Historic Muscle Cars update
The annual New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing (NZFMR) at Hampton Downs in January is really the biggest event on the Historic Muscle Cars (HMC) calendar. It’s also the event that HMC car owners make the greatest effort to attend, and the 2016 occasion didn’t disappoint in this respect.
As it has been doing this season, HMC combined with the fastgrowing Historic Saloon Cars (HSC), now run under the HMC umbrella, which caters to Schedule / Appendix K and T&C small-capacity saloons built prior to 1978. The two categories have enjoyed great success together, and controlling the regulations in HMC has kept the cars period correct and the overall lap speeds down, which brings the smaller-capacity HSC cars right into the picture. Over the two weekends, the combined HMC/ HSC boasted 30-car grids and produced some incredible racing.
Both HMC and HSC were created to build, race, and enjoy period-correct historic-racing sedans, but the categories also celebrate history, and four very important cars with important New Zealand racing histories took part. In the HMC group were Neil Tolich in the Ivan Segedin Fleetwood Motors Mustang, along with Nigel Macdonald in the Red Dawson Mustang. Meanwhile, the HSC group had Rayden Smith in the Jim Richards Willment Racing Escort, along with John Dennehy in the Don Halliday New Zealand Freighters Escort.
In addition, there were two entries from the South Island — Invercargill, no less. Rodger Cunninghame (1966 Mustang) and Scott O’donnell (Alfa GTAM) showed massive commitment in hauling their cars all the way to Hampton Downs to take part. Both not only enjoyed themselves immensely but were also excellent additions to the grid and very popular with the crowd.
Over the two weekends, there were eight races for HMC/HSC, and, from those eight races, came five different race winners. Perhaps the most popular was Howard Wood in his BMW 2002, who fended off some of the big V8s for several laps. But, more importantly, the show was epic, with the V8s getting away on the straights, while the small cars closed up again through the twisty stuff. Each race had the big field running virtually as one group for the first half, before the cars gradually broke off into their own smaller groups, usually comprising six to eight cars, and within these groups were further entertaining battles involving both the big grunters and the nimble small cars. This was really the true measure of success for the two groups — motor racing, be it modern or historic, is about entertainment, both for the punters and those taking part, and these were hugely entertaining races, bringing back memories of the golden era of the late 1960s through to the early ’70s, when similar fields were seen on Kiwi race tracks. Moreover, the racing was clean, people gave each other space, and everyone enjoyed themselves. This is how historic racing should be.
In addition to the on-track entertainment, Kiwi motor racing legends Paul Fahey, Dennis Marwood, Alan Boyle, and Ray Stone were on hand at the HMC marquee signing posters and other memorabilia and chatting with race fans about the glory days.
HMC/HSC doesn’t celebrate race winners; it’s all about the cars and about enthusiasts getting out and having fun both on and off the track. However, there was a prize-giving, with every driver and helper earning a trophy of some sort, none of which related to their on-track performances, unless they were really entertaining.
New Zealand naturalhealth-supplements company Health House (healthhouse.co.nz) sponsored HMC/HSC at the NZFMR, using the event to promote its fun new retropackaged supplement line Helfee. Meanwhile, Segedin Auto Spares kindly sponsored the Saturday night BBQ on the first weekend.
HMC/HSC has its next event at the Legends of Speed meeting, on April 2–3, to round out the season. The growth and interest in the group continues its momentum, with several new cars being built or converted from other categories, and the NZFMR in January — and the huge success the group enjoyed — will only ramp up that momentum. This was historic racing at its best.
More info on HMC can be found at the HMC website, historicmusclecars.co.nz, or at the HMC online discussion forum at The Roaring Season, theroaringseason.com.