Southland racing driver Jamie Conroy has emerged as the top graduate from the 2014 Elite Motorsport Academy held in Dunedin last week.
Conroy, the New Zealand and South Island Formula Ford Champion, received the Ian Snellgrove Award for his achievement. The award is named in memory of Ian Snellgrove, who was instrumental in the establishment of the academy and who was also manager of the Motorsport New Zealand Scholarship Trust for nine years. Snellgrove also spent several years in Southland before his death in 2012.
The Elite Motorsport Academy is run by the Motorsport NZ Scholarship Trust in conjunction with Excellence In Sport South Island and the Otago University sports science specialists. It features a demanding programme, both physically and mentally, focusing on a wide range of skills required for high-performance sport. Participants must meet a high level of physical fitness before attending. Academy participants spend a week at the academy taking part in a range of activities, including physical and mental challenges plus lessons in topics crucial to their motorsport futures such as team building, nutrition, media skills and sponsorship. Past graduates include Mitch Evans, Richie Stanaway, Hayden Paddon and Shane Van Gisbergen.
While Conroy was the top individual at the academy, he and his team-mates in Team Rebound, fellow Formula Ford competitor Ryan Yardley, drifter Drew Donovan and Formula First pilot Taylor Cockerton, were also the top team.
While immensely satisfied with his week, Conroy was shattered on his return home after the demanding schedule.
"It was a massive week. The elite academy is second to none and it is designed to break you down and push you past your limit mentally, emotionally and physically.
"They cram so much in but it will definitely help in the months and years to come. The facilities provided by Excellence In Sport South Island and the University Of Otago are unbelievable - the best in the southern hemisphere. I can't recommend the Elite Motorsport Academy highly enough to anyone thinking of progressing their motorsport career. If they are given the opportunity, they should grab it with both hands - it's awesome," Conroy said.
One of the most memorable activities for Conroy was the run up Baldwin St, the world's steepest street. "They sprang that on us last thing on Saturday after a gym session. It was pouring with rain."
The top award caps off a stellar season for Conroy, who dominated the 2013-14 New Zealand Formula Ford Championship and also won the South Island Formula Ford Championship title.
He is looking at his options for next season.
- The Southland Times