Published on August 25th, 2011 | by mrgrumpyninja1
Life of a racers wife- the drift edition
I’ll be quite honest and say that I don’t really know how to start this story. When I first decided that I wanted to do something focused around one of the biggest influences in pit lane, I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of it or if it would even be interesting, but what I quickly learnt is that the massive force sometimes known as “she who must be obeyed” , “the bank” or “the old lady” all have a huge amount of passion for their chosen sport and a desire to tell their story. I read what was being said and thought…you know what…I bet this is what just about every partner/wife/husband/ etc goes through each & every season.
What I found was each lady was very different yet at the same time very similar, even if just for the fact they are 150% committed. I don’t think I would be wrong in saying that it would be very rare for you to find a successful racer anywhere who does not have the support of a strong partner, that person who keeps egos and tempers in check, or just says “its ok, shit happens” at the right time…or you know…. “offers comfort” when required.
I tried to capture a bit of a cross section for the sake of interest , but I quickly learnt most of these ladies had a fair bit to say, so I have divided them up by discipline into a 3 part series.
All the interviews were done individually, or I may have still been going now This is quite long, but I felt that if someone could give up days and even weeks of their time to support those we go out and cheer for,then we could spare 5 mins of our time to hear what they had to say.
Ladies and Gents, here is the first edition of “Life of a Racers wife” featuring the ladies of drift (and a few friends)
Ladies, lets start with introducing yourselves and the team/driver/event/race style are you associated with.
Hi,I’m Megan aka Fluffy and I’m Justin Roods BETTER half hahaha. I’m associated with NZ’s premier drift team Driftcorp, and I enjoy attending D1NZ drift championship drift events.
Hey, I’m Karen ‘Kaz’ Malyon, partner of Brendon White, director of The D1NZ National Drifting Championship.
Hola! I’m Toni Cook, fiance of Madmike Whiddett who pedals his RX7 MADBUL and RX8 BADBUL for Team Red Bull in my favorite field of Motorsport – Drifting! (no bull)
So, tell me what role do you play in the team? IE- manager/pa/wife/mother/engine builder/ accountant…..list goes on really!
Kaz- Many roles, not just one! Partner being the foremost role however I do assist Brendon with his day to day business operations and event management in addition to my full-time career. I know some people feel like many of the wives/girlfriends are just women who are there to basically stand by their man’s side quietly. Although I am privileged to be Brendon’s partner, that involves a lot of work and is more than just showing up to his events looking pretty. I take my job seriously as his partner to encourage him in areas of victory, challenge him in areas of wrong, care for his basic requirements and be there in times of need so that he can thrive in his role. Admittedly, it is tough at times and I can cop a tonne of flak but Brendon knows I’m fiercely protective, defensive and ready to throw down at a moments notice. He’s aware I’m very independent having previously lived overseas (America and United Kingdom) and I have my own interests and pursuits. This is our chosen lifestyle and we’re in it together – I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Fluffy- The role I play is a very long list! All of the above and much more lol., AWESOME! Let’s see, I’m also the car washer, and I would say after all the cars I have sanded that I’m a great car sander, oil changer, wheel changer and I over see ( MGN- I think this means yell and point a lot) a lot of engine builds hahaha.I’m a an expert roast cooker for large groups of people and I have cooked up a number of big feeds for late night missions at the workshop during builds of race cars for either Justin or other team members or more currently for weekends over in Dargy. I try to be the accountant but it never seemed to work with sudden surprises or car bodies and parts that were always turning up, so I handed my resignation in on that one.
Over the years I have been an ear to many drivers with their success and defeats in life, and with Justin I’m always there to listen and give advice. I’m a school teacher, so I’ve seen just about every kind of tantrum under the sun
Some of you have children, how do you balance that vs a husband/partner spending long hours/$$ on a 4 wheel/event based wife?
