Read Te Awamutu Courier - Kihikihi Speedway 50th Anniversary - January 27th, 2005 text version

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1954 2004 Kihikihi Speedway Club Inc

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Two times New Zealand TQ Champion, Clive "Dusty" Rhodes leading the TQ midget field on a parade lap in his title winning TQ midget at the 40th anniversary meeting of Kihikihi Speedway Club.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Nostalgia Race Day and Display Old Time T.Q's Solo Bikes Midgets and Sidecars First Race (both days) 1:00pm Gates open 11:00am

Sunday, January 30, 2005

50th Anniversary Race Day David Jones Motors 50th T.Q. Feature Solo Bikes · Midgets Sidecars · Mini Sprints "Celebrity Race" $15 adult

See back page fo r details

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Children MUST be accompanied

Supported By:

PAGE 1

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Club started in panel shop

The `foundation fathers' of Kihikihi Speedway were Graham Langdale and Horrie Mason. They were partners in a panelbeating business located on the triangle of land bordered by Herbert and Nixon streets in Kihikihi. Their panel shop was demolished in the late 1960's but, for several years, it doubled as the headquarters of the Kihikihi Three-Quarter Midget Car Club. Several of the club's early cars were built or completed there. Clive `Dusty' Rhodes, the club's first secretary, took up speedway purely by chance. As a member of the Hamilton Car Club in early 1954, he showed an interest in rallies, sprints and hill climbs. "I acquired a JAP 500 engine but in my ignorance, I did not realize that it was only a sports engine." In conversation with Langdale and Mason one day, he commentated that he was going to build a small car. "Graham (Langdale) said come out to Kihikihi and have a look at what we're doing. "So I did and there, sitting in their workshop, was the cutest little midget car I'd ever seen." Rhodes says it was built from Austin 7 bits, with a BSA 500 engine, 400x8 wheelbarrow wheels and neat bodywork. "They had acquired the plans from Johnny Missen of Auckland, who had found them in an American Popular Mechanics magazine and had built several cars in the early 1950's. "He raced them in the crater on Mt Albert and was running them at Western Springs Speedway." The three-quarter midget had arrived. While `Dusty' was building his car, a second racer had been completed for Horrie Mason and another two cars were being constructed by Ray Jamieson and Ken Harvey. In 1954 the five cars were run on various `borrowed paddocks' around the area, along with a 300 yard long, but rather narrow trotting track owned by the Tarrant family. In the spring of 1954, the club obtained permission to mark out a track, on the Kihikihi Domain polo field, to run their first public meeting. Four Auckland cars driven by Johnny Missen, Vern Davenport, Skip Eade and Don Mullins were invited down to race the locals and make up a respectable field. The visitors were running alcohol fuelled, highly tuned engines that put out more power than the local versions. Once the Aucklanders found the secret of running on a grass track they won each of the races. A number of invitations to demonstrate or race their cars at galas or sports events filled out the summer of 1954-55. But when the opportunity to race on a regular basis at a new stockcar track at Te Rapa was lost, when it closed after a few meetings, the club decided to build their own track. The Te Awamutu Courier of October 21, 1955 records: "The Kihikihi Three Quarter Midget Car Club will hold what will undoubtedly be one of the best, if not also the biggest, speedway racing days on its new track at Kihikihi Domain on Saturday, October 29. "This will be the first of many such events to be held on the track, which club members have worked hard to complete. "Hundreds of cubic yards of soil were shifted to build the track and lay it out to the satisfaction of the members. "During the last few weekends members have put the finishing touches to the new facility, building a safety fence, where needed, and laying down a fast surface made of a mixture of sand and clay. "A considerable amount of organisation has been put into the first event to be held on the track in order to build up a reputation with visiting teams from other tracks which will stand the club in good stead whenever it wishes to hold similar events in the future. "Kihikihi club members, collectively, now own 12 three-quarter midget racing cars and more are being built. "Other cars will come from Auckland to New Plymouth. "Members of the Hamilton Motor Cycle Club will present supporting Miniature TT Motor Cycle events. "The programme, which the club is having printed, has 16 events on it, mostly for midget cars. "The organisers hope to make the programme a practically nonstop performance of speed, and say that there are bound to be plenty of thrills in every one of the races. "The track has been built on a natural basin on the Kihikihi Domain, and will therefore provide excellent visibility for a very large number of spectators. With these features, plus speed, thrills and the interest that is bound to be taken in several local drivers taking part, the club should be assured of a really grand opening day for its new track." By the end of the decade, the club, from small beginnings at the back of a local panel shop, was flourishing. The track was continuously being improved, over 30 TQ midget competitors were contracted and one of them, Bill Dempster, had won the New Zealand TQ midget title for the 1958-59 season. Articles for this special 50th Anniversary lift-out were compiled by long time club scribe Terry Campbell.

