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(Alvis Upitis)

 

Denny Hulme unleashing all 670 ‘neddies’ of his McLaren M8D Chev at Mid Ohio in August 1970…

The alloy block Chev V8’s were 7.6 litres in 1970, the ‘Batmobile’ arguably the sexiest of the Can Am McLarens and certainly one of the most successful.

Denny won 6 of the 10 rounds and Dan Gurney another 2 before sponsorship conflicts brought to an end his drive which arose as a result of Bruce McLaren’s fatal testing accident aboard an M8D at Goodwood on 2 June 1970. Peter Gethin, Dan’s replacement won another round adding to the ‘papaya rout’.

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Denny and Teddy Mayer are easy to pick, perhaps some of you can help with the names of the rest of the team, modest ute and trailer indicative of a ‘no frills’ approach to all but the ‘weapons of battle’ (Alvis Upitis)

I wrote an article about the McLaren M8D a while back, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/01/peter-gethin-mclaren-m8d-chev-can-am-1970/

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Hulme won the Mid Ohio round, the ‘Buckeye Cup’ from Peter Revson’s Lola T220 Chev and Lothar Motschenbacher’s ex-works McLaren M8B Chev, in the shot above Denny is ahead of Lothar early in the race.

Credits…Alvis Upitis

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Teddy Mayer, Denny and the team resolve the next set-up changes to Hulme’s steed (Alvis Upitis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Joel Wakely)

Two of my favourite drivers are Lorenzo Bandini and Australian Gold Star champion, Spencer Martin but it was quite a surprise to see them in the same shot- Lorenzo in a Cooper and Spencer a Holden…

Joel Wakely’s Boomerang Service Station at Concord, inner-western Sydney was well known amongst Australian motor-racing aficionados by February 1962 as builders of one of the fastest ‘Appendix J’ Holden 48-215/FX sedans in the land peddled very hard by up-and comer Spencer Martin.

The young Sydneysider was soon to race Tasman cars like Bandini’s Cooper for Australian racer/journalist/patron David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, but that period was still a year or so away. Click here for Spencer’s own account of his racing career;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

Bandini himself was also on the rise, his racing in the southern summer sun of ’62 was part of Mimmo Dei’s grand plan to give the young Italian some racing miles aboard his Scuderia Centro Sud T53 Cooper in the European ‘off-season’, to get him razor sharp for the rigours of the coming season back home. The 2.8 litre Maserati engined Cooper was very much a ‘big-car’, F1 by then was a 1.5 litre formula, so the experience was valuable for him. It was a successful strategy back then and still is- the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series every summer is a place young racers look to keep themselves race fit and help thrust their careers forward. Click here for my article about Bandini;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/24/lorenzo-bandinicooper-t53-maserati-warwick-farm-sydney-1962/

The car in the middle of the shot is the gorgeous Clive Adams designed Prad Holden sportscar styled along the lines of a Maserati 300S. Jack Pryor built the chassis and Stan Brown it’s shapely body. Spencer Martin bought, developed and raced the car successfully after Adams sold it.

And so it came to pass that Bandini’s Cooper was operated from the Boomerang Servo at the behest of BP, who supported Centro Sud. It made good sense as the garage was only 25Km from Warwick Farm, near Liverpool on Sydney’s then western outskirts. Wakely recalls that ‘So many people heard about the car at the garage and came down to have a look we had to have crowd control!’

Centro Sud were not exactly renowned for the detail presentation of their cars but even so I thought Lorenzo’s car looked a bit tatty. Perhaps the reason is that it isn’t the car he raced!

Have a look yourself at the photo below, it isn’t the same car. The inlet and exhaust sides of the Maserati engine are on the opposite sides to the Cooper in shot, apart from the body differences. I think the car above is a spare T51 Cooper, one of two acquired by Dei from Coopers in 1959 and raced in both F1 in 1959/60 and the Intercontinental Formula in 1961. Still, that’s my theory it may not be right! So, the question for my Australian friends is which Cooper chassis is Bandini sitting aboard? A Centro Sud spare or another car based that weekend at Concord’s Temple of Speed?…

I love these mysteries, but I like the answers even more…

Lorenzo Bandini in the Centro Sud Cooper T53 Maserati during the ‘Warwick Farm 100’, 4 February 1962. Compare and contrast with the car in the opening shot (John Ellacott)

Bibliography/Photo Credits…

oldracingcars.com, sergent.com, Joel Wakely, John Ellacott

Other Reading…

My other article about Spencer Martin, and the iconic Ferrari 250LM he raced for David McKay

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

lotus spa

(unattributed)

Team Lotus in the Spa pitlane, Saturday June 12 1965: the 33’s of #17 Jim Clark, Mike Spence and the teams spare chassis…

Sunday was wet, Jimmy ran away with the race from grid #2, Mike was 7th from grid 12. Graham Hill started from pole in his BRM P261 but finished 4th, Jackie Stewart was 2nd in the other BRM and Bruce McLaren 3rd in a Cooper T77 Climax.

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Lap 1 and Graham Hill’s BRM P261 leads into Eau Rouge from pole. Stewart’s sister BRM then Ginther’s white Honda RA272, Siffert’s Rob Walker Brabham BT11 Climax, Surtees Ferrari 158 on the outside, Gurney’s Brabham BT11 Climax, McLarens Cooper T77 Climax and the rest…(unattributed)

spa clark

Daunting in the dry positively frightening in the wet. Spa. Clark speeds to victory, he took the ’65 drivers title in his Lotus 33 Climax (unattributed)

Tailpiece: Alone in the Ardennes Forest, Jack Brabham…

brabham spa

Brabham, La Source hairpin, Spa 1965- 4th in his Brabham BT11 Climax (unattributed)

 

 

(SLSA)

AG Bungey’s or GB Woodman’s Humberette 5HP on the startline of the Magill to Norton Summit Hillclimb, Adelaide, Saturday 16 December 1905…

The first of these events run by the Automobile Club of South Australia (ACSA) was held a year before, on 17 December 1904. I was terribly excited at finding a shot of a competitor in the first hillclimb in SA, but upon further research it appears the superb photograph is from the 1905 event, the second of three, the final in-period event being held in 1906.

The photo took my breath away, there is so much going on. I find fascinating the clothing and attire of the drivers, officials, kids and teenagers. Love the deer-stalker hat and pipe of the dude on the left. The officials with writing pads are HR Harley and HR Hammer- do let me know if any of you are related to them. The Steward at the start line is the Club Secretary RJ Hancock, perhaps he is the fella to the right of the car?

The competition was held in ideal Adelaide summer weather with what slight wind there was, blowing down the hills, perhaps impacting times slightly.

Bungey’s time for the 4 mile journey from the East Torrens Hotel at Magill (corner of what is now East Street and Magill Road) up into the Adelaide Hills finishing line at the White Gate, Norton Summit, was 42 ½ minutes which suggests he was either incredibly slow or had some type of mechanical drama. Woodman completed the distance in 30 min 7 seconds. Fastest time of the day, to use modern phraseology, was recorded by ES Rymill’s Darracq 15HP who did a time of 9 minutes 10 seconds. So keen was Rymill to win the event that his car was rebuilt, ‘like many cars it had been dismantled for the occasion’. Great to see the competitive spirit from motor racing’s most formative stages in South Australia!

Pictured below are the Rymill brothers, notable pioneering South Australian motorists, aboard their fast Darracq at the top of Belair Hill on the way to Victor Harbor during the ACSA Reliability Trial held during Easter 1905, 21 and 22 April. These type of reliability events were very popular in Australia in the early years of motoring with this one the first organised by the ACSA.

