Hampton Downs.

August 2nd, 2011

Last weekend I went for a trip to Hampton Downs which is a new racetrack less than an hour south of Auckland. I drove down in Vicky topless. Well Vicky being topless, me being wrapped up. Not wrapped up enough though, I was bloody freezing! By the time I arrived I was shivering! The heater in the MG is fairly useless when driving at 100kph on a cold, drizzly early morning with the top down.  The reason for going down was a track day for the vintage car cub. I wanted to go down to see the track and also have a look at some real Austin 7 specials.

The weather kept some people away I suspect but there several 7s there as well as some other very interesting old cars. On the skid pan was another car club doing some kind  of trials thing. When I first arrived the place seemed deserted. Basically you just drive into the circuit, park in the paddock and go wherever you like.  I parked and got out, still shivering, and immediately started chatting to people. Everyone seemed very friendly.

I had gone down to meet a chap called Ian who knows his stuff about A7s it seems. He had two cars there. The people I talked to seemed interested and very happy to offer help and advice when I explained what I want to do with mine.  They were all there to do laps of the circuit. Not racing, just driving as fast as they liked. Before starting that though they did what are called acclimatisation laps behind a pace car so people could get to see the circuit.  The track manager said people could do it in their normal road cars and that it would be fine for me to go too.  So back into Vicky, top down still, in the rain driving around the track at normal speeds. Was great! Best way to see the circuit. It’s really quite a hilly one.  Especially at the hairpin turn where there is quite a drop.

Laps done I wandered about taking pictures, talking and watching the cars lap. Being able to wander anywhere I went up to the little flag waving platform with some others. It’s a great place to watch what’s happening!


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Watching from the start/finish line.

One of the cars there was a special build by a father and son. This was done on a budget and they hadn’t done anything too fancy but they had a fun little car there and seems quite happy driving it about.

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A7 special on a budget.

I was interested in seeing the pedal layout since it was so wrong on my car when I got it. In an Austin 7 the pedal positions are somewhat fixed because the clutch pedal works directly on the clutch so is mounted to the bellhousing. The brake pedal is actually connected to (well, through) the steering box! The gearbox and steering are pretty fixed so this sets where the pedals are unless you start doing some serious modifications. This car did have a modified front end.  Now my female friends will certainly backup the fact that I do like a nice front end.  This car had a big seven front on it.

At the other end of the scale is Ian’s A7 which he has had for more than 20 years. It’s a great little car and actually looks pretty much how I first imagined I would build a special.Excellent attention to detail on this car. Everything just looks right. It’s apparently quick too!

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Ian’s A7.

There was one other interesting A7 there and this one was very special. It was highly modified and very fast. Basically it is a pure racer I think.  I am not sure how much on it was standard any more.

IMG_0364_3 Very special A7.

I had a very fun day there. The track is great and I want to go back.  I missed out on an MG track day a few weeks ago since I was busy repairing the garage but I will definitely go to the next one. Also on the way back you can stop to get some Pokeno bacon!

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Also where else do you get to park next to a real Bugatti Type 35!



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