Highlands bids to host NZ Grand Prix


A racetrack near Queenstown is bidding to host the New Zealand Grand Prix.

Cromwell’s Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn on Saturday formally presented a proposal to MotorSport NZ to host the event from 2015-17.

Pet food millionaire Quinn says: “One of the things on my bucket list is to hold the New Zealand Grand Prix at Highlands and I will do whatever it takes to accommodate this.

“We want the New Zealand Grand Prix to be the first Grand Prix of each year, before the opening round of the Formula 1 season in Melbourne in March.”

The NZ Grand Prix is currently the feature race of the Toyota Racing Series season. For the past six years, it’s been run at the Manfeild Autocourse near Palmerston North.

Highlands’ general manager Mike Sentch says: “The MotorSport New Zealand executive was open to new ideas and interested to know more about our ideas to bring a level of glitz and glamour returned to this unique event on the world calendar.”

The New Zealand Grand Prix is one of only two current national Grand Prix events that are not part of the Formula One calendar, the other being the Macau Grand Prix. 

“This is should make the event particularly noteworthy, both nationally and internationally,” Sentch says.

“From the mid-1960s to the mid-70s, when it was part of the Tasman Series, the whole motor-racing world followed the New Zealand Grand Prix.”

Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden and Central Otago mayor Tony Lepper are supporting the bid.

More than 25,000 spectators attended the first-ever race meet at Highlands in November.