For Opinion, click here for View from the Racetrack Grandstand

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


    By john manzi for NAADA

Later this week four members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) will compete against their counters in a Friendship Competition in New Zealand. The NAADA team consisting of Peter Kleinhans, Joe Lee, Gerry Fielding and Dave Offenberg have already arrived and are taking in the wonders of the land Down Under. But beginning on Thursday, December 8 the battles will begin.

Their host, Gavin Cook, has a wonderful agenda for the visiting Americans as well as some disclaimers unfortunately caused by mother nature.

“As you may be aware Christchurch experienced a series of devastating earthquakes in late 2010 & early 2011. This effectively destroyed our central city and along with it went many of our four star plus hotels. Our city is slowly rebuilding but the caliber and quantity of suitable accommodation places is yet to catch up with demand”, Cook explained to his visitors.

“Compounding this problem is the recent earthquakes and the fact that we are experiencing a tourist boom as well, so finding suitable accommodations have been challenging. We arranged for the entire tour group to be accommodated at two separate but adjacent motel complexes in the Riccarton area which is in the heart of a busy retail and restaurant area. Because the motels do not have any suitable breakfast facilities we will take you to a variety of cafes for breakfast/brunch, fortunately Christchurch has a very vibrant cafe culture.”

But from early reports Cook’s disclaimers are just a matter of fact and not of much concern to the American team whose members are already enjoying themselves.

“This is a beautiful country and their people are wonderful,” noted the USA’s Gerry Fielding. “And perhaps the best part is that there is no language barrier.”

The following is the itinerary that Cook and his New Zealand amateurs have set for the visiting Americans.

               Wednesday 7th – Welcome Dinner (Lone Star Restaurant)
                Thursday 8th – Brunch at Drexels
                                        - Port Hills Gondola Ride
                                        - Visit Lyttelton
                                        - Race at Addington
                                        - Dine at Spectators
                    Friday 9th – Work horses at the beach
                                    - Brunch at Pukeko Junction
                                    - Jet Boating on Waiau River
                                    - Relaxing at Hanmer Springs*
                                    - Dine at Harewood Tavern in Christchurch
                    Saturday 10th – Visit Deans Bush Market
                                            - Walking tour of City
                                            - Race at Addington
                                            - Dine at Raceway
                    Sunday 11th – Brunch at The Store
                                        - Race at Motukarara
                                        - Farewell dinner at Memory’s 

*Hanmer Springs is a small mountain village that is famous for its thermal hot pools. As well as the pools the village also offers plenty of mountain biking or walking tracks or you may just decide to sit back and relax in the tranquil nature of the place.

But according to the international amateur driver’s mantra, ‘it’s not of the utmost importance who wins or loses;  its just that amateur racing is a great vehicle for human relations’.