Let’s Talk – With Chris Cowling

Years racing: 15
Home track: 
Baypark Speedway
Feature wins: 
A couple here and there
Classes raced:
Saloons & Super Saloons

Sponsors: Tauranga ITM, Base Up, PermaPine, Les Harrison Hiabs, Fortress Fastners, GIB, Tune Up, Performance Autos, Colin Amrein Contracting, Performance Engineering Specialists, Fastmaster

When did you start racing and how did you get into it?  I grew up in the sport as Dad (Maurice) was racing before the day I was born.  Both me and my brother (Steve) spent our younger years running around under the old Baypark ground stands and eventually ended up helping crew for Dad while he was in the Super Saloon class. From memory it was during the 2007/08 season when Steve and I were working for Dad, he came over to us and asked who was driving this weekend.  We were both too old for Ministocks so our first experience was in his Super Saloon at the new Baypark.  It was hugely different from watching from the grandstands all those years.

What classes have you run over the years?  I started a short stint in the Super Saloon class before moving to Saloons.  The real reason for the change was I ran out of talent (because I had none at the time) and ended up crashing the car heavily into the turn 2 wall at Baypark.  The impact ended up snapping the chassis, so Steve and I brought an absolute lemon of a saloon to finish out the season to learn some basics.  Over the years we improved and were able to achieve a lot in the Saloon class, after time we decided to move back to the Super Saloon class and try our luck again.

What are you most proud of in your racing career?  Being able to carry on the family name in the sport after our dad.  

What titles have you received while racing?  I’ve been fortunate to achieve quite a few but some of the more memorable ones are…

Saloon

  • 1NZ (3 times)
  • 3NZ (1)
  • North Island Saloon Champion (1)
  • NZ Grand Prix Champion (2)
  • Saloon Speedweek Champion (5)

Super Saloon

  • 2NZ (2 times)
  • North Island Super Saloon Champion (2)
  • NZ Grand Prix Champion (3)
  • Burger King Pro Dirt Series Champion (3)

What is your all-time favourite track to race at and why? Baypark.  The pace of the place is such a rush and the battles on track are second to none.

What are you currently doing in the off-season and how do you prepare mentally and physically for this sport?  Mainly keeping busy with work and adjusting to life as a dad.  I really don’t do too much physically but do tend to find myself watching you tube videos of previous seasons races to fill in some time

What do you hope to achieve next season?  My goal would be to get 1nz in both the Saloon and Super Saloon classes but ultimately to place well at any of the championships will be our target.

What characteristics do you think are important to becoming successful in racing? Patience…I’ve found this to be an important characteristic behind the wheel but one that isn’t always to achieve when you’re out there in the battle. 

What is happening with your car in the off-season any major changes we should look out for once the season starts? We are always developing, looking for that edge so we have a few changes going on in the shed which we are excited to try out.  They may work or may not, but time will tell.

Speedway racing can be fast and dangerous, looking out toward the fans, what do you think is one thing the fans will never understand until they are behind the wheel of a race car?

What is your favourite race on the NZ race calendar? Most likely the NZ title.  It brings together the best field and the event itself has a different hype about it.  You just know everyone is there for a purpose.

Who do you admire most in motorsport and why?  My Dad.  His influence and guidance have been huge for me and Steve’s career. He has a wealth of knowledge and I admire the fact he offers this to help others in the sport.

Let’s talk about Baypark Speedway,

  • What made you decide to run the Mighty M?  M is home.  Dad ran the M for many years, so we were always going to carry that on.
  • What do you think of the changes and the way direction the speedway is moving? A lot of good ideas and the direction over this past season has been better so a massive positive.  I applaud anyone that puts the time and effort in to make the place better and there seems to be some good ideas to come so I’m excited to see more.
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  • What would you like to see improve for both the speedway and your class? Professionalism mixed with family in mind.  We need to run a good show and look after the fans and future drivers for our sport.  Get the drivers interacting with the crowd more during a race night.

Tell us about your sponsors, what kind of business they run and the support you get from them.

We have many sponsors across a range of services that help us out, each in their own way but they all play a key part in keeping us going. 

Permapine for your poles, Base Up for your retaining and house floor Tauranga ITM for your house materials, Les Harrison Hiabs to deliver your goods, Tune Up for your vehicle maintenance, Fortress Fasteners for your nuts and bolts, Performance Autos for the best motors, Colin Amrein Contracting for your excavation, Fastmaster for all your racegear, Performance Engineering for all your engineering needs.

We know sponsors play a big part but so do crews and families, tell us about your support team?

We have a tribe behind us.  From the OG guys that helped dad back when he was racing to all the friends and family we have now helping and supporting us.  Dad is the big cheese for the whole tribe and puts a ton into the team along with Brad and Dan in the shed….everyone involved is a massive help. My partner Caitlin is another superstar juggling being a mum, supporting me and racing herself!

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Final words …… What would you like to say to your fans and the wider speedway community?

Keep supporting your local dirt track and drivers.  We all love getting out there and the bigger the crowd / atmosphere the better the meeting. 

Get the kids involved and down to the pits, it’s a great feeling seeing them in the cars and interacting with the drivers.