Geoff Ridder


Current winner James Webb racing the prize-winning Formula First single-seater



Entries for the annual SpeedSport Scholarship motor racing prize close this weekend and already a record number of female participants have signed on.

Organisers are expecting a 'full-house' to tackle the elimination round at the Manfeild motor racing circuit from which the top six with face the final judging panel the next day.

Co-founder Dennis Martin says this year's entries have come from "'wide and varied backgrounds" with a record three female entries among those already received.

"Our ladies have come from backgrounds that include endurance racing and club level motorsport," said Martin.

"We have had a couple of female entrants over the years but this is a Scholarship record."

With only a couple of places remaining for the Elimination day, those already entered come from various motorsport backgrounds. Fewer kart racers have entered this year with more entries coming from Clubsport and speedway competitors.

The Finals weekend will be held at the Feilding based race circuit over 17-18th May.

"For the first 10 years of the program most of our entries came from kart racers but that has gradually changed in recent times as young drivers from other forms of motorsport see this as an ideal way to convert over to circuit racing," said Martin.

Already two of the most successful graduates, V8 Supercar star Shane van Gisbergen and European based single-seater driver Richie Stanaway came from early years of racing in speedway.

The SpeedSport Scholarship offers the winner an all expenses paid season racing a Formula First car in the New Zealand championship series under the guidance and tuition of Martin's Sabre Motorsport team. As well, the winner also receives a personalised race suit, boots and racing gloves from Chicane and a new Arai race helmet from Dold Industries.

Up to six finalists will face off for the big prize with both on-track and off-track evaluations to find the 14th annual SpeedSport Scholarship winner.

Three of the finalists from last year's run-off have just completed the 2013-14 Formula First championship season with Palmerston North's Chris Symon top Rookie and 6th overall, current winner James Webb (Feilding) 8th and Faine Kaha (Taupo) 9th from a field that boasted up to 20 cars.

"This season we also saw the largest number of Finalists actually contesting the championship and it was a hotly contested year between all three of them," said Martin.

"Winning the Scholarship certainly gives a young driver the kick-start they need to get their career on track but it also shows this class [Formula First] is the best place to start a racing career."

2012 winner Aaron Marr moved on to the Formula Ford championship, winning a race and gaining podium placings in his rookie season, on the way to third place in the New Zealand championship.

Entries for the 2014 SpeedSport Scholarship can only be made on-line at speedsportscholarship.co.nz and entries close this Saturday, May 10th.

2001  Nic Jordan
2002  Joshua Hart
2003  Mark Russ
2004  Shane van Gisbergen
2005  Andrew Waite
2006  Alastair Wootten
2007  Richie Stanaway
2008  Aaron Hodgson
2009  Nick Cassidy
2010  Hayden Pedersen
2011  Malcolm Finch
2012  Aaron Marr
2013  James Webb

Dennis Martin 06 355 4055 or 021 216 5815
Grant McDonald  027 227 3554