Driven get invited to celebrate Speedshow's 10th birthday
The showgrounds are jam packed with some of the most incredible pieces of automotive art in New Zealand, and instead of drooling all over them one by one I'm egging on friends taking on the simulators.
CRC Speedshow turned the big one-oh in 2016 — 10 years of gathering some of the coolest cars and car people in New Zealand for one big group shindig at ASB Showgrounds. And from my end, the event has morphed from what it was when I first attended it six years ago to something entirely different.
That's one of the best things about Speedshow. It can be different things to different people; and centrally it still succeeds as a overwhelming showcase of machinery for the casual motoring fan.
For me though, Speedshow has become a prime opportunity to just catch up with people in motoring. Because of its mid-year schedule, it's an event that provides numerous groups with something of a breather — where they more often than not willing let their guard down. It's a great event just for yarns with people who have nowhere to hide. You just happen to be surrounded with some beautiful cars and bikes.
I'm not saying that these metallic wonders bore me already, because they don't. Over my five odd hours of Speedshow touring I still managed to find handful of particulars that held my interest. I think I just prefer seeing them trackside, producing full-noise, doing fly-bys at 200kph and leaving those in the vicinity sweating from the eyeballs demanding more. But hey, if a show like this can inspire more people young and old to hold a similar view, then it's worth it.
Hope you're not choking on all that corn.
There were a barrage of hyper shiny new cars revealed at the event, with the Jaguar F-Pace, Bentley Bentayga, and Ford Focus RS perhaps the three heaviest hitters. The Bentayga is clearly a thing of excess, which obviously fits in well with the Bentley brand and their desire to make an SUV that's a cut above its more mainstream-flavoured running mates from Germany. But that said, I can't help but prefer the F-Pace.
The RS though takes the cake as the top production car hero of the weekend. I only wished it had a fang around the arena facility, drift mode obviously engaged and abused.
That might sound like a cop out, or a populist decision, given the amount of supercars and sports cars in attendance that would gobble up the Focus like teenagers violently searching for an escape from real life gobble up fictional animals on Pokémon Go — #topicalhumour — but, the Focus RS feels like a people's hero. An athletic superstar that you or I can imagine affording (so long as we don't google what they actually cost).
As primarily a motorsport writer, photographer, and fanboy, the racing contingent at Speedshow always interests me. The likes of Sloan Cox and 'Fanga Dan' Woolhouse populated the arena, and several other racers were scattered around the halls. In this era of domestic doom and gloom, it was nice for two of New Zealand's leading categories to make big announcements — Toyota pledging a $100,000 prize purse for their TR 86 Championship, and the D1NZ National Drift Championship announcing a popular new calendar. With so many people decrying the sport in New Zealand, it's nice to have two pieces of nice news come at once.
The heroes of the show though were the NZ Made and Memory Lane zones.
If you thought that all New Zealand has pioneered is the Buzzy Bee, Marmite, and rugby's relevance, there was a huge area laid out and bolstered by a heap of New Zealand-made cars ready to prove you wrong. Some of them were heroes in their own right, like the hand-built Britton V1000, Burt Munro's illustrious 'World's Fastest Indian', and the cute little Trekka from last week's Thursday Five.
But others quickly prompted confused and surprised reactions from attendees. Cars like the EMW 6 (which looks like a BMW that went to the gym and did squats non-stop for a year) and MX-5-based Exocet sports car.
Then a few metres away was Memory Lane. Sitting proudly in the middle, deservedly propped up on a platform to overlook the rest of the hall was the 1915 Stutz Indianapolis 500 Special. It was one of several older race cars on the stand; a friend pointing out that you know a car is old and significant ‘when you can smell it’. He wasn't wrong.
Of course, things ran far deeper than just the few cars earmarked above. Site holders spruiked to the attending masses about the latest and greatest in motoring products, lawn mowers raced Minis raced drift cars, incredibly well maintained muscle and vintage cars got polished over and over, and a jet-powered dragster was used to toast marshmallows.