Bill Brown’s Ferrari 350 Can-Am on the exit of the very quick left-hander off Long Bridge- just about to change direction, Longford during the February 1968 Tasman meeting…

The ex-works car was owned by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce and raced for him by Chris Amon in the sportscar events which supported each of the Australian Tasman rounds- and being beaten by Frank Matich in his Matich SR3 Repco V8 4.4 litre. Both cars had raced in some 1967 Can-Am Series races so Chris had a bit of an idea what he may have been up against when he arrived in Australia.

Sydney’s Bill Brown was to drive the car after Chris returned to Europe and also raced the car at Longford- a daunting place, to say the least, to become acquainted with one of the fastest sportscars on the planet at the time!

I wrote a long feature about the P4 Ferrari, and this particular car, chassis ‘0858’, a while back, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

For Chris the car was a bit of a distraction really, he was after the Tasman Cup aboard his works-owned but Chris Amon run Ferrari Dino 246T. He wasn’t successful in 1968, Jim Clark won the championship in his Lotus 49 Ford DFW but Chris made amends in 1969, winning the title against strong opposition including the Team Lotus duo of reigning F1 world champ Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt.

The shot below is of Bill setting off from the Longford pits in this oh-so-sexy machine, forever in the memories of those lucky enough to be at Longford ’68, or anywhere this car raced in its too short time in Australia that year.

Tailpiece: Can-Am 350 business end, Longford 1968…

(HRCCT)

What an impressive beast it is!

The V12 three-valve engine grew from 3967 cc and 450 bhp @ 8000 rpm in P4 endurance spec to 4176 cc and circa 480 bhp @ 8500 rpm in sprint Can-Am trim. Fuel injection is Lucas- two distributors are providing spark to two plugs per cylinder. The transaxle is a Ferrari built 5 speeder and chassis the Scuderia’s  ‘Aero’ semi-monocoque with the engine having a stiffer crankcase than the P3’s to allow it to be used as a semi-stressed structural member.

Photo Credits…

David Keep/oldracephotos.com, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…

 

(S Hood)

Prime Minister Robert Menzies and Laurie Hartnett in the back of a Vauxhall sports-roadster having opened General Motors Holdens new factory at Pagewood, in Sydney’s southern suburbs 1940…

I know its not a motor racing shot so it would normally be outside primotipo’s focus but the photos were too good to waste, and I will get there, a racing element is here to be found in a little bit.

(S Hood)

 

GMH Pagewood on the day of the plant’s opening (S Hood)

The merger of Holden Motor Bodies Ltd with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd as a result of the stress caused to the former during the great depression forged the basis of one of Australia’s great manufacturers and an iconic marque, the merged entity was named General Motors-Holden’s Ltd.

A great Touring Car Racing brand as well- there is the racing link I guess.

The new company opened its first factory at Fishermans Bend, in Melbourne’s inner west in 1936 and at Pagewood in 1940.

After World War 2 the business made coachwork for Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Vauxhall.

By the mid-forties the automotive industry had the government onside to encourage the development of Australia’s own car.

Holden, led by Hartnett got the upper hand on Ford in a pitch by keeping their demands for taxpayer support to a lower level than FoMoCo.

 

The first Holden was built to a reject 1949 model design based on 1946 Chevrolet mechanicals. The car was to sit between the bigger American’s and smaller British machines which dominated in Oz at the time. The engine was also Chev based. This photo is the 1945 clay model of the Holden 48-215, named the ‘Anzac Holden’ by its clay modeller, Frank Herschey

(SLSA)

 

Ben Chifley at the Holden launch, Fishermans Bend, 29 November 1948 (NMA)

In 1944 the feds invited GMH to build a family car suited to our unique, extreme climatic conditions.

American and Australian engineers hand built three Holden test cars at GM’s experimental workshop in Detroit- the first, chassis ‘19525’ was completed on 30 August 1946. After months of durability tests the cars were secretly shipped back to Fishermans Bend.

