Speedway fan ‘boots and all’

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Presidential ride . . . Beachlands Speedway committee vice-president Katrina Meikle, with her written-off Subaru Legacy, set to be scrapped at Otago Metals in Green Island. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

In a series, Shawn McAvinue spends five minutes talking to Dunedin motorsport enthusiasts about their passion for their form of racing.

Five minutes with . . . Beachlands Speedway committee vice-president Katrina Meikle, of Waldronville.

How old were you when you started racing?

My father Barry raced in the 1980s but stopped to have a family. He took me along when I was 14 and I made a passing comment of “I wouldn’t mind doing that” and he took me in the pits straight away and signed me up. When I started racing, I went in boots and all and I haven’t looked back.

What class do you race in?

I worked my way up to the production class and cleaned up the champs in Cromwell, Invercargill and Dunedin and then raced saloons for five seasons and went back to production class but had a horrendous crash in February.

Talk me through the crash?

It was a week out from the New Zealand title in Invercargill and my Subaru Legacy was going good, so I was playing it safe all night and running my car off the back, as I wanted to save it for the title. My car got hit on a corner and the front of it dug in and I flipped twice, reaching the height of the fence, and then landing on my roof, ending the night and a chance at the title.

The old-timers said it was one of the worst crashes they had seen in 30 years.

Did you walk away from it?

I had a couple of broken ribs, I couldn’t sit down for a couple of weeks but the roll cage did its job.

How’s the car?

It’s a write-off so we are building another Subaru.

Who is we?

Otago Metals – owner Wayne Andrews has taken me under his wing since day one.

Is your dad still into speedway?

It’s a family affair, my dad and mum Kathy were made life members at Beachlands this year.

My mum Kathy stood down as Beachlands Speedway treasurer this season but remains on the committee.

She enters ladies’ novice races and drives like she’s going to get bread from the supermarket.

Why did you decide to become the first ever woman in a presidential role on the committee this season?

I’m always up for a challenge – I’ve been on the committee for about seven seasons and I had to decide if it was time to step down to take some workload off.

Being on the committee involves a lot of time on the night – it’s very challenging trying to organise a race night and race a car – I was once leading a race and I ran out of petrol because I was so busy I forgot to refuel, but I’ve decided to jump in for more and taken on the vice-president role.

Why?

It’s really rewarding to see the happy crowds, and get positive feedback and know you’re getting it right. We have our track right – easily one of the best surfaces in the South Island and people want to race on our track. It’s going to be massive next season.