Let’s Talk – With Matt Higham

Years racing:  First season Speedway, 15 years other classes on and off.
Home track:  Baypark Speedway
Feature wins:  0
Classes raced: Karts, Formula First, Formula Ford, NZV8’s, D1NZ
Sponsors: BSL Racing, Hi-Q Components


When did you start racing and how did you get into it?
My dad made the mistake of taking me along to watch some Karting at Kartsport
Auckland as a youngster, from that day on every waking minute my mind was fixated
on racing.


What classes have you run over the years?
The 2021/2022 season was my introduction to Speedway, prior to this I have raced a
handful of Tarmac classes, Karting, Formula First, Formula Ford, NZV8’s (V8
Challenge Cup at the time), SsangYong Racing Series & D1NZ Drifting.


What are you most proud of in your racing career?
1NZ – 2011/2012 Formula First championship.
Elite Motorsport Academy Graduate.
What titles have you received while racing?
1NZ – 2011/2012 Formula First championship.
What is your all-time favourite track to race at and why?
Baypark – As my first podium this season was here, 2nd at the F2 Bay of Plenty
Champs 2022. This was also one of my favourite tracks whilst drifting D1NZ
Prosport. It’s pretty cool that I have been able to race on dirt and drift on concrete in
the same stadium.


What are you currently doing in the off-season and how do you prepare
mentally and physically for this sport?

A typical week through the off season for me involves gym training after work &
either mountain biking or riding Motocross on the weekend. I also enjoy spending
time on the simulator competing on iRacing.
Another large part of my season preparation is working on the car and continuing to
develop my knowledge in car setup.


What do you hope to achieve next season?

Feature wins. Last season was a steep learning curve coming in on the later side,
having never turned a lap on a dirt oval prior. Was really pleased to get a podium
towards the end of the season and hope to carry this momentum for a stronger start
to the 2022/2023 season.


What characteristics do you think are important to becoming successful in
racing?

Both a positive and motivated team environment, coupled with good preparation
leading up to the event. It then comes down to a fine balance between bravery and
composure during the race.


What is happening with your car in the off-season any major changes we
should look out for once the season starts?

Can definitely expect a new livery this season & I would really like to make the switch
over to a Terra chassis built by BSL Racing this season if possible.


Speedway racing can be fast and dangerous, looking out toward the fans, what
do you think is one thing the fans will never understand until they are behind
the wheel of a race car?


After the other styles of motorsport I have run previously, speedway is definitely the
most exciting. The grip level midgets can generate is a concept hard to grasp as a
spectator (having been a regular spectator for years). For what appears to be
slippery dirt, they have some serious drive when set up & driven well.


What is your favourite race on the NZ race calendar?
As a spectator nothing beats when the international midget drivers come to race in
New Zealand. I also really enjoy watching the longer Midget races such as the
Western Springs 50 lapper and Bay51.


Who do you admire most in motorsport and why?
Shane Van Gisbergen, I like his raw, on the edge driving style and ability to adapt to
different motorsport disciplines successfully.

Let’s talk about Baypark Speedway,

  • What do you think of the changes and the direction speedway is
    moving?

    It’s been a tough season for all tracks and classes. I’m grateful for the efforts
    everyone has made in keeping events happening and for the sponsors who
    have stuck with teams throughout the past 2 years. Without either of these
    parties there would be no motor racing for everyone to enjoy. I am confident
    that the season ahead will be bigger and better in all ways possible. Would be
    great to see more competitors and more fans enjoying the show + hopefully
    more tracks running the F2 class.
  • What would you like to see improve for both the speedway and your
    class?

    F2’s could do with more national recognition given they are such a great
    introduction to open wheel racing.

Tell us about your sponsors, what kind of business they run and the support
you get from them?


Hi-Q Components is a local company that distributes a large range of plastic,
electronic & industrial components with over 10,000 different parts available from
stock. They love to support motorsport & are a longstanding sponsor of both myself
and the Formula First category. They have also supported various speedway drivers
over the years.


We know sponsors play a big part but so do crews and families, tell us about
your support team?

The team at BSL Racing, along with the other BSL drivers have taught me so much
already and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I’m also very lucky to have such
great support from my parents, partner Chelsea & the Herbert Family, Darryl, Nathan
and Sam. It takes a small army of people to successfully keep a race car on the
track. Endlessly grateful for the efforts everyone has contributed in my first season
and I look forward to hopefully sharing a successful season ahead with all those who
have helped me out so far.


Final words …… What would you like to say to your fans and the wider
speedway community?

I would like to say a huge thank you for the support. Having been a speedway fan
myself for many years, I know just how huge the speedway crowds can be & I
always looked forward to the day I got my chance to put on a show for them. I’m
stoked that my time has come and I look forward to an action packed season.