Budget end of motorsport spectrum ‘in a good space’

With entries for September’s full Continuous 24-Hour endurance race at Hampton Downs already past his original 100 car/500 driver goal, and ‘fantastic’ interest in his second Sanctioned National Championship Pro Series due to kick off early next month. Novelty endurance race entrepreneur Dr Jacob Simonsen reckons that the budget end of the motorsport sector is in ‘a good space’ as New Zealand slowly but surely emerges from behind the shadow cast by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Certainly, from where I am standing,’ Dr Simonsen said this week, “I couldn’t be happier with the way things are trending. Particularly given some of the headwind’s other motorsport promotors here and overseas appear to be facing at the moment.”

Dr Simonsen says that he has been particularly heartened by the ‘150% positive’ response to his plans to make this year’s Continuous 24-Hour race at Hampton Downs in September not only the biggest – in terms of cars entered and drivers signed up and competing – but also the best…measured in terms of ‘fun being had’ and ‘bang for your entry buck….’ endurance motor racing event the country has ever seen.

“Which is why we actively encourage all our entrants to come up with a theme and to dress up their cars and themselves accordingly. It’s also why we levy all the ultimately silly penalties that we do. At the end of the day, it’s got to be fun……otherwise why go to all the effort and trouble in the first place!”

In saying that Dr Simonsen is well aware that for some of his NaZCAR endurance round regulars simply turning up to compete was no longer enough.

So last year he added the inaugural NaZCAR Pro Series to his schedule of novelty-based 24 Hours of Lemons events.

A two-round series of 3 & 6-Hour endurance races which kicked off at Hampton Downs a year go, the inaugural NaZCAR Pro Series was aimed at 12- & 24-Hour Lemons event regulars keen to step up to a more serious race format, as well as teams of two drivers with a ‘mid-level/speed car’ currently competing in other similar series.’

This year’s NaZCAR Pro Series picks up where last year’s COVID-19-shortened one left off, with three one-day rounds, the first at Hampton Downs on Saturday July 09, the second at Taupo Motorsport Park on Saturday July 30 and the third and final at Pukekohe’s Pukekohe Park Park Raceway on Saturday August 20.

Dr Simonsen says that he is particularly impressed by the number of Lemons event regulars who not only have decided to take up the new challenge that the Pro Series represents but also have decided to build a new car – or even cars – specifically for it.

Having been instrumental in setting up and trialling the 24 Hours of LeMons events in Australia from 2015, Simonsen brought the franchise with him on his permanent return home to New Zealand, where he ran his first 24 Hours of LeMons at Hampton Downs in 2016. He has since run various formats of 12 Hour and 24-Hour races for an ever-expanding group of keen teams, with more than a dozen events under his belt, so far! And needless to say, he reckons he has loved every minute of it.

“Which I’d like to think of as an indication that we are actually doing something right,’ he says.

Ross MacKay is an award-winning journalist, author and publicist with first-hand experience of motorsport from a lifetime competing on two and four wheels. He currently combines contract media work with weekend Mountain Bike missions and trips to grassroots drift days.

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