Lady Wigram back on track

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger is braced for a ride with Steve Brooks (Wolfbrook Motoracing Team)...
Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger is braced for a ride with Steve Brooks (Wolfbrook Motoracing Team) ahead of the 5th round of the Super Sprint New Zealand motorsport championship. Photo: Supplied
On the 30th anniversary of the famed Lady Wigram Trophy race last being held around the airbase circuit, the silverware will be polished up for presentation again to coincide with a motorsport series debut in Christchurch.

The iconic trophy will be awarded for the first time since Marcus Armstrong took the chequered flag at what is now known as Euromarque Motorsport Park at Ruapuna in 2018.

Australian Paul Stokell won the last trophy race around Wigram in 1994, preventing a three -peat for New Zealand’s former Supercars driver Craig Baird.

Sunday’s trophy race is a fitting finale for Christchurch’s inaugural hosting of a Super Sprint Motorsport New Zealand championship round on Friday.

Another focal point will be Christchurch hosting the first-ever trans-Tasman V8 TA2 muscle car challenge as part of the fifth of seven Super Sprint rounds scheduled nationwide.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to hold our first Christchurch race meet and bring our NZ Championship to Euromarque Raceway for the city’s first ever Super Sprint series,” said Super Sprint NZ director  Brendon White.

“Motorsport has an incredibly rich history in Christchurch over the past century and the legacy of racing endures long after this weekend’s event.”

Ron Roycroft leads eventual winner Morrie Proctor, on the left of the track, in the inaugural New...
Ron Roycroft leads eventual winner Morrie Proctor, on the left of the track, in the inaugural New Zealand championship road race in 1949. Photo: Supplied
While the focus will be on racing, the high octane duels of yesteryear at Wigram will be remembered with a memorial lap of the remnants of the former defence facility on Thursday, the track where Formula 1 legends Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham and New Zealand’s Bruce McLaren all reigned supreme.

Drivers will honour the past with a motorcade through residential development, while a commemorative tree will be planted at the Lady Wigram Retirement Village, where a number of residents recalled the early races.

The New Zealand championship road race was first held in 1949, covered 50-laps (169km) and was won by Morrie Proctor in a Riley.

The race name changed to the Lady Wigram Trophy, in honour of Agnes, the wife of former Christchurch mayor Sir Henry Wigram, in 1951.

Sir Henry, who died in 1934, made significant contributions to the city’s aviation and car racing history when he played a key role in the establishment of the Wigram Aerodrome.

Following the tree planting drivers will be welcomed onto the Tuahiwi marae, south of Rangiora, before making school visits to Te Kura o Huriawa Thorrington school, Waitakiri Primary School and  Templeton School.

A meet and greet was also scheduled between 6.30-7.30pm outside Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on Oxford Tce.

ChristchurchNZ head of major events Karena Finnie welcomed Christchurch’s debut as a Super Sprint series host from an entertainment and financial perspective. 

“Over and above all the great activity around the city and the legacy left for the people of Christchurch, ChristchurchNZ invests in major events like Super Sprint to generate significant positive economic impact,” she said.

Finnie estimated more than 8000 racegoers, including 2500 from outside the region, would attend the racing daily.

She added the visitors would generate more than $750,000 of visitor expenditure across the weekend.”