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A KING IS CROWNED, A LAP RECORD BROKEN

After a good many years reign as the unofficial Sprintcar King of Cromwell, Jason ‘Capt’ Scott with former Central Motor Speedway president Andy Erskine proposed giving a royal seal to the title by having an annual meeting to decide and crown the Sprintcar King of Cromwell. The club committee agreed and the date set for Easter Sunday, 2015. Unfortunately for Jason, the racing didn’t go his way. The inaugural title and crown in fact went all the way to Auckland with Western Springs driver, Jamie McDonald.

New Year’s Day 2017 was chosen for the second running of the Sprintcar King of Cromwell. With Jamie McDonald not venturing south to defend his title would this be the night the crown was placed on the rightful head? The big crowd enjoyed a right battle royal with pretenders like Jamie Duff in 19a prepared to fight tooth and nail to get their hands on that title and crown. With a points format that rewarded pointy end places during the heats and Jamie cruelly poleaxed in the 25 lap feature race by an overheating motor and methanol dripping on his feet, Jason’s second place behind Canterbury’s Kris Gerard was enough for him to fulfil his destiny. All hail King Jason, 2016-17 Sprintcar King of Cromwell.

For regular fans and those new to ‘The fastest family show on earth’, the ‘Winged Demons Double Shot’ delivered in spades. The weather on Friday, December 30 and on Sunday, Jan 1, 2017, could not have been more Central Otago and the track faster. On Friday’s Round 4 25 lap feature race of the Hydraulink 2016-17 Sprintcar War of the Wings, the big crowd witnessed breath-taking high speed joisting among 25 snarling Sprintcars and a lap record smashed by Cromwell contracted driver and former 1NZ Jamie Duff. Official Speedway Control Board showed the 28-year-old had reduced the record from 12.24 seconds to 11.84 seconds. Quite an achievement to add to the fact that of the four Wow rounds so far this series, Jamie has won three.

A big attraction of speedway is the variety of classes racing at every meeting. At the huge horsepower end of the scale, race-goers on Friday night especially were given an exciting, adrenaline-pumping preview of what is in store tonight (Friday, Jan 6) and again tomorrow (Sat, Jan 7) when 46 of the country’s best drivers and cars compete in the Mainfreight 2016-17 Super Saloon Champs.

For anyone not in the know, Super Saloons are the 800 plus horsepower, methanol gulping, flame belching ‘beasts’ of speedway. Long, low and wide, these are big cars needing big wallets to race. Beneath lightweight clip-on fibreglass body panels replicating the style of famous American muscle cars is a sophisticated spaceframe chassis with the motor and all running gear imported from the US. In the cockpit there are some seven set-up and braking adjustments available to the driver to meet the ever changing conditions of the clay track.

Having already thrown down the gauntlet to current Super Saloon 1NZ Mark Osborne earlier in the 2016-17 season and won the Heavy Trax Hire Central Motor Speedway New Year’s GP, Cromwell’s 28-year-old Peter Dickson in the 11t is a man to watch as is Daryl Ainsley in 5t who is obviously not letting his club president responsibilities get in the way of his return to form. But in speedway anything can happen. Although Super Saloons are the main focus other class will also be racing including a contingent of smash ‘em, bash ‘em Superstocks. There’s also plenty of off track entertainment for all ages including a burn out at 5pm on Saturday.

Commodore-powered Six Shooters are going from strength to strength with good fields and close racing by Cromwell, Dunedin and Invercargill drivers over both nights. Youth Ministocks turned up in good numbers with some six Dunedin cars making the trip up to Central. Saloons also put on a great show, but the prize for the most cars racing on both nights has to go to Productions competing in the 2016-17 Central Otago Productions Champs. After lots of laps the honour went to Cromwell local Flip How-Johns.