Bill Downie, HRG, Caversham, Western Australia circa 1960 (K Devine)

Ignorance is bliss! Until now I’d assumed Brabham’s 1966-1968 Repco F1 V8 engine rebuilds/freshen-ups were done back at RBE’s Maidstone, Melbourne base, but that’s not the case

“When we started to use the Repco Brabham V8s (the very first race for the new engine was the January 1, 1966, non-championship South African Grand Prix) it was clear to Jack that sending them back to Melbourne for rebuilds wasn’t going to work given the time it would have taken,” recalls Bob Ilich.

The Australian mechanic/technician worked for Jack Brabham Conversions, Motor Racing Developments (MRD-constructors of Brabham cars) and the Brabham Racing Organisation (BRO-Jack’s race team) during the 1965-1967 glory years.

“There just wasn’t the time between race meetings to fly engines backwards and forwards between England and Australia, the logistics just didn’t work.”

In 1966 BRO contested nine championship GPs and four non-championship events (remember those!), and in 1967 11 championship GPs and five non-championship races; Race of Champions at Brands, Spring Cup and International Gold Cup at Oulton Park, the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone and the Spanish GP. This intense program yielded world drivers championships for Brabham and Hulme, and manufacturers titles for MRD/Brabham Repco in 1966-67.

In short, the season was very full from early January until the Mexican GP in late October.

Jack had a ready-made machining solution when the H.R.G. Engineering Co Ltd – founded by Major Edward Halford, Guy Robins and Henry Ronald Godfrey in 1935 – ceased trading in 1966.

HRG built 241 sports and racing cars in addition to their core general engineering work. In 1956 they stopped building cars, their engineering clients included Cooper, and later Brabham.

“When Jack moved BRO from the Canal Yard, Byfleet Road, New Haw Surrey premises (which had been shared with Motor Racing Developments) to Guildford in early 1966, ex-HRG machinist Ron Cousins and his equipment, lathe, milling machines etc were already there doing work for Jack Brabham Conversions which operated from an Esso Service Station in Woking.”

“Conversions did general service and tuning work, fitted Coventry Climax engines to Triumphs and Austin Healeys, made performance modifications, and later did the development work on the Brabham Vauxhall Viva/Torana.”

“The Guildford premises had administration offices upstairs including a drawing office for John Judd, who was back at BRO after his stint with RBE in Maidstone. He was in constant touch liasing with Norman Wilson, RBE’s Chief Engineer in Melbourne.”

“Downstairs was the Brabham Conversions Parts Department, a large workshop where the racing cars were prepared and the transporter parked, Ron Cousins’ machine shop and an engine rebuilding workshop for Jack and myself,” Bob recalled.

“After the first couple of runs in South Africa and testing in England, the engines had oil leaks Jack said we needed to fix. The first rebuilds were to address this, over time of course we did freshen-ups as required.”

Bob Ilich with gasket kit at BRO, New Haw circa March-April 1966. Brabham BT17 sportscar coming together behind him and Holden EH abroad (unattributed)

“All the components we needed were sent from Australia including the new for 1967 700 Series blocks. I remember replacing three 600 Series blocks with the much stronger Repco 700 block, the three Olds F85 based blocks were still in a corner of the workshop when I left. If anything needed machining, Ron Cousins did it,” Bob recalls.

“By the end of the 1967 racing season the only thing we hadn’t mastered was the timing chain cover which still leaked a bit, but those 740 engines were otherwise bullet proof.”

“None of the engines were ever sent back to us for rebuilds,” confirms Michael Gasking, long-time RBE, Maidstone, Melbourne engine fitter and chief dyno test pilot.

“We sent engines and components over as they were needed, Jack and Frank (Hallam, RBE General Manager) were on the ‘phone all the time discussing updates and problems discovered at the track we needed to fix or enhance.”

So, there you have it, a little tidbit of RBE history not in Repco press releases or the history books.

Thanks Bob Ilich, I’m not sure quite how it popped into our conversation, but very much appreciated!

 Etcetera…

HRG

Among HRG’s products/enterprises were the original UK import rights for Weber carburettors, twin-cam HRG (Singer) engines, the Stuart Proctor designed crossflow cylinder head, inlet manifolds and rocker covers for BMC B-Series engines (usually marketed by VW Derrington rather than HRG themselves) and overhead-cam Ford 105E conversions.

HRG originally operated from Tolworth, Surrey and later Oakcroft Road, Chessington, also located in Surrey.

The then HRG director/shareholders, having reached retirement age closed their solvent, profitable business in 1966. Derringtons took over the drawings, patterns and moulds to manufacture cylinder heads and Jack Brabham acquired or absorbed the machine shop equipment and Ron Cousin into his group…

The main-man out front of Jack Brabham Motors, Hook Road, Chessington (unattributed)

Brabham Premises

There is plenty of interest in Brabham, Jack Brabham, Ron Tauranac and Repco Brabham Engines at quite a granular level.

With an imminent trip to the UK, I’ve a couple of Brabham Sacred Sites at which I’m going to pay homage, with that in mind here is a list fellow Brabham Tourists may find of interest.

Please treat it as work in progress, I’m keen to hear from any of you with additional information to add, or corrections which should be made to this list.

United Kingdom

.Jack Brabham (Motors) Ltd : 248 Hook Road (cnr Hook Road and Somerset Avenue, Chessington, Surrey.

Established circa 1959, ESSO garage, Rootes Group dealership. Phil Kerr ran the business, until his departure to McLaren. Ron Tauranac lived in a Bed-Sit in these premises when he first arrived from Australia and built the MRD (the first Brabham Formula Junior machine ) in a lock-up downstairs.

.Repco UK : Victoria Road, Surbiton, Surrey.

Circa 1957 at the Earls Court motor show. Repco’s marketing division and warehousing facility which sold garage and wheel balancing equipment, and later engine rebuilding, reconditioning and balancing equipment etc.

Space was sub-let to MRD to build Brabhams. The MRD, and Brabhams until when?, were constructed at these premises.

.Motor Racing Developments Ltd (MRD) : Canal Yard, Byfleet Road, New Haw, Weybridge, Surrey.

Circa 1962, manufacturer of Brabham cars and later Ralt cars

Shop floor at Motor Racing Developments circa 1966 (Repco)
Brabham Racing Organisation in 1970, Guildford. Jack’s F1 Brabham BT33 Ford being prepared (D Phipps/MotorSport)

.Jack Brabham Conversions Ltd : 131-139 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey.

ESSO service station, modifications to Sunbeam Rapiers and other cars inclusive of fitment of Coventry Climax FWE engines to Triumph Herald, Austin Healey Sprites etc

.Brabham Racing Organisation Ltd (BRO) :

Initially co-located with MRD.

In early 1966 BRO moved to Weyford House, Woodbridge Meadows, Guildford, Surrey as outlined in this article.

High Performance Exhaust Systems Ltd (Directors Len Lukey and Brabham) sold and fitted Lukey Mufflers for cars, trucks and tractors from this location

BRO moved – partially – back to New Haw (MRD) circa 1968. Allan Ould recalls building the BT25 Indycars in the BRO workshop at MRD that year.

The F1 car prep and machining ‘shops remained at Guildford.

Jack Brabham (Worster Park) Ltd : 33-51 Central Road, Worster Park, London.

Vauxhall dealership in the-day, redeveloped in more recent times as the residential ‘Brabham Court’.

Jack Brabham Ltd : 23 Stoneleigh Broadway, Epsom, Surrey.

?

Jack Brabham (Ewell) Ltd : 5 Ruxley Lane, Ewell, Epsom, Surrey.

Circa 1965. Appears to have been the site of another car dealership?

Engine Developments Ltd (Judd Power) : Leigh Road, Swift Valley, Rugby.

Partnership of John Judd and Jack Brabham which commenced in 1971.

.Brabham family home.

3 Ashcombe Avenue, Surbiton, Surrey, from 1965 Greater London, below.

(P Stockden)
Repco Brabham Engines, Mitchell Street, Maidstone premises early 1967 during the Tasman Series (Repco)

Australia

Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd.

This entity was the Repco subsidiary incorporated circa 1965 to design and construct the Repco Brabham race engines

A small team was initially located in a small part (the engine laboratory) of Russell Manufacturing Pty Ltd at 85-91 Burney Street, and 26-34 Doonside Street, Richmond. The first V8s were built there.

Nigel Tait picks up the story, “The engine lab that was at the back of Russell Manufacturing (Doonside Street, Richmond) was to service the then current Repco factories producing engine parts.”

“Once the Repco Brabham project started to outgrow that small lab, a decision was made to relocate it over to the Maidstone site that had been purchased from the original Automotive Components Limited company some years earlier. One of the four or five factories on that site was cleaned out and early in 1966 the manufacture and assembly of the RB engines was progressively transferred from Richmond.”

“The new company, Repco Brabham Engines Pty Ltd was incorporated, the Repco Ltd (parent company) Director responsible was Bob Brown, the General Manager was Frank Hallam.”

“Eventually a new test centre was built out the back, it was very sophisticated and state of the art with two dynamometers compared to what we had in Richmond.”

Michael Gasking testing RBE620-E2 2.5 V8 on the Heenan & Froude GB4 dyno in the old Myers garage – corrugated iron tin-shed – Doonside Street Richmond Engine Lab. The distinctive long-inlet trumpets allows easy identification of this engine as that used by Jack at the 1966 Sandown and Longford Tasman rounds. Mike is testing it either before the Sandown round, or immediately after it. The engine suffered oil pump failure and had to be quickly rebuilt before being sent to Longford…so it’s either mid-February or 28-29 February 1966 (Repco)
More sumptuous surrounds at Maidstone circa 1967. Very well equipped, RBE were set up to build engines with great precision in numbers. That two axis Cincinatti Vertical Acramatic milling machine (in the middle of the photo) is claimed by the man who sold it to Repco to be the first numerically controlled machine tool sold in Australia. The timing cover case lying flat this side of the vertical tape reader (the light coloured cabinet) was made on this machine (Repco)

“So, from about mid to late 1966 (the move started during the Xmas summer break of 1965-66) the whole of the racing engine project was at Maidstone and the engine lab in Richmond continued to service the Repco engine division.”

“Later, the same dynamometer set up was used for the (1969-1974) Repco Holden F5000 project.”

“In the meantime Repco started to move some of the piston and ring manufacturing plant over to the Maidstone site and for a while both sites operated as Repco Engine Parts – Richmond Plant and Maidstone Plant.”

“Then in 1986 Repco sold off the Engine Division to a management buyout and the same products continued to be made at the two plants though eventually all were consolidated at the Maidstone site, Richmond having been sold.”

“The management buyout company didn’t have a name and Repco kindly allowed it to be called Automotive Components Limited (ACL), so the wheel turned full circle,” Nigel Tait recalled.

