The Marlborough Express
Appetite for speedway action
Marlborough speedway ace Patrick North has had a taste of international action and he wants more.

North competed in the New Zealand Super Saloon Car team that recently beat Australia on their own soil in Victoria, a series that pitted 10 Aussie cars against 10 of the best New Zealand could muster, and the New Zealanders triumphed.

He wasn't so pleased with his own results in a series which had plenty of challenges, he said.

"I didn't go great. We seemed to find the crashes. Had a brand-new car and racing on new tracks, half the size again of Easter States (in Renwick).

"Quite a bit faster than here, about 30kmh faster, and there are big sweeping corners allowing cars to retain their speed."

Racing is the fun part of speedway, but as North explained, a lot has to happen just to get a car on the track, and with the New Zealand team he had the added responsibility of being in charge of the South Island cars making it to Australia with the documentation completed. "It [competing for New Zealand] was probably the highlight of my career, but it was a big learning curve. Shipping 10 cars and all our gear; three shipping containers all up. It has to go through customs and MAF. A huge logistical exercise."

The Eastern States driver is hopeful he'll be retained in the New Zealand team for next year's challenge somewhere on home turf and he's especially excited about the potential of his car. Among his team-mates in Australia was the world's most famous golf caddie, Steve Williams, who North said has definitely got the very best of gear.

North's 720hp beast is the only Super Saloon racer in Marlborough.

The purpose-built Lovelady race car, based on a Monaro, has a new chassis and suspension but North's old running gear and gearbox in it.

He has a large purpose-built truck with Paddy North Racing painted over it, to transport the car, gear and support crew to meetings and last weekend in Blenheim and Nelson he raced it for the first time with reasonable success, finishing fourth overall at Renwick and third in Nelson as part of the five-round Elf Super Cup series.

His next race is in Nelson next weekend and in Christchurch on Boxing Day.

v A former motocross rider who still does a bit of that to help keep fit, it's not hard to understand why Super Saloon racing is such a big thrill for North. "It's a motorsport. The thrill of speed. I like the close racing and the unpredictability of the changing surface. It's usually on a Saturday night so you don't spend all weekend doing it, and the adrenaline buzz.

"It's all action. You prepare the car, drive it, fix it. It gets heated out there sometimes. It's supposed to be a non-contact sport but you get bumped around sometimes."

He has two key men in the support crew, Kevin Newton and Richie Chapman helping him with what is a big challenge to keep the car up to speed and transporting it around the various meeting venues.

Judging by the look of his car and the size of the tyres and engine, not to mention his expertise, North is going to take some beating once he gets fully attuned to the Lovelady racer.

- The Marlborough Express
10 December 2010