While our warmest seasons are gearing up and thoughts of spending more time outdoors is on everyone’s minds, The Auckland Motorcycle Club will instead be mourning a loss on the now closed KartSport Mount Wellington.
For forty years, The Auckland Motorcycle Club has been prominent figures in all aspects of motorcycling and road racing, especially Karting, Bucket and side car racing, hiring out Kartsport every weekend for the last thirty years, and will now be without a venue at their strongest membership peak in their history.
Bucket Racing has been a big part of New Zealand sports since the 1980’s and is one of the cheapest forms of amateur racing consisting of a 50cc to 150cc commuter bike that has been backyard engineered for this style of racing, making it popular with teenagers to retirees, any anyone that can ride a bike. Sidecar racing is a one wheeled device attached to the side of a motorcycle, bicycle or scooter with sidecar racing existing in motocross sports. In all types of sidecar racing there is a rider and passenger who work in unison to make the machine perform. Just like Bucket racing, sidecar racers are often in classes dependent on engine size and rider skill, while sidecars raced in championships at club and national levels are known as Formula One sidecars.
With a rich history of this type of racing in New Zealand, there has been plenty of racing stars that started their careers on the Mt Wellington track, including racing driver, Scott Dixon.
Despite the fact that the Mt Wellington track has been on its land for the last fifty years, its land owner, Panuku Development had decided to seek a better return for its investment, leaving history and club users without a venue.
Bucket rider, moto enthusiast and national champion, Rick Ford says the Mt Wellington track was the only place bucket bikes can ride in Auckland that had resource consent and the closure not only affects their club, but others like the Mt Wellington Roller Club and the University of Auckland Formula SAE team, internationally renowned engineering design competitors.
“The only other venue option is Colin Dale Park near the Airport, and at present it hasn’t got a lease signed or work started for us to use, but if was completed within the next two years, it would be a miracle,” says Rick.
As a last resort, members would need to go elsewhere in the country to other venues to race or can take part in the North Island series that consists of three to four rounds traveling to Tokora, Wellington, Kaitoke and Taumarunui.
Rick says in general the majority of people who compete in the North Island series anyway are Aucklanders but would still affect the whole sport nationwide without having an Auckland venue to race on.
“We want to try and make Auckland Council see that its not about money. Can you imagine if people closed the golf courses or a rugby field, they’d be uproar!” says Rick.
Aida Hahn, part owner of Drury Motorcycles says her family has been racing side cars and buckets on the Mt Wellington track for the last five years and says it’s about family.
“It’s a cheap, fun and safe sport and a great way of keeping fit and healthy. It’s a big part of people’s enjoyment. Families build and race together and without a track, the biggest fear is this sport will eventually die.”
As a last-ditch effort to make Auckland Council see reason, Phil Goff allowed The Auckland Motorcycle Club Bucket Racing committee to hold a protest ride on a make-shift track on Aotea Square October 3rd, as the committee rallied to seek more support to help seek a solution for the Mt Wellington track.
Rick says unfortunately Auckland Council went ahead with the decision to close the track October 12 and all attempts to contact the Council for a meeting were denied, so the future of Sidecar and Bucket racing in Auckland is unknown until something can be done about Colin Dale Park.
“All we want is a meeting to extend a lease for the track until Colin Dale Park is complete. We don’t want this sport to die, but it will if we don’t have anywhere to race in Auckland,” says Rick.