The Richmond (art deco) buildings are extant, Maidstone became a housing estate close to a decade ago, below.

(N Tait Collection)
(N Tait Collection)

“The memorial at Maidstone was the brainchild and project of a local councillor about 2015. We had Michael Gasking and (now the late) Don Halpin (above) to cut the cake at the unveiling ceremony,” Tait recalled.

“Michael was at Richmond when I joined Repco as a cadet engineer, and I was assigned to work with him as his assistant on Repco Brabham with engine assembly and running the engines on our dynamometer (Heenan and Froude GB4).”

“Michael was (is) a good man, very skilled, a good teacher and very thorough. The engines he built won the 1966 championship and probably half of 1967 (Denny) as well.”

“Don, sadly now gone, was an amazing engine builder, worked in my team after Repco Brabham and the F5000 Repco Holden days on alternative fuel projects for the government, and post retirement built customer racing engines until the end. I miss Don…” recalls Nigel of his colleagues and friends.

Credits…

Bob Ilich, Nigel Tait, Ken Devine Collection, Paul Stockden

Tailpiece…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course there are Jack’s businesses in Australia too (both before he went to the UK and after he left to return home) in the automotive, aviation and rural sectors but my focus is just those of the Repco-Period.

If we widened the lens we would be going for weeks I suspect…

Finito…

(B Hanna)

The New Zealand International Grand Prix Racing Team about to fly to London via Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bombay, arriving at the beginning of April 1961. Auckland Airport, from left is Bill Hanna, Angus Hyslop and Ross Pedersen. Don’t stress guys, it’ll be ok!

Once in the UK they meet up with Denny Hulme, basing themselves around the Kingston-upon-Thames area. As a Driver to Europe alumnus, Denny also drove under the NZIGP Team banner.

This is the second of three articles written by Alec Hagues around photographs taken by Bill Hanna, Alec’s father in law who was Angus Hyslop’s team manager/mechanic during 1961. The first instalment is here; Angus Hyslop, Kiwi Champion through Bill Hanna’s lens… | primotipo…

Enjoy the fabulous photographs and first hand account of elite level international Formula Junior from another age.

(B Hanna)

On 15 or 16 April 1961, before they started racing, the team visited Oulton Park in Cheshire for the GT Cars Trophy Race. Here above are the Lotus Elites of John Wagstaff #16, Bill Allen and Peter Arundell; there are some seven Elites in the race.

However, the big news was the debut of the Jaguar E-Type in racing, the first production example having rolled off the production line in Coventry only the month before. Note the group of admirers all-over Graham Hill’s Jag, shunning Jack Sears’ Ferrari!

(B Hanna)
(B Hanna)

Roy Salvadori #5 above leads Graham Hill #4 off the grid, both driving E-Types. Just behind are John Wagstaff #16 (Lotus Elite Climax), Jack Sears #3 (Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta) and Innes Ireland #8 (Aston Martin DB4).

(B Hanna)

The Cars

Angus’ Lotus 20-Ford/Martin in green, seen in the paddock at Goodwood above. A recap, Angus shipped his Cooper T43-Climax 1964cc over to the UK. We know this because it ‘comes back’ at the end of the season, at least as far as NZ Customs are concerned.

He is on the NZIGPA Driver To Europe scheme which is affiliated with Cooper Cars Ltd, and the team spend time at Cooper’s garage in Surbiton. Yet he drives a Lotus the whole time he is in Europe.

(B Hanna)

Denny’s Cooper T56-BMC (later Ford) in blue/silver, is seen here at Roskilde during practice for the Copenhagen Cup in May, he is ahead of Angus who later won the race, Denny placed seventh.

While Angus has Bill and Ross on his team, Denny enlists the help of journalist Eoin Young. With no disrespect to Eoin’s memory, it seems highly likely Bill gets involved with both cars!

The NZIGP Team drivers wear silver helmets with a maroon stripe.

(B Hanna)

Angus’s first race in Europe (above) is the BARC Whit Monday Meeting at Goodwood, 22 May 1961. A number of sources report that he wins the race.

At the Roskilde, V Copenhagen Cup, 28 May 1961 Denny bravely returned to the track where his Kiwi team-mate George ‘Joe’ Lawton was killed the previous September.

As noted above, Angus won the race, David Piper was second in another Lotus 20 Ford.

Angus and Denny’s cars on their trailers in the paddock – the depot – at Roskilde.

(B Hanna)

On 4 June 1961 in the IX Grand Prix de Rouen Junior at the Circuit de Rouen-les-Essarts, Angus takes 11th and Denny DNF with both suffering engine problems.

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Who is the young businessman at Le Mans? Marvellous, atypical Denny portrait (B Hanna)

Le Mans 10-11 June 1961: XXIX Le Mans 24 Hour.

There are many pictures out there of the Abarth 850S co-driven by Angus and Denny so successfully in this race. So here’s a picture of Denny Hulme in a suit with a tanker and a theodolite.

Having taken somewhat disappointing sixth and 18th spots respectively on 2 July 1961 in the V Coupe International de Vitesse des Formule Junior, Circuit de Reims-Gueux, Denny and Angus returned to the UK before embarking on the long trip towing their cars in convoy to Sicily.

Here are Denny (in classic barefoot pose) and Eoin with the convoy parked up, probably waiting to board the ferry at Villa San Giovanni (below).

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(B Hanna)
(B Hanna)

23 July 1961: III Gran Premio di Messina, at the Circuito Laghi di Ganzirri.

In their best joint performance of the summer, the Kiwi duo took first and second places with Angus edging Denny out of the top-spot.

(B Hanna)

The grid shot above is probably heat 1, Massimo Natili, Taraschi Fiat #6 on the grid alongside the Lola Mk3 Ford of Britain’s Bill McGowen #15 and Geki #42 Lotus 20 Ford. This heat was won by Lorenzo Bandini from Jo Siffert and Angus.

(B Hanna)

Above is probably the Lotus 20-Fords of Bandini #50 and Siffert #37 on the front row of the grid, with Angus’s similar car creeping into shot at left.

The stunning panorama below is probably heat 2, Bob Anderson’s Lotus 20-Ford and Colin Davis’ Lola Mk3 Ford leading, with Denny probably largely concealed behind them. Davis won the heat from Anerson and Hulme.

A picture containing sky, outdoor, road, day

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(B Hanna)
A race track with cars on it

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Brands Hatch, 7 August 1961 a John Davy Trophy meeting. I think I see Angus and Denny in there, mid-grid. Hyslop was 12th and Hulme a DNF in the race won by Peter Arundell’s Team Lotus Lotus 20 Ford.

And below, on a typical grey English summer day at Goodwood, 19 August 1961 II BARC Formula Junior Championship, perhaps that’s Alan Rees leading in the Lotus.

Rees won from Gavin Youl’s MRD Ford and Dennis Taylor’s Lola Mk3 Ford with Angus fourth. Denny was in Sweden that weekend contesting the Kanonloppet, he too was fourth.

A group of people watching a race car go around a track

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(B Hanna)
(B Hanna)

Back at the Roskildering for the Danish Grand Prix weekend of 26-27 August 1961 above.

Aside from the Formula 1 Grand Prix (non-championship) feature race and Formula Junior (in which Angus and Denny were third and fourth respectively), and saloon car racing featuring John Whitmore in his Austin Mini Seven, the organisers put on this display of stunt driving.

You are seeing about half of the entire circuit in this one photo.

A picture containing road, outdoor, sky, transport

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(B Hanna)

Angus’ final 1961 race seems to have been the September Trophy meeting at Crystal Palace on 2 September 1961.

In the line up above we see Angus Hyslop #6, Eric Harris Alexis Mk3 Ford, Steve Ouvaroff with the #15 Competition Cars of Australia built Ausper T3 Ford, Gavin Youl in the first first Brabham, the MRD Ford #8 and Denny at far right in #31; an all-Australasian crew with the exception of Harris. In the background is Ian Raby’s Cooper T56 Ford.

Angus was seventh, while Denny DNQ, Trevor Taylor’s works Lotus 20 Ford won.

The butt shot below is of Youl’s MRD at the same meeting.

(B Hanna)

Angus and Bill returned safely to New Zealand and although Angus only drove two more seasons in racing cars, both enjoyed a lifelong passion for motor racing.

Meanwhile, the tale of how when Angus’s Cooper T45-Climax 1964cc arrived back in New Zealand a couple of months later it had become a T53 2495cc Lowline has been told elsewhere.

Part 3 soon…

Credits…

Photography by the the late Bill Hanna and words by Alec Hagues

Tailpiece…

(B Hanna)

Angus is putting on his helmet somewhere in the UK, one of our readers, Roger H has kindly identified the shot as probably the Snetterton meeting on 14 May, 1961.

The Lola Mk2 front and centre is the Scuderia Light Blue machine of Hugh Dibley. It’s possibly Brian Hart in Len Terry’s Terrier #8, then Angus #1, Reg Brown in the Lotus 20 #3 and Bill Moss in Lotus 18 #10.

Many thanks!

Finito…

GV Wolf WD1 Chev, Trois Rivieres 1977 (MotorSport)

1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve’s dad doesn’t have awe inspiring race-statistics, so why is he revered by generations of F1 fans born long after he died? Mark Bisset looks back at the French-Canadian legend 40 years after that tragic May 8, 1982 Belgian GP weekend at Zolder

Before the carbon-fibre era few of motor racing’s supreme automotive acrobats died quietly in their beds.

Bernd Rosemeyer, Jochen Rindt, Ronnie Peterson, Ayrton Senna, Stefan Bellof, Gilles Villeneuve and their ilk had God-given skills which awed fellow competitors and spectators alike.

Spectacular car control, seemingly impossible passes and flagrant disregard for their own safety were their modus operandi, performed without the many ‘safety nets’ of modern F1.

Attack! GV during the September 1977 GP de Trois Rivieres, Canada weekend. Q3 and 14th with engine problems aboard Walter Wolf’s Wolf WD1 Chev. Patrick Tambay took the win, Lola T333CS Chev (MotorSport)
Gilles during the 1977 British GP weekend at Silverstone, F1 newbie (LAT)

Joseph Gilles Henri Villeneuve (18/1/1950-8/5/1982) was one of the most spectacular practitioners of his art, he wanted – needed – to be the quickest racer out there in every session. To his ultimate cost.

Seville Villeneuve whetted his son’s competitive juices by giving him a snowmobile, by 1972 Gilles was a pro-driver with Skiroule, in 1974 he won the World Championship Snowmobile Derby at Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Villeneuve mounts his Alouette 650 single-track, all set to win at Eagle River in 1974 (CJ Ramstad)

Seville nurtured Gilles’ early interest in cars too. Villeneuve took a Jim Russell course at Mont Tremblant, then demonstrated the same mastery of machine on bitumen as on snow aboard a Magnum Formula Ford, winning a regional Quebec championship in 1973.

