Speedway stalwart to be honoured



Roaring back into action tomorrow is the Daryl Ainsley Memorial Meeting at the Central Motor Speedway in Cromwell.

Covid-19 put the brakes on the meeting last year, but with the return to Alert Level 1 for most of the country it is a green flag for thundering V8 engines and roaring exhausts.

The meeting is an opportunity to pay respects and celebrate the former Central Motor Speedway president and competitor Daryl Ainsley, of Cromwell, who died in an accident in May 2018 after his car plunged off a 60m-high cliff on the Tautuku Peninsula in the Catlins.

Central Motor Speedway spokesman Ross Lindsay said Mr Ainsley went from ‘‘young scallywag to speedway champion’’, and following his death the speedway committee voted to withdraw the number 5t unless an Ainsley family member decided to follow in Mr Ainsley’s tyre tracks.

They must have known something, because in the 2019 season Mr Ainsley’s then 16-year-old daughter Faith jumped in the deep end with a V6 3.6 Holden Commodore powered six-shooter, also known as a wingless sprint car.

His then 13-year-old nephew Trent also went out on the track in a Datsun 1200 powered youth ministock.

‘‘It’s easy to imagine how proud Daryl would have been of his daughter and nephew,’’ he said.

Mr Ainsley’s mother Kaye Ainsley said he was a scallywag from a young age.

‘‘When he was around 4 and 5, there were eight months where I took him to the doctor so many times.’’

Reasons for trips to the doctor included losing the top of his big toe after trying unsuccessfully to jump over a motor mower, swallowing a whole lot of sleeping pills, eating rat poison and giving himself a ‘‘massive nose bleed’’ after finding a hammer and trying to smash things.

‘‘The last of this run of doctor’s visits was to remove a peanut Daryl had poked up his nose,’’ she said.

Mr Lindsay said Mr Ainsley realised his speedway racing dreams in his early 40s, making his first appearance on Cromwell clay in November 2010 and just six months later being named Speedway Rookie of the Year.

The Daryl Ainsley Memorial Weekend will begin with a meeting at Forage Cafe at The Gate in Cromwell tomorrow at 10.30am for a classic car poker run, boating and barbecue at Gravelly Gully and later a dinner and karaoke at ‘‘The Vic’’.

On Saturday, racing starts at 4pm at the Central Motor Speedway. Mr Lindsay said large fields were expected across all the classes.