A life of cars and driving

CAR ENTHUSIAST: Don Edwards devoted much of his life to high speed, but he always put safety first.
CAR ENTHUSIAST: Don Edwards devoted much of his life to high speed, but he always put safety first.

Driving instructor and rally driver Don Edwards died behind the wheel, writes Maryanne Twentyman . 

A Waikato man killed instantly in a single car crash near Whatawhata this week was a well-known rally driver and former driving instructor.

Donald Ross Edwards, 74, died when his southbound Ford Falcon failed to negotiate a right-hand bend and crossed both lanes before hitting a tree, according to Waikato road policing manager, Inspector Leo Tooman.

But family say Mr Edwards was "extremely safety conscious" and wonder whether ill health may have contributed to his death.

Mr Edwards' daughter Liz Holbrook said her father had been battling cancer for a long time and he had been unwell on Tuesday when the crash happened.

"The home phone wasn't working properly and so he went into town to ring his doctor as there were no other options for him," she said.

Mr Edwards was a keen rally driver with his most recent win in a 1500cc class at Hampton Downs early this year.

Mrs Holbrook, from Auckland, said her father had made many friends through local car clubs who had rallied to support him in recent months.

"They would arrive to help dad hook the trailers up and work on the cars - he just loved it," she said.

He also gave much of his time to a Waikato disability support group teaching members to drive.

"As a driving instructor dad taught heaps of car courses like skid control - even the police commented that if the car had gone into a spin he was the best person to have at the wheel," she said.

Mr Edwards was a prolific letter writer and had many views published in the Waikato Times covering a wide range of topics.

The father of three and grandfather of seven was also an avid collector who recently featured in the Waikato Times discussing his Star Wars figurines, Lord of the Rings memorabilia and scale-model Ferraris. But perhaps his most impressive collections was his set of 1/18th scale diecast models of all Bathurst motor race winners.

When asked in September what his next purchase would be, he said he would buy the next Bathurst winner: "It will probably be Jamie Whincup's car". And he was right.