His­toric Mus­cle Car Up­date: The Fu­ture of His­toric Rac­ing New Zealand

New Zealand Classic Car - - Na­tion­wide News - Words Steve Holmes Pho­tos Phil No­ble

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as in­ter­est grew in build­ing and rac­ing clas­sic and his­toric cars in a more re­laxed en­vi­ron­ment than that pro­vided by mod­ern mo­tor sport, a group of en­thu­si­asts from Mo­tor­sport New Zealand (MSNZ) set about draw­ing up reg­u­la­tions to suit th­ese needs.

Sched­ule K rules, much like FIA Ap­pendix K rules, al­low for com­pe­ti­tion use of ei­ther an orig­i­nal car, or an ac­cu­rate replica, to race in the same me­chan­i­cal and aes­thetic spec­i­fi­ca­tion as that same make and model raced in pe­riod. Us­ing saloon cars as an ex­am­ple, many MKI Ford Es­corts com­peted in pe­riod fit­ted with ‘for­est’ flares, for fit­ment of wider wheels. Sched­ule K al­lows an owner to build an Es­cort to that same spec­i­fi­ca­tion, but the car must be ac­cu­rate in all ar­eas. For ex­am­ple, it must be fit­ted with the same di­am­e­ter wheels (in­vari­ably 13-inch) as those raced in pe­riod.

To com­ple­ment Sched­ule K, MSNZ also drew up a home-grown set of clas­sic and his­toric reg­u­la­tions — Sched­ule T&C — with a cut-off date of De­cem­ber, 31 1977. So while T&C rules al­low var­i­ous free­doms that Sched­ule K does not, such as the fit­ment of wheels one inch in di­am­e­ter larger than stan­dard equip­ment, at the same time th­ese rules also have other lim­i­ta­tions. Us­ing the Es­cort once more as an ex­am­ple, T&C rules don’t al­low for non-fac­tory body­work such as for­est flares. Work­ing in con­junc­tion with one an­other, Sched­ule K and T&C com­ple­ment each other, cre­at­ing a some­what equal play­ing field when com­bin­ing cars built to ei­ther set of reg­u­la­tions in the one race. The Sched­ule K Es­cort fit­ted with the for­est flares can use wider wheels, whereas the T&C Es­cort with­out for­est flares has nar­rower wheels, but those wheels are larger in di­am­e­ter, al­low­ing for larger brakes.

Since the for­ma­tion of T&C, over the years a large num­ber of peo­ple want­ing to go clas­sic and his­toric saloon-car rac­ing have opted to build cars to th­ese rules, and to T&C in par­tic­u­lar. Over­all, they’re an ex­cel­lent set of reg­u­la­tions that have stood the test of time.

His­toric Rac­ing

In Europe, and other coun­tries such as Aus­tralia and the UK, his­toric rac­ing events sanc­tioned by the mo­tor-sport gov­ern­ing body re­quire all cars to com­ply with the rules drawn up by that gov­ern­ing body. To prove cars have been built cor­rectly, they then un­dergo an in­spec­tion, for which they gain a tech­ni­cal cer­tifi­cate. This cer­tifi­cate re­mains with the car, and is checked with the car dur­ing scru­ti­neer­ing at events to en­sure it hasn’t been mod­i­fied out­side the reg­u­la­tions. This sys­tem has pro­vided sta­bil­ity, which has al­lowed the sport to grow in those coun­tries.

In New Zealand, no such stip­u­la­tion has ever been put in place. How­ever, many cars built to Sched­ule K and T&C reg­u­la­tions

have gained a Cer­tifi­cate Of De­scrip­tion (COD), which is de­signed to work in a sim­i­lar way to the sys­tems used in other coun­tries.

But where New Zealand has dif­fered is that there is no stip­u­la­tion that cars must be built to the reg­u­la­tions drawn up by MSNZ. While this re­laxed sys­tem has re­sulted in the in­tro­duc­tion of some quite cre­ative ve­hi­cles, it’s ques­tion­able how much th­ese ve­hi­cles have in com­mon with those which shaped our mo­tor-sport past.

This very sub­ject has been the topic of much de­bate over the years. Whereas in other coun­tries his­toric rac­ing has been clearly de­fined as the seg­ment of the sport that cel­e­brates and repli­cates his­tory — with the phi­los­o­phy, ‘as it was, so it shall be’ — in New Zealand this has been much less clear-cut. While many feel clas­sic and his­toric rac­ing should be about build­ing and rac­ing cars that rep­re­sent those from our past, many oth­ers feel the sport should sim­ply fo­cus on hav­ing fun, with much less em­pha­sis placed on ex­actly what it is peo­ple are driv­ing. And in­evitably, the two cul­tures have clashed on oc­ca­sion.

Grow­ing Sup­port

In re­cent years clas­sic and his­toric rac­ing in New Zealand has slowly be­come more de­fined, with grow­ing sup­port for the con­cept of rac­ing cars that truly rep­re­sent those of our past. Growth in classes such as For­mula 5000, his­toric For­mula Ford, his­toric For­mula At­lantic/pa­cific, His­toric Sports Sedans, 1980s Group A tour­ing cars, etc, have shown there is strong sup­port for cel­e­brat­ing and hon­our­ing his­tory, as other coun­tries have done for many years.

Per­haps in some ways we now have the best of both worlds. There is a place in clas­sic and his­toric rac­ing for all types of cars and peo­ple.

How­ever, mix­ing the two to­gether in the same race has not al­ways pro­duced a pop­u­lar out­come. There are still many peo­ple who have com­mit­ted to MSNZ, by build­ing cars to T&C or Sched­ule K rules, and at­tained a COD. But plac­ing th­ese ve­hi­cles on the same grid as cars built well out­side any rule­book, and are sig­nif­i­cantly faster as a re­sult, has led to ob­vi­ous frus­tra­tion for many own­ers of T&C or Sched­ule K cars.

The MSNZ T&C and Sched­ule K rules have many sup­port­ers, among them, His­toric Mus­cle Cars. HMC rules are ac­tu­ally based on T&C rules, with a few ad­di­tional tweaks, such as com­pul­sory 15-inch wheels. More re­cently, HMC has taken over the run­ning of a class for pre-1978 T&C and Sched­ule K (mostly un­der 3000cc) saloon cars, called His­toric Saloon Cars. Like HMC, HSC re­quires all cars have a cur­rent COD. Of­ten th­ese two groups race to­gether, recre­at­ing the glory days of New Zealand saloon-car rac­ing, with the big-banger V8s bat­tling the nim­ble small-ca­pac­ity ma­chines.

The fu­ture of his­toric rac­ing in New Zealand is un­clear. Maybe one day we’ll see MSNZ in­ter­vene, as is the case in other coun­tries, and stip­u­late that event or­ga­niz­ers set aside a spe­cific grid for MSNZ Sched­ule K and T&C cars, car­ry­ing a COD. For now, how­ever, His­toric Mus­cle Cars/his­toric Saloon Cars have taken it upon them­selves to pro­vide a class for own­ers of such cars to race in a fun en­vi­ron­ment against like-minded en­thu­si­asts — and that con­cept is gain­ing huge sup­port, and grow­ing.

More info on His­toric Mus­cle Cars can be found at the HMC web­site, his­toric­mus­cle­cars.co.nz, or through the HMC on­line dis­cus­sion fo­rum at The Roar­ing Sea­son, theroar­ingsea­son.com.

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