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The master: an interview with Mike Gearing [Part Two]

18 September 2017



Mike Gearing is one of the biggest names in local drag racing history, but who is he? We talked with Mike to discover his contribution to drag racing in New Zealand, and discuss his incredible accomplishments from a lifetime spent in the workshop

Although Mike Gearing’s name may not trigger the instant recognition of Garth Hogan and Pete Lodge, the man is a bona fide legend of New Zealand drag racing and hot rodding. We were fortunate enough to be able to interview Mike about his life and accomplishments, with part one of our interview running in last month’s issue of NZV8. That section covered Mike’s early life, leading up to his entry into hot rodding, his behind-the-scenes work in helping to bring New Zealand’s first purpose-built drag strip into existence, his self-taught accomplishments with engine building and nitro-fuelled dragsters, and his current life and times, as he passes his immense knowledge on to his protégé, Reece Fish. 

Chronologically, the timeline of part one of our interview finished with Mike Gearing’s first rear-engine dragster being destroyed, and him breaking his back after crashing Kevin Dolores’ altered at Thunderpark. This section begins with the completion of Mike’s second dragster — much like his first, a rear-engine Hemi-powered dragster on nitro. 

NZV8: What was the next dragster you built?
Mike Gearing (MG): Oh, I got [Grahame] Berry to build me another car.

So, you’ve always been a rear-engine kind of guy?
Yes. I’d read a lot about Don Garlits — there’s a magazine over there that I took to the States and got him to sign for me — and I built my car based on the information in hot rod magazines. You learn by doing, and you’re never too old to make a mistake. 

What kind of motor did you run in your second rear-engine dragster?
It started with a 392, and, eventually, I went to a 426. I’d found an engine somebody in Dargaville had out of a jet boat or something, so I bought it and converted it. It had a new Hilborn four-hole bug catcher on it — like the Enderle-style bug catcher not the downdraught type. I sold that, because I had an Enderle set-up. I studied up on 426s, and they’re way stronger than 392s, physically. With a 392, you never run more than 33 degrees in the ignition timing, because the rod angle is bad. If you ran more than 33 degrees load on the cylinder wall that the piston was being fired against, you’d push the piston through the cylinder wall. When Garlits was approached by Chrysler to run 426s at the beginning of the 426 era, he based his runs on the same principle as the 392 — 33 degrees max — but it didn’t do well. He got to a point at which he said, “I’m going back to 392s, but I’m going to kill this 426 first.” So he put 45 [degrees] in it, and it ran better. Then he put 55, and it went like Jack the Bear. It was all by accident!

So, he was pioneering his engine development in the way you were over here?
Well, I just read books. 

Could you pick up on valuable or useful information from the States, even if you weren’t using the same equipment?
Garth [Hogan] was a good source of information but other times not so much. We went to Christchurch one time — well, we’d only ever raced at Meremere and Thunderpark, and the racetrack surface at Ruapuna was different. I was struggling; I did wheel stands. That’s all in the clutch, and, to fix the problem, you can go in two directions, completely opposite from one another. It was a televised event, and I had a sponsor, so I made sure [that] I had my sponsor’s name everywhere I could put it — I even put a sign in the grass by the start line — and I made a big change, but it was the wrong one. Instead of carrying the wheels to here, it went like that [points up] — I just saw blue sky. 

How did you fix that?
Well, I bent the front axle and had square front wheels. I brought the car back to Auckland and rebuilt it — the chassis was bent a little bit. 

Have you always used Grahame Berry for your chassis fabrication?
There’s only ever been two cars, and Berry built the chassis and the bodywork in both of them. He’s a very talented man. 

There’s a photo of your dragster covered in flames — what’s going on there?
That was in the ’70s. The main photographer of [New Zealand] Hot Rod mag was Allan Porter, and he wanted to do a poster. We called them a ‘flame burnout’. So, we brought the car out and put a bucket of fuel and glue down. Then, Allan got a stepladder and focused on that bucket. Somebody picked up the bucket and moved it about 20 feet, and that’s where I positioned the car. The racing had obviously finished for the day, as my bottle of wine is resting on the guardrail [laughs]! Allan took the photo, but it was out of focus for blowing up, so the poster never got made. 

Allan Porter must have quite a lot of photos of you from back then, has he?
Yes. He used to send strips of little tiny photos of each race meeting to you, and you could pick out the ones you wanted. There’s boxes of them here; this is one of his photos — in the old car park in Manukau where Farmers is now. That’s my new dragster — I had a Bathurst Monaro, a 327 — and my ’32 Ford. 

