New Zealand Classic Car - - FRONT PAGE -

Mo­tor rac­ing groupie

I’ve a con­fes­sion to make, one I be­lieve I should lay on you right at the out­set of this lit­tle tirade. I was a hard­core mo­tor rac­ing ad­dict through my late boy­hood and into my teenage years and early adult­hood. Pukekohe was sa­cred turf; to a small con­tin­gent of us, it was hal­lowed ground, ground that cast a hyp­notic spell, pos­si­bly one not too far re­moved from the ex­pe­ri­ence that might have been gained from the ar­ti­fi­cial stim­u­lants of the time … But what would I know about that of­flim­its depart­ment.

There was some­thing wild and sur­real about ‘the scene’ in those im­pres­sion­able days of my youth — as if ev­ery­thing out there at the track re­ally was larger than life. Things seemed to hap­pen in slow mo­tion, and you just drank it all in — the colour, the sights, and the smell. I’m sure you’re get­ting my drift here, but no, we weren’t stoned, it was just a nat­u­ral high, a supreme buzz be­ing around all that won­der­ful vibe!

OK, so there we were, hang­ing out at Puke dur­ing the golden years, when the sport on the home front was feed­ing off the over­seas pur­suits of our il­lus­tri­ous coun­try­men — Amon, Mclaren, Hulme, Gan­ley, and Mcrae. This leg­endary era cast a lus­tre over the ac­tion on our patch … and then, it was gone.

The blue-rib­bon events that the pun­ters al­ways packed the fences for dur­ing th­ese front-line years of the sport were the sin­gle­seaters, pure rac­ing cars, and the mod­i­fied sa­loons. I get that; I was deeply into the wild, loud an­tics of the tin-tops and also loved the sleek pro­jec­tiles of the open­wheel­ers. But I had a se­cret pas­sion — and this is where that con­fes­sion comes in — for the strange and slightly weird world of the sports car rac­ing fra­ter­nity. The sports car rac­ers didn’t ap­pear at a lo­cal meet­ing of­ten, as events for this var­ied range of rac­ing ve­hi­cles were al­most an en­dan­gered species, but, when they did turn up, their ap­pear­ance seemed to co­in­cide with that ex­act mo­ment your av­er­age mo­tor sport spec­ta­tor of the day had an in­ex­pli­ca­ble urge to visit the ex­cit­ing long-drop ex­cuse for toi­lets or sate a crav­ing for a bag of hot greasy chips!

Why would that have been, I ask my­self? I could un­der­stand the rea­son to va­cate your prime fence-view­ing lo­ca­tion if a For­mula Vee race came on or a one-make pro­duc­tion-sa­loon race was the al­ter­na­tive to re­liev­ing one­self or in­dulging one’s de­sire for deep-fried sus­te­nance …

The weird world of New Zealand sports car rac­ing

The ‘sporties’ cap­ti­vated me. They were some­thing of a breed apart from any­thing else on of­fer. To some spec­ta­tors — those who ob­vi­ously lacked ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the wildly di­ver­gent ar­ray of ma­chin­ery on a sports car grid in the late 1960s and early ’ 70s — they prob­a­bly ap­peared to be a mot­ley as­sort­ment of has-beens and home­built cre­ations. Just how wrong were those peo­ple? Plenty wrong, I say. The sporties have em­bed­ded a long his­tory into our rac­ing folk­lore, but the pe­riod that lights my fire the most is the V8 rear-engine big-grunter era that co­in­cided

with the fab­u­lous an­tics of the all-con­quer­ing Mclaren team Can-am mak­ing con­quests in North Amer­ica from 1966 to 1972.

It’s slightly bizarre when you re­flect that, de­spite all that mas­sive suc­cess of leg­endary Can-am con­querors ‘the Bruce and Denny show’, on the home front, sports car rac­ing was al­ways seen as the poor re­la­tion to the favoured cat­e­gories.

But, for me, this was a core fac­tor in the cat­e­gory’s ap­peal. Where else would you be con­fronted with a line-up that would in­clude three rear-engine Chevy V8-pow­ered ma­chines (if you were lucky) at the head of the grid, pos­si­bly a cou­ple of rear-engine Twin Cam Ford–pow­ered of­fer­ings, fol­lowed by a cou­ple of old front-en­gined Lo­las or Lo­tus 11/15s, then a bunch of Mal­lock U2s or Lo­tus 7 de­riv­a­tives to flesh out the grid, give or take two or three other in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tions? This was pretty much the sta­ple diet of the sports car rac­ing scene circa 1968–’ 72, and it made for a re­ally in­ter­est­ing spec­ta­cle.

