Speedway: Northern drivers venture south to contest champs

In a first for Beachlands Speedway, the New Zealand streetstock championships will be raced at the Dunedin track this weekend.

The championships have not been held in the lower South Island for more than 20 years, and more than 70 drivers and cars will descend on Beachlands chasing the title. Beachlands Speedway vice-president Matt Stewart said the club had lobbied hard to get the meeting, and after being awarded it last year had attempted to persuade North Island drivers to make the pilgrimage south to contest the title.

Stewart said many had decided to come for the contest and by yesterday there were 74 drivers registered for the event, with many coming from Gisborne, where the championships had been raced last year.

Gisborne drivers dominated last year, when Dave Hampton won the event and brothers Sean and Brendon Gooch finished second and third respectively. All three drivers will be competing at Beachlands.

The competing cars are ordinary street vehicles, which are then fitted with roll cages and bigger bumper bars, so cars can make contact between each other through the race.

Some minor modifications can be done to the engine but it is more or less possessing the same power as when the car left the assembling factory.

Tonight is a chance to get some practice time on the track at Beachlands, as many drivers have not raced there before.

Qualifying starts at 7pm tomorrow, with drivers divided into four groups. Each group will race in heats on that night, and at the end the drivers with the top placing in each group will go through to the finals on Sunday night.

The top 26 drivers will contest the finals over three races, each of 15 laps. Racing starts at 7pm.

Drivers' starting positions for the first race will be carried out by a grid draw, with drivers swapping front, middle and back starts over the three races.

Stewart said being at the front was not necessarily a huge advantage as the cars out in front became a target for drivers behind.

Plenty of drivers from Christchurch have made the trip south. Dunedin drivers will also be in with a chance and Paul Simon, in his Toyota Soarer, is a contender.

Stewart hopes a large crowd will get along to the championships on both nights.