Words and pictures: Mark Holman
The seventh annual New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing chose Porsche as it’s featured marque this year, following two of the country’s top stars coming first and second at the wheel of Porsche 919s at the 2015 Le Mans 25 Hours. A number of top-flight racers helped to make it the largest ever gathering of Porsche vehicles to ever grace the island nation, numbering 285 examples.
A wide variety of Stuttgart-built racers took to the Hampton Downs circuit throughout the three-day festival, including a 935-77 and 1998 LMP-1-98 ably demonstrated by Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley, respectively. The pair were on hand to sign autographs and meet with fans, and were joined by fellow Le Mans racers Howden Ganley and Greg Murphy for Saturday’s gala dinner.
An ex-Kilpatrick Speedster represented older Porsche metal, which was brought to the event from the USA by regular visitor Ernie Nagamatsu.
An impressive turnout of local enthusiasts helped fill the event’s 40 race grids, lead by veteran racer Ken Smith who scored at hat-trick of F5000 wins. He was jointed by a handful of overseas participants, which included Greg Thornton and his ex-Gethin Chevron B24.
In addition to the Porsche races, a packed programme of single seaters and saloons proved a bit hit with the crowds. The Formula Ford field comprised entrants from 16 manufacturers; Graeme Cameron was triumphant in all four races in his 1973 ADF. Though run close by Martin Lucas’ Lotus 69 and Keith Mainland’s Van Diemen, the veteran racer proved unassailable in his 45th year of racing.
A varied entry marked the European Racing Classics field, with around 40 racers competing on a handicap basis: Malon and Selak Escorts proved the quickest, run close by a Jaguar XJ12, Capri Perana V8, a pair of Peugeot 205s, an Alfa Romeo 75 and the series coordinator’s Marcos-Volvo.
The pick of the weekend’s drives came courtesy of Howard Wood, who held off a phalanx of Mustangs, Camaros and Falcons in his nimble – and very quick – BMW 2002Ti Group 2 replica. Great stuff!