oung Auckland driver Gene Rollinson was born to race. The 23-year-old has racing in his blood, father Paul is a former Speedway and NZ Kart champion and Gene was accompanying him to meetings soon after he was born.
Gene had his first taste of motorised power before he was five, and he was racing a Kart by the time he was seven. In his 12+ years of racing Karts he claimed 5 New Zealand Championship titles and 1 North Island Championship title, among many other class wins.
That set him up for his first run in a Formula Challenge open-wheeler racecar. Gene was immediately competitive and ended 2002 winning the Formula Challenge Summer Series!
After that success he entered, and won, the 2003 eight-round televised Formula Challenge Championship, against New Zealand and Australian competitors.
In 2005 Gene looked to expand his racing career. Indirectly, through his Formula Challenge success, he landed a drive in the 'Petronas Formula Malaysia Grand Prix' in Malaysia, a support event to the Formula One Grand Prix. The cars were a 240kph wings and slicks open-wheeler class, and on his first visit to the awesome 5.5km Sepang Circuit, Gene qualified the car on the front row of the grid. When the lights went out to start the race, Gene was able to take the lead into the first corner, but on the second lap the differential failed and the car stopped, disappointingly ending his chances of a potential Grand Prix win.
Gene was presented with the opportunity to drive in the premier NZV8 series as member of the Team Kiwi Racing/Mike Pero Mortgages Team in 2005/2006.
He was the youngest competitor in the ultra-competitive category class and although it was only his first season he was able to produce some excellent results, finishing in the top ten on several occasions. These top ten finishes were even more remarkable given that Gene had not driven on any of the tracks previously and the season was done on a shoestring budget.
Recently in 2007 Gene was fortunate enough to be asked to drive an Australian V8 Supercar in the Fujitsu Series at Winton Raceway in Australia. The Race Image Motorsport team had a driver withdraw at the last minute and Gene was offered the ride on the Tuesday, and needed to be there on the Thursday! He and his family quickly put it all together and headed across the ditch. Given the fact he had never raced in Australia or seen the track, coupled with never having driven one of these over-powered beasts before, Gene approached the meeting as good testing, but everyone soon took notice of this young Kiwi bloke as he finished an astonishing 9th overall for the round, and got tongues wagging.
A week after that Gene took off to Germany, after being asked to drive with the class-winning Kiwi Team Nurburgring at the 2007 Nurburgring 24-Hour Race. The team competed with one car in 2006, a front wheel drive 6-speed Honda Civic Type-R hatch, built to Group-N specifications. In 2007 they built another car exactly the same and took a two-car team over. Remarkably after every type of weather condition you could think of, 24 hours later Gene's car crossed the line to win the Group-N class, a great achievement.
Currently Gene is competing in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series with Race Image Motorsports, as he looks to build up experience in one of the toughest touring car categories in the world.