 

The very first Holden prototype ‘car number 19525 from Project 2000, which then became Project 320 and the initial prototype of the future 48-215 in the United States showing the cars temporary name ‘GMH’ above the ‘Holdens’ badge on the bonnet’. Rego Michigan BK-46-48 (SLSA)

 

Further testing took place locally and then GMH engineers and technicians built two further prototypes in Australia, the first of these was completed on 22 August 1947- these became the definitive model and shape we all know and love.

For the record, the first production Holden was completed on 1 October 1948, largely built off-line, it was a ‘Gawler Cream’ 48-215, body #6, VIN ‘8-1001-M’ and fitted with engine # ‘1001’.

 

 

In 1948 in a ceremonial scene akin to the opening image, then Prime Minister Ben Chifley pulled the covers off Holden #1, the ’48-215′ or Holden FX at Fishermans Bend on 29 November 1948, with mass production starting at the heady rate of ten cars a day!

Soon production boomed of course, and the rest, as they say is history- including the closure of the final Holden production line at Elizabeth, South Australia on Friday 20 October 2017.

The Australian motor industry as manufacturers of mass-market cars no longer exists. We now have a tiny number of niche companies- god bless Michael Borland and Spectrum Racing Cars down Mordialloc way in outer Melbourne for example.

 

Fishermans Bend 1948 (SLV)

 

48-215 first brochure

 

States Motors team, South Australia with one of their first two Holdens in December 1948 (D Loffler)

The ’48-215′ was economical, sturdy, stylish, light and with its modern’ish cast iron, OHV, 2171 cc/132.5 cid, in-line six cylinder engine gave better performance than similarly priced, or in some cases, more expensive cars.

In standard form the undersquare engine (bore 3 inches, stroke 3 1/8 inches) gave 60 bhp @ 3800 rpm and 100 foot/pounds of torque at a very relaxed 2000 rpm on a compression ratio of 6.5:1. The motor was fed by a single downdraft Stromberg BXOV-1 carburettor with spark provided by a Delco-Remy distributor. Gearbox was 3 speed- the shift was column mounted, the four-wheel drum brakes had a kerb weight of 2230 pounds to stop.

Amenable to tuning, enthusiasts were soon fitting twin-SU’s or Strombergs or Amals, extractors and giving the heads the usual port ‘n polish treatment to extract additional neddies which were easily found.

The post war explosion of the Australian economy with full employment, industry protected by high tariff walls and the ready availability of consumer credit made it possible for a family man or salesman to have not just day to day transport but also a car for club motorsport.

In many ways the work-horses of Australian motor-racing were MG’s of all sorts, both pre and post-war but especially T Types and the 48-215 or more colloquially the FX, and FJ ‘Humpy’ Holdens in the fifties and into the sixties- so many folks cut their racing teeth in these machines.

 

Redex Round Australia Trial Holden FJ competitor- in South Australia but otherwise intrigued to know the details (Adelaide Advertiser)

 

Len Lukey’s Ford Customline from Syd Anderson’s 48 Series (with non-standard grille) and Bob Holden, Peugeot during the 1957 Caversham AGP weekend (K Devine)

 

Touring car racing started in Australia at the sports inception, daily drivers in the earliest days were the cars which competed in trials and the timed speed events- hillclimbs and sprints within trials. The first Australian Touring Car Championship (Australian Stock Car Championship) was held during the Australian Grand Prix weekend at Lobethal, South Australia in January 1939.

The inexorable and later rapid rise of tourers over pure racing cars in Australia was largely due in the 1950’s to grids chockers with Holden’s- spectators turned out in large numbers to a growing number of race-tracks to watch blokes compete in cars outwardly similar to those in which many of the punters arrived at the race meeting.

In fact by the end of the fifties the quickest of the Holdens were quite sophisticated racers incorporating Phil Irving designed Repco ‘Hi-Power’ cylinder heads, two or three carburettors with one or two cars fitted with Merv Waggott’s twin-cam heads to create an ‘ultimate spec’ Holden.

