Tony Quinn, Hampton Downs and Highlands Motorsport Park owner, and Josie Spillane, the parks COO have been chasing the rights to host the New Zealand Grand Prix ever since he set foot on New Zealand soil and now that they have earned that chance, fate has prevented him from attending.
Quinn, who purchased Hampton Downs in 2016 where the 2021 New Zealand Grand Prix is to be staged, is currently in Australia and is unsure when he will be able to get into New Zealand.
With COVID-19 preventing non-kiwis from entering NZ, Quinn will have to watch the milestone achievement for the park from Australia.
“It is going to horrible,” Quinn explained. “Hosting the Grand Prix is something I have blatantly and publicly said I would move heaven and earth to make it happen.
“I couldn’t have guessed that when we actually made it happen and I wouldn’t get to be there. But these are crazy times – and so far we have got through them.
“I couldn’t give a continental about the rest of the world. All I want to do – at 63 years old – is go between Australia and New Zealand.
“It is one thing having the track and getting to host the Grand Prix but to be able to race in a Grand Prix – I would have paid whatever to race in that Grand Prix and celebrate my mate’s Kenny’s 50th start, that would have been just amazing.”
For a number of years Quinn has chased the New Zealand Grand Prix and it was announced very late last year that Hampton Downs would host the iconic event for the first time.
The decision, made in conjunction with series promoter Speed Works Events, Toyota New Zealand and MotorSport New Zealand, came as a relief in many ways for Quinn.
“There has been no hiding the fact that it has been one of the objectives that I have wanted to do since getting involved with New Zealand,” he said.
“My involvement goes way back to the first couple of Targa rallies that I did – it was good fun and a good bunch of guys and they punch way above their weight.
“I had the chance to build Highlands and that has been a great experience and a great journey and then I had the opportunity to do the Hampton Downs thing and that was another one.
“Through that total journey there was nothing more evident to me than New Zealand has a marvelous place in the world of motorsport globally. It is world renowned and I built the museum at Highlands to recognise that.
“It would be the understatement of 2021 to say that I am super excited that it is going to be held at Hampton Downs.
“There have been a lot of chess moves and things that have had to happen, stars needed to align and people needed to have the confidence that Josie and the team could deliver.
“I have been super impressed with both parks in New Zealand – the teams there have done a marvelous job during COVID and I have been impressed with how they handled everything.
“It is a great reward for everybody that we have secured the Grand Prix and let’s not forget we were very close to hosting Supercars until COVID put the kibosh on that.” We are focused on forging ahead and doing a good job, of whatever we do.
And while the future beyond 2021 is yet to be determined, Quinn is confident the team will deliver an event he’ll be proud of from his armchair in Byron Bay.
The 66th running of the New Zealand Grand Prix will take place this weekend at Hampton Downs. Some of the biggest names in New Zealand motorsport will take part including Shane van Gisbergen, Andre Heimgartner, Greg Murphy, Chris van der Drift, Daniel Gaunt and the legendary Kenny Smith.
It will be Smith’s 50th Grand Prix start and the best field in decades will help him celebrate the milestone.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Mike Marsden January 20, 2021
Posted In: News
Tags: 66th Grand Prix