From growing up in a wooden caravan to building his own state-of-the-art racetrack, this is the remarkable story of Targa champion, Hampton Downs and Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn.
On a frosty and clear morning in the small, Central Otago town of Cromwell, 2012, Tony Quinn and his son Klark stood with an iPad at the edge of an expansive basin of scrub and grass sketching the curves, corners and chicanes of an imaginary race-track. Less than 18 months later, Cromwell was abuzz at the inaugural Highlands 101, with visitors from all over Australasia flocking to Highlands Motorsport Park for the opening of the new 25-million-dollar racing circuit. To some people, building a racetrack in the middle of nowhere might have seemed like an impossible dream, but not to Tony Quinn.
‘To be successful in life you have to think positive and in motorsport, you’ll never win a race unless you’re truly convinced that you can,’ he says. ‘I turn 60 soon and while I’ve achieved a lot in business and motorsport, I’d like to think there’s a lot more to come.’
Having grown up in a wooden caravan in Scotland, it’s been a heck of a journey for a self-made millionaire and petrolhead who also owns Hampton Downs, Darrell Lea Confectionery and a mega-mansion on the Gold Coast.
After selling a failed lawn mowing business called the ‘Lawn Ranger’ in Western Australia, Tony moved to New Zealand in 1994. As Tony says, ‘Where there’s shite, there’s money’. Starting out with a plan to get rid of dead cows in Dargaville, Tony founded a fat-rendering plant called Fatman, which sowed the seeds for a remarkable story of success in pet food, culminating in selling his business, VIP Petfoods, for over 400 million dollars in 2015.