GEORGE Begg Classic Speedfest organisers hailed the racing as some of the finest Teretonga Park has seen in years.
The inaugural event, held last weekend at the track near Invercargill, was a two-day tribute to legendary Kiwi motorsport figure George Begg, a Southland engineer who built 18 race vehicles from his workshop in Drummond in the 1960s and 1970s.
Presented by Transport World and the Southland Sports Car Club, publicity officer Lindsay Beer said the crowd was treated to some of the best Speedfest grids seen in the deep south in many years.
On Saturday, the Formula 5000 cars, paying their first visit en masse to Teretonga Park since 2013, captivated the large crowd. Cars designed and built by Kiwi Graham McRae dominated, with Christchurch driver Michael Collins winning the only race for the class from the McRae GM1 of Dunedin’s Steve Ross. LeRoy Stevenson, in a similar car, was in the hunt early only to retire, leaving Aucklander Glenn Richards to finish third in his Lola T400.
In the Historic Muscle and Saloon cars, the Chev Camaros rose to the fore, with Bradley Dawson, of Invercargill, taking the spoils from Glenn Allingham, of Auckland. The Ford Mustang Boss, of Tauranga’s Dale Mathers, placed third.
Christchurch driver Phil Mauger won the Archibalds Historic Touring Car race in his Nissan Primera after event sponsor Scott O’Donnell set the fastest time in qualifying in his Ford Mondeo.
The Southland Tyre Centre Formula Libre race went to Guy Griffith, of Nelson, in a Tatuus FT50, after quickest qualifier Brendan Leitch, in a Ralt RT4, failed to finish.
Raymond Hart, of Timaru, and his Ford GT40 won both the Downer Sports and GT races, while Grant Clearwater, of Kerikeri, in a Capella, won both Invercargill Hire Vintage Racing Car contests.
In the Professionals Real Estate Saloons, Jim Wallace, of Australia, in a BMW M5, won both day one races for the larger cars from Ashburton driver Frank Ryan in a Chev Camaro. In the smaller saloon races, Doug Erskine, of Tuatapere, won the first race in his Mini over Dunedin driver Craig Paddon, in a Holden Commodore, with the result reversed in their second outing.
In the Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans Saloons, Dion Dawson, of Invercargill, in a Saker, took the victory.
The weekend of retro racing was wrapped up on Sunday and featured the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ Formula 5000 cars returning to Teretonga Park.
Prebbleton driver Michael Collins won the first two races in his McRae GM1, ahead of Dunedin’s Steve Ross. He was on target for a clean sweep until his car stopped within sight of the finish, leaving Ross to win in the final race.
In the Historic Muscle and Saloon Car class, Bradley Dawson, of Invercargill, won three races in a Chev Camaro although Dale Mathers, of Tauranga, in a Ford Mustang Boss, set a lap record of 1:07.108, breaking the late Colin Dawson’s mark of 1:08.396. The final race was a handicap, with Dennis McConnell, of Feilding, hanging on for the win in a Ford Escort.
Mauger won Saturday’s Archibalds Historic Touring Car race in his Nissan Primera while O’Donnell set a lap record of 1:03.314 in his Ford Mondeo. Dunedin driver Aaron Black won the second race which finished under Safety Car in the wet on Sunday morning, while Mauger left the circuit and O’Donnell had a front axle problem, before fronting for the third race in the Lindsay O’Donnell Volvo S30 in a dry race also won by Black. O’Donnell was back in the Mondeo for the final race and won from Nigel Arkell.
Guy Griffith, of Nelson, in a Tatuus FT50, took the opening win in the Southland Tyre Centre Formula Libre class on Saturday after quickest qualifier Leitch, in a Ralt RT4, failed to finish. Leitch appeared in a Tatuus FT40 on Sunday and took victory in the wet ahead of Griffith, before Griffith won on the next two occasions.
Hart, and his Ford GT40 had too much speed in the Downer Sports and GT races on Saturday, winning both races while Dunedin’s Allan Dippie took the honours in both races in his MGBGT V8.
Clearwater, in a Capella, won both Invercargill Hire Vintage Racing Car contests on Saturday but was not on the grid for Sunday morning’s race, the win going to Paul Coghill after a battle with fellow Dunedin driver Jim Bennett. Clearwater returned to win his third race in the finale.
A 10-second time penalty in the final race prevented Wallace, in his BMW M5, making a clean sweep of the Professionals Real Estate Saloon class races for larger cars. Wallace won the first three races, before the penalty dropped him to third in the last race behind Ryan, in a Chev Camaro, and Jeremy Dawson, of Invercargill.
In the smaller class, Doug Erskine, of Tuatapere, won the first in his Mini from Paddon in a Holden Commodore, with the result reversed in their second outing.
It was Paddon again in the damp on Sunday morning, before David Robertson, of Invercargill, in a Ford XP Falcon, took the final race from Paddon.
Dion Dawson, of Invercargill, in a Saker, won the opening Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans Saloon race but the traction of the EVO 3 of Winton driver Brent Cross saw him win Sunday morning’s wet race. Dawson and Cross both retired from the next, with victory going to Kevin Underwood in a Falcon who repeated with a win in the finale.
Images from the event. Photos: Dave Loudon Photography