• Former Black Cap Star and Rugby Stalwart Try Their Hands at Speedway

    A couple of New Zealand sports stars have found a new way to compete, following illustrious careers that came to a close due to the inescapable fact that at some point, the body no longer has the ability to compete.

    Such is the case with former Test stars Nathan Astle and Whetu Taewa.

    Taewa was a rugby player who orchestrated the first try for the expansion New Zealand Warriors in 1995. He was the centre for the Sheffield Eagles when they upset the Wigan Warriors in 1998 Challenge Cup play, performing in front of a crowd of over 70,000 at Wembley Stadium.

    Astle hold the cricket batting record of 222 as the fastest to ever reach a double century in Test cricket.

    Both men have continued their sporting lives by racing sprint cars around clay tracks. The cars weigh a mere 635 kg, but pack more than 900 horsepower in their engines.

    Astle proclaims a lifelong interest in speedway, going to the track with his dad during his formative years. His cricket contracts prohibited him from participating in motor racing, as is befitting for a Black Capper that played 81 Tests and 223 ODIs for New Zealand.

    Taewa, 12 years since calling time on rugby, was named Production Saloon Competitor of the Year at Speedway New Zealand’s awards.

    Neither man has won a race yet, but both say the adrenalin they feel from racing is akin to that which they felt in rugby and cricket, with some variances.

    Now that Daniel Ricciardo is seemingly down to his last gasp as an F1 driver, it is not likely that we will see him give up his seat with Renault to try football or cricket, but he would bring instant notoriety to the sprint car circuit.

    Give him a bat, though, and see if he can use it for something other than shin boning Lewis Hamilton or one of the others he will follow in the upcoming Australian Grand Prix.