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Facing down the Howard 3

22 November, 2017



As Saturday, 25 November looms, it marks an important date for competitors in the TQ class at Western Springs speedway, as they compete for not only the Auckland champs, but face down the imposing challenge of ‘Howard3 racing’ all the way from Kansas in the good ol’ USA.

So what is a TQ? Originating from humble beginnings as a chopped Austin 7 chassis fitted with a 500cc motorcycle engine, ‘Three Quarter Midgets’ or ‘ TQs’ have evolved a long way since. As the name indicates, they are slightly smaller than a Midget at around 280kgs and 2.8 metres long. The Western Springs lap record is held by Craig Todd at 14.338 seconds, with drivers averaging speeds of around 95kph during races. The majority of cars are now chain driven self-starting machines featuring 750cc engines running on 98 octane gas.


The visiting ‘Howard3’ comprises twins Nicholas and Matthew, who are 19, and big sister Lindsey age 22.They will arrive and slot themselves straight into some top notch equipment as they compete in both the Auckland title and a special ‘Auckland TQ Challenge’ against three local drivers who will be announced at a function on 23 November at Hanger Bar in Henderson. MCing the event is our own Grumpy Ninja (Warren Sare) who fortunately talks better than he drives.

The Howards will have access to the ex1 Guptill Racing machine, the Le Cren family 14a and the Allwest Racing 5a car, so will have all the tools needed to face down the best of the local stars. Nicholas is noted to have removed the wing off his usual stateside ride in an effort to get use to car behaviour, while Lindsey gave both boys a good hurry up in recent events.

Likely to be in the running for the Auckland team are:

  • 2nz Kaleb Currie Racing — the highest national ranked local driver finishing second in his rookie year at the NZ title
  • 15a and 88a Baker Racing — Ryan and Scott Baker, perennial podium threats at the springs who both have numerous title and feature wins to their names.
  • 16a Ryan Barry Racing — regularly amongst the results and knows the track well 
  • 8a Harris Racing Team — Lawrence Baker, former national and local title holder, and one of the most experienced drivers around (yes … that means he’s old)
  • 64a Gina Harris — class stalwart and sure to want to mix it up with Lindsey to see who gets ladies bragging rights.
  • 6a Shaun Cooke — former national mini sprint champ and always quick around the springs
  • 7a Jayden Busch (Busch Racing) — a Johnny Missen trophy winner who is developing strongly
  • 71a Danny Keene — Keene Composites finished last season strongly and has been quick early in the season.

Join us on the Thursday, 23 November, to the meet the Howards and find out who will be flying the Auckland TQ colours against the challengers. For ticket info see ‘Western Springs Speedway’ on Facebook

Fear and loathing the blue oval – part one

The slogan went something like ‘There’s a Ford in your future’. ‘Bugger off!’ were always the words that sprung to my mind. Ford and I have never really got on in the manner of many of my friends, so I’d say my relationship to the brand was distant. The accelerating blur of passing time has helpfully blanketed memories of a few Ford encounters which I probably wanted to forget but I have to admit, now I look at them, they are re-appearing through the mists of time. What comes to mind more readily, to quote some uncharitable wit, is that the letters Ford could stand for ‘fix or repair daily’. Still, I have to ’fess up, there were several Fords in my past.

Class struggle

For a British car, it is huge; for those sitting inside, the bonnet seems to extend past the horizon. The front seats are very comfortable rather than body hugging. The dashboard and centre console cluster are beautifully laid out, reminiscent of a fighter plane cockpit, with acres of red leather all around. Its V8 burble is on show. It is not a car to sneak about in, and it gets attention wherever it goes.
The large back window, possibly the best-known feature of the Interceptor and one that sets it apart, has very good functionality, allowing greater access to the boot. It would not be an easy job to replace it, so Interceptor owners are careful about reversing and not hitting anything.