Record numbers to tear it up

Burning rubber . . . South Canterbury Family Kart Club president Greg Ryan tears up the track at a club day. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

South Canterbury is gearing up for some crazy karting chaos when the SJ Allen New Zealand Grass Kart Championship returns to the region.

To be held over Easter, the championship will draw a record 250 drivers from across the South Island to tear it up in a Washdyke paddock, with plenty of adrenaline-fuelled racing action set to take place.

The annual championship was last held in South Canterbury in 2019.

Participating clubs rotate hosting duties each year. This year it is again the turn of the South Canterbury Family Kart Club to do the honours.

Committee member Leanne Ryan said it was great to have the nationals back in the region.

‘‘We found out before last year’s championship in Milton that our club would be hosting this year.

‘‘We’ve got a really good committee of 14 people who have been working around the clock since Easter last year to get everything ready. It’s a big job, especially having such a large number of entrants — 50 more than last year.

‘‘We did the math and over the course of the weekend there will be about 9000 crosses of the track.’’

Crazy karts . . . South Canterbury racer Lucy Clark, 6, competes.

The competition is broken down into different classes, the smallest featuring karts up to 125cc and ranges right up to the 450 grade with big 4-stroke engine karts that reach speeds of up to 100kmh.

The karts used are normally repurposed tar kart frames that are taken and modified with a motorbike engine, side bar, bumpers and treaded wheels instead of slicked.

Committee member Jaime Sullivan said the championship would feature drivers from as young as 5 up to 75-year-olds.

‘‘There is a big range of ages and lots of families are involved. It’s a real family thing that everyone can do.’’

Mrs Ryan said that despite the family nature of the sport, the national championship was a real showcase of racing talent.

‘‘We have some real highcalibre driving on show.

‘‘It’s very impressive what some of those men and women can actually do.

‘‘The track itself is about 700m and will take the drivers less than a minute to complete a lap.

‘‘You’re sitting in a seat with no suspension and about two inches off the ground if you’re lucky.

‘‘It’s lots of fun.’’

The South Canterbury club had been around for over 30 years but Mrs Ryan said the sport really picked up traction during Covid.

‘‘Covid brought in a lot more people because they had a little bit of extra money. We were similar. We had a Fiji fund we couldn’t spend so we bought another kart.’’

It was a contagious sport, Mrs Sullivan said.

‘‘If you give it a go, you’re instantly hooked.’’

Tight pack . . . Navigating the track is Jack Small, 7.

A local club day is run every fourth Sunday of the month with about 100 races taking place on the day.

In previous years that number was closer to 30, Mrs Sullivan said.

‘‘We have a lot of out-of-town people now travelling from the likes of Christchurch, Ashburton and even Dunedin to attend our club days. We’re starting to get well known for them,’’ Mrs Sullivan said.

‘‘South Canterbury is starting to become a bit of a hub,’’ she said.

She said the club was extremely thankful for the support received from the community and local businesses.

‘‘We are really grateful for the support of the likes of SJ Allen, who supplies the club with a water truck when needed and is also supplying a lot of other things to help prep the track for the nationals,’’ she said.

‘‘Trust Aoraki has also been a really big help and we are really appreciative of the local sponsors who got on board to support us for the upcoming nationals.’’

A gold coin donation will be asked of people wishing to attend as spectators.

The funds raised will be donated to Hospice South Canterbury as a thank you to Nicky and Blair Cartwright who volunteered the use of their paddock for the championship.

The action will take place in Cartwright Rd, beginning on Friday, March 29 at 12 noon and will run through until the Sunday.