The Superstock Charity Invitational event at Paradise Valley Speedway in Rotorua raised $120,000 for charity, with half going to Starship Children’s Hospital and the rest to Ronald McDonald House.
Steve Williams, best known for his time as Tiger Woods’s caddy, was behind the event through his Steve Williams Foundation, with 70 of the country’s best Superstock drivers on hand to compete for a $10,000 prize.
Also featured were 12 New Zealand motorsport celebrities who traded their usual wheels for a Superstock, with names in the field including Hayden Paddon, Williams, Chris van der Drift, Supercars stars Ryan Wood, Andre Heimgartner, Richie Stanaway and Greg Murphy, as well as drifting talents Fanga Dan, Darren Kelly and Cole Armstrong, amoung others.
The celebrities took to the dirt for a series of practice sessions on Friday, where there were spins aplenty.
Armstrong pulled clear in Saturday’s opener, dominating proceedings for a comfortable 3-second win. Stanaway overcame a spirited Chris van der Drift to finish second, leaving the 2023 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia champion to round out the podium 0.35 seconds ahead of Murphy.
Stanaway went one better in Heat 2, pulling away for a victory over Aaron Slight and setting a best lap of 16.706 seconds, which fits in amongst the fastest full-time competitors. Kelly rounded out the podium ahead of Heimgartner. Murphy and Hughes were amoung those to run into issues during the race, finishing laps off the pace, while van der Drift was forced to the infield on Lap 3.
Wood was a dominant victor in Heat 3, pulling away from the field off the front of the grid for a 5.554-second victory over Stanaway, who managed a last-lap pass on Heimgartner to claim event honours. Van der Drift recovered from his Heat 2 DNF to finish 4th, ahead of Slight and Paddon.
The Supercars trio of Stanaway, Wood and Heimgartner completed the overall podium after three races, with the former building an impressive 8-point gap over the field. Slight and Kelly were tied in fourth, one point behind Heimgartner, with Armstrong sixth, Paddon seventh and Murphy eighth.
Two-time defending New Zealand Superstock champion Asher Rees won the Superstock Invitational, holding off a late Zane Dykstra challenge to take the $10,000 cheque by four points. Kenneth Hunter completed the podium.
Scott Tennant, the runner-up in the 2022/23 New Zealand Stockcar Champs, was the man to beat across six Stockcar “Best of the Best” heats, coming home seven points ahead of 151C Wade Sweeting.
Flynn Ashton won the Ministock Challenge, proving consistency was key and taking the win over 44G Corbyn Wilson by 3 points. Wilson had charged to impressive wins in the opening two heats but finished ninth in Heat 3, starting near the rear of the field.
The second tier of Superstocks, featuring those who hadn’t qualified for the main Superstock field, saw 10G Peter Rees, the father of Asher Rees, and 66A Randal Tarrant finish tied on points. A run-off was called for but not run, given Rees had sat out the final heat and had begun packing up for the night.
Starship Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House leave the event as the big winners, with all proceeds from the meet, including gate sales, streaming purchases and even food vendor sales, going towards the charities.