Me & My Car: Racing to keep up with the latest technology
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Tom Alexander is a racing driver currently competing in the South Island Endurance Series, in the BlackBull Markets-sponsored Nissan Nismo GTR GT3.
What does a race driver drive during the week?
I'm lucky enough to get a company car through the driver training work I do. So generally, it's some from a new Mazda product. Currently a beautiful wee Mazda3.
What's good about it and not so good?
The opportunity to drive the new Mazda range is an amazing perk. For one, it allows me to keep up with the ever-changing technology in modern cars.
What car did you learn to drive in?
I learnt to drive in my Dad's 2003 Toyota Altezza Gita. Then I had a mighty 1992 Toyota Cynos for my first car, which had a worn out CV joint and a slight water leak so you had to be gentle on the old girl (not that I was) and top her up with water each morning.
What's the motorsport achievement that's given you the most satisfaction?
It was probably winning the 2019 Australian SuperUte title. Partly because Ross Stone (V8 Supercar Hall of Famer) had a goal to win the SuperUte title - and being the driver hand-picked to do that made it even more special.
What's your routine when climbing into the Nissan Nismo GTR GT3?
The routine to get into the car starts with the way I put my race gear on. First is my earpiece. I always put my left one in first, then right. If I do the opposite order, it just feels odd. After that, it goes balaclava, then helmet, and then HANS device. Race car drivers are creatures of habit and need their rituals.
As for getting into the car, it's quite a tight squeeze with all the safety equipment (i.e. roll cage, race seat, etc). I almost have to fold myself in half to fit between the roll cage and the roof, then slide my bum into the chair. Not an easy exercise, but it's second nature to me now.
What would be your ultimate road car?
1990 BMW M3 E30 Evo is my ultimate road car. I am a massive fan of late 80s/early 90s touring car racing, and the M3 E30 is such an icon from that era.
And your ultimate racecar?
There are so many cars I could choose from, but I love the history of motorsport, so my ultimate racecar would be the McLaren MP4/5 F1. I love the history of McLaren, and its founder, Bruce McLaren, is a true motorsport legend. The MP4/5 F1 was driven by two of my idols, and two of the greatest F1 drivers, Ayrton Senna, and Alain Prost.
What do you think of electric cars?
I feel that electric cars can have their place, but there is a lot of work on the battery and charging side to be done. Regarding racing, I think Formula E is doing some incredible things and showcasing some fantastic locations. The racing is generally pretty exciting, but I do miss the noise when watching Formula E.