Old Hat Editorial
When the annual New Zealand CMRR Festival, held at Pukekohe Park south of Auckland for over 30 years, lapsed after the 2013 event, it looked like the end of the road for what had always been an immensely popular event, well patronised by fans and competitors alike. But a number of factors had contributed to its apparent demise, among them stringent noise limits that were rigidly enforced by the local noise police, a gradual deterioration of the facility itself, and a generational change in the promotion as the old guard got older. To take the last point first, the club had rigidly stuck to its policy of traditional classes and no races (parades only) for Japanese bikes, which had the effect of limiting the scope of promotion for the meeting. And so Pukekohe lay silent, the classics seemingly gone forever. Once this sort of thing happens, tradition shows that the process is highly unlikely to be reversed.
But when the burghers at nearby Hamilton showed the door to the rampaging V8 Supercars after years of compounding losses and resident unrest following the 2012 event, the cars began snooping around for an alternative venue. Pukekohe got the nod, with NZ$6.6 million coming from government coffers for a major upgrade to the track and pits. It was a shame that the process for that upgrade did not include consultation with motorcycle racing authorities, as fresh concrete walls sprouted ever closer to the track which itself is tightly confined within the horse racing complex. A chicane was added towards the end of the very long back straight, which, for a change, was sensibly designed and adds two interesting corners to the original track layout. On the positive side, pit facilities were subjected to a major upgrade, which was probably long overdue, but the standoff over safety issues persisted.
There were numerous problems to be addressed, but the NZCMRR resolutely wanted their festival back at its traditional home, and with much hard work and some skilful negotiating, the seemingly impossible happened in 2015, and the classics quietly ventured back. This time, the classes included the more modern (Japanese) bikes, and it was very much a learning year, but from both sides of the fences, it was deemed an unqualified success. Since then, the meeting has grown in stature, and although the facilities are now considerably more modern than those of yore, the same friendly atmosphere attitude is still there. The just-concluded 2018 Festival copped a lashing from the weather, but the racing eventually went ahead and was brilliant as always. The NZCMRR has every reason to feel proud of what they have achieved in not allowing one of our great events to disappear, and in demonstrating that a positive attitude and a willingness to work through obstacles pays dividends. You can read about the 2018 Festival on page 82 of this issue.
JIM SCAYSBROOK Editor
OUR COVER Steve Ashkenazi’s 1985 Yamaha RZ350. See feature story on P58.