Junior is quick off the mark

PETE MCNAE
Last updated 13:00 15/11/2012

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Nineteen-year-old males are not known for their patience and restraint.

So, it is no real surprise that Nelson's Dale (Junior) McKenzie was the first driver to fire off his entry form for the New Zealand Home Loans NZ superstock championships to be raced here in January.

With the Nelson club expecting a field of around 80 of the top competitors in the country to roll up for the January 10-12 championship meeting, McKenzie beat the rest of the nation to the punch.

"Kris [Carpenter, Nelson Speedway Association president] handed out the forms and I filled it in and gave it back," McKenzie said.

"I probably didn't read the whole thing. They'll let me know if there is something I missed out.

"I didn't see the point in mucking around with it because I really wanted to be part of that meeting."

McKenzie's eagerness is not surprising. In just his second full season of racing, he is a Nelson Tigers teams racer, a regular winner both here and away and one of a crop of hard-charging youngsters entering the expensive sport.

He made his debut in superstocks courtesy of McKenzie's employer, former national champion Dale Ewers, who helped the teenager get his start in a spare chassis.

That car was freshened for this season, with a new engine package put together by Midwest Motors in Blenheim and McKenzie's father, Bruce, but things shifted significantly two weeks out from opening night.

The McKenzies purchased a second chassis built in the off-season by another Nelson-based former champion, Brendan Higgins. He had welded up a frame for Shane Harwood and had a spare sitting alongside for sale.

It is now the new 85N car with McKenzie at the wheel.

"We made the decision pretty late but we were waiting on the engine anyway, so we got stuck in and threw it all together," he said.

The older chassis is expected to return as a superstock next season in the hands of McKenzie's older brother, Anthony.

While it is a proven piece of engineering, McKenzie is revelling in his new ride, which is backed by Waimea Engineering, G Cole Roofing, Gardiner Building and Bruce McKenzie.

"It's wicked. My car and Shane's went great first time on the track because Hig [Higgins] knows so much about how to get these things to work.

"I'm still just learning how to handle the extra power and how the new car wants to put that to the track but I'm stoked with how fast it is already."

McKenzie's been denied a couple of wins because the electronic transmitter that records laps at Nelson is mounted wrongly at the moment. A change to a new set of exhaust headers will allow a clear path for the signal at Nelson's next meeting.

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An issue with the driveshaft saw him park the car while leading race two last weekend and also saw McKenzie opt out of the Tigers for Saturday's teams race against the Wellington Wildcats at Te Marua.

He had been tabbed to join the Nelson team but pulled out until the driveline vibration was identified.

Nelson will travel to the capital with Ewers, Harwood, Jared Gray, Ian Clayworth and Brett Nicholls in orange and black. McKenzie is desperate to be part of the team when they take on the Woodford Glen Eagles in Christchurch on November 24.

He was a reserve for the Tigers at the national teams champs in Palmerston North in February and got a taste of the action in Auckland a month later. While racing for the Tigers is a priority, he also has a goal or two in sight for January's title meeting here.

"It's going to be real intense, 26 of the best cars in the final," he said.

"I have to get through the Friday and see if I can make that final field . . . from there any guy in the 26 is good enough to be the champion."

The Accessman Tasman Thunder stockcar team are also headed to Wellington this weekend to take on the hometown Young Guns. The Thunder, who are also backed by the New Zealand Community Trust, are Cody Teece (captain), Adam Hall, Justin Hearne, Michael Paynter, Liam Smith and Andre Evans.

The Nelson Tigers are supported by Mark Walford Engineering, ProKarts, Discover New Zealand Motorhomes, the Collision Centre, Bays Breweries, the Stables Bar and Restaurant, the McCall family and the Nelson Speedway Association.

- Nelson

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