10 August 2016
New Zealand is pretty good at motor racing - and we always have been. Witness the past achievements of drivers like Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon and more recently the successes of Scott Dixon, Hayden Paddon, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, who have all won on the global stage.
One could even argue that New Zealander’s shaped the modern sport as it is today, such has been the influence ‘in the background’ of designers and technicians. McLaren again was the early pioneer with his Kiwi ‘can do and will do’ attitude and there have been a steady stream of innovative field leaders ever since – including in recent times New Zealand’s own home-grown racewear manufacturer – Chicane.
Now into their 26th year of operation and 16th under current managing director and former NZ Motor Racing Champion Shane Drake, Chicane Racewear is a well-established supplier of New Zealand-made Chicane and Flamecrusher brand race suits worn by many well-known Kiwi competitors such as 2011 FIA Production World Rally Champion and works Hyundai driver Paddon and FIA GP3 Champion and now GP2 title contender Mitch Evans. Over the years, the brand has also been the first choice for V8 Supercar stars Shane Van Gisbergen, Fabian Coulthard, Scott McLaughlin and heroes of the short track speedway world, Michael Pickens and Brad Mosen.
Employing six people, Chicane exports its New Zealand-made suits to Australia, the Asia Pacific region, the US and the UK amongst a diverse range of international marketplaces. It is a cult brand with a fine reputation and one that is in increasing demand. And it hasn’t just been about clothing the big names in the sport either, as Chicane’s suits can be found at events all over the world, from grass roots track day and club meetings here and abroad to the major international meetings.
Chicane has products for all occasions too and even make ‘classic’ race suits for competitors in international historic race meetings that look the part in every historical detail but incorporate all of the modern day safety technologies and requirements.
Drake takes up the fascinating story. “Chicane Racewear is the only New Zealand manufacturer of FIA-approved race suits - this means they can be worn by competitors throughout the motorsport world – and that’s where an appreciation for the demands of the drivers as well as the requirements of the regulations come into play.
“We understand what competitors need and we have incorporated small details into our products that we believe set them apart from the alternatives out there – including for example proper elasticated areas that may seem unnecessary to a purist clothing designer, but for a race driver trying to operate at 100% in oppressive heat and in cramped conditions, can make the difference between winning and losing.
“Competitors can be assured of our ongoing dedication to source new technology fabrics to be utilised in suits which suit their specific racing conditions, be it club sport or professional level racing on circuits, drag strips, speedway, power boats, jet sprints or rallies. We are a Kiwi company and we are passionate about being leaders in our field, here and abroad.”
“In an ever-changing world, motorsport is no different and by manufacturing to high quality standards that we can control at home and having a finger on the pulse of the sport globally, we are making the motorsport world realise that it’s not just our drivers that are world class exports.