Historic Muscle Cars
FSteve Holmes Phil Noble and John Bennoch
ollowing the huge success of the MG Classic at Manfeild, where Historic Muscle Cars (HMC) and Historic Saloon Cars (HSC) made their debut in 2016, the combined HMC/HSC historic tin-top group enjoyed even bigger things at the Tasman Revival and New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing (NZFMR), in January at Hampton Downs.
The HMC/HSC group was joined by eight cars from the Australian Trans-am series, based in Queensland. The total entry for the Tasman Revival was 35 cars, although this dropped to 33 when Steve Doughty and Richard Ryan had to pull out close to the event, as their new cars weren’t ready. However, a welcome addition to the grid was David Thompson in the magnificent ex– Stone Brothers / Roy Harrington Escort.
What has traditionally been a two-weekend event run by the same promoter has now become two separate events run by separate promoters, with the Tasman Revival the first weekend, and the NZFMR the second, while the first weekend was held on the short course, and the second took in the newly completed extension for the first time.
The addition of the eight ATA cars really made for a great spectacle; although, after five years of ATA and HMC working together, it’s clear now that the fastest of the Aussie machines, with their much lighter racing weight, have the upper hand over the HMC cars.
However, the difference is not terribly large, and, other than Shannon O’brien in his very fast 1970 Pontiac Firebird — which had just over one second in hand over the next fastest car in terms of speed — the rest of the grid was very closely matched. Indeed, there was just four seconds separating the second through 18th cars! It was hugely impressive stuff, underlining how well the strict HMC/HSC rules are working.
And while O’brien won the opening scratch race from pole, the remaining two races, in which the top 10 were reversed, proved incredibly close and competitive. Glenn Allingham looked set to take race two, until he spun with just one lap to run, when, suddenly, the heavens opened, and Aussie visitor Anthony Tenkate won the final Tasman Revival encounter after an amazing eight-car freight train scrapped over the top positions. But, beyond the top placings, there were hugely entertaining battles right throughout the field, which broke off into multiple smaller groups of four or five cars. It was a massively exciting spectacle, and the driving from all was exemplary. Ultimately, this is historic car racing, and the goal is for all these beautiful machines to drive back on the trailer at the end of the weekend looking just as good as they did at the start.
The second weekend was another impressive display. Some teams opted out to prepare for their South Island adventures in February, while others joined the action, including Doughty (1967 Camaro) and Ryan (Torana XU-1), making their HMC debuts, as did Darryl Monk in his beautiful Mazda RX-3. Meanwhile, David Thompson Jr returned in his incredible ex– Frank Radisich Escort twin-cam. Again, the weather played its part in challenging the drivers.
HMC and HSC will next be racing in the South Island, at Timaru International Motor Raceway over February 10–12 and at Teretonga Park over February 17–19. Given the huge costs involved in taking cars to the South Island, and the time away from work, an expected smaller field of cars will make the journey. But this tour is really just to showcase the fast-growing HMC/HSC group of periodcorrect race cars and to have a little fun. At this stage, among the field will be the famous Frank Bryan / Red Dawson 1967 Shelby Mustang, which hasn’t raced in the South Island for over 45 years, and the aforementioned Stone Brothers / Roy Harrington Escort.
This promises to be an epic trip, with the South Island race fans the most enthusiastic in the world, and the event promoters are bending over backwards to help. Both these events will also incorporate the Formula Junior Diamond Jubilee World Tour, which takes in events all over the world, including Spa, Monza, Indianapolis, Laguna Seca, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, and further events in Australia and other countries. This will be a rare chance to witness these amazing little 1950s machines in action.
More info on HMC can be found on the HMC website: historicmusclecars.co.nz or through the HMC online discussion forum at The Roaring Season: theroaringseason.com.