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Mayhem Reigns At King Of Cromwell

Central Motor Speedway

STORY BY

DARYL SHUTTLEWORTH
Shuttleworth Motorsport Media

Images supplied by: Kieran Blair

(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.) 

We will put the mayhem all down to a sugar rush from all the Easter Eggs consumed by drivers on Easter Sunday at Central Motor Speedway, as the Cromwell club hosted the King Of Cromwell Sprintcars, Mark Nicholls Stockcar Memorial and Easter Champs across all the grades.

The meeting attracted a big crowd on what was a stunning day in Central Otago, and the drivers turned on some absolutely fantastic racing across all the grades, certainly plenty of thrills and spills which is always a crowd pleaser, but the Speedway New Zealand Officials were certainly kept busy, with the majority of the races attracting at least one competitor to the officials room for further action.

Sprintcars would race three heats and a thirty lap feature in their King Of Cromwell meeting, defending King Of Cromwell, National Champion Joel Myers Jnr from the United States was on hand to defend his spot on the Kings throne, but there would certainly be some stiff opposition ready to take that spot, and earn the mantle of King Of Cromwell.

Heat one saw a good fast clean heat, something the Sprintcars couldn’t achieve two nights earlier at the Easter Champs. Riverside’s Jacob McIntyre was quick out of the box, breaking away from the pack early and showing blistering pace in a pretty classy field, McIntyre’s lap times were raising eyebrows as he was edging ever so close to the Cromwell lap record held by Buddy Kofoid.

McIntyre would win this heat by six and a half seconds over Josh Buchanan of Cromwell with his clubmate Jason Scott running home in third.

Heat two and McIntyre would have to start from the back of the field, up front Steve Duff of Christchurch would get off to a flying start before being reeled in by Myers Jnr who was punching out some impressive laps. Myers Jnr would get past Duff and set sail to the finish line to claim his first win of the event, also equalling the lap record set by Buddy Kofoid a couple of years prior, a time of 13.185 shared by the two young Americans.

Steve Duff would come home in second with Buchanan showing good pace to claim third spot.

Heat three was also incident free, again very fast times being smashed out lap upon lap, the big crowd enjoying the display of fast paced Sprintcar action in Cromwell.

Christchurch driver Jamie Duff was out in front and doing a number on the field, Duff was calculated when passing lapped cars, and he would need to be as Myers Jnr was gunning the former National Champion down. But Duff was in the zone and would take heat three by almost three seconds, Myers Jnr raced home in second while Matt Honeywell of Christchurch would cross the line third.

This would now lead to the thirty lap feature final, always a stunning scene under lights at what is easily one of the most picturesque speedway tracks on the planet.

Jamie Duff got the jump in the feature, eager to be crowned King Of Cromwell he would race out to a buffer over the rest of the pack. McIntyre, Myers Jnr and Buchanan would give chase and after twelve laps Myers Jnr would catch his man, putting a nice pass on Duff that would see him sneak into the lead.

Three laps later while the pair were passing lapped traffic Duff would clip Cromwell’s Steve Scoles and bring out a caution, once Duff was restarted he would be sent to the rear of the field ending his chances of a victory in Cromwell.

This incident led to a multitude of restarts and would eventuate with Honeywell ending up laying on his side in turn two, Im unsure the cause of this but it would end Honeywell’s night and reset the field for another restart.

While Honeywell’s car was being retrieved McIntyre who was now up to second would pull up alongside Myers Jnr playing mind games, it was great to see the two young drivers trying to physic each other out before getting the second half of the race underway.

As the race went green McIntyre would pressure Myers Jnr but the young American would pull off to a lead, McIntyre would then slip back and Buchanan would start to reel him in, before McIntyre would again find pace and chase off after Myers Jnr.

Behind all of this Jamie Duff was powering up from the back, putting on an amazing display, looking likely to land himself on the podium after his earlier race issues.

Myers Jnr would prove to be just too fast, and at the end of thirty laps he would go back to back as The King Of Cromwell, McIntyre would take plenty out of his impressive second placing, while Buchanan got home by a whisker over Jamie Duff in third.

Stockcars run for the Mark Nicholls Memorial Trophy, a trophy contested for the biggest stirrer, not the driver who takes the race wins on the night. It is also a chance for the grade to try a few different things like starting the race from the back straight, starting nosed into the wall, then starting in a chevron formation all nosed into each other, this certainly led to some interesting starts to say the least, but great to see things mixed up.

Heat one for Stockcars saw Dunedin’s Steven Thompson take a wild wall ride when Brodie MacDonald of Cromwell attacked him early, this was a fitting start to the race after these two drivers battled hard for the top step of the podium two nights earlier.

Thompson would manage to continue but Riverside’s Ryan Ridder wouldn’t have the same luck when he got put up and over in the second lap of the race, courtesy of a calculated hit from Central Motor Speedway duo Jayden Nichol and Shayne Lewis.

Dunedin’s Bailey Mitchell would run away with the lead of this race and ultimately the race win, Cromwell’s Carl Gable would place second with MacDonald third.

