B&H Returns to Pukekohe (Part 4)



“Puke”, as it’s referred to, was the longest permanent racing circuit in the country at the time - and the fastest. The B & H always used what was termed as the long circuit, which included the section known as “The Loop”. This created an extremely tight left hand corner off pit straight known as “The Elbow”, which was the downfall of many drivers of the demon late braking variety. There was always the potential for carnage here, hence the adjacent spectator area was always packed!
Drivers and spectators loved Pukekohe, which had a good mix of high speed challenging curves, a good long straight and some tighter corners. Champion Curve (now Turn 1) which was not used for the B & H was the most testing corner of a driver’s nerve in the country at the time, which required taking the maximum brave pills to do it without lifting, but just a quick dap on the brakes to set the machine up. There has been some huge high speed calamities, on this curve over the years…
Gerard Richards notes that, “a pilgrimage to Pukekohe for the “500”, was not for the faint hearted, during these years. As young adolescents without wheels, it was a marathon bus expedition from Auckland’s North Shore. Duffel bags were crammed with provisions, such as egg sandwiches and the like, which seemed to massively lose their appeal, when the hot chips stand was sighted.
Usually by this time, the heavens had opened up and dumped their contents on us several times and the oil skin raincoats that were the style of the day, seemed to sweat more moisture than they repelled… September in Auckland, the weather is always notoriously unreliable and Pukekohe on B & H days seemed to have a reliable deal with the rain gods! Of course this wasn’t all bad and, as they say, once you’re wet, you can’t get wetter. And the action on the track, got better (in our eyes at least) mixing a wet oily, greasy surface with fading brakes and worn tyres, something’s got to give right! We generally stationed ourselves at the hairpin bend at the end of the main straight (Lion Motors Hairpin), callously like vultures waiting for victims and were in due course rewarded with an excellent combo of spin outs, grass cutting and an occasional big lose. The unlucky combatant, disappearing backwards out of sight at high velocity, into the piles of old tyres lurking a short distance beyond the run off area. This of course, was a cause for much celebration and revelry for the heartless hairpin spectator mob….”
At the time, it was the shorter 100 mile race (in the morning), for high performance imported factory limited production cars that was the ace card in the deck, that was what drew many teens to “Puke” for the B & H.


Photo Credit Terry Marshall