‘Build it and they will come’ approach works for NaZCAR Pro Series promoter Simonsen

Call them cliches, homilies, truisms, Auckland businessman-turned motorsport event promoter Dr Jacob Simonsen doesn’t really care. What is important to him are happy, contented ‘customers’ and plenty of them.

“So, yes,” he said this week,” the quote I particularly like at the moment is the one from the movie, Field of Dreams, where the main character, played by Kevin Costner, is inspired to build a new baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield on his farm in Iowa after hearing a voice telling him; ‘Build it and they will come.’

“One of lessons I learned in business is that if you have a good idea, and you back it and yourself 110% people will respond to it and to you in a positive way. And that is exactly what has happened with our various LeMons and NaZCAR 24 hour events, and now with our new NaZCAR Pro Series which kicks off at Hampton Downs next Saturday.’

Despite plenty of nay-sayers early on Simonsen has grown his novelty-based 24 Hours of LeMons events over the past six years to the point where he has already had to cap entries for the next one –  the re-named 24 Hours of NaZCAR event in September – with over 100 teams (500+ drivers) registered.

And next Saturday the first (of three) rounds of his first ‘serious’ 3 & 6hr New Zealand Championship-status Pro National Endurance Championship series (aka the 2021 NaZCAR Pro Series) has attracted at least 28 entries.

“Which is not bad, not bad at all,” says Simonsen, “particularly considering it is a full endurance event, one requiring a hell of a lot more organising and planning than a typical club day.

What Simonsen has effectively done is ‘grown’ his own pool of potential Pro Series entrants by introducing them to organised motorsport via his ‘fun’ split and continuous 24 Hour races, then – once they have a car, and a team of mates to share the costs and inevitable fun with – given them something which is still 100 % achievable yet a little bit more serious – more pukka – at the same time, complete with a NZ title, to set their sights on.

The three-round series of 3 & 6-Hour NaZCAR Pro Series races start on Sat. July 17 at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in the northern Waikato.

The second round is back at Hampton Downs on Saturday August 14, with the third and final moving to Pukekohe’s Pukekohe Park Raceway on Saturday September 04.

In order to keep things affordable Simonsen has strictly targeted ‘teams of drivers of mid-level, mid-priced, mid-performance cars’ with many of those who he entered the first round next Saturday already veterans of the 2K Cup, Honda Cup, or the BMW, Mazda or SsangYong Racing Series.

Entrants will be divided into various classes at each round based on time ‘bands.’ There will be various classes from Pro 1 (cars capable of lapping the 2.8km National Circuit at Hampton Downs between 1;15.00 and 1.17.999 seconds, to Pro 4 (for cars capable of lapping in 1;27.00 to 1:33.00.)

Simonsen recently completed a major re-branding exercise of his portfolio of motorsport events under the new ‘umbrella’ brand, NaZCAR, and the setting up of the Pro Series marks a victory of sorts for the Auckland man and his efforts to set up an alternative to the events – and arguably more importantly, the infrastructure and processes of – long-time incumbent administrator of motorsport events in this country, MotorSport NZ.

“We want, ‘ he says, “to offer ANYONE the opportunity to compete in a serious motorsport race with the possibility of becoming an NZ Champion…..without having to spend a fortune or struggle through needless red-tape…”

Simonsen was instrumental, for instance, in setting up the Australasian Auto Sport Alliance, a 100% NZ-owned-and-operated agency of Australia’s independent motorsport permitting, licencing and insurance provider, the Australian Auto Sport Alliance.

‘The key issue for me,” he says, “were the processes we had access to with the AASA; everything was on line so it was much more cost-effective, both for me to run my events and people – especially those new to motorsport – to enter them.”

For more information on the inaugural three-round NaZCAR Pro Series go to nazcar.nz/pro-series or check out the NaZCAR page on Facebook.

Ross MacKay

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 a day job editing NZ4WD magazine with contract media work, weekend Mountain Bike missions and towing his 1989 Nissan Skyline drifter to grassroots meetings around the North Island.

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