Adelaide’s ‘The Advertiser’ newspaper characterised communal views on the car at the time: ‘The average citizen considers that the principal characteristic of a motor car is its fickleness. In his opinion it will go sometimes, but often it will not go. To disabuse people of this erroneous idea the club inaugurated the trial, which has had the effect of proving that as a general rule the motor car is reliable, and, considering the distance covered at a high speed was 228 miles, there were comparatively few mishaps, and all of those were of a trivial nature. Of the 14 cars which competed seven (including the Rymill Darracq) succeeded in accomplishing the entire 228 miles, constituting a very severe test, within schedule time, and gained the full number of marks’.

(SLSA)

This trial comprised two legs, the first of 120 miles on Good Friday from Mitcham, an Adelaide suburb to Victor Harbour, site of the 1936 South Australian Centenary Grand Prix aka ‘1937’ Australian Grand Prix held in December 1936 on the Fleurieu Peninsula. On the Saturday, 108 miles were covered from Adelaide to Mannum.

Twenty one cars and five motor cycles contested the Norton Summit Hillclimb with the competitors arranged in classes according to their quoted power ‘and sent away at different times to obviate passing each other’ with ‘officials stationed at all the sharp curves on the road’. The quickest bike was N Jackson’s 2.5HP water-cooled Lewis, his time was 10 minutes 6 seconds.

The Advertiser’s report notes ‘There was not one breakdown or mishap, which speaks volumes for the excellence of the cars owned by South Australia’.

Just a brief note to put these early, formative motor sporting contests into the broader framework of motoring competition in Australia at the time. When I wrote about Australia’s first ‘Motor Car Race’ at Melbourne’s Sandown Racecourse on 12 March 1904, (link below) respected Australian motor racing historian/author/racer John Medley said ‘that was brave!’ meaning the topic is somewhat contentious. It would be great to hear from others who may feel an event other than the Sandown contest was the first.When was the first ‘race’ in New South Wales for example?

https://primotipo.com/2015/11/17/australias-first-car-motor-race-sandown-racecourse-victoria-australia-1904/

In South Australia, for the record, it appears the first hillclimb, legal one anyway!, was the 17 December Norton Summit event on Saturday 17 December 1904 and the first ‘car race’, ‘where motor cars take the place of horses, and race in competition at their top speed’, was held at Morphettville Racecourse, 10 Km from Adelaide on Saturday 12 November 1904. This meeting was also promoted by the Automobile Club of South Australia.

FS Rymill had earned the nickname from Adelaide tram and cab-drivers of ‘The Flying Dutchman’ for his fast driving exploits in traffic. He and his Darracq 15HP were the stars of the show that Morphettville November day winning the 3 mile ‘Tourist Car Race’ from scratch, in this race a full complement of passengers were carried averaging at least 10 stone or over in weight. Rymill then won heat 1 of the ‘Starting Competition’ (starting the car by handle and then racing) and finally the 3 mile ‘Heavy Car Race’. Perhaps the latter was the premier event of the day, where Rymill again won off scratch from the De Dion 12HP of A Allison and De Dion 8HP of Dr Gault.

Bibliography…

‘The Advertiser’ Adelaide 20, 22 and 24 April, and 22 December 1905, ‘Chronicle 12 November 1904, ‘Adelaide Observer’ 19 November 1904

Photo Credits…

State Library of South Australia

 

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Rene Vincents Peugeot GP car poster of 1919 is one of the illustrators most famous artworks…

Born in 1879, Rene studied at the famous Ercole des Beaux Arts in Rue Bonaparte, Paris initially studying architecture but later switching to graphic art and ceramics courses. He later contributed fashion illustrations to some of the best known magazines of the day and designed a swag of advertisements and posters for Bugatti, Peugeot, Michelin and Shell. Most of his work was in the art deco style for which he was noted.

By 1919 the war was over and the achievements of Peugeot’s epochal double overhead cam cars of 1913 were well in the past, but the influence of which we still feel now. Vincent chose this series of cars to make an amazingly impactful statement about Peugeot’s future. I wrote an article about these seminal racers a while back, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/12/11/191213-peugeot-gp-car-especially-its-engines/

Rene was a keen automobilist and said to be one of the first Parisians to have both a drivers license and a garage to house his car, clearly his graphic design endeavours were lucrative, he died in 1936.

Credit…

Rene Vincent

Tailpiece: 1913 3 Litre DOHC 4 Cylinder Peugeot Engine…

engine blue

(Automobile Year #10)

(Fistonic)

Frank Matich’s Brabham BT7A Climax leading Jim Palmer’s Cooper T53 Climax around the 2.897 Km Mount Maunganui road circuit, New Zealand, 28 December 1963…

Mount Maunganui is a beach town at the southern end of Tauranga Harbour in The Bay of Plenty in the north of New Zealands North Island. Only two ‘Bay of Plenty Premier Road Race’ meetings using public roads around the towns wharf area were held, in 1962 and 1963. The circuit was oblong in shape, the startline was in Totara Road and ran down Hewletts Road, onto Tasman Quay and then Hull Road. The creation of the permanent Bay Park circuit in the area supplanted the road course which was created by Joseph and Graham Pierce and Feo Stanton. To create the track they had to tar-seal a section over a railway line and then remove it after the weekends racing to allow the trains to operate the following morning!

Race winner Jim Palmer, Cooper T53 Climax, Mt Maunganui 1963 (Fistonic)

The 1963 event was won by Jim Palmer from John Youl’s Cooper T55 Climax and Tony Shelly’s Lotus 18/21 Climax. Both of the Australian’s John Youl and Frank Matich used the meeting as a ‘warm-up’ for the 1964 Tasman series which started at Levin, the following weekend, on 4 January 1964.

Grid positions for the 15 lap final were determined by the results of two heats; Matich comfortably led his until encountering timing problems with his Coventry Climax engine, Palmer took the win with John Youl victorious in the other heat.

In the championship race, Palmer started well and lead Shelly, Matich- off the back of the grid, quickly passing the smaller engined cars and Youl but Shelly soon led, and Matich grabbed 3rd as Youl spun. Matich set a lap record of 1:10.4 as he moved the very latest ‘Intercontinental’ Brabham BT7A into 2nd behind Shelly. He took the lead on the next lap whilst Youl closed on Palmer. Shelly was passed by Palmer with 3 laps to go with Matich left out on the circuit with an inoperative throttle, and John Youl also passing Shelly. Palmer won from Youl, Shelly then Rex Flowers Lotus 20B Ford, Roly Levis’ Lotus 22 Ford and Neil Whittaker’s Cooper T43 Climax.

John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax (Fistonic)

In fact the race was very much a portent of the Tasman Series (won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 Climax) with all four of Matich, Palmer, Shelly and Youl being competitive with Matich having a swag of mechanical problems only finishing one of the 5 rounds he started, at Longford, in 3rd place.

In the NZ Tasman races Palmer, Shelly and Youl all contested they drove extremely well, almost as a group in their outdated cars- Cooper T53, Lotus 18/21 and Cooper T55 behind the leading bunch of Australasian Internationals- Brabham, Hulme, McLaren and American Tim Mayer.

Youl was 4th in the first 3 NZ rounds and then travelled back to Australia before Teretonga to prepare for the first Australian round at Sandown where he finished 3rd. His beautifully prepared 1961 (ex-F1 and then Brabham’s car for the Australasian Internationals in 1962) Cooper T55 with its innovative Geoff Smedley designed and built twin-plug Coventry Climax FPF head had done 5 meetings with routine maintenance but no rebuild. His 3rd at the AGP was followed by a DNF at Warwick Farm with crown wheel and pinion problems. He then had a great 2nd at Lakeside and was 5th at Longford, his home race in a strong finish to the series.

