Sunday 3rd September saw the MG Car Club running a track day on the Club circuit at Hampton Downs, to which a few Minis had also entered. Scrutineering was the previous day in New Lynn, at the premises of an MG specialist. The themes were single car sprints, dual car sprints, both with overtaking and with no overtaking, and driver training.
Our drivers were:- Kevin Taylor (1275), Lee Norman (1380), Sarron Bennett (1275), Gary Ashton (Cooper 998), Jim Banks (1310), and Craig Luxmoore (Nissan 1600 shoe-horned into a Clubman).
The MG Club had attracted a few other “outsiders” from the Jaguar Drivers’ Club (X-Types, S-Types, a beautiful replica 1958 D-type, plus a newly restored 1964 Mark 2), and the Austin Healey Club, (a Sprite and a 2.8 litre BJ8).
As you’d expect, the MG entries were all fast: MGB’s (some with the V8 conversion, including the yellow Targa one) and modified Midgets, but also a MGC and a 1946 MGTC (not quite so fast). This was going to be a serious speed day.
The track is pretty new, and from the front straight goes:- 3R opens, into 4L, into 4R opens, into 6R opens (double apex here), into back straight, into 6R tightens over crest, into front straight. Starters were timed, so that drivers of similar speed could be paired as best possible.
Here was a chance to have a real blast, and test one’s skills. Everyone benefited from this, most of all by learning the limits of one’s car, and the consequences of over-driving. Many drivers got caught out exiting the front straight hairpin, demonstrated by all the cars which finished up backwards there. The curve entering the front straight also proved trickier than it seemed, with an X-type losing control in spectacular fashion, almost finishing up in the pond.
The Minis acquitted themselves honourably, not without spins, but hitting neither walls nor other cars. The drivers gained some valuable practice in the process. There were a couple of mechanical issues in the paddock, which were solved and saw the drivers back out on the track. But this does highlight the value of preparation for speed events, where the engine and the car are under severe stress.
Times were taken over the 3 laps of a sprint, and varied around the 2min 30 area.
Driver training was offered with Racing Ray Williams as instructor. He is just the nicest guy in New Zealand, but, make no mistake, is an extremely experienced Porsche Cup and Targa New Zealand competitor. He also holds several speed records, so if you want to go faster, see Ray.
Given that the hosting club must make a dollar to continue this event, and given that the event is just south of Auckland, more Mini Club members might like to try this track day for some big time fun.
Very many thanks to Paul and Andrew Walbran, and the other members of the MG Club, who worked hard to make this a marvellous, exciting track day.