(AAR)

Eagle Mk1 Climax ‘101’ takes shape at All American Racers, Rye, Sussex 1966…

The Eagle marque was formed when Carroll Shelby suggested Dan as an alternative to Goodyear when the corporate tyre giant determined to avoid a repeat of the Indy tyre debacle of 1964 when Goodyear shod users fitted Firestones for the race.

Goodyear were looking to fund an outfit to build cars in a manner which gave them some control to avoid such a corporate embarrassment again. Shelby was committed with his other business ventures but became a partner in All American Racers until Dan and Evie Gurney bought out his interest in 1970.

Gurney was given responsibility for setting up the business inclusive of finding premises, people and machinery to build Indycars. Simultaneously Gurney secured support to build a GP car in parallel with the Indy contender.

Len Terry, chosen by Dan as the Designer off the back of their time together at Lotus noted that the teams priority was the build of the Indycar variant of what was, with relatively minor modifications to engine, (3/4.2 litre GP/USAC) gearbox and thickness of aluminium used for the monocoque chassis a common, winning design for both USAC and GP racing.

Terry worked on the cars conception, strongly based on his 1965 Indy winning Lotus 38, in the summer of 1965 in the UK, and at the end of September went to California to begin drawing the cars.

Goodyear man with plenty of trust in his driver! Gurney upon the Eagle Mk1 Climax’ race debut, Spa 1966 (unattributed)

What made me chuckle was looking at a photo of the 2.7 litre Coventry Climax ‘Indy’ FPF in the back of Mk1 chassis ‘101’ on the same day that I was fossicking through some Repco records given to me by Rodway Wolfe and Michael Gasking and seeing AAR listed in the July 1966 Repco Brabham Engines Pty Ltd monthly management report’s sales listing.

By that stage RBE had commercial rights or agreement from Coventry Climax to rebuild the engines and provide parts- pistons, rings, bearings and other components. Given the Type 56 Gurney-Weslake V12 was not yet completed Dan bought an FPF and plenty of bits from RBE to tide him over until the quintessential Eagle Mk1V12 made its race debut at Monza in September 1966.

Despite being out-powered by the new engines used by others in that first 3 litre F1 year, the compact, four-cylinder, but not necessarily light car took Dan to a non-classified seventh from grid fifteen. The car completed 23 of the 28 laps in its very wet debut at Spa in June 1966. This is the infamous race which took out a good share of the field due to a sudden ‘heavy wall of water’ at Burnenville on the first lap.

The combination was fast all things considered- Reims Q14 and 5th, Brands Q3 and DNF, Zandvoort Q4 and DNF and at the Nürburgring Q8 and 7th. Pretty good against all the multi-cylinder heavy metal.

Acquired by Castrol at the seasons end the machine raced on in the hands of Al Pease before being later bought by Tom Wheatcroft for his Donington Collection where it lived until recently.

Rear suspension as per text below, gearbox is Hewland DG300, engine 2.7 ‘Indy’ Coventry Climax FPF (AAR)

The shot above shows Dan fettling the FPF on it’s very first day of testing at Brands Hatch on 8 May 1966.

By that stage the design was sorted as Gurney had already raced the Mk2 Indycar variant. The main initial issue with the chassis was excessive ‘wandering’ and instability at speed which was diagnosed as related to the anti-dive suspension geometry- this was expediently fixed by dialling that out of the cars specification.

Gurney first got to know Len Terry when they worked together in adapting the small-block Ford V8 to a Lotus 19 sportscar. By the time Terry’s Lotus 38 Ford won the 1965 Indy 500 in Jim Clark’s hands Len had already committed to work with AAR for 1966.

 

The car (both the drawing and cutaway above, V12 engined obviously) which drew heavily on his Lotus learnings was based on an enormously strong full-monocoque aluminium chassis in 18 gauge sheet for F1, and the heavier 16 gauge sheet mandated by the USAC, for Indycar use making the latter about 50 pounds heavier than the F1 machine. Bulkheads at the drivers feet, dash, seat and at the rear of the car added structural rigidity.

Suspension up front was period typical- a top rocker and lower wishbone with an inboard mounted coil spring/damper and outboard at the rear- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, two leading radius rods and coil spring damper. Roll bars were adjustable, steering rack and pinion and uprights front and rear made of magnesium-zirconium alloy. Disc brake rotors were 12.25 inch diameter Girlings, who also provided the calipers.

Zandvoort July 1966, Dan in ‘101’, DNF oil leak on lap 10, up front Jack won in Brabham BT19 Repco (unattributed)

The design’s wins included two F1 events-the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in March 1967 from John Surtees’ Honda RA273 V12 and Richie in another Mk1 and the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. On that June day Dan joined Jack Brabham as the second man to win a Grand Prix in a car of his own construction- an honour also achieved by Bruce McLaren at Spa twelve months after Dan.

In Indy racing the cars won many races and in Mk3 specification Bobby Unser won the 500 in 1968, his chassis powered by the Ford DOHC Indy V8.

