It started with a rush. We heard about this new class of motorsport through an article on the NZHerald website.
“This looks cool”
“We should do this”
“Are we really gonna do this?”
The next week we went out and bought an MR2 purely because it felt like a race car to drive (and they did well in the brass monkey preseason race).
It cost us $1700 but the clutch required replacing. We also test drove a Honda Integra but it didn’t have the race car feel.
Dad ran the car at a play day and managed what, after the entire season, still stands as the fastest lap time for Toymota Racing. Although it is likely only due to Mums timing.
A go karting night saw Dad get his racing licence although I missed out, arriving late after a test. I made it for the karts however and managed the fastest lap of the night, although our team didn’t do well, but that lap was possibly due to being given extra boost (or the kart was having problems the rest of the time).
We didn’t realise when buying the car but due to the targa top we required a roll cage. We got one fitted and in the process had to get the new race seat lowered so that the top of our helmet is below the roll cage.
The first race weekend was over to Dad, and it was alongside to the V8 supertourers. The first race of the 2kcup sees a full grid with more than half the drivers complete novices (like us). Dad finished race one 18th and race two in 18th out of the 2L cars. 2 points for the weekend and we were quickly learning the car wasn’t going to be at the pointy end. Although that’s never why we race.
Round 2 was a disaster. Dad was once again behind the wheel and managed the impressive feat of qualifying 10th. This was a weakened field as most cars (namely the ones that finished well) from the first round were not allowed to enter to give those who missed out a chance. That’s how big the field was, not all competitors could race on the same day. So after qualifying 10th Dad was stoked, and in the race he wanted to stay there (our goal had quickly become finishing in the top half). That would be his demise. Pushing the car to the limit (but probably not his fault) Dad blew up the engine in race 1, and had to sit on the side of the track for most of the race.
After that round we needed an new engine. Wiri Motors did the swap for us and we still have to old one lying in the garage taking up space at the end of the season.
Round 3. My first race ever. I qualified 31st in a grid of 45. In the race I was moving forward, battling hard, only to run out of talent after padding a and spinning out. The lights flicked up in the madness that followed (and I didn’t notice for a few laps). I also travelled over the sand trap to get back on track which Dad still doesn’t believe was a good idea. I got back racing only to run into trouble on the last lap when there was oil on the track at the first corner. I saw someone off track and got excited about passing them, hit the oil and spun. A fair few other cars also made the trip onto the dirt but I lost a lot of spots. In the end I finished 32nd which would be my starting position for race 2. By this point a rivalry had formed, albeit in my head, with the 15 year old, Oscar, who also drove an MR2. He and another MR2 started race 2 close to me so I made it my goal to finish ahead of them and avoid spinning. I achieved both to finish 26th, although it wasn’t without frustration as I got overtaken under safety car.
Between rounds we fitted the steering I was given for Christmas. The MR2 was feeling more and more like a race car.
Round 4. Dad gets in car again. Dad breaks car again. A bolt came lose in the suspension and he felt the car lurch sideways. Feeling unsafe heading into turn 1 at Hampton he decided it best to retire from the race. With help from our supporters and other competitors we managed to fix it for my race. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies however as Dads DNF put me on the back of the grid in a reverse grid. I was left behind. Thanks to the plentiful DNFs in 2kcup I managed to finish 24th and claim a point which put me ahead of Dads point count. An advantage he couldn’t earn back.
Round 5 saw a smaller grid make the road trip to Manfield. It also saw Dads number 1 in team position revoked and me take on race one. Qualifying saw us forced to make a driver change with only a single 20 minute session. Dad hasn’t let me live down the fact that I took more than half the session, but it did allow me to put us 16th on the grid. My race was going well, and I had managed to gain a few spots, until with only a few laps to go I was hit and spun (by 132). I ended up 17th overall and claimed 8 points. Dad then was put in a good position (7th) for the reverse grid race 2. He was however severely under prepared having only done a handful of laps while most of the other drivers had completed a 30 minute race. He got gobbled up by the faster cars behind and even had a spin after he thought he had broken the car again. Turned out the boot was left up and was banging. He finished 16th in the 2 litres and got 7 points.
After round 5 we had to repair the damage and we took the chance to get her stickered up. Boy does it look good with the stickers, a proper race car. Wiri Motors was also pleased to see his hard work appreciated.
Round 6. A full grid at Taupo. This time we went down early to get some practice on a track we had never raced before (although after Manfield we had gone for a look on the way home). In the practice there was fierce battling for the best time between Dad and I, and he managed to spin in the fight. Friday evening after practice was done we got a lesson with John McIntyre. We walked around the track as he gave us tips on the lines we should take. The lesson paid off and both Dad and I went faster on race day. Another driver change during qualifying which in the end put us in 24th. I again was up for race 1 but didn’t feel comfortable with the car. I ended up spinning, thankfully the guys behind me managed to avoid a collision. I finished 25th which put Dad up in 14th for the reverse grid. He started fast and managed to get as high as 4th at one point. It was however inevitable that the faster cars would come through and he ended up finishing 19th.
Before the last round I named the car the “Red Dragon”.
Round 7. Back at Hampton Downs for the 1 hour finally. In practice Dad and I both set personal best lap times. There was no qualifying as we were gridded off our championship position. Starting next to the people we had been fighting all season and had become good friends with. I started well however the battle ended with me spinning at turn 1. After that I was by myself and noticed the brakes felt a little strange (perhaps why I spun). At the halfway point we had a driver change. In the rush of it all I didn’t mention the slightly odd brake situation. Dad got in and had no brakes. Of course he only found out when he got to the first corner and couldn’t slow down. He managed to recover after going down the escape road and carried on, albeit with few cars close to race against. In the end we finished 26th. This gave us 17 points as it was double points for the race.
At the end of the season we finished 29th out of 63.
I can’t wait for season 2.