Car racing old hand in it for the friendship

At 81 years old Allan Kirk, of Timaru, was the oldest competitor at Beachlands Speedway’s first...
At 81 years old Allan Kirk, of Timaru, was the oldest competitor at Beachlands Speedway’s first meeting of the new year yesterday. PHOTOS: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
The camaraderie and not just a love of blinding speed encouraged Allan Kirk (81) to race his Ford V8 production car yesterday at Beachlands Speedway’s first meeting of the new year.

Mr Kirk, of Timaru, still enjoys racing, although he says his Valiant V8 probably reaches a top speed of only about 90kmh on the Beachlands’s 408m-long clay race track.

As he prepared for this race, he struck a problem with a broken clutch, but friends quickly rallied round and helped find him a replacement.

These friendships, honed by more than 50 years of car racing, help keep him coming back.

The social links also help in other ways, such as friendly phone calls updating him on the latest weather reports for out-of-town tracks.

Cars hurtle round a bend during a Heat 1 Qualifiers Cleanways Group event at Beachlands Speedway,...
Cars hurtle round a bend during a Heat 1 Qualifiers Cleanways Group event at Beachlands Speedway, Dunedin, yesterday.

"There’s quite a bit of it [mutual help and support]," he said.

"If your mates all hated you, you wouldn’t last a year."

A perpetual big grin and a lively nimbleness in climbing in and out of his race car through the side window suggest someone 20 years younger.

He has been driving his current car, with 37D painted on the door, for more than 10 years, and he was one of about 17 contestants doing battle in a production saloon event last night.

Some of the growing crowd at yesterday’s Beachlands Speedway race meeting.
Some of the growing crowd at yesterday’s Beachlands Speedway race meeting.

"I don’t think it’s only for speed.

"You’ve got to always remain fairly calm."

At the Beachlands track, only seven of the planned 15 race meetings could be held last year, mainly through Covid-19 disruption, promoter Ricky Boulton said.

However, racing bounced back in a big way yesterday, as the track hosted the Aquaflow Plumbing New Zealand Streetstock Qualifying, to be followed by the Streetstock finals this evening.

These are national racing events which are hosted only rarely at Beachlands.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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