1953 AGP grid. Front row L>R Davison HWM Jag, Jones Maybach 1, Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C, car 11 on row 2 is Ted Gray Alta Ford V8 (Dacre Stubbs)

The allocation of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix to Albert Park was the result of over two decades of work by the Light Car Club of Australia…

I live 800 metres from Albert Park Lake, I awoke this morning to F1 music at 7.05 AM- the sound of two-seater Minardi V10 engined cars ferrying their lucky cargo around gods motor racing country at high speed. The dawn of the 2019 race seems an apt time to upload this article on the 1953 event- the first Albert Park AGP.

Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Glory Days’, writes that there was a strong push to race at Albert Park in 1934. The Light Car Club of Australia, (LCCA) the promoter of race meetings at Phillip Island were aware of the ‘Islands growing unsuitability given its loose gravel surface as speeds increased.’ Extensive negotiations secured Albert Park as the venue for a race meeting to celebrate the Centenary of Victoria in 1935.

The ‘Sun News Pictorial’ one of the Melbourne daily tabloids, and then as now a good thing in which to wrap ones fish n’ chips, announced the event on June 4 1934.

In doing so the ‘paper lit the fuse of naysayers who brought about the events cancellation, but not before racers Arthur Terdich, Bill Lowe, Barney Dentry, and Cyril Dickason in Bugatti, Lombard, and Austins respectively, lapped the track with mufflers fitted to prove noise wasn’t the issue.’

Stan Jones at speed in Maybach 1, Albert Park 1953, DNF. Stan made this series of cars sing, Maybach 1 won the ’54 NZ GP at Ardmore but none of the Maybachs- 1,2,3 or 4 won an AGP, such a shame! If the Chamberlain 8 is Australia’s most brilliant and innovative special surely the Maybachs are the greatest? Hopeless bias declared! (R Fulford /SLV)

Post war things were little different, but a partnership between the LCCA, the Australian Army- who had a facility at Albert Park, and Victorian Labor Senator Pat Kennelly was more successful.

The three groups/people provided the combination of race organisation, promotional ability, logistical capability- the Army being able to ‘man’ Albert Park, a site of some 570 acres, and political power and influence.

For all the ability to raise funds in the aftermath of World War 2 was important. For the army, it was money for war widows and orphans, for Kennelly to finance much needed improvements to the park for improvements to the local amenity, and for the LCCA, the betterment of motor racing.

And so, the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, held at Albert Park over 64 laps, 200 miles in total, was won by Doug Whiteford in a Lago-Talbot, the last AGP win for ‘French Racing Blue’.

Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C passes the abandoned MG Spl of Jack O’Dea on the way to victory. Writing on the side of the car is a list of race wins. Whiteford owned two TL26C’s- this one, 1948-ex Louis Chiron chassis ‘110007’ and later, an earlier but higher spec car, chassis ‘110002’. Vern Schuppan is the current owner of ‘110002’. Crowd right to the edge of the track (R Fulford/SLV)

Entry…

The entry list was headed by local Melbourne businessmen Doug Whiteford, Stan Jones and Lex Davison.

Whiteford was perhaps the form driver, he won the AGP at Mount Panorama the year before in the same Talbot-Lago T26C. Doug was a tough grafter who owned an automotive repair and sales business a drop kick from the shores of Albert Park Lake in Carlisle Street, St Kilda.

The preparation and presentation of all of his racers was legendary. His career stretched back well pre-war when he first built and raced ‘Black Bess’ his 1950 AGP winner. A racer to the core, he competed all the way through into the early seventies, after his long time at elite level, as a works driver for the Datsun Racing Team in small sedans and sportscars.

What a shot! Not at Albert Park I hasten to add, Fishermans Bend is my guess. Whiteford changing plugs on his TL T26C. A mechanic by trade, he toiled on his own cars, his race record, standard of preparation and presentation legendary. Date unknown (R Fulford/SLV)

On the up was Stanley Jones, another tough nugget from Warrandyte, rapidly building an automotive retailing empire which would fund an impressive array of racers over the decade to come- all of which would come tumbling down in the credit squeeze of 1961. Jones had thrown in his lot with Charlie Dean and Repco a year or so before- Jones bought Maybach from Dean with Charlie and his team at Repco Research in Brunswick continuing to maintain and develop it. Jones was as forceful as Whiteford was stylish- both were impressively fast.

Also on the rise was Lex Davison, native of St Kilda but then a resident of Lilydale and fast building the shoe manufacture, importing and retailing business he inherited from his father.

Lex by this stage had learned his craft on a varied mix of cars, most recently an Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 GP car. He had just bought an ex-Moss/Gaze F2 HWM to which he fitted a Jaguar 3.4 litre six-cylinder DOHC engine to ‘C Type’ specs and gearbox, this clever combination took his first AGP win at Southport, Queensland in 1954- a race Jones had a mortgage on until the chassis failure of Maybach 2 at very high speed.

