Saturday February 13th I decided to check out round one of the NZ Stadium Off-Road Championships being held at the relatively new track at Colin Dale Park, out by the northern end of Auckland Airport. The fact a work colleague was racing his Pro-Buggy class racer there sealed the deal.
This is the same facility that also hosts the self-drive jet-sprint boats, where you get to have a go around the pond in a jet-sprint boat. There is also a moto-cross track behind the off-road track as well. My understanding of this facility is there are plans afoot to properly develop it into a dedicated motorsport park. Of course, if Auckland Council has any input into it, the land will probably be sold off for housing developments to the highest bidder… but I digress.
For now, it’s a work in progress but frankly, coming along nicely with good access and a sizable tar-sealed carpark already laid. This round was only the third time the off-road track had been used and the organizers got a large field of racers, in all manner of very confusing categories and classes. Even the juniors were catered for, with an > 14 year old class of, I think, 250cc buggies. Good to see the young ones being encouraged.
The racing was for the most part, fast and furious, with two main heats of no less than seven races each ranging from five to eight laps, then the semi-mains comprising another seven races, accommodating up to eleven different classes. How they keep track of all that going on, beats me! To confuse matters for me, several of the races had multiple classes racing together, with the fastest classes at the back… made for some busy times on-track for sure and great for the considerable number of spectators present. Never a dull moment, as they say.
Then there were two feature races basically featuring the fastest from the semi-mains, with four categories racing in the first feature and three in the second, including the outrageous Thunder-Trucks and only slightly less outrageous Pro-Lites and including drivers like drifter Mad Mike Whiddett and former NZ Rally Champion Andrew Hawkswood. And something like 21 laps for each feature!
The event itself was very well run, with virtually no delays between races other than the mandatory track watering – to try in vain to keep the dust at bay. All it did was make the track almost un-drivable for the first cars out on it, with many a resulting spin! My colleague Vince had a shocker, as it seemed every race he was in was just after!
I thoroughly enjoyed it, you could see at least 2/3rds of the track from spectator area, there were ample food/beverage vendors, even a licensed bar if you were so inclined, as well as sponsors hospitality areas with arguably the best vantage point to watch the action. Even the Portaloos were plentiful, clean, well stocked and within easy walking distance of the track and the pits. Speaking of the pits, these too were fully open to the public and worth a wander around. Some of the rigs of the top category racers were something else! The next round at the same venue is Saturday March 6th. Worth a look if you have no other plans, for sure. Rob Milligan