MG TC and sometimes Jaguar four speed boxes replaced the Holden ‘three on the tree’ column shift gearbox, four wheel discs replaced the standard drums, the cars were extensively lightened and all of the rest…

 

Ron Harrop’s ‘Howler’ at Calder in the early seventies- Holden FJ with highly developed Holden ‘Red motor’ successor to the ‘Grey’. Harrop became a touring car circuit ace and a Holden engineer par-excellence (unattributed)

 

Warren Weldon from Bo Seton, Holden FX by two: Catalina Park early sixties (B Wells)

 

Great names who raced ‘Humpy Holdens’ included Jack Myers, the ‘Holden King of the mid-fifties’, John French, Leo and Pete Geoghegan, Max Stahl, Spencer Martin, Des West, Norm Beechey, Brian Muir, Warren Weldon, Bo Seton, John Goss and many, many others.

Into the dawn of the sixties CAMS adoption of Appendix J put paid to the wild modifications which had started to proliferate- it became the category to which the Australian Touring Car Championship was run. Group E ‘Series Production’ racing provided the basis for further growth in tourers by spawning endurance classics such as the Phillip Island and later Bathurst 500, relative to racing cars which became progressively starved of sponsorship funds and less and less relevant to the ‘football, meat-pies and touring cars lovin’ Australian public.

Be in no doubt my friends, Holden Motor Bodies Ltd in 1919 begat General Motors Holdens Ltd which gave birth to the ’48-215′, the intrinsic qualities of the design created a worthy competition car in modified form, the ready availability of which gave rise to the accelerated (pun intended) growth of touring car racing in Australia.

 

Melbourne Museum, Swanston Street. Royal Australian Navy Hawker Sea Fury (VW626) with Holden 48-215 in the foregrund during the ‘Jubilee of Flight’ exhibition in July 1953 (Museums Victoria)

After-thought: Sir Laurence Hartnett…

Laurie Hartnett strode the Australian manufacturing landscape like a colossus throughout his career but his pugnacious attitude to his American masters as to the design elements of an All Australian Holden led to his removal as Chief Executive of GMH Ltd in December 1946.

He was offered a role with the GM Corporation in the US but did not want to leave Australia- he never got to give birth to Australia’s own car- his own Hartnett was a notable achievement all the same. I’m not going to get lost in this tangent but click here to read in brief about a quite remarkable man.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hartnett-sir-laurence-john-12602

Etcetera…

Repco Hi-Power Head..

https://primotipo.com/2015/06/26/repco-record-car-and-repco-hi-power-head/

Holden ‘Grey’ as Racingcar and Sportscar Engine…

Whilst the focus of this article is the 48-215 and FJ as competition cars themselves the Holden Grey was adopted by many racers as replacement engines for their single-seater or sportscar originals or as the very basis of a special.

The Bristol to Holden conversions of Cooper T20 and T 23’s are examples of the former and the Lou Molina and Sil Massola ‘Molina Monza’ an example of the latter.

Click here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/10/stirling-moss-cumberland-park-speedway-sydney-cooper-t20-wm-holden-1956/

and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/13/shifting-gear-design-innovation-and-the-australian-car-exhibition-national-gallery-of-victoria-by-stephen-dalton-mark-bisset/

Des West’s 48-215 Racing Specifications..

http://www.thegreymotor.com/2014/11/des-west-fx-27-grey-survivor.html

Des West’s second 48-215 racer pictured at home, Wingham, NSW having set the fastest Holden record time at Lowood in 1964 (G Woodward)

Rally and Race..

June 1953 Monte Carlo Rally, Davison, Gaze and Jones DNF. Gatsonides/Worledge won in a Ford Zephyr (unattributed)

 

1953 Monte Carlo Rally- Messrs Gaze, Davison and Jones- Aces All

 

John French at Gnoo Blas, Orange circa 1960 (R Kaleda)

 

 

 

 

 

Chifley, Fishermans Bend, 29 November 1948 (SLSA)

 

Hottie and the new 48-215. Whereizzit tho? Being lazy buggers I’m thinkin the Holden PR mob would not have travelled far to do the photo shoot so my vote is Ringwood Lake on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts?

Credits…

Sam Hood, Museums Victoria, State Library of South Australia, Ray Kaleda, Garry Woodward, General Motors Holden. australiaforeveryone.com.au, Museums Victoria, Bruce Wells

Tailpiece: ‘Told you it would be pretty painless’ Bob Menzies and Laurence Hartnett, GMH Pagewood 1940…

(S Hood)

Finito…

(Schlegelmilch)

 

Jo Siffert and JW Automotive’s John Horsman with Jo’s Porsche 917K during the Brands Hatch 1000 km meeting on the 4 April 1971 weekend…

This is a bit of a signature Rainer Schlegelmilch shot- framed through the engine cover of another team car in the Brands pitlane- that of Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver to be precise.

It was always going to be tricky winning in the 917 at Brands- and so it was that more nimble 3 litre prototypes finished in front of the Siffert/Derek Bell machine.

Stommelen Alfa T33/3, Ickx #51 Ferrari 312PB, Pedro in the #7 JW 917 and the rest, gotta be the warm up lap (unattributed)

 

Future sportscar ace Henri Pescarolo in the winning Alfa T33/3- his first Le Mans win was in 1972 aboard a Matra with Hill G (unattributed)

Andrea De Adamich and Henri Pescarolo won the race in an Alfa T33/3 V8 from the flat-12 engined Ferrari 312PB of Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni.

The Alfas were pretty pacey that weekend, Rolf Stommelen popped the T33/3 he shared with Toine Hezemans on grid 2 in addition to the efforts of the winning car.

Ickx was on pole in the 312PB which had a limited campaign in 1971 as a dress rehearsal for the great pace the evolved 312PB had in 1972 when the cars won pretty much everything except Le Mans. They entered but did not appear such was the lack of confidence in the F1 derived engines ability to last 24 hours.

Regga aboard the 312PB whilst Ickx looks on from the rear.

I always thought it a huge shame that Scuderia Ferrari didn’t race the 512M as a factory entry in 1971- it would have been great to see the 5 litre cars with both ‘factory teams’ going at it for the final year of the championship under those Group 5 rules.

Ferrari certainly spent 1971 wisely developing their 312PB for 1972 however, dominant as they were in the first year of the 3 litre prototype formula.

Rodriguez, Stommelen and Siffert (unattributed)

Carlo Chiti and his merry band at Autodelta built a really nice bit of kit in the 1971 iteration of their long running series of Tipo 33 sportscars.

With an aluminium monocoque chassis, double wishbone/coil spring dampers at the front and single upper link, inverted lower wishbone/coil spring damper and twin radius rods at the rear the chunky looking design was an expression of sportscar orthodoxy of the time.

The 90 degree all aluminium 2998cc, quad cam, 4 valve, Lucas injected V8 gave around 420 bhp @ 9400- and with a decent roster of drivers the car won Targa (Vaccarella/Hezemans), Brands and the season ending Watkins Glen 6 Hour (De Adamich/Pescarolo) in a very good year in which the 5 litre monsters again took the bulk of the wins, and Porsche the manufacturers championship for the second year on the trot.

De Adamich, Alfa T33/3, Brands 1971 (unattributed)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Derek Bell, Porsche 917K from the winning car in Henri Pescarolo’s hands- Alfa T33/3…

Finito…

Lionel Ayers looking focussed and pensive before the off, MRC Mk2 Olds, Lakeside circa 1969…

Love these two John Stanley shots. Many Australian enthusiasts remember this car, both in its original 1968 Traco Oldsmobile engined guise as here and later when fitted with a 5 litre Repco 740 Series V8 a year later.

Whilst Queensland based, Lionel travelled a lot throughout The Great Brown Land finishing second in the four round 1971 Australian Sportscar Championship with this Bob Britton/Rennmax Racing Cars built, spaceframe chassis machine.

MRC is ‘Motor Racing Components’ see the sticker aft of the Webers- it was the pharmacist’s own company which prepared his cars. Why Mk2?- the Mk1 was the Rennmax built Lotus 23 clone which preceded this V8 engined beastie. Both cars still exist, the MRC Mk2 in Repco engined form is owned by Ian Ross and races in ‘historics’ regularly.

I wrote about Lionel in this article, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/21/sportscar-stalwarts/

Photo Credit…

John Stanley Motor Sport Images

Tailpiece: Ayers, MRC Mk2 Olds, Lakeside 1969…

Finito…

frank

(Rod MacKenzie)

Frank Gardner using all of his Mildren Alfa’s 310bhp chasing Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 ‘Warwick Farm International’ pole time, 8 February 1969…

Alfa’s Tipo 33 V8 sportscar engine was first used in elite single seater racing by Australia’s Alec Mildren Racing- a step on its way to F1 competition by the Arese marque.

Mildren, a Sydney Alfa Dealer, former Australian Gold Star Champion and Australian Grand Prix winner had one of the most professional teams in Australia. He had impeccable Alfa Romeo/Autodelta connections having acquired and raced two GTA’s and a TZ2 in the early to mid sixties, and in the process ‘polished’ Alfa’s Australian brand, one of the greatest of the ‘Grand Marques’ which was then relatively new to the ‘Oz market.

Click on these links to articles about Alec Mildren and the Mildren Racing Autodelta Alfa’s;

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

Mildren’s 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined Tasman Brabham BT11A/BT16 being raced by Gardner on his annual trips home from Europe was being ‘flogged’ by the Repco Brabham, BRM and Coventry Climax V8’s in 1966/7, so he sought an appropriate response- a sprint variant of the Tipo 33 engine was the obvious choice given his Alfa connections and local marketing needs.

image

What a beautifully integrated bit of kit the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa was? Here just before it progressively grew wings. Kevin Bartlett drove the wheels off the thing, here at Hell Corner Bathurst during the ’68 Easter Gold Star round. KB was on pole by 9! seconds but DNF with a broken rear upright, Phil West took the win in the Brabham BT23A Repco. Bartlett won the ’68 Gold Star in this car and was equal 9th in the ’69 Tasman (Dick Simpson)

Mildren ordered eventaully three 2.5 litre Tipo 33 V8 engines which were initially fitted to a bespoke Brabham BT23D…

The car arrived in Australia in time for the final round of the domestic Gold Star Championship- the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in 1967- FG won upon the cars race debut. He then contested the 1968 Tasman.

The motors were then installed 12 months later into the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, a monocoque car designed by Len Bailey and built for the team by Alan Mann Racing for the 1969 Tasman Series.

Both cars were raced by Frank Gardner in the Tasman Series and then ‘handed over’ to Kevin Bartlett for the Gold Star Championship, when Gardner returned to the UK at the end of each Australasian summer.

Bartlett won the Gold Star  in 1968 and 1969 with each chassis respectively- BT23D and ‘The Sub’ respectively.

In 1969 the ‘Sub’ was also powered by Merv Waggotts’s 2 litre ‘TC4V’ 4-cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve, Lucas injected 275 bhp engine for part of the season.

image

(Ian Peak/The Roaring Season)

Above is a beautiful photograph of the 2.5 litre, 2 valve, 4 cam, fuel injected, 2 plug Alfa Tipo 33 V8 installed in Alec Mildren’s Gardner driven Brabham BT23D at Teretonga during the 1968 Tasman.

Gardner was equal fourth with Graham Hill in the series behind Jim Clark, Chris Amon and Piers Courage in Lotus 49, Ferrari Dino 246T and McLaren M4A Ford FVA respectively.

