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Tiger Takes Home Win in Celebrity Stock Car Race

Golf's Top Player Was in New Zealand for Caddie's Wedding



HUNTLY, New Zealand (April 24) - Tiger Woods hunkered behind the wheel of his vehicle, its motor coughing noisily. One of the world's most visible athletes was suddenly unrecognizable under a flame-retardant suit, helmet and tinted visor.


On Monday, the world's best golfer became a celebrity stock car racer.


Woods, in New Zealand for the wedding of caddie Steve Williams, won the second of two celebrity stock car races on a dirt track in this small coal mining town 55 miles south of Auckland - even after starting at the back of the field.


Woods was a designated "blocker" in the first race, which also included several full-time V-8 circuit drivers. He started on the outside of the first row for the race in this branch of motorsports where crashes are not only legal, but often encouraged.


His job was to prevent other cars from passing and reaching front-runners on his team, and Woods didn't finish among the leaders in the 12-lap race.


In the second of two celebrity races organized by Williams through his Steve Williams Foundation to raise funds to provide sporting careers for disadvantaged youth, Woods forced his way from the back of the grid to the front.


He took the lead on the sixth of 12 laps over a 400-meter oval, and, despite a crash into the wall which left his car sparking and tires smoking, he held on to win.


Woods had no second thoughts when Williams asked him to take part.


"I'm just so excited to be here," he said in greeting the capacity crowd of more than 7,000 that jammed the Huntly Placemakers Speedway. "Stevie puts his heart and soul into this sport and when Stevie asks me to do something, I'm there in a heartbeat."


Before the races, Woods said he expected to be involved in crashes but added his insurance was "taken care of."


Woods, who was driving a stock car in a race for the first time, warmed up for the race with another daredevil deed - diving 440 feet from a cable car holding New Zealand's highest bungee jump Sunday.


Woods and Williams both made the jump from the Nevis Highwire near the South Island township of Queenstown, during a flying visit to the resort by helicopter and private jet.


The cable car is held by 1,247 feet of tension wires spanning the Nevis Valley, but the canyon's walls narrow to only 30 meters 98 feet at river level.


Jumpers free-fall for about 8.5 seconds, and the leap is regarded as one of the world's most daunting challenges for adventure tourists.


Woods was the best man at Williams' wedding on Friday to Kirsty Millar. His only previous visit to New Zealand was for the 2002 New Zealand Open golf tournament.



Found this on AOL sports page.

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