Motorsport:Brothers battle the big two

By Eric Thompson

Holden and Ford no longer have it all their way, writes Eric Thompson

The Kelly Brothers team and their support crew. Right, the Nissan Motorsport (Kelly Brothers Racing) engineering area.
The Kelly Brothers team and their support crew. Right, the Nissan Motorsport (Kelly Brothers Racing) engineering area.

Kelly Racing was set up by brothers Rick and Todd in 2009 at a purpose-built facility in Braeside, an outer suburb of Melbourne. Todd (technical director) and Rick (commercial director) have a combined 28 years of punting V8 Supercars around racetracks and have used that drive and determination to continue to grow the team.

Never a pair to stay still for long, within three years of establishing their own team they had morphed into Nissan Motorsport after the Japanese manufacturer decided to have another yahoo at racing in popular Australian tin-top series.

Unlike their last effort in the all-conquering GTR, this time around they've had to use a V8 engine the same as everyone else. However, the brothers and their small team had only a year to get their Nissan Altima up and running to enter the revamped V8 Supercars series alongside the other new Car Of The Future vehicles.

What makes the Kelly story interesting is their engine development time is one-twentieth that of Holden and Ford.

The two long-time stalwarts of V8 racing have had 20 years to tweak every ounce of horsepower out of the aging pushrod engines. For the now aptly named Nissan Motorsport, 2012 must have gone by in a painful blur.

"We've got about 4500sq m of factory floor and 19 departments to look after the cars," said Todd Kelly. "We don't outsource anything and make everything, even all the engine covers, sump and absolutely everything else. We go straight from design into the machine shop."

The V8 Supercars championship is now well into the last quarter of the season and the Nissan has come a long way since the opening round in Adelaide back in March. There's been a few bumps along the way but at least the Nissan Motorsport team can be happy to have picked up their first win. James Moffat led a one-two for the Kellys' big adventure at the last round at Winton to notch up the team's first win with a new manufacturer. "The development of the car has been outstanding right from the roll-out of the chassis and the guys have done a really good job. We've designed and made a few bits and pieces that have made the car better, but in all we're quite happy with the car.

"The biggest thing now that we're concentrating on is the engine and getting it better. We've taken what is essentially a road car engine and put it into arguably the most competitive V8 category in the world.

"The existing rules aren't really ideal for a quad-cam four-valve engine, so it's been challenging. We've had to constantly come up with new spec components all year, especially now that the endurance rounds are here"'

Nissan Motorsport (Kelly Brothers Racing) Engineering area.
Nissan Motorsport (Kelly Brothers Racing) Engineering area.

As well as all the hassle of getting four new cars up and running competitively, both Kelly brothers have their driving duties to consider.

"Thank goodness we've got such good people working for us because running a team is a massive undertaking. But the funny thing is the most time consuming part of all of it is the politics involved with the sport," Kell said.

"The best part of what we do is the driving. That's what makes it all the fighting and the politics and the stress at work worth it so that we can jump in fast cars.

"The reward is on a Friday morning we can get all the other stuff out of the way, get in the car and go driving.

"I wouldn't give that away for anything. To see the job the guys have done on the car and all the small gains we get with the engine make the car better on the track is really rewarding." Nissan Motorsport has grown from 35 staff in 2009 to a team of 50.

They also have a comprehensive merchandising section at Braeside.

- NZ Herald

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