No pain, no gain at the speedway
Nelson speedway looked more like the triage unit at the hospital than a sporting facility on Saturday.
At one point in what was meant to be a mild mid-season meeting, five ambulances were queued up to tend to the wounded, the pits populated by fluorescent vests and full of flashing lights.
Few of the injuries were serious, a concussion here, lower back pain there, but it proved that not all the competitors at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway were experiencing a post-New Zealand superstock championship hangover.
The night's two feature classes, stockcars and streetstocks, provided most of the Order of St John's customers with a couple of lurid collisions having painful consequences.
First into the "meat wagon" was streetstock driver Shannon Marr, who was spun in race one of his club championship, then clouted by two or three oncoming cars. Marr was knocked out and faces a 21-day rest from racing.
Another who might be out of action for a while was race one winner Ryan Bowater. After putting points on the board in the first heat, he got into a tussle with Ryan Musgrove, before ending their issues with a huge windoff in turn three. Bowater's car was wrecked and he copped a fine for excessive contact, although he was about 30cm from making Musgrove's car the first Ford Falcon in orbit.
Through the havoc, Cody McCarrison benefited from team tactics - and avoided Neville Soper for two heats - to become the new club champion ahead of Jason Fox and Bradley Evans.
The youth ministock drivers were not told their races were for a class title as it has been hard enough for the club to rein in their racing urges, without the added incentive of a sash. While there were some relegations, a crash that saw Brittany Carpenter off to A and E and a cancellation of the final race, Brad Neiman was a worthy champion as he finished consistently in the top three to head off Roydon Winstanley and Dylan Clarke. Less experienced drivers to impress included Mark Hand, Trey Kelling and Thomas Oldham.
Sidecar numbers were down with a couple of the leading teams missing, opening the door for Adie Drake and Owen Hunter to dominate. A switch to another bike for their last race saw Drake and Hunter chase the pack home with the Satherley team of rider Daniel and swinger Kieran scoring an overdue and well-earned win.
Production saloon racing was marred by more contact than the class allows, with Blenheim's Dave Allan featuring consistently alongside Steve Watson, Patrick Ward and Jared Blanchet.
That left just the stockcars and more fodder for the ambulance crews.
The Accessman Tasman Thunder were out to level the ledger with the visiting Greymouth Grizzlies, who arrived on Saturday as the holders of the O'Halloran Suspension Developments Trophy. Twelve laps later, they had one car mobile and piles of steaming parts to drag home to the Coast.
The Thunder were only slightly better off, with Adam Hall and Michael Paynter finishing first and second, but they lost three cars - those of Cody Teece, Ben Smith and Justin Hearne - and had a few nervous moments as lone Grizzly John Gray did his darnedest to avoid the blocking of Paynter and get to race leader Hall. The killer blow came in turn three when Paynter ran the 37GM car in hard, taking a fair whack himself but emerging from the concrete dust to shield Hall home for his first teams race victory.
Earlier, Smith had hit Dwayne Honey so hard he needed to be taken from the track for treatment.
The Grizzlies were hard done by when Tony Stanton's Tank was excluded for hitting after a red light but, in the setting sun, the reds were hard to pick out in the heat of the moment.
Stanton was the only Coaster to come back for open racing but he didn't feature among the results, the four races being taken out by Ben Taylor, Blenheim's Brent Goulding, Teece and Kynan Reed, who had his best night since returning to racing.
The fearless Goulding was a worthy winner of the hit-to-pass promotion, ahead of Trevor Lineham and Reed.
The Nelson club is looking to make the most of the settled weather with another meeting this Saturday, a full card of classes competing in the Sturgeon's King of the Clay.