Spectacular Opening Festival at Easter
Media Release 5 March 2013
For Immediate Release
Highlands Motorsport Park gearing up for spectacular Opening Festival at Easter
The long-awaited opening of the new Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell is only a few weeks away!
The focus will be on the celebration of 100 years of motorsport, featuring over 50 New Zealand and internationally significant race cars that spectators can enjoy see driving around the track.
From Anne Thompson's 1906 Darracq, the McLaren M8 CanAm (from the McLaren Trust) to Greg Murphy driving his NZ Supertourer and dozens of other race cars, this is an event that no motorsport enthusiast would want to miss!
The lap record will be set by Craig Baird in Tony Quinn's new McLaren MP412C-GT3 (the only one in the Southern Hemisphere!)
On Saturday 30 March, the new Highlands race track, New Zealand’s longest track at 4.5 km and the only one that runs clockwise, then anti-clockwise will be opened by Jim Richards. On Sunday 31 March, the National Motorsport Museum will be opened by Sir Colin Giltrap.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll focus on several fascinating race cars, starting with the oldest one coming to the Opening Festival: Anne Thompson’s 1906 Darracq.
ANNE THOMPSON AND HER 1906 DARRACQ (piece below written by Allan Dick):
This is an amazing car with an amazing history. It is the only survivor of the first motor racing Grand Prix staged at Le Mans in France in 1906. It was one of three Darracq cars entered for the two-day event by the factory, but all three retired with valve problems. However it was taken to the US where it won the
Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island driven by Louis Wagner. In 1910 it was bought by British racing legend Malcolm Campbell and called “Bluebird” — the first Campbell-owned car to be given that name, others were to follow. Campbell raced it successfully at Brooklands.
The car was raced for many years and like all of racing cars it became uncompetitive. Somehow it ended up in New Zealand and its huge 14.25 litre engine was removed and used to drive an emergency generator at the premises of the Christchurch Star office.
The source of this engine was known by a few enthusiasts and it was bought by Bob Beardsley in 1960 who set about trying to locate as many correct parts as he could to recreate the car. Over almost 40 years, Bob managed to piece-together a rolling chassis and thus saved the car.
Anne Thompson had long wanted the car and after 20 years of “pestering” Beardsley, Anne finally bought the car in 2003 and had her husband, Wallace McNair, complete the total restoration — in time to take the car to Le Mans for the centenary of the first Grand Prix.
Anne and the Darracq have become favourites with everyone who has witnessed them in action. Despite its age it is still fast — better than 180km/h and Anne drives it like it was always meant to be driven.
If there is a single word to describe this car it is “thunderous”. This car and its driver have to be seen to be believed!
The Darracq will be staying on in the National Motorsport Museum at Highlands after Easter.
For more details on the Opening Festival programme, visit: www.highlands.co.nz/Calendar/Default.asp
Tickets are ONLY available through Ticketek, so don't wait too long to buy your tickets are they are selling fast!