Aucklander Lance Jennings claimed the North Island Super Saloon title he won in Napier on Saturday night as "one for the pensioners".
"I recently turned 65 so this is definitely one for the pensioners. In fact I can't wait until I retire so I can race full-time," he quipped.
For the mechanic who has been racing saloons for 43 seasons, it was his third North Island title and second at Hauraki Meeanee Speedway. His last at Meeanee was back in the 1990-91 season.
"Meeanee used to be a lucky track for me and then there was a period when I struggled here. I was just here to enjoy the occasion tonight but the track conditions allowed me to thrive," Jennings said before going to collect his $1500 first prize.
It was single-file racing most of the time in the 19-car Thirsty Whale Bar and Restaurant-sponsored championship and reasonably slow - "pensioner pace" as one of Jennings' fans remarked. Jennings hopes to have similar success when he returns to Meeanee for the January 24 round in the national series. His next outing will be the New Zealand Grand Prix at Mount Maunganui on Friday night.
A three-way run off for second saw Hawke's Bay's former national champion Steve Flynn finish ahead of Auckland's Ben Harding and his younger brother, Grant Flynn. Both Flynns have yet to win the North Island title.
Steve Flynn was impressive in the first heat, finishing sixth off grid 12.
A star-studded 30-strong field in the superstock class threatened to steal the thunder from the Super Saloon championship. Hawke's Bay-based Palmerston North-contracted 1NZ Shane Penn produced another perfect rehearsal for his Meeanee-hosted January 2 to January 4 nationals, with wins in the first two heats for his class, the second off grid seven.
Penn was so satisfied with his car's performance he opted out of the third heat. Hawke's Bay's Shane Warner also proved he was peaking at the right time with a second to Penn in the first heat and a win in the third.
Penn's nephew, Regan Penn, matched his uncle's efforts with two wins in a 19-strong ministock class. He finished third behind winner Sam Waddell of Mount Maunganui and Hawke's Bay's Jakob Flynn, a son of Super Saloon driver Grant Flynn.
The 3300 spectators were impressed with the amount of stirring in the 20-strong stockcar class. Hawke's Bay's Bryce Cross ended up on his roof midway through the second heat when he was in the lead.
Fellow Bay driver Brett Loveridge rolled his clubmate Josh Smith. Loveridge also took Robert Pussell into the wall.
Hawke's Bay and East Coast champion Randal Tarrant won two of the heats and fellow Bay driver Tony Palmer the other.
The highlight of the six-crew sidecar class was the host track crew of Troy Devery and swinger Phil Winter winning the first heat on a borrowed bike.
Hawke's Bay's Wayne Melling won two of the heats in a 15-strong streetstock class and finished second to Palmerston North's Dean Dingwall in the other.