Central Drivers Clean Sweep Southland Stockcar Champs

Riverside Speedway Speedway


Shuttleworth Motorsport Media

Images supplied by: Debra Race

(Disclaimer – results as seen by myself while commentating, results may have changed slightly due to relegations etc. – This article or extracts from it are not to be used by any other form of media without prior permission.) 

A precious piece of silverware will remain in Central Otago for the winter months with drivers from the Central Motor Speedway club taking all three spots on the podium, however none of them were the reigning champion Casey McEwan who did enter but couldn’t retain his crown.

A big field of Stockcars were on hand at Aotea Electric Riverside Speedway to contest the Southland Stockcar Championship, one of two Southland Titles on the line as what was Riverside’s biggest meeting of the season, the ILT Fireworks Extravaganza.

A massive crowd rolled up on what was an absolutely stunning day in the deep south, for a number of attendees this was their first ever taste of speedway action, while for many families, this was the one meeting of the season they come to, taking in a great day of racing on track, finished off by an astonishing Fireworks display.

The Southland Stockcar Championship would be decided on highest points over three heats, heat one saw Central Motor Speedway Young Gun Brodie MacDonald race off to a handy lead, the former Southland Youth Ministock Champion looked to be doing it with ease, leading the majority of the race until he got held up in a strategic move by Riverside’s Alisha Race. 

Race managed to keep MacDonald at bay while McEwan the defending champ managed to slip past, as did MacDonald’s Father Shane MacDonald, who would race through to snatch the heat one win.

McEwan started his title defence well with a solid second place, with Jacob Boulton also from Cromwell third.

Heat two saw Riverside driver Luke Fallow get a jump on the pack, leading down into turn one before the lights went red, the race stopped but just moments later would start again much to the confusion of everyone in attendance.

Fallow would start to break away from the pack before another red light was called for Riverside’s Jenna Tree who had taken a hit and was limping around the circuit, Tree would be sent infield and the race would resume.

Again Fallow got off to a strong start, Brodie MacDonald was chasing hard while the big mover in the pack was Cromwell’s Ashton Gable who by this stage was looking likely for a podium finish in the race. Defending champ McEwan was struggling in this race and could only return a placing of eighth pretty much putting his chances of going back to back, to rest.

Fallow would take a popular win in front of his home crowd, while Brodie MacDonald crossed in second with Gable doing the business, getting up to third spot.

The third and final heat would decide the championship, Boulton was still in the hunt at this stage but Riverside’s Adam Naber and Christchurch driver Luke Molloy ended his chances early in the race, Naber kept on his inside feeding him towards the wall, while Molloy delivered the killer blow putting Boulton up the wall and out of the race. Molloy also suffered damage and would retire, but this was the shot of the night, that really bought the big crowd to its feet.

Gable was in the front of this race, and you could see the confidence he had gained from the earlier placing in race two, Gable didn’t put a foot wrong and managed his lead with patience to claim his first ever Stockcar win at Riverside, Brodie MacDonald would finish almost three seconds away from the leader, with Shane MacDonald third.

This result would hand the Southland Stockcar Championship to Brodie MacDonald, second Shane MacDonald on what would have been a special day for the family with Father and Son both on the podium. Gable was also well rewarded with third place overall, and a heap of confidence to go with it.

Southland Youth Saloon Championship was the second Southland Title on offer, and an over subscribed field of cars from Riverside and Beachlands meant having to run two groups of twelve cars, with the top eight from each group getting a crack at the fifteen lap feature final, winner takes all.

Heat one for Group A was a good fast affair with just the one stoppage for Dunedin’s Noah Kitto who stopped on the main straight, the Dunedin teenager again hindered by a mechanical gremlin that has really marred his season to date.

One of the early championship favorites Joshua McIntyre of Riverside was clinical in this race, as he always is, he worked his way to the front early and just kept consistent, lap in lap out, to take the heat one win, clubmates Cayden Race came in second with Ryder Harris banking a solid third place.

