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Author Topic: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds  (Read 30649 times)
Jon Mello
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« Reply #75 on: May 04, 2012, 11:08:00 AM »

Steve, all the color schemes of Norm's car were neat. Just a good looking car no matter how you slice it.

I commend you, Dale and Tony for what you have done regarding the vintage racing group down there in NZ. It sounds like you are doing great things and I especially like that you are getting some of the heroes from the past involved. I wish you guys much success. I don't know that West Coast Historic Trans-Am is perfect as it is but it's pretty good, and a nice venue for the old cars with Trans-Am history.
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #76 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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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #77 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:

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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #78 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:

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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #79 on: May 05, 2012, 12:18:58 AM »

Joe Chamberlains Camaro:

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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #80 on: May 05, 2012, 12:20:18 AM »

Frank Gardner, getting ready to go into battle:

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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #81 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:

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« Reply #82 on: May 05, 2012, 12:24:50 AM »

Chamberlains Bay Park visit ended in the fence:

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« Reply #83 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:

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Jon Mello
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« Reply #84 on: May 05, 2012, 01:49:20 AM »

Steve, thanks for posting the vintage pictures here and the notes to go along with them. Really neat historical stuff. I really appreciate it. Your historicmusclecars website is off to a great start. I have no idea how you are finding enough hours in the day to do everything you're doing but your efforts are superb. Out of curiosity, why are you allowing 16" diameter wheels since cars back then weren't running those? If you are hoping to see most of the cars with mags from that era, they were typically not available in that size.
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #85 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.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #86 on: May 05, 2012, 12:33:19 PM »

Steve, thanks for the explanation regarding the 16" wheels. I simply was not aware of the issues you described but now that I am, it all makes good sense to me. I think you guys are on the right track (unintended pun) and it's great to get some feedback about the rulebooks (GCRs) that I posted. I never thought that by posting them I might help some rules be written for a new class of historic racing but it's pretty neat to hear that they did prove very useful in that capacity.
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« Reply #87 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.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #88 on: May 07, 2012, 12:57:10 PM »

Steve, there was a time when a website did have two or three years of the SCCA rule books posted but for whatever reason that went away. I really thought posting them for all the classic years would be a benefit to a lot of people and it's nice to have your confirmation of that. Thank you very much. I actually do not have the '66 rules posted but I do have borrowed the book from Robert Lodewyk and plan to add that one as well.
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« Reply #89 on: May 16, 2012, 12:20:59 AM »

Very interesting to see a photo of the 2nd Chamberlain camaro, which many years later passed thru my hands. I last saw Joe at the Seattle Historics a few years ago at a Martin Rudow book launching.  Some of the NW ex T/A racers were there including John Hall, Dave Tatum, and Gary Gove.

Robert Barg
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