Revamped Riverside set to roar into action

The roar of engines and smell of exhausts will be experienced for the first time this season when the summer's racing at Riverside Speedway starts tomorrow night.

The Southland Stockcar Drivers Association was scheduled to open its season on October 20, but the first two meets were called off as it awaited the arrival of poles to be shipped from China, to construct a new safety fence.

Speedway officials have been working hard over the past three weeks to get everything finished and association president Graeme McKernan was relieved everything was now complete.

He said the wall and fence were much higher than before and now included two rolls of safety netting.

The Sandy Point-based raceway has undergone a drastic makeover during the past three years to meet standards set by the sport's governing body, Speedway New Zealand, and Occupational Safety and Health.

Every speedway club in the country has had to bring its tracks up to standard to comply with the new regulations.

Riverside Speedway's upgrade has involved reconstruction of the track walls, surface, safety fences, and an overhaul of the drainage system.

It has cost more than $350,000, and mostly been supported through the Invercargill Licensing Trust, ILT Foundation and Community Trust of Southland.

"It looks very professional now," McKernan said.

"With the brand new wall and fence all done, we're beyond the (specifications) set by New Zealand Speedway and OSH. Without the help of (the funders) we wouldn't have been able to do this."

Tomorrow's meet will involve the streetstock championships, production championships and youth saloon best pairs.

The public will be in for a treat with a ILT-sponsored fireworks display being held.

The speedway is in for a busy season of racing, with 13 meets scheduled.

Riverside will host several South Island title events, including the streetstocks on January 12 and the super saloons and Super Saloon Cup on January 25-26.

Two high-profile meets at the raceway this season will be the DHL South Island speedweek series on November 29, featuring golfer Tiger Woods' former caddie Steve Williams, and the TQ Tri-Nations Speedweek on January 22, involving international drivers.

Racing starts at 6pm tomorrow with the cost being $20 for adults, $12 for children, $7 pensioners, with under-5s free and a family pass costing $40.

The Southland Times