Bill Buckley was swimming in praise and drowning in debt after promoting the opening GP of the world solo speedway series at Western Springs.
Now the enigmatic Buckley - father of seven and grandfather of nine - has refocused his considerable powers towards saving Western Springs as a speedway venue.
The 69-year-old machinist-turned-entrepreneur doesn't shirk a fight and this rescue mission is a passion. Outwardly low-key but with a high-powered CV, Buckley has a love of the sport that is impossible to miss. He even drives the track grader - although once racing starts he plants himself in the stands.
Buckley talks about the GP, its future, Western Springs, his life in the sports and business fast lane ... and takes a swipe at some effects of the Rugby World Cup.
Your verdict on the GP?
We had issues with spectators in the stand unable to see the edge of the track - there's no money in the kitty for a refund so I hope people aren't too stroppy. They haven't lost as much as I've lost and still saw a good show.
We'll put a screen at each end in future and the announcers say they would have done a better job if they weren't dictated to by the music.
The feedback is extremely good - most riders rated it the best track they'd raced on and everybody is telling their mates they should have been there.
Your meeting highlight was?
Race 20. The lead changed three or four times. A fantastic race.
In the high six figures ... hundreds of thousands of dollars. I subsidised the spectators at about 25 bucks a seat. Hopefully we can get bigger crowds. I've signed up for two more years but if those meetings don't pay it won't go past that. I need more from sponsors and the council.
It all works through Ateed (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development) and I reckon we met the formula but they didn't put anything in. This was a really big deal but I feel they let me down although we may not have done the paperwork properly.
Rugby gets public money okay ...
Rugby is definitely part of the old boys' network and drained a huge amount out of Ateed at the cost of other sports. It's one-sided. All rugby has to do is ring up. These riders are bigger athletes than people realise. They don't just sit back and flick the throttle.
You raced in the 1960s at Western Springs ...
I was only ever B-grade in the solos. My highlight was winning the Auckland junior champs. I was lucky it was the first night a friend of mine Geoff Perry rode. If it had been his second night I wouldn't have beaten him. He was that good.
Not really ... although Barry Briggs and Ronnie Moore in particular. Barry Butterworth and Bob Tattersall in the cars. Bruce McLaren of course. I always appreciate good sportsmen.
Te Kauwhata is your home town ...
Yes. Auckland was the big city to come to and Western Springs was a magic place in those days. Speedway was the first night sport, the first promoted sport ... it always gets the rough end of the stick and the media doesn't support us. Yet we carry a gate on an absolutely local night when a guy from Henderson races a guy from Remuera. Other sports can't do that.
Te Kauwhata is in the news - do you know Trevor the Lotto multimillionaire?
Yes - he's from a dedicated speedway family and his father raced at the Springs. They haven't missed a meeting since I've been promoting there. They actually live in Henderson. He only moved to Te Kauwhata three years ago. They are very nice people, ordinary people, and this will be a challenge for them.
What is the future of Western Springs.
I'm worried, of course, and my promoter's contract runs out in 2014. It's been a political scapegoat. They put that much pressure on they thought I'd go away. But I've changed them [the council] around a bit - they can see it's a venue attracting good crowds, a good clean sport.
Is there any aspect of the noise complaints you sympathise with?
Not at all. They were completely unfair. They weren't happy in their own lives so they wanted to take it out on someone who they thought was. If someone outbids me for the stadium I don't mind, but that stadium is our stadium. It was given to speedway in 1929 and we've run continuously apart from when our riders were fighting in the war.
Tell us about your company Buckley Systems, by the numbers.
The design work is done by a consultant friend of mine - I was a fitter and turner who learned a bit about electrical and physics. We make the machines which implant a semiconductor in silicon chips. I can brag that at least 80 per cent of chips in the world are made on one of my machines.
We do research, flat panel, medical. All those display panels for iPhones, iPods - most of their screens are made on another machine I make. We export about 800 tonnes of machines a month. Turnover is close to $100 million. We set up in 1978.
Yachting is also on your CV ...
I made 12 keels for our America's Cup boats when they raced here. I built my own maxiboat, Maximus, and won the transatlantic in 2005 [on handicap]. I sold her and she went on to win the Sydney to Hobart.
Running meetings at a loss. During the last big downturn two years ago my company was bleeding an average of half a million dollars a month for 10 months. That took a bit of stomaching - a few of my advisers were saying "pack it in".
Things have turned around completely now.