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Newcastle hotelier drives local support for V8 racing champion

Updated: Feb 7, 2018

Hunt Hospitality owner Stephen Hunt experiences life in the fast lane after showing support and sponsorship for Dunlop Super2 Series champion Todd Hazelwood

In Newcastle you don’t have to be a local to feel the love, you just have to share the community’s passion for hard work, good ethics and strong values.

Just ask Dunlop Super2 Series driver, 22-year-old Todd Hazelwood who recently took out the championship in Newcastle as part of the Supercars Newcastle 500 event.

While the champion has always called Adelaide home, that didn’t stop Newcastle hotelier Stephen Hunt from putting his hand up when help was needed.

“I first met Stephen Hunt back in 2014 when we were racing in the Dunlop Super2 Series at Homebush,” Hazelwood said.

“He was supportive of me right away and at the time it was well documented that we were in a tough position financially. Stephen really came through for us and it’s incredible that someone would put their hand in their pocket to just help me.

“At that time there had been no announcement of a Newcastle leg of the championship, meaning there were limited opportunities to leverage that kind of support locally,” Hazelwood said.

“But he was still there for me and it was incredible to have that kind of loyal support. Then to have him there in Newcastle when we won the championship was just great.”

In addition to offering sponsorship to Hazelwood for the final leg of the 2017 Dunlop Super2 Series championship in Newcastle, Mr Hunt also opened the top floor of his Hamilton venue The Kent Bar and Grill and invited the team’s supporters and sponsors back to celebrate the victory.

“He’s been amazing and I’m thrilled to know he’ll be a partner again next year when I race at the highest level in the Virgin Supercars Championship,” Hazelwood said.

So what was it about the young South Australian that made Newcastle Hotelier Stephen Hunt want to lend his support?

“I originally met Todd three years ago through a local friend Dean Rothafel, who works in the motor vehicle industry here in Newcastle and I just knew right away that he was a good kid,” Mr Hunt said.

“It wasn’t so much about sponsorship or being commercial that made me want to help him, but the fact that he comes from a close family, he does pretty much all the work himself, and has a lot of integrity. They are the kinds of values that I share and the kind of ethics that reflect the sentiment of Newcastle and most Novocastrians, so I really just wanted to help out.”

And help out he did.

In addition to having The Kent Bar and Grill sponsor Hazelwood’s Newcastle 500 campaign, Mr Hunt also garnered the support of his neighbour, local businessman and owner of FrameToday, Michael Tarrant.

“Once the race was announced as being up here in Newcastle, Todd said to me, ‘I’m not going for second this time, I want to win’, and I just wanted to be a part of that,” Mr Hunt said.

“I knew Todd needed all the support he could get, so I had a chat with Michael and he decided to jump on board as a sponsor as well.”

As a sponsoring partner, Mr Hunt was fortunate enough to be trackside when Hazelwood crossed the line in both races to be crowned series champion.

“I had been about to go on a pit tour when it happened,” Mr Hunt said. “But when I saw him cross the line I said, ‘you know what, I just have to get down there’.”

While Mr Hunt describes the experience of sharing Hazelwood’s success at the Newcastle 500 as one that gives him goose bumps, he is no stranger to supporting a good cause.

For the past 10 years Mr Hunt has also been a sponsor and supporter of the NSW Variety Bash, an initiative that allows children impacted by illness to receive the care and equipment they need to ensure the best opportunities in life.

“I just think it’s important to lend a hand wherever you can,” Mr Hunt said.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

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