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Thread: Blast from the Past

  1. #1
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    Blast from the Past

    Sometimes one comes across motor racing information from unexpected sources

  2. #2
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    Such was the case for me when I saw that there was not much to be found about the Napier Road Races held at the Ahuriri Circuit during the late 50s and 60s. Many local and visiting drivers stated;" the Ahuriri course was the best in New Zealand at the time because of natural hazards of a true road race and made for great racing"
    I found this brief video which shows how the Hillmans and Holdens skated around.


    The course was down by the Napier waterfront as shown in these two images.
    Name:  Ahuriri Race Circuit..jpg
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    Name:  Ahuriri Road Circuit.jpg
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    ( Ken H )

  3. #3
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    I might get yelled at but I found my source for some good photos at Ahuriri in the Hawkes Bay Photo News, that is after you get past all the pages of swimsuit beauties from that era etc !
    The natural grandstand might not meet todays approval !
    Name:  Ahuriri Races. April 1961.jpg. Spectators.jpg
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    But they were treated to some wonderful racing.

  4. #4
    Semi-Pro Racer Paul B's Avatar
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    Great post Ken,
    Great shot of the Humber 80 getting a bit sideways (about half way through)!
    That was right next to the old Napier port and that whole area was commercial warehouses and wool stores etc. It would have been easy to close the roads then. Very different now with apartments and cafe restaurants there.
    A bit like Lyall bay/ Rongotai in Wellington there were street races in Kingford Smith Street, I think the last races were in the late 70s but today it is all retail complex.
    Hopefully see you at Taupo.
    Cheers
    Paul

  5. #5
    World Champion Roger Dowding's Avatar
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    Ahuriri - Napier

    Name:  Motor Racing Napier - #5 the Ahuriri track - Graham Woods (2).jpg
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    and some competitors. Norm Agnew photo's

    Name:  Motor Racing Napier - #8 Single Seaters Norm Agnew.jpg
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    Name:  Motor Racing Napier - #11 Saloons Norm Agnew.jpg
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    Name:  Motor Racing Napier - #9 Sports and Coupes Norm Agnew.jpg
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    Last edited by Roger Dowding; 01-05-2018 at 04:04 AM. Reason: Credit for photo's Norm Agnew ###47

  6. #6
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    The first race meeting was known as the Port Ahuriri Centennial Road Races during the 1958-59 summer.
    Name:  Ahuriri. Jan 1959.jpg
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    The formula race was dominated by Merv Neal in his Cooper Climax # 37
    Name:  Ahuriri. Jan 1959.First races..jpg
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    Name:  Merv Neal. 1958-59 season.Ahuriri.jpg
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    Merv Neal (wearing sunglasses) telling all both young and old about how good his car is.

    So good that a year later a certain D. Hulme was again winning in the same Cooper # 37 at Ahuriri.
    Name:  Ahuriri. Dec 1959..D.Hulme..jpg
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    Denny was probably barefoot and wearing shorts when this was taken as that is what he felt most comfortable in when he began his racing career !



    ( Ken H)
    I am going to need Milan to fill in the information on a lot of this thread. Thanks in advance Milan. KH
    Last edited by khyndart in CA; 12-28-2017 at 09:43 AM.

  7. #7
    A couple of people who I spoke to about this weren't too happy with 44 gallon drums filled with concrete as corner markers. Perhaps that would stop the current crop running off the track as often

  8. #8
    The first meeting was on November 22, 1958.

    Name:  img120 (2).jpg
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  9. #9
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    Saturday November 22nd 1958.
    South Pond Circuit, Ahuriri, Napier.

    Name:  Ahuriri. Jan 1959. - Spectators.jpg
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  10. #10
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    When I went to my first NZ Grand Prix at Ardmore in Jan. 1959, the first car to roar by as we had just entered was Brian Tracey driving the ex Ron Roycroft Alfa Romeo Tipo B. It seemed so big compared to the other cars that were there and it did not qualify for the main race.
    Perhaps Brian was still having handling problems like he had at Ahuriri as shown in these Hawkes Bay Photo News photos.
    Name:  Brian Tracey. Alfa Romeo..jpg
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    Name:  Brian Tracey. Alfa Romeo...jpg
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    Name:  Brian Tracey. Alfa Romeo....jpg
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    (Note he stayed well clear of the 44 gallon drums that Rhys mentioned ! )



    (Ken H )
    Last edited by khyndart in CA; 12-28-2017 at 08:44 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by khyndart in CA View Post
    When I went to my first NZ Grand Prix at Ardmore in Jan. 1959, the first car to roar by as we had just entered was Brian Tracey driving the ex Ron Roycroft Alfa Romeo Tipo B. It seemed so big compared to the other cars that were there and it did not qualify for the main race.
    Perhaps Brian was still having handling problems like he had at Ahuriri as shown in these Hawkes Bay Photo News photos.
    (Ken H )
    Interesting facts concerning the handling of the Roycroft Alfa.

