Dale Budge is a sports writer for the NZ Herald.

Motorsport: Icon Smith taking bow as F5000s blast back

Kenny Smith, guest of honor at this weekend's New Zealand Festival of Motorsport. Photo / Michael Craig
Kenny Smith, guest of honor at this weekend's New Zealand Festival of Motorsport. Photo / Michael Craig

Kiwi racing icon Ken Smith is the guest of honour at this weekend's New Zealand Festival of Motorsport at Hampton Downs Raceway in what will be a throwback to a favourite time of our racing history.

Smith, 75, will race his Formula 5000 against some of his rivals from the 1970s across the weekend.

In his down-to-earth manner, Smith is happy to be the centre of attention for the weekend.

"I feel pretty honoured about that " it is very thoughtful of them," he said.

"It is nice that it is happening but if it never happened, it wouldn't worry me but because it is happening and people have put so much work into this, I am delighted.

"A lot of people live on all that stuff but I don't - I am just an ordinary bloke in the street, like anyone.

"Tony Roberts and Chris Watson [former owners of Hampton Downs] had sorted it out a couple of years ago that this was the year they were going to do it and then of course they sold the place but Tony Quinn [new owner] has carried that on.

"It is very exciting - it is a lot of work getting things ready, getting the cars sorted so you get a bit stressed out but it is good."

While the tributes to his stellar career will be nice Smith, ever the racer, is most excited about getting on track for some racing.

"The racing is what I look forward to because I just love it. I get to jump into four or five different cars across the weekend but the atmosphere is good.

"You meet up with a lot of people you haven't seen for years and a lot of people come out of the woodwork that you used to race with and that is exciting."

The Formula 5000 cars were very popular in their day and Smith says there will be a lot of fans from that era that will enjoy this weekend's racing.

"It is still an era of an old type of car so the drivers have to do a lot of work. They move around across the road quite a bit, they don't have a lot of downforce so they are quite slippery but they are nice to drive.

"We have got Warwick Brown coming out from Australia and Kevin Bartlett and Bruce Allison and those are three guys we raced against in our days in Australia so that is really nice."

- NZ Herald

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