Elite Racers All: L>R Jack Brabham Cooper T23 Bristo, third in this group, #3 Lex Davison HWM Jag and #8 Ted Gray Alta Ford V8. Shot included to show the HWM and Alta- Victoria Trophy Fishermans Bend 22 March 1954. Lex is soon to win the ’54 AGP, Jack is soon to travel to the UK and Gray is soon to get a competitive mount in Tornado 1 Ford! (VHRR)

Lex was an urbane man of considerable wit, bearing and charm- but he could and did go toe to toe with racers of Whiteford and Jones ilk and beat them. His career, which had far from peaked in 1953 stretched all the way to early 1965 when he shared the front row of the NZ GP grid with Clark and Hill, a couple of fellas ‘still in short pants’ in 1953.

Frank Kleinig and his Kleinig-Hudson straight-8 Spl could not be discounted nor could the Ted Gray driven Alta Ford V8 Spl- much more would be seen of this outstanding pre-war driver who cut his teeth on the country speedways of Victoria in the years to 1960 with the Lou Abrahams owned Tornados 1 and 2.

Oh to have seen this bloke drive at his best!- as here at Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 November 1947. Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson 8 Spl, a remarkable marriage of MG chassis, Hudson mechanicals and various other donor parts continuously developed over a couple of decades. A car which shoulda won at least one AGP. Kleinig another driver/mechanic ace (G Thomas)

Kleinig should have won an AGP or two, or three.

The Sydney driver was one of the very quickest immediately pre and post war but times had changed. The AGP was now a scratch race, not a handicap and Frank’s machine, development of which never stopped simply wasn’t quick enough to win outright whatever the undoubted skills of the bloke behind the wheel. Ted and Frank both needed the ‘guns’ up front to retire and have a dose of reliability themselves for the long 200 mile race to win.

The Reg Nutt, Talbot Darracq 700, DNF dropped valve on lap 14 (Dacre Stubbs)

The balance of the entry was a swag of MG Specials, pre-war GP cars, sports cars and a sprinkling of Coopers including several new fangled JAP mid-engined cars.

Above and below. Davison, Jones and Whiteford. Further back #11 Gray, his Ford V8 creating the smokescreen, #7 Kleinig, #10 Hayes Ford V8 Spl #6 Vennermark/Warren Maser 4CL (unattributed)

The Race…

Forty contestants lined up for the 64 lap, 322 Km event held on Saturday 21 November 1953.

From atop a double-decker bus race officials and a crowd estimated variously at between 50000 and 70000 people saw Whiteford, Jones and Davison form the front row with Lex’ HWM leading into the first corner. Davo’s lead was shortlived, Stanley passed him on the first lap and then drew away.

Early in the race Jones led Whiteford, Davison, Arthur Wylie’s Jowett powered Wylie Javelin and Curley Brydon’s  ex-Bill Patterson MG TC Spl.

Davison’s HWM suffered bearing problems in practice, the team replaced them overnight but the same affliction stopped the car during the race- Davo was out on lap 3, he watched the balance of the event from Stan’s pit.

The Jones Maybach in for the pitstop which changed the race, albeit the car retired in any event. Passing is the Jag XK120 of Frank Lobb or John Calvert (Dacre Stubbs)

Same scene as above from a different angle- Charlie Dean at bottom right (unattributed)

By half distance Stan still had a good lead over Whiteford, but on lap 40 he pitted for fuel and with his Maybach straight-six engine overheating. His crew were not expecting him and in the confusion Stan was bathed in fuel which necessitated a speedy dismount and then being doused in water before returning to the fray.

Whiteford could not believe his luck. He lacked the pace to win, on the other hand Stan always pushed hard and was said to lack mechanical sympathy, something Doug had in spades. Jones retired Maybach on lap 56

Whiteford’s right rear separates from the Talbot Lago on the exit of Dunlop Corner (AMS)

 

 

Whiteford slows the TL 26C at the pits to change wheels having lost his right rear tyre. Fortunately the separation happened close to the pits and his efficient crew (Fairfax)

It was not an easy win though.

The right-rear tyre of the T26C came off its rim, fortunately only 300 metres from the pits, after a stop of 30 seconds to change the wheel, with a huge gap to his pursuers, the local lad was on his way to win the race ‘in a Largo Talbot by 5 laps at an average speed of 82 mph for the 200 miles’ The Melbourne Sun, with its great attention to motor racing reporting detail, in its 22 November report of the race.

Third placed Andy Brown’s very pre-war MG K3 in for a pitstop. K3 ‘030’ still in Oz- ex-Bira/Snow/Dunne/Davison/Brown and many others! (Dacre Stubbs)

Curley Brydon was second in his MG TC Spl 5 laps adrift and South Australian Andy Brown third in an MG K3 Magnette. Then came former AGP winner Les Murphy MG Q Type and Lou Molina in the MM Holden Spl sportscar.

Graham Howard in his ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ account of the race reports on some post race controversy which reader and owner of the Curley Brydon TC develops further in his note below this article.

Howard wrote ‘…Curly (Howard writes both Curley and Curly, I’m uncertain which is correct) Brydon, who had provisionally been placed third, protested that too many people had assisted with Whiteford’s tyre change, and indeed it was suggested one of the helpers was no more than a gate-crashing spectator; but it was agreed that Whiteford could have changed the wheel single-handed and still had time to win, and Brydon’s protest was withdrawn.

Curley Brydon, in the 2nd placed MG TC Spl s/c leads the 16th placed John Nind MG TB Spl (R Townley)

Whiteford is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald ‘Our pit was very congested and there were more spectators around than mechanics. Evidently someone we didn’t know tried to help.’ Note that the SMH report states the protests were heard on Sunday 22 November, the day after the race.

Howard continues ‘However, he (Brydon) also protested Andy Brown’s second placing, and after investigation it was agreed Brydon was second: Murphy protested Brown as well, claiming to have passed him on the last lap, but this was not upheld. Fifth was Lou Molina first time out in the neat little Holden-engined MM Special, and the first AGP finish for a Holden engine, Sixth was Jim Leech, a nice reward for his part in securing Albert Park for the race.

Seventh, with a plug lead off, with only first and fourth gears useable and with his seat belt broken, was Frank Kleinig; from sic AGP starts, going back 15,years to 1938, it was the cars first finish, and very popular. Nonetheless, the days of 15-year old AGP cars could not last much longer’ Howard concluded.

Winners are Grinners: ‘Dicer Doug’ has won his third and last AGP. His birthdate is a bit of a mystery but a consensus seems to be 1914, so it makes him 39, still a young man albeit a racing veteran of not far short of 20 years then. A great shame to me was his purchase of a 300S Maserati when the factory lobbed with five cars- three 250F’s and two 300S for the ’56 AGP right here at Albert Park. A shame in that, if he had bought and raced a 250F he would have been right in amongst Jones, Davison, Hunt and Gray with an equal car. He made the 300S sing but a 250F would have been a more appropriate car methinks (Fairfax)

Things go better with Melbourne Bitter- Coke in this case for ‘Dicer Doug’ (Fairfax)

Etcetera…

Ted McKinnon’s 15th placed Maserati 6C1500. Car #57 alongside is not entered in the AGP (Dacre Stubbs)

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and ors, Melbourne Sun 22 November 1953, Sydney Morning Herald 23 November 1953

Photo Credits…

Dacre Stubbs Collection-Martin Stubbs, R Fulford Collection, State Library of Victoria, VHRR Collection, Fairfax Media, Richard Townley Collection

Tailpiece: Whiteford on the way to victory, Talbot-Lago T26C…

(R Fulford/SLV)

Finito…

 

Frank Matich’s ‘exhaust blown diffuser’ 1972 style, Matich A50 Repco F5000, Warwick Farm…

 Sydney based Team Matich may have been relatively small but they were well funded by virtue of support from Repco, Goodyear, Shell and others depending upon the season.

Nobody did more testing in Oz than FM, it was part of his Goodyear contract after all.

He was a deep thinker too.

The engineering, development and conceptual design of Frank’s cars- from the customer Lotus 19’s, Brabham BT7A and Elfin 400 to the Matich team constructed SR3 and SR4 sports cars and A50-A53 series of six F5000 cars were his and a function of racing the cars at the highest level. His testing abilities were the equal of any of the contemporary driver/engineers on the planet in period too- Brabham, McLaren, Hall, Gardner, Bennett, McRae, Ganley etcetera.

Therefore Matich had the ability to not only come up with new ideas or set-up directions but analyse the impact of them on the car and determine any further changes which may have been required to optimise the explored direction of the day.

FM was always trying ‘stuff’ in an effort to seek the ‘unfair advantage’.

Adelaide International 1973- Bob Muir, McLaren M10B Chev alongside FM’s A50

 

A50 Repco, Derek Kneller with hands on hips, Frank Matich and a good view of the wings and location of the exhausts during the 1973 Tasman Series in NZ (D Kneller/B Sala)

The twin-wing set-up arose as a result of exploring the notion of using the low pressure air mass behind the car and two wings of relatively low angle of attack with consequent positives in terms of increased grip and higher top speed.