In fact Youl was very much the ‘form driver’ of this group having finished 2nd and then taking 2 wins in the final three rounds of the Australian Gold Star series in the later months of 1963, at Sandown, Mallala and Warwick Farm. Noteworthy is that these performances were against Lex Davison, Bib Stillwell and David McKay all of whom were aboard much more modern equipment than Youl. He was second in the Gold Star to Stillwell’s Brabham BT4 Climax in 1963 as he was in 1962.

Palmer, later multiple NZ Gold Star winner and ex-F1 driver Shelly had virtually identical results in the four NZ Tasman races, and finished all of them which is admirable at a time the 2.5 FPF’s were notoriously brittle being pushed to the limits as they were.

Without doubt Frank Matich had the pace of the Internationals in the ’64 Tasman but he had no chance of success without better preparation/luck/greater mechanical sympathy- Geoff Smedley joined him not so long after Youl’s unfortunate retirement from the sport at the end of 1964. Grazier Youl was one very fine driver who deserved a ‘factory’ drive such was his pace in the ex-Brabham Cooper T55 to fully realise his potential. I don’t know enough about the man to place him in the pantheon of Australian single-seater pilots but for sure he was very handy behind the wheel…

Matich chasing Colin Ngan, Cooper Bobtail in the sportscar race won by FM- love these industrial background shots (Fistonic)

Matich in his Lotus 19B Climax…

Frank Matich above blasting his very highly developed Lotus around the Mounts working wharves, such a distinctive background!

Frank’s Lotus was far and away the quickest sportscar that weekend, he won the race from the Lotus 15 Climax of Barry Porter and the Lola Climax driven by J Riley. The Matich 19B was destroyed at Lakeside in 1965, hospitalising the Sydneysider in the process. Out of those ashes was born the Elfin 400 Olds or Traco Olds as FM called it, and Matich SR3 and SR4 programs, all great cars.

In the same way that the Lotus 18, Chapman’s first mid-engined design (F1/FJ) redefined the sophistication of the path the Coopers had blazed so well, so too did the 19 amongst sportscar grids. The car used much of the 18 hardware albeit adapted to comply with sportscar rules- FIA Group C. Chapman detailed the car with Len Terry also playing a role in its design.

The cars spaceframe chassis was made of 1 inch and ¾ inch steel tube of 16 and 18 guage, there was a scuttle hoop of perforated sheet steel to provide further cross-sectional bracing. The first car, chassis ‘950’, was initially fitted with an aluminium body with subsequent cars using bodies made of fibreglass. The front and rear body sections were hinged for ease of access with two horizontal doors for driver and passenger! access and egress. Wheels were Lotus 15 inch ‘wobbly-webs’, disc brakes were 10.5 inch and 9.5 inches in diameter front / rear.

Dimensions; 141 inch long, 65” wide, a height of 31/32 “, the wheelbase was 7’ 6”, front track 49” and rear track 47.5 “. The cars weight was quoted at 1232-1250 pounds less driver but with 8 gallons of fuel. Said girth was dependent upon the engine fitted, over time this included the FPF’s around which the car was designed and also various American small-block V8’s. Similarly, whilst the Lotus sequential, 5 speed ‘Queerbox’ was specified the cars were also fitted with Colotti and Hewland gearboxes ‘in period’.

Lotus 19 Climax cutaway, technical specifications as per text (Thatcher)

When completed chassis ‘#950’ was tested by both Moss and Chapman, Moss had been racing Cooper Monaco’s amongst the swag of cars he competed in at the time, his opinion of the 19 relative to the Monaco, a design several years older would be interesting. Its said that the 19 was the first car Stirling drove after recovery from his 1960 Spa Lotus 18 accident.

Only 16 or 17 of the cars were built, the limiting factor for build numbers was the supply of Coventry Climax FPF engines which were of course the engine de jour for the British F1 ‘garagistes’ at the time.

The seminal research over the last decade or so on the fate of the various Lotus 19 chassis was carried out by enthusiasts/experts/journalists/engineers/drivers on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ (TNF). What follows is based upon the contents of that highly interactive forum, with the ability of so many knowledgeable people to test evidence, the summary of ownership and changes in specification over time. The contributions of Ray Bell and Bryan Miller are specifically acknowledged.

Frank Matich raced two Lotus 19’s; the ex-UDT Laystall 19 chassis ‘950’ raced by Stirling Moss which was destroyed in a testing accident at Warwick Farm in 1963 and a replacement 19B which was delivered by Lotus Components sans chassis number. It was also destroyed, again in a testing, or more specifically an accident during a practice/qualifying session at Lakeside on 24 July 1965.

I have written tangentially about these cars in an article about FM’s rivalry with Bib Stillwell’s Cooper Monaco and other articles on Frank Matich, and very specifically about the 19B, Matich’s accident in it at Lakeside and its role in relation to the design/conception of Garrie Coopers Elfin 400, the first delivered of which was raced by Matich. I don’t propose to cover that all again, click on the links at this articles conclusion to read what I’ve already been written.

The first Matich Lotus 19 Climax, chassis  ‘950’ shot at Homestead Corner Warwick Farm in 1962, compare the photo with the similar one of the 19B at the same corner below (Ellacott)

Caveat Emptor…

When Frank Matich was looking for a replacement for his oh-so-successful Lotus 15 Climax it was immediately obvious to him that the car to have was a 19 given the success of Moss, Ireland, Gurney and others in the cars on both sides of the Atlantic.

His ex-Leaton Motors mechanic Bruce Richardson, working in the UK for Reg Parnell Racing at the time, contacted UDT Laystall in England on FM’s behalf to determine if they were interested in selling one of their 3 19’s. Frank knew Moss having met him on the great Brits previous trips to Australia. Shortly after Richardson’s contact Matich ‘…discussed with Stirling buying the (UDT Laystall) car (#950) Stirling was racing in the USA…who advised Frank, who wished to have the car shipped directly from the States to Australia that the car was pretty tired and it would be best for the car to return to the UK for a full rebuild and then be sent out from the UK. The car duly arrived in late 1961 and Frank was not happy with the state of preparation and he called Stirling to intervene’ Bryan Miller wrote.

Matich had been shafted by UDT Laystall, far from the first time we poor Colonials had been short-sheeted by less than honest operators who relied upon 12000 miles of Ocean to get away with sins of omission or commission! Moss, not involved in the commercial aspects of the deal at all, righted the wrongs with a financial adjustment in favour of the Sydneysider. The story goes something like this.

Rather than rebuild the car the UDT folks used the opportunity to bolt some of the shit bits they had lying around the workshop they didn’t want from their three cars to good ‘ole ‘950’ and shove it on a ship at Southhampton for Sydney!

Matich ordered the car with the Colotti box fitted to ‘950’, they sent him a ‘Queerbox’, very much not the better alternative although Matich said later to Bell ‘they weren’t a bad box as long as you set them up well’. Frank specified a regular windscreen, they sent a high one, ‘The crankshaft was obviously carrying a very old crack, it was very unlikely that it hadn’t been previously detected’ according to Frank, Ray Bell wrote. ‘There was a lot of that sort of thing about the car, so its clear Moss went into bat for Frank’. Moss drove the car whilst in Australia for the International series of races that summer (he raced Rob Walker owned Cooper T53 Climax and Lotus 21 Climax in NZ and Australia in January/February 1962) and was able to see for himself the state of the car as delivered from the UK. ‘Onya Stirling!

Having overcome those obstacles the 19 very rapidly became the fastest sportscar in the country, indeed, one of the fastest cars in the Australia- his dices with Bib Stillwell’s older but very well prepared, sorted and driven Cooper Monaco wonderful spectator drawcards across the continent.

