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After the first try edition of 12 rounds the other night, I was feeling pretty good about the concept. It seemed from the view numbers and the feedback that most of you enjoyed it so I thought while not keep the ball rolling with the second installment .
It’s not that easy to work out whose story to tell, and I really want to bring you some stuff that you might not see elsewhere, sure Gaz Whiter, Mad Mike and Fanga Dan will probably appear at some point, but there are some great other stories out there that deserve to be told and I want to tell them
One such story that I personally found interesting to follow recently was that of Shane Herbert or “Herb” as he’s known to most. In order to do this I had to engage a special investigative reporter whom we shall call “Speshul Sudi [SS]” who speaks fluent Rotor, Car Painter and West Aucklandish.
So here we go, Entering the ring weighing at a guess not very much unless he’s full of Woodstock is Shane “The Herbinator” herb
Speshul Sudi takes over here, and was nice enough to conduct this interview last night over the family dinner table. You need to keep in mind, this is also a father talking to his daughter here, so this was no doubt quite a lighthearted conversation.
Shane /Herb , you embarked on a massive challenge this year, tell us about it, and what was your motivation to do so?
Thanks Susan (laughs), you already know this since you were a part of it, this past drag season I took up the challenge to learn to drag race. I probably didn’t do it the easiest, or safest, or even smartest way[SS- you never do!], because I was told to learn in Tony Markovina’s ” HVATOS” Rx3 Pro- Import drag car. The motivation… (Herb pauses to think) hmmmm..well it was to prove that old boys can do anything, it’s not just the young ones! The challenge itself was very daunting and scary. VERY SCARY.
What would you say to people who think you are too old, or stupid for wanting to strap yourself into a 9 sec drag car?
(Herb laughs again) HA! Get a life….. Never too old for it….
What was the scariest/hardest thing to learn about drag racing?
I’m still learning that whats hard! … The scary stuff is just getting in the car, the hardest part is that I am still very much learning….
What about a single scariest moment?
[SS]: I bet he wasn’t too impressed…..
Herb: Um…. no… he turned quite white hahahaha
For those who are new to drag racing, how big is your crew, and who does what jobs within the team?
The crew numbers vary, depending on which meetings we go to. In Auckland we have a massive crew because everybody wants to be there, but when we go away, the crew numbers drop, and everybody has a specific job to do.
Susan’s[SS-Yay!!thats me!!] job is to pack the chute and to strap me in, Beanbag does all the wheel nuts and does a bolt check after every pass. Captain Connell [SS- Brian Connell of Mazsport] and Joe 90 are in charge of the engine side of things. Tony Markovina tinkers with threatening to put more power in the car [MGN- and is a general menace to all and sundry].
[SS]: Wasn’t there an instance where there was more power in the car?
Herb: Ahh, that was purely accidental. I have several nick names and one of them is “Penis fingers”[MGN- seems that name is quite common and fought for in the import car scene] . I touched something I shouldn’t have touched and ended up doing a run with 40 psi instead of 22 psi.
What’s the best thing about drag racing and keeps you wanting to do it?
It’s a big adrenaline buzz and a lot of fun… especially when you are surrounded by fun people. Don’t ever take it too seriously, once you stop having fun is it really worth it??
[SS]: There has to be a serious side to it though Herb?
Herb- Once you are strapped in, you have got to be serious and you have to take the car seriously, otherwise you’ll end up in the crap.[MGN- by crap, let assume that means wall, ditch or on your lid]
Seems You’ve been around the scene for a while really , what were you doing before driving?
One of the reasons they (Tony & the rest of the crew) wanted me to drive was that one of the rules is that the driver is not allowed to work on the car. And because I kept breaking stuff, they decided it would be a good idea to let me drive it instead of breaking stuff. Yup… I even set fire to it.
When you weren’t BREAKING STUFF!!what was your responsibility on HVATOS?
My responsibility was to keep the car looking good. I was the bolt checker and the chute packer… I’dcheck the wheel nuts, fuel, water and to keep everybody laughing!!! [MGN- explains those gay little shorts]
What’s the biggest change you have seen since you became involved in import drag racing?
