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Thursday, May 30, 2024


SUPERCARS champion turned IndyCar star Scott McLaughlin has leant his support to an online push to preserve Pukekohe Park Raceway in the virtual world following news of its impending closure.

Circuit owner Auckland Thoroughbred Racing announced this morning that motorsport will cease at the venue in April next year, with a redevelopment to focus solely on horse racing.

The iconic, high-speed circuit has hosted racing events since the early 1960s, when the Tasman Series brought Formula 1 world stars to Pukekohe.

In 2001 it became the first circuit outside of Australia to host a round of the Supercars Championship – an event famously dominated by local hero Greg Murphy.

Among those in the crowd cheering on Murphy in 2001 was a then eight-year-old McLaughlin, who went on to take his first career Supercars Championship race win at the venue 12 years later.

Murphy took victory at Pukekohe in 2001. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

“Really sad to see Pukekohe Raceway being told their time as a motorsport venue will finish in early 2023,” McLaughlin, who also won at the venue in 2018 and 2019, wrote on social media.

“I’ll never forget watching Murph on the hill in 2001, it was the first time I’d seen a V8 Supercar live.

“It lit a fire in me that’s still burning today to be the best racing driver I can be. Some of the memories I have there racing myself I’ll never forget.

“Thank you Pukekohe, and thank you to the NZ fans that always made it special racing there!”

McLaughlin also tweeted his support for an online petition calling for motorsport simulation service iRacing to add the circuit to its platform.

US-based iRacing, which is the official partner of Supercars’ own Eseries competition, laser scans racetracks for ultimate accuracy in its simulations.

iRacing scanned Sydney’s beloved Oran Park Raceway before its closure in 2010, and also boasts Bathurst, Phillip Island and the recently added Sandown and Winton on its roster.

The Pukekohe petition was created by fan James Anderson and has attracted over 2,500 signatures in its opening hours. It can be signed here.

Those to pay tribute to Pukekohe today included Murphy, who won the 2001, ‘02, ‘03 and ‘05 Supercars rounds at the circuit as well as a non-championship showcase in 1996.

The Supercars Championship will visit Pukekohe for the 15th and final time this September following a two-year absence due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

The category earlier today issued a statement declaring it intends to find a new home for Supercars in New Zealand for 2023.

“We have other great venue options available and will now begin discussions regarding our 2023 calendar,” said Supercars CEO Shane Howard. 

“It’s our absolute intent to continue racing in New Zealand and we are now exploring alternative venues for the New Zealand event for the future.”

Supercars’ visits to Pukekohe from 2001-2007 and 2013-2019 were punctuated by a five-year spell at the Hamilton Street Circuit.

Hampton Downs in northern Waikato had been set to host Supercars in 2020 due to an ANZAC Day fixture that prevented racing at Pukekohe.

The Tony Quinn-owned venue looms as a possible new NZ home for the category.

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