From small acorns do big things grow- Mk1 FPF was such an acorn…

Shot shows the cars stunning purity of line- Mk1 ‘101’ French GP 1966. Dan 5th in the race at Reims won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco, Jack famously becoming the first driver to win a GP in a car bearing his own name (unattributed)

More Eagle Reading…

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/14/gurney-weslake-ford-v8/

Credits…

‘Dan Gurney’s Eagle Racing Cars’ John Zimmerman

Tailpiece: Mexico 1966, Dan in ‘102’ V12, 5th and Bob Bondurant in ‘101’ FPF, DNF fuel system, John Surtees the winner in a Cooper T81 Maserati…

(unattributed)

Finito…

(Kiama)

I wrote an article about beach racing at Gerringong Beach near Kiama on the New South Wales Illawarra Coast a while back…

The article focused on a race meeting in May 1930, I had too many photos for that piece, the purpose of this article is to share them here.

They cover a diversity of Gerringong related topics- the May 1930 meeting, three land speed record attempts and Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith. The history of Gerringong Beach aka Gerringong Speedway is in that earlier article, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/26/gerringong-beach-races-1930-bill-thompson/

I’ve no idea who the driver or car above is but just love the silhouette of machine and driver against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Its taken during the May 1930 meeting as the ‘track’ fights a losing battle with the tide.

(Kiama)

The photo above is of Seven Mile Beach and the little Gerroa settlement, it gives a sense of just how relatively quiet a place Gerringong was at the time. Gerroa River mouth at Gerringong.

Don Harkness and ‘Wizard’ Smith on Gerringong Beach in December 1929 (Fairfax)

 

Don Harkness: Minerva Hispano Suiza Australian LSR October 1925…

Upon leaving school Don Harkness became an apprentice in general engineering, aged 20 he was employed by JC Hilliers at Drummonye Sydney, by 1922 Harkness and Hillier Pty. Ltd. was formed.

Don developed an interest in motor racing and imported a Willys Overland which was highly modified- ‘Whitey’ as the car was nicknamed won over 50 races at venues as diverse as the Maroubra concrete saucer speedway, the Penrith dirt speedway and on the beach at Gerringong.

Harkness aboard the Overland ‘Whitey’ date and place unknown (DHA)

An offer of a fifty pound trophy to the first person to exceed 100 mph in Australia over the measured mile by the Daily Guardian newspaper led to Harkness’ use of FR Colbert’s  Minerva chassis powered by a Hispano aero V8 engine- the car below won the trophy on 17 October 1925 at a speed of 108 mph.

(unattributed)

Anzac Rolls Royce: Wizard Smith and Don Harkness, Australian Land Speed Record December 1929…

‘The run was made under the worst of conditions seen for years with danger hidden in every sand hole. The car at one stage reached a speed of 142 mph and with such ease as make both Smith and Harkness confident of an ultimate speed of 175 mph’ the Sunday Times reported.

Don Harkness was approached by Norman Leslie ‘Wizard’ Smith and the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, Jack Mostyn to design and build a car to attempt the Australasian one mile and ten mile records.

The proud Harkness & Hiller workforce of artisans with the Anzac Rolls Royce, Parramatta Road, Five Dock, Sydney in November 1929 (DHA)

 

Smith and Harkness in an early test of the Anzac Rolls Royce with one and a bit wheels off the deck. Mention is made of a test run at Richmond, NSW, I wonder if that is the place, late 1929 (unattributed)

The result was the ‘Anzac’, a Cadillac chassis into which was inserted a Rolls Royce aero engine- as one does.

The liaison between Australian Speed Ace Smith- of intercity and circuit racing fame and financier Mostyn came about by chance when Smith came to Mostyn’s aid with a car breakdown. A series of discussions resulted in a determination to initially take Australasian Records and then with a second, more powerful machine, to take on the world.

Harkness was well known for his engineering and driving prowess to Wizard- Harkness had an amazing track record by then in both automotive and aero engineering which is a great story in itself, so it was a natural he turn to the Harkness and Hillier concern to design and build the first car, christened ‘Anzac’ in memory of the Australians and New Zealanders who lost their lives in the Great War.

The basis of Harkness’ design was a modified and strengthened Cadillac chassis- ‘Harkness chose a Cadillac and found the stock material so good, that he retained the frame, the (3 speed) gearbox assembly, the wheels, final drive, radiator and strengthened the steering by fitting a special chrome steel drag link in one piece’.

The Cadillac chassis details are unclear, but in 1928/9 they were made in two wheelbases- 140 and 152 inches, the former the standard and the latter the ‘semi-commercial’ lenghth for hearses and ambulance use, both had the same track of 56/58 inches front/rear. The standard engine was a 341cid side-valve, cast iron V8, the gearbox was a 3 speeder, brakes mechanical and rear axle fully floating with spiral bevel drive.

