Close to 30 years of active involvement in virtually every part of the sport from driving to administration was recognised in Wellington on Saturday when Robert Hutton, 68, from Kinloch near Taupo, was awarded life membership of KartSport New Zealand, the 25th such appointment in the sport’s 60 year history.
Best known for the ground-breaking work he did from 2001 until 2019 as the KartSport New Zealand organisation’s first development and administration manager, Hutton’s involvement with karts and karting began in Wellington back in 1991 when he and wife Chris bought a kart and both joined the KartSport Wellington club.
Over the next 12 years he competed extensively both at his home track, and at sprint as well as road race circuits all over the country, earning a club championship title in the Yamaha Heavy class in 1994, the Yamaha Heavy class championship title in the WPKA Goldstar series in 1997 and two North Island Road Titles (2000 Yamaha GP and 2002 Yamaha Championship).
It was while President of the Wellington club in 1995 and 1996, and later President of the WPKA, that Hutton, who at the time held senior marketing positions in the Capital, was first able to put his administration and planning skills to use.
His first major achievement as President of the Wellington club was successfully driving an ambitious project to extend the its track at Kaitoke north of Upper Hutt. The development of a long term site plan was key to the facility being what it is today, one of the country’s premier karting complexes.
That effort, together with continuous club administration service since 1991, later earned Hutton Life Membership of the KartSport Wellington club but also paved the way for his move from Wellington to Auckland with the brief from the KartSport New Zealand Clubs and Executive to set up a professional ‘National Office.’
The brief was broad and open-ended, but with ambitious new external funding goals, and Hutton attacked it with vigour.
As KartSport New Zealand’s current President Graeme Moore told those who gathered at the KartSport Wellington clubrooms for the award ceremony on Saturday.
“I can’t begin to cover off a fraction of the achievements and improvements Robert has brought to the sport since it was a fragmented, unbranded group of independent bodies to what is now regarded as one of the premier athletic sporting bodies in the country.
‘He has worked with all manner of Executive and Presidents with all manner of styles and agendas but has always stayed true, like no other, to the vision and values that power our Constitution.”
Amongst those Hutton forged professional ties with on behalf of KartSport was Craig McFarlane, the National Partnership Manager for Sport New Zealand.
“It is pleasing to acknowledge the role of Robert Hutton and recognise his Life Membership accolade,” McFarlane said. “ Robert has certainly been heavily immersed in the KartSport world for many years and his involvement in the sport has spanned every imaginable corner.”
As well as both competing themselves when they lived in Wellington, Hutton and wife Chris’ son Arie, 25, is a multi-time NZ Sprint kart champion who this year finished second in class at the annual ROK Cup Superfinal meeting in Italy.
Hutton remains active within the sport’s administration and is currently patron of the KartSport Wellington club and a trustee of the Colin Dale Park KartSport Development Charitable Trust.