Near record Thunder Down Under motor racing entries should boost Timaru district’s economy

South Canterbury Car Club president Kevin Pateman shows off his weekend racer, a V6-powered Ford Telstar to Lee King and Murray Roberts from Trust Aoraki ahead of the Thunder Down Under meeting.

Timaru’s economy should be revved up to the tune of a few million dollars when the flag drops at the Thunder Down Under meeting at Levels Raceway on Saturday.

South Canterbury Car Club president Kevin Pateman is ecstatic with the community support and the way its premier event of the season has been rated by racers from away.

Headlining the two days of racing is the fifth round of the Central Muscle Cars championship, round one of the NZ Super Truck Championship and the Historic Touring Car series.

Pateman said the Central Muscle Car Club, formed in 2003, is Auckland-based and they’ve bought the championship to only Timaru and Highlands in the South Island after rounds in Pukekohe (two) and Manfield before heading back to Manfield and Hampton Downs.

“There are 20 of them and it is basically the top V8 saloon car class in New Zealand.

“We are pretty lucky to get them here and we are grateful for the fact they’ve chosen us as a place to race in the South Island.

“I think it is a testament for the respect we have that they chose to come here.”

Pateman, who will be racing his distinctive classic red V6-powered Ford Telstar he and his brother built in the historic touring car series, predicts a great show from the muscle car racers who share a passion for thundering, powersliding Australian and American machines from 1958-1978 with the driver having to own the car to be able to compete in the series.

The series is currently led by Dean Hansen driving a Holden Monaro with the well-known Angus Fogg close behind in a Ford Mustang.

Pateman predicts the event will add a “couple of million dollars” to the region’s economy.

“Restaurants, motels, service stations, supermarkets … it will be a huge earner for the district.

“And we are pretty lucky to have the community support to help make it all happen.”

Pateman said they had 160 entries for the two days “which is almost a record”.

“I can’t remember the last time we had that many.”

Pateman said the calibre of the top classes – super trucks, muscle cars, historic cars – meant that other classes like 2K Cup South Island, Mainland Muscle Cars, pre 65/Mini 7 and NZ6/pro7/RX8 were also keen to get on the programme as support adding more depth to what is the club’s premier event.

“Besides the competitors and their crews, there are 100 odd volunteers out here this weekend. The event wouldn’t happen with out them.”

Racing at Levels Raceway starts at 9am and runs until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.