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AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Scott McLaughlin versus Martin Short: A tale of two Kiwi rivals

Scott McLaughlin versus Martin Short: A tale of two Kiwi rivals

 

It’s been eight years since two young up-and-comers fought for the front row, now they’re fighting for another win on and off the track.

 

The year was 2010 at and at the time two relatively little-known drivers – Scott McLaughlin and Martin Short – were duking it out.

 

Both came from single seater backgrounds. Both had plenty of experience in karting and dabbled with Formula Ford in New Zealand and Australia. But with two years more on McLaughlin, Short was the slightly more experienced of the pair.

 

Podiums came the way of Short in his very brief Formula 3 spell in Australia, but his biggest success at the time came with the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship crown in the 2009-’10 season.

 

Short’s single seater ambition never properly eventuated. Meanwhile, McLaughlin’s V8 racing plan was on track with a drive in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Development Series. Ultimately, they both ended up in the NZV8s by the end of 2010.

 

Short drove with the Richards Team Toyota outfit in a Ford Falcon BF while McLaughlin drove a Supercheap Auto-backed Racing Projects Holden Commodore VZ.

 

They both debuted at Pukekohe Park and cracked the top 10 shootout. With an impressive debut season in the Development Series, 17-year-old McLaughlin was the boy to beat.

 

Though that wasn’t the way it initially played out.

 

 

Short qualified seventh while McLaughlin was ninth. A whole second split the pair, but that’s not something McLaughlin likes to remember.

 

“He killed me, absolutely smoked me.” McLaughlin said of Short’s qualifying lap.

 

“But I won the rookie trophy,” he chimed back. “And you can have that on record!”

 

Short remembers the time fondly, one which he said defined his career.  

 

“I remember we were both rookies in our first year,” he said.

 

“I definitely wanted to beat him. I was ultracompetitive. We also raced in karts back in Hamilton when were kids. He was the guy I wanted to beat most so it was pretty awesome to race against him [in NZV8s].

 

“I remember that being my first year and to qualify in the top 10 shootout – looking back at it now – was a really cool achievement.

 

“I was racing some pretty cool guys like Scotty McLaughlin. I’m pretty proud at what I accomplished. Those were good times.”

 

John McIntyre won that race (and eventually the championship) while McLaughlin got the best of Short after a lock up at the hairpin cost the Formula Ford champion a top 10 finish on debut.

 

 

As rookie rivals McLaughlin and Short often found themselves together. They fought perhaps too hard at times and didn’t see eye-­to-eye when they came to blows.

 

“It was an unreal time,” McLaughlin said of his rivalry with Short.

 

“For us we were growing up and at that time he was an arch rival and my first rival in cars.

 

“We were at it hammer and tong, but we had raced each other when we were growing up as well. It was very cool.

 

“I learnt a lot, how to drive an H-pattern and all that sort of stuff. It was certainly a great start to my career.

 

“It was always hard. We had some good hard battles but there were also times when we smacked each other’s doors and got into disagreements. That was just because we were young and dumb.”

 

It was a time that defined their respective careers. For McLaughlin, it signaled the start of what has been a successful V8 touring car career. From NZV8s he went on to win the inaugural V8 SuperTourer season (pictued below) and Fujitsu V8 Supercar Development Series in 2012.

 

Uploaded Image

 

What followed was more success with a debut drive in the V8 Supercars Championship with Tekno Autosport and a sixth place finish in his first Bathurst 1000. In 2013 he cemented his place on the grid with Garry Rogers Motorsport – the rest is history.

 

By contrast, Short never quite made the jump. While the rival V8 SuperTourers was flourishing, Short stayed with Richards Team Toyota and the BNT V8s. Back-to-back third place finishes in the championship was followed by one-off appearances in the Toyota 86 Championship for the following few years, but by then his attention had shifted outside of the car.

 

After bringing his on-track racing career to an end, Short went back to university.

 

While studying he was a mechanic for Castrol Toyota Racing Series outfits M2 Competition and Giles Motorsport. He shifted to being a Data Engineer for Giles in 2017 and also served on Team BRM in the Australian Formula 4 Championship. 

 

At 27-years-old he graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at the Auckland University of Technology.

 

What followed only a few months later was an opportunity to join Triple Eight Race Engineering and the Red Bull Holden Racing Team as Shane van Gisbergen’s Data Engineer in Brisbane.

 

In his role he calculates fuel numbers, works with telemetry, and makes adjustments to van Gisbergen’s display like reference laps as well as managing communications.

 

Short credit’s the opportunity to those early days of racing.

 

“I probably wouldn’t have got the job opportunity to come over and work for Triple Eight if I hadn’t had that racing experience,” he said.

 

“Throughout my whole racing career I learnt how I could apply my knowledge to racing, which a lot of people who race cars can bring to a team.

 

“It’s pretty awesome.”

 

Mark Horsburgh / VUE Images

Martin Short (bottom left) is Shane van Gisbergen's data engineer. Photo: Mark Horsburgh / VUE Images

 

McLaughlin and Short are both still competitors, and still highly competitive, but their relationship is definitely a lot better than when they were rivals on the track.

 

“It’s certainly very cool for him to get that gig,” McLaughlin said.

 

“It’s not a bad one either, being data engineer for Shane and being right there.

 

“I say hello, but we’re definitely friendlier now than what we were back in the day.

 

“We were just competitors. It’s the same with me and Shane at the moment. We’ll hang out when we need to hang out, but we won’t when we’re rivals at this present time.”

 

Likewise for Short, he’s happy to see the success McLaughlin has achieved over the years since they raced alongside each other. However, he still has that urge to beat him.

 

“I’m still competitive. We want to beat everyone else and that’s part of my nature – to go out and try win.”

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