The team at Taupo International Motorsport Park (TIMP)- the newest addition to Tony’s Quinn’s family of racetracks –celebrated their 1st Birthday in December 2022. Being just a year old hasn’t stopped this team in Taupo from making serious in-roads with the local community.

Following the initiatives already in place at Highlands, (nearly 10 years old) and the groups focus on playing a leadership role in the communities they have the privilege to operate in, the team at Taupo have wasted no time in finding the most effective ways possible to give back to their community.

Josie Spillane (Highlands, Hampton Downs, Taupo Motorsport Park & Game Over - Group CEO) says “It is really important for us, both as a company and as a local team based at Taupo, that we play our part in the community. As a way of understanding what the community needed, we spoke to locals to get their feedback. We discovered an amazing established programme called CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit and Support).”

The Programme

CACTUS is a military style 8-week programme run through Bluelight, a non-profit organisation, who work alongside Police to deliver youth-centric programs to build confident, capable and connected members of the community.

Since it’s conception in 2013 over 405 teenagers have been through the programme. The aims – broadening their horizons of what is possible, completely transforming their home lives and building their confidence beyond belief. The results – short term changes in behaviour and long term it has seen participants entering into incredible careers, ranging from the police to Olympic boxing. After losing its funding following COVID Taupo International Motorsport Park has stepped up to support the programme in 2022.

What It Involves

To break it down, each day starts with rigorous physical training (PT) at Taupo Football Club. The teens (between 13-16 years old) arrive at 5:55am ready for a 6am start.

“This act itself dramatically changes family dynamics for many teens not used to a regular home routine. For many it teaches them that there is a lot more out there, than what they see at home.” says Shane McNally, the police officer in charge of the programme.

After PT, breakfast sessions include discussions around topics like nutrition, mental and sexual health. They also touch on topical issues in the police and what’s happening in the community. There are guest speakers up to three times per week (from fireman to nurses, phycologists, budgeting specialists).

“Many parents get involved and volunteer. This connection over food is unrivalled and many of the kids are like sponges, absorbing this information (from our day job) like sponges.” McNally says.

Taupo International Motorsport Park’s Support

Funding is the biggest challenge for the ground-breaking programme which is actively supported by Area Commander – Phil Edwards.

“Each courses costs a rather significant $20,000 to run, which the park provides. The cost covers everything from shoes, equipment, administration costs, hiring transport, food. It makes sure that kids don’t have to pay. This evens the playing field big time which is such a crucial part of the programme.” says McNelly.

“We’re exceedingly grateful to TIMP for the support in running this programme – so that we can concentrate fully on the programme and getting it done. We have incredible support from local gyms and guest speakers from all walks of life, but without the funding to make it all happen it wouldn’t be possible” McNally

“Every week is progressively harder building towards the longest day. Come into school in the evening. PT session, watch a movie, have tea, say what they have learnt. Depression and anxiety are two huge themes. 2am – they wake up for pilates session, tramp up to the top of a mountain for sunrise. The day finishes with a fire truck pull in front of the school. Following which everyone gets together in the club rooms for a formal supper.”

The sense of achievement, the change in family dynamics and broader shift in the teens that go through the programme is something Taupo International Motorsport Park are proud to support.

“TIMP’s support allows us to do post-course follow ups to ensure kids who still struggle and then go back to their old ways. It enables us to keep them engaged with activities post course.” McNally

Embedded Community Support From TIMP

As well as CACTUS, TIMP support a number of other community initiatives throughout the district.  

“We are excited to come on board as a key sponsor of the Taupō Blue Light Trolley Derby, an annual community event run in conjunction with the Santa Parade and Christmas in the Park Festival. The brand-new open class category sees prize sponsorship of $2750 value in experiences across all 3 parks and go kart facilities.” Anna McDonald – TIMP Sales & Functions Manager.

The Youthline Charity Pit Lane party is one community organised event that brings TIMP together with other local businesses, united in participating in support for Youthline NZ. Live music, food vendors, truck pulling competitions and track fun runs all take place in the pit lane.

These larger events are combined with an ongoing and grounded approach to supporting local sports clubs and groups with weekly club nights, training, and competition support. TIMP gives these groups access to a safe environment off public roads. Kart vouchers are regularly offered towards a number of fundraising efforts for smaller groups, charities and businesses.

Caption: (Left to right) Martin Collins, General Manager TIMP, Snr Constable Sue Moult, Taupo Police, Anna McDonald, Sales & Functions Manager TIMP.