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.

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