Carkeek’s career gathers speed
A Papakowhai man with an inherited lust for speed has picked up two racing titles with the help of his car-mad family.
Matt Carkeek, 37, took second place at the national Mazda Pro7 racing championships this year, and placed third in the North Island series.
The competition involves travelling to race tracks around the country over summer, collecting points along the way to determine a driver’s placing.
Carkeek has been racing cars since his early teens, and basically grew up at Manfeild race track near Feilding. A race car was the first vehicle he drove.
His father, Terry, was a keen race driver, and his grandfather was also crazy about cars and wrote a book on Manfeild.
‘‘Most of my childhood memories are of racing,’’ Carkeek said.
Father Terry is now Carkeek’s engineer and team manager, and cousin Calvin travels from Picton to make up Carkeek’s pit crew.
Wife Johanna and the couple’s two toddlers are Carkeek’s constant support team.
‘‘This is my passion and to be able to include the family is really cool,’’ Carkeek said.
Pro7 racing was an accessible way for people to race as a hobby, Carkeek said.
Cars cost about $7500 and there are restrictions on modifications.
‘‘It’s a driver’s competition. It’s some of the best racing you’re likely to see. It’s so even.’’
Races are run in sprints of eight laps, each lap lasting up to two minutes.
The track is crowded with about 30 cars of similar ability and speeds reach 200kmh.
‘‘It comes down to driver skill and instinct, knowing when to pass,’’ Carkeek said.
For two seasons Carkeek has driven a late 1990s Mazda RX7 ‘‘ Batmobile’’ in the Pro7 Plus category, and he felt his team mastered its quirks this year.
‘‘We had a good season, our best so far. We’re still learning the car; it’s a new car to us,’’ he said.
‘‘Everything clicked and we had a really good run.’’
Team Carkeek is hard at work tinkering with the car for next season, when they hope to scoop top honours.
Carkeek’s racing bucket list includes driving in Monaco and Spa, and if his family returns to Johanna’s native Britain he hopes to join a team there.
There was nothing like the thrill of racing, Carkeek said.
‘‘It’s fast and furious. It gives you quite a rush. I probably transform a little bit. I’m not aggressive normally, but when it’s on I can be.’’
Double winner: Carkeek’s trophies for his New Zealand and North Island wins.
Fast and furious: Carkeek in action last season.