Since Hawke's Bay speedway personality Paul Demanser joined the spectator ranks at the Palmerston North Teams Champs he has made a habit of driving there and back both nights.

But at the recent edition of the 14-team ENZED Teams Champs Demanser became a little suspicious when his son Matt asked him to stay for a beer at the function which followed the final night of racing.

"I don't drink, I never do functions and when I told him I just wanted to get home he had to spill the beans ... he had to keep me there so I could be inducted into the event's Hall of Fame. It was a huge surprise and a massive honour," Demanser said.

Demanser, 56, who competed in the event on 21 occasions, 17 with the Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes and four with the Palmerston North Panthers, was the only inductee on the night and joins fellow retired Hawke's Bay drivers Shane Penn and Murray Long on the list of 11 inductees.


"You know me ... I've always tried to avoid the limelight so this was pretty special.

"Although I put my hand up for the Nelson Tigers last year before Adam [Hawkeye Groome] helped them out I had to retire eight years ago when I picked up the Crohn's disease," Demanser recalled.

Although the exact cause of the disease is unclear it is thought to stem from an abnormal reaction in the immune system. It is believed the immune system attacks foods, good bacteria and beneficial substances as if they were unwanted substances. During the attack white blood cells build up in the lining of the gut and this buildup triggers inflammation.

The inflammation leads to ulcerations and bowel injury.

While self-employed engineer Demanser has never been one for statistics and he lost count of the number of times he won Hawke's Bay or East Coast championship titles, he said memories of his racing career flooded back as he returned to the Bay after receiving his plaque. Demanser started racing in 1980 and had one season in the streetstock ranks before stepping up to the A grade stockcar class which is now known as the superstock class.

He made his debut at the Teams Champs in 1987 and has been in the winning team once, with the Palmerston North Panthers in 2000.

"That was the year I was on the receiving end of the biggest hits I ever collected. Funny enough it was from one of my own teammates, Scott Miers, who didn't recognise me and I ended up in hospital with concussion."

Demanser said it would be too hard for him to single out his most respected rivals as the list was a lengthy one but Taranaki's Roydon Collingwood would be near the top. And his favourite track?


"It used to be Auckland. Rotorua was always pretty good. While Meeanee wasn't that good for me back then I wouldn't mind racing on it now as it's pretty good."

Demanser was impressed with the manner in which the new-look Hawkeyes secured third place behind the Panthers and Gisborne in Palmerston North earlier this month. He believed it won't be too long before the Hawkeyes win a third title at Speedway New Zealand's most prestigious event.

"Our rookies Maddie Wise and Randal Tarrant did particularly well. Maddie needs to be held back a bit and Randal displayed maturity beyond his years. Adam [Groome] proved himself.

"From what I hear next year could be a big one for the Hawkeyes. Mike [McLachlan] will be back racing again, my boy Matt wants to have a crack at making the team and two Rotorua cars could be heading this way. Our numbers are growing all the time and that's great."

A regular Hawkeyes and Meeanee Maulers stockcar team coach in recent years, Demanser said he enjoys passing tips on.

"No one taught me. But I want to teach the young guys as much as I can so every now and then I poke my nose in."

This is unlikely to stop in the near future.

"Speedway is my passion. I see it as quality father-and-son time. To me it would be the ultimate to watch Matt return to the Bay from the Palmy Teams Champs with a winning Hawkeyes team," he added, before it was time for him to head off and help one of the 2018 Hawkeyes do some repairs on his car.