There was a big build up for the Flat-Nats in the Manawatu on the 12th & 13th September through a number of social media channels, and the event promised a strong turnout to celebrate of all things Subaru.
It was not a great start to the Flat – Nats weekend for me, having started with a downpour early in the morning on my drive up to Manfeild. That however did not deter anyone and by the time we got around to the safety briefing it was sun and blue skies and the track had dried out. When I arrive at the gate I am informed that there are already 136 onsite and this is before 8 am. It is going to be a great day.
As I make my way into the Manfeild track, the first location for the two-day event I am greeted by the two 22B’s soaking up the sun and the Detail Depot guys completing the setup of their trade stand. My ears are filled with the unmistakable off beat burble that only a Scooby makes as their proud owners warm engines in pit lane so they are ready for some track time.
The old cattle sheds that adorn the pit facility at Manfeeld steadily fill with Scoobys not taking to the track immediately and the Dyno that has been setup in the scrutineer bay can be heard running up regularly, testing the owners estimate on how many KW’s their car is putting out.
Tony, who is running the on-track activity holds a driver’s briefing at the end of the pit lane, it is at this point that the scale of the event is apparent. The large collection of drivers listen intently as Tony outlines how to have a safe and enjoyable day to his usual high, and well rehearsed standard. Excitement builds amongst the gathered drivers as the briefing nears completion and drivers are instructed to prepare for their sighting laps.
After the driver’s briefing I head out track-side to get some images of the action on the track. There is a broad assortment of cars on track that really tests my model knowledge. I am sure there were more, but from memory I had, WRX, STI, RA, 22b, bug eye, blob eye, and recent model year models and even an SRV. There were road-going tuned cars, standard cars, track cars, rally cars and even cars with stretched tires running low and mean – demonstrating the broadness that the marque spans, each sharing the same event – awesome!
Having owned a couple of models of Subaru and been an active member of the Scooby track-day community in the UK, I was surprised and excited to see the 22B’s out on the track being put through their paces by the boys at Possum Bourne Motorsport, the one I knew of in the UK was rather more pampered and only occasionally used on track. I even spotted the odd Nissan and Mitsi on track…no idea how they got in but they sounded good!
I lost count on the number of cars as they sped past getting faster as the sighting laps were completed and confidence increased, with the full Manfeild track being used the drivers would need to be well behaved and focused because the little used extension of the track needs to be treated with respect.
As the sighting session ended there was a small pause until the full speed sessions started. Once underway it was clear that there was some seriously quick, well driven cars in attendance and I was treated to a grandstand view of the cars speeding around Pepsi onto the main straight, the Scooby burble and boost filling the air as the driver tried to push the throttle pedal through the bulk head to out drag their mate..
The day continued with many on-track sessions.
Back in the pits the Dyno was running and owners were encouraged to guess the output of their cars, the Detail Depot guys were onsite showing what can be achieved with proper car detailing products and offering support and advise on how to get the best out of your car’s finish. A number of people were seen on the stand and so the show and shine at the next event should be even more competitive.
There was very few dramas on the day, of course there was a few tire squeals and slightly missed breaking points by those really pushing the cars, but apart from that there was only one incident. One of the track ready cars unfortunately caught fire while out at the back of the track. Nobody was hurt and the driver kept a cool head and controlled the car off the track to a stop, where he got out and tried to put the fire out. From what could be seen from the pits, the fire seemed to have been from the turbo and he was having a hard time putting it out. So both the track crew and those with fire extinguishers got over there to help and it was brought under control, but that was the end of the track day for that car.
Enjoy the gallery, I think most of the on track cars feature..