By Pete McNae
It’s taken Trevor Elliott a couple of decades to become an overnight sensation. The Canterbury-based super saloon driver and the current points leader in the Mag and Turbo Super Cup started racing back in the mid 1980s, yet this is his first media interview.
He’s often the sneaky quick driver who gets among the points while others make more noise, throw more dust and wreck more gear. Ohhh, hang on …. “I’ve been introduced to your wall in Nelson a few too many times,” the 55-year-old owner of Elliott Scaffolding says. “It’s an all or nothing track. I love it but I have had a few nothings.”
The Super Cup makes its return to the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway from 6pm this Saturday for round three of six at a meeting presented by associate sponsor MD Freighting. After rounds in Invercargill and Christchurch, Elliott has 408 points to lead by 15 from Pete Dickson, who is away in the North Island this weekend competing in their super saloon series. Nelson’s Ian Burson is third, 32 points behind Elliott with Terry Soper (Dunedin), Ray Stewart (Cromwell) and Woodford Glen driver Kane Lawson completing an impressive track spread in the top six. Twenty drivers have put points on the board this season with around 15 drivers, perhaps more if a couple of others pick up wild cards, expected in Nelson on Saturday.
Despite being a former South Island champion and having been runner-up twice, Elliott is surprised to have his 27C Hypermac’s nose in front at this early stage.
“I’ve had a good start, picked up handy points in Invercargill but I can hear the big guys coming … Ian Burson on his home track, Ray Stewart who has a new car and is really starting to rock and roll, I just have to keep my mind clear and run my own race.”
Elliott puts some of his handy start to the Cup season down to that clear mind. He’s parked the two-seater super saloon that often accompanies the race car and is used for promotion and publicity laps. And he’s stepped back from his role as convenor of the Super Cup after three high-pressure seasons at the helm.
“I had a season off and was staying well clear but Ariana (McIntyre, of the Hypermac chassis building family) talked me into coming along to prizegiving,” Elliott said. “I should have bloody stuck to the beer and food part but somehow I got roped into the AGM.
“I saw a bunch of … how shall I say this? … non-responsive, depleted people. The series was dying off, there was no structure, everyone was busy but they were all at cross-purposes. After building things up with the ELF and Vertex (now Mag and Turbo) Super Cup, there wasn’t going to be a series that next year, I’d say.”
A passionate man, who calls a spade a shovel just before he clonks some sense into you with it, Elliott was coerced into standing as series convenor. In his pitch, he told fellow racers he was “black and white, come to me, we sort it out and if it doesn’t work after a season, get rid of me”.
That one season became three, a new naming sponsor was introduced and drivers have continued to come into the class in good quality machinery. But Elliott says admin took away from his on-track focus.
“When you sit in the big chair, you have to be available so we dealt with issues before the meeting, issues during the meeting and issues after the meeting and you lose your focus on racing.”
This year, Jason Phillips has accepted the management role, with Elliott available to advise if asked, while there is pastoral support from the likes of Ariana and Shane McIntyre, John and Christine Hocken (finance) and Nic Gibbs and Monique Maynard (software). Being able to release himself from some of those responsibilities has certainly played a part in the strong early form — but Elliott is also as committed a bloke as you will come across.
His business (“just call it the best scaffolding business in the country”) grew out of training as a scaffolder from the age of 15 on the dam projects in South Island’s hydro era, then taking himself overseas to London, Scotland, a massive project in Hong Kong, hiring and running teams that started with “roughnecks from a Dundee bar” through to more than 60 on the Hong Kong job. “I’ve only ever seen myself as a hairy arse scaffolder but, the fact is, we have put a lot of time and intelligence into what we do to make the business thrive.”
His racing career is not dissimilar — small beginnings with a PB Vauxhall running triple carbs in Cromwell that was so successful the club chucked him up the ranks to race against the A grade saloons of the day, through to the current Hypermac, now in its fourth season. Elliott had raced homebuilt chassis since returning to New Zealand and falling for super saloons before wife Claire heard him calling Shane McIntyre to discuss building a Hypermac in a season’s time. “She said, don’t muck around, do it now …. order the car, so we did. And when that one sold and I was talking to Shane about a replacement, she did the same thing — told me to grab the next one Hypermac had available. We were on a flight to Dunedin to see my daughter, by the time we were landing, the decision was made.”
It’s that determination that has made Elliott a constant front of the field threat, even though the greater glory rarely comes his way. He’s enjoying his racing at 55 and will continue to keep pushing while the fun remains.
“It’s like your marriage. When it’s good, life is good. Currently me and the car are talking to each other, I’m not arguing with it and the fun levels are up. We do things pretty low-profile, small crew and nothing too flashy.
“I know there are guys coming after this lead pretty hard but I’ll give it what I have in Nelson. If that’s not enough, so be it, I have three more rounds to keep at it.”
The Mag and Turbo Super Cup runs three crossover 15-lap heats, followed by the top 8 moving to the shootout (pole shuffle). Progress in the pole shuffle sets the first four rows of the grid for a 30-lap feature with grid 9 onwards decided by heat points for cars that missed the shootout. Passing points (3 per pass) are crucial in the final season tally.
- Trevor Elliott runs with the support of Elliott Scaffolding, Five Ash Contracting (“there since day one”) and SJS Mechanical and Welding. On the crew are wife Claire, daughter Lucy, Wild Man Wayne, Speedway Sylda and Two-seater Ronnie.
- Saturday’s other promotions include a superstock hit to pass, sidecar best pairs, streetstock club champs and stockcar triples, including the first appearance of the club’s latest national champion, Ben Smith.
Photos, Rebecca Connor Maling, BM Photography