Has New Zealand motor racing – on sealed circuit or dirt-track speedway – ever been in better heart or with better prospects for the future?
The summer circuit racing series is two meetings old, and the racing has been universally good, albeit if the nature of Ruapuna with its single-shot passing spot (the infield hairpin) tended to make some of the races processional in Round 2.
And, at Auckland’s Springs Speedway, the racing has been consistently good. Two of last weekend’s feature races – the Midgets and the TQ Midgets – were decided by last corner passing moves and by a shade over a tenth of a second.
Brad Mosen (pictured) won the Midget Feature with a last gasp pass after a 25-lap nail-biter that saw he and the spectacular Shayne Alach trade the lead several times.
In the NZ Truth V8s circuit racing series, the racing has been superb, and the championship is benefitting from the presence of several drivers who race regularly in the Australian V8 Supercar and Supercar Developments championships.
The racing at the Springs will only get more intense as the full complement of American Sprint Car drivers lines up this weekend.
American Ricky Logan won the Sprint Car Features at the first two meetings, though he was relegated from the win on night one because he had started from the wrong grid slot after a first lap incident led to a full grid restart.
And last Saturday, crowd-pleasing Craig Dollansky, another US visitor, won the Feature. But in the closing laps, he was being caught by Kiwi champion Jamie McDonald.
The benefits of drivers racing offshore during the New Zealand winter are evident in both the NZ V8s and the Midgets and Sprints Cars.
Midget ace Michael Pickens dominated the opening two Features at the Springs, and other drivers with American experience over our winter have shown well, notably Scott Buckley.
At least one NZ V8s driver we’ve spoken to says the V8 Supercar regulars in the field are raising the bar and it’s a harder task and bigger ask for drivers who haven’t raced in the off-season to be on the same initial pace.
Some are suggesting they will mount a winter racing programme in 2008 to ensure they get to the track as sharp as possible for the 2008/2009 V8s series.
Holden Commodore racer Paul Manuell says driving a Commodore VE in Targa New Zealand helped him to be sharper at the start of the NZ V8s season than he has been in the past.
What’s really encouraging about both racing disciplines we’ve been covering this summer is the depth of talent right throughout the racing fields.
There are new drivers coming through. Ex-karters Simon Evans and Matthew Wooding were sensationally-fast in Formula Ford at Ruapuna in their rookie season in the formula at national level.
And at the Springs, the young guns in TQ Midgets – many of whom also have a grounding in karting and/or Kiwi Kidz Quarter Midgets – are producing some superb racing, boding well for the future as they graduate into Midgets or Sprint Cars.
If you’re in Auckland over the summer and you love racing, don’t miss the chance to go to Western Springs – you won’t be disappointed (see the Springs Speedway website for race dates).
And true race fans won’t want to miss the NZ V8s or any of the other support classes at the A1GP New Zealand round at Taupo on January 19 and 20.
Seldom in the past few years have we felt so positive about the quality and the future of New Zealand motor racing.