Bob McMurray: Toyota Racing Series talent a treat to watch
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The long haul that is the Toyota Racing Series is over.
Five consecutive weekends of motor racing, plus the days of practice and qualifying, from the far south to as far north as northern Waikato.
Well over 6500km on the road with more than 50,000 track km on the five racing circuits visited.
Apart from the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Sunday racing at Teretonga, it was a season to be remembered.
I will state again that I am a Toyota Racing Ambassador.
I am not an ambassador because I need the employment or the kudos, but because I believe in the huge efforts Toyota New Zealand (TNZ) makes, in terms of money, commitment, effort and simple dedication to the task, to enable the Castrol Toyota Racing Series (TRS) to be an international series of world status, as well as putting in equal effort to maintain the growing ranks of young drivers in the TR 86 series.
But I want to step outside my official ambassador role for a moment.
It would be unprofessional to comment on just how much money TNZ poured into the sport or make mention of confidences around the organisation, the past, the future or indeed any part of the huge effort that goes into enabling young Kiwi drivers to come up through the ranks in the TR 86 championship and then to hopefully progress to the TRS and beyond.
Without the TRS, there would be no single-seater racing class in New Zealand that would attract young international stars either on the brink of breaking in to major overseas formulae or at the beginning of their hopefully stellar careers.
The often quoted “punching above it’s weight” comment, when it applies to Kiwi racing drivers, would become immaterial without the TRS.
The sport would revert to being a backwater internationally.
In the past few weeks we have seen, among others, two Kiwi drivers who will owe much to the series for planting their names even firmly on the world stage.
The TRS does not guarantee future success but it does give the best showcase of talent for aspiring young male or female drivers.
Yet many in this small pond of the motor sport world have nothing but criticism for the series, or for Toyota Racing in general.
People who have never lifted a finger to help, in any way, with the futures of our young sportsmen and women. Perhaps they think they can do better and, if so, then go ahead.
The TRS has welcomed well over 70 drivers over the years who are still driving in major international competitions. More than 14 drivers have been, or are now, in the Formula 1 sphere.
The majority of those drivers chose to compete in the TRS for two or more seasons. That is impressive for a series run at the polar opposite of the sport’s accepted geographical epicentre. So, how about some praise for the15 years of achievement that the TRS has managed and for the good it has done for the sport’s profile?
Some praise also for Toyota New Zealand to have launched this series so long ago, in the face of much opposition, and for continuing to invest hugely in the futures of our young stars.
Some exceptionally fine talent was on display in this summer’s TRS summer, not least the battles on track between Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong.
We should be grateful that we can watch these sorts of battles in New Zealand. Now I shall find my ambassadorial hat again.