Let’s be frank: one of the ma­jor ap­peals of the sporties was that they were def­i­nitely pretty hairy beasts, of­ten seem­ing to teeter on the edge of disas­ter. Home­built cre­ations that were only raced oc­ca­sion­ally, like the U2s and Lo­tus 7s, al­ways seemed to court mishap, and, at the pointy end of the grid, it was no dif­fer­ent. The usual weapon of choice was armed with a 5.0- to 6.0-litre Chevro­let V8 lump, stuffed in the back of a very rudi­men­tary space-frame chas­sis, with fairly pre­his­toric aero­dy­nam­ics for all that raw power … And if you don’t find that par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing, I don’t know what di­als your num­ber.

What I’m at­tempt­ing to say here is that when the sports car races of the golden era hit the track, I was go­ing nowhere, and in­stead stayed riv­eted to the ac­tion track­side!

Thor­ough­breds to big-grun­ters: the ’60s sports car scene

With that in mind, I should prob­a­bly point out that this mem­ory of a unique pe­riod of Kiwi mo­tor sport is an ap­pre­ci­a­tion and a rec­ol­lec­tion of a flavour long gone, rather than a de­tailed his­tory.

This was a time when the many dra­co­nian gov­ern­ment im­port reg­u­la­tions re­stricted ac­cess to cars and parts, which left only one al­ter­na­tive: Kiwi home­built in­ge­nu­ity! While my key fo­cus of in­ter­est was the 1964–’73 years, it’s equally im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge the rac­ing an­tics of the ear­lier sports car gen­er­a­tion, and the fol­low­ing in­no­va­tive car-build­ing rac­ers from the later ’70s and early ’80s.

I track the ori­gins of the big-grunter, rearengine sporty brigade to the won­der­fully cre­ative Stan­ton broth­ers, from Christchurch. Mau­rice (‘Mor­rie’) and Charles were clas­sic Kiwi back­yard en­gi­neers. The Stan­ton Corvette (a 5.0-litre Chev V8) had mor­phed from a rear-engine open-wheel racer to a sports racer by the sea­son of 1964–’65. It sig­nalled the be­gin­ning of a new era. This car con­tin­u­ally evolved over the com­ing six sea­sons, be­com­ing leaner while gain­ing power, and later be­ing driven by leg­endary lo­cal steer­ers Ge­off Mar­don; Jim Boyd; and, later again, John Mone­han.

The Stan­ton was a main­stay at the front end of the grid from 1964 to 1969 but never quite man­aged to crack a se­ries win. Stand­outs in that first sea­son in­cluded wins at Ren­wick (in­clud­ing a sec­ond place in the Ren­wick Gold Star race) and Wai­mate, prov­ing that cast-iron V8 rear-engine mus­cle was nim­ble enough on tight street cir­cuits. How­ever, Mor­rie’s sec­ond sum­mer, ’65–’66, wasn’t so good, and the ironic low point was a crash into a sta­tioner’s toy-shop win­dow at Wai­mate in 1966, scat­ter­ing a Scalex­tric slot­car dis­play! Mor­rie sus­tained mi­nor in­juries and re­tired af­ter that. But the car lives on: it was raced in its fi­nal years by Rus­sell Greer, in­clud­ing at the Tahu­nanui Beach races in the mid ’ 70s, be­fore later be­ing com­pletely re­stored — he still owns it.

All this time, as was typ­i­cal through­out the un­lim­ited-ca­pac­ity sports car rac­ing era till 1973, there fea­tured many older pure rac­ing sports cars, some dat­ing back to the 1950s, to make up the grid. Yan­kee V8 power — read ‘small-block Chevro­let’ — was of­ten in­ac­cu­rately re­ferred to as ‘Corvette’, per­haps as it seemed to add mana to any old GM V8 sal­vaged from a lo­cal car wreck that was then in­stalled in front-engine relics from the ’50s.

Th­ese, of course, in­cluded the famed ex– Ken Whar­ton Monza Fer­rari, sub­sti­tut­ing Chevy V8 power for the tired Fer­rari 3.0-litre four-banger now in Johnny Ri­ley’s hands (we’ll talk about Mon­sieur Ri­ley a lit­tle bit later). Also among this crew was made a brief ap­pear­ance by Rod Cop­pins, with the Tec Mec Maserati 250F run­ning as a sporty, briefly with the Ron Roy­croft V12 sports body and gen­uine Corvette mo­tor. This con­coc­tion of Us-engine-in-ital­ian-thor­ough-bred-racer was never made in

There was some­thing wild and sur­real about ‘the scene’ … as if ev­ery­thing out there at the track re­ally was larger than life

heaven. Cop­pins crashed the thing back­wards through a brick wall at the Dunedin street race in ’62. But worse was to come at Pukekohe in 1963, when an­other ac­ci­dent took the lives of an am­bu­lance worker and a spec­ta­tor, though the car had been re­turned to sin­gle­seater for­mat by then.

