Long-time Waikato-based rally driver Ray Wilson laughed when quizzed about his hopes in the Hawke's Bay Car Club's 70th anniversary celebrations events this weekend.

"I've got no expectations because we won't know who else will be there in our class until the day. I could be first if there aren't many cars or I could be last if there are heaps. The main reason I'm doing it is for the cause," Wilson explained.

He was referring to the fight against motor neurone disease and the promotion of the annual Walk 2 D'Feet for MND which will be held in Napier on November 12. Pokeno's Wilson, 62, will drive an Audi Quattro in the Four-Wheel Drive class.

The car was built in memory of Hawke's Bay rally driver Malcolm Stewart who died in 2009 after a battle with a form of MND. He was 63.


Stewart contested 29 Rally New Zealands and numerous overseas events. Many rally enthusiasts believed he could have made a career out of the sport had he opted to choose rallying over his farming interests near Dannevirke.

Stewart, who tackled his first rally in 1972 in a Fiat 125, won the national championship series in 1983, and in the 1985 Rally of New Zealand he was the first Kiwi home and fifth overall in a Group B Audi Quattro.

"Most of the rallies Malcolm did in the 1970s and '80s I did. We were friends for years," fulltime rally car mechanic Wilson recalled.

This weekend's events will include the annual Te Onepu Road hill climb which was first staged in 1955 on Saturday and an autocross and car display at the club's Bridge Pa-based Jack Young Motorsport Park on Sunday.

"It will be the first time I've done the hill climb. One of our crew [Dannevirke's Lindsay McCutcheon] has done it numerous times so he should be able to sort me out. I've done the autocross course quite a few times because it is always the last stage of the Hawke's Bay Rally. It should be fun but as long as I complete it I'll be happy," Wilson said.

He pointed out he was looking forward to the "reminiscing stages" of this weekend.

"It will be then when we suddenly realise how old we've all got," he quipped.

Wilson finished 25th in a 72-car field in last month's Whitianga-based Gold Rush Rally. Stewart's wife Sue, who built the Audi Quattro, two years ago said Wilson was the logical choice when deciding on a driver when she got "the old crew together again".

"Ray was a long-time rival of Malcolm's but also a long-time friend. He's a safe driver too."
This weekend's festivities will begin with a social gathering at the clubrooms on Friday night. Hawke's Bay's New Zealand motorsport legend and club member Greg Murphy will be the guest speaker at Saturday night's anniversary dinner.

A highlight of the weekend will be the appearance of the Normac Special Reg McCutcheon drove when he won the inaugural Te Onepu Road hillclimb. Bruce Webster finished second in a Cooper in 1955. Webster's son Robert and grandson Nick have continued the family tradition by competing in the event.

Third place in 1955 went to Angus Hyslop in a Jaguar XK140. Hyslop was another Hawke's Bay farmer who tackled several overseas rallies.

After its formation in May, 1947 the Hawke's Bay Car Club was one of the founding clubs of Motorsport New Zealand. The club was initially called the Hawke's Bay Sports Car Club and it also had a section for motorcycles.

Over the years the club has staged numerous successful events including New Zealand Goldstar Hillclimbs, New Zealand Championship Rallies, New Zealand Clubsport Championships and Gold Star trials.

Hyslop, Stewart and Murphy are three of several high profile members the club has boasted. Others include Johnny McIntyre, Ashley Stichbury, Doug Parkhill and four-time New Zealand Clubsport Gold Star champion Brent Redington. The club has been based at Bridge Pa since 1961 on land purchased for £950.