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Waikaraka Park Season Opener
By Macgor
It's been a rushed recipe but finally a tasting of the new deal Waikaraka Park speedway was about to be served .
The weather was doing it's best to spoil the meal though and up until to 2 hours before the meeting start I was extremely doubtful whether it would happen at all . In fact I had already started thinking about a dash to Huntly as an alternative .
The weather finally looked more promising and to the  Park I ventured . Most of the new look I have described  when attending the practices  but add to that  the repainted main entrance and the revamped food outlet under the club rooms .

Sitting on my normal perch up on the top tier of the grandstand  it was immediately obvious how  spick and span Waikaraka Park is looking these days . I haven't seen it looking this good ever  and that's no exaggeration .  Of course it is still no Baypark or Palmerston North but it's a lot better than it was .

A small plane was heard flying overhead and a quick look  revealed it was towing a banner with the words ' Stock Cars Still Only $12 '  . It circled Waikaraka Park and then headed over towards Western Springs and I would love to know the reaction of the patrons there  sitting in seats that they just paid $20 for . Some would call it dirty pool but I prefer to think of it as aggressive marketing in a competitive world .

Funtime caterers are the new fast food providers at Waikaraka and when news of that broke a while back I cringed because of my last experience of their  product many years ago at Kihikihi . In short it was simply awful .
I'm always ready to give an outfit a second go although I was taken aback somewhat at all the $5.00 plus items on their menu .
Basic chips and hotdogs were still a more reasonable $2.50 and that suited my wallet plus my simple taste buds . Those two items passed the Macgor tasting with flying colours . My dearer half decided she was going to raid my cash cache and splurge on a steak sandwich which once eaten was proclaimed as one of the best ever . I submitted later in the night and purchased a bacon and egg roll that was like no other I had consumed before , it was big and it was good !!. 
While not every item on the menu was sampled I did see an awful lot of the jumbo sized American Hotdogs being paraded past me and never did I hear a word of complaint about the cost or the quality . 
I'm thinking there should be a  sign at the entrance gates about the good food at Waikaraka Park being injurous to waist lines .

Start Time
Over the years late start delays have been something I have bleeted continuous about to no avail . If you have ever been there you will know what I meen . They advertise a 6.46pm crunch time yet we are lucky if the grand parade gets underway by 7.00pm .
Well not anymore and I darn near fell off me perch when just before 6.30 pm out rolled the grand parade led by the infield rescue crew who were all dressed in matching outfits. Impressive!!. 

The Commentating
Commentating was performed by Jamia McCarthy , Malcom Sines and Barry Brown . I'm calling it a performance because that's exactly what it was . Banter between the three of them plus driver interviews and the like were value added to the overall show . They were also involved in doing the free give aways of which I received one so naturally I was happy with them . Jamie McCarthy also doubles as the resident clown and has quite a following amongst the younger fans .
The sound system was performing well apart from the speaker closest to me and I had to admire the chap that worked for ages through the rain while  standing on the saftey rail at the front of the upper grandstand trying to get that speaker going . He was absolutely determined and I could see him resorting to stripping insulation from the wiring with  his teeth . Eventually he succeeded and the speaker worked great for the rest of the night .

Race night organization
There was a giant step forward taken in this area . The meeting started nigh on time and would have easily finished by 10 pm if heavy rain after the first round of racing hadn't flooded the track . I honestly expected the meeting to be abandoned at this stage but credit where credit is due , they stuck at it and got as many cars out wheel packing as possible once the rain stopped . The second round of races was hampered by the still slippery track but by the third round things were pretty much full speed ahead . Considering  the 30  to 40 minute delay caused by the rain and wheel packing etc.  having the meeting finish just after 10.30 pm wasn't a bad effort .
Another measure of a good night was the good percentage of the reasonable sized crowd that stuck out the rain , cold and delay to see the meeting through to it's end .

The Track
Lots of new clay added and it stayed smooth all night . When it wasn't wet it was also very fast . The general comments around me were all positive with the most notable being the " Skinny's gonna love this " from one of his adoring fans . The big test for the track will come next week when the Supers will attend in big numbers for their Nth Island Series . So far so good though .

The Printed Program
Contained a good write up by Jamie McCarthy on what cars we can expect to run at Waikaraka this season . Sadly the driver listings appeared to be from last season and was the biggest disppointment for me on the night .

Agrade Stockcars
12 cars with the locals being boosted by visitors from Huntly and 65m Mark Thompson from Baypark . 7a Dayne Wright was probably the best performing but it didn't all go his way after his first heat win . The ever green Dave Tennant in his red racer came good for a win in the second heat after Wright broke and slowed . 15a Steve Pribicevich finally did the business for the feature win using his new found aggressive style not to mention newly installed extra grunt . 
A new and to be applauded innovation at Waikaraka is for the agraders to run two heats for points with the two highest points scorers having the choice of starting from the front of the feature for normal prize money or opting to start further back for a bonus  if they manage to win the thing . If they don't win then the money jackpots each week . Dave Tennant and Dayne Wright were the two top scorers this time and took the option of trying for the big money and failed . It sure added interest to the race though and as the money builds the feature at Waikaraka for Agraders will be a not to be missed affair I'm sure . It will also be interesting to see whether the locals keep visiting cars from uplifting the loot . Word is some out of town names are planning a raid at the next meeting .

Std Stocks
17 cars and a lot of the known heroes missing . The action wasn't the normal destroy the opposition at all costs that is expected at Waikaraka from these guys but still they did ok for an opening night when they tended to get the worst of the track conditions .
67a Nick Krisnic and 66a Peter Church were two notables using bumper persuassion to get their own way . Good teaser for the more rugged action that this class will produce as the season unfolds . It was noted that no outside Std Stocks were brave enough to front .

Super Saloons
8 cars and with some class in the form of Lance Jennings , Tony Cardwell and Kevin Moore . Cardwell looked a winner  but his car baulked at the idea and handed the heat wins to Lance Jennings and Glen Turner . The feature winner was 72m Ken Sines in his well performing Mazda RX7 that simply ran away from the big guns much to the crowds delight .
No major prangs and the supers looked to be right at home on the new track surface . Surprise inclusion was 31p Rod Clifton .
Kevin Moore ran a good race for second in the first heat but obviously all was not happy because he packed his toy away and left the venue as the second heat was lining up on the track .

Ltd Saloons
8 cars and the first class to race on the night . They only got to the first turn before half the field were involved in a prang .
The first heat field was decimated by this turn of events but the rest of the race was a thriller as 46a Nigel Ross and 58a  Gavin Hinsley went at it hammer and tongs . Boy it made for good watching and the crowd was buzzing . Attention was focussed on the duelling pair for the remainder of the night and there was no disappointment  for us watchers . Even a head on with the wall in the feature wasn't enough to dampen Ross's enthusiasm and he stll managed a well deserved 2nd placing . The heat wins were one apiece for 58a and 46a .
The low turnout of cars in this class for opening night was a surprise but I expect they will be back to full force in the near future .

10 cars was a great turnout for this class especially since only two were from out of town . The two being 13h Tony Galbraith and 96r Chris Ollson . Local hot shoes 99a Jamie Fox and 19a Scot Lane were the class act with a heat win each and Lane claiming the feature , High speed ducking and diving along with the chuck it in sideways style meant there were several thrills per lap to be seen and appreciated .
With a few more cars yet to debut the Modifieds will be a major attraction this season .

18 cars and plenty of  contact mean that once again the streetstocks will be a worthwhile inclussion this season .