Motorsport: Jewel of New Zealand motorsport shines bright
Full grid line-ups and close racing helped ensure Pukekohe V8 success
A lot of good things can be taken from the weekend’s ITM 500 V8 Supercars at Pukekohe Raceway.
The first is thatAuckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development’s (Ateed) investment into the event was a success and record crowds attended.
The well-populated corporate suites demonstrated a confidence from the business community in the event and the economy in general.
Great weather conditions added to the party atmosphere, the racing was close and exciting, the drivers generally love the track and a Kiwi was on pole position for the main race.
There were crashes but no injuries bar a bruise or two, and they added to the excitement, although the wallets of some competitors, particularly a couple of Toyota Finance TR 86 series young guns, will be lighter.
If there was a slight disappointment it was the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy once again going to Australia, this time with Jamie Whincup, but at least he was a past team mate of the popular Kiwi driver who died of cancer in 2011.
The most encouraging aspect was the strength of the domestic racing scene. After years of acrimony, legal threat and action, and an often-bitter battle between the entrants and organisers, Kiwi V8 competitors are racing on the same track at the same time and putting on a good show.
This can only get better as the people who have managed to drag the warring factions together work determinedly towards a performance parity formula. We can look forward to even better and closer racing.
An ego in motorsport is essential. It defines the competitor and the need to succeed. But those egos are being put aside for the betterment of the sport .
A grid full of V8 race cars will bring crowds to the “Summer of Motorsport” in New Zealand.
Similarly the Toyota Finance 86 Championship now has a big grid of cars, and young and “not so young” drivers in close competition. This is an ideal training ground for young drivers.
Combine these series with others later in the season, for instance, the Formula Ford and the Toyota Racing Series, and the sport’s future in this country may well have turned a corner. A good show brings the crowds and once the crowds come, the sponsors will follow and, with them, bigger grids and a better show.
Hopefully we will see more young Kiwis joining the likes of Shane Van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin, Fabian Coulthard and Andre Heimgartner in the V8SC series.
There was talk of adding another New Zealand V8SC event to the calendar but that, I think, would be a bad move.
The support for the event and the crowds attending would be halved, not doubled, and no suitable race track exists, at this time, in or around the population and infrastructure that Auckland can offer.
The Pukekohe V8 Supercar event, annually, is the jewel in the crown of New Zealand motorsport and is clearly not a flawed jewel.