Palmerston North - Friday
20 January 2006
Ivan Mauger Golden Helmet Series
Reporting & pictures by Mike Pollard
Not so much a
speed-weekend, more of a speedweek!
Hello and welcome to Palmerston for day one of three, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of
speedway at the Palmerston North Showgrounds.
It was the solo bikes that took to the tracks 75 years ago, and so it was fitting that the
opening night celebrations featured the Ivan Mauger Golden Helmet Series.
Headline riders from around the globe include; Craig Watson - Australia, Andrew Bargh -
New Zealand, Jason Bunyan - England, Filip Sitera - Czech Republic together with Mattia
Carpanese and Daniel Tessari - Italy. After 12 x heats, 2 x semi finals and a 6 x rider
finale, the winner of the coveted golden helmet was declared as Craig Watson of Australia
who took the applause of the appreciative audience. The corporate boxes were packed with
speedway stars that have become household names over the past 75 years, and a number of
"good old boys" with a lump in their throats reminisced over the tannoy about
their exploits in the pioneer days of speedway. An emotional night for all involved with
the celebration. One memory i shall keep for some time, was that of an elderly gentleman
being slowly ushered through the pits to the pit gate by a member of the promotion team,
and then being helped to sit astride the bike, only for the guy to then whizz around the
track to the cheers of the crowd........ really quite emotional, even though i have no
idea who he is!
The meeting also served as an official practice session for the overseas competitors in
the 248 cid Global Challenge to be staged the following day.
With all drivers "racing" together, #3gb Pete Falding, #64gb Kev Smith and
former rodeo star #13nl Ronald van den Hadelkamp all looked to be quick from the get go,
whilst USAC/CRA sprint car driver #97usa Ronnie "the rocket" Case looked to be
on a steep learning curve as he tried to come to terms with a superstock. The 2 x other
overseas drivers having a run were #48n Brett Nicholls from the South Island (well it is
overseas!), allthough quite what #591p Wayne Hemi was doing out there is anyone's guess!
Superstocks 6 (overseas practice)