It's Hammer Time
It's Hammer Time
It really is proving to be 'Hammer Time' as Chris 'Hammer Time' Hanley has taken a commanding lead in the 2013 UDC V8 Ute Series after just two rounds. Many will know the Hanley name well as it has been near the front of the V8 Ute field since the 2010/2011 season.
However the 22-year-old Aucklander has faced many challenges in his motorsport career despite being born into a motor racing family. "Dad (Nigel Hanley) used to race and I have been around the pits since I was about two years old." At the relatively late age of twelve Chris began karting. "Dad was still racing so I started pretty late. I raced karts for about four years on and off but it was interrupted by two stints in hospital for treatment for a bone disease and also sporting injuries. At the age of sixteen while recovering from a broken back the Doctor decided I should move out of karting. It was also suggested that I avoid single seater racing because of my back. At that point I took a couple of years off."
When he emerged from his hiatus Chris spent two seasons in the highly competitive Pro 7 Series in the North Island. The first year saw him claim second in the series and the Rookie Of The Year title. He approached his second season confidently but once again just missed out, finishing second. Hanley was on the move however and it was to V8 Utes he went, joining the category as it became a Tier 1 class at Motorsport New Zealand race meetings.
He made an instant impression. "I won my first race in the category at Pukekohe," he recalls. More good results followed as the series travelled to Christchurch and then Teretonga and he led the Rookie of the Year title race by a considerable margin. It is traditional for drivers to visit Queenstown for a few days in the week between Teretonga and Timaru and Chris did just that. Unfortunately the holiday turned into a nightmare as an accident on a rope swing saw him in Southland Hospital with another broken back. A long period of recuperation followed and it was the beginning of the next season before Chris was back on the grid. Even that nearly didn't happen. A crash in testing, when a tyre was torn due to debris from another vehicles crash, pitched the Holden Ute into the wall at Pukekohe only two weeks before the opening round. However he was on the grid when the series commenced and finished the season second behind good friend Andrew Waite.
With the utes moving into a support role for the V8SuperTourers this season Chris has had another lengthy break from competition. "The last outing was in Hamilton in April 2012 and we only started again in February at Hampton Downs. I had only done two hours of testing and a hot lap day in between." Chris admits he thinks the Holden is a lot more competitive this season and credits Jake Stoneman for his rich vein of form at the moment. In addition he says he is probably fitter than ever before. "I have done a lot of training and fitness work. I went through the motorsport academy last year too so there are things like nutrition and the mental side that are better."
Looking back on his accident in Queenstown he says it may have been a blessing in disguise. "After my first broken back I had a lot of trouble with my lower back. After the second it has healed. I am physically the best I have been."
The first goal in the year ahead is the UDC V8 Ute title. "From that it would be good to get a V8 SuperTourer Endurance drive. We just have to keep up our performances and we are on the right track," says Chris. "Beyond that it would be good to get a full V8 SuperTourer drive. However we will have to raise the money. It is quite expensive."
Chris credits several people as having had an influence on his career. "Owen Evans helped a lot in karts and throughout Pro7's. Dad is a major influence and Greg Murphy has been a hero of mine too."
Away from the track he has been dedicated to success as well. He attended Auckland Unitec in 2009, completing the first year of a national diploma in quantity surveying. He is now working at Macrennie Construction as a Quantity Surveyor and has graduated from his national diploma and is also attending Unitec to complete his Bachelor of Construction this year.
Support for Chris 'Hammer Time' Hanley in this years UDC V8 Ute Series comes from Brother, Placemakers Cook Street, Autolink, AC Diggers, Mainline Construction, Cube 3 Cabinetry, Fuchs, Webdesign, Logick Print, Cre8 Grafx, Belair Mitsi, Colin Waite Panel & Paint, Holden, Chiropractic First and Walthall Ward.
Picture shows: Chris on his way to winning at Ruapuna recently. Credit – Geoff Ridder