Going flat out down the back straight of a race track is a ‘bucket list’ experience for many people. Now Hampton Downs are helping make dreams a reality with their new HD Auto initiative.
Hampton Downs owner Tony Quinn reckons signing up for an HD Auto track day could be good for your mental health.
“Cars today are made to do 250km/h but most people, when they’re behind the wheel, are stuck in traffic in the city or struggling to stay under the 100km/h speed limit on the open road. It must be very frustrating,” says Quinn. “In days gone by you used to be able to take a car out to a country road and have a bit of a blat but you can’t even do that anymore. HD Auto is designed to let people have a drive on a racetrack to see if they like it. It’s a chance for them to dip their toe in the water, a chance for people to drive their cars the way they’re supposed to be driven in a safe environment.”
This brand new concept offers drivers regular and affordable access to track days on the new 1.2km club circuit and once a year on the 2.7km national circuit. Drivers must pay a $50 annual registration fee and each HD Auto track day will cost $150 (plus a $25 Health & Safety levy). Your registration will get you the following: a personalised HD Auto Card which will give you access to all HD Auto track days (after your 15-minute induction on day one, it will be your licence to drive at Hampton Downs); access to the end-of-year HD Auto BBQ; priority booking window for HD Auto track days before they are publicly announced and one free session at Hampton Downs Go Karts (opening November 3).
“People can bring along any car they want, from a little smart car to a Ferrari,” says Hampton Downs Track Manager, Elton Goonan. “As long as it’s got a WOF or a Motorsport New Zealand log book and it’s up to track standard – ie it has good tyres and good brakes – then you’re good to go. We’re hoping to do something like 10 track days a year we’ll also do some twilight evening sessions which will allow people to shoot out to the track after work.”
“Track time will vary but on a full day session the plan is to give each driver six 15-minute sessions on track. Drivers will be categorised according to experience – novice/beginners, slow, fast and quick – so you’ll always feel comfortable on track. There’s no racing and cars will be let out of the pits in five-second intervals. If drivers want to bring passengers in the car with them they need to have a Motorsport NZ approved roll cage and the all the standard safety gear including a helmet, overalls and closed shoes.”
Despite the need for safety gear, Tony Quinn insists it’s as safe as it possibly could be.
“The club track has been built in such a way that it’s very safe,” says Quinn. “There are very few barriers and there are big run off areas so there’s very little chance of damaging your car. And it’s ridiculous value compared to what you’d pay elsewhere in the world. In Monza in Italy for example, it costs something like €800 for a morning on the track. People say we don’t cater for the grassroots at Hampton Downs which is absolute nonsense. This is specifically designed for the grassroots of motorsport and also for people who want to have a taste of driving around a track at speed.”
The first HD Auto Track Day is on Saturday, October 22. Other confirmed dates are: Sunday, November 13; Saturday, December 17; and Sunday, January 8.