Huntly Speedway – 2nd December 2017

Huntly Speedway – 2nd December 2017

Sizzlin’ Bacon

Squashed together like strips of bacon in a frying pan, fighting for room with the eggs that is our gear, the SDU Team and I are hurtling down the Southern Motorway towards Huntly.

With the sun beating down in the midday sky and the aircon only cooling the front two strips of bacon, us unlucky few in the back are well and truly sizzlin’.

For a moment I regret my tenacity for being prepared for everything as underneath my clothing I am wearing an additional layer of thermals in anticipation of the evening cold I was warned about.

With three adults in the back and me giving off additional heat like a furnace, we bathed in the lovely odour of human sweat, far removed from the comforting and salivating smell of bacon in which we were slowly turning into.

Long forgotten Pop Hits are blasting through the Corolla’s aftermarket stereo system via Ziffel’s (SDU Leader) flash drive and I begin to dance in my confined seat.

Calling it dancing is a stretch, think awkward arm flailing and you’re getting close.

The cramped conditions and the stark realization of knowing what the centre of the sun feels like are, in all honesty, forgotten before we even enter the motorway.

It’s Saturday, the weather’s great and we are all heading to Speedway!

There isn’t a straight face in the car (frying pan) as we’re all smiling and joking and guessing who’s gonna be the crispiest to eat first.

(All bets were on me since I was wearing the double layers of heating encasing clothing.)

While Huntly isn’t a long drive from Auckland it is still considered a road trip and so it comes with all the associated light-hearted fun and excitement that most of us get from travelling long distance.

We also get a taste of what most Speedway Teams experience when they travel across the country to follow the racing calendar.

A sudden shower outside of Huntly puts a dampener on our moods for a bit but it quickly clears as fast as it came.

Before the racing, we decide to fill up our tanks in Huntly so we have sufficient energy before the racing. Fortunately for me, the team decided I wasn’t fit for human consumption so they had to buy fast food instead.


Fresh Faced Newbie

This was going to be my very first time at Huntly Speedway.

I made numerous plans to go last season which all resulted in the meetings raining out, so it wasn’t from a lacking of trying that I was finally about to set foot here.

After making the turn off the main highway we travelled into the countryside for a spell before arriving at Huntly Placemakers Speedway.

It was hard to ignore the abundance of trees and the landscape in general around us as we made our way into the carpark.

Immediately I was beginning to like the place a lot and as we set up our chairs and basecamp for live race results and my photography I got a better look at the place.

From the track surface to the wide spectating area circling the track and the facilities, they were all better than I could have imagined.

It was only when I eyed up my arch nemesis from every track did my high spirits receive a blow.

Dating from back when the track first opened was a small rust coloured fence right in front of where we were sitting, on top of that fence were railings facing in wards that were added at some later date.

This fence obviously did its job for a while until the Speedway cars on which the fence was designed to keep them separate from spectators began to get more powerful and faster.

Fast enough to fly over the original fence that was installed at least, so right behind it was another fence, much taller and also decked out with inwards facing rails.

In case you didn’t know already, all the photos I take are done through the fence.

I lack the coveted title of being an “official track photographer” so stepping foot on the infield is as likely as me driving a Sprintcar.

And winning.

The NZ Title.

Being sidelined forces me to make do with what I have and try to make the most of it.


With Western Springs Speedway I have managed to get passable shots through it’s single fence however even there I’ve had the fence ruin countless photos.

Now with two fences doing their best to make themselves the star of every single shot I take, I knew I had a challenge on my hands.

I didn’t give up last season when I had to learn to shoot through a fence, through trial and error I managed to forge out some passable results and get a handful of likes on some of them.

My efforts eventually resulted in me winning the Speedway Photographer of the Year Award so I wasn’t going to let double fences squash my enthusiasm at covering the racing action.

If anything, they made me more determined to overcome their intrusion and try to get some decent photos from the evening.

After a quick tour of the large pit area we took our seats and waited for the racing to begin.

Race Report and Highlights

The meeting at Huntly Speedway on a whole was very clean and trouble-free if one would compare it to the previous two meetings held at Western Springs Speedway.

With only a couple accidents and restarts, the racing was fast and flowed smoothly.

While the lack of notable events might make this report dull to some readers, I’m sure we can all agree that the less damage inflicted to these amazing machines the better.

