Western Springs Roars Into Life
We doubt that any of you lot are going to be complaining as the days get warmer and longer, and, for many, that can only mean one thing — it’s that time of year again! Yep, Western Springs Speedway is about to kick-start the 2018–’19 season in the most extravagant way possible! Not only will the Guy Fawkes celebrations be welcomed back on opening night, but the speedway will be hosting a world-first event the following weekend — the $1 Million Sprint Car Shoot-Out, at which $1M — yes, one million dollars! — will be put on the line!
However, as the Auckland Council recently confirmed that the venue has two years left, it will be relocating to Colin Dale Motorsport Park near the International Airport.
There are thousands of Aucklanders who remember the last time they went to the venue with their fathers 30 years ago. These people will come to see this grand ole lady off, having been at the venue for almost 90 years, and, as this season is the second to last we’ll ever get to see at the iconic venue, it’s guaranteed to be huge.
3 November: Opening Night/Guy Fawkes
The opening night of this season starts with the largest contingent of competitors on record. All classes are over-subscribed, which will make working through the heat races to make the finals that little bit harder — but well worth it for spectators!
Then there’s the Guy Fawkes display, which was approved by the Auckland Council after months of working through details considerate of the local residents and the animals at the nearby Auckland Zoo.
“This has taken several months, however it was important that everyone was onboard with the concept,” said Greg Mosen, promoter. “And now we are set to go on 3 November.”
The plan is to launch the pyro display from both ends of the infield immediately after the last race finishes, delivering great value for the fans having seen the racing action from 6pm through to 10.30pm. Consider the offer — a parent pays $30 and can get one child 14 years and under in for free, while children under five years are also free.
10 November: $1 Million Sprint Car Shoot-out
Opening night is going to be a big one, but we don’t think there’s a superlative large enough to describe the $1 Million Sprint Car Shoot-Out — a world-first event that gives 10 sprint car drivers the chance to win $1M.
It took months of clarification to the UK insurer to get this across the line, and it is such an unusual concept that there are drivers from the US flying over specifically to race in it. Unlike most large payouts, this prize can be won by any of the competitors, and the first step is to make the Top 10. All drivers will qualify from their heats, as they would normally do, which will determine who the Top 10 qualifiers are.
In a normal ‘pole shuffle’, drivers will go head to head to establish their starting positions in the feature — however, this time, the time they each run in that driver’s second lap will be very important.
Before they head out onto the track, each driver will be asked to nominate the lap time that they are going to run, and if their actual time matches the time they nominated, they will be $1M richer.
Most drivers will have an idea of how they are running, so selecting the 13-second time will be the easiest part — they probably know whether they would run an early, mid, or late 13, so this will be pinned on them getting the full row of numbers right on the night.
We’ll all be watching as the driver’s nominated time and the time they actually run gets displayed on the mega screen for all to witness.
We asked Jamie McDonald, one of the top sprint car drivers, about how excited he is for the event. “They’ve never done this before, so full credit for thinking outside the box,” he said. But, while the odds are far better than Lotto, it’s still anyone’s game. “Everyone will find out on the night — the track changes during the season, and on the night, so you’ll find that everyone will be seeing how they go that night, and choosing their time based on that.”
And, as mentioned, the competition won’t just be local, either.
“We’re coming over, and bringing our driver — I really want the money!” laughed Peter Murphy, based in Fresno, California. “I can’t imagine how many people [that] it’s going to attract, and it’s exciting — it’s got nothing to do with how much money they’ve got, but how they race on the night.”
Peter is no stranger to Western Springs, having helped Steve Kinser to a win in 2016, and taking crew-chief duties for Kyle Hirst, racing that same Daltons USA #1 sprint car last year. As Kyle will return to race the Daltons car in the upcoming Porter Hire International Sprint Car Series, with Peter as crew chief, the $1M shot is just an added incentive to racing on one of the world’s great tracks.
“Western Springs runs a tight ship. I’ve raced all over Australia, all over America, and Western Springs has that atmosphere as soon as you roll in the gate, and they run it to such a tight schedule,” Peter said.
Are you excited yet? For further details, event, and ticketing info, visit springsspeedway.com.