A heavy rain shower part way through the Pirtek New Plymouth Boxing Night Speedway meeting did little to dampen the spirits of the competitors who banded together to wheel pack the sodden track and get it back to a raceable standard.
The rain, which came during the second midget race, was an unexpected surprise to the leading bunch of midget drivers who had navigated turns one and two on the lap prior with no issues only to be faced with a very slippery track on the very next lap.
The nasty surprise resulted in four or five cars piling into the turn one wall and their King of the Mountain Champs being abandoned due to the unfortunate elimination of so many cars.
The time taken to reinstate the track did result in an altered race programme but all classes did get at least two races in throughout the night.
The Holden Trade Club Saloon Speedweek was the feature event on the programme and the first round was dominated by local competitors. Thomas Korff won heat one by half a lap, Joe Ingram won heat two by a good margin and Daniel Hinton won heat three.
Hinton went on to claim pole in the feature after cleaning up in the pole shuffle. Steve Williams just beat Scott Lansdown in the first two lap shuffle before he was beaten by Richard Dreaver.
Dreaver then went on to win against Ryan Neave but that was where his reign ended and he was beaten by Hinton in the next run. Hinton then won against Ethan Cook, Thomas Korff, Joe Ingram, Craig Korff and lastly Paddy North to secure his spot in grid one for the 20 lap feature.
A remarkable drive from Hinton in the feature saw him lead the race from start to finish. Paddy North was second and Joe Ingram third after he made a mid-race pass on Craig Korff who had been comfortably sitting in third spot.
Ingram used the entire track and ran wide (real wide as in on the wall) for several laps to make the pass on Korff and deserved the spot on the podium. The Saloons provided quick racing all night with no cautions which is a testament to the skill of the competitors.
Of the other classes that raced on the night, Shane Denham, Rowan Urlich and Mark Woods all picked up wins in the 20-car strong stockcar class. Both midget races were won by Michael Kendall. Interesting to note also that Mitch Vickery, who is more accustomed to racing a much heavier superstock, picked up a second place. Modified races were won by Richard Pierce and Blair Luscombe.
The eight car field included Shaun Bloeman for the first time this season. Minisprint wins went to Lydia Dickinson and Daniel Nickel while Youth Ministock races were won by Flynn Johnson and Zen Dodunski.
A Demolition Derby with in excess of 40 competitors ended the night's racing in smashing style.
* Saturday night's meeting will feature the Rusty Kay Modified Memorial along with the Wayne Trott, Michael Walker, Allan Hancock and Warren Lowry Stockcar Memorials while supporting classes include the minisprints, adult and youth ministocks.
There is a good chance that visiting drivers will be on hand to bolster the Modified ranks as this is the last opportunity for competitors to test their cars on the Stratford oval before the McDonald's Restaurant New Plymouth/Hey Harvesting New Zealand Championship that will be held the following weekend.
* The McDonald's Restaurant New Plymouth/Hey Harvesting New Zealand Modified Championship will be hosted by Stratford Speedway on January 19-20.
Twenty-seven cars have entered the event and will take part in qualifying on Friday night before racing in three enduring twenty lap heats on Saturday to find the New Zealand Champion. Ten Taranaki competitors will take part in the event, including Farron Lowry and Carl Hinton.