Sims saved by Oreti Park air fence

LUCKY ESCAPE: Southland speedway rider Hayden Sims smashes into the air fence.
LUCKY ESCAPE: Southland speedway rider Hayden Sims smashes into the air fence.

Oreti Park Speedway president Warren Shuttleworth says his club would probably be dealing with another fatality if the organisation had not invested in an air fence two years ago.

Promising young Southland speedway rider Hayden Sims lined up in the club meet on Saturday night and in the last race of the Southland Outlaws-Canterbury Comets Solo teams match Sims was involved in a horrific crash.

He got a slight tap on his back wheel from a Canterbury rider which made the bike take off, clipping fellow team-mate Grant Tregoning's bike and sending Sims through the air and into air fence at high speed.

As a result Sims broke the top of the left humerus bone in his arm, pushing it up past the ball joint which required surgery to fix.

Sims is out for the rest of the season including a scheduled two-month trip to the UK as he undertakes the expected five months rehabilitation.

Shuttleworth said while the injuries were nasty it could have been much worse.

"I think everyone that saw it on Saturday would have much the same opinion that if the air fence wasn't there we could well have been looking at a fatality. Even Hayden said that last night, it's really shown [the air fence] has worked."

Oreti Park Speedway teamed up with Western Springs in Auckland in 2012 to buy an inflatable air fence which provides cushioning around the outside of the track.

Oreti Park use the air fence through to March before it gets transported up to Auckland for the Grand Prix event at Western Springs.

Sims' father Darryl paid tribute to the club for pushing to get the air fence set up two years ago.

"We are just so grateful that his home club Oreti Park Speedway has an air fence as we would hate to think what the outcome may have been if it wasn't there. We as parents accept the risks involved with the sport, and know how keen he will be with wanting to progress to the top when he starts racing again next season."

Shuttleworth said the $50,000 it cost to get the air fence put in at Oreti Park was worth every cent. The Invercargill Licensing Trust stumped up with $37,000 to help the club cover that cost.

With the Grand Prix event in its final year at Western Springs Shuttleworth said there was a possibility they could buy the other share of the fence as well and have it permanently based at Oreti Park.

Shuttleworth himself knows only too well how important it is considering his own personal experience.

Before the air fence was put up his teenage son Adam was involved in a crash in 2012.

It left him with multiple breaks in his pelvis, two broken legs, a busted elbow and broken arm hand and knee, as well as two fractures in his back.

The injuries could have been less severe if the air fence was in place, Shuttleworth said.

"When Adam had his crash his ACC manager said that his accident cost a lot more than what the fence was worth."

Invercargill man Ronald Tree was killed at Oreti Park speedway in April last year when the air fence wasn't erected. However, it was determined that the air fence probably wouldn't have made a difference in that incident.