Rob Howie was born on the 7th December 1972 and after completing his schooling in theJohannesburg area went on to complete a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.
Born into a family of motor racing enthusiasts, he didn’t waste any time getting involved in the sport. While still completing his diploma in 1995, and just 23 years old, he was tasked with running a two-car Group N team for Robbie Smith and Geoff Goddard, two top names in that form of racing at the time. A first season highlight was 4th overall in the 1995 Kyalami 9-hour race – the last time this famous event was run.
The following year Howie joined multiple former circuit racing champion Peter Gough to run his WesBank Modified car and Historic Porsche 911. In 1997 he joined forces with Nic Jooste, the man behind Duncan Vos’ success in Touring Cars. Together they moved away from race-car preparation into the specialised field of race-car fabrication and component manufacturer. Together they became the “go-to” people in this field as all the manufacturers migrated from the ultra expensive imported Touring Cars to locally built vehicles.
Howie honed his ample skills in vehicle fabrication and went on to join Glyn Hall where he was responsible for vehicle fabrication and component manufacture in the programme that would see the first South African built vehicles compete in the Paris Dakar race in 2002. For the 2003 and 2004Dakarevents he worked as a lead technician in the operation – notably for Giniel de Villiers in the 2004 event. In 2005 he was the lead technician on the South African championship-winning Super D production class vehicle driven by Duncan Vos.
At the beginning of 2010 Howie moved across to Castrol Team Toyota with Glyn Hall. His areas of speciality are chassis construction, manufacture of suspension and exhaust components, and all the complex hand-made parts that go into a successful competition vehicle.
He started competing in the ABSA Off-Road championship in 2008 together with Thomas Rundle halfway through the season in Class E. For the 2009 season he joined up with Leeroy Poulter and scored two class wins (Class E). He teamed up with Duncan Vos in the premier Super Production class in a Castrol Team Toyota Hilux in 2010 season. They finished third after winning theCarnivalCity400 and finished on the podium in three other events.
In 2011 he and Vos finished runners-up in the championship with two wins, in the Atlas Copco 400 inKwaZulu-Nataland in the Sun City 400 inNorth West.
In January 2012 he and Vos competed in their first DakarRally, finishing a remarkable 10th overall in theirSouth African Toyota Hilux.
Vos and Howie currently lead the production vehicle category of the Absa Off Road Championship after four rounds from Castrol Toyota team-mates Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin. They won the last three rounds in succession, including the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana in June.
Hopwie is married to Amanda and has a son, Duncan (10).
Scale model building features among Howie’s hobbies, as does salt water fly-fishing where a recent highlight was the tag-and-release of a 1.8 metre sailfish. He enjoys off-road motorcycling and adventure bike riding. He also has a passion for road bikes and loves spending time maintaining his collection of Italian motorcycles in his home workshop.