Golden speedway era relived
By Terry Campbell
Kihikihi Speedway Club was rapt with how its 50th anniversary celebrations went at the weekend.
The hot, sunny weather was perfect for the two days of racing and thousands of spectators enjoyed both the ‘blast from the past’ and contemporary racing events.
Saturday’s nostalgia day was a trip down ‘memory lane’ for many who attended, meeting old friends and past acquaintances and taking in the ontrack sights and sounds of vintage TQs, midgets and motorcycles.
Children had an equally enjoyable day out with free passes to a merry-goround, bumper cars and a bouncy castle in addition to games, races and prizes throughout the afternoon.
The nostalgia theme continued into Saturday night with an anniversary dinner held at the Waipa Workingmen’s Club. A number of awards were presented during the evening - medallions to life members and past presidents of the club and a trophy to Grant Wilks to mark his 40th season of competition.
A special presentation was made to Johny Missen, the ‘founding father’ of New Zealand TQ racing. Although never a member of Kihikihi Speedway, Missen can take the credit for the club’s existence as he built the first TQ midget in the country, made the plans readily available and helped promote the class at Kihikihi in the club’s early days.
On Sunday, the largest group seen at Kihikihi Speedway for a number of years witnessed great racing along with some very close finishes.
This was not the case in the celebrity race, however, as Otorohanga District Mayor, Dale Williams outpaced his opponents in a field of production saloons and had no problems in taking out the win.
Brent McClymont won the saloon feature, while Graham Standring led the 30-lap midget feature from start to finish.
Local driver Craig Brunt produced the drive of the day in this race, working his way through the field on a difficult-to drive track, to take a merited third place behind Josh Franklin.
Minisprint driver Sean Cooke won the three race John Watkin Memorial with a win and two second placings.
Final event of the day, the Golden Helmet Trophy for the 20-lap TQ feature was won by Auckland driver Ross Holton, who stayed on track while other competitors spun off while in the lead. His win was all the more meritorious as he had to race with a repaired car, damaged after rolling in an earlier race.
By Colin Thorsen
An impending hip operation did not prevent TQ midget legend Clive ‘Dusty’ Rhodes from putting the pedal to the metal at Kihikihi Speedway’s 50th anniversary.
One of the father figures of the club showed glimpses of his former silky driving skills during a couple of runs on Saturday’s nostalgia race day.
Some of his dare-devil has been retained too. “I was a bit concerned about giving it full throttle down the straight,” said Rhodes. “I’m 76, but I did give it heaps.”
Rhodes was grateful to Ken Price, the owner of his former TQ midget, for allowing him to drive it. Price purchased the car in 1986, two years after Rhodes had restored it.
Rhodes said the handling system is still the same as it was back in the 1960’s and there is still plenty of power.
The two-times national TQ
champion (1966-67, 1967-68)
makes regular guest appearances
in his famous No 16 TQ
The first secretary of the Kihikihi TQ Midget Club ‘hopes to be a new man’ after his fast-approaching hip operation at Waikato Hospital, but says there is no chance of a comeback ... just yet.
Four years short of becoming one of those grand old octogenarians, it is hard to imagine Clive ‘Dusty’ Rhodes making another guest driving appearance when Kihikihi Speedway celebrates its ruby (60th) anniversary in 10 year’s time - but don’t count on it.