THE MANY FACES OF MORGAN DUMELOW

JUST ONE OF THE LADS

 

Written by Pete McNae

Depending on where you meet her, Morgan Dumelow could be filling one — or some — of a number of roles.

There’s Morgan the quantity surveyor. Morgan the eldest of five sisters and partner of a former 2NZ superstock driver. Morgan the rugby player. Morgan the makeup artist. Morgan the powerlifter. And Morgan Dumelow, stockcar driver and fourth place finisher in the open club championships at the most recent meeting at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speeedway.

The 27-year-old, who was born in Greymouth but moved to Nelson a couple of years ago from Canterbury, slots equally happily into any of those different personas. Perhaps her makeup clients might find it a bit unusual that she deadlifts the equivalent of two human beings or races cars on clay for fun, but Dumelow likes the variety.

“I’m not a very girly girl, I went to my first speedway meeting at six days old and grew up loving the petrolhead stuff but sometimes it’s fun to put the face on and the dress on and surprise people,” she says.

Probably no one was more surprised than Dumelow herself when she chased Harley Robb, Scott Alexander and Dylan Robb home in the open club champs, from a field of 26. The 83N Holden was the first Nelson club car home in what was just Dumelow’s second meeting of the season. She’s hoping to put in another strong showing on Saturday when the stockcar class run their closed champs as part of a pre-New Year blowout at the Nelson track.

“I surprised myself a bit,” she says. “The biggest thing for me is just finishing races and staying out of other people’s shit.” That’s another thing about Dumelow. As her mum has mentioned, you see an attractive package, then Morgan opens her mouth and a sailor (or a stockcar driver) falls out. “I sometimes have to focus on my language — it can depend on the situation I am in and who is around at the time!”

That fourth place in a big field has to rank as the best achievement in a short career in speedway, one Dumelow came to relatively late. While her Dad, Paul (Big Daddy) Dumelow had raced stockcars, superstocks, saloons, rally cars and motocross, there was no youth ministock for Morgan. She was 24 before she finally twisted the old man’s arm hard enough to be allowed a drive in one of the cars sitting in the shed. She made her debut at Woodford Glen two summers ago and was doing okay in her first season til she went into the wall backwards and badly bent the car. Around that time, she met Dale McKenzie, a Tigers teams racer and runner-up in the superstock nationals on his home track a few seasons earlier, and moved north to Nelson.

Somehow, she managed to smuggle another car with her, this time the ex-Blaine Blythe ‘Filthy Woppit”, a tri-rail chassis that looked hard and went hard through a range of drivers. Dumelow and McKenzie had the car ready for Nelson’s practices at the start of the last season and she managed most of the meetings while still learning her craft. After a later start to this summer, she has made rapid progress in a car that has had a few off-season tweaks.

“Mostly it  was a change to the gear ratios, it gets out of corners quicker and I don’t feel like I’m in the road or too slow getting myself moving again. Mostly though, the aim is to finish as many races as possible and keep consistent with my laps … it’s not as quick as the fast cars but it’s all right and if they are taking each other out, then I am just going to try to keep circulating.”

The standard question directed at women in speedway is whether they feel like they are treated differently. Dumelow hopes not. “I’ve never asked for a favour or expected one on the track. I guess there might be an unspoken thing that no guy necessarily wants to be the one who smashes the girl into the wall but Levi [Collier] has given me the bumper and they’ll hit and spin me like anyone else.” There was also a moment a couple of meetings back when Dylan Clarke lost it off turn four, leaving Dumelow nowhere to go but solidly into his siderail. “It’s expected, there are going to be hits but, yeah, that one took my breath away for a bit.”

Now she is more comfortable in the car and has had some time in Nelson to build a small sponsorship base, Dumelow is eager to chase one of her goals, competing in the Aotearoa Ladies’ Stockcar Championship at Rotorua’s Paradise Valley Raceway in the middle of next month. The event got off the ground last season but Dumelow didn’t feel she was ready to race there, plus the cost was an issue. This season, she is determined to be part of the field and hopes for a good run.

“They are talking about having to cap the field at 26 drivers,” she says. “There are a lot of girls competing regularly at tracks right round the country and doing pretty well so it is no powder puff sideshow-type meeting. We run alongside the World 240s [for superstocks] but the girls are out there to win a championship.”

Dumelow is travelling north in the Simpson and Carpenter bus, along with 85GM driver Brittany Carpenter, thanks to Britt’s parents, Aaron and Kris, and the help of her sponsors. She was blown away by veteran Canterbury superstock driver Peter Field, who approached her in the pits at Nelson’s last meeting and handed over a $100 note. “That’s Peter, supporting me from his own pocket. He’s not a big businessman with the flash race car — he’s just a good speedway guy and I thought it was an amazing gesture.”

She’s hoping the car will look a little sharper in Rotorua. There’s a new body kit on the way but Dumelow also noticed some smoke from the Holden V6 at the end of the last meeting. The engine was being pulled down prior to Christmas and, if there was money to spend, the paint and stickers might have to wait.

Meanwhile, Dumelow will keep working a couple of jobs to pay the bills — she’s a quantity surveyor and estimator for Signature Homes Nelson, while the Makeup by Morgan business is an interesting sideline. “I don’t often wear makeup myself but someone gave me some nice stuff and I put it on and it looked all right so sometimes now there’s a wedding in the morning and speedway in the afternoon.” She is right into her strength sports, aiming to get serious again about her rugby next winter, while the powerlifting grew out of a gym programme to lose weight. From losing weight, she developed a love for picking it up and recently deadlifted 140kg.

“Anything I do, I like to take it as far as I can and I love to compete and try to reach a higher level,” she says. “They are the rough sports though … my youngest sister Liv has done ministocks but the three in the middle aren’t into the rugged stuff much, which makes mum breathe a bit easier.”

On the subject of pushing limits, there’s a pretty potent superstock sitting in the shed …. has she asked? “I’ve started to drop hints to Dale, he did offer at Easter last year but I didn’t feel ready to try it. I would like to maybe have a go but I doubt I will ever own a car like that — and anyway, it’s Dale’s car and he can decide what happens with it. I’m quite happy with how it’s going in the stockcar so far and think I’ll keep pushing myself in there, for now.”

Morgan Dumelow’s sponsors and supporters this season are:  Signature Homes Nelson, Insite Aluminium Windows & Doors, Cleaners Wholesale Nelson,  Tasman Roofing, Simon Russell, Makeup by Morgan, Ann Richardson, Dominic Mold. She also thanks Dale McKenzie, Paul Dumelow, Bruce and Nina, Kris and Aaron, Liv Dumelow and Peter Field.

  • Saturday’s meeting from 6pm will feature closed club champs for stockcars and sidecars, the second round of club champs for TQ midgets and production saloons with support from streetstocks and youth ministocks.

 

Action images, Tom Laney, www.imagepress.co.nz and Rebecca Connor Maling, BM Photography.