Kiwi motorsport volunteers celebrated with Goodwood experience
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Clichés are often created out of truth, and in motorsport one of the most commonly repeated clichés is that the sport would collapse without the support of volunteers.
New Zealand's largest racing volunteer group is The Motorsport Club, who, while being largely Auckland based, also regularly supply volunteers to events at race tracks across the rest of the country.
Tim Hill (left) and Sam Thomson. Photo / Bob White
For the last two years, the group have given back to their support base by offering a fully funded trip to be a flag marshal at the illustrious Goodwood Festival of Speed hill-climb in the UK for their most dedicated volunteers.
And last year's winner of the prize, 20-year-old Sam Thomson, just returned.
Like many others, Sam got into motorsport volunteering through his father. After being introduced to the timing section, he's become a regular Chief of Timing at tier one race events across the country.
“The Motorsport Club is like a big family. Everyone appreciates what everyone else does,” says Sam.
He traveled to Goodwood, as well as the Le Mans Classic — an event for some of the world's most famous historic sports cars that Sam wanted to add to his roster — alongside Tim Hill from the Historic Racing Club.
“[Goodwood] is the sort of event where you don't really know about it unless you know about it, and if you do then you really do. I've only known about Goodwood for a few years, but in those few years I've watched the live stream and followed it quite heavily."
“Being there was just incredible. There's just so much to see. You look at it on a map and think 'ah yeah, I can do that in a day, it doesn't look that big'. Then you realise that it's most of a kilometre just to get up the hill to look out, then you've got to get all the way down again. It's huge.
“One thing that really stood out at both Le Mans and Goodwood was that I felt so at home. It felt just like being at a race meeting at Hampton Downs or Pukekohe — like just another race meeting, even though it was on this humongous scale, you felt like you were at home.”
Last weekend, The Motorsport Club held their annual awards night at the Hotel Hilton Auckland, where Sam was able to recount his event and where another volunteer would receive the prize for next year's Goodwood event. That volunteer was Paul “Twopie” Carpenter.
“I got absolutely blindsided, no idea this was coming whatsoever,” he laughed, speaking to Driven on the night. “I'm looking forward to it, I'm still trying to get my head around it.”
“I've been with The Motorsport Club for about seven years. I started off on the grids, and being an older sort of gentleman that became really hard work. Especially on the three-day events, we were on our feet for the best part of 12 hours a day.
“I was a bit crook on the Saturday at one event, so I ended up going home early. The following day I heard that they wanted a hand with fire rescue, so I put my hand up and did that for the Sunday … and now that's what I do for the club. And about 18 months ago, I became the head of that department.”
The 2018 Motorsport Club award winner list
Delwyn Elliott Memorial Trophy: Les Saunders
Minions Minties Moment: Chris Howe
David Smith Memorial Trophy: Martin Day
Presidents Trophy U21: Michael Howe
Distinguished Service Award: Elton Goonan
Racing Ray Williams Trophy: Glenda O’Connell
Volunteer of the Year: Steve Collier
Volunteer to Goodwood: Paul “Twopie” Carpenter