Toni- For us a huge part of the balance is living from our shop. Yes it would be great to have a lawn and a nice play area for Lincoln that wasn’t solid concrete but you can’t have it all….. At least not right now… It’s no secret that the RX7 exhaust note is at the higher end of the decibel register so not having neighbors to complain when it’s being revved at 1am is a bonus and so is having a son that can sleep through that.
You know Mike can spend a long time on cars drift related or otherwise but anytime he needs a break he can come up stairs. Lincoln is happy to go into the factory and play with his toys and dads Teng Tools (shameless plug there) he’s always done it – so it’s just the norm. Before Lincoln was even a month old his first event was the 4 and Rotary Nationals the music was pumping the cars were revving and he was asleep in his pram! He’d heard loud noises in the womb with me being around the RX7 all the time and he’d been to a couple of music concerts too so you can say I prepared him early.
Fluffy- Its taken a while, a very long time in fact but you just have to compromise. Yeah there were some yelling matches and fists flying at the beginning, for the long hours ( every waking hour) spent on cars/drivers/ organizing events but you just have to find your happy medium. After 8 years me and Justin have been able to find the happy medium ( as long as he takes me out for dinner or picnic once a week hahaha )
The thing with most of these drift drivers is that they have a number of extreme hobbies that also take up their time, they cant just stick to one so if Justin isn’t working on cars, buying cars, storing cars he is riding his stunt bike, dirt bike, or working on his bikes or road cars.
Kaz- Children aren’t part of the equation right now so at the moment we live a somewhat crazy and interesting yet balanced lifestyle. D1NZ is Brendon’s primary focus and I am familiar with just how important that is to him. Knowing and witnessing the hard work he puts into it (not to mention the long hours) makes me realize the significance it has for him and I wouldn’t dream of taking that away. I’m proud to stand by him recognising what he does and he knows I’m always by his side thick or thin – ride or die. In saying that, I encourage a healthy work-life stability which I believe is important for various reasons. After all, we work better when our lives are in balance.
Whats the week before an event, especially a big one like at your place?
Kaz- Having done this multiple times, you know what to expect and what to make of it. Things can get a little wild (naturally) but practice makes perfect. I’m there to remind Brendon that sometimes you just have to take a step back and chill for a moment – event management can be very overwhelming and stress levels can easily elevate if not managed correctly. Operating as a team makes things a lot less complicated and run a lot smoother which in turn makes life a lot easier.
Toni- Hectic – I’m a list person so I run a diary and have schedules, typically my duties are done ahead of time (geek much? maybe a little) where as Mike is on the opposing side of this, he likes to juggle things and play it by ear… This management style can often lead to a highly stressful couple of days prior to an event – we generally have Cromey and Dames around to pick up the slack. This means extra cooking duties and coffee making! BBQs or quite often take-aways are on the menu during these periods too which I don’t think they disapprove of to be honest. And every time after the truck is loaded I hear “We are not doing this next round!!” mmmkay
And you know, after an event is just as busy. There’s the ugly job of unpacking that no one wants to do, the repairs and maintenance and during this time, admin tasks require just as much effort on the event wrap up stuff. So yeah, it never really stops.
Fluffy- Empty hahahahahaha,
Do you enjoy the events?
Fluffy- The events are really enjoyable! They have changed a lot over the years but the most enjoyable part about them is an excuse to travel and being able to see the drift community again. When I first started going to the event with Justin I was still studying for my degree, so half the time I was trying to do assignments in the pits with 100′s of things going on around me!
Kaz- Without a doubt! Seeing a project through from beginning to end, particularly if it is successful, is deeply satisfying especially when you know just how much hard work has been put into creating such events. It’s so fulfilling and you’re always learning new skills and meeting lots of different people. I’ve made some amazing friends through drifting and I’ve discovered new things about myself along the way. Some people may think it’s a choice but I believe it’s a lifestyle
Toni- Of course! Besides the fact that drifting is a heap of fun, I enjoy the social aspect equally as much, it’s a great time with great friends.
What do you think of the concept of racers “WAGs” ,are other “WAGs” nice? Harder once you get to the more competitive end of the field/ start competing for sponsors?