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PAGE 2 Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005

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`Join us in celebrations'

As president, it is my pleasure to invite you to McDonald's Kihikihi Speedway to join with us in the 50th anniversary celebrations. Our anniversary committee has worked hard to organise the celebrations and events for the weekend. Over the two days we will step back in time to when the club started 50 year's ago. Kihikihi Speedway is one of the oldest tracks in the country. It has come a long way since the club was first formed with threequarter midgets, based on Austin 7 chassis, and drivers racing for bottles of wine. Over the years the club has grown with the introduction of solos and sidechairs in the mid-1960s. They were joined by midgets a few years later. With the growth of the club and the introduction of many more classes over the years, including stockcars, saloons and minisprints, the older cinders track has been replaced with clay. The track lengthened and the wooden safety wall replaced with a concrete one. Nowadays, the club has eight contracted classes, with the newest addition being ministocks - an entry class for junior drivers into speedway. Over the coming weekend, visitors and spectators at the track can join with club members in a walk down memory lane on Saturday - nostalgia day. Some vintage cars will be racing, while others will be on static display. Sunday will be a full on racing day, involving our club as it is today. ROGER WELLS

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THERE have been plenty of thrills and spills at Kihikihi Speedway track over the past 50 years, as this spectacular shot captured by Courier photographer Colin Thorsen in 1988 illustrates.

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Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005

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PAGE 3

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Machinery helped `move mountain' to form track

Looking at the Kihikihi Speedway complex in 2005, it is difficult to visualise the task that a small band of enthusiastic optimists took on 50 years ago. The southwest corner of the Kihikihi Domain was steeply sloping wasteland, seamed with a gully and spring and accompanying swamp. A large amount of soil would have to be shifted to fill in the gully and lay out a level area to form the track. Initially, the club members took on the task with a variety of makeshift and home-made equipment. By the end of the first day's work, they realised the enormity of the task they had undertaken. Dusty Rhodes recalls they retired to the Alpha Hotel in an unhappy state and, while having a few beers, wondered what they could do next. A fellow in the bar overheard their conversation and introduced himself as a contractor, waiting for the weather to improve so that he could carry out a job at Tokanui Hospital. He offered to look at our problem and help out if he could. The next day he had his big crawler tractor and scoop on the job and worked for most of the week. "I remember. I wrote him a cheque for 106 pounds, a lot of money then, but the best money we ever spent," says Rhodes. "We would have been months in there and only scratched the surface." The Te Awamutu Courier reported on July 15, 1955: "The track itself is a banked oval, 30 feet wide with one fifth of a mile circuit. It will be used for racing TQ midget cars and motor cycles. "Grading and finishing off of the track still has to be done to put it in first class condition ready for surfacing. "Sand or, if it can be obtained, crusher dust, will probably be used with river shingle to make a good hard, smooth surface on the track. "This weekend members of the club hope, weather permitting, to get work finishing off the track which has good access from roads on two sides of it, as well as sheltering hedges. "One advantage of the site is that it has banks on three sides, making it ideal for spectators.

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AERIAL shot of the 1975 New Zealand TQ championship meeting at Kihikihi Speedway. One club member estimated that these banks would accommodate as many spectators as Western Springs stadium." A notable feature of the Kihikihi track for a number of years, until drains were installed and the depression backfilled, was a sizeable pond of water on the infield of what was known as Rodeo Bend - a legacy of the original spring and swamp. The natural hazard was not appreciated by the competitors but the steam, spray and `bow waves' from wayward cars entering the water was a great crowd pleaser. A wooden safety fence was built around the entire circuit in 1963. The pit area was then moved off the hill to the present location on the opposite side of the circuit. The track remained at the orginal size of 360 yards until 1982 when a few Auckland midget competitors, reluctant to race at Kihikihi for that season's midget title, complained to the Speedway Governing Body that the Kihikihi track did not meet the minimum rulebook specifications for circuit length. This happened to be true. It had been tactfully ignored for years but it did not mollify the incensed feelings of the club membership. They considered the complaint to be something between a denigration of Kihikihi and a ruse to have the title transferred to Western Springs where the complainants would be racing in their comfort zone. The club was galvanised into action. Diggers and trucks were provided by local firms and members. Within a fortnight the track had been expanded to an officially acceptable 390 metres, a new safety fence built and a new and wider track relaid on each corner. The club members were rightfully proud of their effort. No further complaints were heard and the championship meeting was a success. Major improvements to the facility over the years include the building of clubrooms, a combined two-storey pit box and changing rooms, a large storage and implement shed and a new toilet block. All of these projects were relatively small scale though, when matched against the club's decision to replace the deteriorated, much repaired and expensive to maintain wooden safety fence with a concrete structure. This was a massive and expensive project for a small club with limited labour resouces. During the winter and spring of 1991, the wall was built section by section. It was eventually completed in January 1992. It presented an opportunity to revamp the shape of the circuit with wider corners and straights.

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PAGE 4

Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005

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Club's new name reflected additional racing sections

In 1975 the Kihikihi Three Quarter Midget Car Club amended its constitution and renamed itself Kihikihi Speedway Club. The new title reflected the additional contracted racing sections within the club. The TQ division still provided the largest group of competitors but solo and sidecar riders were also contracted and from 1970 a nucleus of drivers running `full-size' midgets. Other speedway sections were also part of the programme as occasional attractions, including the V8 engined saloons and sprint cars, while Kihikihi was the first speedway in the North Island to race the new mini-sprint class. In 1992, when the concrete safety wall was completed, stock car racing was introduced and this section, together with mini sprints, street stocks, production saloons and mini stocks provide the majority of the club's contracted competitors. The club has not contracted TQ's or solo bikes in recent years, but continues to provide regular events for both classes. The 50th Anniversary Weekend on January 29-30 places an emphasis on the traditions and past of Kihikihi Speedway and the programme on the Saturday showcases the older cars and motorcycles that raced at the track from 1955 to 1980. The club expects numerous visitors and speedway `oldtimers'

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EARLY sidecar action at Kihikihi in the period before a full safety fence was erected around the track. on Saturday afternoon who will be eager to again hear the cracking `bark' of a J.A.P. engine and smell the unique aroma of burnt Castrol R Oil. The Sunday programme also pays tribute to the club's traditions with the feature attraction the David Jones Motors 20 lap invitation TQ race, the inaugural event for the club's new Golden Helmet Trophy. The mini sprint section expects a big turnout of cars for the three race John Watkin Memorial event while the midgets will contest a 30 lap feature. Solo and sidecar competitors will run a series of heats culminating in a top six final for each section.

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BUILDING the concrete wall at KIhikihi Speedway in the winter of 1991. RON COOPER and his `cute crew' at Kihikihi in March, 1962.

