First-ever George Begg Classic Speedfest comes to a close
A legend has come home - were you part of history in the making?
Invercargill’s first-ever tribute to motorsport legend George Begg has drawn to a close – and organisers are already looking forward to planning next year’s event.
The George Begg Classic Speedfest, held at Teretonga Park on Saturday and Sunday, was organised by the Southland Sports Car Club and Transport World. The weekend of retro racing also coincided with the opening of a spectacular new exhibit, the George Begg Bunker, at Classic Motorcycle Mecca.
Scott O’Donnell from Transport World says feedback on the week’s festivities has been overwhelmingly positive.
"We are thrilled at the response we have had to our city’s first-ever tribute to George Begg – a man whose story not only transcends motorsport, but is one that is worthy of becoming a marquee celebration for our entire city," he says.
The vision for the George Begg Classic Speedfest in the long-term is to create a festival atmosphere similar to other motorsport events such as the Goodwood Revival, held in Sussex in the United Kingdom, O’Donnell says.
Off-track initiatives at the first-ever George Begg Classic Speedfest included a prizegiving dinner in the spectacular setting of Bill’s Shed at Bill Richardson Transport World, VIP hospitality packages, a Driver’s Lounge and more. Attendees could expect even bigger, and even better, in 2021.
"We want the action off the track to be as much of a drawcard as the racing. We’re envisaging plenty to whet the appetite of speedfest-goers: from food and beverage offerings to fashion and live entertainment, to create an almost carnival atmosphere," he says.
"After what we saw at the weekend, I think people truly understand the concept and the vision of what we would like to achieve down the line," he says.
"This year’s event was just the start of what we believe will become a really special occassion, which will draw crowds made up of motorsport enthusiasts and the uninitiated alike. Invercargill is becoming New Zealand’s premier destination for everything wheeled, and the George Begg Classic Speedfest will become another glittering jewel in our city’s crown."
Southland Sports Car Club race committee chairman Bevan Gerrard called the field of entries "without a doubt, one of the best fields we have been able to attract in a number of years".
The weekend of racing attracted the highly-anticipated Formula 5000 field to Teretonga Park for the first time since 2013, while the sizeable crowd was also treated to showings in the historic muscle and saloon car categories, as well as Formula Libre, vintage racing cars, sports & GT cars, and more.
The George Begg Classic Speedfest was complemented by the grand opening of the George Begg Bunker at Classic Motorcycle Mecca.
The leading motorcycle collection in the Southern Hemisphere is now also home to a 1600m2, custom-built exhibit space housing more than a dozen of the race vehicles built by Begg at his Drummond workshop, the "Toyshop", in the 1960s and 1970s.
The event was attended by many of Begg’s family members, including his wife Freda and three of his four daughters, as well as grandchildren. Former Begg drivers including David Oxton, Barry Keen and Jim Murdoch were also on hand to pay tribute to Begg, as well as motorsport media including writer Allan Dick, and other marquee names such as former Formula One driver Howard Ganley.