29th Annual MG Classic, Manfeild
Those years are certainly starting to roll on by — yet another MG Classic, the 29th, in fact! Despite many events these days struggling for participants, sponsors, and spectators, the 2014 MG Classic on November 15–16 still produced another enjoyable and successful meeting, with some 70 cars across three classic grids and over 150 in other groups.
The Saturday morning practice was wet but the weather was generally good, although a cool wind blew from the west both days. This did not seem to deter the spectators, however, and the event was again well supported by the enthusiast as well as families. It was also good to see local Wellington-region small and not-so-small businesses supporting the event by sponsoring races.
As usual the quick-fire racing format kept everyone entertained, and delays from the occasional off-road excursions on the wet Saturday morning were quickly dealt with by the excellent volunteer track crews and marshalls.
The BMW E30s opened with their usual packed fields, but coped well despite the slippery conditions. The Fast Classics group gained momentum as the circuit dried out, and Aucklander Grant Kern’s 3.9 Rover–engined MGB roadster kept the flag flying for the British marque by improving to challenge Ross Graham’s fast V8 Torana and Nigel Macdonald’s quick Mustang. Ian Williamson’s incredible Mazda RX-2 gave notice that he would be a force to be reckoned with later in the weekend, while Philip Hehir in his rare Alfa Romeo Montreal also held his own against way-bigger-engined vehicles.
The Central Muscle Cars class is always a crowd favourite, and as usual produced some sterling racing, with Greg Honnor (Mustang), Grant Dalton (Camaro) and Dean Perkins (Falcon) fighting it out in many of the races.
The Alternative Sports & GT group, which is really an open class, on the Saturday saw a tremendous battle between Andrew Whittaker’s Porsche 911 GTRS and Todd Moffat in a ‘Jaguar XK120’. This car apparently comprises a set of carbon fibre body panels modelled from the owner’s real XK120 built around an XJ-S sub-frame, with a Jaguar 5.3-litre V12 four-turbo engine installed. Definitely not a classic, but it created a lot of interest both on the track and in the pits. Although Graham Barnes’ 5.8
V8 Capri got firsts in both Saturday races, the ‘Jaguar’ caught the Whittaker Porsche by surprise on the last lap in the initial event to take second. From then on Whittaker was awake to the threat, and made sure that did not happen again!
Classic & Historic
The organizers were hoping to have a field of VCC cars to merge with the older classics, but there was apparently insufficient interest, and the older classics instead put on their own show at the rear of the slower classic group. These proceeded with some interesting cut and thrust between Neil Moore’s 1951 Jowett Jupiter, Geoff Brader in the 1954 MGTF (you should have seen him drift it in the sweeper), Andrew Moynagh’s 1959 Turner Climax, David Neill in the 1955 MG Magnette, Trevor Dixon’s 1961 Humber 80 and Andrew Fox in a Triumph 2000, amongst others.
The historics group was again dominated by the Formula Ford fraternity, but Ken Williams managed to get amongst them in his 2.8 BBM Mercedes for a sixth in one race, though the effort was too much for the old rear-mounted Mercedes engine in the next and it expired, leaving a considerable amount of oil on parts of the circuit. Richard Wright’s Beowulf again performed well, as did John Rapley in the ex Great Train Robber Roy James’ Brabham Formula Junior.
The NZ Sports Car Group saw battles between the modern high-revving Junos, Radicals and a Reynard Inverter, chased by Warwick Mortimer in the 8.0-litre M8F Mclaren and Andrew Robertson’s ‘smaller’ 7.0 Mclaren M1B replica. What a great sight and sound these cars made!
The feature race — the Sybil Lupp Trophy invitation handicap — was well supported, with Margaret Goodwin eventually winning in her 5.7 Camaro, although fastest of the women entrants was Joanne Kapua’s 6.5 Ford Thunderbird.
Race 44, the final of the weekend, was a Flying Farewell dedicated to the late Eoin Young, and was won by John Mines in the JRM MKIII, one of a number of the local JRM race cars he has built and driven over the past 50 years. I think Eoin would have been pleased.
01,09 Radical Jaguar — a serious looking XK120 lookalike, turbocharged V12-powered racer 02 Warwick Mortimer’s M8F Mclaren Can-am (photo, Andrew Tierney) 03 Trevor Dixon (Humber 80) leads Neil Moore (Jowett Jupiter) and Geoff Brader (MG TF) 04 Margaret Goodwin (Camaro) leads Andrew Moynagh (Turner Climax) 05 Vauxhall takes the lead 06 Geoff Brader’s MG TF (photo, B Styles) 07 Thunderbirds are go! 08 Natalie Cambell’s rapid Capri V6 (photo, Andrew Tierney)