31 October 2010 Calm conditions greeted the entrants to the first race of the season at the recently completed motorsport facility at Hampton Downs. The number of entrants was up on the last meeting as we move towards the summer months. The meeting was being hosted by the Auckland Car Club.
Qualifying saw Colin Meadows top the time sheets with a respectable time of 1:12.9 followed by the much improved black Mercedes of Tim La Trobe with a time of 1:13.3. Current champion Justin Butcher was a further 0.75 secs back. There were a few dramas however with the rapid Torana of Paul Burnet pitting with head gasket issues which would put paid to his race day prematurely and Andrew Turner blowing a lot of engine smoke. Even our two fastest qualifiers ended the session with problems. Tim was complaining of bad brakes and Colin came home behind the recovery vehicle.
Race 1 was the first of two scratch races and the dramas continued on the start line with the immaculate Corvette of Tony Gordon breaking a drive shaft on the line. This gave us our first safety car of the meeting and Tim La Trobe had actually got to the first corner in the lead so was given the number one position for the rolling restart. Colin Meadows showed cunning at the restart and retook the race lead on the start finish straight. These two drivers kept us entertained with two very different types of race setups, the Merc fast through the middle turns and the Corvette showing impressive speed out of corners and staightaway speed. The rest of the field couldn’t match their speed and the win was taken by Colin by 0.6 secs. Justin Butcher was a bit lonely in third and witnessed a good scrap behind him with Bruce McRae, Ron Findlay, Andrew Turner and Tony Van Tiel. Fastest lap went to the Corvette of Colin Meadows with a 1:11.6.
Race 2 saw a great scrap as the front runners vied for dominance in the first part of the lap. The Mercedes of Tim La Trobe was very keen on turn two but couldn’t live out on the slippery part of the corner and just managed to stay on the track but succumbed to the Corvette of Colin Meadows.
Meanwhile Ron Findlay had taken a few by surprise and had moved to third place. The Corvette and Mercedes kept us all entertained with some great racing and there was only a car length in it when they were shown the last lap board. For those that have frequented Hampton downs they would know that turn one is a make or break corner. Unfortunately for Tim the big Black Mercs brakes had the last say as he went off the course with a cloud of blue smoke followed by dust. So Colin Meadows chalked up another win, second with a consistent run was Justin Butcher in the Falcon. Bruce McRae took out third position. Some consolation for Tim was fastest lap of the day so far with a 1:11.2.
Race 3 was the traditional handicap event and only eight cars had survived the day’s racing. The Valiant Charger of Graham Cargill led the field away and had the lead for the first three laps until he was overtaken by Tony Van Tiel in the Falcon Coupe, followed by Steve Swann in the Torana. His lead lasted two laps before he was caught by the eventual race winner which was Bruce McRae in the Holden Monaro. The back marker Meadows had a steady drive through the field but couldn’t quite make up the deficit, finishing second by 3 seconds. Andrew Turner had a big spin at the hairpin on his own oil making this a very slippery corner for all to negotiate. Colin Meadows did achieve the fastest lap of the day with a cool 1:11.1(ave speed 133kph).
Overall a good day’s racing with plenty to look forward to during the rest of the season. Next meeting is one of the highlights of the year with the two day “Thunder in the park” meeting at Pukekohe 4/5 December.