Iconic classics and crowd-pleasing battles — the annual Speedfest returned to the south February 17–18, 2018
Smooth runner: Russ Haines (Ashburton) in the Frangapelli Holden
You know you’ve just watched a great race when on the cool-down lap all the flag marshals leave their posts to applaud the two leading contenders — what a battle! Invercargill’s Brendon Mason gave it his all in the last race for the Classic saloons over 2501cc class on Sunday, and provided a real crowd-thriller finish. Bearing in mind that the PDL Mustang was a purpose-built race car that was hugely successful in its day and Mason’s Camaro was a highly modified road car, the epic battle which ensued at this meeting was classic racing at its best.
Sidelined on Saturday with gearbox problems, the PDL Mustang crew worked hard to get this iconic race car back on the track for two wins on Sunday. Mason really threw the big Camaro around the tight back curves of Teretonga Raceway, putting heavy pressure on Stewart, who held on to the win — the standing ovation around the track was well deserved.
Hot pace: Todd Stewart in the PDL Mustang is chased hard by Brendon Mason (Invercargill) in his Camaro for one of the best races of the weekend
Mason won the first race on Saturday for this group over Ross Graham (New Plymouth) in his Holden Torana, followed by Bradley Dawson (Invercargill) in his Camaro, while the PDL Mustang was out with gearbox troubles. Le Roy Stevenson also returned to the pits with a blown differential in his Freeth Starlet before he was able to race. In the second race (handicap) Graham Fraser (Queenstown) led home in his BMW with Stuart Black (Dunedin) in his Porsche 944 second.
Bradley Dawson (Invercargill) enjoying the pace in the late Colin Dawson’s Camaro
Classic Saloons 0–2501cc was dominated by Darren Clark (Queenstown) in his Toyota Starlet with two good wins, while Scott O’Donnell (Invercargill) had a win in his Alfa Romeo GTV2000, and Sandra Eden (Queenstown) took the other win in her BMW in the handicap race on Sunday. Formula Ford honours went to Jordan Michels in his Mygale FF with fellow Invercargill driver Steve Heffernan second in his Formula Ford in all their weekend races.
Different mount: Scott O’Donnell (Invercargill) enjoying a win in his classic Alfa Romeo GTV2000
Historic Touring Cars provided another highlight when two-time World Touring Car Champion Paul Radisich arrived down for the weekend of racing and also for the special Ford Motorsport celebration at Bill Richardson Transport World on Friday evening before the race meeting. When Radisich was reunited with his old Ford Mondeo Supertourer, he showed he has not lost his touch, finishing second to Phil Mauger in his Nissan Primera. Radisich had to leave early and did not take part in the second race, again won by Mauger, with Bruce Miles (Christchurch) in a BMW in second. Miles won twice on Sunday.
BTCC winners: The epic BTCC championship winning Ford Mondeo of Paul Radisich who drove #31 on Saturday and his former Ford Telstar
Vintage Racing Cars had two races on Saturday with Paul Coory (Mosgiel) the winner in his Chevrolet Sprinter in both. On Sunday, Graeme Hamilton (Lyttelton) won both of Sunday’s races in his ACE III. Formula Libre was dominated by Gary Cooper (Mosgiel) in his Reynard with three wins and twice breaking the lap record. In the last race he copped a 10-second penalty, and Brendon Leitch took the win his Ralt.
Cooling off: Paul Coghill’s (Dunedin) lovely Jaguar Special with Graeme Hamilton’s (Lyttelton) ACEIII in the background
Sports Cars were dominated by Jack Ondrack (Canada) in TVR Tuscan V8 winning all four races. Trevor Lines (Auckland) in his beautifully prepared Redline Special, Jason Crosbie (Invercargill) in his Beck Special, and Dave Robertson (Invercargill) in his ACE — Buckler shared the other placings.
A great weekend was had in pre-65s racing for Paul Clarke (Dunedin) in his Ford Mustang with three wins from four races. In the handicap race, John Mackley (Wallacetown) took a win in his Ford Anglia, while down the order some great battles entertained the crowd.
Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans Saloons showed Liam MacDonald (Invercargill) to be too tough to beat with the orange Ford Falcon flying home well ahead of the field for wins in all four events. Liam also took the honours in the Flying Farewell.
It was good to catch up with Jack Ondrack this year and talk motor racing. The former Canadian Ice Racing champion is still a formidable driver in his TVR Tuscan, capable of speeds in excess of 265kph down Teretonga’s main straight. I met Jack and his wife, Esther, and followed the progress of the car when it was built from a container load of bits that arrived in Riversdale just north of Gore from Canada some 20 years ago. The car is stored by and prepared each year by local car builder Greg Elder (Riversdale), joined in the pit crew by former Invercargill driver Frank Milligan, now residing in Christchurch.
Always fast: Jack Ondrack (Canada) returns every year to pilot his extremely quick TVR
Along with Esther, Jack enjoys the laid-back atmosphere of the Southern Classic series from Christchurch to Invercargill. “I’m still enjoying it, especially this great sunny weather and winning races, so that has to be good,” he laughed.
At 78, he still looks fit and sharp and let’s face it, not many of us would have the ability at that age to take the punishment and speed of a nimble-handling TVR with a 500bhp (370kW) V8 up front!
Chasing hard: Jack Ondrack in his TVR Tuscan was unbeatable although he was slowly reeled in by the tiny Ace Buckler of Dave Robertson
Celebration of Ford in Motorsport plus guest, Paul Radisich
The Friday evening before this year’s Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest saw a celebration of Ford Motorsport in the main display hall of Bill Richardson Transport World. Members of the Historic Touring Car New Zealand Association travelled to Invercargill for the final round of the inaugural Archibald Historic Touring Car series held at the Speedfest.
The official opening of this special exhibition on the Friday evening before the speedfest celebrated Ford’s involvement in motorsport with a lineup of cars either built or raced in New Zealand, or those with a New Zealand connection.
The 40-strong collection of cars and commercial vehicles included in the collection were both PDL Mustangs, a Mk I Ford Escort FVA, a Cologne Capri as raced by Paul Fahey, Phase 1 and 3 XY Ford Falcons GTs, and an XA Ford Falcon GT as raced by local Ian Tulloch, plus an Eggenburger-built Texaco Ford Sierra RS500 Group-A car.
Also present was the 1993 and 1994 World Touring Car Cup Champion, Paul Radisich, who was the special guest and speaker at the opening function. He was reunited with his Ford Mondeo BTCC car, which Richardson Transport World co-founder Scott O’Donnell now owns and races in the Archibald series.
Radisich drove the Mondeo to second place in the first race of the weekend at the Teretonga Classic Speedfest. The collection was just another great attraction enjoyed by the thousands who travelled to Invercargill for the recent Burt Munro Challenge motorcycle events.