080 085 Paul Radisich Feature.pdf

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racing. Today, that rough-and-tumble
environment has largely been diluted by
officialdom, and now any pushing on the
track has to be pretty subtle. But back
then, the cars from the British Touring
Car Championship rarely finished a race
without significant panel damage, and
several drivers would have been punted
into the barrier. It was quite normal to
flick or barge another competitor out of
the way if you couldn’t complete a normal
pass. Because of the television coverage,
the style of racing also caught on here for a
while, and it became a horribly expensive
time for many local drivers before it
was stamped out. That brutal type of
competition was already established in
Europe by the time Paul arrived, but he

Radisich recalls his time behind the wheel of the
BMW to author Owers, who can’t wait for a spin


new zealand autocar

certainly didn’t shrink away from it, and
gave out as much as he received.
We were at Hampton Downs to get Paul’s
impressions of the Group A car he drove
in the Wellington Street race series back in
1987. Current owner, Garry Price, joined us
for a look over the BMW.
I opened the door for Paul and asked him
to climb in for some photos. ‘Hey, it’s exactly
how I remembered it,’ he said. ‘Even the
original door panels and the standard rubber
pedal covers are still here. This was a great
little car, so nimble and balanced.’
He moved the gear lever around. ‘I think
we had to be careful with this gearbox. It was
a little bit delicate, if I remember correctly.
Huh, look at this: a very wide gate and long
throw, just like a standard ’box.’

Of the roll cage and safety gear, Paul noted,
‘Nowadays the door intrusion bars would be
much higher, and, of course, we would also
have a window safety net.’ He reached up to
the ceiling. ‘Look, it’s still got the original roof
lining. You couldn’t do that now because of
the fumes [in the case of a fire].’
It was time for Paul to get changed into
his race gear for some laps so he could get
the feel again for the car. As he headed out
on the track, we could enjoy the six-cylinder
exhaust note. Though certainly not the
distinctive high-pitched scream of a four-pot
M3, it’s melodious all the same. We watched
Paul circulate for several laps and then
heard the exhaust note changing back to an
uneven popping burble as he eased back
beside us in the pits. It was now my turn.