A marriage made in motorsport

Generally, telling a spouse how to drive never ends well.

But this weekend, married couple Richie and Rachel Chadwick will show "normal" husbands and wives that it is actually possible to do "back seat driving" without any major relationship break downs.

The East Taieri couple are competing as a team in the Central Machine Hire Otago Rally, and say without each other’s help, they are likely to end up worse for wear.

"When we’re driving around town in the family car, back seat driving goes down how you think it would," Mr Chadwick said.

"But when we get in the rally car, we’re a team."

Having a good co-driver who can dispense timely pace notes makes all the difference, Mrs Chadwick said.

"I keep him in line and tell him to calm it down when he gets a bit wild."

Surprisingly, it was Mrs Chadwick who introduced Mr Chadwick to car racing.

The 35-year-olds met when they were 17, when Mrs Chadwick was already a well-seasoned kart racer.

"I’ve always been around motorsport, and when I met Richie, he started kart racing as well."

Wife and husband Rachel and Richie Chadwick have teamed up to compete in the Central Machine Hire...
Wife and husband Rachel and Richie Chadwick have teamed up to compete in the Central Machine Hire Otago Rally this weekend. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The couple bought their first rally car - a 1985 Toyota Corolla - about 10 years ago, and since then they had spent about $50,000 upgrading it.

As soon as they bought it, the squabbling started over who would get to be the driver and who would be the co-driver/navigator.

Mrs Chadwick said the final decision came down to a bet.

"Whoever was fastest on our first hill climb got to be the main driver.

"Unfortunately, Richie beat me. It was the first time he beat me, too. He’d never beaten me in a race before that."

Despite losing the bet, she said it was the best combination because Mr Chadwick was the faster driver when it came to rallying.

"He has no fear. That makes me nervous sometimes, but I have a lot of trust in him."

The duo compete in rallies frequently and have had a lot of class wins over the past decade.

Mr Chadwick said it was the most fun you could have together without getting into trouble with the law.

"It’s better than sitting around watching telly all weekend."

The duo are not the only married couple competing in the rally this weekend.

Tim and Lauren Mackersy, of Dunedin, have also teamed up to take on the pro drivers.

Mr Mackersy said when he was travelling at up to 180kmh on a narrow gravel road, there was no-one he would trust more than his wife to be feeding him pace notes.

"We just know each other so well - it’s such a trust thing. You’ve got to trust each other so much."

It seems a partner that drives you around the bend can actually make your relationship stronger.