The frame was reinforced where necessary with special supports carrying the longer, lighter Rolls engine. New gears were cut from higher grade steel, then finished in the Harkness shop. ‘An overdrive gearbox was used to step up the revolutions of the wheels- the final drive ratio was 1.5:1. A new flywheel housing (bellhousing) was designed, patterned and cast, together with a new gearbox assembly. (this of course contradicts the earlier sentence- I suspect what happened is that new, stronger gears were cut and fitted to both the  Cadillac ‘box and diff)

Wheels were ‘ordinary stock 33 by 5 inch high pressure cords’, ‘on the trial run at Richmond they stood up to 121 mph’ with race tyres to be used in New Zealand with its higher expected speeds.

The Wizard of Anzac (Fairfax)

The beast was about 20 feet long, had a wheelbase of 11 feet and a track of 4 feet 8 inches.

The motor (variously described as both an Eagle series 8 and 9) was the last in a line which first saw use in 1915- the 320-360 bhp, SOHC, twin-plug, 20 litre, 60 degree, twin Claudel-Hobson carbed  V12 engine was acquired as war surplus from the RAAF.

Harkness modified it to be able to run at higher revs of 3000 rpm rather than the usual 1800-2200 rpm. The engine had a bore / stroke of 4 1/2 / 6 1/2 inches – 1239 CID or 20.32 litres.

The car was constructed in the Harkness and Hillier, Parramatta Road, Five Dock, Sydney workshops with local firm Prophets making the ‘streamlined’ body, which no doubt in style was a nod in the direction of other LSR cars in existence at the time.

The LSR in 1929 was held by Henry Segrave’s 930 hp Napier Lion engined ‘Golden Arrow’ at 231.362 mph- well out of reach of Anzac’s maxima of circa 175 mph- but the machine was still good for local record hunting and as a ‘proof of concept’ to build the next car designed to achieve the world record.

The radiator was at the front, the cockpit cowled around the driver ‘who was insulated from engine heat, flames and fumes’ by steel bulkheads and flooring. The mechanic was left well in the breeze, the body then tapered in towards the rear and had a neat stabilising tail at the very back. The fuel tank was aft of the driver and the oil tank behind the rear axle. The car no doubt looked stunning in its gold, lacquer paint.

The Australasian Record attempt was to take place at the Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand in early 1930, but first the car had an Australian Record to set, and needed to prove it was fit for purpose before being shipped ‘across the ditch’ (Tasman Sea) from Australia to New Zealand.

Anzac was taken by trailer from Five Dock to Gerringong where the team set up camp in late November 1929.

‘Conditions were so bad on the Saturday that Smith postponed his attempt but were even worse on Sunday. Heavy seas had pounded the beach for days and water rose as far back as the trees, 200 yards from the normal waterline. This had the effect of bringing thousands of tons of loosely, badly-knit sand on to the part of the beach used for racing. The line was covered with seaweed and ruts and hollows along the course and made the driving dangerous.

On the Sunday, the Wizard and Harkness looked over the beach at dead low tide and decided to give the car a trial. There was but a tiny stretch of the surface good enough for racing, just about three quarters of a mile long’.

 

All set- Don Harkness has one last check of the engine- hard plugs now fitted to the Rolls V12- time for the off, Gerringong Beach December 1929 (Fairfax)

 

After being carefully made ready the Rolls engine was fitted with soft plugs for a warm-up run of the engine after which 24 race, or hard plugs were fitted. The car was fuelled, checked over for the umpteenth time and then Smith and Harkness jumped aboard.

‘The final quarter mile was marked off, and the car took a run of only 800 yards before entering the timing strip. “From the start we accelerated to 110 mph where we hit the starting line” said Wizard. “Just before we did nearly 3000 revs in second gear, and I changed a few yards in front of the line. We were doing just about 110 mph then, and in the next few yards I could feel her winding up. She surprised me. I’m convinced Don has built me the fastest car in Australia. The old bus will beat all the Wapitis that overflew. I’ll guarantee that she has more speed than anything else in Australia, or a plane”.

Don Harkness is more than pleased. He is delighted for the car has done more than he expected, and that more with so little effort that he doesn’t think of what it will ultimately achieve.’

Harkness said ‘After Sunday’s run…I’ll guarantee 150 mph in New Zealand and we’ll get her moving at 175 mph when we will have the very best of conditions and the car has the power, Norman will do the rest’

The team created an Australian record at Gerringong of 128.571 mph (206.909 kph). Harkness reported that with the gear ratios fitted the car was capable of the following speeds/rpm;

1000 rpm 63 mph, 1500 rpm 94.5 mph, 1800 rpm 113.4 mph, 2100 rpm 151.2 mph, 3000 rpm 188 mph, 3200 rpm 200.6 mph

 

Harkness on this side of the car is leaning well forward- I wonder if that is due to his seat or trying to get a better fix on the perilous nature of the beach?

 

Both set back in their seats in this shot, quite a functional handsome weapon

 

Suppliers cited as providing components for the car were AH Prophet, the body, Vacuum Oil Co the fuel and lubricant- ‘Plume Spirit’ and Mobiloil B.

EA Marr provided the Firestone tyres with Harry Taylor of Advanx Ltd having them ‘treated and scientifically trimmed and balanced for speed’. WT Adams of Motor Ignition Ltd supplied an ‘Ajax’ battery to start the giant motor and F Reed supplied Personne-Reed double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers.

