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Pre-season update - 21st October 2009

For the first time in a number of years we made the first practice of the season. Greensheeting went off without any dramas and the weather stayed fine enough for us to get 3 runs out on the track.

As we haven't made the first practice for so long, it is hard for us to gauge what is normal for competitor numbers. I must admit I was surprised by how full the pits were. If this is anything to go by then Auckland could be in for a cracker of a year in all classes.

6 mods turned up but only 5 took the opportunity for a skid. 36a Phil Crumpe took the opportunity to get some greensheeting done but was not ready to have a run. Foxy was joined on the track by 7a Ron Drake, 29a Mark Wade, 64a Grant Harris and the 56a car of Paul Blakeley (with his partner in crime Brian Jesen doing the piloting with Paul away). All looked to survive intact and should make opening night on the 31st. We are led to believe that another 3-4 guys may make opening night and this would give us 9-10 cars in total. Not a bad start if this pans out.

Our car to the untrained eye looks the same as last year. In fact the body and wing haven't been touched from last season. Subtle changes have been made that are not so visible in the hope of refining what we have and getting that little bit more speed than we had last year. First signs from Saturday are promising but it is always difficult to get a handle on how well you are going when times are not being taken and you are not in a race situation. The verdict on if we are on the right path will be known come race time in two weeks. With only a handful of meetings available before the North Island title on the 19th December it is important we hit the ground running and make full use of the meetings we can get in.

There is some good positive news being bandied about with regard the mod numbers this season. Auckland is expecting 12-13 locals to run this season and the word coming out of Stratford is that they are expecting approx 14! Huntly look to have more local cars than they have had for a few years and Rotorua and Wellington will likely field a handful as well. Heading off down South and new cars are expected in Christchurch and Greymouth to take their numbers near the 20 mark in total, this is to be expected when the NZ title is a local event.

Jamo's view:
The Directors at SNZ need to be careful that their new power of being able to approve trials of whatever, where ever and whenever do not backfire on them and have the opposite effect to the one they say they are trying to achieve. The numbers in the mod class have been steadily growing over the last few years and this can be put down to rule stability, you start playing with this and the uncertainty of where things are headed will not only drive current drivers out of the class but will also result in new people thinking twice about investing in the class due to the “moving goalposts” factor.

All this has come about due to the “white elephant” argument about reduced numbers in the class and that by reducing costs it will encourage more people into the class. I am still to be shown any evidence that the class is in trouble and I maintain that the numbers actually racing now are not significantly different to what the numbers were running back when we started in the 1980's. One thing I have no doubt about is that the class is the most competitive it has ever been and surely this is what we want?? After all regardless of overall numbers only 20 cars maximum can run at any one time. I would rather have 20 competitive cars than 2-3 competitive cars and 50 uncompetitive ones! Quality not quantity!

The modified class is a premier class and as such will always be more expensive to campaign in than some other classes. I am sure some people will have a problem with what I am going to say, but too bad. It is simple, if you don't have the budget then run something else! Why should the rules be changed to accommodate people that simply don't have the resources to be competitive in the class as it is?

Modifieds are unique and long may they continue to be so. You are never going to get 30 odd cars fronting at a normal meeting, in fact if you start getting 20 odd cars consistently turning up on a club night then and you won't like what happens next.
Look at sprintcars, how often on a race night do you see all cars running together? Answer is easy; you get one full field per night in the feature. Rest of the time you have heat races with reduced numbers, you have to otherwise the risks of carnage increase and, if that happens, I can tell you that the running costs to compete make the one off initial outlay for an engine seem miniscule.
Do we really want the mods to head down this path?

In my opinion reducing engine costs alone will not result in significant increased competitor numbers.

It has taken us over 20 years to get the gear we currently have. We have not always had the flash gear and we have done all the hard yards having been so called “budget racers”. The reality is no one wants to wait anymore, if they can't afford to have as flash gear as someone else they want you to change the rules so it means they can be competitive without doing the hard yards or spending the money. To be fair this is more a reflection on today's society than Speedway specific.

In short we need to ask the following:
Do we want more numbers in the class??
Answer; of course we would like a few more.
Do we want to achieve more numbers by butchering the existing rules and having to re-write the rule book for the class due to an anything goes mentality?? Definitely no!
Are there more simple ways to encourage new people into the sport??
You would like to think so!

Here is my suggestion to the Directors.
Talk to your members in the class before finalising radical trial ideas.
Talk to your own Technical Committee before agreeing to any and all trials and ask them for their thoughts, after all isn't that what they are there for??
I find it absolutely amazing that the Technical committee for the class had no knowledge of the last trial approval until it was posted on the SNZ website!! They knew nothing about it!! This is totally unacceptable in my opinion.

Believe it or not the current drivers are not against change to make the class more accessible they just want the change to be discussed and managed in a proper way and not to be labeled as “not having the best interests of the class at heart” if they happen to disagree with the options being implemented without any discussion. Remember, they are the class and they deserve to be treated with more respect than what is being shown currently.

Vent over.

See ya at the track

Team Fox



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