Let’s chat – Graeme ‘Skinny’ Colson

Graeme ‘Skinny’ Colson has now retired from 39 years of racing.  We at Baypark Speedway have had the pleasure of him racing at our track over the years.  We are sure many of Skinny’s fans will be wondering what’s next for the legend racer?   One way to find out, Let’s chat – Skinny Colson.

When did you start racing and how did you get into it?

I started the 1982-1983 season, I happened to drive a friend’s saloon on a mechanics day in return for fixing it and fell in love with, so I purchased it and the rest is history.

What classes have you run over the years?

Saloons which turned into Super Saloons and then Sprintcars.  I have also driven in the TQ, Street Stock and Stock Car classes.  I drove Malcolm Ngatai’s Super Stock one night at Palmerston North.

I have also ridden Maurice Sattler’s Solo Bike.

What are you most proud of in your racing career?

Building my own Super Saloon and going to Nelson with it and winning the champs with 2 wins and a 2nd place.  Also going and racing up in the USA with Dalton’s for West Coast Speed Week racing 7 nights in 9 days finishing 14th overall.

What titles have you received while racing?

2 x 1st New Zealand Super Saloon Championships
7 x Super Saloon Grand Prix
2 x North Island Sprint Car Championships

I have also won most club champs at all tracks.

What is your all-time favourite track to race at and why?

My favourite track of all time is SKAGIT Speedway in the USA because it was a real big ¼ mile with wicked banking and real wide.  It provided the most fantastic racing for 3 nights in a row.  Baypark could be like SKAGIT Speedway if it had decent banking.

Why did you decide to retire?

One day you have to stop. I did not want to become a “has-been” and as you get older it definitely becomes tougher to be right up there.

I guess the time is right after all I now get the pension.  It will not be easy after 39 years of racing, but it is what it is.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss racing for the sure, the competitors and the social side.  I will not miss having to wash it all after race day. 

The actual racing itself is what I will miss the most.

Who do you admire most in motorsport and why?

There are many I admire.  Most of all Blondie as he was the legend when I started racing.  All I wanted to do was be as good as him. 

I also admire drivers like Shane Van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin.  Jeff Gordon, Sammy Swindell & Steve Kinser are legends in their own right.

Do you have any family involved in racing?

No, not now.  My son in law used to race Mini Stocks, Stock Cars then Super Stocks.

Do you have plans to occupy your spare time?

Spare time what is that?  We are going to be build a 1933 Ford coupe, 3 window with an LS Engine.  I have to have something to do out in the workshop otherwise I might get old.

Have you any people/sponsors you would like to thank for supporting you over the years?

Oh man, we have had so many great sponsors over the years indeed.  Many great friends have helped us. 

I guess it is tough to name everyone, but the major help came from Burroughs and Skyline garages (Graham Burroughs and Steve Rowe), we have them to thank for getting us going. 

In later years Ryco Filters was a major factor in getting us into a Sprint Car, from there Dalton’s have taken up from them. 

Neil Jamieson from Bethlehem Coachlines has also helped us, as well being a great sponsor and fantastic crew member, he is also the other Grandad and happens to be my daughter’s father-in-law!

I cannot thank Dalton’s enough for their fantastic support especially taking us up to the States to race.  Something we would have never been able to do ourselves.

Any advice you would like to pass down to the new generation of race car drivers?

Trust in yourself. 
Believe you can and you will. 
Be a fantastic ambassador for your sponsors. 
and finally…..
Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better.

And lastly, I can not thank Arleen (Mrs Skinny) enough for 39 years of such loyal and devoted support.