Interest is high in the Archibald’s Historic Touring Car Series heading into the final round of this year’s series at the new-look George Begg Classic Speedfest at Invercargill’s Teretonga Park.
It’s not every day, for instance that fans of the era can see the actual car (a 2-door BMW E36 318iS coupe) that British driver Tim Harvey drove the year he won the British Touring Car Championship (1992) being raced by its current owner, Dunedin man Warren Good. Or the Ford Mondeo that Kiwi great Paul Radisich drove to victory in the World Touring Car Cup race at Donington Prak in Great Britain in 1994. Or, for that matter, the Nissan Primera the late Jason Richards drove for Team Kiwi in the NZ 2 litre Touring Car championship in 1999.
Yet, these very cars – all with strong ties to Invercargill as well - are just three of a near 20-strong field set to contest the final round of this year’s Archibald’s Historic Touring Car Series at Teretonga Park this weekend.
Included in the unique mix of categories and cars which makes the local series so appealing to competitors and spectators alike are the two most familiar to Kiwi fans, Group A (1985-92) and Super Tourers (1992 to 2000), as well as Group C (Australia) and NZTC (NZ’s own 2 litre Touring category)
Each era had its iconic cars. Group A, for instance, is represented by the E30 model BMW M3 driven by Arron Black from Mosgiel., the distinctive yellow ex Kevin Waldock Australian Touring Car Championship Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth of Motueka man Brett Steven, and the Rover Vitesse V8 of Wanaka driver Alan Dippie.
To see just how quickly the cars morphed from modified road cars to purpose-built race machines, meanwhile, you only have to compare and contrast the ex Tim Harvey BTCC winning BMW 318iS 2-door and the 4-door 318i Super Tourers of Christchurch pair Matthew O’Donnell and Dennis Chapman, with some of the later model cars entered.
This list includes the ex-Paul Radisich BTCC Peugeot 406 of Dunedin driver Stephen Grellet, the ex Rickard Rydell/Jim Richards’ Bathurst-winning Volvo S40 of Mathew’s father Lindsay O’Donnell, Nissan Primera Super Tourers of Murray Sinclair and Phil Mauger from Christchurch, and the Honda Accord Super Tourer of Nigel Arkell from Auckland.
Timaru driver Kevin Pateman, meanwhile, continues to do amazing things behind the wheel of the distinctive red Ford Telstar he and his brother built and raced in period and literally ‘pulled out of the shed’ when the Archibald’s series was first mooted.
The late Jason Richards also proved that the Angus Fogg-built Team Kiwi Nissan Primera was a winner in period and though he is new to the Archibald’s series this season the car’s driver – Invercargill’s Liam McDonald – proved immediately competitive at the opening series round at Timaru’s Levels Raceway last month.
The Archibald’s Historic Touring Cars join a number of other high profile racing categories on a packed programme at the George Begg Classic Speedfest meeting at Teretonga Park this weekend.