‘The beautiful finish in gold’, was supplied by Bergers Ltd, using the famous ‘Opex’ lacquer. John McGrath Ltd, agents for Cadillac provided the chassis.

Taken to the Ninety Mile  (Kaitaia) Beach Smith and Harkness achieved a two-way average of 144.037 mph on 11 January 1930. Days later they attempted the 10 Mile Average achieving a one way speed of 148.637 mph- better than the record then held by Leon Duray’s Voisin of 135.333 mph and were told that because of the distance a return run was not necessary. This was subsequently established to be not the case with the record being unrecognised given the lack of a return run and the antiquated equipment used to time it.

Anzac never ran again- Smith became preoccupied with the Fred H Stewart Enterprise, a new Harkness/Smith 1450 hp LSR machine, which is a sad story of the breakdown in the relationship of the two men for another time…

 

(Fairfax)

May 1930 ‘Fifty Mile Championship’ Race Meeting…

It was a very soggy raceday for both the racers and the specators, only about 300 hardy well rugged up spectators turned up to see Bill Thompson win the ‘Fifty Mile Handicap’ feature race in his Bugatti T37A, a car he had used to win the Australian Grand Prix not so long before.

The grid above comprises two Chryslers to the left- the #72 E Patterson and HJ Beith Chrysler Sports with Charlie East’s Bugatti T37 on the right.

(SMH)

E Patterson’s 4 litre Chrysler on the turn around the flags which mark out each end of the course. Fine touring cars in their day.

(Kiama)

The light weight of this Morgan made rescue from the rising waters a good deal easier than more conventional and heavier machines!

Young filly aboard one of the Bugatti T37’s, Thomson’s T37A I suspect (SMH)

The race meetings were as much social, society occasions as they were motor racing so there were never any shortage of ladies about. The May meeting is well served by photographs given the presence of a staff photographer from the Fairfax/Sydney Morning Herald.

(SMH)

 

Lea-Francis was entered by Mrs JAS Jones and raced by RG Potts in the 50 Mile Handicap.

 

(SMH)

 

(SMH)

Speaking of Mrs Jones, here she is with riding mechanic aboard her rather peachy Alfa Romeo 6C1750 Zagato, one of Vittorio Jano’s finest, I wrote a feature about this wonderful machine a while back.

https://primotipo.com/2018/02/15/mrs-jas-jones-alfa-6c-1750-ss-zagato/

She didn’t have a great meeting after winging’ a mechanic who strayed into her path having crossed the finishing line in one of the events- breaking his leg.

(SMH)

In amongst all the fun there was some serious motor racing for the top-liners of the day.

Three time Australian Grand Prix winner- and just back from Phillip Island having won the 1930 race, Bill Thomson raced the same Bugatti T37A and won the feature event of the weekend, the Fifty Mile Handicap.

In the photo below his mechanic is readying his mount- that is a Light Car Club of Victoria badge on the radiator.

(SMH)

Thomson was every schoolboys idol of the day as this photograph below shows- the look of adoration and joy on the little, capped dudes face is priceless. No doubt Bill has just won the feature event.

(SMH)

Simply amazing shot below of Bill’s T37A passing a Chrysler at speed- this photograph is the cover shot of Kent Patrick’s biography on the great man, a work I must acquire.

(SMH)

The impressive line up of cars before the Fifty Mile Handicap race includes, from the left, the Percy Hunter driven JAS Jones owned Alfa 6C1750 Zagato, the obscured Bill Thomson Bugatti T37A and two Chrysler 4 litre machines of E Patterson and #72/14 Herb Beith.

Any idea what the car below is folks, I thought for a bit it might have been Charlie East’s Bugatti T37 ‘37104’ in the paddock, or more specifically, on the beach- but it isn’t!  Any clues?

You can see from the gaggle of cars below going around one of the markers which defines  one of the extremities of the ‘track’ that the tide is rapidly marching in. No idea of the cars, assistance invited.

(SMH)

The masked avenger below appears to be another lady racer but I’ve no idea as to name or mount. Evocative shot, the mask is protection from the sea gales and sand but reminds me of the first use of Nomex masks circa 1967.

And I thought wet Winton in May can be a pain in the arse!

(SMH)

Definitely time for a few bevvies by this stage of the day. Car make and model?

(SMH)

 

(Kiama)

Kingsford-Smith: Australia-New Zealand Flight 1933…

Charles Kingsford-Smith used the beach at Gerringong to fly to New Zealand, above the ‘Southern Cross’ has just landed.

Seven Mile Beach was used as the runway for the first commercial flight between Australia and New Zealand.

The historic journey by legendary pilot Air Commodore (and later) Sir Charles Kingsford Smith took place in the early hours of January 11 1933, he landed more than fourteen hours later at New Plymouth on New Zealand’s North Island.

Gerringong Beach was chosen, for this, his second flight across the Tasman, because of its length which allowed plenty of distance to get the heavily laden plane off the deck- on board was 660 gallons of fuel and 30 gallons of oil as well as a crew of four.

