January’s classic racing festival at Highlands Motorsport Park is being taken to a new level with the announcement of a partnership with respected Australasian brand ENZED and the first-ever appearance of the popular Aussie Racing Cars in New Zealand.

The two-day festival will be known as the Highlands Festival of Speed connected by ENZED and takes place over the weekend of 30 January and 1 February at Highlands’ world-class motorsport and entertainment complex in Cromwell, Central Otago. Fans of all ages and persuasions can enjoy a weekend of classic car racing, classic and retro displays of cars, motorcycles, caravans and boats, as well as other fun, classic-styled entertainment and activities for all the family.

Highlands’ business development manager Josie Spillane credits ENZED with creating the ultimate motorsport rivalry at Highlands as the headline act of the classic festival is the first-ever trans-Tasman battle between the hugely-popular Australian Touring Car Masters and New Zealand’s own highly-regarded ENZED Central Muscle Cars in New Zealand.

“It is our pleasure to be partnering with Highlands for the ENZED Festival of Speed. What excites us is the partnering of two premier brands to bring together what will be a fantastic event in an exclusive location,” says James Coulter, New Zealand sales and operations manager for Parker Hannifin, ENZED’s parent company.

“Anyone that loves motorsport should have the ENZED Festival of Speed in their diary for January. Just like ENZED’s service guarantee, it really will be ‘on-time’, ‘anytime’ racing!”

Ms Spillane says: “We’re understandably delighted to welcome ENZED as a partner for the Festival of Speed. ENZED is a passionate supporter of motorsport on both sides of the Tasman and, working together, we’re sure that the combined appeal of the ENZED Touring Car Masters and the ENZED Central Muscle Cars means this event will further raise the standard of entertainment for which Highlands has become renowned.

“We are very much looking forward to creating a bespoke experience for ENZED guests and their customers here at Highlands as they enjoy the ENZED Festival of Speed in January.”

Highlands’ owner Tony Quinn says the Aussie Racing Cars (ARC) add another entertaining component to the weekend’s on-track action for festival-goers to enjoy.

“I can’t wait to let 40-plus Aussie Racing Cars loose on the Highlands’ circuit!” says Quinn, who also owns the growing ARC category which is a support class at six 2015 V8 Supercar Championship events. “ARC will be a real highlight of a jam-packed entertainment line-up for the ENZED Highlands Festival of Speed and I just know that the fast layout of the Highlands’ GT circuit will suit these pocket rockets perfectly.”

Powered by a 1.2-litre, 125 bhp, twin cam, 16 valve engine and weighing only 450kg, the Aussie Racing Cars have an incredible power to weight ratio and will easily reach 230 km/h or more on the Highlands’ circuit straights. Constructed on a purpose-built space frame chassis, the cars sport one of ten (check) composite panel designs, including the classic 40 Ford and FJ Holden body styles, Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, Holden Cruze, Nissan Altima and Toyota Aurion styles replicating the latest road-going models, plus a Euro GT option and this year ARC designers have taken inspiration from the almighty American Muscle Car with characteristics from Ford’s Mustang and Chevrolet’s Camaro. All cars are approximately half the size of their full-sized counterparts and all mechanically identical.

Spectators can also enjoy fantastic on-track action from the spectacular historic open wheelers and former Grand Prix racers contested by members of the Vintage Car Club of New Zealand, as well as an exciting array of more modern single-seaters which compete under the Formula Libre banner such as the famed Formula 5000 Lolas and McRaes to modern Juno sports prototypes and everything in between.

Mike Sentch, Highlands’ general manager, adds: “At the inaugural Festival of Speed in April this year, we also enjoyed incredible racing from two saloon, sports and GT categories – the pre-1980 saloons we dubbed the Highlands nostalgic classics and the post-1980 tin-tops called the Highlands modern classics – and both classes are racing at next year’s event.”

The decision to move the second edition of Highlands’ classic car and racing festival to the weekend of 30 January and 1 February 2015 means it coincides with other key events for likely participants such as the planned Southern Festival of Speed which takes in classic races at Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Timaru’s Levels Raceway and Invercargill’s Teretonga circuit.

“Entries for all race categories are open and we welcome enquiries from all who wish to know what category their classic or historic racer best fits. Please email entries@highlands.co.nz to receive the entry form and regulations.”

Sentch is also looking forward to an even bigger and more interesting array of classic and retro cars, motorcycles, caravans, vans and boats to create an exciting Highlands classic and retro vehicle show.

“The sheer diversity of the vehicles on display in the classic car show made it a hugely popular component of the inaugural Festival of Speed. We’d love to see all kinds of vehicles from early hot rods to immaculately-restored classics – if you think your vehicle fits the spirit of a vintage, classic and retro vehicle show, please get in contact. There’s no charge to enter and we provide one free weekend pass for the vehicle’s owner.”

Sentch adds: “For race fans, remember, the ENZED Festival of Speed is one of just two major motorsport events we run at Highlands each year. It’s also the same weekend as the Gibbston Valley leg of the 2015 Summer Concert Tour starring the bands Heart, Foreigner and Three Dog Night on Saturday 31 January. What a fantastic weekend to visit Central Otago to enjoy both events!”

The schedule for the Highlands Festival of Speed connected by ENZED sees competitors on-track on Friday for practice and qualifying sessions, Saturday is a full day of race action with Sunday the big festival day. The Highlands classic and retro vehicle show takes place both days.

“Highlands has gained a reputation for as much action off-track as on-track, so with the festival, vehicle displays, racing and entertainment, the ENZED Highlands Festival of Speed is sure to appeal to just about everyone,” Sentch says.

Tickets will soon go on sale via Ticket Direct or from the Highlands museum office.

More information about the ENZED Highlands Festival of Speed and all regular Highlands Motorsport Park attractions is available on the venue’s website www.highlands.co.nz, or visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HighlandsMotorsportPark.