Aside from the dragsters, you must have had some pretty cool street cars in your time?
Yes, and some not so cool [laughs]. Well, I did have an Austin. I bought a flathead V8 from a fellow called George. He had a garage off Newton Road towards the Symonds Street end, and he used to race. He had a flathead with the cam lobes braised up, and it was knackered — but I didn’t know the difference, and I bought it. I was working with somebody in the bakehouse stacking bread, and this guy had an Austin 14 six-cylinder, leather seats, and all that sort of stuff, and it kicked a rod out. So, I bought it for a few pounds. The engine bay had splash pans, and the part of the engine block that fell out was just sitting in the splash pan. So, I went and found another con rod and piston, made them fit, found the bits that fell out, put them back together with some bog, and screwed it to the side of the block; that lasted for about six months. 

That engine died, and I had this flathead V8, so I decided I’d put it into the Austin 14. The motor was knackered; when I drove up a hill, the engine fumes were so bad that I had to drive with my head out the window! I remember driving up one of the streets off Queen Street, and there was a cop at the side of the road, giving somebody a ticket. The cop looked at me, and he just shook his head.

So, that was in the ’60s, and I was still building my roadster. On the strength of that build, I was offered a job at the engine shop. Later, [when Mike was heavily involved with the NZHRA] I had a sit-down with the boss, who basically said, “It isn’t gonna work, Mike; you either gotta be here or you’re not.”

“Well, OK,” I said, “I’m not.” [This period of Mike’s life is covered in greater detail in part one of the interview.]

From that point in the ’60s until now, how has the life of Mike Gearing been, outside of cars, racing, and the workshop? 
It hasn’t, really. It all happens in the workshop [laughs]! I’ve spent most of my life here. I’m not working now, but I still come here every day and potter around. I don’t get a lot done, because I’m dead slow, and it’s so painful. [Mike broke his back in a drag racing accident. You can read about it in part one of the interview.] You might notice that I’ve got seats all over the workshop; I work for 10 minutes, sit down for five minutes. If I can work sitting down, I do. If I’m working on an engine, I can rotate the engine so I can work on it sitting down. I gave the place a tidy-up this morning; I swept the floor, and that nearly killed me! 

What are you currently working on? You’ve got your own ’32 … 
Yes, that’s my primary deal. I just did some free work for Reece [Fish]; he’s building a blown small block Chev for somebody. I’m retired but people still want me to do stuff, mostly as favours. Jennine Smyth’s motor has been in the pipeline for eight or nine years. I went to Bonneville with Jennine and her partner, John Marshall, in 2010.

Speaking of Bonneville, when did that take place? 
In 2008. I had four engines at Bonneville, which was a first for me — and I think it was probably a first for any Kiwi to have four engines in four different cars at Bonneville at the same time. I thought I’d better see what the place is like. So, I crossed over and watched what was happening, and you get hooked on the place — it’s got quite a magnetic pull.

You’ve been back since?
Yes. I went in ’08, with my first two crew chiefs, Grant Potter and Richard Wakelin; ’10, again with Grant, and Jennine and John; and ’13, when my wife, Norma, and I took an overland trip ending up at Indianapolis for the US Nationals. 

How did things fall into place for you to build the motors for all of these cars?
I’ve been building cars for the Harris family from Napier for 25 years or more. Actually, I’ve been here 29 years, and I was building for them in Panama Road, so it’s probably 35 years for the same family — Harris Family Racing, just like Fish Family Racing. 

Were all four cars for Harris Family Racing, or just the one?
No, they were all different cars. Of course, Chris Harris raced at Bonneville shortly after I did this [gestures at photo of himself in hospital]. He got loose and spun. I think he put the chute out, and, somehow, it got wrapped around the car, which rolled, and he ended up in a wheelchair. Chris’ son, Linc, now takes the wheel of their Bonneville roadster — a very sensible driver. 

Was it around the ’80s that you began doing land-speed engines?
I did whatever people brought down the driveway. I did blowers for a guy who raced trucks. He took them to Bonneville, and it didn’t work because they were turbo’d as well as supercharged. It was a 92 [Detroit Diesel Series], a V16 — thousands of horsepower, but the [supercharger] rotors were about this long. 

