Autocross hones new drivers’ skills

Eastern Southland Car Club Ladies and Class A Champion Jane Duthie with twin sons Duncan (left) and Alec. Alec won the Junior ClubSport title while Duncan was the runner-up, with Alec also winning the Junior Championship. Photo: Ismay and Glenn Howden

THE Eastern Southland Car Club will hold another of its popular Ladies and Under 18 Youth Promotions on November 13, at 292 Paterson Rd, Waimumu.

The day gives women and youngsters an opportunity to have a go at grassroots motorsport in the form of a grass autocross, either in their own car or a club-supplied vehicle.

Two years ago, Jane Duthie, of Popotunoa, and her identical twin sons, Gore High School pupils Alec and Duncan Robbie, attended just such a day.

Jane worked with club member Damian Vincent and he invited her along, so she took her two boys who, at the time, were 14 years old.

“I had a drive of Damian’s EVO and the boys used the club car,” she said.

“We really enjoyed it. We had an old Corolla at home so took it to another autocross for the boys. I was watching and got bored, so all three of us became competitors.”

Two years later, all three were recognised with awards at the club’s recent prizegiving.

Sharing the Corolla, Jane won the Ladies’ Championship and Class A in the Club Championship while the Junior ClubSport Championship (under 18) saw the twins battle right to the end. Tied on points with one event remaining, Alec prevailed by just one point to be awarded the Harry Ross Challenge Trophy. Alec also picked up the Laird Family Challenge Trophy in winning the Junior Championship (under 25).

Jane said ClubSport had been of great benefit.

“They have really benefited from the club. We consistently turn up and have a good family rivalry. The boys only got their learners’ licences recently and they are quite capable. Autocross teaches skills and awareness and they are both very comfortable driving a manual car. I would definitely encourage others to do it. You need to learn what to do if you get into a slide.

“It is a great sport for not a lot of outlay and it is good fun,” Jane said.

After competing in Class A, the family will be back this season in a Nissan Sentra in Class B.

“We are ready to change things up a bit. Alistair Robbie, the boys’ father, looks set to have a go too.”

The venue for this year’s promotion will be signposted from Waimumu and Te Tipua.

Driver coaching is available and cotton overalls and a helmet are required but the club can provide them. A prizegiving and barbecue will follow.

Entry is free but space is limited so check the details on the Eastern Southland Car Club Facebook page.

To find out more or to enter, phone Ismay Howden on 027 419 0642, Hannah Krammer on 027 306 9262 or Roger Laird on 0274 368 876.

– Lindsay Beer, on behalf of the Eastern Southland Car Club