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Taranaki champion stockcar driver Josh Walsh on track to make history

Josh Walsh, 32, has been a speedway spectator for much of his childhood.  Now as a driver he is winning titles.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Josh Walsh, 32, has been a speedway spectator for much of his childhood. Now as a driver he is winning titles.

With two titles under his belt in as many weeks, Taranaki stockcar champion Josh Walsh will make history at the end of this month if he tops the Grand Prix podium.

The Stratford-based driver is in the form of his 12-year career after winning the New Zealand Stockcar Championship at Auckland’s Waikaraka Park Speedway, before taking out the North Island Stockcar Championship on his home turf at Stratford Speedway.

If his performances help him seal a victory at the upcoming New Zealand Stockcar Grand Prix, which will be held in Kihikihi on January 28-29, it will be one for the record books.

“No one’s done three in a row before,” the 32-year-old said.

His passion for speedway began from the stands as a 4-year-old spectator when his step-father took him along to watch.

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Taranaki stockcar driver Josh Walsh has two titles, with his sights on a third later this month.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Taranaki stockcar driver Josh Walsh has two titles, with his sights on a third later this month.

Walsh didn’t get behind the wheel until he was 20, but he hadn’t looked back since in a sport that was definitely not for the fainthearted.

The stockcars weigh between 1400-1500kgs, hurtle around the track at speeds of up to 90kph, and are driven by people trying to outgun or even maneuver rivals out of the way completely.

Ahead of the big races, you won’t find Walsh on the track, but in the shed instead doing repairs and maintenance on his car.

Practice runs around the track weren’t part of his preparation either.

For Walsh, it all came down to how everything pulled together on race day.

“It’s one shot, that’s it.”

While he knew other drivers who carried a lucky charm during races, the only ritual Walsh swore by was swigging back a can of V before hitting the track.

Taranaki champion stockcar driver Josh Walsh on the track.

MG Taranaki Stratford Speedway

Taranaki champion stockcar driver Josh Walsh on the track.

Walsh said at some stage he would call time on his career, but speedway would continue to play a big role in his life.

His partner, Hailey James, also raced along with many of his friends.

It was support from them, his family and sponsors that he credited as being a big part of his recent success.

“You’ve got to have good people around you.”

Winning the Grand Prix title would provide the “icing on the cake” for Walsh.

But, he was already planning on defending his New Zealand Stockcar Championship title next year in front of a home crowd in Stratford.

In a statement, Stratford Speedway said Walsh’s recent achievements were “so deserved”.

“Stockcar driving or any other class takes not only luck, but also skill, determination and dedication.

“Josh and his crew put hours and hours of time and effort into his car to make sure it is the best it can be before every meeting, and this is what helps you achieve your goals.”

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