Young Californian racing talent Michael `Buddy’ Kofoid had to beat the weather, a challenging track and New Zealand’s most successful racer to claim a Thursday night victory at Baypark Speedway’s international Midget Car feature.
Kofoid led from start to finish in the 30-lapper leading home 10-time New Zealand champion Michael Pickens who had to start deep in the pack and race his way towards the front.
The California racer also gains a slice of redemption from last night’s win after leading the same race last summer but finishing third after tagging the wall and damaging the front suspension of his car.
Kofoid knew Pickens would emerge as a threat because multiple early race cautions prevented him from building a clear lead.
“I couldn’t really see the big screen, but I could hear them [officials] calling his number on the radio,” said Kofoid.
“I kept doing what I was doing and dodging all the ruts. I’m happy they got it [the race] in. The track turned out better than I thought it was going to be, and I appreciate everyone at Baypark for putting the work in.”
Pickens raced forward using a spectacular outside line that he described as “fast but edgy”.
He reached second place on lap 18 but didn’t get the chance to pressure Kofoid.
“I ran out of tear-offs, and the motor started to lay over late in the race, so then I couldn’t run the outside line,” said Pickens.
Young Te Awamutu racer Mitch Fabish qualified third and threatened Kofoid on several of the early restarts to continue his strong start to the international season with a third-place finish ahead of Brock Maskovich and Peter Hunnibell.
A huge field lined up for the Hokey Ashby Memorial Super Stock event. The final featured 40 starters and was led early on by NZ champ Asher Rees before his brother Ethan took over the lead.
The big mover in the pack was Palmerston North’s Jack Miers, driving a car loaned by Huntly racer Thomas Slater.
Miers started back on the third row of the three-wide grid and drove his way to the front in the drizzle and increasingly greasy conditions to pass Ethan Rees on the final lap. Baypark racer Todd Hemingway completed the podium with Peter Rees in fourth and Waihi’s Ross Ashby finished fifth in the race held in honour of his father.
Racers and fans were fortunate to enjoy the holiday season event during a short window of fine weather on Thursday afternoon and evening. Heavy rain the previous night affected track conditions, and the drizzle returned near the end of the evening and led to the Sprint Car feature being cancelled.
The sprint car heat race winners were Ayrton Hodson, Ryan O’Connor and Rodney Wood.
The international Midget Car action continues at Baypark Speedway next Wednesday night (Jan 3) with the running of the annual Bay 51 feature race, which pays $5000 to win.