Yes, yes, yes, I know, I know, by now a lot of casual readers of my weekly column will no doubt have decided to delve no further into this, my third story on…. The life and (fast) times of Tony Quinn…because, well, because……because they’re sick of hearing his name!
Never mind that he turned what I’ve always understood was only ever supposed to be a little club level piece of tarmac adjacent Cromwell’s prosaic speedway oval into a successful international motorsport-circuit/business & residential park/tourist attraction within a matter of years. Or that he breathed new life into the Hampton Downs circuit just when it needed it.
Seriously, that’s not a bad record for a bloke who doesn’t even live in the country. Yet there are still some of his fellow motor racing fans out there who…………are sick of hearing – or in this case reading – his name?
Sheesh, get over yourselves, you and whoever else dares to voice such negativity in my hearing.
Motor racing has always attracted more than its fair share of chancers, dreamers, fakers, and schemers yet you very rarely hear a word said against them.
But, but, but…. when a bloke with the dream, the drive and – arguably most importantly the bucks in the bank to turn those dreams into reality he – what? – becomes Public Enemy Number 1?
Incredible! But sadly, true for the odd (very!) motorsport fan in this country.
But – again – I digress. I promised in my first column that I would run a ruler over all Tony’s plans, schemes, and scholarships, but in last week’s column I really only got as far as the setting up of his funding entity, the Tony Quinn Foundation, and with it the NZ Racing Academy at Hampton Downs which former full-time racer and now bona fide business associate of Quinn’s, Daniel Gaunt, is running.
So, where to start this week?
The next big ‘get’ by the Tony Quinn Foundation was a test in a Triple Eight Race Engineering Supercar for the winner of the coming season’s Best Bars Toyota 86 series.
“It’s going to be an awesome experience for the winner,” said Quinn when he announced the new initiative “They will see how a top team works from the engineering and technical side to the driving side of things and of course they will have a golden opportunity to catch the eye of those in the team and learn from the best.’
Roland Dane, Triple Eight Managing Director and Team Principal, said they were only too happy to assist when asked – by the team’s new part-owner, Tony Quinn!!! – to support the Foundation.
“Tony’s considerable support of motorsport and the foundations of young driver development in particular is admirable and we’re very happy to support his passion through Triple Eight,” said Dane.
Dane’s star driver and current Supercars championship leader, Shane van Gisbergen, is also full of praise for the initiative.
“It’s really cool to see TQ helping young Kiwi drivers with the Foundation. He’s given me a lot of support over the years and he’s an awesome person to have in your corner, so the drivers who get to be part of the Foundation are very lucky.”
The final link in this extraordinary chain of largesse from the Tony Quinn Foundation is going to a category – Formula Ford – by means of prize pool valued at, at least, $60,000.
Formula Ford single-seaters are seen as the most important national racing category for junior drivers before they venture into either a higher-level single-seater or saloon cars.
The $60,000 package will be fronted by the NZ Racing Academy at Hampton Downs and includes cash prizes for 14 pole awards, a travel fund for competitors who enter the New Zealand championship and test drives for the winners in Toyota Racing Series cars.
In recent months both the North Island Formula Ford (NIFF) and South Island Formula Ford (SIFF) groups have consolidated their rule books and agreed on the same specification tyre, Yokohama, to provide a universal platform for all regional and New Zealand championship events.
“This announcement is tremendously exciting, something never seen before in New Zealand Formula Ford racing,” said Shane Drake, NIFF Chairman who returned to racing in the category last season for the first time since he won the national Formula Ford championship in 1995.
“Adapting to a common Schedule F rulebook across the country is the most important step going forward,” he added, “and now with the TQ Foundation support, I can see the national championship fields swelling to 30 cars.”
Both NIFF and SIFF will host six regional rounds per Island with the New Zealand championship decided over eight races at two Super rounds, one at Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell, and the grand finale at Taupo in March 2022.
The driver who wins pole at each regional round will be awarded $500, with the pole winning driver at each NZ championship round receiving $1010.10, an exact amount explained because 101 is a significant number for Highlands, the first of two New Zealand racing circuits owned by Tony Quinn.
Every time a competitor enters a round of the regional series, they will be eligible to receive assistance from the travel fund to attend the NZ Championship series. If they compete in all six of their regional rounds and attend both New Zealand Championship Super rounds, they will get the most from the $42,000 travel fund.
The fund is designed to assist competitors to travel inter-island for the national championship events.
And the icing on the prize package cake is a test for each regional series winner at the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy in a second-generation Toyota Racing Series FT-50 single-seater. The driver crowned New Zealand Champion will receive a test drive in the current-spec TRS FT-60.