Three of New Zealand's most promising motorsport stars have been chosen for this year's Tony Quinn Foundation CTFROC shoot-out at Hampton Downs next Wednesday.
The trio will race off for a $70,000 winner-takes-all prize, with the money going towards participation in the 2024 Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship, New Zealand's premiere single-seater racing series that includes the NZ Grand Prix.
Two of the three finalists have been racing this year in single-seater categories in America and Japan while the third finalist is stepping up from success in the New Zealand Formula Ford championship.
Jacob Douglas, 18, made his single-seater debut three years ago in Formula Ford before he headed to the United States for two seasons in the USF2000 championship. Douglas took his first race wins at the end of the 2023 season and hopes to move up to USF Pro 2000 next year.
Fellow 18-year-old Liam Sceats is also targeting the USF Pro 2000 championship in America next year and is currently lying second in the Formula Regional series in Japan having already won three races.
The youngest finalist is current and double NZ Formula Ford champion Alex Crosbie, 16, from Invercargill.
All three finalists have graduated through the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Driver Academy, a prerequisite to selection, and on finals day will get three familiarisation runs before driving a qualifying simulation on new tyres and then a mock race run.
"They will be driving the same car and will get equal opportunity to put their best foot forward on the day," said Daniel Gaunt, HDNZRDA chief instructor. "They'll be judged on driving capabilities, their commercial understanding of the sport and technical feedback."
Last year's shoot-out winner Callum Hedge has shown just how valuable the TQF prize package is to kick-starting an international racing career.
"After winning last year's shootout the Tony Quinn Foundation helped me towards my successful 2023 CTFROC campaign. I feel extremely privileged to have TQF support which has continued beyond New Zealand into my Formula Regional USA season," said Hedge, who is currently leading the American-based series with one round remaining.
Hedge is having a busy season racing in two completely different race cars in two different countries. Apart from racing single-seaters in America, Hedge is also racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup in Australia after he qualified for the Porsche junior scholarship. The 19-year-old Aucklander is currently on target to win two championships across two continents.
Founding sponsor Tony Quinn will be on hand to see the finalists along with TQF trustees Greg Murphy, Steve Horne, John Gordon and Gaunt.
About Tony Quinn Foundation:
The Tony Quinn Foundation was established in 2021 by businessman Tony Quinn, the owner of Hampton Downs, Highlands and Taupo International Motorsport Parks, with the goal of supporting young Kiwi kids with the talent and determination to make it on the world stage. The foundation boasts a wealth of well-connected motorsport industry players who have joined Quinn as trustees.
Over the last two years the TQF has already supported: * A test drive with Triple Eight V8 Supercar team for the Toyota 86 Championship winner: 2021 - Rowan Sheppard, 2022 - Brock Gilchrist. * TQF Grants of $30,000 to Matthew McCutcheon & $37,500 to William Exton & Jackson Rooney for the Toyota 86 Championship. * TQF Travel fund and podium cheques worth over $120,000 for Formula Ford. * Established the Hampton Downs New Zealand Racing Academy. * TQF Grants to Liam Lawson to compete in FIA F2 & Super Formula, Japan. * TQF Grant to Hunter McElrea to compete in Indy Lights, USA. * TQF Grant to Bree Morris to compete in TRS. * TQF Grant to Callum Hedge for Formula Regional US campaign. * TQF Grant to Ryan Wood towards Super2 series, Australia. * Funding grants for New Zealand drivers Liam Sceats & Hayden Bakkerus.
Tony Quinn- Businessman & owner of the Highlands, Hampton Downs, Taupo race tracks in New Zealand and Queensland Raceway, Australia. Part-owner of Triple Eight Race Engineering.
Steve Horne - Owner of former American race team Tasman Motorsports Group - competed in Indy Lights & Indy Car.
Greg Murphy - Former V8 Supercar driver.
Josie Spillane - CEO Highlands, Hampton Downs & Taupo circuits.
John Gordon - Commercial Lawyer & motorsport enthusiast. Director of Limited Partnerships that fund and manage Liam Lawson.
Daniel Gaunt - Professional race car driver & coach.