DICKSON’S A RACER IN A RUSH

SOUTHERN MAN’S SUPER SEASON

Written by: Pete McNae

 

The two busiest men in New Zealand at the moment? The scoreboard operator at a Hurricanes game and Peter Dickson’s signwriter.

The Cromwell-based super saloon driver just doesn’t seem to want to keep his stickers for very long. He had a season-and-a-half as 11i when he was living at home in Invercargill and racing modified sprints. Then he headed up to sunny Central to join Shane McIntyre in building Hypermac saloons, running the 11T for half a season until he became 2NZ in just his first campaign in the class. Flash forward another 12 months and Dickson, now racing a Hypermac super saloon, starts the summer as 11T again before – blow me down – he goes and takes out the national title and makes the quick swap to 1NZ.

Add in a 1SI in the saloon and a 2SI with the super and Dickson seems to be a rare talent with those four podium finishes all coming in the space of his first 18 months racing in the saloon classes. Does he ever stop to think that some folk toil for 30 summers and never get a sniff of a podium?

“No, I don’t really line myself up against anyone else,” says the 28-year-old, who now works for Mainfreight in Cromwell since the Hypermac operation moved closer to Cook Strait. “Everyone is out there doing the best they can and I look at my own goals, not how the other guys are going. I try to set a pretty high bar and then not tell anyone too much what my aims are in case I come off looking like a bit of a tool. So far, things have gone well, though.”

Dickson will lead a field of around 20 into the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway this weekend for the final two rounds of the Vertex Super Cup, the new name for the South Island series that has been the focal point for the class in recent seasons. Weather permitting, they will race from 7pm Friday and 6pm Saturday with Dickson sitting third, close behind series leader Richie Taylor in 2NZ and Cromwell’s Ray Stewart (34T). Dickson couldn’t say who is fourth (“I don’t really notice what’s behind me”) and would love to add the Vertex to his list of accomplishments in his first attempt. “Richie’s about 40 points clear and Ray is 18 ahead, I think, so they are just a good race or two in front of me.”

Dickson knows a thing or two about a good race. He was stung when he couldn’t turn a top qualifying position into a national championship in his saloon last year. “Second’s not a failure, but I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish the job. This season, stepping up to the super, I tried not to leave anything to chance on my home track. Every hour of the week before was spent on the car, every day and night it was the only thing I thought about and then I kind went off by myself and walked around the pits and stayed on course.”

It worked. In a quality field featuring the best drivers from both islands, Dickson managed two seconds and four firsts, including one drive from 14th to the front, to win his national title ahead of Taylor and McIntyre in a South Island sweep.  While there was chaos going on behind him, Dickson stayed locked in. “I think the first time I was aware of much was when I saw the white flag. Richie was on my back bumper – he’d gone up high and was making up ground but we got there. Long 30 laps though.”

Dickson’s looking forward to testing himself on the Nelson track, the only one in the South Island he hasn’t visited. He likes that high line and says the “flowing” nature (that is, no straights) of the Lansdowne Rd circuit should suit his driving style. “One of the things I like best about this class is finding the right time and place to make a good pass and in the Vertex Super Cup, passing equals points so I’m really looking forward to two full-on nights.”

Dickson has caught the eye of a number of sponsors in his spectacular stint in saloons and super saloons. He has important support from Mainfreight Cromwell (Paul and Debbie Wright, friends, sponsors and in Paul’s case, competitor), Hypermac Racing and Shane McIntyre, Metro Grafix and Design, NZ Composites, HEB Construction, Central Otago Powdercoating and MOS Sheetmetal.  “Paul and Debbie encouraged me to come over to supers which was a great decision and Shane builds unreal cars – these new ones just go fast straight out of the box,” he said. Dickson runs a lean pit operation but Brendon Partridge and Dane Kearon will help out while his dad, Peter Dickson Snr, makes the trek up from Invercargill to act as crew chief. There’s no Peter Dickson III (“If there was, there wouldn’t be a race car,” he says.)

With the club also lining up the Nelson Automotive Solutions Stockcar Teams Brawl and the Ministock Mania promotion, backed by Ray White in Richmond, over both nights, this should be a strong weekend for the Nelson Speedway Association. Dickson is keen to crank up the 1NZ somewhere new.

“With 1, 2 and 3 from the South Island and the Vertex getting 20 to 22 cars, it’s a great time to be racing super saloons in the south. The field forces you to be a better driver and we will put on a show, for sure,” Dickson says. “I’m definitely in this class to stay a while.”

  • Vertex Super Cup, final two rounds, Nelson Automotive Solutions Stockcar Teams Brawl and Ray White Richmond Ministock Mania, Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway, Friday from 7pm and Saturday from 6pm.
  • Check back for a preview of the Stockcar Teams Brawl later this week at nelsonspeedway.co.nz or try the new phone app.