Speedway racing started with a roar this month and a local racing family are looking forward to a lively season.
Shearing contractor Arnie Tuhura graduated from drag racing to speedway in his 30s and now races street stocks, while his children Nico, Zane and Zara-Lee are a united force in the headline stock cars.
‘‘Last season was great for the local racers and we didn’t do too badly ourselves,’’ Tuhura said.
‘‘Nico won overall club points, Zane won biggest stirrer and Zara-Lee won rookie of the year and most improved.’’
Based at Beachlands Speedway, in Dunedin, the Otago Outlaws team came sixth their first time competing in this year’s New Zealand Stockcar Championships, defeating formidable Palmerston North in their first race.
‘‘For stockcars there’s three races every night and starting positions for maybe 26 cars decided by a single marble draw,’’ Tuhura said.
‘‘If you’re drawn in the middle you’ll likely be stuck in the thick of it all night.
‘‘If you’re at the rear you’ll be avoiding the carnage and looking for opportunities to zip through into the lead.
‘‘If you’re drawn at the front you know when you’re coming into the turn there’s a whole field of cars coming up behind you like a freight train.’’
Speedway racing is alive and well throughout Otago, with about 50 drivers in the Clutha area, and while it was never a cheap sport to be involved in, home engineering cut costs and was an attraction in its own right.
‘‘We do as much of our own mechanics and engineering as we can.’’
His son Zane was a talented engineer and an asset to the family team as they constructed reinforced steel racer chassis and personalised them with 4-bar suspension and other technical adjustments.
‘‘Watching my kids race and hearing people compliment them makes me proud.
‘‘Every weekend we travel away to race is a family holiday together.’’
The Otago speedway community will be busy raising funds throughout the season to send the Outlaws back to the teams championships in Auckland next March.
‘‘If you win the championships you bring it to your home track, and it’s never made it to the South Island. In the meantime, we’ve got the big fireworks night on November 4 when we’ll be competing in the street stocks Demolition Man.’’