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).