As we drag our way through the year in a haze of frustratio­n and boredom, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the occasional ray of sunshine. The real thing was plentiful during lockdown, though the news we are not racing again at the top level till next year was a bit of a blow.

Having won at the northern championsh­ip opener, would that make Carl Ruiterman northern and even overall champion?

I know circuit racing, rallying, karting and hillclimbi­ng are all gearing up to return to action right now. Maybe we should be a bit more pro-active too. There are literally millions of dollars of race cars and trucks sitting in sheds, all shiny and ready to go.

That includes the Giti Chev, still wearing a fine coat of dust from climbing Hayden Paddon’s hill. Owen and I very much enjoyed that hillclimb, as I may have mentioned before. We’ll be back for the next one, and will do some demo runs at Ashley Forest if invited. Might even look for some similar MSNZ events.

The worst thing you can do is sit for half a year not doing any competitio­n, and every time I rub shoulders with the rally or rallysprin­t crowd they are always very keen to know about the sport.

For those who find the wait too much to bear, I prescribe a good dose of alternativ­e motorsport. Most of our vehicles also pass a MotorSport NZ scrutineer­ing – or can with a couple of tweaks. That opens up a whole world of dual sprints and hillclimbs and such. Just note: actual rallies are more difficult as your vehicle would have to have a low volume vehicle cert and WoF and rego. Not really worth the bother and expense, though that is what Glen Raymond has gone for with his lovely bright orange Bowler TVR.

The rumour mill!

In the meantime there’s a bit of gossip…er, actually, news. Neville Smith at Cougar has a new product about to debut, and I hear it is a work of art. As Neville’s race vehicles always are.

Out at Waiuku, Leigh and Michelle Bishop have been busy. Son Matthew was second in class in the Kiwitrucks last year, but has outgrown the category so will switch up to a stunningly prepared class seven. That puts his Concrete Treatments Kiwitruck up for sale, and intending youth racers could do no better than arm-twist mum and dad into bankrollin­g them into that for a championsh­ip drive. For Matthew, the class seven is an interim step on the way to a UTV drive. That in turn is only a step toward what he actually wants to do – drive a full-sized class eight.

Funnily enough, the rumour mill runs hot in south Auckland and also over in Taranaki, where a certain bright yellow class eight truck has disappeare­d mysterious­ly from its shed.

All will be revealed in good time. Or actually, all has just been revealed. All good family fun. The only one not in a race car may well be daughter Gemma, who has a full-on obsession with equestrian competitio­n at the moment. Never mind, Gemma, there’s still time.

High jinks (literally)

So to give people offroad racing stuff to read, we reckon some people stories, some vehicle profiles, some tales from the recent and dark past might go well.

Like the time up north when Mike Parkes was raising hell at the prizegivin­g ‘do’ after the Whangarei nationals. These were legendary enough, with people galloping through the halls of their accommodat­ion in the wee small house with huge catering-pack bottles of spirits, or jumping on other drivers’ backs to drag their hands in the ‘popcorn’ ceiling applique – “look, it’s snowing”.

Somebody MAY have got out before Mike from their motel, seen his mighty American ute (sorry, pickup, and I think it was a big Chevy) with his truck on behind and decided to back-jack it. Mike was so proud of his pickup, couldn’t stop going on and on about it. So anyway, ‘someone’ got the thing up in the air, then a couple of pieces of rock were rolled over from the garden and placed under the axle tubes so that when the trolley jack was lowered, the tyres were about five mm off the ground but looked like nothing was wrong.

Out comes Mr Parkes, somewhat the worse for wear, gets a bit of razzing from the boys and jumps in the Chev. Fires it up, nattering to the boys. Pulls the selector down to reverse, nattering to the boys. Says ‘see ya’ and accelerate­s backwards – only he goes nowhere. “That’s weird,” he says. “Must be the heavy trailer causing some slippage.

“I’ll stick it in four-wheel drive, that’ll sort it.” Only it doesn’t. And that was when Mike discovered : 1) that he’d been backjacked and 2) that the pickup’s front diff was a bit empty. Much hilarity ensued.

 ??  ?? NZ4WD columnist Bryan Chang putting theory into practise in the Giti Chev…
NZ4WD columnist Bryan Chang putting theory into practise in the Giti Chev…

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