IT was all about enjoyment and memories as 60 years of action at Teretonga Park was celebrated at the country’s oldest motor racing circuit near Invercargill last Saturday.
The Southland Sports Car Club built the circuit and has operated it since the first race meeting on Saturday, November 30, 1957.
To celebrate the milestone, the club held a day for past and present members with a standing quarter mile in the morning and a flying tenth in the afternoon. In between, participants enjoyed a barbecue lunch in the perfect conditions. The day concluded with a social hour in the clubrooms. Women were given free entry to participate to acknowledge their contribution to club activities over the years.
Wendy Jenks, a club life member, was the driving force behind the event, which saw an amazing array of 75 cars with past and present members mingling and sharing yarns. No current competition cars were permitted.
“It was a great day,” Jenks said.
“The weather was great, there were so many good people present and the cars ranged from Alex McLennan’s Vauxhall 10 and Barry Keen’s Triumph to Chris Thompson’s Chev Impala. The results really weren’t important.”
The anniversary cake was cut by Jenks and fellow life members Keen, Jack Johnstone, York Wills and Alan Batt during the social hour.
For many, the highlight of the day was meeting old friends and reliving old memories. That was certainly so for Keen, of Invercargill.
Keen, who was awarded life membership at the club’s 2017 general meeting, won a saloon car race on the first day of competition at Teretonga in a Standard 8 60 years ago, and was there again on Saturday with a Triumph Herald 13/60. It is the third Triumph Herald Keen has owned and he even used one to tow the Begg 650 around when he drove for George Begg.
“Everyone else had cars like Morris Minors back then, I wanted something different.”
Keen remembered the early days of Teretonga, when lupins surrounded the circuit.
“If a car went off it actually disappeared.”
Another person with great memories of some of those early days was Dunedin’s Brian Scott.
Scott is a member of the Southland Sports Car Club and one of three sons of the late Bob Scott, a former mayor of Kaitangata and prominent motorsport competitor. Brian remembered coming to Teretonga for the first time in 1963 with his father and recalled drivers such as Jim Clark when the formula one aces of the era would race there. He also spoke about the year when his brother Greg, then aged 3, disappeared at the circuit.
“They searched everywhere, even the long drops they had in those days. He was eventually located asleep in a tyre.”
Scott competed in a Chev Corvette on Saturday, emblazoned with two very poignant messages. The first acknowledged past club members and competitors.
“I have met a lot of people no longer with us.”
The other remembered one of his dad’s feats on the circuit.
“In 1970, three 2-litre Ferraris were brought out to Australasia and the only time they did not fill the top three positions was at Teretonga when Dad split them in his Ford Special powered by a 1500cc Cortina engine. I am told Dad was second and they wanted to give him the winner’s trophy, but he would not have it.”
The next action at Teretonga Park is a two-day meeting presented by Downer this Saturday, December 2, and Sunday, December 3.