On Christmas Day in 1937, dirt oval racing was introduced to the Western Springs Stadium. The first full-season followed closely thereafter in the summer of 1938. It has since snowballed into an expansive facility with fantastic racing on tap, offering racing fans and families alike a great night out. It has a certain aura to it that you just don’t get from other circuits, which is why it has garnered praise from drivers around the world, who continuously come back every summer to joust with the best drivers in the nation.
Recently, promoter Greg Mosen has implored people all over the region to write to the Auckland Council, to help save the future of the speedway. The writing has been on the wall for a while and it seems now may be the time that said Council wishes to rid the city of its speedway – continuing their run of making wise and logical decisions, such as scaling back public transport, ramping up taxes and spending thousands of tax-payers dollars on trips to Pago Pago. It’s not known how many people have written in to express their desire to have the speedway remain. Although, I am optimistic as to whether or not they will be heard, as the Council have reportedly deleted comments from their Facebook page, adding to the speculation that they have perhaps made their mind up, even if it is against the best interests of the city and its residents.
So, here is my pledge to the Auckland Council as to why the Western Springs Speedway should remain. At least, for now. In the 81 years that dirt oval racing has been held at the venue, we have seen history made, the arrival of legends and a following that few other motorsport venues in this country get. There is a movement to protect this speedway and it is not without reason. We are not hoarders, nor do we think this is the only motorsport venue in the region. But, what it brings is so much more than hicks driving in a dirt circle. What it brings is a night for families to come and be entertained. I know of many that have attended the venue and still do to this very day that aren’t the most dedicated of racing fans. Some aren’t that fascinated at all. Yet, it has an aura about it. There is a sense of theatre about it. It is a happening.
To some, this may seem like babbling, but let us not forget that the complaints of the venue stem from a handful of residents in the surrounding neighbourhood area. Some of these people have bought houses and some of them rent. Some of them watch the racing, some of them don’t. But, the question I have is - why sacrifice a facility with a plethora of history and a large following behind it?’. Should we allow the complaints of few outweigh the support of thousands? Last year, the speedway attracted an audience of over 120,000 over the twelve nights of operation throughout that year. Not to say that the residents have no say, but when you rent a property located next to a speedway which has been operating since before World War II, you should perhaps question whether you may be able to cope with a volume level matched only by the incessant whining by people who don’t actually own the land.
And what of the concerts that are played at the venue? I attended the AC/DC concert in late-2016. Being within 50 meters of the stage, I attained some measure of hearing loss thanks to the extremely loud, and brilliant amps booming out Angus Young’s riffs. Something I observed from that concert were the residents in the surrounding area watching the band play from their back yards. They had no issue with these concerts, yet they’ll kick up a fit in the twelve race nights throughout the year, which were limited in the first place thanks to said residents.
Eventually, there will come a time where the speedway will have to go. The ever-expanding populous of the city of Auckland will require the space and at some point, that time will come. But, we will need another facility to take over the reins. Whether that will involve carving the speedway into Mount Smart Stadium or creating an entirely new one at the newly-formed Colin Dale Park in Wiri, there needs to be an alternative solution for the public before any action is undertaken. Although, it seems that people who side with the speedway stand alone as the Council seeks to move racing out of the Springs and into the future of the unknown.
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Josh Revell is a writer and eSports competitor who specialises in motorsport. Under the BOX THIS LAP format, Revell also manages a podcast, with episodes streaming every fortnight. Be sure to check back here for weekly content and follow him on Twitter for his views and opinions on all the happenings in the world of motorsport.