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2017 Point Standings
After Sonoma
Rank Driver Points

1 Josef Newgarden 642
2 Simon Pagenaud 629
3 Scott Dixon 621
4 Helio Castroneves 598
5 Will Power 562
6 Graham Rahal 522
7 Alexander Rossi 494
8 Takuma Sato 441
9 Ryan Hunter-Reay 421
10 Tony Kanaan 403
11 Max Chilton 396
12 Marco Andretti 388
13 James Hinchcliffe 376
14 Ed Jones 354
15 JR Hildebrand 347
16 Carlos Munoz 328
17 Charlie Kimball 327
18 Conor Daly 305
19 Mikhail Aleshin 237
20 Spencer Pigot 218
21 Sebastien Bourdais 214
22 Ed Carpenter 169
23 Gabby Chaves 98
24 Juan Pablo Montoya 93
25 Esteban Gutierrez 91
26 Sebastian Saavedra 80
27 Oriol Servia 61
28 Jack Harvey 57
29 Fernando Alonso 47
30 Pippa Mann 32
31 Zachary Claman DeMelo 26
32 Jay Howard 24
33 Zach Veach 23
34 Sage Karam 23
35 James Davison 21
36 Tristan Vautier 15
37 Buddy Lazier 14

Rookie of Year Standings
1. Ed Jones 354
2. Esteban Gutierrez 91
3. Jack Harvey 57
4. Fernando Alonso 47
5. Zach Veach 23

Manufacturer Standings
1. Chevy 1489
2. Honda 1326

New Zealand race tracks and legends

by Lucille Dust
Friday, February 24, 2017

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Pukekohe Park
Pukekohe Park

No vacation of mine is complete without visiting a race track or two, even in the gorgeous countryside of Auckland, New Zealand.  And there are many tracks outside Auckland that have had many racing legends race on them.  The youngest of those legendary drivers, IndyCars' own Scott Dixon, started his racing career at the tender age of 13 in this area.  While there his Mother, Glenys Dixon, took me to the local race tracks to show me where Scott started his open wheel career.

I visited Pukekohe Park Raceway, better known internationally as a motor racing circuit, but is used primarily as a horse racing circuit in New Zealand.  It is located 25 miles  south of Auckland.  Dixon, the 2015 IndyCar Champion, won his first race there in Formula Vee's and this became his home track.  

The New Zealand Grand Prix has been held at Pukekohe on 29 occasions, the first being in 1963, and the last being held in 2000.  Winners of the NZ Grand Prix include Kiwis Bruce McLaren and Paul Radisich, internationals such as Italian Teo Fabi, and Brazilian Roberto Moreno, as well as Formula One World Champions Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.

Scott Dixon and Kenny Smith
Scott Dixon and Kenny Smith
Pukekohe Park will host the internationally renowned event, the ITM Auckland SuperSprint (formally V8 Supercars) in November of this year.  The only Supercar race in New Zealand has been at this track since 2000.  In 2012, major changes were made to the 1.765 mile circuit with 7 turns to increase driver safety, which included improving revised barriers, run-off areas, tire walls, transition curbs and gravel traps.  An impact absorbing concrete barrier and debris fence were installed and some resurfacing occurred, while keeping the character of the track.  A chicane was added before the hairpin on the back straight, so the series of corners before the hairpin turn, meant safer, slower races for the Australian V8 Supercars.

My second track was Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, which is situated in rural Waikato, New Zealand.   This track opened in October 2009 and is a major venue for local motorsport without the restrictions imposed by tracks that share the use with the horse racing like Pukekohe Park Raceway.   The track has an industrial park, events cafe, motel and 80-trackside apartments, a modern approach to motor race track design and associated amenities.

Hampton Downs
Hampton Downs
I was delighted to meet my guide at Hampton Downs, the legendary Kenny Smith, a close family friend of the Dixon's.  Smith first competed in motor racing in 1958, winning the New Zealand Hill Climb championship when he was 16. He progressed to single seater racing in 1962, first driving a Lola March T, Formula Junior car. Later he raced in Formula FordFormula 5000Formula PacificFormula Mondial, and Toyota Racing Series among others.  

Smith was recently honored for his illustrious 59 years in racing at the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing on Jan 20-22, 2017, held at Hampton Downs.  Now aged 75, Smith is the defending SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series champion and drove five different cars over the three days of the festival.  "We ran eight races and won seven of those, coming in second for the eighth race",  Smith remarked when talking about the event. 

Kenny Smith and some of his trophies
Kenny Smith and some of his trophies
I was also able to view his workshop, located at the track.  Besides having an array of race cars in his shop, fifty some years of racing memories were scattered and sorted over the upstairs area of the shop.  He has never thrown anything away related to his racing career.   A wall of trophies and a vast array of pictures from all decades are displayed with pride.  Smith especially pointed out the picture of him and a young Scott Dixon in electric cars from some years ago.  Smith was a mentor to the young Dixon and took Scott to meet team owners of the CART series in America in the late 1990s.

Smith laughs when people asked when he will retire.  "I will stop driving race cars when I quit breathing!",  he told me.  

I want to thank Glenys for showing me around New Zealand.  She is looking forward to the first IndyCar race in St. Pete, March 12th.

Lucille Dust reporting from New Zealand 

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