Speedway enthusiasts looking to fill the void between Christmas and New Year will be thrilled by the North Island Streetstocks being held in Rotorua on Saturday night.
It is the fourth time Paradise Valley Speedway has hosted the event. In the 1990/91 season Jeff Barron took the title, in 2000/01 it was Gary Marshall and in 2004/05 Nevano Cowan was the victor.
• Series opener at Mount Maunganui's Baypark Speedway tomorrow
• Speedway: Veteran Hawkeye Regan O'Brien eyes return to showpiece event
• Speedway: Redington's Red-hot as nationals approach
• Speedway: Superstocks thrill at Rotorua's Paradise Valley
The reigning champion Steve Dryden (33R) has entered to defend his title and is making the long trip north from his home in Invercargill. He has the form to go back-to-back having won the Southland championships on December 14.
In terms of local challengers, the Rotorua streetstock drivers have had a few runs at home this season and the wins have been shared around. Steve de Malmanche (11R), Mike King (58R) and Shane Bracken (858R) have been turning in some consistently quick laps.
Current 1NZ Chris Shingleton has been busy building his new race car, it will be quick straight out of the box. Alan King (59R) and Richard Bracken (848R) won't be letting their boys have all the fun either.
Paradise Valley Speedway secretary Sonja Hickey said it was sure to be a night filled with competitive racing.
"A lot of the guys were here last year for the New Zealand Streetstock Championship so they know the track and everything. We have a full field of 26 so I'm expecting there will be some really good racing.
"For spectators, it's a good Christmas holiday thing to do in Rotorua and we'll have all the classes racing. There will be a good line up of superstocks looking to get the track sorted before the World 240s later in the year, I'm sure."
At the end of last season, the club's efforts were recognised at the New Zealand Speedway Awards as they took home the Supreme Award for Best Private or Professionally Promoted Track, Best Event for the TWS World 240s and Hickey herself won the Jake Pulman Award of Excellence for all her work behind the scenes.
Engines, dust and blood: Rotorua family keep tradition alive
Serious speed on display as Superbikes hit Taupō
Ticayla Manson has a need for speed
Not willing to rest on that success, they worked hard during the off season to improve the stands at the track and increase the number of seats. Hickey said the club's opening night which included a Guy Fawkes fireworks display, attracted about 7000 people.
"The opening night was amazing, we've had a really good start to the year and the seating is all finished so the track's looking amazing. It was the biggest crowd we've had for our fireworks night by a long way. The feedback has been really good, everybody seems really pleased with the upgrades."
The Rotorua Stockcar Club has a full schedule of racing planned for Saturday night, including superstocks, stockcars, six shooters, production saloons and youth ministocks. The six shooters and production saloons will be running for club points.
The superstock and stockcar drivers will be making the most of the track time before their national titles are up for grabs in early January.
Transflow Ltd North Island Streetstock Championship - Driver List
1NZ Chris Shingleton
2NZ Brenden Gooch
3NZ Brent Redington
6G Cody Gooch
7S Darron Jeffery
9G Sean Gooch
11R Steve de Malmanche
12K Daniel Curran
14G Daniel O'Neill
16B Ben Yeoman
23B Nigel Potter
25W Neale Smith
33R Steve Dryden
44B Phillip Glynn
51A Craig Anderson
58R Mike King
59R Alan King
65A Jonathan Lauder
72B Darren Melling
75A Todd Neal
77W Daniel Bouzaid
88G David Hampton
92W Kaila Nickson
95B Tim Towler
848R Richard Bracken
858R Shane Bracken