Engine revs and petrol fumes will fill the air at the Eastern States Speedway tonight for the first date of the 2013-14 race programme.
Stockcars, streetstocks, saloons and production saloons will compete in their separate classes, there will be a BNT Pete Dixon Memorial race and a "stockcar soccer" novelty event.
That should be good to watch, says speedway club vice-president Frank Burns.
An old car body supplied by Renwick Meat Market will become a stockcar "soccer ball". Contestants will battle each other for possession and a chance to shunt the old vehicle into a goal.
Novelty spectacles to please spectators are important at speedways up and down the country, Frank says.
"If we don't put on a good show we won't get support from the public." Public support keeps the sponsors on side and helps keep the sport affordable for everybody, he adds.
The economic downturn had been slowing activities down but word on the street suggests the tide is turning.
Frank has just finished re-building a 2000 Honda Torneo and will race it for the first time in a production saloon class tonight.
"We've got some [other] new cars in this particular class, a few older guys like myself have come back."
Recent competitor Terry Brown, who brought the Marlborough Muscle Car and Bike Museum to Blenheim, will swell the Eastern States Speedway with a team of cars racing under the title Warlords.
"There's a feeling speedway drivers are on the way up. And the facilities at Renwick are of a really high standard," Frank says.
The Renwick speedway is one of many unsealed race circuits around New Zealand and is one of the longest tracks.
"[Ours] lends itself to saloon cars and super saloons."
That seems to have paid off for Marlborough identities New Zealand number-one saloon driver Robert Flood and super saloon driver Paddy North, who has raced at the top national level.
The 422 metre Renwick circuit is a tight one, though, and cars never get into top gear during a race. "We rarely get out of second gear and we just hold the hammer down," Frank says.
Production saloons complete one of a race's eight laps in 20 to 24 seconds; super saloons, fitted with large, fat tyres for good grip, do it in 17 to 18 seconds.
Frank was drawn to the sport because he "needed a good adrenalin pump".
"I did a demolition derby, where you get into old cars and smash into one another.
"The last one standing is the winner."
Frank, who has also raced go-karts and motorbikes, was instantly hooked and bought himself his first saloon.
New speedway contestants are assigned a "mentor" and introduced to good racing habits, he says, then admits first-race adrenalin got in the way of any good advice he had received.
"I started last, at number 23, but I made up lots of ground . . . I loved every minute of it but I left five or six cars scattered on the track behind me. I erred. That's the adrenalin thing," he said.
Stock cars deliberately crash into one another but saloon cars are not supposed to touch.
"You occasionally exchange paint colours," Frank concedes. "You are not meant to, but it does happen."
His 2.2 litre Honda Torneo waits in the garage, freshly painted, polished and ready to go.
"I still get so excited. I can't wait until [tonight]. I feel like a little boy."
Racing starts tonight at 7pm.
- The Marlborough Express