North plans top show for fans
Paddy North doesn't get many chances to race at Eastern States Speedway, so tomorrow night he is looking to put on a high-speed show.
Not only is the Blenheim driver hoping to improve on his third position entering the fourth and penultimate round of the Elf Super Cup South Island Super Saloon Series, but he also hopes to put on a show for his hometown fans.
As the only super saloon contracted to Eastern States, North's stunning red Monaro, which he has cranked up to 750 horsepower this season, is an infrequent starter on his home track, meaning added pressure when he does race.
"I'm always a bit nervous when it comes to racing here," North said. "I'm always concerned about putting on a show for the fans, so I don't want to end up in the wall or the infield after the first corner."
In an incident-packed but successful 2009 season, North finished second in the North Island championships, third in the Weldwell SSCAR Super Saloon Series and third at the Canterbury championships. This year, he has put together another strong campaign, although podium positions haven't been as common.
He repeated his third in the Canterbury championships, placed fourth at the South Island championships and fifth at the recent New Zealand Grand Prix in Dunedin. He was unable to repeat his podium finish at the New Zealand championships after a controversial stewards decision caused him to miss the finals.
"I'm pretty pleased overall. We have been very good all season and very competitive with all the best guys in the South Island. Any meeting you go to there are 10 guys who can win it."
After the grand prix, North tasted success in the inaugural New Zealand Super Saloon Team Championship. The Lovelady All Stars Blenheim team, which also featured Blenheim-born Josh Boulton, his father, Bruce, and Brent Emerson, took the title.
Racing as part of a team was a new experience for North and in the 20-car final, he found himself in the unusual position of running as a blocker for his team-mates, without being allowed to hit the other cars in the non-contact class.
Consistent performances have been his key in the Elf series, as he has concentrated on ensuring he finishes all the races.
But he will have to be on his toes in tomorrow night's fourth round at Eastern States and Saturday's fifth and final outing in Nelson if he is to move up the standings.
Canterbury's Richie Taylor has a commanding lead from Josh Boulton, but North said he would be right back in contention with a single slip-up from the leaders.
"It's the top 16 cars in the South Island, so anyone out there can take it out.
"One small mistake like getting pushed up high, and three cars will go straight past you." v Fans can get a sneak peak at some of the cars that will compete tomorrow night.
North's Monaro, along with the cars and truck and trailer units of the Boulton team and John Lovelady, will be on display at Blenheim Railway Station car park from 10am to 2pm tomorrow.
The drivers will be available to answer questions, while there will be a barbecue and giveaways.
Racing gets under way at Eastern States from 7pm, with gates open from 5pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for members, students and pensioners, $2 for children aged five to 12, and children under five free. A family pass costs $25.
By DAVID DAWKINS - The Marlborough Express
25 March 2010