HISTORIC MUSCLE CARS
Words: Steve Holmes Media 77
Historic Muscle Cars (HMC) and Historic Saloon Cars (HSC) completed a hugely successful South Island debut, racing at the Enzed Southern Classic at Timaru International Motor Raceway on February 10–12 and at Teretonga’s Classic Speedfest one week later.
Coming after the hectic back-to-back schedule that took place at Hampton Downs in January, which included the Tasman Revival and Ken Smith Festival, it came as no surprise that car numbers for the South Island tour took a hit. The Hampton Downs events saw a number of casualties striking mechanical issues, and, as such, a modest field of 14 cars headed south come February: Gary Raiti (Falcon), Pete Stevenson (Mustang), Glenn Allingham (Camaro), Dennis Mcconnell (Escort), Neville Hills (Escort), Bob Hyslop (Mazda RX-2), Sean Mccaughan (Falcon), Howard Wood (BMW 2002), Craig Horn (Torana XU-1), John Sampson (Capri), Gareth Sampson (Capri), Colin Campbell (Escort), Tony Mexted (Mustang), and Nigel Macdonald (Mustang).
The Macdonald Mustang is the famous Red Dawson machine that won the 1970 New Zealand Saloon Car Championship, and which hasn’t raced in the South Island for nearly 45 years.
Invercargill HMC racer Colin Dawson also joined the grid in his 1968 Camaro. In addition, an invitation was extended to Roy Macdonald (Mustang) and Richie Biddles (Camaro), whose cars are very close, but not 100-percent HMC compliant.
For many, the challenges began long before any laps were run, as just getting to Timaru with the SH1 road closure proved challenging enough. One team destroyed two wheels and tyres on their trailer on the Saint Arnaud road, going through a huge pothole. The team was stuck in Reefton for three days waiting for replacement wheels/tyres to be sent from Hamilton. Several others suffered cracked windscreens from the roads breaking up due to the heavy amount of traffic passing over them. All were relieved to reach Timaru.
At Timaru International Motor Raceway, Colin Campbell suffered engine failure in his Escort and headed home; Craig Horn crashed his Torana after hitting oil on the track, but Colin Dawson arranged repairs for the car in Invercargill, so he was able to race at Teretonga; and Gary Raiti also suffered engine failure, but continued to Invercargill regardless to support the group.
And so it was a slightly depleted field that raced at Teretonga, but the mixing up of the grid provided hugely entertaining racing both weekends, with multiple winners. Best of all, everyone had an enjoyable time, and was warmly greeted by the amazing race fans at both venues. The South Island fans are the best in the world, and really made the whole trip worthwhile. In addition, the South Island tour created plenty of interest in the HMC/HSC concept of proper period-correct historic sedan racing.
On a very sad note, just one week after the Teretonga event, Camaro HMC racer Colin Dawson suffered a heart attack and passed away. He had a fitting send-off, as family and friends gathered at his home track of Teretonga and lined the front straight while his beautiful silver Camaro performed the perfect tribute, smoking up its rear tyres in its owner’s memory. He will be missed. RIP Colin.
HMC and HSC now move back to Hampton Downs for their final event of the 2016/’17 season, the Legends of Speed meeting in late March.
More info on HMC can be found at the HMC website — historicmusclecars. co.nz or through the HMC online discussion forum at The Roaring Season — theroaringseason.com.