They may have come together randomly but don't be surprised if Craig Boaler and Brittany Wealleans do the best of the Hawke's Bay crews in the New Zealand Sidecar Grand Prix at Meeanee tomorrow night.
Boaler, 56, had been out of the sport for 15 years when he decided to make a comeback last season.
"My son Brock expressed an interest in swinging. But he got injured in a car accident and wasn't able to but I decided to carry on as I had just built my 22nd bike. I tried 10 different passengers last season including our team mechanic [Tony Drake] who decided he was more suited to working on the bike than sitting on it but this season I was lucky enough to find Brittany ... or she found us to be precise," self employed engineer Boaler explained.
Wealleans, 22, who raced quad bikes in her younger days before having a six-year spell from that sport, delivers for Partmaster Ltd in Hastings and was dropping parts off at Kelly Automotive in Flaxmere when she noticed Brock Boaler and the rest of the staff watching some sidecar racing on line.
"I particularly took note of the number of female swingers involved. Brock told me his father was looking for a swinger and the season had already started. I said I would give it a go as it would be good to see more younger swingers involved," Wealleans said.
The second youngest of the passengers who will take to the track in tomorrow night's 007 Paintball Grand Prix, Wealleans, has raced with Boaler in 14 of his 17 meetings this season.
"Because of her quad bike racing background she has a good understanding of what motorsport is all about. We started the season slowly to give Brittany time to learn and us to gel as a team. She has picked it up well and is doing all that can be asked," Boaler said.
The 2001/02 season national champion with Hayden MacDonald as his swinger in Whanganui, has been on the podium 13 times in North Island, New Zealand Grand Prix or national championships. He also won numerous Hawke's Bay and East Coast titles during his 24 years of racing before his 15-year spell.
"It's hard to single out the main highlight of my time in speedway. Every time I can have a win and a beer is good," Boaler said.
"To me it's not just about winning championships ... it's the comradeship you have when going to meetings. I remember going to Western Springs in Auckland for the first time and I had a swinger on the back for the first time and we had a win. Those are occasions you never forget."
"I've already got a bet with Peter [Auckland rider and long-time friend Adams] that whoever places the highest out of both of us is buying the beers. I should have made it the other way around," Boaler said with a laugh.
Earlier this month Boaler won the Hawke's Bay championship at Meeanee with Ann Plummer as his passenger. He first raced with Plummer in the 1980s and she was going to race with her at last weekend's Gisborne-hosted national championship which was rained off and postponed until March 6 when Boaler intends to be among the starters.
Boaler is racing a stock-standard 2017 GSXR 1000-powered bike.
"Some of the other riders try to spice their engines up but I was happy with how mine come out of the factory," Boaler said.
Boaler and Wealleans will be one of 20 crews chasing the Grand Prix title. Other host-track crews among the entries are Daniel Satherley and Adrian Orchard, Justin Lincoln and George Olsen and the hubby and wife pair of Kim and Kerry Johnston.
Two-time national title winners Russell Stuart and Andrew Parker and fellow Palmerston North-contracted crews Mike Zachan and Ben Franklin, Mark Whye and Jacob Cooper, Rob Miller and Red George are among the fancied visitors. Boaler pointed out the format for tomorrow night will mean most crews will complete six or seven races.
"It will be a good test for Brittany. I don't have any problems with my fitness ... I'm still playing rep hockey," Boaler added referring to his commitments with the Wellington 55 years and over masters team.
Hawke's Bay's four-time national champion Bradley Wilson-Dean will start as the hot favourite in a seven-strong field for the Hawke's Bay solo bike championship. Aucklanders Ryan Terry-Daly, Tony Hendry and Jake Turner along with regular host-track riders Michael Patey, Jason McKay and Graham Wedlake will fancy their chances of reaching the podium.
The Dusty Rhodes Memorial Trophy will be up for grabs in the TQ class tomorrow night. Aucklander Cieran Rose won it last year and it will be interesting to see if a Hawke's Bay driver can win it back.
A two-time winner of the national TQ title, Rhodes, was a founding member of the Hawke's Bay Speedway Club 55 years ago. He died in 2014.
Saloons and production saloons will be the support classes.