CASHED-UP QUINN BUILDS ON RACING INTERESTS

Written on the 12 June 2015 by Jenna Rathbone

CASHED-UP QUINN BUILDS ON RACING INTERESTS

FRESH from selling VIP Pet Foods for $410 million, Gold Coast entrepreneur Tony Quinn has added another race track to his business interests.

The Australian GT and Aussie Racing Car series owner has purchased a second New Zealand circuit, completing the purchase of Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.

Quinn, who has made previous attempts for the North Waikato site, plans to invest around $25 million in the facility, which includes 350 hectares of land.

The Darrell Lea boss is currently in the process of designing tender documents for the construction of corporate suites and a control tower above the pit-lane garages, a go-kart track, a second skid pan and a track extension which will add a kilometre to the existing 2.8 kilometre layout.

Quinn says the reason behind the purchase was its prime location as well as his passion for racing.

"I think it is one of the best tracks, position wise, in Australasia," he says.

"From a commercial point of view, it has two million people within an hour of the track so that is a good place to start with a business model.

"And yes, racing is a bit of a passion of mine but at the end of the day Hampton Downs actually makes commercial sense because of the fact that it will be a viable race track and it also has plenty of industrial land to sell off in the future.

"It is a viable enterprise - it is not totally passion but there is no doubt that passion is getting it started and will see it through."

The struggling business was purchased for $13.5 million with Quinn saying "it was in trouble so I was always going to buy it cheaper for less money than they had spent on it".

Quinn also owns Highlands Motorsport Park in Otago where visitors experience go-karting, Lamborghinis, V8 Super Cars and a museum.

"I don't want people to confuse Hampton Downs with Highlands," says Quinn. 

"Highlands is a totally separate business model to Hampton's Highlands is a tourist venue that caters to tourists year round with a small number of high-profile motorsport events each year.

"Hampton Downs is an absolute flat-out race track.  It is used 330 days of the year for racing, corporate days, testing and the like.  That will continue."

The re-launch of Hamptons is expected to coincide with a major international event in November, 2016.

Quinn's purchase of Hampton Downs follows a failed bid for Taupo Motorsport Park earlier this year.

Quinn, who remains a major shareholder of VIP following the sale to private equity interests, will divide his time between Australia,  New Zealand and the US, where he has a number of business interests including Lucky Country Licorice - the second largest liquorice maker in America.

Picture: Tony Quinn with son Klark Quinn.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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