Town revved up for race action

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Gone are the days of wallaby pies in Waimate. They have been replaced by a much faster, stronger and cooler import — motor racing.
Today marks the final weekend of this year’s Waimate 50 for which racers have come from all over the country to vie for points in the six­day event.
Organisers were expecting 110 competitors to converge on the South Canterbury town to take part in race events such as tomorrow’s McKeown Petroleum Street Attack, McKeown Petroleum North versus South Drift Battle and Sunday’s Ellis­Lea Farms Invitation.
Last weekend’s race event winner was Christchurch’s Matt Summerfield, who beat Timaru’s Darren Galbraith (second) and Scott Jones, from Pleasant Point (third).
Waimate 50 chairman Rob Aikman said preparation for the final races was going to plan and he was hoping for good weather to finish off the motorsport festival.
This was the first year the Waimate 50 was broken into two weekends, he said.
‘‘It’s a new format. Obviously it takes a lot of manpower. We used to do everything in one weekend and that became quite hard so we split it up over two weekends. We can manage it a bit better and focus on one thing at a time rather than double up resources.’’
Last weekend a downhill segment, the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group Bentsprint, was held to the south of Waimate township for the first time.
‘‘Everyone had their apprehension about going down and so did we, but it worked. It wasn’t as scary as everyone thought it would be.’’
Mr Aikman said the festival had drawn crowds of 10,000 or more in the past. The tally this year would depend on the weather.
Two events he was looking forward to were the drift event on Saturday night in which drivers from the North Island and the South Island would compete against each other and on Sunday, the invitation event, in which 20 historic and classic cars would race off.
‘‘Seeing so many cars around the track harks back to the golden days of street racing.’’