NORTH­ERN IN­CUR­SION —

IHRA AUCK­LAND IN­VA­SION

NZV8 - - NEWS -

at the fre­quency that I’m do­ing it. If you’d said to me 10 years ago that I’d be driv­ing a nitro car, I’d have gone, “Yeah, that’d be the dream to do that one day.”

But to be able to do it three times in an event? Yeah, we race six times a year, we test the cars — I’ve got a hot rod that’s got a big sil­ver fern splashed across it! For them to take that chance on what­ever Graeme saw in a young cou­ple from New Zealand — young Josh Leahy came from a wheel-stander; he got the op­por­tu­nity to step up to nitro. They see peo­ple who de­serve, or work hard for, an op­por­tu­nity, and have made many a dream come true.

You are, lit­er­ally, liv­ing the dream. Peo­ple say it, but you re­ally are. You get up your whole life and go to work, but imag­ine get­ting up ev­ery day and look­ing for­ward to work. I do. I get up in the morn­ing, and go, Cool,‘ it’s work time.’ I never thought I’d be in a po­si­tion where I could say, ‘I like go­ing to work.’ There’s not too many peo­ple in the world who do that.

You’re ob­vi­ously not tak­ing it for granted, and it sounds as if the same goes for the rest of the crew. No, and we need a guy like Graeme to make it all hap­pen. There’s al­ways some­thing to do — he’s 73 years old, but never stands still. He gets to work at Rocket In­dus­tries at 6am ev­ery morn­ing. Graeme came from a very tough up­bring­ing, and started with noth­ing. He met his wife, Wendy, got into rac­ing, and they built a nitro al­tered that, at the time, they ran on a shoe­string. They were trav­el­ling around the coun­try in an open trailer, skimp­ing and sav­ing to get to a race — which is quite cool, be­cause my rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence here in New Zealand was sim­i­lar: you did ev­ery­thing you could just to make it to the race­track. You’d eat noo­dles for two years just to buy the car. Graeme came from that same thing, but harder; a lot harder.

They’ve ob­vi­ously done well with the se­ries, as we dis­cussed ear­lier, but to take it in­ter­na­tional must be a very big deal. To go in­ter­na­tional is huge, and I guess I’ll set the record straight here; this wasn’t even my idea. Graeme and Wendy said, “Hey, what do you think?” and I thought [that] we could make it work, get some peo­ple in — what a task! The lo­gis­tics and the peo­ple and try­ing to work in with Mere­mere when you’re in a dif­fer­ent coun­try — lo­gis­ti­cally, it was a lot of hard work, and it’s hap­pened thanks to a lot of peo­ple. No way would I ever say [that] it came down to me — it was a lot of peo­ple on all sides who did a lot of work to make it hap­pen.

Now that it has hap­pened and you’ve proven you can go it in­ter­na­tion­ally, what’s the fu­ture for AONFC? We’d love to come back to New Zealand. Ob­vi­ously, it’s im­por­tant for Aeroflow to grow our brand­ing in New Zealand, which is hap­pen­ing. It helped to have the hot rods here, and the prod­uct and brand­ing are get­ting big­ger over here. To­day, we’re prob­a­bly go­ing to have a few fans fol­low­ing the cars, and get­ting an un­der­stand­ing of what we’re about. Ev­ery­thing we do — and Graeme’s a big stick­ler for it — is about be­ing pre­pared. Be as pre­pared as we can to put on a show. Ob­vi­ously, we can’t do any­thing about Mother Na­ture, but it’s about be­ing pre­pared.

It looks to us as if it’s work­ing. Yeah, and we try to do things dif­fer­ently. We had the kids’ colour­ing-in com­pe­ti­tion, and there would have been a good 100-plus kids who’d gone to the ef­fort to do the colour­ing-in com­pe­ti­tion — who’d printed it out, coloured it in, and brought it here. Then there were the ones who printed it out and didn’t bring it! We had a plan to­day to do the start­line ex­pe­ri­ence — the lucky ones get to go down there and ex­pe­ri­ence what it’s like. How of­ten do you get to stand be­tween 8000hp go­ing down the drag strip? It’s all for the show, and for be­ing able to give that ex­pe­ri­ence to peo­ple. For me, I’ve gotta stop and think: this is what I get to do for a liv­ing.

Thanks so much for tak­ing the time to chat with us, Morice. We’re look­ing for­ward to AONFC re­turn­ing to New Zealand! If you want to work on AONFC cars, this could be your chance. Morice ex­plains, “We’re ac­tu­ally look­ing for a Kiwi em­ployee. One of the big myths, the hardest things, is peo­ple think­ing, ‘I don’t know any­thing about nitro; I can’t do that’. An en­gine’s an en­gine, and, ob­vi­ously, we’ll teach you the ins and outs of nitro, which has its things that are dif­fer­ent, things that you gotta do dif­fer­ently, and dif­fer­ent rou­tines. There’s a myth around nitro, but even­tu­ally it just be­comes a fuel that you use. You don’t have to have nitro ex­pe­ri­ence to come and work on nitro funny cars. From the Kiwi point of view, you’ve ob­vi­ously got me, Clint, and Mitchell. Grant Down­ing does all our chas­sis work, so he’ll come over if we need any chas­sis work done. My crew’s still all Kiwi — prob­a­bly, if you were to ask all the Aussies, there’s too many Ki­wis! “We want peo­ple who want to learn. If they think they know it all al­ready, we don’t want ’em. If some­one wants to learn, you can teach them pretty quickly, and we’ve got the tools — we’ve got no short­age of tools and op­por­tu­ni­ties — so you learn quickly be­cause you can.” Please email moricem@rock­etind.com if you think this sounds like you.

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