Hosting the 68th NZ Grand Prix in Cromwell was the realisation of a decade old dream for Tony Quinn.

The Highlands Motorsport Park owner and racing driver had been pushing for it since the park opened a decade ago — although he does wish he had had more time.

‘‘It’s fantastic.’’

‘‘It’s been a long time coming . . . I suppose, the anticipation of it coming and everything else, has been a long time,’’ Quinn said.

‘‘So when it’s come, it’s a little bit . . . I’m not saying it’s an anticlimax . . . I probably wish that . . .that we had longer to plan it — then that sounds stupid, because we’ve had 10 years.

‘‘No, it’s great to have all the young kids from all over the world trying to do their best.’’

Race action during the NZ Grand Prix at Highlands Motorsport park on Sunday February 18th 2024. Copyright photo: Blake Armstrong / Armstrong Photography NZ

He said when he first proposed holding New Zealand’s most important race at Highlands, ‘‘there was a bit of tall poppy stuff going on’’ and it remained at Manfeild race track in Feilding, before moving to Hampton Downs — also owned by Quinn.

Covid-19 interrupted things and the race returned to Hampton Downs last year before making the move south for 2024.

With Toyota and race promoters Super Sprint wanting to finish the five-week Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship with the Grand Prix at Highlands, it all ‘‘fell in to place quite nicely’’ Quinn said.

Liam Sceats wins the NZ Grand Prix at Highlands Motorsport park on Sunday. Copyright photo: Blake Armstrong / Armstrong Photography NZ

However, despite the smooth running of the successful event, he thought it ‘‘maybe’’ belonged in a more populous park, Quinn said.

‘‘No matter what we do to promote it in Central Otago, there’s a limited population. You know, it’s not Mexico City with 30 million people within an hour. Maybe we need to alternate it or whatever.’’

After the series the team would debrief and work out the best options, he said.

Holding the Grand Prix had an extra special family connection — Quinn’s grandson Ryder Quinn, 17, was racing.

‘‘I’ve always been blessed that one of my family or some of my family have always been racing with me or alongside or endurance racing or, you know, we’ve always been racing together.

‘‘It’s great for him to come and do it. I mean I think initially he thought he would just come and take the cup and put it in his suitcase and go home but he’s found it to be, as I would expect, tougher than you would imagine.’’

Liam Sceats wins the NZ Grand Prix at Highlands Motorsport park on Sunday. Copyright photo: Blake Armstrong / Armstrong Photography NZ

Also racing were Tony Quinn Foundation recipients Liam Sceats and Callum Hedge with the young guns taking out the first and second podium spots respectively.

Speaking to The News ahead of his title win, Sceats said it was his dream to win the NZ Grand Prix.

‘‘Hopefully that will open doors up for me in the future, but my goal would be to end up in the States this year for the rest of this year, competing in the USF Pro Championship.’’

Starting in pole position did up the pressure, Sceats said.

He knew from racing at Highlands last year it was a hard track to pass on so needed to get off the starting line in the lead.

For Hedge the opportunity to race in the NZ Grand Prix was too good to miss.

Long distance . . . Kiwi motorsport driver and Tony Quinn Foundation recipient Callum Hedge travelled 30 hours from Finland to race in the 68th New Zealand Grand Prix. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON

A last minute addition to the line up, Hedge arrived just 45 minutes before practice on Friday after a 30-hour trip from Finland where he had been for a Porsche Ice Experience, part of his prize for winning the 2023 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia.

Despite lacking track time due to recovery from appendicitis and knowing he would miss vital practice ahead of the competition, Hedge said it was too good an opportunity to give up.

‘‘It was a long trip but I’m really glad I made it here to the Grand Prix here at Highlands’’ he said.

Adjusting to the car and the quick turnaround had been ‘‘interesting’’ to get his head around but he felt he got on top of it quickly, he said.

‘‘It’s been super fun to get back in the car after not really doing a lot for the last month or so. I wasn’t able to do any other preseason tests so for me it’s really good to get some mileage and really thankful to have the Tony Quinn Foundation come on board and make this weekend happen.’’

Grand Prix Girls . . . Race mechanics Brooke Harris (left) and Louise (Lulu) Clearwater, both of Invercargill, at the NZ Grand Prix. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON