Darrin Wilson's achievements as a solobike rider have been well documented over the years.
The Hastings-based engineer and upholsterer is a multiple Hawke's Bay and East Coast champion who at the age of 53 can still podium on the international scene. Earlier this year he finished third in the British Veterans Championship in Kent before travelling to the United States where he was in the winning Division 2 AMA Nationals Best Pairs team for the second consecutive year.
His passion for motocross is almost as as great as it is for speedway.
"We used to do it every weekend and then Bradley just wanted to be a speedway rider," Wilson said referring to his son Bradley Wilson-Dean, the three-time national solobike champion who is a United Kingdom-based professional.
"I still do as much motocross as I can these days and I can't wait for this weekend," Wilson said with the enthusiasm of a rider half of his age and it was easy to gauge why.
He will be among 220 riders in the Bay Motorcycles-supported New Zealand Veterans and Women's Motocross Championships in Otane. Wilson will race his KTM 350 in the 50-54 years age group which will have at least 20 starters including Great Britain's three-time world veterans champion Kurt Nicoll and two of the most successful Kiwis on the international stage - Darryl King and Mitch Rowe of Taranaki.
"I'll be hoping for a top 10 finish in the class and that's achievable," Wilson said.
"Seven months ago I approached the Central Hawke's Bay Motorcycle Club about hosting the champs which needed a good boost so I invited Kurt to the event," Wilson recalled.
"Along with my good friend Shayne [1996 world 500cc champion King] a younger brother of Darryl we made it happen," Wilson said.
Each class will have three races on Saturday and two on Sunday. The top three riders from each of the 10 men's classes will qualify for the Gathering of the Gods race on Sunday.
"There are going to be some amazing champions in that race who will be racing for another three prestigious trophies," Wilson said.
Nicoll was a member of the Great Britain team which won the MX of Nations in 1994. He finished second in the 500cc world motocross championship in 1987, '88, '90 and '92.
The seven-time British national champion is the son of 1969 World MX GP winner Dave Nicoll. Earlier this year Nicoll was a member of the Great Britain Vets MX of Nations team which finished third two years after he rode for the title-winning Great Britain team.
South Islander Josh Coppins is among the favourites in the 40-44 years class where he will come up against former national champions Damien King of Waikato, the youngest of the three King brothers who will be racing, Waikato's Mike Cotter and former Scottish international Barry Morris who is Rotorua-based. Motueka's Coppins was twice No 2 in the 250cc class in the world championships in 2002 and 2005 and he came close to clinching the MX1 (450cc) crown in 2007 before an injury derailed his campaign.
However, these credentials may not be enough for Yamaha's Coppins to claim the outright favourite status for the Gathering of Gods race.
"But I'd like to win and I expect to win," Coppins said matter-of-factly.
Coppins will combine his trip to Otane with the opening of the new Motoland Yamaha dealership in Napier.
A multi-time New Zealand motocross and supercross champion, Coppins began his GP racing career in Australia, as a 16-year-old competing in the 125cc class at the Australian GP at Manjimup, in Western Australia, in August 1993. He was sidelined for four months with a knee injury early the following year but, once fully recovered, things really got serious for him in 1995.
Coppins enjoyed a fulltime world championship Grand Prix career spanning 16 years (between 1995 and 2010) and he finished among the world's top 10 overall in 10 of those seasons in Europe. Coppins also became Australian MX1 champion in 2012, before retiring from fulltime professional racing in August that year.
Auckland Yamaha rider Tony Cooksley, who was a veterans world champion in 2007, must be considered the favourite for the 60-69 years class this weekend.
In the women's section of the programme, expect to see riders such as Cambridge's Zara Gray, Hamilton's Amie Roberts, New Plymouth's Mikayla Rowe, Motueka sisters Tyla and Roma Edwards, Ohawea's Taylar Rampton, Invercargill's Charlotte Clark and Ngatea's Brooke Dalley to feature near the front.
The event will be staged on Twist's property at 1080 Argyll Rd.