The New Zealand Hill-Climb championship
E. H. Faulkner's Ford V8-Engined Morris Gains the Titile
THE first New Zealand Hill-Climb Championship to be held under the jurisdiction of the Association of New Zealand Car Clubs was held at Paekakariki on February 12th, the organising club being the New Zealand Sports Car Club. A representative entry was received, most of New Zealand's faster cars being present.
The distance had been shortened slightly to the even two miles with an appreciable reduction in times generally, although Roycroft's 1948 record of 2 min. 32.2 sec. over the longer distance was not beaten. The hill was in generally good condition, although recent road mending activities had left a fine screen of gravel on some of the more difficult corners, with disastrous results to tyre adhesion among the faster cars.
In the morning runs Roycroft put himself at the head of the 850-c.c. class with the ex-works supercharged Austin in 2 min. 44.45 sec., the little car being most impressive in take-off, but gear-changing appearing difficult. J. Kennedy, with the ex-Clapperton Austin Seven, went up well in 3 min. 7.75 sec., a good performance for his first appearance on the hill. The 1,100-c.c. class was reduced to two runners, Slade-Jones having had the infuriating luck to have his singleseater B.S.A. snap its tow-bar on the way to the hill, with horrible results to the front-end. Slade-Jones has entered four times at Paekakariki now and each time has non-started through a variety of circumstances completely outside his control. Morry Procter appeared with his Riley-Bugatti, this combination being a "Brescia" chassis reduced to midget car dimensions, with a "Brooklands" Riley engine. His first run produced 2 min. 44.25 sec., which was good, but not as fast as expected. Logan, with his impressive Singer-engined F.I.A.T. "500," with neat racing body, struck trouble and did not complete his run. The 1,500-c.c. class was hotly contested by four M.G.s, an Alvis and a Morgan. Hollis recorded 2 min. 44.5 sec. in his "TC" M.G. in a impeccable run, Shand did a steady 2 min. 54.65 sec., in his "TA" M.G. and Farland made no mistakes to put himself on top with 2 min. 42.55 sec., in his N-type M.G. Magnette. Easterbrook Smith's Alvis seemed to be slightly off form and a violent overslide through Watertrough Corner reduced his time to 2 min. 54.05 sec. Vogtherr could not better 3 min. 5.4 sec. with the fully-equipped Morgan and Christie took 2 mm. 55.45 sec. in his "TA" M.G.
The 3,000-c.c. class saw Roy Cowan on top with 2 min. 52.95 sec. in the T.T. Sunbeam, the old car looking and sounding excellent. G. Easterbrook Smith took the Easterbrook-Sunbeam off the line swiftly, but fuel starvation set in on the upper reaches and he returned to the finish, while brother Toby's effort with the same car met a similar fate, although while going he motored to some purpose.
Clinkard occupied 2 min. 59.45 sec. in his "Speed Twenty" Alvis, Watson took 3 min. 0.75 sec. in his Jeep-engined Frazer-Nash and fuel starvation lengthened Vogtherr's run in the big Riley to 3 min. 28.95 sec.
Hemus provided a stirring sight for vintage enthusiasts in getting his "30/98" Vauxhall up in 2 min. 42.6 sec., while Freeman with the Thompson Special, in spite of holding in second gear with one hand, gave a display of virtuosity in recording 2 mm. 38.7 sec. Then Faulkner, destined to be the first New Zealand Champion, took his Ford V8-engined Morris up in 2 min. 32.85 sec., his driving absolutely first-class and his car behaving perfectly.
The second round opened in an atmosphere of excitement, as obviously the class titles were going to be closely contested.
Something about Paekakariki seems to affect fuel systems for Roycroft struck trouble in this department and took 3 min. 40.4 sec., Drewery, with his rather special and very fast "J2" M.G. was in trouble too and needed 3 min. 45.55 sec., while the Cottrells, father and son, who had appeared late after magneto trouble, took 3 mm. 37.3 sec. and 3 mm. 31.35 sec. in their Austin Seven. Kennedy was slower than his morning run with 3 min 10.55 sec.
