A passion for all motors
Reporter Caitlin Wallace gets behind the scenes to see what the life of an engine builder entails.
It all started with a trip to the dump for engine builder Kevin Red.
‘‘My dad used to take me to the dump when I was young and get some old lawnmowers and we would mix and match the parts,’’ he said.
Looking over the workshop he built from scratch about a decade ago, the 43 year old says he has come a long way since his childhood dream of working with cars.
‘‘I started a business with nothing,’’ he says.
Personal touches of car parts disguised as art pieces hang on the wall and an old 63 SS Impala he saved is an ornament.
‘‘ I rescued it from certain doom in a garage while it was collecting dust and I used parts from it,’’ he says.
Even an original picture of New Zealander Burt Munro with the world’s fastest Indian hangs alongside the memorabilia.
Born and bred in Morrinsville, he always knew he would work in either aviation or the motor industry.
‘‘Well I’m not a pilot now,’’ he laughs.
It almost came naturally to the father of three whose own dad also shared his passion for motors.
‘‘ I remember my parents bringing a friend round one night who was a mechanic and he asked what I wanted to do.’’
Even at the young age of 8, he recalled being certain of what his future held.
‘‘ I suppose I was focused,’’ he says.
The six-foot Skyline lover says he was a hands-on learner with no ambition to study when growing up – a tactic that has helped build his small empire.
Dressed in his usual attire – a camo style shirt, navy shorts and dust-covered boots - he points out his current projects, some that take him as far as Invercargill.
And he has worked on some extremely unique engines in the past.
‘‘I’ve worked on some pretty strange stuff,’’ he says.
Strange includes a super- charged jet ski made for racing which is capable of 90 miles per hour.
But his eyes light up for the alcohol-fuelled engines he builds which are raced against nitro methane-powered cars.
‘‘It keeps the motor sport interesting.’’
The atmosphere of being out on the track is what thrills Red.
‘‘It makes your whole body shake, they’re quite loud,’’ he says.
But alcohol engines do not come cheap, especially with up to $ 10,000 in maintenance after each run.
‘‘ The whole engine would fall apart in one run,’’ he says.
Red is no stranger to the drag world either.
He spent many hours working on drag car engines, sourcing parts for them and out on the track as chief crew pit member for Hamilton racer Grant Bridal.
‘‘ It’s quite exciting, there is a lot of noise and you give feedback to the driver to give him data on weather, temperature and humidity,’’ he says.
All important aspects of the driver’s run.
No matter what it is, the challenges of building engines in the motor world never seem to end for Red.
LATEST PROJECT: Kevin and his wife Pam are looking to finish their trike for an Invercargill exhibition in November.
MOTOR LOVER: Kevin Red is something of a motor fanatic.