Wellington man Mark Bennett defies the odds.
He may be a late starter in the sport of motorcycle racing but the 53-year-old is wasting no time at all in making up lost ground.
“I have only been racing bikes for three years and my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner,” said the Wellington builder.
“I had a trail bike when I was 18 years old but I took time off to have a family and a mortgage. A mid-life crisis got me back into it. I started racing road bikes too late in life but I guess I’ve proven it’s never really too late.”
Bennett races a 2009-model Yamaha R6 and has proven to be very competitive in the 600cc sports production class.
“I only raced one round of the nationals last season – the Manfeild event in February – and I was running among the top 10. It was too expensive for me to try doing the whole series. I’m running fourth in the Victoria Motorcycle Club’s Actrix Winter Series and that’s okay.
“I finished eighth last year in the Winter Series, so I guess I’m improving. In 2008 I finished 12th and the year before that – in 2007 – it was my debut year and I raced my way to third in the clubmans’ grade.
“I try to encourage older guys to give this sport a go. When you’re later in life you’ve often got the income needed to be able to come and play. I’m thankful to be partly sponsored by Wellington company First Windows and Doors.
“The bike community is great and you can trust these guys you share the track with. Sometimes it gets pretty tight in the corners but I feel it is okay to lean on the rider next to me because you can trust them. I get lots of helpful advice from my fellow riders. It’s a big happy family.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com