The revitalisation of Taupo International Motorsport Park, under the new ownership of Tony Quinn, began with the successful launch of the GT Membership last month amid renovations and big plans for this stalwart of motorsport on the Central Plateau
Tony Quinn, who purchased Taupō International Motorsport Park in late 2021 and owns Highlands and Hampton Downs motorsport parks, says replicating the successful GT Membership model employed at the sister tracks was always the plan.
“On the back of the initial success of the membership at Highlands in the South Island over nine years ago now, Taupō was identified as the ideal North Island track for a membership programme in that people could stay in the region with their families, spend a day at the track and enjoy all the other great things Taupō has to offer,” Quinn said.
“For various reasons the Taupo purchase didn’t eventuate at the time, so we obviously pressed on with Hampton Downs where the membership model was equally well received.
“As time marched on though, it was obvious to the Taupō circuit’s incumbent shareholders that a substantial amount of investment was going to be needed and that’s how we were able to revisit discussions around acquiring the track.
“I’m absolutely delighted we’ve now achieved that and now own Taupo. The bones of the facility are brilliant. The whole place is well built and positioned so well for tourism and what we want to do. The racing season in New Zealand in reality is only about 6 months so Taupō will become a member’s track, like Highlands and Hampton Downs.”
Equally excited about Taupō’s future is Josie Spillane, Chief Executive Officer at Highlands, Hampton Downs and Taupō International Motorsport Park.
“Taupō International Motorsport Park has been through such a journey over the years, and we really want to encourage people to come back and experience the track again,” Spillane said.
“As a result, we have put together a great GT Membership offer in year one so people can come back and dip their toe in the water without paying the normal joining fee. Our existing GT Membership programmes now also extend to Taupō International Motorsport Park.
The GT Membership model has been welcomed by veteran Taupō circuit user and one of its first members, Simon Gilbertson, who says it has completely reinvigorated his and his friends’ enthusiasm for the venue and its future.
“When you’re running a race team, you need to deliver consistency for your team and your partners.
“Aside from testing and achieving good results on race day, you want to offer regular corporate days, hot laps and other track hospitality opportunities.
“We feel with Tony and Josie’s track record, we have that consistency. They understand challenges we face as team operators and competitors and work with us so we can deliver a better motorsport offering as a whole.”
Motor racing will remain a core focus
While the focus on creating another successful membership offering and a venue for audiences beyond the core motorsport fraternity is key to making Taupō thrive, Quinn assures the circuit’s regular racing programme will remain and there’s an appetite to expand on the rich racing heritage of the track.
“The one thing we really want to make Taupō famous for is the historic Grand Prix. New Zealand has got a lot of history with those cars and it’s just such a great weekend of racing.
“But we’re also talking with the likes of the Australian Superbike Series (ASBK) about making a trip next year, nothing is confirmed, but they have certainly spoken favourably about Taupō as a potential Trans-Tasman destination. My arms couldn’t be open far enough to welcome them, there’s a great ambiance with bike racing, a really great family atmosphere and really exciting racing.
ASBK isn’t the only Trans-Tasman series Tony would welcome.
“Everyone says talks about how interesting a double header event with Auckland for Supercars, TA2 and Carrera Cup could be. There’s been talks, but honestly, that’s as far as things have gone for now.”
Tourism, conferencing and events another big focus for TIMP
Regardless of what cars or bikes take to the circuit over coming years the reinvigorated direction for Taupō International Motorsport Park is one Josie Spillane is excited to be overseeing.
“Taupō gives us a big opportunity to establish another destination track. The wider Taupō region offers so much, and we want the track to be re-established as a big player in tourism, conferencing and business events. We have seen considerable growth at Hampton Downs in these areas, so we know what works: mostly that is providing great service and a modern, high-quality venue.”
Initial renovations are already underway at the track, with Josie saying 2022 will be a bit of a learning year as the circuit becomes a full and recognisable part of the network.
Plans are afoot to build a new Go Kart track – to rival the success of similar tracks at Hampton Downs and Highlands – and will be open before next summer. Opportunities for the public to get out on the main motorsport track in various vehicles are also in the plans.
“Getting involved in the communities surrounding the circuits is important to the organisation also and the view is to engage with the broader Taupō community in other ways. We’ve been privileged to be able to operate within a community like Cromwell and hopefully we bring opportunity to it through what we do. In time, Taupō will be the same,” Spillane said.
“With Taupō strengthening our proposition, we now have the best three circuits in New Zealand and we’re very proud of that.
“Together as a team we’ve built fantastic facilities and created experiences for people from all walks of life. Taupō International Motorsport Park represents the next chapter.”
If you’re interested in the GT Membership programme or holding your next business event at Taupō International Motorsport Park, contact Anna McDonald on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.taupomp.co.nz