History repeated itself at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway on Sunday as veteran New Zealand racing driver Ken Smith won the Lady Wigram trophy race for a third time in four decades.
He did it in style too, starting the rain and hail-lashed Trophy race late in the afternoon from pole position and pulling away from the 13-strong MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series field until the race was red flagged on the 13th lap.
"I'm no lover of the rain but honestly, " Smith said afterwards, " it was magic out there. Just magic. And being in a Lola again, it was just like 1976 all over again."
That year Smith won his first Lady Wigram Trophy for the first time behind the wheel of the Lola T332 Formula 5000 single-seater he used to contest the original Tasman Series that season.
He won the Trophy for a second time 14 years later behind the wheel of a Swift DB4 Formula Pacific car and a third time today - 33 years to the day after winning his first - behind the wheel of the Lola T430 he has been driving in the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series for the past two seasons.
Making the occasion even more auspicious was the fact that the car was tended this weekend by Barry Miller and Phil Richardson, two of the mechanics who worked on the Lola T332 Smith used to win the Lady Wigram Trophy for the first time back in 1976.
Having impressed at the first round of this season's series then dominated the second, series points leader Smith was the odds-on as well as sentimental favourite to win this weekend's Lady Wigram Trophy race but so competitive is the popular Tasman Cup Revival Series that he had his work well and truly cut out with current series fast man Tony Richards (Lola T332) pipping him for pole position in qualifying then American visitor Jay Esterer (McRae GM1) winning the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon.
Esterer and Aucklander Roger Williams (Lola T332) went on to haggle over the lead of the weekend's second race, on Sunday morning, with the nod going to Williams after first-across-the-line Esterer was given a time penalty for jumping the start.
Smith didn't help his own cause by spinning - fortunately without damage - early in the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon but he never gave up, working his way back up to sixth place at the flag in that race then following Williams home for second (after Esterer was relegated) in the race on Sunday morning
Then come the Lady Wigram Trophy final it all came together, the veteran - currently contested his 51st consecutive season of top level motorsport in New Zealand - crossing the finish line over half a minute ahead of Richards and fellow Lola T332 drivers Ian Clements and Stan Redmond.
"I kept looking in my mirrors to see if anyone was coming with me but they weren't and even keeping the old girl in the high gears and being careful with the throttle I was still pulling away."
And though the track was streaming and the rain kept on coming Smith said it wasn't as bad as it was in Adelaide in 1976 - the last time, he reckons, he raced a Formula 5000 single-seater in the rain.
"No, that was really bad, much worse than it was today."
With Smith, Clements and Redmond forced to work their way back through the field after leaving the track on the first lap Saturday's race saw Jay Esterer score his first F5000 win on New Zealand soil from Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) , David Abbott driving the sister car to Smith's Lola T430, and Auckland's Aaron Burson (Talon MR1A).
On Sunday Roger Williams won the first race from Smith, fastest qualifier Tony Richards and Ian Clements and Smith won the second from Richards, Clements, Redmond and Esterer.
This weekend's meeting marked the beginning of a busy month for the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Revival Series contestants, with the fourth round of the 2008/09 series at Pukekohe next weekend and the fifth and final the weekend after (Jan 31-Feb 01) at Taupo.
The MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series cars headline all three meetings, with support this weekend from Sport Saloons, Pre 65s, Super 6s, Allcomers club saloons, BMWs and BEARS motorcycles
The MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney's Specialised Bulk Transport, Pacifica, Toll Holdings, Smith & Davies and Avon Tyres.
2008//09 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 3 Christchurch Casino Lady Wigram Trophy meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch New Zealand Sat-Sun Jan 17-19 2009
1. Tony Richards (Lola T332) 1.20.338
2. Ken Smith (Lola T430) 1.21.107
3. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1.21.134
4. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 1.21.175
5. Jay Esterer (McRae GM1) 1.21.273
6. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 1.22.714
7. Stan Redmond (Lola T332) 1.23.500
8. Aaron Lewis (Matich A50) 1.23.561
9. Aaron Burson (Talon MR1A) 1.23.803
10. Stuart Lush (McRae GM1) 1.23.889
11. David Abbott (Lola T430) 1.24.496
12. Steve Ross (Lola T142) 1.25.433
13. Tony Roberts (McLaren M22) 1.25.533
14. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1.25.939
15. Lindsay O'Donnell (Begg FM5) 1.29.290
16. Poul Christie (Lola T190) 1.32.379
17. Hamish Peterson (Chevron B32) 1.33.783
18. Frank Lyons (Begg 018) 1.35.038
19. Kerry McIntosh (Begg FM2) 1.36.044
20. Kerry Anderson (Lola T142) 1.37.191
21. Peter Burson (BRM P201) 1.42.384
1. Jay Esterer 8.24.232
2. Sefton Gibb +9.021
3. David Abbott +17.430
4. Aaron Burson +19.670
5. Ian Clements +20.217
6. Kenny Smith +20.226
7. Aaron Lewis +23.267
8. Tony Richards +23.753
9. Steve Ross +27.497
10. Russell Greer +36.238
11. Stan Redmond +36.545
12. Lindsay O'Donnell +41.107
13. Poul Christie +1.03.374
14. Frank Lyons +1.06.330
15. Hamish Paterson +1.18.723
16. Kerry McIntosh +1.24.363
17. Kerry Anderson +1.26.772
Fastest lap Ken Smith 1.20.721
Race 2 (6 laps)
1. Roger Williams 8.14.691
2. Ken Smith +0.201
3. Tony Richards +2.924
4. Ian Clements +5.656
5. Stan Redmond +6.725
6. Jay Esterer +9.242
7. Sefton Gibb +13.364
8. Aaron Burson +13.996
9. David Abbott +19.521
10. Steve Ross +27.861
11. Russell Greer +31.666
12. Lindsay O'Donnell +33.107
13. Aaron Lewis +59.094
14. Frank Lyons +1.01.296
15. Poul Christie +1.05.244
16. Hamish Paterson +1.07.815
17. Kerry McIntosh +1.25.567
18. Kerry Anderson +1.34.312
Fastest lap: Ken Smith 1.19.859
Race 3 (Lady Wigram Trophy)
1. Ken Smith 19.37.283
2. Tony Richards +34.100
3. Ian Clements +47.381
4. Stan Redmond +1.12.952
5. Jay Esterer +1.15.822
6. Russell Greer +1.57.277
7. Lindsay O'Donnell +1 lap
8. Poul Christie +1 lap
9. Frank Lyons +1 lap
10. Hamish Paterson +1 lap
11. David Abbott +2 laps
dnf Kerry Anderson., Aaron Burson
dns Roger Williams, Sefton Gibb, Aaron Lewis, Steve Ross, Kerry McIntosh
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