I suggested to him that we buy billet rotors, but they didn’t work. There was so much pressure going in with the turbos feeding them, and the air temperature was so high — Bonneville’s a mile high, and the ambient temperature is 40 degrees, plus the air’s thin — that it blew up. 
I once did some heads for a guy who raced trucks down here in Pukekohe — put them on the flow bench and played with them. I’ve done a lot of work for speedway cars, stock cars, marine stuff, motorbikes, and so on.

Have you had to learn each different application? 
Yes, whatever it takes. An engine’s an air pump, that’s all. To make more power, the trick is to get more air in and out of the motor in the same amount of time.

How was building a motor for Bonneville then?
It’s a learning curve, because of the ambient temperature and the height. I’ll build the motor and they take it somewhere and get it tuned. In ’08, for example, I built the motor for Chris Harris — it was a Ford Cleveland — and they supplied all the parts, but I discovered that the rings they were using were very-low-tension oil rings. 

I rang Chris and said to him, “There’s three levels of tension — standard, low, and light. You’ve got light oil rings. They’ve only got seven pounds [of] pull.”  I’d done my homework and told him, “You need a vacuum pump, otherwise it will burn oil — the rings won’t work.”

He said, “I’m not going to put a vacuum pump on it.” He took it to the dyno here at sea level, ambient temperature of 27 degrees, using 50W oil, and ran it up. He rang me up when it was done and said, “Dry as a bone, mate, dry as a bone. Thank you.” Took it to Bonneville, changed the oil to Redline 30W for a few more horsepower, but it glazed the bores. I was there and he told me, “Thank you, Mike. You told me, mate, but I shot myself in the foot on that one.” The next year, we fitted a dry-sump system, which basically creates a vacuum in the sump, and that worked just fine. 

Ouch. As far as work is concerned, what has been the biggest challenge for you? 
MG: Biggest problem — bottom line — normally money. Reece is not scared of spending money, but we did that clean-sheet-of-paper motor and it didn’t work. The theory went out the window — in practice, it melted pistons. On the dyno it ran, but, on the racetrack, it hurt itself. We are talking modest horsepower back then — 1500, wasn’t it?

Reece Fish (RF): Yes, I think it was — it made about 1000[hp] at the wheels, so we’re talking 1300, 1400 … 

MG: Now he makes 2000-plus [horsepower] — the dyno is a 2000 limit, isn’t it?

RF: Carl [Jensen]’s one, yes. It’s made 1860[hp] at the rear wheels, which is like 2600[hp] at the flywheel.
MG: That’s crazy, you know. I used to carry that sign up there [points] around the racetracks and shows and everything. It states, “It will make 1000 to 2000 horsepower, depending on the type and percentage of fuel used.”

RF: It’s what is in the details. People only see what’s on the surface, and the stories that get regurgitated around town. There’s a lot of Chinese whispers. It will start off as the true story, and, by the time it’s done the round[s] for six months, it’s completely different. It’s all the small things — you can make 2000 [horsepower] like my Chev motor, and that’s been together three or four years now; I haven’t really touched it. That’s a 2500hp engine, but you can drive around on the street, and you don’t touch it for four or five years. That was unheard of 10 years ago. 

MG: We’ve learned that, with the premium components — in the reciprocating assembly and the valvetrain — every single part is essential. Those parts are not in there for looks.

RF: You learn what works.

Mike did mention earlier that you’ve learned most of what he knows, and how to do what he does.
MG: Reece is going to start building engines big time. He knows how to use every machine in my shop, and he recently went over to Australia to buy a full machine shop. 

It’s great that you’ve been able to pass on what you know, Mike. You can’t help but wonder whether that sort of innovation — that logical approach to problem solving — will continue to be passed on. 
RF: The problem with the younger generation today is that they don’t take it in. You show them something — not even automotive related, just anything — and they entirely forget it. They don’t give a toss; there’s just this whole ‘uggggh’ attitude. 

You’ve proven your ability, Reece. Engine building seems to be a natural path for you. How’s the top fueller going?
RF: What I’ve done is just a shadow of where Garth Hogan and Mike were years ago. 

It must have been hard to do what they were doing back then — is it hard to do that nowadays?
RF: Yes, well, Mike did it on a shoestring budget, racing with what was there, and, as I did, you get help from a few people, but 90 per cent of it comes down to money. Now it falls onto my shoulders, as it did on Mike’s shoulders. When you look at the likes of Garth Hogan, back when Mike was racing, he had a much bigger budget, and he was willing to spend it.

