Speedway: 25 years for veteran speedster

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay streetstock driver Richard Houston got the perfect start to his 25th anniversary meeting at the Hawke's Bay Speedway Club's Meeanee opening night on Saturday.

Houston, 41, who started racing on the corresponding night 25 years ago as a 16-year-old and hasn't missed a season since, won his first heat in the nine-strong class.

"Nothing was arranged before the race ... it was just one of those nights when I got it all," Houston said after the meeting, which also saw him finish third in the second heat and forced to retire in the third with a puncture.

"You're right ... I couldn't have asked for a better start to the season and after what I've achieved during a career in which I've only missed six meetings out here, anything from now on will be a bonus. I'm just here to enjoy my racing now," Houston said.

"It was great Dad and other members of the family could be here to see it," he said, referring to his father Ray who was the club's oldest competitor at 67 during the 2009-10 season.

Now driving a 289 Ford V8-powered Sunbeam Tiger, Houston has raced between 30 and 40 different cars over the years. The former 3NZ and a former winner of the New Zealand Grand Prix title in his class, he won the Manawatu championship last season and was the Hawke's Bay club's top points scorer.

He has yet to decide whether he will compete in the Dunedin-hosted nationals this season.

"The nationals are in Dunedin and that's a long way to go so close to Christmas time," he said.

Hawke's Bay stock car driver Joshua Smith had the honour of being the first diver rolled this season. His clubmate and 3NZ Regan O'Brien flipped him during the third heat for their 13-strong class.

O'Brien had earlier won the first heat and finished second in the second. Promising 18-year-old Hawke's Bay driver Randal Tarrant was the most consistent in the class with two wins and a second.

The ministock class, which caters for drivers aged 12-17, had the biggest number of starters with 21. Hawke's Bay's Max Bayley continued the outstanding form he displayed last summer with first, second and third placings.

Hawke's Bay's Todd Cousins, 1NZ Craig and 2NZ Duane predictably dominated the 14-strong TQ class. Craig won two of the three heats and Duane the other and they finished top three in all three heats while Auckland's 3NZ only had one top three finish.

Hawke's Bay's Graham Martin has come out of retirement in the saloon class and his best finish was a second to his son Steven in a six-strong class.

Hawke's Bay's Tony Meechan won two of the three superstock heats. A highlight of the night's racing in this class was the prize money being reversed in the second heat for the top three finishers.

Hawke's Bay's Steve Jude must not have got the message as he collected third prize and Rotorua visitor Mark Flower won the most cash with his third placing.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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