Matich did so two years before Colin Chapman followed suit with his 1974 F1 Lotus 76 Ford DFV.

1974 Lotus 76 Ford DFV- the innovative car incorporated an electronic clutch and bi-plane rear wing but was not a success in the hands of Ickx and Peterson, the venerable 72 was updated again for 1975 (Getty)

FM was even further ahead of his time, in that the first ‘exhaust blown diffuser’ is acknowledged to be the 1983 Renault RE40 Turbo, the conception of which was that of Jean Claude Migeot. He routed the exhausts and turbo-wastegate flow directly into the diffuser. ‘Before this everyone had routed the exhausts into the area of least influence, usually above the gearbox or with long pipes through the rear suspension’ or in cars in the early to mid 1970’s either between the upper and lower suspension links or above the top links- between the wing and suspension top link.

At least one other racing historian, Gordon McCabe, believes that whilst Renault were the first to blow their exhausts into the diffuser, ‘…exhaust blown diffusers include not only those which blow into the diffuser, but also those which blow over the top of it…and it could be argued that the first such device appeared on the 1982 McLaren MP-4B…’

I’m not suggesting Matich fully understood what he was exploring, but explore it he did. His two A51’s were so equipped throughout the US L&M Championship in 1973. That series, very well covered by the global motor racing media is probably where Chapman first saw the approach and thought ‘Hmmm, lets have a look at that for 1974’, mind you he only applied half of the Matich approach- the two wings, not the exhaust blowing the wing.

Matich, US L&M Series 1973, Matich A51 Repco (T Rosenthal)

Additional Reading…

Matich F5000 cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Exhaust blown diffusers; checkout this detailed article on the formula1 dictionary site; http://formula1-dictionary.net/diffuser_blown.html and here on ‘McCabism’; http://mccabism.blogspot.com/2012/06/first-ever-exhaust-blown-diffuser-in-f1.html

1983 Renault RE40 blown diffuser details

Photo and other Credits…

Tony Glenn, Mark Pearce, Derek Kneller/Bryan Sala, Tom Rosenthal, Getty Images, Giorgio Piola

Tailpiece…Mark Pearce has captured FM beautifully during the  1973 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Round…

No doubt the aerodynamicists amongst you will be able to interpret the effectiveness of the wing configuration based upon your analysis of the vortices of water produced on that soggiest of days- the event won by Steve Thompson’s Chevron B24 Chev only a smidge, less than two seconds, from Matich.

Finito…

The #26 Ron Ward sixth placed MG TB, #32 Alby Johnson DNF MG TC and a distant Gordon Stewart DNF, MG Magna L-Type, during the 16 June 1947, Championship of New South Wales meeting at RAAF Nowra airbase…

This event was to have been the ‘New South Wales Grand Prix’ until the intervention of the Australian Automobile Association, the governing body of motorsport in Australia at the time, a week before. They deemed the ‘Grand Prix’ title as one reserved exclusively for the Australian Grand Prix. Contemporary newspaper reports of the day indicate the confusion about the name of the race, variously describing it as ‘The Grand Prix’, ‘Grand Prix Speedcar Championship of New South Wales’- the official title seems to be the ‘1947 Championship of New South Wales’.

The race was a 110 mile handicap conducted over 25 laps of a 4.35 mile course laid out on runways and connecting taxiways of what, over the years, was variously named RAAF Nowra, HMS Nabbington and in more recent times HMAS Albatross. The airfield also hosted a race in 1952, on that occasion using taxiways, hard-stands and aprons for a shorter lap distance of 1.6 miles.

Luvvit! Alf Barrett’s road registered Alfa Monza at Rob Roy circa 1949. The fastest combo in Australia in the immediate pre and post war years (J Montasell)

The event organisers, the Australian Sporting Car Club secured all of the aces of the day- Alf Barrett in his Alfa Monza, Frank Kleinig’s Hudson Spl, John Crouch in the Delahaye 135CS imported by John Snow pre-war and the latter in his Dixon Riley.

Some past, present and future racers entered a variety of MG’s including Curley Brydon,  Alf Najar, Bib Stillwell, Bill Patterson, Hope Bartlett, John Barraclough and Ron Edgerton. Other notables were Lex Davison, Mercedes 38/250 s/c, Tom Sulman in the immortal Sulman Singer, Ted Gray in the ex-Mrs JAS Jones Alfa 6C1750 SS by then fitted with a flat-head Ford V8, ‘Wild’ Bill Murray, Hudson, Alec Mildren, AGM Ford V8 Spl and others.

(J Hunter)

The Nowra grid ready for the off. From left to right- #5 Jack Murray MacKellar Ford V8 s/c,  #3 John Crouch Delahaye 135CS, #14 Alec Mildren, AGM Ford V8 Special, #4 Frank Kleinig, Hudson Spl and #1 Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza.

