by contributor Emma Thompson
“You did what on Saturday night? Watched cars racing round a track? Really? I didn’t have you down for that kind of girl!”
This made me wonder what kind of girl this friend did have me down for!
As a 17 year old, I used to go and watch the Coventry Bees, my local motorcycle speedway team in my hometown in England and had heard of stock cars and even seen them race, but superstocks, ministocks and streetstocks? And what about super saloons, A grade saloons, productions saloons and modifieds? This was a whole new world to me.
I’m a bit older than 17 now (quite a bit) and hubby and I found ourselves accepting an invite from some friends to Woodford Glen last year, and arranging to meet there half an hour before the racing started.
The staff there seem so happy in their jobs; from the ticket cashier who was smiley and polite to the guys checking bags having a joke and smiling, to the two guys in the commentary box, whose friendly banter and teasing throughout the evening was hilarious. The fact that Woodford Glen doesn’t allow alcohol or sell it (which is why they look in bags as you go in) made us all feel even more relaxed.
We sat in the grandstand which was great for newbies like us, as we were at the side of the track and felt part of the action. I was glad I took a blanket, as it got chilly as the night went on, and was also glad of the flask of coffee that we took, although being latte fans, hubby and I were also happy to visit the coffee van.
We hadn’t eaten before we came out, and I was ecstatic to see a baked potato stall. Being English, life does not feel complete without baked potato with cheese and beans on a regular basis, and the friendly English couple who run the stall, obviously knew that, because as soon as they heard our accents he said ‘Cheese and beans?’ Mr Whippy was also doing a roaring trade as were the hot chips and hot dog vans.
The drivers and their team greet the crowd with a wave and a lap at the start and they throw lollies over the fence to the kids. Those drivers who get the chequered flag drive a victory lap, holding and waving the flag, and the crowd cheers and claps.
The racing was fast, highly competitive, loud and thrilling to watch. I was instantly hooked. As soon as one race ended and we were sharing the adrenalin that the drivers were feeling, the next group of cars were coming out of the pits. It was fast-paced stuff. My favourites were the stockcars, as contact is allowed and encouraged, which makes for highly entertaining racing. You will see dust clouds, the odd engine that catches fire, flames from the exhausts of the super saloons and incredibly skilled drivers. These guys are painters, stonemasons, builders, engineers and all sorts by day (visit www.woodfordglen.co.nz for driver profiles), but at night at Woodford Glen, it’s a different story….
It really struck me how good-natured, friendly, fun and organised it all is. Families, teenagers, groups of friends, couples, all of society is there. You get the feeling that drivers and spectators, organisers and staff are all having a fantastic time and credit is due to Woodford Glen for creating that atmosphere. I’ve been back many times and love it.
Good friends, fast cars, awe-inspiring driving and good food and coffee – what a great combo!
Racing is on Saturday nights from early October until April. Check website for the race calendar:
Admission prices: *
Family (2 adults and up to 4 children under the age of 14): $30
Senior (65+ years): $10
Child (14 years and under): $5
Child 5 years and under: free
Season passes available
*Prices are usually a little higher when there is a NZ Championships meeting
Canterbury Streetstock & Stockcar Championships
Saturday 1st February 2014 – 7pm start