An­other V8 Chev con­vert was John Don­nelly (among oth­ers) with the HWM Corvette, which ran into the mid ’60s, with ever-wider guards hous­ing wider wheels in a rather fu­tile ef­fort to try to stay com­pet­i­tive. This car had pre­vi­ously run a Bris­tol mo­tor. An­other that also comes to mind is the Healey Corvette/chev, which was driven by many in the ’60s, in par­tic­u­lar Alan Ken­nard — while one of the later driv­ers was pos­si­bly Gra­hame Smith. And we can’t for­get the il­lus­tri­ous Jaguar con­tin­gent, or Jaguar-pow­ered off­shoots, that were still show­ing up on grids in the mid ’60s. The D-types had largely gone by then, though Brent Hawes, a man we would hear much more about, was still thrash­ing the day­lights out of the ex– Frank Cantwell front-engine To­jeiro Jaguar in 1965 to ’66 and the fol­low­ing sea­son. It didn’t take him long to de­duce that he was back­ing the wrong horse and to see that the way for­ward was an engine be­hind his back, prefer­ably with lots of De­troit V8 grunt. Scott Wise­man im­ported a ‘ lightweight’ Jaguar E-type for the 1968–’69 sea­son, equipped with a 4.2-litre engine, and, while it looked im­pres­sive with its high wing, the Christchurch-based driver found it no match for the rear-engine V8 horde.

Jaguar en­gines were also the power plant of choice for a few other hy­brids, in­clud­ing Jamie Ais­la­bie’s age­ing Cooper Jaguar. Jamie was em­bark­ing on a long sports car–rac­ing quest, which fea­tured his weird-look­ing– but– sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive Sid MKI, which was a rein­ven­tion us­ing some part of the ear­lier Heron Daim­ler V8 driven by Nor­ris Miles and oth­ers. Ais­la­bie in­stalled a 3.8 Jaguar mo­tor, sat him­self be­hind a huge Cess­natype air­craft wind­screen and el­e­vated tail sec­tion, and pro­ceeded to move up the grid. Af­ter the rear-engine V8s, Jamie was usu­ally the next man home and was al­ways lurk­ing if the big boys en­coun­tered any off-road or me­chan­i­cal may­hem. But, if you can’t beat them, you’d bet­ter join them, so he in­stalled a 289 Ford V8 in 1971–’ 72, af­ter a rear-end as­sault of the safety fences forced a re­build. Jamie was to win the rather hol­low last gasp of the Kiwi Can-am sporties in 1972–’ 73; how­ever, it was only a two-round farce, as the big-bangers were then on the way out. Jamie went on to more il­lus­tri­ous ac­co­lades in the later 2.0-litre sports champs in com­ing years, where he was a real force.

But back to the ’60s. The other ma­jor forces at play in the sporties can be best summed up as the legacy of the Ly­coming, the 250LM Fer­rari, and the com­ing hard­core V8 era of the Begg sports rac­ers, the Gemco, the Stan­ton, and the up­start im­ports in the Lola T70 and the Elfin 400. Th­ese were the prime movers as the golden Kiwi Can-am era hit top gear.

Show­down in the fast lane: the duel for vic­tory, 1968 to 1972

‘Feud’ was an­other name for the Jim Boyd and Gra­hame Har­vey duel. Let’s start with this pair of tough­nut Auck­land car-in­dus­try guys, who seemed to get on the wrong side of each other dur­ing the 1968–’69 sea­son. Did it be­gin with a driv­ing al­ter­ca­tion on the race track or a slight of some na­ture? The rea­son was never clear, but there was re­puted to be no love lost be­tween th­ese two com­bat­ants.

