Hampton Downs race track is about to host its first major event marking the completion of its 18-month transformation.
The upgraded track, half way between Hamilton and Auckland off State Highway 1, will host one of the two New Zealand rounds of the Australian GT Series.
The latest Audi, Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Porsche and BMW cars will contest the AGT Endurance title, in the inaugural Hampton Downs 101 from October 29-30. The event will double as the official re-opening of the circuit.
The Hampton Downs 101 is modelled on the Highlands 101, where competitors complete 101 circuits of the 4km track.
Changes made to Hampton Downs include a new 1.2 kilometre track extension, a 850m international go-kart track, a 4WD track, new corporate and members’ suites, new garages, a pit lane building and some major landscaping work has given it a much needed facelift.
Among the drivers for the Hampton Downs 101, is Greg Murphy who will team up with Tony Quinn in the Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 at Hampton Downs while New Zealand drifting superstar “Mad Mike” Whiddett will make his circuit racing debut alongside Klark Quinn.
The Hampton Downs track was a project started in 2004 by Tony Roberts and Chris Watson. Scottish entrepreneur Tony Quinn entered negotiations with Roberts in early 2015 to buy the track.
“It was always my dream to have a race track in the North Island,” he says.
“There were heaps of issues to sort out at Hampton Downs, but I liked the challenge. I like competition and I like winning.”
Quinn is a passionate motorsport man and a five-time winner of the Targa New Zealand rally.
In 2013 he built a world-class racetrack in Cromwell in Central Otago, where the Highlands 101 is held.
“People thought I was crazy to buy Hampton Downs but there was method in my madness,” he says.
“Having two racetracks means that if any of the big motorsport categories are considering coming all the way to New Zealand for an event, we can offer them two world class racetracks.”
Quinn said he’s seen a lot of motorsport tracks and used that knowledge at Hampton Downs.
“We’ve made a lot of structural changes but the big change for me is the ambience and atmosphere around the place,” says Quinn.
“When I drive in the gates of Hampton Downs now it’s alive and kicking. It’s vibrant and busy and it’s got a completely different feel to 18 months ago.”
“People still come to Hampton Downs for the same reason as they always have, to race their cars and bikes around the track, but I’d like to think they’re having a much better experience now.
“We’ve got some exciting plans in the pipeline to make Hampton Downs a tourist destination that people will want to visit.
“Our tagline is ‘Experience the Exceptional’ and that’s what we aim to deliver at Hampton Downs and Highlands Motorsport Park — exceptional experiences. First and foremost however, I want Hampton Downs to be the number one motorsport track in New Zealand.”
Other classes that will feature as part of the Hampton Downs 101 festival of motorsport in November include the Central Muscle Cars, GTRNZ and the Aussie Racing Cars, one of the fastest and most popular classes in Australia.
Off the track there’s lots of things to do including live entertainment, a family zone and top notch food and drink.
Organisers have made the event free for people under 16 who come along with their parents. There is special ticket pricing for those between 16 and 19 years of age.
Organisers will also have the 101 Road Train Racing Rig visiting Repco stores around Hamilton from October 16 to October 21, promoting the event.
The trailer of the rig features race simulators giving people the chance to post their best time on the Hampton Downs track, to win a VIP day out for two at the Hampton Downs 101 and a hot lap in the Hampton Downs Lamborghini, which will be also be on display.
All those who post a time that has the numbers 101 in it will win spot prizes.
There will be a live leader board on the Hampton Downs website so people can watch progress as the 101 Road Train makes its way around the Waikato from October 16 – 21.
There will be spot prizes awarded on the day, with will include tickets to the Hampton Downs 101, Go Kart, Lamborghini Fast Dash, Hampton Downs Taxi and V8 hot lap vouchers.