OBIT­U­ARY Colin ‘Dawker’ John Daw­son Oc­to­ber 13, 1957 to Fe­bru­ary 24, 2017

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New Zealand Classic Car - - News - Quin­ton Tay­lor

Many were stunned at the news of Colin Daw­son’s pass­ing on Fe­bru­ary 24, 2017, a few days after the last round of the South­ern Fes­ti­val of Speed at Tere­tonga Park race­way.

A huge crowd turned out to his farewell, which was held at the As­cot Park Ho­tel in In­ver­cargill on March 2, 2017 to cel­e­brate a very full 59 years of life.

Known na­tion­ally, in par­tic­u­lar, as an Open Sa­loon Car As­so­ci­a­tion (OSCA) na­tional cham­pion and, more re­cently, for his in­volve­ment in His­toric Mus­cle Cars (HMC), Colin, or ‘Dawker’, as he was more af­fec­tion­ately known, was held in high re­gard, not only as a suc­cess­ful South­land busi­ness­man but also as a tal­ented race car driver.

Ap­pro­pri­ately, the ser­vice be­gan to the strains of the Beep, Beep by The Play­mates, a hit song from 1958 about a race be­tween a lit­tle Nash Ram­bler and a Cadil­lac. Those old enough to re­mem­ber will re­call Nash had a prob­lem with its over­drive gear­box switches jam­ming the gear­box in one gear un­der cer­tain con­di­tions. A line from the song goes, “Hey buddy, how do you get this car out of sec­ond gear?”

Colin trained as an en­gi­neer and proved to be con­sid­er­ably tal­ented in this field. At an early stage in his ca­reer, he started his own busi­ness in In­ver­cargill. It was typ­i­cal of Colin that he al­ways worked to im­prove any­thing me­chan­i­cal and got the best of his cars, so the song struck a chord with many.

Long-time friend and fel­low racer Rodger Cunningham spoke at the farewell. “A very tal­ented and fierce com­peti­tor … Colin, Dawkey, Dawker, Mr Doo — what­ever you called him, he was a great mate to many of us,” Rodger said.

Along with Colin, Rodger en­joyed a num­ber of years of build­ing Toy­ota race cars in Colin’s work­shop and close rac­ing with fel­low club mem­bers Bruce Jenks and Steven Kennedy, usu­ally lap­ping around the 1min 15s mark for Tere­tonga.

“The com­pet­i­tive­ness in Dawker soon came out, and he was off to Noddy Mur­doch in Ti­maru. His car came back with a set of Del­lor­tos, and the ex­tremely close rac­ing we had all been hav­ing started to go out the win­dow. We were all look­ing at Dawker’s tail-lights. He even­tu­ally got his Toy­ota Torino down to 1min 10s — a huge achieve­ment!”

En­durance rac­ing was the at­trac­tion in 1994, but, in 2002, Colin pur­chased the ex–bren­don Ma­son RX-7 and sold the Toy­ota to his nephew Bradley, who still races the car. Colin de­vel­oped the RX-7 into a win­ning com­bi­na­tion in OSCA rac­ing, and, in the 2006–’07 sea­son, he was New Zealand OSCA Su­per Sa­loon na­tional cham­pion, South Is­land OSCA cham­pion, and South Is­land OSCA GT2 cham­pion. In 2006, he achieved an­other mile­stone with a sub-one-minute lap of Tere­tonga of 59.3s in the RX-7.

In his 2007 book Go­ing Round in Cir­cles, Keith Dou­glas noted that Colin was sec­ond equal in hav­ing at­tended the most race meet­ings at Tere­tonga. The two com­peti­tors rated above him have since re­tired, so it was a record that they had not re­al­ized, Rodger said.

The 2008–’09 sea­son saw a re­built car and him again South Is­land OSCA cham­pion, South Is­land OSCA Group 2 cham­pion, and come third in the New Zealand OSCA Cham­pi­onship. After a visit to Hamp­ton Downs Mo­tor­sport Park in 2013, Rodger con­vinced Colin that HMC rac­ing was the way to go, and a suit­able Chevro­let Ca­maro was found with HMC mem­ber Glenn Alling­ham in Auck­land.

Glenn at­tended Colin’s farewell. The two had be­come very close friends, and their rac­ing on the track was also close, es­pe­cially re­cently at Ti­maru and In­ver­cargill. Glenn drew a few chuck­les re­count­ing how tough the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Colin had been for the Ca­maro, along with his leg­endary fru­gal­ity. “After Colin fi­nally bought the Ca­maro, I felt like I needed some vic­tim sup­port,” Glenn said.

A large crowd gath­ered be­side the Tere­tonga Park track to pay their re­spects to Colin ‘Dawker’ John Daw­son as he cir­cu­lated the track for the fi­nal time and saw his fi­nal che­quered flag, dropped by long-time friend Bruce Jenks.

As the crowd gath­ered at the start/fin­ish line, fu­neral of­fi­ciant Judy Gre­gory stepped out of the hearse and re­marked, “I’ve just had the word from Colin … that [that] was the slow­est lap he has ever done of Tere­tonga!” Fi­nal flag — Bruce Jenks drops the che­quered flag for Colin’s fi­nal lap of Tere­tonga Park

Colin Daw­son’s fu­neral photo (supplied by the Daw­son fam­ily and Ave­nal Fu­neral Ser­vices)

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