RIP ‘MANWELL’ STEVENS

NZV8 - - LOCAL -

Ajux­ta­po­si­tion of happy mem­o­ries and great sad­ness rocked the hot rod and drag race com­mu­ni­ties on June 28 with the news that Kevin ‘Manwell’ Stevens had died. Manwell, an ac­tive North Shore Rod and Cus­tom Club (NSR&CC) mem­ber and, sub­se­quently, life mem­ber, since the ’80s, was well known for his tire­less love of hot rod­ding. He was never just a mem­ber; he was al­ways in the mid­dle of con­jur­ing up the most in­ter­est­ing of events — if they weren’t in­ter­est­ing, he made sure they were, with hu­mor­ous pranks and po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect chants. To Manwell, it was all about com­mu­nity/fam­ily. In ad­di­tion to his in­volve­ment in the NSR&CC, he reg­u­larly put pen to pa­per for mag­a­zine and be­came a zone-two di­rec­tor for the New Zealand Hot Rod As­so­ci­a­tion, be­com­ing a life mem­ber in 2010. In the early ’90s, Manwell, “un­ac­cus­tomed to pub­lic speak­ing”, as he put it, found him­self be­hind the mi­cro­phone at Cham­pion Drag­way — now Mere­mere Drag­way. From that time un­til his pass­ing, Manwell didn’t move from his role as the ‘voice of Mere­mere’ — ex­cept when as­sist­ing his wife, De-Ann, and his sons, Ian, Adam, Marc, and Cole, with their rac­ing con­quests. Gathering up the good oil on race teams and hot rod­ders over a lager as they moved through their rac­ing ca­reers was Manwell’s forte, which made for en­joy­able com­men­tary. His re­lent­less mem­ory of the facts was un­beat­able. As he was ac­cu­rately de­scribed by many at his memo­rial ser­vice, he was the voice of the fra­ter­nity and one that can­not be re­placed. The leg­endary teller of sto­ries, the last one to leave the party, Manwell was more than a his­to­rian or the voice of this mo­tor­sport. He was in­clu­sive; a col­lab­o­ra­tor; and, im­por­tantly, a peace­maker — one who will be re­mem­bered by all whose lives he touched.

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