Heat two was a great battle, but a race McIntyre would rather forget. It was all a bit messy right from the outset when two Riverside cars had a coming to in turn two of lap three, both Myah Lapsley and Vandah Thompson’s cars would suffer damage in the incident and retire from the race.

A great battle took place at the front of the pack, Race was out in front but really had his hands full with McIntyre and Kitto in pursuit.

The race looked like it would take on a thrilling finish as the leaders contested with lapped traffic, however unfortunately for McIntyre he was spared to the wall by a lapped car, causing considerable damage to his car, ending his night well before the final.

McIntyre would walk away from the incident and the race would restart only for Riverside’s Lukis MacHattie spinning up coming out of turn two, the race at this stage was called early, handing the win to Race, Kitto second and Beachland’s driver Blake Fox Miller finishing a very fast third.

In Group B, heat one saw Beachland’s driver Max Kemp show why he really is one of the hottest young talents in the grade currently, fresh off winning the Pits Media Challenge the week earlier.

Kemp got to the front and despite a late challenge by Riverside’s Meah Sommerville he would bag the race win, Sommerville second with Dunedin’s Kaian Greene third.

Heat two, and a big collision in turn two between Riverside clubmates Sommerville and Zoe Menpes would bring the race to a caution, Menpes suffering enough damage to put her out of the race, while Sommerville would restart from her original position on track.

In this race Kemp would need to work his way from the back of the field , while up front Greene, Sommerville along with Riverside drivers Lachie Robertson and Joshua Richardson were all fighting over the lead of the race.

Kemp made an uncharacteristic mistake mid race, sending him well down the order which would effect his starting spot in the feature. Greene by this stage had worked his way to the front of the pack and was looking very quick, Greene would go on to bank his first ever race win, Robertson second with Richardson third. Kemp would fight his way back nicely to secure sixth.

This now led to the fifteen lap feature, and what a race this was, the top eight cars from each group going toe to toe, and it did not disappoint at all.

This was a brilliant race that had no cautions, just some great battles right across the field. 

Greene got off to a flying start and led the first ten laps, there was some confusion when the white flag came out for Greene on lap ten, Race was pressuring the Dunedin driver at this point and the commentator was getting amped up for what would have been a photo finish, but there had been a mistake by the flag starter who wasn’t aware it was a fifteen lap race so the race continued on.

Credit to all of the drivers, they raced to the lights and kept going, by this stage Race had taken over the lead of the race. Greene had now slipped away from the leader and was under attack from Kemp. With just one lap to go the championship was looking to go the way of Race who had driven an outstanding race, behind him some questionable moves were being made for second and third place, both Greene and Kemp making contact on more than one occasion, moves that possibly could have been put under review by the officials but allowed to continue.

Race would grab his maiden Southland Championship, Greene would hold onto second with Kemp third.

Saloons were racing for the Rod McLaren Memorial Trophy, and it was great to see support from Central Motor Speedway and Beachlands drivers coming South to bolster what has been small numbers of Saloons at Riverside this season.

Heat one saw “The Flying Scotsman” Stu Miller of Dunedin dominate, racing off to a fast start that would never be threatened, snatching a well driven race win, second went the way of Riverside’s Graham Williamson who was made to work hard by Cromwell’s Phil Burgess, who would grab third.

Williamson would start up front in race two, turning the tables on Miller who threw all he had at Williamson, but Williamson would take the race win, Miller second and Mark Dobson of Riverside third.

This would lead to a very interesting third heat, Williamson and Miller were tied for first, while Burgess and Dobson were tied for third.

When this race went green Williamson made sure he got the jump on Miller and snuck off to an early advantage, while Dobson did the same with Burgess, who struggled to sneak past the cars in front of him, Dobson taking advantage of traffic.

Williamson would again manage his way to the line to claim the win, even more special being win number one hundred of his career, Miller cruised home to second with Dobson third. Those results in race three would also mirror the Rod McLaren Saloon Memorial overall results.

