Harkback to the golden era
After much debate, the historic MSC Formula 5000 Tasman Cup Revival cars will race for the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy race at Ruapuna Raceway near Christchurch in January.
It’s the first time since the 1970s that the V8powered cars – in their day as quick as Formula 1 cars – have competed for the Trophy.
In the field is expected to be a driver who won the Wigram Trophy in 1976, driving a Lola T332.
The race was on a temporary circuit set up on the Royal New Zealand Air Forces base at Wigram, a track with the fastest straight in New Zealand. The F5000 cars were running higher than 190mph on that straight.
Smith drove the Lola to win the international F5000 series and the domestic Gold Star that season.
Next year, Smith is likely to drive David Abbott’s Lola T430 in the Lady Wigram race.
In recent years the trophy has been contested by Toyota Racing Series cars.
But TRS is due to contest a championship round at Ruapuna in November, and the organising Canterbury Car Club felt that the prestige that had surrounded the Wigram trophy would be swallowed up by the hype associated with the NZV8s, Porsche GT3s and Production Racing series.
The club was also lacking a premier event to promote in January, as the Tier 1 classes will only visit Ruapuna once this season, in November.
The Toyota Racing Series and the F5000 races shared top billing on the club’s programme last January and the meeting attracted a crowd 100 percent larger than at the same meeting the previous year.
Club CEO Lloyd Proctor says that by billing the January meeting as the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting, a traditional event on the social as well as motor racing calendar in Christchurch, there’s a better chance of attracting a reasonable spectator attendance.
Last year Earl Bamber won the Lady Wigram Trophy after a titanic battle with Ben Harford. The TRS runners will compete for a separate Wigram Trophy in November.