Frank Kleinig didn’t take the start with piston failure so perhaps this an earlier event. I am intrigued to know.

John Crouch on the way to Australian Grand Prix victory in the John Snow imported Delahaye 135CS at the Leyburn Airfield circuit in 1949 (unattributed)

There were thirty-eight entries in all from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria which reflected the pent up demand for racing in the early post-war years.

Crowd estimates vary from between 15,000 to 25,000 people- they saw Manly, Sydney driver Tom Lancey’s MG TC win the race from a field of 30 who took the starters flag.

Lancey had raced for three years before the conflict in an MG NE Magnette and spent six years with the RAAF during the war so it was a nice bit of symmetry for an RAAF bloke to take the win at an RAAF base- he was off a handicap of 21 minutes and 30 seconds. The Barrett Alfa raced off scratch.

Second and third places were also taken by MG’s- Bill MacLachlan in an MG TA monoposto off 14:30 and Curley Brydon aboard an MG TC, 21:30 with Dick Bland’s Ford V8 Spl off 11:00 in fourth place.

John Medley wrote, ‘Tom Lancey packed his wife and young daughter into his fully equipped, road registered MG TC at his Manly home- drove to Nowra, unpacked, removed the screen and hood, started in the NSW GP as an early marker- and won it…’ Then he did the whole process in reverse. The simplicity of it all is wonderful.

Was thrilled to find this shot which is captioned as the ’47 Nowra NSW GP/Championships but is according to John Medley Hell Corner Bathurst during the October 1939 meeting. #5 is the ‘Salmon Special’ McIntyre Hudson of Kevin Salmon, #6 is the Edison Waters Jaguar SS100, #1 Alf Barrett’s Alfa Monza, #4 John Crouch Delahaye 135CS and #9 John Barraclough, Alvis Terraplane (Fairfax)

The race favourite was Australia’s immediate pre and post war ace, Alf Barrett in his beautifully prepared and presented Alfa Romeo Monza which ‘is considered the fastest car in Australia’.

Alf and John Snow in the Dixon Riley ‘were fighting a fierce duel from the back mark’ (Snow raced off a 2 minute handicap) but Alf lost time with a tyre change earlier in the race and engine problems later on- he was ninth and set the fastest race lap. Snow retired with magneto or spark plug problems on lap 18.

The newspaper reports of the day focused on Barrett’s top speed of 120 miles per hour which provides perspective on the average performance levels of commuter bolides of the time.

Barrett’s day was not altogether lost with a win in the Open or Over 1500cc Championship scratch race in which the thoroughbred straight-eight Grand Prix Alfa prevailed from Frank Kleinig’s self built and developed Kleinig Hudson Spl and John Snow’s Dixon Riley.

There are plenty of photos of ‘Dirt Track Charlie’ Frank Kleinig aboard his self built Kleinig Hudson Spl because he raced the ever developing steed for so long but this is my favourite. He is re-taking the Rob Roy Hill record he first set in the car in 1939, in November 1948 setting a mark of 28.72 secs- his last trip to the Christmas Hills. You can see and feel the energy and effort going into the big, powerful car- as was always the case with this very fast, if somewhat, its said, inconsistent driver (G Thomas)

Kleinig’s amazing machine, competitive over a couple of decades, was an amalgam of many parts but particularly an MG L-Type chassis and very highly developed Hudson 4186cc straight-eight engine. He finished the race 14 seconds adrift of Barrett. It was subsequently found that a piston broke, fouling the oil system, running a rear big end bearing and ruining the crankshaft in the process.

One of the great pre and post war ‘what ifs’ is Kleinig in a thoroughbred car- not that his commitment, brio, engineering nouse and application was in any way lacking in his endeavours with his Special! Kleinig in Snow’s Delahaye or Barrett’s Alfa for example would have been a sight to see. End of digression!

Amongst the long list of Nowra DNF’s was 1960 AGP and Gold Star winner Alec Mildren’s attractive and fast, self-built AGM Ford V8 Spl. The big beast, off a handicap of 12 minutes, overheated, with Alec retiring on lap 14, a common affliction of these engines in modified form (Mildren)

Pre-war Maroubra Speedway ace, Hope Bartlett won the Under 1500cc championship in his MG TA s/c after a race long battle with Alf Najar’s MG TB s/c. Gordon Stewart in an MG Magna L Type was well in the lead of the Under 1100cc title- and then, having to coast to the finishing line after a last lap fuel blockage was passed by Tom Sulman in his self-built Sulman Singer and Bruce Myers Riley Imp in the final stages.

Some excitement was added to the meeting ‘when a privately owned plane landed on the strip which was being used for the car racing. Service and local police ordered the pilot to remain until after the meeting’!

