Helping keep KartSport on track

A vibrant karting scene in New Zealand has helped foster some of the country’s best on-track talent for many decades. But skills learnt as youngsters in competition are thoroughly translatable into other facets of later life, says KartSport New Zealand President, Graeme Moore.

There are many parallels to be drawn between the race careers of Brendon Hartley, Scott Dixon, Mitch Evans and Haydon Paddon. But at the very beginning of their time on-track, these world-beating Kiwis all shared one key commonality: their formative time in karting.

It’s a sport which holds a place in thousands of young Kiwis hearts. It’s also near and dear to the Giltrap Group. 

“The support of the Giltrap Group has been fantastic,” says Graeme Moore, KartSport New Zealand President. 

“Our competitions manager, Warrick Parkes, is away from base every weekend managing track work, training and events; it’s a huge undertaking so to have the Giltrap Group supporting KartSport New Zealand with a sponsored vehicle allowing Warwick to get around is crucial. 

The “B’ute Partnership”, as Graeme calls it, includes two KartSport New Zealand-liveried Holden Colorado utes for the sport’s administration team to use. 

“The Giltrap Group’s passion for motorsport and commitment to helping our country succeed at the absolute pinnacle of the sport is already well known. So, to have them backing KartSport really is the ultimate endorsement,” he says. 

Graeme also believes that the values and skills young Kiwis learn through karting – both as drivers and off the track – are invaluable, translating to business and industry in later life. 

“Ex-kart racers I come across are generally consummate professionals. When you think about it, these people as young kids have to be professional, humble, protect their position in the protest room and thank sponsors; all positive attributes of business which karting helps instil in them at an early age.” 

While Auckland and Christchurch remain the big centres for karting in New Zealand, Graeme says that the provinces have always been strong on motorsport, necessitating travel around the regions and relying on a large pool of enthusiastic volunteers to ensure club events run smoothly. 

“We rely on hundreds of volunteers to ensure kids and adults alike have fantastic, competitive and fun days on tracks around the country. But it’s getting more difficult these days to ensure volunteer-based support. This has meant we as an association have had to become much more professional.” 

Graeme says that in addition to Warrick Parkes, whose role is full-time, KartSport New Zealand has also recently appointed a new General Manager, Rob Wakelin, with the idea that the association will be much more visible with clubs on a regular basis. 

“Maintaining membership and growing it are key tasks. We actually do pretty well in this regard overall; many of our members are entire families who are passionate about karting. But, like any grassroots sport in New Zealand that isn’t rugby or soccer, we do have to shout that much louder.” 

Recent events have been higher-profile affairs in order to increase awareness and raise funds. The Hampton Downs-run Scott McLaughlin Grand Prix –which featured McLaughlin himself, who is the association’s patron, out on the track competing and mingling with KartSport kids and their families – was one such recent event that took a lot of effort to organise but was well worth doing. Graeme says more events of this nature will be ideal in the future.  

The association has also recently added a new category with the aim of broadening the field of competition. 

“The introduction of the new Briggs & Stratton 4-Stroke Championship has been great; it gives older guys the chance to get out on the track and compete. As a result, we now have 70-year-olds and seven-year-olds competing; you can’t say that about many other sports,” says Graeme. 

“The sport has so much appeal to such a broad spectrum of Kiwis. We have fantastic membership, and as an organisation, having the backing of sponsors such as the Giltrap Group allows us to keep the sport alive, organised and fun for everyone taking part.”

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