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Author Topic: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds  (Read 29465 times)
Jon Mello
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« Reply #135 on: June 15, 2014, 11:41:02 AM »

Thanks for the input, Dale. It looks like this ex-Sig Hansen Camaro is still running the same cage from the early '70s even though
the current Australian owner is planning on running it in the "Australian Trans-Am Series". Is this not the same group as yours?

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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #136 on: July 07, 2014, 06:55:23 PM »

Hi there Jon, sorry for the slow reply, I've not been around much lately as I've been finishing off writing a muscle car book and it pretty much took over my life.

Re the rollcage in Dave Sturrocks Camaro, yes, I thought you might pick up on this. Unfortunately, the area of safety is not something we have any control over. Our NZ motorsport governing body determines everything to do with safety, right down to rollcage tube width and thickness, welding, location within the car etc. They also control other areas, such as race harnesses etc too. That said, they don't specify the exact layout of a cage, nor do they demand the a-pillar bars be attached to the vehicle bodyshell, as in Dave's car. This is something he chose to do himself. I would have preferred he didn't add the braces, as it makes the cage look like that of a modern car, but its his car, and I have to respect that.

To be honest, Historic Muscle Cars is not as period correct as we would have liked it to be. Classic and historic car racing in NZ has never been controlled by a governing body in any way, and has essentially been allowed to run riot for the last 30 years. Its become so bad, even event organisers are confused. There seems to be the mindset that, if the original bodyshell is retained, then everything else can be modernised and improved. So its very common in NZ to see cars at historic racing events fitted with modern engines, carbon-fibre bodywork, large diameter wheels etc. But because all this equipment is fitted into an old bodyshell, its somehow accepted as a classic/historic race car.

With Historic Muscle Cars, there were a couple of areas we chose to leave alone, and they are the brakes and gearboxes. Most V8 sedans racing in NZ historics are fitted with either Jerico or Tex Racing 4-speed gearboxes, and 4-pot or 6-pot Wilwood brakes. As much as we would have liked to have got cars back fitted with the type of brakes and gearboxes used in period, we knew that this would be a step too far, in that if we requested an owner pull the Jerico from their Mustang and replace it with a Top loader, they'd likely simply race their car somewhere else, and HMC would never have got off the ground.

We instead focused on engines, bodywork, wheels, tires, rear-ends. Brakes and gearboxes must be of the same basic make-up as those used in period, eg, h-pattern 4-speed gearbox etc, but the aftermarket items, as mentioned, are allowed.

But even still, we're continuing to deal with ongoing dramas. For example, at one annual classic and historic racing event, the use of our Hoosier and Goodyear Bluestreak cross-ply tires are not acceptable. The event organisers stipulate that all tires at their event be DOT rated, which these are not. Crazy as it sounds, although our cars race on the only period correct tires of the event, they're not actually accepted, because they're not DOT rated. Furthermore, although our cars are all on 15" diameter wheels, and most other V8 sedans at this event on 16" or 17" wheels, their cars are accepted, because they're fitted with DOT tires! The event organisers even tried to argue that Ford Mustangs were fitted with 17" diameter wheels in 1969/70! It makes you want to hit your head against a brick wall. Essentially, what we're having to do is educate event organisers as to how these cars raced in period.

Its an ongoing battle, but we are making progress. 
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #137 on: July 08, 2014, 08:52:37 AM »

Thanks, Steve. I knew you were working on a magazine project but I'm not sure I knew you were working on a book as well. I don't know how you find the time to do all the things that you do!

I do appreciate that you took the time to offer some insight into historic racing "down under". It does seem that you took on a monumental task and have been successful with it so far. I hope you are able to nurse it along further toward achieving the goals you are striving for. If you are popular enough with the crowds, maybe this can help you influence certain race organizers.
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #138 on: July 08, 2014, 07:05:01 PM »

Thanks Jon, the book is about Kiwi muscle car collectors, and is more of a photo book, even though I'm not a photographer! I just went and bought myself a stupid-proof camera that more or less makes it look like I know what I'm doing. But its been a fun project, and its amazing what we have here in NZ, given our population of only 4.5 million people. I will send you a copy when its released.

Re HMC, yes, its been a big battle. We created the class in 2011, and had our first event in 2012 at the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing. We've been extremely rigid on the rules, and cars are only accepted if complying 100%. HMC is for cars over over 3,000cc, and we've been working alongside a similar group for smaller capacity cars of under 3,000cc, who are also making their cars period correct. Therefore, even though we haven't had enough of our own cars, together with the U3 sedans, we've been able to form up full grids, and the racing has been excellent with the V8s and small capacity cars quite even in performance.

We are winning the battle, and there has been a lot of interest, and momentum is continuing to grow. So far, about 5 A/Sedan cars have been imported from the US specifically for HMC, and are almost instantly legal to race with us, requiring just a few very minor changes, such as fitting side-glass windows if they have no windows. Also, if their rollcages do not pass Motorsport NZ regulations, then they need to fit a new cage. But otherwise these cars can race in HMC, and this makes for a very affordable way to get involved in the class.

Pictured here is a '69 Camaro recently imported by Roger Williams. Roger owns a cool collection of nice cars, including a McLaren M8FP Can-Am car, Lola T332 F5000, and wide-body Greenwood Corvette. When the Camaro arrived in NZ he had it painted up similar to the car Joe Chamberlain brought out to NZ in 1972, in red/white/blue American Airlines colours (now owned by Steve Sorenson).

