75th anniversary of Wigram race circuit celebrated

The roar of V8 racing engines echoed around the historic racing circuit at Wigram airfield today, as the 75th anniversary of the first-ever motorsport race held at the former RNZAF base was celebrated.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand communications manager David King said it was great to recreate an important part of Christchurch's history.

"Wigram became a fantastic race circuit, it was a runaway success right from the start. There were 30,000 people, they estimated at the very first race, and then that race grew to become the Lady Wigram Trophy a few years later, and it was cemented into Christchurch motorsport history".

Helping to relive memories of the glory days were examples of the old and the new.

A 1970s Leda LT27 Formula 5000 race car and a modern FT-60 Grand Prix single-seater which will be competing this weekend at the SuperSprint Motorsport NZ Championship series.

"The Formula 5,000 car actually won here at Wigram back then. So it's just wonderful to have a car of that pedigree back here on the tarmac to have a run."

The treasured Lady Wigram Trophy will be up for grabs at this weekend's round of the Super Sprint...
The treasured Lady Wigram Trophy will be up for grabs at this weekend's round of the Super Sprint championship. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The last Lady Wigram Trophy race was held at the RNZAF airbase in 1994, a year before it closed, although racing did continue on the circuit until 2000.

"They talk about it being just really exciting. You were very close to the cars."

King said motorsport history was a big part of the Air Force Museum, which attracts 170,000 visitors a year.

The famous Lady Wigram Trophy is set to be awarded on Sunday afternoon, for the first time since 2018. It'll go to the winner of this weekend's finale trophy race at the Super Sprint championship round in Ruapuna.

- By Geoff Sloan