BackyardBeauts

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Brad Johnston does what the rest of his family loves – he races cars.

The 25-year-old, who hits the speedway in production class, got his first taste of racing when he was just three days old and his parents took him to a track.

“We got out of the hospital and apparently me and mum got on a plane and we were in Christchurch, at [Ruapuna] speedway,” says Johnston, who lives in Arrowtown but works in Queenstown.

“It’s sort of in the blood.”

He used to race the vehicle his older brother Greig – who also likes speed and moved from production to super saloon class last year – customised and passed on.

But last year Brad decided to make his own production saloon – a standard road car with interiors and glass removed, then fitted with a roll cage and racing seatbelts.

He bought a Honda Civic in May and spent his spare time in his parents’ “extremely cold garage” customising it.

After putting finishing touches to the vehicle last December, he promptly took it to Cromwell’s Central Motor Speedway for its first outing.

Johnston says his first self-built car had a “few teething problems” at that meet – which he’s ironing out – but reckons the effort’s worth it.

“It’s rewarding, because you put the effort into it and you build it to your own specifications. The car’s built for me.”

What’s in the garage?

My speedway car, two Honda Civics – one’s road, one’s racing – and a 1979 Toyota Corolla SR Coupe, which I’ve got in storage.

First car?

The 1979 Corolla – I got it off a mate, I was 15 at the time and bought it for $2500. Now the value’s about six grand.

Learner-driver highlight?

As soon as I got my restricted, when I was 16, I drove everywhere by myself. I used to drive down to Invercargill every weekend to Polytech.

What are you like behind the wheel?

Relaxed – I don’t really speed on the straights but I make up my time on the corners.

Best road to motor on locally?

Probably Queenstown to Cromwell because it’s got lots of corners on it.

Worst driving habit?

Picking out the flaws of everybody else. 

Best road trip?

It was with the family in 2000 – my parents, brother and sister and I. We drove from Perth across the Nullabor in a campervan, via Adelaide and Melbourne, and ended up in Sydney.

It took us about two weeks, averaging 700-800 kilometres a day.

There wasn’t much to see – we didn’t see one wild kangaroo the whole time we were there.

Where can I find a free park in town?

Anywhere – just don’t get caught.

You’ve won Lotto, you’d buy which car?

A ’57 Chevy or a ’67 SS Chevy Camaro. Or a Super Saloon.

Road rage – what gets your goat?

When other people don’t indicate or they’re going slow on the corners.

Funniest thing you’ve seen while driving?

Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve seen was a lady in a station wagon.

She had a ladder in it, poking out the side door facing oncoming traffic. It’s not a smart thing to do.

What my car says about me?

I don’t brake and I pass on the outside.