Classic race-car nirvana at Hampton Downs
Sizing up a collection of wonderful race cars at the annual Hampton Downs Icebreaker
Life as a motorsport reporter and photographer sounds glamorous on paper, but in practice can be quite a hectic and stressful thing.
The next few months are going to be tough. It's rush hour for anyone reporting Australasian motorsport, as the Supercars chomp through their endurance season, and at home the Australian GT Championship and South Island Endurance Series ensure that those frequent-flier miles will soon blow out. The D1NZ National Drifting Championship will soon start their next calendar in Dunedin of all places, and those thumping Aussie Supercars will make their annual trip to Pukekohe around the same time.
It's going to be madness, which is why I love the Historic Racing Club's yearly Icebreaker event at Hampton Downs.
As sad as it might sound, there's something very special about simply turning up to a race track with a camera in hand and having no immediate obligation to report, transcribe, or shoot anything in particular (apart from this blog of course, which will likely be nutted out while watching TV and popping potato chips. Glamorous).
And this is what Icebreaker has been for its regular visitors — a calm before a brilliant yet chaotic storm.
As touched on last week, the Icebreaker meeting brought together 166 race cars across nine different categories. And as cliché as it sounds, there was something for everyone.
The Alfa Trofeo Series were out in force with one of their most diverse grids yet. Making its debut was a beautifully recreated Alfa Romeo 155 DTM/BTCC replica. Sporting BTCC-esque stance and wheels, but a DTM racing livery, it looked beautiful underneath Saturday's mostly clear skies.
Sadly though, motorsport being motorsport, the 155 was one of several cars to crash out of Sunday's proceedings — the once pristine panels and paint folding flat on its front end. It'll be back better than ever supposedly, hopefully to make a cleaner true on-track debut.
Crashes were also sadly abound in other classes; particularly in the packed grid of the single-make E30 BMW series. Broken race cars in say Nascar or the Supercars Championship come with the subtext where you know that the team behind the crumpled sheet metal will have no troubles in beating and replacing things into full shimmering working order overnight. But it's not the same with historic motorsport, where a large segment of those on track are doing things out of their own thinly-lined pockets.
But the incidents still didn't mar what was a stellar weekend of racing, and the Open BMW Series were the jewel in the crown. Despite the single-make status, the class still manage to shoe-horn an impressive amount of variety in their ranks; with BMW's old mingling with BMW's new. Mike Delmont's stunning 2002 Turbo sharing real estate with new-age rockets like Andrew Nugent's E93 GT2.
Of course, there were more than just Beemers and Alfas out in force. The weird and the wonderful were all there, from Perana Ford Capri V8s, to some wonderful Ford Escorts, to a Renault Fuego that wouldn't stop snarling and burping when the pilot let off the gas.
As great as the track action at Icebreaker was however, it's one of the few events that is even better off track. Everyone in parc fermé is happy to chit chat about their own four-wheeled slice of creativity without any mention of dreaded concepts like ‘politics’ or ‘parity’.
As usual, Icebreaker was just a nice place to be, which is why it'll always be circled on my calendar.
Check out Driven.co.nz's huge gallery from the HRC Icebreaker below: