From the editor

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS -

On the face of it this month’s Edi­to­rial has lit tle to do with 4WDs and 4WDing per se. But bear with me.

Like columnist, and life­long 4WDist Peter Vahry, I despair of the idiots who bring our re­cre­ation into dis­re­pute. Whether it is one idiot rip­ping up a frag­ile sand dune or swamp, or an­other get­ting his sub­ur­ban SUV stuck in a muddy in­let it all feeds a pub­lic ( mis) con­cep­tion that the rest of us are tarred with the same brush.

No mat­ter that most of us are or­di­nary ev­ery­day tax­pay­ing fam­ily types who – lit­er­ally – just want to have a bit of harm­less fun, to Face­book fa­nat­ics, news­pa­per nanas, ra­dio red­necks and TV ty­ros, we are all mind­less mo­rons in­tent on rip­ping up sports grounds and grass verges.

Once these views are en­trenched there’s not much mere mor­tals like us can do about it. Beach or track clean ups are all very well but – sadly – a me­dia fo­cused on sen­sa­tion is go­ing to put them in the same ( i.e. ig­nore) cat­e­gory as church fetes...

And no mat­ter how good our in­ten­tions, all the ‘save the gin­ger gecko’ cam­paigns we sup­port, or pro­vide trans­port for, are go­ing to be for nought if a kid in a lif ted Surf, Lux or Sa­fari on 15- inch steel­ies and 33- inch. mud­ders boosts past a posse of gree­nies search­ing for the last great crested toe wart!

Or not.

Case in point. ‘Mad Mike’ Whid­dett.

Red Bull-backed Kiwi drifter ‘ Mad Mike’ is a phe­nom­e­non. With more than two mil­lion likes as well as pun­ters fol­low­ing his Face­book page ( ex All Black Dan

Carter has just over one mil­lion, ris­ing NBA star Steven Adams 220,547 likes and Indy 500 win­ner and all round good cir­cuit rac­ing guy Scott Dixon just 47,000 likes) Mike is not only New Zealand’s best known mo­tor­sport ex­port, he is ar­guably this coun­try’s most in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised ( fa­mous if you must use the term) sports­man per se!

All in a ‘sport’ which, like ours, ap­pears to most peo­ple as the ab­so­lute an­tithe­sis of the cur­rent mores of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity and po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

Sure, Red Bull’s back­ing has helped. But it’s the sheer force of Mike’s per­son­al­ity that shines out like a bea­con in every­thing he does.

What we in 4WDing need then, in my hum­ble opin­ion any­way, is a Mad Mike, a larger than life per­son­al­ity who can stand like a colos­sus over our ac­tiv­ity and put the be­hav­iour of a few idiots in the per­spec­tive so lack­ing in me­dia re­ports to date.

Guys with the skill set like Mike’s don’t come ev­ery day of course. In mo­tor rac­ing terms Mike is right up there, for in­stance, with the likes of Bruce McLaren and John Brit­ten.

The good news for us is that with a lit tle en­cour­age­ment we can prob­a­bly bask in some re­flected glory. Mike and part­ner Toni Cook’s son Lin­coln al­ready races a Ki­witruck and Mike him­self gave his own 13B Mazda ro­tary-pow­ered ( what else?) Pro lite ‘sta­dium’ truck a typ­i­cally ex­u­ber­ant lo­cal launch at Lead­foot.

A lit tle celebrity en­dorse­ment from some­one of Mike’s ilk could be just the tonic our sport/ ac­tiv­ity/ re­cre­ation needs.

‘Mad Mike’ do­ing what he does best.

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