Thirty-five years. That’s how long the men from the Hawke’s Bay had waited to get their hands on the Enzed Superstock Teams Champs trophy, and it’s fair to say it is a victory that has been savoured and celebrated among the close-knit speedway community of ‘The Bay’. A new-look ‘Hawkeyes’ team, with some familiar names, earned the title of being the best team in New Zealand over four tough races on February 6–7.
For the unfamiliar, superstock racing in New Zealand enjoys a strong following, and there is no bigger event on the calendar than the annual weekend of mayhem that is the Enzed Superstocks Teams Champs. For the past 13 years, Enzed have been associated with the Superstock Teams Champs, in which teams of four drivers take $100,000-plus, 1500kg race cars that are, in reality, unforgiving steel cages, and do speeds of up to 140kph.
They do all of this surrounded by concrete walls while their opponents do their best to smash into them. Superstock drivers are, by definition, hard men (and women), and only the bravest/craziest flourish in the teams environment. Add to that enormous crowds, with over 15,000 spectators in attendance on each night, and the pressure sure adds up — this is, without a doubt, one of the largest events on New Zealand’s motorsport calendar.
Led by 16B Steve Jude, who was making his 12th event appearance, the squad also featured 2NZ Jason Long (son of Hall of Fame–racer Murray Long), 87B Tom Stanaway, 46B Quinn Ryan, and, the man people call the best blocker in New Zealand, 84B Mike MacLachlan (Mike Mac), who turned the event on its head when he appeared in a top of the line ‘tank’. The sixth driver, Quintin Butcher, completed a line-up that had good gear and a mix of fast youth and experience, according to team manager and pie expert James Buckrell.
Having started the season wanting to take on as many races as possible to build a strong bond, the Hawkeyes’ mentality for the championship was clear. They attacked each race and had a clear strategy to split targets, and then picked them off one by one. This proved effective with night-one wins over the previously dominant Palmerston North Panthers and Canterbury Glen Eagles setting up a semi-final with the dangerous-looking Manawatu Mustangs.
Both teams appeared well-matched machinery-wise, but The Bay were too good, escaping relatively untouched as they headed for a showdown with the crowd-favourite Great Britain Lions, who fly in from England for the event each year.
The rest, as they say, is history, with both teams putting in some big hits. It was Mike Mac however who put his stamp on the event and allowed Jason Long and Steve Jude to run around Arena Manawatu to the chequered flag. Emotions began to flow within the Hawkeye camp at the realization that they had finally won. Mike Mac also deservedly walking away with the Spike Richardson Trophy for the entertainer of the Teams Champs.
The Hawkeyes wish to thank all their loyal sponsors and fans. You can follow the team for information and updates via Facebook, and to keep informed of what Enzed are doing, follow them on Facebook here.