Toni- Ok for the record I just had to google the term “wags” and the urban dictionary has some funny a$$ definitions for the acronym – however lets say we are going with the wikipedia version in this instance.. glad we are on the same page now..
The sport of drifting has been instrumental in creating some of my closest circles of friends. I have “wags” both past and present involved in my life in one way or another. I don’t treat people differently depending if they are a drivers “wag”, sister, mum or friend / supporter – if someone is nice enough to introduce themselves and get to know me they all start off on the same foot.
Is it more competitive? Well in NZ the sponsorship pool is smaller whereas in the States the pool is proportional to the population but big sponsors are really BIG and there’s so much more to win or loose. Different but the same, all “wags” here and international are good kents and I genuinely miss them between events.
Fluffy & Karen – Both actually just laughed at me:)
Ever have massive fights about that new set of race tyres vs a holiday or new wardrobe etc?
Kaz- Not at all. We each hold our own – we both know that if we want something we go about it separately. He works hard for what he wants and the same applies for me. I’m not saying that I don’t spoil him though! We both have certain goals we endeavour to accomplish such as taking a vacation (not to mention a long awaited one!). I’ve travelled the globe and I’m dying to get back out there and show Brendon the places I’ve been and share new experiences together. I’m a firm believer that good things come to those who wait and you get what you give – what you put into things is what you get out of them.
Toni- We all know guys never win fights, what kind of question is this? haha , Yyyyyeeeeeah ok we have “discussions” but probably in the other direction to where you are going with this. I’m sure you know Mike likes to have lots of toys, I liken him to a crazy modern day Peter Pan (with reference to his playful spirit and being young at heart but you know, without the tights and the gift of flight etc etc so not like Peter Pan really.. ah you know what I mean) He likes to have toys, specifically speaking ones with wheels that are motorized – toys for himself but for us more so. Given that, I’m always taking the fun out of things because when he says he wants to buy something in the back of my mind I’m always thinking about extra track time, things for the team and ways that his drifting can benefit by having that money (I know right! Boooooo). I don’t see it as a sacrifice because at the moment we are all having fun and therefore it’s worth it. It’s not something he can do for the rest of his life so I feel like we should make the most of it now and at the end of the day I have a genuine interest in his chosen sport, a real desire to see him succeed and a true belief in his talents so you know it works in his favor and things seem to be working out great, we are all happy. Good deal.
Fluffy- Yup! Hahahahaha, what do you think takes priority though! You just have to admit defeat and breathe.
What do you think of the “young girls” who seem to hang around after parties, looking to hook up with drivers?
Toni- Another excellent question there….
I think HELLLOOOO?? Girl, have you seen the drivers? Come on now…. Haha joking guys
oh you know different area codes and all that…
I’m pretty relaxed about it, it’s part of the scene and the guys can handle their own. At after parties I’m less concerned about that and more concerned about cutting through shapes and the alphabet on the dance floor with Zee, Bex (aka Toni’s other husband Jelavich-Harris) and which ever “wags” brought their A-Game or I can be found holding up the bar with Aimee. But in saying that – it’s part of the scene and could be listed as a perk? Tread carefully as there are grenades which are not so much a perk and more of a liability.
Fluffy- I remember one year someone had a sign made up for those ‘girls’ dooytbag.. that was pretty funny. I do think they’re are funny with their seducing / mating methods, but also think it’s good for a lot of the younger driver looking to get some. Good on you girls keep up the good work. Hahaha
Plus I have a secret weapon
Could events be made better in any way for families?
Kaz- Absolutely. Drifting is a family orientated motorsport and we’re always striving to make our events better. When evaluating a project, we consider certain criteria and take specifics into account for prospective event planning. Resourcing new ideas and objectives become part of the future planning process to give them proper structure and ensuring success. This also enables the event organizer to become more efficient and effective when bringing people together. Event management is something we both love doing and if you’re not enthusiastic and interested in your own events, how can you expect others to be? Going the extra mile with event planning could mean the difference between a successful event and an empty opportunity so we’re always determined for a favourable outcome.
