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Welcome to Oceanview Speedway
History Print E-mail

Wanganui Stockcar & Speedway Club Incorporated

A New Track

The roots of Ocean View Speedway were formed back in 1971 when Roy Eaton and Paul Carrick hatched the idea to develop a stockcar track at Landguard Bluff, adjacent to Wanganui Airport and overlooking the Wanganui River and Tasman Sea - hence the name Ocean View Speedway.  Eaton had raced successfully in Palmerston North since 1963, being a member of the Palmerston North Panthers in his Valiant powered stockcar with the cut -down Jowett Javelin body. Carrick had also previously raced stockcars but had long given away competitive driving.  The work on developing the track was completed by a local contractor with the help of the Wanganui Stockcar Club and other keen competitors.  Estimates of the cost to build the track seem to have settled in the region of $20,000.00.  People like Warwick Sisson were co-opted to grade the track and Charlie Berntsen helped build the toilet block.  The biggest problem in the early development was the weather - being too hot for the grass to take properly resulting in a bare, dusty terraced surrounds and a dusty track.  But with all the work completed Ocean View Speedway was ready to run under the banner of Ocean View Speedway Ltd promotion under the control of Eaton and Carrick.

The 1st Meeting

Sunday 29th October 1972 saw the running of the first meeting of the Ocean View Speedway.  Roy Eaton took responsibility as Clerk of the Course while his father was Chief Car Scrutineer.  Other prominent names amongst the officials list were Bruce Perkins, Neil McDowell.  Ted Matthews, Warren Thomas and John Carrick.  As as was the case in those days Stockcars ruled the roost with 6 races run at the first meeting.  The first ever race run at Ocean View was taken out by the great "Big Bad" Charlie Berntsen.  Other wins on that historic day were taken out by Norm Richardson with 2, Kevin Free, Bruce Robertson and Mick Murray - all well known names of the day.  Most of the cars were Wanganui, Palmerston North or Stratford based but Kevin Free had come through from Hamilton and Des St Claire and Ben Robinson made the trip up from Wellington.  Other prominent names of the era competing were Ian Davidson, Brian Philp, Barry Sommerville, Dave Hooper, Russell Coxhead, Ron Tyers, Peter Hetterley, John Burfod, Warwick Sisson and Phil Ridland amongst others.  And so Ocean View Speedway was born.

That 1st Season

After an initial rush of crowd numbers the support slowly dwindled as the golden weather continued that summer with the sweltering temperatures driving people to the beach instead.  Keeping the track moist in such conditions produced headaches of their own but the promoters persisted.  Wanganui soon developed a reputation as the place to visit with some of the best drivers from the Central League area turning up to support the promoters.  That early season was dominated by the high profile Palmerston North Panthers line-up of Bruce Robertson, Charlie Berntsen and Peter Hetterley in the points stakes with support from Jack Noaro and Warwick Sisson.  But Wanganui held its own with the likes of the experienced Dave Hooper prominent supported by veterans Ian Davidson, Allan Pryce and Mick Murray.  One new name that emerged through the season was Jim Rison.  But some of the great names of the era made their way to this new track with the likes of Alan Jago, John Adamson, Albert Gordge, Barry Sommerville, Barry McKenzie, Bernie Hamley, Arthur Roper, Wilbur Chiles, Gil Mallia and John Hanright names that jump out of the pages of early pogrammes.

The 1st Wanganui Warriors - 1973/74

While the 2nd season brought the introudction of the Solos and an increase in local registered Stockcars to 25 plus, the big news for the new season was the formation of the first Wanganui Warriors Stockcar Team.  Now  Wanganui registered, Charlie Berntsen became the 1st Captain of the newly formed Warriors with the famous no.22 powered by the faithful Hemi Valiant.  The hugely experienced Allan Pryce had made a return to racing in1972/73 and turned out for the new season in the no.49 of John Brotherston - a Valiant powered beast apparently costing $3,000.00 to put together.  Pryce was a former New Zealand Stockcar Champion back in 1964 and had finished 3rd in 1965, having also had success on 2 wheels being a competent moto cross rider.  The then Mayor's son, Ormy Andrews was the 3rd member of the team at the controls of the ex-John Hanright Valiant powered car.  The youngest member of the team at only 21 was newcomer Jim Rison who had been the top local points scorer in that 1st season.  Rison had been mechanic for driver Ted Matthews and built a new car for the 1973/74 season based on a Valiant motor with a vintage Essex coupe body draped over the roll cage.  And the 5th member of that initial line-up was Ian Davidson who also peddled a Valiant powered car but with a distincitve Renault Dauphine body.  Having previously raced in Palmerston North Davidson added some extra experience to that initial line-up.  Results from that 1st season are a little sketchy but a loss against Wellington Wildcats by 45-30 was not too bad considering the Wellington line-up - Gil Mallia, Wilbur Chiles, Ron Hill, Clive Elliot and Max Price. 

