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Bringing back the golden age of Kiwi saloon racing, part two
When Historic Muscle Cars (HMC) was formed in 2011, the initial plan was for it to race period-correct big-bore sedans that represented those contesting the New Zealand Saloon Car Championship, Australian Touring Car Championship, and Sports Car Club of America Trans-am championship during the late 1960s through early 1970s. The category saw rapid growth, despite its stringent regulations, with new cars joining the group virtually at every event and several more currently in the build.
At first, the plan was to only race sixcylinder and V8 cars with engines of over 3000cc. However, it quickly became clear that for HMC to grow, and for the regulations to be strictly applied, the group had to coexist with another. This other group, although not officially a group as such, was a gathering of pre-1977 under3000cc cars built to Motorsport New Zealand historic Schedule T&C and Schedule K regulations. So well did the two groups work together, that eventually the HMC directors took up the challenge to run a group just for these under-3000cc pre-1977 T&C and K cars, which it named ‘Historic Saloon Cars’ (HSC).
HSC is largely open to smaller-capacity machinery, up to 3000cc. However, it also includes over-3000cc cars that don’t really fit the ‘muscle car’ label, such as the Mk1 and Mk2 Jaguar. The cars must be built to either T&C or K rules, not a combination of the two. While T&C allows some freedoms that K doesn’t, such as wheel diameters one inch larger than factory standard, it limits freedoms in other areas, such as wheel width and body modifications. Essentially, T&C is a set of historic racing regulations created by Motorsport New Zealand over three decades ago. K rules allow for either the original car, in its exact guise as raced in period, or a replica built exactly as the make and model raced in period. In addition, all cars must have a Certificate of Description.
HSC has already seen some significant New Zealand historic cars taking part, such as the Don Halliday Escort FVC, the Jim Richards Willment Escort Twin-cam, the Rod Collingwood Amco Mini, and the Stone brothers Escort, which have mixed it with the various other T&C and K machinery. And its growth and encouragement will surely see several more come to light.
While the HMC directors never intended to involve themselves with
running a small-capacity group such as HSC, they could identify the need to properly establish, protect, and encourage the growth and longevity of such a group. After all, these vehicles represent our motor-racing heritage. In period, during the Group 5 era, New Zealand rarely had separate big fields of V8s and small-capacity cars; the two were usually combined on the one grid — indeed, this was the case throughout the world, with the Trans-am series in the US being the only exception. Here in New Zealand, both types of car shared the same piece of tarmac, all vying for victory, with the smaller cars often times coming out on top.
With HMC and HSC having now been brought together under the same umbrella to encourage the growth of both, the historic racer and race fan will both benefit. There may be events at which the two groups have their own separate grids, such as the 2015 New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing. But other events will see all the cars together. And, for many, this will provides the greatest spectacle, as, just like in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the David-andGoliath battles will produce some truly impressive racing. And what will make this the case are the rules.
HMC rules really limit the performance of the cars. They all weigh around the same amount, with full factory steel bodywork. With a maximum 15-inchdiameter wheel, maximum wheel width, and maximum tyre size, grip levels are also extremely limited, meaning the cars have more power than grip. And because of the wheel diameter size, brakes are also limited. These are all period measures, bringing the cars back to how they raced in the late ’60s through early ’70s. It also means the cars really can’t go any faster than they currently do, and, just like in period, it also means the smaller-capacity cars, with their much lighter weight and nimble handling, can take it to the big bangers. All this makes for incredible racing and lots of happy competitors.
The 2015–’16 season
HMC is stepping up its efforts in building up HSC for the 2015–’16 historic racing season. To that end, two HSC racers, Bruce Dyer and Bill Ritchie, have come on board to help manage HSC and help other HSC racers wanting get involved. At the time of writing, they’ve been drawing up an eligibility list, as is done in HMC, of makes and models of vehicle that will be
accepted to race in the group. Car numbers are already swelling, with a huge amount of interest being shown.
For enthusiasts who just want to get out and have some fun with likeminded people and not have to worry about aggressive driving or points chasing, HMC and HSC provide the perfect home, as the focus is on the cars themselves and enjoyment, both on the track and off it.
The HSC group in particular is extremely affordable to get involved in, and, regardless of a car’s performance levels, there will always be someone else to race with, who is lapping at the same speed.
So, if you own or are building either a pre1977 historic T&C or K saloon car, and you’re looking for smiles-per-buck racing in a relaxed and fun environment, this could well be the group for you.