Top sprintcar top drivers to vie for title in Cromwell

A high-horsepower battle between 30 of the country's top sprintcar drivers will compete for the 2013-14 New Zealand Sprintcar Championship title in Cromwell this weekend.

Club president Andy Erskine said it was the second time Central Motor Speedway had hosted the championship and he was thrilled at the calibre of drivers and teams travelling from the North Island to race.

"Although as a circuit we are well known to drivers, I'm sure the increased publicity neighbouring Highlands Motorsport Park has brought to Cromwell helped increase interest in competing in the championship. I'm betting a lot of drivers and crews will find time to visit Highlands."

This weekend's events rounded out a "thrilling" two weeks of speedway action, he said.

The sprintcars, with their distinctive wings between the front wheels and above the driver's roll-cage, were the world's fastest speedway class, he said.

"Even on Cromwell's relatively short 500m clay oval, spectators can expect to see these 750- to 900-horsepower, 3.5-metre-long methanol-fuelled open-wheelers achieve speeds of over 160kmh. With this extreme power-to-weight-and-length ratio, wings are hugely important, creating downforce needed to prevent sprintcars from becoming airborne. In the event of a flip or roll, the wing over the cockpit can also work to help protect the driver."

This was very much "old-school" racing, where driver skill and courage were the difference between winning and losing, Mr Erskine said.

Bringing an element of variety to both nights, sprintcar racing would be supported by street stocks, six-shooters (wingless sprintcars powered by Holden 3.6 engines), production saloons and youth mini-stocks.

Cromwell will be represented by eight contract drivers: Jason Scott (Queenstown - South Island sprintcar champion and top of the War of the Wings series leaderboard), Andy Erskine (Arrowtown - newly crowned Central Motor Speedway Sprintcar Club champion), Greg Teece (Nelson), Kris Gerard (Nelson), Nigel Colvin (Winton), Russell Jack (Winton), Mark Evans (Tapanui) and Daniel Anderson (Te Anau).

The Southland Times