'Granddad of speed' hooked on racing

JAMIE SEARLE
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2013

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Broken bones and back injuries have never forced Steve Dryden to spend a night in hospital.

Racing cars is his passion.

"It's my drug . . . everyone has a habit," Dryden said.

The speedway driver has damaged vertebrae and broken ribs, collar bones and ankles. "I've been to hospital three times. I never stay in; I discharge myself."

Dryden, referred to by many as the south's granddad of speed, has set his sights on winning the Kergozou Trophy for the second time at the Riverside Speedway, at Sandy Pt near Invercargill, tomorrow night.

The trophy acknowledges the contribution the late Cecile Kergozou made to speedway racing. Her family donated the trophy and Mrs Kergozou's grandson, Chris, will be competing for it.

Other capable drivers in action tomorrow include Megan Molloy, of Invercargill, and Darrell Richards and Mitch Lavender, of Dunedin.

The three-race event is for streetstocks. Entries have not been finalised, but Dryden expects 15 to 18 competitors. Each race will comprise 10 to 12 laps. However, if 20 or more line up, races will be of 15 laps.

Dryden, who is a second-hand car dealer, has been in the motor trade industry for 44 years and a speedway driver for 39 years. As well as streetstocks, he has driven stockcars, saloons and production saloons. He prefers streetstocks.

"They've got a bit of mongrel about them," Dryden said.

"It's aggressive driving, tap and spin, but you're not allowed to drill a car into a concrete wall."

Race officials can number between four and six and are made up of a referee and stewards.

Dryden reckoned racing streetstocks was 20 per cent skill and 80 per cent luck.

"You're consistently doing panelbeating, painting and replacing panels."

He has had his EL XR6 Falcon for six years and it uses $40 of fuel at a race meeting.

The Brett Cooper Memorial, for modified sprints, will also be held tomorrow.

Cooper, well known in New Zealand midget racing and modified sprints, was a longstanding and hard-working member of the Riverside Speedway organisation.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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