Motorsport is a family affair for Southland Sports Car Club members Andrew and Rachel Lawrie, as they look forward to resuming clubsport and race events at Teretonga Park.
Andrew has been a successful competitor in both clubsport and race events in recent times, while Rachel has also been successful in clubsport events including winning the National Ladies Clubsport title in 2018.
After her title win, Rachel identified a strong family motorsport connection.
“Dad was a former national drag racing champ and Mum was the first female car yard manager in Invercargill at Checkers, then I married a petrolhead,” she said at the time.
Andrew developed his interest in motorsport spectating at Teretonga and Levels (Timaru) as a young child with his dad and friend Mike Collins, who raced a Formula Ford on which Andrew and his dad were the pit crew.
His interest in cars continued as a young adult when he started doing track days, firstly in an old Mini Cooper and later in Mitsubishi EVOs.
“I was almost out off motorsport after a scary crash at Pukekohe, while living in the North Island, which knocked my confidence for a while but gave me a chance to rebuild my car including a roll cage.
“When we moved from the North Island to Invercargill in 2012, I naturally gravitated towards Teretonga and joined the Southland Sports Car Club after reading about the events on their website.
“I did a track day and entered a sealed sprint which I did pretty well at and got the bug to do the full championship.
“It was around that time I got to know Cameron Morison who ran the clubsport facet of the club and he talked me into entering a motorkhana along with Rachel.”
The duo bought a Mitsubishi Mirage and started dual-driving the car with “some great family rivalry in both the sprint and motorkhana championships”, Andrew said.
“Plenty of great battles ensued between us and other club members such as Craig Allen, Stacy Lines, Liam MacDonald, Travis McPherson and Morison.
Both Andrew and Rachel have gone on to win a few trophies, Andrew becoming the club’s autocross champion three times, and winner of the Speed Trophy, runner-up in the club championship a couple of times and the 1600+cc class championship, while Rachel has been the ladies club champion three times along with her national clubsport title.
During all this, the couple had two baby boys resulting in an impromptu daycare centre in the club office to allow both of them and other parents with young children to compete in clubsport events.
After hearing the club’s race section was keen for more numbers a couple of years ago, Stacy Lines talked a bunch of clubsport people, including Andrew, into sitting their race licences and organised an evening at Rick Michel’s Evolution Motorsport workshop where they all sat the test together.
“I think four or five people then made the step up to circuit racing from clubsport at various races over the past two seasons and bolstered the numbers with modest cars where we added some competition to the slower half of the field,” Andrew said.
Andrew has completed two full seasons of racing and has definitely got the bug despite being rather apprehensive about stepping up.
“The first season was about making small improvements to the car and big improvements to my driving and, consequently, I was a lot more competitive second time around, getting second in the 1601-2500cc class and third overall in the Flying Farewell Championship.
“I also bagged another Autocross Championship, so it was a very successful season unfortunately cut short by the Covid outbreak.
“We are all looking forward out there again when the club is able to start holding events again,” he said.
“The clubsport scene is a perfect low-cost way of getting started in motorsport and we always welcome new members and entrants and even have a club car available for a small fee to allow them to have a go.
“We run motorkhanas on Sunday mornings around cones with three courses and sealed autocrosses in the afternoons for a little more speed during most months over the warmer months of the year.”
Clubsport will resume with a non-championship Evolution Motorsport Triathlon on Sunday, July 26.
For more information, go to teretonga.org.nz, like the Southland Sports Car Club Facebook page, or phone Malcolm Mitchell on 21 666 956.