Racing season arrives, military vehicles in support

Local racers are aiming to get a strong start to their year as the New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship roars into action at Feilding on March 9.
Palmerston North Offroad Racing Club and sponsor Rush Excavation have built an all-new 1.4km course for the event. There is a strong spread of entries for all 12 championship classes, beginning with the youth class of Kiwitrucks and running all the way to the anything-goes class one race cars. Club spokesperson Andy Briggs says local racer Martin van der Wal will be bringing out his spectacular V8 ThunderTruck and aiming to take maximum points in his class.
In the equally spectacular unlimited class one for open-wheel race cars, a battle of the V8s is brewing. The 2013 class champion, Tony McCall, is bringing his BSL Terra Chev to race against new rival Ernie Hogg in the ‘General Lee’, a Scorpion Chev in the livery of The Dukes of Hazzard’s iconic Dodge – complete with confederate flag.
The newest class in the sport is for the Polaris and CanAm ‘UTVs’, with national class champion Ben Thomasen of Tauranga heading south with his new car to do battle with Paeroa racer Mike Small, both in new Polaris RZR 1000 race cars.
In a first for off-road racing there will also be static displays of military vehicles and 4WDs – the former drawn from the keen enthusiasts of the New Zealand Military Vehicle Collectors Club and the latter from Manawatu Four Wheel Drive Club.
“The military vehicle guys will be a great addition to the event, and we may even see a tank brought out on the day. The four-wheel-drive guys are promoting the first round of their championship – and we reckon their display will also help clear up any perception that off-road racing and four-wheel driving are similar or the same, as the machinery is very, very different in each discipline,” said Andy Briggs.
Registration and vehicle inspections are being held between 2pm and 5pm in the Feilding town square on Saturday March 8. Racing takes place at 127 Kawakawa Road on March 9 from 10am. Gate admission charges are $10 per person or $20 per family.