The loud cheers were a clue and the content of his acceptance speech was another ... Magpie Jason Long deserved to be the inaugural winner of the NZME Peoples Choice award.

Long, 24, who is also well known for his speedway pursuits, was quick to thank Palmerston North couple Graeme and Bev Malton who brought him his first ministock in his teenage years. They were like surrogate parents to Long and his brother Jeremy and they transported them to meetings around the country when Long's parents, Murray and Fiona, were too busy working.

Long was equally quick to praise his parents and superstock crew for their contribution.

"When the rugby and speedway seasons over lap I dash from my club game on a Saturday out to Meeanee and my car is all set up and ready to go. I think I'm the only one who can turn up out there and have his car ready to drive."


Hawke's Bay Rugby Union development officer Long finished second in the New Zealand Superstock Championship at Stratford earlier this year to Nelson's Shane Harwood.

He had only been racing in the class for five years and it took his father, who is now retired from racing, 30 years to capture the 3NZ number for his car.

Long was also a member of the Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes Superstock team which created history by winning the ENZED Teams Champs in Palmerston North for the first time in February after 35 years of trying. The team was unbeaten over two nights and beat Great Britain in the final of the most prestigious event in New Zealand Speedway.

The Hastings Rugby and Sports prop came off the bench for the Magpies when they beat Wellington in last year's final of the ITM Cup Championship. He also played in most of the Magpies Ranfurly Shield defences.

Long said he aims to crack the Magpies squad again this winter and when the speedway season arrives he will have a new car.

"I want to try and go one better and win the New Zealand title next season."

He also praised the education he received at Hastings Boys' High School and urged fans to watch the school's in-form 1st XV this season.