by Gerald Duncan
The Picnic meeting at Taupo once again highlighted the essence of Historic Formula Ford Racing. To the uninitiated, a race meeting with no qualifying, grid positions, timing or results and on a circuit with only four corners would make no sense at all, but somehow at the end of each day the broad smiles on all of the FF competitors as the meeting was declared “wet” and debriefing began highlighted why competitors love this event.
The circuit offers something for everyone from seasoned competitors to the newly initiated getting valuable seat time with the many quick-fire races and the few corners to get to grips with. Taupo put on its best weather for the weekend with all day sun high temperatures and enough wind to at least provide some cooling. Best indicator of the heat was the main jockeying for position on the dummy grid was ‘anywhere in the shade of the trees’.
The first race saw relatively conventional grid placings and nine starters with Chris Havill keeping the Valour in reserve in case the U2 broke down. Phil Foulkes, as he was to do most of the weekend, quickly established a small lead followed by a close field of two VDs (Keith Mainland and Martin Lucas), Don in the blue Crossle, Ron in the Elden, Kevin Head’s gorgeous Lynx and three of our mainstays the Lola brigade – and not necessarily in that order. Racing was close through the field with most cars dicing in pairs starting with Martin and Keith in the VDs – Keith hustling Martin for the entire race, and Ron charging as he was to do for the entire weekend. The race was incident free and enjoyed by everyone – this set the scene for the rest of the weekend.
• Keith learned early on about dummy grid strategy when he turned up early in ~ position #4 only to find that no-one took positions 1, 2 or 3 so started from his first pole.
• It was just one of a number of firsts to be set, including his first chequered flag when Phil had a rare moment during the last laps of one race.
• Martin decided early to concede his front running position to “use up” an old set of Dunlops and enjoy a good set of mid-field tussles – or was the pressure from behind too much?
• One notable Lola was reputed to miss the corner at the end of the main straight three times prompting suggestions this be renamed Bruce’s Corner or alternatively McCoy’s Straight.
• Throughout the meet, the fields progressively closed up as drivers got to grips with their cars and the circuit to the extent that all were having to contend with cars both in front and behind and very close racing was being thoroughly enjoyed by the spectators as well as the drivers. The spread of lap times would have been very small.
• Biggest improvers were Mike Creswell and Geoff Bogue in their immaculate Lolas and also the lovely Lynx with Kevin as he blew out the cobwebs.
• The feature race for the weekend was, appropriately, for the Formula Fords. Once again no one knew which race that actually was, but the Classic Covers Trophy was presented to a deserving Phil Foulkes who once again set the benchmark in the Trident-Palliser.
Editors, er, edit: It was in fact Mike Creswell in the blue and silver Lola that was getting confused as to the purpose of a corner, and it was not in fact, Bruce McCoy. Gerald apologises profusely to Bruce, and promises to hereafter remember Bruce drives a yellow car….