Stratford hoeing into dust problem

SPEEDWAY
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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Excessive dust at Stratford Speedway is turning spectators away and even upsetting the drivers.

The problem is worst when the wide-tyre modifieds race, with the cars flicking up dust that fills the air, gets in eyes, clothing and on parked cars.

Speedway president Scott Shaw said the crushed surface had become packed so hard that water could not penetrate it.

"It's always been a problem at Stratford and nothing we've tried so far has worked," he said. "It's serious because people are telling us they are staying away when the modifieds race. Even the drivers have a problem with it. Dust was a major issue during the North Island modified championships last year and we cannot have a repeat at the New Zealand championships here in January."

After tomorrow night's action, the track has a three-week layoff, during which time the track will be ripped up, possibly power-hoed, then rolled with a blunt-spiked sheepsfoot roller.

Shaw said the ripping and hoeing would break up the hard pan and the roller would leave depressions that retained moisture when the watering tanker was used between races. A sprinkler system on the infield would be used before race meetings.

Shaw said the decision to go ahead with the work was made by the club committee before a debate erupted on a speedway website this week after dusty modified races last Saturday.

A prominent Auckland modified team owner commented: "We have travelled far and wide over the years and Stratford is by far and away the worst track in the country for this issue.

"At the NZ champs a few years back it was that bad that even the drivers were saying they couldn't see. For drivers to complain you know you have a problem.

"I hope that for the title this season they have a cunning plan to try and do something about it, but to be honest I am not holding my breath. We will head down with dust goggles and face masks all ready to go and watch what action we can."

Modifieds do not race tomorrow. The programme comprises the Allan Hancock stockcar memorial, Taranaki streetstock championship and City of New Plymouth Classic for youth ministocks. Supporting classes are minisprints, saloons and midgets.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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