Jim Boyd, a Lyn­field (Auck­land) garage owner, was a long-time racer through his Buck­ler, Cooper, Holden years, the ill-fated Valour For­mula Ju­nior and then his cel­e­brated time with the veteran Ly­coming. With this car, he won the New Zealand Sports Car Cham­pi­onship in 1965–’66 (tak­ing all seven rounds), and he won al­most ev­ery hill-climb cham­pi­onship in sight for sev­eral years. Boyd’s iconic ‘man alone’ road-war­rior mana was es­tab­lished dur­ing his famed Ly­coming years. Armed with only his tool­kit and a small overnight bag, he drove

The sporties have em­bed­ded a long his­tory into our rac­ing folk­lore, but the pe­riod that lights my fire the most is the V8 rear-engine big-grunter era

the leg­endary aero-en­gined ma­chine on the road to wher­ever the ac­tion was hap­pen­ing. He’d emerge with a road-grimed face and shin­ing ivories — clas­sic Boyd — and bunk down at what­ever pad he could find, if it was an overnighter. One clas­sic tale had Boyd and the Ly­coming rum­bling out of the lower deck of the Aramoana/pic­ton ferry, af­ter mak­ing the late Fri­day night sail­ing. He’d left Auck­land late af­ter­noon af­ter work and hun­kered down for a bal­lis­tic drive down the is­land, pedal to the metal, and made the ferry, en route to Ren­wick/marl­bor­ough for the open­ing Gold Star meet­ing of the 1965 - ‘66 sea­son in Novem­ber. Talk about the ul­ti­mate high­way hero! By then, he had moved into the Stan­ton Corvette, the seat hav­ing been va­cated by Ge­off Mar­don, and was primed for an­other se­ri­ous as­sault on the sports car ti­tle.

But there was se­ri­ous op­po­si­tion. Across town, pre­vi­ous FJ Holden racer and au­to­mo­tive work­shop owner Gra­hame Har­vey had made a big push to move into the high-pow­ered strato­sphere of the elite sports car fra­ter­nity. He had bought the one-year-old ti­tle-win­ning Elfin 400 (mi­nus the 6.5-litre Chevy mo­tor) and was gearing up for a for­mi­da­ble cam­paign.

Down south, out of Ti­maru, Brent Hawes was also shap­ing up as a ma­jor player in this bat­tle­ground for hon­ours. En­ter­ing his sec­ond sea­son with the South­land-built Begg Chevro­let, he looked an im­pres­sive con­tender af­ter a year of ex­pe­ri­ence in sort­ing the ma­chine for the ti­tle chase. He was equipped with a 5.0-litre Chev V8, as was Har­vey, while Boyd was run­ning the slightly larger 5.4-litre Chev. The scene was set for a hell­rais­ing show­down that would last over two sea­sons and be­yond.

Sadly, Brent Hawes’ sec­ond sea­son with the Begg ended hor­rif­i­cally in a late-sea­son crash at Rua­puna that cost him his life. A deep dread of fire in a rac­ing ac­ci­dent had con­vinced him not to fit seat belts to the Begg, and it was supremely ironic that seat belts would have saved him from be­ing flung out af­ter a wild spin, caused by jammed throt­tle at the end of Rua­puna’s main straight.

This was a three-horse race that went right down to the wire. Like Boyd, Har­vey was a hard-but-fair racer, steeped in the tra­di­tions and folk­lore of the leg­endary South Auck­land racer / car-deal­ing jungle led by icons such as Red Daw­son, Johnny Ri­ley, and Garth Souness. He’d worked on Johnny’s race cars, no less, and soaked up the un­com­pro­mis­ing, give-no-quar­ter driv­ing at­ti­tude of the ex– stock car rac­ing elite. Speak­ing of Johnny Ri­ley — he’d also looked to be a se­ri­ous player at the out­set of that sea­son, when he re­placed the 2.7 Cli­max mo­tor with a Traco-built Oldsmo­bile V8 in his Lo­tus 19B. With the lightweight engine in­stalled, the car showed great prom­ise at the out­set of the ti­tle chase, and took a sec­ond and third in the open­ing rounds.

How­ever, that was the last time he scored points, as a cou­ple of ac­ci­dents and a long saga of engine prob­lems ended his chal­lenge.

Ar­guably, Har­vey had the quick­est car: the bru­tal-look­ing Elfin 400. To de­scribe it as ‘sleek’ might al­most be said to be an un­der­state­ment for this al­most wedge-like pro­jec­tile. But, at the out­set of his four-year ten­ancy with the Aus­tralian-built ma­chine, he was di­alling him­self in against both Boyd and Hawes, who each had three years of front-line sports car rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The sea­son did not dis­ap­point the pun­ters. The hairy testos­terone-pump­ing rear-engine mon­sters were the most spec­tac­u­lar an­i­mals in ac­tion on the black­top cir­cuits in Aotearoa at the time. It was just a pity that there weren’t more of them — but this could ap­ply to sev­eral other for­mu­las at the time as well. The pond was prob­a­bly too small to sup­port that many front-line cat­e­gories. The sav­ing grace of that 68’–’69 sea­son was the amaz­ing re­li­a­bil­ity of the De­troit V8 mills. Hawes scored in ev­ery round of the seven-race

The Stan­ton had per­formed well, but was be­gin­ning to show its age, and Boyd re­al­ized that if he was go­ing to front a se­ri­ous chal­lenge for the ti­tle in the 1969–’70 sea­son … he would need a faster weapon

se­ries, and Har­vey and Boyd only had one re­tire­ment each.

