Smug­gled in

New Zealand Classic Car - - READERS’ WRITES - Richard Moore, Hamil­ton What a great story, Richard. Thank you for shar­ing it with us. AFW

It was with great in­ter­est that I read Michael Clark’s story in the Jan­u­ary is­sue of New Zealand Clas­sic Car mag­a­zine. The story re­lates to how the young Michael was smug­gled into the pits at Pukekohe dur­ing the 1968 NZ Grand Prix meet­ing to se­cure driv­ers au­to­graphs, and how this event was a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to his life­long mo­tor sport ad­dic­tion.

Fast for­ward 13 years to 1981, and I have a sim­i­lar story to tell. I was the smug­gler, and my young son Steve, who was six years old at the time, was the smug­gled. We smug­gled him through a hole in the fence in a back cor­ner of the Pukekohe pit pad­dock. Even though he was grow­ing up in a mo­tor sport–ori­ented fam­ily, I am sure it was the al­lure and grand­ness of the sin­gle-seater rac­ing cars he saw then which had the big­gest in­flu­ence on his fu­ture in mo­tor sport. The win­ner of the NZ Grand Prix that day was our own Dave Mcmil­lan.

The same Dave Mcmil­lan that some 15 years later Steve would find him­self work­ing for in the US as a me­chanic in the Toy­ota At­lantic se­ries.

Dur­ing his early years he helped with work in the garage around the prepa­ra­tion of my Ral­ly­cross Mini Cooper, and then at age 10 took to kart rac­ing like a duck to wa­ter, and had many suc­cesses in this cat­e­gory over a 10-year span. Af­ter sign­ing off on his kart­ing ca­reer he switched to a me­chanic’s role in the NZ sin­gle­seater scene. In 1997, with the help of peo­ple like Ken Smith, he was suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing a job in the US, firstly with Ralt Amer­ica with Dave Mcmil­lan, as pre­vi­ously men­tioned, and from there to Play­ers Forsythe Rac­ing, where he moved into the prodi­gious Champ Car se­ries. Dur­ing his time at Play­ers Forsythe he spent five years as crew chief to Paul Tracy, and dur­ing this time was also es­ca­lated to op­er­a­tions man­ager. The high­light of his time with Paul Tracy, apart from their 12 race wins, 13 poles, and 26 podi­ums, was Tracy win­ning the 2003 CART [Cham­pi­onship Auto Rac­ing Teams] Cham­pi­onship.

Dur­ing the amal­ga­ma­tion of the Champ Car and Indycar se­ries in 2008 Steve moved to KV Rac­ing Tech­nolo­gies [KVRT] as crew chief, where he was in­stru­men­tal in over­see­ing a smooth tran­si­tion which also in­cluded a change from the Ponaz to the Dal­lara chas­sis. In ad­di­tion Steve was crew chief on the car that Will Power drove to vic­tory in the Champ Car race fi­nale in Long Beach. He was pro­moted to op­er­a­tions man­ager in 2011, and then gen­eral man­ager in 2012 to over­see the com­plete run­ning of the KVRT op­er­a­tion. In 2012, when the new Chevy engine pack­age was in­tro­duced, he was ap­pointed test team man­ager for the GM [Gen­eral Mo­tors] engine de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme, and worked di­rectly with GM and the part­nered GM race teams. As team man­ager in 2013 he had his, and KVRT’S, great­est suc­cess, win­ning the In­di­anapo­lis 500 with driver Tony Kanaan. It was also Tony’s first and only Indy 500 win to date.

Steve moved out of rac­ing at the end of the 2015 sea­son, and now runs a very suc­cess­ful car stor­age and clas­sic ve­hi­cle restora­tion busi­ness in In­di­anapo­lis called The Car Vault, a busi­ness he founded in 2014 prior to his de­par­ture from KVRT, and a busi­ness that con­tin­ues to grow rapidly to­day.

Steve now re­sides in In­di­anapo­lis with wife Rachel and chil­dren Aleya, Kee­gan, and Holden.

Yes, the 1981 NZ Grand Prix cer­tainly did send a six-year-old boy on a great Kiwi mo­tor sport ad­ven­ture.

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