Second “Original” to join New Zealand F5000 series
A second category original – Reg Cook – is set to join New Zealand’s world-leading MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series this season
Cook, now 63, raced a Lola T300 to second place in the local Gold Star Championship in 1974 and will make his F5000 return this season in a Lola T400 recently acquired from Canada by fellow Aucklander Glenn Richards.
Defending MSC champion Ken Smith was the first ‘original ‘ (defined as a driver who raced one of the V8-powered single-seater racing cars first time around) lured back to the contemporary MSC-backed Tasman Cup Revival series. And though several others – including former Tasman Series champion Graeme Lawrence and Gold Star winner David Oxton – have enjoyed brief outings in series cars Cook is so far the only other to contemplate a serious return.
The car he will drive is one of 14 Lola T400 models produced in 1974 and 1975. It was originally owned and raced by Canadian driver Eppie Wietzes and has only had one other owner, fellow Canadian Horst Kroll.
Kroll bought and re-bodied the T400 to contest the Can-Am sportscar series and it is in this state that the car was advertised for sale.
Richards, whose Christchurch-based brother Tony races a Lola T332 in the MSC series, had been on the lookout for a car of his own to drive for a year or so and with encouragement from Ness Valley, Clevedon, neighbour Cook, and Canadian-based Kiwi Richard Paterson (who checked the car out for the pair before they made the trip to Toronto to negotiate the purchase) a deal was concluded earlier this year.
Under that deal Cook will rebuild and race the car this season with the view to handing it over to Richards when both decide the time is right.
For Cook the campaign is the latest in a long and almost continuous line which started back in 1969 in a Mini and has taken in everything from his successful if ultimately ill-fated Gold Star campaign in the T300 in 1973 and 1974 in which he finished second overall in the series (his single-seater career ended abruptly when the Lola T300 was destroyed in a road accident on the way back to Auckland from the final Gold Star round) to the rallying that has been his competitive focus for the past 15 years.
“The way I see it, ” he says, ” is that it is just another challenge. It will be a challenge to go back and do it and a challenge to race against guys like Glenn’s brother and of course Kenny Smith.”
“Really, ” he says, ” there are multiple reasons for buying the car and getting involved in the series in this way. One is the long term interest in motorsport I share with my family. Another is the goading I’ve been getting from my brother Tony to get a car of my own. There’s also more to what Reg and I want to do with the car and the campaign than just turning up at the track and racing it. A lot of other people are involved already and our ultimate goal, if you like, is to take them on a journey, give them something to feel good about, something more than the nine-to-five.”
This season’s five-round MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series kicks off at the re-scheduled Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park over the October 30/31 meeting then heads north in January for rounds at the two NZ Festival of Motor Racing – Chris Amon meetings at Hampton Downs in January before returning south for the penultimate round at the Skope Classic meeting at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway in early February and the final at the Southern Festival of Speed meeting at Invercargill’s Teretonga Park a fortnight later.