When the cir­cus reached the fi­nal show­down, at the new cir­cuit at Ti­maru, the ti­tle chase was locked into a des­per­ate scrap be­tween Hawes and Har­vey. Boyd was just a few points be­hind, and poised to pounce should ei­ther of them fail to fin­ish. Hawes was in the box seat, need­ing only to fin­ish sec­ond to wrap up the se­ries, and, with Boyd sud­denly a late scratch­ing due to me­chan­i­cal woes, it looked to be in the bag. How­ever, the wild­card in the pack was Barry Keen, hav­ing his sec­ond out­ing in the Mcbegg Chev, and this proved to be his un­do­ing. Keen drove im­pres­sively, putting im­mense pres­sure on Hawes in sec­ond place un­til he over­cooked it. Al­though Brent re­cov­ered to third place, Har­vey shaved home to win the race and the ti­tle by just one point, with 50 points to Hawes’ 49, and Boyd close on 43 points. Ev­ery­one else was nowhere. The only other com­peti­tors of note were Scott Wise­man, in the lightweight E-type Jaguar, and Ross West in the Lo­tus 23 (im­ported from Scan­di­navia). How­ever, West’s fourth place in the se­ries, with nine points, speaks vol­umes. Keen’s sec­ond place with the ‘new’ Mcbegg in the fi­nal round looked a good omen for the fol­low­ing sum­mer.

Jim Boyd was dis­ap­pointed, to put it mildly, with the end-of-term re­port for his cam­paign. Third place was not the out­come he had an­tic­i­pated, and los­ing to that up­start Har­vey had stung. The Stan­ton had per­formed well, but was be­gin­ning to show its age, and Boyd re­al­ized that if he was go­ing to front a se­ri­ous chal­lenge for the ti­tle in the 1969–’ 70 sea­son against Har­vey’s Elfin and Keen in the Mcbegg, he would need a faster weapon.

The 1966 Lola T70 MKII with a well­pre­pared 5.9-litre Chevy was the ex­act bit of An­glo-amer­i­can hard­ware that he needed. He was now right on terms with Har­vey and ready to give him the big serve — if he could — that sum­mer.

The Lola’s ori­gins make quite in­ter­est­ing read­ing. It was orig­i­nally sold new to Um­berto Magli­oli of Italy with the 5.9-litre engine, in May 1966, but there is no known rac­ing his­tory prior to the car be­ing sold to English­man Dill Pell, who brought it to New Zealand in 1969. But an­other school of thought — as ex­pounded by Gra­hame Ver­coe in his book His­toric Rac­ing Cars of New Zealand — says that this was the car that Kiwi Ross Greenville raced and had a nasty ac­ci­dent with in the 1968 Can-am se­ries. Fol­low­ing that, he sent the car to New Zealand, pos­si­bly with the thought of rac­ing it in the New Zealand Cham­pi­onship. How­ever, it seems that the Greenville car was a dif­fer­ent chas­sis, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Lola T70 chas­sis records. Yet an­other the­ory ex­pounded at the time was that this was the ex–don O’sul­li­van car from West­ern Aus­tralia, but records seem to in­di­cate it wasn’t, as O’sul­li­van con­tin­ued to race his Lola through­out 1970. Whether ei­ther Pell or Greenville in­tended rac­ing it here is un­known, but Jim Boyd ar­ranged or seized the op­por­tu­nity to buy it, lev­el­ling the play­ing field in an in­stant. He was ready to do bat­tle in a highly com­pet­i­tive, proven car with a great track record.

