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Zander Uren – Burning Rubber In The Face Of Adversity

The moment I heard of Zander’s battle against terminal cancer and the compassion and support he has received, I was inspired to do what I could to join the fight; to support his cause and share his story in the best way that I could. As a fellow car enthusiast and with the power of my keyboard to reach out to thousands, how could I not? With Zander ready to tick off his bucket list item of drifting the Mallala circuit again at Matsuri just the following weekend, it was the perfect opportunity. Immediately I messaged his Facebook support page and offered my services, gathering information and talking to close friends and family, eager to learn of his bravery and understand his ups and downs as best I could. Several days later I went to the track to see him in action and try and attempt to capture his story.

Zander in lineup

Now I sit, staring at a blank page, admittedly at a loss several weeks later just waiting for a spark to come to me, to help me try to convey what he could possibly be going through. I’ve realised I can’t even begin to relate with a man who, at just 31 years of age, is forced to leave behind everything he has ever known and loved because life has drawn the bullsh*t card of cancer. How a single father can bear to even think about leaving behind his beloved 6 year old daughter, Talika, from a love so strong as to compel him to give up his passion of drifting to raise his child. To opt for those extra months of sickness and the hell of chemotherapy to spend those last few moments with his daughter requires a bravery I cannot comprehend. Trying to connect in a way that would help me put such unfairness into words seems like an impossibility.

8 years ago

Taken 8 years ago, Zander sits with his Ceffy he ran with a Laurel front and RB30DET, and used to win the 2009 Drift Supercup at Mallala; Photo Sourced from Zander’s Fight Against Cancer Facebook Page

In my hesitance I decided I would go back to the time I had caught a glimpse into Zander’s life and began to collate and edit the photos from that fearless day in May. As I plucked through my own images, monotonously tuning the colours and tones, I began to reminisce and slowly I realised where I had gone wrong. Not once, had I found a single photo of Zander in which he hadn’t been smiling.

zander happy

Photo Sourced from Zander’s Fight Against Cancer Facebook Page

Zander helmet

Editing the shot below, it reminded me of a fleeting moment I had shared with him on the day. Not wanting to hound him on his momentous occasion, I had shyly lurked in the shadows furtively snapping away. However as I skulked my way over to the skid pan in the hopes of finding the makeshift S13 in action, I found it trundling back to the pits and coming right past me. Disappointed but not wanting to miss an opportunity, I raised my camera to my eye in time to catch a large grin from the man himself, waving at me through the viewfinder. Even more disappointing was being late to taking the shot, however remembering back I think the moment summed everything up perfectly for me.

zander leaving skidpan

Here was a man who surely must be going through hell, holding up his middle finger and a huge sign telling life it can take it’s lemons and go f*ck itself.

F*CK CANCER zander

While I was sitting around wallowing in the depression of it all, as cliche as it sounds, this man had been out living his dreams and enjoying every day that he can. I’ve learnt now I think that this isn’t a time for grief, it’s a time to cherish and take a stand and fight while we can. To leave behind our frustrations in a pile of burning rubber. To watch and be a part of the community of drifters and enthusiasts who are banding together to provide an unfathomable amount of support, in a show of generosity that laughs in the face of media stereotypes. Here’s just a small, incomplete list of the help given (for this project alone) that they’re too busy, shunning a minority of hoons, to show on the news:

  • S13 Silvia donated by one of his best friends and fellow drifters, Cameron Marshall
  • Mount Barker petrol – $100 fuel voucher and a full tank of fuel
  • Nistune engine developments – full engine ECU supplied $550 value.
  • Jazmac Performance – full dyno tune and ongoing maintenance and repairs for the life of the car $5000+ value
  • Automotive Brothers – all fluids, filters, plugs and fuel pump supplied – $500 value.
  • Bob Jane Frewville – wheel alignment and 4 tyres – $300 value.
  • Bob Jane Plympton – 4 wheels and 4 tyres – $500 value.
  • Tokyo Prestige – supply and fit heavy duty clutch – $700 value.
  • Exhaust technology – Full custom exhaust being made – $1000 value.
  • Forge Performance – supply upgraded turbo – $700 value.
  • Simonbuilt – supply and fit rollcage – $1300 value.

Zander in lineup2

This is amongst a string of offers and donations of spare parts and all kinds of support from individuals in the scene as well as everything from haircuts, food, luxury accommodation not to mention fundraisers and money-raising auctions from local businesses who all want to lend their support. A GoFundMe account has raised over $45,000 to help support Zander get by day-to-day during the remaining days of his treatment, and help continue giving young Talika support when the time comes.

Zander changing wheels

zander mates helping out

Zander had an outstanding crew of mates helping keep the car running throughout the day

You can read more details on his Facebook support page here: Zander’s Fight Against Cancer

If you are reading this and are inspired to get involved, there are many ways you can help such as:

Or if you’re free this Sunday the 12th you can even just come along to a Biggest Morning Tea event, donate a few dollars, share some refreshments and see Zander in action on the track at Ultra Fast Karts Richmond. You can find the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1063172793755945/

We’ll also hopefully have the car out for show at our next Slow Life meet on the 18th and we’ll gratefully accept and pass on any donations we can conjure up on the night!

Zander entering pits

zander skids

Photo by Sam Kroepsch Photography



Photojournalist - Slow Life Australia

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