Our New Zealand Formula Junior Adventure. (not strictly JKL!) Part 2
Dick Willis, HSRCA Group JKL Registrar
PO Box 280, Coffs Harbour, NSW, 2450.
Ph. 02 66522099, Mob. 0427 400158, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our New Zealand Formula Junior Adventure. ( not strictly JKL ! )
Entries at Pukekohe and Taupo were both around the 400 mark which sounds impressive but when you consider 40 were Juniors, 24 Formula 5000's and another 24 “Historics' the remaining 300 comprising an assortment of mainly sedan type groups, obviously enjoying their racing, but the sort of cars we in Australia are more accustomed to seeing at a multi-club type meeting. In 5000's were Australians Aaron Lewis and John Bryant while Bob Harborow was entered and but unable to get his car there in time but nevertheless came to Taupo to see what he had missed out on. I was impressed at the huge turnout of spectators who turned out at Pukekohe to see the action while Taupo, probably because of its greater distance from Auckland attracted a much smaller crowd. Probably a factor being the price of fuel in New Zealand at around $1.70 per litre, even LPG was $1.20 while diesel was $1.25 but diesel users are required to pay the tax on this separately so it obviously wasn't as cheap as would first appear. I must also mention the locals who made us most welcome and the camaraderie amongst the entire group was outstanding. The Clerk of Course, Bill Ritchie was most hepful and the scrutineer appointed to our group inspected the cars in our own pit area obviating the necessity to join in long scrutineering lines as we do in Australia, take note please !
During the few days off before Taupo most went sightseeing to various parts of the North Island while some such as Peter Boel and Allan Conway attempted to rectify their engine problems. We satisfied a long held ambition to visit the Southward Museum down near Wellington, a visit that proved extremely worthwhile. I had always wanted to see the racing cars there but the 200 or so other cars on display were of a very high quality and most impressive. The racing cars were indeed mouth watering, Maserati 250F 2509, the Ferrari Monza Ken Wharton was killed in at Ardmore in 1957, the ex Zambucka 8CLT-50 Maserati, an R Type MG, MkV Cooper Vincent, the Begg FM5 F5000 and the ex Davison 1947 AGP 1928 Mercedes 38/250.
The Taupo circuit has existed for some time in its shorter variant with neighboring drag strip but has recently been extended to 3.5 km in length with the obvious aim of cramming the maximum track length in the minimum amount of real estate, the result apart from the long straight being more akin to a go-kart track, how the 5000's coped with it I know not. Consider this, Pukekohe with 2.84 km and Junior lap time of 1.12, Taupo 3.5km and best lap times of 1.50 however the racing by the Juniors was most exciting. The pit buildings and garages were first rate as would be expected from a new facility.
While most of the front runners were the same as at Pukekohe, some additional drivers came into contention. With a maximum of just three laps of qualifying there was no time to dilly-dally with Peter Strauss narrowly quickest from Englishman Peter Antiss' Lotus 20/22 with Jonathan Williamson third and Aussies Don Thallon and David Reid fifth and sixth. Peter Boel's efforts had come to naught despite having the head and piston rebuilt after its dropped valve when water in the oil was found to be caused by a split bore.
Tensions were obviously high as the competitors awaited the start of Saturday's six lapper with Ned Spieker, Peter Strauss and Peter Antiss being penalised 15 seconds for anticipating the signal to go. Consequently there was great excitement when Graham Brown well deservedly took the chequer from Jac Nellemann in the Australian built Nota with Don Thallon an excellent third. Peter Antiss became the first to crack the 1.50 mark in his efforts to overcome his misdemeanour and Aussies Roger Ealand, Jonathan Williamson, David Reid, Bill Hemming and Mike Gosbell filled sixth to tenth spots with Peter Strauss twelth after a spin and his penalty.
The action continued with many lead changes in the Sunday morning race, early leader Roger Ealand and Jac Nellemann had a coming together at the braking area of the main straight resulting in the Nota retiring with a bent nose and broken lower front wishbone. Meanwhile Ned Spieker had worked his way to the front to finish 0.28 ahead of Graham Brown with Aussies Williamson, Reid and Thallon third, fourth and fifth. Allan Conway had generously given Peter Boel a drive in his Gemini but this came to naught when he retired early as the distributor drive gear came adrift. David Reid and Ned Spieker also joined the under 1.50 club in this race.