1969–’70: Boyd and Har­vey slug it out

I prob­a­bly should ad­mit that I have a pe­cu­liar fas­ci­na­tion for the drama that un­folded be­tween th­ese two hard-nosed char­ac­ters and the other com­bat­ants, a drama which helped make for an in­trigu­ing sports car scene over this par­tic­u­lar sea­son. Bear with me as I lay a bit more data on you. The 1969’–70 big-banger New Zealand Sports Car Cham­pi­onship was shap­ing up as a real grudge match be­tween the two hard­core charg­ers, Har­vey and Boyd, in their fac­tory-built Can-am-style V8 bel­ters. Com­pe­ti­tion to th­ese front run­ners

was look­ing pre­dictably a bit slim. The tragic loss of Brent Hawes at the end of the pre­vi­ous sea­son had left a big hole in the ranks at the front of the grid. Barry Keen’s de­ci­sion to step down from driv­ing the Mcbegg was a dis­ap­point­ment, as he’d looked very sharp at the Ti­maru fi­nale in early ’69. Had Hawes sur­vived and got his hands on this car for that sea­son, things might have been dif­fer­ent, but we’ll never know how that would have played out, as it was Ge­off Mar­don who took over the reins, and he only played a lim­ited role in pro­ceed­ings. The only other com­peti­tor to front in the rear-engine V8 brigade was John Mone­han, with the oc­ca­sional ap­pear­ance of the age­ing Stan­ton Corvette, but he struck a saga of me­chan­i­cal grief, and, like Mar­don, he didn’t make a sig­nif­i­cant dent the score­board.

Two other new cars emerged this sea­son that looked like they would have fron­trun­ning ca­pa­bil­ity a bit fur­ther down the track. Garry Ped­er­sen and his friend, Peter Macks, pur­chased the Johnny Ri­ley Lo­tus 19-21 Traco Oldsmo­bile V8 sports racer in the win­ter of 1968. This car was mag­nif­i­cently crafted into the Gemco Oldsmo­bile over 16 months. Glen Eden Mo­tor Bod­ies Ken Platt built a mag­nif­i­cently crafted alu­minium body, mod­elled on the Mclaren M8A Can-am car — with di­men­sions un­be­liev­ably true, taken from an in­struc­tion sheet of a model kit­set ver­sion of the car! This beau­ti­ful racer made a one-off ap­pear­ance at the Pukekohe Jan­u­ary ’ 70 New Zealand Grand Prix ( NZGP) meet­ing and re­tired while lead­ing. The team re­al­ized that more sort­ing was re­quired, and it would re­turn a sea­son later and stamp its pres­ence in no un­cer­tain terms on the last few years of Kiwi Can-am.

Tyrell Tur­till’s and Gary Mul­hol­land’s 7.0-litre air­craft-en­gined Con­ti­nen­tal Spe­cial was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent an­i­mal, the only sim­i­lar­ity be­ing that it also had its engine in the rear. With an all-al­loy body, it looked strik­ing in bare metal, and it def­i­nitely had loads of po­ten­tial. It used an in­trigu­ing transaxle and east–west engine mount­ing, and was the brain­child of two young en­gi­neer-rac­ers. Op­er­at­ing out of Welling­ton, the car ini­tially just ap­peared at the Levin cir­cuit, where, early on, it had a com­pet­i­tive out­ing against Har­vey’s Elfin, which sug­gested it could play a sig­nif­i­cant role on the na­tional sports car stage. It also won a cou­ple of mi­nor non-cham­pi­onship races at Ti­maru and Rua­puna in early 1970. Kiwi in­ge­nu­ity was alive and well, and this beau­ti­ful car looked to be the Ly­coming of the early ’ 70s. Sadly, that all came to nought when Tyrell Tur­till and Gary Mul­hol­land were trag­i­cally killed in a road crash.

So, es­sen­tially, it crunched down into a two-horse race, which was prob­a­bly divine prov­i­dence, as this con­fronta­tion was al­most big­ger than the rac­ing. This was per­sonal! Har­vey and Boyd were du­elling on a dif­fer­ent level, with a fi­nal show­down, a fight to try to van­quish each other — shades of a glad­i­a­to­rial bat­tle, a con­fronta­tion with no quar­ter given or asked for. It can be fas­ci­nat­ing stuff, though, at times, when nei­ther com­bat­ant backs off, it doesn’t end well …

Win or crash: the 1969–’70 sports car ti­tle

But back to the sea­son kick-off. The main com­bat­ants, Har­vey and Boyd, didn’t un­leash their war for the ti­tle at the first round at Pukekohe on Septem­ber 21, 1969. Har­vey was a no-show, and Boyd cruised to an easy win af­ter a brief chal­lenge from John Mone­han’s Stan­ton Corvette ended

in an early exit, with no oil pres­sure. Bob Hys­lop was a dis­tant sec­ond in his JRM Ford, from Dave Wal­lace’s very rapid Lola Cli­max, which held off Ivy Stephen­son in her much newer Lo­tus 23B Twin Cam.

