A healthy number of present and past New Zealand luminaries of numerous motorsport categories have banded together in support of local businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
International Formula Masters and multiple Porsche Carrera Cup champion Chris van der Drift and World Endurance Championship and former F1 racer Brendon Hartley, along with multi speedway champion Christian Hermansen, have launched Racing Local.
"We'd been doing a lot of sim racing recently and thought it was pretty cool to do something to help local businesses," said van der Drift. "He [Hartley] rang me last week and ran the Racing Local idea past me where we help local businesses by racing against a heap of other drivers from different categories.
"It's been flat out since then getting a platform sorted, designing cars and deciding how to structure the racing and getting entries. It's all going quite well though."
Most, if not all, of the current crop of international Kiwi racers were pulling on various assortments of race helmets before they were able to tie their shoe laces neatly. From the time they first sat in their race machines local businesses invested — large and small — in these junior racers.
Racing Local has teamed up with SOS Business in an effort to support local businesses in their time of need. Van der Drift, Hartley and Hermansen wanted to initiate a bit of payback for all the support many young Kiwi racers received on the way up the slippery pole to international racing success.
SOS Business have agreed to endorse the Racing Local concept and will distribute all funds raised. Over the four-week tenure of Racing Local they hope to contribute to as many small, local businesses as possible in an effort to help them to survive the lockdown.
"We heard about SOS Business on the news a few weeks ago and what they are trying to do. It seemed to go hand-in-hand with what we're trying to do and so we got in contact with them and they were as keen as to get involved and get onboard.
"They can handle all the money distribution side of things and it all links quite nicely together I reckon. I'm really excited to see what we can raise in the first week and take it from there," said van der Drift.
In just a week the trio succeeded in getting the likes of Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen, Greg Murphy, Earl Bamber, Mitch Evans, Simon Evans, Andre Heimgartner, Tom Blomqvist, Hayden Paddon, Liam Lawson, Madeline Stewart, Hayden Guptill, Sam Waddell, Marcus Armstrong, Nick Cassidy, Reid Harker, Brendon Leitch, and Jaxon Evans to donate and sign up for the first simulated race that took place on Friday.
While the project is still work in progress, the next event will be open up to a further 25 drivers from any motorsport (Speedway New Zealand, Motorsport New Zealand, Kartsport New Zealand, D1NZ competitors etc) license holder. These spots are first come first served.
"We're in a unique situation at the moment with so many of the motorsport community racing online we thought we'd do something to help local businesses," said Hartley.
"We thought it would be amazing if we got racers from different disciplines to try racing in different categories in one place.
"We want to have fun and put on a good show. Some of the aspiring young karters and the like will have an opportunity to be in the same race as higher profile drivers from different disciplines."
And to top it all off, the organisers have managed to get a professional commentary team on board with former Supercars Australia broadcaster Greg Rust and D1NZ and Speedway commentator Steve Daniel describing the action on track.
Those interested in watching how the various disciplines of motorsport go head-to-head can watch via the Racing Local Facebook page, or YouTube. To donate go to the Racing Local Givealittle page.