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Porsche race cars from the Porsche Mu­seum, Ger­many, will be brought to New Zealand for on-track dis­play at the fes­ti­val — cour­tesy of Euro­pean Mo­tors Ltd–porsche. They will be driven by Porsche ‘fac­tory’ driv­ers — fit­tingly, th­ese will be two Ki­wis: Bren­don Hart­ley and 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans–win­ner Earl Bam­ber. The 2014 Porsche 919 Lmp1-hy­brid ‘show car’ will be on dis­play in the Porsche show­room at the Hamp­ton Downs track.

The line-up of races on the pro­gramme will in­clude, among other events: • The Pirelli Porsche Race Cham­pi­onship se­ries • A clas­sic Porsche rac­ing class that will in­clude a gen­uine Mark Dono­hue In­ter­na­tional Race of Cham­pi­ons (IROC) Porsche RSR and cars from the famed Light­ing Di­rect sta­ble • A one-hour Pro-am Euro­pean En­duro race (se­cond week­end) to in­clude guest driv­ers such as Jim Richards and Craig Baird • For­mula 5000 (F5000) (first week­end) • For­mula Li­bre, in­clud­ing some F5000 and Can-am cars

(se­cond week­end) • His­toric Mus­cle Cars • His­toric Sports Sedans (first week­end) • Sports and GT cars Lim­ited tick­ets are avail­able for a Le Mans–themed ca­sual din­ner to be held at Hamp­ton Downs on the evening of Satur­day, Jan­uary 16. Bren­don Hart­ley, Earl Bam­ber, How­den Gan­ley — who came se­cond at Le Mans in 1972 and drove a Porsche RSR in 1975 and 1976 — and Le Mans 1996 driv­ers Bill Farmer and Greg Mur­phy will be among those present.

Guests at the Porsche rac­ers–themed din­ner to be held the fol­low­ing Satur­day, Jan­uary 23, will in­clude in­ter­views with Porsche driv­ers and per­son­al­i­ties such as Jim Richards and Craig Baird, New Zealand land-speed-record set­ters Ray Wil­liams and Owen Evans, and oth­ers.

Dur­ing the ’60s, no­table Porsche 356 rac­ers in­cluded Ron But­ler’s red 356A Car­rera GT, en­tered for the Ul­ti­mate Ekco hand­i­cap race in sup­port of the 1960 NZIGP. But­ler also en­tered his Porsche for the Vic Hud­son Me­mo­rial Meet­ing held at Levin on Jan­uary 16, fin­ish­ing se­cond be­hind Len Gil­bert’s Cooper Bris­tol.

At Ohakea on Fe­bru­ary 27, But­ler en­tered his Porsche in the Sports Car Scratch Race along­side the ex-stringer 356, now painted white and owned by Dr Bruce Cook of Welling­ton. Cook would also com­pete at the Palmer Head Hill Climb, Mi­ra­mar, Welling­ton, in 1960.

But­ler and his 356 re­turned to the fray at Ard­more in 1961, al­though com­pe­ti­tion was now much stiffer and he could only fin­ish in sev­enth place. In the Ul­ti­mate Ekco fea­ture race, But­ler fin­ished a dis­tant 20th in a race won by How­den Gan­ley in a Lotus XI. But­ler con­tin­ued to race through 1962 but his Porsche was less com­pet­i­tive.

In 1962, Colin Gil­trap en­tered his Porsche 356 in the Fe­bru­ary 24 race meet­ing at Ohakea. Gil­trap was up against more pow­er­ful ma­chin­ery, such as an Al­lard J2 and a Jaguar XK120 in the pro­duc­tion sports cars un­lim­ited cc race and a D-type and more spe­cial­ized race cars in the sports rac­ing class. Alas, his­tory has not recorded how Gil­trap did in those races.

At the third an­nual Ren­wick road race held on Novem­ber 10, 1962, Alf Bell took up the chal­lenge in his yel­low 356B, fin­ish­ing in first place with a time of 16 min­utes 44 sec­onds and earn­ing him­self £15 in prize money.

Ron But­ler en­tered his Porsche 356 in the in­au­gu­ral meet­ing at Pukekohe on Jan­uary 5, 1963, while Alf Bell raced his 356B Su­per 90 Cabri­o­let at Wi­gram on Jan­uary 19, 1963. By 1965, the 911 had pretty much re­placed the 356 as the Porsche of choice for mo­tor sport en­thu­si­asts, but, as some­thing of a last gasp for the ear­lier car, Alf Bell took part in 1965’s round-the-houses race at Wai­mate, fin­ish­ing in eighth place.

By that time, the 356 had very much put Porsche on the map in New Zealand rac­ing cir­cles. Against many much more pow­er­ful sa­loon, sports, and sports rac­ing cars, the nim­ble 356 was a con­sis­tent, re­li­able, and ac­com­plished win­ner.

Ki­wis and Porsches at Le Mans, 2015 (photo cour­tesy Porsche New Zealand)

The in­au­gu­ral meet­ing at Levin, Jan­uary 14, 1956 — Alex Stringer’s 1955 356 1500 coupé leads the Seabrook Austin-healey 2660cc (No. 7), and Ross Jensen’s Austin-healey 100S (No. 18). The new Levin track is clearly seen to be break­ing up (photo cour­tesy P

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