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2015 Repco Race to the Sky’s big names to do battle

24 March, 2015

The legendary Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima will be making his return to Cardrona, for the 2015 Repco Race to the Sky, held over April 18–19. The eight-time King of the Mountain champion will be joined by a number of competitors, both new and old, for the first iteration of the famous hill climb in seven years.

The opportunity to race the world-renowned course has attracted competitors from both here and abroad, amongst them, Whangarei’s ‘Rocket’ Ron Kirkman — at 78 years of age — the oldest competitor at the event. His age hasn’t slowed him down, nor his 1000cc Honda Rocket Racing quad bike. The quad category will also benefit from Christchurch’s Mike Shackleton, racing his famous ‘Quadzilla’ turbocharged 1300cc quad.

In the two-wheeled basket, Invercargill’s Craig Hyde — Race to the Sky’s original motorcycle ‘god’ — will make his return on the 1992 single-cylinder, two-stroke Kawasaki KX500, with a big challenge ahead in the form of Nathan McAlwee. McAlwee has two entries in two separate classes; a KTM SXF450 in middleweight, and a KTM SXF250 in lightweight.

The legendary Tajima will be taken on head-to-head in the eight-deep unlimited class by Rotorua local Sloan Cox, in the Mitsubishi Evo VIII successfully raced by Andrew Hawkeswood. Down in the open four-wheel-drive class, Mike Turfus will be bringing his own Mitsubishi Evo VIII out to play with the class’s other 12 entrants. The open two-wheel-drive class, within the national hill-climb competition division, will be headlined by Trevor Crowe, amongst its six competitors.

From across the ditch comes Brett Hayward from Victoria, Australia, who is also the current race record holder for open-wheel cars. He’ll be returning to compete in his sixth Race to the Sky event in his brand-new ‘Race to the Sky special’.

The off-road category also looks to be a hotly contested one, with national champ Bryan Chang bringing his championship-winning race truck to 2015 Repco Race to the Sky. Bryan has contested all bar one of the past Race to the Sky events, and will be facing off against Whangarei’s Clim Lammers, and Auckland’s Jono Climo, competing in the Toyota Hilux he designed and built himself, influenced by American ‘trophy truck’ desert racers.

It’s going to be an exciting two days of competition, and Highlands Motorsport Park’s general manager Mike Sentch says, “With so many former competitors, plus a great array of newcomers … I think it’s fair to say we can expect intense competition for the two main trophies.”

He’s not wrong there. Tickets can be purchased online from Ticket Direct, or from the Highlands Motorsport Park offices. A one-day adult pass costs $50, or $80 for a two-day pass. Children under 16 enter free with a paying adult.

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.