It’s the face of a prize-fighter.
Teeth missing, nose wonky, and many of the colourful episodes in this man’s life are inked all over his body. “I won’t mind being wrinkly and coloured in,” says Wayne Brake.
By his own admission he is also abrasive and intimidating. He says he is a clinically diagnosed psychopath – suffered anti-social personality disorder. “There were certain situations you wouldn’t want to be around me.” And there were the drugs, violence and abuse. All in all, a damaged man, due largely to his disorder.
“I was pretty trashed out.” And he’s happy to talk about all that because “that’s the old him”.
But at mention of ‘the missus’, of breast cancer and mortality, the rough edges flake away and this roughneck weeps. Cries. “Look at me now, I can’t hold it back.”
That’s because Wayne Brake went within a whisker of losing one of the two things that have brought equilibrium to his life. “Cars and the missus.” Not necessarily in that order. And when the ‘missus’ was diagnosed with breast cancer, he says everything changed in an instant. “You just feel f…..g crushed, completely helpless.”
It may seem incongruous, but this is all working up to a car show – The Coffee and Cars III at Mount Sports Centre on January 12 in the New Year. Understanding the people and their story might give added perspective to the event.
Wayne’s ‘missus’ – Amanda – had surgery to remove the stage three tumour. It was a big one.
“Chemotherapy was worse than the diagnosis. She would go five shades of grey and white, her body swelling and her hair falling out.” That image brings on another wave of tears from the tough guy. Then he makes an interesting observation. “She wasn’t sick. You aren’t sick until you are diagnosed and start treatment.” And all the time an ambitious tumor had been quietly and insidiously working its wickedness inside her body.
Wayne and ‘the missus’ had only been together four months when the lump was discovered, and so she gave him the opportunity to walk away. “She said she wouldn’t hold it against me.” But he stayed. “Because I was in love with her – no other reason.”
Wayne admits to being selfish and says all this emotional upheaval was making him feel “shitty” and he wanted rid of it, wanted it gone from his head. “I just wanted to do something. Because if I am feeling this crap through our experience, imagine how all the other breast cancer people are feeling. And there are hundreds of them.”
The ‘abrasive and intimidating’ guy is sitting there wearing a pink, beaded bracelet inscribed with the words ‘pure’, ‘spirit’ and ‘hope’.
Suddenly he’s not so intimidating. Suddenly he doesn’t strike fear in lesser hearts. And his black t-shirt is emblazoned with “proud community supporter of the breast cancer foundation”. He’s a marshmallow with attitude who wants to raise at least $10,000 for a cause that is now deeply personal to him.
“Coffee and Cars III, it’s for the tiddies.” That’s what the show is called. An all makes and models car show at Mount Sports Centre on January 12. Three hundred show cars max’. No pretension – it’s not a brand or genre specific car show. “Someone can turn up in a rotary and look over a Mercedes, someone may turn up in a Lamborghini and look at a hotrod.”
But tiddies? For the tiddies? “Let it start a controversy if that’s what’s required to start a conversation.” There’s a sudden flash of pink defiance. “We want to save the tiddies man. That’s not a sexual thing, it’s a life thing. If it offends some people, so be it. Get your wallet out, chuck some money at it and make me go away.”
Wayne still has his ‘missus’ – she’s great now and he’s grateful. Now he wants to give back.
“My ultimate goal is to have an annual car event in Mount Maunganui that does a massive fundraising push, to create something in the Mount that people are excited to go to.” This year ‘tiddies’, and next year youth suicide, another social issue close to Wayne Brake. There will be a re-branding – he’s moving away from flat whites and mochaccinos to the Mount Motor Jam. It says what the show is. “And let’s make a contribution to society, let’s pay back as we are sitting around talking cars.”
Wayne Brake is a ‘detailer’, a car groomer by another name – but high end grooming. “We are just the top.” And an entrepreneur on the side.
“We have had people suggest promo girls at the show, would we like some women in bikinis come along. Well no thanks. Don’t let the tattoos fool you. This is for cars, this is for charity, every cent.”
This is also for ‘the missus’. Because every year more than 650 New Zealand women die from breast cancer. That’s almost two a day. She dodged a bullet and Wayne still has the women he loves.
Next week Amanda, ‘the missus’ talks to The Weekend Sun about her brush, and the man who stood by her.