    Ralph Watson. --- After a few trials, the wandering was cured by an increase in castor angle. This was done by making stepped keys to replace those which prevented the axle beam from rotating in the clamps which held it to the chassis. We made three sets of these keys which provided varying positions offset from the original position and this enabled us to experiment with changes in castor angle.

    It is exceedingly interesting that there was no evidence of any change having been made on any previous occasion. One must therefore assume that the car would have been handling badly when Nuvolari drove it to win the 1935 German Grand Prix! What is more, it appears that before the Alfa came to N.Z., previous owners Kenneth Evans and Roy Salvadori, both criticised the handling of the car.

    Note : When the Alfa was restored some 30 years later, the stepped keys were incorrectly fitted in reverse. This resulted in the handling of the restored car being sharply criticised by a well known N.Z. motoring journalist, who wrote about it and caused incorrect stories to become accepted and reiterated. It was implied that the stepped keys were an original component, whereas they were made and fitted in N.Z.

    Refer here for full details:-

    http://ralphwatson.scienceontheweb.net
    Last edited by Trevor Sheffield; 12-29-2017 at 12:09 AM.

  12. #12
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    Perhaps it is the photo quality but it does appear that the front left tyre has less tread than the right front.
    Very interesting input Trevor. Thank you.
    Ken.

  13. #13
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    Nov. 1958. Ahuriri.
    Sports car and sedan race grids line up.
    Just put a number on the door and away you go !
    (Perhaps even reverse the headlights. )

    Name:  Ahuriri. Jan 1959... - Copy - Copy.jpg
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    Name:  Ahuriri. Jan 1959... Sedan grid.jpg
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    Last edited by khyndart in CA; 12-29-2017 at 04:57 PM.

  14. #14
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    For the 1961 Ahuriri races Pat Hoare showed up with his magnificent Ferrari 256 with a 3 litre V-12. # 19

    Name:  Ahuriri.4..61 - Copy.jpg
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    Name:  Pat Hoare. 1961..jpg
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    A great shot of a great car in action turning from Coronation Street onto Battery Road.
    Spectators got a good close look at the action !

    Thanks to Phil Moore for these photos.
    Name:  Ahuriri. 4.61.jpg
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    Sometimes things did not go as planned as Colin Ngan spins his Cooper Bobtail just in front of another competitor at the tricky corner from Battery Road onto Hyderabad Road toward the start / finish line.
    Name:  Ahuriri.Cooper Bobtail spinning.jpg
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    Again note how close the crowd is to the action !


    (Ken H )
    Last edited by khyndart in CA; 12-29-2017 at 11:20 PM.

  15. #15
    The Alfa has the Dubonnet front suspension, which I'd assume would make it hard to fine tune anyway...

    Ever looked at a Vauxhall with one of these?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Bell View Post
    The Alfa has the Dubonnet front suspension, which I'd assume would make it hard to fine tune anyway...

    Ever looked at a Vauxhall with one of these?
    Very true. Ralph Watson clearly set out the specific problems involved including a drawing showing the exact details here:-

    http://ralphwatson.scienceontheweb.net

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by khyndart in CA View Post
    Nov. 1958. Ahuriri.
    Sports car and sedan race grids line up.
    Just put a number on the door and away you go !
    (Perhaps even reverse the headlights. )


    Name:  Ahuriri. Jan 1959... Sedan grid.jpg
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    Looks like this race.

    Name:  img122 (2).jpg
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  18. #18
    [QUOTE=khyndart in CA;63066]Nov. 1958. Ahuriri.
    Sports car and sedan race grids line up.
    Just put a number on the door and away you go !
    (Perhaps even reverse the headlights. )

    Name:  Ahuriri. Jan 1959... - Copy - Copy.jpg
Views: 644
Size:  183.5 KB


    Name:  img122 (3).jpg
Views: 603
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    Looks like this race. If the cars are lined up in order of their handicaps then they are in this order.

    4, 20, 3, 38, 13, 7

    That must be Hyslop's D-type in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture.

    Number 38 is not a Buckler - it's Doug Lawrence's Mistral bodied TR3.

  19. #19
    Thanks Milan, very helpful.

  20. #20
    Ken, I pinched one of your pics for the Buckler facebook page. I hpe that's OK

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