Panel beating and motor racing sounds like it should go hand in hand, and in the case of the Waite family it bodes true
Like many racers, the bug for motorsport often comes from family, and in the case of Tasman Motorsports Group driver Andrew Waite, he is the third generation of the Waite family to compete in motorsport.
The love of motorsport and motoring in general for the Waite’s goes back a lot further than what we see on the track today.
In 1959, Andrew’s grandfather Colin established the family panel beating business; Colin Waite Ltd in the Auckland suburb of Morningside. Though the company has shifted premises a couple of times over the years it’s never really been more than 1km from where it is now on New North Road.
As Auckland grew, so did the business, from doing repairs to vehicles in the 50’s and 60’s with traditional panel beating methods, it is now a very modern facility with its own chassis and alignment benches, paint booth, and is an authorised repairer for Toyota and Lexus in Auckland.
So good is the service customers receive from the business, that after 54 years in business, the company’s very first customer is still a loyal customer in 2013!
Day to day in the business today, Colin’s other son Paul is in charge of the internal logistics of the company, whilst Gary co-ordinates the company’s insurance and dealership work and general management of the company. What’s made the business so successful? Well Gary Waite says its attention to detail.
“If you do a good job, then customers come back. We’re lucky here that we have some very modern technology that allows us to repair vehicles back to factory specification. The same philosophy carries over into motor racing, if you prepare well away from the track, then you’ll be more successful at the track.”
Colin Waite Ltd are in fact a valuable part of the Tasman Motorsports Group team, carrying out all body and paint work on the Valvoline Ford.
“It’s important to have the car looking brand new every time the team goes racing. Sponsors expect a high level of presentation – at the end of the day you are representing their brand.”
The Waite family involvement in motorsport began with Colin. Western Springs speedway was not far down the road, and it is where Colin was seen regularly helping in the pits, where it then evolved into building a few midget cars as well.
From there gravel roads beckoned and Colin found himself rallying with long time friend Laurie Evans (father of Owen and Grandfather of Simon), Laurie and Colin competing in various rally events in a works Skoda.
“I actually competed against Steve Horne (Tasman Motorsports Group Team Principal) a number of times rallying. He was co-driving a Ford RS1600 BDA Escort in the early 1970’s with Reg Cook,” says Colin.
“We even beat him a few times with the odd move around the outside! Not sure Steve could quite believe he got passed by a Skoda! We still have a laugh about it today.”
Other motor racing endeavours saw Colin serve as the Clerk of the Course at Pukekohe for ten years and also served as an executive on the NZIGP Board of Control.
Back out on the track, now in his eighties, Colin has up until only recently retired from racing himself, where he was still involved in classic racing. He is the proud owner of a 1958 Stanguellini (tested by Manual Fangio) and a 1954 Cooper 500 and also still has the Skoda, which he recently purchased back and restored.
Skip forward a generation and Gary had his share of motorsport participation too. “I actually co-drove with Owen Evans on a few rallies, but I found I got car sick. Maybe it was Owen’s driving!” says Gary.
Now the only racer in the family is Andrew, who competes in the V8 SuperTourer Series.
With multiple national titles to his name Andrew has quickly established himself as one of the most promising young talents in New Zealand motorsport.
“Simon Evans actually introduced me to karting, when I was eight I had a go in his kart one day, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” says Andrew.
From those early karting days, Colin was one of his number one supporters often taking Andrew to various karting events around the country. Andrew raced karts until he was 15 and from there the first car he stepped into was a Formula First as part of the Speedsport Scholarship programme, which he had won.
From there he has competed in a number of categories, winning in every series he has raced in, Andrew’s racing CV makes for some impressive reading: New Zealand Kart Champion in 2005, Formula Ford Rookie of the Year 2006/2007 as well as 2nd overall in his debut season. He has also achieved wins in the Toyota Racing Series, Australian Formula 3, culminating in taking out the 2011/2012 NZ V8 Ute Championship winning 6 out of 7 rounds with 10 race wins.
In his third event with Tasman Motorsports Group, partnering Daniel Gaunt, he took the Tasman Valvoline Ford across the line to record the team’s first win in V8 SuperTourers.
“Andrew’s racing achievements so far is something we’re quite proud of,” says Colin.
Though Andrew elected not to follow in the family footsteps and pursue a career in panel beating, he did become a fully qualified auto electrician.
“I think electronics is where it is at for younger people,” says Gary. “Vehicles are getting more and more complex with technology, so they will be good skills to have in the future. If we ever get him away from the steering wheel.”
With his drive to win and succeed, Andrew will never too far away from the steering wheel and will make his solo drive debut in the Valvoline Ford at Round 4 of the BNT V8 SuperTourers at Taupo August 31.