After leaving New Zealand shores in April fresh off the back of a sublime local Speedway season, 21-year-old Taranaki racecar driver Campbell Stewart has asserted himself well in the USA.
The New Zealand 2021 speedway season saw the youngster win 11 of 13 events at five different tracks.
His trophy haul for the season included winning the NZ Grand Prix Championship, 2NZ, 2nd at the North Island Championship, Waikato Champion, 2nd in the King Country Championship and securing fastest lap times at every track.
Speedway NZ also awarded Stewart NZ Competitor of the Year for his efforts.
Following a Toyota 86 tin-top season in 2020, Stewart switched back to his speedway roots and was drafted into the Keith Kunz Motorsports team located in Columbus, Indiana.
Once established in the USA, Stewart had an outstanding debut night in the Micro sprint class at Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Oklahoma by winning the first race and earning a spot on Pole Position for night two.
After 3 days’ racing against very seasoned locals, Campbell had secured a handful of heat wins and placings.
Unfortunately, he began the Final dead last after being turned around in one of the elimination heats.
With good pace and commitment, he carved his way forward to end up 12th across the line raising the eyebrows of onlookers.
Week two saw a switch to a non-winged machine with restricted power levels at US24 Speedway in Logansport, Indiana and well over 100 competitors. Unfazed by the enormity of this challenge, Stewart finished third in Heat 5 and won Heat 6.
Due to circumstances out of his control, he could not take place in the A-Main Final, but ended up in the Top 10.
“The competition here is very tough with the other guys on their A-Game every lap. And it has been cool to see how I can learn from them,” Stewart said.
Circus City Speedway provided more learning in Peru, Indiana and another win for the rookie while driving an Outlaw Non-winged Micro race car in the Heats.
A ninth-place finish overall cemented a brilliant night for the Taranaki flyer amongst speedway royalty.
Two weeks on and the “9th Annual High Banks Hustle” at Southern Illinois Raceway in Marion, Illinois saw over 100 of the best micro sprint drivers in the USA competing for a spot in the 24 car Final A-Main event. Stewart drove a brilliant event and came away with eighth-place from 24th for his team.
The final event of the Micro Sprintcar campaign was at Sweet Springs Motorsport Park in Missouri and the “Small Town Throwdown” event.
Stewart produced another outstanding set of performances through the heat races only to be undone by a DNF in the A Feature 1, still coming away with a Top-10 overall result.
This experience has left Campbell richer for the exposure to the USA Speedway scene, making valuable contacts for future endeavours.
“Winning races with Keith Kunz Motorsports and building as a person has been awesome,” Stewart said as he prepares to look for his next big drive in America before jetting home to New Zealand in October.
“My plan is to return to the USA and pick up where I left off.” he said and if Stewart is any indication of the current calibre of NZ Speedway drivers, the sport is in very good shape.