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Countdown to NZ's biggest historic motorsport festival

Countdown to New Zealand's biggest historic motorsport festival

The countdown is on to the country's biggest annual historic motorsport event - the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing’s ‘Gulf Denny Hulme Festival’.

The unique-to-New Zealand format of two full weekends of racing at Hampton Downs on January 18-20 and 25-27 will this year mark the life and career of the country's only Formula One world champion, the late Denny Hulme. It will also once again see the world's biggest annual gathering of iconic 'big banger' Formula 5000 cars in action at the North Waikato race track.

The golden era of another of motor racing's most celebrated classes - the mighty US-based Can-Am series of the sixties and seventies - will also be revived to celebrate one of the category's biggest stars - Hulme himself. Hulme was Can-Am champion twice in 1968 and in 1970 and runner up in 1967, 1969 and 1972 while racing for legendary Kiwi driver and constructor Bruce McLaren.

Many of the big V8-powered sports cars from the heyday of the championship still run in historic racing events throughout the world and festival organisers have attracted a number of the Can- Am racers to compete for the Denny Hulme Trophy - a unique trophy that will be presented by the late 1967 Formula 1 World Champion's wife Greeta Hulme to the winner of the nine race championship. The McLaren Trust M8A Hulme car will be demonstrating on track having competed its restoration as will a Matich SR4.

The Can-Am cars will not be the only historic V8 racing cars in action. The New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing has played host over the past three years to the world's biggest gathering of Formula 5000 cars and these will race again in the 2013 event as will one of New Zealand's biggest ever fields of original specification Australian, New Zealand and US V8-engined Historic Muscle Cars. The classic years of Group A racing will also be re-visited with a field of 30 plus cars travelling from all over New Zealand to take part in the event.

It's in the international Formula Junior and Formula Three category - another class in which Hulme raced - that interest has soared, with two grids on the first of the back-to-back weekends and a full grid of 37 for the second weekend.

Festival Chairman Jim Barclay is delighted with the 44 entries from Formula Junior and Formula Three racers and car owners in Australia, Italy, New Zealand and UK. Marques confirmed so far include UK-built chassis from Brabham, Cooper, Elva, Emeryson, Gemini, Lola, Lotus; Italian-built racers from Autosud, Stanguellini, Taraschi and Volpini; Australian cars from Ausper, Donford, Elfin and Nota and the NZ-built FMZ.

Formula Junior was an open wheel formula racing class first adopted in October 1958 by the CSI (International Sporting Commission, the part of the FIA that then regulated motorsports). The class was intended to provide an entry level class where drivers could use inexpensive mechanical components from ordinary automobiles.

The idea to form the new class came from Count Giovanni "Johnny" Lurani who saw the need for a 'first-steps' class for single-seater racing cars for younger drivers. Kiwi legend Hulme was not the only driver with a background in the class. Jim Clark, Peter Arundell, Trevor Taylor and John Surtees were also regulars.

A very big field of 37 Historic Formula Fords will also face the starter with cars coming from Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands, New Zealand and UK/Northern Ireland.

Off track, there will be a large display of some of Denny's other race cars and vehicles, including his famous Can-Am boat and his Scania racing truck. The Red Checkers will also be in action over the second weekend of the event.

Action kicks off at 9.00am each day and more details are available at www.nzfmr.co.nz - there are still tickets available but organisers recommend purchasing in advance for Grandstand seats. General Admission tickets are available in advance or on the gate.

ENDS

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