Everyone has another interest outside of work – for the owner of Ōtaki insurance company Inpro Group, it’s drag racing.
Rex Duckett’s passion for the sport is edging him near the top in New Zealand, with 2019 being the best year ever for his PitRat Racing team.
Along with wife Monique, son Antony and Wayne Denholm, Rex has hauled in the trophies this season. Among them was a national third in the Super Charged Outlaws section and a second place at one of New Zealand’s main strips, at Meremere.
It’s been achieved with a US-built GM Pontiac GXP. The Pontiac houses a 632 cubic inch (about 10.5 litre) naturally aspirated engine pulling 1300hp and running on nitrous (NOS).
It’s the kind of grunt that’s helped the team this year achieve its best ever speed and time for the quarter-mile drag – 325km/h (199mph) in 6.99 seconds.
Rex started PitRat Racing in 2000 with a 1969 race-ready Vauxhall HB Viva. The team later got a 1988 Chevrolet Corvette and were enjoying the drag racing and gathering some trophies, but Rex knew there were better things to come.
In 2017, PitRat bought the Pontiac and began experimenting with nitrous fuel. The Pontiac loved it, the times kept coming down and the speed increassed. As the PitRat driver, Rex has experienced 2.8 G-force acceleration as the car streaks down the track.
Ironically, Rex puts the achievements in the 2019 season down to putting less pressure on the team to perform better.
“We decided to focus less on the points and more on getting the NOS right,” he says. “That certainly worked in our favour. We got some great results.”
There are five main drag strips in New Zealand, with races being run mainly over a quarter mile, but sometimes an eighth of a mile.
Cars race two at a time from a standing start, with gradual elimination of the second-placed car. Not all cars line up side-by-side. Those with fewer resources and slower cars get a staggered start with their competitor.
Pitrat Racing is sponsored by Inpro Group and Total Oil.