Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tanya Dillon-Iremonger: Businesswoman/Jetsprint Racer

August 27, 2014 by  
Filed under 5 KURIOUS Kiwi Questions

H. M. Stanley is immortalised by his words “Dr Livingstone I presume?” It was like that the first time I met Tanya Dillon-Iremonger tho’ I recall it was more like, “Do you know my friend Amy in Sydney?” Fortunately for me, providing Amy’s surname also proved to be the right oil for a quick turn around.


Tanya Dillon-Iremonger is lots of things to lots of people. She’s a wife to Aaron as well as co-owner in their businesses Muffler & Radiator Services Ltd and Ironforce Racecars. She is also a Mum to five year old Seth and ‘six-and-a-bit’ year old Lily.

By day, she is a qualified Hairdresser (with her own in-home salon) and as if that wasn’t enough, drives race cars and is a Jetsprint navigator with Auckland Group A class driver Baden Gray. She keeps her foot flat-strap to the floor boards and she put some wings on these Kurious Kiwi questions. She’s living proof it’s true what they say these days, kiwis CAN fly!


Three pieces of advice from your business experience that can help young people starting out in business push through the early stages of start-up.

1. Business is hard work full stop – so make sure you are totally prepared to throw all your energy and time into it from Day 1.

2. You have to be prepared for all the knock backs & stress that can be caused from competitors, economy, financials, feedback, staff and mainly customers. Value your workmanship and/or product and keep it at a high level of standard and never under price yourself with a competitor to bring work in the door as tempting as it may be in quiet times it could become costly. Be fair with your pricing and don’t rip people off.

3. Treat people how you would like to be treated, with respect. Take time even when you are extremely busy to talk to customers and have them feel looked after. Keep in mind that people might not always praise your work to others, but if you treat them badly they WILL tell others!

Husband/Wife business partnerships have their moments. How do you get past an impasse?

We’ve had our moments, who hasn’t! We are both very different in our ways but totally compatible because we are extremely fussy with workmanship and high quality with a fast turn around. We have been business partners for 8 years now and over time we have most definitely improved our working relationship. To be fair, I think we balance each other out in those areas where we are individually stronger.

Tell us about a Cause you support and why it’s important.

The SPCA. This is extremely important to me personally. I grew up on a farm and adore animals. They do not choose to be born into this world and as my husband Aaron tells me all the time, I can’t save the world but I can help save some animals. They bring so much happiness and joy into people lives, and this is a little thing that I can help do for them. Our local SPCA is always struggling to make ends meet and they are the most amazing people, most of them are volunteers and every little bit helps.

My other Cause is Child Cancer. We recently spent a day giving young children and their families rides in a V8 racing ute and an opportunity to hop in and out of our stock cars (because they are too hard to fit people in on your lap and drive!) This creates such happy moments for families and it’s a gift we can give.

Time is precious. The world goes at such a fast pace, I think this is when we all need to slow down. It would be great if more people gave their time instead of just putting money in a bucket to help families in this situation to tick things off ‘their’ Bucket Lists.

Your ‘NEED’ for speed. Please explain?

My need for speed? That’s an easy answer ADRENALINE! Most people can take it or leave it, I actually feel I NEED it. It helps relieve my stresses in daily business/family life. Working full time with two young kiddies I have a tendency to get weighed down and no time for myself so racing Jetsprint boats gives me something to look forward to and it sends me into a world of nothing but V8 pleasure!


“Jetsprint or sprint boat racing is a form of racing sport in which jet boats (with a crew of two) race individually against the clock through a twisting series of channels in less than a metre of water. It originated as a sport in New Zealand 1981 and events were originally held in the same natural braided rivers that had inspired Sir William Hamilton to develop the jet-boat. When the sport was introduced to Australia in the mid-1980s permanent artificial courses were used and this is now the norm even in New Zealand.”

From the Navigator’s Seat

My belts are done up so tight it hurts but I know that means I am at my safest. We go from 0 to 120km in 2 seconds flat and we pull up to 5 Gforces on turns. The challenge is remembering the correct rotation we need to be going in to complete the course, in the fastest time.

