Daniel Eggleton is fast becoming a veteran of the Sprintcar scene amongst the highly competitive Sprintcar ranks here at WXC Speedway – Western Springs and despite recently losing the 3NZ off the tail tank, he is still one of the front runners in the pack.
Like plenty of race drivers, Motorsport was in the blood before Eggleton was born and his involvement came through his father, Michael.
“Back when I was younger, Dad used to race Midgets for quite some time. His background was in rallying stuff, he used to co-driver for Possum Bourne, then he ran a Midget for quite some years, so one of the things growing up at Speedway on my bucket list was to drive a Sprintcar,” says Eggleton.
Unlike most Speedway stars who begin their careers in the Kiwi Kidz quarter midgets, Eggleton cut his teeth on the tarmac in go-karts before making the switch to Speedway.
“After doing karting (which I started as a 9 year old) a guy who was involved with karting had a TQ so we did a few meetings that season, then I purchased my own TQ for a season. After doing a season in that, Roger Davis had a Sprintcar that no-one was running so he said come and have a go in this. I think we did two seasons in that car, then purchased our own car and went from there.
“Ideally, we would’ve loved to have gone to NZV8 Super tourers or Toyota Racing Series single seaters, but the money involved in that is hundreds of thousands of dollars. With Dad being involved in Speedway, he had said it was a pretty hard game but if I could go out and find some sponsorship, he’d help me with set-ups and lend a hand on the car, but financially it was something I needed to do by myself. I think if Roger hadn’t come along after we’d done the season in the TQ, we probably would’ve headed to Midgets, with Dad having run them, but when we got the opportunity to run a Sprintcar and it was always something I wanted to do, it was awesome, so we stuck with that.”
With only one season in the leap between a 50 horsepower go-kart and an 850 horsepower winged Sprintcar, it was a big one for Eggleton.
“Originally karts to TQ’s was an easier transition, we got second on the opening night of the season we ran our own car. The TQ’s were down on power, you had to drive them fairly straight, and so that was alright. The transition to the Sprintcar was quite difficult on a drivey track, because all your natural reaction and what you are taught to do in a kart on tarmac is to drive on the limit of wheel spin. In a Sprintcar on a drivey track, you’ve actually got to break into wheel spin to help turn the car in and that was probably the hardest thing, telling myself that you’ve got to wheel spin this car and not hold it on the limit. That was very hard, but then in a way I think it helped quite a bit on a slick track, where you need throttle control, I think that is where the karts have helped quite a bit.
“The other big one was with the track changing, from karts and even having a drive in a few circuit cars, on a dry track you can actually feel where the limit of the vehicle is. With a Sprintcar, it’s quite hard because you think you are on the limit and then you push past that, which is hard because you think you are on the limit, and then the wing works better and you get more downforce, so you can go faster. It’s hard to find the limit in that vehicle when the faster you go, the more downforce there is. That’s a bit of a tricky feeling to get used to.”
After a couple of tough seasons working his way into the Winged Warriors, Eggleton found his feet and his place towards the front of the field and has now twice had the 3NZ on the tail tank, although his sights are definitely set higher up the podium.
“When you first get into the sport, your expectations are a lot lower and you know that you are learning. Now that we know that we can compete at the front of the field, your expectations are a lot higher and you are a lot harder on yourself, so the first time we got 3NZ, that was really cool, the national champs were coming to our home track, we knew that we should be able to do well and we came home third behind Peter Murphy and Dean Brindle so that was really cool. The second time we got 3NZ, it was like yeah that’s cool but we’d really like to try and improve on that.”
As well as being a top driver, Eggleton has taken on a role that sees him as the middle man between Sprintcar drivers and the promoters at WXC Speedway – Western Springs.
“I’m the Sprintcar driver’s rep for the Western Springs Speedway Drivers Club, so we have meetings every now and then with (Greg) Mosen and those guys. Really the role is an in between for the drivers and Western Springs, so sometimes you end up having to pull out the don’t shoot the messenger line. It’s a channel where the drivers can go to the promotion as one, not an individual opinion, and it seems to be working.”
On top of being a driver, drivers rep and a structural engineer for Total Span buildings, Eggleton has plenty of things that keep him busy away from the track, including a potential third generation Eggleton racer.
“I’ve got a baby boy Austin, who is just about four months now, so that’s really cool. I think he’s only missed one speedway meeting this year. It’s good, we’re trying to carry on with what we do in our life, rather than say it’s too hard to take him, he just takes a little longer to get ready! He has a little suitcase full of clothes that comes with him, Sarah my wife is really good with him, she’s been a nanny full time since she left school so that makes life a bit easier that she knows what she’s doing, just she used to be able to give them back at the end of the day!
“I do a bit of self-taught web programming, I’ve created a website that connects parents with carers throughout the country, Nannies, Babysitters, Dog walkers, house sitters all that sort of stuff. It’s called CareFinder. At the moment it’s all free, I’ve got about 5000 people on there, but hopefully one day that might be able to help fund my racing!”