Mike Eady has probably done more laps around Hampton Downs than anyone else. Even so, the owner of TrackTime Driving Academy is excited about the opportunity to race on the international circuit in the the new Fast & Furious Racing concept.
He was one of the first to sign up for the new format which will be launched at the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500 from October 28-29.
Eady has won several New Zealand titles in different categories and raced on some great tracks, including the Nurburgring and Bathurst, but he encourages anyone who's ever had any motorsport dreams to have a crack.
"Lining up on the starting grid in front of a big crowd is a serious adrenalin rush and this is a rare opportunity for drivers to of all levels to experience that buzz," says Eady. "If you're an experienced driver you can go hard out and if you're a novice you can still enjoy the occasion without being too aggressive."
Described as motorsport's version of Twenty20 Cricket, the goal of Fast & Furious Racing is to deliver short, action-packed races that give spectators and drivers alike more bang for their buck. The 3x3 format will see cars line up on the grid for the race start as per usual. The twist is that after three laps, the cars will come together behind a safety car for a rolling restart and another three-lap sprint to the finish line.
There will be four Fast & Furious, 3x3 races over the weekend with the fastest qualifiers starting at the front of the field in Race 1. A reverse grid will determine the starting order in Races 2 and 4 while the driver's combined times will decide who starts on pole for Race 3. Competitors will score points based on where they finish in each of the four races.
"I've raced cars and watched cars race since forever and what tends to happen is the first three laps is always very exciting," says Eady. "The faster cars usually pull away and the field spreads out and it can become a procession. Bringing the field back together behind a safety car opens up all sorts of opportunities for the drivers and will make it really exciting for the spectators. The reverse grid format means you'll see a lot of overtaking and it's essentially two sprint races in one. It's great for the fans and you're going to have to have your wits about because there'll be no opportunity to rest."
Eady will be racing a 2.0 litre Honda Civic Type R, a factory race car he imported from Japan.
"My car sits in a garage most of the time and only gets used a couple of times a year so Fast & Furious Racing is a great chance to dust off the cobwebs and be part of a major motorsport event. I'll be watching the Hampton Downs 500 with family and friends anyway but there's always added interest and excitement when you're racing yourself. "I'm not expecting to be at the front of the field, especially if I'm up against Porsches or Ferraris or V8s, but I'm hoping to do well in my class and I think it's going to be a great event."