Keeping up with Craig Boote off the track is almost as hard as it is on the clay oval.
The Nelson fishing company director is a one-man whirlwind when it comes to his speedway career and he changes plans about as often as he changes undies.
But Boote is unflinchingly honest when it comes to dispelling rumours about his racing future - and the three-time national superstock champion has always been the subject of speculation.
Boote will run his two near-identical superstocks next season, his Chev-powered car and Nick Fowler's Ford, under the Boss Motorsport banner.
If a post-mortem on the Chev V8 in his previous championship winning car goes well, he might field three cars at next year's national championships.
He's itching to get to AmPro Tools Woodford Glen Speedway in Kaiapoi on Friday and Saturday for the annual Battle of the Stocks invitational meeting and guarantees New Zealand superstock titleholder Shane Penn's winning run is over.
And he's not expecting any favours from his fellow Nelson drivers.
"That much was pretty clear when Nelson hosted the nationals [in January] - if I want to get that fourth 1NZ, I probably shouldn't expect a lot of help from Nelson drivers," Boote said.
Boote and Fowler were right in contention going into the final heat of the New Zealand Home Loans NZ superstock championship but neither car managed to make it to the end of the race.
Boote was clouted hard by a couple of Palmerston North cars while Fowler's car threw a belt and overheated.
A collision with his Endurance Fishing team-mate was the final nail for both men.
Since that meeting, Fowler's car has been retired and replaced by the Gordge-Ford V8 formerly run in Palmerston North by Jack Miers. Boote's other car has had significant suspension surgery in Hawke's Bay from speedway engineer Mark Walford.
While the unique Marsh Chev engine has been strong, Boote has been unhappy with how the car has handled in the two years he has owned it. Originally, it was a good allround package but was less adaptable on bumpy and grippy tracks. An off-season rebuild changed the chassis character. This season, the 7N performed when there was drive in the track surface but, when it slicked off, as it did in the last heat of the nationals, Boote was a sitting duck.
"When it was slipping around like it did in that third heat, I was just another bum in the shower," Boote said.
He believes Walford has found the right mix after outings at Woodford Glen and Nelson's Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway.
"I probably had a great car in the first place but I'm impatient," Boote said. "Instead of working through some small changes, I sent us off in circles. I'll admit that."
If this season's tweaks do the job, both the Boote cars will be prepared the same way next season, although a fresh set of heads on Fowler's Ford might make it the most powerful superstock engine in the country.
"They'll be built from billet aluminium and they will breathe like nothing else," Boote said. "In terms of outright horsepower, Nick will have all the numbers he needs at his disposal."
The original 5N Gordge-Chev, which is nearing 20 seasons old but remains one of the best in the game, will be returned to racing if the engine can handle one more rebuild. Boote has no idea, as yet, who would drive the third car in his team.
His immediate goals centre on the Battle of the Stocks with night one under way on Friday from 7pm. Sixteen South Island drivers are paired with 16 from the north, drivers scoring points for their pairs over three heats each night. Boote was in line for a win last season when he was clattered by Palmerston North's Scott Miers, allowing son Jack Miers through for the victory.
"Scottie's not there this time and we bought Jack's car so that won't happen again," Boote said. "And, I'll guarantee that 1NZ [Penn] won't win it either. He's had more than his share this season."
Of course, that all changes if Boote and Penn are drawn together this weekend. But, then, change and Craig Boote are constant companions.
- © Fairfax NZ News