Six Shooters were running their first ever Best Pairs Championship, and were running a blind pairs format, meaning none of the drivers would know who they were partnered with until the trophies were presented at the conclusion of racing.

Race one saw Riverside’s Daniel McIntosh steal the show with a dominant race win, McIntosh is a relatively new driver to the sport so it was great to see the hard work paying off with a win, second went to Adam Evans from Cromwell with Riverside’s Duane Cracknell third.

Heat two saw Riverside’s Harrison Brown start from up front and despite some challenges from clubmate Hayden Graves who was looking fast, he would manage to bag his first race of the day, Brown would cross the line just over a second ahead of Graves in second with Evans working his way to third spot.

The final race saw a brilliant battle up front with both Brown and Evans going at it, keeping in mind none of these drivers had any idea who they were paired with.

The two young drivers pushed each other hard, one mistake could have ended both these drivers chances but they gave each other plenty of respect with Evans taking the final race win, just ahead of Brown, with McIntosh third.

When the results were called it was that exact pairing Brown and Evans who would win the Best Pairs, with Graves and Cracknell second, McIntosh and Mason Whelan third.

This meeting would also be Round One of the Shuttleworth Motorsport Media Production Saloon Tri Series, raced for by home team The Riverside Rats, Beachlands Young Guns from Dunedin and defending champs The Central Chargers from Cromwell.

Heat one was a thrilling race to watch, Riverside Rat Blake Hamilton got to the lead early and would march his way away from the pack, however all his hard work was to be let down when his team mate Blake Murdoch would stop in turn three bringing out a caution that would result in him being excluded, while another member of the Rats Aaron Reed would also park up.

At the restart Hamilton would break away again and do his best to salvage what was going to be a minimal return for the Rats, Hamilton would take the win ahead of Young Guns Cam Bower in second and Central Charger Aven Erskine third.

Heat two and another early blow for the Rats with Murdoch again breaking down on lap one, meaning he wouldn’t contribute to the Rats points tally at all for the day, Reed was also a non starter so the local team were really bleeding points. Both Central and The Young Guns would also suffer casualties in this race with Aaron Brookland of Dunedin and Liam Ballantyne of Cromwell both retiring early.

This heat would see a three way battle out front that was great to take in, but for the second time in as many races it was Hamilton who would take the win, Tyler Kelk of Beachlands second with Erskine third.

Race three was a nightmare for the home team also, with the best placed car being Brad Fitzgerald in seventh. Central Chargers dominated this last race with all three top placings filled by Cromwell cars, Erskine bagged the win ahead of Steven Nicholas in second and James Woods third, while Beachlands Young Guns grabbed positions four to sixth. Leaving round one the Central Chargers hold a slender eight point advantage over the Young Guns with The Rats having to do some soul searching a further forty eight points behind.

Steve Dryden of Riverside was again the man to beat in Streetstock’s who were just running in support at this meeting, Dryden won race one with ease ahead of clubmates Brent Bradley and Phil Johnston, he would then repeat the dose in race two taking the win this time from AJ Lapsley of Invercargill who would be disqualified at the end of the race, elevating Johnston to second with Chris Illingworth of Riverside third.

The final race for Streetstocks would see Dryden do the three peat with Bradley second and Illingworth third.

The southern club would also host the Derby Teams Championship, just two teams entered but some fantastic teams racing thrilled the crowd. Defending champions Noughts And Crosses would face The Wolfpack who were here trying to bag a win, something that had been out of reach for the last three years, but a solid team performance in year four would ensure they were the first team across the line when it all mattered. The Wolfpack would finally get their time to shine taking out the win, Darcy Ruffle, Brian Young, Noddy Rhind, Clint Matthews, Cody Leith and Alisha Race all getting to share the glory of the Teams Derby, while the last car going derby was won by Shaun Hughes of the Noughts And Crosses team. 

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