Speedway fans remember late president

Friends and family of the late Daryl Ainsley gather in Cromwell for the Daryl Ainsley Memorial...
Friends and family of the late Daryl Ainsley gather in Cromwell for the Daryl Ainsley Memorial Meeting which began yesterday. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS
A sporting chameleon loved by the local community.

This is how the late Daryl Ainsley was described by friends and family who gathered in Cromwell with the wider speedway fraternity for the inaugural Daryl Ainsley Memorial meeting.

The Cromwell speedway ace and former Central Speedway president died in May last year, at the age of 52, after he had gone to rescue two friends who got stuck while driving on Tautuku Peninsula, in the Catlins.

The race meeting officially began yesterday as six-shooters, saloons, production saloons, sprint cars, youth ministocks took to the track.

Entrants participated in other social activities yesterday including squash, karting and a pie-eating competition.

A shearing competition will be held this afternoon before racing resumes.

Central Speedway promoter Jason Scott said the event embodied Mr Ainsley's far-reaching passions beyond the speedway track.

"It's Daryl to a tee."

"The racing is a secondary thing, really.

"It's about getting people together to have a yarn and think about Daryl in the background."

Mr Ainsley's brother Lomas said he was treating the occasion as a "celebration of Daryl".

"I know there's going to be some funny stories that people will want to share," he said.

"I'm looking forward to honouring him."

Mr Ainsley's daughters Maddy (18) and Faith (15) Ainsley have made about 3000 wrist bands, sales of which across the event will go towards a fund for "permanently remembering" both their father and speedway legend Ron Spriggs, who was integral to the development of the Central Motor Speedway.

A close friend of Mr Ainsley, Mr Scott remembered his mate as someone who gave "110% in everything he did".

Along with his speedway exploits, Mr Ainsley was a keen rugby and squash player. He also completed three consecutive Coast to Coast events and occasionally performed sets as DJ Dazza.

For Lomas Ainsley, the breadth of his brother's standing in the community continues to resonate nearly a year after his death.

"Not one week goes by where I don't run into someone who tells me a story about how [Daryl] helped them, whether that was financially or just as a support person. I knew he helped people but I didn't realise the extent.

"He was a humble man."

Racing recommences at 5pm today at Central Motor Speedway, followed by a prizegiving and live music to conclude the event.

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