It was a little bemusing that one of the most famous rock and roll drummers in the world slipped into Taupo for the V8 SuperTourers enduro without fuss or fanfare.
There was no official media bulletins put out about the presence of Phil Rudd, drummer for rock superstars AC/DC.
The expat Australian lives just up the road in the Bay Of Plenty region at Tauranga and jetted into the track in his MD 520N helicopter that is worth about $2.6NZ.
Rudd is a self-confessed motor racing nut and he went for a couple of hot laps with Aussie V8 Supercar driver Tony D’Alberto.
After going for his flying laps with D’Alberto, Rudd was happy to sit down and have a chat about his life and his loves with Speedcafe’s Gordon Lomas.
The 58-year-old talked about his extensive car collection and his long-held passion to be a racing driver.
SPEEDCAFE: So Phil I hear you are having a fang around Taupo this week in one of your prized cars?
PHIL RUDD: It’s just a bit of a blast around the track for the day. A bit of fun in an NZV8 racecar which I own which will be a lot of fun but I probably won’t be nailing it like Tony D’Alberto.
SPEEDCAFE: You are renowned for having a cracking car collection. What are some of the classics you have stored away?
RUDD: Let’s see there’s an F40, a 599, an SLS Gullwing, an Audi R8, March 84 Can-Am car and a few others. I’ve got them in a hangar at the airport. It’s where I keep my helicopter. That’s my real life these days. I’ve loved helicopters and wanted to fly them since I was eight years old watching Whirlybirds on TV.
SPEEDCAFE: What about your passion for driving fast cars?
RUDD: I’ve always wanted to be a racecar driver. It’s something that has never left me.
SPEEDCAFE: But you just happened to be good at something else which made you famous around the world?
RUDD: Well I guess I did. Being in a band and doing gigs was something I could afford.
SPEEDCAFE: As kid how deep was your passion for motor racing?
RUDD: Oh yeah I loved it and I was right into it. It’s still one of my great passions.
SPEEDCAFE: Have you got any gigs coming up with the boys?
RUDD: I’m not really too sure what’s going on there. I suppose while we are also still alive there’s a chance.
SPEEDCAFE: You opened up a restaurant in Tauranga which specialised in pretty smick steak and seafood. How is that all going?
RUDD: Yeah I did and it went pretty good but I’ve just recently decided to close it.
SPEEDCAFE: So what are you up to now and what occupies most of your time?
RUDD: Oh well I love flying. At the moment I’m working on getting my pilot’s licence back. After twenty years and having a few kids I kind of had to give it away. So now the kids have grown up I’ve got a helicopter again and I’m getting back into it and I’m currently doing a refresher course.
SPEEDCAFE: So tell us how you came to acquire the Can-Am car?
RUDD: The March 84 March never actually raced. Kenny Smith brought it in from the US. And I bought it online. I was sitting in my hotel room in Paris and saw it online on like an eBay style car site. I love driving these cars but I hate panel beating so I like to look after them.
SPEEDCAFE: When did you start collecting?
RUDD: When Highway To Hell came out and then started becoming a success I went straight down the road to buy my first Ferrari. It was a little 308 which I bought for $12,000 pounds but you couldn’t fit a suitcase in it. But I’ve always loved Ferraris.
SPEEDCAFE: When did you get hold of the F40?
RUDD: I’ve had it for about 12 months. I bought it off the 42-below Vodka guy. I’d never seen one before. But I knew they were special. I did have at one stage a Ford GT40. A real one. It was a great car but was hard to own and hard to enjoy.
SPEEDCAFE: Gidday boys. (Rudd introduces me to two of his sons, Stephen and Jack who arrived toward the end of our chat).
RUDD: Boys this is Gordon. He’s been a motor racing press bloke for a long time and works on Speedcafe which has just started a New Zealand website.
SPEEDCAFE: Yeah boys I’ve been a motor racing journo for too many years but not as many years your dad has been a superstar though.
JACK: Yeah dad’s pretty hard to beat when it comes to that.
SPEEDCAFE: What is your favourite form of racing?
RUDD: Well I love F1. I was going to take the boys to the Nurburgring this year but we changed our mind and will probably go to the Singapore GP which is coming up soon.
SPEEDCAFE: And you are looking forward to going to Pukekohe for the V8 Supercars I hear when they return to that circuit next year.
RUDD: Yeah I’m really looking forward to that because you guys at Speedcafe have given me a special invite. If ever you are coming through town in future give us a buzz. I’ve got a 65-ft fishing boat and we’ll go for a bit of a cruise in that.
As soon as the café chat was over Rudd, Jack and Stephen hopped in the chopper and jetted out of Taupo – rock star style of course.