In saying that, it wasn’t a drama-free meeting by a long shot so let’s get on with the details.

The first on track were the “pocket-rocket” TQ’s for their first heat race.

Scott Baker in the 88 car took an early lead and managed to hold it throughout the entire race, with a clean race and no restarts his lead eventually increased to almost lapping the rear of the pack.

The 85 car took a bump to the wall pushing him all the way to the back and while Scott Baker was battling in the front of the pack, Ryan Barry (16) waged a battle of his own and pushed his way from the rear starting grid to 4th place overall.

His performance was only the beginning of what he achieved as the meeting unfolded.


Next on track were the Production Saloons with a small field of car’s racing.

If you have never heard of this class before, their essentially the entry level of the Saloon series seen racing on other tracks.

Imagine your quintessential 90’s Japenese family sedan, stripped out, with a roll cage fitted and other basic safety features and your not far off.

Car 11 took an early lead and held onto it throughout the entire race.

The low power of these cars in comparison to full-blown speedway machines really made it difficult for anyone to overtake.

This certainly showed as the grid placings remained almost identical throughout the entire heat race.

It was great to see no heavy contact amongst the cars however car 49 exited the track early due to assumed mechanical failure.

After a few laps of Japanese powered fury, 63 take the win for the first heat race of the Production Saloons.

Next up were the mighty midgets featuring 5 time NZ Champion Michael Kendall in the 81 car.

Michael Pickens was also in attendance, back in the country after his American campaign and eager to remind us of his prowess on the dirt oval.

The 21 takes an early lead with Pickens in 1NZ hot on his heels, wrangling all the power he can from the Esslinger motor.


The track surface allows for plenty of slide jobs and the Midgets are taking full advantage of this to overtake the car in front.

Car 21 bravely holds onto the lead for a few laps with Pickens’ only a blink behind him on every corner.

Eventually the 7 time NZ Champion works his magic and takes the lead away from 21 and goes on to win the Heat.

Before we manage to catch our breath, the second group of Midgets are pushed onto the track for their heat.

The 68 car takes an early lead with the 31 car driven by Daniel Thomas quickly sliding his way into second place.

Within a few laps he has worked his way into pole position and holds it until the first restart of the meeting is issued.

The 39 car of Peter Hunnibell hit the concrete barrier on a corner which resulted in him hitting two cars and taking car 41 out of the heat.

After the restart, Hunnibell continues to struggle with traction and hits the wall again which takes him off the track for the rest of the heat.

Daniel Thomas maintains his lead after the restart and is showing all signs of winning the heat until he picks up a bogey on his tail.

American Zac Dahm driving the 9 Midget decides he deserves the win after hounding Thomas for most of the race and is quickly gaining ground on the Kiwi.

In a spectacular flourish, he overtakes Thomas in the final lap and takes the chequered flag for the win with a disappointed Thomas quickly following in his wake.


The armoured behemoths, commonly known as Stock Cars thundered their way in next and delighted the crowd with a carnage-filled first lap as the mightiest fought for dominance.

After a cacophony of metal pounding upon metal and roaring V-8 engines, car 51 goes on to take the first heat win.

This writer is still brushing up on the rules and intricacies of Stock car racing so coverage of this class has to be brief to avoid false information being spread inadvertently. 

In the absence of written word, I provide a few photos to fill in the void.



Not to be outdone in providing a great show, the Modifieds come on track next.

Looking like a wild fusion between stock and sprintcar, these thundering brutes took to the track like bloodhounds on a scent.

Car 193 takes the lead with cars 37 and 4 pounding behind in his wake.

A yellow light quickly slows their charge as a collision on a corner resulting from cars 15 and 52 locking horns forces an early race restart.

Before the green flag has even had time to fall another restart is called after cars 37 and 119 collide and get their front wheels locked together in a tight embrace after coming together on a corner.

Before the safety crew nearby has even a moment to think their jumping out of the way as the two wrestling cars are thrown onto the in-field and eventually come to a stop where the crew was standing moments ago.

The events that happen next can only be desribed as automotive arm wrestling as both entangled cars try muscle their way out of their embrace with brute power and experience.



Car 119 eventually untangles himself and gets back on track as if nothing happened and goes on to get third place in the heat with car 4 taking second and 193 winning overall.

