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76  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: October 23, 2012, 01:15:11 AM
Wow, those photos are staggering! I had no idea the Camaro became so heavily modified. It was clearly further evolved as a Sports Sedan throughout the 70s and 80s, and must have taken a huge amount of work to restore to its current condition/guise. Thanks for posting your photos.
77  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 05, 2012, 10:15:42 PM
I was excited by a new collection of historic Australian racing photographs posted on The Roaring Season recently, from Dale Harvey. Dale's photos were taken during the 1960s and early '70s, at New South Wales venues including Bathurst, Warwick Farm, Oran Park, Amaroo, and Newcaslte Hillclimb.

In amongst them are two photos that show the Norm Beechey '68 Camaro. This car is quite mysterious, in that Beechey appears to have raced it only four times, then it completely disappeared, and has never been found. Beechey debuted the car at Warwick Farm in July 1968, to replace his Chevy Nova, photos of which I posted here earlier. The Camaro still required some development at WF, but was competitive with the front runners. At Calder, its second event, Beechey beat Pete Geoghegans previously dominant Mustang. Then at Catalina Park, Geoghegan just beat off Beechey, but had to work incredibly hard for the win. Clearly the Camaro had plenty of potential.

Up until 1968, the Australian Touring Car Championship was a single race, rather than a full series. The 1968 ATCC was held at Warwick Farm in September 1968. This was the Camaro's fourth, and, as far as I can tell, final race. Geoghegan qualified fastest, from Beechey, by half a second, and Bob Jane in a Trans-Am Mustang was third fastest. The first two photos posted here are from that race. Geoghegan went on to win, while Beechey only lasted 12 laps before retiring.

Then the Camaro was replaced by an Australian HK Monaro, the yellow car in the third photo. Curiously, Beechey came to New Zealand in late 1968 to race, but rather than bringing either the Camaro or Monaro, he brought his old Nova!

After its ATCC race at Warwick Farm, the Camaro appears never to have raced again. I'm sure it had more potential than the bulky Monaro, but I think Beechey must have had some pressure from General Motors Australia to race an Aussie product. But what I don't understand is why the Camaro wasn't purchased by another competitor. Beechey was a top driver, with well developed cars which all found eager buyers after he'd finished with them, but the Camaro never raced again. Myles Johnson, who I think is a member on this forum (thunder427), actually saw the Beechey Camaro in a used car yard when he first moved to Australia from New Zealand. He tried to buy it, but couldn't muster up the funds. The Camaro has since vanished, and never re-emerged.

The rest of the photos from the Dale Harvey Collection can be viewed on The Roaring Season, for anyone who is interested: www.theroaringseason.com





78  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: For All of You That Want to Own A Trans Am Race Car on: May 21, 2012, 10:31:40 PM
Thanks for the heads-up Jon. It is a nice looking Camaro though and the restoration looks good. I guess the price reflects that it can't race in Historic Trans-Am. it'd possibly be double the 65K Buy Now price if it could, wouldn't it? 
79  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Cross Ram Hood - Fiberglass - on: May 15, 2012, 04:46:01 AM
Its interesting to note the date on the Wiggins Teape hood decals relate to 1972, when Malcolm Gartlan Racing/Wiggins Teape ran a RS2600 Capri for Muir this season. I wonder if the Camaro was retained as a back-up, and had the '72 decals applied so it could be pressed straight into duty should there be a problem with the Capri. Or did they enter it for another driver?
80  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: Cross Ram Hood - Fiberglass - on: May 15, 2012, 02:19:45 AM
Hi there Jon, those pics of the Wiggins-Teape Camaro hood are wonderful! Do you know if the whole car survived in this original condition, or just the hood? Is this the same car (pictured) that hood came from? Sorry, I don't know who took this pic, its just one of many random images I seem to have collected over the years.

81  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 07, 2012, 12:29:39 AM
Jon, we have a lot to thank you for, to be able to simply refer to the 1970 SCCA rules was really fantastic, and the wording of the rules suits us perfectly. Back in 1970, teams set to make the most of the spoiler rule and created spoilers that they felt gave them the best in both downforce and brake cooling, and I think even today the style of spoiler seen in 1970 is still the best option under those rules. But just in case someone tries to get clever, we've also added the spoilers must be of a flat plain style, and we'll also be using photo examples of what we expect. So thank you for posting that, its definitely been put to very good use Jon.
82  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 03:18:56 AM
Thanks Jon. Yes you are quite correct re the wheel diameter limit for HMC. NZ has suffered for many years with a general lack of enforcement in historic racing, which is partially a result of economics, meaning competitors will elect to run a diameter size based on tyre cost and availability, which for many years was 16". Unlike the US where cross-ply tires are the norm, in NZ, its a DOT radial that is most popular, as it is much cheaper, but in 15" is only available in narrow sizes that don't suit a ponycar sedan. In fact, its not uncommon to see cars in NZ on 17" diameter wheels, which, I'm sure you'll agree, looks completely wrong.

