New Season Starting Soon!
Different clubs had approached Southland Motorcycle Club about resurrecting the Speedway over a two (ish) year period.
June 1998 Paul Hayes, Tharan Rule, Jason Clark went to SMC meeting to make it happen.
Aiden Thwaites, Joe Hughes, Paul Hayes, Jason Clark, Jason Brown & Doug Fox had an unofficial get together and became the driving force.
Jason Clark was voted in as vice pres of SMC at the AGM and a special meeting was then held to form sub branch attended by lots of prospective members. Oretipark Speedway was now a sub branch of SMC but had to stand alone financially.
Sept 98 - track was cleared of Moto X jumps (approx 300 tonnes of dirt and sand) buried old fence and pulled old power poles out
Poker Run 5 Nov for fundraiser for cash.
First meeting (Thurs 24 Nov 1998) at Whitehouse approx 100 attended asked for interested people to join the club
Nov 98 - 100 tonne of lime carted to the track for new surface (personally paid for by members)
Were having a meeting at AMP Show (Dec 98), then when the boys turned up the AMP committee had changed their minds, so the boys went next door to a vacant paddock and raced!
Crowds came from AMP show including the hot dog stand (who made more in two hours than previous 3 days at the show)
Dec 98 - hired a grader and Allan Shuttleworth carved the track out for the boys to have a practice to go to Cromwell (South Island Solo Champs 31 Dec). Boys had it won before they got there but once arrived were very daunted. Never raced off tapes or seen that level of competitor and decided they weren't as fast as they once thought.
They had a good laugh at Mark Jamison in his pink gear and pink bike but turned out that pink went really fast!! And he was that good he could wear any colour he bloody liked. First time they had seen a lay down (everyone had one except them). Boys didn't have skid shoes.
Restoration Committee Meeting held 11 Jan 99
Jason Clark - President
Joe Hughes - Treasurer
Paul Hayes - Secretary
Then formed a Speedway Committee (called the Social Committee) at next meeting at Whitehouse 28 Jan 99
Opening deposit was $320 from poker run and funds from selling power poles and first subs were set at $60
Neil Neilson told more than one person if we got more than 6 bikes there at one time he would stand in the middle of Leet Street and pull his cock! FACT!!
Did demo at Southern Saints Motorcycle Show (23 Jan 1999) and had a display 1/2 doz solos and 1 sidecar (Meatballs Westlake).
Feb 99 Southland Machine Hire cleared and shaped the infield for drainage and levelled North Carpark. Thwaites Contracting worked on the pits.
Aug 99 the members hand painted the concrete wall
There were many practices in inappropriate places, Blues Rugby Club, down Otepuni Ave and other vacant lots became fair game. Early practices were having turn about on one bike and using stop watch as not enough bikes to race. Everyone got conned into having a go.
Before Oreti Park was restored the boys rode at Riverside Raceway but decided the track was unsuitable and wanted their own track. Even being in the pits at Riverside proved to be dangerous as Jason Brown got run over by the water truck. Bent the handlebars but otherwise turned out ok. Then snapped same handlebars in next race.
Steve Olde Olthof then come on board and said he would organise funding and offered other assistance ie legal, business (originally applied for funding of $5k, Steve changed it to $15k)
Jan 00 More lime carted started to prepare track for March. Starting gates were jointly manufactured by E-Type (thanks Mark Hosie) and Gilkison Engineering (thanks Graham Burgess)
"The Ave" was the unofficial club rooms and all important decisions and plans were hatched there.
One night all the boys were at the track standing in the control room with no floor discussing how fantastic the track was, how awesome it would be to hold a National Title and to have an OretiPark Title holder. All of these dreams have been realised and exceeded many times over!
Club members have been selected to ride in Europe, we have National Titles in all classes and age group national title holders in solo classe. Founding members Aiden and Paul both won the Burt Munro Challenge in their respective classes in 2011. Oretipark Speedway has been represented both on the World Stage and at National level.
The boys pumped out the track for the first meeting as there had been lots of rain (over to the golf course) sat all night pissing up in the van with a deck of cards, turned pumps off at 4am, all joed out and when they woke up at 6am it was all back. So on with the pumps again.
First official meeting was 04 March 2000
Paul Nixon had previously run a club day (practice day)
A4 posters plastered all over town with paste, upset couple of people!!