Lotus 19 Climax ‘950’ in the Lakeside paddock probably during the International meeting in early 1963. Coventry Cliamx FPF engine and Lotus ‘Queerbox’ clear as is copious ducting for brake cooling (Mellor)

#950’s demise occurred during a test session at Warwick Farm…

Matich’s backyard was Warwick Farm from the time the circuit opened  at the wonderful Liverpool horseracing facility. He did all of his serious testing there, it was close to his various bases on Sydney’s North Shore, and he was always developing his cars with tweaks major and minor. This process of continuous development of bits for all of his cars, factory built or otherwise, was sustained right to the end of his career in early 1974. By then he was building world-beating Formula 5000 cars, indeed no-one did more miles around the Western Sydney outskirts circuit than FM.

In 1963 he raced the Lotus and works Elfins- a Clubman, Formula Junior and an ANF 1.5 variant of the FJ with which he contested the AGP, at, you guessed it, Warwick Farm. He was 8th in the race won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT4 Climax. On one of these test days Bell records that ‘The very reason for its (950’s) demise…was the fitting of new uprights (from Lotus)…Matich had come in from testing saying it felt funny and asked Bruce (Richardson, by then back from the UK and FM’s chief mechanic) to go out and drive the 19 while he followed him in the Elfin openwheeler. The upright broke and he went into the fence’. The fence was the very solid and unyielding WF Pit Straight fence which comprised 2 inch thick planks of wood bolted to railway sleepers. The chassis was rooted, it was too badly damaged to be repaired so a replacement was ordered from Lotus Components.

‘The original 19 chassis (950) went to Ray Hopwood, a friend of Franks. I think it was he who buried it under his house after deciding he wasn’t able to use it, which had been his intention’ wrote Bell.

Bell then speculates about the commercial arrangements between Lotus and Matich about the new 19 frame given the demise of ‘950’ was as a result of the failure of a new Lotus upright which was too thin. What is clear, whether Chapman gave him a special price or otherwise is that wealthy Sydney businessman Laurie O’Neill paid for the chassis either in whole or in part. Bruce Richardson confirms the chassis was acquired from Lotus, and therefore is not one of the unaccounted for Lotus 19 chassis- there are about four of these chassis on the TNF list. For sure some components from ‘950’, all possible, would have been retained to bolt to the new frame which Miller reports ‘Frank did not think his car (19B) ever carried a chassis plate, he held no memory of ever seeing one on the car but at that time it was of no importance’.

In late 1963 Matich imported a brand new Brabham BT7A to contest the annual Australasian International Series (from 1964 The Tasman Championship) and local Gold Star, Australian Drivers Championship events.

Almost immediately he became the quickest local openwheeler driver- and one who gave nothing away to the visiting Internationals either. Given the weakness of the Lotus sequential ‘box, Bell ‘…Frank regarded the crownwheel and pinion as marginal…referring to easy starts to protect it…and he often lost the start to Stillwell in their 19 to Monaco clashes…’ Matich fitted the 19B with a Hewland HD5 ‘box given the experience others had of it in cars like it in the BT7A and being well aware of the shortcomings of the Queerbox. By then he had both the support of O’Neill and Total so had an adequate budget to do things properly. The cars chassis was adapted to suit the ‘box at the rear. During the short period the 19B raced it was evolved, beside the BT7A, with various Brabham bits. There appears to be no definitive list of the modifications but brakes, wheels, some suspension parts and other Brabham ‘bits and pieces’ are cited as modifications from standard Lotus 19 spec. Equally there is no neat list of bits which were transferred from the first Matich 19 ‘950’ to the 19B, albeit the ex-Moss chassis was definitely buried under a house, this fact attested by several sources including Richardson, Bell and Miller- none of whom have a vested interest in the opinion they proffer.

Not the Australian Tourist Trophy but the 19B late in its life in early 1965 after a change of Total livery, from light blue to white, here, again at Homestead Corner, Warwick Farm (Ellacott)

Australian Tourist Trophy 1965…

Frank Matich was a professional racing driver, the family Weeties were provided by race and related commercial success, to win the 1965 ATT was therefore important to him. He won the race the year before at Longford in the 19B but for 1965 the field had greater depth.

Ken Miles was coming from the US to race a factory Shelby AC Cobra, Frank Gardner was returning home to race Alec Mildren’s Mildren Maserati, a Birdcage Maserati engine fitted to a chassis built by Bob Britton- a Lotus 19 clone!, the Lotus 23 lookalike built on Britton’s Lotus 19 jig. There were also some pesky Lotus/Ford Twin-Cam engined Lotus 23’s which were quick enough to win should the big guys run into trouble. In fact the latter is what occurred, Pete Geoghegan won the race in a Lotus 23 after the retirement of others.

Matich took the 19B to the Gold Star round at Lakeside in July, his primary focus that weekend was racing his Brabham. Spencer Martin won the Gold Star round in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A. But the Lotus shared the Matich transporter with the Brabham on the journey north to fettle the car in preparation for the ATT in November. It was during practice that FM lost the car in the fast right hander behind the pits at over 120mph when the throttle jammed, destroying the car and hospitalising him with burns to his hands and back. Damage to the car was to its front, especially the left front. Various sources suggest (not Bell or Miller) that the car may have been damaged further after the accident for insurance purposes.

The accident was catalyst for Total to end the relationship with Matich. Boral Ltd acquired Total’s business in Australia and they did not want to be involved in motor-racing. The remains of the 19B, owned by O’Neill remember, were then used as a point of dimensional reference during the build of the Elfin 400 Traco Olsmobile at Elfin’s Conmurra Road, Edwardstown, South Australia factory in late 1965. The 19B donated its gearbox and some other minor components to the Elfin build. Even though the remains of the 19B were seen by various people at Elfins over the years the remains of the chassis have never seen the light of day and were probably, at some clearout, disposed of. The future value of these cars was not foreseen then of course!

Despite all of the foregoing, that is, the total destruction of both cars as racing entities, the ex-Moss/Matich Lotus 19 #’950 races on, reconstructed around a replacement chassis built in the 1980’s. So far, surprisingly, the 19B has not been rebuilt/reconstructed/resurrected despite Peter Brennan noticing, whilst looking at a Lotus 18 very recently and concluding that the pedals in his Elfin 400 are probably from the 19B…go for it PB, cars worth $750K have commenced reconstruction with far less of the original car than that!…

Bibliography…

‘The Nostalgia Forum’ Lotus 19 thread particularly the contributions of Michael Oliver, Ray Bell and Bryan Miller, Graham Vercoe, sergent.com, Bob Homewood, Glenn Ducey

Photo Credits…

Milan Fistonic and Peter Mellor- The Roaring Season, John Ellacott, Bob Thatcher

Lovely frontal shot of Frank Matich, Lotus 19B Climax, this car probably the most highly developed of its type in the world-V8 variants excepted. Car developed by FM and his team in Sydney, building upon his first 19 which was written off  in a Warwick Farm testing accident. Plenty of Brabham bits inclusive of wheels fitted to this car (Fistonic)

Finito…

 

amon 1963 agp cooper

(David Mist)

Chris Amon, 19 years of age, awaits the start of the 1963 Australian Grand Prix, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Cooper T53 Climax…

Amon didn’t finish in his ‘Scuderia Veloce’ entered Cooper, the cars fuel pump failed after 24 laps. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT4 Climax, Amon’s team-leader and ‘SV’ owner David McKay finished 4th in another Brabham BT4 Climax.

I wrote an article about McKay a while back; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

These were the early days of a very successful collaboration between Amon and McKay which resulted in the pair winning the 1969 Tasman Series in the fabulous Ferrari Dino 246T. Chris was the first of many drivers the racer/writer/team owner nurtured over the years.

