Mike Sentch re­turns to roots

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

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.‘‘

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Mike Sentch has left High­lands Mo­tor­sport Park after five years to run his own busi­ness.

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