It’s not long now until 26 of New Zealand’s finest muscle cars are racing around Mount Panorama as part of the 2016 Bathurst 1000 being held over October 6–9. But who exactly is in the team heading across the ditch to do us Kiwis proud? They’re all from the Enzed Central Muscle Cars (CMC) club / race series, and have all clocked up plenty of miles on local soil. While a few have raced in Australia before — when CMC held a round at Eastern Creek, Sydney — none of the vehicles (as far as we’re aware at least) have raced at Bathurst before.
1970 Chevrolet Camaro RS
Colin’s immaculate Chaparral American replica 1970 Camaro runs a 350ci small block Chev, stroked to 400ci, and was built by Murray Thomas from Whangarei. Colin resides on the sunny shores of North Auckland, and has raced with CMC since 2006 — originally in a Holden Torana SL/R5000 followed by a later-model Corvette. He also raced a Toyota MR2 in Targa. Besides his Camaro, his toys include a seriously tough 1972 DeTomaso Pantera Group Four LeMans replica. Colin’s a deceptively smooth and very fast driver. He enjoys skiing and paragliding.
1984 Holden Commodore VH
Andrew’s HDT Brock replica’s recently been fitted with a 410ci LSX engine. Andrew owns and runs Nautech Electronics, the company responsible for most circuit lights in New Zealand, Australia, and the USA (including Mt Panorama and Highlands Motorsport Park). His engine is built by Ross Dallas of Rossco’s Engine Services. Andrew, who lives in Auckland, is on the CMC committee, and is a very hard-working and valuable club member who also just happened to design an ingenious computer program to collate race results quickly and efficiently.
Dr John Elliott
1972 Holden Torana LJ GTR XU-1
Dr John’s Torana GTR XU-1 is liveried to look like Colin Bond’s Heatway Rally car that raced in New Zealand many moons ago. The car is the only six-cylinder racing in Central Muscle Cars, powered by a dry-sumped 202ci, fitted with triple 50mm side-draft Weber DCOE carbs. Despite the horsepower disadvantage, and also running on small 13-inch rims, the car is a past Group 2 championship winner. Dr John is a prior president of CMC, and the negotiating brains behind CMC’s visit to Bathurst. He has a long history of racing Porsches among other things in New Zealand motorsport, and is a very respected doctor who saved the life of Owen Evans after his New Zealand land-speed record crash in 1996. Dr John now lives in Auckland, but still considers himself a Wellingtonian. He can often be found praying for rain before a race, as with just 300hp on tap, it becomes a great leveller for him.
1982 Ford Falcon XE
Greg’s Group 2 Falcon XE runs a 410ci Windsor-based Dart block engine. The car was originally imported from Canberra as a race car, and is now decked out in Dick Johnson’s ‘Red Roo’ Blue livery. ‘Cutty’, as he’s known, is a true-blue Ford man, a past Group 2 series winner and a well-known stock and station agent from Dannevirke in Southern Hawke’s Bay. Cutty’s a straight shooter, and the car is expertly prepared. Like many other competitors, the engine is built by Ross Dallas of Rossco’s Engine Services in nearby Feilding.
Ford Falcon XE
John is, by far, one of the younger drivers in CMC, and is relatively new to motor racing. However he’s also proven that he has race-winning potential. The well-prepared car has recently had a few setup changes to make it even more competitive, and John’s been doing plenty of Bathurst laps on a simulator, making him one to watch out for.
Ford Falcon XR
When Greg Holden’s not busy running his plumbing business, he can be found winding up other CMC drivers. His immaculate four-door XR was built in large part by Ken Hopper Car Construction, and is the only car of its type in the class. Greg, a West Aucklander, has a very determined and fast driving style, and, by his own admission, spends way too much time and money on his passion for motorsport.
1969 Holden Monaro GTS
Steve is the CMC club patron and a founding member of the club. He was also the first president of CMC and is a life member. His 1969 Holden Monaro GTS is equally as prestigious, having been raced for decades. The car runs a 406ci small block engine backed by a Jerico gearbox. Steve’s an engine builder by trade, operating Hildred Motors in New Plymouth, so knows what it takes to build a tough motor!
