GUEST STARS AND CARS
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.