The final class on the agenda are the Saloons.

While they wear the sheep’s clothing of a production car on the outside its very easy to tell (and hear) these are truly wolves underneath.

Dripping with sponsors, lacking any unnecessary weight and packing beefed-up V-8’s these Saloons are not to sniffed at.

The track looked like an Auckland motorway during peak hour with 14 cars all tightly squeezed together. 

Car 71 takes an early lead and manages to hold off the others until is eventually pushed back into the hungry maw of the main pack.

Sniffing out an opening, cars 8 and 95 move ahead and battle each other for the win with number 8 eventually coming out on top for their first heat.


With all classes completing their first heats, it was time for the TQ’s to come on track for Heat 2.

Ryan Barry proved he was still on form as he took an early lead during the heat and held onto it despite the best efforts of cars 46 and 77 following behind.

Barry manages to create such a lead that he’s snapping at the heels of the stragglers as he brings home the chequered flag.

Following another heat of the Production Saloons, the Midgets are out again for their back to back heats.

On a whole, they were clean races with not much to report on which sounds dull on paper but were a thrill to watch with uninterrupted racing. 

After the Stock cars smashed their way through the heat the Modifieds were unleashed again for some eventful racing.

Car number 3 takes an early lead before is the field is reset for a restart after car 78 crashes out on the corner.

J.Fox has a superior drive and manages to set a new lap record for the track.

Saloons run again with the TQ’s following after.

Car 71 is out in front with cars 36 and 74 following on his rear, eventually, 71 and 36 increase their lead and battle their own race, leaving the others in their dust.

A restart evens the field again and this time 36 is pack leader with 71 being forced into second place.

Cars 9 and 44 retire to the infield and watch car 36 win the heat with 71 taking a second.

In between the Heats Michael Pickens is pushed out to test his engine before the main event. His crew have been experiencing difficulty with it all night and despite their efforts, they are eventually defeated and Pickens doesn’t run in the Midget Feature.

After the production saloons race the track is prepared for the night main event, the Midget 40 Lapper.

A tough battle of endurance for both the driver and the car with tyre management being a major factor on who brings home the win.

While the Midgets circle the field like angry hornets around their hive, Daniel Thomas in car 31 is getting last minute car repairs done on track.

Eventually, he gets cleared and the race gets underway.


With a field of 18 cars, it’s difficult to keep track of every group’s mini battles as their fight their way through 40 laps however there are a couple notable events.


Chris McCutcheon, hot from his feature win at Western Springs Speedway last weekend, takes an early lead with Zac Dahm and Daniel Thomas following.

Before the first corner is done Thomas suffers mechanical failure and has to retire to the infield in a disappointing end to his night.

McCutcheon maintains the lead with Dahm sticking close to his heels for most of the race.

A restart is called after a couple cars scuffle and McCutcheon flies off the pole to maintain his lead. 

Car 69 looses control on the far corner and ends up scrapping the concrete barrier with his roof resulting in a massive flurry of sparks.

The resulting restart has McCutcheon out on pole again and is showing all signs of having another feature win under his belt until a minor collision with Dahm forces him into the infield early.

Dahm claims the lead and maintains an easy gap ahead of everyone else for the rest of the race, in one of the resulting laps he manages to set a new lap record as well.

His consistency to stay out in the front pack had paid off as he now had the lead and kept it all the to end, winning the Huntly 40 Lapper Feature with a convincing lead ahead of everyone else.

While the main event was over the nights racing was far from done with the rest of the classes running their features. 

The race’s go smoothly until the TQ feature race.

On the first corner of the opening lap, a massive pileup occurs which promptly halts the race before it managed to begin.

9 cars are taken out in one fell swoop almost halving the field from 19 cars initially starting.

Ryan Barry staring on pole manages to avoid the scuffle and takes the lead for the TQ Feature.


Not even a race restart resulting from car 7 flipping manages to knock him off his form and he continues to maintain the lead.

Ryan Baker (15) follows behind and is giving it his all to avenge his brother Scott who awaits in the infield after being caught up in the pile-up.

Even with emotion fueling his TQ’s engine, it isn’t enough to overtake Barry and ends up coming in second.

Ryan Barry managed to maintain amazing form throughout the whole meeting and in the end, it all paid off with his first feature win this season after collecting a second place in the last meeting at Western Springs Speedway.

