Tony Quinn wants the NZ Grand Prix
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The drums are beating for the New Zealand Grand Prix to move to Hampton Downs in 2018.
Some of the most famous names in motor racing like Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart are engraved on the trophy.
The once-iconic event has been staged at the Manfeild circuit near Palmerston North for the past decade and has failed to make any kind of impact on the New Zealand sporting scene during that time.
But Hampton Downs owner Tony Quinn is promising to make it relevant again if the event moves to his North Waikato track in the future.
"I would like to do the New Zealand Grand Prix," Quinn tells herald.co.nz.
"I went to the grand prix last year and it was a total embarrassment."
The event is run as part of the Toyota Racing Series and will be staged on February 11-12 next year in the final year of a three-year contract signed by MotorSport New Zealand.
The sport's governing body has since begun using an external promoter for its major summer series and that promoter - Speedworks Ltd - will essentially make the call about where the 2018 Grand Prix will be held.
Hampton Downs is clearly New Zealand's premier racing track and is located halfway between Auckland and Hamilton so will naturally draw on the country's largest population base and will provide easy access to most of the major media and corporate bases but
Geoff Short of Speedworks says it isn't a simple decision. Hampton Downs would be more costly than Manfeild and there has been a thought that Quinn would want to take over the promotion of the event.
"To be honest there is quite a lot to weigh up," Short explains. "We have to see how the calendar works with that and then just to see from a business point of view how the event would work.
"It would have to be a joint venture with Hampton Downs.
"I know Tony has put up his hand and said that he wants the NZ Grand Prix but we need to understand how that would work financially as a business.
"If they think they are going to take that as an event and run it totally then that won't work because that is the jewel in the crown of our calendar as far as I am concerned.
"At the moment we have a joint venture with Manfeild for the NZ Grand Prix this year - so we have partnered with them for it. Certainly they are keen for that to continue.
"Recently the councils have got together down in the Manawatu because they want to retain this event.
"I am yet to have some of those discussions with Manfeild themselves so there is going to be a couple of parties at least and that is assuming we don't look to go anywhere else."
Speedworks could opt to take the event to Hampton Downs by just renting the track rather than joining forces for the promotion of the event but they wouldn't be able to use the full international circuit recently used at the Hampton Downs 101 as that is reserved for Hampton Downs-promoted events.
Short shares Quinn's views about raising the bar when it comes to the New Zealand Grand Prix but he knows that there aren't straight-forward answers either.
"It is about what is going to work for us and work for the event to raise the profile and that is where Tony is screaming and saying this thing needs the kudos it deserves and I totally agree with him - it is just how it all stacks up.
"If we are going to put an event on there in that whole Auckland/Waikato market it is going to take some horsepower - it is potentially Tony's horsepower that could make that happen."
Quinn says he welcomes a discussion with Speedworks about bringing the Grand Prix to his track. He says Short is the best person in the country to be promoting MotorSport New Zealand events and he is looking forward to seeing how the 2017 event goes at Manfeild.
"It will be interesting to see what he does with it this year," Quinn says. "It has been in the doldrums for so long and it is a travesty for the brand doing that with the NZ Grand Prix.
"I'd like to be involved but if I'm not it isn't a game changer."
- NZ Herald
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