Ngāti Rangiwewehi teen tests motor skills against top speedway racers

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A Year 13 student by day and a speedway racer by night, 18-year-old Calyn Clarke may be young but he’s putting his motor skills to the test against New Zealand's top superstock racers at the New Zealand Grand Prix in Rotorua.

He's only been competing in Superstock racing for a year but this week Clarke will race in his first major championship against 80 of New Zealand's top speedway racers.

“The adrenaline you get when you put your foot down and the green flag drops -it’s unreal. When you know you have a lot of cars around you, the noise, the excitement, the crowd cheering.

“There’s a lot of other drivers that have been racing for years and have heaps of experience. For me to be the new kid on the block and go out there and try race against them it’s quite nerve-racking. I’m really proud to do it.” 

Clarke started his racing journey in mini stocks at 15-years-old. He says the transition from mini to superstock has been quite a leap for the teen whose only training has been on race day.

“The noise is a lot louder and everything is happening so much faster so it’s a bit more daunting than the mini stocks.”

Former superstock champion Stan Hickey says the young talent is speeding on the right track to success.

“With help, he could turn out to be one of the top drivers in New Zealand. He’ll need sponsors, but everyone needs sponsors.”

With the average cost for one superstock vehicle racking up to over $100,000, it’s not a sport not for the faint-hearted. Despite the physical and financial risks, Clarke says it's all worth it.

“At the end of the day if we have a major issue that’s probably my season over if we crash tonight and write the car off. That could be my season of the year, but it’s all in the name of the game. You have to be in it to win it.”

For now, gaining as much experience on the track is his main focus so he can hone his skills for a future New Zealand title.