Pukekohe Park Raceway
|Location||Pukekohe, New Zealand|
|Time zone||GMT +12|
|Major events||Tasman Series
New Zealand V8s
Toyota Racing Series
New Zealand Grand Prix
|Length||2.841, 2.91 km (1.765, 1.808 mi)|
|Lap record||52.972 (Simon Wills, Birrana Racing, December 2000)|
Pukekohe Park Raceway is a combined motor racing circuit and horse racing circuit in Pukekohe, New Zealand. It is located 40 kilometres (24.9 mi) south of Auckland City in the North Island. The track is now owned by Pukekohe Park Limited. In the centre of the circuit there is a horse racing course, which dictates the use of the site as it's owned by the Counties Racing Club.
The Raceway was opened in 1963 as a permanent track, replacing Ardmore (an aerodrome) as the host circuit of the New Zealand Grand Prix. Annually for several years, the mainly European based Grand Prix drivers such as Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, would head downunder for a relaxed Tasman Series during the European winter.
For many years Pukekohe was the venue for New Zealand's premier production car race, the Benson and Hedges 500 mile race (later 1000 km) featuring drivers such as Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Jim Richards. In 1996 the New Zealand Mobil Sprints held one round in Pukekohe. Pukekohe Park Raceway also held an annual round of the popular Australian V8 Supercar race from 2001 to 2007. However, the New Zealand round moved to Hamilton Street Circuit in 2008. On 5 July 2012, it was announced that V8 Supercars would return to the circuit in 2013 as part of a 5-year deal with the circuit operators following a series of upgrades to accommodate for the series' return.
The changes to the track included a series of corners before the hairpin turn, meaning safer, slower races. The upgrades also included a new race control building, timing building and corporate viewing facility opposite the main grandstand as well as the addition of overhead pedestrian bridges.
In the centre of the circuit there is a horse racing course, which dictates the use of the site as it owned by the Counties Racing Club Inc, who had not invested a large amount of money in the motor racing track over the years and many would say that this would leads to its slow demise. Even though the club holds very few horse race meetings each year, it is used as a stables and training facility.
New Zealand Grand Prix
The New Zealand Grand Prix has been held at Pukekohe on 29 occasions, the first being in 1963, and the last to date being held in 2000. Between 1964 and 1975, the NZ Grand Prix at the circuit was also a round of the Tasman Series. Winners of the NZ Grand Prix at Pukekohe include Kiwis Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Craig Baird, and Paul Radisich, internationals such as Australian Frank Gardner, Italian Teo Fabi, and Brazilian Roberto Moreno, as well as Formula One World Champions John Surtees, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Keke Rosberg (Rosberg's wins in 1977 and 1978 were before his World Championship win in 1982).
In 2008 the V8 Supercars moved to Hamilton Street Circuit so Pukekohe held its final event on the weekend of 20–22 April 2007. In 2013 V8 Supercars returned to Pukekohe after the Auckland government confirmed that stakeholders would put $6.6 million into making the circuit more suitable for V8 Supercars. These upgrades include a new chicane on the back straight, more pedestrian bridges and a makeover of the circuit's appearance.