The introduction to motorsport was anything but traditional for 23-year-old Alex Hawley, who opted for a Toyota Levin on the Meremere dirt track instead of karting before switching to the tarmac in the New Zealand Formula First Championship and then moving into a Formula Ford.
With his debut season in the New Zealand Toyota 86 Championship now underway, Hawley brings support in a unique form: sponsorship from an entire town, Paerata Rise.
Since its opening in 2018, Paerata Rise is already nearing the later stages of its development and has established itself as a township dedicated to supporting local communities and talent. Their latest sponsorship sees the community backing the Pukekohe local all the way to the finish line.
“We are so proud to announce our major sponsorship of the Paerata Rise Motor Sport driver, car, and support team,” said Shaun Millar, Sales and Marketing Manager of Paerata Rise, ahead of the season.
“Sponsorships like this are such a pleasure. It’s great to get a local team backed by the entire township, and we are so confident they are going to do a fantastic job.”
Hawley was tested by challenging conditions in his debut Toyota 86 Championship round at the Super Sprint Motorsport New Zealand Championship round last month, qualifying 17th in his first competitive laps in the car and finishing 20th in Race 1 and 18th in Race 2.
An unfortunate incident in the feature saw him take contact from another competitor in wet conditions, resulting in a loss of laps on the field while looking likely for a strong result.
While it wasn’t as successful an event as his maiden Formula Ford round, where he secured a victory, Hawley showed continuous growth that will see him challenging the front-runners by season’s end.
“It has taken eighteen months to put this [sponsorship] together,” Hawley said. “It’s epic that an entire town is sponsoring me. When I went to visit them, the support was unreal, and I want to do Paerata Rise proud.”
The deal sees the vehicle, a Toyota TR-86, adorned in the town’s logo’s bright orange and rata flower designs. The car was launched in the township before the season and was met with a highly positive community reception.
Chris Johnson, Executive Director of Paerata Rise, added that “as Paerata Rise grows with major public amenities already underway such as the railway station and park-and-ride, it is amazing to be able to support the community by helping foster young, local talent in this way.”
All money made from the development of the township is invested back into the community, allowing for such a partnership to occur.
Header Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing NZ (Bruce Jenkins)