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The Amrein Express Rolls Through Beachlands

Beachlands Speedway

STORY BY

DARYL SHUTTLEWORTH
Shuttleworth Motorsport Media

(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 stunning Otago night set the perfect backdrop for round four of The Brian FM South Island Saloon Series at Custom Signs Beachlands Speedway in Dunedin. While a fresh breeze rolled off the ocean, fans rolled into the arena rugged up and ready to take in the red hot action that was set to unfold.

Not only was Beachlands Speedway hosting the South Island Saloon Series but they had the very popular Principals race where seven local school Principals would do battle in Streetstocks over one race to claim supremacy over their rivals.

Now as a commentator I thought I would be spending the entire race talking about cars spinning up and all sorts of mayhem as these folk had never turned a wheel in a Streetstock before, but I couldnt have been proven more wrong, and what these seven school Principals did was put on a fantastic display of driving, fast and entertaining with a solid support crew of students from each school screaming their support and waving banners it was fantastic.

The dominant driver who had to come from well down the grid was Bruce James from Carisbrook School, James was super fast and would certainly not look out of place in any Streetstock field. James would negotiate his way around to claim the Principals Challenge followed home by Gareth Swete of Sawyers Bay School and in third Will Fraser from Stirling School.

Just the one mishap that we must mention and that was Kim Blackwood of Arthur Street School who was looking pretty quick but got a big tank slapper happening coming out of turn two and had a solid hit into the wall down the back straight.

The main event of course was the Brian FM South Island Saloon Series and with the best drivers from right throughout New Zealand entered it really showed that this event is the supreme Saloon series in the country. Earlier rounds held at Woodford Glen, Ellesmere and Greymouth had dished up some brilliant racing, Christchurch teenager Ashton Osborne had claimed two feature wins with Trent Amrein of Bay Park claiming a win also, but due to the nature of the series and extra points being on offer it was Amrein coming into the Beachlands round with a slender points margin of just twelve points, Daniel Cook of Gisborne was a further fifty five points adrift.

Heat one started with a bit of biff and bash as the drivers familiarized themselves with the Beachlands track, an early yellow flag was put out when Rodney McIndoe of Gisborne’s bonnet came off allowing everyone to take a deep breath and get ready to have a second crack at things.

Local driver Stu “The Flying Scotsman” Millar gave the local fans plenty to get excited about as he raced off to a solid start but this was short lived as Cromwell’s Phil Burgess would snatch the lead back and keep an ever attacking Millar at bay to take the heat one win.

Millar would secure second ahead of Amrein who had worked his way from mid pack up to third.

Heat two and just the one caution period in this race also, this time in lap six when Cook lost his bonnet, a quick salvage mission by the track crew had the drivers back and race ready in no time, with Osborne this time the man on the pace, the Christchurch driver too fast for the field banking his first race win of the night ahead of McIndoe in second and Aaron Andrews of Dunedin third, Andrews was a wildcard in the series, entering the final three rounds.

The final heat race was a chance for drivers to bank as many points as they could to improve their position in the all important “Dash” that would ultimately decide the grid for the feature.

For me this was the race of the night, three drivers at the top of their game going toe to toe, lap upon lap. Amrein, Cook and Christchurch’s Willie Woodhouse bought the crowd to their feet with an epic display of driving, Cook in his Vulcan machine was super fast up front and by the end of the race had pulled a sizable gap on his rivals. Woodhouse looked as if he had done enough to claim second but a slick move by Amrein on the very last corner seen him claim second spot with Woodhouse having to settle for third.

It was now time for “The Dash”, its a bit like a pole shuffle but on steroids, pretty much the bottom points scorers go first, four cars over four laps with the winner progressing to the next group, where the rest finish is where they will start on the grid, so you get last in the first Dash, you start from the rear of the field. Each group then comes out until we get to the business end and find our pole sitter.

Dash one went the way of Stratford’s Craig Korff, unfortunately Korff could repeat the dose in Dash two where Invercargill’s Graham Williamson would take the win, Dash three went to Hamish Moore of Gisborne, Dash Four went to Thomas Korff of Stratford, McIndoe would take Dash Five and the final Dash that would decide the front two rows of the grid would see Amrein take pole, McIndoe start from second ahead of Woodhouse and Osborne.

So with the Dash done and a grid set it was time to go to battle in the feature final, the atmosphere was electric as the cars lined up and formed the grid to go green, McIndoe was setting the pace from grid two and bought the entire field to pretty much walking pace out of turn four, ready to hit the loud pedal and gain an advantage over Amrein who was on his inside, as this unfolded the cars barreled into turn one nose to tail and at pace, a car sitting midpack unfortunately came unstuck and caused a pile up involving no less than about eight cars and ultimately ending the night for Williamson, David Speirs of Wellington, Billie Woodhouse of Christchurch and Ivan Murdoch of Central Motor Speedway, all of these cars with massive damage and a question mark cast on if they could turn these cars around to race the rest of the series.

