A Curly Tale: Manfeild Racing

Manfeild musings

Most of us only race at Manfeild once a year – but I wish it was more. Just as the best track in the South Island is furthest away, so too is one of the two best tracks in the North Island. For those of you who haven’t raced there, or haven’t been for a while – put it on the 2015 ‘to do’ list. In fact book a motel – preferably in Feilding if you can – today. I booked in for 2015 when I checked out yesterday morning.

We go to Manfeild for the track, the racing and great Historic Formula Ford camaraderie – we don’t necessarily go for the weather. The rain started near the end of driver’s briefing and then deteriorated – our qualifying was in pretty awful conditions. Only Paul ‘rain, what rain’ Dold broke into 20s but in the race – thankfully the only one of our four that was wet – Dave ‘the Stig with L plates’ Silverton won. Mercifully no cars were damaged with all of us respecting the conditions.

After the rain stopped, the wind started. Perhaps it had already been there but hadn’t been noticed because the rain initially was the major weather element being discussed. The Manawatu rugby team is nicknamed the ‘Turbo’ s on account of the wind turbines dotted around the hills. They didn’t put them there as a trial. Someone knew about the wind beforehand…and did I mention it was cold?

Paul won the dry Saturday afternoon race and there was seemingly good scrapping going on down the field – Graeme Cameron had the ex Peter Boel 88 Swift out for the first time and was in the mix behind Doldie with Martin ‘I’m just going to stick with the Lotus from now on’ Lucas, the ever improving Gerald Duncan, Dave and a blue car that the commentator kept referring to as a ‘Crozz-ill’ of Don Hopkins. In the next group was a decent old ding-dong going on between a very hard charging Ron Wilkin, Bernie ‘I think I’ll just try and poke my nose in there’ Hines, and a couple of yellow perils in the form of Bruce ‘head down’ McCoy and another Crozz-ill.

Keith Cowan had been in the mix for a bit – he was the only South Island car this year because Peter aka ‘Baldric’ Grant couldn’t make the trip. The good news is, both are returning for Taupo and the Festival in January. Keith Mainland – a mere slip of a lad alongside his namesake from the mainland – was starting to understand why we all love going to Manfeild so much.

Sunday – no rain but still windy and less cold…meaning it was merely freezing whereas Saturday was what a Scottish friend of mine calls ‘bastard cold’. I hadn’t mentioned that we weren’t FF only grids – there were sports cars, a BMC powered Terrapin, and the Torrey Canyon – as some sarcastic driver has lovingly been referring to the Ken Williams BBM-Mercedes as for years. Sadly, it all too soon resembled the actual Torrey Canyon – and if you’re too young to know why that nickname was given, a quick google search will solve it.

Ken drives that thing with enthusiasm and his love of Mercs is legendary and endearing – but anyone in a FF who has followed it, will understand the joy of being in its wake. It started with some smoke going into Higgins – then an explosion. Ken eventually spun on his own oil out of Higgins, and it was a wonder that no one else did. Worst affected was Phil Foulkes and, as Cathy was cleaning oil off the Trident afterwards, suggestions were being made that the rags be wrung out and the oil that came out of them be sold back to Ken.

Some of the more mechanically minded amongst us opined, correctly as it turned out, that Ken would probably be out for the day. Thankfully the oil spill happened near the end of the race but for those of us further back than Phil, and therefore driving into it, there was this weird feeling of heading into the plume but not knowing exactly where the offending machine actually was. Marty started off the front row with Paul but the GLH won again – which was getting pretty boring for everyone apart from the team that supplies most of us with our rubber wear.

Last race – Doldie led a freight train of cars comprising a red ‘soon to half spin’ Trident, a green Lotus 69, the Cheetah, the PRS, and a couple of Crozz-ills. Paul won again in a Hamilton white-wash for the weekend while down the field was all the normal fun and games with Bernie, Ron and the Keiths. Sadly I haven’t mentioned Bruce. On Sunday morning the yellow Lola wouldn’t fire. Something called a starter motor wasn’t cooperating and I guess this is the downside of running cars that don’t have a key to make them work. Typically for Bruce, he shrugged his shoulders and seemed almost as happy to be ‘part of the group’ as if he he’d been running. Actually ‘almost’ isn’t a strong enough word…

Observations from the weekend:

  • Who’d ever thought dark grey was a good colour for a racing car? Obviously the Camerons did because that is what Peter’s old Swift is painted. And it looks cool – actually sinister is the word. Good to see you back GC!
  • Gerald got into the 17s in the last race – that’s enough to put a smile on your face.
  • Speaking of smiles – Keith Mainland could be our poster boy for convincing anyone who hasn’t raced at Manfeild to do it. He seemed to like it.
  • Feilding has two Indian restaurants – go figure. We tried one of them and it was superb. New Zealand’s first ever Formula Ford champion was in the other and reported it too was very good.
  • Feilding is a happening place – they even have an Irish bar with a Scottish name.
  • Have global warming deniers spent a weekend at Manfeild…in mid-November?

It was great to see Phil Mauger mooching around. Bloody shame he forgot his car. But he’s promised to come and play next year

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