LE­GENDS OF SPEED

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - Words and photos: Steve Ritchie TO VIEW A COM­PRE­HEN­SIVE RE­PORT ON THIS EVENT, SEARCH ‘LE­GENDS OF SPEED’ THE­MO­TOR­HOOD.COM

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.

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