There are also other interesting cars being built, such as a 1970 Plymouth Cuda, which will look like one of the AAR Trans-Am cars, but it will be fitted with a big block Hemi. There are also a couple of 1969 Mercury Cyclones being built too. So definitely lots of momentum going on, and its really great to see.

We have had really great support from a couple of the NZ event organisers, including those running the NZ Festival of Motor Racing, which is our biggest historic racing event each year. In 2015, we also have some of our friends coming across from the Queensland based Australian Trans-Am series, so we should have a good field of around 25 cars for that. We'll also take some of our cars to Australia next year to race with the ATA guys. Those guys are great fun, although a bit more serious than us. We just race for fun, with no emphasis on winning.

Also, that event organiser that wouldn't allow our tires at their event because they're not DOT rated, they have said they will allow us to choose our own tires if we have our own grid, and not mix our cars in with other cars, so once we have enough cars, we will be able to race at this event.

Here is Roger Williams' Camaro. This car used to be painted silver with black hood when Roger bought it. The track shot shows another A/Sedan Camaro imported from the US for HMC. This car has been a race car since about 1974, and is now owned by Steve Elliott.



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Jon Mello
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« Reply #139 on: July 09, 2014, 08:35:30 AM »

Steve, the book sounds interesting and a free copy sounds great. Thank you!  Grin

Lots of positive sounding details with new cars being built, staying strict with the rules, being allowed to run your tires if you fill your own grid, etc. I hope it continues to grow and succeed as you guys have envisioned it.
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nick_tassie
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« Reply #140 on: July 22, 2014, 08:42:48 AM »

Hi Jon and All at Camaros.org

I came across another rare colour photo of the Terry Allan 396 Camaro when it was painted dark blue. For those new to this story the car was the very first Camaro to race in Australia in 1967. The car was purchased from Nickey Chevrolet and race prepared by Bill Thomas Race Cars before being imported into Australia by Uncle Terry. The photo was taken at Adelaide Raceway. Not long after this it was repainted white and ran with Castrol sponsorship as seen in photo's on this thread.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #141 on: July 22, 2014, 11:41:00 PM »

Many thanks for posting the new photo, Nick. The car is so dark I would have guessed the color was black if you hadn't said anything.
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« Reply #142 on: July 23, 2014, 01:04:58 AM »

Yes it does look black, I don't think the photo was scanned with the best possible resolution, I'm attempting to contact the owner to see if he can send me a HD quality copy so I can try to make out what the small sponsor decals are on the front guard and rear quarter. From what I have read the colour was a dark metallic blue, the choice is a mystery to me to be honest, I don't know why he would have gone from the original red to dark blue when it doesn't appear to be for a major sponsor? The pin striping and location of sign writing (especially when it was in New Zealand and had AUSTRALIA written across the rear quarter) are similar in some respect to the Penske Sunoco cars of the era, so clasping at straws maybe he used that as a model, who knows, one of the many unanswered questions for this car.

When he went from this colour to White and Castrol Oil sponsorship, that's easy to understand......
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #143 on: July 23, 2014, 08:38:57 PM »

Nick, sometimes the colors in a photo can change and degrade over the course of a few decades. It also seems as though it may not have been a bright, sunny day so overcast skies may have made the color look darker than it really was. Maybe Terry repainted the car with an eye toward attracting a specific sponsor and it didn't materialize. I think the plain red paint scheme is my personal favorite but this blue looks good too.
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #144 on: August 03, 2014, 06:03:38 PM »

One of our Roaring Season members, Tony Growden, recently uploaded a bunch of pics to the site taken by his father Keith during the 1960s and '70s. In amongst them are some neat shots of the first Camaro to race in New Zealand. The car was imported, owned and raced by Spencer "Spinner" Black. I believe these images are from its very first event, at Pukekohe. The car was a very light yellow, which I assume was factory Butternut Yellow, and not a custom colour applied by Black.



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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #145 on: August 03, 2014, 06:09:20 PM »

Here it is again a short time later, racing at Bay Park. The colour is still the same, but the decals have been changed. It only remained yellow for a very short time, before being repainted white and red in reference to cigarette sponsor Lexington.

The Camaro still exists, and I visited the owner a few weeks ago, who I know well. It looks nothing like this anymore but is much cherished.





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Jon Mello
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« Reply #146 on: August 06, 2014, 01:18:24 AM »

Steve, those are wonderful photos of the Spinner Black car. Thanks for posting them. I don't think I ever knew the car was yellow to begin with. Very interesting trunk lid with a molded in spoiler lip. Possibly an A&A fiberglass part, as seen on this car which was being sold on ebay recently.
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« Reply #147 on: August 06, 2014, 07:47:32 AM »

that looks like the original owner day2 barn find L88 Camaro on ebay recently?

he said he liked the 68 Penske TA and copied some details from it

also had 1960s looking seat belts, fire extinguisher, roll bar , and the early style 1st gen Hurst shifter
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #148 on: August 21, 2014, 12:19:57 AM »

Good spotting on the rear spoiler Jon. Its interesting but that car raced most of its early career with no rear spoiler. It was gone by later that first season.

Out of interest, were those deck lid spoilers on first gen Camaros proven to have any effect?
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #149 on: August 21, 2014, 05:02:34 PM »

Off the top of my head, I don't think the rear spoiler had a lot of effect until the speed started getting up to about 90-100MPH. The front spoilers were more effective than the rear.
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Jon Mello
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