Night racing music to the ears

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 2 Sep 2017 | Latest News
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Mosgiel’s James Black (10) with his Vortex Mini Rok kart that he will race at the Dunedin Kart Club’s annual Hirepool Thomson Memorial Night Meeting. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

With all the flashing neon lights brightening the night sky, North Taieri residents may wonder if there is a disco going on in the neighbourhood.

Instead, the only music will be the sweet sound produced by about 50 kart engines roaring around the Silverstream Raceway on Milners Rd for the annual Hirepool Thomson Memorial Night Meeting.

Hosted by the Dunedin Kart Club under specially-erected lights, the event was to have been tonight, but wet weather means it will now run either late next month or early November: watch for a glow in the sky.

It is one of the track's largest events of the year, with the novelty factor attracting drivers from Christchurch and Invercargill.

Club vice president Arron Black, of Mosgiel, said drivers have been allowed to fit LED ‘‘light strips'' around the karts. His son James (10) perfected some personalised illumination on his kart earlier this week by fitting lights that flash, blink and display different colours.

Many of the club members also decorate their trailers, so the combination of lit-up karts, racing under lights and an illuminated pit area will make for an enhanced spectacle for spectators, Black said.

A year 6 pupil at St Brigid's School, James is no stranger to racing after dark, having won the cadet class at this meet each year since he stepped into a kart as a 5-year-old. He recently moved into the Vortex Mini Rok class, which uses the same capacity engine (60cc), but changes the rev box to provide more revs. The exhaust restrictor is removed and the chassis changes from miniature to medium size.

Black, who is an accomplished endurance car racer and successful karter in his own right (he finished second in the Rotax Max class at the nationals this year), gets just as much enjoyment out of watching his boy compete.

‘‘We go everywhere. He loves it.''

The pair pack up their karts and travel to Auckland, Te Puke, Blenheim, Nelson and Invercargill to kart meetings and the regular racing has paid off.

‘‘He's been getting good results,'' Black said.

Competing in the cadet class, James has recently had wins in the Invercargill club championships and the Dunedin endurance event. He has also been runner-up at the Dunedin club championships and also at the Blenheim and Te Puke-based meetings.

As with most father/son relationships, advice is sometimes welcomed.

‘‘I coach him a lot but sometimes kids won't listen to their fathers, so I get Daniel [Harvey; friend, fellow karter and Dunedin Kart Club life member] in,'' Black said.

James also has coaching with prominent drivers from around New Zealand when possible.