LEGENDS OF SPEED
The Historic Racing Club (HRC) hosted the annual Legends of Speed meet at Hampton Downs on March 26 and 27. It was an actionpacked weekend, with several forms of motor sport racing on a dry track, including Historic Formula Fords, BMW Open 2.0-Litre, PPG Classic Trials, AES Tradezone, Historic Sports Sedans, Historic Muscle Cars (HMC), Formula Libre, Arrow Wheels, NZ Formula First, and Alfa Trofeo. Of these categories, most will be hanging up their helmets and gloves for the season, as this was the last meet for many of them for 2016/’17.
However, Formula Libre has just released a new Autumn Series, and this was its first get together. For those not familiar with Formula Libre, it is a class designed for any open-wheeler to compete in. Saturday morning was designated for qualifying, with racing taking place thereafter. Each category had three races over the weekend, with the winner of the third race being awarded a trophy named after one of the motor sport greats.
Historic Sports Sedans was first out of the box come lunch end on Sunday when it was time to start the trophy races. As it was a handicap race, we were in for lots of passing manoeuvres, although John Mckechnie in a Holden Torana X-U1 V8 held his lead right through to lap six. Meanwhile, Jon Telford in the mighty Mazda RX-8 — who started last — gradually made his way through the pack to finish first, and take home the Denny Hulme Trophy. Missing from action on Sunday was the mind-blowing Charger Lola T190 of Graeme Addis, who blew its gearbox on Saturday, and, with no spare gearbox parts, he was forced to retire.
In the Historic Formula Ford race for the Niki Lauda Trophy, Keith Mainland — winner of the first two races — once again showed his superior form and lead most laps to win the cup, although Phil Foulkes was only 0.45 seconds behind him. Mainland was also entered into the Formula Libre class, but he did not fare quite so well, with an eighth and a ninth placing in the first two Libre races, followed by a did-not-start (DNS) in the race for the Ayrton Senna Trophy. For this, the honours went to James Watson, who was racing a 1600cc Swift DB4. The Formula Libra class was made up of an array of interesting machinery, including a Junos, a Mallock, and a Nemesis.
The Formula First Championship staged its penultimate round this weekend. Bramwell King was the winner of the Nelson Piquet Trophy, having diced heavily with championship leader Matt Podjursky for the five laps. Such was the closeness of the race that that the first four cars were separated by only half a second.
Arrow Wheels and AES Tradezone are two classes that fall under the European Race Classics (ERC) banner. They have an eight-round season for European road-going cars that are pre 1978, with five of your best rounds counted for points. Being the final round, the Legends of Speed meet had double points up for grabs; however, the series winner will not be known until the awards dinner in June. That said, the Graham Hill Trophy for the faster Arrow Wheels cars went to Bruce Manon in a Ford Escort RS2000. Manon started the handicap race in 17th place and weaved his way through to first on the final lap. Meanwhile, Tina Glennie and her trusty Alfa Sprint won the Jack Brabham Trophy for the not so fast AES Tradezone cars. Although the race was handicap, she started in second place then promptly moved up to first on lap two and didn’t look back.
The ERC cars are usually very entertaining to watch, due to the typically large number of entrants. This was evidence when Paul Halford’s Porsche went into a spin at the Porsche Dipper, causing Ray Williams’ Capri Perana to take evasive action onto the grass and Bert Quinnto to lose control. I’m sure someone will investigate how that all started!
Kevin Gimblett, Murray Brown, Dale Mathers, and Rodger Williams started the HMC race in 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th, respectively. They each progressed through the rest of the field to finish first, second, third, and fourth, as per their starting order, thus meaning the Alberto Ascari Trophy was awarded to Gimblett, who was racing the ’67 Chevrolet Camaro.
Round seven for the E30 class and the Open 2.0-litre class of the BMW Race Driver Series was another to take place this weekend. This is also a category that attracts a lot of entrants, possibly due to the cars’ cost and the availability of spare parts. Series leader Matt Griffin led the field of 29 E30s from start in the Michael Schumacher Trophy. He had also been the victor in the first race and came home second in the second, which should stand him in good stead points-wise for the series. While, in the Open 2.0-Litre group, Graham Ball — starting from last place on the grid due to his handicap — had his foot down to make his way past all 21 other cars to finish in the lead by over 10 seconds, therefore winning himself this year’s Juan Fangio Trophy. He was the fastest man to the chequered flag in the previous two 2.0-litre races.
The final race of the day was the Alfa Trofeo series, racing for the Jackie Stewart Trophy. With the close racing, all eyes were on Wendy Metcalfe in her Alfa Sud Ti to see if she could get around Tina Glennie, having started from second place. Once she finally did on lap four, everyone wondered if she could stay ahead of the faster Alfa Sud Ti of Raymond Shanks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and she was passed on lap seven of the eight-lap race.
With good numbers of entrants, and the rain holding off, the weekend was undoubtedly a success, even if spectator numbers weren’t quite there, and, after finishing at a reasonable time, it was off home to watch the first Formula 1 race of the season.