New Zealand motorsport legend Kenny Smith will return to the Toyota Racing Series again this weekend at Manfeild as he aims to win his fourth New Zealand Grand Prix.
Smith first entered the NZ GP in 1964, won it as recently as 2004 and made attempts at the race in TRS in ’13 and ’18, having raced in the series in either one-offs of full campaigns from ’06 to ’12. This year will mark his 48th attempt at the race.
This year’s attempt will prove especially important for Smith as he goes up against his current protege: championship leader Liam Lawson.
?It is still just as exciting and just as much of a privilege it has always been to take part in the grand prix and I still treat it how I have for the past 47 years and more,? explained Smith.
?My aim is always to be as competitive as I can be and to drive as hard as I can against some fantastic drivers and this year is no different.
?What?s particularly exciting for me is to be competing in a field with two great young Kiwi drivers. Liam is a truly exceptional driver. A racer for whom winning is everything. He?s a bit old school in that regard and he has the talent to go all the way, no question. He?s got to improve a bit on his arm wrestling though, I can still beat him at that.
?Marcus [Armstrong, Lawson’s title rival] too is a very talented driver, I?ve watched him develop since his karting days and he, like Liam, is destined for great things. In my mind their battle and their rivalry has lifted both of them to exceptional heights in this championship.?
Smith won the New Zealand Gold Star Drivers Award in the 1975?1976, 1983?1984, 1984?1985, 1986?1987 and 1989?1990 seasons. As well as his countless racing victories in New Zealand, Ken has also won the Penang Grand Prix three times, the Selangor Grand Prix twice and the Malaysian Grand Prix once.
Smith’s first NZ GP victory came in 1976 when the race ran to F5000 rules, and was also the year of Smith’s only in-era NZ F5000 title. He still races in F5000 now, setting the outright lap record for Hampton Downs two weeks ago.
The second of his three wins came in ’90 in a Formula Pacific Swift, with the final victory occurring another 14 years after that in ’04, when the race used Formula Ford machinery.
Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Craig Baird and Nick Cassidy are also three-time winners of the NZ GP, although none have come close to the 48 attempts and counting Smith has made at the event so far.
Smith’s other achievements include three Penang GP victories, two Selangor GP victories and one Malaysian GP win, as well as an MBE for his services to motorsport he recieved in ’88.
D/O/B: August 11, 1941
Country: New Zealand
Car racing (historics not included)
2004: New Zealand Grand Prix winner
2001: 2nd in NZ Formula Ford
1990: NZ FAtlantic champion, New Zealand Grand Prix winner
1984: NZ FAtlantic champion
1979: Malaysian Grand Prix winner, Penang Grand Prix winner
1976: NZ F5000 champion, New Zealand Grand Prix winner
1972: Penang Grand Prix winner
1971: Penang Grand Prix winner
1970:?NZ National 1.5 Litre champion