 

Look at that crowd! (SMH)

 

Hauling the plane clear of the rising tide (SMH)

 

In position, being fuelled and made ready (SMH)

 

(unattributed)

 

‘The Daily News’ Perth 11 January 1933

The famous aviators flight log describes the trip as a joyriding tour, his crew comprised co-piot and navigator PG ‘Bill’ Taylor, wireless operator John Stannery and SE Nelson, secretary of the New Zealand and New Plymouth Aero Clubs.

The aircraft was flown down from Mascot Airfield, Sydney on January 10 averaging 115 mph for the trip. Once on the ground the plane was pronounced fit and the engines were covered to prevent ingestion of air blown sand, it was refuelled with chamois leather providing the filter!

Flares were lit early on the beach to mark a runway with several thousand people making the trip from Sydney to witness the historic 2.50 am takeoff- turning on their headlights to provide the aviators with extra illumination. The motorists were requested to keep their headlights on for 15 minutes after departure with Smith firing some rockets or flares to signal all was well once the ‘Old Bus’- the Fokker Trimotor VH-USU ‘Southern Cross’ was aloft.

‘Smithy’s last flight was aboard a Lockheed Altair which disappeared in the dark, tropical heat off Burma in November 1935.

Australian Minister of Defence handing over the ‘Southern Cross’ to Kingsford-Smith at Richmond RAAF base, New South Wales in 1935 (MAAS)

 

Peter Whitehead ERA R10B: LSR attempt 10 November 1938…

Peter Whitehead raced his ERA R10B extensively around Australia in 1938 most notably winning the Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst over the Easter long weekend and the Australian Hillclimb Championship at Rob Roy in outer Melbourne’s Christmas Hills later in the year.

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/16/peter-whitehead-in-australia-era-r10b-1938/

(The Sun)

He found time for a little record-breaking though- his attempt on the Australian Mile started with a 133 mph pass at Gerringong but on the return leg a piston failed bringing an early end to his day. \

Here ‘the boys’ are hauling the car off the beach through thick sand.

(The Sun)

 

Credits…

‘Kiama’ – kiama.nsw.gov, monumentsaustralia.org.au, ‘Sunday Times’ 8 December 1929 and various other newspapers via Trove, ‘MAAS’- Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, ‘DHA’- Don Harkness Archive, The Sun, Fairfax/Sydney Morning Herald

Tailpiece That May 1930 meeting really was soggy…

(Kiama)

These dudes have well and truly lost the battle with the Pacific Ocean tide! It is a competitors car too, #18 in an earlier shot.

Finito…

(PA Images)

John Surtees listens to Tony Vandervell’s questions in the Silverstone pitlane- Vanwall VW14, 6 May 1961…

The carnival is over in the sense that this weekend was the last ever race by the Vanwall Team. The first, fittingly was also at Silverstone when Raymond Mays and Ken Richardson contested the British Grand Prix on 14 May 1949, the 1.5 litre V12 Ferrari 125 ’02C’ ‘Thinwall Special’ retired after it was crashed by Richardson on lap 81 of the race won by Emmanuel de Graffenried’s Maserati 4CLT-48.

The result in May 1961 was better, a finish at least- 5th in the Intercontinental Formula 200 mile BRDC International Trophy, the race won by Stirling Moss from Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori in Cooper T53 Climaxes. Henry Taylor was an interloper in 4th aboard a Lotus 18 Climax.

I wonder then, if young Surtees, fixated on his own career, understood the significance of Tony Vandervell’s work in making the breakthrough for the ‘Green Cars’?- the world of GP racing as we know it changed with the Vanwall victories of the late-fifties.

Surtees in more pleasant weather aboard the Vanwall during the BRDC Intl Trophy weekend (Getty)

 

(unattributed)

VW14 was the only mid-engined Vanwall built.

Of 2.6 litres in capacity, three of the nine Vanwall 2.5 litre engines- V5, V6 and V9 were converted to rear-engine specification in 1961 which involved movement of the fuel injection pump and magneto to the right hand side of the cylinder block. In Mk 2 form this car is retained by Vandervell Products.

At Silverstone Bruce McLaren put his Cooper T53 on pole from Moss, Brabham, Hill BRM P48, Salvadori, then Surtees and Ireland’s Lotus 18 Climax.

Surtees drove the car well in tricky, wet conditions holding second between Brabham and Moss and then spun finishing fifth.

Checkout my feature article on Vanwall Cars…

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/05/vanwall-cars-and-the-moroccan-grand-prix-1958/

Credits…

Getty Images, f2register

Tailpiece: Surtees, Vanwall VW14…

Surtees sets off for the grid and the last ‘in period’ race by a Vanwall, 6 May 1961, Silverstone (unattributed)

Finito…

A patriotic kiddo prepares his very aerodynamic ‘Spitfire’ for a run down Cross Road, Fullarton, Adelaide in the Winter of 1941…

We all start to race somewhere, I ‘progressed’ from billycarts! I wonder if this dude took steps beyond the Unley Soap Box Derby to bigger and better automotive things in the years to come? Love the schoolkids formal cold weather attire- caps, cloaks, coats and ties very much to the fore.

