Rookie speedway driver Nick Simmons might have blown his cover.
The 53-year-old from Levin was almost a complete unknown when he took to the start line at Stratford Speedway earlier this month to contest the New Zealand Adult Ministock Pairs event.
But by the time the final race was up, Simmons had managed to slip through the race series relatively unscathed to finish top of the podium with top driver and teammate Nathan Nolly from Stratford.
The rules of the competition saw Simmons paired up with Nolly by ballot ahead of the first of three races.
It was Simmons' first time driving at Stratford. What made the effort even more remarkable, but possibly helped him slip under the radar, was that it was also his first season driving ministocks.
"I don't think I was figured into the equation. If they know you're a threat they'll try and slow you down...by the time the third race came along we were being attacked from everywhere," he said.
Nolly and Simmons were up against an almost full field of 22 cars and after three races were completed and the points tallied, they were ahead of Tait Scott and Roger Dettling, and Keegan Riddiford and William Campbell.
Points from each race were combined. Their overall score was consistently the highest, with Simmons himself carding fourth, seventh and tenth-placed finishes.
Although he never won a race "we didn't have to". The series rewarded consistency and an ability to get through the race unscathed.
"You have to stay within your means. If you spin out you can lose half a lap," he said.
Meanwhile, Simmons jokingly called his foray into speedway a "mid-life crisis". He took a shine to it after going behind the scenes while doing camera work for a production company.
"I'd never done it before, but I'd been involved watching and working behind the video camera and got the bug," he said.
"The thought was always there though and the adult ministocks was an affordable solution," he said.
He brought an old mini-stock from Stratford that hadn't been raced for years and with the help of Levin engine mechanic Mike Salton they rebuilt the car, which they both now use to race.
Racing a stock car was only half the job. There was a lot of work that had to go into a car behind the scenes, which the team enjoyed.
"I always like tutuing around mechanically so being able to apply it to something like this is unreal.
"No one really has a recipe for this."
The Adult Ministock class used engines from either Datsun 1200 or Toyota 1200 engines from the 1970s. Both cars were rear-wheel drives and parts were still accessible.
As the car weighed less than 750kg it could be towed on a single-axle trailer behind a car making transportation to events pocket-friendly too, he said.
Simmons was driving at Stratford for the first time. Previously he had only raced at Palmerston North and Whanganui speedways.
The next big race event for the team is the Manawatū Champs at Palmerston North on February 27.