The V8 engine may be on the way to ‘endangered species’ status on New Zealand roads, but the muscular bellow of American – and even Japanese – high performance V8 engines is beginning to dominate the spectacular world of offroad racing.
When the first round of the 2015 ENZED New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship starts on Saturday at Kaukapakapa, more than 20 per cent of the 60-strong field will be V8 powered, and the assembled power of the big V8 cars and trucks will exceed 5,000 bhp.
Prototypes could rule the day with experienced racers Gregg Carrington-Hogg and Murray Kitt both moving from the Achilles Radial Class 1 unlimited race car class into the Achilles Radial Class 9.
They join defending class champion Maurice Bain (VW Beetle V6 turbo) and leave five unlimited-class entries in the top race car Achilles Radial Class 1:
front-runners among that class are Ernie Hogg in the “General” and multiple champion Tony McCall in the ENZED-backed BSL Terra, both running massive race-tuned LS2 Chev V8s.
The ultimate truck class will see a battle between old and new race trucks. There is a new unlimited-class race truck coming all the way from Palmerston North, owner Grant Rosenburg stepping up for class four for modified sport trucks. It has been built in Palmerston North. Another new truck is making its debut with Aucklander Dale Buckley at the wheel, an unlimited-class “ProLite’ design built in America by Kincaid Motorsports. These two go up against Jono Climo’s immaculately-presented Kumho Toyota Hilux Trophy Truck with its twin-turbo V8 and four wheel drive. Also likely to race is Raana Horan in Big Black, his Nissan Titan V8 four wheel drive truck. Horan’s children Brooklyn and Boston are both racing in the Kiwitruck youth category.
More imported race vehicles are flooding into New Zealand as the US-NZ dollar exchange rate continues to favour local racers. Aucklander James Buchanan has imported a Tatum race car and re-powered it with a Mitsubishi Evo turbo engine. Ivan Booth will run a Tatum chassis in class five for cars using engines of up to 1350cc.
Polaris NZ is backing young Tauranga teenager Dyson Delahunty’s step up into the Polaris Class U - UTV or ‘side by side’ class, while another young racer, Tyler Castle, steps up from the VW-powered class seven to race in class five with Suzuki power. The most numerous class is for cars with engines up to 1650cc, where 11 entries had been received by mid-week.
The weekend’s racing starts at 11.00 am on a new course at Haruru Road and takes the form of ‘short course’ heats for fourteen classes of race car and truck including the Kiwitruck youth category. There is an all-in race at the end of the three heats for each class. Short course races are short (five laps) and spectacular, with all race action visible from main spectator locations.
The 2015 ENZED New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship takes place over seven rounds, with competitors racing at either three northern or three southern rounds before the entire championship field meets for the all-in final, which will be held in early November on a farm course in Hawkes Bay.