The run down Cross Road, from ‘the old gum tree’ to Fullarton Road attracted a crowd of 15,000! people to watch 100 competitors achieve speeds of up to 70 km/h. The crowd is indicative, I guess, of just how starved people were of any form of entertainment during the long, bleak, difficult war years.

Photo Credit…

State Library of South Australia

(M Williams)

Jack Brabham in his 1966 F1 Championship winning Brabham BT19 Repco during the Sandown Tasman weekend, 27 February 1966…

The pretty little poppet with the camera is far more attractive than the RBE crew from the factory in Richmond/Maidstone. I guess she has been dispatched from Repco HQ in St Kilda Road to catch all the action. Which rather begs the question, what became of the footage missy captured?

The car is powered by a new Repco Brabham Engines ‘620 Series’ 2.5 litre V8- the motor in 3 litre capacity made its race debut in South Africa on 1 January. BT19 was a very busy car in 1966 and well into 1967.

I’ve done this story to death of course, here on the engine; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

and here on Jack’s 1966 season; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

but these two photos were too good not to share.

Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill created a BRM sandwich for Jim Clark that ‘Sandown Park Cup’ weekend- second in his Lotus 39 Coventry Climax FPF, the BRM lads were aboard 1.9 litre P60 V8 engined P261’s. Jack was out on lap 6 with a failed oil pump causing substantial engine destruction.

That is RBE620 ‘E2’ 2.5 in its engine bay. Over the next 12 months or so it would have no shortage of Repco RB620, 640 and 740 V8’s popped into and out of it (M Williams)

As is well known, the one and only Brabham BT19 ‘F1-1-65’ was built by Ron Tauranac in 1965 to suit the dimensions of the stillborn Coventry Climax FWMW 16 cylinder engine and lay unused until pressed into service as the first car into which the Repco RB620 V8, designed by Phil Irving, was installed.

Utterly conventional in design, Jack put the light, chuckable car to rather good use throughout 1966- see Werner Buhrer’s outline and drawing of the car below.

Etcetera…

I’d actually finished this piece and then cruised through my archive and noticed how many other photographs I had of this particular weekend.

Some are only of ‘proof quality’ recently posted by Repco-Brabham engineer/racer/historian Nigel Tait, but they are still valuable to share to document RBE history.

So here they are, in sort of chronological order…

(N Tait)

Mike Gasking giving an RBE620 2.5 a whirl in the Richmond test cells in late 1965- is it the engine in Jack’s car at Sandown?- more than likely it is ‘E2’ with those long inlet trumpets, yes.

Gasking was in on the ground floor- he was apprenticed at Repco and was involved in building and testing Jack’s Coventry Climax FPF engines and then throughout the Repco Brabham Engines period to its end.

Dyno is a Heenan & Froude GB4 which remained in Richmond for a while before being transported to RBE’s new digs at 87 Mitchell Street, Maidstone- this move took place in the early weeks of January 1966.

(N Tait)

Off she rolls from the truck, ‘Peters Corner’ and the start of the run up the back straight in the background.

BT19 has been a busy already. Fitted with a 3 litre RBE620 V8 the car was shipped to South Africa from the UK fitted with engine # ‘E3’ for the non-championship GP at Kyalami on 1 January.

Phil Irving describes the 3 litre engine as ‘…built up from scratch, with the cylinder heads as drawn for the original 2 1/2 litre, except that the inlet ports were enlarged and re-shaped to improve gas-flow and throttle-slides as developed for the 2 1/2 litre engine, were used. After assembly and short running-in, full power tests returned an output of 310 bhp (in his book Malcolm Preston quotes 280 bhp @ 7500 rpm with 310 bhp achieved several months later)…there was just time for an afternoon shake-down run (Goodwood) before the car was loaded onto the boat (to South Africa)…’

That SA GP was won by the works Lotus 33 Climax 2 litre FWMV of Mike Spence, Brabham retired when the fuel-injection pump seized having set pole and led for all but the last nine of the sixty laps.

BT19 was then air freighted to Melbourne’s Essendon Airport and trucked to Richmond where the 3 litre ‘E3’ was removed and the 2.5 litre ‘E2’  installed for the Sandown.

Many of you will recall Roy Billington, front and centre below, as a Brabham Racing Organisation mechanic for many years. All of Nigel Tait’s Christmases have come at once- he had just commenced at Repco as a graduate Cadet Engineer, his first assignment looking after Brabham’s new car- it does not get better than that at 22! Phil, leaning on the Lukey exhausts with ever-present fag in his mouth!

(N Tait)

Nigel Tait, Roy Billington and Phil Irving are fussing over ‘RBE620’ 2.5 ‘E2’ In the Sandown paddock on the Thursday or Friday prior to the meeting.

Plenty of pressure, it was the home teams first home race resulting in a massive crowd turnout of 55,000 people on raceday to see Brabham and his ‘all-Australian’ racing car make its local debut.

