Stockcar legends return to Palmerston North to take on the current stars
The Legends of Stockcar racing will be the highlight of the penultimate night of the speedway season in Palmerston North on Saturday.
Jacob Baker and his team have assembled 28 retired stockcar drivers to race in the meeting though there has been an alteration to the format this year that will see seven of them compete in a race against the current stars.
With the rarity of fine weather predicted, the meeting is sure to attract a good crowd to the Robertson Holden Speedway even though fans will need to dress warm with it beginning to cool down in the evenings.
The 28 drivers have been split into two groups of 14 with one group (tier two) being drivers who have raced from 1980 up until 1999, while the second group (tier one) are drivers who have raced from 2000 retiring before 2012.
It's from the tier one group where the top seven drivers from their race will race against the current drivers who will all be driving cars of other drivers.
It's a major feat of Baker and his team to not just get drivers to race but to get 28 car owners to allow their cars, many of which are around $100,000 each, to allow the retired competitors to drive for the evening.
Also getting cars here and the drivers then fit into the seats, adds to the challenges to make the event happen.
One of the greatest stockcar drivers of them all 'the General' Dave Evans will head tier 2 with Peter Wackildene, Bones Burton and Brian Anderson other great Palmerston North Panthers drivers with Evan Mooney (Wanganui) and Russell Joblin (Stratford) other prominent racers. In past years Evans and Joblin have shown the pace to foot it with today's current drivers.
The tier one group has many drivers who fans are familiar with including former national champions Bryce Penn and Kelvin Gray with Gray driving the Jack Miers car.
Jason Moir (Nelson), Brendan Rowlands (Stratford) and popular Rotorua driver Stan Hickey were all among the quickest drivers in the country until they retired in recent years. While Bill Dorn will drive the new Paul Harris car that still sports the stars and stripes colours when Dorn raced.
Mark Osbourne has gone onto better things since he left stockcars and moved into the Super-Saloon class where he's a multiple national champion. Who will forget the Teams' Champs three years ago when he and Grant Flynn spent 15 laps side-by-side in a slaoon race that even upstaged the teams champs final.
Craig Humphries, Ross Thurston, Tony McLanachan (Wellington), Murray Long (Hawke's Bay), Dave Roigard (Huntly), Nick Fowler (Nelson) and Paul Demanser will ensure the battle for a top-seven finish will be closely fought.
The top-seven from tier two will have their work cut out against the current crop of stars all of who have had major successes on the national scene. Led by 10-time teams' champs driver Scott Miers, it's a who's who with Adam and Scott Joblin, Graeme Barr and Peter Bengston as well as 2016 national champion Shane Harwood and Brett Nicholls (both from Nelson).
There will be pole shuffles to decide the final starting order for the two groups of retired drivers with racing beginning at 6pm and will also feature the Manawatu Stockcar champs as well as sidecars.