New Zealand Classic Car - - PACE WITH GRACE -

he Waitem­ata Branch of the Vin­tage Car Club New Zealand holds the Roycroft Tro­phy race car meet at Hamp­ton Downs Mo­tor­sport Park once a year. For 2016, the meet took place on Sun­day March 13, on a typ­i­cally hot sum­mer day. On the card for the event were Pre 1945 Sports Cars, Pre 1960 Sports Cars, Pre 1960 Sa­loons, For­mula Juniors, and the Pomeroy Reg­u­lar­ity Trial. Off-track ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded mo­tor­cy­cle demon­stra­tions, en­ter­tain­ment by the tal­ented Lind­say Meech Band, and the penny-far­thing demon­stra­tion. Walk­ing around the pad­dock, one could see nu­mer­ous in­ter­est­ing-look­ing ma­chines not rac­ing on track, as this year was ded­i­cated to the Best of Bri­tish.

First on the start­ing grid were the Pre 1945 Sports Cars. David Brock-jest brought his spec­tac­u­lar-look­ing and ex­tremely rare 1938 Lagonda V12 Le Mans along for the Sun­day drive, and made a clean sweep in both of the Pre 1945 Sports Car races — not sur­pris­ing, since it has a stag­ger­ing top speed of 233kph! Run­ner-up in the first race was Ray Ferner in a 1931 BSA FN 32 Spe­cial, fol­lowed by Stephen Alder­s­ley in a 1929 Austin Seven Spe­cial. Alder­s­ley went on to be run­ner-up in race two for the pre ’45s.

The Pre 1960 Saloon Cars class is a rel­a­tively new con­cept. As such, the field was slightly limited. How­ever, a car that was rather well known in its day did make an ap­pear­ance — the 1958 Hum­ber 80 of Paul Stich­bury, which was win­ner of the NZ Saloon Car Cham­pi­onship in 1959 and 1960. Pre­sum­ably car­ry­ing on from where it left off all those years ago, it was first to the che­quered flag in both races. In fact, both races played out iden­ti­cally, with the pole-sit­ter for both

races — Keith El­liot in the Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta Sprint — fin­ish­ing sec­ond, while a lit­tle fur­ther back was Philip Pearce, in his newly re­stored Mor­ris Mini. Not bad for its first run! This class also fea­tured the lone fe­male driver, Jane Far­ris, and her 1956 Stan­dard 10.

The Pomeroy Clas­sic Trial was an in­clu­sion in this year’s meet for those not wish­ing to race against oth­ers. The idea is to ob­tain the clos­est time to that nom­i­nated dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing, and 20 min­utes were al­lo­cated to achieve this. On the day, it was Bill Mcewan who was vic­to­ri­ous at this feat, in his 1970 Ford Es­cort.

The name ‘Roycroft’ — Terry Roycroft, son of Ron Roycroft — fea­tured in the Pre 1960 Sports Cars class. Rac­ing the fam­ily Bu­gatti Type 35A, he was un­for­tu­nately not the fastest on the grid. In the first race, this ac­co­lade went to Tim Hill and his 1951 Mor­gan Plus 4, fol­lowed by Rob Wil­liams (Elva 100FJ), then Steve Day in the im­mac­u­lately re­stored 1957 Briggs Mer­cury Spe­cial. Race two for this class was taken out by Rob Wil­liams fol­lowed by Tim Hill, with Steve Day once again in third.

Some­where in the mix were the For­mula Ju­nior (FJ) rac­ers. FJ is an open-wheel class that has been op­er­a­tional since Oc­to­ber 1958. Back in its hey­day, For­mula Ju­nior was the step­ping stone to For­mula 1, a class many driv­ers as­pire to. We were for­tu­nate to wit­ness one of the bet­ter-rec­og­nized cars on the grid this week­end, the Lo­tus 18 of Chris Atkin­son, be­lieved to have been driven by Jim Clark and Jim Palmer back in the day. Sun­day’s rac­ing saw Nigel Rus­sell and his FMZ FJ pick up the win in race one, while Wal­ter Find­lay took out race two in a 1959 ELVA-DKW 100FJ, end­ing his long dry spell. He even man­aged to do a spin and still stay ahead of the pack en route to vic­tory, such was his lead!

With the day get­ting on, there was only time for two more races, the Waitem­ata Cup for the fast grid, and the De­la­tour Me­mo­rial Race for the not-so-fast grid. The Waitem­ata Cup was just one lap in be­fore the Lo­tus of Graeme Brayshaw came to a halt, forc­ing a red flag and a restart. Once the race was con­cluded, tro­phies were awarded as fol­lows: first, Rob Wil­liams (1959 Elva FJ); sec­ond, Steve Day (1957 Briggs Mer­cury Spe­cial); and, third, Brian King (2006 Al­fris­ton Jaguar Spe­cial).

Fin­ish­ing off the day with the De­la­tour Me­mo­rial Race saw lots of the vin­tage rac­ers out to have one last shot on track un­til next year. The tro­phies were pre­sented to: first, Fred Court­ney (1950 North­land Spe­cial); sec­ond, Alan Blun­dell (1936 Jaguar SS); and, third, Steve Payne (1960 Mor­gan 4/4).

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