The Rotation System reviewed

With controversy appearing to surround the title rotation system, we took some questions to Speedway New Zealand President Ricky Boulton to see what he had to say.

“Championships have always been a difficult issue, and that’s why it’ll be a discussion at our next AGM in July,” he said. “Yes, there are flaws in any system when it comes to rotation, and it is on the agenda for discussion.

“There are some remits in there to fix a couple of minor things, but the reality is that’s what the clubs voted for, that’s what they want and it’s not up to Speedway New Zealand to dictate to clubs where championships should go. At the end of the day, we’re all one sport.”

Boulton notes the differing nature of eligibility criteria for each grade and class, recognising it as an important determinant to ensure that each host is deserving of their hosting rights.

“The criterion for every grade is different, some are four some are six contracted drivers to that club,” says Boulton. “You must have that many contracted drivers for that season. That’s number one.

“Number two is you have to supply a certain number of meetings. It may be four meetings in some grades and six in others.

Speedway NZ President Ricky Boulton recognises there are flaws in the system and it will be a topic of discussion at this month’s AGM. Image: Ricky Boulton

“So, the club has to run X amount of shows, with their X amount of contracted drivers and then you’re expected to have a certain number of visitors.

“Part of the criteria might be that the club you’re contracted to has to have six contracted drivers to be eligible. That’s tick number one. Six shows throughout the course of the season, that’s box number two, and X amount of visitors over a certain amount of shows. That’s box number three.

“As long as you’ve ticked those boxes as a club, then you’re eligible to be on the rotation as meeting the criteria for that particular championship of that particular grade.

“If you don’t tick one of those boxes then you fall off that criteria, and that’s to stop clubs that don’t put any particular effort into that particular grade.”

Boulton proceeds to note the congested nature of the calendar, noting Speedway is a summer sport with an extremely limited time frame to get racing in.

“We have 23 tracks nationwide and we have 15-18 grades which have four championships per year, being the NZ, the GPs, and the North Islands and the South Islands, so that’s 64 championships we run.

“All the promoters want to run those championships from about the 20th of December until the end of February, so that gives us nine weekends to run 64 championships. There’s going to be clashes.

“Our summers are short, and in different parts of the country, they’re even shorter. The past 12 months have been horrendous, also, with tracks all across the country suffering rainouts at various points throughout the year.”

One area worth discussing was definitely the influence of rainouts, and whether or not they count towards the criteria which was decided on by the clubs and managed by Speedway New Zealand.

“Rainouts don’t count towards the meeting tally, and that is something we’re going to be discussing with the clubs at the AGM, it’s going to be a hot topic,” Boulton said.

“Obviously, that’s been worse this year from the horrific weather in the North Island, and that’s something we would have to look at on an individual basis. If those clubs wrote to us and said ‘hey, we’ve had nine rainouts out of 12 meetings’, then clearly they’ve had a shocking season.

“The problem is it’s having the amount of resources to be able to police it. Say, for instance, I’m a promoter and I put your Sprintcars on for six shows and I know that I’m struggling for numbers but I’m one or two shows outside the criteria, so I just cancel the meeting and say it’s due to weather.

“You can imagine on any given weekend, we have 23 tracks starting from Auckland down to Invercargill, it’s really difficult to keep up with it all. Sometimes they may blame track conditions due to the weather, so that’s why the criteria around rain offs is as it is at the moment.

“The sport’s not silly, we’ve done it all before with Covid and we’d obviously do it with weather as well. We’re not interested in penalising clubs, but what we are interested in is making sure clubs are making an effort to foster that particular grade that they’re wanting the championship for.” The Speedway New Zealand.

AGM will be held in Christchurch in late July. NZ Dirt Track Racing intends to be present for reporting purposes.