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Speedway: Waikato Golden Oldies club keeps stock car history alive

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The Waikato Golden Oldies are keeping Speedway history alive.

A group of seasoned Waikato Speedway enthusiasts is on a mission to preserve a piece of stockcar history.

The Waikato Golden Oldies is one of only three clubs in New Zealand dedicated to keeping Speedway cars built before the year 1985 in their dirt track habitat.

“We are a group of … ex-drivers… most of us raced in [our] youth and we like to show off the old cars from back in the day,” Waikato Golden Oldies club president Peter Andrew said.rt.

“We are a group of … ex-drivers … most of us raced in [our] youth, and we like to show off the old cars from back in the day,” Waikato Golden Oldies club president Peter Andrew said.

The main difference between the modern Speedway cars and the golden oldies is the body: modern Speedway cars are made of fiberglass, but between the 1960s and 80s they were made of steel.

“The modern cars are very light, but our cars weigh an average of 1.5 tonnes, so they are quite heavy.”

Andrew said the modern Speedway cars were “way faster”, but the olden oldies would also regularly go for a hoon around the Huntly, Rotorua, Gisborne, Kihikihi and Palmerston North tracks.

“Speedway New Zealand made a class just for us. It’s not about competition, but the sheer enjoyment of being out on the track doing it.

“We like to show [people] how [the cars] used to be … There are a lot of people that point at some of our cars and say, ‘I remember that car, I used to watch it when I was a kid’.”

He said the golden oldies wouldn’t participate in serious racing anymore.

The car that carries the number H1 belongs to Peter Andrew and was built in 1969.
The car that carries the number H1 belongs to Peter Andrew and was built in 1969.

“We call it demonstrating the cars at race pace.

“I’d guess we do between 70 and 80 km/h … It would take a modern [Speedway] car roughly 17 seconds to do one lap; we’re taking 20 seconds. It doesn’t sound like much difference, but those three seconds are a long time on an oval track.”

Andrew said there were currently around 60 “historic” Speedway cars left in New Zealand. 16 of those were part of the Waikato club. The other two “oldies” clubs are based in Palmerston North and Blenheim.

The Waikato club was formed in 2008 by a few ex-forest lake Speedway legends, including Barry Featherstone, Frank Van Ver Hoven, Trevor Peters and Paul Wade.

Waikato Golden Oldies president Andrew's H1 on the Waikaraka Park Speedway circa 1978.
Waikato Golden Oldies president Andrew’s H1 on the Waikaraka Park Speedway circa 1978.

Andrew became involved with the club in 2016, but he said he was interested in Speedway racing way before that.

“I played rugby for a long time. When I stopped, I was looking for [a sport] that was still physical, but not as physical as rugby.

“I was given the opportunity to drive a stock car and that gave me the bug. The guy who owned the car, Alan Wade, had three cars but he couldn’t drive all three, so I got into it. But once you’re in it, you’re in it for life.”

Now, Andrew owns the first stockcar he ever drove: it carries the number H1 and was built in 1969 by Speedway champion Kevin Free. He also owns a classic stock car he restored which carries the number 89G.

The cars will be at a special “meet the guys and see the cars” event, hosted by the Waikato Golden Oldies on Saturday, May 5 from 8.30am at Hamilton’s Jukebox Diner, 11 Railside Pl, off Rifle Range Rd.

Andrew said the club was welcoming new members.

“We have around 30 members, but some of them don’t have cars … The club has a few rules … the drivers must be over 40 years old and the cars must be as original as possible, [with] flat chassis and steel bodies.”

Danielle Zollickhofer is a multimedia journalist and assistant news director at the Waikato Herald. She joined NZME in 2021 and is based in Hamilton.

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