Because HMC was created with the knowledge that many cars that would race in the class already exist, and are currently fitted with 16" wheels at DOT tires, and because we're enforcing other changes, such as cast iron heads etc, we've allowed those with existing cars that are currently fitted with 16" diameter wheels to continue to do so for the first 18 months, at which point they'll be required to then change to 15" diameter wheels. This is just an economic decision, to help soften the blow for these car owners in a difficult economic climate, but they will in time be required to fit their cars with 15" wheels, and we'll require that they also use a cross-ply tire, be that a Goodyear or Hoosier.

For those building cars to HMC rules, they'll be required to fit their cars with 15" diameter wheels immediately. As you say, 15" diameter was what these cars raced on in period, and its interesting to note that in most cases, a diameter was never set in period by the various rule makers, as 15" was really all that was available in both wheel and tire choice. Of course, in Trans-Am, 8" width was the limit, and I assume it could have even been 7" in 1966 and '67? In Australia, the limit was 8" until 1970, when it became 10". Here in NZ, it was 8", but by the early '70s became 14", which was extremely wide, and Britain appeared to be the same. 14" width is effectively an F5000 wheel.

For HMC, we've opted to allow up to 15" x 10", which still captures the look and feel of the cars that raced here in period, but we feel 14", which would be historically accurate, is really too wide.

So what we've really done in bringing the HMC rules together is to take a little from the Trans-Am, Australian Improved Production, and NZ Saloon Car Championship regulations and work them all together. Essentially, that is how the NZ sedan landscape looked in the late '60s and early '70s, with race promoters bringing Australian and US cars and drivers here to race, as you can see from the Bay Park pictures I posted above. So it just seems right that we merge elements of all three countries sedan regulations into what we've created. In fact, our front spoiler rule is almost word for word what the SCCA wrote for the 1970 Trans-Am. It was thanks to your posting of the 1970 Trans-Am regulations on this forum that we were able to study the wording, and incorporate it into our own rules.
83  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 12:26:37 AM
As did Gardners. Fortunately both cars only received minor bodywork damage, and both were back racing again the following weekend at Pukekohe:

84  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 12:24:50 AM
Chamberlains Bay Park visit ended in the fence:

85  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 12:23:12 AM
Here is Rod Coppins in the T/G Racing built Firebird which Ron Grable brought out in late 1971. As you know, current owner Bruce Thompson has done a beautiful job restoring this car, and to this colour scheme, this being the season Coppins won the NZ Saloon Car Championship with it:

86  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 12:20:18 AM
Frank Gardner, getting ready to go into battle:

87  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 12:18:58 AM
Joe Chamberlains Camaro:

88  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 12:17:39 AM
Another start line photo, this time with Geoghegans Falcon at the front. Thats Kiwi Red Dawsons Camaro being Gardner:

89  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 05, 2012, 12:11:56 AM
In late 1972, the Bay Park and Pukekohe race promoters dug deep into their pockets, and brought out several international sedan drivers and cars for the big Bay Park Christmas meeting, and the New Zealand International Grand Prix meeting at Pukekohe, the two events being just one week apart. The drivers/cars included Frank Gardner, who brought with him his 1967 Camaro, which he'd been racing in Britain and Europe, run by Adrian Chambers, and backed by SCA Freight. For 1972, Gardners new 2nd Gen Camaro arrived, so the '67 became surplus to requirements. So Gardner shipped it down to NZ, where he was extremely competitive against the top Kiwi and Aussie race teams.

As well as Gardner, Joe Chamberlain returned from the US, with the second of the two '69 Trans-Am Camaros he'd built, the first being posted above, which he'd brought here in 1970, and sold. Chamberlains Camaro was backed by American Airlines for its NZ races, and it looked fantastic in red/white/blue. The previous year Ron Grable had brought out one of the T/G Racing Firebirds for which American Airlines sponsorship was also obtained, this being arranged locally.

There were also two Australians, or, at least, two teams from Australia. One of these was Allan Moffat in his very special Kar-Kraft built '69 Boss Mustang, the other being Pete Geoghegan, in his XY 'Super Falcon', which boasted an impressive 620hp fuel injected 351, and was tricked out with a vast list of hand built magnesium parts. These photos are all from the Bay Park event.

This photo shows Gardner and Moffat on the front row:

90  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: May 04, 2012, 11:55:58 PM
Thanks Jon, thats much appreciated. Its really the only choice we have down here, not ideal, but we don't have enough of the original cars. In that respect, you're very fortunate in the US to have the quantities of cars that you can field a full grid of genuine Trans-Am cars, and its wonderful that there are enough owners prepared to actually race them. I know the races are about enjoying the cars themselves, and not about the actual race results, but its really the spectacle of being able to see these cars being given a good workout that matters.

I put together a website for the Historic Muscle Cars group, there are a couple of pages that still need completion, but you may find the 'History' page of interest, as I've put together a brief timeline of how the popularity of US racing sedans grew here during the late '60s and early '70s: www.historicmusclecars.co.nz
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