Monday, July 27, 2009
Once again it was a fairly short season for me, attending only 17 meetings that contained a few highs but also reached some new lows and what seemed like an inevitable downward spiral for my local club that has perhaps forced the off season changes at the AGM recently. Hopefully they have hit the bottom and now it's time for the phoenix to rise from the ashes... recent updates on the improved website are promising at least.
I missed both National titles for Stockcars and Superstocks but did manage to get to the Palmerston North Superstock teams event and both North Island titles for those two classes along with great meetings for Rotorua and Huntly with the World 240's and Speedfest which became my last meet for the season. With next seasons two national titles being at Kihikihi for the Superstocks and Wanganui for the Stockcars I'm hoping to actually get to a title at last.
As ratings for each meeting go, the average for the overall season was just under 7/10 which is pretty good although I think the result is somewhat tainted by the fact that from past experience I haven't gone to some meetings knowing the show is probably going to be substandard and this is something that is going to effect all clubs soon, if the action is missing, the fields aren't strong or the overall presentation is lacklustre you will pay a price - Joe Public are using the internet and not turning up 'because we always go'. The average was calculated from these events below, which you can click on to see the original review:
WP Opening Meeting 4.5/10
WP Meeting 2 6/10
Huntly Stockcar Teams Night 1 7/10
Huntly Stockcar Teams Night 2 8/10
WP Club Day 1
Baypark Stockcar Gold Cup 7/10
Western Springs & WP Club Day 2
WP Saloons/Sidecar Champs 6.5/10
Meeanee North Island Stockcars 8/10
Rotorua World 240's Superstocks 8.5/10
WP Auckland Superstocks 6.5/10
WP Club Day 3
Palmy Superstock Teams Night 1 7/10
Palmy Superstock Teams Night 2 9/10
WP Modified Dirt Cup/Ollie Browne Superstocks 6/10
WP North Island Superstocks 4/10
WP Superstock Teams Nationals Night 1 5/10
Huntly Waikato Stockcar Champs 7/10
Rotorua World of Stocks 7/10
WP Webster Memorial/ Butterworth Midgets 7.5/10
Kihikihi Stockcar Teams 5/10
Huntly Speedfest 8/10
Highest rating went to night two of the Palmy teams and the lowest was for the North Island Superstock meeting at Waikaraka Park that completely failed to spark. The Palmy Teams event once again the jewel in the crown of Speedway as far as I'd concerned, hopefully the Allstars will be back this season making the meeting even better for us Jaffas.
The continued improvement shown with the Gisborne Stockcar team and growth in cars at that track in general. Some of the 'G' cars at the North Island title at HB were stunning including the 27g of Toby Pickering.
The continuing growth in Tanks surfacing at tracks all over the country. Whether you love or hate them, they look different, they usually cause trouble and some of them are blindingly fast these days. I hear that two more Bill Peat tanks should hit the track next season and with major rebuilds on Tanks 3 + 7 there should be no shortage of them in the stockcar ranks too.
Websites that are being used by clubs and drivers on a regular basis and in the case of Rotorua (for the World of Stocks meeting) I had the answers to every question I could possibly ask answered including pit access, drivers appearing, groups, programme of events, background on drivers, what souvenirs were available, even the commentary team lineup - first class!
Programme design and content has really lifted this last season, these are now really becoming something worth buying and saving, although there have been a few flashbacks to the past like the NZ Sprintcar title programme from Palmerston North that was a real shocker.
The quality of some of the photography coming out of the woodwork these days is stunning. I was having a good look through some of the photographers sites listed on Macgors and there really is some great work. When we were kids and Dad used to take us to WP back in the early 70's, if we were good we got a pie and a coke and if we behaved all night we got to pick a photo from the fan van - bribery that works!
I don't like:
Club days at WP on a Sunday sounded like a good idea at first but numbers just never eventuated and then on one occasion when the commentary team left half way through a meeting and at another meeting when the ambulance was over an hour late I got the feeling that there were better things to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
A spate of nasty injuries and then the absolute low point of last season with the death of Peter Barry were stark reminders that Speedway can be cruel and dangerous and that safety has to be at the forefront of every club (and more importantly every driver's) priorities.
Next season is going to be a tough one with the dreaded recession (aren't you sick of that word) well and truly taking hold. Personally (at work) we have all taken a wage cut to keep our jobs and the presses running, and for the first time in 20 years I've had to do shift work which is a killer when you're not a young fella anymore! Many of the competitors we watch each week will no doubt be in the same situation and will have some difficult choices to make about attending meetings and running costs. This is where the idea of a 'travelling circus' instead of strong numbers of local cars (in SuperStocks for instance) falls over. On a brighter note, trends suggest that in hard times people still want to take the family out more than ever and be entertained - in the US the movie theatre takings are the highest they have been in decades. Perhaps the angle that should be pushed in radio and print advertising for speedway this season is "come back to good old fashioned speedway, cheap family pass prices" more bang for your buck!
I've been thinking...
I always like to think up some new idea for each end of year review so I've been wondering whether a 'membership card' like Flybuys would be viable, only difference would be instead of earning points you qualify for discounts or win monthly prizes. Imagine the revenue Speedway NZ could drag in at the start of each season (if they administered it), for example if the card cost $50 to join and 1000 people did in fact sign up for their 2009-10 Speedway card, SNZ would have a nice $50,000 to launch the new season. Of course all tracks would have to join up and the benefits of having such a card would be cheaper entry to meetings for card holders or a discount for attending both nights of a two nighter perhaps. Tracks that offer incentives to card holders might attract more punters when there is a choice of meetings - WPark are having a normal meeting or Rotorua $5 off entry and free programme to cardholders. Of course people wont sign up for a card unless there is perceived value so I'm thinking well known sponsors of speedway like PlaceMakers Huntly can also join in with promos 10% discount for cardholders during May for example. Every month a lucky cardholder can win DVD's or merchandise like a Nelson Tigers sweatshirt etc. The possibilities are limitless I guess, Supporters Clubs have always been huge in soccer and other sports and they encourage loyalty while building revenue for the club or sports administrators.
Anyway better finish this review and get back to the latest book version of this website I've been working on. Cover star this season is 64b Beatle Tarrant and I have asked a number of photographers to contribute photos to improve on last years book which is still available up there on the right hand side of this page. A couple have said yes which is great and one has even sent me some pics, Ive got a few more people to contact who hopefully can contribute. Should have it finished in a few weeks and until then the website will be running a bit slow (as you may have noticed) sorry about that but it's for a good cause.
Until the new season starts, take care and here are a few photos from the season just gone...