The quality of the cars… It’s easy to think that is the speed and the ET’s they are doing, but it’s the quality of the build of cars. When we first started going down there (Meremere) they were just road cars… Now they are purpose-built weapons!! The quality of the builds is out of sight… also the organisation of the events, like the 4 n rotor events has improved out of sight.
How do you manage being the driver in someone else’s car? Do things sometimes get heated? Who pays the bills?
It doesn’t get heated… we have been lucky this year and we haven’t broken anything. Tony is a very generous guy letting me drive the car but he wont let me pay for anything which pisses me off…. so when something needs to be brought, i’ll secretly buy it.
What’s the one thing in the New Zealand drag scene that has to change in order for it to keep growing?
We need better tracks. We have to have better tracks, where we can prepare the tracks full length which will mean better speed, better ET’s and better crowds. Which will bring bigger sponsorship…
Where do you stand on the IHRA/NZDRA saga? Or just don’t care and want to race? [MGN- had to be asked since its topical]
Personally I don’t care… I just want to race the car. I’m involved in other sports where politics gets involved… and politics and sports is a big no no….
Talk me through the week leading up to, and during an event? What do you go through, and do you have any rituals before your first run, actually….while we are at it, tell me about that very first pass you did….it would be fair to say you were a little nervous.
The very first pass I did I was absolutely crapping my pants; I didn’t know what was gonna happen… Tony had told me the things that I had to do, and when it came time to do it, I actually got up to the start line and doubted whether I could do it. But realising that I couldn’t back up, I had to go through with it. Once I had done it, it was sweet. Once I started getting a bit more confident I felt better…
The week leading up to the event, you spend a lot of time going over the car, checking things are ok. The night before, I pack the car, I pack my gear bag which I end up checking 2 or 3 times… safety gear check, put that all in the car. Logbook, check. Fuel, check. Go down to the track the next morning…. warm the car up, WARM THE OLD BODY UP and then you’re into it….
A little known fact about you, is that you wear those tiny little shorts for a reason, tell me about your other passion-Rugby league.
I Played all my life, when the family came along I coached the boy. Then I got sick of babysitting teams so I took up refereeing… and I have been doing that for about 15 years now. I got to the highest level you can in NZ… I retired.. Came back outta retirement… And now I just do it to keep fit. [MGN- and counter all those woodstocks]
You must have had some good run ins then with some fairly sizeable lads?
There have been some big guys who have put some pressure on me over the years, and I’m only little but I stand my ground, I’m like a bull dog, I don’t back down. And at the end of the day I’m in charge, I’m the man in the middle and they do what I say. [MGN- sounds like the same attitude that keep you in the seat on that first drag run]
Your daughter Susan or Sudi[ SS-yay….me again!!] as she’s sometimes known is your “back up girl”, is this a bit of a family project?
People who know my family know we all love our sport.. My wife and I have always been involved in some kind of sport. We were always getting involved in our kids sport. Susan dragged me down to the drags one day to help her and Tony out and I got infected with it, and now I just can’t stay away!!!
You’re a car painter by trade, any favourite projects over the years?
There has been too many to think about… The last few years I have been doing a lot of the race cars, I have done a lot of hot rods, I have done a lot of vintage cars. I just finished doing a full restore on a jeep . I’m doing a VW beetle for Edward Fong (DRDRFT) , one of the 4n rotor crew. And I’m also doing a RX3 station wagon for Tony Markovina too. That’s a ground up restoration job… I don’t have any favourites, I just love seeing the end result.
And finally, if you could deliver a message to anyone thinking about doing just what you have and stepping into a car…what would it be in one sentence.
Think about it, then surround yourself with people who know what they are talking about and know what they are doing, be confident, don’t worry about whatifs because if you worry about whatifs you’ll never do it, just get out there and do it.
[SS]: That was a bit more than one sentence…..
Herb: Nah nah…. I didn’t use any full stops or take a breath in there……hahaha
[SS]: Thanks Dad!!!
Herb : good….now go and do the dishes and get me a beer!
So there you have it, 12 rounds with Shane Herbert, who at almost 50 years of age did something that most of us will never get to do in our lifetime, and could run rings around any of us on a football field.
