KEEN AS MUSTARD: Ray ‘Rock Man’ Eggins, of South Lismore, with his V8 Dirt Modified machine, complete with the Fantastic Four’s The Thing character. Eggins will race in the Lord Mayor’s Cup, Lismore Speedway’s 2009-10 season opener, on November 7. His car will be on display at the Mecca Cafe in Lismore that morning.
KEEN AS MUSTARD: Ray ‘Rock Man’ Eggins, of South Lismore, with his V8 Dirt Modified machine, complete with the Fantastic Four’s The Thing character. Eggins will race in the Lord Mayor’s Cup, Lismore Speedway’s 2009-10 season opener, on November 7. His car will be on display at the Mecca Cafe in Lismore that morning. DAVID NIELSEN

Eyes on the prize

LISMORE V8 dirt modified driver Ray Eggins has a simple saying to explain his need for speed: “Anybody can own a house, but not everybody can race.”

It’s certainly true that not everyone can hurtle around a dirt track at speeds of about 145km/hin a 600-horsepower racing car that weighs less than your average Hyundai.

“I want to be able to sit down with my grandkids when I’m 60 or 70 and tell them a few stories, not just say I painted the fence once,” Eggins said.

“I’ve always liked a bit of speed and instead of being the bloke who goes out on the road and acts like a bit of an idiot, I can race on tracks where I am allowed to be a bit of an idiot.”

But acting like an ‘idiot’ almost cost Eggins his eyesight last year when he suffered a freakish injury that happens to only one in every two-and-a-half-million people.

“I rolled end-on-end three times and the car landed on its roof. It gave me a condition where I nearly lost sight in my right eye,” he said.

“It forced air out of my lungs and into my right eye and it meant that I could not look straight ahead.

“It was a bit like looking through a pair of sunglasses with a blotch in the middle all the time.

“For a few months I thought that I would have to give racing away.

“It doesn’t bother me so much when I look into the distance, but it does affect me when I’m trying to read a letter.

“It’s a one in two-and-a-half-million-person condition and the specialist said he’d never seen it in a
face that hasn’t been in intensive care, usually a crush victim. He’s going to use me as a case study.”

No deterrent

But the injury hasn’t deterred the 41-year-old from pursuing his passion for dirt modifieds.

“There are some blokes who just race and race, and keep on racing, but have a bit of fear about their future and fade out of the sport,” he said.

“Some other guys just get back on the horse and back on the pace again.”

You get the impression that Eggins falls into the latter category.

Eggins has been racing for 14 years and can’t wait for the first meeting of the season at Lismore Speedway on November 7.

“I look forward to the start of the season every year,” he said.

“But it doesn’t matter whether there is a crowd of 3000 in the stands or not. I’m not going for the crowds; I’d be just as happy if there was no one in the grandstand. It’s the exhilaration of the race for
me.”

He’s been warming up for the season ahead with a third and an eighth in his past two outings.

Eggins, who runs an earthmoving business specialising in building rock walls, is known on the dirt modified circuit as the ‘Rock Man’.

He drives a 2004 ‘Dominator’, a car built by the firm Beottcher Race Parts in Brisbane.

Entry level cars start at around $25,000 and it can rise to about $60,000 – not that Eggins sits back and counts the costs.

With sponsors like the Mecca Cafe, Summerland Tool Supplies and Wes Engines behind him, it’s become much more manageable.

“There are fellows who change their SS Commodores every two or three years and lose $35,000 when they change over,” he said.

“What’s the difference between that and what I do?”


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