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One for the Kiwis


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#1 Seanmac27

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 01:42

Through the 60's 70's and 80's there was some magnificent Saloon Car races in NZ, this was for much of this time the Benson and Hedges series, the centrepiece being the B&H 500 at Pukekohe. There were some magnificent cars, drivers and races, sublime - the Walkinshaw XJS's to the ridiculous - Ian Schulers oft lapped Isuzu Gemini. But on top of this there were people like Stirling Moss (Golf GTI 1980?) Ross Jenson BMW 318? bout the same time maybe even the same race. Unusual cars like the Radisich Toyota Trueno, the Bowkett and Baigent Celica before they graduated to a white 635CSi which was destroyed at Manfield on the back straight(Pictures anyone). I would like to know more, as I was only 7 in 1980 when Sir Stirling came over, I suspect Jack Brabham came as well that year, but not sure. can anyone fill in some of the gaps in my memory, either with stories or pictures

Regards

Sean McBride
Sunshine Coast OZ

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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 05:47

I don't remember a B&H series but there was the annual B&H 500 at Pukekohe. It started as the Wills 6hr, then became the B&H 500 (miles) and subsequently, ISTR, the B&H 1000 (kilometres). Always for "standard production" cars, though the definition of that unsurprisingly changed from time to time. I think by the time Moss and Brabham visited it was limited to 2000cc

OTTOMH, the first race in October 1963 was won by a Jaguar 3.8 (Archibald/Shelly), but the Lotus-Cortinas took over the following year (Palmer/Fahey), after which it was decided to ban these, the Cortina GTs and Mini-Cooper 'S's, so that Jaguars were able to win again. Then came a couple of years when 3.3-litre Vauxhall Victors and MkIV Ford Zodiacs battled it out, before Chrysler Chargers took over and ruled the roost for some years. This was the period of domination by Timaru drivers, notably Leo Leonard but also Brent Hawes and Ernie and Gary Sprague

As well as the battle for overall victory, there were also fascinating struggles in the smaller classes: I can think of at least two TNFers who were involved in these, and I think from memory the newest member was a class-winner on at least one occasion

In addition to this, and of course the main saloon championships, there were shorter-lived long-distance production-car races at other circuits, but perhaps the most memorable series was the Castrol GTX championship, with names such as Jim Richards, Robbie Francevic, Leo Leonard, Rod Coppins, Wayne Murdoch and Inky Tulloch battling out the big class in Chargers, Torana XU1s and Falcon GTHOs

I'll try putting together a list of the Pukekohe race winners a little later


#3 ronmac

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 06:32

:wave: hi sean mac..i see that you are on the sunshine coast..i live on the gold coast now .previously christchuch..nz..and i competed in a number of long distance production car races in nz. mainly in auckland..the races normally had 40 starters.all nz assembled..and race length of 1000 kms..normally 2 drivers each car. and 2 hour stints..my first race with warner collins was in a hillman hunter 1725..cc.. we won our class against 3 triumph 2000 and a pugeout 404..and finished 11 th overall..later i was involved in racing a chrysler valiant vip v8..supplied by the factory..and we achieved 2 nd place overall..later we used a datsun 1600..datsun 1200 and a fiat.. some other long distance races included a number of overseas drivers.. such as the wellington wharf race.....earlier the tasman series included brabham..clark..mclaren..etc with a number of aussie drivers.. if you want to send an email to me i could send you a number of magazine copies showing description and results of some races or have lunch in brisbane sometime.if you wish..as im retired now.. regards ronmac..

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 07:46

I’d forgotten – there was a B&H series in the eartly ’80s

Below are the Pukekohe winners as far as my records go

Wills 6hr
1963 Archibald/Shelly (Jaguar 3.8)
1964 Palmer/Fahey (Lotus-Cortina)
1965 Ward/Coppins (Jaguar 3.8)
1966 Archibald/Shelly (Jaguar 3.8)
1967 E Sprague/G Sprague (Ford Zodiac)

Benson & Hedges 500
1968 Leonard/Hawes (Victor 3.3)
1969 Leonard/E Sprague (Victor 3.3)
1970 Leonard/E Sprague (Valiant)
1971 Leonard/Richardt (Valiant)
1972 Leonard/E Sprague (Charger)
1973 Richards/Coppins (Charger)
1974 Wilkinson/Innes (Charger)

Benson & Hedges 1000
1975 Leonard/G Sprague (Charger)
1976 Little/Richardt (Charger)
1977 Leonard/E Sprague (Charger)
1978 Wilkinson/Harrington (Charger)
1979 Coppins/Clayton (VW Golf)
1980 Coppins/Clayton (Commodore)

Benson & Hedges 500
1981 Leonard/G Sprague (Fairmont)
1982 Wilkinson/Crichton (Commodore)
1983 Hulme/Ray Smith (Commodore)
1984 Baigent/Lowe (BMW 635CSi)

Wins to that time:
8: Leo Leonard
5: Ernie Sprague
4: Rod Coppins
3: Gary Sprague, Wayne Wilkinson





#5 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 10:21

Ray Archibald passed away a few weeks ago

#6 Graham Clayton

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:32

I’d forgotten – there was a B&H series in the eartly ’80s

Below are the Pukekohe winners as far as my records go

Benson & Hedges 500
1972 Leonard/E Sprague (Charger)
1973 Richards/Coppins (Charger)
1974 Wilkinson/Innes (Charger)

Benson & Hedges 1000
1975 Leonard/G Sprague (Charger)
1976 Little/Richardt (Charger)
1977 Leonard/E Sprague (Charger)
1978 Wilkinson/Harrington (Charger)


David,
The interesting thing about those results was how dominant the Valiant Charger was in New Zealand, compared to its relatively unsuccessful career in Australia.
Apparently there were 2 main reasons for this:

1. The Charger was much better suited to the tighter, twistier NZ circuits than power circuits like Bathurst
2. The level of support given to teams in NZ was much more level, than compared to Australia where the GM and Ford factory support far outweighed the Chrysler support.

This excellent page gives some more details of the Charger's dominance in the B & H 500 race in the 70's:

http://www.valiant.org/nz.html


#7 David McKinney

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:38

For most of this period, the Pukekohe race was limited to NZ-assembled cars. Valiants were built locally, things like Falcon GTs and GTHOs and Holden Toranas weren't. Hence the difference between NZ and Australian results

The first NZ national Group 1 championship, the 1972 Castrol GTX series, was open to imports, and was dominated by Falcon GTHOs and Torana XU1s