NETWORK: McElrea Racing
Andy McElrea’s McElrea Racing has gone onto become one of the most successful and respected racing services providers in Australia.
A qualified automotive engineer, McElrea’s journey to becoming a motorsport team owner began when he completed his automotive apprenticeship in New Zealand.
While making inroads to his career, McElrea lived and breathed motorsport during his youth, taking part in local club events before racing in the South Island Sports Car Championship, the NZ South Island Formula Ford Championship, before progressing to the New Zealand Formula Ford championship and ultimately, the NZ Trans Am Championship.
He would go onto enjoy success in his racing career, winning two national titles with Formula Ford New Zealand in 1991, as well as the NZ Trans Am Championship in 1996.
After his career in New Zealand, he re-located to the United States of America, before moving to Australia in 2001.
His foray into Australian motorsport began when he co-founded Paul Cruickshank Racing Porsche Carrera Cup team, working as the team’s manager until 2008.
It was after this, that he would go onto establish his own motorsport team, with a dream to run the best customer racing outfit in national-level categories Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia and Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia.
Since then, the team has achieved success in those categories, as well as the second-tier level of Supercars racing, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, the Australian Mini Challenge and Bathurst 12 Hour.
Over the years, the team has had the likes of Porsche factory driver Matt Campbell, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup drivers Jaxon Evans and Harri Jones, as well as three-time Supercars champion and IndyCar race winner Scott McLaughlin drive for the team.
The team has gone onto win three Porsche Carrera Cup Australia titles with Campbell (2016), Evans (2018), and Jones (2022).
It is a matter of pride for McElrea to see his drivers go onto achieve success at a global level.
“Obviously we want to attract drivers with talent and hopefully ones we can make a contribution to by helping with their development and we did that obviously with Matt and Jaxon” he said.
“Harri also made the move over to Europe for Supercup and he recently finished on the rookie podium in Monaco, so that was really neat.
“So for us knowing that we’ve had a small contribution in helping those guys get to where they are at the moment is really satisfying.”
However, his proudest moment relates to his son Hunter McElrea, who is currently competing in Indy NXT for Andretti Autosport.
“I feel that I’m proudest of Hunter’s Australia Formula Ford Championship victory in 2018, because I know how much pressure he had on himself, coming from a racing family and what winning a championship like that could lead to which obviously, it has with the Road to Indy programme,” he added.
“It’s very rewarding to see him doing so well up there and he’s at a point now where he’s very close to breaking through to what his ultimate goal always was.”
Currently, McElrea Racing fields entries in Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia and Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia, with a roster of drivers including Jackson Walls, Bayley Hall, Christian Pancione, Ryder Quinn, Lachlan Bloxsom, Caleb Sumich and Tom McLennan.
McElrea said he is intent on continuing the team’s tradition of developing talented drivers.
“We’ve got an amazing group of young drivers with us in Carrera Cup and Sprint Challenge, so we’re really looking forward to the next three or four years and getting the most out of these kids that we’ve got with us now,” he affirmed.
“There’s definitely some talent here that’s going to end up racing in Europe or America over the next few years, so that’s exciting for us as well.”
Last year the team established a base in the USA to compete in Porsche Carrera Cup North America, with 2022 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia winner Thomas Sargent and Canadian Thomas Nepveu the drivers for the 2023 season.
“The American programme was an idea that started probably in the middle of 2022,” McElrea explained.
“We have got an incredibly talented crew and grown to a size here in Australia where it would be risky to get any bigger in the space we’re in so it made sense to expand overseas as I’m doing quite a bit of travel to the US already, so now I have another reason to go up there.
“We put all of all the pieces together in the last half of last year and then we hit the track with our first test in February in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“With the start we’ve had to our US campaign, the Americans are a little annoyed, I think, with the success that we’re having, Tom is currently second in the championship and going really well, so we’ve now got to work harder than ever to stay where we are and go forward. We can’t wait!”
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