By: Bob McMurray | Friday, July 20, 2012 11:20 AM
I have been talking a lot lately, to anybody who will listen, anybody who is interested and in fact anybody who is not particularly interested, about ‘our academy’.
I don’t care because I am very proud of the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust and the Elite MotorSport Academy.
The academy wrapped up the 2012 version last weekend with the top award going to Taupo driver Mark Gibson and as usual the points accrued over the various disciplines during the week long ‘camp’ all added up to another incredibly close competition with the result not known until the very final couple of hours.
If there was one downside to this year’s intake of potential graduates it was that, unusually in the latter years, we had no female entrants nor rally drivers or co-drivers.
To give an idea of what the Elite Academy is all about I can do no better than quote directly from the MotorSport New Zealand website:
MotorSport New Zealand Inc in following its Strategic Plan "Towards 2010" empowered the MotorSport NZ Scholarship Trust with establishing an Elite MotorSport Academy in 2004 to provide annually a one-week intensive "in camp" programme of physical and educational training assistance package to MotorSport NZ recognised Race or Rally competitors who have already demonstrated the ability to excel in their chosen motorsport discipline.
For 2010 The Trust also created the opportunity for a competitor from KartSport New Zealand to also seek a place in the annual programme.
In addition the Trust were empowered to provide a tailored follow up package for the elite academy graduates to ensure they retain and further develop the training regimes and educational opportunities demonstrated "in camp'. This programme has now developed into the Graduates Development Programme.
Those chosen [up to nine per annum] to attend, live "in camp" for the duration of the Elite Academy and in addition to the personal development thrust of the programmes also undertake a number of team building activities. These team building activities are allocated point scores with recognition at the end of the camp to the team scoring the highest.
Approximately four weeks before the camp and again on arrival "in camp" attendees undertake physical fitness assessments. The testing ensures the drivers have completed the pre camp training required and will be capable of completing the weeks activities.
Workshops covering mental skills training, decision making, managing heat stress and correct hydration, nutrition, public speaking/media skills, creating the ideal team environment, performance planning, sponsorship proposal preparation, reading and understanding data as well as daily physical training routines provide an all encompassing week of learning designed to test and sometimes stretch attendees mental and physical limits.
On the last afternoon of the week parents, sponsors and friends are invited to attend the graduation ceremony plus tour a range of the Academy programmes to gain an insight as to what has been undertaken during the week.
To further illustrate the value of the academy in practical terms one only has to look at the graduates over the years.
So far, and not including the 2012 academy, there have been a total of 73 graduates made up of 49 race drivers, 23 rally drivers (including co-drivers) and one KartSport NZ competitor.
Of the 73, nine have been females with one, Tarryn Cox, winning the competition outright in 2011.
Twenty-eight graduates have gone on to compete overseas and 13 of those have competed in recognised FIA competitions.
Some of the graduates have gone on to international recognition such as Mitch Evans, Brendon Hartley, Hayden Paddon, Shane van Gisbergen and so very many more.
The academy model has been used as a basis for the FIA’s own driver academy and frankly the New Zealand model is the envy of many international motorsport bodies.
The academy would probably not have happened were it not for the dedication of the trustees and one man in particular, the trust manager, Ian Snellgrove.
Ian has worked tirelessly over the years for the academy and indeed for all young New Zealand driving talent and together with the High Performance Sport South Island people based in and around the University of Otago, has moulded the week’s activities to be one of the most mentally and physically challenging weeks of these young people’s lives.
We are very proud of the academy and will continue to tell anybody, anywhere, and anytime, all about it.