Sprints pre­view rocks writer

140kmh on the streets a buzz

Central Otago Mirror - - CENTRAL NEWS - By CHE BAKER

Af­ter meet­ing with the or­gan­is­ers of the Cromwell Sprints it be­come ap­par­ent my lack of first-hand rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was not go­ing to cut it if I was go­ing to be writ­ing about their beloved sport. So it was sorted, Cen­tral Otago Mo­tor­sport Club pres­i­dent Grant Keen and mem­ber Justin Mar­shall signed me up to co-drive in my first race. Over­alls, check. Hel­met, check. Triple lock seat­belt check. Cromwell driver Paul Beat­tie and I hit the track in his pur­posely built 2004 Mit­subishi Evo­lu­tion8 and he be­gins a brakes test. Vroom, Stop. Vroom, Stop. This con­tin­ued at least 10 times, throw­ing me around the car and mak­ing me dizzy. At the start­line Paul ex­plains how the car was go­ing to go into an­ti­lag mode to al­low us to get the fastest take­off as pos­si­ble and keep us at full throt­tle along the 1.5 kilo­me­tre track. I wasn’t ner­vous but my hands started to sweat in the hot car. ‘‘We’re re­ally go­ing to have to push it this time,’’ Paul said. We burst off the start line and ap­proach the first cor­ner. I was ex­pect­ing us to slow down but that was the op­po­site of what hap­pened and we sped up. We are rock­et­ing! It feels so un­nat­u­ral (yet ex­hil­a­rat­ing) to be driv­ing at up to

fas­tened, 140kmh in a 50kmh area around right an­gle cor­ners. How­ever I’m too busy look­ing at the road to take a glimpse of the speedome­ter. I see a road block of tyres ahead. The track dis­ap­pears. We are go­ing to hit some­thing! We are go­ing to hit some­thing! I kept say­ing to my­self. But Paul shows his pas­sion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism when it comes to driv­ing and the car glides with ease as he weaves around the se­ries of tyre chi­canes. Oh, that’s where the track went. I com­pletely re­lax re­al­is­ing I’m in safe hands. We hit the fi­nal straight and I’m thrown back into my seat as we try to beat the clock and pass the fin­ish line. I ex­plain to Paul I was cer­tain we were go­ing to hit some­thing dur­ing the race. ‘‘Oh we did, we hit a tyre stack,’’ Paul replied. Too fast for me to even notice. ‘‘That was great. You’re a great co­driver, want a job?,’’ Paul asks. ‘‘Yes!,’’ I re­ply with­out hes­i­ta­tion, re­al­is­ing driv­ing is not go­ing to be the same for a while.

In the fast lane: Mir­ror re­porter Che Baker with Cromwell driver Paul Beat­tie be­fore tak­ing to the track in the Cromwell Street Sprints in Cromwell on Sun­day.

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