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Monthly Archives: October 2017


50 years since Denny Hulme’s F1 Championship title

Sunday 22 October marks the 50th anniversary of Kiwi racing legend Denny Hulme winning the 1967 Formula 1 World Championship in Mexico. Hulme made history as the first – and only – New Zealander to have ever won the most prestigious motor racing championship in the world.

The significance of the date gains added impetus this year as another New Zealander, 27-year-old Brendon Hartley, will make his F1 debut on 22 October 2017 in the United States Grand Prix. It’s 33 years since a New Zealander last raced in F1.

Hulme’s achievement was notable in several ways. He was racing and winning alongside with fellow Kiwi Bruce McLaren in the famed Can-Am series while also racing F1 for Jack Brabham, so to be crowned world champion, he had to not only beat his team mate, but his boss and his employer. Earlier in the 1967 F1 season, Hulme won his first Grand Prix on the famed streets of Monaco, becoming the first New Zealander to have won a F1 race.

His Kiwi chief mechanic at Braham Racing, Cary Taylor, recently told motor racing writer Michael Clark: “To have been with Denny for his first F1 win at Monaco in 1967 still holds very special memories for me. I don’t think we really expected to win, as we were still running last year’s BT20, but, at Monaco, anything can happen, with success or failure the difference between a split second’s loss of driver concentration and a war of mechanical attrition.”

Hulme won again partway through that eventful 1967 season, at Germany’s mighty Nürburgring. With podium results in six other races, the championship came down to the Grand Prix in Mexico with Hulme on 47 points and Brabham on 43. Either Brabham driver, known for their serious work ethic and a tendency not to waste words, could take the title. Fellow Kiwi and 1967 F1 competitor, Chris Amon noted: “Jack and Denny and didn’t talk much at the best of times, but in 1967 what used to be extraordinarily limited conversation became almost non-existent!”

Hulme describes the race on 22 October 1967 to Michael Clark during an interview in 1992 six weeks before Hulme died at Bathurst: “Basically Jack did say ‘Well, good luck’, when we arrived at our cars the next morning, and off we went. I was very aware that I could not afford a DNF. I was very conscious of that situation and the first criteria was to get a good start, get clear, and not race with anyone else because, too often, you can get put out by someone else’s bloody stupidity.” The green and gold Brabhams sat on the third row, Brabham 0.38 seconds quicker than Hulme. “Basically, I had to finish, not very far behind Jack”. Jim Clark won the race for Lotus while Brabham finished second, and Hulme third. A New Zealander was World Champion!

In his interview, Hulme highlights his well-known dislike of celebrity: “Jimmy [Clark] and I got up on the podium together and there is a good photograph of the two of us with a single laurel around both of us. Jack was up on the podium as well but it was okay. By then it was all over. We decided that the war had ended and the treaty signed. I was going somewhere else and Jack was going to get on with his own job. After the race we went off for a celebration in a bullring and we all had a play around with these miniature bulls. On the Monday morning I headed off to Riverside – I didn’t want to go to England for all the ballyhoo and hoopla – I just plodded on and joined the Can-Am cars at Riverside as if Formula 1 didn’t exist. Look forward to the next event – that was my motto.”

Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand, says: “2017 has been a year of milestones for our sport with several of our member car clubs celebrating significant anniversaries and it seems entirely appropriate that we are able to recognise our first Formula One World Championship winner by having Brendon, the first ever race winner of our internationally recognised Toyota Racing Series, make his F1 debut on the same day.

“It is also important that we recognise that Brendon is a graduate of the MotorSport New Zealand Scholarship Trust’s Elite Motor Sport Academy, which was established in 2003 to help provide our emerging stars with the tools to succeed on the international stage, and one of the goals of the Elite Academy has been to have one of its graduates competing in Formula One.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Photos: Terry Marshall

MotorSport New Zealand revs past 70 years

On 18 October 1947 a meeting was held in Wellington to form a national body to govern the coordination of motor sports in New Zealand.

The Association of New Zealand Car Clubs was duly established with an initial group of seven regional car clubs represented, namely the New Zealand Motor Racing Drivers Club (now Auckland Car Club), Hawke’s Bay Sports Car Club (now the Hawke’s Bay Car Club), Manawatu Car Club, New Zealand Sports Car Club (now the Wellington Car Club), Canterbury Car Club, Vintage Vehicles Association (now the Vintage Car Club of NZ), and Otago Car Club (now the Otago Sports Car Club).

The incorporated society is now called MotorSport New Zealand and is sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) as the sole regulatory authority for four-wheeled motor sports in New Zealand. With around 100 member car clubs MSNZ focusses on the regulatory, technical and safety aspects of competitive circuit racing and rallying at national and club levels, and club-oriented events such as motorkhanas, hill climbs, bent sprints and autocrosses, while affiliated organisations such as KartSport New Zealand, the New Zealand Drag Racing Association and the Vintage Car Club look after their relevant categories of four-wheeled motorsport.

Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand, says: “To mark 70 years of our organisation this October is truly significant. Consider the thousands upon thousands of hours devoted by competitors, crews, event organisers, marshals, officials, photographers and reporters – the great majority of them volunteers – across those 70 years to allow participation in and enjoyment of motorsport as a leisure and sporting activity.

“For many of us, what started out as a fun way to enjoy some high speed thrills in our car in a safe and responsible way, has evolved into an activity that has given a shared enjoyment in a job well done, friendships for life and, in many cases, a sense of commitment to leaving the sport in good shape for future generations to ensure they can also participate in competitive motor sports the length and breadth of New Zealand.

Christie says MSNZ’s mission statements ring true for him and his fellow board members.

  • MSNZ is committed to develop and maintain an environment that enables the people of New Zealand to enjoy motorsport as a leisure and sporting activity.
  • MSNZ is committed to promoting and improving motorsport in New Zealand as a widely recognised, accepted and respected sport.
  • MSNZ wants people to enjoy and participate in the adventure and challenge of cars being driven with speed, safety and skill.
  • MSNZ is committed to the professional and modern management of its business. It will create an environment in which people can contribute and expand their skills in and commitment to all aspects of the sport.
  • MSNZ develops and maintains systems for safety, technical, judicial, accreditation, training and compliance, and other intellectual property necessary for the effective management and development of the sport. The systems and services of MSNZ are provided to members, other customers and the community in order to achieve the MSNZ mission.

“As our communities and society changes, with challenges such as more pressure on recreational spaces, costs, health and safety requirements, and environmental considerations, it’s more important than ever to offer safe, controlled environments and organised events for car enthusiasts to have fun with their cars. That’s where our member car clubs are a valuable asset for their communities, and encourage people to utilise appropriate events and locations for the thrills of motorsport at all levels.”

A significant celebration is being planned for MSNZ’s 75th anniversary in five years’ time.

A full list of the member clubs which comprise MotorSport New Zealand Inc. can be found on the website www.motorsport.org.nz in the contacts section, or visit https://www.facebook.com/MotorSportNewZealand/. The organisation also has several Facebook pages for the different sectors of the sport such as Motorsport NZ Volunteers, NZ Youth in Motorsport, ClubSport Scene NZ, Women in Motorsport NZ, and the Elite Motorsport Academy NZ.

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Hartley’s F1 news sensational for NZ motorsport

The announcement that Kiwi racing driver Brendon Hartley will race for Formula 1 team Scuderia Toro Rosso in America next weekend is a yet another major milestone in Hartley’s stellar career and for New Zealand motorsport as a whole.

Hartley’s debut F1 race, the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Texas on 22 October, is 50 years to the day since Hulme became the first, and only New Zealander to win the World F1 Championship.

Hartley, age 27 and originally from Palmerston North, joins a small line-up of just nine Kiwis who have raced in the world’s top circuit racing category to carry on the tradition set by Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon. It’s 33 years since a New Zealander, Mike Thackwell, last raced in Formula 1.

President of MotorSport New Zealand, Wayne Christie says: “Everyone at MotorSport New Zealand and our wider motorsport community are already very proud of Brendon Hartley’s achievements as a driver, having won with FIA World Endurance Championship and the famous Le Mans race with his Porsche team-mates.

“We congratulate Brendon on being selected for this one-off drive and we hope it leads to yet more opportunities for one of our best drivers,” says Christie.

“Brendon’s goal has always been to compete at the pinnacle of the motorsport internationally and F1 is that pinnacle. He has significant experience as a F1 reserve driver, alongside his considerable expertise as a sports car driver. We are very pleased for him that he has made the next step to achieving his F1 goal, and this news again demonstrates that Kiwis really do punch above our weight internationally in motorsport.”

Of the news that he would replace Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso for the US Grand Prix, Hartley said: “What an amazing feeling! This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1. I have grown and learnt so much since the days when I was the Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve driver, and the tough years I went through made me stronger and even more determined.

“I want to say a huge thanks to Red Bull for making this a reality, and to Porsche for allowing me to do this alongside the World Endurance Championship. The COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently. I’m trying not to put too many expectations on my F1 debut, but I feel ready for it.”

Hartley last tested with the team back in 2009. Eight years later, he will be taking part in his first Formula 1 Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas, alongside Daniil Kvyat.

