"Don't be intimidated."
That's the call from Tony Darroch and the rest of his mates involved with the four-strong Thirsty Whale-FPG-sponsored stockcar team which will make its debut at the Hawke's Bay Speedway Club's first meeting of the season at Meeanee's ZM Speedway tonight. "We're working as a team off the track but not on it," Darroch said.
Darroch, Jason O'Brien, brother Dennis O'Brien and newcomer Rob Simmons will drive some of the best presented cars seen in the class at Meeanee. And though they help each other off the track they will race as individuals.
"There will be times when we take each other out to impress the fans. The only time we're likely to operate as a team is when we put on another of those popular stockcar soccer games," said Darroch.
"Basically we've just got this new-look to raise the profile of our class, promote our sponsors and promote speedway as a whole. We're family orientated ... not hit men," Darroch said.
The O'Briens and Darroch have been regular crowd-pleasers in recent years and there will be plenty of interest in whether Simmons can match their feats.
"Because I'm associating with these blokes I'll probably be a marked man ... it's all part of the fun," Simmons laughed.
A former four-wheel drive competitor, Simmons crewed for Darroch for a season before opting to race dwarfcars last season.
"Rob was the grandma of the dwarfcar class and now he is looking for something different," Darroch said.
While Simmons, Darroch and the O'Briens will no doubt attract plenty of attention on and off the track tonight there will be plenty of interest in the form of Tiger Woods' golf caddie Steve Williams, who has the option of racing his Limited Saloon Mustang or Super Saloon Mustang.
The Mount Maunganui-contracted Williams and Auckland-based national TQ champion Scott Joblin are among big-name visitors confirmed for the opening meeting.
Track manager Philippa Jones said depending on damage after last night's meetings at Palmerston North and Bay Park many other visitors are expected.
For host club drivers double club points in the David Jones Motors-sponsored series will be up for grabs in all classes - saloons, stockcars, TQs, superstocks, dwarfcars, streetstocks and ministocks.