Meeanee Speedway in the sunny Hawke’s Bay was the place to be if you wanted to see the 2016 Valvoline New Zealand Super Saloon Champs on March 11 and 12. With 35 competitors entered from all over New Zealand, it was two great nights of racing — especially with 1NZ Steve Flynn, 2NZ Mark Grocott, and 3NZ Ian Burson all taking part.
If you’re unfamiliar with Super Saloons, the cars run a number of engine combinations, most opting for a fuel-injected small block V8. There are a few that opt for a Ford engine with a maximum of 434ci. With these 434ci engines, the car’s run a minimum weight of 1188kg — including driver — and generally average around 750hp.
All Super Saloons are left-hand drive, therefore the driver is sitting on the inside of all corners as opposed to near the concrete wall on the right — for obvious reasons. All cars run a fibreglass body, and most opt for a plastic nose cone.
Bodies can be Camaro, Corvette, Mustang, or Commodore, and it’s becoming more common for American-style bodies to be used as per those seen in late-model classes in America. Underneath the fibreglass body is a space-frame chassis with coilover springs up front and torsion bars on the rear. Radiators are rear-mounted and allow unrestricted airflow to the methanol- or avgas-fuelled engines.
Suffering an engine failure in heat one, 1NZ Steve Flynn from Napier saw his chances of any title defense being ended.
Steve’s brother, 6b Grant Flynn, drove the wheels off his car, finishing one point away from coming third.
Canterbury’s Roger Nees was the first to roll his car on ‘Pit Corner’ on Friday night. The team worked all day on Saturday to get the car up and running again — a great effort.
Steve Williams, the former caddy for Tiger Woods, was the second person to end his chances of a title when he rolled his car and destroyed it.
Mark Osborne, driving his McDonalds–sponsored car, was a hot favorite for the title, and managed to keep out of trouble to take the win.
Graham Strong from Napier finished second. Before the event he was saying that now will be a good time to retire after 30 years of racing. He's placed third before, but now he's contemplating if he will come back next season and try for the number-one spot.
Sixty-seven-year-old Lance Jennings finished third. His years and experience showed on the night, and he kept out of trouble and was rewarded for it.
Mark Grocott in his 2NZ car had the front-left wheel nearly come off, but managed to keep it together for quite a few laps just to keep in the points.
Criss Cowling from Mount Maunganui put on quite a wheel-lifting show on Friday night for the crowd.
Check out the gallery below for more Super Saloon action.