A Curly Tale: Manfeild Racing

Manfeild musings

Most of us only race at Manfeild once a year – but I wish it was more. Just as the best track in the South Island is furthest away, so too is one of the two best tracks in the North Island. For those of you who haven’t raced there, or haven’t been for a while – put it on the 2015 ‘to do’ list. In fact book a motel – preferably in Feilding if you can – today. I booked in for 2015 when I checked out yesterday morning.

We go to Manfeild for the track, the racing and great Historic Formula Ford camaraderie – we don’t necessarily go for the weather. The rain started near the end of driver’s briefing and then deteriorated – our qualifying was in pretty awful conditions. Only Paul ‘rain, what rain’ Dold broke into 20s but in the race – thankfully the only one of our four that was wet – Dave ‘the Stig with L plates’ Silverton won. Mercifully no cars were damaged with all of us respecting the conditions.

After the rain stopped, the wind started. Perhaps it had already been there but hadn’t been noticed because the rain initially was the major weather element being discussed. The Manawatu rugby team is nicknamed the ‘Turbo’ s on account of the wind turbines dotted around the hills. They didn’t put them there as a trial. Someone knew about the wind beforehand…and did I mention it was cold?

Paul won the dry Saturday afternoon race and there was seemingly good scrapping going on down the field – Graeme Cameron had the ex Peter Boel 88 Swift out for the first time and was in the mix behind Doldie with Martin ‘I’m just going to stick with the Lotus from now on’ Lucas, the ever improving Gerald Duncan, Dave and a blue car that the commentator kept referring to as a ‘Crozz-ill’ of Don Hopkins. In the next group was a decent old ding-dong going on between a very hard charging Ron Wilkin, Bernie ‘I think I’ll just try and poke my nose in there’ Hines, and a couple of yellow perils in the form of Bruce ‘head down’ McCoy and another Crozz-ill.

Keith Cowan had been in the mix for a bit – he was the only South Island car this year because Peter aka ‘Baldric’ Grant couldn’t make the trip. The good news is, both are returning for Taupo and the Festival in January. Keith Mainland – a mere slip of a lad alongside his namesake from the mainland – was starting to understand why we all love going to Manfeild so much.

Sunday – no rain but still windy and less cold…meaning it was merely freezing whereas Saturday was what a Scottish friend of mine calls ‘bastard cold’. I hadn’t mentioned that we weren’t FF only grids – there were sports cars, a BMC powered Terrapin, and the Torrey Canyon – as some sarcastic driver has lovingly been referring to the Ken Williams BBM-Mercedes as for years. Sadly, it all too soon resembled the actual Torrey Canyon – and if you’re too young to know why that nickname was given, a quick google search will solve it.

Ken drives that thing with enthusiasm and his love of Mercs is legendary and endearing – but anyone in a FF who has followed it, will understand the joy of being in its wake. It started with some smoke going into Higgins – then an explosion. Ken eventually spun on his own oil out of Higgins, and it was a wonder that no one else did. Worst affected was Phil Foulkes and, as Cathy was cleaning oil off the Trident afterwards, suggestions were being made that the rags be wrung out and the oil that came out of them be sold back to Ken.

Some of the more mechanically minded amongst us opined, correctly as it turned out, that Ken would probably be out for the day. Thankfully the oil spill happened near the end of the race but for those of us further back than Phil, and therefore driving into it, there was this weird feeling of heading into the plume but not knowing exactly where the offending machine actually was. Marty started off the front row with Paul but the GLH won again – which was getting pretty boring for everyone apart from the team that supplies most of us with our rubber wear.

