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OUTLAW BECOMES AN INDIAN

 

Written by: Pete McNae

 

Harley Robb doesn’t care where, as long as he’s there. The Christchurch-based stockcar driver is still just 20 but he’s already teams raced for the Sunset Slayers, Canterbury Crushers and Eastern States Titans, as well as having a crack for the Riverside Raiders streetstock team last weekend, winning the runoff race for third with the Nelson Knights. This weekend at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway, Robb goes green as he put on a team body for the KB’s Indians as they line up in the Nelson Automotive Solutions Stockcar Teams Brawl.

“There’s nothing better than teams racing,” Robb said. “When the Titans couldn’t pull a team together for this weekend, there was guys calling to see if I’d be interested to race with them. Basically, it was a done deal from the time the phone rang.”

KB’s Indians (and their sidekicks KB’s Cowboys, who couldn’t make Nelson this weekend) are privateer teams initially organised over the past decade by Palmerston North driver Ken Meehan. Eleven years later, they are the only non-regional teams still running on a regular basis and they run to Meehan’s rules – basically the social side is as important as the racing and fines are meted out in brown bottles of Tui. The Cowboys have tended to be the more senior side with the Indians introducing younger drivers to stockcar teams racing but there’s a strong squad gathered to meet the Greymouth Grizzlies and the defending Teams Brawl champs, Nelson’s Blacks Fasteners Tasman Thunder this weekend (Friday at 7pm, Saturday from 6pm). Blenheim-registered Robb, the current West Coast stockcar champion, will team up with three Dunedin drivers, Otago champ Mark Taylor, Marc Whaley and Canterbury champ Michael Arras, along with Nelson’s Phil Krammer and Dylan Clarke.

“I know those guys, I’m ready to go to battle with them,” Robb said. “That’s the thing with teams racing – you know you will hit and you know you will get hit and that you have five guys with the same colour team body as you looking to deal it out. Blenheim is my track and the Titans are my team, but I don’t think I will ever turn down a teams race.”

It’s not just track options, either. Robb has his choice of weapons this weekend, too. Previously he has raced his spaceframe car with some success but, more recently, bought one of the quicker Tanks going around. The Tank will be the one on duty for the Indians. “It’s an upgrade on the spacie, although I’ve had a good run with that one, too. The Tank maybe suits my driving style a bit more … I haven’t teams raced it yet so this might be the first chance to park it on the pole line and wait for guys to try to get around me.”

The Indian freely admits to having been a bit of an outlaw, though. He’s a fan of the crash and bash and that doesn’t always make Harley – or the rest of the Robb stockcar-driving family – popular with some competitors. He copped a suspension for an incident earlier this season at Woodford Glen that he’d prefer to leave in the past. “The thing with stockcars is that, in the heat of the moment, things that seem a good idea at the time might not be so good later on. But, I took what was coming in terms of a suspension and it cleared the air between the other driver and me … we talk across the pits now and there’s an understanding that wasn’t there before.

“If you sign up for a contact class, there is going to be contact, simple as that. I race because I like hitting other cars and I expect to get a few back, to me, that’s why stockcars have bars around them. The Tank has been winning a few but this weekend will be the chance to see what it’s made of.

“I’d teams race every weekend, if the chance was there. My loyalty is to my track and the Titans but, when they couldn’t get a team together for various reasons, I’m keen to step up for anyone who asks because I love to wreck shit.”

Robb has toyed with the idea of selling both stockcars to go open wheel racing with the sheer speed of midgets appealing for a while. But recently he’s backed off that plan and is likely to sell the spaceframe and keep racing the Tank. “Everything is for sale for a price but, until the money is in my account, I have two stockcars and I’m staying with the crash and bash. My first stockcar cost $6000 and I did my first teams racing with the Slayers boys over in Westport and I had just as much fun then as I am now. I guess stockcars are where I belong – it just suits me better to hit cars.”

With the Canterbury Crushers, Wellington’s Young Guns and KBs Cowboys unable to make this meeting after a fierce national teams meeting in Gisborne and other race and work commitments, the Nelson Automotive Solutions Stockcar Teams Brawl will focus on three teams racing each other both nights for a total of six teams races. The overall winner will be the team with the highest aggregate points after Saturday’s meeting. Other features over the two nights will include the last two rounds of the Vertex Super Cup for super saloons, with Ian Burson securing a surprise drive in 3NZ after his own car was sold, and the Ray White Richmond Youth Ministock Mania.  This season, the ministock field will race heats, then a 20-lap feature, to emulate the adult classes. Friday’s meeting starts at the later time of 7pm to allow volunteers time to get to the track.

Blacks Fasteners Tasman Thunder:  81N Ben Smith, 82N Keightley Teece, 83N Brad Neiman, 84N Michael Paynter, 85N John Everett, 86N Adam Hall.

Greymouth Grizzlies: 33GM Dave Houston Jr, 34GM Lloyd Jennings, 35GM George Watson, 36GM Logan Tomlin, 38GM Tony Stanton, 39GM Tony Oliver.

KBs Indians:  84D Mark Taylor, 521D Michael Arras, 72D Marc Whaley, 991E Harley Robb, 31N Dylan Clarke, 32N Phil Krammer.

Harley Robb image: Michael Knipe Photography

KB’s racing image: Jason Green, Speednut, Blenheim

Tasman Thunder, 4GM images: Tom Laney, www.imagepress.co.nz