The 1970's

The momentum built from those early days was boosted by the 1976/77 season when Palmerston North did not run Stockcars, meaning many Palmerston North based drivers shifted to Wanganui.  Earlier Adrian Flett had distinguished himself by winning the 1974/75 North Island Champs and won the Manawatu Champs in 1977/78.  And in 1979 16v Keith Turner came to prominence winning the New Zealand Stockcar title in Palmerston North beating the luckless Barry Featherstone in a run-off.  The Wanganui Warriors were becoming a force with the likes of Flett, Turner, Bob Smith and Evan Mooney in the team.  George Duncan replaced Flett in 1979 when the Warriors beat the Panthers in Palmerston North for the first time.  The late 70's saw an increase in car numbers with Bob Smith and Keith Turner fronting in new Lindsay Willis chassis cars.  The Warriors drew with the Panthers at Palmerston North and beat Wellington Wildcats at home before losing to the Panthers in the return match. 

The 1980's

Early in the 1980's Bill Dorn was installed as promoter at Wanganui.  This coincided witha real golden era at Wanganui with the Warriors beating Palmerston North 3 times but amazingly losing the final to the Panthers B Team at the inaurgural Stockcar Teams Champs.  Dennis Berry replaced Dorn as promoter in 1981/82 bringing with him Ian Easton in the stainless-steeled body Gurney Eagle and Tony McLanachan.  Wanganui also hosted the New Zealand Champs that season and thanks to Evan Mooney dealing to Dave Evans, Charlie Berntsen amazingly claimed the New Zealand title in the odd looking 432v car.  Success eluded them at the Stockcar Teams Champs again, losing to the Panthers in the final but the line-up of Evan Mooney, George Duncan, Bob Smith, Tony McLanachan and Ian Easton was one to make the mouth water for the purists.  Through the remainder of the 80's the club had its ups and downs as some of the established drivers drifted away and newcomers took their place,  The 1986 Teams Champs saw the Warriors get to the final against Rotorua but once again they came away empty handed with the likes of Dennis Welsh in the ex-Berntsen car, Bob Smith, George Duncan, Jimmy Baxter and David Gledhill to the fore,  By the end of the 80's new faces were emerging such as Mike Johnston and Kerry Podjursky to join forces with Jimmy Baxter and George Duncan to take the club into the 90's.

The 1990's

The early 1990's saw the appearance of Adrian Barnes, Noel Kensington and Kerry O'Connor joining Gledhill, Johnston and Podjursky in carrying the Warriors banner.  Pickings were lean but the return of the New Zealand Champs in 1994/95 saw an influx of cars to Wanganui.  Going into the last heat of the finals 78v Mike Johnston was the last of the Wanganui cars in with a shot but thanks to some blocking by Rotorua's Jeff Mohi in the last heat, Johnston had to bow by 1 point to Rotorua's Lyall Rumney.  Kerry O'Connor then took up the flag in the ex Paul Urlich car to win the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1995/96 and run 4th at the all Wellington dominated New Zealand Champs.  In 1996/97 O'Connor was virtually the only car competing on the national stage although Daryl Taylor emerged to drive Mike Johnston's car to 2nd place at the New Zealand Grand Prix.  1998 was the last season that the Warriors appeared with George Duncan returning to lead Noel Kensington, Daryl Taylor, Ashley McKenzie and Richard Watkins in Standard Stock.  By the end of the 90's the club fortunes had dipped with virtually no A Grade Stockcars and spectator numbers falling away.

It was during the 90's that Wanganui introduced the Ministock class to speedway nationally.  A low budget class running 1200cc motors, it has grown rapidly throughout the country where it is used as an iintroduction class for the 12-16 year olds.

The 2000's to date

Slowly the club has re-emerged on the national Stockcar scene during this decade, started by Richard Watkins as virtually playing a sole hand on the national scene.  His purchase of the ex-Steve O'Dyer machine saw interest slowly creep up to the point that the Warriors appeared for the 1st time this century in their yellow bodied cars at Palmerston North Teams Champs in 2004.  A team Richard Watkins, Rick Campbell, Morris Doyle, Kerry Podjursky and Steve Guilford rolled out of the gates at Palmerston North to fill long time supporters with pride, making it as far as the semis in their first year back.  With the emergence of Daryl Taylor and Aaron Littlefair amongst others to the ranks of the now Superstocks the future looks good at Ocean View as a sound base of cars is built back up.

Wanganui Vulcans Stockcar Team took on a new look under the management of David Bullôt and Shaun Smith at the start of 2006/2007 looking really professional in their new Team bodies.  A great season, albeit just being pipped qualifiying at the NZ Stockcar Teams Champs in Wellington in January 2007. Gerry Linklater went on to win the NZ Stockcar Championships in Auckland in February 2007 and carries 1NZV for the 2007/2008 season.  

 

 
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