Nelson might have the population base and the sunshine hours, the beaches and the better pinot gris but, when it comes to stockcar teams racing, it is Blenheim, by a bonnet.
The Teece Family Trophy will reside with the country cousins for the off-season after Blenheim's Eastern States Titans trumped their Tasman counterparts in one of the feature events at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway on Saturday.
Earlier in the season, the Titans finished second in the national teams racing championships, while the Accessman Tasman Thunder are a team on the way up. They still have a wee way to go.
Saturday's 12-lapper, which actually ran for 13, became a Blenheim benefit from the moment Tasman's race leader, Michael Paynter, was deposited in the concrete in turn three. That opened a pathway for Ralph Gillespie to take the lead, the Titans flier eventually winning by a clear three laps from team-mate Sam Thompson. Andre Evans was the first of the Thunder drivers home, four laps adrift.
The race had promised more for the home team in its opening exchanges, especially when Adam Hall cleaned out Gillespie to put Paynter through to the front.
Tasman's Justin Hearne and Blenheim's Gavin Marshall had already been stopped in their tracks and Tasman also lost captain Cody Teece when his car's steering failed and he slammed into Marshall's stationary stockcar.
Hall and Evans continued to work hard, hampering Gillespie and Thompson and ending Brad Powell's race but one error in judgment decided the trophy.
Paynter had already beaten the Blenheim blockers for three laps but needed help with Ricco Gray, who was lurking menacingly on the pole line. Evans took a swipe and missed, Paynter trying to run around the outside of Gray, only to be fed hard into the wall.
Gillespie skipped clear and took the flag by a wide margin with both Paynter and Gray eventually excluded from the results for attacking from the infield and after the race ended, respectively.
Only a couple of Thunder cars managed to make it back for the open club champs, Tasman's teams race reserve Trevor Lineham having a superb run to the title.
Lineham won once and added third and fourth placings to tally 73 points, one ahead of Blenheim's Brent Goulding with Thompson and Gillespie close behind. An impressive first-night drive in Phil Krammer's car saw Mike Oakley finish fifth overall.
Goulding won race one but ended up perched high on Paynter's car, with all four wheels off the ground, after the flag fell while Gray managed to tip over Invercargill's Campbell McManaway in heat three.
With the season winding towards winter, the Nelson Speedway Association threw in a couple of extra events to tie off loose ends and build towards the Classic Hits demolition derby. The superstocks and super saloons competed in a best pairs format, while the three-quarter midgets contested round three of their club championships.
Nine TQ drivers made all three meetings, with championship leader Kyle Glover unable to build on his 109 points on Saturday and having to accept fourth spot as Canterbury clubmates Blair Warren and Gareth Bindon and Nelson's Jason Riley caught him and went past.
The title was decided in its ninth race, Warren finishing two spots ahead of Bindon to claim the championship by a single point, 163-162. Riley had a fourth and two seconds to finish third with 142 points, Glover still fourth ahead of Nelson's James Nicholson.
With six cars fronting, three super saloons and three saloons, a hastily arranged best pairs promotion saw Shane Carey and drawn partner Darryl Martin from Blenheim claim the marbles.
Carey went well for the heat one win as Ian Burson's car punctured, then Burson romped away in the latter heats, the second one marred by a crash that saw Martin's Camaro sucked into the wall on the back straight.
The superstocks followed a similar format with the highlight being Nick Fowler's first run in the new Boss Motorsport Gordge-Ford SVO. Fowler won race one off the trailer and backed that with a second placing and another win as he and team-mate Warrick Steer emerged as the best pair.
In a tie for second overall were Blair Cunningham and Kerry Hill with heat two winner Dale McKenzie and Canterbury's Jason Smith.
The last class on the card was the youth ministocks, getting their first run in a month. Twenty cars fronted with wins for the usual suspects; Dylan Clarke, Roydon Winstanley and Brad Neiman. Best of the chasing bunch were Shawn Pomeroy, George Watson and Luke Ewing.
The Nelson club's next meeting features the Brian Stanaway Stock Shock in two weeks time. Entries will determine whether it takes place over one or two nights.
- © Fairfax NZ News