Hyde And Smith Set To Resume MSC F5000 Battle
Hyde And Smith Set To Resume MSC F5000 Battle On 'Home Ground' This Weekend
Christchurch's Chris Hyde and Auckland's Ken Smith had the large crowd on its feet at the first round of the 2007/08 MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at Manfeild in November last year.
And the pair are set to do the same at the second round of the MSC series at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park this weekend.
The annual Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway marks a a couple of important firsts for the local Formula 5000 Association, a group formed to preserve and maintain in competitive, race-ready condition the classic V8-engined Formula 5000 single-seater racing cars built and raced in the late 60s and 1970s.
This weekend's meeting is the first at which the MSC F5000 cars join categories like the Toyota Racing Series on the programme at a major contemporary meeting (as opposed to one for classic and historic cars). And it marks the first major gathering of F5000 cars anywhere in the world in the 40th anniversary year of the category.
At 38 years-of-age Chris Hyde is one of the younger drivers competing in this season's MSC F5000 series but he can call on a wealth of experience thanks to an early start in karts and single-seater racing cars courtesy his father, local motor racing identity Avon Hyde.
Since then he has worked on and raced all sorts of cars as well as instructed at the country's top racing school.
The car he is driving this season is a McRae GM1 owned by a Queenstown businessman.
Having worked closely in recent years with former Tasman Cup Revival Series winner Ian Clements, Hyde knew as much about F5000 cars as any other before he slipped behind the wheel of the McRae. But he says it was still a very special moment when he raced the car for the first time at the opening round of this season's MSC series at Manfeild.
"I'm very privileged to be able to drive such a rare and expensive car, particularly in the company of a driver of the calibre of Kenny Smith. And I can tell you I experienced every possible emotion at that first meeting....from excitement to fear, then complete and utter joy when I won the first race. All in less than 20 minutes!"
Evergreen New Zealand veteran driver Ken Smith, at 66 years of age entering his 50th consecutive season of top level motor racing this year, followed Hyde home in two of the three races at Manfeild behind the wheel of a Lola T430 owned by Formula 5000 Association organising committee member David Abbott.
And this weekend Smith will be one of the busiest drivers at the meeting, driving that car in the MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races and his own 1.8 litre Toyota-engined Tatuus in the Toyota Racing Series events.
The Lady Wigram Trophy race is the big attraction for drivers competing in the Toyota Racing Series this weekend, the trophy having been won by some of the motor racing world's biggest names....including Smith, who won it for the first time in 1976 (behind the wheel of a Lola T332 Formula 5000 car) and a second time in 1990.
Having driven everything from Formula Fords to Formula 1 cars Smith is in a very good position to comment on the lasting attraction of the largely Chevrolet 5 litre V8-engined Formula 5000 cars.
"They're a dream car, like a big armchair in comparison with the cars today. With these new cars you've got so much to change in order to get them just right. With the 5000s you've got a throttle and a steering wheel and that's your lot."
Chris Hyde concurs.
"For me the key attraction is probably the immense torque the engines produce. That and the fact that you can really get into driving them instead of relying on the car and the way it is set up. They're just beasts really and because of that getting the most out of them is more to do with controlling the power, gritting your teeth and getting into it than anything else!"
There will be 19 Formula 5000 cars on the grid this weekend with the field led by Hyde, Smith and fellow Manfeild podium finishers Stuart Lush (McRae GM1), Stan Redmond and Sefton Gibb (both Lola T332).
Of the 19, 11 are based in Christchurch making this weekend's meeting very much a 'home' one for the category,
Included in the field are nine Lolas, three McRaes, three locally made Beggs and one March and one McLaren.
This season's Tasman Revival Series is again sponsored by shipping line MSC, transport operators Pacifica, NZ Express, Bonney Transport, Smith and Davies and Toll, Avon race tyre importer Dold Industries and L.G.Anderson and Co.
The series is supported by the Historic Racing Club (HRC), the MG Car Club of Wellington, the Historic Motor Racing Club Inc, The Canterbury Car Club, Southland Sports Car Club and Australia's Victorian Historic Racing Register.
2007/08 MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Calendar
* Rnd 1: November 10-11 2007 MG Classic meeting Manfeild Autocourse (Feilding, NZ)
* Rnd 2: January 5-6 2008 Lady Wigram Trophy meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway (Christchurch, NZ)
* Rnd 3: January 26-27 2008 HRC Tasman Revival meeting Pukekohe Park Raceway (Pukekohe, NZ)
* Rnd 4: February 2-3 2008 HRC Tasman Revival meeting Taupo Motorsport Park (Taupo, NZ)
* Rnd 5: March 7-9 2008 Phillip Island Historic meeting Phillip Island (Vic, Aust)