The 32nd running of the MG Classic meeting, the longest running event of its kind in New Zealand and one of the biggest in competitor numbers, will be at Manfeild this weekend.
Still known by many as “The Whittakers” because of the brand’s long association in the earlier events, this year’s meeting has attracted more than 200 competitors who will race in a record nine different categories covering open wheel, sports cars, and saloons.
The programme has nearly 50 races scheduled for the two days. Heading the programme will be the second round of the F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series, the 5-litre V8 single-seaters that were key in establishing Manfeild’s envied reputation during the early 1970s.
The name of Kenny Smith is synonymous with the class and this year’s meeting has special significance as the new season marks 60 years since he began his racing career that includes three New Zealand Grand Prix victories. The popular veteran has been the man to beat since the class was revived in 2003 and he rates Manfeild very highly as a drivers’ circuit. But Smith has suffered a setback with being involved in a high-speed accident at Pukekohe last weekend. He was uninjured and will do whatever it takes to be on the Manfeild grid.
There is a large field of the thunderships, and the meeting will see the return to the track of the historic McLaren M22 in the hands of Feilding driver Tim Rush. This particular car was the last Formula 5000 chassis built by the McLaren factory.
The Historic Single Seaters always revive memories of the past, including the first-ever New Zealand Grand Prix that was raced at Ohakea in 1950, so do the Classic Sports Cars that often competed in the same races at circuits around the country.
Saloon car racing has always featured strongly in New Zealand and enjoys wide appeal because of the diversity the various classes offer.
This year’s The Sound MG meeting has attracted all five of the major classic categories to Manfeild for the first time. The Historic, Pre-65, Muscle Car and Allcomer groups have attracted good fields.
They are joined by the Historic Touring Cars that are remembered from the Nissan Mobil 500 races that were held on the Wellington waterfront street circuit more than 20 years ago and brought the world’s top teams and drivers to our country.
The age, makes, and models of cars will bring back many memories for spectators with entries ranging from a 1936 Jaguar SS100 through to ultra-high performance cars like the Porsche GT3 Cup and Ferrari 458 Challenge. Cars are grouped relative to their speed which ensures close racing.
The practice sessions begin at 8:30 am on Saturday followed by 22 races. Sunday has a full day of racing with 25 events on the program again beginning at 8:30 am. During the lunch break there will be the traditional gold coin charity laps that have raised more than $100,000 over the years for the Cancer Society and Kara Hands Charitable Trust.