PEOPLE LIKE US

PETER ILLINGWORTH > ADELAIDE, SA

STORY CARLY DALE PHOTOS BRENTYN WAKEFIELD

MOST gearheads you meet end up being good people, but every now and then you come across someone who takes that to the next level and uses their car as a, erm, vehicle for change.

Adelaide-based Ford man Peter Illingworth is one such bloke. Heís had to overcome a great many challenges in life and is a double amputee, but heís never let that get in the way of doing what he loves. Heís built his blown BA XR8 ute to raise funds for diabetes and organ donation.

Heading to Summernats 31, Pete?

Absolutely. Iíve been going there since Summernats 9 and Iíve only missed one in that time. Shortly after Summernats 8 I was admitted to hospital with what ended up being a neardeath experience. Due to complications from diabetes I had part of my foot amputated and I was about ready to give it all in. Then someone handed me a Street Machine magazine and I said: ďBugger it, Iím going to Summernats 9!Ē I havenít been able to kick the bug since.

Youíve had your fair share of medical problems over the years.

At the age of 10 I used to come home with the shakes and the doctors couldnít work out what it was. Diabetes wasnít that well recognised back then. When I was 15 a cut on my foot got badly infected and antibiotics werenít working.

My right foot had various amputations and eventually I lost my right leg in 1999. Then in 2010 I lost my left leg below the knee. Then my kidneys shut down and I went blind in my left eye. Theyíve replaced my kidney and I also had a pancreas transplant. Thanks to that transplant, Iím no longer a diabetic.

Tell us about the ute.

Itís a 2003 BA XR8. It had some kays on it when I bought it, but it was clean and tidy. I thought Iíd do some bolt-ons and at first I was going to show it more than anything, but now itís all about burnouts. Itís painted in a prototype Phantom Purple and has 20-inch wheels and a full spool in the diff. I purchased an M122 Eaton blower off a Mustang and had a manifold made up, and lo and behold, itís pushing nearly 500hp at the rear wheels on 9psi. Iíve just changed the rear tub to a steel tray so I can pop some tyres, and I plan on upping the boost to 12psi to make it more interesting. To me the ute is nothing special; itís what itís doing that makes it special. Itís my way of showing people that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Tell us about your fundraising activities.

The reason the ute got built is I wanted to show people that there is life after an illness like this. I wanted to do up a street machine and I realised that doing burnouts and letting off steam was the way I wanted to go about it. Iíve raised about $5500 in the past nine months, because I wanted to give back to Kidney, Transplant & Diabetes Research Australia, who pretty much saved my life. They do great work developing modern treatments for diabetes. Itís an absolute killer these days, and it has to be stopped.

We heard youíre heading out to Red CentreNATS, too?

Yes I am. Iíll have the ute out there and Iím looking forward to getting amongst it and letting people know what Iím about. Iím also doing Oz Nats and a few other Victorian shows; then itís the big one: Summernats!

What are you most looking forward to about Summernats 31?

Itís just a great event. I love the joint and I canít stay away. It means Iíve lived another year. If I wasnít at Summernats Iíd be sitting at home in a wheelchair, and thatís just not the way my life is supposed to be. s FOR more info and to donate to Kidney, Transplant & Diabetes Research Australia, visit kidneydiabetesresearch.com.au.

If I wasnít at Summernats Iíd be sitting at home in a wheelchair, and thatís just not the way my life is supposed to be