In Amon’s case it was at a stage of his life when McKay was about to vacate the driving seat and evolve into a new stage of his career as owner/entrant of cars driven by others. Amon, then racing a Maserati 250F in NZ tested McKay’s Cooper T51 at Warwick Farm in August 1962 and contested Australian Gold Star rounds later in the season at Mallala and Sandown, non-starting in both but taking a strong 3rd place at Warwick Farm in the Hordern Trophy behind Bib Stillwell and John Youl in October.

This was all valuable experience before the NZ and Australian Internationals with McKay entering the Kiwi in a later model T53 Cooper.

He was 7th from grid 6 in the NZ GP at the brand new Pukekohe circuit on 5 January, and had DNF’s with ignition and gearbox dramas at Levin, Wigram and Teretonga. He qualified 4th, 6th and 7th. In Australia he had slightly more luck.

He contested the AGP at Warwick Farm, for grid 5 and DNF fuel pump. At the Lakeside International he was 4th from grid 6, his best result. In Tasmania, at the South Pacific Championship at Longford he was 7th from grid 8 and at the Sandown International, the Australian Grand Prix, he finished 6th from grid 12 in the last meeting of his tour on 10 March.

It was a critical period in Amon’s progression as a driver. Chris raced his ex-Owen Racing Organisation Maserati 250F in the first of the Kiwi Internationals at Renwick in November 1962. He then graduated to McKay’s Cooper and so impressed Reg Parnell (who ran Lola Mk4A’s for John Surtees and Tony Maggs in Australasia) that summer in a car that was not the latest bit of kit, and 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF powered rather than the 2.7 variant used by much of the opposition, that he was off to Europe for the rest of 1963. 7th place in the British and French Grands Prix were his best results in the Parnell Racing Lola Mk4A Climax V8 that season.

His climb went all the way to the top echelon of Grand Prix Racing of course, championship Grand Prix win or not, he was undisputably a ‘Top 5 In The World’ pilot in several seasons during the 1967-72 period…

image

Chris Amon, Cooper T53 Climax Lakeside 1963. 4th in the race won by John Surtees’ Lola Mk4A Climax (Bruce Thomas)

Cooper T53 Climax ‘F2-8-60’…

The car was built by the CT ‘Tommy’ Atkins team for Bruce McLaren to drive but using the identity of one of the 1960 works F1 cars. (Jacks 1960 chassis)

The chassis was either built late in 1960 for McLaren to race in 1961 UK Intercontinental races or at the end of the season for his use in the 1962 New Zealand and Australian Internationals, depending upon the account you reference.

It was then sold to David McKay for the 1962 Australian Gold Star Series, raced by Amon in the ’63 Kiwi/Australian Internationals and then passed into the hands of a succession of Kiwi owners; Bill Thomason in 1963, Feo Stanton and Ian Rorison 1964 or 1965 and rebuilt as the Rorstan Sports with 2.7-litre Climax engine, then to D Lupp in 1970. Ted Giles bought it in 1978, it’s still in the families ownership in 2012.

Credits…

David Mist, Powerhouse Museum, Bruce Thomas, Hammo

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com for the chassis history and race results, sergent.com

Tailpiece: Amon’s Scuderia Veloce Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 prowling the Longford paddock, he was 7th in the ‘South Pacific Championship’ race won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7…

image

(Hammo)

 

 

hawt hill

I don’t think of Mike Hawthorn as a Lotus driver but here he is with Graham Hill, rather similar in age, they were both born in 1929…

Amazing really, grafter Hill worked hard to get into motor racing, his GP career started not long before Hawthorn’s finished and went well into the 1970’s, not to forget Graham’s Le Mans and Indy wins of course. Mike’s racing entree was smoothed by his fathers wealth, it’s intriguing to guess what he may have achieved had he raced on into the 1960’s and applied his considerable skills to Chapman’s works of Lotus art.

Both Hill and Hawthorn are English to the core albeit completely different charcters. And personalities they certainly were. It’s a wonderful shot.

image

Hawthorn, Lotus 11 Climax, Oulton Park, Cheshire April 1955 (Popperfoto)

The event or reason for the Hill/Hawthorn shot is unrecorded but dated 12 April 1956 as is the photo of Hawthorn with Stirling Moss below. Its dated 11 May 1953, i am interested if anybody can assist with the places and occasions…

hawt moss

Credits…

Getty/Manchester Daily Express, Popperfoto

Maybe they will hasten the demise of F1 as we currently know it and therefore they would be a wonderful thing…

 ‘What the f@ck have they done!?’ my middle son asked as we stood atop ‘Brocky’s Hill’ as the new, whispering V6 hybrid F1 cars did their first laps of Albert Park during the 2014 Australian Grand Prix weekend. He is a fringe fan but his reaction was spot on. When you can comfortably take your girlfriend to a Formula One race the whole point of it is lost. When most of the support event cars are more spectacular than Gee Pee cars, something is terribly wrong.

There is of course plenty amiss but the problem is not easily fixed as the ‘sport’ has been in the wrong hands since BC Ecclestone acquired the commercial rights from the FIA in 1992.

Hopefully Halos will drive TV and on circuit numbers down even lower so F1 implodes. What does implosion mean?

.Someone(s) steps in with deep enough pockets to start a rival series with all of the complexity that would involve

.Earnings of its asset plunge so low that current F1 owners Liberty Media offload it- and the FIA, that is us, we enthusiasts, get back what was acquired by Ecclestone for five-eigths of fuck-all 30 years ago.

Purpose of this article…

Like many enthusiasts I am frustrated by the progressive emasculation and corporatisation of Grand Prix racing which has limited its appeal compared to the good ‘ole days. Its always dangerous when old fokkers talk like this I know. But Grand Prix racing as we know it seems in a progressive decline which the existing paradigm of regulators hand in glove with the sports commercial owners seem unable to arrest.

This article explores a few things;

.That F1 is in the wrong hands and needs to be re-acquired by the FIA (with its governance processes being overhauled before doing so to ensure that body has the skills to run it- a big assumption that this is possible)

.In the absence of the above taking place that someone(s) with deep enough pockets starts a rival series

.Explains that the commercial needs of the arms length owners of F1 are are at odds with those of enthusiasts

.Proposes, for debate, some changes to F1, ‘Renaissance GP’ to return its appeal and excitement

My basic contention is that F1 has diminished since the involvement of third party owners such as Venture Capital firms and now Liberty Media they are simply the wrong owners of the asset, for us, the enthusiasts at least.

I’ve no issue with VC’s generally, I was a partner and CEO of Grant Thornton Sydney, a global mid-tier Chartered Accounting firm and saw many clients benefit from the injection of working capital and management expertise the clients would not otherwise have been able to obtain via traditional sources of investment. So, I geddit, what they do and bring.

Fundamentally though they acquire a business, cut costs, build, expand and ramp up earnings to flog to the next guy, typically with a window of around 4/5 years. They don’t tend to play a long game. We enthusiasts are around for the duration, we understand all the nuances of the evolution of the sport from the city to city GP’s of the Edwardian days to the 2 hour sprints of the last fifty years. We are not concerned with a quick buck but the longevity of the sport and the excitement it has usually provided down the decades. We love it for its own sake rather than extraction of financial returns.

So, all the crap seen in the last 20 years or so; deals with countries none of us had even heard of to host GP’s at the expense of established circuits in countries with motor racing cultures and heritage, control tyres made to degrade, KERS, double points races, DRS and all the rest of it is short-term stuff to spice up the show to increase earning. The flim-flam, tricky-dicky gimmicks can’t hide the fact that the core product needs change.

