Veteran ready for 70 laps for 70 years

Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Veteran self-confessed ‘‘petrol head’’ Ray Stewart will get an early birthday present tonight.

The almost 70-year-old will strap himself into his saloon and race in the Ray Stewart 70th Birthday Super Saloon 70 Lapper at the Central Motor Speedway on the outskirts of Cromwell.

‘‘The promoter Jason Scott came up with this idea for me and my 70th birthday to have a 70-lapper,’’ Stewart said.

‘‘But it is not just about me — it is about doing something different.

‘‘We’ve had 50-lappers in New Zealand before but no more than that, so it is the first time it has been done.’’

The idea was inspired by the longer races which are held in the United States, and Stewart’s birthday was just the excuse they needed.

The Mosgiel driver is looking forward to the event.

It will be taxing race and Stewart has a few disadvantages. He lost his sight in his right eye following an accident with a high pressure pump, and had heart attack six years ago.

But he has not let that get in the way of doing what he loves.

‘‘I’ve got one good eye and a lot of people have got bigger challenges,’’ he said.

‘‘You just get on with it and don’t worry about it. And when you have a heart attack you realise how many other people have had one as well.’’

Stewart does not view himself as a role model for people of a certain vintage to stay active.

‘‘I don’t think about that at all. I just get on and do stuff.’’

Stewart has being racing super saloons for 20 plus years, and before that was a top motocross rider. When he lost sight in his eye in ‘‘about 1990’’, motocross became too difficult, so he switched to four-wheeled vehicles.

Stewart’s company Heavy Trax Hire has been the season sponsor at Central Motor Speedway for the past five seasons.

His actual birthday is late next month and coincides with the New Zealand Super Saloon Championships, which will be held at Woodford Glen, near Christchurch.

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