Meet and greet on Friday night for all the competitors (Waikiwi Tavern)
There was no gate charge but $10k prize money!!! First spectator crowd was over 2500
Riders from all over the country came, and even came out of retirement. Track was graded by Allan Shuttleworth. No spectator fence, a string topwire on warratahs, no fixed toilets (portaloos only)
Baz Fox won the meeting (sidecars) Mark Jamison (solos).
Whitehouse sponsored the inaugural meeting and had aftermatch function there on Sat night.
Donation Box collected thousands, $25 went to every rider who turned up and rest went into liquidating their assets lol.
Doug McLeod used to bring water truck in and out of town with water.
The first bikes....
Aiden bought solo after attending Ivan Mauger International Meeting (2 valve Jawa) on the decline of Oreti Park 88/89
Paul bought his mid 98 (Godden)
Tharan bought a bike from Nelson (road trip with Paul Hayes - had a practice at Kaikoura on the way home) with a spare rolling chassis loaned to Joe long term, inherited bits from others, engine borrowed and inherited off Paul Nixon.
Clarkie acquired his off John Ladbrook (2 valve Jawa)
Brownie bought a Westlake off Jaime Pocklington.
Doug bought a 4 valve twin cam Jawa.
July-Aug 2000 Gary Rule Contracting worked up spectator banks and leveled for car parking
Outer fence for car park was completed.
Crowd control fence installed by Maurice Lake.
Doug Fox sowed grass seed, 3 acres of land and grass seed for 15 acres (explains why it needs cut all the time!)
Track was prepared and grounds had big tidy up in preparation for the next meeting one year after the first meeting on 24 Mar 2001 (in the meantime bikes were lent to anyone and everyone who wanted to try to encourage more members)
South Island Solo Champs held 15 Dec 2001 (first championship meeting)
Eventually bought a grader, rebuilt the water truck (donated from Ryal Bush Truck - still used today) after many repairs and built temporary toilets.
Control Tower is a story in itself, had to be reroofed and then the roof actually blew off and was found in the motor cross track, the boys pushed it over by hand into the pit chute and lit it on fire, ably assisted by Doug Fox and an empty methanol can which blew up in spectacular fashion.
Control Tower was was then constructed and installed by club members assisted by Gilkison Engineering.
Container was organised for the generator and then an additional container for the control tower.
Became part of SNZ in 2002 and had to run more regular meetings (dispensation to run 6 instead of 10), and the rules started. No more riding in the dark or naked or under the influence!
Burt Munro meeting started in 2006 - best gate taking and raised awareness, biggest bike meeting in the country. The one to win! Flagship of the Burt Munro weekend.
SMC were going to mothball the club rooms because of the cost of running it, speedway boys got keys, used the bar (that's where the money was made), cleaned it up (and out) and suddenly it was financially viable to keep.
Car trials, netball team collecting donations before gate takings were charged, beg, borrowed and stole "stuff" to help the club. Many, many dollars came from the members own pockets to lay the foundation for the awesome Oretipark Speedway we race at today.
Many people spent a lot of hours to enhance the track.
New toilets, pits complete with concrete pads, grader shed were all done 6 years ago.
Doug Fox and Jeff Manson were the clowns in a break in a couple of earlier meetings (Honda 100's solo and sidecar) while the ambo was attending to a rider on the course. Fox jumped off sidecar into Jeff and Jeff got knocked out
First hospital injury was Brad McLeod broken and skinned fingers
Scott Meredith was first ambo to track, dislocated and broken foot. No more gumboots from then on!
When John Lyons was president in one calendar year we had 6 race meetings but 22 Committee Meetings and 1 AGM !!
Sam (Paul Hayes Boxer) was a founding member of the club, probably should have trophy for the most done and the least said lol.
Graham Russell supported the younger guys, very involved in the junior classes. Funny story... Grass track meeting held behind the Showgrounds Graham had a ride, then his son Scott had a ride and Graham said to Scott you need to give it more throttle in the corners, Scott replied at least I didn't fall off in the first corner.
98/00 Jason Clark
00/01 Doug Fox
01/03 John Lyons
03/05 Paul Hayes
05/12 Fraser Gillespie
12/14 Warren Shuttleworth
Special thanks must go to Russell Cunningham. Russell has been a part of Oreti Park from the early days. He was a fierce competitor on a sidecar, placing third in the NZ Sidecar Champs in 84 on his home track. Latterly he has been the track sponsor of Oreti Park as Russell Cunningham Properties, this support has spanned many years in addition to serving on the committee, travelling to training camps with the Juniors and ably assisting Alex with his solo in the pits on race days.