Villeneuve later said of snowmobiling “Every winter you could reckon on three or four big over 100mph spills. They slide a lot, which taught me about control. Unless you were in the lead you could see nothing with all the snow blowing about, it was good for the reactions and stopped me worrying about racing in the rain.”

GV, Magnum Formula Ford in 1973 Trois Rivieres? (MGV)
March 77B Ford BDA, Trois Rivieres 1977. Fourth from pole, Price Cobb won in another 77B (MotorSport)

Villeneuve progressed and was immediately quick in an Ecurie Canada March 74B Formula Atlantic (FA) in 1974 until the wild-man broke his leg at Mosport mid-season.

Fully committed, Gilles sold his home to fund a privately run March 75B the following year, travelling to the races with wife Joann and his children Melanie and Jacques in a motorhome. His breakthrough win came in the wet at Gimli, then he stunned visiting GP drivers by putting the March third on the grid at Quebec’s GP de Trois Rivieres street race.

Racing for the top-gun Ecurie Canada equipe again in 1976, he won Canadian and US (IMSA) FA Championships then popped the icing on the cake by winning Trois Rivieres from pole ahead of Alan Jones, James Hunt, Vittorio Brambilla, Bobby Rahal and Patrick Tambay.

Teddy Mayer tasked Leo Wybrott, Stevie Bun and John Hornby to look after Gilles’ McLaren M23/8. “He was communicating with me so well, and we started to change the set-up of the car and he went faster and faster. We were fourth or fifth quickest, eventually qualifying ninth. We didn’t qualify higher because we didn’t have access to the soft Goodyears” Wybrott recalled. (MotorSport)
Villeneuve lapping Silverstone in ’77. His first race outside North America was in the 1976 Pau GP for Ron Dennis’ Project Four outfit, Q10 and DNF in a year old March 752 Hart impressed the F2 regulars (LAT)

The international racing world was abuzz with the other-worldly-skills of the pint-sized Canadian magician. No less an admirer than James Hunt pressed his cause with McLaren’s Teddy Mayer who ran a car for Gilles at the 1977 British GP.

Villeneuve explored the limits of his M23, spinning on most of Silverstone’s corners as he worked out the car’s limits, outqualifying his vastly more experienced teammate, Jochen Mass. He finished 11th despite a pitstop for what turned out to be a broken water temperature gauge.

Further impressive Formula Atlantic drives and pace aboard Walter Wolf’s wilful Wolf WD1 Chev Can-Am car established his big-car credentials.

Villeneuve in the Wolf WD1 Chev, circuit unknown, 1977. The Canadian was immediately quick in this challenging car vacated by Chris Amon upon his retirement from racing (unattributed)
GV and Patrick Tambay at Trois Rivieres in September 1977. Tambay won the race (and the series overall) in the Carl Haas’ Lola T333CS Chev behind him, GV DNF engine from Q3. #25 is Bobby Rahal’s Lola T296 Ford BDX (LAT)

When Mayer signed Patrick Tambay to replace Mass in 1978, Enzo Ferrari bagged Villeneuve. Gilles remained a Ferrari driver – surely ordained at his birth – for the balance of his way-too-short career.

His first 1977 start at Mosport ended with a DNF, tragedy followed at Fuji a fortnight later. Gilles challenged Ronnie Peterson’s Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler under brakes, the pair collided causing the Canadian’s Ferrari to vault the armco into a restricted area where it killed a spectator and a marshall. Despite a no-fault finding his year couldn’t have ended on a worse note.

Villeneuve mid-flight at Fuji with the fatal consequences imminent. Peterson’s Tyrrell P34 rear damage ‘clear’. Rare shot of the underside of a 312T2 Ferrari inclusive of the pipe-bender’s artistry (unattributed)
GV on the way to his first GP win at home in October 1978, Montreal, Ferrari 312T3. His future teammate, Scheckter was second in a Wolf WR6 Ford and present teammate Reutemann was third (unattributed)

1978 was character building. Villeneuve was unsurprisingly bested by his seasoned Ferrari teammate Carlos Reutemann who won three Grands Prix in the year of the dominant ground-effect Lotus 79, Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson.

After a series of early season DNFs and accidents the Italian press were baying for his blood, twelve months later they wanted him anointed a Saint.

Better performances in later ’78 were capped by a season-ending Mosport home win. His emotions at the year’s conclusion were the complete reverse of those twelve months before.

Gilles and Jody at Hockenheim in July1979. Alan Jones started his late season run of wins that weekend in his Williams FW07 Ford. Sceckter was fourth and Villeneuve eighth (unattributed)

Enzo Ferrari’s pairing of F1’s 1973 and 1978 enfants terrible, Jody Scheckter and Villeneuve in 1979 seemed a volatile Molotov Cocktail to many pit-pundits, but the kindred spirits gelled.

They extracted all Mauro Forghieri’s ground effect Ferrari 312T4 had. Gilles had the edge in outright pace – both won three Grands Prix – but Jody’s better placings, and Gilles preparedness to keep to team instructions, in a line-ball season edged out the Canadian by four points.

British GP, Silverstone 1979. Ferrari 312T4 14th on the day Clay Regazzoni i took a famous first win for Williams – FW07 Ford (M Lee)
It may not always have been the quickest way around a racetrack, but GV’s style sure was entertaining! Zolder, May 1979, 7th, Scheckter won (MotorSport)

Two races which partially forged the Villeneuve legend were at Dijon and Zandvoort.

Two-mad-little-Froggies, Auvergne’s Rene Arnoux and Quebec’s Gilles Villeneuve went at it hammer and tongs in the French GP’s final laps in an epic, breath taking, wheel to wheel-tapping battle between Renault RE10 and Ferrari 312T4 for second place.

 In a magnum-opus of car control the pair waged a dice the likes of which GP racing hasn’t seen since. The duo gave each other just enough room – centimetres – to carry off a balletic-opera rather than tragic-comedy which concluded in Gilles’ favour.

So all-consuming was this dice that Renault and Jean Pierre Jabouille’s first turbo-car, and first GP win (Renault RE10) were almost forgotten!

During the Dutch GP’s closing laps Villeneuve’s left-rear tyre exploded. Undeterred, and desperate for points he reversed back onto the track and headed for the distant pits shredding the tyre, wheel and left-side suspension assembly. Gilles devotees saw it as his passionate will to win while his detractors offered the display as further evidence that he was absolutely bonkers…

Crazy last laps at Dijon in 1979: Villeneuve 312T4 and Rene Arnoux, Renault RE10 (MotorSport)
Ferrari 126CK, Dijon DNF French GP 1981 (MotorSport)

1980 was a Ferrari disaster as more advanced ground effect cars bested the 312T5, limited as it was by the width of its 180-degree V12 (or Flat-12 if you wish) which impinged on critical sidepod/tunnel size.

Ferrari joined the turbo-age in 1981 with the 550-600bhp 1.5-litre 126CK. Its combination of tricky power delivery mixed with chassis and aerodynamic shortcomings created a machine in which Gilles comprehensively blew-off new teammate, Didier Pironi after Scheckter retired (Villeneuve outqualified Pironi 10-5 that year).

Villeneuve showed plenty of controlled aggression, winning at Monaco after keeping the tricky car on the island as others crashed or had mechanical misfortune.

Three weeks later at Jarama, Gilles took the Spanish GP lead on lap 14 then fronted a high-speed freight train of Jacques Laffite, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio De Angelis, nose-to-tail for 18 laps in a classic battle of a more powerful but ill-handling car holding off four better handling cars. The top-5 were separated by 1.5 seconds at the finish of a thriller in which Gilles put not a foot wrong.

On the way to winning the 1981 Monaco GP, Ferrari 126CK. Jones second in his Williams FW07C Ford and Laffitte third in Ligier JS17 Matra (unattributed)
Here we go with 2 laps to run, Imola 1982 (unattributed)

And so, to the Final Act.

1982 started as ‘81 finished, Gilles outqualified his friend Pironi – they were mates let’s not forget – four nil aboard the improved 126C2 at Kyalami, Rio, Long Beach and Imola.

Pironi was feeling the pressure, why would Ferrari keep him if he couldn’t deliver the goods?  The consistent gap between he and Gilles was marked.

The San Marino Grand Prix grid was decimated by the ongoing FOCA/FISA turf/sporting/commercial battle, ten of the FOCA teams didn’t enter. After the retirement of the leading Renaults, Villeneuve led Pironi (as usual).

Ferrari’s ‘slow’ pitboard was interpreted as slow and hold position by Gilles. Pironi passed Villeneuve, Villeneuve re-took the lead three times, and then slowed thrice. Despite this – Villeneuve’s superiority over the Frenchman crystal clear to all over the previous 15-months – Pironi passed again and took the chequered flag having interpreted the signal differently. Or took a win he badly needed and hadn’t achieved mano et mano in fair combat.

Gilles burned with fury, setting up the tragedy which unfolded at Zolder a fortnight later on May 8, 1982.

Zolder pits, May 8, 1982. GV ready for the off, Ferrari 126C2 chassis #056
GV 126C2 #055 at Kyalami in January 1982. The monocoque chassis was a composite structure made of Hexcel carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb, a far cry from the strength of the high speed carbon fibre dodgem-F1s of today

Fuelled by anger and determined to beat Pironi’s better qualifying time, Villeneuve set off on those final laps, fell short, then collided with Jochen Mass’ March at 120-140mph as both cars changed direction before Terlamenbocht – Mass moved his March, in fifth gear but going much slower than Villeneuve, to the right to allow the Ferrari to pass on the left – launching the Ferrari into the air and then a series of horrific cartwheels. The hapless racer suffered a fracture of the cervical vertebrae and a severed spinal chord, he died at 9:12pm that evening at the University of St Raphael Hospital in Louvain

Canada and the racing world mourned, as many still do.

Based on statistics Villeneuve isn’t one of the greats, but like Nuvolari, Rosemeyer, Rindt and Peterson, Gilles is revered for the passion, brio, fire and electricity he produced in a racing car every time he jumped aboard.

When Villeneuve was on track the beer-tents emptied. The automotive acrobat was about to strut his stuff, sadly the catch-net and the gods were absent on that day in Belgium 40 short years ago.

“I know that no human being can perform miracles. But Gilles made you wonder sometimes,” quipped Jacques Laffite.

R.I.P Gilles Villeneuve. We salute you.

Credits…

MotorSport, LAT, CJ Ramstad, museegillesvilleneuve.com, Martin Lee, Leo Wybrott on auto123.com, Getty Images, ‘Gilles Villeneuve:The Life of the Legendary Racing Driver’ Gerald Donaldson

Tailpiece…

Last lap. Still on the hop, quallies useless by then but he was still on the hop…

Finito…

(The Age)

Doug Whiteford is as pleased-as-punch after winning the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park aboard his self-prepared Talbot Lago T26C (Course).

