The Roaring Years

Remembering the Golden Years of Pukekohe Park Raceway

Written by Greg Stokes

Ask any Pukekohe local and they will have fond memories of the golden years of motor racing at Pukekohe Park Raceway. The venue has hosted many globally renowned motor racing drivers over the years and many local heroes have started out from club level racing at “Puke”.

Depending on what era you grew up will show through in what car or which driver you are influenced by. The car on these pages is one of those vehicles which has inspired many and captivated the heart and mind of motor racing fans from the roaring years of New Zealand motor racing history.

The “Morrari” was a car which pushed all the boundaries of grassroots motorsport in the sixties. Built to compete in the “Allcomers” class, we feel that it was most likely the reason or one of the reasons that the class was squashed or erased after a few years! Piloted by the late Garth Souness and built mostly by the late Glenn “Jigger” Jones, the Morrari was the purest sense of automotive bastardisation one could ever imagine. However, the origins are more simple than it all initially sounds. A fifties era single seater Ferrari Grand Prix car was used for the chassis and suspension due to the fact it was a dated car which had no value! A Morris Minor Lo Lite proved to be the same wheelbase and reportedly after much after hours workshop banter, a plan was hatched.

That plan was to merge the English saloon car body with an Italian racing car chassis and power the whole thing with a USA manufactured 327 cubic inch Chevrolet Corvette engine. This absurd combination of components resulted in one of New Zealand’s most remembered and talked about motor racing vehicles of all time. By all accounts from those who remember, the Morrari lived up to the wild expectations it had at the time. It was insanely fast on the straights but handled terribly in the corners but love or hate it, the Morrari is a well-remembered car. In fact it held the track record at Pukekohe for years at 150 miles per hour.

Over two race seasons the car evolved to what you see here in the colour photo. Initially the Ferrari wire wheels were tossed aside, to be replaced with Graham Addis Wild Wheels widened Mercury rims on wide Firestone tyres. The exhaust stacks were roughly protruding straight up through the engine hood (or bonnet). In its final guise the Morrari was painted in a light blue color. Shortly after the Allcomer class was terminated, the Morrari was parted out. The body became a grass track racer and the Ferrari chassis went to a guy in Christchurch who loosely restored the car to Ferrari specification and sold the car overseas.

Fast forward to recent years and Pukekohe local, Mark Stokes had always been mesmerised but the Morrari and the Kiwi can do attitude to build such a car. With that in mind, he began to build a recreation of the car. To date he has had assistance from GMS Hot Rods and also a very good friend Mike Roberts. Currently the car is in the construction phase with no immediate time frame in mind. “We want this car to be as true a recreation of the real car so if one were to close their eyes and then open them again, it would feel like the real car is in front of them”, reflects Mark. The reality of it all is that there simply aren’t enough really good photos of the car to go by and unfortunately both driver and builder have since passed on.

However, it’s been an enjoyable challenge researching about the car itself and also the super rare and valuable Ferrari Super Squalo Grand Prix donor car of the original Morrari. “Essentially we have to build an accurate recreation of the Ferrari and then merge the two together in the spirit of how it would have been done in the day with an emphasis on safety”, says Mark. Once completed its hoped the car can be run at Pukekohe Park Raceway again and Hampton Downs as well as other classic motor racing events. If anyone has any photos or information on the Morrari please do not hesitate to contact GMS Hot Rods at the bottom of this page.

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elocal Franklin
October 2018 (#211)

elocal Franklin – October 2018 (#211)