Businesses like F1 are valued and sold on a ‘multiple of earnings’. The more stable and dependable the earnings, the higher the multiple. And the higher the earnings year on year, ‘future maintainable profits’, the cunning linguists in the accounting profession call it, the higher the value. The value of what is being sold, in simple terms, is the figure arrived at by multiplying the future maintainable profit number by the multiple. That is, if the FMP of F1 were $B1.6, and the multiple is 5 times, the value of F1 commercial rights is $B8 being 5 times $B1.6. It just so happens that Liberty Media paid $US8 billion for the rights recently. (announced by them on 23 January 2017)

The point here, the accounting lesson, is that if you understand what their game is, that is to ramp up the earnings in the short term and then flog them, what the VC’s do makes sense to them. But that’s not necessarily good for us.

We are custodians of F1 for now and into the future for generations of enthusiasts like us. If the owners of the business are us (the FIA) then the returns the business makes are up to the FIA to determine, they would not be driven by the needs of corporate owners. It is the statutory mandate of company directors to act in the best interests of their shareholders, which is to maximise the value of the company within the law. If the FIA were happy with a lower return than a corporate owner for example, circuit owners do not need to be screwed so much for race fees to such an extent that only government funded GP’s, in countries of dubious motor racing merit, make the annual fixture of events.

So, as a VC firm you fatten and flog an asset to the next schlepper. Who tries to do it again. Liberty Media’s declared schtick is to do a better job with the ‘digital experience’ than Bernie did and ramp up earnings that way as well as do all the other stuff which has worked in the last 20 years. So expect more tricks particularly aimed at millennials who are turning off, or not turning on much at all to current F1. In my view that makes ‘em discerning sods.

So, are the financial returns really that much? What is all the fuss about?…

 Absolute shedloads my friends is the answer. The return on investment for Ecclestone and some other investors along the way has been truly staggering. Mind you, so have the losses for some who borrowed too heavily and could not stay aboard the F1 gravy train as other issues in their businesses forced them to sell.

Mark Hughes in an article on the future of F1 in MotorSport in 2014 wrote of the earnings of Grand Prix racing.

Formula One generates about $B1.5 in annual revenues of which 40% is paid as dividends to the owners, then Delta Topco, now Liberty Media. Despite such large sums of money being generated by the show, many of the teams remain under great financial stress. It is a statement of the bleeding obvious, that without competitors there is no show.

CVC Capital’s investment in F1 is an example of a reasonably successful financial play for its investors. They paid $2B for a majority share of F1 (Delta Topco) in 2005. Since then they took out over $B5 in dividends, and sold 30% of their stake to other investors for $B2.1. Liberty Media paid $B8 to Atlas Topco for 100% ownership of F1 in January 2017. On that basis CVC Capital’s total return on an initial investment of $B2 is in excess of $B9.9- not bad going in 12 years!

In the 1990’s the commercial F1 rights were leased from the FIA (then owners) to FOCA (the Formula One Constructors Association- the teams). The lease expired in 1992. With longtime Ecclestone associate Maxwell Rufus Mosley installed as FIA President, by vote, replacing Jean-Marie Balestre, Ecclestone reapplied for the rights for himself, rather than as head of FOCA. Hughes writes that it was the teams fault they lost the lease- they assumed Bernie would continue to lease the rights as their representative, but he was not duty bound to do so and you have to get up early in the mornin’ to match the wily Brit.

The rights were then extended in 1998 to 2010 and then, in the deal of the century, only two years later, Ecclestone secured the rights for 100 years (from 2010-2110) for the princely sum of $US360 million. This amount, Hughes states was about the same paid at the time for NASCAR’s commercial rights- for one year!

Whilst its amusing to think of ‘Bern and ‘Mose doin’ the deal before lunch and then retiring early to ‘knock the top off it’ at one of Maxxies favourite ‘Hanky Schpanky’ clubs in Mayfair, the FIA’s corporate governance processes do make you wonder a tad. Still, it would be legally imprudent of me to suggest such fine gentlemen, and the FIA’s board acted in anything other than the best interests of their members, that is, all of us in doing the deal. No doubt an independent valuation by a corporate banking or accounting firm of international repute of said rights was obtained to ensure BCE’s offer was at or above market. As I say, no doubt it was all kosher.

Later the rights were owned by other entities as BCE sold on, some becoming insolvent in the process with eventually CVC Capital becoming the majority shareholder.

The interesting thing, Hughes writes, is ‘That at the time CVC was seen as taking a big risk- because no major law firm could be found to state categorically that the commercial rights definitely belonged to Bernie to sell. That risk has paid off bigtime for CVC, but there still remains ambiguity about a 100 year deal because of its length. Its validity has not been legally challenged, but there might be grounds for doing so.’ Clearly Liberty were confident enough of what they were purchasing to stump up $US8 billion, mind you. So, it’s a forlorn hope for enthusiasts that the deals can be knocked over or declared null and void. It would be a very brave soul who took such vested interests on.

So, to be clear, the rivers of cash are wide and deep. I, for one, am staggered by BCE’s rise and rise, as a business person his capabilities are once in a century stuff. From nuthin to untold wealth in 20 years, let alone what he did in the next 40 defies belief.

The Halo thing proves Liberty just don’t geddit. Danger is part of what we are attracted to in motor racing, whether we are competitors or spectators.

We want to see dudes wrestling their steed, mano et mano, against the forces of physics and one another with an element of danger. The accidents of Webber, Kubica even the high-speed attempted homicides upon their colleagues inflicted by the likes of Ayrton Senna and Herman The German, ole Schumi, will happen from time to time when ‘shit happens’. Who knows, maybe in its new incarnation the FIA can grow some testicles to deal with the driving transgressions of its stars without fear or favour? A side issue I guess.

Racing is safer than in Tazio’s day and so it should be. My first year of interest in F1 was 1970. Long before I ever saw a car ‘in the aluminium’ I remember thinking ‘what kind of sport is this’ which seems to kill a participant every month or so (Courage, McLaren testing a Can Am McLaren M8D, Rindt all died in 1970), eighteen F1 drivers were killed between 1966 and 1970.

Jackie Stewart’s brave campaign from 1966 for greater safety in cars, circuits and circuit organisation- read marshalling, fire control and adequate on-circuit medical facilities gathered momentum to the extent that motor racing fatalities are now a rarity. But they still occasionally happen and will as there is risk in sports like motor racing as there is in sky diving, scuba diving, rock climbing etc. You cannot race 800 plus bhp open-wheeled cars wheel to wheel safely. Full stop. People will occasionally be killed when the planets are unfavourably aligned. If one doesn’t like that don’t race em. If one doesn’t want to see an accident don’t go along.

Branding practitioners talk about the essentials of a product or service as its ‘Brand Essence’.

This is the guiding light stuff, a filter you apply within a business to decide if what you do or want to change fits- in this case Halos. The Brand Essence of GP racing should include descriptors like speed, danger, excitement, noise, passion, cutting edge, ultimate open-wheel single-seat road-racing cars, sex, extrovert, random, surprising, unpredictable and innovative. There yer go, $50K of consultancy in the 45 seconds it took to type. The point is that if any proposed changes don’t fit with an organisations carefully developed Brand Essence yer don’t do it. So Halos are out as they simply don’t fit within F1’s Brand Essence as defined above.

The Halo is just a step too far. Visually it doesn’t work, we will see even less of the driver than we do now. Halos are another reason for fans to turn off the Teev and not come to the races. And that’s good as Liberty’s earnings will decline and the FIA can buy them back. Or the existing F1 vested interests say ‘f@ck this’ and create a new F1. Sorry that name is taken.

To move on. We don’t own F1- the asset was sold to Bernie who has since made more out of it than the Gross Domestic Product of some small countries. Those who do own the commercial rights have short term interests which history suggests does not improve F1 from an enthusiasts perspective. Sure, every now and again a good decision might be made.