It was too good to be true, he had won his second AGP at Bathurst 17 months before aboard the same machine. He took victory in the 250 miler in the park from Curley Brydon’s MG TC Spl s/c and Andy Brown’s MG K3. The dude with the fag at the far-left is Bill Wilcox who retired his Ford V8 Spl after 37 of the 64 laps.

I’ve written about this race before, the appearance of this high-resolution shot from The Age/Fairfax archive stimulated this reprise. 1953 Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park… | primotipo…

The photograph is so sharp you can see the instruments, quadrant for the four-speed Wilson pre-selector gearbox, chassis plate and front suspension.

#110007 was part of Paul Vallee’s Ecurie France team between 1948-1950 before being sold, via Henry and Peter Dale, to Geelong’s Tom Hawkes in 1950 and shortly thereafter to Whiteford. See Bob King’s article on the Dales and their contribution to the number of European racers which came to Australia; ‘Words from Werrangourt’ 1, by Bob King… | primotipo…

Louis Chiron jumps away from the rest of the field at the start of the April 1949 Jersey Road Race at St Helier aboard 110007. From the left, Raymond Mays’ ERA B-Type, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 125, and the Maserati 4CLT-48s of Gigi Villoresi, Bira and Emmanuel de Graffenried. Gerard won from De Graffenried and Mays Chiron DNF brakes (MotorSport)
110007 in the Silverstone pitlane during the July 1949 British GP meeting. Q15 and DNF universal joint for Chiron, up front De Graffenreid’s Maser 4CLT-48 won from Bob Gerard’s ERA B-Type and Louis Rosier’s T26C (MotorSport)

Strong results for 110007 before coming to Australia was Louis Chiron’s 1949 French GP victory and Harry Schell’s second place at the Coupe du Salon at Montlhery that October.

The car had chassis rails derived directly from Talbot sports car pattern. Front independent suspension was by lower transverse leaf spring and upper pressed steel rockers while at the rear a simple rigid axle was suspended by semi-elliptic leaf springs. Friction and hydraulic shocks were fitted as were Bendix cable operated brakes. A Wilson pre-selector gearbox was used.

The arrival of this modern straight-six cylinder 4482cc, 210bhp @ 4500rpm triple Zenith/Stromberg fed F1 car (4.5-litres unsupercharged, 1.5-litres supercharged) heralded the need for topline Australian competitors to have cars capable of outright wins as the sport evolved away from handicap events in our premier class.

Doug Whiteford passes the abandoned Jack O’Dea MG Spl aboard 110007 during his victorious ’53 AGP run at Albert Park (The Age)
1949 Talbot Lago T26C cutaway by Leslie Cresswell

Technical Specifications…

The head and block of Walter Vecchia’s 4482cc six were of aluminium alloy. The engine was considerably undersquare with a bore/stroke of 93x110mm. Its two camshafts were located halfway up the block with short pushrods operating two valves per cylinder, the cost-effective design had some of the advantages of a more traditional twin-cam layout.

It produced circa 240bhp @ 4700rpm in the early stages of development, rising to 280bhp @ 5000rpm in 1950 when fitted with a twin-plug, twin-magneto cylinder head.

Carburation was by triple downdraught Zenith-Strombergs with two rocker covers proclaiming the name Talbot-Lago. A Scintilla magneto provided the spark, initially to one centrally located plug per cylinder.

Engine shot of Yves Giraud-Cabantous T26C #110006 in the 1949 Silverstone paddock. That motor swallowed a piston after 39 of the 100 laps (MotorSport)

A Wilson preselector gearbox was used, while heavy it was reliable and favoured by the drivers. The prop-shaft was offset to the right to allow a low seating position.

Front independent suspension incorporated top rockers, a lower transverse leaf spring and friction shock absorbers. The rear axle was suspended by good old fashioned semi-elliptic leaf springs, funds didn’t allow development of an independent design; the T26 was the last GP car to use semi-elliptic cart-springs.

Chiron watches while his car is readied at Silverstone in 1949 (MotorSport)

Credits…

The Age/Fairfax Archive, Peter Valentine’s Old Melbourne Town FB page, oldracingcars.com, Leslie Cresswell, Adam Gawliczek

Tailpieces…

(MotorSport)

A swarm of Talbot Lago T26Cs during the 1949 British GP.

‘Our’ 110007 in Chiron’s hands is at left, #17 is Yves Giraud-Cabantous machine (110006), DNF piston and Louis Rosier’s third placed machine #110001 at right.

In mid 1954 Whiteford sold the car after updating to the twin-plug headed T26C #110003. The car was raced by Rex Taylor, Ken Richardson, Owen Bailey and Barry Collerson in-period before becoming a historic racer. Bernard Charles Ecclestone has owned it since the early 1980s.

Whiteford heading up Mount Panorama on the way to victory in the 1952 AGP

Finito…

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Albert Park 2022 (formula1news.co.uk)

Ferrari have been fantastic this year, as they often are in seasons of a new F1 formula. Mark Bisset analyses that notion and calculates the Maranello mob’s likely chances of success…

Aren’t the 2022 F1 rules fantastic! The FIA tossed the rule book up in the air – in a highly sophisticated kind of way of course – and it landed as they hoped with a few long overdue changes in grid makeup.

Ferrari up front is good for F1, anyone other than Mercedes will do, their domination of modern times has made things a bit dreary.

It’s way too early to call the season, but two out of four for Ferrari has promise given the budget-cap. “It’ll be ten races before McLaren have their new car. And it won’t be all new, that’s not possible within the budget constraints,” Joe Ricciardo told me on the morning of the AGP.

By the end of the season, the new-competitive-paradigm will be clear to the team’s Technical Directors, next year’s cars will reflect that. In the meantime, we have great, different looking cars the performance shortcomings of which can be addressed, to an extent.

For many years Ferrari was a good bet in the first season of a new set of regulations, let’s look at how they’ve gone since 1950 on the basis that history is predictive of the future…

Froilan Gonzalez and Ferrari 375 win the ‘51 British GP from pole. JM Fangio and Gigi Villoresi were second and third in Alfa 159 and Ferrari 375 (goodwood.com)

Enzo Ferrari ran a family business, while he was technically conservative and kept a wary eye on the lire, his first championship GP winning car, the Tipo 375 4.5-litre normally aspirated V12 raced by Froilan Gonzalez in the 1951 British GP at Silverstone commenced a new engine paradigm (achievements of the Talbot Lago T26Cs duly recognised).

Since the 1923 Fiat 805 GP winners had been mainly, but not exclusively powered by two-valve, twin-cam, supercharged straight-eights, like the 1950-1951 World Championship winning Alfa Romeo 158-159s were.

Alfa’s 1951 win (JM Fangio) was the last for a supercharged car until Jean -Pierre Jabouille’s Renault RS10 won the 1979 French GP, and  Ferrari were victorious in the 1982 Constructors Championship with the turbo-charged 126C2.

When Alfa withdrew from GP racing at the end of 1951, and BRM appeared a likely non-starter, the FIA held the World Championship to F2 rules given the paucity of F1 cars to make decent grids.

Alberto Ascari, Ferrari 500 Spa, Belgian GP 1952. He won from his teammate Nino Farina and Robert Manzon, Gordini 16 (MotorSport)

Aurelio Lampredi’s existing 2-litre, four-cylinder F2 Ferrari 500 proved the dominant car in Alberto Ascari’s hands taking back-to-back championships in 1953-53.

Alberto’s ‘winningest’ 500 chassis, #005 was raced with great success by Australians Tony Gaze and Lex Davison. Davo won the 1957 and 1958 AGPs in it and our first Gold Star, awarded in 1957. Australia’s fascination with all things Ferrari started right there.

After two years of domination Ferrari were confident evolutions of the 500 would suffice for the commencement of the 2.5-litre formula (1954-1960), but the 555/625 Squalo/Super Squalos were dogs no amount of development could fix.

Strapped for cash, Ferrari was in deep trouble until big-spending Gianni Lancia came to his aid. Lancia’s profligate expenditure on some of the most stunning sports and racing cars of all time brought the company to its knees in 1955.

While company founder Vincenzo Lancia turned in his grave, Gianni’s mother dealt with the receivers and Enzo Ferrari chest-marked, free of charge, a fleet of superb, new, Vittorio Jano designed Lancia D50s, spares and personnel in a deal brokered by the Italian racing establishment greased with a swag of Fiat cash.

Juan Manuel Fangio duly delivered the Lancia Ferrari goods by winning the 1956 F1 Drivers Championship in a Lancia Ferrari D50 V8.

JM Fangio clipping the apex at Copse, Silverstone in 1956 Lancia Ferrari D50. The Alfonso De Portago/Peter Collins D50 was second and Jean Behra Maserati 250F third (LAT)
Silverstone again, this time Mike Hawthorn in 1958, Ferrari Dino 246. Peter Collins’ Dino won from Hawthorn and Roy Salvadori’s Cooper T45 Climax (LAT)

 Mike Hawthorn followed up with the 1958 Drivers’ Championship victory in the superb Dino 246 V6 which begat Scuderia Ferrari’s next change-of-formula success in 1961.

Concerned with rising F1 speeds (there is nothing new in this world my friends) the FIA imposed a 1.5-litre limit from 1961-1965.

Ferrari raced a 1.5-litre F2 Dino variant from 1958 so were superbly placed to win the 1961 championship despite their first mid-engined 156 racer’s chassis and suspension geometry shortcomings.

The (mainly) British opposition relied on the Coventry Climax 1.5-litre FPF four which gave away heaps of grunt to the Italian V6, only Stirling Moss aboard Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax stood in Ferrari’s way. The championship battle was decided in Phil Hill’s favour after the grisly death of his teammate Count ‘Taffy’ Von Trips and 15 Italian spectators at Monza.

Ferrari 156 at Modena in 1961 (ferrari.com)

By 1964 Ferrari – never quick to adopt new technology back then – had ditched the 156’s Borrani wire wheels, spaceframe chassis and Weber carburettors thanks to Mauro Forghieri, the immensely gifted Modenese engineer behind much of Ferrari’s competition success for the next couple of decades. John Surtees won the ’64 F1 Drivers and Constructors Championships in a Ferrari 158 V8.

With ‘The Return to Power’, as the 1966-1986 3-litre F1 was billed (3-litres unsupercharged, 1.5-litres supercharged) – sportscars were making a mockery of the pace of 1.5-litre F1 cars – Ferrari and Surtees had a mortgage on the 1966 championships until they shot themselves in the foot.

Coventry Climax, the Cosworth Engineering of the day, withdrew from racing at the end of 1965 leaving their customers scratching around for alternative engines.

