The Timaru CamAm Offroad Park at Kurow featured in the Southern Dirt Fest Enduro, hosted by the Otago Offroad Racing Club. Here’s the story of how Slim Slee’s dream became a reality.
According to his wife Janina, “He had all these sandbox toys he didn’t have a real excuse to use on the farm;” according to the man himself, “We didn’t have anywhere close to home to race at,” and according to the Offroad Racing fraternity, “He’s just a real good b**#@d.”
No matter who you listen to though, everyone agrees Kurow farmer Slim Slee has created something very special on their 960Ha property, with his purpose built Offroad Short Course and Enduro Tracks.
4x4actionadventure were lucky enough to be able to join Slim, Janina & the crew from Otago Offroad Racing Club for part of their debrief following the final round of the ORANZ SI Short Course Series, and the clubs 250km Southern Dirt Fest held recently, also learn something about what has been achieved.
To date over 2,500 cubic metres of dirt has been removed or shifted, and work was already being planned to replace the badly cut up sections of the short course track before the next meeting in February 2020.
Across the Start/Finish line the track is already over 20 metres wide, which is approaching the maximum distance the MX timing cables can handle, but some further widening on parts of the track is also planned before Feb.
Slim passes most of the credit for the finished product to farm manager Shane Johnson, who has shown great earthmoving skills in carrying out Slims ideas.
The first Enduro held on the property used some of the farms higher Tussock country which resulted in 27km laps, but the new route through lower sections of the farm has produced an exact 20km lap.
And speaking of height, the short course track sits at 400m above sea level, on a farm that hits 4000ft in the high country.
Timing of racing events is controlled by the primary function of the farm, wintering over 2500 Dairy Cows, so they tend to be the first and last meetings of the season. Otago club president, Barry Phillips, was pretty excited to announce, “It’s our turn for the finals at Labour Weekend next year.”
Barry heads up the team from Otago Off-road Racing Club that oversees the running of the meetings.
“It takes 12 months of planning to put an event together”, he reckons, “we are so spread out.
Planning for the two annual ORANZ competitions starts with an extensive debrief after each previous event and continues right up to the days before the event, when the group gathers at Slims to finalise preparations and carry out the setup, following the ORANZ manual.
The day before the Southern Dirt Fest weekend Barry went through 50 litres of ‘Resene White’ paint just to get the tyres on the short course section “looking like a racetrack should”.
The team have considerable experience in the field, having run the Twizel meetings for several years, and were in “boots and all” when Slim opened up the farm for racing.
With the organising team being so small, and so spread out, members are from Te Anau to Christchurch, race day personnel are always a challenge, finding enough marshals is particularly difficult.
Slim himself only just came into the sport, three years ago, he went into Timaru CanAm to buy a new farm Quad, “and was convinced one of these Side by Sides was for me”.
Timaru CamAm came up with a twelve month deal for racing the first buggy, which was replaced at the end of that time with the current S-Class specced CanAm Maverick X3 #12 that briefly led the Southern Dirt Fest Enduro on what it obviously sees as its home track as well.
February 15 & 16, 2020 sees Kurow hosting the opening rounds of the SI ORANZ Series, with the usual two-day Short Course and Enduro format. The popularity and success of the track becomes obvious with the amount of trust shown by Northern racers making the trip south, despite the first round of their own series scheduled a mere three weeks later in Raglan.
But the highlight of the young tracks’ year will be the National finals to be held Labour weekend. With the continuing growth of the sport, and especially in the spectacular big horsepower, some of the biggest fields for years are likely to put Kurow well and truly on the map.