A pas­sion for all mo­tors

Re­porter Caitlin Wal­lace gets be­hind the scenes to see what the life of an en­gine builder en­tails.

South Waikato News - - SPORT -

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.

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