Pukekohe's place in Supercars history

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 20/07/2022
  • By James Pavey

Few circuits carry as a much weight in modern Supercars history than Pukekohe Park Raceway.

It was announced Wednesday that the venue will cease motorsport activities in 2023.

The upcoming ITM Auckland SuperSprint will be the last at Pukekohe.

The pint-sized 2.91km circuit is located approximately 40km south of the Auckland CBD.

The Raceway was opened in 1963 as a permanent track and hosted the New Zealand Grand Prix.

The likes of Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart all raced at the venue.

Prior to its championship debut in 2001, Pukekohe hosted the production Benson and Hedges 500.

That race featured the likes of Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Jim Richards, paving the way to a new era.

In 1996, twelve cars from the Australian Touring Car Championship raced in the Mobil 1 Sprints.

It was at those events where a young Greg Murphy shone, the local driver winning three races.

It was Murphy, in 2001, who breathed life into Pukekohe when it made its Supercars debut in 2001.

The 2001 round was the very first championship event held away from Australia.

Murphy duly won all three races, and went on to win six of the next 11. Murphy would win again in 2002 and 2003.

The 2005 event, which also hosted the 500th ATCC/Supercars race, was swept by Murphy.

A red-flagged finale saw Murphy take victory in darkness, the cars all but silhouettes as they crossed the line.

Murphy won all three races in 2005

Pukekohe has been a Commodore bullring since its 2001 debut.

In 42 starts, Commodores have crossed the line first 34 times. In fact, Holden won 21 of the first 22 races at Pukekohe.

The New Zealand round moved to Hamilton Street Circuit in 2008, which hosted Supercars until 2012.

Supercars returned to Pukekohe in 2013 following a series of upgrades to accommodate for the category's return.

As it was in 2001, a young local hope stood up on home soil, this time in the guise of Scott McLaughlin.

A 19-year-old McLaughlin won for Garry Rogers Motorsport, setting a record which still stands today.

McLaughlin would win twice more at Pukekohe, in 2018 and 2019.

McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen are the only homegrown drivers to have won the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.

Van Gisbergen celebrates victory in 2017

The trophy was introduced in 2013 in memory of Kiwi racer Richards, who passed away in 2011.

The first Richards Trophy, however, was won in emotional scenes by former teammate Jason Bright.

Richards was saluted by Bright and former team Brad Jones Racing, which also combined to win in 2014.

Bright, McLaughlin, van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup are the only drivers to have won the trophy.

The forthcoming September 9-11 event will mark the 21st anniversary of Supercars racing at Pukekohe.

Which driver will make a final mark at Pukekohe? Tickets for the ITM Auckland SuperSprint can be purchased now through Supercars.com and Ticketek.

The 2022 season will resume at the OTR SuperSprint on July 30-31. Purchase your tickets now.

Pukekohe Supercars race winners (2001-2007, 2012-2019)

9: Greg Murphy
6: Jamie Whincup
5: Shane van Gisbergen
4: Mark Skaife, Jason Bright
3: Garth Tander, Scott McLaughlin, Mark Winterbottom
1: Marcos Ambrose, Rick Kelly, Todd Kelly, Will Davison, David Reynolds

Pukekohe Supercars pole-sitters (2001-2007, 2012-2019)

7: Jamie Whincup
4: Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen
2: Greg Murphy, Mark Skaife, Jason Bright
1: Garth Tander, Mark Winterbottom, Craig Lowndes, Fabian Coulthard, James Courtney, David Reynolds, Cam Waters

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