With the hour striking 11 the nights meeting was drawn to an end and it was time to make the midnight drive back to the big smoke.

Huntly Speedway gave us a great evenings entertainment with a generous selection of classes run to wow and entertain the spectators.

It’s definitely a track I will be returning to if I ever get the opportunity again, however, next time I go down I’ll be leaving the thermals at home.

Words and Photos: Les B

For more photos from the race and race results check our Facebook page or visit my personal website.

While every care is taken for all names and information to be correct in this article, please check official venue results in case of any human error.



Western Springs Speedway – 25th November 2017

Western Springs Speedway – 25th November 2017

Thank you, Mother

Moody, unpredictable and obeying no laws but her own, Auckland’s version of Mother Nature showed her true colours for the second meeting of the 2017/18 season held at Western Springs Speedway.

The week leading up to the meeting had us all reminiscing about our previous summer and wishing we were back at the beach instead of breaking a sweat trying to earn some bread.

“Slip, slop, slap and wrap” suddenly became the buzz word again and had us digging around the house looking for that giant bottle of Cancer Society sunscreen in a bid to stay sun smart.

Of course, there isn’t anything better than a sunny Speedway meeting as rain and dirt only result in a muddy skid fest not suited for Speedway machines.

It came as no surprise that our lovely old Mother decided to finish off the sunny week with a dark and overcast sky once Saturday rolled around.

This undoubtedly had a few race fans and teams checking the forecasts in case rain would eventually show itself and cause a rain-out last the previous race.

Thankfully our concerns were for nought as the rain held off and allowed us to head off to the races.

Thanks mum.

Visitors from afar.

This meeting promised to be an extra special one for the TQ class in particular as it was the running of the Auckland TQ Championship.

This class is already brimming with top driving talent from around NZ but as a special treat, we also got three American drivers thrown into the mix.

We haven’t had American TQ drivers in NZ for many years so having them join the meeting made it extra special.

To my surprise, the three visiting Americans were actually part of one family and in fact all siblings.

The Howard family consisted of sister Lindsey and twin brothers Matthew and Nicholas.

If the fact they were visiting racers wasn’t enough to cause a stir, them being all siblings certainly raised a few astonished eye-brows.

Their area of the pits saw many curious fans and drivers gathered around to get a look at the family team of racers as this was definitely a rare occurrence.

After getting a photo of each racer and a quick hello we left the visitors to prepare for their warmup laps.

American Speedway doesn’t run the TQ class but a similar version called 600cc Mini Sprints.

Similar in size and engine power these cars have the additional benefit of a top wing just like a sprint car.

The meeting was a great opportunity for the Howards to muster the controls of a TQ in the shortest amount of time, in a full-on race with seasoned TQ drivers.

Nothing like being thrown into the deep end!

Fan favourite Michal Pickens was conspicuous by his absence in the pits as he was still in America doing battle in their events.

The absence of the countless feature winning driver left many speculating who will be standing on the top of the podium at the conclusion of the Midget and Sprintcar features as it left the field wide open, especially in the Midget class.

The pits were brimming with a bigger array of Sprintcars than we had at the last meeting and it was great to see the winged beast getting prepped for battle.

Hamilton driver Daniel Thomas made the trip up for the first time this season and was also pulling double duty in the 31 Hog’s Breath Midget owned by Drever Motorsports.

He definitely made a splash last season with his efforts in both classes and I was excited to see what he could do once again this season ahead.

Baypark resident Rodney Wood also made the trip up for the first time this season along with Wellington-based Stephen Taylor making the epic cross-country trip for the second time.

The sheer amount of kilometres Speedway Teams clock up in a single season is always staggering to me but I’m slowly learning that this is just another part of Speedway life.

It was great to see the Mitre 10 Job Mate car along with 3NZ Jamie McDonald back with fully rebuilt Sprintcars after their massive crashes at the previous meeting.

The 3NZ Hitachi Car was essentially all new with only the seat and a few other components being carried over to the second chassis.

Hopes were unsurprisingly high that both cars would remain unscathed at the conclusion of the meeting.

Racing Report and Highlights

With the added competitors and visitors, the racing action was definitely amplified for the meeting at Western Springs Speedway.

