While Sideline Sid is no petrol head – he does takes a keen interest in sport in general. One name that quickly comes to mind in New Zealand motor racing is long-time single seater driver Kenny Smith.
Sideline Sid’s long-suffering wife grew up in Auckland’s Point England, where a then-young Kenny Smith terrorised the neighborhood, racing around the local streets as he tried out each and every modification to his souped up car.
From those humble beginnings in Point England, Smith has gone on to become an absolute legend in New Zealand motor racing. As soon as legally permitted to get a motor sport licence, he hit the race tracks of the country – and is still going strong in 2013 in his 56th year of competition.
Affectionately referred to by many in motor racing as SuperVet, the legendary Kiwi driver is currently chasing another F5000 Tasman Cup revival series title. While in his seventh decade, there is no slowing down as he drives a 5 litre single seater Lola T323 in pursuit of more championship silverware.
Kenneth James Smith made an auspicious motor racing debut in 1958, winning the New Zealand hill climb championship at just 16 years of age – and he hasn’t stopped since. In 1962 he’d progressed to single seaters driving in the Formula Junior class. He went on to race in Formula Ford, F 5000, F Pacific, F Mondial and F Toyota among a myriad of racing classes.
However, it is Smith’s record in the New Zealand Grand Prix that will see him remembered in the country’s motor sport history forever. The SuperVet has also started in our countries premier motor race on 48 occasions, winning the iconic race on three occasions.
In his first starts in the New Zealand Grand Prix, he was rubbing bumpers against some of the true greats in the sport, such as Stirling Moss and world champions Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart. He came from the New Zealand motor sport era, which produced three Kiwi drivers that raced on the world big stage in F1, in Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon.
His major victories include the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1976, 1990 and 2004, along with international success in the Penang GP three times; the Selanger GP twice; and the Malaysian GP once. The list of other honours is just as long, with a MBE in 1987, induction into the New Zealand Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2008 and a Motorsport New Zealand Special award in 2010 in recognition of his pivotal role in motorsport.
Still racing at age 72, Kenny will be remembered forever as one of the true legends of New Zealand motor sport.