By Pete McNae


Half the guys in New Zealand want to swap places with him while half the women in New Zealand want to marry (or mother) him. Foxton superstock driver Jordan Dare is definitely trending on Twitter right now.

Dare, who races out of Palmerston North, has been busy this off-season with a rebuild on his race car, a trip to compete in the UK and a TV “wedding”. The 26-year-old area manager for Archgola outdoor shelters recently spent a few weeks filming TV3’s primetime reality show Married at First Sight, with relationship experts pairing him with Anna Saxton for a commitment ceremony (not a legal wedding) and then recording their progress as a couple.

And through it all, Dare came across as the show’s Mr Nice Guy; humble, sincere and authentic. He argues that portrayal is legit.

“I’d like to think I am pretty authentic and have been raised with the right values,” he says. “I tried to stay true to that and I guess I have been lucky in how they presented the character on screen.

“I surprised most people when I got involved.  Initially there were advertisements on TV and Facebook and a couple of mates tagged me because I’d been single for a while after a long-term relationship ended.

“I applied and then you made a two-minute video audition and I got called up to Auckland for an interview. I figured the worst that could happen was a different experience, some friendships and, even if the person I was ‘married’ to wasn’t a great fit, someone else out there might make a connection — but it’s been positive, no doubt.”

Our chat took place before the MAFS final, a reveal show in which the participants analysed how their relationship has fared. Dare could only say that “one in six of the couples had a lasting connection from past episodes and those are pretty good odds — way better than hitting a pub in Palmy on a Saturday night”.  Last Tuesday’s episode confirmed that Dare and Saxton would be working together on a future, happily ever after.

So, with that chapter behind him — and ahead of him — Dare can turn some of his attention back to speedway, specifically Nelson’s big drawcard of the season, the PTS Superstock Stampede a month from today on November 16.  It’s a new event on Nelson’s calendar, created in response to dwindling numbers in the class here. The $20,000 one-night event has a high class field capped at 39 cars with those drivers committing within a week of the event being unveiled. Kerry Hill and Shane Harwood had driven the entries and sponsorship with Palmerston North speedway icons Scott and Vicki Miers taking naming rights through their company PTS Transport and Logistics, who now have a Nelson base.

Dare and MMS Group team-mates Wayne and Jayme Hemi have visited Nelson often and Dare enjoys the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway.

“It’s different from other tracks, with the shape and the surface and the size — we always enjoy supporting the Nelson club and they run a great show,” he says.  “And the thing about Nelson is that you can compete on a level footing with less power or an older car because it’s not so much a horsepower track, it’s a set-up track and a driver track and luck helps, too.”

Not that Dare will be short of horses. Since being invited to join Hemi’s stable in a second car seven seasons ago after coming through ministocks and stockcars, the Red Waka cars have had the best kit available. A late start to the season is attributable to their Cornett Fords being freshened and tweaked in the States each winter. There are no motors back yet but Dare is hoping to get one run in the car in Palmerston North in early November — otherwise the Stampede could be his season debut.

He admits that Hemi’s support has been vital in a string of successes, which include two runner-up finishes and a third at national championships and other podium placings in NZGPs and teams champs. After a 2GP and 3GP in his stockcar, he believes he would still have made his way into superstocks, but the car wouldn’t have been at the same level, the spares inventory would have been smaller and the tow rig more basic.

“I can’t thank Wayne enough. What started seven years ago as a partnership has become a great personal friendship. I mean, he was my fake TV best man so that must tell you something!”

And Dare’s on-track record opened up a second invitation to take two weeks away from his TV schedule and travel to the UK to race a British F1 stockcar in the world finals in September. While there was a handy helping of Kiwi drivers, the field was dominated by the English and Dutch, many of whom are fulltime drivers. He’d been to the equivalent meeting once before and raced on tarmac in the seven-litre V8s which only lightly resemble our superstocks but was looking forward to a more familiar shale surface this time.

“We did all right, I think. The car was good, the crew was good and we were quick enough, I qualified all right for the finals and jumped up to fifth after a couple of laps but it came a bit unstuck.”

Dare said he prefers to keep a car near the pole line and, with the setup the car he was loaned had, it tended to push higher on the track. He got tangled a couple of times and then tipped over but still hugely enjoyed the experience. The British drivers usually perform well when they come out to New Zealand for big meetings in January and February but Dare says they have a lot more variety in their tracks, in terms of length, surface, even the barriers with many employing wire catch ropes meaning they are able to adapt once they hit our shores.

“They frown on waiting for someone to take them out — but they still race full contact. It just seems to come from a lot more angles once they get into a Kiwi car.”

Once Dare and the two Hemis have competed in Nelson on the big night on November 16, they will launch into the usual full summer campaign. With Palmerston North scheduling some big superstock meetings and Whanganui staging the nationals in the new year, Dare will be able to stay pretty close to his Foxton base for a lot of the time.

So, are you the small town boy you’ve been pitched as on telly?

“Yeah, love Foxton, mate. I’m pretty lucky to have the life I have where I have it. We were filming for six weeks in Auckland — and a big shout out to my boss at Archgola for giving me two month to get ‘married’ and race in Britain — and being in Auckland is okay but going anywhere was awful.

“Yeah, small town all the way, I think I was pretty authentic about that in the show.”

Jordan Dare thanks his sponsors and supporters; MMS Group, Motex Motors (Foxton), Tenua Engineers, Geartech Automotive, Signfusion, AWS Graphics, Bruce Mills and Macbuilt.

  • The PTS Nelson Superstock Stampede is on November 16 from 6pm. The 39 entries will be split into three groups who race crossovers with 26 cars in each race to find the leading points scorers for a grand final.
  • Also scheduled for that night will be a round of the Hydraulink War of the Wings for sprintcars with The Pits Media livestreaming the meeting. Acclaimed commentator Graeme (Mintie) Mead is travelling down to join the team for the night.
  • Follow the event on the PTS Superstock Stampede – Nelson and Nelson Speedway Association Inc Facebook pages and at www.nelsonspeedway.co.nz


Main image, Tom Laney. Other images supplied