Car­keek’s ca­reer gath­ers speed

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.’’

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Dou­ble win­ner: Car­keek’s tro­phies for his New Zealand and North Is­land wins.

Fast and furious: Car­keek in ac­tion last sea­son.

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