Search­ing for Ard­more His­tory

Classic Driver - - LETTERS -

An­other great read has just ar­rived in my let­ter­box in the Feb/March Clas­sic Driver and it prompts me to con­tact you as some­one who may be able to point me in the right di­rec­tion for in­for­ma­tion.

Do you know of any de­fin­i­tive book/doc­u­ment/ar­ti­cle which has been writ­ten about the NZIGP era at Ard­more??

Re­search on­line has not elicited any­thing of sub­stance.

My in­ter­est stems from grow­ing up at Al­fris­ton and work­ing at Ard­more for the GP, erect­ing grand­stands and fences etc in 1955, 56 & 57, start­ing at the age of 15. Whilst I know a bit of the his­tory from a lo­cal per­spec­tive, it is only in my se­nior years that ‘his­tory’ seems to be of greater in­ter­est and it would be nice to put it all to­gether if pos­si­ble.

For ex­am­ple: how or why was the RNZAF in­volved with the GP As­so­ci­a­tion? I re­call the RNZAF de­liv­er­ing the mar­shals scoot­ers from Whites of New­mar­ket. The ve­hi­cle used was a long ar­tic­u­lated cab and trailer unit which I sub­se­quently found out to be called ‘The Queen Mary’ in air-force terms where it car­ried re­paired flight con­trol sur­faces and wings. There are many more ques­tions like this.

The hay bales around the track I must have han­dled three times each be­fore we got them home. The farm my par­ents share-milked on had the con­tract to cut and bale the hay on Ard­more. I be­lieve it was sold to the GP As­so­ci­a­tion for one shilling per bale and bought back – those sur­viv­ing – for six­pence. I do re­call work­ing af­ter the Grand Prix to re­bale those bro­ken ones.

One ev­er­last­ing mem­ory of the time was the size of the pis­ton in the V16 BRM when I came across it in a hangar at Ard­more, with the left head off, for a rea­son I can’t re­mem­ber but the sound I’ll never for­get.

My last work­ing year there was for the 1957 Grand Prix when Ken Whar­ton was killed when the Fer­rari Monza flipped right in front of me. I sub­se­quently did some re­pair work on the car/en­gine dur­ing my first year as an ap­pren­tice with TEAL as I was then res­i­dent across the road – in St John’s Col­lege – from where I was board­ing in Mead­ow­bank.

Al­fris­ton turned out a bunch of us who sub­se­quently be­came in­volved with ‘speed’ – Rod Cop­pins (a cousin whom you fea­tured a while ago) and Ray Stone who was a me­chanic for many speed­ers of the era and also Grooms­man at our wed­ding many years ago.

Enough ram­bling. If you could an­swer the above ques­tion I would be grate­ful. If you can’t then it may be a good time to arm twist some his­to­rian be­fore we take the his­tory with us! Neville Hay

PS Ev­ery com­mit­tee and club I am in­volved with has the same is­sue as set out in your ed­i­to­rial – you are not alone but that is no help. TH I have never seen a com­pre­hen­sive his­tory of Ard­more’s rac­ing his­tory; do any of our read­ers know if this has been recorded at all?

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