The streets of Port Nelson are a second home to Nelson man Heath Botica, he owns a business at the port and has raced in the Port Nelson Street Races for 15 years.
But he’s never been “King of the Port” and that’s something he’d like to change.
“I’ve won some of the classes here before. But I haven’t won a superbike class, I think I’ve had a few seconds. I would really like to win the formula 1 or the King of the Port race because I’ve never done that.”
Heath started his riding career on dirt bikes but has now competed in all but one of the country’s street races and has collected the Burt Monroe Memorial Trophy and Pike River Memorial Trophy over the years.
He says this year he’s been in good form.
“I had a really good year in the Bears Winter series, I entered in four classes and I ended up winning three and finished third in another. That’s a six round series in Ruapuna.”
So winning a major class in Nelson would cap off a big year for Heath who says street racing seems to suit his style.
“I suppose it’s a wee bit closer to racing on the dirt, it’s a little bit more intense and it seems to suit my riding style. I seem to go a little better on the street circuits than I do on the big circuits.”
He says the home crowd also plays a big part.
“You notice the crowd when you pull up to the start grid and everyone is really close.”
“It is cool, especially on the start line there’s so many people leaning over the fences and waving at you and everyone really gets a thrill out of it.”
He says the major reason he keeps competing is the speed.
“I think the speed does get you. Doing 260km/hour on the big bikes is a thrill. The speed is a thrill.”
The 2018 Port Nelson Street Races is being held on January 2.
Entry is on the gate on the day and is $15 for adults and $5 for children under 14.
Full details are at www.nelsonportraces.co.nz