Crash, Bang, Captain Scott Makes It Five In A Row
For Queenstown Roofing Central Motor Speedway sprintcar driver, Jason 'Captain' Scott, winning the S.I. Sprintcar Championship for an unprecedented fifth season on the trot looked to be disappearing in the dust of Ray Baughan's 95c and Shaun Ashton's 73c.
Speedway though can be a cruel mistress, especially to Ray Baughan, who after 17 years trying to win a South Island championship in midgets and now sprintcars, looked to have the 2014/15 title in his trophy cabinet. That was until a major engine failure put him out, handing the lead to Christchurch's Shaun Ashton in his first season of sprintcar racing. Unfortunately that cruel mistress had other ideas for Shaun, sending him infield with a torsion failure.
If all this wasn't drama enough for the Jan 1st sprintcar championship feature race, Nelson's hard charging Brett Sullivan wheel flipped 69N into the safety fencing and along the wall, bending a robust flag pole between the track exit and entry gates. To the relief of spectators, and despite hanging upside down, Brett was able to release his safety harness and crawl out from under the wreck. Escaping injury after such a horror crash says much about safety features built into speedway's fastest class.
The race restart saw Captain Scott navigate 88t to his fifth title, joined on the podium by fellow Cromwell contracted driver Mark Evans (96t) with Australian Allan Woods, driving for Christchurch, third. That Allan and sprintcar 28 were racing at all was nothing short of amazing considering that on Tuesday evening in the War of the Wings Round 5 feature race, Allan overcooked coming into corner three, sometimes referred to as Bannockburn Corner, climbed the safety fencing before flipping to a upside down stop. Expecting the worse the crowd clapped in amazement when after 28 was righted, Allan clambered out reporting nothing more than a bit of a sore neck.
The same could not be said of the safety fence which had a section torn away. For safety reasons racing was stopped and because it was so early into the 25 lap race, WOW points for the evening were awarded on the basis of heat results. Provisionally this has Ray Baughan first, Jason Scott second and Brett Sullivan third. For the War of the Wings series to date, provisionally the top three drivers are Matt Honeywell (450). Jason Scott (385) and Allan Woods (365)
Although Allan's car looked totalled, it was in fact was very repairable. After Central Otago Speedway club member Jerry Lemin collected a new wing and other parts flown into Queenstown Airport, Allan and his family support crew, son Travis, daughter Aleesha and wife Karen, put in the hours repairing 28 for the 2014/15 S.I. Sprintcar Championship.
To illustrate just how deceptive the aftermath of a crash can be, when an unavoidable track incident on December 30 launched 22-year-old Christchurch sprintcar driver Steve Duff Jnr in 15c skywards to execute several spectacular aerial rolls, the car came down to earth on its wheels with no apparent severe damage. In fact the chassis was irreparably munted. But with a new chassis Steve will be foot to the floor at War of the Wings, Round 6, at Ruapuna on March 7.
How a speedway meeting is run…
Anyone who came for thrills and spills definitely got their money's worth. Talk about car-nage across all classes competing! But speedway protocols mean spills can become long delays. While the Central Motor Speedway Club organises and promotes meetings, each is run by Speedway New Zealand officials. Should an ambulance be called out onto the track, decision making is then handed to the St Johns officers. It is only on their say that work can start on clearing an accident site and track watering can get under way. Thursday night's time delays also highlighted how a very warm and dry Central Otago evening can bake the track's clay surface so hard that water is unable to soak in, explaining the difficult racing surface and dust.
As with all speedways, Queenstown Roofing Central Motor Speedway is very conscious of its good neighbour responsibilities, particularly finishing at a reasonable hour. On Thursday this saw a number of races shortened or not run at all as happened to the Southern Saloon Slam feature race. Last but by no means least, it would be virtually impossible to have race meetings at Queenstown Roofing Central Motor Speedway without a small army of volunteers who do everything from manning the gates and often putting up with unwarranted abuse, to keeping lap scores, to marshalling competitors to cooking barbecues and then when it's all over, picking up rubbish.
Racing continues at Queenstown Roofing Central Motor Speedway at Waitangi Day weekend Saturday with round 3 of the 6 Round Elf Cup Super Saloon Series.