MG: Garth ran 90-per-cent nitro, and not a problem. He’d go to the States, and come back with the latest trick stuff. Every time! I was running stuff I’d made, 45-per-cent [nitro]. First time I ran 50-per-cent, or 53-per-cent, with a three-speed, I had the combination so right that the car left the line so hard I had no idea what was happening. We didn’t have 60-foot times when I was racing, but what’s your best, Reece? Eight something?

RF: Eight-seventy something — 0.87. 

MG: It left so hard, you [would] nearly black out. 

Do you have any sort of accelerometer or anything to tell you this sort of stuff?
RF: Oh, the track tells you — the data in the car tells you how quick you go, the front wheel speed sensors and stuff. It’s doing 100mph at 0.8 of a second. 

MG: You go from zero to 100mph in less than one second. 

How did your times compare with Garth Hogan’s, Mike?
MG: Oh, I was quicker than him — in the beginning. One time in Hastings, at Thunderpark, we were racing and they had a late licence for the local pub to be open or something, so my crew went out for drinks. I stayed back at the motel, or hotel, or whatever it was, and worked on the car, ’cause there were little jobs that needed to be done. Then I went to bed, and the rest of the crew came in around 1am, woke me up, and said, ‘Hey mate, we’ve got a message from Garth. He says if you want to compete from here on in, you’re gonna have to sell your house’ — and he meant it. 

So, money isn’t necessarily a substitute for ability or drive?
Yes, well, I was on a limited budget compared to Garth. Garth bankrolled my operation. I’d buy parts from him, and he’d say, “Pay me when you can.” When I quit racing, I still owed him money — it took me about two years to pay off my debts to him, but I gave him extra for helping me out. We’ve got great respect for each other and a friendship off the track. But on the track, he’d play with your mind every time. 

The number-one key to good racing, isn’t it?
Yes. Back in those days, we used to do glue burnouts. Then you’d do a hop, and maybe you’d do two burnouts — you’d plan it beforehand. Then we would go out to race and he would do something different. Played with your mind. 

Did it work?
No, because I was running low horsepower; I didn’t have to worry about my engine overheating or anything, because it was not making a lot of power. Back then, the knowledge [that] we had about tuning was limited. There was no data logging or anything. The only instruments I had in my race car were an oil-pressure gauge and an on–off switch for the ignition. That was it. 

What sort of track data were you getting? Was it just ET and mph?
Yep. Back in those days, you had to have a trap — it was 132 feet; 60-something feet either side of the finish line — so you’d drive it out the back door, keep your foot into it until you’d passed the last light, way past the finish line, because that would influence the average at the trap. At Meremere, in the left-hand lane, you do that and the car leaves the ground. I’ve got pictures of my whole car off the ground. Then, when it comes down, it doesn’t just come down; it comes down like this [gestures wildly in one direction]. 

Reaction times weren’t measured?
MG: No, we didn’t have reaction times, either. I was good at leaving. I was a good leaver. He’s good [looks at Reece]. 

RF: You have that mindset when you know [that] your gear is not as good as that of the guy in the other lane. You know you have to take every advantage you can.

You’ve been in it long enough to be good at it, too? 
RF: Oh, yes, as Mike said earlier, I met him just after I bought my Chev, [discussed in part one] and it was probably a year later that I first took it to the drag strip. It’s got a lot of history, that car. 
MG: It’s been a pleasure to be involved with Fish Family Racing. It’s a pity that we didn’t achieve what we were aiming for, but some of it comes down to luck — luck plays a big part.

You said the Chev’s blown motor was operating on the limit; it must be even harder running 8000hp on the limit?
RF: It’s all in the tune-up.
MG: The bottom line is the bottom line. That sums it up. 

RF: I’ve bought some better parts for my top fuel car than Bob Shepherd had, but they’re still light years behind what Tony [Marsh] has got, and what competitive top fuel cars have nowadays. 

But you haven’t given up on it?
RF: We’ll still run our four-second pass. That’s the goal with the car. We’ll get there. 

MG: Watching Carl [Jensen] perform under pressure — he’s very clever and good at it. It’s a struggle, because the seat time, or the race time, that we get in an entire season is what Americans would do in one weekend. So, you’re limited in your ability to learn, if you’re doing it off your own back, unless you pay somebody from America to come over and do it for you. That’s what Marsh does. 

