The Kiwi Driver Fund is seeking support from the motorsport and business communities to expand its work and continue to invest in young New Zealand talent.
Established in 2015, the fund has played a pivotal role in nurturing and developing the latest crop of young motor racing drivers to build their international racing careers.
Already, the fund has seen several of its candidates progress on to make headlines on the world stage.
Formula 2 duo Marcus Armstrong and Liam Lawson have both been recipients of support by the fund and are now just one step away from the ultimate goal of Formula 1.
“It’s a massive part of what helped me get onto the grid,” Armstrong said.
“[The fund is] really important,” added Lawson. “A lot of Kiwi drivers are really struggling to get the funds to compete at this level. It has really helped me and I hope a lot more young Kiwis have the same opportunity.”
The fund provides financial support for drivers entering the annual Castrol Toyota Racing Series, New Zealand’s premier single-seater championship.
Drivers can apply for help with their TRS engine and chassis lease to contest the whole championship. Potential recipients must show they can compete at an international level.
This year’s TRS grid was entirely filled with Kiwi drivers, with many only able to have a seat courtesy of the fund’s support.
“We wouldn’t have been on the grid without [Kiwi Driver Fund] support and this [series win] wouldn’t have been possible without it,” said 2021 champion Matthew Payne.
Bob McMurray, one of the fund’s trustee, says, “[the fund] is probably the single most important instrument for helping drivers take that crucial next step in their careers.
“The Toyota Racing Series gives local drivers a chance to compete directly against the best rising stars from Europe, the UK, Asia and the Americas.
“While drivers from Europe or the USA have championship opportunities literally at their doorstep, the New Zealand drivers must grapple with two further challenges: distance and money. Neither are new, but post-Covid, the difficulty of raising the finance to race at a premier level here in New Zealand is becoming a major hurdle.”
Divers supported by the fund included Brendon Leitch, Taylor Cockerton, Peter Vodanovich, Billy Frazer and Chelsea Herbert.
“We set up the fund when we realised some very good Kiwi drivers were going to miss their chance to progress,” added McMurray.
“We need to ensure continual funding. Looking to the future we’d like the fund to offer support further down the motorsport ladder and even to up-and-coming talent from other motorsport disciplines.”