STORY OF: Ted Seaton, speedway star's life on and off track
EVERY time Ted Seaton closes his eyes, he's still at the Speedway.
The grinding of rubber against the dirt track.
The roar of the ready engine.
The thrill of the race.
For the 79-year-old retiree, racing wasn't just a hobby, it was a way of life.
Even now, his Fraser Shores home is decked out with trophies of his victories in the competitions, including a model car collection spanning two cabinets.
His garage is home to a Can-Am Spyder Roadster which sits alongside a Route 66 sign and other memorabilia.
Born in 1938 in Toowoomba, he grew up around fuel fanatics on his mother's side, who taught him everything he needed to know about cars and racing.
His real moment of clarity came when he visited the Toowoomba Speedway at eight-years-old with his uncle Ned.
After seeing the cars zoom around the track, drivers risking all, he was set on one day becoming a professional racer.
"I remember riding my pushbike to all the motorbike events out there, sometimes riding 25-30km just go to and see them,” Mr Seaton said.
"I'd always wanted to race with them.”
When he came of age, he started off in the three-quarter midgets category, before progressing to speedcars, modifieds and stopcars over the years.
It was a different time for the sport, which he says has transformed over the 14 years he raced on the Speedway between 1956-1970.
"Things were primitive back then, you could drive up and sit on the bonnet of the car to watch the races, and there weren't many safety railings or barriers,” Mr Seaton said.
"Cigarette companies could advertise on the sides of some of the big players in the industry, so you'd see the logos race past every time they turned a lap.
"The Winfield company was quite into the speedway scene back then.
"Nowadays, the cars are faster, the tracks are bigger and everyone races on clay.
"I'd never be able to afford to race today.”
The racing scene may have changed, but in Mr Seaton's mind there's always one thing that stays the same.
"It's the same old story of how fast do you want to go, and how much do you want to spend,” he said.
Mr Seaton moved to Brisbane in the 1950s, but continued to visit speedways between Toowomba, Brisbane and Ipswich for competitions and race meets.
While working odd jobs in the city, including a stint as a delivery driver and parking station officer, he met his wife Margaret. They would go on to spend the next 53 years living happily together until her passing in 2015.
One of his favourite memories with his wife was a whirlwind trip around Australia, which started in 1996.
"We ended up seeing a lot of country,” Mr Seaton said.
"But the stand-out was the red centre of Australia, along with the Macdonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory.
"It was absolutely beautiful, just taking in the colour and atmosphere.
"It was one of the best things you'd ever want to see.”
Mr Seaton moved to Hervey Bay in 2003 to "escape the rat race”.
Since then, he's been living out his retirement peacefully.
"Once upon a time I would have walked over broken glass just to get to the speedway,” he said. "But I don't go that much any more because it got out of the way.”
For Mr Seaton risk never outweighed the joy.
"You get your fair share of bad things, but there's nothing that made me want to not do it,” he said. "The small decisions you make in your life can make such a big change, and have such a big bearing on your future.
"All I ever wanted to do was drive, and sometimes I made bad decisions when I did, but they turned out to be good ones in the end.”