When Luke McClymont was named the SNZ Ministock Competitor of the Year at the Speedway New Zealand awards in Wellington this month he was following in some illustrious company.
The Otumoetai College Year 11 student is the latest success story in a family well-grounded in speedway.
Father Brent McClymont was a two-time New Zealand champion in the Saloon Class and the only saloon driver to finish on the podium and carry the 1NZ, 2NZ or 3NZ number on his car for seven straight years from 2007 to 2014. He retired in 2015 to focus on Luke's career.
Luke's grandfather, Dave McClymont, also raced speedway saloons and was one of the original guarantors to the old Baypark track in Pāpāmoa. His other grandfather, Brian Audas, was also a successful racer back in the day in Mini 7s circuit racing as well as later racing saloons at speedway.
Luke, 15, has been racing a Ministock car since he was 12 and has one more full season before he moves out of the youth class. Te Puke's V8 Supercars driver Richie Stanaway also started out in Ministocks.
Winning the main award in Wellington capped off a great season for Luke.
"The most important race this year was not actually one of the wins but coming second at MIP [Ministocks in Paradise]. There were more than 300 cars racing in Rotorua for two nights. The first night was qualifying and then top 26 in four groups went into a final," Luke says.
"I was lucky enough to get second in that. MIP is like the pinnacle of the Ministocks. We don't really have a New Zealand champs and that's where everyone goes to try and win that. Next year I am hoping to go one better and win it."
Standing on stage in front of his family in Wellington was a feeling Luke will never forget.
"It means everything to win this really. Dad's won it four times before in his class so it was cool to be standing up there where my dad has before. It was a pretty wicked experience," Luke says.
"I got to see him compete most weekends and I really liked it and the last couple of years my cousins got into the class as well. My dad sold up after 20-odd years to support me."
Luke, who would love to end up driving V8 Supercars in Australia like Stanaway and Scott McLaughlin, says the secret to being a successful speedway driver is to be aware of what is going on around you and looking ahead.
"If there is a crash ahead you have to try and avoid that and not try and go through it. But remember to always have fun is the main part of it."
Luke McClymont, 2017-18 season
1st Ministock Stampede — Kihikihi
1st Gisborne 100
1st Bay of Plenty Champs — Baypark
1st Future of Speedway — Huntly
1st Interclub Challenge — Huntly
1st Overall Season Points — Baypark
Best Presented Car MIP — Rotorua
2nd Overall MIP — Rotorua
Driver of the Year — Baypark
Competitor of the Year Ministocks — Speedway New Zealand