The Porter Hire International Sprintcar Series kicked off on Saturday, December 6 at WXC Western Springs Speedway. Warren Sare checked out round one of the series.
Australian visitors Robbie Farr (7Q) and James McFadden (25) put opposing drivers, and Kiwi fans, on notice of their intentions with strong performances during round one of The Porter Hire Series. The series pits the two Australians against Americans Kraig Kinser (11USA) and Jonathan Allard (0USA), and New Zealand's own Dean Brindle (2NZ) and Jamie MacDonald (3NZ) in six-car test match races to qualify for a pole shuffle. The drivers will then go on to join the remaining cars for each evening's feature race. On Saturday, December 6, a big crowd was on hand to see the winged warriors do battle, and they were treated to a solid show with the track allowing for plenty of passing opportunities and rewarding the brave.
Following a walk-out introduction and interviews, McFadden and Farr both came out firing, McFadden flying around the reworked track surface to set a new lap record of 11.421 seconds on his way to a first-race win, while Kraig Kinser was forced infield with mechanical issues, which hurt the USA team points wise. Race two favoured the Aussies with Farr showing a clean pair of heels to the field while the Kiwis had been consistent in both races and were accumulating points nicely.
One of the real love-it or hate-it features of sprint-car racing is the pole shuffle, which saw the top five test cars, and the three best-performed local cars, come out for a series of flying lap battles against each other, starting in reverse order with the winner advancing, essentially giving all eight a chance to start the feature in pole position. This unique format produced one of the biggest crowd cheers of the night when Michael Pickens (54A) got a win, while Jamie MacDonald also got a solid reaction for his win. Farr proved ultimately too quick though and he simply jumped away from the 3NZ car off the start to secure his position for the feature.
The crowd sat through an exciting midget car feature as an entree to the night-ending sprint car feature with local stars Brad Mosen and Hayden Williams dicing with each other right to the end of the race and setting the scene for what was to come. Former NZ Sprintcar champion turned commentator Peter Murphy noted that the Aussies were the ones to watch as they turn more laps on a season-long basis, where as most of the locals only do a limited amount of meetings. Jonathan Allard proved to also be one to watch as a noted hard charger who was always going to work his way through the field. Allard however would come spectacularly unstuck after tangling with another car on the pit straight, leaving the Porter Group 0usa a mess of twisted panels and carbon fibre. The team have a lot of work to do before the haul to Palmerston North for Monday, December 8 and round two.
Robbie Farr steered clear of any on-track carnage and bought home the Hi-Tec Oils 7Q car in first place ahead of McFadden in the 25 entry. In spite of fighting with vision troubles for most of the race after getting clay in his eyes, Jamie Macdonald still managed to come home in third place. The win, and other combined results, left the Kiwis and Aussies square at the top of the table, while the USA team has a large amount of work to do if they are to claim the silverware. Kraig Kinser is yet to really fire a shot as he settles into an unfamiliar car and shapes as potentially the cat amongst the 900hp pigeons once he is comfortable.
The series now moves to Palmerston North Speedway before returning to Western Springs on the December 13 for its conclusion.