The final race of the series was another nail biter and was won by Peter Antiss from Ned Spieker with John Chisolm making a good recovery with his repaired engine to come in third. Australians came in 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th with 7th going to Kiwi John Rapley with his Brabham, a car I was most privileged to have a drive of in practice. Graham Brown was unfortunate to have a coming together with another competitor in the scramble for the first corner which bent the chassis somewhat and split the fuel tank meaning he will have a busy time getting it ready for Calder at the end of February. Don Thallon left Taupo with a dilemma having been made an offer he couldn't refuse for the Cooper so it is going to Christchurch and Don is looking for a Ford powered Junior to race at Calder and Phillip Island, any ideas anyone ?
We all had a great time time in NZ, with me personally catching up with people I had met when I last raced there in 1993 at Manfeild and making many more new friends from the FJ group. We will all meet up again at Calder and Phillip Island in just a few more weeks and then there are those Aussies ( not me ) who are thinking of doing the US series of FJ races later this year and/or the grand finale in South Africa in a year's time. Then there is the South Island's Southern Festival of Speed with four race meetings over consecutive weekends next February which is also tempting, hope the US financial woes have improved by then !
Now on the local JKL scene we have Phillip Island coming up next with, I believe a full grid of solely JKL cars, then a fortnight later at Easter, Mallala Historics. April 19/20 to Eastern Creek for our first HSRCA race meeting of the year, a fortnight later on May 3rd and 4th Morgan Park Historics then on May 24/25 Historic Winton followed a month later by our second 2008 HSRCA race meeting at Oran Park on June 28/29. Also at Easter is FOSC Bathurst meeting at which I understand some of our Group have received a start in Regularity, I would be interested to hear from anyone who is running there. Add into this lot some GEAR days and hillclimbs and we have a busy time ahead of us, thankfully there doesn't seem to be much on in July so we have a little time to regroup before it all starts again. Although I have started the Stewart MG restoration project with all the above going on I think we may be too busy just keeping the fleet going to get too far with it although the body is currently at the bodybuilder. I must say however that I have been very impressed with the workmanship displayed in the parts of the car I have dismantled so far, the blower for instance is a most intricate piece of work with sliding vanes and gears employed to effect the pressurisation.
Following on from our MG feature at Wakefield Park last November, MG specialist Bruce Smith has reported a tremendous increase in MG TC business with people buying all sorts of TC parts for restoration projects, some destined for the track hopefully at HSRCA events. One TC project under way is for a well known proprietor of a race driving school.
With all these goings on future issues of The Oily Rag ( current issue just out ) may not be able to accommodate our JKL reports in full but they will appear on the HSRCA website in full, www.hsrca.org.au under “news”
I have been told of a few cars for sale which may be of interest, John Scott has reduced the price of his Milano MG to a very reasonable $40,000, ph. 0433 405649.
Bruce Bloodworth has Nota no.7 for sale at $18,000 which includes trailer, Mazengarb head, blower, heaps of spares etc and is a very neat little car which drives well, I've driven it. In New Zealand Max Fisher, ph. 09 5342245, is having a clearing sale, don't know prices. 1951 Cooper Alta Sports, 1953 RGR Triumph F3 car and a 1949 Cooper Mk4 ex Peter Collins and a pair of 500cc JAP engines.
Jim Elphick ( ph. 43851011 ) has just decided to sell the Gazelle Special which is a very neat Ford 10 powered Lb car, it is very reliable and in excellent condition at $28,000. Mike Gosbell ( ph. 0428 518141 ) has also decided to sell the DonFord Formula Junior, winner of the 2007 AON Trophy for best Australian built FJ, I can vouch for this one too having driven it in NZ, see earlier in this newsletter. In top notch ready to race trim and great value at less than half the price of Brabhams, Lotuses etc. and just as quick.