FROC’s Ryder Quinn inspired by McLaughlin, Power: ‘My ultimate goal is IndyCar’

With no karting experience, Australian Ryder Quinn has made his way through Australian Formula Ford and onto the grid of the Formula Regional Oceania Championship. Feeder Series spoke with Quinn ahead of his rookie season about his career and his aspirations of competing in Europe and America.

By Jan Husmann

This Friday, the Formula Regional Oceania Championship (FROC) will start at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand. The event will be a home race of a different sort for 17-year-old Australian Ryder Quinn, whose grandfather – motorsport entrepreneur Tony Quinn – commissioned the track in 2012.

Quinn’s family have a prolific motorsport background; his father, grandfather, and uncles all competed in GT racing nationally and internationally. However, his first taste of racing came relatively late in his career, for he never competed in karting at a younger age.

“I always loved motorsport,” Quinn began. “It’s a bit strange that I never did karting. I do not know why. I was always at the tracks with my dad and granddad, and I loved every single second of it. And when I could get on to a two-wheeler or four-wheeler bike or go-kart, I loved it. I always had a natural feel for speed, which helps me today.”

Early career

In 2020, when the championship – then named the Toyota Racing Series – last visited Highlands, Quinn recalled telling category manager Nicolas Caillol that he would race in the series. This was a bold statement, especially since Quinn had not raced competitively in any capacity at that point.

Quinn began racing in Formula Ford in 2021, competing at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented most motorsport series from running as normal. He competed in a regional Formula Ford championship in Queensland, in which he finished all four races on the podium.

The following year, Quinn went on to compete at the national level in the Australian Formula Ford Championship. After a rough start to the season, he finished 11 of the last 15 races on the podium, winning three times. Now, Quinn is ready for the next step in his career as he prepares for his first season in FROC.

“It is a big step, but my whole career needed to be a very steep learning curve, coming from not having done karting and starting when I was 16 years old,” Quinn said. “To go to where I want to go, the learning curve has to be that steep.”

Future ambitions

But where does Quinn want to go?

“Right now, my ultimate goal is IndyCar, following the path of drivers like Scott McLaughlin and Will Power. But also, the attraction to American and European GT motorsport has always been very strong for me. My dad used to race GT cars in Australia and ever since I heard that Porsche RSR start up, I have loved it.

“Generally, a lot of formula drivers compete in FROC. But you have seen [2022 DTM drivers] Lucas Auer and Esteban Muth come through in 2019. So if you can learn to drive a formula car at a good speed, then I believe you can branch off into GT cars,” Quinn said. “I would love to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Daytona. That would be pretty mega.”

Competing in FROC

For now, Quinn’s focus remains firmly on competing in FROC.

“[FROC] is quite appealing to me and my family, given that we have a big motorsports presence in New Zealand,” Quinn said. “From a competitive side, you bring Europe to New Zealand, which is a great taste [of] international motorsport relatively close to Australia.”

Quinn’s well-connected family may have helped him reach FROC, but the Australian did not appear to take this opportunity for granted. He remains aware that a good showing in this championship can help him make his dream a reality.

“FROC is an extra big step, especially given that I have never driven any cars with wings and slicks. But I am ready for this opportunity, and I am super excited. The last seven months have just been preparing for this year. This is a big opportunity for me and what comes of this may determine my future, so we have been working very hard to ensure I am as best prepared as I can be.”

When asked about his goals for the championship, Quinn’s answer was clear. “The goal is, of course, to win,” he said.

However, success for Quinn does not necessarily mean lifting the championship trophy at the end of the season. “Every single driver on the grid believes that they have the ability to win. Given my lack of experience, coming away from the five weeks with me as person and driver bettered can act as a win as well.”

[Competing in FROC] is going to be an awesome opportunity and experience.

Ryder Quinn

The biggest event of the championship will be the New Zealand Grand Prix, one of only two FIA–sanctioned grands prix that are not part of the Formula One World Championship. But Quinn was careful not to lose sight of the bigger picture in a 15-race championship – one in which every finish will earn him valuable points.

“[The New Zealand Grand Prix] is a big event for Aussies and Kiwis, but I look more at the whole series. It is important to be consistent,” he said. “It is going to be an awesome opportunity and experience. No matter what happens in the next five weeks, [competing in FROC] will better me.”

You can read Feeder Series‘ season guide to the 2023 Formula Regional Oceania Championship here.

Header photo credit: Ryder Quinn

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