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Thread: Photos: The Sprague Family Collection

  1. #1

    Photos: The Sprague Family Collection

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    Firstly, I'd like to extend both my gratitude and apologies to Grant Sprague for this amazing collection of images. Grant sent me a folder of his families racing photos and scrapbooks a couple of months ago, but I'm now only just starting to upload them here. My scanner is not the most agile machine on the planet, and its taken me a while to get organised. But I'm into it now, and very excited to share this incredible collection.

    The Sprague family is highly celebrated within New Zealand motorsport. Ernie Sprague raced for many years, in all manner of vehicles, and his sons Gary and Grant have followed suit. Many of the images in this collection have never been seen before. The variety of the cars on display here are fascinating. But this collection isn't just motorsport. It also includes images of the family car dealership, and road cars, which I find just as enjoyable. Its a joy to view, and the images are simply beautiful.

    Some of the photos are marked with details on the backs, some aren't. Fortunately, Grant is a member here, so can fill in the gaps, and I'm really looking forward to his input.

    My thanks again to Grant for taking the time to share these images. I know you're all going to enjoy them.

  2. #2
    Kicking things off is this beauty, of Sprague Motors. As you can see, this is a Jaguar agent, and Ernie himself notched up some impressive results racing Jaguars. In behind the impressive line-up of Jags are an assortment of more modest vehicles, rangings from a Ford Popular, Zephyrs, and even a Land Rover.

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  3. #3
    Not all the images in the Sprague Collection are directly related to the families own racing exploits. With this family being so intertwined with New Zealand and, in particular, South Island motorsport, there are a number of images that relate to more general racing events. This photo is from Ruapuna. This is the front straight. Grant has written on the back of the photo: "Ruapuna, Christchurch. Opening?" So, is this the opening event for Ruapuna? The place sure has changed a bit over the years!

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  4. #4
    Ernie Sprague is perhaps best known for racing Ford Zephyrs. Had it not been for a bingle with the hay bales in a preliminary race at the final round of the 1964 New Zealand Saloon Car Championship at Waimate, which caused too much damage to his MkIII Zephyr to contest the championship race, Ernie might possibly have been NZ Saloon Car Champion that year.

    But Ernie raced a variety of Zephyrs, including this MkI. This appears to be some sort of tarmac sprint, or maybe a hillclimb.

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  5. #5
    Stunning and a great tribute to a dynasty.
    Isn't it fantastic that TRS has become a place for so many very cool things which may never have seen the light of day.
    We owe a great debt to Steve for his vision and devotion.

  6. #6
    Semi-Pro Racer kiwi285's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Papamoa Beach
    And an even bigger vote of thanks to Grant for passing the family collection of photos on to Steve so that we can all share some of the exciting history of NZ motorsport and especially the growth of South Island motorsport.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfart View Post
    Stunning and a great tribute to a dynasty.
    Isn't it fantastic that TRS has become a place for so many very cool things which may never have seen the light of day.
    We owe a great debt to Steve for his vision and devotion.
    Thanks Rhys, I really appreciate that. But the real thanks has to go to those who have been generous enough to share their amazing collections on here for everyone to enjoy.

  8. #8
    Another significant Ernie Sprague race car. This is the '32 Ford roadster that really thrust Ernie into the limelight. The old '32 was still running a flathead V8, but judging by the later model wheels (probably 1939 Ford), it had been upgraded to juice brakes. The sign on the front bumper reads: "1932 Ford V8 Roadster. 106 mph. 16.86 (I think) standing 1/4 mile. Prepared by Central Motors". Central Motors was the name of Ernie's car dealership before it was later changed to Sprague Motors.

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  9. #9
    Hey Thanks Steve , I often think what a waste of history , of piks locked away I know Ernie was apprehensive & his friend Ray Archibald of giving out private piks I never really could understand why as just so many people wanted to be a part of Dad but he was not forth coming but a great Dad all the same a man with a tower of strength & personality when he choose ?? Mum was the glue that held it to gether ? a beautiful fine Lady. The ones Steve have are a few only ,but there is enough to give you an idea what was going on in those days growing up in the family & a youngster starting to race as well as Gary in the early days ........ Thanks Guys please enjoy............ Grant

  10. #10
    Thanks heaps Grant, thats a great description. Am really looking forward to your input with these.

  11. #11
    Ernie spent most of his career racing saloon cars. But he didn't limit himself to saloons. He dabbled in single seaters, including a Maserati 4CLT. Ernie bought the Maserati in 1957, by which time it was nearly ten years old. This amazing image appears to be from Wigram. I'm guessing its the 1958 Lady Wigram event.

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  12. #12
    Great under hood shot here of the Maserati supercharger.

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  13. #13
    Great pic Grant, it looks like its outside the main gates to Timaru Botanical gardens, Ernie with long time mate Peter Wilson.

  14. #14
    World Champion
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    what a great thread - Thanks Grant and Steve!!!

  15. #15
    Loving the whitewalls on the Mark III

  16. #16
    What great photos!! Thanks for sharing them Grant and Steve!!

  17. #17
    Thank You Grant and Steve ,
    Just fantastic to see these images . My first knowledge of Ernie was from about 65 onward ( as a younger fella )
    and in later years befriended Robbie Gibb who knew your family from his Timaru days . I will look forward in
    anticipation for more of this for sure ! . Best Wishes ,
    Bazza .

  18. #18
    Thanks guys ... hey as for the white walls .. [MK111].... this pik was taken after the hay daz of nz saloon championships a few years hard battle around NZ race circuts The car was put back to standard trim as a road car this is how it looked as a standard car & sold off to a local engineer business man David Annette..... Engineering in Timaru........ no one knows what happened to the car at the end of the road .... well not many people , but I witnessed its last time on four wheels , I did tell A Dick but has never been printed , I think I mentioned to Steve, any way I will tell you as the time goes on ..... very interesting story
    Last edited by Grant Sprague; 02-25-2014 at 07:12 PM.

  19. #19
    This is Ernie, having returned back home to Timaru following the the 1966 Wills Six-Hour race where he teamed with 1966 NZ Saloon Car Champion Dave Simpson in the Jaguar pictured here. Sprague/Simpson battled for the lead throughout the race against Ray Archibald/Tony Shelly in a similar Jag, in which it rained throughout much of the event.

    Despite their best efforts, the Sprague/Simpson Jaguar faded late in the race with brake problems, allowing the Archibald/Shelly machine the win. Even still, Ernie looks pretty happy with his efforts! Note the Jaguar still wears its race grime and numbers. Grant, would Ernie have driven the car to and from the race?

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  20. #20
    Steve...... yes the wills 6 hr car & B & H cars plus the mk 111 were driven up to the North Island plus the ANZ falcon were driven up & down ..............just the way things were not a lot of $$$ around in those days ..But that's the way it was regardless for most during the 60,s & 70,s
    Last edited by Grant Sprague; 03-01-2014 at 09:45 AM.

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