With the season ahead finally kicking off this weekend, Unfortunately BayPark Speedway will be bringing up the rear with only the Auckland tracks in tow to start the 20/21 season. BayPark is one of only a few speedways that run both Open Wheel and stockcars side by side. Just over the hill our neighbours Huntly International finally got their season started just two weeks ago and we sat down to talk to one of the quick up and rising stars of the Ministock class, a youngster who edged his name as one to watch, Nick named “The Bullet” Kayden Barker driver off Ministock 11H had fans, commentators and other competitors take notice last season as a standout in his class. Like many drivers before that have started in either the Quarter Midgets or Ministocks and become a household name Kayden is proving that he will be one to keep an eye on as he aims for bigger and better things this season, progressing as quickly as possible to future stardom.
So due to covid, unfortunately the off season was extended. What have you and the team been doing to prepare for the new season?
During the off season we stripped the car right back to the chassis, gave it a fresh coat of paint, gave the engine a refreshen up and made sure there were no flaws with any part of the car. We were also fortunate enough to purchase a Halcrow Engineering trailer which will come in handy when we hopefully travel around the country and compete at different tracks this season.
Last season you were one of the dominant drivers in your class at your home track, tell us what your motivation?
I have always set myself high standards in everything I do and that is no different on race day. My biggest motivation was to make my family proud and to push myself to be the best
What age did you get into the sport?
I have been brought up around motorsport so naturally have it in my blood. I had my first drive in a Ministock at the age of 12 and as soon as the green flag dropped, I was instantly hooked.
What are your goals in Motorsport and where do you see yourself heading and what direction i.e., class venue?
My goal after Ministocks is to try my hand at an open wheel class and see where that takes me. I think racing in a different country would be a cool experience and would hopefully open some doors.
Who is Kayden Barker outside of Speedway?
Someone that puts their heart and soul into everything they do and always strives to be the best which was evident when named in the NZ U16 Boys Touch team this year. I love to spend time with friends, have a joke and a laugh and not take life to seriously. If I’m not at a race track you will find me in the shed working on cars, on the simulator racing with my mates or out at the lake water skiing.
You have been given the nickname “the bullet” from the commentators at Huntly because, like a bullet you go from the back to front so quickly. What do you think of it?
It took me a while to get used to being called “The Bullet” around speedway but now it’s just become second nature.
Speedway is a family sport, and you can always find your family surrounding your car in the pits, tell us about your family and what do they think about having a speedway driver amongst the family.
During their younger days most of my family have competed in motorsport themselves which means they are all very involved in my racing and can’t wait for race day to come around.
What or Who are your inspirations in the speedway world, or motorsport world in general. And, outside of Speedway.
The person who inspires me most is defiantly Kyle Larson. I have a lot of respect for his ability to switch cars and change driving styles. He adapts to new challenges quickly and is always running at the front no matter what class he is in.
Tell us about your race car, for those that don’t know anything about Ministocks what you would say.
This season we have decided to run a more aerodynamic panel kit which also helps us with a very important side of the class being weight reduction. A Ministock is based on a standard 1970 Datsun 1200 road car held together by a steel chassis that gets pushed to its limit’s week in and week out. The class has a strict rule around what you can and can’t alter on the vehicle which means all individual cars should be similar.
Most people including some fans don’t get to know what it’s like and, what you can see when you’re on the track, how would you explain it.
The restrictions of a full containment race seat mean that there is little room to move your head, so your vision is generally fixed forward. When you’re on the track it feels like you are going a lot faster as the car is open and there are a lot of other cars moving around you at speed. You’re also often forced to make split second decisions which can have a big impact on the outcome of your race.
We all know that sponsors and parents are so important, who sponsors you this season and what kind of support do you get from them.
We are lucky enough to have Livestock Feed Systems on board, they specialise in manufacturing and installing meal and molasses systems into cow sheds, Central Metals who are our local scrap metal buyers, Crafted Signs who never fail to have our graphics looking sharp all season, K & L Distributors who supply us products such as oils and lubricants, Classic Car Consultants are your one stop shop for unique vehicle valuations and last but not least Online Stabilisers who specialise in earthworks and infrastructure.
Follow Kayden on his Facebook page “Kayden Barker Motorsport” and on track at Huntly International and Bay Park Speedway, and I’m sure a track near you soon.
Special thanks to Mum Abbie and all Kayden’s crew and sponsors for allowing us to catch up and with KBM.
Written by: Macau Hadley-Johnson