By Pete McNae

Campbell McManaway started with an “I”, switched to a “C”, transitioned to a “T” and has ended with an “N”.

That looks like an erratic alphabet but it actually just tracks the 57-year-old fishing company owner’s speedway path since he started racing in the late 1990s. A stereotypical Southern Man (McManaway loves his rugby, fishing and the annual stag roar), he was dragged along to Riverside Raceway in 1997 by a mate who gave him a spin in a stockcar. McManaway owned a couple of jetboats and was considering going jetsprinting but the feel of steel on steel appealed more.

He bought his first superstock (called A grade stocks back then) and went teams racing for Invercargill straight away, rolling a rival’s car first night out. Hook, line and sinker – McManaway was converted to speedway.

In the 23 years since that debut season, plenty has changed for the boss at Cando Fishing. He has changed partners, classes and towns and has arrived now in Nelson where he and wife Lyndsay are hosting the first Cando Cup this Saturday at Nelson’s Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway.

It’s a cash meeting for super saloons, McManaway’s class of choice – and necessity – these days. There is $3000 for the winner and a similar amount spread across the rest of the field that should include the likes of McManaway, Ian Burson, Mark Osborne, Ray Stewart and Josh Boulton.

It will also be Nelson’s first chance to see the Cando Hypermac-Ford with an N on its flanks.

“I only left I (Invercargill track code) because I wanted to teams race and we didn’t have the machinery in the south,” McManaway said. “So we raced as a C (Christchurch) in the superstock and then the super saloon for a long time, switched to T (Cromwell, a tricky one for casual observers, that) as a tribute to my good mate Daryl (former super saloon competitor Daryl Ainsley who lost his life while on a rescue mission for two other men) and now it’s N and will be N until I give it up.”

The Cando Cup came about when class rep Karen Carey was looking at ways McManaway might look to be involved with his new home track. He was rapt to back the event, which will see two 10-lap heats to set the grid for a 20-lap feature where the winner will get the biggest chunk of the cash and the cup.

“I was going to sponsor the Nelson super saloons to teams race later in the season but it clashed with me racing in a series up north. Karen suggested this cup and we will aim to make it a regular thing.”

He’s keen to get the big horsepower 429 cubic inch Cornett Ford onto Nelson’s new track surface. The Hypermac chassis loves a grippy track and he’s heard plenty about the lap times being posted here. The plan was to start his season on Nelson’s opening night but that was a rainout and, since then, McManaway has been to Woodford Glen twice, with fuel gremlins ruining his first outing and rain falling after one heat last weekend.

“I barely raced last year, just one meeting, so I want to get in as many as I can around the country this summer. I’ll do the series up north, NZs are at Waikaraka Park (Auckland), which is a tricky track for supers but the GP is at Baypark and this big motor can really wind up there, plus you’ve got a number of the best in the country racing out of there and why compete unless it’s to gauge yourself against the best,” McManaway said.

He got close to that level in his superstock career, too, although the national title meeting here in 2012-13 became a career tipping point. Rugby and racing had seen him take a few head knocks and he was targeted in that meeting to the point of being unsure where his trailer was to load the car after a race.

“Lynds wanted me out but the best compromise was to leave superstocks and move across to the super saloons. I loved superstocks and I still do but the bangs on the head were adding up.”

The transition hasn’t been easy – McManaway shifted to a class with an extra 350 horsepower but less weight and no bars to move annoying competitors out of the way.

“You can over-drive these things, go in too hot and you haven’t got big bumpers to sort that out. That’s where guys tear up a lot of gear, their own and the cars around them and I was guilty of that.

“I’m driving more like a super saloon driver now but I love a track with room to move so you can get up wide and take some risks. Motoring round the inside line isn’t that interesting.”

With a home in Nelson, the “big boat” working out of Picton and a smaller boat still based in Bluff, McManaway is almost ready to call himself semi-retired. But consumers are hoovering up his company’s kina and paua as fast as they can process it and the Australian market is also starting to take off.

The car stays in Christchurch where Matt Adam puts in the hours to keep it pristine while Lyndsay, Cam Weir and Laura Weir contribute on the crew. Laura’s adult ministock is adorned in Cando Fishing colours, as is the 56N TQ midget of Nelson teenager Cambell McManaway. Yes, despite the lack of a “p” in the middle, the name connection can be confusing but it’s worked out well for the local TQ rookie.

“I met with Cambell and his dad and he had costed out his whole season, done full budgets and was very professional in his approach. We did a deal to get the car painted like mine and he took away some sponsorship. Laura can’t race an adult ministock in Nelson but we will have all three cars together this weekend to get some photos of them painted up the same.”

So does the semi-retired line apply to speedway, too? Hardly. McManaway had a shortened season last year through injury, travel and Covid so he wants to make up for lost time.

“The car will have N on it until I retire. Lynds and I might have different views about when that will be, but not this season and not next season, either.”

  • Campbell McManaway’s 492N Hypermac-Ford races with the support of Lyndsay McManaway, Matt Adam, Cam Weir and Laura Weir, Cando Fishing, The Pits Media and ProBrands Nelson.
  • Other classes racing from 6pm include production saloons, streetstocks, superstocks, stockcars, youth ministocks and quarter midgets with the 30-lap street car race planned to close the programme. Saturday’s meeting is supported by Trinder Engineers.
  • With the rain that has fallen in Nelson this week and more rain in the forecast, the Nelson Speedway Association committee will meet on Thursday to discuss their options for this meeting. Check back on the club Facebook page and this website for any updates.