Manawatu sports broadcaster and voice of motorsport, Russell Harris had more than he bargained for when he visited Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon on Sunday.
The third round for the 2024 Super Sprint Motorsport New Zealand Championship was held at Manfeild and for Harris, came an opportunity to tick a bucket-list item.
Long-time friend Brian Green had arranged to take the 85-year old on a hot lap journey of the 3.03km circuit in his McLaren 570S.
Green was racing the McLaren supercar in the Summerset GT New Zealand category – 50 years on from winning the first every race held at Manfeild in late 1973.
“This is something very very special,” commented Harris. “This is a circuit I was involved in the building of in the voluntary days starting 1972 and when it opened in 1973. To drive round with Brian is special because we go back to the early days and means a lot to me.”
Members of the Manawatu Car Club then formed a guard of honour with their flags as the pair departed from pit lane. After two fast laps in deteriorating conditions, Harris was safely returned with more admiration of the drivers in their machines.
“Unbelievable – it really is,” said Harris. “It gives you an appreciation of what these GT cars are – it has given me a whole new appreciation of motor racing.”
There to greet the duo when they returned to the pit garage was V8 Supercar legend Greg Murphy.
The embrace was a moment that further bonded the pair beyond their career spanning relationship. Harris had commentated the races where a young Hawke’s Bay based Murphy carved his path to professional level.
Harris had the parting comment: “It’s not very often I’m lost for words – this is one of those times.”