The fitting ‘big bang’ for Pukekohe Supercars send-off

Andre Heimgartner at Pukekohe Park Raceway in 2019

Andre Heimgartner says that a Kiwi driver winning a race at the final Pukekohe Supercars event would be a fitting send-off.

Pukekohe Park Raceway will close to all motorsport operations in April next year, having opened in 1963.

This year’s Repco Supercars Championship round (September 9-11), the ITM Auckland SuperSprint, will be the last at the circuit.

While a replacement venue for the Supercars New Zealand round is being assessed, motorsport being shut down at Pukekohe brings the end of an era.

Heimgartner, who is one of the category’s three full-time Kiwi drivers (Shane van Gisbergen and Chris Pither being the others), is aiming for a home race win more than ever this year given the circumstances.

“The fact that it’s going is pretty disappointing,” Heimgartner told Speedcafe.com.

“Because as a Kiwi and that being my place that we watched [Supercars] every year…when I get to race it, it’s always a very special moment.

“Still need to win there and do those things as well. [It’s] something I really want to do before we can’t race anymore.

“I think all the Kiwis will get behind [it]; I think any motorsport fan that’s been to Pukekohe or even not for Supercars but for anything will want to send it out on a big bang.

“Hopefully one of us Kiwi drivers can win.”

The 27-year-old claimed his maiden Supercars race win last year at The Bend Motorsport Park.

Heimgartner explained he formed a special bond with Pukekohe as a Kiwi growing up, similar to Scott McLaughlin, when he witnessed Greg Murphy dominate on home soil in 2001.

“I was thinking about it the other night and got pretty upset about it,” added Heimgartner.

“I guess because that’s sort of where I fell in love with Supercars myself and watching people like Greg Murphy, Macros Ambrose, Rick Kelly, race around there.

“Being in the grandstand and Murph winning and jumping on top of his car, I’m sure plenty of Kiwis remember.

“It was just an awesome time. And as a young kid, that’s what inspired me to want to be in Supercars.

“Never thought I’d really get there because it was such a special event and special, cool thing for Kiwis.”

Both Heimgartner and Murphy have touted Hampton Downs as a replacement for Supercars’ New Zealand round.

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