Kevin Bartlett had this to say about the Alfa Romeo 2.5 litre Tasman V8 and Waggott DOHC 4 valve engine, both of which powered the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’…

‘My memory tells me the Alfa had around 350lbs (of torque) and the Waggott about 230lbs. The useable power range was quite different with the Alfa workable between 4500-8800 rpm and the Waggott 6800-8750rpm. Not perfectly accurate as i work from  memory but around that kind of difference’.

‘The driving difference was the main change, as the power to weight felt little different behind the wheel, mainly due i suppose to the fact full throttle was used much sooner with the 4 cyl 2000cc Waggott.’

image

Kevin Bartlett won the Macau Grand Prix in 1969 in the Mildren Alfa ‘Sub’, here in the paddock. What a handsome bit of kit the car was and still is- restored by Lionel Ayers a decade ago to Waggott engined spec and retained by his family (Natalino Couto)

‘The turn in changed to a marked degree with the lighter power plant (Waggott) having less moment of inertia allowing the car to be literally flung into a turn. As it happens i am the only driver to experience both configurations. Frank Gardner having raced only the Alfa Romeo engined variant of each car’.

‘Len Bailey was the (Mildren’s) designer of the tub which flexed a little at the rear with the Alfa’s torque, less so when the Waggott went in, with suspension being a (Brabham designer) Ron Tauranac adaption’.

image

Mildren’s Glenn Abbey fettling the ‘Sub’ in the Singapore GP paddock , 1970 (Eli Solomon)

Alfa Romeo claimed 315bhp at 8800 rpm for the 2.5 litre variant of the engine. A similar 3 litre, four valve per cylinder, 32 valve engine (the Mildren V8’s were all chain driven two-valvers) was developed for Cooper in F1 but wasn’t used before the teams demise.

The F1 Alfa Romeo 3 litre V8…

Was an all aluminium unit with a bore/stroke of 86mm X 64.4mm for a total of 2998cc. Five main and camshaft bearings were used, the four camshafts driven by chains.

 

mac engine

Andrea de Adamich, McLaren M14D Alfa Romeo during 1970 (unattributed)

The valves were inclined at 30 degrees, the inlets were 32mm and exhausts 27mm in size, Alfa Romeo/Autodelta claimed an output of 400bhp @ 9000rpm in sportscar form. Modified with gear driven camshafts for F1 use, Autodelta claimed 430bhp @ 10,500 rpm at a time the 3 litre F1 competition- Ford Cosworth DFV gave circa 440, the Matra V12 445-450 and Flat-12 Ferrari 460bhp @ 12,000 rpm.

It was not enough really, not without impeccable reliability, but Alfa had put their toes back in F1 waters with McLaren in 1970 and then March in 1971- and would return with Brabham in the mid-seventies, as they had started with Mildren’s Brabham BT23D a decade before.

Etcetera: BT23D’1′, New Zealand 1968…

image

Another photo of the Tipo 33 V8 in the spaceframe BT23D- FT200 gearbox clear as are the four coils and two distributors for all those plugs- 2 per cylinder. Car had a chequered history but still exists happily in restored form in Australia (Ian Peak)

 

image

Just to show the ‘Sub’ was yellow! Bartlett the cover boy of this terrific seasonal publication of the 1969 Australian Racing Season. Here the car is in 2 litre Waggott spec

Bibliography…

Kevin Bartlett, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, Rod MacKenzie, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, Eli Solomon, Natalino Couto

Tailpiece: Rod’s initial Frank Gardner ‘Yellow Sub’ photo at the articles outset, uncropped…

image

 

Finito…

 

(P Maslen)

It’s probably not actually, Jack would be hitting it more vigorously and the marshals wouldn’t be so relaxed, quite aggressive little critters tigers…

What is he up to though?

I’ve read the race reports, Jack did clip Homestead Corner during the race he finished- the 1967 Australian Grand Prix, so perhaps this is a perfunctory wheel alignment before being towed away.

Keen eyed Aussie enthusiasts will note David McKay’s presence behind Brabham, if he has the look of ‘an old chook at a christening’ about him it’s because he has done a deal to buy BT23A-1 Repco from Jack at the end of the series and is keen to see the champ has not shop-soiled the merchandise.

(P Maslen)

Jack was fourth in the race behind Stewart, Clark and Gardner in BRM P261, Lotus 33 Climax and Brabham BT16 Coventry Climax respectively.

It wasn’t a happy Tasman for the Repco boys- with a full-works effort of two cars a plethora of problems meant Jack and Denny took only one win between them- at Longford for Jack.

Still the GeePee season was in front of them, which would be an altogether different kettle of fish!

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/03/life-magazine-the-big-wheels-of-car-racing-brabham-and-hulme-30-october-1967/

Credits…

Peter Maslen

Tailpiece: Doting David looks upon his new car, delivery only another week hence after Sandown…

(P Maslen)

 

Finito…

(P Greenfield)

Niel Allen blasts 5 litres of fuel-injected Chevy off the line at Bathurst, Easter 1970- McLaren M10B Chev F5000…

Peter Greenfield has beautifully captured Niel at the start of the historic three lap ‘Captain Cook Trophy’ in which Allen set a lap record at Bathurst with a time of 2:9.7 seconds which stood for 32 years until it was taken by John Bowe in a Ford V8 AU Supercar with 2:8.3873 to take provisional pole in 2002. Brad Jones did a race lap of 2:9.5705 in the same AU Falcon.

Whilst the track changed in the interim period as to a much better surface it was slowed by the high speed ‘The Chase’ on Conrod. Not to mention the fact that the last Easter Meeting with outright open-wheelers took place in 1973- the track had simply become too dangerous for cars of that performance envelope as it then was.

The feature event on the program that Easter 1970 weekend was the second round of the Australian Touring Car Championship which was won by Norm Beechey’s Holden Monaro GTS350, click here to read about that race;

https://primotipo.com/2018/04/01/variety-is-the-spice/

Start of the lap record race with an obscured Niel Allen over against the Pit Counter. On this side is John Harvey, Brabham BT23E Repco and in white, Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 39 Repco- there was life in the old dog though, in beating Harves in the racing car 13 lapper Leo did a 2:12.1, the fastest ever time by a Tasman 2.5 car at Bathurst. This meeting must have been just about the last race for each of those cars before John and Leo jumped into the Bob Britton built Jane Repco V8 and Lotus 59B Waggott respectively for the balance of their 1970 Gold Star campaigns- a title won by Geoghegan (Rod MacKenzie)

 

Niel Allen collects one of his trophies for the weekend from Chris Davison (C Williams)

Allen did a qualifying lap of 2:11.2 with a trick flat-plane crank Chev engine fitted to one of the fastest F5000’s on the planet at the time. The 1970 NZ GP winner flew around the treacherous for ultra fast single-seaters, circuit to do his amazing time- 171.7 miles per hour down Conrod in the process, a much narrower strip of bitumen than it is now.

The current Bathurst lap records are held by McLarens.

Shane van Gisbergen did a 2:1.5670 in his McLaren 650S GT3 during the February 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race. Jenson Button did a 1:48.88 in his F1 McLaren MP4-23 Mercedes in the pre-event Vodaphone publicity session he did with Craig Lowndes and his V8 Supercar prior to the 2011 AGP at Albert Park- I do like the symmetry of ‘another’ McLaren single-seater holding the ‘lap record’ even though the time was not set in a race.

I wish.

(zimbio.com)

Credits…

Peter Greenfield, motorsport.com, Road & Track, Wikipedia, Rod MacKenzie, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Craig Williams

Tailpiece: Shane Van Gisbergen, McLaren 650S 2016…

(Road and Track)

Finito…