Luke can fly in his car
IT HAS taken 18 months for Luke Watt to prepare, but now the Pimlico teenager is ready to race his speedway car.
Luke, 15, has sacral agenesis, which means he is missing part of his spine and his legs are behind in growth. They are about as long as a todd- ler's legs and he can't move them from a tucked position. He is wheelchair-bound, and also gets around by rolling and crawling.
None of that worries Luke. He enjoys going fast and can't wait to start at the Grafton Speedway on October 3 in the junior sedan category.
He got his licence a couple of weeks ago, first having to prove to National Association of Speedway Racing officials that he could get out of his car quickly.
But he was proud to say that he is able to climb out of his modified 1.6l four-cylinder Ford Meteor in 12 seconds, sliding first on to a specially-built platform to the left of the driver's seat, pulling himself through the front windscreen space and rolling off the bonnet.
This was his second attempt at getting his licence. He was knocked back last season because insurance companies wouldn't cover him.
His interest in speedway came about when he and his dad, Danny, were looking for a shared interest.
They tried fishing, but Luke didn't think much of that.
A trip to the Lismore Speedway became the catalyst for Luke's need for speed.
He said he likes to zip around on his quad bike at the family's property, and driving a speedway car was the next step.
Danny said he was keen to help Luke do whatever he wanted to do.
So, after countless hours working on the car that bears the number 94 - Luke's birth year - everything is set for Luke to start.
The family bought the second-hand speedway car 18 months ago.
Danny had to modify the car to automatic, and built a hand throttle which is a motorcycle brake handle set at the top of a lever on the right of the driver's seat.
The lever also acts as the car's brake when it is pushed forward.
To control the speed, Luke has to drive with just one hand on the steering wheel.
All the work has been approved and registered by speedway authorities.
Luke is a member of the Summerland Street Saloon Club.
Club president Glenn Armstrong confirmed that Luke was the first wheelchair-bound driver to race in the youth category locally, and possibly in the State.