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Highlands Festival of Speed

Highlands Festival of Speed to feature brute force versus sophistication

Two extremes in motorsport will be in action at Highlands Motorsport Park near Cromwell this Easter in the first-ever Festival of Speed.

At one end of the scale will be the Michael Schumacher Formula One Benetton Cosworth Grand Prix car and at the other will be a huge Freightliner racing truck that has the performance of a V8 Supercar.

The Benetton is the car in which the seven times world champion gained his first ever championship points in and it will be demonstrated by Highlands’ owner Tony Quinn during the lunch breaks at the Saturday and Sunday classic meeting at Highlands.

The Freightliner truck is the vehicle in which former Mataura mayor Inky Tulloch dominated truck racing on both sides of the Tasman in the three seasons from 2001 to 2003, after which the truck was retired. In that time, Tulloch competed in 75 races, gaining podium finishes in 66 of them and setting many lap records which remain unbeaten today. For the past year, the Freightliner has been on display in the National Motorsport Museum at Highlands, but Inky Tulloch is taking it out of retirement to compete in the unique Highlands Fling over the Easter meeting.

The Highlands Fling is a standing start sprint that uses part of the circuit with vehicles starting 30 seconds apart.

“It’s a ‘no-contact’ event,” says Highlands manager Mike Sentch. “We introduced it to the Festival of Speed meeting because we are aware that there are owners of classic racing machines who are reluctant to compete in circuit meetings where there is some risk of damage.”

The Highlands Fling sprint emulates the famous hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. Entry to the Highlands Fling is restricted to just 50 vehicles and it’s attracted a diverse range of cars and motorcycles.

“We’re delighted with the number of historic cars that will be appearing in the Festival at Highlands over Easter,” says Sentch. “The variety is very broad ranging from Julian Ball’s 1925 Vauxhall, through F5000 Champion Clark Proctor in a McRae GM1 to the legendary Lycoming Special in the hands of Ralph Smith.

“And in between we’ve got the likes of V8 SuperTourer driver Angus Fogg in a racing Jaguar XJS and TRS driver Damon Leitch in a Stealth Formula Ford.”

Racing on the track is just part of the two-day, action-packed bill at Highlands.

“We’ve also got some very special cars appearing in the Classic Road and Racing Car Show which will be located in the carpark area in front of the museum,” says Sentch. “Among the stars here will be the prototype of the New Zealand designed and built Hulme Supercar and a brand new replication of a Ferrari GTO which has been created by Rod Tempero. The range of cars on display in the show is impressive and includes works Ferraris, Porsches, Jaguars, Pontiacs and some really immaculate Minis.”

The displays at the Highlands Festival of Speed also includes some truly vintage jetboats, caravans and other memorabilia.

“We’re making this a family event,” says Sentch. “Apart from the cars and boats, there’ll also be food, music, lunchtime entertainment and most of the regular Highlands activities will also be in operation.”

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