciding race.

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It had been a good night, racing-wise, to finish by not being able to complete four feature races however was a disappointing end to the season. Now the Speedway is in hiatus till October.

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Results (with pics of each race winner)
Short Video (courtesy of Dave Shaw)

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