It is unusual to see V8 Supercars on the streets of Surfers Paradise outside October, however that is what greeted holiday makers on their Wednesday morning stroll on the glitter strip today as Finance EZIâ€™s fleet of racecars made its way from central Surfers to a gala lunch at the Marriott Resort and Spa.
Finance EZI has established arguably the most comprehensive junior development program in Australian motorsport and its contingent of black and yellow V8 Supercars left Marriott guests wondering who was checking into the world-renowned hotel as the 635-horsepower V8 Supercars roared to a standstill at the hotelâ€™s valet parking area.
â€œWe want to develop the Finance EZI brand on a national scale and motorsport gives us the ideal platform to do this with,â€ said team owner and driver, Maurie Pickering. â€œHelping out youngsters is at the core of our business and how we can give back to the sport in Australia…plus, I can race and have some fun as well!â€
Barely allowed to hold a provisional license on the roads they travelled through, Finance EZIâ€™s pair of 17-year-old V8 superstars from the Dunlop V8 Supercar Development Series – Josh Hunter and Andre Heimgartner – piloted their racecars on a very different street circuit to the one they raced just one month ago in Adelaide.
The pair are preparing for the next round of the Dunlop V8 Supercar Series at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth, May 3-5.
â€œIt was a bit different thatâ€™s for sure,â€ laughed Josh. â€œIâ€™ve driven around Surfers Paradise before, but not in a V8 Supercar. Being part of this team and doing different things like this is fun and thatâ€™s what we do it for.â€
â€œIt is one way to grab some attention! I was too busy concentrating on driving the car to take in too many of the sights along the beach, but no doubt there was plenty to look at! Maurieâ€™s always up for something a bit different and I think heâ€™s achieved it here, itâ€™s definitely something Iâ€™ll be looking back on in years to come as a cool way to promote the race team!â€
Finance EZI will enter the single-make Suzuki Swift Racing Series with a very familiar name, but an unfamiliar face in Ben Grice. Grice is a Gold Coast local and son of 1986 and 1990 Bathurst 1000 Champion, Allan Grice. Whilst not taking the traditional karting path in his youth, Grice is now trying to forge his own path in motor racing.
He will start his first race under the Finance EZI colours at Mallala in South Australia this weekend.
â€œObviously Iâ€™ve been around the sport my whole life and have driven a few things in the past, but this is my first opportunity at a full national Series,â€ explained Grice. â€œTo be part of something like the Finance EZI team on a broader scale is fantastic and I cannot thank Maurie enough for the chance to do the Suzuki Swift Series. Of course, weâ€™ll be looking to try and do as best we can, and as Josh has shown, Maurie is prepared to support young drivers to advance, so hopefully I can follow a similar path in this way.â€
Multiple State Karting Champion, Damian Ward pilots the Finance EZI Aussie Racing Car. The irony of Ward is that by day, he drives one of the biggest rigs around – a gargantuan mining truck, but by weekend, he is in the smallest car on the racetracks of Australia! Having completed two rounds of the National Championship, heâ€™s finished both on the cusp of the top 10.
â€œThis is a little different to my usual drive,â€ laughed Ward. â€œIt has a bit better turning circle and just a bit more torque than the mining truck. Having started in the Suzuki Series last year, to get a chance to go to the Aussie Racing Cars is a big thing. Itâ€™s a hugely competitive category and a momentary lapse of concentration can see you go from the front to the rear in a blink of an eye. In that sense, it is very much like Iâ€™m used to in karting, but on a slightly bigger scale.â€
The final car in the lineup, fittingly keeping a watch over his flock ahead, was another Ford V8 Supercar, that is usually driven by team owner, well-known Car Dealer and Managing Director of Finance EZI, Maurie Pickering.
Pickering is racing in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series for retired V8 Supercars and was lucky to even be at the event today after the Seriesâ€™ opening round a couple of weekends ago in Sydney. After a tyre let go, Pickering speared off at Sydney Motorsport Parkâ€™s unforgiving turn one at over 260kph! Thankfully, no major damage was done to the car or the boss!
â€œWeâ€™re a proudly Gold Coast based team and todayâ€™s event is about unveiling the full compliment of our outfit and let the sponsors, media and people that I do business with on a daily basis see who we are supporting and get to meet them in an intimate environment away from the racetrack.
â€œFinance EZI Racing positions itself as developing the next generation of motor racing and right across the board, all of our drivers (except this one!) are under 25 and are all so enthusiastic about their motor racing.
â€œWe have some wonderful motorsport heritage in our team – from Josh whoâ€™s grandfather, Garry Rush is the greatest Sprintcar driver Australia has ever produced, to Ben – whose fatherâ€™s exploits in racing, politics and business speak for themselves and Andre and Damian, both of whom are solidly working to carve out their own motor racing legacy.
â€œItâ€™s a pleasure for Finance EZI to be in a position to support these guys and work with them to build an exciting motorsport brand.â€
The 80 guests on hand at the lunch enjoyed food and wine from the Marriott Resort and Spa, Surfers Paradise and the drivers were introduced to the gathering via a lively Q&A session.
Finance EZI is a Gold Coast-based organisation, which is an emerging force on the national lending scene. It works with customers to eliminate much of the stress involved with financing cars, boats, bikes, businesses, equipment and a host of other products, by negotiating on their behalf to obtain (in most cases) better deals than offered by banks.
FINANCE EZI RACING 2013 SCHEDULE:
Dunlop V8 Supercar Series (Andre Heimgartner & Josh Hunter):
1. Clipsal 500 – March 1-2
2. Chill Perth 365 – May 3-5
3. Sucrogen Townsville 400 – July 5-7
4. Coates Hire Ipswich 300 – July 26-28
5. Winton 360 – August 23-25
6. Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 – October 10-12
7. Sydney 500 – December 7-8
Kumho V8 Touring Car Series (Maurie Pickering):
1. Sydney Motorsport Park – March 22-24
2. Mallala – April 19-21
3. Winton – June 21-23
4. Queensland Raceway – August 2-4
5. Phillip Island – September 20-22
6. Sandown – November 15-17
Suzuki Swift Drivers Challenge (Ben Grice):
1. Mallala – April 19-21
2. Phillip Island – May 24-26
3. Winton – June 21-23
4. Sydney Motorsport Park – July 12-14
5. Queensland Raceway – August 2-4
6. Wakefield Park – October 18-20
7. Sandown – November 15-17
Aussie Racing Cars (Damian Ward):
1. Clipsal 500 – February 28-March 3
2. Symmons Plains – April 5-7
3. Coates Hire Ipswich 300 – July 26-28
4. Winton – August 23-25
5. Armor All Gold Coast 600 – October 25-27
6. Sydney 500 – December 6-8