Kelly and Baby Blue promise to be crowd pleasers

Frank Kelly, of Ireland, tears around Flagstaff yesterday in preparation for the Otago Rally. Photos: Peter McIntosh
Frank Kelly, of Ireland, tears around Flagstaff yesterday in preparation for the Otago Rally. Photos: Peter McIntosh
Frank likes going fast - crazy fast.

And corners are no fun unless you get sideways.

You get the feeling the 53-year-old Irishman is really going to enjoy this weekend.

Frank Kelly is back for his second attempt at the Otago Rally. He came two years ago and loved it.

The organisers had been trying to get Kelly over for quite some time. He was eventually convinced following a conversation with a friend who assured him the event was well worth it.

''As a rally man we all know that some of the best gravel roads are in New Zealand, so I thought 'What the hell','' he said.

Kelly looks satisfied with his performance.
Kelly looks satisfied with his performance.
''It is a big undertaking to be fair. Things ran much more smoothly the first time.

''We had some [issues] with the shipping this time. The car ended up in the wrong city. It arrived in Christchurch instead of Dunedin.''

He calls his car Baby Blue. It is a MK 2 Ford Escort and Kelly is hoping for a top five finish.

He plans to head north to Whangarei for the next event in the series. But that all depends on whether those pretty blue panels remain straight at the end of the weekend.

''If you've watched my videos, it is all subject to me finishing the first one,'' he said, laughing.

Kelly has a large social media following. He posts clips of him competing and the Fast, Sideways and Mental series will give you a frightening insight into how he likes to attack corners.

He is the sort of driver spectators come to see. He is not the sort of driver you want to catch a lift home with.

''Where would the fun be in that?'' he responded when asked whether he considered taking a more conventional line around the corner.

''That's no fun.''

Kelly got his start in the sport racing around quarries and doing gravel sprints. He eventually moved on to more organised competitive events and has been competing in rallies for 26 years.

''It is a funny thing because I'm actually a very careful person. But when it comes to rally driving, there is some demon that wakes up in me and I just go mental.

''I don't understand it and I've stopped trying to understand it.''

Of course, that kind of approach leans itself to the odd crash.

''Unfortunately, I've had many, many crashes. I'd been quite good there for about two years but two or three weeks ago - I have a copy of this car at home - I basically wrecked it.

''It is in rebuild as we speak.''

The rally gets under way tomorrow night with a ceremonial start in the Octagon.

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