Heat two and it was great to see Ridder return to the track after his earlier roll over, this race had a couple of stoppages, Dylan Prattley of Cromwell would come to a stand still on lap one, and on lap six it would be Alisha Race of Riverside stopping in turn three that would bring the race to a halt.

This was a great race with plenty of biff and barge coming from the likes of Nichol, Thompson and Dylan Robb of Cromwell.

Robb would not only cause chaos but he would also take the race win ahead of Mitchell in second and Ben Lodge of Christchurch third.

The deciding heat saw big hits, as all of the drivers were trying to out do each other as the Mark Nicholls Trophy was for the biggest stirrer, it didn’t matter who crossed the line first. Mitchell took a nasty wall ride on the main straight early, ending his chances. Prattley again ran into issues  which would see the race restart for the second time, but it was Robb who was on a crusade, bringing the crowd to their feet when he put a massive hit on two cars down the back straight, both cars being spun in the one hit.

Robb would also show plenty of pace, coming home in second place behind Ashdyn Gable of Cromwell who took the win with Lodge again solid in third place.

The Mark Nicholls Jnr Trophy for biggest stirrer would be a popular choice, going the way of Robb, with Ridder being presented the Roll Over award.

Saloons came off some great racing on Good Friday where they run three of the six heats to decide the Easter Champs, with the three remaining heats to be contested today. One noticeable omission was Cromwell’s George Phillips who won all three of Fridays races, Phillips handed the driving duties over to rookie driver Mitchell Morris who would start from the rear of the pack, really opening up the championship.

Heat one of the Sunday was dominated by Riverside’s Graham Williamson who was now the points leader with Phillips not racing. Williamson started up front and would never be challenged taking the race win by over seven seconds from Stu Miller of Dunedin, with Jason Gold of Cromwell home in third.

Heat two would see Williamson the cause of the first caution, the points leader half rotating in the path of Cromwell’s Phil Burgess, Burgess clipping the front of Williamson but both cars continuing on but the race going to caution due to debris off Williamsons car on track.

Gold was strong in this race but found himself making contact with Cromwell’s Ivan Murdoch in turn two while taking the race lead from Murdoch, this would be the second time in as many nights that the Cromwell pair would have a coming together, and the second time Gold would face a visit to the officials.

Gold would take the race win in this heat but be dropped two spots to third, which gave the race win to Miller, with Christchurch’s Peter Schouten home in third spot.

The final Saloon race was entertaining but also pure carnage, the first victim in this heat was Miller who found himself hard into the wall coming out of turn two, Miller’s incident would cause a caution but Miller would manage to rejoin the race.

The next caution would be for Schouten who hit the wall in turn three after running wide and being sucked into the wall, Schouten would be out of heat three with damage to his car as the rest of the field reset themselves for a restart.

When the lights went green Williamson completely missed the start and got passed by two cars, Burgess would then make a run on Williamson only for Williamson to feed Burgess wide and into the wall in turn two, Williamson was sent to the rear of the pack for the contact on Burgess.

The race would then reform again, Gold would control it from up front as he and Murdoch would drive away from Miller who was now battling with Williamson who was working his way back into the race.

Gold would take a tight race win, Murdoch second with Williamson getting himself back up to third place.

That result would give Williamson the overall Easter Champs by just one point, Gold came in second, the two races he faced relegation in cost him the championship, but a solid result that Gold will take plenty of positives out of, while Miller placed third.

Six Shooters were also running the second night of their Easter Champs, tonight would see them race the last two heats before taking to the track for a twenty lap feature, winner takes all.

The first heat of the Sunday saw Cromwell’s George Hedley lead early, but would need to fight off the pack at the first restart due to clubmate Tony Creighton coming to a standstill on the back straight on lap five.

Hedley was up to the task racing home to take the win from Riverside’s Harrison Brown with Tony Symons of Cromwell third.

Heat two saw a big incident early, Riverside’s Duane Cracknell and Creighton had a big end on end roll over on the back straight, Blair Smith of Cromwell may have also been involved as he also retired from this heat with a flat tyre, testament to the safety gear the competitors use, as both drivers stepped away from this incident unscathed.

The race was stopped while the carnage was sorted, at the restart it was Brown who got away to a steady lead, Brown was being chased hard by clubmate Mason Whelan and Cromwell’s Emma Gordon, Gordon looking far faster after a couple of repairs to her car since Friday’s meeting.

Brown would hold on to take the race win, Gordon would place second with Whelan third, Whelan would however be relegated two spots elevating Riverside’s Daniel McIntosh to third.

This would now lead to the twenty lap feature, the earlier five heats meant nothing, except where these drivers would start in the feature, this race was winner takes all and it looked as if it was going to be dominated by Riverside drivers with Brown, McIntosh and Danny Livingstone all pulling away from the pack.

At the midway point Symons would spin in turn two and bring the rest of the field back to the leaders, this is where Gordon would make her move and slip past McIntosh.

Brown and Livingstone would sneak away with Gordon in tow, but McIntosh would also have to fend off Hedley who was pushing hard to move up to the leaders.

Brown would end up getting to the flag with ease to claim the Easter Champs, Livingstone capped off a solid weekend in second, while Gordon would represent Cromwell on the podium in third.