Kiwi fans saw Hartley race at home as a teenager and key among his achievements in single seaters was, at the age of 15 in 2005, becoming the winner of the first-ever race of the inaugural Toyota Racing Series. That year, he also attended and graduated from New Zealand’s highly-regarded Elite Motorsport Academy which offers an annual one-week intensive training camp and year-long coaching programme to assist up to nine motorsport competitors with their mental and physical fitness, and sponsorship, marketing, nutrition and media skills.

Christie, who chairs the MotorSport NZ Scholarship Trust, says to see a graduate of the Elite Motorsport Academy to be selected for F1 is an absolute highlight for him and the other trustees. “The Elite Academy has contributed to the skills needed by Hartley and many of our other successful international competitors such as Hayden Paddon and Shane van Gisbergen to go forward and achieve great things in world motorsport. The Academy’s success can be demonstrated by the number of graduates who are performing with distinction on the world stage.”

With the support of a number of New Zealanders, Hartley headed for Europe at the age of 16 and, after much hard work, has a number of notable achievements to his credit including being reserve driver for the Red Bull F1 team in 2009 and 2010 and part of the Red Bull Academy. He tested with Mercedes F1 in France in 2012, then switched to sports cars. In 2015 he was crowned WEC Champion alongside Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard and, in June this year, won the Le Man 24 Hour Race with fellow Kiwi Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard.

This weekend Hartley is racing with Bamber and Porsche LMP1 team-mates at the Japanese round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Christie adds: “Up and coming competitors may like to note that applications for the 2018 Elite Motorsport Academy have just opened. Refer to the Academy section of our website, www.motorsport.org.nz for more information.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Photo: Toro Rosso

Matt Penrose

Affordable NZ Hillclimb Championship gets underway in Canterbury

Two days of timed sprints on closed hilly tarmac roads on Banks Peninsula kick off the 2017-18 New Zealand Hillclimb Championship over the weekend of 14 and 15 October.

Run by Ratec Motorsport Inc (the Rallies and Trials Enthusiasts Club), the two days of competitive hillclimbs form the first qualifying round of the respected NZ Hillclimb Championship, which is a ‘gold star’ MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ) championship and sees the champion presented with a trophy at the sport’s annual awards night in May.

NZ Hillclimb Championship co-ordinators Jeff Scott and Donna Elder are rapt with the line-up of tarmac and gravel hillclimbs awaiting this year’s championship competitors and expect to see an impressive level of rivalry as competitors strive to get the best out of their cars.

Following the opening all-tarmac round in Banks Peninsula, the championship heads to Taupo and Pukekohe for two North Island qualifying rounds in November. Each round will feature one day on gravel and the second day on seal. Back to the South Island at the start of December, the Marlborough Car Club hosts two days of gravel hillclimbs, before February’s final in Hawke’s Bay.

Wayne Christie, MSNZ president, says, “MotorSport New Zealand is appreciative of the efforts of the organising car clubs involved and the work that the co-ordinators, Jeff Scott and Donna Elder, have put in to making the NZ Hillclimb Championship a success. Our national Gold Star Hillclimb Championship is a great opportunity for club level-and-above competitors to compete for a New Zealand championship at a relatively low cost.”

“Some competitors might decide to specialise in hillclimbs with others using them to develop their skills and as a stepping stone to other events such as rally and circuit racing, which makes the NZ Hillclimb Championship an important component of our competitive activities in New Zealand,” Christie says.

The following events have been selected for the 2017/18 championship:

NZ Hillclimb Championship Organising Club Date
1st South Island qualifying round RATEC 14 October 2017 (Seal)

15 October 2017 (Seal)

1st North Island qualifying round Taupo Car Club 4 November 2017 (Gravel)

5 November 2017 (Seal)

2nd North Island qualifying round Pukekohe Car Club 18 November 2017 (Seal)

19 November 2017 (Gravel)

2nd South Island qualifying round Marlborough Car Club 9 December 2017 (Gravel)

10 December 2017 (Gravel)

Final round Hawke’s Bay Car Club 17-18 February 2018

Those wishing to find out more about the NZ Hillclimb Championship, including registration details, can visit the website http://www.hillclimbchampionship.co.nz. To find out more about club level motorsport in New Zealand, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ClubSportSceneNZ/

NZ Hillclimb Championship – South Island qualifying round 1

AKA Repco 2017 Banks Peninsula Hillclimb Weekend

Hosted by RATEC http://www.ratec.org.nz

14 October: Pigeon Bay Road, Duvauchelle, Banks Peninsula – approx. 2.2km of seal, mainly easy flowing up hill.

15 October: Kinloch Road, Little River – approx. 3.2km of seal, with three tight corners and the balance is mainly easy flowing up hill.

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Attached image of 2016-17 NZ Hillclimb Champion Matt Penrose is free to use. Please credit Kevin Coran.