Procter was slightly slower in the 1,100-c.c. class, although (or perhaps because) he nearly set his tyres on fire leaving the hair-pin, and Logan was again in trouble with the F.I.A.T.-Singer and did not complete his run.
Among the "1,500's" Hollis, in a desperate attempt to beat Farland, hit the inside bank at the Cutting, bounced to the outside bank, and then smote the inside bank once again, but cut his time to 2 min. 44 sec. to get second place in his class. Farland pulled his time down to 2 min. 39.95 sec. in a beautiful drive, the Magnette going as it has never gone before. Shand was slower in 2 min. 56.45 sec., but Easterbrook Smith got his time down to 2 min. 52.9 sec., to get third place. The Alvis jumped out of gear at the hairpin and the owner's lip movement shocked prudish spectators. Vogtherr was only 0.5 sec. slower than his morning run and Christie improved to 2 min. 54.9 sec., in spite of nearly leaving the road at Watertrough Corner.
Cowan had trouble in the Sunbeam on his second run, third and top, plus a tentative stab at reverse being essayed when second was needed, the result being 3 min. 2.2 sec., and Watson was slower, needing 3 min. 7 sec. In the meantime, large lumps of rubber had been removed from the Easterbrook-Sunbeam's fuel system, but unfortunately lots more remained as G. Easterbrook Smith left the line, changed into second, selected reverse at the first misfire and backed to the pits for further ministrations, unfortunately unsuccessfully as Toby had the same trouble, this time further up. Clinkard pulled his time down to 2 min. 58.2 sec., leaving the line with much tyre squeal.
Hemus got the "30/98" up in 2 min. 41.65 sec., his passage around the hairpin being exemplary, after which Faulkner turned on an absolutely shattering run which was unfortunately mistimed. Freeman then set off to beat him but near the summit turned his car right round, taking 3 min. 6.85 sec.
Among those running in the handicap class alone Jock Brough was extremely consistent in his Singer saloon with times of 3 min. 36.3 sec., and 3 min. 36.8 sec., and Fowke made no mistakes in his Riley saloon, his times of 3 min. 14.8 sec., and 3 min. 11.85 sec., being examples of how to get the best out of a fully-equipped car.
Once again the help of officers of the Transport Department was of inestimable value and Chief Marshal Trevor Wickham and his hard-working marshals can feel proud of the efficiency with which the event was conducted.
850-c.c.- 1st: R. J. Roycroft (Austin supercharged) 2 min. 44.45 sec.; 2nd: J. Kennedy (Austin) 3 min. 7.75 sec.; 3rd: J. H. Cottrell (Austin) 3 min. 31.35 sec.
1,100-c.c. - 1st: M. Procter (Riley-Bugatti) 2 min. 44.25 sec.
1,500-c.c. - 1st: A. S. Farland (M.G.) 2 min. 39.95 sec.; 2nd: H. Hollis (M.G.) 2 min. 44 sec.; 3rd: G. Easterbrook Smith (Alvis) 2 min. 52.9 sec.
3,000-c.c. - 1st: J. R. Cowan (Sunbeam) 2 min. 52.95 sec.; 2nd: B. H. Clinkard (Alvis) 2 min. 58.2 sec.; 3rd: R. Watson (Frazer-Nash) 3 min. 0.75 sec.
Unlimited c.c. - 1st: E. H. Faulkner (Faulkner Special) 2 min. 32.5 sec.; 2nd: A. T. Freeman (Thompson Special) 2 min. 38.7 sec.; 3rd: K. H Herons (Vauxhall) 2 min. 41.65 sec.
Handicap. - 1st: G. E. Vogtherr (Morgan); 2nd: P. B. Fowke (Riley); 3rd: B. H. Clinkard (Alvis).
Fastest Vintage Car. - K. H. Hemus (Vauxhall) 2 min. 41.65 sec.