The only way the ‘good guys’ can regain control is buy the rights back or an alternative category be created.

So, lets assume we (the FIA) have bought the rights back, whadda we do then. What is the plan- its easy to criticise, what are we going to do better than the current schmucks in control of the show?

So, what are the new elements of Renaissance Grand Prix (RGP)?…

 Earnings and Ownership..

 The sport will be owned by the FIA- if it acquired the commercial rights even at ‘bargain basement’ the interest on borrowings will be a significant burden for the first decade or so. But that’s ok as we are in it for the long haul- not 4 years or even the 12 years of CVC Capital. The bulk of the revenues, say 40 or 50% of RGP Net Profits should be split up amongst the competing teams on a basis that needs careful thought! Its an important detail mind you, but the principal is the important one, the contestants share most of the spoils. Like any business, the teams need to be profitable and be able to survive year to year. Receiving profits means the ‘renta driver’, a scourge really, would be sidelined. Drivers should be there on merit not because daddy owns an IT Company or because some shitty country buys them the ride.

The balance of F1 revenues becomes part of the FIA ‘consolidated revenue’ but to be specifically allocated to other motor racing initiatives or budgets, not road car stuff. The ‘dividend’ to the FIA for running the show is, say 10% of the earnings. So to be clear. After deduction of funding costs 40-50% goes to the teams, up to 40% for ‘other motor racing categories’ and 10% to the FIA as a return on capital.

So, instead of half F1’s earnings leaving the sport and ending up in the pockets of investors, most of the profits stay within the sport. This bit is the critical aspect as it is the financial foundation upon which the ideas and changes below sit.

The conceptual good sense and equity of this is hopefully readily apparent.

The Cars..

 Where we all get a bit lost, me included,is to suggest F1 cars should be at the cutting edge of new technology. Whilst GP cars have in any era looked like the cutting edge of automotive technology Grand Prix racing has tended to be an ‘early adopter’ of innovations from elsewhere rather than said innovations being first fitted to a GP car.

There may have been an exception or two, in Edwardian times, Ernest Henry’s DOHC engine in the 1912 Peugeot is good example. Why then and not now? Because the major manufacturers were in Grand Prix racing at the time and GP cars were not too far divorced from their road going brethren.

Lets look at just how innovative or cutting edge GP racing has not been.

Remember, in the context of this argument ‘at the cutting edge’ are innovations being developed in F1.

The aircraft industry gave us fuel injection, which was in use at Indy long before F1. Planes also gave us monocoque chassis and disc brakes, the latter appeared on the C Type Jag several years before F1. Turbo-charging was developed in trucks, in the air and pioneered on the road before it got anywhere near a sports-racer or single-seater Renault. Wings appeared on Chapparral’s well before Ferrari/Brabham GP cars in 1968, mind you Michael May played with them on his Porsche in the late 1950’s before Jim Hall embraced them.  Spaceframes were first used in the building industry. Seat belts were in road cars and in Indycars well before F1 where they were mandated in 1968. Modern electronics developments, maybe? Automatic transmissions, nope- in road cars and used in racing by Porsche in the 962 before F1. How about fuel chemistry- maybe but not really, the cocktails the Silver Arrows used pre-war were largely aviation brews. Tyres, well yep, I think so, polymer chemistry advanced as it relates to tyres partially thru motor racing- but not just F1. Racing cars aerodynamics have advanced massively since 1970 but little filters thru to road cars as they are not single seaters and need clearance so ‘ground effects’ are hard to harness  in the average family 4WD. I doubt the ‘F Duct’, an F1 innovation will increase the speed of my Lotus Elise either.

In reality, putting the spin and bullshit to one side F1 is a follower and, sometimes but not always, an early adopter of technology developed elsewhere. F1 is usually not an originator of technology. Which brings us to Hybrids, which F1 adopted well after its application in road cars. Depending upon the reference source the first hybrid was built in 1886 or 1888.

If you accept F1 has rarely been right at the absolute cutting edge of automotive technology, we don’t need to be zealots about that. Lets look as though F1 is at the cutting edge but focus on the spectacle, the sporting contest is what most of us want to see- the whole lot underpinned by engineering excellence.

We don’t need the nexus to technology the rule-makers have sought to do with Hybrids, most of us recall Toyota as the ‘pioneer’ with the Prius in the nineties for goodness sake. That was before some of the current drivers were born.

In changing the rules to make the cars use aspects of current technology the sport may have ‘become more relevant’ but in the process has lost the ‘feel of the earth moving under your feet as the racer is driven on the razors edge of physics’- who gives a rats toss about how much power the hybdrid engine is giving to the front wheels. These current cars, I don’t doubt they are difficult to drive, are shit boring to spectators, knowledgeable and otherwise.

The current rules are way too prescriptive, most say the sport has been at its best when there has been diversity in both the look of the cars and the mechanical packages which are chosen by different marques. So we need less prescriptive rules to allow designers the latitude to explore all kinds of engineering solutions. This great restriction effectively dictates the mechanical and aero approaches used, and forces, as a consequence of such a tightly specified package, the creation of something as incredibly arcane as McLarens 2010 ‘F-Duct’ to obtain a small, but significant performance advantage.

So, to be clear and without wanting to belabour the point- F1 cars have always looked at the cutting edge of automotive technology but in fact have rarely been at its forefront. So, why not focus on cars which;

.look cutting edge and ‘other worldly’

.look different from one another

.make very loud, primeval, socially unacceptable, thrilling sounds which make the hair on the back of your neck stand up

.are demonstrably difficult to drive- the step up from more junior categories should not be easy for anyone other than ‘the gods’

.in every respect have that WOW! factor as they blast past at insane speeds with the driver clearly struggling to maintain control. Senna at Suzuka in a 3.5 litre McLaren Honda is the image in my head

.change the balance of the equation back to the ‘gladitorial’ contest between drivers whilst still having as a foundation stunning engineering.

.eliminate the insanely significant role played by engineers and race strategy during every race

Lets look at some aims, some principles, if not precise rules, those with vastly greater engineering knowledge than mine will need to do the detail of rule drafting.

The cars should be hard to drive and to be seen as such- we all say there needs to be a surfeit of power over mechanical and aerodynamic grip. I’m thinking between 750-850 bhp.

Some invest all of the earths sins in wings which is a tad harsh.

But the wing and underbody aero packages need to be massively restricted and changed to eliminate the role they have played since 1968 and especially since Chapman’s Lotus 78/79 ‘ground effects car’ of 1977/8- all GP cars since are related to these babies. Mind you, because the mechanical package will be ‘free’ in time, there will be far less spent on arcane aerodynamic advances as same will not be the only way to competitiveness in packages which have been hitherto very tightly defined.

The intent is to vastly reduce aerodynamic grip, the wake the cars create is mainly created by wings, and we want cars to able to stay close without losing grip as a result of being in the wake. So the wings are small, tightly controlled ‘trim tabs’ with the cars underbodies providing most of the grip. This solution does not create the bad air behind the car which discourages close racing for the reasons stated.

We need to reduce cornering power and lengthen braking distances, carbon brakes are still allowed. Lets have an excess of power over both mechanical and aerodynamic grip though. The cars are to be very difficult to drive, the emphasis is a total lack of electronic aids, a refocus on core driver skills and technique with mistakes punished by the drivers ability to break things as a consequence of errors. Clutches and gearboxes for example.

‘One make’ anything has been poor for motor-racing including having one provider of tyres. Three tyre contracts will be available, these manufacturers will pay for the pleasure of being involved in F1, and the promotional benefits of victories will return as their will be winners and losers amongst the three said suppliers. For the teams, some will be with the right supplier, some the wrong one in any particular year- this will create desirable performance outcomes by mixing it up.

