Rotorua's Ministocks in Paradise has long been a testing ground for future champions of the sport.

On Friday and Saturday, Paradise Valley Speedway hosted the event for the 17th time and it was Rotorua's rising stars who dominated the podiums.

Ministocks are raced by 12-to-16-year-olds and there is no recognised national title, but Ministocks in Paradise (MIP) is seen as the equivalent.

At the weekend, Rotorua's Damon Pinkham and Terrence Dorrell won the senior (14-16) and junior (12-13) titles respectively. Another Rotorua driver Flynn Fraser finished third in the junior event.

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Paradise Valley Speedway secretary Sonja Hickey said there were 137 drivers entered in the event, which was "slightly up on last year".

"It was manic, you've got 137 teenagers and all their parents, fast cars and a will to win.

"It's a recipe for entertainment - there are some really talented kids and the racing was amazing," Hickey said.

"This is the big event each year that all the kids want to win. They came from all over the North Island and as far as Dunedin and Cromwell to compete in it. It's the must-do event on the Ministock calendar."

She said ministocks played a crucial role in preparing young drivers for the step up to senior racing.

Ministocks In Paradise junior winner Terrence Dorrell (left) and senior winner Damon Pinkham. Photo / Sportsweb Photography
Ministocks In Paradise junior winner Terrence Dorrell (left) and senior winner Damon Pinkham. Photo / Sportsweb Photography

Previous MIP winners include current New Zealand superstock champion Jason Long, New Zealand Minisprint champion Christian Hermansen and Sprintcar 2NZ Jamie Larsen.

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"Another example is the top six finishers at our recent World 240s event all competed in Ministocks in Paradise at some stage. It is the stepping stone into a variety of speedway classes, not just the contact stock car classes.

"It gives them a taste of competing at a proper event and we run it absolutely as a New Zealand title would be run.

"When you look through the list of kids that have won the event, they all go on to bigger and better things. It's a benchmark of where they're going to go and a lot of kids who haven't made the podium go on and have success too."

It was Pinkham's last opportunity to win the event before he turns 17 and would no longer be eligible. Hickey said his performance showed he was ready for the next step.

"Damon has been particularly quick all year. He's a good smooth driver. It's often up to mum and dad whether the kids carry on after ministocks, but most do.

"Terrence is top in Rotorua too, he's only 13 but he's a real class act."

She said Ministocks in Paradise was the hardest event to run, but the most rewarding.

Ministocks in Paradise Results
Senior:
1st Damon Pinkham 59 points, 2nd Tyler Ingram 54 points, 3rd Cameron Sidaway 54 points.
Junior:
1st Terence Dorrell 136 points, 2nd Zac Ingram 129 points, 3rd Flynn Fraser 128 points.