Ferrari were again in the box-seat in ’66 as their 312 V12 engined racer was ready nice and early. It was an assemblage of new chassis and an engine and gearbox plucked from the Maranello sportscar parts bins. With a championship seemingly in-the-bag, Modenese-Machiavellian-Machinations led to Surtees spitting the dummy over incompetent team management and walked out.

Look out blokes, ‘comin through! John Surtees at Eau Rouge, Spa, Ferrari 312 in 1966, ‘Grand Prix’ cinematographers totally unperturbed by the Flying Ferrari. Surtees won from Jochen Rindt’s Cooper T81 Maserati and Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari 158/246 (MotorSport)

It was the happiest of days for Jack Brabham, his increasingly quick and reliable Brabham BT19 Repco V8 comfortably saw off Lorenzo Bandini and Mike Parkes who weren’t as quick or consistent as Big John.

Scuderia Ferrari were then in the relative GP wilderness until 1970 just after Fiat acquired Ferrari, but leaving Enzo to run the race division until his demise.

Fiat’s cash was soon converted into 512S sportscars and the most successful V12 ever built. Ferrari’s Tipo 015 180-degree 3-litre masterpiece won 37 GPs from 1970-1980 in the hands of Jacky Ickx, Clay Regazzoni, Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, Carlos Reutemann, Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve. Not to forget Constructors’ titles for Ferrari in 1975-1977 and 1979, and Drivers’ championships for Lauda (1975,1977) and Scheckter (1979).

Oops, getting a bit off-topic.

Gilles Villeneuve in the fugly but effective and reliable Ferrari 312T4 at Monaco in 1979. Note the hard working, fully extended skirts. Jody Scheckter won in the other T4 from Clay Regazzoni’s Williams FW07 Ford and Carlos Reutemann’s Lotus 79 Ford (unattributed)

The next F1 step-change wasn’t FIA mandated, but was rather as a consequence of Peter Wright and Colin Chapman’s revolutionary 1977/78 Lotus 78/79 ground effects machines which rendered the rest of the grid obsolete.

Forghieri stunned the F1 world when Ferrari adapted their wide, squat 525bhp 3-litre twelve to a championship winning ground effects car despite the constraints the engine’s width bestowed upon aerodynamicists intent on squeezing the largest possible side-pods/tunnels between the engine/chassis and car’s outer dimensions. Scheckter and Canadian balls-to-the-wall firebrand Villeneuve took three GPs apiece to win titles for Scheckter and Ferrari.

Renault led the technology path forward with its 1.5-litre turbo-charged V6 engines from 1977 but it was Ferrari who won the first Manufacturers Championships so equipped in 1982-83.

The Harvey Postlethwaite designed 560-680bhp 1.5-litre turbo V6 126C2 won three Grands Prix in an awful 1982 for Ferrari. Practice crashes at Zolder and Hockenheim killed Villeneuve and ended Didier Pironi’s career. Keke Rosberg won the drivers title aboard a Williams FW08 Ford in a year when six teams won Grands Prix.

High speed Jarama caravan in 1981. Brilliant drive of controlled precision and aggression by Gilles Villeneuve won the race for Ferrari. His more powerful and more unwieldy 126CK just held his pursuers at bay; Jacques Laffite, Ligier JS17 Matra, John Watson, McLaren MP4/1 Ford, Carlos Reutemann’s, Williams FW07C Ford and the just visible Elio de Angelis, Lotus 87 Ford – they finished in this order (unattributed)

Despite a change to a 3.5-litre/1.5-litres four-bar of boost formula in 1987-88 Ferrari stuck with its turbo-cars. The F1/87 and F1/87/88C designed by Gustav Brunner delivered fourth and second in the Constructors Championships, the victorious cars were the Williams FW11B Honda and McLaren MP4/4 Honda.

Enzo Ferrari died in August 1988, not that the company’s Machiavellian culture and quixotic decision making was at an end…

Rock star ex-McLaren designer John Barnard joined Ferrari in 1987. The first fully-Barnard-car was the seductive 640 built for the first year of the stunning, technically fascinating 1989-1994 3.5-litre formula.

This 660bhp V12 machine, fitted with the first electro-hydraulic, seven-speed paddle-shift, semi-automatic gearbox won three races (Nigel Mansell two, Gerhard Berger, one) and finished third in the constructor’s championship.

Innovative as ever, Barnard’s car wasn’t reliable nor quite powerful enough to beat the Alain Prost (champion) and Ayrton Senna driven McLaren MP4/5B Hondas. Despite six wins aboard the evolved 641 (five for Prost, one to Mansell) in 1990 the car still fell short of McLaren Honda, Senna’s six wins secured drivers and manufacturers titles for the British outfit.

Gerhard Berger pings his Ferrari 640 thru Spa’s Bus Stop chicane in 1989, DNF in the race won by Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4/5 Honda (unattributed)

F1’s all-time technology high-water marks are generally regarded as the Williams’ FM14B and FW15C Renault V10s raced by Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost to Drivers and Manufacturers championships in 1992-93. They bristled with innovation deploying active suspension, a semi-automatic gearbox, traction control, anti-lock brakes, fly-by-wire controls and more.

As 1994 dawned Ferrari had been relative also-rans for too long, persevering with V12s long after Renault and Honda V10s had shown the way forward. This period of great diversity – in 1994 Renault, Yamaha, Peugeot, Mugen Honda, Hart, Mercedes Benz and Ilmor Engineering supplied V10s, while Cosworth Engineering provided several different Ford V8s, not to forget Ferrari’s Tipo 043 V12 – ended abruptly at Imola during the horrific May weekend when Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger lost their lives in separate, very public accidents.

In response, FIA chief Max Mosley mandated a series of immediate safety changes and introduced a 3-litre capacity limit from 1995-2004.

Ferrari’s 412T2 V12s finished a distant third in the 1995 Constructors Championship behind Renault powered Benetton and Williams. Much better was the three wins secured by recent signing, Michael Schumacher aboard the V10 (hooray finally!) engined F310, and four with the 310B in 1996-97. Ferrari’s Head of Aerodynamics in this period was Aussie, Willem Toet (1995-1999).

Michael Schumacher nips a brake testing the Ferrari 412T2 at Estoril in November 1995. His final race with Benetton in Adelaide was less than a fortnight before (unattributed)

Ferrari’s Holy Racing Trinity were anointed when Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher (not to forget Chief Designer Rory Byrne) came together as CEO, Technical Director and Lead Driver; six Constructors World Championships flowed from 1999 to 2004.

Renault and Fernando Alonso took top honours with the R25 in 2005, but Ferrari were handily placed for the first year of the 2.4-litre V8 formula in a further emasculation of the technical differences between marques in 2006. Mind you, the primeval scream of these things at 20,000rpm or so is something we can only dream of today.

Ferrari’s 248 F1 used an updated F2005 chassis fitted with the new Tipo 056 715-785bhp V8. It came home like a train in the back end of the season, winning seven of the last nine races, but fell short of the Renault R26 in both the Constructors and Drivers titles.

Alonso beat Schumacher 134 points to 121, and Renault 206 points to Ferrari’s 201 but the 248 F1 won 9 races (Schumacher seven, Felipe Massa two) to Renault’s 8 (Alonso seven, Giancarlo Fisichella one), so let’s say it was a line-ball thing…and Kimi Raikkonen brought home the bacon for himself and Ferrari with the new F2007 in 2007.

Michael Schumacher displays the elegant simplicity of his Ferrari 248 on the way to winning the Italian GP, Monza 2006 (unattributed)

In more recent times the whispering 1.6-litre single turbo V6 formula, incorporating an energy recovery system, was introduced in 2014.

Ferrari fielded two world champions for the first time since 1954 (Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari) when Alonso and Raikkonen took the grid in new F14T’s, but that dazzling combo could do no better than two podiums in a season dominated by Lewis Hamilton’s and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrids.

Ferrari’s season was a shocker, it was the first time since 1993’s F93A that the Scuderia had not bagged at least one GP win.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14T at Suzuka in October 2014. DNF in the race won by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes Benz F1W05 Hybrid. What visual atrocities the cars of 2014 were (MotorSport)

So, what does history tell us about Ferrari’s prospects in this 2022 formula change year? Given our simple analysis, at the start of the season Ferrari had a 36% chance of bagging both titles, but with two out of four wins early on for Charles Leclerc they must be at least an even money chance now.

I’m not so sure I’d put my house on them, but I’d happily throw yours on lucky red!

Credits…

formula1news.co.uk, goodwood.com, ferrari.com, LAT, MotorSport

Finito…

image

Denny Hulme delights the flaggies and ‘snappers and fries a set of Goodyears on entry to Warwick Farm’s Esses during the February 1967 Tasman round…

John Ellacott’s evocative shot at the ‘Farm catches Hulme in his Brabham BT22 Repco during practice, well cocked-up before the apex. He didn’t finish the Australian Grand Prix, his radiator hose came loose on Sunday, the race was won by Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261 from Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax.

Click on this link to read my article about the ’67 Tasman Series won by Clark’s Lotus; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/

Credit…

John Ellacott

Finito…

image

(John Lemm)

Malcolm Ramsay applies Repco V8 power out of Clubhouse Corner, his Granton Harrison owned Elfin 600C #6908 on its way to fourth place during the October 1970 Mallala Gold Star round, the series won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott that year….

My Australian single-seaters I would like to own and race comprises the Mildren Yellow Submarine Alfa 2.5 V8, Elfin Mono, Elfin 600C/D Repco 2.5 V8, Bowin P8 Hart and Repco V8, and Matich A53 Repco F5000, Richards 201 VW. Lets’ throw in the Mawer 003 Formula Ford and the front engined Tornado Chev to add to the attack on my Super Fund.

Knowledgeable Aussies will want to exclude the ‘Sub as it was built by Alan Mann Racing for Mildrens, so it’s a Pommie car not one of ours. A bummer really as that’s my emotional first choice, always has been with either the Alfa engine or Merv Waggott’s superb 2-litre DOHC four-valve jewel with which it was later fitted – and restored as such.

After that it’s a close run thing but the three 2.5-litre V8 Repco engined Tasman Elfin 600’s are about as good as it gets, I reckon.

image

About as nicely integrated a bit of kit as there was in 1969. Cooper’s 6908 at its first Mallala test before its Asian Tour where the new car didn’t finish a race (Bob Mills)

Garrie Cooper built three of them. Two 600C’s for he #6908, and John McCormack #7011, plus a 600D #7012 which was Garrie’s 1970 Gold Star mount.

Mac’s 600 did a few races using the Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF four-potter from his Brabham BT4 before conversion to Repco V8 power for the final half year the Gold Star was run to the Tasman 2.5 Formula in 1970, F5000 replaced it in 1971.

