New Zealand motorsport legend Kenny Smith will appear in the Toyota Racing Series season finale at Manfield this weekend as he aims to win his fourth New Zealand Grand Prix.
Smith first entered the Grand Prix in 1964, won it as recently as 2004 and last appeared in TRS in 2013, having raced in the series in either one-offs of full campaigns from 2006 to ’12.
This year’s attempt will mark the first time he has driven a contemporary single-seater with a paddle shift gearbox, which has required the 76-year-old to adapt his driving style.
?I have no expectations of how I will go, I?ll just do the best I can do,” Smith said.
?I drive the old [Formula 5000] cars with one hand at times,? admitted Smith. ?You can?t do that with paddle shift. You?ve got to keep your hands on the wheel to change gears.?
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.
The second of his three wins came in 1990 in a Formula Pacific Swift, with the final victory occurring another 14 years after that in 2004, when the race used Formula Ford machinery.
Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Craig Baird and Nick Cassidy are also three-time winners of the Grand Prix, although none have come close to the 47 attempts and counting Smith has made at the event so far.
Smith will use #47 as his race number to mark the occasion, which also happens to be the same number that Bruce McLaren used when he raced in New Zealand.
He still races regularly in F5000 machinery, and mentors MRTI Shootout and Australian F4 star Liam Lawson. In 1988 he was honoured with an MBE for his services to motorsport.
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