Cromwell’s Central Motor Speedway is set to roar this Sunday, in a race meeting to honour the speedway’s founder, Ron Spriggs.
The Ron Spriggs Memorial is set to bring heart-stopping action from experienced drivers, locals and new talent.
Spriggs showed the power of what one person could achieve,
In the 1970s, Spriggs, a passionate speedway advocate and race driver, and his partner, Valerie, decided Central Otago needed a speedway.
In Cromwell, he found a natural amphitheatre ideal for a speedway track, and there was room for a house.
He named his dream track “Golden Central Speedway”. The couple funded the track themselves, a move that almost broke them financially.
The opening race meet in December 1980 was an event for all the wrong reasons.
With cars backed up well into the Kawarau Gorge, all coming to the new speedway, a howling gale began to blow.
The winds created dust storms and blew over the portable toilets, including one with a man still inside.
It was not the ideal opening Spriggs had planned.
Spriggs drove his famous “Kertisy Kar”, a topless, white Plymouth Savoy, between Invercargill and Cromwell to promote the track.
It was not just about racing each meeting was a show.
At one, a Volkswagen car was dropped from a helicopter into the middle of the track. The crowd roared with excitement.
At another, a Peugeot 404 was driven through a burning bus.
Spriggs ran Golden Central Speedway for 11 years before he became ill. He attended his last speedway meeting in Cromwell at the Christmas/New Year meeting of 1995-96, and died in March 1996.
This Sunday, the Ron Spriggs Memorial will showcase his tenacity and passion for racing.
New drivers such as 13-year-old Meah Sommerville will carry on his family ethos, while more experienced drivers will provide an exciting show with all the thrills and spills that is speedway.
Gates open at noon. Racing starts at 2pm.