Official Home of McKeown Petroleum Waimate 50 Motorsport Festival
The ‘Waimate 50’ was born 1959 with the inaugural street race held on the 31st of January that year. With wide streets, central location and a council fully behind the event that Waimate was the perfect place to host the New Zealand Championship event. Thousands of people packed the Waimate streets looking for the best vantage points possible.
The feature race was the ‘Waimate 50’ being 50 laps of the 1.3 mile circuit that navigates its way through the central business area of the small South Canterbury town. Many renowned drivers of the day featured in this race most notably a young Bruce McLaren who would go on to win the first ever Waimate 50.
Despite a rainstorm mid way though the race McLaren in the number 47 car showed his skill in the wet trying conditions to prove he was the best that summer day. The 50 went on for another seven years before safety changed the street racing scene and the championship was moved to the newly constructed Levels Raceway. Unfortunately all the spectators that had packed in by the thousands to see the Waimate 50 event also disappeared along with the famous street race.
Waimate 50 Motorsport Inc. was formed in 1992 following a very successful 25th anniversary Waimate 50 street race in 1991 – the committee at that time consisted of approximately 20 members. An estimated 15,000 people attended that 1991 event and as such it was decided to host the “Waimate 50′ every second year.
The street racing continued successfully through the nineties under the guidance of the the Waimate 50 committee and supported by the Classic Motor Racing Club. The last street race was held in 1999. Membership fell after this time as the task of running a street race again became a bridge too far. A small team stayed on to keep the name alive and worked on new strategies to return street racing back to Waimate. It took another ten years but we are back and growing the Waimate 50 event each year.
Our principal aim is to restore the famous street race the ‘Waimate 50’ and the Ellis-Lea Farms Invitational goes a long way in achieving this very important goal. We are very grateful for all the tremendous support from sponsors businesses and the people of Waimate to be currently the only street race left in New Zealand.
For the 2015 Waimate 50 GT Series event four races were competed for with a full 20-car field the sight and sound of so many cars on the track at once was just brilliant and harks back to those wonderful glory days of yesteryear – the winner of the prestigious Waimate 50 Cup this year – 2015 was presented to an accomplished driver from Timaru – Johnny Hepburn.