Mike Sentch returns to roots
Five years ago, after a recommendation and 15 minute phone interview with motorsport devotee Tony Quinn, Mike Sentch arrived in Cromwell to start a new job ‘‘running a race track’’.
He was confronted with a wide open space of gravel and dirt.
The race track was Highlands Motorsport Park and it would be 11 months before Sentch would have a race track to actually run. It still surprises him how much they managed to achieve within such a short time frame.
‘‘I didn’t think about it at the time, but it was quite a big deal. When I started it was a concrete pad where the museum is, that was it, and they had taken the trees out and graded a track shape. It was all gravel and dirt and that was it. There was nothing else there. Other than that it was just dirt.’’
After transforming an open space of dirt and gravel into a world-class racetrack and tourism destination, Sentch has farewelled Highlands to work with more dirt.
Deciding it was time for a change and wanting more time with his son, he purchased the Cromwell-based soil screening business, Central Screening, and started work this week.
‘‘It sounds strange but I have done everything at Highlands... I have always wanted my own business and I am coming back to a business I know. When I was 14 this is where I started - I worked in landscaping, then I did a mechanical apprenticeship, then came back to landscaping when I was about 22 in Dunedin.
‘‘I always thought this would be a cool business to have...It is a bit of a big jump. After running big race teams and businesses like Highlands, it is different when all of a sudden you are the one who has to find the money and clear about how you do things and just make it work.’’
His biggest achievements at Highlands have been to hold 14 major events in five years, including running international race meetings. ‘‘I didn’t realise when I took the job it would become a full-on tourism operation and the membership model and gala dinners and all that sort of thing.‘‘
Highlands Motorsport Park chief operating officer Josie Spillane said Sentch should leave with his head held high for all he had accomplished.
‘‘Highlands has a legacy that is going to be here for a very long time and Mike was part of the inaugural team who created that legacy...We wish him all the best.‘‘
Mike Sentch has left Highlands Motorsport Park after five years to run his own business.