Sheesh, it’s been a fair few haircuts since I first raced. With a battered truck in the garage and a few sore bits to deal with, I’ve been looking back at some highlights.
All those Taupo 1000s, all those Race to the Sky Hillclimbs, all those national championship rounds. Even with the current truck, we’ve been everywhere.
And ever since we built the new truck to the Prolite chassis blueprints – in a suburban shed – we’ve been pushing boundaries, running the rear wheel drive truck in the 4WD Bits unlimited class where its four cylinder turbo engine and Jaguar gearbox consistently outrun the ‘big banger’ V8 and four-wheel-drive trucks.
We’ve been everywhere, man!
We have run at all but one of the world-famous Race to the Sky events staged by Grant Aitken and more recently Tony Quinn at the Lee family’s Snow Farm on the Crown Range near Queenstown.
We have run at every Taupo 1000 offroad race since the flagship two-day event started in the early 1990s. We have also logged the most starts and runs of any offroad racer at the Ashley Forest Hillclimb, though usually required to run as a ‘demonstration’ entry.
This truck – and its standardchassis, beam front end, V8 predecessor – has taken me to countless class wins and national class titles. My son Owen also took the outright title in the truck a few years back. It hasn’t stopped.
Just a few weeks ago we took the unlimited class title and then went on to win the class national title at Labour Weekend. That was despite a rollover in the second heat, when I’d got past the big V8 trucks into the long right hander at Can Am West Melton Speedway and the truck skewed sideways in a soft spot. We tumbled through the berm and outside, landing on our wheels and regaining the track before the marshals realised what happened. All-up a hardwon title.
In the way of all good retrospectives, I thank Warren Adams and 4WD Bits for their ongoing support of the truck classes. It’s been fantastic having Warren on board like this, and I really hope it continues long into the future.
One of the other initiatives I’m applauding is to update M Class trucks with a new Lifan engine which offers significant cost savings – apparently with no downside in terms of reliability.
Apparently there will be three M class Kiwitrucks running in the south next year, all using the Lifan.
Meanwhile, there’s a further rumour that current M class champion Harry “Hedgehog” Hodgson may decide to come race in the south next year – so that might make for some good racing at southern rounds.
Still on the topic of the Kiwitruck youth classes, big thanks to the Cooper family (Kevin and Shirley) and to the sport’s PR consultant Mark Baker (Veritas) for providing a new ‘keeper’ trophy for Kiwitruck.
That prize went to Harry Hodgson for 2018, and it’s being inscribed right now.
The Yoda-mobile on the way to its latest title win.