Levin motor mechanic Shannon Askew has again won a major New Zealand drag racing title.
The 49-year-old was crowned 1NZ - New Zealand champion in the Modified bike class for the second time late last year at a combined New Zealand Drag Racing Association and International Hot Rod Association event.
Incredibly, he achieved the feat on a road bike that he used to ride to the events on. To participate, all he had to do was to take off the side mirrors before he took the 1996 Suzuki GSXR 1100WT to the start line.
When competition was over, he then secured the mirrors back on again before setting sail for home. Now with the crew attending most meetings (partner Sandra and daughter Isobel), the bike is hauled to the events on the back of his ute.
The modified bike event required riders to guess their time (dial your own - DYO), and is more technical than just direct speed, so the focus is on skill and awareness and low reaction times.
There were two staging lights where both competitors approach the line, then three yellow lights at regular intervals before the green light to indicate GO.
It was all about the reaction time of the riders in anticipating the green light, and judging time on the way to the finish line.
"Three one-hundredths of one second is like having a cup of tea," he said.
The slightest drop in wind can also have an effect of time, but reaction time was key. He practised by having a 30cm plastic ruler held above his open hand. When it was released he had to pinch it stopped before he ran out of ruler.
Like any elite sportsman, he could train himself to have quicker reactions.
"It is muscle memory," he said.
Askew had been riding motorbikes for better part of 33 years, doing motocross, hill sprints, circuit racing before going drag racing.
With that positive approach and willing to have a go he began to "play around" and in 2013 he came up with the idea that he might try drag racing his motorbike.
"I thought actually this isn't bad. I might have a crack at this," he said.
In his first season competing he was runner-up in the NZDRA series behind seasoned campaigner, Alan Thoresen and Black Thunder Racing (Hamilton).
By the time the 2014 NZ event came around the following year, he was ready to have a crack, but even he was surprised at his first placing, with Thoresen being runner-up. That was the last time a combined nationwide series was held.
So to win the title again last year was no mean feat, with Thoresen runner-up and Tony Gray (Morrinsville) in third place.
The awards dinner was cancelled twice due to the outbreak of Covid-19. He was finally officially presented with the title late last year at the Masterton Motorplex event.
Askew has a natural affinity with all motorsport. He had a background in motorcross, speedway and sidecar driving and rally car driving in a Datsun 120Y.
He said where some motorsports can come with a large financial impost, like speedway where a crash can be costly, the modified drag racing was more pocket friendly.
"It only costs me tyres and petrol," he said, and appreciates the support and sponsorship provided by Levin Motorcycle Centre.
"Anyone can rock up as long as you have a licence and a legal vehicle, and they too may bitten by the go fast bug."