It’s got to be a lot more satisfying to know, when you run a four, that it was done entirely by local knowledge, talent, and ability? 
MG: Yep. You apply what knowledge you’ve got, what experience you’ve got. When I’m down there, Carl comes up and asks me questions. I’m out of touch with current electronic stuff, but the basic principles stay the same. It comes down to the clutch and the fuel system — always has, always will. The engine’s just a device that goes up and down, around and around, to get you down the racetrack. It is the clutch and the fuel system that keep it alive and use what it makes. 

It’s got to a point now at which the mechanical strength is limited. A crankshaft’s only good for two or three runs in America; a blower’s gotta be rebuilt every run, and so on, and so on. Rods and pistons get biffed after so many runs. You either love it or you hate it; it’s an addiction. 

We’re yet to meet someone who hates it.
Yes, well, you’re right. You either can afford it or you can’t, is what it comes down to. It got to a point in the end for me that it was becoming a chore. I had made a wooden tool cage to go over the roll cage. It had holes on each side for all the tools so people could do their job. In the last season or two, I actually wrote in felt-tip pen, “Are we having fun yet?” You’re on an endless treadmill. If you keep doing the same thing, you won’t go quicker. With any human endeavour, if you want to improve, you don’t keep doing the same thing. It’s the same with engine building. 

What are your thoughts on drag racing currently, Mike? Was it more fun, more exciting back then?
Oh, yes. The ’70s were perfect because we all started off the same. The drag strip was new; we were new. There was some other drag racing but nothing serious. You all started off at the same level. The ones who were able to get ahead got ahead.
And that’s why we’ve got names like Mike Gearing, Garth Hogan, and so on, who have made it into the history books?
Yeah, there were a lot of good racers. Pete Lodge was the first, with his Baloo — but in the wrong car; it took balls to drive that thing. 

It sounds like he had them.
Oh, yes. Cub Roberts was another one. Cub was a good racer. He had an altered at one point, then he went to a rear-engine dragster — a fuel dragster. I think the best weekend he ever had was one time when I wasn’t racing and Athol [Williams] and I ended up crewing for him. We got him staging properly — it’s all in the people you surround yourself with. With us helping him, he did his best times. 

The crew should know what the driver’s going to be doing — for example, I’m gonna do one burnout, back up, do another hop, all of that. Cub did an extra dry hop, and one of his crew got picked up by a rear tyre and thrown in the air.
You could never get away with something like that now.

Once you’re strapped in the seat, the people around you are in control of you. I told Reece that, way back. It’s your butt, and your money.

Do you still go to the drags?
When Reece is racing, at Nostalgias, and at Father’s Day — that’s about it; I can’t be bothered with the other meetings. You asked me what I thought of the state of drag racing. Well, I think it’s dysfunctional at the moment; it’s broken up into two — NZDRA and IHRA. I spent five or six years of my life doing committee meetings and stuff like that, to promote drag racing and hot rodding in New Zealand. That was the ultimate aim of [the] NZHRA — to protect and improve — yet, 30 or 40 years down the track, it’s broken up. What I see is a conflict of personalities and that people got greedy. The governing body was asking for too much money. It was personalities and rules, and the country’s too small. It really annoyed me. 

Garth got to me some years ago, just before Reece got his dragster. He was going to write an open letter to the hot rodding fraternity, and he wanted some big names to be attached to it — would I support it? So, I did some homework, spoke to a few people, and in the end I just rang Garth back and said, “Garth, I’m sorry, but I’m heavily involved with Reece and what he’s going to be doing. If I take a stance either way, it might influence his ability to race at this track or that track, so I’ll just sit on the fence.” 

So, it’s not really worth your trouble, to get involved?
Well, I’m out of it, to be honest. It still bugs me. I went to so many meetings, and spent hours and hours of years of my life having these discussions. When I quit racing, the Pukekohe Hot Rod Club asked me would I be the area steward for the next season. I said I’d give it a go. I was the area steward, and we had to have a meeting to go through some rules. It brought back all the memories of all the stuff I used to sit through. We’d sit there, and we’d argue about the meaning of one word in a sentence, for hours — countless hours. When I went back as the area steward, it just brought back the memories. You start talking about the meaning of one phrase, or word, or whatever — ’cause it can have an influence, I guess. 

