A pleasant evening, a large and appreciative crowd, and some close, exciting racing was an entree to ramped-up destruction on Saturday night at Fast Lane Spares Oceanview Family Speedway.
The Ramp Derby which ended the night was somewhere between the Dukes of Hazzard and the Blues Brothers, and provided a perfectly destructive end to the pre-Christmas portion of the local speedway season.
Unfortunately, track conditions caused the West Coast Sidecars to be abandoned but it is hoped the event can be rescheduled for early 2021.
However, once the first few races cleared the moisture from the track surface, there was some first class racing.
In the feature event, the West Coast Adult Ministocks, Stratford driver Nathan Nolly must have thought the speedway gods were conspiring against him.
Nolly won the first two heats, and began the third and final heat with a nine point advantage over a group of racers, including Palmerston North's Jack Lammas-Martin.
The Stratford driver could only finish 13th in a fast, open final heat and, with Lammas-Martin gaining 10 points on Nolly by way of a third place finish, he took the title by a single point.
It got worse for Nolly, however. Tied for second with fellow Stratford competitors Gary Adamson and Liam Whelan, Nolly finished third in the four lap run-off for second, third and fourth, and missed the podium altogether.
Adamson took the run-off to grab second place overall, with Whelan, a recent graduate from the Youth Ministock class, third.
Former 1NZ and 2NZ Gerry Linklater has been frustrated with his new car to date this season, but after some long hours in the shed, and some help from Superstock driver Darryl Taylor, Linklater made some changes to his set-up and was rewarded with a win in the opening Stockcar race.
Mark Johnston took out the second heat, and has shown good consistency in recent weeks, while Callum Sturzaker won the final race in his new car.
That bodes well for all three drivers with the New Zealand Stockcar Championship just four weeks away. A good contingent of Whanganui cars are among the 200-plus entries received to date for the event at Napier's Meeanee Speedway.
Daniel Matthews navigated his way through the mud to win the opening Superstock heat.
Carl Burns took out the second heat, driving Bruce Williams' new car while Williams recovers from injury, and the rapidly improving Cody Hodge took out heat 3.
Grant Loveridge won the first two Production Saloon races, the second race after a last corner pass of John Huijs. Brent Hackett took out the final heat ahead of Shayne Hughes.
All three drivers will be ones to watch at the Tom Francis Builders New Zealand Production Saloon Championship at Oceanview on January 22-23, 2021.
Jesse Whelan and Trent James won the two Youth Ministock races that were completed. The third and final heat was abandoned by the Speedway New Zealand referees after three unsuccessful attempts to get the race under way; a reminder to the drivers that theirs is a non-contact class.
A small field of Minisprints took advantage of the opportunity to get track time ahead of the Dewtec New Zealand Minisprint Championship at Whanganui on Saturday, March 9.
Wins were shared between Stratford drivers Cory Ward and Cameron Hurley, with Whanganui-contracted Dylan Smith taking out the final race.
That left the Gourmet Express Ramp Derby to finish the night, and it didn't disappoint as 28 drivers went into battle to see who could have the last car standing.
The addition of the ramp on the front straight really livened up the derby, with some spectacular collisions entertaining the large crowd.
After around 15 minutes of mayhem, the last two cars left running were those of Talor Nicol and Steven Davie. When Nicol was able to spin Davie's car and halt his progress, the chequered flag was waved, giving Nicol the victory.
Racing resumes at 4pm on Thursday, December 31, with the annual running of the Charlie Berntsen Trophy Stockcars, one of Oceanview's premier events. Also on the programme is the West Coast Streetstocks, postponed from last season.
With an abundance of racing over the Christmas/New Year holiday period, it's a busy time for local speedway competitors and fans.