Festival of Speed promises plenty of high-octane action
The Highlands Festival of Speed is revving up for its second annual high-octane celebration of supercars, saloons and Central Otago.
A trans-Tasman battle is one of the hotly anticipated highlights of the three-day race event, pitching drivers including Queenstown racer Duane Ingley in the Central Muscle Car series and expat Kiwi Jim Richards against Aussie drivers John Bowe and Andrew Mideckie.
That Kiwi-Aussie component will be a mainstay of the thrill-a-minute festival, which also includes Aussie Racing Cars, motoring memorabilia, classic cars and entertainment.
The programme’s Aussie Racing Cars (ARC) half-size line-up of mechanically identical classic Ford and Holden body styles is another much-anticipated event.
Highlands marketing manager Melanie Kees said more than 20 Aussie muscle cars were hitting the Cromwell track for the first time.
‘‘Known as the ‘weekend warriors’ competitors the Aussie cars are sure to deliver great race action as they race three and four abreast.’’
ARC category manager Brad Ward said weekend warriors were travelling from all over Australia to Central Otago.
Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn bought the ARC series and business in 2012.
‘‘Without doubt, the opening ARC round of the 2015 season at Highlands is one we’ve all been looking forward to.
‘‘Under Tony’s leadership, a full review of the chassis and design was undertaken and a number of major upgrades announced to improve the technology used in the original cars and make the cars faster and more reliable.
‘‘The newest body shapes, the Camaro and Mustang, were launched in October at Mount Panorama Bathurst.
‘‘The festival is going to be the most exciting start to the ARC season in the category’s history.’’
The New Zealand round is the first series ARC contest this year with its custom-built racers, powered by 1.2 litre, 125bhp, twin-cam, 16 valve engines. Cars can reach speeds of 230kmh or more. It’s also the first time the Australian Touring Car Masters and Central Muscle Cars will compete in a trans-Tasman battle on this side of the ditch.
Race weekend includes a fashion in the field catwalk, Central Otago wine, regional food, entertainment and a children’s play area.
‘‘There are also opportunities for anyone to have a go on the simulators or try their luck panning for gold.’’
A wine and food festival runs on Sunday and classic, retro and custom-built cars are being readied for the motor show.
Race action: Aussie Racing Cars at Bathurst. They will be a feature of the Highlands Festival of Speed.