The track surface was prepped and glowing a brilliant shade of martian orange, ready to host another furious meeting.

There were reports of the dirt being a bit moister than wanted however it didn’t seem to be a major issue.

It did prove to be different than the last meeting as by the end of the night it was showing to have taken more rubber than before with the usual dark smear showing in the main lane.

Drivers later commented they wished the lane was just a bit wider as most had to stick to the narrow lane and were unable to pull slide jobs in the corners.

Spectators also noted this and some remarked the single lane racing was boring.

Conjecture aside the one thing that stood out was the sheer amount of accidents and restarts seen during the racing, it seemed like the bad luck from the previous meeting had stuck around for another round.

After the usual pack-down and warm-up, the foreign visitors had an opportunity to get a feel for the track they were going to be racing on.

The Howard’s in the TQ’s took to it like a duck to water while the American Brad Loyet in the 5USA Sprintcar took a more cautious approach in the vastly more powerful car.

With that, the Kiwi Kidz were underway and enjoyed a clean heat without incident.

The TQ’s saw the first incidents of the night with a large pile-up at the beginning of their heat involving one of the Howard’s.

Another pile-up occurred at the second restart which ultimately lead to Matthew Howard pulling out of the race.

The F2’s enjoyed a clean race with the only notable incident being the flag bearer dropping the chequered flag just before the race’s conclusion resulting in an extra lap for a few of the leading cars.

The Midgets brought back the restarts with car 9 spinning out and hitting the wall and following a restart, cars 10 and 15 clipped each other’s wheels causing them to pull out of the race.

Later on, car 49 overturned near the main pack of cars but the race managed to keep going without further incident.

Brad Mosen took advantage of all these restarts and showed off his talent as he managed to muscle his way up from a starting grid of 11th to ultimately coming in second place.

The Sprintcars also saw a restart with car 17 doing what announcer Aaron Drever described as “cooking the Kumara” and got collected by 88 car of Keaton Dahm.

With the first round of Heats concluded it was looking like everyone was getting a feel for the track and its condition as heat 2 for every class was a clean one.

The only exception was 5USA in the Sprintcar class spinning out in his heat.

Good tidings followed the racing after with no notable incidents just clean and talented driving being seen all over the board in all classes.

The single narrow lane was becoming apparent on the track’s surface with most drivers lining themselves up side by side on every corner without trying slide jobs on the higher lane.


Heat 3 for the F2’s was racked with restarts and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the evenings racing seen at Western Springs Speedway.

On the very first lap, car 83 parked it causing a restart with car 87 ended up rolling shortly after.

Following that 7 and 89 collided with each other in a serious crash coming out of pine tree bend.


89 ended up flying high in the air after clipping 7 and going for a painful ride through the dust-filled air.

Luckily neither of the drivers were injured and managed to walk away from the crash.

The following restart saw another car spinning out resulting in a heat seeing a total of 4 restarts.

The following Midget heat saw the 91 car of Hayden Guptill overturning on city bend and resulting in tapping the wall.

This set the tone for the rest of the race with another total of 4 restarts.

One restart was caused by a large pile up near the beginning of the race with 5NZ Brock Maskovich going for a turbulent ride after being clipped by the 97 car of Thomas Mclean.

Racing went on without incident until Heat 4 of the Midget class with the 15 car of Steve Walsh colliding with the wall.  Shane Allach followed soon after by flipping his car on the second restart.

The Kiwi Kidz ran their feature and enjoyed an overall clean night with no incidents or restarts.

Young star Emerson Vincent pulled off another feature win adding to his previous win, all eyes are on him for the next feature to see if he can pull off a hattrick win.

The F2 Feature saw two restarts with the eventual winner being the 58 car of Joe Malone after qualifying on pole from his two heat races.

The TQ’s ran next and it turned out to be a very exciting race with the playing field being tightened after every restart.

Scott Baker (88) was holding on firmly to his lead with Ryan Barry (16) and Scott’s father Lawrence Baker (8) biting closely on his heels.

After aggressively hounding Scott, Ryan managed to get out front for a short period. A restart proved to be a blessing for Scott as he managed to reclaim his lead once again and hold it for the rest of the race.

While that was happening his brother Ryan Baker (15) worked his way up the field from the back and overtaking his dad, got himself in third place.

For a few laps, Ryan Barry was in a Baker sandwich with both Baker brothers placed on either side of him.

