BIGGEST NAMES IN NEW ZEALAND MOTORSPORT TO MEET FOR GALA CELEBRATION
Many have waxed lyrical about this being a “golden era” for motorsport in New Zealand, thanks to the success of our stars all over the globe. And the point is set to be hammered home in November at the inaugural Legends of Speed gala event presented by principal partners the Giltrap Group at Auckland’s Vector Arena.
The “historic gala” event will celebrate the overseas and domestic feats of New Zealand's fastest race drivers, and organisers say some of the biggest names in the sport will be attending.
Leading the group are a number of New Zealand’s biggest overseas success stories from the past 18 months, including; defending IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, this year’s Rally Argentina–winning Hyundai Motorsport combo Hayden Paddon and John Kennard, 2015 World Endurance Championship winner Brendon Hartley, and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Earl Bamber.
Although motorsport continues to largely operate in the shadows of the likes of rugby and cricket within New Zealand’s sporting framework, Dixon’s four IndyCar titles and 2008 Indy 500 win, Paddon and Kennard’s Argentinian breakthrough, and the dual Porsche triumphs for Hartley and Bamber represent some of the New Zealand’s most significant sporting achievements in recent history.
“For the size of our population, New Zealand is extremely well represented in global motorsport by an outstanding group of talented young drivers and engineers who all strive to make a success of their careers and leave their mark in motorsport history,” said event organiser Peter Johnston.
“The Giltrap Group ‘Legends of Speed’ event will bring most of these drivers home for a spectacular one-off night of celebration,” he said. “There has never been a time that so many of the current stars have had an opportunity to be together for an event like this.”
The long list of those who have confirmed they will be attending also includes leading Supercars Championship lights Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin, Fabian Coulthard, and four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy. GT and Porsche Carrera Cup aces Chris van der Drift and Craig Baird will also be present; as well as Japanese Super GT and FIA European Formula 3 Championship pilot Nick Cassidy.
Former GP3 Series and Toyota Racing Series champion Mitch Evans and Aston Martin factory driver Richie Stanaway were set to complete the line-up, but busy European schedules meant neither could commit to the event.
Proceeds generated by the evening will be fed back into the sport through the New Zealand Elite Motorsport Academy training programme as well as the unfolding Bring Back WRC Rally New Zealand campaign, which Hayden Paddon has helped spearhead.
The big visiting names and their stories are likely to be the heroes of the evening but they will be accompanied by a selection of the most sought-after supercars in the country, as well as a motorsport memorabilia auction bolstered with one-off items and offers.
The event announcement comes at an appropriate time, as the motorsport world continues to pay respects to Chris Amon after the former Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner died earlier this month, aged 73.
“New Zealand Motorsport’s international heritage stretches back to a golden era of famous Kiwis who were pioneers and played their part in the sport as it developed into the global sport today,” said Johnston.
“Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Chris Amon, Howden Ganley, and Mike Thackwell all reached the pinnacle of the sport by competing in Formula 1 and they helped to lay the foundations for future generations who aspire to the highest levels.”
●The Legends of Speed presented by the Giltrap Group, November 25.