New Zealand’s oldest permanent motor racing circuit turns 65

Competitors take part in a recent round of the South Island Endurance Series held at Invercargill's Teretonga Park.

Robyn Edie

Competitors take part in a recent round of the South Island Endurance Series held at Invercargill’s Teretonga Park.

New Zealand’s oldest permanent motor racing circuit, Teretonga Park, will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a club event on Sunday.

With the imminent closure of Pukekohe Park Raceway in South Auckland, Invercargill’s Teretonga Park will become the only remaining racetrack that hosted Formula 1 motor racing stars who came to New Zealand each year in the 1960s.

Southland Sports Car Club boss Barry Keen said nine world champions have raced on the circuit.

Between them they claim 15 world titles, several of them being multiple world champions and several of them competing in Teretonga while reigning world champions.

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Australian Jack Brabham, world champion in 1959-60 and 1966, American Phil Hill (1961), Englishman Graham Hill (1962 and 1968), Scottish Jim Clark (1963 and 1965),

Britain’s John Surtees (1964), Kiwi Denny Hulme (1967), Scotland’s Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971 and 1973), Austria’s Jochen Rindt (1970) and Finn Keke Rosberg (1982) are all champions of the people who raced on the circuit.

Not only were the world champions present, but also many other legendary drivers who have been the most successful at the pinnacle of world motorsport.

Stirling Moss, Bruce McLaren, Piers Courage, Pedro Rodriguez, Derek Bell, Chris Amon and Richard Attwood among them.

In the late 1960s things changed, with current F1 stars no longer traveling in their off-season as more money and commercialism crept into F1.

Teretonga spectators nonetheless continued to see some of the best in the world, as the circuit regularly hosted an annual international event with the evolution of Formula 5000, Formula Atlantic (Pacific), Formula Holden and present day of the Toyota Racing Series, all bringing international competitors to the city. .

Meanwhile, onlookers saw pilots on their way to stardom. Peter Gethin, Graham McRae and many others raced in F1 while Scott Dixon, Danny Sullivan and Bobby Rahal won the Indy 500. There were Le Mans 24 hour winners like Earl Bamber while many of those 1960s stars were also Indy and Le Mans winners.

The Toyota Racing Series continued to bring future Formula 1 stars to Teretonga Park.

This year’s F1 World Championship grid features five drivers – Brit Lando Norris, Canada’s Lance Stroll, Guanyu Zhou (China), Nicholas Latifi (Canada) and Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) – who were all seen at Teretonga Park these last years.

The 65th anniversary will be celebrated with a club day on the circuit on Sunday with a ¼ Standing and a 1/10th Flying in the morning before a BBQ lunch then a race meeting in the afternoon with the Noel McIntyre Drainage Club Saloons on the track.

Admission for spectators will be free.

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