The chequered flag dropped with the three holding their positions with Scott Baker ultimately taking out the Auckland TQ Championship.

The Howard family had Matthew managing to get fourth in his first ever TQ feature and Lawrence Baker rounded up the Top 5 in fifth place.


The Midget feature turned into a close run race with the top three cars of 96a Chris McCutcheon, 2NZ Brad Mosen and  31a Daniel Thomas setting off ahead of the pack to battle it out.

Chris managed to hold his lead for the majority of the race despite two restarts that levelled the field.

Time and time again he managed to hold off Brad Mosen’s attempts at gaining the lead and for a while it seemed like the three would be standing atop the podium.

Unfortunately for Brad, an accident costed him the race and the 25A of Scott Buckley worked his way to third place with Daniel Thomas taking Mosen’s second.

After a great race, Chris managed to hold his lead and stood top of the podium, effectively making himself one to look out for as the season rolls on.

The running of the Sprintcar feature was far from clean with 4 race restarts seen.

3NZ Jamie McDonald got off to a flying start in his rebuilt Sprintcar and close to overtaking  Daniel Eggleton for first place.

A three-car pile-up brought the race to halt after the second restart and soon it became apparent Jamie’s rear tyre was rapidly deflating.

Jamie was eventually called off and had to give up his position as he pulled into the in-field to wait out the race.

Following the restart Rodney Wood also suffered a puncture in one of the rear tyres which raised a few eyebrows and got the rumour mill running that there was a rogue 10mm bolt somewhere on the track attacking anyone who got near it.

With the eventual restart, Daniel Eggleton (78A) continued his lead all the while Dean Brindle (22) got ever closer.

After a massive crash from 5USA which saw the car crumpling like a can, the following restart gave Dean the ideal opportunity to take the lead.

Daniel Thomas (55), hot off the second place win in his Midget feature also took the opportunity and knocked Eggleton back to third place after holding first for the majority of the race.

While not back to back first place wins, Thomas managed to get second place in both his features which is still a massive feat for the young driver.

If you’re not already closely following his success, I recommend you start doing so as he is clearly got a bright future ahead of him in Speedway.

The three held their places for the rest of the race and Dean Brindle took the feature win.

With the race’s conclusion came the announcement of the New Zealand Sprintcar Team.

The team is:

• 22 Dean Brindle 
• 3NZ Jamie McDonald

• 1NZ Jamie Larsen 
• 54 Michael Pickens

With that another exciting meeting at Western Springs Speedway came to a close. 

Our dear old Mother Nature took pity on us and held off the winds and left the thermostat on the warm setting making for a comfortable evening for all.

Let’s just hope she remains in a good mood for the rest of the season!

For more Speedway news and photos visit us on Facebook and my personal website.

Words and Photos by Les B.

While every care is taken for all names and information to be correct in this article, please check official venue results in case of any human error.



Western Springs Speedway – Opening Night 5th November 2017

Western Springs Speedway – Opening Night 5th November 2017

A Long Awaited Hit 

Cut up on a mirror with a razor blade and served up in a rolled dollar bill.

For many Speedway Fans, that first whiff of methanol fumes brought the same euphoric bliss like a hit of the illicit white powder does for an 80’s rockstar.

Arguably just as addictive and endlessly more fulfilling, Speedway has gotten under our skins and become part of our lives.

For many of us, Sunday the 5th of November was the first hit of Speedway we got for the new season.

With a rainout cancelling racing on Saturday, the sight of Western Springs Speedway finally opening its gates for the first meeting brought warm waves of long-awaited comfort.

I stepped through those gates with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation.

This time last year I was a total unknown to Speedway and looked around me in awe and wonder like a child visiting Rainbows End for the first time.

With my camera in tow, I tried to make sense of this new world shown to me the only way I knew how, through my view-finder.

Fast forward a year and my first virgin attempts at Speedway Photography seem a long way off.

Thousands of Speedway photos now rest in my computers straining harddrive and a trophy sits on my dresser.

From a total newbie of motorsport photography to NZ Speedway Photographer of the Year in one season was a drastic change of pace and for that reason, I was feeling tense as I made my way through the now-familiar territory.

Now that I can’t hide behind the mask of obscurity and get away with any old photo, I was nervous whether I will uphold the quality expected from the totally unexpected award.

