In a series, motoring reporter Shawn McAvinue spends five minutes talking with Dunedin motorsport enthusiasts about their passion for their form of racing.
Five minutes with rally driver Richie Chadwick, of East Taieri.
Q When did you get into the sport?
Me and my wife Rachel – who also drives – bought a 1984 Toyota Corolla in 2014. It’s a bit of a nanna-mobile. People don’t expect to go fast, but it does.
Q How did you get into motorsport?
I met Rachel and she did kart racing and I got into that when I was about 18 and raced on-and-off for about five years before buying the Corolla.
Q Who is the better rally driver between you and Rachel?
Me – which makes up for her kicking my ass for years in karting.
Q What rally events do you compete in?
Every Otago Sports Car Club event and other South Island rallies.
Q How have you done?
We’ve done well for the budget we are running on. We’ve had a lot of class wins (1300cc to 1600cc two-wheel-drive) and we got fifth overall in the Catlins Rally in 2016 – a good result for a 1600cc car.
Q Is it an expensive sport?
Yes. We do it as cheaply as we can. I’m an engineer, which helps because I get to save a lot of money by doing everything myself.
Q I hear you took home some silverware at the 2020 Catlins Rally.
Yes, for being the first Otago driver home I won the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy. We’ve won it four times.
Q When did you buy your Toyota Levin rally car?
At the end of 2018. We bought it thinking it would be faster than the Corolla – and it isn’t,But it’s more reliable.
Q Do you have a long-term goal?
No, just to keep having fun.
Q What is the most fun aspect of the sport?
Maximum attack on gravel roads.
Q Have you had any hairy moments?
Yup, I had a big crash in the Corolla at Waipori Gorge in the 2018 Otago Rally.
Q Talk me through the crash.
We were having mechanical issues with the gearbox – we had second and fifth. That was playing with my head. If the gearbox was going I would have changed up a gear and back down a gear but it wasn’t, so I held it in second and we ran wide and clipped a bank, which spun us around and chucked us down into the gorge on the other side of the road.
Q Did you walk away from it?
Yeah, I was fine but the car was a bit second-hand.
Q Most memorable moment for the right reasons?
Our first rally win – the spring rally in Geraldine in 2015. We were new to the sport and no-one expected us to win.
Q If money was no object, what is your dream car?
My Corolla – the granny-mobile – with some really cool gear in it. It has character and it’s the car we started in and we’ve had really good success in it.
Q Why didn’t you bring it along for the photoshoot?
It’s broken – the motor’s hurt.
Q Is it a social sport?
It’s more relaxed than karting because you’re not sharing a track – it’s just you against the clock.