Beachlands wins ‘most improved’

"Thinking outside the box" . . . Beachlands Speedway promoter Ricky Boulton. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

The driving force behind the rapid improvement of a Dunedin speedway is its enthusiast committee, a promoter says.

Beachlands Speedway in Waldronville was named the most improved speedway in the nation at the New Zealand Speedway Awards in Auckland last Saturday.

Beachlands Speedway promoter Ricky Boulton, speaking to The Star last week, said the award was a “good reward for all the hard work the committee has put in”.

To win the title, Beachlands beat three other nominated speedways – Eastern States Speedway in Blenheim, Kihikihi Speedway near Te Awamutu in the Waikato and Stratford Speedway in Taranaki.

A committee needed “enthusiasm and drive” for a speedway to survive, he said.

“If you don’t [have them] you can fall by the wayside quite quickly.”

Beachlands won the same award two years ago.

“We’ve continued to improve faster than other speedways across the country.”

The current committee had transformed a struggling operation to a top entertainment venue.

The improvements included attracting 33% more members in the past year, on top of 40% the year before.

“Locally, we have 117 driving competitors. When the current committee took over three years ago, we had about a quarter of that membership.”

The membership was boosted by measures such as adding a second youth grade and making it more affordable for younger drivers to race, he said.

“The youth are the future of our sport.”

The club had “branched out” to offer other grades, such as modified sprint grades.

By “thinking outside the box”, the club could offer racers and spectators something different, such as the inaugural “reverse ramp race derby” scheduled at the first meeting of the season in October this year.

Drivers would race cars in reverse gear, he said.

“We’ll be the first club to do it in New Zealand.”

He thanked the members who had helped improve the speedway, such as painting the venue and laying a new track surface.

The last two meetings of the past season attracted sell-out crowds, something “unheard of in Dunedin”.

To cater for the crowd, the club had expanded its car park area, opening the exit near the gun club in a bid to reduce the noise for residents of Friendship Dr when spectators and competitors leave at about 10pm.

Another reason for the big crowds was spectators being allowed to bring in their own food and beverages.

The gate price was also the cheapest of any speedway in New Zealand.

“They are the sort of things we have been doing, which are clearly working for us.”

The sell-out crowds were a signal of a “hunger for motorsport” in Dunedin.

“We are a place that delivers and we are no longer Dunedin’s best kept secret – Beachlands has stepped out from the shadows and become the place to be on a summer night.”