These things have a natural order to them, with day one of this year’s event switched up to take place on the Friday as a rotary-only affair at Levels — now Timaru International Motor Raceway — in celebration of Canterbury anniversary day. It drew in a serious number of cars — some which don’t tend to see many sun hours regardless of the occasion — and kept them there over the course of the weekend. Perhaps one of our favourite times of the weekend, the Friday night, marked the now-customary swarming of the town centre that sees not one street devoid of a modified example rolling up it one way or another. We hitched a ride with Christchurch local James Horner in his SR coupe to get amongst it.
By the peak of the night, open roads were commanding a premium and trains of cars were headed in all directions. Forget parking at the local servo or park; they were already 50 cars deep by the time you arrived. It’s that rare time of year when the oldies can stand around saying things like, “This reminds me of the good old days”, back when this kind of thing happened every weekend. While you’d expect those kinds of numbers to get out of hand really quickly, it never really did. Perhaps it’s a side effect of a maturing demographic, mixed in with a strong police presence, and a strong respect for those still putting on events like this for us to enjoy, and, although some media channels like to report otherwise, participants were actually pretty damn well behaved, considering the sheer number of cars in attendance.
Day two was when most of those behind the wheel of anything beyond your nana’s grocery-getter looked to have their fun. Located at the small-but-technical Timaru raceway, the track sessions were crammed with every make and model, tackling circuit, drift, burnout, and even hardparking duties.
Credit is due to the team behind the event, as, although very much a big name in the scene, the track day never felt commercialized and maintained a grass-roots feel — there really is nothing better than piling into your mate’s car five-up and smashing out a few hectic pulls in the cruising sessions.
Naturally, as the day came to a close, those show entrants who’d been brave enough to thrash their car all day made their way across town to set up while we sat under whatever shade we could find, in awe of the day’s events — we were tired, burnt to a crisp, hungry, but still eager to head to the show to get a peep at what would be going down the next day, so we could do it all over again.