We’ve had many ‘Magic Moments’ throughout the season starting with the night of the Auckland Championships where we had USA visiting drivers Lindsey, Matthew and Nicholas Howard here to compete in the TQ division. Although team USA took the win over the Auckland TQ team, Gina Harris, Scott Baker and Kaleb Currie, it was great to see some international flavour in the TQ division.
The Kiwi Kidz also had their King of the Quarters feature race which was won for the second year in a row by rising star Emerson Vincent.
The Porter Hire International Sprint Car Series was next on the list and the four man team to represent New Zealand was chosen with Dean Brindle as Captain and Jamie McDonald, Jamie Larsen and Michael Pickens rounding out the team.
Night one of the Porter Hire International Sprint Car Series was where we were introduced to Team USA, legendary NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart, Shane Stewart, Kyle Hirst and Brad Loyet. The test racing was brilliant with Team New Zealand claiming victory after a tie-breaker decision for the two race test series. The decision came down to the fastest lap, and when tallied up, past New Zealand Champion Jamie Larson was the winner of that lap with 12.147 seconds.
The series wasn’t without its drama though, one our much loved drivers Jamie McDonald, had a nasty accident exiting Pine Tree bend which put him out for a couple of months. Fortunately he was back in the driver’s seat just in time for the New Zealand Sprint Car Title and he was welcomed back with a rapturous applause.
Brad Loyet was sent home after he got caught up in a racing incident to which he reacted to. This in itself was just ‘part of the show’ and some of the crowd seemed to enjoy the little bit of pushing and shoving. If it had ended there, Brad might well have continued with the series however he decided to continue his tirade in the Race Control Tower earning him a 22-day ban.
American NASCAR star Tony Stewart walked out of Vodafone Speedway – Western Springs on the final night of the series, missing the feature race of the International Sprint Car Series without explanation. He later apologised for his actions and explained he was under an immense amount of personal pressure at the time.
Drama aside, the Porter Hire International Sprint Car Series held over two tracks, Western Springs and Palmerston North, was as usual, awesome to watch. During this series we were sad to learn from Dean Brindle that this was to be his last season as he announced his retirement. It was great to see him lead Team New Zealand for his final year and for his team to take the win.
During this time Graham Standring had his own presentation to Michael Pickens. Graham was recognised as being the most successful midget driver with 100 feature wins under his belt. A few years back he was given a gold and diamond ‘100’ ring by long time speedway identity Norm Sutton, however Standring realised that Pickens had managed to surpass his own feat. So Graham felt it was right to hand the ring over much to the delight of the fans at the packed stadium. Norm Sutton was a long-time friend of Standring so we can all appreciate the emotion he showed while handing the ring on.
From there we headed straight into the United Truck Parts International Midget Series which saw Australian’s Dayne Kingshott, Michael Stewart and 16 year old rising star Kaidon Brown, along with USA drivers Kyle Larson, Tyler Courtney, Alex Bright, Spencer Bayston, Zach Daum and Tyler Thomas. This season was a little different in that the fans got to choose who they wanted to represent Team USA. They selected Spencer Bayston, Kyle Larson and Zach Daum while representing Team NZ was Michael Pickens, Shayne Alach and Brock Maskovich.
It was great to have ace NASCAR driver Kyle Larson visiting our shores for the series and he didn’t disappoint, stunning the crowd with his talent on the dirt.
Racing for the Tony Elliott foundation was Tyler Courtney otherwise known as Sunshine and he absolutely was a ray of sunshine too, he ingratiated the fans with his hard charging on track talent and his fun loving off track demeanour.
During this time we celebrated 80 years of midget racing at Western Springs. On Christmas day during the 1937/1938 season the first International Midget Series was held with five Americans, two Australians and two Kiwis on the programme.
The New Zealand Sprint Car Championship Title was held in January and while Kerry Brocas wasn’t on anyone’s radar to win, he was a most certainly a very popular winner. The 55 year old veteran racer stunned more high profile competitors with an impeccable drive to win the 30 lap feature, and get his name etched onto the cup for the first time, to the rapturous applause of the huge crowd.
Next was the New Zealand Midget Grand Prix which was won by Michael Pickens with Shayne Alach and Spencer Bayston rounding out the top three. The Heritage Shield was also on the same night and as always it was great to see the vintage midgets take to the track. The TQ division had the Shane Turner Memorial TQ Feature which was won by Scott Baker.
The Rolling Thunder Series was just as popular as ever, round one was held at Palmerston North International Speedway and round two at Bay Park Family Speedway. The final round was held at Western Springs, it’s always a great treat to see the Super Saloons at Western Springs and the Sprint Cars also got to race for the coveted ‘ring’. The series place getters were as follows:
First Peter Dickson 11E, Second Dan Corrin 124M, Third Craig Cardwell 8H.
First Jamie McDonald 71A, Second Dean Brindle 22A, Third Michael Pickens 2NZ.
First Zach Daum 2NZ, Second Michael Pickens 3NZ, Third Brad Mosen 7A.
Congratulations to all place getters and we look forward to doing it all over again next season!