HIS­TORIC MUS­CLE CARS

New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS - Words: Steve Holmes Pho­tos: Steve Twist, ‘Un­cle’ from In­ver­cargill, Rob Hal­l­i­day

His­toric Mus­cle Cars and His­toric Sa­loon Cars was cre­ated to cel­e­brate a spe­cific pe­riod in New Zealand mo­tor-sport his­tory, af­ter the ad­vent of FIA Group 2 and Group 5 rules for our na­tional sa­loon car cham­pi­onship from the late 1960s and early ’70s. HMC and HSC pro­vide en­thu­si­asts with well-de­fined and sta­ble reg­u­la­tions from which to build their cars and have some fun.

But HMC/HSC have also been ac­tive in en­cour­ag­ing own­ers of gen­uine his­toric rac­ing sa­loons to join the ranks. The HMC rules are based on those used in pe­riod, and more so, HSC rules are a choice of ei­ther MSNZ T&C, or FIA Ap­pen­dix K. The FIA rules re­quire the cars be ex­actly as they raced in pe­riod. The 1970 New Zealand Sa­loon Car Cham­pi­onship was the one and only time two peo­ple have been crowned joint cham­pi­ons. Red Daw­son and Rod Cop­pins emerged from the cam­paign hav­ing scored the same num­ber of points, the same num­ber of race wins and podium fin­ishes — there­fore the only op­tion was to award both driv­ers the cham­pi­onship. Cop­pins was driv­ing the 1967 Cam­bridge­spon­sored Ca­maro first raced in New Zealand by Spencer ‘Spin­ner’ Black, while Daw­son was driv­ing his beau­ti­ful metal­lic blue 1967 Shelby A / sedan Mus­tang, orig­i­nally pur­chased and raced by Norm Barry.

Jim Richards is one of New Zealand’s most suc­cess­ful rac­ing driv­ers, hav­ing won the NZ Sa­loon Car Cham­pi­onship, both out­right and the 4.2-litre class, be­fore fur­ther­ing his ca­reer by mov­ing his young fam­ily to Aus­tralia in 1975. There he went on to win the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship four times, Bathurst 1000 seven times — plus nu­mer­ous other race wins and cham­pi­onships — and was even­tu­ally in­ducted into the V8 Su­per­cars Hall of Fame. The car which helped spring­board his ca­reer and raise his pro­file to na­tional lev­els dur­ing his early rac­ing days was a MKI Es­cort twin-cam that had been pur­chased by his men­tor Jim Car­ney in 1969. This sig­nif­i­cant lit­tle car has been owned for years by Ray­den Smith, and is a reg­u­lar with HMC/HSC.

One of Jim Richards’ main ri­vals in the 4.2-litre class was Don Hal­l­i­day, in the MKI Es­cort he and brother Rob built to­gether us­ing a road-car shell. Hal­l­i­day and Richards fought nu­mer­ous fierce bat­tles, joined by the likes of Paul Fa­hey, Jack Nazer, Max Pennington, Gary Sprague, Roy Har­ring­ton, Brian Cros­bie and sev­eral other Es­cort pi­lots, as well as Rodger An­der­son (BMW 2002) and Alan Boyle ( Viva). The Hal­l­i­day Es­cort evolved dur­ing its ca­reer, even­tu­ally end­ing up with a BDG mo­tor. Jeff Claire tracked down the Es­cort af­ter its long ca­reer, and re­stored it to its most fa­mous guise, in dark orange with NZ Freighters sig­nage. Claire fit­ted a BDA mo­tor, but its next and cur­rent owner John Den­nehy up­graded to a larger and more pow­er­ful BDG, and en­joys rac­ing this very his­toric ma­chine with HMC/HSC.

An­other Es­cort that has been mak­ing reg­u­lar HMC/HSC ap­pear­ances is the MKI built and raced by Ross and Jimmy Stone, who later went on to en­joy great suc­cess in V8 Su­per­car rac­ing. The Es­cort was built in the early 1970s to con­test the 1300cc class in the NZSCC, against mostly Mini Cooper com­pe­ti­tion. This car was later re­built by Roy Har­ring­ton for the 2.0-litre Shell­sport se­ries that be­gan in the 1978 sea­son, spon­sored by Auto Trader. It’s now owned and raced by David Thompson, still in its Shell­sport guise. David’s son, David jnr, also races a his­toric Es­cort with HMC/ HSC. This is a twin-cam vari­ant orig­i­nally raced in the Cas­trol GTX se­ries by Frank Ra­disich.

Al­though it’s not a car with early 1970s NZSCC his­tory, Bob Hys­lop has been ral­ly­ing and rac­ing his su­perb Mazda RX-2 since the late 1970s, and is now a reg­u­lar with HMC/HSC. Still wear­ing much of its up­grades from its ral­ly­ing days, the Mazda is one of the most pop­u­lar cars on the grid, and a huge hit with younger gen­er­a­tions.

More info on His­toric Mus­cle Cars can be found at the HMC web­site, his­toric­mus­cle­cars.co.nz, or through the HMC on­line dis­cus­sion fo­rum at The Roar­ing Sea­son: theroar­ingsea­son.com.

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