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New Zealand’s Undervalued Impact on Motorsport

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Contributor:
Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino

Brendon Hartley looks like your average teenager with his floppy blonde hair. But the 19 year old Kiwi is one of those privileged few who can truly claim to be living the dream – testing a Formula 1 car with the backing of a giant sponsor in Red Bull. He is the latest in a long line of Kiwi’s making an impact on the world of motorsport – an impact that seems to be undervalued.

The likes of Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon were an integral part of the Grand Prix fraternity in the 1960’s and their legacy continues to this day with New Zealanders plying their trade in all corners of the globe.

Kiwi drivers compete in large numbers in the V8 Supercar Australian touring car championship while the nations A1 GP squad, the self proclaimed World Cup of Motorsport, has been one of the most consistent and best performed nations in A1’s short history – the next round takes place on Kiwi shores at Taupo Motorsport Park.

A star of the past motorsport season was Kiwi Scott Dixon – winner of the illustrious Indy 500 and the IndyCar series champions.

Meanwhile, the team Bruce McLaren created claimed the Formula 1 World Drivers championship with Lewis Hamilton – a team that along with Ferrari is a power of Formula 1, both on and off the track.

But how has a country with a population of just over four million, geographically isolated from motorsport bases in Europe achieved so much?

The only other country with a similar population size and impact on the world of motorsport is Finland.

Both countries have an enormous passion and following for rallying and speedway – categories that test and develop a driver / riders core skills.

With a thriving domestic motorsport community and with an extension of this across the Tasman in the larger scale Australian motorsport, there is an obvious ladder for young Kiwis to develop their skills and progress through the categories.

The next step is then to find the funding to move over to Europe or the United States as young Hartley has done.

Brendon Hartley appears to be the next Kiwi marked for stardom. Hopefully his rise will see his homeland praised for producing another worthy product.

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