Scott Dixon, Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin and Liam Lawson are just the latest in a long line of New Zealand drivers to make their mark on the world stage. A new scholarship from Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy in association with the Tony Quinn Foundation will offer two young drivers the opportunity to follow in the footsteps (or tyre treads) of their motorsport heroes.

The Tony Quinn Foundation is a new initiative driven by Tony Quinn, the owner of Hampton Downs and Highlands with the goal of supporting young Kiwi kids with the talent and determination to make it on the world stage. The foundation boasts a wealth of well-connected motorsport industry players including Tony Quinn, Steve Horne, Greg Murphy, John Gordon, and Josie Spillane.

The first cab off the rank for the foundation is the 2021 ‘TQ FOUNDATION Shootout’ at Hampton Downs at the end of the year. New Zealand drivers who take part in any of the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy programmes in 2021 and have shown they’ve got what it takes to be competitive in a race car, will be eligible for selection. A total of six drivers will be invited to take part in the shootout based on their performances on the track during the academy programme.

As part of the ‘TQ FOUNDATION Shootout’, the drivers will be put through their paces on the national circuit in a series of timed and head-to-head challenges. The judging panel of Greg Murphy, Steve Horne, Tony Quinn and Daniel Gaunt will also be looking for drivers with that X-Factor. That includes the ability to work with sponsors, cope with the demands from media and other stakeholders, and have the personality and drive to succeed in the
ultra-competitive motorsport world.

Two lucky drivers will walk away from the shootout with funding towards a full season in the Toyota 86 Championship or Castrol Toyota Racing Series (TRS). The Tony Quinn Foundation will contribute $30,000 to the winner of the Toyota 86 shootout and $70,000 to the winner of the TRS scholarship to go towards funding a season in the respective championships.

“Toyota’s involvement in motorsport in New Zealand is focused on finding New Zealand’s next world champions,” says Andrew Davis, Marketing Manager for Toyota New Zealand.

“The TRS and Toyota 86 Championship have been a proving ground for lots of young Kiwi drivers including Liam Lawson, Callum Hedge, Marcus Armstrong, Mitch Evans, Nick Cassidy and Daniel Gaunt. They’re a proven pathway for young drivers and it gives Kiwis an opportunity to test themselves against the best young drivers in the world for a much lower budget than heading overseas. Aligning ourselves with the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy, the Tony Quinn Foundation and this new scholarship fits with our aim to get more Kiwi drivers involved in the sport and onto the world stage.”

Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy was launched at the end of 2020 to upskill and support local and international drivers at a world-class facility. The academy is primarily designed for up and coming drivers to learn basic and advanced driving skills. That might be someone looking to make the jump from go-karts to cars or more experienced drivers who want to hone their racecraft skills.

“We’ve had such a great response from the motorsport community since we opened last year,” says Daniel Gaunt, the chief instructor at the academy. “We’ve already worked with some talented youngsters who have gone on to impress in national events in 2021. This scholarship is a real opportunity for kids who might not have the financial backing to fund a motorsport career to get a foot in the door and prove they’ve got what it takes.”

As well as funding, the winners will be able to draw on the knowledge and contacts of the foundation trustees who all have considerable experience of the motorsport industry in New Zealand, Australia, the US, Europe and Asia. That access to other drivers, team owners, and the Hampton Downs and Highlands members, will be a huge advantage to any young driver looking to make their mark in the sport.

“We’ve hand picked our trustees for their experience, commitment and passion for the sport,” says Josie Spillane, Chief Executive Officer of Highlands and Hampton Downs Motorsport Parks. “The aim of the foundation is to build a hub for Kiwi motorsport that connects the talent in this country to the global kiwi motorsport community. We see it as a place to identify up and coming talent and then work out a pathway to support them into a motorsport career. Partnering with Toyota makes a lot of sense because we see Toyota as a key stakeholder in the future of motorsport and their ongoing investment is critical to the growth of NZ motorsport both domestically and globally. ”

This year the Tony Quinn Foundation is committing over $200,000 to scholarships and categories for emerging talent and will also consider further support for any Kiwi that finishes in the top three in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series and Toyota 86 Championship — with dollar for dollar funding towards their next campaign. Quinn is also a key contributor to the Kiwi Driver Fund, investing $50,000 per year along with other supporters of New Zealand

“We’re not reinventing the wheel with this foundation and scholarship,” says Tony Quinn. “The Kiwi Driver Fund and individuals like Sir Colin Giltrap and his sons Richard and Michael, Kenny Smith, Peter ‘PJ’ Johnson, and many others, have been supporting Kiwi drivers for a long time and I want to continue to build on the great work they’ve done. Young Kiwi drivers seem to have this incredible ability to get the most out of a race car and I want to help develop the next generation of talent.”

“I’ve invested a fair bit of time and money developing two world class racetracks in New Zealand. I’ve been focused on the business, the members and the tracks but the time is right to focus on helping our young drivers on the start of their journey. Motorsport has been good to me and I feel lucky to be able to give something back.”

The scholarship shootout is not for the faint-hearted or for drivers with no racing experience. This is for drivers with aspirations of competing at the highest level and who are committed to making a career from the sport. Drivers who dream about being the next Scott Dixon, Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin or Liam Lawson.

The Toyota 86 Scholarship Shootout will be held on September 21 at Hampton while the Toyota Racing Series Scholarship Shootout will be contested on November 9. For more information and eligibility criteria visit www.hamptondownsacademy.com