Only time will tell as the season tears along in mud flinging fury but all I know is I’ll put my best efforts into it.

New Track, Old Faces

The first thing any regular of the Western Springs Speedway would have noticed was the new track surfaced prepared for this season.

Based on the Huntly track, it was glowing a deep orange colour and contrasted well with the fresh green turf laid in the infield.

It was a markable difference from the brown surface of previous seasons.

Upon seeing it, we were all eager to see what kind of surface it will provide for the cars and as the day went on we definitely got a good idea of its capabilities.

The SDU Crew made a bee-line for the pits as we were all excited to see our Speedway friends and their cars before the racing began.

Along the way, I spotted many familiar faces and stopped to exchange a few words, the contrast to last year where I knew no one was a pleasant one.

As any Speedway fan will tell you, the ability to meet the drivers and their crews, watch work being undertaken and experiencing that part of things is what really sets it apart from any other motorsport.

The pits themselves were much like last year except they seemed more sparse than before with one whole bay once dedicated to TQ’s left oil stained and empty.

Whether or not this is a permanent change isn’t apparent or if it was simply a result of fewer teams being able to make it for the rain out day.

It was great to finally see the new cars from some of the more prominent names in Speedway after they were teasing us all Season with build progress photos of their new cars.

Sprintcar driver Jamie McDonald had his new 3NZ Sprintcar on display along with Michael Pickens bringing both his new Sprintcar and Midget.

The 1NZ Midget was proving to be a particular showpiece and drawcard as many were wondering what the 7-time NZ Champion has brought to the table this season.

After blitzing through the previous season in his TRD powered King Chassis midget, both in New Zealand and America, the wonder car had to be retired after his racing team Seamount Racing didn’t continue on for this season.

This season Michael Pickens is running his own King Chassis Midget powered by an Esslinger motor, the switch to a different motor definitely made the change an exciting one as many couldn’t wait to see what the new car could do on track.

“Will it help Michael blast his way from win to win?”

Many eyes were glued to his now blue coloured midget to find out.

Other teams had new cars or decal jobs done for the new season with a memorable one being the Baker Boys TQ midgets done up in an eye-catching yellow and black design, a markable difference from the grey of the previous season.

There was a buzz of activity around the BSL Racing Team as they brought on two new cars for the season and added TQ 1NZ star driver Hayden Guptill to their ranks.

After winning the TQ title in the previous season, Hayden got the chance to drive a midget for BSL for a few races until the season ended.

This season Hayden has his very own car built to his specifications and with SDU being one of his sponsors, we were all excited to see what he could do.

After a lot of handshakes and quick catching up, everyone went their separate ways to get ready for the racing. 

Racing Report and Highlights

The racing started off with the Kiwi Kidz and for the first few races, the track surface appeared to be a big upgrade from previous years.

The first heat of the Kiwi Kidz resulted in no incidents with only one car exiting the track early but the racing continued without problems until the first heat of the Sprintcars.

The new surface proved to have much more grip than the drivers were expecting which put a stop to a lot of sliding.

Whether the three Sprintcar pileup was a result of this surface or not won’t be speculated on however it marked the beginning of a carnage-filled meeting.

The second heat for the F2’s was going smoothly until the #67 car driven by Harker kissed the concrete resulting in him rolling the car and suffering damage.

Thankfully he was able to walk away from the crash and as bad as it looked, it only set the tone for the spectacular crashes awaiting further on in the meeting.

Hayden Guptill in his #91 Midget showed everyone what he could do in his new ride as he absolutely flew through his heat after gaining an early lead.

A yellow flag and restart couldn’t slow his pace as even his team-mate Brad Mosen in the 2NZ Midget couldn’t keep up with him.

Hayden picked up a win in his first heat and for many following the young drivers’ progress, it was exciting to see what he could do in the feature when he faced off with some of the big names in the class.

The sweet taste of victory for the BSL Racing Team was short lived as only a few races later Brad Mosen flipped his 2NZ Midget resulting in axle damage and was followed by 6A flipping shortly after.

Michael Pickens ended up taking out the win in that heat after managing to avoid the accidents and showed to us all what his new car is capable of.

Unfortunately, more carnage on track shortly followed in the Sprintcar feature.

