The Kiwi Driver Fund has received a one million dollar boost from Tony Quinn, the trans-Tasman motorsport enthusiast and entrepreneur who owns international racing circuits, Highlands Motorsport Park in Central Otago and Hampton Downs north of Waikato.
Quinn has pledged to put $50,000 per annum into the fund for the next 20 years.
The fund, governed by independent appointed trustees, aims to help local drivers compete in the annual Toyota Racing Series.
The fund was set up last year and provided support for Brendon Leitch of Invercargill, James Munro of Christchurch and Pukekohe’s Taylor Cockerton.
Leitch finished third overall, winning one race, while Munro was seventh with three podium finishes and Cockerton in his debut season was ninth in the championship.
“Tony Quinn’s commitment to developing young Kiwi drivers is greatly appreciated,” said Steve Boyce, Toyota New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager.
“We know it’s not easy financially for drivers to step up from the lower motorsport classes to do a full season of the Toyota Racing Series, so making more funding available for talented young drivers who mightn’t have the opportunity otherwise is a great help.”
The fund’s independent trustees consider applications from drivers for funding assistance before each series. Successful applicants use funding to offset some of the cost of leasing a Toyota Racing Series single seat racing car.
Other supporters of the fund include Poste Haste Couriers and Michelin tyres.
The ultimate goal of the Kiwi Driver Fund and the Toyota Racing Series is to get more New Zealand drivers performing at the highest level in international motor racing.
Last year Toyota Racing Series graduate Earl Bamber (Wanganui) won the Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race, while Palmerston North’s Brendon Hartley became the World Endurance Champion in sportscars with team-mates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard.
Previous Toyota Racing Series champions, Aucklanders Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy, have won the GP3 and Japanese Formula 3 Championships respectively and Shane Van Gisbergen is one of the front runners in the Supercar V8 series.