1977 Holden Torana SL/R 5000
Sean’s one of the relative newcomers to CMC, but with a car built and maintained by Rodney Heads at Heads Racing Supplies, he’s jumped right in the deep end. The 1977 Holden Torana SL/R 5000 replica runs a LSX-based 393ci engine, backed by a G-Force gearbox. Since joining the series two seasons ago, he’s had mixed results, but has proven successful by finishing third in last year’s Group 2 championship.
1969 Chev Camaro
Tristan, a past Group 2 champion and a wonderful driver, often relies on his sheer driving ability to overcome his more standard car specification. His car remains road registered and has been known to shock a few people down at the local corner store in Whanganui, where he lives. Tristan prepares and maintains the car himself, along with a tight crew, and is always accompanied by his wife Jo and his children. Rumour has it that his transporter truck can become quite the trackside party zone …
1969 Chev Camaro
Residing in Dunedin, Steve’s one of the few regular South Island–based CMC competitors. His Ken Hopper–built 1969 Chevrolet Camaro is immaculately prepared and often found at Highlands Motorsport Park where he’s a member. Despite his remote location, Steve’s also a current CMC committee member. He’s also a handy bloke to know if you’re looking at buying a Claas harvester …
1970 Chev Camaro
With a stressful and busy career as Head of the Team New Zealand Americas’ Cup Programme, racing is stress relief for Grant Dalton. His car, constructed by Ken Hopper, is a replica of his childhood hero Red Dawson’s. With Nascar power and all the best bits available, the car and driver combination are certainly not to be underrated as a dark horse.
1972 Valiant Charger
In the CMC club, Tony is one of two drivers who shares the weight of the entire Chrysler company on his shoulders. Tony is an ex speedway ‘Outlaw’ champion, so knows a thing or two about car control. Tony owns and runs the very successful Fluidex Transport, and is an avid Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiast, having ridden across America multiple times.
1967 Ford Mustang
Paul’s a newcomer to CMC, having previously raced in Pre ’65s. His beautifully built ’67 Mustang runs a 406ci Cleveland-based Dart block engine and G-Force gearbox. Paul owns an earthmoving and machinery business, Clarke Machinery Hire, based in Dunedin, where he lives.
1969 Chev Camaro Z28
Arguably one of the coolest cars on the track, the ‘Army’ Camaro was built by David’s father Ken, utilizing as many components as possible from a genuine Nascar. David is an ex NZV8 Tourer Car driver, and a wet-weather expert. He hasn’t run a full CMC season to date due to his studying in the South Island. Now that he’s graduated and living back in Auckland, we’re bound to see plenty more of him.
1985 VK Commodore
Steve Ross took Group 1 by storm a few seasons back, winning the Group 1 championship. Since then his VK Commodore has only got quicker, now running a 406ci LSX engine. Steve’s a quick and consistent driver who is happy to bide his time, let those around him create their own troubles, and then move up. Based in Auckland, Steve is part of the successful roofing-tile manufacturing group Metrotile. The car is maintained and engineered by Dean ‘Big Block’ Evans, with support from Mitchell Race Xtreme.
1970 Chev Camaro
Living as far south as it’s possible to get — Invercargill — Brendon suffers more of the tyranny of the distance to get to events than any other CMC member. His 1970 Chev Camaro is one of Ken Hopper’s early builds, previously belonging to Wayne ‘Jacko’ Anderson. The car’s since raced in a number of classes, and is always beautifully presented.
Ford Falcon XD
Current 2015–’16 Group 1 champion, and a superb and spectacular driver, Dean may well be the man to watch around the mountain. The ex police car now runs a Roush-Yates Nascar engine, and Dean drives it right on the ragged edge, living up to his name of ‘Wild Man’. Dean is an engineer by trade, and lives in Pukekohe, although he and wife Jane also own a tyre shop in Vanuatu where they spend half of their time.
