Spectators at the Catlins Coast Rally have become accustomed to seeing regular Australian visitor Keith Callinan manhandling a Holden Monaro around the roads of the district each year. Callinan won't be present this year but there will be another sight just as Australian on Saturday - Stewart Reid of Brisbane will be competing in the Ford Falcon XYGT 351 seen at the Rally Of Otago earlier this year in the hands of fellow Australian Dave Thompson.
Reid has been a top competitor in Australia for many years, winning the Classic Championship in a Ford Escort BDG and running in various 4-wheel-drive machines at the top end of the field. "I'm in the old fart category now and I'm enjoying the sport more. Running in the classics you are with competitors who have been there and done that."
Reid has competed before in New Zealand - "I have done the Waimate Rallysprint twice and the Rally Of Otago twice in cars rented from Bryce Biggs. However the first time he will drive the Falcon will be when he "backs it off the trailer at Catlins."
"Thommo has another commitment that weekend driving a Group A Mustang at Phillip Island so I spiked his drink and talked him into letting me drive the Falcon," jokes Reid. "It is a classic icon and I am very privileged to receive this opportunity. I have been told I am not allowed to use full throttle and that I would have to use some pillows and a childseat to see in such a big car. It's my first run in the Falcon so I will go quite carefully. It will be like driving a bus. There will be plenty of room to take spectators for rides in the back," laughs Reid as he shows the humour that the Australian contingent bring to the event each year.
"The guys tell me Catlins is a great event and I would like to do more in New Zealand next year because I love the roads. It's a huge learning curve to try and be competitive and super fast without going off the road. Plus it is a good opportunity to have a cold Speights after the event."
Reids co-driver couldn't be located originally to see if he would do the event, being out of phone service range in a National Park. However when he eventually surfaced he jumped at the chance to do it."
Reid also acknowledges the help and support received on this side of the Tasman from Mark Laughton of Dunedin who will also compete this weekend.
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