Things cer­tainly hot­ted up in the sec­ond round at Bay Park on Oc­to­ber 4, 1969. Har­vey had re­placed his 5.0-litre (302ci) Chev with a larger 5.7-litre (350ci) Ca­maro mo­tor. This put him re­ally on terms with Boyd’s sim­i­lar 5.9-litre Chev. De­spite the small field, there was a riv­et­ing bat­tle up front when the Elfin and Lola driv­ers went head to head. They ran two abreast at times, which had the crowd on its feet, as Har­vey just got the nod when the flag fell. Boyd wasn’t helped by his engine, which seemed to have slight fuel-block­age prob­lems. Baron Robert­son was third in the Heron Twin Cam, fol­lowed by Bob Hys­lop with his JRM Ford.

A re­turn match at Bay Park on Novem­ber 15, 1969 seemed to pick up where things left off, with the open­ing laps fiercely con­tested. Boyd’s Lola T70 was run­ning beau­ti­fully, and he took full ad­van­tage, giv­ing a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of driv­ing, even­tu­ally pulling away from Har­vey to win by seven sec­onds. Har­vey strug­gled in the lat­ter stages with boil­ing brake fluid, and his car wasn’t as well set up on this oc­ca­sion as the Boyd Lola. John Mone­han re­tired with engine dam­age, and Bob Hys­lop’s rapid JRM Ford fin­ished third af­ter an­other good con­test with Dave Wal­lace, in his amaz­ingly quick 1.2-litre Cli­max-pow­ered Lola MKI.

Things re­ally came to a head at Pukekohe on De­cem­ber 8, 1969. Har­vey hit the front at the gun, with Boyd on his tail, all over the Elfin and look­ing for a way through. The crowd was on its feet, wit­ness­ing an epic con­test as both driv­ers gave no quar­ter in a wild on-the-limit dis­play of ragged­edge driv­ing. Har­vey re­sorted to clos­ing the gate on Boyd at times to keep the Lola driver at bay, and, even­tu­ally, the lat­ter’s frus­tra­tion saw him at­tempt a pass on the out­side of Cham­pion Curve. This was the bravest of brave moves on the Pukekohe track, and, un­for­tu­nately, the Lola came un­stuck in a crazy high-speed spin, emit­ting plenty of blue tyre smoke into the out­field, for­tu­nately with­out dam­age to driver or car. Boyd re­joined, and re­cap­tured sec­ond place from Hys­lop in the JRM, which had passed him dur­ing his wild gy­ra­tions! How­ever, Har­vey’s com­ment was, “I couldn’t be­lieve it when I saw him try­ing to get along­side” as he went on to the win. The stakes had def­i­nitely been lifted af­ter this on­slaught be­tween the two arch ri­vals.

The NZGP meet­ing on Jan­u­ary 10,

The 1969’–70 big-banger New Zealand Sports Car Cham­pi­onship was shap­ing up as a real grudge match be­tween … Har­vey and Boyd, in their fac­tory-built Can-am-style V8 bel­ters

1970, was shap­ing up as a fur­ther bal­lis­tic con­fronta­tion be­tween the two deter­mined driv­ers. Har­vey was in blind­ing form in prac­tice, scor­ing pole with a 63.5-sec­ond lap and nearly hit­ting 170mph (273.5kph) down the back straight as he edged out Boyd. This race was also sig­nif­i­cant for the first ap­pear­ance of Garry Ped­er­sen, in the com­pletely re­built and mod­i­fied ex– John Ri­ley Lo­tus 19-21 Oldsmo­bile. The car looked a mil­lion bucks, with its beau­ti­fully crafted Mclaren M8a–looka­like body. How­ever, the Ken Whar­ton Me­mo­rial Tro­phy sports car race turned to cus­tard for all the ma­jor play­ers. Get­ting the jump at the start was paramount for the du­elling Har­vey and Boyd, and the lat­ter just shaded Har­vey when the ham­mer came down. As they stood on the gas through Cham­pion Curve, Har­vey drew along­side, and Boyd, think­ing he had the line, moved across — un­aware that the Elfin was so close. Har­vey swerved vi­o­lently to­wards the grass but couldn’t avoid the un­sighted Boyd, hit­ting him: the re­sult­ing crash ended the race for both driv­ers. The Elfin’s front body­work was ripped off in the im­pact and badly frac­tured, and the front mag­ne­sium wheel was ru­ined. The Lola suf­fered a bro­ken gear­box cas­ing and loss of oil, and the car coasted to a stop at the hair­pin.

Garry Ped­er­sen took the lead on the sec­ond lap from Bob Hys­lop and looked to be head­ing for an easy win un­til over­heat­ing forced him to with­draw, though, iron­i­cally, later the prob­lem was traced to a faulty tem­per­a­ture gauge. A win on de­but was not to be.

