Perfect score for Ken Smith
With a lights-to-flag victory in the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series feature race at the annual NZ Festival of Motor Racing meeting at Hampton Downs on Sunday January 22 Kiwi racing legend Ken Smith (Lola T332) made dominating the meeting named in his honour easy.
Afterwards though the 75-year-old said it was anything but.
“It might look it from the outside when you are that far in front, but I was giving it 110 percent out there, don’t you worry about that.”
Smith, a three-time winner of the New Zealand Grand Prix, four-time winner of the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Series, and now contesting his 59th consecutive season at a national level was the featured driver at this year’s Festival meeting. And he didn’t disappoint.
As well as qualifying quickest and setting the fastest race laps in all three SAS Autoparts MSC F5000 category races he won all but one of the races in the two other categories he contested in other cars, Formula Libre and Historic Formula Ford.
He also got to drive the Warwick Mortimer-owned 1972 McLaren M8F Can-Am car on display at the meeting and give VIPs the ride of their life in fellow F5000 driver Greg Thornton’s unique tandem twoseater Lola T192.
Smith’s performance in the feature 12-lap SAS Autoparts MSC race mirrored that in the other two over the race weekend. After early challenges from Mark Dwyer (Lola T332) and Clark Proctor (March 72A/1) the seriously fast septuagenarian put the hammer down and eased away as those behind him tussled over the minor places.
“The car was going good, and handling well but I did back off a bit towards the end when I saw how far back the other two were,” he said.
The Festival meeting was a first on the new 3.8km International circuit for Smith though you would never have guessed it.
“It took me a while to get my head around, but now I’ve done some laps round the place I’ve got a better handle on it,” he said.
Hampton Downs circuit owner Tony Quinn said today that the Ken Smith tribute meeting was one of ‘the best ever’ and next year the Festival meeting will celebrate Bathurst.
Racing ace Ken Smith was in his element at the two-day New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting named in his honour at Hampton Downs in January. Smith got to drive a number of cars as well as his SAS Autoparts MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race winning Lola T332. The meeting also hosted races for Formula Junior and Historic Formula Fords as well as Formula Libre (sports cars as well as single-seaters) and various Historic Muscle and Touring Car classes. Photo credit: Fast Company/Lance Hastie