Last race – Doldie led a freight train of cars comprising a red ‘soon to half spin’ Trident, a green Lotus 69, the Cheetah, the PRS, and a couple of Crozz-ills. Paul won again in a Hamilton white-wash for the weekend while down the field was all the normal fun and games with Bernie, Ron and the Keiths. Sadly I haven’t mentioned Bruce. On Sunday morning the yellow Lola wouldn’t fire. Something called a starter motor wasn’t cooperating and I guess this is the downside of running cars that don’t have a key to make them work. Typically for Bruce, he shrugged his shoulders and seemed almost as happy to be ‘part of the group’ as if he he’d been running. Actually ‘almost’ isn’t a strong enough word…

Observations from the weekend:

  • Who’d ever thought dark grey was a good colour for a racing car? Obviously the Camerons did because that is what Peter’s old Swift is painted. And it looks cool – actually sinister is the word. Good to see you back GC!
  • Gerald got into the 17s in the last race – that’s enough to put a smile on your face.
  • Speaking of smiles – Keith Mainland could be our poster boy for convincing anyone who hasn’t raced at Manfeild to do it. He seemed to like it.
  • Feilding has two Indian restaurants – go figure. We tried one of them and it was superb. New Zealand’s first ever Formula Ford champion was in the other and reported it too was very good.
  • Feilding is a happening place – they even have an Irish bar with a Scottish name.
  • Have global warming deniers spent a weekend at Manfeild…in mid-November?

It was great to see Phil Mauger mooching around. Bloody shame he forgot his car. But he’s promised to come and play next year

A Curly Tale: TACCOC Hampton Downs

November 9, 2014

 

Promise of decent weather and an old fashioned ‘quick-fire’ race schedule attracted the biggest group of old fart Formula Fords to be assembled together for some time. Firstly a big welcome to newcomers to our happy little band – Geoff Bogue (ex Brownlie/Fraser Lola  – blue #36), and Gavin Aleksich who has purchased the white/red #55 Mondiale that Dave Silverton originally imported and Mike Lee subsequently ran. It was great seeing these new faces, and wonderful to see Harold Phillips looking so well after some of his health challenges this year – really hope to see you back in your exquisite Lola soon Harold. Also brilliant to see Graham Main looking fit after his recent scare.

 

Speaking of Lolas – the bloody things are everywhere, mostly driven by Taurangaians but great to also see Keith Jones out again. Chris Fraser tried convincing everyone his car was better prepped than ever before a race but when the fuel went in, it came straight out – so scratch a Lola while other cars had turned but refused to cooperate in the form a black Reynard that wouldn’t start (bad luck John Pickford), the Crossle of Don Hopkins while after just one lap in race one, Dave’s PRS was out for the day. My specially trained mechanical ear detected a head gasket – and if I’m right, getting to Manfeild should be a piece of cake.

 

And so to the racing – Tony Graham has not slowed down and was easily fastest of the more modern cars. Phil Foulkes led the way in the class 1 cars with Tony Cross and Gerald Duncan squaring off for next best. Gerald has made quite a stride towards the sharp end and continues to personalise the car with new a new number and font. Behind them was arguably the best scraps through all three races. Ron Wilkin really had the Elden going well and was chased hard in race 1 by Keith Mainland in the ex-Richard Cullen #79 VD. His stated aim for the day was to “get into the 15s” – his best previous time having been a 16.1. Ron and Keith put on a great show with Ron using his greater experience to hold the VD out. They recorded identical fastest laps – but Keith failed in the quest to do ‘a 15’ by doing a 14.9.

 

In race 2 they were at it again and Keith slipped by going into the sweeper on the last lap. Tony Cross had stopped on the very outside of the sweeper  meaning the yellow flag was being waved and correctly observed by Ron…but not by the VD driver. The Tauranga Lolas ran nose to tail in race 3, Keith Jones went quicker and quicker while Gavin and Geoff had smiles wide enough to suggest they’ll be coming out to play more often. No cars were hurt and there would seem to be a fair number of us heading down to Manfeild.

