SMITH SEEKING THE ULTIMATE LADY WIGRAM RECORD THIS WEEKEND


This week the now 71-year-old Smith, in his 54th consecutive season of motor racing at a national level, returns to Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park to try and take the coveted Lady Wigram Trophy - which has been contested since 1949 - for a record-breaking fifth time.  

If he does so Smith will enjoy the unique distinction of having won five trophies over five decades, his first win coming in 1976, his second in 1991 and his third and fourth in 2009 and 2010 respectively.  

Some incentive, though having experienced his share of disappointment in those 50-plus years the feisty septuagenarian who continues to defy the usual stereotypes about age and activity, says he isn't counting his chickens quite yet.  

"That's why I'm going down there (to win)," he said on Tuesday." I know that Clark (Proctor) and Steve (Ross) have both got lighter cars with more power than me so it's not going to be handed to me on a plate, I'm going to have to work for it but in saying that it's the same for them, they're still going to have to go the distance and you never know, I might just be able to wear them down."  

Smith, fellow Aucklander Clark Proctor (March 73A), and defending MSC NZ Tasman Cup Revival Series champion Steve Ross (McRae GM1) from Dunedin, spearhead a 16-strong field of classic V8-engined Formula 5000 single-seaters which will take the grid this weekend for three races (one on Saturday and two on Sunday) at the annual Christchurch Casino-backed Wigram Revival meeting at the Canterbury Car Club's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park.  

Smith won the Lady Wigram Trophy for the first time when Formula 5000 was New Zealand's premier single-seater category (1976) and he has won it twice more behind the wheel of one of the 70s-era V8-powered cars since a Lady Wigram Trophy race was revived by the Canterbury Car Club for the MSC Tasman Cup Revival Series in 2008.   

With two wins and a second placing at the opening round of this year's MSC series at the Sydney Motorsport Park in September, defending series champion Steve Ross holds a good points lead heading into this weekend's Wigram Revival meeting with last season's series runner-up Aaron Burson second and Australian Bryan Sala (not competing this weekend) third.  

Ken Smith is back in fourth place but only because he was forced out of the second race in Sydney by a puncture. Before that he qualified second to Sala and ran fourth in the first race and worked his way back up to second in the final behind Ross but in front of pole man Sala. 

 As well as Smith, Ross, Clark Proctor and Aucklander Aaron Burson  (McRae GM1), drivers expected to play their part in the top ten in each race this weekend include Blenheim's Russell Greer in the ex Graeme Lawrence Lola T332, Rotorua man Brett Willis in his Lola T330, former series title holder Ian Clements (Lola T332) and Melbourne-based expat Chris Lambden in his locally based and run McRae GM1.  

There will also be interest in the first local showing of series stalwart Stan Redmond's ex Warwick Brown Lola T333CS, one the last of that line of cars ever made, and in the debut of long-time category and series supporter Poul Christie's new car, a McLaren M10B.  

One of the oldest cars in the field, meanwhile, will be Aucklander Alan Dunkley's high-wing 1968 Lola T140. Dunkley,  a championship-winning karter who has also raced in the Suzuki Swift class, debuted the family owned-and-run car last year and was immediately competitive with the other Class A (for earlier series cars) and many later model ones.  

Since then the car has been stripped and rebuilt and is expected to go even better this season.   The MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series heads the programme at the Wigram Revival meeting this weekend with support from the John Hawkins Memorial Formula Libre/Atlantic single-seaters (Ken Smith will also compete in this class in a Swift DB4), Classic Saloons and Mini 7s, Historic Touring and V8 Muscle Cars and Classic motorcycles.  

There will be testing at the circuit on Friday with qualifying and the first set of races on Saturday and a full day of racing across all classes on Sunday with the premier Wigram Cup race for the MSC F5000 series cars over 15 laps starting at 3.30pm.  

Next up for some of the MSC series regulars is a non-championship appearance at Australia's own Tasman Revival meeting back at Sydney Motorsport Park in November before back-to-back rounds for what is expected to be 30-40-strong fields of local, Australian and European and American cars at the Gulf-backed New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings - featuring Denny Hulme at Hampton Downs in January.  

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, Mobil Lubricants,  Pacifica, Avon Tyres and Exide.   Ends  

Ends 

2012/13 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
Points after Rnd 1 of 7
1. Steve Ross (Dunedin/McRae GM1) 82 points
2. Aaron Burson (Auckland/McRae GM1) 58
3. Bryan Sala (Melbourne/Matich A50/51) 56
4. Ken Smith (Auckland/Lola T430) 54
5. Darcy Russell (Melbourne/Lola T330) 50
6. Roger Williams (Auckland/Lola T332) 38
7. Chris Lambden (Melbourne/McRae GM1) 36
8. David Abbott (Christchurch/Lola T430) 28
9=. David Banks (Auckland/Talon MR1A) 22
9=. Bill Hemming (Melbourne/Elfin MR8) 22
11. Russell Greer (Blenheim/Lola T332) 20
12=. Rod Carroll (Melbourne/Lola T140) 10
12=. Shayne Windelburn (Auckland/Lola T400) 10
14. Stan Redmond (Christchurch/Lola T333 CS) 8
15. Jay Bondini (Melbourne/Lola T332) 4
16=. Aaron Lewis (Cessnock/Matich A50) 1
16=. John Bryant (Adelaide/Lola T140) 1
18. Andrew Kluver (Melbourne/Lola T300) 0