Highlands Sprint Series bears fruit with new sponsor and remembers popular local identity

Highlands' popular Sprint Series will carry a new name and honour a popular local identity over the four round series which begins on October 1st.

The Jackson Orchards Sprint Series is a popular 'have-a-go' type racing series where the competitors choose the class that best suits their lap time and not the horsepower rating of the car's engine.

Described as 'grass-roots' racing at its best, this is what attracted local identity Mark Jackson to purchase a Highlands membership and a Honda Integra race car so that he could live-out his motorsport passion. But sadly, Mark passed away suddenly in March 2021 of a heart attack, aged 52.

Having founded Jackson Orchards with his father Kevin, which is coincidentally situated nearby Highlands Motorsport Park, his family wanted to honour his legacy and are pleased to announce their new sponsorship.

"Dad's been thinking about doing something for Mark's memory for the past while and wanted to get involved with Highlands as motorsport was Mark's greatest passion. So when the opportunity for our family business 'Jackson Orchards' to sponsor the race series Mark was formerly involved in, is a great fit," said sister Kristin.

On the programme of the opening three rounds of the Jackson Orchards Sprint Series will be the Fast and Furious 20-minute races, in which the racing is interrupted at any time with a 'safety car' period. This bunches all the cars back together and then they are released for a final dash to the chequered flag.

Open to virtually any saloon car with a minimum of a half-roll cage and a MSNZ log book, the racing attracts a wide range of vehicles from Porsche GT3 Cup to Nissan Pulsar 2K Cup cars.

At the final round a special trophy is awarded to cap off the season. The Mark Jackson Memorial Trophy has been presented for the past three seasons to the winner of the very last race and has been won by three different drivers. Most competitors in the series are relatively new to racing and predominately only race at Highlands.

But Mark was not only a passionate club driver, he also helped out at the local Cromwell speedway track, and raced a jet boat.

"Outside of racing at Highlands, Mark was also a crew member for Jason Scott's speedway car, In his 20's he raced his own jet boat including competing at NZ Jet Boat Marathon level. He went on to become co-driver of Shaun Kelly's Kawerau Jet race boat," said Kristin Jackson. "Together they competed in New Zealand and the USA."

The last three rounds of the Jackson Orchards Sprint Series will be held in March and April 2024.

Rd 1: 1st October 2023
Rd 2: 2nd March 2024
Rd 3: 6th & 7th April 2024
Rd 4: 27th April 2024

2020/21  Mike Driver
2021/22  Brad Rule
2022/23  Kynan Yu

The late Mark Jackson
The late Mark Jackson with his Honda Integra race car. His family business is the new series sponsors.
Kynan Yu
The current Mark Jackson Memorial Trophy winner Kynan Yu.