 

So some prizes for our TACCOC Spring meeting field of Formula 1 hopefuls:

 

  • The Clay Regazzoni Award for the most blatant jump start of 2014 (thus far) goes to Gerald Duncan
  • The Gilles Villeneuve Award for getting the car most sideways goes to Phil Foulkes – but only just from Tony Graham
  • The Vittorio Brambilla Award for colour blindness goes to Keith Mainland
  • Biggest improvement in one meeting….Keith again – from a 16.1 to a 14.1…
  • Most consistent line of every lap – Lindsay Porter and Keith Jones – a tie
  • Best presented car; a guarantee to make me unpopular but what do I care? Bernie Hines – green Lola #221…bloody gorgeous

 

Rumours from the day

 

  • Tony is still considering introducing the concept of paint to the 85 Reynard
  • Peter Boel is well on the way to having the Lotus 51B back on the track after the wee incident at the Car-breaker
  • We will have another Crossle on the grid for the Howden Ganley Festival meetings

NZFMR – Important Dates

Important dates and numbers to remember for the NZFMR:

  1. We will be racing on the first weekend, being 16, 17 and 18 January
  2. Entries CLOSE on 1st December, 2014
  3. The entry fee will be $340.00 incl. GST
  4. Garage spaces are available on first in first served and cost $185.00 incl. GST
  5. Practice is available on the Thursday afternoon prior, from 12:30pm
  6. Scrutineering and documentation can be done from Thursday afternoon, from 12:30pm
  7. There are only 37 grid slots available

Entries will be on http://www.motorsportentry.com, but interest of entry can be lodged by filling out this form which will be directed to Jim Barclay (if I code it right!!)

 

 

nzfmr howden ganley

Icebreaker 2014

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Well, the weather was supposed to be pretty marginal all weekend, and so it turned out – on the day that was supposed to be fine (ish).

Eight likely lads and their cars entered the Icebreaker to kick the 2014/15 season off, and with the weatherman getting the Saturday forecast almost 100% face about arse, practise/qually and the afternoons races went off without a hitch.  Most of the field also did the double in qually, and tagged along with the Formula Libre class for an additional seven laps or so.

The first race saw Tony Cross in pole, closely followed by Peter Boel in his Lotus 51B, and Martin Lucas in his new (old?) Van Diemen taking third.  During the race, Tony managed to pull away from Peter to finish 2.3secs up, with Don Hopkins rounding out the podium a close 0.6secs behind Peter.

Overnight the weather worsened with a swing to a front coming up from the South West.  This meant some heavy rain, and continual showers for the first half of the day, resulting in many of the Historic Muscle Cars packing it in for the day and heading home.  Formula Libre also threw in the towel (something about them only having slicks…when will they learn??) so it was down to the Formula Fords to fly the open wheeler flag.

“A river runs through it” would have been an apt description of the course when race two rolled around.  Coupled with a strong headwind along the pit straight, the race was going to be a challenge from the outset.  After a two lap warmup, the race got underway with all cars safely off the grid.  However it was not to remain as Craig Munro aqua-planed into the Armco barrier 350m from the sweeper resulting in a three legged Lola.  This brought out the red flag, and the race was restarted, albeit missing half the grid as several then took the safe option and headed for the pits to retire.  Tony Cross, Peter Boel, Martin Lucas and Dave Silverton took the restart, but Dave decided discretion was the better part of valour and soon called it quits on the race.

This left Tony, Peter and Martin to safely circulate and make it to the chequered flag.

The final race was run in better conditions, but with one car out with damage, and two off home for a pre-planned beer or three, only five cars took starters orders.  Tony Cross made it a brace of victories, and Peter Boel a brace of seconds.  Don Hopkins registered another third for the weekend.

The racing now moves on to the first TACCOC race meeting at Pukekohe on October 4th.

Pukekohe Off-Season Testing Dates

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Whilst the season might be winding down, here’s some dates to circle in the diary for an escape to Pukekohe for some controlled testing.  There are usually very few single seaters at these sessions, so you can sometimes have the track to yourself!

April

  • Saturday 5th
  • Saturday 12th

May

  • Saturday 3rd
  • Friday 9th
  • Friday 16th
  • Saturday 31st

June

  • Friday 6th
  • Saturday 14th
  • Saturday 21st

July

  • Friday 4th
  • Saturday 12th
  • Saturday 26th

August

  • Saturday 2nd
  • Friday 15th
  • Saturday 23rd

September

  • Saturday 6th