Jamie McDonald found himself caught behind a two-car collision leaving him with nowhere to go.

He wound up running right into the 21W car of Stephen Taylor and flipping his brand new Sprintcar multiple times.

It was a great relief to see Jamie exit the wreckage unscathed but his Sprintcar had suffered heavy damage to both axles, top wing and worst of all, chassis damage.

Despite his team’s feverish work replacing parts and getting the beast back in fighting order, the damage proved too extensive and it ended Jamie’s racing for the night.

Stephen Taylor also suffered damage but managed to get back on track for the feature.


The two following heats of the TQ’s and F2’s brought feelings that the worst of the crashes were over as they both went without a hitch and showed some premier driving talent having some clean races without any restarts.

Before we had a chance to touch wood the following Midget heat brought disaster as Hayden Guptill ended up in rolling and gaining massive air-time as his Midget was launched sky high with wheels reaching for the clouds.

Despite the impact, both driver and Midget were able to continue competing in the Midget Feature race later on.

It was a very unwelcome sight to see after such a brilliant drive on his first heat but it showed the true nature of this motorsport where the most unexpected can happen at any moment.


The racing continued more or less cleanly for a few more races with some classes experiencing perfect races with no restarts while others had multiple restarts due to spin-outs or minor collisions.

The new surface was definitely beginning to show notable differences over the previous surface at Western Springs Speedway.

I am by no means an expert on track surfaces nor am I able to read them as well as a seasoned spectator can, however, I did notice a lot of the cars were jumping around on the surface excessively.

The bouncing and jumping nearly caused a lot of cars to flip while others were getting up on two wheels a lot during cornering.

The surface did claim a lot of victims as many cars entered a corner and with their wheels caught on a rise were taken fully over and causing them to roll.

A notable upside of the surface was it seemed to be taking a lot less rubber than surfaces of old as there wasn’t any black marking the orange dirt by the end of the night.

The general consensus during driver interviews was that they were happy with the new surface with many touting it to be a “massive step-up from the last surface.”

The dust level was also a welcome change as it wasn’t as bad or thick as previously remembered, even the massive tyres of the Sprintcars failed to churn up a thick cloud of dust after their heats were completed.

The TQ Feature claimed another victim as the 11A Car driven by Tim Fergusson flipped resulting in a restart.

Scott Baker driving the #88 TQ continued leading the race after that and took out the first feature win for the TQ’s this season.

The midget feature did not disappoint as it was a very exciting and close race featuring many restarts and a few accidents.

The black #69 car flipped early on in the race and after another restart, Hayden Guptill’s night was truly over as his midget lost it’s front left-wheel on the main straight.

He managed to bring it in safe to the in-field on three tyres before any serious damage was done to the car or others.

With that the race turned into a true edge of your seat experience with crowd favourite Michael Pickens biting on the heels of Brock Maskovich who wouldn’t let him take the lead.

Brock put on a brave effort and was beginning to get a half lap lead before another restart equalled the playing field once again.

Despite that, Brock still managed to stay out in pole position and despite his best efforts, Michael simply couldn’t pass him.

Eventually Michael spied an opening when Brock slowed down to overtake a lapped car, with that split second change in pace, Michael swooped around the two cars and went on to take his first feature win of the season.


With the Midget feature completed, it was time for the final race of the night with the Sprintcar Feature.

1NZ Sprintcar Champion Jamie Larsen managed to lead the pack despite 3 race restarts and blocked Dean Brindle’s best attempts at passing him through-out the whole race.

The #10 Mitre10 Jobmate Sprintcar was caught up in a spectacular crash where it got sandwhiched between two cars, resulting in heavy damage to both ends and chassis.

The only one left unscathed was the driver who managed to jump out of the wreck without injury.

Such feats of strength and tolerance are true testament to how well these machines are built and how much punishment they take to protect the driver.

With that, the racing was over for the opening night of Western Springs Speedway for 2017.

It proved to be a very exciting and exhilarating meeting for both spectator and racer alike as, despite the many restarts, a lot of driving talent was on display and made for some great entertainment.

I cannot wait to see what the season brings for us and what other excitement awaits for everyone involved!

If you want more photos from the meeting keep an eye out on our Speedwaydowunder Facebook page and my personal website where I will post them for everyone to enjoy.

Photos and Words by Les B.