WW2 shot of RAAF Nowra (RAAF)

Postscript: The state of Australian circuits in 1947…

A sign of the times and the use of a venue such as Nowra was the September 1947 meeting of the Australian Automobile Association in Perth during which the allocations of the AGP was announced for the next few years- NSW 1947, Victoria 1948, Queensland 1949, South Australia 1950 and Western Australia 1951. It was noted that ‘Victoria had not a suitable circuit for the Grand Prix at present but it was hoped that such property could be secured on Phillip Island’.

Of course Phillip Island was reinstated as the racing venue we know and love but not until December 1956- the Albert Park Lake facility ended up being the ‘in period’ AGP Victorian venue in 1953 and 1956.

In fact the race allocations went ahead as planned- in NSW, 1947 at Bathurst, 1948 at Point Cook just outside Melbourne, 1949 at Leyburn, 200 km from Brisbane, 1950 at Nuriootpa in SA’s Barossa Valley and 1951 at Narrogin south of Perth in WA’s wheatbelt.

Nowra, Point Cook, Mount Druitt and Leyburn were all current or past RAAF bases with Narrogin a ‘Round the Houses’ venue used on numerous occasions whilst the Nuriootpa road circuit was not used for motor racing after its time in the sun as a one off AGP venue. The search and challenge of finding permanent road-racing venues was on throughout Australia in earnest.

At the time of the Australian Automobile Association meeting Mr J Austin Patterson said that ‘the greatest desire (of the AAA) was to help the sporting bodies and the sport generally. At present motor sports were up against police opposition. This could not be overcome unless it could be shown that meetings could be held without danger and undue inconvenience to the public.’

In a similar vein the NSW Light Car Club put a proposal to the Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce for the establishment of a race track at Katoomba in October 1947, it took a while but Catalina Park opened in February 1961.

Of course the ‘floodagtes’ of circuits opened in the mid to late fifties and early sixties with Port Wakefield, Warwick Farm, Lakeside, Sandown, Calder, Mallala and others opening but such numbers of permanent facilities were a long time coming.

Car rally from Canberra to Nowra in recent times- one flat airfield looks pretty much the same as another really! (unattributed)

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

The Sydney Morning Herald 17 June 1947, Fairfax Media, John Hunter, The Telegraph Brisbane 22 July 1947, J Montasell, George Thomas, Alec Mildren Collection, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

Finito…

(M Wiliams)

Lex Davison boots his Tasman Formula ex-Bruce McLaren Cooper T62 Climax off the line at Mount Tarrengower Hillclimb, Maldon, in Victoria’s Goldfields, 25 October 1964…

Davo just loved to compete- anywhere and everywhere. Apart from his four AGP wins he was adept on the dirt in Redex Round Australia Trials competition and in the hills. He won the Australian Hillclimb Championship thrice on the trot from 1955-1957 at Toowoomba, Bathurst and Albany respectively, in all cases aboard the Cooper Mk4 Vincent/Irving.

(M Williams)

This non-championship event was an easy one for the great man. Toorak to Maldon is a nice 150 km drive up the Calder Highway so would have represented a nice weekend away with the car and no doubt a few of his kids.

Having said that Tarrengower is still a very fast, dangerous place especially with a car of the performance envelope of Davo’s GP machine. This T62 chassis was Bruce McLaren’s 1962 Caversham AGP winner before its sale to Lex, and is a car I’ve written a feature about, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

The internet gives and gives in terms of photos seeing the light of day after decades hidden in boxes. This wonderful batch were taken by a friend of Max Williams, he posted them on Bob Williamson’s amazing Facebook ‘Old Motor Racing Photographs-Australia’ page. In amongst hundreds of recycled touring car photos are some jewels, including this lot!

(M Williams)

Bob King attended that day, it was ‘..the second hillclimb of the new era, the venue revived by the Vintage Sports Car Club of Victoria, with the event held on 25 October 1964’.

‘Graeme Thomson raced the ex-Whiteford Talbot Lago T26C but ‘Doug was there and advanced the magneto by about half a turn and then did an electric run. In those days the finish was right at the top, and having finished my run i was privileged to see Whiteford sideways across the finish line at about 100 mph. Davo was pretty exciting also taking the FTD with a 50.34 seconds run’.

(M Williams)

Ron Simmonds picked the ex-Whitehead/Jones/Phillips Cooper T38 Jaguar (above) as probably driven by John Ampt at Monks Corner, Templestowe Hillclimb, again in Victoria.

Enthusiast Les Hughes said of the car ‘One of three, the first and shown without body at the Paris Show. It was bought by Peter Whitehead and raced by he and his brother Graham at Le Mans and Dundrod in 1955. He sold it to Jones in New Zealand who made his Australian race debut in it at Albert Park’.