Irving quotes over 250 bhp was given by the 620 2.5 litre- not much greater than the FPF but the V8 had good mid-range torque and could be revved past it’s power-peak without self-destruction, unlike the short-stroke FPF’s which tended to be rather brittle if over-revved by even a smidge.

(N Tait)

Frank Hallam now joins in the fun between the exhausts- left to right Hallam, Billington, Tait, the very obscured Irving and Black Jack. On the pit counter beyond is lanky Norman Wilson, Peter Holinger, a nun identified fellow and Bob Brown, a Repco Ltd Director.

The sergent.com race report has it that the car was troublesome during practice, with 30 bhp being found overnight to put Jack right in amongst the front-running BRM’s of Stewart and Hill. Nigel recalls Phil getting cross with him on the race weekend , ‘We were working on the throttle slides on the BT19 the night before the Sandown meeting and it turned out to be a very long and late night. I went out to the all-night hamburger place and bought one for Phil but he spat it out. How was i to know he didnt like onions?- a great bloke and very clever’.

(I Nicholls)

Look at that crowd! Kidlets, Billington- who is the guy in the cap who always looked after Jack whilst he was in Oz and is in ‘all’ the shots?, Nigel Tait at right having cast aside his grotty lab-coat.

At Sandown Jack set a new lap record in his heat, the Exide Cup- the results of two heats determined grid positions.

The Tasman race engine seizure occurred in ‘…that the start of the race was delayed and everyone started with cold engines. The Repco V8’s oil-pump relief valve failed on the first lap (actually the sixth lap according to the various race reports) of the race the oil pressure went up to 160psi, the pump gears stripped and the engine locked up at about 7000 rpm’ according to Phil Irving.

Tait recalls ‘That night…I had the task of removing the pump and dismantling it. Frank Hallam and his wife Norma were there as was Phil’.

The oil pump gears were from a Fordson Major tractor out of an FM diesel model- they were amongst some components from proprietary vehicles used in RB620- which from that day were not sintered but machined from steel.

Rodway Wolfe noted that ‘I remember on the Monday after that Sandown race…when I arrived at the Maidstone factory at 8 am the drawing of the oil pump gear with new specifications was on Kevin Davies, the Admin Manager’s desk. Phil had made the modifications overnight. He (famously) didn’t keep the same hours as other management but he didn’t knock off at 5.30 pm like other management either!…’

‘Frank Hallam arranged for new steel gears to be made while Roy Billington helped me to remove and dismantle the engine. We found two crankpins were badly overheated and the crank was bent, so the crank and the main bearings were replaced, but fortunately the pistons, rings and cylinder liners were undamaged.

Although changing the crankshaft entailed almost completely dismantling the engine, the timing case and oil pump could be handled as units and we had the engine re-assembled with new pump gears and brake-tested by Tuesday afternoon. We stuck it in the car that night and it went off to Tasmania on the Wednesday (to Longford)…’ Phil wrote.

(T Brandt)

Jim Clark and Jack saunter through the Sandown paddock. Not the greatest of weekends for either!

In Jim’s case the 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine in his Lotus 39- which had been the motor of choice in the Tasman series since its inception in 1964 was now being found wanting by the V8’s of BRM and Repco.

Clark returned the following year with Lotus having taken a leaf out of BRM’s book- their 1967 weapon was a 1.5 litre F1 Lotus 33 fitted with a 2 litre Coventry Climax FWMV V8, with which Jim took the 1967 title convincingly from BRM and Repco Brabham.

(T Brandt)

And again above…meanwhile below the boys are about to pop the car into the truck for the drive back to Richmond and overnight checks before the start of official practice.

‘The start’ of a rather fruitful partnership wouldn’t you say…

Credits…

Max Williams & Nigel Tait Collections, Tony Brandt, Ian Nicholls, sergent.com, ‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’

(N Tait)

Finito…

Rod MacKenzie captures Kevin Bartlett shaving The Esses Armco during the 1971 Warwick Farm 100, Tasman round on 14 January 1971…

The car is the Franklen/Palliser/Mildren/Wortmeyer F5000- a car designed by Len Bailey and built by Frank Gardner’s business as detailed in Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com article here; https://www.oldracingcars.com/f5000/franklen/

Alec bought the car off the back of the prodigious speed of the Mildren Alfa/Waggott ‘Yellow Submarine’ also designed by Bailey and raced initially by Frank Gardner in the 1969 Tasman Series and then with great success by Bartlett in 1969/70 Gold Star/Tasman Championships.

The thrust of Bartlett’s 1970 was racing in the US (which we should talk to him about)- he contested the Symmons and Lakeside Gold Star rounds for third and a DNF and then missed Oran Park, Warwick Farm, Sandown and Mallala.

When he returned to Oz his beautiful Mildren Yellow Submarine had been sold to Bob Muir, the F5000 Mildren Chev was his new mount for the November 1970 AGP at Warwick Farm and beyond.

KB decamps from the Mildren Chev during the 1970 AGP. Glenn Abbey hands on hips at left, not sure of the other crewman- Alec Mildren back to us at far right

In a performance which flattered to deceive KB popped the car fifth on the grid but failed to finish with electrics problems after completing 21 laps. Frank Matich triumphed that day in his McLaren M10B Repco from Niel Allen’s similar Chev engined car (the chassis KB bought after Allen’s retirement) with Graeme Lawrence third in the little Ferrari Dino 246T which had been so fast in his and Chris Amon’s hands since 1968.

