BEHIND THE NZV8 CoTF
Back in early 2011, Derek and Nick got wind of the New Zealand’s number one, circuit racing class wanting to upgrade their current fleet of cars, which were built up of 10-15 year old, beaten up taxi's. In passing, Derek mentioned to somebody close to the NZV8 ranks, that they should go to a common fabricated chassis that we (Mitchell Race Xtreme) could build. Little did we know, that person actually went and pitched the idea to the heads of the NZV8 class. Within days, we were contacted and asked to put together a plan of attack for how this new car would work and how it could be achieved on a budget. After a meeting at Hamilton during the ITM400, to make sure we were all on the same page, Derek and Nick set about designing an entire car from scratch. We didn’t have fancy computers at our disposal, or a room full of design technicians to draw every aspect of the car on a computer.
Good old fashion paper and pencil.
Within 9 days, we had designed that entire car. The complete tube frame chassis and roll cage structure, full suspension package and driveline set up. What components would be used, body shapes, and above all else, it had to be future proofed. Which meant designing it to allow for other body shapes to be introduced somewhere down the track.The design brief that we came up with was pretty simple. Kiwi designed, Kiwi built, which made it pretty easy to decide where our parts would come from. Local importers to source parts from the USA, local CNC shops who we had previously used in the past, even the steel we build the chassis’s with is made and rolled locally in Hamilton.We had our CoTF package sorted, now to present it to the NZV8 board. Turns out, we weren’t the only ones pitching an idea. Long story short, MRX got the job.
Enter, the busiest time our shop has ever been through. The next 2 weeks were a blur. A complete chassis jig was built along with, what we now call our ’Mule’ chassis. This chassis was displayed for all too see. A meeting was held at the MRX shop, where the NZV8 teams and drivers were invited to come along and view the MRX concept. As some may notice, the Mule chassis is different to what we now the call the ‘TLX’ NZV8 chassis. There wasn’t huge changes made, but it didn’t warrant cutting the mule up into pieces. So we made the decision to start fresh. Of course while building the mule, we had discovered a couple of build aspects that we wanted to change and now was the perfect time to do this. Now in true motorsport fashion, somebody had the good idea that we should release the new car at the upcoming CRC Speedshow. Easy for them, they wouldn’t have to be at work all hours building the bloody thing.
Here’s a small run down of how it went, remembering that the Speedshow was on the 23rd July;
The Mule was shown at our shop on the 28th May 2011
The steel stack for #001X was delivered on the 1st June
#001X came off the chassis jig on the 30th June
#001X came back from the ‘overnight’ powder coaters on the 15th July
This is about the time that all hell broke loose. 8 days till the big unveiling, and at this stage all we had was a bare chassis.
Cue the organised chaos; I don’t think we’d seen this number of people in our shop and any one time.
We had people climbing over each other to bolt parts on the car, painted panels were being bolted on the car all but wet, the sign writers were having to work around the mechanics, we had TV crews there filming us build the car, we even had on lookers stopping in to see the car, it was just nuts.
Those last few days there was bit of a routine going on. Derek would arrive in the morning while it was dark, Nick would leave at night while it was dark and the rest of the MRX boys would be in the middle somewhere.
Friday 22nd July, a mere 51 days after that steel stock was delivered, #001X or FG01 as she was affectionately known, was loaded into the trailer and Derek and Nick did the run up to Auckland to place the Falcon on the MSNZ stand inside the show grounds.
Since mid 2011 a total of 6 chassis’s have been built by MRX. Now this is nowhere near the numbers that we had expected to of built by now, being 2 years later.
A lot of things have conspired against us and this new car, foremost being the great divide that is the V8 touring class fiasco. Ego’s, lawsuits, hot air, it’s all been there along the way.
Its all hurt the business in some way or form, but we’re fighters, we aren’t going to give up cause things get a bit tough, we won’t give them the satisfaction!
The best thing this class did was open the doors to new manufactures.
At the end of the day, the cars we race in this class are modelled off the Australian V8 Supercars. And one of the best things that WE (MRX) have done, is design and build our very own rear wheel drive, V8 Toyota Camry for Richards Team Motorsport.
It wasn’t a straight forward job getting the body of a front wheel drive, 4 cylinder car situated on our chassis, but with some forward thinking and cunning body tweaks, we got that Camry shell in the window that it needed to be to suit the chassis dimensions and aero rules.
Now we have not one but two, brand new V8 Toyota Camry’s running in the NZV8 class alongside, 2 Holden VE2 Commodore’s and the single Ford FG Falcon.
Looking forward into the future of the NZV8 TLX race car.
Will we see a fourth or even a fifth manufacture enter the series?
Will we see a combined field of 30+ V8 Touring Cars screaming around North and South Island race tracks?
I can’t answer these questions just yet, but I know one thing for sure, MRX will still be building bloody fast race cars!