Historic Muscle Cars
Words: Steve Holmes Phil Noble
Historic Muscle Cars (HMC) / Historic Saloon Cars (HSC) made its debut at the MG Classic, at Manfeild on November 11–13, marking the first time the group had ventured further south than Hampton Downs since its inception. There is always a little trepidation when venturing to a new location. Will enough cars enter? Will the local crowd enjoy the racing? Will the event organizers appreciate the show? But, as it transpired, the entire event was a huge success.
The combined HMC/HSC group amassed an impressive 32-car field for the MG Classic, with an excellent mix of V8 bigbangers, mid-sized Ford Capris, and nimble small-bore machines. The racing right throughout the field was hugely entertaining, and it remained fairly compact during the early laps, until distinctive groups began to appear as the race wore on, each one having its own multi-car battles. Three of the four races featured rolling starts, with a strict no-overtaking rule applied until the field had passed the start/ finish line, and careful negotiation of Turn 1. While putting on a good show was important, so, too, was avoiding carnage.
The four races held over the MG Classic weekend produced multiple winners, but, more important, everyone took their cars home in the same condition as they had arrived. There was no panel damage, despite the close-quarters racing. A few unfortunate car owners did suffer mechanical failures, most notably Grant Sprague (Ford Escort), Roger Williams (Chev Camaro), and David Wood (Dodge Aspen), whose weekends all ended before the conclusion of the first race — mechanical failures and historic car racing sometimes go hand in hand.
It was important also that the big MG Classic crowd, comprising many who had never seen HMC/HSC before, was hugely enthusiastic about the group, as were the organizers, who have already extended an invitation to return in 2017. And, while the rain was ever-present during the event, somehow it stayed away during each of the four HMC/HSC races, capping off what was a hugely successful weekend all-round.
This was a very rewarding event for HMC/HSC, and for New Zealand historic racing as a whole, as it proves that there is a lot of interest from competitors, spectators, and event organizers for racing proper, period-correct historic cars. Every one of the 32-car HMC/HSC field had a Motorsport New Zealand Certificate of Description, and fitted either the HMC or HSC rules, 100 per cent. It was important, too, to have cars such as Nigel Macdonald’s hugely significant ex–red Dawson 1967 Shelby Mustang (the 1970 NZ Saloon Car Championship– winning car) running with the group, as it provides genuine historical cars with period racing history with a safe place to compete against similar, if more recently constructed, historic machinery.
HMC/HSC will now move on to the Thoroughbred and Classic Car Owners Club (TACCOC) one-day event at Pukekohe, before gearing up for the next big event, the back-to-back festival weekends at Hampton Downs in January.
Find more info on HMC at historicmusclecars.co.nz, or at the HMC online discussion forum at The Roaring Season: theroaringseason.com.