Invercargill racing driver Jamie Conroy has reached an interesting junction in his motorsport career.
Since bursting onto the national scene three years ago Conroy has achieved extraordinary success, winning both the New Zealand and South Island Formula Ford titles in his debut season before stepping up to the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) in 2015. The success continued when he won in the highly competitive category against seasoned international opposition in just his second weekend in the series.
After such a promising start the target was a full tilt at TRS again in 2016, however a budget shortfall meant Conroy was instead tasked with testing duties of the series test car, which provided a unique opportunity to work alongside a professional racing business. This added to Conroy’s experience gained last winter when he travelled to America, where he immersed himself in the Road To Indy racing scene. While there, he had the opportunity to work with USF2000, Pro-Mazda and Indy Lights teams, which culminated in a successful test drive with a USF2000 team.
Conroy was back on track at last month’s motor race meeting at Teretonga Park in Invercargill however, taking many by surprise when he lined up for a drive in the Holden Commodore V8 of Nathan Pilcher, fresh from the NZ Touring Car Series this season.
Conroy took the opportunity to drive the Commodore in the Clubmans races as he contemplates his future in motorsport. With just a dozen laps under his belt the day prior to the event Conroy gave an excellent account of himself taking two second and two third placings on debut.
Conroy admits he was on “a steep learning curve.” “There were a lot of things out of my normal comfort zone. Changing gear with my left hand and breaking with my right foot were different but the biggest thing was the roll in the body. You have to wait for the car to set itself in corners before you hit the throttle, a complete contrast to TRS!” However Conroy was immediately competitive and knows there is more to come. “With more laps there is definitely a few more tenths in me and we can make more changes in the car too. Nathan also tells me that new tyres would make a huge difference. I was keen to see if this was a possibility worth pursuing and from that aspect it was a worthwhile experience.”
Now Conroy has to decide which way to take his career from here. “First of all I would love to be involved in the South Island Endurance Series later this year,” he says. “I am starting to look in that direction. It’s hard to work out which way to go. I will take it step by step. The weekend was valuable. The experience showed that I am reasonably competent in a V8 Touring Car. I will be talking to people about going forward with that too.”
Having excelled in everything he has driven to date there is little doubt that wherever he chooses to race Jamie Conroy will be a frontrunner.