Lining up the six shooters for racing

Ask Colin Entwisle what the appeal is of Six Shooter racing, and he jokes about it being a great way to get rid of a lot of spare parts.

While there’s an element of truth to the passionate driver’s comments – after all he owns speedway car parts and maintenance specialist Bay Speed – dig a little deeper and he tells you the Australian-originated class is just “flat out a whole lot of fun”.

Speedway veteran Colin Entwisle would love to see more people racing in the new six shooter class. Photo by Tracy Hardy.

Colin is hoping to be among about 20 drivers lining up at ASB Baypark’s final meeting of the season to compete in the Six Shooter nationals on Saturday – which is the class’ debut at  the speedway.

Registered for the event and all raring to go, Colin told The Bay Driver earlier this week with interest from a customer wanting to lease his car, he’s unsure who will be racing it.

“I’ve got my sprint racing on anyway, but if they decide against racing I’ll definitely do it,” says Colin, who is among a handful of seasoned Baypark drivers who’ve been enjoying a few events in the Australian-originated class of wingless sprint cars.

Colin says there’s been resistance in some circles to the introduction of six shooter racing, something he puts down to concern other race classes, already competing for a place in the already-packed schedule, will be penalised.

“But it’s been good that Rodney Wood and a few other high profile drivers have got involved,” says Colin, who believes it’s helped give the class credibility and encourages other drivers to be more receptive.

Other Baypark drivers who’ve been getting behind the wheels of the wingless sprint cars include brothers Keaton and Gordon Dahm, Daniel Thomas and Jamie McDonald.
However, it’s the lower price of six shooters – from about $15,000 for a competitive model, compared to $25,000-$30,000 for a saloon and more than  $50,000 for a super saloon – which Colin says is the greatest appeal.

He believes the lower entry price will help keep young drivers involved after they’re forced to leave the Mini Stocks entry class, when they reach 17.

“These kids aged 15-17 are leaving speedway and just disappearing because to step into anther class is a big investment. It’s a real pity, because their parents have already spent a bit to give them good racing skills.

“We lose 10-12 of these drivers every year. Where are they going? They just give up because of the cost.”

The lower cost is also appealing for Baypark Speedway manager Roger Bailey, who’d like to see the class accredited by Speedway New Zealand once numbers competing build up to allow for more regular events.

Currently, only a handful of tracks are able to contract the drivers, as the class hasn’t been fully inducted into the speedway community. Baypark received permission from the Speedway New Zealand board to host the nationals.

Powered by a 3.8 litre fuel-injected Commodore V6 motor, the engines aren’t supposed to have any modifications, seeing the cars reach speeds of about 70m/h (112km/h).
An introductory day Colin put on at Patetonga last year, with Gordon Dahm, to give drivers a chance to do a few laps in a six-shooter attracted about 50 people, but none took it further.

“It’s just a neat little class – you don’t need to have done any racing before you step into these – but the main thing I like is the closeness of racing you get and the cost.”
Colin, who got his first taste of speedway in 1987 racing modifieds in Rotorua, stepped up to sprint cars in 1997, which he’s been racing ever since. He’s been based in Tauranga since Baypark opened in 2001.

While Colin says he’s been a “little bit off the pace” of the top drivers and hasn’t won any feature events, he’s collected lots of seconds and thirds and is reasonably happy in his position at third on the table.

“I guess now that I’m a bit older I’m happy to cruise a bit more,” says Colin, who clearly still has a passion for racing.


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