This weekend will mark a special occasion for the Mallard family, with three generations set to compete against one another for the first time.
SsangYong Ute and Toyota 86 racer Mark Mallard will be up against his father Neil and son Thomas in the Paul Fahey Legends of Speed 2K Cup meeting at Hampton Downs.
It could well be the first time in New Zealand motorsport history that three generations of one family will be racing against each other.
“It is going to be very special,” Mark Mallard told Velocity News.
“Motorsport has been part of our family forever. Some families have club rugby or other sports that they are a part of together, and for us, it is racing.
“So to have three generations of our family out on the track together for the first time, that is very cool to see.”
For 13-year-old Thomas, this weekend marks his first competitive race event. He first took up the steering wheel 12 months ago and has continued to develop his skillset.
Mark now believes his son is ready to join the starting grid for the first time.
“I said to Thomas when he first started driving that you can only begin racing once you match your grandfather’s lap times.
“Not even six months go by and he is already starting to get close to the old man. I think Dad is now worried he is going to lose to his own grandson.
“It is going to be awesome to see him out there racing with myself and my father. He is really a fourth-generation racer, with my grandfather Eric being heavily involved in the sport before passing away last year.”
Eric, Neil’s father, was one of New Zealand’s most prominent figures in motorsport. His love for racing saw him start as a crowd safety marshal at Ardmore in 1953. He would commit to just about every trackside job available, before becoming the chief executive of the New Zealand Grand Prix.
In 1999, Eric was honoured with a New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to motorsport.
Mark will be racing his MR2 for the weekend, while Neil and Thomas will steer Toyota Levins – with some potential for some inter-family rivalry once the lights go out.
“I think in terms of race pace, I may have the edge over my son and dad for the family prize,” Mark laughed.
“But in the future, I am not so confident with Thomas continuing to get closer to me. Ask me again in 12 months’ time and I might have a different answer.”