Entrepreneur and motor racer Tony Quinn has become the latest recipient of the Neil Nelson Trophy from the New Zealand Motoring Writer’s Guild.

The award is bestowed upon individuals whom the Guild has considered to have gone above and beyond the norm in contributing to the motoring landscape in New Zealand.

Some of the past 11 recipients of the Neil Nelson Award have included Giltrap Group founder and philanthropist Colin Giltrap, used vehicle importer and Rally NZ chair Peter ‘PJ’ Johnston, the late Formula 1 Ferrari driver Chris Amon, who engineered cars for Toyota New Zealand, and V8 Supercar driver and Road Safety advocate Greg Murphy.

The Guild’s award started in 1998 and honoured the memory of the late Neil Nelson of Palmerston North, a former president of the Guild.

“Because of the unique criteria for the Neil Nelson Award, it’s not a trophy that is presented regularly, but rather when the Guild executive considers that a person rightfully deserves some recognition,” New Zealand Motoring Writer’s Guild president Robert Barry says.

“The Guild chose Tony Quinn because he has made a more than significant investment in three now world-class motor racing circuits in New Zealand since 2012; he also established a racing academy and a foundation to support young Kiwis in pursuing their motorsport dreams,” Barry says.

Quinn says he is humbled and honoured to receive such recognition from the New Zealand Motoring Writers Guild. He is more focused than ever on helping young people achieve their dreams in the motorsport arena, locally and internationally.

“I’m more than happy to share my experiences in motorsport with young people seeking some advice and guidance as they start their journey,” he says. 

Quinn was the driving force behind the Cromwell-based Highlands Motorsport Park, which opened in March 2013; he acquired the Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in 2015 and immediately completed the circuit extension.  In November 2021, Quinn achieved his circuit trifecta by acquiring the Taupo International Motorsport Park.

The award also recognises the Tony Quinn Foundation (TGF) formation in 2021, which supports grassroots competitors and elite Kiwi drivers competing internationally with grants and scholarship opportunities.

More than 14 drivers have received support from the TQF, including Red Bull Formula 1 junior team driver Liam Lawson, Indy Lights driver Hunter McElrea, Porsche Carrera Cup GT3 driver Callum Hedge, and Brock Gilchrist, who won the 2023 Toyota 86 New Zealand championship.

Quinn also established the Hampton Downs New Zealand Racing Academy (HDNZRA) to help young drivers get the best tuition from experienced motorsport professionals.

In the past years, Quinn has owned and driven Porsche Carrera Cup, Australian GT, and Aussie racing cars, and he currently has a majority shareholding in the Triple Eight Racing V8 Supercars Team.

Feature photo: (left to right) Tony Quinn receives the Neil Nelson trophy from Robert Barry in the Hampton Downs pit lane on March 15, 2024.

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


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