Pictured is the car below at Le Mans ‘…coming through The Esses and about to be passed by the ill-fated Pierre Levegh (Mercedes Benz 300SLR) who would die on this lap. The Cooper Jag retired’.

 

Another Templestowe shot below , the corner at the end of Banana Straight, the wide loop hairpin onto The Shelf which then led up to The Wall.

Who is it and what is it though?

( M Williams)

Credits…

Max Williams, Bob King, Les Hughes, Ron Simmonds

Tailpiece: MGA coming out of The Hole at Templestowe heading down to Barons Corner…

(M Williams)

Finito…

Quintessential small town Australian automotive workshop circa 1915…

Cowell is a village 240 Km north-west of Adelaide on the shore of the Spencer Gulf. The front of the ‘shop proclaims allegiance to a swag of brands no doubt necessary in a small seaside community. The ‘Head Garage’ in Pirie Street, Adelaide was a long way away. I wonder what make and model the car out front is?

There is no story- the photograph, evocative as it is of a time so long ago and foreign to me is the story.

Photo Credit…

State Library of South Australia

Tailpiece…

(SLSA)

The 75 Pirie Street, Adelaide Eyes & Crowle HQ is a good deal more posh than the offshoot in Cowell, this photograph was taken in December 1922- the building was demolished in 1923. These days an office building occupies the site.

Finito…

It’s funny how stuff happens sometimes, I finally bought a Mini Cooper S last month, mind you, the one I lusted after in my teens was a Morris Cooper S…

Most normal fourteen year old ‘knob-jockeys’ were looking at Playboy and Penthouse and giving the sav a serious slap. Being the sick little unit that I was I spent most of my waking hours looking at Sports Car World, Racing Car News- and Autosport which required a trip to town- Technical Books in Swanston Street, Melbourne will be well known to Victorian enthusiasts over 40.

The cars I lusted after as my first road car- then four years down the track weren’t the local muscle cars but the Cooper S, Escort Twin-Cam, Lotus Europa with my dream car the Ferrari Dino 246GT. The Dino fantasy lasted for a several decades until Gordon Murray’s McLaren F1 finally blew it off its pedestal.

I always thumbed through magazines whilst sitting in a beanbag watching the teev, whilst other cars came and went, my diet of articles always came back to this group of cars with the Cooper S always to be my first car, restricted to a student income as I was.

I had a Castrol promotional brochure (remember the set of seven or eight stapled into Racing Car News, one at a time each month?) about John Leffler’s Cooper S Lwt Sports-Sedan, which I looked at endlessly together with road tests of the S and Clubman GT.

I can still remember the standard Cooper S 1275cc oversizes of the ‘A Series’ block at 1293cc and 1310cc, the factory race AEA 648/649 and rally AEA571 cam part numbers are still in my woolly head long after the intricacies of the accounting and economics I was studying at the time have well and truly disappeared.

Castrol brochure featuring the BMC Racing Team, John Leffler Cooper S, leading Barry Sharp, Ford Falcon at Oran Park circa 1970. Leffo a few years later, 1973, won the Australian FF Championship in a Bowin P6F and in 1976 the Gold Star in an F5000 Lola T400 Chev

I came close to buying Coopers twice and still kick myself for missing out on the first one, a BRG 1969 car in Richmond. Dad insisted I get an RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria) mechanical test on it, which was the right parental advice (not that I usually listened to it) and of course the car sold on the Sunday with my deposit dutifully refunded a couple of days later. I cracked the shits with him for well over a month.

Spending all of my Monash Uni student income on Elfin 620B Formula Ford laps at the Calder based Bob Jane-Frank Gardner Race Driving School whilst 18 changed everything- I found god and he raced single-seaters!

So the focus then became a road tow car and a Formula Vee by the time I started full-time work, that was achieved. I bought a Venom Vee in February 1979 and started work the following month. So, the Cooper S never happened, why bother rattling around in road cars on-circuit when you can drive the real thing? Here are the exploits of one of Australia’s most prominent FV drivers. Not. https://primotipo.com/2016/10/06/formula-vee-and-the-summer-of-79/

I have owned a few Cooper S TYPE cars though; three Alfasuds- Sedan, TI twin-carb and Sprint and an Alfa 147GTA amongst other things.

The Lotus Europa, when I finally drove one was a heap of shit- what a disappointment, ‘shake-rattle-and roll’ it wasn’t a flash example i guess, but the Lotus fetish never left me- my Elise was a wonderful 5 year experience if somewhat challenging in the winter.

