Season Preview #3

It's Lady Wigram Trophy time again at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park this weekend and if motor racing fans are scratching their heads and wondering why it's a little early this year there is good reason.

"It's all about spreading our key meetings out rather than bracketing them together, " says Canterbury Car Club chief executive Lloyd Proctor. "The Lady Wigram Trophy is one of New Zealand motor racing's oldest and most prestigious and to maximise the potential of the meeting it is contested at we felt it was necessary to pull it out of the early January timeslot it has occupied in recent years and create a new one to kick off our annual summer season in style."

That new one is the Christchurch Casino Wigram Revival meeting taking place this weekend. It will then be followed by the annual National Championship meeting headlined by the BNT NZV8s in late November and the annual Skope Classic meeting on Waitangi Day weekend in early February.

As it has for the past two seasons the MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is the headline act at the Christchurch Casino Wigram Revival meeting, with reigning Lady Wigram Trophy holder Aucklander Roger Williams (Lola T332) expecting the usual intense competition from ageless series veteran Ken Smith (Lola T400) and 2009/10 meeting pole man and series runner-up Steve Ross (McRae GM1).

Smith, now 69 years-of-age and contesting his 52nd consecutive motor racing season here in New Zealand, provides a unique link to Lady Wigram Trophy meetings of old, having now won the title three times; in a Lola T332 F5000 in 1976, a Swift Formula Pacific in 1991 and the car he currently drives, a Lola T430 F5000, in 2009.

The trophy itself dates back to 1949 when it was contested on a converted circuit at Christchurch's Wigram Airforce Base. That race was won by local man Morrie Proctor and as part of the re-launch of the Christchurch Casino Wigram Revival meeting in its new time-slot, Proctor's race-winning Riley 9 will be displayed at the meeting.

In keeping with the 'Wigram Revival' theme the support classes will also have a period look, the idea - according to Lloyd Proctor - to align the modern-day meeting with the ones fans remember from 20, 30, even 40 years ago.

Of particular interest will be the Placemakers' Frame and Truss Historical Saloon Car category which caters for iconic 80s and early 90s' tin-tops like Jaguar's XJS V12, Rover's 3500 V8, BMW's normally-aspirated six-cylinder 635 and four-cylinder M3 models, and Ford's turbocharged four-cylinder RS500 Cosworth.

Though two drivers - Auckland's Stuart Lush and Matakana's Warwick Mortimer - have had to pull out of this weekend's meeting because their cars are not ready there will be at least 18 cars on the grid.

Set to again provide competition for Ken Smith, Roger Williams and Steve Ross will be former series champion Ian Clements and fellow Lola T332 drivers Tony Richards, Sefton Gibb, Stan Redmond and Russell Greer, father and son McRae GM1 pair Peter and Aaron Burson, Lola T330 driver Brett Willis and Lindsay O'Donnell behind the wheel of the locally built Begg FM5.

Series regular Tony Roberts is also back behind the wheel after selling his McLaren M22. This time he will be behind the wheel of a recently acquired March 73A.

Set to make their series debut, meanwhile, are former New Zealand tin-top racer Peter Sundberg (Lola T332), young gun Andy Higgins and a second New Zealand F5000 original (after Ken Smith), Reg Cook.

Higgins and his father Paul, and Cook and car owner Glenn Richards, have both recently taken delivery of Lola T400 cars, the former from Germany, the latter Canada.

Both are low mileage cars with excellent provenance, the Higgins car originally owned by the Vels Parnelli Jones Racing team and used by both Mario Andretti and Al Unser in the 1975 US Formula A (5000) championship, the Richards/Cook car originally owned and raced by Canadian driver Eppie Wietzes and since used by only one other driver, fellow Canadian Horst Kroll.

Finally, no mention of a facility or upcoming event in Christchurch or environs would be complete without reference to the recent earthquake. Fortunately the news is all good as far as the Canterbury Car Club and the Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park is concerned.

Lloyd Proctor: "The track itself was undamaged and the buildings suffered only minor damage which was easily and quickly fixed."

The MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney's Specialized Bulk Transport, Pacifica, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.

2010/11 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series


Rnd 1: Oct 30/31 2010 Christchurch Casino Wigram revival meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch

Rnd 2: Jan 21-23 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meeting x 1 Hampton Downs Auckland

Rnd 3: Jan 28-30 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meeting x 2 Hampton Downs Auckland

Rnd 4: Feb 05/06 2011 Skope Classic meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch

Rnd 5: Feb 19-20 2011 Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest meeting, Teretonga Park Invercargill