NEW ZEALAND CLAS­SIC CAR NA­TION­WIDE NEWS Clas­sic news and views from all around New Zealand His­toric Mus­cle Cars

Bring­ing back the golden age of Kiwi sa­loon rac­ing, part two

New Zealand Classic Car - - Nationwide News - Words: Steve Holmes Pho­tos: Steve Twist, the Peter Hanna Col­lec­tion, and Garry Simkin

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.

Clas­sic rac­ers

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.

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