WHEN A WANT BECOMES A NEED
Written by Pete McNae
This story about a young man’s dream coming true has a happy ending for just about everyone. Maybe only Dave and Sandy Neiman will be dismayed — they have just found out that son Brad is staying home until he’s 40. Why so long? Because Brad is the proud new owner of a superstock and the 21-year-old mechanic says that might rule out home ownership for the next decade or two.
They’re not a cheap hobby and the Neimans now have one of the best in the nation in their possession with the purchase of Anthony McKenzie’s 84N. McKenzie suffered a significant head injury when he was taken to the wall at the recent South Island superstock championship meeting and his current situation saw the car listed for sale in the week following the meeting. Neiman didn’t wait long to act. He’d already driven the car in an open race at the teams champs in Palmerston North in February and knew what he was dealing with.
“It’s been one of the quickest cars in the country this season,” Neiman said. “I know the quality of Ants’ work, I know what is in the car and I know it’s as good as anything that was in the market right now. It’s still a pretty big investment but both sides were happy with the deal.
“I really feel for Ants, I hope we haven’t seen the last of him racing a superstock but, with the injury he got, you can understand his decision. It’s certainly allowed me to live my dream.”
Neiman will have his first serious outing in the car during the two-day Easter Extravaganza meeting, supported by The New Gate Company. Racing at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway will start at 4pm on both Good Friday and Easter Saturday, the earlier time reflecting the cooler autumn temperatures and the Nelson club’s desire to get two full programmes through at a reasonable hour for families. The superstock field isn’t a big one, unlike the capacity lists carded for sidecars, TQs and stockcars, but Neiman won’t mind that — he’s just looking to find his way this weekend.
“The goal for me this weekend is to finish six races and get a feel for it. I have the stockcar entered too, so it will be a busy enough meeting without trying to get too carried away with the super.”
Neiman came through the youth ministock class, graduating to a stockcar that Dave had weeded the bugs out of, before stepping up to the ex-Jordan Dare/Grant Hansen “Blue Canoe”. That stockcar has seen Neiman win a couple of club championships and share in two Teams Brawl titles with the Dean’s Truck Services Tasman Thunder. The dream destination was always a superstock, though.
“Yep, from day dot. If I could have, coming out of ministocks, I would have but money sent us down the stockcar path first. I never stopped dreaming of owning a superstock, though,” Neiman said.
The drive in McKenzie’s car in Palmerston North crystallised plans. Running with his Tigers team-mates in a consolation race, Neiman had the 84N humming and he exited the car knowing he was going superstock shopping. “The grin was ear to ear. The power, the acceleration, the grip — the car goes where you want and before you’ve had a chance to get a breath, you’re at the next corner.”
The Neimans began to see what was available, offering the stockcar as a part trade, but hadn’t seen the one car that ticked all the boxes until McKenzie copped another jolt in turn one that worsened some already troublesome headaches. “I texted dad that Ants was selling and I guess four days after it was listed, we had the car that is everything we want.”
With a tight turnaround, Neiman has simply replaced a couple of rails and bars since taking ownership. It’ll still look much the same as when McKenzie ran it, with just a number change to 17N and some sponsor stickers swapped for this weekend. Over the off-season, the Midwest Toyota will come out for a freshen and Neiman will prepare for what he hopes will be the first of many seasons in superstocks. The New Zealand championships are in Christchurch in January, Nelson hosts the NZ GP and he’d like to have a crack at a few North Island meetings, perhaps even teams racing for the Tigers.
“I love to teams race, I have definitely enjoyed that time with the Thunder the most about being in stockcars, but we will see what’s happening with the class and the Tigers next season,” he said.
It’s a brave call to buy a superstock in Nelson with five local cars on the market and loose talk of a couple of drivers toying with a switch to Woodford Glen in preparation for the nationals. Balancing that is speculation about new cars being built and the possibility of other Nelson stockcar drivers making the move across the pits. Another Tasman Thunder regular, John Everett, will run Shane Harwood’s 18N this Saturday to see what a superstock can offer in terms of bang for bucks.
“I can only speak for myself but this car is my dream. It’s the chance to go as fast as I can in the sort of speedway class I love and hopefully a couple of other guys will try it and like it, too,” Neiman says. “At Nelson, there’s only about a second a lap between the fastest stockcars and superstocks but I can’t explain yet just how different it feels — these things grab you and they don’t let go.”
Among the field this weekend are 1NZ William Humphries and Palmerston North clubmates, 3NZ Jordan Dare and Rebecca Barr, the best-credentialled woman in superstocks. It’s been tough to gather more entries with superstock meetings at Woodford Glen and dotted around the North Island. For Neiman, the chance to spin some laps in the field of 11 will be challenging enough. “So far, I have had a couple of chances to pedal cars after a meeting and one open race so I’m just the newbie in the class — I want to be able to put it back on the trailer on Saturday with six races behind me. That’ll be a pretty unreal way to wrap up something that’s come together much sooner than I’d hoped.”
- Neiman’s proven 17N Rees-Ford stockcar is still for sale, contact him at Mobil Stoke Automotive to start winning races next season.
- The 17N superstock is sponsored by Mobil Stoke Automotive & Commercial, Dot Neiman Leisurewear, EcoTech Homes, MultiPod, Mandos Flooring, Matty’s Signs, Total Oil, Repco and Supercharge Batteries. On the crew are Dad, Mum, Nana, Granddad, Brian, Cheryl, Andrew, Ash, Grant and Braxton.
- Friday’s programme from 4pm for the Easter Extravaganza features superstocks, super saloons, stockcars, youth ministocks, TQ midgets and sidecars. On Saturday from 4pm, all classes apart from the youth ministocks return, with production saloons slotting into their space. Midgets were withdrawn when they could only rally up five entries with streetstocks taking their turn on Saturday.
- The sidecar field will require three heats per round with a strong field featuring reigning New Zealand champions Russell Stewart and Andrew Parker, the 3NZ team of John Hannan and Bryce Rose and recent titleholders Derek and Matthew Ramsay.
- Neiman is one of 27 stockcar drivers entered, including nine visitors, with four women competing; Morgan Dumelow, Brittany Carpenter, Mount Maunganui’s Caitlin Hayward and Melissa Gifford, racing out of Greymouth. Production saloon driver Jarod Fisher will make his debut in the class.
- The TQ field is also near capacity with 1NZ Jeremy Webb returning to the scene of his national championship victory in February.