Local racer Lyn Stewart will have extra motivation when she competes in the opening round of the 2014 JR Racing Eighth Mile Drag Racing Series at Warwick Dragway on 8 February.
The 62-year-old, who won last year's FG Loy & Sons Earthmoving Old School Bracket, lost her husband of 40 years – beloved local drag racing identity Mark Stewart – to a workplace accident in 2012, but the passionate racer has continued her on-track exploits in his honour.
"Mark was always a 'get on with it' kind of person, and while it has been extremely difficult I know he wouldn't want me sitting around digging myself a hole, he would want me to be out there having fun and so that is what I am trying to do," the Athol resident said.
"He is the reason I got into racing – I saw him out there and decided I couldn't let him have all the fun and next thing you know we had set up my 'little white wagon' 1978 Gemini and were taking to the track together. Even today he is the reason I still get out there, 'getting on with living' as he would have wanted.
"Mark really was an amazing and much-loved man, we lived and breathed racing and each other and we loved competing together – when we decided to get into the eighth mile series I never thought I could be good enough for something like this but he encouraged me to enter and insisted we could take it out if we wanted to - when I won the 2013 Series it was certainly bittersweet."
Stewart was one of two local racers alongside Ian Ham who claimed 2013 honours, taking out the title for the Series' FG Loy & Sons Earthmoving Old School Bracket – one of six race categories contested in the 2013 Series. In 2014, Stewart will move to the Super Street bracket.
"I have really enjoyed racing in the Eighth Mile Series as it is really attuned to the type of racing I like to do – where the focus is on going out there and enjoying yourself and on spending a relaxed time with your mates at the race track," Stewart said.
"In 2014 I will be transitioning over to the Super Street bracket which is where I started out racing nine years ago so I am looking forward to getting back to that category and you never know, maybe I can take another Series win!
"As long as I can have fun and spend some quality track-time with my friends, it is a successful race day for me as far as I am concerned."
Stewart and the rest of the Super Street bracket will be joined on track by the FG Loy & Sons Earthmoving Eighth Mile Outlaws, RD Williams Excavator Parts Modified, Super Sedan, Queensland Nameplate Group Modified Bike and Junior Dragster categories.
Kicking off at Warwick Dragway on 8 February, the series will head to Willowbank Raceway on 26 April for round two. Benaraby Raceway will host round three on 1 August before the final at Ironbark Raceway, 27 September.