Rocketship threatens lap record
Glenn Smith, in his head-turning former Daytona Prototype sports car, is hunting down Palmerston North driver Cameron Jones' Manfeild saloon car lap record.
In the latest round of the Winter Series on Sunday, Smith posted a time of 1min 05.4sec around Manfeild in winning all three GT Cup races.
Jones wasn't competing but that time is getting close to his record of 1min 04.614sec.
"I'm reasonably confident we can get down to it," Smith said. "Cameron is the quickest in the country."
Jones drives a yellow 1998 RX666 Camaro. On June 2 he set the lap record previously held by Carl Hansen in a TVR Tuscan from January 2008.
On Sunday, Smith even went out in the heavy rain and recorded a 1:13 lap.
Smith, the owner of Taranaki By-Products at Okaiawa, near Hawera, is a former rally driver and is a frequent visitor to Manfeild.
He formerly drove a Porsche 997RS which he now races in the Asian Super Cup series in Malaysia and Thailand.
About six months ago he was leafing through race cars for sale and ended up flying to Washington DC to buy the Daytona Prototype car known as a Crawford.
They are space-frame cars purpose-built by a New Zealand expatriate, Max Crawford, in North Carolina.
His company does carbon-fibre composite work for race cars, motorcycles, aerospace, marine, sport and manufacturing industries.
Smith figured the car was perfect to race against all of the Transams, like Jones'.
"When I first got it, the motor blew up," Smith said.
So in went a new twin-turbo 3.6 litre Porsche engine reputedly generating 850 horsepower, much of the work done by Palmerston North mechanic Maurice Ebert.
"It is real cool, an unreal car. It's taking a while to get used to it because it generates so much downforce." It is particularly tricky when cornering and requires more physical effort than his older Porsche.
Smith was in Palmerston North in the 2011 Targa Rally in his rebuilt Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, which he has since sold. He also used it for track racing.
It was the same car, then brand new and estimated to be worth $200,000, which he destroyed after spectacularly rolling it at the Otago Rally four years ago.
Meanwhile, Motorsport Manawatu manager Julian Hardy reported a record entry of 109 cars on Sunday.
"To put that into some sort of perspective, there are more cars racing here than the last V8 SuperTourer and Grand Prix meetings held at Manfeild," he said.
"In a time when money is tight, we are breaking all the moulds and putting on a show that is all about our competitors and they are repaying us by entering in record-breaking numbers.
"Quite simply, this race series is the biggest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, and shows little sign of abating."
The series has two more rounds, on August 4 and September 1.