Just to confuse things, 1970 Tasman eligible cars were 2.5s and F5000, but the 1970 Gold Star – Australia’s domestic single-seater championship – was run for 2.5s only. Go figure, it was a CAMS political compromise clusterfuck of its finest, typical type.

There are no other cars on the planet which won both F1 and FF races surely? OK, ANF1 and FF races anyway!

image

This is the business end of  600C 6908 complete with 730 Series Repco V8. The 600D was lighter in that Cooper used the 830 Series Repco as a semi-stressed member saving circa 100 pounds of weight overall inclusive of other changes compared to 600C. Gearbox is Hewland’s ubiquitous FT200 5-speed (AJ van Loon)

The Elfin 600 is a superb spaceframe chassis design which Cooper built for FF, F3, F2 and ANF1 Tasman 2.5 classes from 1968 to 1971. His previous single-seater, the Mono or Type 100, as the name suggests was a monocoque but customer demand for ease of maintenance and repair resulted in a very stiff, light spaceframe which evolved a bit over the 600’s long production run but in essence was the same from Cooper’s first 1968 Singapore GP winning #6801 chassis to the last built in 1971.

cooper mono

Garrie Cooper and Norm Butler with the prototype Mono Mk2 #6550 at Mallala. In the words of Bruce Allison “One of natures gentlemen, he was a pleasure to deal with and an honour to race against.” Monocoque chassis and pullrod suspension front and rear. Neither driver or mechanic have noticed the spectator in the cars nosecone (Spencer Lambert)

600’s won races in all classes and championships in FF and F2. Larry Perkins, for example, won the 1970 Formula Ford National Series in a 600 FF and the 1972 ANF2 title in a 600B/E Lotus/Ford twin-cam before seeking fame and fortune in British F3 in 1973.

600’s won the 1968 Singapore GP and the 1968 and 1969 Malaysian GP’s.

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Cooper 600D, AGP Warwick Farm November 1970. DNF fuel pump in the race won by Matich’s McLaren M10B Repco  (Lynton Hemer)

The roll call of 600 pilots includes many Australian and some international greats; Cooper, McCormack, Ramsay, Perkins, John Walker, Bruce Allison, Henk Woelders, Brian Sampson, Ivan Tighe, Richard Knight, Peter Larner, Richard Davison and many others. The cars are popular historic racers these days of course.

cooper 600

Cooper in the first 600, #6801 in the Sandown paddock during 1968, the car in which Garrie won the ’68 Malyasian GP. Look closely, the crop of the shot just gets in the tall, and very spindly looking high rear wing support (Jeff Morrall)

John McCormack (below) looking as pleased as punch with his new Repco 740 Series V8 in the Sandown Gold Star paddock.

It’s 13 September 1970, he was seventh that weekend, the race won by John Harvey’s Jane Repco V8. Mac started the season with his old Coventry Climax FPF in the back of his new car, he was fourth at Lakeside in June and fifth at Oran Park later that month before fitting the Repco engine in time for the September Warwick Farm round.

My Repco friend Rodway Wolfe tells the story of Mac picking up the Repco engine at their HQ’s Maidstone factory, and sticking it in the boot of his Ford Fairlane before retiring to a Footscray pub for a few cleansers with Rodway.

Mac then headed up the Western Highway for the eight hour trek back to Adelaide to instal the engine at Elfin’s Edwardstown factory. The chance of having the flash Fairlane ‘nicked in then very working-class Footscray complete with its valuable cargo was high!

mac

McCormack’s Elfin 600C Repco #7011 at Sandown on the 12/13 September 1970 weekend. #25 is another later Australian Gold Star champion’s car, John Walker’s Elfin 600B Ford. Engine is a 740 Series Repco 2.5 (Wolfe)

It was the start of a very long mutually fruitful relationship between the Taswegian and Repco which blossomed in the F5000 era with a succession of Elfins Mac pedalled with increasing pace as his driving matured. He also raced a Repco Leyland powered McLaren M23, a car I wrote about in detail a while back;

Mac’s McLaren: Peter Revson, Dave Charlton and John McCormack’s McLaren M23/2…

McCormack raced the 600 Repco in the Mallala final round won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59 Waggott, colliding with Bob Muir’s Mildren entered Mildren Yellow Submarine.

The McCormack 600C Repco at Phillip Island in 1970 (N Tait)

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McCormack, Elfin 600C Repco Warwick Farm 5/6 September 1970. Engine in this shot is the later (than 740 Series engine in the shot above) 730 Series (or 830?) Repco (Lynton Hemer)

Garrie Cooper, John McCormack and Malcolm Ramsay were all steerers of the 600 Repco’s in Gold Star events in 1969/70.

Cooper and McCormack were both champions, Mac one of the very best, none of them were ANF1 aces at the time, they were still learning their craft more powerful cars.

My theory is that an Elfin Sports Cars prepared 600 Repco woulda-coulda-shoulda won the Gold Star in 1969 and 1970 with any of Leo Geoghegan, Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart or John Harvey at the wheel.

A Kevin Bartlett driven 600 Repco could have won the 1970 Tasman, Frank Matich would have done the job as well of course. Indeed, FM would have given Amon, Rindt and Hill a run for their Tasman money in a 600 Repco in 1969. I know there are good commercial reasons why none of them drove Elfins in those years but that’s not my point, which is that with the right dude behind the wheel the cars were Tasman and Gold Star winners in 1969-70.

Still, ‘if yer Aunty had balls she’d be your Uncle’ as the Frank Gardner saying goes.

This is not a detailed treatise of the 600, that’s a much longer piece, for the moment this is a quickie on the three 600 Repco’s to go with some wonderful shots of a model which won a whole lot of races throughout Australasia but could have won a swag more ANF1/Tasman races with an ace behind the wheel.

In fact that last statement is NOT what the 600 was in the main about, which was a customer racing car which was quick straight-outta-the-box in the hands of a competent steerer with the settings Cooper’s highly-tuned-testing-arse built into the cars when they rolled out of his factory.

elfin 600

Space frame chassis, engines to customer choice or class dictates (FF,F3,F2, ANF1) gearboxes Hewland Mk9 or FT200, disc brakes all round, rack and pinion steering (unattributed)

image

Repco Brabham 830 Series 2.5-litre V8 (TNF)

Repco 830 Series 2.5-litre Tasman V8.

This is the ultimate spec Repco Tasman 2.5 engine developed for Jack Brabham’s ill-fated 1969 Tasman campaign, but first raced by him in the final ’68 Tasman round (Brabham BT23E) at Sandown. It comprises the 800 Series short block and 30 Series cross-flow heads.

In short Jack only raced his Brabham BT31 at Sandown as the car was stranded at the Port Melbourne docks inside its packing crate due to a wharfies-strike.

Read Rodway Wolfe’s account of this car here;

Brabham BT31 Repco: Jacks ’69 Tasman Car…by Rodway Wolfe

The engine was SOHC, two valve with chain driven cams. Fitted with Lucas fuel injection the engine developed 295bhp @ 9000rpm. Note the heavily ribbed block, and below, the ribbing socket head cap screws to cross-bolt the main bearing caps.

This engine is the Garrie Cooper Elfin 600D motor, its pictured in Elfin workshop ready for installation. It has the later Indy (760) sump assembly and combined oil pressure/scavenge pump.

image

Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco 7012 in the Warwick Farm Esses, September 1970, second in the race won by Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott (Lynton Hemer)

Race Record of the Repco powered Elfin 600’s…

When the first 600C was completed Garrie took it on an Asian Tour which was unsuccessful, he was fast but unreliable, failing to finish all the races he contested.

The results weren’t surprising as while the car had been fired up before the drive to Sydney and attachment its aircraft pallet, GC hadn’t had the chance to shake it down at Mallala. During practice in Singapore the car was losing oil, mechanic Bob Mills could see it but could not cross the track to signal Cooper. Garry felt the engine nip-up but it was too late to save its bearings and crank. A new crank and bearings were flown in, but incorrect baffling in the oil tank caused starvation so the car didn’t start. Graeme Lawrence won the race in his McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

In Malaysia for the Selangor GP, GC led the race until a misfire caused two pitstops for plugs, pushing hard to make up time Garrie popped a wheel off the bitumen and slid into a marshals post tearing off the right rear corner.

The car was repaired in Asia by Bob Mills, Garrie joined Mills in Japan for the Japanese Automobile Federation GP which was won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco. Cooper, second on the grid lead from the start ahead of Bartlett, Ikuzawa, Geoghegan, Roly Levis Brabham BT23 FVA and Max Stewart. GC misjudged his braking, getting the 600 bogged, restatred and then the Mlaysian misfire returned and he retied.

The car was then shipped to its new owner, Steve Holland in Hong Kong. The car was returned to Adelaide to have the rear wing mounted on the chassis instead of the suspension uprights in accordance with the new global regs post the FIA’s ’69 Monaco GP pronouncements.

Cooper borrowed the car for the fourth round of the 1969 Gold Star and led from flag to flag beating the best in Australia; Bartlett, Harvey, Geoghegan, Stewart, Allen and others despite the return of the hi-rev-range misfire later in the race. The problem was eventually diagnosed as a faulty fuel metering unit when the car later returned to Australia!

For 1970 Cooper built a lighter 600C and the 600D for his own use. Granton Harrison acquired the 600C from Steve Holland for Malcolm Ramsay to race. 600C 7011 was built for John McCormack’s car as related above.

mal

Mal Ramsay, Elfin 600C Repco spinner at Sandown’s Shell Corner during the 1970 Gold Star round Leo G, another car and Max Stewart in the distance (Jeff Nield-autopics.com)

Cooper’s car was running late for the 1970 Gold Star, shipped to Tasmania airfreight, he started from the rear of the Symmons Plains grid and then retired with a flat battery.

Garrie was ninth at Lakeside, his Repco misfired while in third place causing a change of plugs. Max Stewart took a Mildren Waggott win, Ramsay also retired with Mac fourth in the Climax engined 600C.

At Oran Park GC was third and Ramsay fourth, Cooper and Ramsay raced under the GT Harrison Racing Team banner. McCormack’s 600C Climax was fifth.

At Warwick Farm on 6 September Geoghegan won from Cooper, Bob Muir, Rennmax BN3 Waggott and Ramsay. Mac retired on lap eight, his car now Repco 740 powered but not running on-song.

Cooper was quickest in first practice at Sandown on 13 September but broke a cam follower. Geoghegan took pole from Ramsay, Muir and Cooper. In the race Geoghegan, Cooper and Muir contested second place while John Harvey disappeared in the Jane Repco V8, a car built on Bob Britton’s Brabham BT23 jig, a variant thereof if you will.

Etcetera…

mac

(Lynton Hemer)

John McCormack races his Elfin 600 Repco at the 1971 Warwick Farm 100, Tasman round.

That year the Tasman was dominated by F5000 machines albeit Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T won the Cup with a blend of speed and reliability the F5000s lacked.