As a special note, Shane actually set an unofficial record during the season at Ruapuna in Christchurch by running a 10.7 something to become the fastest ever 12A rotary powered car in New Zealand. Not a bad effort for a guy just learning the ropes. Pretty sure I maybe saw you on the track at Superlap to??:P
Well done old fella, If I have half the get up and go you do when I get to your age, I think i’ll be doing quite nicely.
Huge Thanks to Speshul Sudi for her efforts as expert interviewer and translator. I found this pic of you being umm “interviewed” by a kind ginga from STM to close off with, it’s a small pic….but this was all about Herb, not you 😛
Welcome to “12 Rounds with”…. a new feature I’m going to run on a semi regular basis.
My first victim is ………..Drum Roll please……(or cue the Indian knight rider song)
Az!!, or Azhar Bhamji , perhaps one of the most recognised faces in the import car scene both in New Zealand and Australia, His friendly manner, ready smile and pure love for all that is the automotive lifestyle have made him a pioneer in the scene, and last year earned him a nomination for “young entrepeneur of the year” at the Indian Business awards.
I wanted to do something that would help give people a greater insight into what makes people within the scene tick, and Az drew the first straw, well actually….that’s a lie…A just comes first in my address book :),so it was off to see Az with a note pad I went.
For all you spelling and grammar Nazis out there, this is Az’s story as he tells it, and I have left his responses largely as he gave them.
Ok, so let’s get started shall we? I will try not to laugh, mock you or call you Gandu 🙂
Everyone knows you as the owner of NFULFX, and more recently as owner and promoter of 4 & Rotary (4&R) ….. but that wasn’t always the case was it? You must have done a few odd jobs to get into the business world, so tell us what gave you your start?
Great question Warren and it sure has been a journey. When I finished at AUT back in 1998 after studying business, I was able to go out and find my first proper job, but being Indian, I would still have to put in extra hours working at the family dairy in the mornings and after a normal days work. So I went out looking for jobs cruising around in my GTI-R pulsar (cars have always been my love) and I bumped into a friend who was working at Ponsonby BP as a manager. He offered me a job and I was more than happy to give this a go. This was my first proper job and I was proud of it.
1 year passed and my uncle bought a branch of books and more in Henderson. I was then told (as we Indians do) to go there and work which I did for nearly 2 years. During this time I also swapped my JZ supra for my Nissan Silvia.
When I won some award at the 2001 4 & R nationals I was then given the opportunity to be introduced to the then event owners Sonja and Darren Baker. I told Darren that I was looking for a job and he referred me to Mag and Turbo New Lynn where I was given the opportunity to start as a tire fitter. Never ever have I ever used a tire machine, I was taught this from my main man Jayden and quickly over the years I worked my way to the sales team. Working beside the best in the market and with my street knowledge [MGN- Yes he actually said Street knowledge], I was able to really make a mark in the game. Not forgetting what Darren Baker had done for me, I asked him if he would need any assistance running his events, to which he said yes. As a volunteer I helped out 4 and Rotary while working fulltime at Mag and Turbo. It was also during this time I had written off my Silvia by hitting a power pole.[MGN- another street drift moment gone wrong huh?] [AB-laughs ]
10 months later and I was on a roll with making great friends, working hard both in the dairy before and after a normal days work at Mag and Turbo and weekends at 4 and rotary. My car, now called NFULFX was taking shape and I handed in my notice at Mag and Turbo to finish off my car. It was at this time I also started to run events for NIX crew and helped bring D1GP into NZ. I also managed to take NZ’s first ever drift team to compete against the world in LA, USA at the Redbull World Champs. By this time I felt I was getting good at organizing events and people were showing me great support.
In 2005 I re-launched NFULFX at the 4 & R nationals where I won the event and also won a Soundstream competition which took me and my car to Las Vegas to show the car at the SEMA and CES convention. [MGN- if you don’t know what that is, it’s pretty much the holy grail of car events]
After coming back from Las Vegas I helped out all of my sponsors with getting them extra work as they helped me get to where I got to with my Silvia. For 5 months straight I was consistently just giving people advice and showing them the cost-effective ways of modifying a vehicle etc.
