Speedway stalwart remembered

David Murray Vears was born on February 17 1945 to Albert and Jessie Vears and he grew up near Penola Road.

Even from a young age Vears sensed an opportunity to make money and when Queen Elizabeth came to Mount Gambier in 1954 he gave children pony rides.

He then gave up the horses for bikes doing races around a dirt track near the Mount Gambier City Band hall.

Vears also had a go at track cycling and football for East Gambier, but speedway stole his heart and his racing career started in the early 60s in an old hot rod owned by Mr Alf Donovan.

This was to be Vears’ first official race meeting at the Borderline Speedway, but rumour has it he may have had a couple of drives before he was legally allowed to race.

Unfortunately, his first ever meeting did not quite go to plan as he ended upside down and was basically told by other competitors ‘this is how it’s done’.

In 1962 he drove the number 25 heavy hot rod with Brian Cain where made many ventures down to the Borderline and Warrnambool speedways by towing the race car on an A frame.

It was in this era he met Ann and in 1963 the couple married.

For most people that would be the end of a racing career, but not David as he and Ann would spend the next 30 years racing all over the country doing something they both loved.

Vears was a bit of a bad boy early on, after a prank turned sour in the pits one night, where a hose was turned on him while in the toilet.

This led to him being suspended for 12 months from Borderline for fighting, so he spent a lot of time racing across the border in Warrnambool.

After the hot rod days, Vears made the transition to the sportsman class when he purchased lan Sheppard’s car from Warrnambool and that’s the car he ran as MG 1.

It was after this vehicle Vears and his father-in-law Reg built their own car around the 1967/68 seasons in a six cylinder.

He then jumped into a 350 Chevy and he raced this car in the 1972 Australian title at Warrnambool where he finished fifth in his drive with the number 18.

After the Australian title Vears purchased another car from the Warrnambool area, which was a green number 18, but unfortunately he had a violent crash which broke his sternum.

It is also worth noting Vears ran in the first Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic in 1973 and would have either competed or visited the event every year since except for last January’s due to health reasons.

In 1977 Vears and Bill Barrows built CAE cars from pieces from the US side by side in Mount Gambier.

In 1979/80 he purchased a brand-new Stanton sprint car from the US, which was another state-of-the-art piece of machinery.

Two summers later Vears added a Max Dejersey Holden Commodore from Melbourne to his collection, this was a vehicle that he shared with his eldest daughter Jo, but she believes she missed out on many meetings because of her Dad crashing it.

Once the Holden Commodore was sold a few years later Vears turned to legendary car builder John Sidney, where for many years he campaigned the OTR and JSR chassis with a lot of success and continued a great friendship with Sidney who did both the chassis and engine work.

At one stage in 1968 it was believed that Vears raced three classes of cars in one night with a FB Holden, Sportsman and a visiting speedcar from Adelaide.

At the end of his racing career in the late 1980s he still remained a major influence and supporter in the speedway family, with his sons-in-law Dick and Darren and grandchildren Adam and Stacey also starting a racing career.

Also in the later years, Vears enjoyed helping his best mate Barrows crew on his car.

Once Barrows had retired from racing, Vears continued to help the stars that Barrows had driving the famous #6.

Danny Smith was the first American to drive for Barrows and Vears and they hit it off well, so one could imagine the stories.

After Smith, Joey Saldana joined the team to drive and they travelled the country competing in the World Series Sprintcars.

Vears always presented immaculate race cars and was a leader in bringing in new cars to the town introducing the first sportsman, first super modified and sprintcar.

After both Vears and Barrows got rid of the racing bug, they both turned their attention to their home track Borderline Speedway, where the former spent many years as president and committee person.

This work helped him earn life membership after he and many others have spent thousands of hours rebuilding and working at the speedway, which was something he loved doing with his mates until the end.

Borderline Speedway would not be in the position it is now without him and he will be missed dearly by everyone.

Vears is survived by his wife Ann, daughters Jo-Anne and Elizabeth, grandchildren Stacey, Adam, Courtney and Ashlee and great grandchildren Jayden, Maddox, Jesse, Hallie, Logan, Sophia, Ryder and Harlow.

Long live forever #SA18.

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