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Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005 PAGE 5

Club's new name reflected additional racing sections

In 1975 the Kihikihi Three Quarter Midget Car Club amended its constitution and renamed itself Kihikihi Speedway Club. The new title reflected the additional contracted racing sections within the club. The TQ division still provided the largest group of competitors but solo and sidecar riders were also contracted and from 1970 a nucleus of drivers running `full-size' midgets. Other speedway sections were also part of the programme as occasional attractions, including the V8 engined saloons and sprint cars, while Kihikihi was the first speedway in the North Island to race the new mini-sprint class. In 1992, when the concrete safety wall was completed, stock car racing was introduced and this section, together with mini sprints, street stocks, production saloons and mini stocks provide the majority of the club's contracted competitors. The club has not contracted TQ's or solo bikes in recent years, but continues to provide regular events for both classes. The 50th Anniversary Weekend on January 29-30 places an emphasis on the traditions and past of Kihikihi Speedway and the programme on the Saturday showcases the older cars and motorcycles that raced at the track from 1955 to 1980. The club expects numerous visitors and speedway `oldtimers'

Supply - Sharpen Mincer plates/knives, Band saw & Slicer blades, Steel - Tungsten circulars, Planer blades, Router bits & knives. 210 Bruce Berquist Drive, Te Awamutu Phone 871 4805

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EARLY sidecar action at Kihikihi in the period before a full safety fence was erected around the track. on Saturday afternoon who will be eager to again hear the cracking `bark' of a J.A.P. engine and smell the unique aroma of burnt Castrol R Oil. The Sunday programme also pays tribute to the club's traditions with the feature attraction the David Jones Motors 20 lap invitation TQ race, the inaugural event for the club's new Golden Helmet Trophy. The mini sprint section expects a big turnout of cars for the three race John Watkin Memorial event while the midgets will contest a 30 lap feature. Solo and sidecar competitors will run a series of heats culminating in a top six final for each section.

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Joy's Place

Ideal Venue for Your Functions.

Business Functions Social Club Gatherings Family Occasions Sunday Functions (can be arranged)

BUILDING the concrete wall at KIhikihi Speedway in the winter of 1991. RON COOPER and his `cute crew' at Kihikihi in March, 1962.

Book in with us now.

Catering for approx 70 people Wheelchair accessible from Market Street No Hirage Fees · Licensed Premises · Open till Late Eftpos available

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Wishing Kihikihi Speedway an enjoyable and successful season.

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Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005 PAGE 5

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BRIAN PRESTIDGE, New Zealand TQ titleholder of 1969, checks his car after an accident at Kihikihi in 1962. There are only two individuals (a rare breed interested and immersed in speedway statistics) who realise and appreciate the remarkable record of Kihikihi Speedway in the New Zealand TQ midget championship. Over a period of 18 years, from 1956 to 1973, Kihikihi club members, or graduates from the track, racked up seven national TQ titles. In addition, with the exception of three years during that period, at least one Kihikihi driver and on occasions two, took out a top three placing in the NZ championship. Bill Dempster was the first Kihikihi driver to gain a national title when he won in the 1958-59 season at New Plymouth. He was followed home in second place by Kip Karl, another local driver. Dempster had shown good

NEW ZEALAND TQ champion of 1958, Bill Dempster (seated in car) with his winning crew, from left: Ron Cooper, Ron Drinkwater, Gary Goodrick. gatt, both twice on the podium in the early to mid 1960's. John Benton capped off a fine career when he took a second placing, one ahead of Grant Wilks in the 1972 title. Wilks followed up with a second place finish the next season. Barry Robinson and Tom Rusher took out third place in 1977 and 1984. The Kihikihi midget section has also had its share of success. Tony Fabish followed up a third in the NZ championship in 1992 with a national title at Kihikihi in 1996. Veteran Grant Wilks, now approaching his 40th competitive year in speedway, took third place in the midget title in 198283 season after switching from the TQ section. He went one better at Nelson in 1985, placing second, and was third at Kihikihi in 1991.

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form in his B.S.A. powered car in the previous season when he finished second in the NZ title at Western Springs. Top of the success list, however, is Laurie Patterson, a Rotorua based, Kihikihi club member who won three successive NZ titles between 1960 and 1963. Clive `Dusty' Rhodes, the first secretary of the club, claimed a further two championship ribbons in the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons - although, by that stage, he was living in Hawkes Bay. Brian Prestidge, who claimed a second placing in the championship in 1966-67, took out the top placing in Christchurch two years later. His Kihikihi clubmate Peter Simmons was second. The other locals to place in the national TQ championship include Ernie Martin, third in 195657, and Rod Ellis and Pat Leg-

