It's a brave man who wears pink to the speedway, but Andre Evans has had his courage tested more than most in the past month.
Evans lost both his partner and his unborn daughter last month in a devastating medical event. Daile Eden, who was 24 and was eight months' pregnant, died on September 19. Mia-Rose, who was due to be born this week, did not survive.
The coroner is yet to rule on Ms Eden's case but she had been ill for more than a week with heavy flu-like symptoms.
"Life is for the living," Evans told the Nelson Mail. "I still have to be there for [son] Dakota and still have to work and try to keep up some of the normal routines.
"Things hit us when we are not expecting them and I look for Dee and she's not with us but you have to carry on, don't you?"
For Evans, part of carrying on is fronting up for tomorrow's season opener at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway. A long-time demolition derby competitor, Evans has also raced streetstocks and is in his third season as a stockcar driver.
As a tribute to Ms Eden, all Nelson's stockcar drivers are painting the protective wheelgates on their cars pink for tomorrow's meeting. Evans will go a step further and run the pink wheelgates in conjunction with a new black paint job for the whole season.
"Dee would probably have ripped the piss but it was something the class wanted to do to pay tribute to her and to Mia-Rose."
Evans and his crew have logged some long hours in the last week after a piston failure in his car's Holden V6 has required the replacement of the complete engine block. He was confident the car would be on the grid for tomorrow's meeting.
"I can't miss this one," he said. "The club and people in speedway in general have been bloody supportive so we need to be out there to show what that's meant to me and Kotaz and Rewa [Daile's mum].
"The Nelson Speedway Association have given us the corporate box so Rewa can have our boy up there and they will get to be part of the club's gesture."
Stockcars have been one of the growth classes in the Nelson off-season with more than 30 on the club's books. Not all of them are ready to run tomorrow, but Evans is aware of how hard it will be to race at the front of the field.
"I'd put some effort into getting the car to go faster, squeezing a bit more power out of it, before this hassle with the motor," Evans said. "Maybe I need to shift my goals a bit . . . try to finish every race or at least get a good hit in first!"
Opening night will feature stockcars, superstocks, streetstocks, sidecars, youth ministocks and TQ midgets to kick off a hectic summer.
Season highlights include the Coca-Cola fireworks on November 2, six major championship meetings and a three-way superstock teams race promotion.
Evans also hopes to be part of the Tasman Thunder stockcar team when they take on the Greymouth Grizzlies on November 2.
"My name's in the mix, those guys are my brothers so I am desperate to make the grade but I can't take anything for granted. I have to be good enough on opening night to catch the selectors' attention."
Evans certainly has the motivation to perform.
"I have to believe Dee is watching, she loved her speedway," he said. "I know there will be a bit of a lump in my throat before race one. I might have to drill a couple of holes in my visor in case it gets a bit misty in there."
- Opening night at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway, Lansdowne Rd, Richmond, tomorrow from 7pm. Admission: adults $15, members and pensioners $10, children 5-16 $7, under fives free. Family pass, two adults and up to three children, $30. Cancellations on Classic Hits and the Nelson speedway Facebook page.
October 19 Opening night
November 2 Coca-Cola fireworks
November 16 Superstock teams racing
November 30 WOW sprintcar series
December 14 SI TQ midget champs
December 28 NZ Home Loans SI superstock champs
January 11 TQ midget NZGP
January 24-25 Zumo NZ streetstock champs
February 15 SI midget champs
February 22 ELF Super Cup super saloons
March 15 Sturgeons King of the Clay
March 29 SI sidecar champs, War of the Wings modifieds
April 11-12 Nelson Mail Stock Shock
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