Engines

 I reckon the first 5 years of RF1 should be a simple engine formula, we need to win back the faithful in that period, knock their socks off and then do something edgy. So, 3 litres or so with a turbo-charged smaller engine option, equivalence factor to be decided and a desired output of circa 850bhp.

I do like the current engine longevity rules and the penalties which go with them- lets hang onto those, its in everyones interests the engines last longer than for shorter times and it puts constraints on the development of expensive ‘hand grenade’ moteurs. The rules I propose above encourages the chasing of very high revs- the need for the engine to last multiple meetings mitigates against that.

All ‘large manufacturers’ will make available ‘engine/transmission assemblies’ to at least one other constructor at prices to be capped. In that manner we are ensuring the ‘small fry’ can get hold of a competitive mechanical package. Remember too, all teams get a share of F1’s income, so, apart from sponsorship the teams will all get a bigger share of the sports income. The income distribution will be biased in favour of the back of the grid teams, which is sort of a tax on the successful who will probably be better sponsored in any event.

From year six, having regained the faithful, we need to get more adventurous though.

Some type of fuel or energy flow formula is the go which should encourage all alternatives to be ‘on the table’.

Conventional normally aspirated engines, turbo-charged ones, hybrids, two and four wheel drive. The lot. Consistent with our Brand Essence the cars need to be loud, fast, edgy, (in look if not in fact) and aesthetically pleasing.

The golden years of F1 diversity have to be the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Can Am of 1966-1970 was rolled gold as well, mainly due to its lack of rules. A bit of free formula thinking on the motive packages- engines and transmissions will, as night follows day produce cars which look different to one another if only for reasons of packaging. So, lets embrace change secure in the knowledge that the big manufacturers have to supply at least one other team with their engine/transmission package.

Again, the flow of F1 earnings remains within the sport so the teams have the incomes to able, maybe in commercial partnership with others, develop innovative ideas

Aerodynamics

The size of both wings and underbodies will be much smaller than now with the objects of stability, not losing grip whilst travelling close to another car, lengthen braking distances and fundamentally have an excess of power over grip in medium fast corners.

It should not be easy for drivers to progress from the more junior formulae to RF1, as stated above

Gearboxes

 Four wheel drive is allowed, as above from year 6 but not years 1 to 5, where conventional rear, two wheel drive is mandated.

With the focus on core driver skills old-school H-pattern changes are compulsory together with driver operated clutches. The notion is to be able to break a gearbox, clutch and over-rev an engine. Yep, its old school but consistent with a focus on core driver skills- those skills include ‘shiftin gears yourself. Maybe sequential boxes if I have to compromise but I’d rather not.

Weight

 Same weight for all cars years 1-5, perhaps differentials in weight after year 6 as part of the equivalence rules between the different combinations contemplated above

Aids

No DRS, ABS, KERS, active suspension, push-button passing or any of that absolute crap. The difficulty with this stuff is to me is that its all or nothing. We either allow the lot- active suspension was far from a gadget, it had applicability to road cars, its impact on performance of the Williams was immense but the decision to ban it was in essence around cost. The sport could not afford it. So, if it is all or nothing, I’m for nothing.

Sporting Regulations..

Test days of only a nominated amount seems a wise cost saving ideas but the number of test days to be reviewed and increased. The teams have greater income and will be able to afford test. Three tyre suppliers means the need for more testing- as does making the cars harder to drive. Blooding drivers needs more test days

Communication

No radio communication, pit boards only. We are back to the gladiatorial contest with the driver having a tank of fuel, a set of tyres and then his brain to do the best he can rather than the current rubbish of team strategy determining the race result. This gradual shift is some of the nonsense to attempt to spice up the show and is totally out of keeping with our F1 Brand Essence.

The driver should be able to win or lose a race, the driver should not lose the race because his team manager belches at the wrong moment and so botches the call on a pitstop. Its bollocks this nonsense.

Racing and Practice Sessions at GP’s

 Have been rationed down it seems to me in recent years.

There will be two untimed sessions on Thursday with all sessions on Friday and Saturday morning timed for grid positions. Pole scores a championship point

The final event on Saturday is a 50 mile preliminary race (Petite Prix!) with championship points awarded from first to sixth place (9/6/4/3/2/1 points) with an additional point for fastest lap

Sunday Grand Prix

One 30 minute warm up / test session on Sunday morning

The GP to be a race of 150 miles on Sunday afternoon with points awarded first to sixth as above but double points including fastest lap. No refuelling for pitstops allowed. The same type of tyres (compound) for the GP to be used as during the shorter race

As stated above the emphasis is back on the driver to manage the races himself, look after the tyres, make the onboard adjustments he can, not on sparkling up the show by making pitstops and potentially losing the race because of them. A consequence will be to make the races easier to follow for spectators at the circuit and on TV.

The emphasis of a GP weekend is getting greater value for the punter, more laps for the price of an entry ticket- which will reduce because our business model won’t be as greedy. We want more on more on track time and a second race, it gives the spectators a reason to buy at least a two day ticket.

Telemetry

One way- from car to pit

Public Relations

No flunkies at the circuit looking after and monitoring drivers every utterance and movement.

Half they time the drivers look and sound as much like corporate accountants as racing drivers. David Coulthard was so polished he could have been the press spokesman for a US President (not the current nutbag mind you) We need drivers, some at least to be Innes Ireland, Eddie Irvine and James Hunt in style- brash, unpredictable, independent of thought word and deed, perhaps a bit uncouth sometimes and preferably rampant rooters like the days of old. At 15 I absolutely wanted to be James Hunt in 1973- he had it all. Pick one of the current pericks you would want to be like?!

In all seriousness the whole show is way too controlled, a GP weekend is like a big, carefully orchestrated corporate event, some of the ‘random’ is necessary to mix it up. The standard prize giving ceremony with the crappy music and insipid, anodyne interviews afterwards are a waste of time. Getting rid of all the naughty boy ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ rules will encourage people to say what they think and occasionally act like young males do juiced with adrenalin- with impetuousness.

So there you have it my friends, its all pretty easy to change the show when you control it and you don’t have shareholder interests to worry about.

I spose the sport just splutters on really, spitting off heaps of cash to owners with no interest in the sport, make that business, other than financial ones. All of the above is just a pipedream, still its been cleansing to think about what I would do should I have control! Don’t get too hung up on my RGP rule ideas, I am interested in getting others thoughts, the main game is to regain control of the commercial rights and the rivers of cash which need to be kept within the sport to feed it. The sport is then self-sustaining to a large extent.

It goes without saying that the dangers ye olde Halos are trying to prevent are minor compared with the inherent terrors of open-wheel, very high powered cars racing so closely together. Lets hope Liberty jump aboard that one, to turn F1 into a closed wheel category toot-sweet thereby hastening the demise of F1 as we know it even faster then I could have hoped! The more the owners of the current paradigm shag Grand Prix racing over the better. Lets all help hasten its demise by not going to GP’s and not watching the boring coverage.

‘The King is Dead. Long Live The King’; Renaissance GP can take its place rightfully owned by the FIA who should never have sold it in the first place- where was the much-maligned whacko, Jean-Marie Balestre just when we needed him most?…

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Denny Hulme stands with ‘his’ two Chev ZL1 aluminium-blocked cars at the Riverside Times Grand Prix in 1968…

Both mighty fine cars, an M8A McLaren would be far rarer than an ‘ally-block Corvette but i bet the factory didn’t sell too many of them. You could option the engine in a Camaro for a while as well, here in Australia Bob Jane won an Australian Touring Car Championship with one so equipped in 1971.

The M8A’s were dominant in Bruce and Denny’s hands in 1968…

Credit…

The Enthusiast Network

Tailpiece…

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