Hawke's Bay superstock driver Joe Faram had the Midas touch during the 2011-12 season.
Every major event he entered Faram, 48, either won or made the podium. He won the national title for the first time at the Huntly-hosted nationals in January, the Autumn Nationals title at Meeanee in April, the April Speedfest title in Huntly, and he was third in the New Zealand Grand Prix.
So it was no surprise the popular Roys Hill helicopter pilot won the Superstock class Competitor of the Year award at the annual New Zealand Speedway Awards function in Auckland recently. Faram's team also collected the award for the Best Presented Car and Crew and he captured the most prestigious award up for grabs, the Sportsperson of the Year.
"It was the first time I had been nominated for the national awards and it was pretty special to win three. What made it more memorable was the fact I had all my crew and their partners there as a token of my appreciation ... it was great to have them on board and I would not have had the success I had without them," Faram said.
The next challenge for Faram is to match this success when he races overseas during the next month. Faram leaves the Bay today to prepare for the September 15 world championship meeting in Skegness, England, where he and fellow Bay driver Andy McCabe will represent New Zealand.
As part of their buildup the pair will race in Birmingham on Saturday, Belle Vue on Monday, Coventry on September 1 and Birmingham on September 8. On the day before the world championships Faram and McCabe, like the other non-English drivers, will have the opportunity to practise on the Skegness track.
The day after the world championships and car and body permitting Faram, like McCabe, will race at the Northampton-hosted World Masters Championship. Both Bay drivers will race borrowed cars in Britain and Faram will be driving former world champion Murray Harrison's car as Harrison is having a year off to focus on work commitments.
"I've hosted Murray in the past when he has raced my car so it's good to have a turn at being hosted by him," Faram said.
Back in June Faram was in France on business and while there he went to Britain to have a drive of Harrison's car.
"I drove it on a tarmac surface like which the world championship will be raced on and it was super smooth. It seemed to suit me ... a bit like my days of racing V8s in the past," Faram said.
"At the same time I've still got a lot of learning to do in the car ... it's going to be a challenge."
Faram will be accompanied by one of his crew members, Ian Wood of Gisborne. When he returns to the Bay on September 20 he will have a month to get his own car ready for the Hawke's Bay Speedway Club's opening night at Meeanee on October 20.
Faram was one of four Hawke's Bay-based national champions to win Competitor of the Year awards for their respective classes at Speedway New Zealand's annual awards function. Super saloon driver Steve Flynn, TQ driver Craig Todd and streetstock driver David Hampton were the others.
Hawke's Bay ministock driver Regan Penn, a grandson of former national superstock champion Bryce Penn and a nephew of multiple Hawke's Bay and East Coast superstock champion Shane Penn, won the rookie of the year award for his class.
"It was without doubt Hawke's Bay's most successful night at the annual function and to have two Bay drivers [Faram and McCabe] heading overseas for a world championship completed a phenomenal season for the Bay," Todd said.