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Last year's runner-up worked hard and came back a winner.

Aaron Marr, a 17-year-old Wanganui Collegiate student, takes to the Manfeild track this weekend, his racing season free as winner of the TradeZone/SpeedSport scholarship.

The $50,000 prize includes an all-expenses paid season of racing a Formula First car, off-track tuition and mentoring.

Marr will make his debut in the Winter Series opening round, in preparation for the New Zealand championship later in the year.


"It's a fantastic opportunity to start working with our scholarship winner straight away," said scholarship co-founder Dennis Martin, who tutors each winner for their debut season with his Sabre Motorsport team.

"The timing is perfect. One weekend they're [contestants] racing off for a scholarship prize and the next weekend the winner actually starts his motor-racing career."

Marr, who has a decade of successful kart racing behind him, was runner-up in last year's competition.

"It shows how important this scholarship has become in kickstarting these young drivers' careers," said Martin.

"Aaron went away last year and worked hard to improve himself and has come back a winner."

The 11-year-old scholarship fired the racing careers of V8 Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen, Lotus Formula One development driver Richie Stanaway, New Zealand Grand Prix winner Nick Cassidy and national V8 Ute champion Andrew Waite.

"Every one of the past winners starts with the same opportunity. It's what they do with it that counts," said co-founder Grant McDonald.

"We know not every one of them will soar to great heights. We build the runway and teach them to fly. Some get to great heights and others don't get far and fall out of the sky.

"But they all start off at the same place in their development. Most often it's the decisions they make after their scholarship year that determines their future outcome. Like everything in life, it's about making good decisions.

Stanaway knows about that. His circuit racing career began in 2007 when he won the scholarship as a 15-year-old college student and competed in his first single-seater.

"Without a doubt, the basic skills I acquired when racing a Formula First car laid the foundation of my success to move on to Formula Ford, to race in Australia and now in Europe," Stanaway said.

Van Gisbergen also won the scholarship on his second attempt.