One of New Zealand’s motor racing rising stars, Andrew Waite is living the dream.
Driving racecars on weekends, and teaching the more fortunate amongst us how to get the most out of their exotic sportscars. Not a bad life for someone who is just 24. We chat to Andrew Waite about what goes on away from the track and behind the helmet.
Q: How did you start out in motor racing? What was your first race car?
A: I started out motor racing when I was 8 years old in Karts. I raced them until I was 15 and from there the first car I stepped into was a Formula First as part of the Speedsport Scholarship programme. Since then I’ve also raced in Formula Ford, Toyota Racing Series, and I also raced in NZV8 Utes for a year and won the title in 2012.
Q: You are an advanced driving instructor which sounds a bit more serious than teaching someone to get their L-plates, what does it involve?
Advanced driver training involves on track type driver training rather then teaching people the road rules and how to travel at 50km/h. I am usually strapped into the passenger seat of a high performance car such as a Porsche, Lamborghini or Ferrari to teach owners of these cars what their vehicles are capable of, as they don't get to experience the true performance of their exotic vehicles on the road.
Q: In a lot of cases you’re tutoring someone to drive their sports car who is old enough to be your father, how do they react to being taught by someone who is just 24?
They all react surprisingly well, I think it is because they respect the machinery they have underneath them and they know that we as driver trainers have had a lot of experience on track so they trust our judgment.
Q: You’re based at the new Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell, what do you do there?
My job title at Highlands is “Professional Driver.” We have a selection of cars I take customers for hot laps in such as a Lamborghini, Porsche GT3 Cup Car and an ex Stone Brothers V8 Supercar. I also do in house driver training for the members of Highlands’s racetrack.
Q: So you blaze around in Lamborghini there everyday?
Pretty much, it can be a struggle to get out of bed every morning…
Q: How do most passengers react to a fast lap?
They are blown away at what we as race drivers go thru physically, they all get out wondering how our bodies stand up to the heat and the G-Force.
Q: No sick bags needed then?
Not yet hopefully! I did take a passenger for a ride the other day at Pukekohe and I looked across and they had their eyes closed.
Q: You also race in the V8 SuperTourers with Tasman Motorsports Group, what is a V8 SuperTourer?
Yes, the V8 SuperTourer’s are New Zealand’s premier saloon race series. It a massive challenge as I am up against the best drivers in this part of the world. It’s very rewarding as last year in the endurance race portion of the championship I was one of only 3 drivers that wasn’t racing at Bathurst a few weeks before hand so to be amongst them is a huge test.
Q: What are they like to drive?
They are an awesome car to drive. 575hp, 6-speed gearbox, with a top speed of about 270km/hr. They are a type of car that you have to be on top of the whole time as the series is so competitive it only takes one small mistake to change your whole weekend. You have to be fit, as they are very physical; they have a lot of grip and are very unforgiving.
Q: What’s the racing like?
The racing would have to be some of the best around, I think it’s because all the cars are exactly the same under the body so it makes the racing very close.
Q: What are the relationships like between the drivers on and off the track?
Pretty good most of the time. We’re all fiercely competitive on the track, but it does come with a mutual level of respect, most of the time.
There is a group of us who all went to school together and raced in various classes together of the years, so it’s cool to be racing together in this high level series.
Greg Murphy is in the series and is the current champion, and someone who all of us younger guys look up to, and of course a guy we all want to beat.
Q: So what happens if you have an altercation on the track with one of your good mates?
Well it just happened to me the other weekend, I got hit twice by the same guy. As long as they come up to you and apologise then it’s ok and you have a beer at the end of the weekend and forget about it.
Q: We have to ask, does being a race driver help with the ladies?
Ha! I haven’t used that card yet if that’s what you’re asking!
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