Former NZ V8s driver and motorcycle ace returns to the racetrack when the Enzed V8 Ute series starts at Manfeild this weekend.
Christchurch businessman Mike Pero was one of the first drivers to sign up for the NZ V8 Ute series but business commitments have kept him off the track till this weekend when the 2008/2009 Enzed series begins at Manfeild.
“When there was a chance to become a driver in the new V8 Ute Series which debuted last year I thought I just had to be in,” he says.
“I immediately purchased a franchise for a place on the grid and renewed my (racing) licence. Unfortunately I was too busy last season to squeeze car racing into my business schedule but this year it’s all go.”
Pero, a six times national motorcycle road racing champion in the 1980s, is no stranger to racing V8s. He drove in NZ V8s, fielded a team and was a series sponsor.
He says racing and the profile it has helped build the success of his company, Mike Pero Mortgages. “Motorsport is high impact, it’s colourful and close to the heart of many Kiwis. The fact that I grew up as a motor mechanic and raced motorcycles has added to my interest in the wider sport.
“In a very short time I’ve managed to adapt to these V8 utes. They’re not built to be raced and that’s what makes them fun to drive.
“If you go in too fast into a corner then they just drift out wide and you lose all your speed on the exit. They wallow and slide and provide a challenge for any driver. That said they’re still clicking over 200km/h at most circuits – slower than the NZ V8s but more fun I reckon.”
Pero says the racing utes look like road-going Holden and Ford, but have different wheels, tyres, exhaust and brakes, an enhanced engine computer and a rollcage. The utes V8 engines are sealed on arrival and the rules don’t permit any changes under the bonnet.
“These cars are well within their stress limits and you’re not forever replacing engine parts. One engine will last the whole season. They do chew through the tyres and brakes – typically a set of each during a weekend which is largely to do with the 1800 kilograms (the cars weigh).”