Youth Ministocks were the last grade continuing on their Easter Champs from the Friday night, with other grades just running for it over three heats at this meeting.

Friday saw some brilliant battles across the Ministock grade with two wins going to Cromwell’s Joshua McIntyre, and one win the way of Christchurch’s Jack Anderton.

Heat one of the Sunday saw Nelson driver Aimee Burson give clubmate Leilah Jefcoate the flick coming out of turn two of the opening lap, Burson would manage to continue on but Jefcoate would lose a number of spots after starting from the front of the grid. The race stayed green for this incident but would come to a halt in lap three after Cromwell’s Brooke Marshall stopped in turn two with what looked to be front end damage.

This race saw Friday nights winners battle hard up front but McIntyre would get to the line first to beat Anderton for second with Jaxon Dacombe of Christchurch third. Anderton would face a two spot relegation at the conclusion of this race bringing Dacombe up to second, and Hunter Elliott Cross of Cromwell third.

The next race McIntyre would also lead the majority of, and would develop a great battle with Dacombe for the majority of the race. Cromwell’s Luci Scott would make contact with Elliott Cross in turn two, this incident taking out Thomas Scott of Cromwell who would end up retiring from the race, Luci Scott would later also retire with a flat tyre.

Dacombe would pressure McIntyre lap in, lap out and eventually slip past McIntyre late in the race to claim victory in a very entertaining race, McIntyre ensured he kept banking solid points by claiming second, with Cromwell’s Paige McNally an impressive third.

McNally was the stand out in the final heat of the weekend also, the rookie driver getting to the front of the pack and in a heated battle with Elliott Cross. Unfortunately for McNally, Elliott Cross measured her up and spun her with just a couple of laps remaining, putting McNally out of contention.

Elliott Cross was sent to the back of the grid for this but would soon be involved in another big incident, this time putting a big hit on Luci Scott, sending Scott airbourne on the main straight and Elliott Cross sent infield and disqualified.

It was at that point the race was called by officials, the race win going the way of Anderton with McIntyre second and Jefcoate third.

So after six hard fought Youth Ministock races it would be McIntyre that would claim the Easter Champs, Anderton second with Dacombe in third place overall.

Production Saloons were one of two grades racing their Easter Champs on the Sunday alone, over three heats.

Heat one saw Cromwell’s James Woods get to the lead early only for Christchurch driver James Westerman to chase him down on lap six. Westerman would slip up the inside, but when he washed out Woods would run across the front of Westermans car and fire skyward, throwing his car violently up into the wall in what was a massive roll over.

This bought the race to a halt, Woods would appear from his heavily damaged car unscathed but would remain a spectator for the rest of the event, Westerman would also retire from the race.

Cromwell’s Aven Erskine worked his way to the front of the pack and would go on to win heat one from clubmate Daniel Rolton in second with Vaughan Fairburn of Christchurch in third.

Westerman would also fall out of favor in heat two when he got pinged for a false start and put to the tail of the field, an impressive drive was on the cards as the race evolved.

Again Erskine got to the front of the pack and would control the race, as mentioned Westerman must have had a fair bit of red mist under his visor, as he was coming through the pack with haste, easily the fastest car on track. It was a miracle for Westerman to even get within striking distance of the top three, let alone pass the cars sitting in third, then second and now challenging for the lead. Erskine however would take the win, laps run out for Westerman but an impressive second placing was certainly a highlight to watch, while Cromwell’s Gavin Hurring claimed third.

The final heat was a bit ugly from the outset, Cromwell’s Laura Heads looked out of sorts from the start, falling from the front row well down the order, she would then make contact with Andrew Bennett of Christchurch which would spare her into the wall in turn two.

At the restart Fairburn would take the lead but soon be past by Cromwell’s Sam McKenzie, the pair swapping the lead lap upon lap in what was an epic battle.

McKenzie however would retire with dramas late in the race, handing the win the way of Fairburn with Erskine claiming second ahead of Westerman.

Erskine would take the overall honors to claim the Easter Champs, Fairburn second overall, with Hurring third.

The final grade to race was Super Saloons, heat one saw Nelsons Ian Burson show his class dancing around the corners at Central Motor Speedway with his inside front wheel hovering in mid air, putting on a fantastic show for the big crowd, Burson would take the heat one win ahead of Greig Johnson of Cromwell who maintained plenty of pressure on the race leader but would have to settle for second while Kane Lawson of Christchurch would place third.

Heat two would see local favorite Ray Stewart battle it out up front with Burson in what was an epic race.

Burson set the fastest lap of the two cars but track position favored Stewart and he would take the race win, Burson second with Alister Lister of Dunedin third.

The final race spelt disaster for Burson who came into the heat leading on points. Burson would go infield with what looked to be broken steering on lap four, opening up the Easter Championship for his rivals.

Lawson was the leader from lap one and drove a steady race, managing his lead the entire race. Lawson was calculated and would get home comfortably over rookie driver Findlay Dixon of Cromwell with Christchurch driver Trevor Elliott having his best race of the event in third.

This result would give Lawson the Easter Champs for Super Saloons, second went the way of Burson with Johnson third overall.

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