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By Mick Jensen

With a track in tip-top condition and membership of the Circle Track Racing Association (CTRA) of New Zealand ticked off, Ashburton Speedway is looking ahead to a bright season that will include a greater variety of racing and the appearance of the big boys of the track, the super saloons.

Ashburton Speedway Association penned an affiliation with CTRA last year and enjoyed a successful first “trial” year.

As well as enabling Ashburton Speedway to attract more cars and, potentially, more spectators, membership of CTRA also enables the association to tap into cost-reducing risk management.

Ashburton Speedway will host its first meeting of the new season on September 2, and as well as testing and racing, there could also be ATV racing.

CTRA confirmed over the weekend that Ashburton will host a number of races this season, including the New Zealand production saloons, standard saloons (V8), mini stocks, 6-shooters, South Island super saloon championships and C grade saloons.

Alongside the club’s own championships, a programme is being drawn up to deliver a big season of racing.

The Ashburton Speedway track has received a recent cap of clay, sourced from Mt Alford and is in prime condition, thanks to track manager Swampy Marshall.

Mr Marshall is part of the volunteer committee of 12 which oversees the running of the Seafield Road venue, and said he was looking forward to a “great season of racing”.

The track had always been popular with racers and previously had “black track” status, he said.

The new affiliation with CTRA was a big step forward and would mean a bigger racing programme and more variety.

Attracting Super Saloons, “the noisy, big boys of the track”, would be a popular spectator drawcard, Mr Marshall said.

“There are two main things people love about speedway – crashes and noise.

“At the end of last season, we hosted ‘speedway soccer’ and a demo derby, both of which were well received.

“My vision of watching three big, 800hp cars going side by side on the bend of our track is also now going to become a reality.”

Mr Marshall said the Ashburton track was the only 12 degree gradient track on the South Island – most were 6 degrees – and watching speedway here was also affordable.

The speedway season runs from September to June, with a break over the Christmas holidays.

The record for the quarter mile Ashburton track is 13sec, set by an 850hp sprint car.