New Zealand Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor Rac­ing — cel­e­brat­ing Kenny Smith T

Alex Mitchell

New Zealand Classic Car - - News - Pho­tos:

he count­down is on for the New Zealand Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor Rac­ing (NZFMR), which will be held at Hamp­ton Downs over Jan­uary 20–22.

Some of the con­firmed cat­e­gories in­clude For­mula 5000 (F5000), His­toric For­mula 1 (F1), Cen­tral Mus­cle Cars, Group A / Her­itage Tour­ing Cars, For­mula Ju­nior Group 1, For­mula Ju­nior Group 2, His­toric For­mula Ford, Li­bre / His­toric sin­gle-seater /At­lantic cars, His­toric Mus­cle Cars and His­toric Sa­loon Cars, and Euro­pean Rac­ing Clas­sics.

This year, the NZFMR will cel­e­brate one of the leg­ends of New Zealand mo­tor sport, the great Kenny Smith, who, at the age of 75, is still one of the fron­trun­ners in F5000.

Tony Roberts, one of the orig­i­nal own­ers of Hamp­ton Downs, will also com­pete in the F5000 cat­e­gory in his high-winged Mclaren M10A. Roberts has been a fan of the stock-block 5.0-litre V8-pow­ered sin­gle-seaters since he bought his first one in 2002.

“The at­trac­tion of the For­mula 5000 cat­e­gory is that they are pretty ba­sic cars with a lot of power,” he said. “I love pow­er­ful cars, and, back in the day, they were one of the fastest in the world. They’ve got mas­sive wide tyres, they’ve got wings, and they’re just a re­ally fun and chal­leng­ing car to drive.”

Roberts is look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing to the North Waikato race track that he sold to Tony Quinn in May 2015: “It’s great to see that Tony has

com­pleted the plans we had for Hamp­ton Downs. It’s look­ing very smart, and I reckon the For­mula 5000s will en­joy the back straight. They pre­fer a more open track, so it might be a bit tight around the newer sec­tion, but it should still be a great week­end.”

Un­like in some other cat­e­gories, in F5000, the stars re­ally are the cars. Most of the own­ers con­sider them­selves cus­to­di­ans of th­ese clas­sic ve­hi­cles, rather than out-and­out rac­ers. Clas­sic mar­ques that fea­ture in the F5000 cat­e­gory in­clude Lola, Mclaren, Begg, Mcrae, March, Talon, and Elfin, and some of the cars have been driven by leg­ends of the sport like James Hunt, Mario An­dretti, and Chris Amon.

“We look to put on a re­ally good show,” said David Ab­bott from New Zealand For­mula 5000. “Th­ese cars make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you hear them for the first time. The noise of a high-revving V8 has to be heard to be be­lieved. If you’re a petrol­head, it’s heaven.

“They’re hard to drive but they’re fe­ro­ciously quick. They are way quicker than mod­ern-day GT cars, even though they’re 40 years old. When the flags go down and the lights go out, it’s real rac­ing. We raced at Phillip Is­land re­cently, and we’re quicker around Phillip Is­land than the Moto GTS. You’re talk­ing over 300kph on the straight.”

The re­cently-crowned FIA Mas­ters His­toric F1 cham­pion, English­man Michael Lyons, will make the trip from the UK to drive the 1977 Hes­keth 308E that he used to take the FIA ti­tle. Lyons is seen by many as the odds-on favourite to claim the F5000 race at the NZFMR, which dou­bles as the penul­ti­mate round of the 2016/’17 SAS Au­toparts MSC F5000 Trans-tas­man Chal­lenge.

With an as­ton­ish­ing race-win

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.