High-profile motivational speaker and double amputee Tony Christiansen has confirmed he will participate in the 10th Anniversary Silverstone Race To The Sky over Easter weekend on 7/8 April.
A railway accident left Christiansen as a double leg amputee at the age of nine but that has not stopped him from tackling a vast array of challenges head on. While he is best known for the inspirational speaking engagements that take him all over the world, he has many accomplishments to his name. Among those achievements is success in a variety of motorsport disciplines over a number of years. Using hand controls to compete, Christiansen has established a reputation as a fierce competitor.
"It is a passion," he says. "Dad built me a go-kart out of angle iron when I was eleven. We robbed an old lawnmower engine and that pushed me around for a long time." Christiansen has also raced midgets and 700 horsepower sprint cars and now regularly races a Pontiac Firebird at Bay Park Speedway. He has also owned a rally car for 5 years, raced Pre 65 Saloon cars and has had stints as a swinger on a sidecar and as a navigator in an off-road racing truck.
However motorsport is certainly not the only arena in which Tony Christiansen has excelled. Appropriately for a man best known as a keynote speaker, serving up motivating and humorous talks, he has successfully turned his hand to a great many challenges.
A father of three Tony is also a successful businessman, having worked in various aspects of the signwriting industry, eventually building his own company into one of the biggest of it's type in the country. He is a qualified lifeguard with over 33 rescues to his credit, a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and an accomplished athlete, representing New Zealand five times at the World FESPIC Paralympics and winning 35 medals - 12 gold, 17 silver and 6 bronze. He was New Zealand's first disabled pilot to learn to and then fly solo, he has climbed Africa's highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro and is also a best selling author.
Tony's Pontiac FirebirdChristiansen of Tauranga is bringing his Pontiac Firebird speedway saloon to this prestigious international event. However he admits, "there is not too much Pontiac about it. The car is powered by a 360 cubic inch Chevy putting out 540 horsepower. The trick will be trying to get it to turn right," he laughs. The Pontiac is normally found on a 470 metre oval track featuring only left hand corners whereas the Silverstone Race To The Sky will require car and driver to negotiate 137 different corners on the 15 kilometre climb. Referring to his choice of car for the event he says, "I wanted to do something different, we'll be trying to make as much noise and throw as many stones as possible! Too many people wish they could do or that they should have done things. I can do this, I am doing this, I will do this!"
"Inspirational speaking is my profession and there is no point talking about it if you don't do it. I've been to the event twice and I thought, I could do that, not a problem. It's just about the time and the wherewithal. I knew Possum Bourne reasonably well and he used to say you've got to have a go, it's great. I want to drive past Possum and say it's my turn and I'm doing it. People inspire us to do certain things." A statue of Bourne, the 2001 winner, overlooks the course.
Christiansen feels the Pontiac will be well suited to the twisty Snow Farm Road. "The car runs a locked speedway axle so we have fitted sway bars to unload the inside tyres. It will be a big car to get into the corners though."
With his never - say - die attitude Tony Christiansen will undoubtedly be a crowd favourite as he unleashes the brute power of his Chevy powered Pontiac in the 10th Anniversary Silverstone Race To The Sky on 7/8 April.