The birthday candles had a bit more meaning than most for 10-year-old Mya Keeler at Gunnedah Speedway last weekend.

As a fourth-generation speedway driver, Mya was destined to race. But rules stipulated she had to wait until she turned 10 to compete.

That moment finally arrived on Saturday’s race day at Gunnedah which coincidentally – as though the stars had aligned – was also Mya’s 10th birthday.

After months of anticipation, car preparation and driving training at her pop’s farm – little Mya suited up to follow proudly in the footsteps of her Narrabri-based speedway family.

Mya’s great-grandfather, Stan was involved in the north west speedway circuit for about 30 years; her grandfather Kevin raced his first car in 1980, and now dad Trent and uncle Todd, are also speedway drivers.

Despite the long lineage of family tradition, Mya took it all in her stride for her debut race.

“I was nervous at first but once I got on the track all the nerves went away,” she said.

Starting from the back of the field in the Junior New Stars division, Mya raced about eight laps against other novice drivers. The emerging young star showed natural talent for role, improving her lap times by the race end.

Mya’s mum, Rhiannon, her dad and a host of young fans were trackside to cheer her on in her first race. Some held ‘Go Mya’ posters as her number 88 Daihatsu Charade emblazoned in the speedway family’s green and gold colours, powered to the finish. Such was the emotion of the special moment, Mya said it even looked like tears were welling up in the eyes of her father.

Asked why she chose 88 for her car, Mya said eight was her lucky number, so why not go with 88 – “for extra luck of course”.

Mya thanked her dad for his help with her first race and she is already eyeing off her next start, which could be her home track at Narrabri next month on Saturday, March 9.

It was a big day at the Gunnedah Speedway on Saturday. The feature event was the Anthony Rees Memorial ‘Shorty Forty’ race for Fender Benders and Brock Wiggins was first past the chequered flag. Driving his EL Falcon, Wiggins took full advantage of the recently-modified race rules that now allow fuel-injected engines.

The Anthony Rees Memorial race is run in tribute of the former speedway driver who was killed in a car crash near Tamworth in 2014.

Finishing second in the race was Simon Sepos and placing third was Gunnedah driver Daniel Poss.

Trent Keeler, father of Mya, took the wheel for just his second race in a new car and he won the Street Stockers division from Simon Hood in second place. That race also served as the first round of the 2024 Newcastle Street Stocker Club Championship. A massive line-up of 29 cars started in this event at Gunnedah, including third-placegetter Matt Cobb.

In the junior race, Goulburn driver Cooper Croker won by a matter of inches after going “door-to-door” in the feature at Gunnedah alongside Narrabri’s Wyatt Lawler. On the final corner of the race, Wyatt made a last effort on the outside but finished agonisingly short of the win.

Wyatt’s father Scott Lawler, who races in the same car, managed to go one better with a victory in the four cylinder class.

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