Historic Muscle Cars Update
The mighty Gulf Oil Howden Ganley New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing has come and gone, and for Historic Muscle Cars, it was a milestone event. This marked the first time HMC ran as a stand alone big-banger class, with 20 legal HMC cars, plus eight invited cars from the Australian Trans-am group making for a bumper grid of 28 period– correct competition muscle cars.
HMC got fully into the swing of things, making the most of the occasion to entertain the capacity 22,000-strong crowd that took in the event over the two weekends, by incorporating rolling starts, and using a classic Ford Mustang convertible to lead the field, further adding to the sense of drama. The racing itself was excellent, and close, with seven different winners emerging from the nine races. Although HMC and ATA run to different regulations, the performance of the two groups is very similar, and overall, the lap times were very close as were the races, with horsepower, weight, brakes, and wheel and tyre size being the equalizers.
A full report will follow in the next issue of Nzclassiccar.
Uk–based series regular Greg Thornton (Surtees TS11) who ended up fourth overall also had car issues, not just with one car either. In Australia he raced his unique Ford–powered March 75A, the car with the hi tech 3.0–litre DOHC V6 engine originally developed for the iconic Cologne Capri touring cars of the era. The March was quick but fragile, so the globe–trotting charter airline owner shipped two of his other cars — the freshly rebuilt ex Sam Posey Surtees TS11 and ex Peter Gethin Chevron B24 — to New Zealand for the remaining four rounds.
Fifth overall, meanwhile, was a case of ‘what might have been,’ with Melbournite Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) coming back from a high-speed and corner-crunching crash on his home round at Sandown to be a regular top-four qualifier and finisher at Sydney, Hampton Downs and Mike Pero Motorsport Park (formerly Ruapuna). Had he chosen to stay on for the NZGP meeting at Manfeild, he could well have challenged Ken Smith for the final podium spot.
Though ultimate grid numbers were down from their peak on both sides of the Tasman, there were 18 cars on the grid for the first race at Sandown, and over 50 (counting display-only entries) at the two F5000 ‘World Series’ rounds at Hampton Downs.
Six Kiwis — Ross, Proctor, Russell Greer, Ian Clements, David Banks (Talon MR1) and David Arrowsmith (Lotus 70) — started the two Australian rounds, and two Aussies — Paul Zazryn and Lola T330 driver Peter Brennan — crossed the Tasman for two or three of the rounds here.
Msc-series regulars are looking forward to joining their American counterparts at the annual Rolex Monterey Pre-reunion and Reunion Historic and Classic motor racing meetings at Laguna Seca in Northern California between August 8–16 this year.
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