As the quad cam Toyota V8 engine barked into life on a still Nelson afternoon, Mark Collins gulped and blinked. Then he grinned. Then he signed on the dotted line.
Collins, the chief executive officer of New Zealand Home Loans, was in Nelson to complete a contract with the Nelson Speedway Association to secure the naming rights to the 2012-13 national superstock championships, being raced here in January.
The sponsorship is being driven by New Zealand Home Loans Nelson branch owners, Debbie Davenhill and Shane Adamson, with Collins and head office confirming their commitment this week.
The final negotiations fell into place rapidly with head office endorsing the Nelson proposal just 24 hours after it was received.
"When the fit is right, the fit is right," Collins said.
"It was an opportunity to partner with the New Zealand superstocks over the five months leading up to the event, as well as on the race days.
"This allows more time to ensure a top class event Nelson can be proud of."
New Zealand Home Loans was founded in 1996. The New Zealand-owned and operated company has a network of franchises located from Whangarei to Invercargill, with the goal of helping New Zealanders move forward financially by creating wealth and reducing debt.
New Zealand Home Loans customers are given the tools and support to manage their mortgage commitments, creating extra cash for their wish lists, whether that might involve travel, home improvements, an early retirement . . . or racing a superstock.
"The New Zealand superstock championship is focused on family entertainment and speedway offers a supportive environment that allows kids to enter a sport they can pursue their whole lives," Collins said.
"When I heard about how much the drivers and people involved give back to the sport, I thought we were a perfect fit."
Nelson is one of the jewels in the New Zealand Home Loans crown with Adamson, Davenhill and their team of four perennially among the company's best-performing branches.
Collins said the sponsorship package was an opportunity to acknowledge the results the Nelson branch achieved for their clients each year.
"Nelson is a very important part of the network with two of our most experienced and successful business owners committed to helping Nelson families take control of their finances," he said.
Davenhill, who already works with people in the Nelson speedway community, was excited by the prospects of New Zealand Home Loans backing the NZ superstock title.
"I've been a speedway fan for many years and I've got to meet a lot of the people involved," she said. "I admire the commitment these guys have to their sport and I know it takes a lot of their own personal resources to compete.
"Racing in a premier class like superstocks is very expensive with some of these cars worth up to a quarter of a million dollars.
"I think New Zealand Home Loans fits really well with their passion and focus on goals . . . we can show speedway families, not just the drivers, how to manage their home loans and create the funds to have some fun, too."
The New Zealand Home Loans NZ superstock championship is expected to attract at least 80 entries with Nelson gearing up for a huge influx of visiting competitors and supporters. The event is scheduled over three days, with free practice on Thursday, January 10, qualifying on Friday night and the three-heat finals on Saturday.
For Nelson Speedway Association president Kris Carpenter, the opportunity to have the major sponsor locked in months ahead of the event is a blessing.
"It means we can start to focus on the dozens of details that will make the championship a success," she said.
"To have the biggest piece of our puzzle in place so soon gives us a great foundation and frees us up to pull the rest of the promotion together."
Carpenter said New Zealand Home Loans was a welcome addition to the speedway scene.
"I've seen a lot of championships and a lot of sponsors and I don't recall one from their field. It really makes sense, though, because our people are their people.
"Almost everyone is on a wage, money's tight and people are making decisions around their spending . . . the connection is a very positive one for both partners."
Collins concurred, saying he was keen to be part of the 10,000 spectators at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway in January.
All it took was for Nelson superstock driver Jared Gray to fire up his car for the new sponsors this week.
"Until [this week] I had only ever seen superstocks on TV.
"When I first heard it I was blown away by the sheer power and noise that seemed to come out of a very small package.
"I can't imagine how that will translate once they are all ripping around the Nelson track at full throttle."
- © Fairfax NZ News