I sit with a 650HP engine right behind my back, so what’s not to get excited about? The race fuel fumes are like my favourite bottle of perfume and the lumpy idling engine is like the sound of my favourite band playing!

Besides my hubby and son, my race partner Baden Gray is right up there too. I put my life in Baden’s hands and I trust him with it. Baden has a beautiful wife and twin girls so he is well aware of our need for safety. He has a great sense of humour and I often find myself prepping him mentally about his race game on race day. It’s a control thing when I’m feeling absolutely out of control. I LOVE IT!


We have had some serious crashes and yes they hurt but I feel they are no different from falling off a horse which I have done plenty of times in my life-time too! My first crash is my strongest memory, it was Round One of the 2012 World Champs held in New Zealand around the speed bowl at Wanganui Track.

It happened so fast, apparently the brain cuts out in the middle of something like this, it does this so it can send messages to vital organs. There are some memories of the crash still missing. We hit the island and got pushed sideways, we travelled some distance before we hit the fence and turned up so our boat was standing tall on its jet unit. I recall the kids saying we looked like a rocket! The boat landed upside down on its roll cage with the hardest thump I have ever heard and felt in my life (to date).


When people question my dangerous sport and try to make me feel guilty because I have two young children. I tell them, “I have a helmet, 2 x neck braces, a 5 point harness moulded to my body race seat, roll cage, fire-proof overalls, boots and socks and you tell me I’m crazy!” I tell them they drive a car on a road with people on either side and only a painted white line in-between. And all they have, is a shoulder/lap belt and airbags.

I say, “get a life!” And I mean it. Push your life to the limits, try things that put you out of your comfort zone. I don’t want to look back at my life and know I have wrapped it up in cotton wool.I want to look back and say, “Hell yes, I DID that!” My proudest achievements are my New Zealand Title trophies sitting in the shed. Those are great achievements and I plan to have more. For some reason my Bucket List is getting longer! I would love to give marathon boats a go now!

Got a kiwi business hero? In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a modern-day business hero?

I wouldn’t say I have just one kiwi business hero. I actually have a list of people that inspire me with the businesses they have created and/or grown also jobs that they undertake whether it be a position they are in as a leader or team.

I favour woman in business (sorry blokes) but there is one man that I would list in my Top 5 and that is Mr John Key, our Prime Minister and the National Party leader. I feel he has lead our country through some of our hardest economic years albeit with natural disasters too. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I believe that “a good part” of his annual PM earnings are all donated to charity because he is already a successful business man himself, that is what fascinates me the most about him.

Local People in Business

As far as women in business goes, newly elected Regional Councillor and local, Debbie Hewitt has held many positions at the top. She has established leadership skills, a lot of governance experience and is totally committed to the ongoing development of our region.

Another lady I adore and find thoroughly knowledgeable in many areas is Gail Penney. She’s a local girl, raised just over on Farm Road, as the crow flies from my home here. She’s lived and worked overseas for many years, working at Senior Management level in HR & Recruitment. She’s able to work at a macro level in a business but it’s not too much effort for her to work at the nuts and bolts level either. Like Debbie, she’s also committed to the ongoing economic development of our region. I have plans to tap into her knowledge!

I also admire my neighbour Mike Petersen who owns a 400 hectare finishing farm, is a Director in several privately owned farming companies and is involved in farming businesses overseeing nearly 150,000 sheep and beef stock units in New Zealand. He was Chairman of the New Zealand Meat Board, a Director of the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand, Trustee of the New Zealand Wool Industry Charitable Trust but did not seek re-election as the Chairman and Eastern North Island Director of Beef + Lamb New Zealand for the Primary Industries Council. Mike was also a former Chairman of Sheepco.

Personally, I want to understand more about what’s happening onshore and offshore in New Zealand’s international trading relationships. It’s valuable knowledge I feel we can use in our own businesses and hopefully, points us in the best direction for them.

To me, the characteristics of a modern day business hero are their being a hard worker, good comms and listener. They might also want to be down-to-earth and not think they are above anybody else in business.


1. Website: Ironforce Racecars #penneylaneonline

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