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For the first time ever, Formula 1 hits New Zealand shores

16 June 2016

Formula 1 has been turning heads and winning hearts since 1950, but never before has the spectacle come to New Zealand. That’s all set to change in early 2017, when, for the first time ever, a grid full of Formula 1 one cars will line up on Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.

Around 15 rare and expensive classic Formula 1 machines are confirmed to be competing at the event, with the hope being to relive the action that the sport provided during the 1960s and 1970s. 

While a similar historic event takes place in Monaco each year, and draws crowds from around the globe, the event is likely to become the first time most New Zealanders have had such easy access to the vehicles. 

Understandably, Taupo resident, and racing legend, Chris Amon — who drove Formula 1 vehicles during the period — is excited about seeing the cars so close to home. Adding to the Kiwi Formula 1 connection is the name of the venue, with the late Bruce McLaren being one of Amon’s teammates. 

Both drivers were part of the historic Ford GT40 Le Mans win, which took place 50 years ago this coming weekend — see the current issue of NZV8 for a full article.

The event that the vehicles are set to compete in will take place over January 28–29, 2017, and will pit the Formula 1 vehicles against equally as historically significant Formula 5000s, which are the pinnacle of open-wheeler racing locally.

Despite the values of the vehicles, we are sure that drivers won’t be holding back, all keen to take home the title and bragging rights that would go with becoming a country’s first-ever Formula 1 champion.

Included in the vehicles coming from abroad to compete at the event is a McLaren M26 now owned by Frank Lyons, president of the Historic Sports Car Club, which is responsible for plenty of historic racing events in the UK. The car was driven by 1976 world champion James Hunt, making it extremely valuable and historically significant. It’s not alone though — each of the vehicles scheduled to compete have varying degrees of historic pedigree. 

We’ll bring you more on the event over the next few months.