X FACTOR Cars Riverside Speedway delivered one of its most entertaining race meetings of the year last Saturday night with thrills and spills aplenty for the big crowd.
The club always has concerns about the annual Christmas meeting which usually clashes with Christmas At The Races or work functions, but a sunny Southland day saw a respectable audience and big fields witness the Southland Streetstock Championship, Christmas Championship and Duratec Demolition Derby Teams Trophy.
An odd twist in the streetstock championship prevailed; several Dunedin cars arrived to take the silverware north but the evergreen Steve Dryden had other plans.
Dryden, who is a life member of Riverside and has been racing since the 1970s, has won many titles around the country and is actually contracted to a North Island Club, being Rotorua.
Heat one saw Dryden race off to a comfortable win only to be relegated to second for a pole line infringement. This handed the win to Matt Stewart, of Dunedin, with Troy Dryden third.
Race two saw Dryden claim victory to take a slender points lead for the third and final race.
Dunedin’s Ben Jenkins and Stewart settled for second and third respectively.
In the final, Dryden started down the grid and had a lot of work to do to claim the title.
He got some early attention from Riverside’s Dan Black and Dunedin’s Shya McHardy, who made contact, sending Dryden infield.
But an angry Dryden wasn’t done this made him more determined to thread his way through the field, passing both Jenkins and Stewart to win the Southland championship resulting in a strange scenario with a local life member winning a championship for a North Island club.
Christmas championships were also contested across all the grades, and some epic battles took place across all races.
The only grade to have a dominant winner was modified sprints where Vaughan Marshall won all three races, second overall was Darcy Hewitt while Mike Shanks claimed third overall.
Stockcars were entertaining. Some massive hits were put on but at the end of the meeting it was three Dunedin cars who dominated. Zane Tuhura won two of the three races to claim the champs from Peter Knight who had a spectacular roll-over, but continued to complete the race, and Aaron Borthwick consistent in third.
Six Shooters came down to the wire. Jacob McIntyre claimed his first title in his first season of six shooter racing. McIntyre took a win in race one to lay the platform for the title.
Cromwell driver Adam Evans took a win in race two but couldn’t get across the line ahead of McIntyre in the final, having to settle for second, while Finn Cleveland won the run-off for third against Emma Gordon, who also claimed a well-deserved heat win.
Youth saloons provided a massive field of 19 cars.
Dunedin’s Tyler Kelk held off Riverside’s Harrison Brown and Alex Crosbie to take the title with consistent results in all three races. Crosbie was impressive in race three claiming his first race win, which brought the crowd to its feet.
Creativity Plus Production Saloons were also exciting with a big field entered.
No-one could match the pure speed of Bradley McKee, of Cromwell. McKee managed two firsts and a second to win the Christmas champs ahead of clubmate Brad McTaggart and an Invercargill driver simply known as
The final grade running was the saloons. Dunedin’s Peter Kirk took race one honours, but it was Cromwell’s Jareb Verdoner who banked consistent results and won the event ahead of Aaron Andrews, of Dunedin, and Kirk, third overall.
The club also hosted its first Duratec Demolition Teams Derby.
Three teams had entered, but only two turned up on the day.
The first two races were shared with race one, while A Midget Racing’ won race two.
The races provided plenty of action with cars rolling, cars going on fire and massive hits which the crowd seemed to relish.
In the winner-takes-all final, it was The Wolfpac who were dominating only to be tag-teamed in a massive shunt which rocked the arena.
This allowed for Shane Carson, of the Asha Is A Midget Racing Team, to slip through to claim the overall victory. The team was made up of Carson, Daniel Rolton, Jesse Hamilton, Stephen Clements and Asha Clements.
With what was on show in the derby teams, it’s bound to attract new teams next season.