RIP ‘MANWELL’ STEVENS
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.