KB didn’t have a great run in the Mildren, his best finishes in the seven 1971 Tasman rounds was third at Warwick Farm and fourth at Teretonga- niggles elsewhere included a broken wishbone at Levin, coil at Wigram, engine failure at Sandown and a crash which precluded the speedy Sydneysider starting the final round at Surfers.

That was pretty much the end of Mildren Racing, sadly. Bartlett bought one of Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B’s shortly thereafter and was immediately a front-runner in one of the great production F5000’s.

(R MacKenzie)

KB’ boots the Mildren out of Peters Corner at Sandown and unleashes 500 or so neddies up Sandowns longish back straight and the left-right high speed kink and plunge into Dandenong Road.

Upon the sale of the Mildren Racing assets the car was bought by Jack Wortmeyer and re-named Wortmeyer SC/SC5 Chev and driven by hillclimb ace Erol Richardson, he made two Tasman appearances at Warwick Farm in 1973 and Oran Park in 1974. The car never left Wortmeyer’s hands- it was acquired after his death by the ACT’s Matt Veal who has completed, almost, the machines restoration.

Erol Richardson, Wortmeyer SC5 Chev, aka Mildren Chev at Hume Weir in December 1972. Uber rare for an F5000 to compete at the tight, twisty border circuit (B Keys)

This article is written in memory of great Australian photographer Rod MacKenzie who died in the last few days, on 1 February…

In fact it was looking at Rod’s archive for other photos of this car in addition to the lead one which he sent to me some months back that I became aware of his passing.

He was a man of great talent, check out his website if you have not done so and this article we did together in September which explains his ethos or creative approach.

Some of you will be familiar with his work via ‘The Tasman Cup 1964-1975’ book published two years ago whereas many of us first saw his art in ‘Racing Car News’ in its heyday.

https://primotipo.com/2018/09/27/oz-racing-books/

and; http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/

(R MacKenzie)

The photo above is of Rod on a fantastic trip to Scotland last 7 April 2018 to attend the Jim Clark Exhibition in Chirnside to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Scot’s death at Hockenheim.

Some of Rod’s wonderful work- photos taken at Longford in 1968 formed part of the display.

RIP Rod MacKenzie

Credits…

Rod MacKenzie, Bruce Keys, oldracingcars.com, Fairfax Archive

Tailpiece: Bartlett, Peters/Torana Corner, Sandown Tasman 1971…

Great spot for photographers to get up cockpit close and intimate. Engine an Al Bartz injected Chevy.

Finito…

 

Jim Clark having some pre-race fun aboard a Lotus 25 in the Monza paddock, 4 September 1966…

I wonder if the neat little machine is pedal, battery or petrol powered?! In the race Clark raced a much more butch Lotus 43 BRM H16 from grid 3 to a gearbox induced DNF after completing 58 laps- the race was won by Ludovico Scarfiotti’s Ferrari 312 from his teammate Mike Parkes, a happy day indeed for the Tifosi- and Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT20 Repco in third.

Monza 1966 front row- Clark Lotus 43 BRM, Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes on the far side, Ferrari 312’s pole (R Schlegelmilch)

I’ve done the 1966 Grand Prix season to death in my series of Repco Brabham articles, click here to read about that wonderful season from an era now so far away! https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/ , and here for the 1966 Ferrari 312 https://primotipo.com/2017/10/26/surtees-ferrari-312-modena-1966/ , and here for the Lotus 43 BRM https://primotipo.com/2015/02/17/jim-clark-taking-a-deep-breath-lotus-43-brm/

Ferrari usually rise to the occasion at home and so it was that Mike Parkes popped his 312 on pole from Scarfiotti, aided by a bit more power. Clark was on grid 3 with John Surtees, by then firmly esconced at Cooper Maserati having started the season with Ferrari- but decamping after a series of spats within the team, on grid 4 and Lorenzo Bandini in another 312 in position 5.

Parkes below is looking fairly relaxed with a post-pole cuppa tea!

(unattributed)

In the early stages of the race Scarfiotti and Parkes led but were soon passed by Bandini before the end of lap 1- Clark was back in tenth. Bandini pitted on lap 2 with a fuel pipe problem with Stewart’s BRM P83 H16 soon out with similar dramas.

Scarfiotti led from Hulme, Parkes and Surtees- Surtees pitted on lap 32 with a fuel leak. Jack Brabham, out of the race, won the Drivers Championship as Surtees was the only driver capable of taking the championship from him. Ludovico retained his lead finishing six seconds clear of Parkes, Denny Hulme and then Jochen Rindt, Cooper T81 Maserati.

Scarfiotti from Parkes (unattributed)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: And what a tail it is! The big, fat, beefy BRM arse of the wonderful Lotus 43- the only H16 engined GP winner in the end of season US GP @ Watkins Glen…

(unattributed)

Finito…