If you’re a parent of a budding young driver, then you’re probably looking at ways to give them a leg up in the experience stakes. And if that youngster is keen on the motorsport side of the ledger, then you’ll also know that this is not a cheap exercise.
An interesting deal between the organisers behind the successful Twilight Tarmac Rally Sprint series in Sydney and Hyundai, though, goes a little way towards killing these birds with one stone.
The series is held after hours during the week, and runs over a surprisingly long tarmac track in and around Sydney Dragway, with five rounds over the summer months. Each racer attacks the track one at a time, and depending on the day, up to six runs can be completed in a night.
It might not sound like a lot, but trust us… it’s plenty!
The club behind the series, the North Shore Sporting Car Club, has twisted the arm of Hyundai – which has previously used the event to test its Targa car and its amazing Kona EV skunkworks machine – to offer young drivers in its GFB-backed junior challenge a money-can’t-buy chance to use one of its i30N cars for a round, as well as receiving tutelage from Hyundai tarmac racer and rally ace Brendan Reeves.
A one-off entry fee for the entire five-race series, which kicks off in mid-October in Sydney, will include the use of an N Performance-supported Hyundai i30N for one of the rounds, with Brendan offering extra tuition and mentorship across the series.
The only catch – the driver needs to be under 18 before the start of the first event. Drivers as young as 14 can compete with a CAMS junior licence.
“The primary reason we’re getting involved is we want to encourage the next generation of motoring enthusiasts,” said Hyundai’s marketing, PR, sponsorship and events senior manager, Guido Schenken. “What better way than to get them to experience motorsport at a young age, but importantly in a safe environment?”
Schenken believes the unique nature of the sprint event is a great springboard for aspiring tarmac jockeys.
“Young drivers need to learn about driving, particularly dynamic driving, in a controlled situation and the Twilight Rally sprint Series provides that,” said Schenken.
“Not only does the event take these kids off the streets to explore their limits but we’ll also have Australian rally star Brendan Reeves on hand to act as a mentor. He’ll be able to give them advice and answer any questions they have to hopefully send them home from the night a better, safer young driver.”
“The future of motorsport is juniors, and that’s a policy for both NSSCC and CAMS,” says club president and event organiser Brett Middleton.
“The bonus is the extra driver training before the kids get their Ls, or as they graduate to their Ps." he said.
"The GFB junior driver program at the Whiteline tarmac rally sprint series is just one of our many programs. Having Hyundai involved with N Performance allows us to reach more juniors and to offer them a bigger carrot to get them involved.”
Drivers need to be under 18
The cars will be standard i30Ns which can be driven to and from the event on the road, according to Schenken.
“The only changes required by the organisers are event sponsorship stickers,” he said.
“The rules are relatively open, however, and last year Reeves experimented with various tyre compounds and brake pads as part of the development program for our Targa Tasmania entry.”
This program is a terrific incentive for young drivers, from this racing dad's point of view. While rustling up the entire entry fee at the beginning of the season ($880 at time of writing) for 17-year-old Max is proving to be a challenge, it represents a decent saving off a single-entry event.
As well, co-drivers - required for junior drivers and who need to be over 18 - don't have to pay an entry fee, though they do need to have club membership and a CAMS licence for insurance purposes
Add to the fact that we also get to park our own car for a round, and we save on things like tyre wear, fuel and towing costs for that event.
Potential entrants will need to get their skates on, though, as the places on the event are limited.