You must have had your fun outside of meetings, though — cruising Queen Street in your hot rod or whatever you got up to then?
Yes, we cruised Queen Street in the ’60s. I remember a couple of things about cruising Queen Street. One time, I had my buddy, Maurice Campbell, with me, and there were these two hot chicks in miniskirts. We were idling just behind them, close enough to hear them talking, and one girl said to the other, “Look at that neat hot rod!”, and the other girl said, “Yeah, and look at the two old farts in it!”

That’s my favourite nickname. Everybody says, ‘How’re you doing?’ I reply, ‘Oh, not bad for an old fart!’ 

I suppose you’re qualified to be called one these days?
Yes, well — we’ve got an Apple device that allows us to watch YouTube. It’s a self-learning thing. I watch a bit of drag racing, and they’ve got these Legends of NHRA Drag Racing. One of them is Bob Glidden, Pro Stock builder and driver. Well, the interviewer said to him, “You were really good, you were a genius”, and so on, and he said, “No, I’m just an old fart.” 

Maybe, but he probably knows a lot more than most people — just like yourself.
I’ve stopped learning; I’ve stopped learning new stuff. But Reece taxes my memory. I go back and look at my records of engine stuff, because I’ve got boxes of paperwork. When I built an engine, I’d get a school exercise book and write everything down — the details, measurements, planning, and everything. 

Is it a lot more complex than when you started, now that there are so many options for off-the-shelf parts? 
No, it’s the same basic principles. Parts selection is a big thing — you’ve got to get the right parts, the correct parts. It comes down to matching the correct parts. Don’t build a 1000hp top end and put it on a 300hp bottom end. It’s like building a house. You don’t build a five-storey house on the foundations for a one-storey house because it would fall over. Every single part in an engine is there for a reason, not because it looks nice or it’s shiny. 

As far as planning went, how was it back before you could get a whole catalogue of parts? 
Oh, back in the ’60s, there was no such thing as speed shops or catalogues. You made everything. 

You mentioned earlier that you used International pistons in your hot rod’s Cadillac engine. Was there a lot of repurposing? 
Those pistons were the correct size and compression height — I must have found that information somewhere — but I had to bore the block out 3∕16 of an inch, which basically killed it. Then you’d find bearings — there were catalogues for normal replacement engine building stuff, not race stuff. There’s always been catalogues for Repco, or whatever, and you’d just go through and look at the numbers. If you had to make something fit, you did.

Where does John Lindesay come into the picture? Thanks for helping to make this interview happen, John. 
John Lindesay: Oh, I’m just a mate — just a friend. I was involved in the building of the drag strip. I had my own cars, built my own cars, then got out of it. Ran out of money, spent every single cent. Got married, had kids — and then I was fortunate enough to get involved with Reece and get back involved with Mike. I was around when Mike had his accident at Thunderpark — that was pretty nasty — and saw him in hospital. Then, I drifted away from it all; you’ve got other things going on in your life.

MG: Which reminds me. The property over the road is tenanted. A few months ago, I was putting out the recycling, and a guy was standing in the driveway having a cup of tea. He saw me, came trotting over, and said, “Hey, how are you doing?” Then he asked me what the rules were about putting the recycling out, and I explained what the situation was. By that time I was really tired, leaning on the recycling bin. 

I said, “Excuse me, I can’t keep standing up; I gotta lean. I had a big accident way back, at Thunderpark.” He said, “Oh, what’s your name?” 
“It’s Mike.”
“What, Mike Gearing? I was there on that day!” 

I don’t know how I survived it. Chris Harris and I talked about it last week. He rolled, broke his back, and is in a wheelchair. He ain’t stupid; he’s a very smart man. He’s full of knowledge. We talked about that, you know. We both crashed at the same speed — 200mph, somewhere around there — but I’m walking and he ain’t. 

It’s gotta make you grateful for the small things. Thank you for your time, Mike. 
I’m hoping my memory hasn’t played any tricks on me — apologies if that’s the case!

It was a pleasure to be able to speak with a man like Mike Gearing, and even after the two-hour interview transcript, it’s clear that what we’ve covered in our two-part interview barely scratches the surface of Mr Gearing’s accomplishments. It is, at the same time, reassuring to know that his knowledge is in safe hands as Reece Fish continues his legacy with his engine building career.

Our thanks to Mike Gearing and Reece Fish for taking the time to be interviewed, John Lindesay for making it happen, and Allan Porter for supplying original photographs. 


This article originally appeared in NZV8 magazine issue No. 147 — to get your grubby mitts on a print copy, click the cover below: