Last night Western Springs Speedway held it’s annual Barry Butterworth Memorial. A race meeting honouring one of New Zealand’s legendary Speedway figures. One of the unique aspects of this race meeting is the fastest from the back format.
The previous Butterworth winner from each class will start dead last in their respective feature race. Last place select’s the car to start beside them with that driver intern selecting the following driver to start ahead and so forth.
Fastest off the back was the regular format in Butterworth’s day and has turned into one of the most entertaining nights each season at Western Springs.
With large numbers of TQ’s in Christchurch for their National title the small field on hand held three heat races where points were accumulated and at the end of the three events Danny Keene’s 9th to 1st, 3rd to 1st and 2nd from 2nd we’re enough to win the event over Kaleb Currie who won the third heat. Christopher Lane, Tim Ferguson and Daryl Hanlon also in the top five and points.
In the F2 Midgets the heat race wins went to Mike Driver, Ben Cometti, Eric Smith and Aaron Hodgson winning from grid 8.
Fresh from winning the F2 championship the previous meeting Hodgson starting last selected Cometti to start alongside him in the back row. Cometti chose Corbin Anderson who chose Nathan Howard.
When the 20 Lap race began a brother-in-law front row pairing both had starts deemed uneven by race officials. First time called back for Brad McCutcheon’s jumpstart then Brad Robertson jump start allowed to continue but was relegated out of the lead and back to 3rd during a lap 11 caution where Howard’s car came to a stop.
When the race resumed all hell broke loose. As the 20 car field rolled around to receive the green lights the yellow lights momentarily showed before becoming green which threw the start sequence off for an already cautious front row.
This coupled by the pole sitter losing power created havoc.
This extreme concertina effect caused midfield carnage as the bright yellow Yale sponsored car driven by Brett Morris Jr cartwheeled past its matching wall signage sending the surrounding cars into one another in avoidance.
Morris’s motor, revealed through mangled panels, half torn from the vehicle. Seven cars were involved with 3 receiving restarts.
The race proceeded and younger brother of Ben, Sam Cometti, found himself in the lead but was soon passed by experienced F2 driver Steven Wilson and Robertson.
The older half of the Matthews brothers Joshua got round Sam Cometti for 3rd with a lap to go and Hodgson from the rear grid had made it passed Cometti also to finish 4th and challenge for third in the final corner but fell just short.
Wilson holding off Robertson to win with Matthews third.
In the Sprintcar division defending Butterworth winner Pickens picked Daniel Eggleton who in turn picked Kerry Brocas who selected Jamie McDonald to occupy the final two rows.
Former TQ and F2 driver Brad Curtain lead the opening laps followed by Paul Sands and Rob Vazey.
With 21 laps to go Pickens and McDonald took evasive action for Dean Shadbolt who had just made contact with the wall. The result Pickens spinning to the infield and continuing on with McDonald left stranded on the pole line.
Both Pickens and McDonald returning to 9th and 10th spots respectively for the two wide restart.
At the restart McDonald took off and use the highline to perfection and within several laps found himself in the leading with fellow backmarker Pickens 5th.
Daniel Rogers now in 2nd chased down McDonald until the gap widened in lap traffic.
This drew Rogers into James Dahm’s reach and as the two drivers race lines converged upon encountering a lap car both Rogers and Dahm’s cars came together resulting in both vehicles damaged and unable to continue.
With the back starting row having advanced to the front row with 7 laps to remaining McDonald won the restart and led the final laps to win ahead of Pickens and Eggleton in third place. Brocas and Curtin also in the top five.
The premier event of the evening was the 40 lap Barry Butterworth Memorial Midget Car Feature where Pickens as current champion chose Brad Mosen who selected Shayne Alach who intern picked American Zach Daum who chose former Butterworth winner Brock Maskovich to start from grid 16 of the 20 car field.
Veteran midget driver and BSL crew chief Calvin Worthington, relief driving for an absent Travis Buckley, led the opening laps ahead of David Pellow, Joe Malone, Caleb Antonio-Rooney and Brad Hollier in fifth.
As the faster cars at the rear began to make their way through the midfield the battle up front saw Antonio-Rooney climb has way to the lead and Maskovich moving to 4th with Hayden Williams and Pickens in toe.
With 27 laps to go Maskovich took the lead on a restart and was chased by Jayden Worthington as Antonio-Rooney dropped back to fifth as Pickens and William’s also passed.
As the race continued Pickens got passed Worthington then Maskovich and into the front.
Maskovich maintained a comfortable second for a while until Zach Daum worked his way in to third position and set about challenging Maskovich for second.
Late race slide jobs made for an entertaining battle for second place however neither was able to challenge Pickens who went on to defend his Butterworth memorial title with Maskovich second and Daum third. Williams, Hayden Guptill, Alach, Jayden Worthington, Chris McCutcheon, Antonio-Rooney and James Earl finished in the top 10.
If you missed the action the full nights racing can be found on www.speedshifttv.com