Motorsport magnate Tony Quinn has launched his latest innovation designed to identify, support and sponsor promising up-and-coming Kiwi drivers.
Trustees of the Tony Quinn Foundation include Quinn, Steve Horne, Greg Murphy, John Gordon, and Josie Spillane.
This year – the first for the foundation – over $200 000 worth of scholarships will be dished out to budding junior drivers who show potential.
To further increase the crop of young Kiwis on the international stage, the foundation are also considering supporting drivers who finish in the top three of both the Toyota Racing Series and Toyota 86 championships.
Quinn says the trustees of the foundation are the ideal “dream team” for supporting young talents.
“Since I built Highlands in 2013 it was always my intention to establish a foundation to help Kiwi drivers with the ambition of making a career from motorsport,” Quinn said.
“We’ve brought together a dream team that can add real value to the process.
“One of the first people I spoke to about the foundation was Steve Horne, who has had a long and distinguished motorsport career all over the world. He’s got the kind of contacts in the sport that money can’t buy.”
Horne was the team manager for Trusports over in the USA.
He oversaw two IndyCar championships and an Indy 500 victory with Bobby Rahal.
Horne was inducted into the New Zealand Motorsport Wall of Fame this year.
He emphasised the importance of the foundation of giving young Kiwi race drivers a stepping stone onto the international scene.
“I’d like to think my little black book of contacts is still relevant and there are probably a few shortcuts I can help young drivers with,” Horne said.
“My motorsport career started in New Zealand in the 60s and I always felt if there was an opportunity for me to give back to the sport in a positive way, I’d like to do it.
“The purpose of the foundation is to give more opportunities to young Kiwi drivers.”
John Gordon is currently working New Zealand Formula 2 driver, Liam Lawson, who came to see him four years ago with the ambition of getting to Formula 1.
Gordon will provide legal and contractual advice to the foundation.
“It starts with talent obviously,” says Gordon.
“Liam is blessed with an incredible talent but he’s also got a golden personality. He’s got a huge smile and he’s wonderful around supporters and sponsors.
“What will make Liam, and any driver we support through the foundation, successful is their ability to work harder than anyone else.
“Liam works incredibly hard on his fitness and he’s incredibly disciplined in everything he does. They’re the kind of qualities we’ll be looking for in the drivers we work with.”
Besides raw talent, financial aid is a massive player in helping a promising driver reach their maximum potential.
However, Quinn stressed that the foundation won’t be solely focused on providing cash assistance to drivers.
Instead, he wants each supported driver to commit everything into becoming the best of the best.
“This is not about throwing a lump of cash at a young driver and saying: ‘Here you go. Have at it,’” Quinn said.
“It’s as much, or more about drawing on the experience and contacts of the trustees in the foundation.
“Any driver we work with has to be prepared for a school of hard knocks.
“It won’t be a holiday. It will be more like boot camp.
“If we don’t think they have what it takes we’ll advise parents not to waste too much money and to treat the sport as a hobby instead of trying to make a career out of it.
“But for the kids who do have the talent and the determination to make it, we’ll do everything we can to help them.”