NA­TION­WIDE NEWS Clas­sic news and views from all around New Zealand 30th An­nual MG Clas­sic: still a bench­mark event

Man­feild Park Cir­cuit, Novem­ber 13–15, 2015

New Zealand Classic Car - - Nationwide News - Words: Terry Col­lier Pho­tos: Stew Wood

Thirty an­nual na­tional MG Clas­sic race meet­ings is an amaz­ing achieve­ment by the Welling­ton branch of the MG Car Club of New Zealand, par­tic­u­larly when the or­ga­ni­za­tion and fi­nan­cial ef­fort has rested with around half a dozen peo­ple and some of those have had over 20 years’ in­volve­ment.

This year’s event, for the first time, saw doc­u­men­ta­tion and prac­tice take place on the Fri­day, al­low­ing two days of rac­ing on Satur­day and Sun­day — with 50 races for 320 en­trants spread across three Clas­sics groups, His­toric rac­ers, the new His­toric Tour­ing Cars, the wild and pop­u­lar Cen­tral Mus­cle Cars, Pre ’65s, the Cas­trol and other BMW sa­loons, For­mula 5000s (F5000), NZ Sports Cars and an All­com­ers sa­loon class.

The rac­ing

As usual, the Clas­sics fields were strongly sup­ported, with MGFS start­ing to ap­pear as an­other low-cost com­pe­ti­tion car, and ca­pa­ble of some very rea­son­able lap times. It was also good to see a few more ’50s cars, such as Greg Haines’ MGTD and Brian Ax and his im­mac­u­late MGTF 1500, com­plete with Brian’s bil­low­ing white silk scarf. A blocked muf­fler on the TF saw reg­u­lars like Neil Moore in the Jowett Jupiter, David Neale in the MG Mag­nette and Trevor Dixon’s Hum­ber 80 draw away in the Satur­day races.

Alan Blun­dell’s Jaguar SS100 1936 works replica ran away with the Sy­bil Lupp Me­mo­rial Tro­phy Race, with Neeanna Ratahi se­cond in her late-model Mini Cooper, ahead of a bevy of MGS.

The Alfa Romeo Mon­treal of Phil He­hir never ceases to amaze — one of the world’s rarest sports cars do­ing what it was built to do — while Don Mclean was still in the Dat­sun 260Z he raced in the in­au­gu­ral event 30 years ago. Natalie Camp­bell in the 3.0-litre Capri and Glenn Wat­son in the Alfetta GTV had a ster­ling bat­tle in one race, with the Alfetta just com­ing home first, but the Capri achieved a well-earned se­cond.

The new His­toric Tour­ing Cars class was a great sight, with a cou­ple of Group A Sierra Cos­worths, BMW M3s, and XJ-S Jaguars, with An­gus Fogg try­ing his hand in one of th­ese. Al­though it’s not nec­es­sar­ily an en­try-level class, any­one in­ter­ested in clas­sic rac­ing could do worse than to join this group.

The Cen­tral Mus­cle Cars again brought the crowd alight, and the hand­i­cap races, in par­tic­u­lar, were es­pe­cially ex­cit­ing as the cars bunched up on the last laps. John El­liott un­for­tu­nately came un­stuck on the sweeper on the fi­nal lap of one race, af­ter over­cook­ing it when do­ing very well in his To­rana GT-R XU-1 against cars with twice his power.

The His­toric classes also had a good turnout, with around 10 For­mula Ju­niors among a 27-strong field, in­clud­ing the usual For­mula Fords, Ken Wil­liams’ trusty BBM Mercedes, and a range of sports-rac­ing cars. Peter Avery in the 1965 For­mula 2 Brab­ham BT16 was quick­est in all races and tucked away three firsts.

On dis­play in the pit area was the newly re­stored Nor­mac Spe­cial Mk3, the type of older Grand Prix car that it is hoped we will see in fu­ture His­toric fields.

In­ter­est­ing range

Spectators may have been dis­ap­pointed at the rel­a­tively small num­ber of F5000s — no doubt the re­cent ef­fort of get­ting to Le­guna Seca and back took its toll here. Ken Smith, in the Lola T332, showed that he is still the mas­ter, and he dom­i­nated pro­ceed­ings, de­spite be­ing pushed by Sefton Gibb’s sim­i­lar car, while no one could fail to be im­pressed by Tony Roberts’ im­mac­u­lately pre­pared Mclaren M10A.

A NZ Sports Cars group con­tained an eclec­tic range of ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing War­wick Mor­timer’s 1972 Mclaren M8 com­pet­ing against the more mod­ern Junos, Rad­i­cals, and Rey­nards. An­drew Robert­son’s replica Mclaren M1B also did well, al­though David Glas­son’s Juno had the best of most races.

Fi­nally, Sun­day also fea­tured a dis­play by the Fer­rari Own­ers’ Club, which pro­vided the cars for the pop­u­lar Lunchtime Char­ity Rides, and there seemed to be a large num­ber of rather old­look­ing ‘kids’ lin­ing up for a ride.

The count­down is now on as His­toric Mus­cle Cars (HMC) and His­toric Sa­loon Cars (HSC) fo­cus on the up­com­ing NZ Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor Rac­ing, in Jan­uary.

HMC and HSC will com­bine for this event to make one ex­cit­ing grid of V8 mus­cle cars and nim­ble small-ca­pac­ity cars, repli­cat­ing the epic David-ver­susGo­liath bat­tles that took place in New Zealand dur­ing the late ’60s through to the early ’70s.

In­cluded in the line-up are some very his­toric cars with race his­to­ries dat­ing back to the glory days, such as John Den­nehy in the ex–hal­l­i­day brothers Es­cort BDG, Ray­den Smith in the ex–jim Richards Will­ment Es­cort twin-cam, and Nigel Macdon­ald in the ex–red Daw­son Shelby Mus­tang.

For many, that era was one of the most ex­cit­ing and most dra­matic in New Zealand sa­loon-car rac­ing his­tory, with a huge va­ri­ety of cars con­test­ing mul­ti­ple classes. HMC and HSC cel­e­brates this era, al­beit with­out the cut-and-thrust dis­played in those prom­i­nent times.

On show will be a great va­ri­ety of cars of all shapes and sizes, in­clud­ing Mus­tangs, Ca­maros, a cou­ple of Ford Per­anas, Fal­cons, Keith Sin­clair’s mighty big block Hemi Cuda, To­ranas, Capris, Es­corts, Al­fas, Dat­suns, BMWS, Ge­off Spark’s Tri­umph Dolomite, John Ure’s Jaguar XJ12, and Bob Hys­lop’s Mazda RX-2, which he has owned since the 1970s, among oth­ers. It prom­ises to be a great show, with epic bat­tles right the way through the field, the cars slip­ping and slid­ing, lock­ing brakes, and pro­vid­ing the en­ter­tain­ment th­ese ve­hi­cles all dis­played in pe­riod.

In ad­di­tion, HMC is work­ing to have a few liv­ing leg­ends on hand dur­ing both weeks to sign free posters and/or race-fans’ own au­to­mo­bilia as part of the cel­e­bra­tion of our rac­ing her­itage and the he­roes who shaped it.

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