California Sprintcar racer Jonathan Allard has created a front-running New Zealand speedway opportunity from the uncertainty of Covid-19 international travel restrictions.
A regular on the New Zealand speedway scene since 2006, Allard and his Kiwi wife and family have typically split their life between California and Auckland summers.
But this year Allard spent his first full winter in New Zealand. And that decision means Kiwi speedway fans will get to see at least one top-line American racer in Sprintcar action as Covid-19 quarantine requirements put a question mark alongside the usual summer influx of US dirt track talent.
Allard has teamed up with the Matamata-based Daltons team for a summer sprintcar campaign starting this Saturday night at Western Springs Speedway in Auckland.
And it also means a return to Mt Maunganui’s Baypark Speedway where Allard raced to New Zealand Sprintcar Championship success in 2011 and again in 2016.
“We decided not to go back to California this year, not knowing if we would be able to come back again,’’ said Allard.
“Races were being cancelled in California and it was getting hard to put a deal together up there.
“So we stayed here in New Zealand. In some ways not being able to go back to California has turned into an opportunity and a blessing.’’
Allard becomes the fourth US racer to drive a sprintcar in the Daltons colours.
“I have raced for some great family teams in the US and Daltons is also a family-based racing operation,’’ said Allard.
“Over the years I have raced against the Daltons team and we have built up a unique friendship.
“Peter Murphy, who was the first international driver for Daltons, is a great friend of mine and now I’m looking forward to carrying the Daltons name and representing their team working around New Zealand.
“I’m also really excited to race for the championship at Baypark. But there are many things to be excited about and our main focus is to compete up front again and to enjoy the racing and the fans.
“New Zealand has very dedicated race fans and a short season so everything is very focused. Having an American out there will give them someone to root for or root against.’’
Allard is expecting plenty of competition and says New Zealand Sprintcar racing has developed since his first visit here in 2006.
“There was always a core group of good racers but now there is a really strong mix of older guys and young talent. I’m ready for some tough racing.’’
Jonathan Allard’s campaign in the Daltons Sprintcar starts on Saturday November 7 at Auckland’s Western Springs Speedway. The 51st New Zealand Sprintcar Championship will be raced at Baypark Speedway on January 8-9 2021.