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A surprising racing driver

Audrey Hutcheon - 27/07/2010


Meet Audrey, an elegantly dressed lady, and to your surprise, you will find she is 85. She is still driving her car and enjoys driving.

Audrey beside her car.
Audrey beside her car.
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What will surprise you more is the fact that Audrey in the 1940s was driving a racing car.

In writing of these years Audrey describes the pleasure she had in driving a racing car.

I'm going to write you a story of a young married woman with one child aged about three years old. The young woman was in her early 20s and was married to Bert Wheeler who was in the Army. He was five years older than she was. The year was 1945. It was at the time of the Second World War.

We were foundation members of the Canterbury Car Club and also took part in racing at Wigram.

Those were the days, we had fun, good clean fun, no drugs, just a love of cars. We had an MG. Recently this car has been restored to its original condition.

The restored MG in 2010
The restored MG in 2010
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My husband's brother had an MG sales service and there used to be people coming from all over to get knowledge and help. He had a workshop where he lived at 237 Lyttelton Street, Spreydon. I grew to love driving an MG. I had my licence at 18.

We went to Hill Climbs in Dunedin and racing in Caryll Street. The street would be closed off for a standing quarter mile.

Racing in the standing quarter mile I am wearing goggles  no helmets then.
Racing in the standing quarter mile I am wearing goggles no helmets then.
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We went to Nelson every Christmas and New Year for races on Tahuna Beach. It was always crowded. We would camp around by the reservoir. Here you got more sandflies, because of the trees, but it was quieter and peaceful in the heat.

Audrey driving at Tahuna Beach
Audrey driving at Tahuna Beach
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In Christchurch we even had racing behind the causeway at McCormacks Bay on the way to Sumner and up on the Cashmere Hills.

There were trials on a Saturday night out in the country, and two cars always had an envelope to tell us the destination in case we got lost. It was important in our case, because we had food we had baked for our supper in our car boots. We would end up at a country hall for a dance. Another friend and I who were on the committee always seem to end up in the kitchen. She was Monica Green and married to Hec Green, a well-known racing driver from that time. My husband Bert complained that he couldn't ever get me to have a dance with him because I was in the kitchen. Some helped out more than others.

Monica and I didn't drink so we had clear heads, and what fun we had!

Among my photos there is one of my being presented with a cup and a corsage of flowers at the Christchurch club rooms. As you can see I was very shy at that time.

Audrey receiving a presentation
Audrey receiving a presentation
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In the group there were Don and Dorrie Ransley, Halsley and Audrey Logan from Nelson, Delby Drewery, Stan and Dot Johnothan (he had a caravan place in Papanui Rd), Olive and Fred Sharman, Olga and Harold Bandy, Vic and Zelma Neece, the Archibald brothers, the Stanton brothers, Bob Bradford, Buck Sheridan and Jack Brewer. In Dunedin we stayed with Sybil and Percy Lupp.

I think there is a dare-devil in me somewhere although I am curtailed a bit now. I once enquired about flying a plane, but the classes were too expensive. I'd like to go down in a parachute, but I was put off going in a balloon because of the fire underneath.



 
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