In 2006, I was called in for a meeting with 4 and Rotary when Sonja and Darren announced that they were expecting their first child. Due to this they also said that they were looking to sell 4 and Rotary and would offer the business to me first as I had helped them out greatly and had a passion for the scene.
So here I am today, 5 years after I bought the event. Just getting the business is a whole other story and another journal of writing. But this is the story about my past and how I got here, so we’ll leave that for another day.
Who has been your biggest influence in the scene, and who did you look up to when you were an emerging event owner?
To tell you the truth, there was really no one that I really looked up to. For me it was the love of the scene, the passion to modify the cars, the love of great friends around me, the help given by my sponsors and mostly the positive feedback I got back from people everywhere I went that motivated me. This is what got me into the scene and what will keep me in the scene
What is the one thing at your events you always forget to do?
There are a few things I forget to do at the events but one is I guess is I always forget to eat and drink as I’m running around like a headless chicken. [MGN- laughs] But you know I’m doing much better now as my crew is the best in the world. They have made my job so much easier and smoother.
[MGN- Even me bro? AB….yes….(sigh) even you]
Managing a team who are all volunteers must be a challenge, how do you manage a team that all have their own likes, dislikes and personalities?
Good question Grump!! [MGN- come on bro, don’t be like that] it’s not an easy task to make everyone 100% happy but I do try. I have always been very open with my crew and I ask the same from them. The crew has been created from their love and passion for the scene, and they came into this event to help me as my friends. Knowing this and understanding personalities, the crew are all usually friends first and if not then they certainly do become friends. For the nearly 6 years that I have owned the events, my crew has been mostly the same, which shows something. My key to managing this, is what goes round must come round. They help me at events and I will always help them with whatever I can in their own personal lives, I will always be there for my crew.
If you won lotto, would you still do 4 & R, and what if anything would you change about the events?
If I won Lotto, I would make every single member of 4 and Rotary crew owners (even the new babies as they are popping out from everywhere) [MGN- not everywhere bro…google that] and I would still run the events with them. The changes would be that the NZ scene has seen nothing yet compared to the ideas and concepts running around in my head. As these events are run with a major personal financial risk factor currently, knowing I just won lotto and money is not a problem, I would give the scene a massive present from me and this is all because of their support they have given me over the years.
Have you got a favorite event since you purchased 4 & R?
V 4 and Rotary Nationals takes nearly 7 months to organize and yet it’s still my favorite. This is the roots of the event, and I’m glad to make it the once a year event to get the whole scene together.
What’s the one thing in the New Zealand industry that has to change in order for it to keep growing?
I wouldn’t really say it needs to change, but I would say to keep believing in it. By keeping the scene positive and giving people inspiration to finish off their projects, and showing love to owner will evolve the scene to new heights. It’s always the love that makes you do it, not money. You will find money from amazing places to finish off the projects you love.
Have you got a top 5 cars that you have seen at your shows over the past 5 years?
There certainly are many top cars and I honestly can’t say that I have a top 5. I have to say that I have loved the owner’s style that goes into making their pride and joy unique to them. Some of my stand outs and I have my own reasons for them: Paul Gibson- Joker Ford Courier, Brendon Gilbert- Mazda rx7, Steve- Mazda r100 Coupe, Clint Draper -DamLo ute, Toni Cook -Mercedes, Glen Sucklings Skyline, Simon Steffeks Mirage, Rod Harveys Datsun, Paul Dowdells Rx8, Brent Curren Rx2 and the list goes on.
How much sleep do you get in the week leading up to, and during an event?
Leading up to the Nationals is scary and sleep is the last thing in my mind. I really only get 5 hours sleep a day I think in the last month leading up to the event and hardly anything at all during the event. So many things are running through my mind including the biggest fear of all, the weather forecast. I have been through tough times with the weather, and with the previous owners who lost out big time [MGN- during the old labour weekend date mostly] and I thank god that I have had a good run so far.
A little known fact about you, is that you once wrote magazine articles, what did you write about it, and did you enjoy it?
