His­toric Mus­cle Cars

Words:

New Zealand Classic Car - - Report - Pho­tos:

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.

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