Rocks and stones will hit their helmets at high speeds. The wet roads will leave the race cars and the drivers covered in thick grime. The rain that happened during the week will make sure the stream crossings will soak the occupants of the space frame race cars. And the snow on the peaks will make sure the cold, wet racers get an icy blast to match the speed they carry through the forest.
Offroad Racers need to be tough. This weekend they will need to be really tough. They will be exposed to more than simply managing adrenaline and trying to cross the finish line for a win.
Every 12 km they’ll get the chance to pull into the pits. It could be for replacing broken parts or it could be for replacing goggles and visors covered in mud.
The Pits will also be ready to refuel. The big V8 engines in the field will not be tuned for economy. They will go though fuel at an alarming rate and in the 240km race distance, most will pit for fuel. Tyres and wheels will also take a hammering with cars opting to limp to the pits and destroy a rim and tire, rather than stop to change it in the forest.
Because Ruff’n’Tuff 250 is part of the national championship every finisher will receive points in their class. That’s enough motivation to keep the racers racing, even when they are cold, soaked and covered in mud. It will keep them racing when they lose a cylinder or have only got third and top gear. It’ll keep them racing past fatigue and mechanical failure.
The Ruff’n’Tuff 250 has been raced in one form or another for over 20 years. It has been known as the Castrol 300 among a few other names. It has always been raced at this time of year in Spooners Forest and this year the race carries vital points in the 2021 JG CIVIL New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship competition. With a race distance of 240km, competitors will face 12, 20 kilometre, laps and race across ridge lines, through gullies, on forest roads and muddy tracks. There are river crossings and some obstacles best tackled at high speed to use sheer momentum to get through.
There’s no shortage of horsepower arriving to compete. #104 Donald Preston from Te Anau is bringing his 7 litre V8 powered American desert car to the forest. #S46 Bob Uttridge from Christchurch will be fast and agile in the 4wd Yamaha side by side, and sometimes that is the combination that trumps outright speed in the forest. #192 Ash Kelly is bringing the most winning car in NZ Offroad Racing history to the fight. His 3 litre, Type 4 VW was the weapon that propelled its creator, Tony McCall, to multiple NZ titles, Woodhill 100 wins and dominated the NZ scene for two decades. If Ash brings his magic, he will be hard to keep off the podium. And lets not forget the beast that race organiser, #844 Darrin Thomason is bringing out to race. A Buick V6 Toyota Trundra race truck that hooks up and will push the pace on the gravel roads.
It’s going to be rough and it’s going to be tough, so expect the roughest and toughest to come through and win this awesome race.
Qualifying sprints start at 8am Saturday and the big race starts at midday. Follow the signs into the forest from Wakefield . Bring a picnic. It’s going to be a great day out in the forest.