SOUTHLAND Sports Car Club life member Barry Keen was presented with a Historic Heritage Award at the recent Motorsport NZ Awards in Wellington.
The Historic Heritage Awards were instigated in 2014 in recognition of services to historic and classic racing and Keen certainly justifies this prestigious award.
Keen, who originally farmed in the Wairio area, became involved in motorsport after watching a hill climb in the 1950s. Soon after he bought a Ford 8 Special off Jack Johnstone, meaning his very first car was actually a racing car. He initially competed in beach and grass track racing before contesting an international event at the Ryal Bush road circuit in 1957.
At the time Keen was also taking part in working bees to build the Teretonga Park circuit and when the track opened in November 1957 Keen was a race winner on the opening day’s programme. Keen soon became well known through his exploits in the Ford, a Standard 8, MG TF1500 and Triumph Herald but he was on the verge of stepping away from racing because of the cost when he heard one of his idols, Stirling Moss, was coming to race at Teretonga.
to race at that meeting. It wasn’t the same race as Stirling but I just wanted to race at the same meeting as one of my heroes.
His performance at that event led to a call from George Begg, inviting Keen to come and see him which ultimately led to Keen becoming George’s works driver for several years.
During that heady period Keen raced six cars built by the Drummond engineer and drove another in a Flying Lap competition.
After retiring from driving Keen spent many years’ flag marshalling and as a first responder at Teretonga Park as well as contributing at working bees, and in 2017 the Southland Sports Car Club made him a Life Member.