Yes a bit funny actually, I know loads about the scene and have experienced many things first hand but my writing skills are a bit second hand, my team sometimes even call it “Azlish”. I was asked to write news articles for Fast Fours magazine years ago and I did fluke a few magazine articles, did I enjoy it, I would say no, but I certainly did give it a go.
Many of us know you are a devout Muslim, how do you manage the challenges of your lifestyle Vs a car world that seems to want to break its rules at almost every turn?
Amen, Yes indeed and proud to be one. I guess being a Muslim, it shows you a path of life. In that path it tells you to be positive and smile as much as you can. Be kind to others and they will surely be kind to you. Help others and they shall help you back. I have had to overcome these challenges by really believing the true intentions from the heart. It’s hard to explain but in simple form, I must say that I intend to keep it a clean, fun, entertaining event for all.
And finally, Azhar Bhamji needs a wife, this is common knowledge……who is she, what qualities would she posses, and what are the 2 most important things she must have?
Haha punk, Yes one day I shall meet the one. There is always someone out there for everyone and in time it will work out. I am picky but I know I am worth it. She needs to be understanding and friendly towards people. The qualities would have to be respect, love and caring. And the 2 most important things she must have is a great personality and smile that will make you love her even more. [MGN- or 2 good firm “personalities” bro?] 🙂
Az, Thanks for your time, good luck with all your events and I look forward to seeing what comes of the future from you and your team.
We are quite blessed in NZ really, We have some fantastic young film makers around the place who do great things with footage that I can’t even comprehend. Guys like Kenny & Brayden from SBPnz, Olly at Taupaki and Jono Drew from Local Knowledge all make stuff really come to life by waving a magic edit wand over it.
So I was intrigued to try my 7d’s film capacity for the first time, and then see what would happen when someone technically incompetent tried using movie maker software and this is what happened.
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One of the things I like about colder weather, is the fact it becomes perfectly acceptable to do little more than blob in a warm place and eat tasty dishes.
We live in a country that produces some fantastic local produce and meat, and I am proud to say I deal to more than my fair share of it 🙂
There is nothing better when its a little chilly, than some meat falling off the bone lamb shanks, with mashed spuds and jus 🙂
I thank Little Ninja Cake Kitchen for their culinary skills, and my belly for continuing to take constant abuse .
You know when you see something for the first time , and it’s just so rough and raw in its presence and style that it’s almost animal like in nature? I imagine it would probably be the feeling rugby coaches had when they first laid eyes on a young Jonah, an emerging Victor Vito or my old mate Jerry Collins.
Well if you were to apply that logic to drifting, there would be one name that would immediately spring to mind , Niko Reid. The young man from the South of Auckland attacks a drift course with a raw fearless nature, with little respect for machine or thought of self-preservation and with his battle opponent simply someone to be hunted down and dealt with. If you recall Jonah vs England, We’ll Niko largely steamrolled the D1NZ rookie field this year in much the same manner.
I recall laying eyes on Niko behind the wheel for the first time at an event, and its clear that having a car crazy old man is not such a bad thing as not only can “Neekz” drive a Rwd pretty well, he’s also a pretty dab hand behind the wheel of a 9 second drag mirage, or the “drive car” 10 sec capable 22b wrx.
The SSS/HnF team have shown love for 4 & R over the past few years, So Niko also appeared this year getting loose in the NAC live drift arena.
While it will inevitably take a little time for Niko to come up to the level required to consistently to be on the podium regularly in D1NZ, notice has been served to the field and I fully expect a solid number of top 8s at least initially from team SSS once the new season rolls around .
Good luck for the next season Young Buck, and with a new hardcore chariot in the works….the old guard need to firmly be on their game. Welcome to the new era of NZ drifting.
Niko Reid Drift Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Niko-Reid-Drift/145230015549382
Been up since 4am, can’t sleep.
Big presentation today and it must be weighting on my mind since apparently I have been talking in my sleep about it too.
I just need a break I think…..perhaps I can go back here 🙂
Meet “Llanaaq” , this is the inukshuk at the top of the mountains at Whistler. A weeks riding would really go down a treat right now.
Just a couple of other images of the infamous GLC drops, and the view looking back from the lift at Whistler village.