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38 Lyon Street SH3, Kihikihi Ph: 871 3926

Fax: 871 3929 - Email: [email protected]

NIGEL PITCON Auto Electrical Services

PHONE 871 8668 OR 871 8685

Nigel 871 3332 a/h 0274 912 900 mobile

Agents For:

auto

90 Market Street, Te Awamutu

PAGE 6

Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005

Baby Austin, J.A.P. engine AUTO ELECTRICAL gave birth to TQ midget

JOHN F RAMP

(1999) LTD

NZSA Registered Alarm Installers Marshall Batteries Auto Electrical/Tune Ups Car Alarms and Stereos Commercial and On Farm Services

121 Sloane Street, Te Awamutu Tel 871 7019 ­ A/hrs (07) 871 8485

LAURIE PATTERSON, New Zealand TQ champion from 1960-63, in action at Kihikihi. The Three-Quarter Midget was envisaged as a cheap entry to motorsport. It was approximately threequarters of the dimensions of a full size, car engined, speedway midget. It was based on the, then, readily available and cheap Austin 7 or Baby Austin of the 1920's and early 1930's which was used as a donor vehicle. The Baby Austin supplied the chassis frame, front and rear axles complete with cross spring suspension and hubs, steering box, gearbox and driveline. A body frame was built around these components. A purpose built bonnet, nose cone, side panels and tail piece added, four wheelbarrow wheels located and then the constructor went searching for a suitable 500cc motorcycle engine. The first choice was a single cylinder J.A.P. engine as used in dirt track solo motorcycles. JACK WILKS (left), Phil Rye (centre) and Grant Wilks on the infield at Kihikihi Speedway in 1962. required constant maintenance and regular rebuilds to perform at its best. Other British motorcycle engines had their following. In fact, it would be hard to find a manufacturer that was not used. Triumph Twins were good performers and A.J.S., Matchless, Norton, B.S.A. and Rudge were all used by local drivers. Because the TQ midget specifications did not radically change over the years, the cars tended to have a long life. Many that were built in the 1950's were still racing competitively 20 or more years later. In the early 1970's, Japanese built motorcycle engines became popular. New cars with more sophisticated chassis and suspension systems, equipped with two, three and four cylinder engines from Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha made the older Austin 7 based cars obsolete.

288TC032-04

The motor was not built in Japan - the initials stood for J.A. Prestwich, a small English firm that manufactured a line of proprietary engines that were widely used in the British Motorcycle industry. One of these engines had been modified and adapted by an employee in 1932 for use in grass and dirt track racing. J.A. Prestwich was initially opposed to this, but the motor proved so successful that it opened up a lucrative niche market that lasted nearly 40 years. A good, alcohol fuelled `JAPPA' produced some 42 horse power - an exceptional output for the time. It made the small, light and manoeuvrable TQ midget into a surprisingly quick race car. The J.A.P. motor, however, did have some disadvantages. It was never a mass production item and was not readily available. Spares were expensive and it

TASS

MOTOR GROUP

Toyota Specialists

Serving the Districts Motoring needs for over 50 years

Welcome Kihikihi Speedway to the 50+ years in the Motoring Community

Phone 871 7006

Open 6 DAYS

392 Sloane Street, Te Awamutu

Freephone 0800 868 277, Fax 871 8468, Website www.tass.co.nz

Betta Service Betta Prices Betta Choice...

For a Betta range of all the latest in whiteware and appliances and all your indoor cooling and heating needs, see us at

Charter coaches available

for hire from Go Bus Hodgsons

07 871 6373 www.gobus.co.nz

· U-Drive vans and buses · Large coaches ideal for school and sport groups · Tour coaches with video, toilet, air-con available

Fun Trips with Rosetown Tours

· Day trips · 2 - 3 day tours · Pick up from Te Awamutu

07 871 6373 www.keytravel.co.nz

54 SLOANE STREET, TE AWAMUTU (Opposite McDonald's), PHONE 871 5399

027RR029-05

Hodgsons & Rosetown Tours

027RR031-05

We Fix Trucks

Best wishes to the Local drivers at the NZ Midget Car Grand Prix this weekend.