McCormack’s was the last race in which a Repco engined 600 ran on the circuits at championship level (noting Roger Harrison’s 600C Repco Australian Hillclimb Championship win at Mount Cotton in 1983) it was the end of the marvellous 2.5-litre era.

McCormack, 600C 740, Phillip Island 1970 (N Tait)

Credits…

John Lemm, Rodway Wolfe Collection, Adrian van Loon, Bob Mills Collection, Lynton Hemer, Singapore National Archives, Oldracingcars.com

More Efin 600 reading in my April 2021 Auto Action article here; AUTO ACTION 1808 – Auto Action

Tailpiece…

gazz

Garrie Cooper’s 600D 7012, now Lotus/Ford Twin-Cam powered leads Vern Schuppan’s March 722 Ford during the 1972 Singapore GP on the wild Thomson Road Circuit.

He is heading through The Snakes, the car is sporting a bluff nose of the type Tyrrell made popular during 1971. Cooper fitted an evolution of this nose to the MR5 F5000’s raced during the ’72 Tasman by Cooper and McCormack.

Finally, Bruce Allison made the 600D Ford sing after Garrie was finished with it during his rise to the top…

Finito…

(S Dalton Collection)

Bluebird Proteus CN7 and its little brother, Elfin Catalina Ford chassis #6313 during the 1963 unsuccessful attempt to set the Land Speed Record at Lake Eyre, South Australia…

The driver of the Elfin Catalina is Ted Townsend, a Dunlop tyre fitter. The car was built by Garrie Cooper and his artisans at Edwardstown, an Adelaide suburb for Dunlop Tyres to use on the Lake Eyre salt to assist in determining certain characteristics of the tyres fitted to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird during 1963/4.

The Elfin Catalina’s normal use was in Formula Junior or 1.5-litre road racing events. In LSR test application it was fitted with miniature Bluebird tyres and driven over the salt to determine factors such as the coefficient of friction and adhesion using a Tapley meter.

“The Tapley Brake Test Meter is a scientific instrument of very high accuracy, still used today. It consists of a finely balanced pendulum free to respond to any changes in speed or angle, working through a quadrant gear train to rotate a needle round a dial. The vehicle is then driven along a level road at about 20 miles per hour, and the brakes fully applied. When the vehicle has stopped the brake efficiency reading can be taken from the figure shown by the recording needle on the inner brake scale, whilst stopping distance readings are taken from the outer scale figures.”

It’s generally thought the Elfin was running a (relatively) normal pushrod 1500cc Cortina engine with a Cosworth A3 cam and Weber DCOE carburettors for the Bluebird support runs.

And yes, the number of Elfin’s chassis was 6313. Was Donald Campbell aware of this? Certainly that could explain to the deeply superstitious man how on earth torrential rain came to this vast, dry place where rain had not fallen in the previous 20 years.

Dunlop’s Ted Townsend aboard the company Elfin Catalina. Car fitted with 13 inch versions of the 52 inch Bluebird wheels and tyres. Photo at Muloorina Station perhaps (Dunlop)
(S Dalton Collection)

Australian motoring/racing journalist, racer and rally driver Evan Green project managed the successful July 1964 record attempt on behalf of Oz oil company Ampol, who were by then Bluebird’s major sponsor. He wrote a stunning account of his experience that winter on the Lake Eyre salt which was first published in Wheels April 1981 issue.

His account of Andrew Mustard and his teams contribution to the project is interesting and ultimately controversial from Campbell’s perspective.

Andrew was Dunlop’s representative during the 1963 Lake Eyre campaign, he returned in 1964 as a contractor with the very large responsibility for the tyre preparation and maintenance of the circa 22 km long salt track.

Green describes the incredibly harsh conditions under which the team worked “…Mustard…spent weeks with his men on the salt, working in the sort of reflected heat that few people could imagine let alone tolerate…Men frozen at dawn were burned black at midday. Lips were cracked and refused to heal. Faces set in leathery masks, creased by the wrinkles of perpetual squints.”

Evan Green picks up the challenges the track team faced, “The maddest thing is what’s being done to the track,” said Lofty Taylor, the gangling leader of the refuelling team. Lofty worked for Ampol, and I’d known him since the Ampol Trial days. l had enormous respect for his opinion. He was practical, versatile, prepared to move mountains if asked and yet able to detect the faintest whiff of cant at long distance.

He admitted he knew nothing about grading salt but pointed out that neither did anyone else, for the science of building record tracks on salt lakes was in its infancy. And he reckoned he knew as much about it as anyone else.

“They’ve been cutting salt off the top all the time,” he said. “All that grading and cutting is weakening it, and bringing moisture to the top.”

“What would you do, Lofty?” “Leave it alone for a while. Let the crust heal and harden.”

The track squad was ruffled. The problem, they said, was due to the constant interruptions to their work. They couldn’t get the surface right with the car (Bluebird) running every other day and cutting grooves in the salt. So runs were suspended. Andrew Mustard’s team would pursue their theories and have a clear week to try to bring the track up to record standard. Donald took some of the crew to Adelaide, for a few days break and all seemed calm. In fact, a major storm was brewing.

Massive 52 inch wheels and Dunlop tyres, the weight was huge, note the neat hydraulic lift to allow their fitment (unattributed)
(F Radman Collection)
Andrew Mustard aboard the Elfin on the salt- note Catalina’s rear drum brakes (Catalina Park)

“Mustard had brought an Elfin racing car to the lake. It was fitted with tyres that had scaled-down versions of the tread being used on Bluebird. He drove it to test such things as tread temperature and the coefficient of friction of the salt surface at different times of the day.

He usually drove the little single-seater down the strip before Campbell made a test run. On one occasion, he was driving the Elfin up the strip when Campbell was driving the Bluebird down the strip and the world’s highest speed head-on collision was avoided by a whisker, with a sheepish Mustard – spotting the rooster tail of white salt spray bearing down on him – spinning off the track.”

“One day during the lull, Ken Norris (Bluebird’s designer) and I went to the lake to see how the track work was progressing. To our astonishment, we found the CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) timekeepers and stewards assembled at their record posts,” wrote Green.

“Andrew’s going for his records,” one of them said, and, seeing our bewilderment, gave us that ‘don’t tell me you don’t know about it look’. It seemed there had been an application made for attempts on various Australian class records for categories suiting the Elfin. Neither Ken nor I knew anything of it. Nor, it seemed, did Campbell, and when he returned that night there was an eruption. The track squad was sacked and Lofty Taylor given the job of preparing the strip.”

“What do you suggest?” I asked Lofty. “We should all go away for a couple of weeks and let the salt alone.”

Enjoy Greens full story of this remarkable endeavour of human achievement, via the link at the end of the article, but lets come back to Mustard and the Elfin, he wasn’t finished with it yet!

When the 1964 Bluebird record attempts were completed, Mustard, of North Brighton in Adelaide bought the Elfin from Dunlop.

It was in poor condition as a result of its work on the Lake Eyre salt, with the magnesium based uprights quite corroded. It was repaired over the end of 1963-64 and a single Norman supercharger fitted.

The car was then raced at Mallala race and for 1500cc record attempts in 1964 using the access road alongside the main hangars at Edinburgh Airfield (Weapons Research Establishment) at Salisbury, South Australia. The northern gates of the airfield were opened by the Australian Federal Police to give extra stopping distance. By then the specifications of the Norman supercharged Elfin included;

• a single air-cooled Norman supercharger driven by v-belts developing around 14psi. The v-belts were short lived, burning out in around thirty seconds,

• four exhaust stubs, with the middle two siamesed,

• twin Amal carburettors,

• a heavily modified head by Alexander Rowe (a Speedway legend and co-founder of the Ramsay-Rowe Special midget) running around 5:1 compression and a solid copper head gasket/decompression plate. The head had been worked within an inch of it’s life and shone like a mirror. The head gasket on the other hand was a weak spot, lasting only twenty seconds before failing. As runs had to be performed back-to-back within an hour, the team became very good at removing the head, annealing the copper gasket with an oxy torch and buttoning it all up again inside thirty minutes.

The Norman supercharged Elfin, operated by Mustard and Michael McInerney set the following Australian national records during it’s Salisbury runs on October 11, 1964:

• the flying start kilometre record (16.21s, 138mph),

• the flying start mile record (26.32s, 137mph), and

• the standing start mile record (34.03s, 106mph).

This was not 6313’s only association with Norman superchargers. The Elfin was later modified to have:

• dual air-cooled Norman superchargers (identical to the single Norman used earlier), mounted over the gearbox. The superchargers were run in parallel, with a chain drive. The chain drive was driven by a sprocket on the crank, running up to a slave shaft that ran across to the back of the gearbox to drive the first supercharger, then down to drive the second. The boost pressure in this configuration had risen to 29psi,

• two 2″ SU carburettors (with four fuel bowls) jetted for methanol by Peter Dodd (another Australian Speedway legend and owner of Auto Carburettor Services),

• a straight cut first gear in a VW gearbox. The clutch struggled to keep up with the torque being put out by the Norman blown Elfin, and was replaced with a 9” grinding disk, splined in the centre and fitted with brass buttons, it was either all in, or all out!

In twin Norman supercharged guise the racer was driven by McInerney to pursue the standing ¼ mile, standing 400m and flying kilometre records in October 1965. Sadly, the twin-Norman blown Elfin no longer holds those records, as the ¼ mile and flying kilometre (together with a few more records) were set at this time by Alex Smith in a Valano Special.

The day after the 1965 speed record trials (Labour Day October 1965), McInerney raced the twin-Norman supercharged Elfin at Mallala in Formule Libre as there was insufficient time to revert the engine back to Formula II specifications. The photo above shows McInerney at Mallala.

The car was used for training South Australian Police Force driving instructors in advanced handling techniques, and was regularly used at Mallala and other venues (closed meetings for the Austin 7 club, etc).

It was sold by Mustard to racer/rally driver Dean Rainsford in 1966, by then without the Norman supercharger it ran a mildly tuned Cortina engine. In the ensuing 26 years it passed through nine more owners before Rainsford re-acquired it in 1993. After many years of fossicking he found the original 1965 Mustard/McInerney supercharged engine but sadly without it’s Norman supercharger.

The Elfin is retained by Rainsford and is often on display in his Adelaide office. The car made a rare public appearance at Melbourne’s 2014 Motorclassica to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Campbell’s land and water speed records set in Australia. The car was amongst other Campbell memorabilia.

