Final flag for speedway combination
After 44 years, the father and son motorsport team of Robin and Shane Simpson have said farewell to Wellington speedway.
Shane Simpson, 40, driving his ‘‘4W’’ mini-sprint vehicle at Kaitoke for a last time, was completing a 24th season in the sometimes unfashionable motorsport.
Watching and helping was Shane, his father, who trail blazed in the game in the early 1970s.
After one injury too many in the early 1990s, Robin handed the family racing mantle to Shane who, at 16 years old, was already well versed in the game.
With the Wellington Speedway holding the New Zealand Minisprint Nationals for a first time on Saturday, Simpson was primed to deliver one last time before a good-sized crowd.
‘‘We had a nice night but it certainly didn’t play out like I had planned,’’ he said.
The mini-sprint action was delayed more than two hours because of procedural protests. It meant the 28-driver finals were reduced to three heats.
Then, Simpson’s hopes were dashed in the first heat after a wheel rim was damaged in contact and he punctured, leaving him parked up against a side wall as the action continued around him.
Twenty minutes later, while getting into formation for the second heat, he realised he had no brakes.
‘‘The calipers must have been hit in the first race and we didn’t know. I just stayed out of trouble and looked to finish off.’’
It meant he was not able to line up for the final heat.
‘‘It was a bit of shame but that’s racing,’’ Shane Simpson said.
‘‘I’m pretty sure in this class that I’m the oldest. There are younger ones coming through which is good.
‘‘I’ve always known this game. Dad was always racing when I was real young and I’d be going away with him and watching and learning.
‘‘He’s always been with me after he retired too, driving the motorhome to events everywhere and with all the mechanical stuff.’’
With his stepmother, Dale, and pit crew veteran Chris Benton always on hand, Simpson said he had the best of support through his career. This included much appreciated sponsorship, including from his employer, Al’s Litter Bins, and Oilpro.
Tight team: Long time mini-sprint driver Shane Simpson, left, stepmum Dale, father Robin and pit crew veteran Chris Benton.