Reg Hay, Blackburn, on his way to victory in the 1925 unlimited championship, Longford (K Hay)

All too often we car blokes forget the trail blazed to create or use racetracks by our motor-bike racing buddies.

I knew it was the leather clad brigade who are responsible for the first Longford road-racing meeting in 1953 (and were a key part of the meetings until 1966). Bless them. I didn’t realise their Longford contribution dates back to the twenties- thad’ll be the 1920s folks.

Some of the earliest social runs organised by the Tasmanian Automobile Club (membership 50/50 cars/bikes) were from Launceston to the Blenheim Inn at Longford. Shortly thereafter, inevitably, members wanted to see ‘how fast she would go’. The long, straight road from Perth to Longford, starting at the Perth end was the chosen stretch for these one mile timed runs.

Fifty years later, the other end of that straight stretch (Pateena Road) formed Longford’s Flying Mile.

Quickest car during the first of these meetings was a Mr Heathcote’s Coventry Humber, a heady 72kmh, fastest bike was Percy Harrison’s Griffon, which did 83kmh.

Charles King and L Rosevears, Longford 1925 (K Hay)

 

While I’m getting all misty-eyed about Longford again. Tasmanian Govt Railways H3 crossing the South Esk River at Longford enroute to Devonport, April 17, 1965. Eight of these heavy-freight locos were built for the TGR by The Vulcan Foundry, Newton-Le-Willows, England, and delivered in October 1951. 6 of the 8 were preserved but not this one (G Oliver)

 

Starters before the 5 lap unlimited championship, Longford 1925. #4 Reg Hay won on his Blackburn (K Hay)

Into the twenties race meetings were held at the Longford horse racing track. Built in the 1840s, the thoroughbred track is one of the oldest in Australia, it is 3km from ‘Pub Corner’ in Longford village.

Even though the roll-on, roll-off ferry from Devonport to Port Melbourne only commenced in the late fifties plenty of riders from the North Island made the trip on the smaller ferry with their ‘bikes to race in these twenties meetings “where Victorian star Charles Disney had to fight for his victories against some very quick local first-timers.”

Reg Hay travelled the other way and did much winning on Victorian speedways in the summer, returning to Tassie to win other events including 24-Hour Trials in the cooler months. Later he moved to the UK just before the war to captain the Australian Speedway Team.

When he returned to Tasmania after the war he was the chief starter at Quorn Hall and Valleyfield and then later at Longford and Symmons Plains, I wonder if he ever did some practice laps on the Longford road course…

Rolling start for the 600s at Longford in 1924 (Weekly Courier)

Credits…

‘The Examiner’ Launceston, Kevin Hay, Geoffrey Oliver, Weekly Courier, Sydney Morning Herald

Tailpiece…

Rolling the Longford clock forward 35 years, Australian international Jack Ahearn, with Long Bridge in the background, lines his Norton up for the uphill Newry Corner during the March 1961 meeting.

The Bondi born veteran aces best result was second in the 1964 world 500 championship behind MV’s Mike Hailwood. See here for a piece on Ahearn; https://www.oldbikemag.com.au/jack-ahearn-man-reasons/

Finito…

(unattributed)

The Richard Attwood/David Hobbs Lola Mk6 GT at Le Mans in 1963.

Q22 after dramas with the French scrutineers, and just outside the top-12 at the end of the first hour. The GT’s first pitstop was to rectify a slipping dynamo belt, later there was a two-hour stop to sort Colotti T37 transaxle dramas. Then Hobbs crashed when having trouble engaging third gear on a down-shift into the Chicane.

Eric Broadley built three Mk6 GTs. Their race record was modest given ‘the Mk6 program’, including two of the cars were sold to Ford as part of the deal with Broadley to design the GT40. One of those two cars was taken by Eric in his settlement with Ford upon exit of the program. See here; https://www.hotrod.com/articles/1963-lola-mk6-gt-ford-gt40/

Lola Mk 6 Ford, Monza October 29, 1963. Roy Lunn, Bruce McLaren and John Wyer (B Sundue)

 

Ditto Monza as above (D Friedman)

 

Lola Mk6 GT Ford. Monocoque aluminium chassis, Ford 4.3 and 4.7 litre pushrod OHV V8. Colotti T37 5-speed transaxle, independent suspension and disc brakes (unattributed)

Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill did a million miles at Goodwood testing the Mk6 and GT40. McLaren’s driving fees from Ford and others were important cashflow as Bruce brought together the key elements of what became Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd in the period between the 1963 and 1965 ‘Tasman’ internationals.

McLaren’s race and test miles in the Zerex Spl Climax, then the evolved Bruce McLaren, Wally Willmott and Tyler Alexander chassis’d Cooper Traco-Olds, the Lola Mk6 and then the Ford GT40 must have been deeply informative as the trio considered, and settled on the specifications of their Group 7 McLaren M1 Oldsmobile.

They got it right too. The McLaren-Elva M1A’s sold well and were good, competitive cars even if Eric Broadley’s ‘this is what the blardy GT40 shoulda been’ Lola T70 rained on the McLaren’s parade. Bruce McLaren’s impressions of a T70, if he ever drove one, would be interesting.

Bruce with his M1 outside the Feltham workshop (G Begg)

McLarens opulent facilities today are a far cry from the company beginnings.

The team moved into the 950 square metres of space at Feltham, South London above on July 27, 1964. HQ prior to that was a dirt floor former earth moving shed at New Malden closeby.

Bruce McLaren on the LA Times GP grid qualifying race at Riverside on October 11, 1964. McLaren Automotive claim this race as their first win. I guess that is right. But the accepted dogma is that the McLaren/Willmott designed and built Cooper T70 Climax 1964 Tasman Cup cars were the first McLarens.

If that is the case, I believe it is, then Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd’s first was Bruce’s Cooper T70 victory in the early morning, first preliminary 33 mile heat prior to the January 11, 1964 NZ GP at Pukekohe. He doubled up and won the GP in the afternoon too- from Denny Hulme’s works-Brabham BT4 Climax and Tim Mayer in the other Cooper T70.

(GP Library)

Tim Mayer at the wheel of the first Cooper T70 Climax 2.5 FPF during its first shakedown test at Goodwood in September 1963.

He was extremely quick that southern summer, running up front throughout with the GP drivers present. Mayer was to be a works-Cooper F1 racer that coming season. Sadly, he perished at Longford during practice of the final round. Tim’s story is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

(GP Library)

McLaren testing his M1 in late 1964 in what became his signature manner. He conducted his first, very fast systems checks and initial suspension fettling sessions sans bodywork at Goodwood.

And again at Goodwood below after delivery of the M1’s body, built in aluminium by the two-man-band Robert Peel Coachworks guys at Kingston and styled by ex-Specialised Mouldings man Tony Hilder.

See Doug Nye’s piece on the McLaren M1 here; https://www.goodwood.com/grr/columnists/doug-nye/2018/10/doug-nye-the-first-true-mclaren/

(GP Library)

 

McLaren Elva M1A Oldsmobile. Spaceframe chassis. Traco Engineering modded 3.9/4.5-litre pushrod, 310bhp + aluminium V8. Hewland HD 4-speed transaxle. Independent suspension and disc brakes

Credits…

Brian Sundue, ‘Bruce McLaren: Racing Car Constructor’ George Begg, McLaren Cars, Grand Prix Library

Tailpiece…

(W Willmott/G Begg)

Ford test session of the Lola Mk6 at Goodwood in late 1963, shot taken by Wally Willmott. If you can ID the FoMoCo heavies give me a yell.

I wonder whether this session is part of Ford’s due-diligence process pre-Lola purchase or a post-deal session? McLaren’s test and development abilities were rated bigtime by Ford. The Kiwi’s diagnostic capabilities were matched by his capacity to suggest changes to remedy a problem or exploit an opportunity.

McLaren’s key commercial relationship with Firestone, in place just in time for the ’65 Tasman Cup, arose on the recommendation and introduction by Ford. The sign-on fee, free tyres and ongoing testing program were manor-from-heaven for the nascent company and a major contributor to early successes.

Finito…

(Cummins Archive)

Ferrari 555 Super Squalo ‘FL9002’ at Hall & Fowler’s forecourt during the early eighties.

I’ve done these Ferraris to death already, here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2020/10/10/squalo-squadron/ . There’s more; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/31/555-super-squalo-555-2/

This car started life as a works machine ‘555/2’ raced throughout 1955, it then became a Formula Libre machine raced by Reg Parnell in a two car team together with Peter Whitehead throughout Australia, New Zealand and South America.

‘555/2’, renumbered ‘FL9002’ by Ferrari when rebuilt as an F Libre car, was eventually owned by the Gilltraps Motor Museum at Kirra on the Gold Coast before Ian Cummins bought it. ‘He took it to the UK when he was working for Tom Wheatcroft at the Donington Museum. They took the Squalo and one of Tom’s cars in the old BRM transporter to a few historic events in Europe, letting some of the old-guard drive it, Maurice Trintignant and Froilan Gonzales included’ Paul Cummins recalls.

‘That all stopped, when in a closed session at Donington it was put into a concrete safety barrier. Tom had gotten a few cars out for everyone to try. I think Denis Jenkinson was amongst the drivers, the Squalo was first off the rank. In exchange for a drive of a Bugatti Royale, Dad let the curator (I think of the Blackhawk Museum) drive it. Someone standing at the corner of the accident said they heard the throttle being lifted on entry and then in the corner it suddenly went full-throttle- obviously getting the pedals mixed up (central throttle). The car went straight into the barrier shortening the nose and breaking the guy’s legs.’

‘Dad completely rebuilt it with the help of Hall & Fowler where the above picture was taken. Dad was never compensated for the accident even though it was promised. The car briefly came back to Australia and was then sent to the USA, basically being swapped to get his old D Type back.’

Charlie Cooper added, ‘Noel Tuckey and George Gilltrap rebuilt the car and Noel drove it in historics (in Australia). It didn’t handle very well. They discovered the rear suspension wasn’t working properly, once fixed the car was good. It was carried from place to place on a single-axle trailer. I recall testing it down the road beside the museum at Kirra. George didn’t want to race it because of hearing loss so he ran the Hudson and then the Elford KM leaving the Squalo to Noel. Good people and times.’

Within the same week the modern shot of the 555 was posted by Paul, David Zeunert uploaded this photograph taken by Australian ace Reg Hunt of a Ferrari 500/625 in New Zealand, or perhaps Orange, Australia in early 1955.

A pair of these cars were raced by Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze that southern-summer. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/ and; https://primotipo.com/2019/06/24/1956-bathurst-100-lex-davison/

The two chassis shown are not the same model but they are related. The modern shot makes it easier to visualise what has been removed in what appears a major rebuild or repair far from base.

The key elements of both machines are clear; ladder-frame chassis and light members supporting bodywork and ancillary parts. Right-hand gearchange. Solid rear axle located by two forward facing radius-rods and central sliding pillar. Rear transverse leaf-spring under axle. Shocks and links. Big drum brakes. Means of retaining the big fuel and oil tanks.

The more you look the more you see.

(Cummins Archive)

‘Dad gave Froilan Gonzales a drive of the car at Bordeaux in 1987. Gonzales knew where everything was even after a gap of 32 years. He had a ball in the car and jumped out patting Dad on the head exclaiming “Gooda Motore! Gooda Motore!”

There is no higher praise!

Credits…

Paul Cummins, Reg Hunt via David Zeunert

Finito…

First and final issues, February 1946 and April 1971, with 298 issues between (S Dalton Collection, as are all of the following images)

Recording history, as it happens was a very different process before internet based websites and twitispheres made for real-time instantaneous news access across the globe. February 2021 heralds 75 years since a doyen of Australian motoring journals began its journey. Let’s reflect…

World conflict had not long ceased when those with a motor sporting interest began thinking of ways of getting a little bit of their sport happening again – War related fuel rationing or not. The 500cc movement (and its Iota magazine) in the UK saw young John Cooper and a whole host of hopefuls garnering a passionate interest. The colonials had an interest too, and despite the same sort of restrictive measures in those early post war years, also made things happen.

The monthly, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ began its days from the Melbourne-based home of its founding editor/ publisher, Arthur Wylie, under the auspices of Wylie Publishing Co. He had pre-war Motor Racing/Speedway competition driving already on his resume and shared an engineering talent with his brother, Ken where they built their own racing cars and speedway midgets. But nothing relating to putting a magazine into production. In for a penny, in for a pound after his wartime Royal Australian Air Force service. Leading to setting up a small network of often well connected early correspondents, such as John Barraclough and Bob Pritchett to help fill the pages (and get the gossip) to cover all facets of ‘the sport’ – motorcycles, speedway and cars (and occasionally even boats). The ‘car folk’ very much like the UK relied on Hillclimbs as the main means of getting a fix early post conflict with road racing venues difficult to access. This is where the motorcycling clubs tended to lead the way sourcing new venues that the car folk would later often access and benefit.

Bruce Polain and Arthur Wylie aboard his Wylie Javelin at Amaroo Park in 1976 (B Polain)

 

Ken and Arthur Wylie at Western Springs Speedway, Auckland, NZ 1938. These cars are 2 of 4 kits imported from the US by George Beavis, make folks? (Just Midgets)

 

A small selection of 1947 and 1948 issues

The first AMS issue dated February 1946 started the Wylie Publishing formula complete with enough advertising and sold copy to help lead to a second issue…and a third… Usually dated to the 15th of the month in the first few years, with the distinctive blue toned cover to brighten things up in an era of basic printing means. That first issue even ran a very brief piece on the “…overseas magazines have been suggesting 500cc Car Racing, using motor cycle engines…” With, like the movement itself, things expanding over future issues and Cooper getting a run in the May ’47 issue (although in reality basically a re-use of UK’s The Autocar story). It would be 1950 before any Coopers arrived Down Under in the metal and Arthur Wylie was in the right place when that happened.

Talented artists tended to be well used as part of magazine publications everywhere during the times when the ‘dark art’ of photo reproduction was an expensive exercise. AMS was no exception, utilising the talents of Sydney-based artist/ enthusiast, Bob Shepherd. With a steady hand bringing forth his gifted ability to create illustrated columns such as ‘Vintage Competition Cars of Australia’ that began in the August 1946 issue and ‘Interesting Power Units’ beginning 12 months later.

Those with a penchant to capture an moving vehicle at close quarters were also welcome submissions in AMS with George Thomas and Ed Steet and many others from across Australia making contributions. With Ed even having time to put the camera down and compete on occasion.

There was another popular column that began in the August 1946 issue, ‘Australian Specials’ heralding what modern day historians can be forever grateful for in these concoctions being recorded in period. There was a fairly broad scope in what determined an Australian Special, some baring quite exotic basis, other less so. Budget dependent often and the builder’s talent also at play. That August ’46 issue sets things going with ‘The Day Special.’ The underpinnings of Jack Day’s special being Bugatti with a Ford V8 crammed in where Ettore’s straight-8 had once resided.

August 1946 issue and the debut of Bob Shepherd’s Vintage Competition Cars of Australia series, The Day Special

 

Beginnings of the ‘digest-sized’ era from June to December 1951 issues

 

February 1950 and Cooper gets featured on Australian soil. Phil Irving is shown on the right, Keith Martin (Cooper importer) on left

Arthur was also able to bring UK ‘Motor Sport’ editor, Bill Boddy onboard with his ‘English Newsletter’ column to keep the colonials familiar with what was happening in that part of the world. And on occasion things were reciprocated, with AMS stuff going into Motor Sport. Of course Bill was probably only trying to supplement the miserly pay handed out by Wesley J Tee, publisher of MS.

As mentioned earlier, Arthur Wylie was in the right position as both publisher and competitor to be the one who debuted Cooper into Australian motor sport at the 29-30 January 1950 Fisherman’s Bend race meeting. By engaging Arthur as driver, the original Australian Cooper importer, Keith Martin – under the guise of ‘Cooper Racing Car Distributors’ was hoping to showcase Cooper JAP exploits and get some publicity in AMS as a means to move the four cars he had just landed on Aussie soil four days earlier. Two were complete, the other two were imported minus body. Resulting in the February 1950 issue having the race report where things didn’t go as well as hoped with not enough preparation time between boat and racing. There was also the separate Cooper 1000 feature.

Then Arthur was back in the same Cooper’s seat for the 13 March 1950 Rob Roy Hillclimb meeting where he not only took Fastest time, but broke the course record with his 26.55 sec time. Although it didn’t turn into a rush of quick sales or fresh orders that Keith Martin had probably hoped. They did eventually sell, one of the bodiless cars as a rolling chassis to Ken Wylie, who completed the car and popped in a 500cc JAP. Keith Martin however was never responsible for importing another Cooper to these shores. But he did visit the UK and compete at the likes of 5 July 1952 Rest-and-be-Thankful Hillclimb in Scotland. Where, like many others before and after, he had a moment at the venue damaging the Cooper he was using.

From those humble beginnings, Cooper certainly played a major part in both Aussie motor sporting activities with AMS recording their many exploits over the next 15 odd years. Not that that was the exclusive domain of Cooper. Because AMS helped promote and record the growth of the sport as many ‘new’ racing cars, either arrived ex UK / Europe or was homegrown built in the Australian Special tradition. It was of course the period whereby the old nails from the UK and Europe motor racing could be cast off to the colonials as their hunger for fresh mounts gained momentum. Be they, even then, rare MG, Bugatti or Maserati and the like having reached their sell by date for those chasing victories with no further requirement for last year’s racing car in the northern hemisphere.

May 1947 issue ran this Cooper 500 feature

 

Lex Davison ready to clear his Ferrari 500/625 from his Lilydale property

The names of Davison, Jones,  Patterson, Mildren, Stillwell, Whiteford and a whole host of others can be tracked through the pages of AMS with their more obscure mounts of the 1940s taking them on their racing journey’s into the ’50s when they boldly stepped into the likes of Ferrari, Lago-Talbot, Maserati, D Type Jaguar and Cooper as their careers grew and more spending power became available to try to outgun each other on the circuits. Then into the ’60s as the Brabham/Tauranac inspired Cooper’s and Repco-Brabham’s became the preferred (or more the point, necessary) means to continue their competitive on track combats of 15 or more years that had begun somewhat more humbly with steads such as HRG, MG or Riley and Ford specials that were fairly easy to access, tweak or build in a back shed or servo with a few skills and basic tools.

Along the journey Arthur Wylie was able to take a little inspiration from Cooper, by way of building his own interpretation of a racing car where the driver sat low and forward of the engine. Originally known as the Jowett Javelin special, although more famously known as the Wylie-Javelin. This was Arthur’s way of constructing a car around Jowett’s Bradford-built flat four – livened up by his addition of a supercharger. That in the early ’50s was a fairly typical ‘hot-up’ to many car engines, be they humble to special with an owner ready for their quick HP fix. After Arthur had his fun with the car, it was owned and raced by others who used it as a stepping stone up the open-wheeler ladder. Tasmania’s John Youl being one who would go on and race a couple of Cooper Climaxes.
You can view and read about Wylie-Javelin, right here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/14/the-wylies-javelin-special/

Of course magazine publishing has always had its challenges, AMS was no exception on that front. Juggling the fine line of budget, gathering and/or writing the copy and advertising, printing and paper supplies. Or the complications of distribution across a vast country like Australia. And what I can easily relate to with simply these scribbles, a deadline quickly looms each month (for the Mini Cooper Register). AMS announced in their December 1949 issue they had been sourcing scarce paper supplies from Sweden to get by. But they weren’t happy on the quality stakes. Then by May 1951 it was another scarcity and the rising cost of paper issue announcement. Bringing about the shrunken A5 Digest-sized issues introduced from the June 1951 issue before a return to an A4 type magazine some three years later with the July 1954 issue – that was also the beginning of yellow cover era.

Mid-50s yellow cover era, shows the factory racing cars that were progressively taking over the grids

 

UK ‘Motor Sport’ editor, Bill Boddy moonlights with his summary of the then ‘just released’ BRM V16 for February 1950 AMS

By 1954 there was several new players in the Australian motoring magazine department, adorning newsagent shelves. Although Motor Manual, Wheels and Modern Motor were more general motoring scene related with a smattering of sport.

By 1957 the Aussie motor sport scene was beginning to flourish, however Arthur had decided enough and edited his last issue with July’s edition that year. He could finally take a proper holiday! Although the whiff of ink never completely stopped as he began a fishing magazine in the 1970s.

The sale began an era under Jim Webb’s ownership and influence and an era whereby proliferation of racing Cooper’s graced covers month on month. Which of course only reflected the number of Surbiton product touring from circuit to circuit across Oz during those late 50s/early 60s times.

That same timeframe saw new writers’ names appearing in AMS with the likes of Tuckey, Howard, Kable and Polain submitting copy during the growth of their motoring scribblers-related careers.

As the Mini era dawned, AMS covered things from even before the 1959 Mini release through to running a test of the Aussie Mk2 Cooper S ‘KMD 400’ press car in the May 1970 issue. UK rally driver, Brian Culcheth used the car during an Australian visit promotion. More broadly AMS covered a whole host of Mini related news, tests and even graced covers on a couple of occasions. And of course race track exploits scattered amongst many race reports.

AMS had some great classified adverts for a whole swag of wonderful machinery. Here Rupert Steele tries to move his ex-Barrett Alfa Monza

 

Talented artist Bob Shepherd, his work remains highly prized

No doubt as an attempt to broaden readership and sales, the AMS masthead was given a mid-life makeover by the addition of ‘& Automobiles’ to the cover upon publication of the August 1960 issue. By mid-1963 the title became part of Southdown Press, at the time they were a major player in all variety of Australian magazine publications.

I’m more than aware some enthusiasts with a motor sport historian side can be quite dismissive of the 1963/64 onwards era of the magazine. Especially given Racing Car News had popped up in 1961 and was now chasing the original AMS mantra to cover the sporting side of things. But some foolhardy souls prefer more than one source, so persist in having 25 years of hard copy AMS to the very end when things wound up with publication of the April 1971 issue. Representing 300 Individual issues (4 years had 11 issues only –  46, 55, 61 & 69) Winding up with staff such as Peter Robinson, moving towards a longtime stint as Wheels magazine editor. Before he headed for a motoring life and journalism in Europe.

Arthur Wylie was celebrated by the Aussie Historic movement over the weekend of 11-12 August 1990 with the Historic Amaroo race meeting run in his honour. He passed away on 26 July 1997 – just 4 days shy of his 86th birthday. He would probably be somewhat surprised all these years later enthusiasts are still utilising his journal to solve some obscure moment. Or simply perusing the for sale and classified adverts that showcase cars now worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions in today’s historic terms. But it’s tread easily, that ‘Swedish blond’ paper complained about in-house 70 odd years ago can be on the suntanned and delicate in 2021!

Of course, since AMS & A’s departure from the newsagents shelves, many other brave souls have come (and often gone) trying to establish motoring and motor sporting magazines. The irony there is that as one title ended its print run, Auto Action was beginning its journey. With it now up for celebrating 50 years – 1805 editions through the presses later. With presence on Twitter, Facebook, website or old fashioned hard copy that some of us old dinosaurs prefer. See here; https://autoaction.com.au/

1967 and 1968 issues with a variety of automotive ‘treasures’ and awkward publicity

Etcetera…

The email below was forwarded to Stephen Dalton by Peter Robinson, respected Australian magazine editor/writer in response to Paul Newby’s comments below about the final phases of AMS.

‘Hello Stephen

My thoughts on AMS. It was a long time ago, of course.

In 1966 I was working as a journalist at Keith Winser’s Australian Monthly Motor Manual. While I will always be grateful to Motor Manual for giving me a start (in 1962) in this business, it was a humble publication with no real aspirations for excellence. At the end of 1966 Winser sold to The Age and the small staff moved to the Age building in Collins street, Melbourne.

Shortly thereafter, in early 1967, Pat Hayes, editor of AMS approached me with a job offer and sold me on the idea that Southdown Press, owners of AMS, wanted to take on Wheels and Modern Motor as a more general motoring magazine with a strong motor sport content. Pat required somebody to take responsibility for road testing new models and, not knowing what would happen to Motor Manual (Len Shaw became editor and produced a much improved magazine that eventually became Car Australia).

I jumped at the chance. My first issue I was May, 1967, ironically, given my recent involvement with helping him write a book on his racing career, with Spencer Martin on the cover. My contribution was a story on car insurance. The road tests quickly became an important part of the magazine (we even dyno tested each car), alongside Mike Kable’s excellent motor racing reports and the other regular contributors. Sadly, when compared to Rupert Murdoch’s Southdown Press TV Week and New Idea, AMS remained a minor player in terms of circulation and advertising and was never given the financial support to break out of its newsprint paper quality or with a significant budget increase.

In late 1968, AMS was bundled into News Ltd’s Cumberland Press, based in Parramatta, NSW. The paper quality and reproduction improved, but the ambition to challenge Wheels disappeared. In mid-1969, Pat’s frustration led to his departure to the Age, where he became the newspaper’s letters’ editor. Len Rodney, already editor of Power Boat and Yachting magazine, became editor of AMS and my title changed from Assistant (editor) to Melbourne editor.

In November 1970, on the Austin Tasman/Kimberley launch, I meet Wheels’ new assistant editor Mel Nichols and we struck up a friendship. After Rob Luck resigned as Wheels editor, Mel turned down the job, believing he didn’t have the necessary experience. Mel suggested Murray Publishers approach me for the editor role, a huge step forward. As it turned out, my decision to move was most fortunate. In early March 1971, I moved to Sydney to run Wheels.

My name and byline appear in the March, 1971 AMS. Although I was largely responsible for the editorial and wrote the road tests (and showed up in photographs), my byline does not appear in the April 1971 issue, the last issue of AMS. Len Rodney’s name as editor was also dropped. Shortly after I moved to Wheels, I learned that Cumberland Press had decided to kill off both AMS and the boating magazine.

Hope this provides some worthwhile background.

Best.
Peter Robinson’

Credits…

Stephen Dalton- many thanks for a wonderful article. The images are all from Stephen’s Collection too

Finito…

 

(NAA)

Launceston artist, gallery owner and teacher, Mary Jolliffe, aboard her Gremlin Formula Vee in 1968.

The shot made me chuckle. I wish I had one of my grandmothers pose for a shot in my Venom Vee a decade later. My old man ‘useter say there were only two brands of the the new-fangled radial tyres to buy, Michelin X and Pirelli Cinturato- these are Cints.

Launceston boy, Pat Stride, ex-RAF pilot, by day an air-traffic controller, built a number of Gremlins during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, both single-seaters and sportscars.

Jolliffe, one of Tasmania’s best known water colourists, opened the Mary Jolliffe Art Gallery- a gallery, studio and art school, at 118 St John Street, Launceston in 1965. A decade later she was an immensely popular teacher at the Kalori Marist Brothers College in Burnie.

One of Pat’s former work colleagues wrote this brief piece about him when he died in 2014. ‘Pat Stride arrived in Australia on November 1st, 1963, along with 21 other hopeful  ATC recruits  who were destined to become short term course 22, the first of many  Australian ATC courses comprising personnel  recruited overseas, mainly in the UK.  Pat was accompanied by his wife, Wendy, and three children under 10 years of age, Trish, Jeremy and Andrew. Prior to his emigration Pat had been a pilot in the RAF, flying  Vampires, Meteors and Sabres, mainly in Germany.’

Kings Bridge, Longford during the final, 1968 meeting. The only Vee race held at Longford was won by Pat, here in the Gremlin ahead of Lynn Archer in Brian Roberts’ Elfin 500 and Mike Bessant’s Scarab. For we Longford nutters it’s an interesting and unusual shot as it gives us a great view of the approach to Kings- in the distance, well behind the final car is the Viaduct (Stride Family)

‘Having passed the theoretical ATC training he commenced field training in Melbourne and completed this in Launceston where he went on to be rated in both aerodrome and approach control. Being of an entrepreneurial nature, when an opportunity arose to establish a caravan park situated at the Tasmanian terminal of the catamaran service from Welshpool in Victoria he and Wendy embraced it with enthusiasm.  After 9 successful years they were shattered to learn the catamaran service was about to be withdrawn and chose this time to retire.

Pat had one enduring passion, other than for his family, and that was for speed. He was an avid racing car driver, building and competing in his own cars with a significant degree of success. This continued well into his eighties and his last road car was a Mazda MX5 sports.’

The Australian Government’s Department of Immigration was after migrant success stories in sport, the arts and entertainment for PR purposes. It is in that context that Mary and Pat, both Brits, were sought, photographed and doubtless an article was written and published somewhere.

I quite randomly found other photographs of the same ilk of Bernie Haehnle; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/13/bernie-haehnle-rennmax-mk1-fv/ and Henk Woelders; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/30/henk-woelders/

How the connection between Mary and Pat was made, who knows, Launceston is a small place now let alone in the mid-sixties. Mary owned the car built and raced by Pat.

Credits…

National Archives of Australia, Stride Family, Stride tribute piece from Rob Tanner via Geoff Harris

Tailpiece…

(NAA)

Same locale as the opening shot, Pat’s home in suburban Lonny seems about it. Low res (bumma) shot of Pat at the wheel of ‘the Formula Vee Scarab Gremlin he designed, built and drove for Mary Jolliffe.’ I wonder what the correct name for the car is? Andrew and Jeremy Stride do the brmmm-brmmmmm thing with Dad.

Great stuff, a quintessential Oz outer-burbs sixties shot many of us can relate to!

In an earlier article I wrote ‘FV Historian John Fabiszewski notes that the first to race Vees (in Australia) were Pat Stride in his Scarab and George Geshopulous (later Geshos) in a Nota, in Formula Libre races in Tasmania (what circuit folks?) and Oran Park respectively on the same weekend in September 1965 (what date folks?).

Finito…

 

One of my favourite Facebook pages is the Repco-Brabham one Jay Bondini started for us Repco nutters yonks ago.

It’s chock full of good stuff, much of it contributed by the boys who produced the RBE V8 magic at Maidstone in the day- it has cred you might say!

This shot gave me a chuckle.

The works Repco billy-cart is poised on Bendigo’s View Street hill during the 1954’ish Easter Fair. The team’s #1 driver aboard the exotic machine is Les Holt. His old-man, Arthur Holt, worked at Repco Bendigo.

Then I thought, in the words of the great George Pell, bugger-me! that’s Mac’s machine. I’m sure I’ve seen it before somewhere!

Sure enough there is later Elfin/McLaren triple Gold Star champion John McCormack aboard the same missile at Burnie, Tasmania at roughly the same time. Dunno if he won but it seems a reasonable assumption.

You will all be pleased to know John is in great shape, sharp as a tack. I had a good chat to him at Baskerville a fortnight ago, all was good until I asked about the MR6, which was not his favourite car…

(M Preston)

 

McCormack’s MR6 Repco-Holden hooks into Sandown’s Shell Corner during the 1975 Sandown Park Cup- second behind John Goss’ Matich A53 Repco (I Smith)

It begs the question of course. Why?

The MR5 may have been getting a bit long in the tooth by the ‘74 Tasman but it was very successful in McCormacks hands – the 1973 Gold Star and 1973-4 NZ GPs at Pukekohe are the most notable of the combinations victories.

Ansett Team Elfin’s ‘unfair advantage’ was to have been the Repco-Leyland aluminium V8 fitted to a new, compact chassis designated MR6. This gave a lighter car than the opposition and handling balance those using cast-iron Chevs and Holdens could only dream of. That all turned to custard when Repco withdrew from racing in mid-1974, pretty much leaving Leyland Australia and Ansett Team Elfin high and dry.

The P76 V8 (P38 was the joke of the day ‘wannit- the P76 was only half a car) block was structurally weak, the standard nodular crank was junk for racing purposes and the ports were a poor shape which limited flow, and therefore power. Ignoring the fact the block probably couldn’t handle any extra mumbo anyway. Most of this would have been fixed had Repco applied their full engineering armoury to the problems but that was not the case. So the thing was slow and unreliable throughout the 1974 Gold Star.

On top of the engine issues Garrie Cooper repeated some of the MR5’s chassis shortcomings in his new MR6. The front bulkhead was weak, the car had bulk understeer as the front suspension geometry was sub-optimal and the critical engine to monocoque attachment wasn’t stiff enough so the whole package flexed- inspiring little confidence in its intrepid pilot.

MR6 Repco-Holden, perhaps Surfers Paradise 1975 (autopics.com)

 

Bruce Allison, Lola T332 Chev, McCormack’s MR6 Repco-Holden to the left and Vern Schuppan, Elfin MR8 Chev to the right. Calder ‘Soccerpools’ F5000 race, March 14, 1976. Max Stewart won both heats. Significant shot as it’s Vern’s first race drive of the MR8, having tested it at Adelaide International in early March (unattributed)

Mac and his crew, Dale Koenneke and Simon Aram fixed the chassis problems step by step. The engine dramas were solved by removing the light, gutless, unreliable Leyland and bolting in the heavy, potent, reliable Holden. Putting the smart-arse line to one side, the Repco-Holden had by then five years of development under its rocker-covers, the best of them gave a good 520bhp. The Leyland unit was a babe in the woods in terms of comparative development.

So equipped, McCormack finished fourth in the 1975 Tasman Cup behind the very quick Lola T332s of Warwick Brown, Graeme Lawrence and John Walker. He was second at Wigram, Teretonga and Sandown finishing seven of the eight rounds. At home he won the Gold Star taking victories at Oran Park and Calder. John Walker was second and Max Stewart third, both in Lola’s, again the MR6 was reliable, finishing four of the five rounds.

McCormack contested both the 1976 NZ GP and Australian Rothmans Series that summer, but the combo was off the pace of the fast boys at the very pointy end.

Mac had fallen out of love with the MR6 and Elfin more generally. He acquired a 1973 F1 McLaren M23 sans 3-litre Ford Cosworth DFV V8 from Dave Charlton in South Africa. Into that engine bay John, Dale and Simon very skillfully fitted the Leyland V8 which McCormack had not given up on!

After much test and development work from McCormack and Phil Irving, including new cylinder heads, the circa-435bhp M23 Leyland won its first Gold Star round at Calder in October 1976. He was victorious in the 1977 championship from John Leffler’s Lola T400 Chev.

The MR6 became a display car before its sale while the M23 raced on in F5000 and had a trip to the US where McCormack ran in a couple of races as a central-seat Can-Am car. See here for a feature article on the MR6 and particularly the M23; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/24/macs-mclaren-peter-revson-dave-charlton-and-john-mccormacks-mclaren-m232/

McCormack’s McLaren M23 Leyland from Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8 Chev and Dave Powell, Matich A50/51 Repco at Dandenong Road, Sandown International Cup 1977. Max Stewart’s Lola T400 won, Cooper third, Powell fourth and Mac fifth (autopics.com)

Credits…

Gary Nichols and Robert Reid for the Bendigo information, ‘From Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, Ian Smith, autopics.com, oldracingcars.com, Repco

Tailpiece…

(Repco)

Repco publicity shot of their Repco-Leyland F5000 engine in its original form as fitted to the Elfin MR6 in 1975. See the McLaren M23 link above for engine specifications and the changes made as it evolved when fitted to the McLaren.

Finito…

(D Lupton)

Rocky Tresise’ Lotus 18 Ford with Mike Ide’s Riley Special behind during an Australian Motor Sports Club meeting at Calder circa 1964.

Every now and again Melbourne enthusiast/racer/Brabham historian Denis Lupton sends me a great colour shot or two, these are his latest, grazia Denis.

Rocky commenced racing his road-going MGA, progressing to this Lotus, chassis ’18-J-797′ in January 1963. The car was one of a batch of three imported by Sydney’s Paul Samuels in 1960. The car was featured on the Lotus stand at the Melbourne Motor Show in April 1961 before being acquired by Jack Hunnam who was very quick in it. He scored first in class results in the 1962 Sandown Cup and Victorian Road Race Championships.

Tresise raced it throughout 1963, his best result on his climb to a Tasman 2.5 drive with Lex Davison’s Ecurie Australie was fifth in the Victorian Road Racing Championship. The sad Rocky story is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Three likely Melbourne lads- Rocky Tresise, MGA with Tim Schenken’s Austin A30 on the outside and Allan Moffat’s Triumph TR3A at Calder on February 24, 1963 (M Carr)

Tim Schenken was the next purchaser, racing the outdated machine to many firsts before he sold it a year or so later to jump a ship to the UK and international racing success.

The car passed through Don Baker, Bob Minogue and two others hands before its arrival in historic racing with Gavin Sala in 1972. Kim Shearn has owned it for a couple of decades.

The other Calder Lotus 18 shot is ‘three of the five Birchwood race school cars, four were green, the spare in the workshop was white.’ I know little about Jon Leighton’s operation, it would be great to speak to a graduate or former employee to flesh this out.

(D Lupton)

Credits…

Denis Lupton, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Mychael Carr via Graham White

Finito…

Towards Hell Corner for the first time. Jones’ Maserati 250F, Gray’s blue Tornado 2 Chev with Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 at left. Mildren’s green Cooper T43 Climax FPF 2.0 then Tom Clark’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo 3.4 and Merv Neil’s Cooper T45 Climax FPF 1.7 (M Reid)

The October 6, 1958 Australian Grand Prix was regarded as one of the great AGPs- a battle between the big red Italian cars of Stan Jones and Lex Davison and the booming blue homegrown Australian special raced by Ted Gray.

In the end Davo’s evergreen ex-Ascari/Gaze Ferrari 500/625 prevailed over the 100 miles, while the attacks of Stan’s Maserati 250F and Tiger Ted’s Tornado 2 Chev fell short.

The event took on greater significance over time as it showed the front-engined Italians at the height of their power in Australia before the full force of the Cooper onslaught bit.

Lex Davison dips his fuel level before the off, Ferrari 500/625 (R Reid)

 

Ted Gray during his glorious run in front for two thirds of the race. Tornado exiting Murrays (R Reid)

Lou Abrahams and his team had developed, arguably, the fastest car in the country during 1958. In addition they had improved Tornado’s reliability as they addressed, step by step, shortcomings in the machines drivetrain exposed by the prodigious power and torque of it’s fuel-injected Chev Corvette 283cid V8 fitted later in 1957.

Stan Jones found the consistency he needed to win the Gold Star in 1058 but Tornado was quicker. Lex Davison, the defending champion, wasn’t seen during the Gold Star as the AF Hollins & Co crew took a long time rebuilding the Ferrari’s 3-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine which blew after piston failure during the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in January.

Gray’s promise was proved with a win in the heat which contained the quicker cars. Not only was the car speedy over a lap, he was also considerably quicker than the opposition down Conrod – 152.54mph from Davison’s 146.74 and Jones’ 139.5

Tension mounts before the start of the second heat. #22 Clark and Davison, then Gray and Jones. The dark car on the outside of row 3 is perhaps Len Lukey’s Lukey Bristol with Ray Walmsley’s Alfa Romeo P3 Chev on his inside. The red car with the white nose-roundel is Tom Hawkes modified Cooper T23 Holden-Repco Hi-Power (R Reid)

 

Tail of the field thru Hell on lap 1- Alf Harvey’s light blue Maserati 4CLT OSCA 4.5 V12 with what looks like, perhaps, John Schroder’s Nota Consul. Harvey’s just rebuilt Maserati won it’s heat but ‘blew a spark plug right through the bonnet’ on lap 16. The Nota was out on lap 10 (ABC)

Early in the race the lead changed between the big three, who cleared away from the rest of the field to lead by nearly a minute at the conclusion of the first 10 of 30 laps- at this point Gray was 8 seconds up on the Jones/Davison battle.

