Is history created by default or design?

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

New Zealand motorsport has a rich history, one to be proud of with gratitude to those who have contributed to its creation. This raises the question, ‘Is history created by default or design?’

Sometimes history just happens, the outcome of many undesigned variables coming together, largely by chance. At other times history is created as a consequence of good and deliberate decision making, producing well-planned events and celebrations, leading to (for example, in motor racing) a high level of competitiveness and participation by both international and local drivers and teams.

This raises the question, ‘Is there then a collective responsibility in purposely shaping the future history of motorsport in New Zealand?’

For example, consider the Lady Wigram Trophy (LWT). In 1949 Sir Henry Wigram’s widow Agnes presented a trophy for competition in an international motor race held at the Wigram track. Since then many famous names have been engraved on the silverware, many finding international fame well after they had won this trophy.

Arguably both design and default have created the outstanding history of the LWT. Wigram Air Base was home to the Canterbury (NZ) Aviation Company founded by Sir Henry Wigram and a group of supporters in 1916. In the late 1940s the intervention of Prime Minister Peter Fraser enabled Wigram Air Base to be used for Formula Libre racing.

Since then, many international drivers and Kiwi household names have contested the LWT, building the history that we inherit today. History just doesn’t come to a stop, so we must look ahead to its future as well as reflect on its past. Decisions that are made in the present will determine the history that our sons and daughters will in their day look back on.

That future relies on three formative factors – the decision making of the custodians of the LWT, the existence of a single seater class worthy of competing for the LWT, and the governing motorsport body to facilitate this. Right now, the custodian of the LWT is the Canterbury Car Club. The leading single seater category by default is the Toyota Racing Series. And Motorsport New Zealand is the current governing body of motor racing in New Zealand.

Arguably there is a collective responsibility for the ongoing future history of the LWT and it takes all three current stakeholders to make this happen. If one falters on this consideration, it alone could determine the shape of that future history.

For some time, we have each year a crop of top young international drivers competing in the TRS. Current F1 driver Lance Stroll (pictured) has his name of the LWT (2015) while Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 driver Daniil Kvyat never had this chance because when he competed in NZ in 2011 the LWT was not on offer.

There is a collective responsibility that will determine the future history of the LWT. For the stakeholders not to work together will create a history by default.

Benjamin Carrell

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits both and He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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