A group of Australian based racing drivers will take to the grid at the opening round of the South Island Formula Ford Championship at Timaru International Motor raceway this Saturday. Two young drivers will be the third -generation to race single seaters in New Zealand.
Born in America to Kiwi parents fifteen year old Hunter McElrea has been living in Australia since the age of two where his father, Andy, runs a successful race team and other automotive businesses based in Queensland. Many will know the McElrea name in NZ, Andy having won the SIFF title three times as well as the 1990/91 national Formula Ford title. He also won the Tranz Am championship and Jim Clark Trophy in 1996. Hunter’s grandfather, Rod, competed extensively at Ruapuna and Timaru from the 1960s and is still racing today at the tender age of 73.
Hunter began racing karts in Queensland when he was just eight years old. Some of his notable karting achievements are third place at Round 2 of the 2015 Australian Rotax Pro Tour in Junior Max class, second in the 2014 New South Wales Sprint Kart Championships and first in Junior National Light at the 2012 Ipswich 1 hour race.
The second third-generation entrant is nineteen year old Jaxon Evans who has extensive kartsport experience and is currently driving in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, run by Andy’s McElrea Racing Team. Jaxon has previously teamed up with top international Kiwi Karter Daniel Bray for KZ kartsport racing in Australia and NZ.
Jaxon’s mum is Debbie Lester, one of the quickest female racers in New Zealand in the 1980s and ‘90s. The Lester name is synonymous with circuit racing at Manfeild Park in Feilding. Debbie’s father Rob and brother Richard have also made their mark in Kiwi motorsport and now her nephew Jono Lester is heavily involved in international endurance racing. Debbie married John Evans from Ashburton who for many years was mechanic for Andy McElrea.
For 2015, Jaxon has been taken under the wing of the McElrea driver development program with great success in the GT3 Cup Challenge series, currently sitting 2nd in class after a string of great performances including podiums and round wins. This saw him get the opportunity to co-drive a Porsche cup car in the trophy class at the most recent Sandown round of the Australian GT series.
The SIFF round is also part of the third and final race weekend of the ASKO South Island Endurance Series. Formula Ford practice and qualifying takes place on Friday followed by three races on Saturday using the circuit’s ‘short’ track. This configuration will test a driver’s accuracy and skill and does not necessarily favour those with more horsepower.