By lap 22 Ted was ahead by a steady’ish 10 seconds but pitted to report erratic handling. A messy, unplanned pitstop ensued during which fuel was topped up and slopped all over the place. A post-race examination showed cracked rear suspension mounts were the cause of the handling misdemeanors. Ted returned to the fray determined to make up the gap but in his haste, and still with his problem, Tornado glanced off the fence on the mountain, then did a couple of slow laps before retiring on lap 24.

Stan Jones then appeared set take a race he deserved to win (he did at Longford in 1959) but he had been shifting gears sans clutch for 7 laps- during his 26th lap the 250F dropped a valve and he was out. Davo completed the remaining four laps to win from Ern Seeliger in Maybach 4 Chev and Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Holden-Repco Hi-Power. It was a happy day for Ern as he prepared both cars, and Tom’s was out of oil with a split sump!

Stan The Man in one of his muscle-shirts while in the lead early on. Maserati 250F exiting Murrays (I think) into Pit Straight (R Reid)

Etcetera…

(R Reid)

Credits…

‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Ors, Ron Reid Collection, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Tailpiece…

(R Reid)

A slightly fuzzy Jones, Davison and Gray through Reid Park in the early laps before Ted cleared out- Maserati, Ferrari, Tornado.

Finito…

I’ve written a feature In the current Auto Action #1803 on Dan Gurney’s win in the 1961 Victorian Trophy aboard his works BRM P48 at Ballarat Airfield.

He and Graham Hill raced at Ardmore, NZ, Warwick Farm and Ballarat that summer. Dan’s win was an interesting one in his last BRM drive- it was his first international victory and the only one for the P48 on the last occasion the machine was raced in works hands.

It’s a nice piece, but then I would say that.

For us historic nutters there is also the first in a two-part series on Tim Schenken written by Mark Fogarty. This issue covers his formative years to F1, the next one his Ferrari sportscar drives, Tiga period with Howden Ganley and beyond.

Other standout reads in the sixty page issue are five pages on F1, four on the year ahead for F1, Indycar, F2/3, Moto GP and Taxis, two pages on Oz international Scott Andrews with whom I was unfamiliar and coverage of the Monte, Dakar and the Symmons meeting I was lucky enough to attend a week ago. Plenty of maxi-taxis too of course.

If you haven’t read fifty-years-young Auto Action for a while give us a whirl.

Hopefully the Tasmanian Back to Back Double-Banger season openers at Symmons and Baskerville become a fixture- lets hope so. It makes so much sense on all levels, get you bums down there next year if you can.

The racing was great, imbibing Longford for a cuppla days was magic not to forget some great Tassie touring, sun on the sand and a shandy or three. It was heaven on a stick really.

(unattributed but very keen to know the ‘snapper)

The more you look the more you see. All the fun of the fair. Longford AGP weekend March 1965.

Jack Brabham waits for the pressures in his Goodyears to be adjusted, Brabham BT11A Climax. That’s Roy Billington with hands on hips to the left and Bib Stillwell hovering- his new Brabham BT11A Climax is to the right. Next in line is the ill-fated #12 Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax of Rocky Tresise.

Further along, obscured near the pit counter, is the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM with Lynn Archer’s #20 Elfin Catalina Ford 1.5 on the painted line. The light coloured car at the end of the queue is Frank Matich’ Brabham BT7A Climax.

Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T79 Climax  won this tragic March 1 race, see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Credits…

Auto Action

Finito…

(B King Collection)

Geoff Hine’s Bugatti T23 Brescia is shown above during a meeting held on November 27, 1954.

The Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club used a stretch of road at Collinsvale, 20km north-west of Hobart for ‘demonstrations of durability and speed’ as early as October 26, 1924, it is still in use.

On that day the fastest time was set by K Sutherland aboard a 2 3/4 horsepower BSA- the smallest bike entered. ‘A word of praise is due to this young rider, for he is only a beginner’ The News reported. ‘The races were over a distance of a mile, in which there were a number of nasty bends, but except for a few minor accidents, all the events were disposed of satisfactorily.’

Hine raced the Bugatti at various Tasmanian venues including the Brighton Showgrounds where ‘long straights and wide grassy corners were perfect for high speeds’ in November 1953. At Longford he did 23.22 seconds during a Light Car Club acceleration test in May 1954.

T23 chassis ‘2467’ was owned by Herbert Hine for many years. His grandson, Michael Dunbabin, recalls the car in his Darcy Street, South Hobart home garage along with ‘Some old Bentleys and a Rolls Royce. As kids we used to jump up into the Rolls and play with all of the levers and buttons- it was such fun in that dusty, dark garage full of old cars and loads of stuff he bought at the Burns Mart auctions.’

‘After Geoff had finished racing the car it was restored to perfection over many years by my grandfather. He was really skilled, he worked for the Hobart Marine Board as a fitter and turner. He eventually moved from Hobart back to Bacchus Marsh in Victoria where he was brought up. On his death the Brescia passed to his sons, Geoff and Warwick.’

See here for a feature on Brescias, more detail on the Hine car to come; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/27/country-spin/

‘The News’ Hobart 27 October 1924

Etcetera…

I’ve included this November 3, 1951 article published in the Launceston Examiner I found fishing for information on Collinsvale.

That the newspaper felt the need to explain the history of motor racing is perhaps indicative of the local populace’ knowledge of our sport at the time. The piece makes clear the need for a racetrack in the Apple Isle. The use of Longford from 1953 and construction of Baskerville in 1958 and Symmons Plains in 1961 would solve the problem of course.

I note the article records the first road race in Tasmania as taking place in May 1911 and won by JK Heritage, does anybody have more information on this event?

Valleyfield is covered tangentially in this piece on Quorn Hall; https://primotipo.com/2020/12/17/quorn-hall-tasmania/

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Michael Dunbabin, The News

Finito…