Supporting Kihikihi Speedway for 50 years

027RR030/05

Lyon Street, Kihikihi Phone 870 4025

057TC051/04

S T E WA R T & C AVA L I E R LT D

MECHANICAL

AND

ENGINEERING

1317 Alexandra St · Ph 871 7062

Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005 PAGE 7

027RR032/05

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Event 1

T.Q.'s

y y

Sunday's Programme

Event 14

Midgets David Jones Motors Tony Fabish Panelworks Harker Underground Construction Wilksbrooke Motors Corboy Earthmovers Timmo's ITM John Haworth Betta Electrical Central Mobile Caterers Wilksbrooke Motors Corboy Earthmovers 8 laps 12 laps 8 laps Harker Underground Construction John Haworth Betta Electrical 8 laps

1954 2004 Kihikihi Speedway Club Inc

Event 2

Mini Sprints

Event 15

Mini Stock Feature 10 laps

Event 3

Midgets

Event 16

Production Saloon Irwin Bus & Truck Sales Feature 10 laps

Event 4

Sidecars Rd 1 4 laps 4 laps 8 laps 8 laps

Event 5

Solo Bike Rd 1

Event 17

Saloon Feature Central Mobile Caterers 10 laps

Event 6

Celebrity Race

Event 18

Sidecars `Big 6' Wilksbrooke Motors Corboy Earthmovers 4 laps 4 laps

Event 7

Mini Stock

Event 19

Solo Bikes `Big 6'

Event 8

Saloon 8 laps 4 laps 4 laps 8 laps 8 laps 12 laps

Event 20

INTERMISSION

Event 9

Sidecars Rd 2

Event 10

Solobikes Rd 2

Event 21

Midget Feature Harker Underground Construction Tony Fabish Panelworks `John Watkin Memorial' David Jones Motors 50th Anniversary, `The Golden Helmet' 30 laps

Event 11

Production Saloon Irwin Bus & Truck Sales

Event 22

Mini Sprint Feature 12 laps

Event 12

T.Q.'s David Jones Motors Tony Fabish Panelworks

Event 13

Mini Sprints

Event 23

T.Q.'s Feature 20 laps

Important Notice

Speedway Racing is Dangerous. People attending this meeting do so at their own risk. Any person having any connection whatsoever with the Kihikihi Speedway Club Inc, including competitors and sponsors, is absolved from any liability arising out of accidents or negligence caused to any person or property under any circumstances before, during or after a Speedway meeting. Should a meeting be abandoned for any reason before three races have been completed, a re-admittance ticket will be issued to all attendees and will admit the holder to the re-run meeting. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL MONEY BE REFUNDED. The organisers reserve the right to make alterations to the programme and the right to refuse admission to any person. IT IS AN OFFENCE TO CONSUME INTOXICATTING LIQUOR WITHIN THE SPEEDWAY COMPLEX. Offenders will have their liquor confiscated and be asked to leave the premises. Under no circumstances are spectators permitted to enter the Pit area.

Race Control Signals

Green Flag/National Flag White Flag Red Flag/Red Light Chequered Flag Yellow Flag/Yellow Light Black Flag

Start Last Lap Stop Finish Caution (Hold Position) Disqualified

Speedway NZ Steward.....................Sandra Kennedy Speedway NZ Assistant Steward ...Louise Tidd Speedway NZ Referee ......................Grant Cotterell Speedway NZ Assistant Referee.....Glen Elliott Head Vehicle Checker.......................Kevin Daysh Clerk of Course ....................................Roger Wells Course Announcer ..............................Graeme Mead Meeting Officials are readily identifiable. Any instructions issued by them are to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all speedway fans. Please follow their instructions.

Meeting Officials

Race Day Information: Phone (07) 871 3333 on race days or visit us on www.kihikihispeedway.cjb.net

PAGE 8 Kihikihi Speedway 50th Jubilee Edition, January 2005

Information

Te Awamutu Courier - Kihikihi Speedway 50th Anniversary - January 27th, 2005

9 pages

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