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Fun-seeking Squads Lap Up Lion’s Share Of Trophies At Big, Budget Long Distance Endurance Meeting Of 2024 Nazcar Season

True to his word ahead of the first major long distance endurance race on his budget-friendly 2024 NaZCAR event calendar, the BadThurst 12 hour at Taupo International Motorsport Park over the Sat. Feb 24/Sun. Feb 25 weekend, the man behind it, Auckland-based motorsport event entrepreneur Dr Jacob Simonsen handed out as many of his distinctive, hand-made trophies to what he described as ‘deserving cases in the mid to the rear-of-field’ as he did to the squads who nominally won the event outright (Team DubDub) and the SsangYong Actyon ute-based Team Ghost Dog Racing squad which set the fastest lap.

“And fair enough,” an unrepentant Dr Simonsen said last week. “I’ve said over and over again, particularly in the weeks leading up to our ‘curtain-raising’ event at Taupo International Motorsport Park, that we no longer characterise our longer distance, multi-day Lemons & Limes events like the BadThurst 12 Hour, as races …where, you know, you have just the one winner, and by that definition, a whole bunch of dissatisfied losers.

“Seriously, where’s the fun in that?

“Instead, what I’m saying is let’s turn that one, plus a whole lot of other hoary old motor racing cliches on their head, and let’s go on out there and see if we can’t have a little bit of plain old fun for a change!”

There were certainly more smiles than frowns in evidence when the record-breaking field of over 50 entered cars, many with extravagantly garbed groups of four or more drivers (62 cars were entered with 158 drivers in total but not all made it to the start let alone the finish line) in tow, gathered on the Taupo circuit’s pit straight, for the obligatory group photo on Saturday morning.

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“We prefer to see them as motorsport ‘events’ where the accent is more on fun, than the traditional ‘win at all costs’ mentality,” said Dr Simonsen.

“Instead, we’re more about the ‘spirit’ of an event..what makes it ‘special’ if you like. Rather than on some arbitrary race or lap time ruling, which - at the end of the day - might serve only to benefit the top one or two percent of entrants – usually the ones with the biggest cheque-books!”

As it was, Team DubDub Racing was a clear winner both on and off the track, earning not one but two of Dr Simonsen’s distinctive trophies for their troubles behind the wheel of their late-model VW Scirocco coupe.

“The first trophy the team got to take home with them on Sunday night, after a marathon 13.5 hours of driving across the two full days of competition was for completing the “Most Laps” - in their case 359, fully three more than the first of the two Team Warbirds’ BMW E36 4-doors that claimed second overall spot with a total of 356 and an impressive 13 laps up on the second Team Warbirds E36 BMW 3-series which ended up third overall having completed 346 laps.

While with the consistency of a metronome as well as a decent enough turn of speed if and when required, the Team DubDub VW Scirocco always had the potential to be an event frontrunner, it was

the other trophy the team won, for the “Best Bribery of the Judges”, that was proof that they knew how to play the game as well out of the car as they did in it.

The second and third-placed Team Warbirds E36 BMW 4-doors also won a separate award for the Best Theme. Otherwise, the rest of the awards and special handmade trophies went to teams not used to such fanfare. Just the way Dr Simonsen likes it.

“The biggest and arguably the best trophies we dish out are for being in the ‘Spirit of Lemons’ and for the best Themes, Peoples’ choice and Judge’s Choice Awards”.

“These guys pay the same entry fee as their fellows who finished a little further up the pecking order, yet more often than not after a race meeting they return home empty-handed.

Sure, some of the Trophies are all about celebrating when things go wrong. But that, “ says Dr Simonsen, “is like deciding there is a difference between fame and notoriety.”

For instance, this year, the Supreme event award trophy (Spirit of Lemons) went to Team Chicken Fry, despite their diminutive Toyota Starlet only completing 254 laps and finishing 32nd overall.

However, they were in character (not to mention costume) most of the time and had everyone in stitches with their antics… on track and off…hence the reason they won the Supreme award.

The Cowan Cavaletti squad did well meanwhile to finish in the top 10 yet earned the Most Entertaining award for the quality (or otherwise) of their dance moves when trying to minimise a laps lost penalty imposed by one of the event judges!!!

Speaking of the Judges, this year they also awarded their own special trophy to the Mr Magoo’s Driving Academy squad who ended up finishing 17th overall having officially completed 305 laps.

Other special trophy awards made on the night went to;

Fastest ‘official’ Lap: Ghost Dog Racing 00 - 1:48.066

People’s Choice: Team 3 Stud

Best (coffee) Fix: Team Seven6 Racing!

