Tony Roberts and Chris Watson have been motor racing friends for over 20 years and through the 1990’s shared a dream with a small group of enthusiasts to build another motor racing facility around Auckland.
Both have raced cars for a long time, with Tony starting in 1972 in an E Type Jaguar, then a Lotus Elan, Mallock U2 and Formula Vee. Tony raced Alfa Romeos and Chris raced TR’s through the 1980’s, with Tony then moving into a powerful Corvette and Chris into a TR V8 for the Sports and GT series in the 1990’s. Tony won the Series two years in a row and then moved into the McLaren world, racing the ex Peter Revson 1972 M16 Indianapolis car, then buying a Can-Am M12 sportscar from Japan. F5000 racing followed on from there. Chris also has a F5000 under restoration and is racing a BMW to keep his hand in!
See below for Chris Watson and Tony Roberts at the Hampton Downs Official Opening –
Sunday 24 January during the NZ Festival of Motor Racing celebrating Bruce McLaren.
What the directors wrote about the NZ Festival of Motor Racing celebrating Bruce McLaren
As the owners of Hampton Downs, we are delighted to welcome you to the first major motor race meeting at Hampton Downs.
After many years of planning and countless hours of work and meetings, it is fantastic to have this international Historic race meeting here. We welcome all the drivers and supporters who have travelled long distances to attend this event. It makes all our efforts worthwhile to see so many people enjoying New Zealand’s first fully integrated Motorsport Park It has taken us six years to get to this stage of the development, and there is still a lot more development to be done.
Developments over the next 10 years include the 1.2km track which then can be combined with the present track to give a track length of 3.8 km. Other developments include a Kart Track, a Lodge and camping ground, a SUV training course, driver training skid pan, Commando course, paint ball arena, and 15000 sqm of automotive showrooms. In the area to the west of the track the ground is being prepared for New Zealand’s first Motorsport Village.
Elsewhere in this programme there are details of the business apartments that Hampton Downs are now selling. In the centre of the village will be a village square that will include retail shops and a Tavern. This village will be surrounded by various commercial buildings.
Many of the ‘locals’ appreciate the economic benefits that the Park will bring to the area, with the creation of up to 500 jobs and the improvement of all the associated local amenities. Since the closure of the Meremere Power Station, the local hapu of Tainui, Ngati Naho, have especially lamented the lack of employment opportunities in the area. Nearby, the township of Te Kauwhata, with its vineyards and rural charm, is destined to undergo a boom with the influx of people and new business opportunities.
The track licence for Hampton Downs will be held by the dynamic Historic Racing Club (HRC), which already runs some of the largest race meetings in New Zealand. Last years HRC meeting at Pukekohe totaled 18,000 spectators and was New Zealand’s third largest race meeting.
At a time like this it is difficult to single out organizations and individuals who have enabled our vision to become a reality. But we cannot let the occasion pass without thanking Clayton Reid and his team at Ross Reid Contractors, Colin Wade and his team at Fosters, our bankers BNZ Partners, Dr Peter Goldsmith and his team at Fraser Thomas Engineers, Poul Christie and his team at Idac Construction, and the Mayor of Waikato District Council Peter Harris and his team. Without your support this project would not have happened.
Thank you! To everyone at Hampton Downs this weekend, we trust you will enjoy the NZ Festival of Motor Racing celebrating Bruce McLaren. We hope you will visit us again. We have lots of varied and exciting events planned for the future.
With our best wishes,
Tony Roberts and Chris Watson