Bob Hys­lop took the sur­prise win in his JRM Ford; Ivy Stephen­son in the Lo­tus 23B was sec­ond, to much fan­fare from the grand­stand; and Peter Ran­son was third in his Lancer.

This episode fur­ther deep­ened the rift be­tween the two driv­ers that had been fes­ter­ing since the pre­vi­ous sea­son. At the mid­way point of this sea­son, the ti­tle chase was pretty equally poised be­tween Boyd and Har­vey, but, un­for­tu­nately, for the lat­ter, this was where it un­rav­elled. At Bay Park on De­cem­ber 29, 1969, a prac­tice ex­cur­sion into a fence put him out, and, at Ti­maru on Jan­u­ary 30, a crack in the block of his Chevy mo­tor also ruled him a non-starter. Boyd won both of th­ese rac­ers at a can­ter, with no se­ri­ous op­po­si­tion. Pukekohe on March 8 was not a cham­pi­onship round, but Boyd, with pushrod prob­lems, recorded a did-not-fin­ish (DNF), and Har­vey was a non-starter — hav­ing loaned his cylin­der heads to Amer­i­can Mclaren M10A racer Ron Grable to con­tinue his cam­paign in the Aus­tralian races of the 1970 Tas­man Cham­pi­onship, he was un­able to com­pete. It was dis­ap­point­ing that Har­vey’s chal­lenge evap­o­rated in the sec­ond half of the se­ries, and this re­ally handed the ti­tle to Boyd, who I’m sure would have pre­ferred to bat­tle it out to the bit­ter end.

Hys­lop, in his su­per­fast JRM Ford 1650, was a rev­e­la­tion of this sea­son. He usu­ally punched way above his weight, scor­ing two wins and sev­eral sec­onds, and, ul­ti­mately, this gained him sec­ond place out­right in the cham­pi­onship. Among the eclec­tic sports car mix, sev­eral other com­bos also stood out — namely, the amaz­ing per­for­mances of Dave Wal­lace, in his 10-year-old Lola MKI Cli­max, and Jamie Ais­la­bie, in his even older Cooper Jaguar. At times, they out­shone the the­o­ret­i­cally much faster rear-engine twin­cam cars of Baron Robert­son’s Heron and Ivy Stephen­son’s Lo­tus 23B.

With vic­tory achieved, Jim Boyd had en­forced his pres­ence on the sports car scene in 1970 with the beau­ti­ful Lola T70. Hav­ing made his point em­phat­i­cally, he abruptly re­tired. He was a tough, re­lent­less com­peti­tor, and the sports car ranks looked a lot leaner af­ter his de­par­ture. But, just as cri­sis seemed to loom for the en­dan­gered big-grunter sporties, a new hero sud­denly emerged. Keep an eye out for part two of this fea­ture in next month’s is­sue.

The com­pletely re­built and mod­i­fied ex–john Ri­ley Lo­tus 19-21 Oldsmo­bile … looked a mil­lion bucks, with its beau­ti­fully crafted Mclaren M8a–looka­like body

Gra­hame Har­vey and the Elfin 400, Pukekohe, pos­si­bly the NZGP, Jan­u­ary 1969 (Mike Feisst photo)

(Top) Ge­off Mar­don in the Stan­ton Corvette, Pukekohe 1967–’68 (Ger­ard Richards Col­lec­tion — Jack In­wood photo); (bot­tom) Mo­tor Rac­ing Rua­puna Park pro­gramme

Left: Barry Keen in the Begg Corvette, Pukekohe, Fe­bru­ary 22, 1967 (Stu­art Buchanan photo) Right: 1970 Lis­tener cover with Brent Hawes and Jim Boyd

For­mula Li­bre grid, Pukekohe, March 1969 — Gra­hame Har­vey and Den­nis Mar­wood in the front row, and Ge­off Mar­don in the Mcbegg and David Ox­ton in the Brab­ham in the sec­ond row (Stu­art Buchanan photo)

Above: Jim Boyd’s Lola T70 at the Jan­u­ary 1970 NZGP meet­ing, Pukekohe (Mike Feisst photo) Left: Roth­mans Cam­bridge ci­garette ad­vert fea­tur­ing Jim Boyd’s Lola T70, 1969–’70 Right: Elfin 400, Gra­hame Har­vey, Wi­gram Tas­man Meet, Jan 1971 (pho­tog­ra­pher un­known)

Gemco Oldsmo­bile de­but at the NZGP, Pukekohe, Jan­u­ary 1970 (Mike Feisst photo)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.