(The Grid issue 1 Friday Nov 1st, 2019)
When it comes to the one his fans simply call “MP”, you can’t disagree that being able to witness the “Pickens “era, is something speedway fans will talk about for a very long time.
Just like past legends, who’s eras can still be heard, muttered in conversation around the stand’s week in, week out, to think in 20 years, the very racing that we witness now will be spoken like a tale as old as time.
The 8 times New Zealand Midget Car champion sets the bar on a list of personal career highlights, I’m sure drivers in the future will be still be trying to chase.
No other New Zealander has won even a second 50 lap classic, yet Pickens will now have enough rings to look more like a mafia godfather if, he chooses to wear all of them at once.
Only one other driver can say they won a 50 lap (dead heat) in a classic finish that will go down in history as one the best finishes to date.
Pickens, just like another legend Barry Butterworth has successfully managed to run double duty in both the Sprintcar and Midget car at the Springs competitively, getting both cars on their podiums for nationals, not once, but twice in consecutive years.
To think that 7 days and some very bad luck was the only difference between him running the 1NZ and 1AUS on his tail tank at the same time, he wasn’t the first to come close though, Graham 100% Standring almost did the same in the mid late 90s.
For a very short time he joined 3 more legends Ross Goonan and Ian Holden at the top of the leader board with 6 NZ titles and then Cyclone Ted Tracey with 7, and now sits alone with 8, a massive achievement, his first in 2003 and of course the now current holder of the 1nz.
He is also the only kiwi to podium at The Chilli Bowl Nationals, the biggest midget car race in the world with a 3rd from hundreds of entrants in 2011.
But this is not just about his achievements, this is also not an article to state facts why “ MP” is already considered a legend to both the sport and to Western Spring’s, But instead a reminder, to all the fans, to cherish this moment by taking it all in.
Don’t remember the win, remember who he won against, remember the battles on the track with rivals like Brad Mosen, Hayden Williams or Shayne Alach, and the late great Bryan Clauson, when he is flying our flag proudly overseas with superstars like Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and Tyler Courtney (just to name a few), and beating them, on tracks like IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) Kokomo and Jacksonville, that you get a certain confidence, like watching an All Blacks game, that its safe, come the end of the race his effort will make you proud to be a Kiwi. So, in conclusion I say to you the fans,
Michael Pickens, Frank Brewer, Barry Butterworth, Ted Tracey, Sleepy Tripp, Noel Goodwin and many more, they all hold one thing in common, Great Drivers from Great Eras, Great Memories on this Great track we call homethe only difference is?
Pickens is still making his.
Written by: Macau Johnson-Hadley