I know why New Zealand produces great racing drivers

I know why New Zealand produces great racing drivers

New Zealand has a small pool of racing drivers and a small number of tracks compared to the USA and Europe. We have a small number of classes and series that don’t feature enormous numbers of races. There’s a reasonable selection of circuits, and it’s about to get better with Hampton Downs.  We do have a bit of a travelling logistical problem with the north and south islands, but it’s not like you’re racing in Miami one week and LA the next.

So, motorsport at the top level in New Zealand is more accessible. In the UK and USA I think that there are a lot of chequebook racers. In NZ I don’t think this is the case. Natural talent is much more easily spotted amongst the pool. In the USA there might be 1000 guys in contention for the top spots in various series. In New Zealand there will be 10. In America to be heard above the din of the 1000 you need to have a marketing machine behind you. The best marketers aren’t necessarily the best race drivers.

At some point there will need to be a significant financial outlay – a driver will need to go to Australia, Europe or the USA and prove their worth there. But, at least it’s likely to be the most talented. We’ve seen this with McLaren (who was the recipient of a Driver to Europe scholarship in the late 1950s), Hulme, Radisich, Dixon, Murphy and now Hartley (European open wheelers), Whiddet (international drifting), Coppins (motocross) and Cunningham (Indy Lights).

Let’s hope the situation doesn’t change so that New Zealand can keep fielding racing drivers who show the world the way.

New Zealand has a small pool of racing drivers and a small number of tracks compared to the USA and Europe. We have a small number of classes and series that don’t feature enormous numbers of races. There’s a reasonable selection of circuits, and it’s about to get better with Hampton Downs.  We do have a bit of a travelling logistical problem with the north and south islands, but it’s not like you’re racing in Miami one week and LA the next.

So, motorsport at the top level in New Zealand is more accessible. In the UK and USA I think that there are a lot of chequebook racers. In NZ I don’t think this is the case. Natural talent is much more easily spotted amongst the pool. In the USA there might be 1000 guys in contention for the top spots in various series. In New Zealand there will be 10. In America to be heard above the din of the 1000 you need to have a marketing machine behind you. The best marketers aren’t necessarily the best race drivers.

At some point there will need to be a significant financial outlay – a driver will need to go to Australia, Europe or the USA and prove their worth there. But, at least it’s likely to be the most talented. We’ve seen this with McLaren (who was the recipient of a Driver to Europe scholarship in the late 1950s), Hulme, Radisich, Dixon, Murphy and now Hartley (European open wheelers), Whiddet (international drifting), Coppins (motocross) and Cunningham (Indy Lights).

Let’s hope the situation doesn’t change so that New Zealand can keep fielding racing drivers who show the world the way.

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