Family fuelled by speedway successes

Handed the keys to his dad’s super saloon five years ago, Chris Cowling has come a long way since smashing the car at ASB Baypark in his second week.

“It was a bit of a rookie mistake,” says Chris, who last weekend followed in father Maurice’s footsteps to claim a national speedway championship title
in Stratford.

Saloon car champ Chris Cowling with his NZ1 trophy and car. Photo by Bruce Barnard.

While Maurice claimed titles in the midget and super saloon classes years earlier, Chris claimed victory in the saloons – with brother Steve only a few spots back in fifth place.
“We’re pretty competitive, there’s not much between Steve and me at all,” says Chris, talking of his brother placing second at last year’s nationals.

Recalling his early crash that put the car and the pair’s racing out for the season, Chris says it was frustrating but didn’t deter him from getting back
behind the wheel.

“I was more annoyed with myself than anything,” says Chris, who recalls the car sliding into a barrier at speed. “It was a bit of a learning curve; but after watching dad over the years, it’s in the blood.”

The following two seasons, Chris and brother Steve shared a car they raced alternate weekends. Starting in a super saloon, they soon downgraded to a standard saloon and began racing their own cars.

Mid-season for 2013/2014, Chris is happy with his performance – regaining winning form at Baypark two weeks ago after initially struggling. Winning December’s six-stage South Island DHL Saloon Speedweek series, (where Steve placed second), Chris has also claimed a handful of other victories.

His goal for the next few months is to dominate the NZ Saloon Grand Prix in Auckland, which he won last year, and claim Gisborne’s North Island champs.

Ultimately, he’d love to race on the US speedway circuit, in the same way Maurice did in Midgets, but says “it all comes down to money”. Behind Chris in the Saloon title finals, three fellow Bay drivers dominated the class – Baypark driver Brent McClymont placed second while Tauranga ITM teammates Dan Corrin and Chris’ brother Steve claimed fourth and fifth respectively.

Chris credits father Maurice’s mentoring, and great crews and cars as secrets to both his and Steve’s success.


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