Motorsport: Many successful drivers grateful for patronage

By Eric Thompson

Colin Giltrap. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Colin Giltrap. Photo / Paul Estcourt

The name Colin Giltrap may be synonymous with car dealerships but anyone with an interest in motor racing will know him more for his support of talented young drivers.

Without a few passionate patrons like Giltrap, who have a few dollars to send the way of struggling talent, drivers with a gift to pilot very fast cars would never get a shot at the big time.

The most successful Giltrap protege is Scott Dixon, the two-time IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner.

But very few Kiwi drivers who've made a name for themselves overseas in the past 10 to 15 years have not benefited from a Giltrap leg-up.

His best-known foray into motorsport was the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, now unfortunately defunct, where he was the seatholder for A1 Team New Zealand. From the start Giltrap was an ardent supporter of the series and was almost rewarded with a championship win twice when Matt Halliday and Jonny Reid brought Black Beauty home second.

His passion for the series was all too evident when he helped finance getting the cars to New Zealand in its last season.

"A1 was a little short of capital but they've had an injection of capital with a little bit from me," said Giltrap back in January 2009. Giltrap himself raced in a Volvo with Jimmy Palmer in the 1963 Wills Six-Hour endurance race at Pukekohe. They were right up the front until the car ran out of brakes.

Giltrap ran the same car in the Sandown 500 with Ivan Segedin and ended up winning their class, beating Palmer and Jackie Stewart after their engine died.

As the business grew Giltrap found he was having less and less time to race and one the first drivers he became involved with after deciding to hang up his helmet was Jim Richards.

They helped put together the Falcon Richards won his Australian Touring Car championship in.

Other drivers who have sat in the hot seat of a Giltrap car include Larry Perkins, Danny Sullivan, Stirling Moss, Denny Hulme and Peter Brock. On the rally front, he's had Rod Millen drive an RX3 in the Heatwave rally and helped out Possum Bourne in the early days.

Recently Giltrap has drivers such as Brendon Hartley, William Bamber and Chris van der Drift.

"At the moment we're also very keen on helping Mitch Evans [youngest driver at 15 to win the Toyota Racing Series and is second in the Australian Formula Three championship], and we are. I've never seen anyone else like him and nor has Mark Webber [Red Bull Racing's F1 driver] who has taken an interest in him," said Giltrap.

In the meantime, Giltrap is becoming increasingly involved in Porsche racing overseas.

"The Porsche Mobil Cup series is the support race for the Formula One Grand Prix and gives a huge amount of coverage for Porsche. This year we've got Matt Halliday driving the car as we helped him out a bit last year as a trial run," said Giltrap.

"He won rookie of the year so we think he's capable of being up on the podium in some of the races. The plan is to do one or two cars next year and this time to paint them black in the Kiwi colours. We might get Jonny Reid in the other car."

Reid had a little help from Giltrap this year and is racing in the AutoGP series for Supernova Racing, the same people who looked after the Kiwi A1GP car. The cars contesting the series are the old first-generation A1 cars.

Giltrapis always looking for talent.

He said: "While the boys [his sons Michael and Richard] are still keen on it [motor racing] and business is still good, and we're still around, we'll probably do more and more of it, to be honest."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 20 Sep 2014 16:42:13 Processing Time: 858ms