The Wednesday night Bay 51 Midget Car race at Baypark Speedway is shaping up as a lucrative tie-breaker to the summer of international racing.
The 51-lap, $5000-to-win feature race brings the five nights of international racing at three Kiwi tracks to a close, with Californian star Michael `Buddy’ Kofoid and 10-time New Zealand champion Michael Pickens tied with two wins apiece so far.
Kofoid has claimed wins at Auckland’s Waikaraka Park on Boxing Night and at Baypark on December 28 with Pickens drawing level with success at Palmerston North on December 30 and on New Years’ day back at Waikaraka Park.
There are 32 entries chasing a starting spot in New Zealand’s longest Midget Car race and Kofoid is looking forward to the challenge of a longer race with a heightened focus on strategy.
“It’s going to be a long race, but we run 100 laps races back at home,” says Kofoid.
“The long races are fun as it creates a different racing dynamic, and I think it will be good for us.”
The Baypark finale is also a chance for Indiana racer Thomas Meseraull to put a result on the board after a troubled run in his New Zealand campaign.
The Bay 51 also follows a racing format more familiar to the US visitors, with time trials and dashes to set the grid for the main event.
Baypark is hosting the 51-lapper for the third time. Defending champion Brad Mosen is on the sidelines serving a 21-day suspension, but 2022 winner Hayden Williams returns driving for Shayne Alach’s team.
Other drivers to shine during the international series have been Te Awamutu’s Mitch Fabish, with a string of three podium finishes, along with Australian-based Kiwi Matt McCutcheon, who finished second behind Pickens on Monday night, and Tauranga rookie Luke McClymont, fresh from his first international podium on Monday.
Sprint Cars are lined up in force this weekend with an entry list boasting 29 cars, including current NZ champion Daniel Thomas (Hamilton) and former champions Jamie Larsen (Kapiti), Rodney Wood (Tauranga) and Jamie McDonald (Auckland).
The Open Wheel racing theme includes the second appearance of the summer for the 6 Shooters while a big field of Youth Mini Stocks also gets a chance to compete in the summer season spotlight.