Fluffy- ummm, Baby sitting services ( MGN- some of the drivers could use those to..) or Rides? we had them at the whangarei event and the kids loved them!
How do you deal with husband/partner when he makes the final and blows it, or something mechanical??
Fluffy- I drink… hahahaha.. nah, just tell him its sweet don’t sweat it…
Kaz- With event management, it’s not always smooth sailing and you have to be prepared at all times. Sometimes, organizing events can be a thankless job. You do your very best but things aren’t always under your control – you can’t prevent a guest or speaker from cancelling at the last minute, for example. And you can’t please all of the people all of the time. There will always be those that criticize and this can be very disheartening so ideally, you need to be fairly thick-skinned to cope with the job and what comes with it.
Toni- Firstly, I have to take my hat off to Mike with how he handles success and loss.
He’s MADMIKE behind the wheel (& esp on his dirt bike and yes used to be in his old urban disturbance rotaries) but in the states he was crowned with “GLAD MIKE” funny but fitting as he’s never grumpy, like, never-ever really..
Last year the photographers of FD captured the moments in the pits of the emotional highs and lows it was one of my favorite articles. The drivers are human and the emotion is part of the experience.
When it comes to Mike you know if he’s knocked out due to mechanical issues as with any driver he can feel a combo of frustration upsized with disappointment and if you know him well enough you can tell, he puts so much heart into reaching that point and then *clicks fingers* like that, it’s all over. On the other side of the coin if it’s due to driver error or the fact that he was just plain out driven by his opponent he usually knows before he gets the official call on it. Of course we all know he drives to win and he’s given it his best so that’s about all you can say at that point. After the event we go over the runs and like anyone who wants to improve we look at the areas where he could have done things differently. The Formula Drift series judges were a massive part of the experience for us and did a great job with their constructive criticism and quality feed back of course Mike soaked it up and it showed.
Lastly , What’s the chances of you just grabbing the keys and having a go, or building your own racer?
I took one of Justin’s 180s he had just swapped for something else and gave it a go, I was about 19 and thought it would be easy. Me and a friend who I will leave nameless, took his car out to do some ‘skids’ as you do in whangarei but much to my dismay Justin didn’t tell me it had a switch to turn the fan on. So here we were in the main street of town with coolant bubbling out everywhere. Later that evening Fanga also showed me how to do bread crate skids in my FWD Lancer.
We have an RX8 that I have expressed interest to help build up but that’s as far as I go, I enjoy having a few projects on the go but at the moment we have too many cars, I’m not even going to go into the number but it’s definitely into double digits atm!
Toni- Oh yeah! You know I can grab the keys no sweat! Reaching the pedals is another problem altogether! Haha I’ve driven the RX7 teetering on the edge of that bucket seat which is solidly mounted to the floor btw – here’s a tip: rotaries esp 26b’s are not so forgiving once you start getting a hop on, I have been victim of the hop and so has Dames, which I ALWAYS bring up coz it was that funny (sorry Dames). And aside from that I know how fun yet expensive it can be. If I had a bunch of money to throw at it, for sure!
For now I’m content with my project car, bmx, dirt bike and time away from motorsports with my girlfriends or family doing.. nothing much.. which is one of my all time fave things to do. (MGN- Toni was a little modest and this twin turbo lexus v8 Merc was also hers)
Kaz- During the off-season, the team have been building a full spec Mazda FC RX7 (V8) which is nearing completion. Once done, it will be gagging for a decent thrash! The car will be utilized for promotional purposes and as a tool for our Drivers, their sponsors and our key clients over the new season to experience drifting first hand and encourage a good working relationship. One thing’s for sure, I won’t be turning down a test drive in this bad boy!
Ladies….thank you so much for your time and honesty Without your presence, there would likely be no racers or events at all
In back to the future style……
TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!