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New Zealand’s most successful rally driver


New Zealand’s most successful rally driver, Hayden Paddon, has had a phenomenal career in motorsport. Starting with nothing, and determined to beat the odds, he set out on a phenomenal 20-year pathway to the World Rally Championship, where he footed it with the best rally drivers on the planet.

Rallying is a sport that has been part of the Paddon family for quite some time. Hayden’s father Chris first got into motorsport at the age of 22, competing in club events around the South Island in numerous cars. Born in 1987, Hayden was introduced to motorsport at the young age of 6. At first he accompanied his Dad to rallies, before he was old enough to service for him. Hayden has lived, breathed and eaten motorsport ever since.

Hayden’s father put the question to Hayden at the age of 12 - ‘how are you going to fund your racing?’. Hayden’s response was to get 3 jobs. So he did. Doing the morning 5am paper run was followed by school or in the school holidays working for his father’s business. Then in the evenings he would work at the local Fish n’ Chip shop. After finishing school in 2004 Hayden then worked as a sales and parts person at a local Motorbike store. While the money he earned helped to cover some of the bill to fuel his passion, it become clear to Hayden that it wasn’t enough. During the later years of competing in the Mini and starting in the Toyota, he came up with the idea of getting his local town (Geraldine) behind him. So a campaign ‘Shop Geraldine’ was born. At the age of 13 equipped with sponsorship proposals, Hayden went around each and every Geraldine business, eventually getting 15 companies onboard at $100 each per year. This campaign continued for 3 years, and it is where he crafted his skills of working with and looking after sponsors. Sponsor activities included demonstrations and shows, car washes and local stores, flyers and brochure distribution and inviting guests to events - this at the age of 14.

Leading the way in the future of WRC
As the World Rally Championship looks to allow battery-powered in the future, Hayden leads the way for change and in 2020 revealed his highly-anticipated fully-electric rally car - built by Hayden’s company, Paddon Rallysport Group alongside Stohl Advanced Research and Development and the University of Canterbury.

Professional Rally Driver record:
- 2023 European rally champion
- 7x New Zealand rally champion
- Asia Pacific Rally Champion
- 2016 WRC Rally Argentina rally winner
- 8 WRC podiums
- 2011 Production world rally champion
- Southern Hemisphere most successful rally team

In 2019 Hayden published his biography Driven: My Story where he details the many highs and lows along his road to the top. He also goes on public record for the first time about his 2017 accident in which a spectator was killed and his controversial dismissal from the Hyundai Motorsport team in 2018.

As a speaker, Hayden will share his experiences covering topics around:
• His inspirational journey - including career highlights, how to make your dreams come true through drive, commitment, goal setting and passion.
• Innovation and Technology - Hayden’s shares his teams story of building an EV, technology & innovation and leading change.
• Mental Health - Hayden’s personal journey with mental health, how he has overcome adversity, built resilience and his strategies for a healthy mindset.

Hayden was a pleasure to deal with and his presentation was a highlight of the event. Who knew so many farmers were secret petrol heads! Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Hayden was very friendly and informative from the moment he arrived until he left. He was happy to chat informally with the team after speaking which the team really appreciated.

RDA Consulting

Hayden was a fantastic fit for our recent event which was a competition to find New Zealand's best windscreen repair technician. He mingled with our people, clients, competitors and sponsors during the lunch and was a very chilled keynote. His delivery was thoughtful and unassuming, but he covered some difficult topics with real skill. Hayden engages his audience and takes them along for the ride, literally. I would absolutely recommend Hayden as a keynote speaker.

Smith & Smith
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