Nincompoop award: Team Bond 007 - For speeding in pit lane…twice!

Battlers award: Team FBR (got a diff bro? and another?)

Ugly Stick: Team Groovy Baby

Worst performance: Team Crazy Horses.

Rookie Award: Team Fart & the Furious

Back from the Dead: Team Rising Sun – who replaced their race car’s gearbox with one from their parts car… in Auckland.

Cleanest team: Team Telstar Factory Racing.

While contesting the BadThurst 12-hour event the 52 official finishers created some interesting (not to mention record setting) statistics for the Taupo track.

Longest race

With over 13 hours in one event the 2024 BadThurst 12 Hour officially became the longest event to ever start from a single grid at the circuit.

By letting the event run-on for an extra hour-and-a -bit Dr Simonsen confirmed late last week that ‘over 13,000 laps’ had been completed by all competitors over the two days the race was run also constitutes a new record, for both the event and the circuit.

From humble beginnings back in 2016 when he put together New Zealand’s first ‘novelty-style’ 24 Hours of LeMons event at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Auckland-based Dr Simonsen, has built a successfull enterprise - the NaZCAR organisation - out of giving ordinary, everyday motorsport fans the opportunity to ‘go racing, without,’ he says, ‘breaking the bank.’

He has done so by creating a cheap ‘n cheerful platform based unashamedly on otherwise largely unwanted ‘near-end-of life cars’ which has found ready acceptance across New Zealand’s North Island.

“It’s all about the ‘Spirit’ of the event” says Dr. Simonsen. “Ideally, competitors’ cars should be as crappy and unique as possible, and they mustn’t be able to lap whichever circuit we are running an event at quicker than an ‘ideal lap time’ that we set per class before each event.

“Obviously, each car must be equipped with a comprehensive roll cage, and full safety gear and each driver must wear an approved fire-proof race suit, helmet and special head-restraining FHR device.

Eight years on, and via his many and varied – standalone now NaZCAR-badged, Lemons & Limes multi-day, up to 24-hour Endurance events throughout the year, and NaZCAR Pro National Endurance Championship 3- & 6-Hour series races through the winter Dr. Simonsen has built a strong and still growing following for his ‘vision of what successful, and more to the point achievable and sustainable motor racing events should look – and feel – like’ in this country.

To this end the longer distance, multi-day 8, 12 & 24-hour events like the “12-hours of Badthurst” at Taupo last month, and the new “Next Level” at Timaru’s Levels Raceway this Saturday almost always have some sort of catch; and with it a fistful of questionable ‘Judges of Fact’ who can levy any number of crazy penalties to slow a car or team down…

The 2024 program of events kicked off with the BadThurst 12 Hr Lemons-and Limes-only endurance race meeting over two days at the now Tony Quinn-owned Taupo International Motorsport Park complex over the last weekend in February (Sat/Sun Feb 24/25).

The focus of Dr Simonsen and his small group of volunteers now turns to the second event on their 2024 calendar, and first outside the North Island, namely the all-new NaZCAR ‘Level Up’ 8-hour novelty endurance event at the grandly named Timaru International Motor Raceway at Levels on New Zealand’s South Island this coming weekend (Sat March 09).

To attract as many ‘interested parties’ from across the South Island as possible to his inaugural event on the Mainland, Dr Simonsen has opened up the entry requirements by waiving the strict entry regulations for Lemons and Limes cars; instead welcoming anyone and everyone with a ‘suitable’ car and bunch of like-minded mates who don’t mind coming up with a team theme and joining 30 plus similar groups as they do battle with themselves, the distinctive nature of the unique Levels circuit, and the vagiaries of the (North Island) judges come raceday.


The SUPREME award: Spirit of Lemons -Chicken Fry Racing

Judges' Choice: Mr Magoo's Driving Academy

Best Bribes: Team DubDub

Fastest ‘official’ Lap: Ghost Dog Racing 00 - 1:48.066

People’s Choice: Team 3 Stud

Best theme: Team Warbirds 1 & 2

Best Fix: Team Seven6 Racing

Most Laps: Team DubDub.

Nincompoop award: Team Bond 007

Battlers award: Team FBR

Most entertaining: Team Cowan Cavalletti

Ugly Stick: Team Groovy Baby

Worst performance: Team Crazy Horses

Rookie Award: Team Fart & the Furious

Back from the Dead: Team Rising Sun

Cleanest team: Team Telstar Factory Racing.

© Scoop Media

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