Dirt Na­tion


Is off road rac­ing go­ing through a time of change? You’d have to say yes, for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. The rise of the UTV classes has brought ‘off-the- shelf’ rac­ing to the sport and in about 50 per cent of the av­er­age en­try list the names are new to the sport. That’s a good thing. In the North Island the Ki­witruck youth cat­e­gory is go­ing great guns, and kids are grad­u­at­ing into the reg­u­lar classes. How­ever, there is not much hap­pen­ing in some of those classes, which sug­gests the time is com­ing when we need to look se­ri­ously at struc­ture and de­fine ex­actly what makes a class vi­able and what makes it el­i­gi­ble to run at cham­pi­onship level. Class five, class seven, class nine are all in this sit­u­a­tion, and class ten may be as well. The truck classes, too, could do with a closer look.

Rise of short course

One of the big­gest changes emerg­ing though is where and how we race. With Can­ter­bury, ATR, Palmer­ston North and soon Manukau hav­ing their own ded­i­cated short course tracks, and all those tracks be­ing based on farm­land of some de­scrip­tion, rac­ers who love the forests are find­ing it hard to get their fix of adrenalin. Auck­land is hav­ing to jump through more and more hoops to get a course for the clas­sic Wood­hill 100; the NZ 1000 has had to move venues. We haven’t been in Gwavas for a while now, Hawke’s Bay hav­ing ac­cess to its fan­tas­tic farm race course as used in their re­cent na­tional cham­pi­onship rounds.

Too hard

Waikato has TECT Park – but that’s not re­ally for­est rac­ing so much as rac­ing that hap­pens to in­volve blocks of land with trees on them. Nel­son still has ac­cess to their great bush- clad hills for en­duro rac­ing. But over­all, ac­cess to forests for any kind of mo­tor­sport is slowly be­com­ing just too hard for or­gan­is­ers. That seems likely to drive the sport out onto the farms – like Waikato’s Raglan course – or at best onto mixed for­mat tracks like the old Wild 300 in the Bay of Plenty. I reckon if you like for­est rac­ing you should make a point of hav­ing a crack at the Wood­hill or the 1000 sooner rather than later. Mean­while, our new Pres­i­dent is mak­ing noises about get­ting out there too. Palmer­ston North has been a hive of ac­tiv­ity in re­cent years as fa­ther, son and daugh­ter race team Martin, Wil­liam and Sa­man­tha van der Wal carve out a slice of truck class ac­tion.

Truck­ing along

Be­tween them they have pro­duced five race trucks, while the club it­self has one of the higher ra­tios of race ve­hi­cles per head in the coun­try: Grant ‘ Rowdy’ Rosen­berg, Peter Hogg and Ivan Booth are all ac­tive in truck and race car classes. Martin’s lat­est truck is about to surge out of the man-cave un­der its own steam. It’s a class eight – ev­ery­body loves the un­lim­ited ‘mad pro­fes­sor’ truck class – and is based on a mod­i­fied ProLite chas­sis. Longer wheel­base, wider track and more sus­pen­sion travel all help cope with the power of a fuel in­jected LS 6.0- litre Gen 4 en­gine, al­though Martin’s not telling us any num­bers just yet. The torque will be im­pres­sive though, and re­tain­ing fuel in­jec­tion means it will give super smooth lin­ear grunt all the way to the higher rev range – not that you re­ally need to wring its neck. The great thing about en­gines like these is you don’t have to pun­ish them to be rip­ping up the road.

A huge help

Martin says War­ren Adams at 4WD Bits has been a huge help sourc­ing the right com­po­nents for the new truck, which has yet to ac­quire a name. It runs FOA by­pass shock ab­sorbers, Trail Gear power steer­ing and bead­lock rims, and that big Chev en­gine is man­aged by a Link ECU, set up on the dyno by Keith Ste­wart. The en­gine is fed from a 160 litre JRC fuel cell. The grunt runs through ev­ery racer’s favourite trans­mis­sion, a Turbo 400 auto, then to a Nis­san Pa­trol diff. The new truck will be clad in Toy­ota Tun­dra pan­els made in- house. Martin reck­ons it has taken around 700 hours to fin­ish. He says the build is high spec where it counts – but he’s built the truck to a bud­get ‘ to keep the fun fac­tor alive’. Those Palmie boys know how to do that!

ORANZ Pres­i­dent Martin van der Wal’s new Class 8 truck.

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