After a lengthy delay and the feature being trimmed back to fifteen laps due to time restrictions it was all on at the restart, Amrein and McIndoe went at it for the first couple of laps before Amrein would find his rhythm in his CB2 Saloon and build an unbeatable buffer. Amrein contended with lapped traffic and put on a faultless display that would see him take out the feature and extend his lead in the South Island Saloon Series. McIndoe showed great speed all night and took second place in the feature, while Cook was looking faster each race getting up to third.

There was plenty of action across the three Youth Saloon races at Beachlands, heat one was a good tidy affair with Dunedin’s Max Kemp taking a fairly easy win over clubmates Cruz Soper and Noah Kitto.

Heat two was almost a carbon copy of heat one but this time it was Soper who was dominating out front and held a big lead, Kemp however was sublime in second and would eventually grab the lead off Soper and take his second win of the event, Soper was second while in third was Dresden Constable who had his best ever finish, solid in third place.

Soper would come to grief in heat three, finding a spot in turn three that caused some issues across the night, Soper would pretty much roll end on end in what was a spectacular roll over, but testament to the safety gear and the way these cars are built Soper would walk away unscathed raising his arms almost in celebration of his first roll over.

As the race progressed it was Invercargill driver Lachie Robertson who took the lead of the race with Kemp on his back bumper, it only looked a matter of time before Kemp would pounce but Robertson was driving the wheels off his car, eager to claim his first ever race win. As luck would have it for Kemp, on the very last corner of the race the pair would strike lapped traffic, Kemp got the better run to snatch victory over Robertson with Kitto back in third place.

Streetstocks offered plenty of entertainment over their three races also, heat one was fast with just the one stoppage for Dunedin’s Jacob Campbell who has been dogged with mechanical issues with his new car so far this season, again not finishing a race.

The usual suspects raced hard up front with the win going the way of Dunedin’s Ben Jenkins with clubmates Jareb Verdoner second and Braden Adams third.

Race two saw Dunedin’s Robert Ryder fall victim to the rough turn three surface, suffering a vicious roll over that almost resembled a tumble dryer spinning around, Ryder would walk away from the incident unscathed.

Beachlands driver Shya McHardy looked odds on to grab the win in this race but it was Verdoner who would spoil the party, hitting McHardy hard late in the race causing a restart.

Verdoner would then go on to take the race win ahead of Jenkins and Mitch Lavender of Dunedin.

Race three was entertaining, plenty of big hits, action aplenty but no stoppages much to my surprise. Jenkins had to buy his time in this race but would eventually find his way to the front to snatch victory ahead of Lavender and Allan Finch of Dunedin third.

Production Saloons had a big field of cars entered and turned out some of the nights best racing, race one went the way of Dunedin driver Aaron Brookland who was faultless up front, he would win a race with no cautions, just good hard racing, second was clubmate Ricki Pilley with Hannah Dawson also of Beachlands impressive in third.

Race two and this was all on for young and old with a four car battle for the win lasting over multiple laps, all drivers racing hard, a little bit of rubbing here or there but respectful racing which led to an epic race finish. Dunedin’s Cam Bower, Brookland, Tyler Kelk and Cody Denniston also both from Beachlands all had their time at the point end of the field, just when you thought Kelk held an advantage, Bower would grab the lead and so on, but it was Denniston who took a huge lunge from fourth place that would take the lead with a lap to go and ultimately take the race win with an amazing drive, second went to Bower with Kelk third.

The final race for Production Saloons was called early after Nigel Lawson of Dunedin became the third driver of the night to fall victim to turn three.

The final grade racing was Stockcars all Beachlands cars, and just a small filed hit the track for the evening. Heat one went to Steven Thompson who withstood early pressure from Paul Simon but would break away to claim the race win, Simon would settle for second with Mike Holey third.

Simons son Shannon would jump into Paul’s car for race two and would dominate, just the two cars finishing this race, Simon winning from Thompson.

The final race saw Holley get off to solid start leading the majority of the race with Simon in pursuit, Bailey Mitchell however decided to slow down his pace and go after the leader with just one lap to go. Mitchell measured Holley with precision as Holley had the checkered flag in his sites and fed him to the wall on turn four rolling the race leader and ultimately ending the race with it being called and Simon being awarded his second win of the night.

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