11 Nov Laurie & Jean Lester reminisce on their first years in the club
Excerpt from historical Club Newsletter
Jean and I have always been interested in motor sport and after transferring to Hawke’s Bay in 1960 we followed the dirt track go karts in Irongate Road and then moved on to Royshill, (the location there was under what is now the big hill) and of course the first Blossom Festival Grand Prix meeting which was held on a Street circuit in Hastings on 9th September 1968.
We advertised in the local and Manawatu papers for a second hand kart but never had any replies, but during a holiday in Christchurch were lucky enough to come across one. The holiday was quickly terminated and we returned home to assemble our new toy.
Try out day arrived and we decided that a country road out at Puketapu would be a quiet and secluded spot and away we went. Much to our surprise a car approached and stopped and we thought we were in for it. Instead it turned out to be a member of the club who invited us to their club day, which was only a week away on 19th April 1969.
On arrival we found that a new tar sealed track had been laid and this was the first day that karts were allowed on it. Facilities were very sparse and consisted of a long drop toilet and a little shed situated along what is now the club house straight to house the lap scorer/race secretary/club secretary/pie seller lady. After racing we all gathered in the centre of the track and the President brought out the beer “cause even in those days driving was a thirsty job”. Then a tally up was conducted being we sold so many pies, so many bottles of beer, had so many entries, and the profit for the day was so much. If it was not enough to meet our next payment on the track we had a whip around for the difference.
In those early days there was only the Nationals, the North Islands, and the Blossom Festival meetings, which were held on a regular basis. The Hawkes Bay Club established itself as the masters of promotion to such a degree that in some years there were more entries at Blossom than the Nationals. Blossom expanded from a one-day event with a prize giving cabaret on Saturday evening, to having a club day on the Sunday as well, then to a road race at the local drag strip- Thunder Park on the Sunday. When the drag strip closed we changed to our now well-accepted format of 2 days at the track. Everyone in karting has heard of Blossom but you are not an established competitor until you have raced at one, such is the esteem that this meeting holds around the country. This continues even today and should be respected and protected as part of the club’s great heritage.
After some years it was decided that a clubhouse was necessary, but the local authority would not allow this, so we built a shed to house our tractor in instead. We even had a tractor to put in it. The fact that it did not go was of no consequence but each club day the first task was to push the tractor out so we had a clubhouse. This building is now the current tech shed.
From those early days we have continued to progress and grow to the point where we are today one of the most highly respected member clubs of KartSport New Zealand with one of the best tracks and facilities around the Country.
Jean and Laurie Lester.