Dungog speedway driver Brendan Wakeman has won state titles, club championships and feature races across the country, but for him it was all topped by his peers naming him sportsman of the year at Saturday night’s Newcastle Street Stockers awards.
“That achievement for me is massive. I was quite excited by that one, the sportsman of the year is voted on by your racing peers which means so much,” Wakeman said.
He also added yet another title to his trophy cabinet, with the popular driver taking out the Newcastle Street Stockers series from 2018 Australian Street Stockers champion Shane Carlson from Raymond Terrace.
Street stockers is one of the most hotly contested speedway series with Hunter drivers including former Australian champion Blake Eveleigh, from Maitland, NSW title holder and Australian runner-up Kiona Sunerton, from Kurri Kurri, Wakeman and Carlson at the top of the sport.
“The competition is through the roof, it is awesome,” Wakeman said.
“I went into the last round of the Newcastle championship series with a decent lead, but the current Australian title holder Shane Carlson was still nipping at my heels so I had to do well no matter what.
“Some said I didn’t have to show up but I wasn’t going to leave that to chance, not with that bloke behind me, he is exception and always has been.”
Wakeman and Carlson have had a huge year of on-track rivalry, with Wakeman getting the upper hand at the Queensland and NSW titles in the past 12 months.
“He ran third to me at the Queensland and third at the NSW title.
“We started on the front row at Queensland, the same thing happened out at Dubbo in our first round of the Newcastle series. We started side by side and swapped the lead three or four times. A little drizzle of rain hit and it suited him and his car and I ended up getting left behind.”
Without a home track the Newcastle series is run at venues across the state.
“It is the first time I’ve won the Newcastle series. I won the Sydney championship a couple of years ago, but this is my first win the Newcastle series,” Wakeman said.
“I ran Newcastle a couple of years ago and I was way up in the points, but in the end the finances started to dry up a big and I ended going to Sydney and racing because it is a little big cheaper because it’s closer to home.
“Newcastle race all over the state because we don’t have a home track yet. The Newcastle Street Stockers Supporters Club keeps the club alive and have been trying to get a track for Newcastle after the closure of the original track.”
Wakeman clinched the title in the final round at Gilgandra but it wasn’t officially confirmed until Saturday’s presentation night.
He thanked sponsors Tower Transport, Autobarn Maitland, Valley Hyramuch and Revegetation, DSR Race Engines, Royal Hotel Dungog, Pit Crew Auto Parts and Beresfield Tint Me Up for their support in allowing him to compete.