I looked at a beaut ‘Vermillion Fire’ red Escort Twin-Cam an old codger (he was far younger than I am now) had for sale in Glen Iris but by then a mate had an Alfa Giulia Sprint GT (nee 1600 GTV) in which I drove a lot of miles and it was a far more cohesive bit of kit than the Escort- and I had couple of 105 Series coupes as a consequence.

The Italian Sheila

Roll on a cuppla decades, had kids, raced historic Formula Ford, got divorced and got a girlfriend. An Italian one actually- if I’d known what Northern Italian sheilas were like at 18 I’d have specialised in that breed from then- but you live and learn right?

Five years ago she bought an R53 Cooper S auto (sub-optimal as a manual driver but too easy round town), in fact I wrote about it a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/03/perdriau-master-cord-tyres-mini-cooper-s-nuriootpa-and-lobethal-australian-grands-prix-tour/

In recent times the thing, which always used a lot of oil, has been using a forty-four of expensive lubricant a fortnight. Our mechanic put this down to the car probably not being run in properly in its infancy- Patrizia being ‘WUBs’ second owner. The funny thing is you can’t see the oil being burned like you could in the old days- the plume of pungent but sweet smelling blue smoke has not been there.

She-who-must-be-obeyed looked at new Abarth 595’s last summer and only baulked when I pointed out the lack of cruise-control- so we, she, kept driving The WUBster and I kept shoving expensive oil down its gullet on a weekly basis whilst alternative, automobile deliberations continued.

WUB @ Tarra Warra Estate near Healesville

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened!

Ok, I did insist we use her car for the trip to Kyneton, comfier than mine as it is.

A few kays past Calder, going up the long hill towards Diggers Rest the little beastie lapsed onto 3 cylinders- not a big deal I thought as the same thing happened in almost the same place twelve months before and was just a duff plug. An easy, cheap fix.

Not so this time.

The long gradual build up of carbon on #3 piston from all that not fully burned oil over all those years, ignited, blowing a neato hole in said aluminium component and did some block damage to add insult to injury. Worse, it was ALL MY FAULT as I insisted we use her car not mine- I was driving the thing at the moment of destruction.

Never mind the fact that the ‘liddl fokker could have let go on a similar trip she did to McRae the week before…’twas all my fault, deploying all of the chick logic they have.

No amount of cunning-linguistics on my part, and my powers of persuasion are not too shabby given forty years in business, were going to shift the crossed arms of The Italian Sheila.

So my friends, having first got interested in Coopers circa 1971, I am now the proud owner of an R53 in 2019, it’s easily the most expensive in Australia too. My heart feels good but my wallet is not so flash.

The Italian Sheila did buy the Abarth in the end- it’s great, in some ways the ultimate inner city tool, I’ll bore you with that another time.

As I said at the outset, it’s funny how stuff happens sometimes, and more often than not a chick is involved…

PS; Hopefully The Italian Sheila does not read this, she never looks at primotipo, all good, I trust, hope and pray.

Tailpiece: The new Abarth 595 in Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy…

Castrol Cooper S Brochure- the rest of it…

 

Finito…

 

John Cooper (or is it Bill Aston?) prepares for his record breaking run aboard the streamlined Cooper MkV JAP at Montlhery in October 1951…

Cyril Kieft had a successful record breaking run at Montlhery in November 1950 with two of his F3 Kiefts. John and Charles Cooper felt that matters needed to be put right with their fierce F3 competitor, so in October 1951 John Cooper and Bill Aston took a specially streamlined Cooper T17 Mk V to France to chase international class I and J records.

John Cooper went out first, using a 350cc JAP engine he broke the Class J fifty, one hundred and two hundred kilometre and fifty and one hundred mile records- plus the hour record, at speeds of 90.62, 92.13, 91.98, 92.02, 91.80, and 90.27 mph respectively.

Bill Aston then used the same car with the 350cc JAP single replaced with a 500 cc JAP vee-twin and achieved the same records in Class I at speeds of 99.30, 99.59, 99.13, 99.16, 99.41 and 99.41 mph.

John Cooper, timekeeper M Adam, and Bill Aston at Montlhery on 9 October 1951 (Getty)

Cooper Streamliner Specifications…

Salient details of the car are detailed in this contemporary ‘The Autocar’ article published in September 1951.

Story of The Cooper Streamliners…

Are told in these two interesting articles, check them out;

http://www.ugofadini.com/cooperstory.html

http://www.ugofadini.com/cooperstory2.html

Bibliography…

‘Montlhery: The Story of The Paris Autodrome’ Bill Boddy

Tailpiece: Didn’t I ask you to move this bloody thing Owen?…

(Getty)

John Cooper, Charles Cooper and engineer/designer Owen Maddock, in the Cooper, Surbiton factory, photo 1953. John seems surprised to have ‘found’ the Mk V Streamliner!

Finito…