1970 Dodge Challenger
Potentially the best-looking car in the field, Duane’s 1970 Dodge Challenger is a replica of Sam Posey’s legendary factory-backed car. Having campaigned a Mustang previously, Duane only recently stepped into the Challenger, and is yet to show its real potential. The car runs a 358ci Nascar engine and all the best bits to support it. Residing in Queenstown, Highlands Motorsport Park is Duane’s home track, but we’re sure he’ll do the Mopar fans proud around the mountain.
1972 XA Falcon Coupe
Cam Crawford has been part of the CMC field since 2009 in his Tracksport-built
1972 XA Falcon Coupe. Like his cousin Greg Holden, Cam is a Westie who’s always up for a good laugh. On track it’s all business though, and with a 410ci Windsor engine fitted with Cleveland head, the car’s no slouch. A refrigeration engineer by trade, Cam keeps his cool owning and running a successful air-conditioning company, Chillex.
1971 Ford Falcon XY
Both Michael Eden and his wife Sandra have raced in a number of classes at a number of tracks all around the globe. Michael’s 1971 Ford Falcon is known as being hard to pass with him seemingly making it wider than the track. The car runs a 400ci engine and Tex Racing gearbox, giving it plenty of power to back up its tough looks. Michael lives in Whanganui where he runs a successful manufacturing business, GDM Group.
1967 Ford Shelby Mustang
As the owner of Moselle Panel and Paint, it’s no wonder that Steve’s ’67 Shelby Mustang is immaculate. Steve and his Moselle team have repaired many CMC cars, and many are only still competing as a result of his famous generosity and emergency repair work. Steve has previously raced BMWs and lived in Canada for quite some years, bringing home one of their own in the form of his wife. He’s a very clean driver and can often be seen near the front of Group 2.
1968 Chevrolet RS Camaro
Beautifully built by Angus Fogg Racing, and finished by and Moselle Panel and Paint, Mark Holland’s Camaro looks more like a show car than a race car. A past dairy farmer, currently residing in Hamilton, Mark joined CMC a couple of seasons ago after competing in BMWs. He’s rapidly stamped his mark on proceedings within the Group 2 championship.
1969 Ford Mustang
Legend of the New Zealand motor-racing scene, Bruce has raced twice previously at Bathurst, with his brother Wayne back in the 1980s in Fox Body Mustangs. He’s competed on and off since starting in a car he borrowed from his grandmother back in the 1970s. Bruce is very knowledgeable about all things race cars — a mentor to many and still a remarkably fast driver. The car runs a Roush Yates motor, which creates around 800hp — more than double the power he last tackled the mountain with. Without a doubt, he’ll be one to watch.
1982 Holden VK Commodore
Tony’s Commodore is an ex TransAm Lite car, in which Tony joined CMC with two years ago. Tony’s father ran a similar-looking car in the Wellington Street Race back in the late 1980s, and after competing in various speedway classes, Tony decided to make the switch to tarmac. The car has a newly built engine by Rossco’s Engine Services, along with paint from good mate ‘Red’.
1977 Holden Torana LX SS
With the performance it offers you’d never expect Ross Graham’s Torana to be road legal, but it is. Ross and his wife Carmel have competed the car in various Targa events, yet it still holds its own on the track. Ross is a clever mechanical engineer, a great enthusiast, and is very knowledgeable on classic motorcycles. Not surprisingly, he’s also raced bikes, not just in New Zealand but also in Australia, USA, United Kingdom, Europe, and the Isle of Man.
1979 Holden Commodore VB
A fitter/turner/welder by trade Calvin owns Craftsman Engineering in Auckland, which specializes in race cars and roll cages. Having watched Bathurst for as long as he can remember, he never expected to get the chance to compete there. Now that it’s become a reality, he’s had TrackSport Engines build a 348ci engine for the car, giving it a significant bump in power from what we’ve seen him race with to date.