Tony Quinn, the owner of Highlands Motorsport Park, is excited about seeing the full potential of his recently-acquired Hampton Downs facility realised over the next 16 months, and how it will complement his existing motorsport venue in Central Otago.
Quinn confirms that the purchase of the north Waikato race track and its surrounding 150 hectares was completed on 2 June as scheduled and is already progressing plans to undertake a number of projects which will see the facility completed as per its original plans and re-launched with a major international event in November 2016.
“I’ve been sharing some of my plans with Hampton’s managing director Tony Roberts, operations manager Gary Stirling, and business and marketing manager Claire Gullidge, who are all staying in their existing roles for at least six months,” Quinn says. “What I’ve asked them to do over the next week or so is write down all the things we should be doing that will make a practical benefit to the park, its operation, and look and feel, so we can get all these things going.”
Quinn then intends to have tender documents produced fairly quickly for the bigger projects, such as the construction of corporate suites and a control tower above the pit-lane garages, a go-kart track, a second skid pan and a track extension which will add a kilometre to the existing 2.8km layout, so quotes can be obtained and contracts issued over the winter for work to start in spring.
“There are four or five different projects which can all be tackled by different contractors at the same time without affecting the day-to-day track operation. There’ll be a flurry of activity when spring sets in and I expect a fair bit of finished work by Christmas and into early New Year.
“There are a couple of important things I want people to be clear on. Firstly, I don’t want people to confuse Hampton Downs with Highlands. Highlands is a totally separate business model to Hampton’s – Highlands is a tourist venue that caters to tourists year round with a small number of high profile motorsport events each year. Hampton Downs is an absolute flat-out race track. It’s used 330 days of the year for racing, corporate days, testing and the like. That will continue.
“Secondly, the track is absolutely open for business now and will continue to be; nothing’s going to change. Anyone that’s got a booking now, that’s fine. All the projects we’re doing are outside the normal day-to-day operation of the track, but people will start to see the new facilities being completed and used as we head into next year and the GT extravaganza we have planned as the park’s re-launch in November 2016.”
Quinn stresses his desire to complete Hampton Downs the way it was originally intended to create a world-class motorsport park that complements Highlands.
“I was excited, like everyone else, when Hampton Downs was first talked about and Chris Watson and Tony Roberts embarked on this ambitious plan to build a fantastic facility on the outskirts of Auckland, in the rolling hills of North Waikato. It seemed like an idyllic project within easy reach of Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton. I want to finish it properly and it’s going to be an exciting project.”
“In about 16 months’ time it’s going to be a truly fantastic facility to visit and there’s no doubt that Hampton Downs and Highlands are going to be the two best tracks in New Zealand. If we have any international categories here, it would be sensible to expose them to fans at both Hampton and Highlands.
“Already we’ve told our Highlands’ members that they are most welcome to use Hampton Downs as one of their membership privileges, and we will also introduce memberships at Hampton Downs that will give members certain privileges including access to a pretty fancy members’ lounge where members and their partners can mix and mingle and enjoy the premier status of being a member.
“There’s another thing to remember – Claire has a great saying that Hampton Downs is a friendly track. Everyone’s got different things that they want to do at the circuit, and the role of Hampton’s staff and the facility itself is be friendly and accommodate what people want to do.
“We just ran a competition in Australia amongst our 900 staff asking them to give us some ideas what we should do with some of the facilities – it was amazing, we got about 40 fantastic ideas that we’re now working on. We want to listen to people’s suggestions for Hampton Downs, so what we’re saying to people and to staff tell us what you think would be a good idea, what would work, if it’s practical and doable, we’ll do it.”