Me and My Car: A sideways view of driving
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CURT WHITTAKER IS THE CURRENT TRANS-TASMAN DRIFTING CHAMPION
What do you drive?
My drift car is an R34 GTR Skyline with a 410-cubic inch small-block Ford V8 engine, currently running 720hp. The car was custom-built from the ground up so everything is modified and fabricated in-house by Whittaker Motorsport. My everyday car is a 2005 black Toyota Hilux. It is practical for work and towing the drift car. You can’t beat a Hilux for this purpose.
Who else is allowed to drive your cars?
Whoever is willing to tow our massive trailer can drive. Also, to be able to drive the R34 you need to be able to reach the pedals.
Your first car?
My first road-legal car was a Mark 4 Ford Cortina. It got me to school and around; not my most memorable car.
Only one? The dream would be to have a shed full of high horsepower weapons.
Favourite car colour?
Black on black.
Who taught you to drive?
My dad, Len. I started racing around family paddocks at a very young age which led to me competing in the national karting championship. I got my licence on my 15th birthday, and passed everything the first time.
What special training and skills do you need to drive a drifting car?
You just need to be confident in your ability to manage your vehicle in an uncontrollable way. It’s similar to being able to drive fast on a gravel road or in a wet paddock without hitting anything. But to be a competitive drifter takes plenty of seat time, along with some natural talent (like most top sports).
Manual or automatic?
Definitely manual, because you feel like you are actually driving. Unless you are stuck in Auckland traffic, then auto is much better.
Most memorable road trip in New Zealand?
I do a lot of road tripping around New Zealand, mostly for drifting. Probably the most memorable, and not in a good way, was for an event. We left in the early hours of the morning, got a flat tyre on the car trailer which meant we had no spare. Not long after that we lost a wheel off the trailer (not the one that we’d changed). We had to unload the car and drive it the rest of the way to the track, and tow the trailer with only three wheels. Not an ideal start to an event.
Do you enjoy driving or would you rather be a passenger?
I would prefer to drive.
What do you listen to in your car?
Just the radio, but with travelling you tend to lose reception and then my options are limited.
Great day trip out of Auckland?
Anywhere out of Auckland is good. We have a lot of family and friends around the country so we are always travelling somewhere.
How often do you clean your car?
The outside is usually cleaned before we go to an event. The inside ... not so much.
Do you judge people by what they drive?
What irritates you most about other drivers?
Tailgaters and slow people in the fast lane.
What is your opinion of Auckland traffic?
Auckland traffic is beyond words — is there anything that is actually going to make it better?
Would you rather drive or take public transport?
Being a tradesman, public transport isn’t an option.
Do you have a special number plate?
Only on the drift car: RATTLU.
■As told to Donna McIntyre