I was born and raised in the suburbs of Durban, Natal, South Africa. Life for my family, my mother, brother and sister, was rough as we lost our 29-year-old Dad when I was just 6 years old. We were then schooled in two boarding schools, first primary school followed by high school, restricting us to see my mom on weekends for a Sunday picnic or so, and school holidays. Richmond Primary School in the Natal Midlands was 1st thru 7th grade, then Stanger High and Brettonwood High Schools. When my Mom remarried years later, we moved back the Durban suburbs into a house in Sea View. Although the boys in my family, which now included a stepbrother and stepsister, we were exposed to riding motorcycles on farms during our non-school periods, it was here, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, that we were among the very first to compete in Junior Motocross in South Africa on home make motorcycles. My brother and I would share our bike, he would ride one race and I would ride the next race. Oh what memories!
As a young boy I was always intrigued by Nature, the Outdoors, Adventure and Motorsports. My first recollection of “what I wanted to be” was a Park Ranger. I loved being outdoors and witnessing the beauty and wildlife in South Africa, particularly what we experienced in Richmond from a few of the junior school friend’s farms we visited on week ends. In retrospect, I would only really begin to appreciate South Africa’s natural beauty and wildlife after returning for a vacation decades later, and subsequent trips “back home”.
Motorsports however elevated to the top of exciting things to watch as a spectator. I vividly recall making a scrap book of all the news paper articles and pictures back in the early 1960’s that included our local motorsports events and all of the international events such as F1, MotoGP, Indy etc. I wished I still had that scrap book!
When I was about 10 years old, and later as a teenager, I would participate in Moto Cross, heavily influenced by my late step dad, Wally Dunn, who was a gear head. Not just a gear head, he was much more, a mentor and an inspiration that made me who I am today. I have so many fond memories of riding our home made bikes with my brother and friends through sugar cane fields of the north coast of Natal where we would save every penny to by petrol. That was freedom and it was fun!
The next big deal in my life was in 1982, at the age of 28. On a whim, I decided that I would quit my job, sell everything I owned (which wasn’t much) and committed to crew, and be a part of what turned out to be a two-year sailing experience of a lifetime, on a friend and his parents 50-foot trimaran called Windspray. More details to follow on this experience.
As a result of that life changing experience, sailing in the Indian and Atlantic Ocean’s, I eventually ended up moving the United States of America, and to Texas in 1985. My hobbies in my first years in the US were building model ships followed by building and flying Radio Controlled model airplanes. Flying model airplanes was a blast as I met new friends and ventured out into other parts of the country to fly. I had many planes, crashing several too! My favorite being a 108″ wingspan Extra 300s that had a 105cc (6.4 cu. in.) two-stroke, twin cylinder engine turning a 30″ propeller, and a smoke system to fly aerobatics. I used to love “tearing up the sky”. Then one day I just decided I wanted switch gears and own a sports car. The planes collected dust for over two decades.
I remember my early days back in South Africa as a teenager, when the Mazda rotaries used to perform so well in road racing. Seeing my first, a 1st Generation RX7 on the street and thinking to myself, I’d love to have one of those cars! As the saying goes, the rest is history!
So, my journey in the US and into motorsports again began in 1999, which I had last experienced in South Africa, initially “homemade” motorcycles built by my late stepfather, then eventually competing outdoors in the South African Motor Cross Championship Circuit on a Suzuki RM125B.
As mentioned previously, I always wanted to own a Mazda RX7 because of how well they performed in the 1970’s, kicking butt road racing in South Africa. A friend I flew and built model airplanes with, mentioned to me that a friend of his had recently married and was wanting to sell his RX7. I went and looked at it, and I was hooked! I purchased the very clean and well maintained 1987 Turbo II RX7. It was not long before I attend Friday Night’s Street nights at the Texas Motorplex. Drag racing! Gosh, it was so much fun getting the lead out and meeting new friends. I never imagined drag racing would be fun, but boy, was I wrong!
Professional Drag Racing would consume the next decade, and a bit of my life. It certainly taught me to learn from others and to take advantage of skills I had accumulated over the years into a fierce competitor. More so that I ever committed myself to for anything ever before. I could, I was single! What I learned from my drag racing experience, specifically gaining the knowledge of data acquisition, and how important it was to learn what was transpiring with the car and driver. Data does not lie. This knowledge led me into an entirely new career path that proved to be extremely rewarding. It was hard to believe.
It was not long before the modifications of my RX7 began, with the help of Chris Ott & Ari Yellon of the famous RX7.com, Rotary Performance Shop. Within months, I was hanging out these guys and not long after that, I found myself competing in the inaugural, 2001 NHRA Import Drag Racing Series in my 1987 Turbo II RX7 streetcar. Then in 2002, I built a purpose built, All Motor RX7 13B, to compete in the NHRA Summit Import Drag Racing Series that later became the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series. In 2004 after I crashed, hitting the wall with the All Motor RX7 at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, totaling the car. I then switched from All Motor and built the turbocharged Modified RX8. In 2005, I debuted the Modified RX8 and successfully competed with it all the way to the end of the series in 2007, then known as the NHRA Sony Xplod Drag Racing Series. With 2 runner-up National Championships, a World Street Nationals title, 8 NHRA “Wally’s”, 2 NOPI Xbox trophies, several ESPN2 Television interviews and several other international events along the way, I can honestly say I had BLAST! Drag racing was good to me and my soul. Then I met a few guys in my neighborhood who were road racing so again, feeling the need for speed, I embarked on yet another sector of the motorsport’s world. Road Racing. Though not as time consuming and financially impactful as my drag racing was, road racing provided me with, yet another means to grow, learn and DRIVE. Totally different from drag racing in both setting up the cars and driving. I had to start from scratch. Again, a total blast meeting a bunch of new people and winning.
So, the next chapter in my life after so many years racing, I made my dear wife Gail a promise to give up motorsports altogether. So, toward the end of 2019, the race cars were gone, and it was time to explore new places and adventures we could enjoy together. This would include traveling the United States in our motorhome, travel abroad, with friends, old and new, and then photography which has turned out to be a terrific hobby to keep me busy and doing something during retirement.
Finally pulling the plug near the end of 2021 and retiring full time, has opened up so much more time to do the things we love. With so much more freedom and time to travel, where and when we want, without too many restrictions is an absolute joy. We should have done it sooner!
There will be much more to add in the coming years, so stay tuned.