Evan Green: ‘How Donald Campbell Broke The World LSR on Lake Eyre’…

https://www.whichcar.com.au/features/classic-wheels/classic-wheels-donald-campbell-and-his-bluebird-car-world-speed-record

Etcetera…

Credits…

Article by Evan Green originally published in Wheels magazine April 1981, Andrew Mustard thread on The Nostalgia Forum particularly the contributions of Stephen Dalton, Fred Radman, Theotherharv and Mark Dibben. Stephen Dalton, Fred Radman and Catalina Park Photo Collections, Dunlop

Tailpiece: Elfin Catalina Ford ‘6313’, Motorclassica 2014…

(Pinterest)

Finito…

1961 Ardmore Sports Car Trophy race – Le Mans start (B Hanna)

“The Le Mans start of the Sports Car Trophy Race (above) at Ardmore, 7 January 1961 (the VIII New Zealand Grand Prix meeting) seen from the pit lane. Angus Hyslop is aboard his Jaguar #100 and Doug Lawrence in the Cooper Bobtail #55 seem to be a couple of steps ahead of Malcolm Gill in the 5.2-litre four cylinder Lycoming Special #37. But Gill ran out the winner, with Hyslop second.”

Angus Hyslop was a champion Kiwi driver who shone brightly before returning to his farming career, see here for an article which provides some context to what follows; 1962 Lakeside International and Angus Hyslop… | primotipo…

The late Bill Hanna was Hyslop’s team manager/mechanic during 1961 when Angus was awarded the NZ Driver To Europe Scholarship. In between his fettling and organisational responsibilities Bill shot these marvellous colour transparencies in New Zealand and in Europe. Thanks to the efforts of Alec Hagues – Bill’s son-in-law – we can now tell the tale and share these never-before-seen Hanna family photographs.

This is the first of three articles written by Alec I’ll upload over the next month. A million thanks to him and his family for choosing primotipo to share these words and pictures publicly. They are magic timepieces from motorsport and lifestyles-of-the-day perspectives. I’ve fiddled with the photo captions in a few cases to flesh-out car model/specs, any errors are mine. Enjoy! Over to Alec…

“Meanwhile, having collected a 1958-built Cooper T45-Climax 1964cc from Syd Jensen in Kairanga at the end of 1960, Angus ran both the Cooper and his Jaguar D-Type XKD534 in the 1961 New Zealand Championship meetings.”

“The grandstand in the background identifies this as Levin, most likely on 14 January 1961, the Cooper and two Jaguars belonging to the Hyslop team are pictured above.

The 2nd Levin International that day was won by Jo Bonnier – and his distinctive 2.5-litre Cooper T51 Climax #2 creeps into the corner of this shot below, probably taken from the same spot as that above, but in the opposite direction to the first.”

(B Hanna)

“Conditions at Wigram on 21 January 1961 were less than ideal for photography, but given Angus’s famous performance in the Lady Wigram Trophy (third place to Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss and first Kiwi home) and the appearance of the Cooper’s former owner, Syd Jensen, Bill can’t let the day go unrecorded! Angus and Syd (left) are shown below with the speedy Cooper T45 on a frosty, soggy Kiwi summer day.”

Syd Jensen and Angus Hyslop (B Hanna)
Angus’s Cooper T45-Climax on Andersons Bay Road, Dunedin (B Hanna)

“Andersons Bay Road, Dunedin, the Festival Road Race on 28 January 1961. The Bob Smith or Frank Shuter Ferrari 555/625 (help folks) #46 and Arthur Moffatt’s Lotus 15 Climax #41 are behind Angus’ Cooper in the roadside pits.

Brian Prescott’s race ended against a brick wall on lap 29; this is his (formerly shark-nosed) Piccolo Maserati 250F #29 shown below.

The introduction to the NZ National Film Unit’s ‘New Zealand Grand Prix’ short film was shot in Dunedin that day, with the Sports Car and Feature races both covered – in the film we see Denny Hulme cross the line in first place in the latter event. New Zealand Grand Prix | Short Film | NZ On Screen

Accident damage to Brian Prescott’s Maserati 250F (B Hanna)
#19 Pat Hoare, #20 Denny Hulme, #3 Jo Bonnier, #1 Angus Hyslop, #33 Len Gilbert (B Hanna)

“The front row at Teretonga, 4 February 1961: Pat Hoare, Ferrari 246/256 3-litre V12 #19, Denny Hulme, Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 #20 and winner, Jo Bonnier’s Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 #3. Just behind them are Angus #1 and Len Gilbert, Maserati 250F #33. Other colour pictures of this race have been seen online, but this shot is simply too good to leave out.

The sports car race on the same day below with Ivy Stephenson’s Buckler Le Mans #38 prominent, but the ubiquitous Lycoming, Doug Lawrence’s Cooper Bobtail, Ross Jensen’s Daimler Dart, F P Harris’s MG TF and David Young’s Jaguar C-Type are in there with Angus’s Jaguar too.”

(B Hanna)

“Waimate on 11 February 1961 was another meeting held in the wet… and it seems that Bill didn’t feel like getting his camera out. Pat Hoare won the third Waimate 50 in his Ferrari V12, Denny Hulme already had the Gold Star in the bag so didn’t participate.”

Fay, Bruce Webster’s Cooper-Porsche, the Hyslop Cooper-Climax and Jaguar D-Type, Ahuriri 18 February 1961 (B Hanna)

“Back home now to South Pond paddock at Ahuriri for the Napier Road Races of 18 February 1961.

In the Hastings team corner, above, we see Bruce Webster’s Cooper-Porsche and again Angus’s Cooper and Jaguar. That’s Bill’s wife Fay, a familiar face at motor racing events at this time. Note the somewhat crude last-minute number changes to #111 and #151 – Angus obviously wasn’t keen to be #46 as suggested by the day’s programme. Pat Hoare entered too late to be in the programme, but ended up winning the feature race in his awesome ex-works F1 Ferrari Dino 246 powered by a 3-litre V12.

This is surely later the same day below… but what happened?

Angus sold XKD534 to Simon Taylor after the next meeting at Ohakea on 25 February 1961 and ended the New Zealand season with third place in the Gold Star and second in the Sports Car Championship to Malcolm Gill. Angus and Bill pack the Cooper up for the long voyage to Europe…and it is never seen in New Zealand again.”

(B Hanna)

To be continued, trust me, if it’s possible, the photographs get even better…

Credits…

Photographs, the late Bill Hanna, words Alec Hagues

Finito…

Note ‘bi-hi’ wings mounted to the rear uprights, and front top suspension inner mounting point. Hewland FT200 gearbox (P Strauss Collection)

“A photograph is everything!” Doug Nye told a group of us several months ago when we were arguing the toss about some knotty identification problem...

My Repco Brabham Engines buddy, Rodway Wolfe and I wrote the ‘definitive article’ on Jack’s Brabham BT31 Repco, his 1969 Tasman mount years ago. You’d think that would be easy enough given it only raced twice in-period, see here for the masterpiece; Brabham BT31 Repco: Jacks ’69 Tasman Car…by Rodway Wolfe | primotipo…

We thought the car was assembled and run for the first time in Australia a couple of days after Rodway helped Jack unpack the wooden MRD box in which BT31-1 was shipped to Port Melbourne, and put it together at RBE’s Melbourne factory between February 12-14, 1969.

But no!

Photographs from Peter Strauss’ collection, custodian of BT31 for 15 years or so, clearly show that the car was tested (by Jack) at Goodwood in late 1968 before being pulled apart, packed into the wooden box then shipped far-far away for Jack and Rodway to open at Maidstone on February 12, 1969.

(S Dalton Collection)

This short UK BT31 chapter was covered by Autosport in their January 3, 1969 issue, found by my friend, ace researcher/writer Stephen Dalton.

“The Brabham BT31, MRD’s (Motor Racing Developments – Brabham) new Tasman car, is based on the BT28 F3 design but with 1.75 ins more wheelbase, larger brake discs and calipers, a different engine bay to accommodate the four-cam (actually SOHC, two-valve) 85mm x 55mm Repco RB830 V8 engine, and twin side fuel tanks. The RB830 develops 290bhp at 9000rpm and uses twin Mallory distributors.”

“The engine top bay tubes detach to facilitate engine removal, and side radiator outlets are included. Wheels are 13-ins diameter with 9-ins front rims and 14-ins rears. The car has been tested at Goodwood, and a full kit of suspension, chassis, gearbox and body components has been sent to Australia to be built up locally for Jack Brabham to drive at the Warwick Farm and Sandown rounds of the Tasman Series.”

Over the years Peter told various people his car had run in the UK. Those-in-the-know, including yours truly, thought Strauss had his-hand-on-it (a colloquial Australian expression suggestive of the telling of a porky-pie).

“When I bought the car off the previous American owner a lot of photographs came with it including those two. I was told the pit-shots may have been Snetterton, it will be interesting to find out where they are.” A learned group of British historians confirm the circuit as Goodwood.

I’ve got to know Peter quite well during Covid, it’s funny how many new-Covid-buddies I have. We dealt with the business of the day recently, then he showed me his BT31 photo album, he flicked through the first few pages, then paused on one particular spread…

“Fuck me dead!” I said, rather loudly. It’s another vulgar colloquial expression, of surprise actually. I might add that I wasn’t issuing an invitation to poor Peter.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, but instantly knew what I was looking at! What was it that nice Mr Nye said about photographs as a source of fact rather than the written word?…

(P Strauss Collection)

Postscript…

Peter has three Brabhams, BT31, a BT11A Climax 2.5 FPF and an FJ BT6 Ford Cosworth 1100, lucky bugger. Along the way he met Messrs Brabham and Tauranac, individually and collectively quite a few times.

Brabham is on-the-record – a number of times in conversations with different individuals and groups of people – as saying that had they (MRD, BRO and Repco Brabham Engines) stuck with another simple SOHC, 3-litre V8 in 1968 rather than raced the under-developed, four-cam, 32-valve 3-litre 860 V8 powered BT26 they could have won another world title. That is three-on-the-trot, 1967-1968, rather than two in 1966-1967.

I don’t doubt that Jack said it but the notion doesn’t stack up. Ford Cosworth V8 engined Lotus, McLaren and Matras won every round of the 1968 World Championship with the exception of the French GP which went to Ickx’ Ferrari 312 V12.

In fact the Brabham Racing Organisation did race a simple SOHC BT24 740 (BT24-3) on several occasions in early ’68 while awaiting BT26 to come on stream. At Kyalami it was Q5 and DNF engine for Brabham, in Spain Q9 and DNF oil pressure for Rindt, Monaco Q5 and DNF accident for Rindt. At Zandvoort Dan Gurney returned to the Brabham fold for just that meeting. Dan popped the car 12th on the grid but DNF with throttle problems. For the sake of completeness, Jochen used it at Brands during British GP practice before Kurt Ahrens raced it at the Nurburgring to 12th place under the Caltex Racing Team banner.

So, to Jack’s point, the Brabham Racing Organisation raced a simple SOHC car in 1968 on five occasions, the best the circa 330bhp machine could do among seven or eight 400bhp Ford Cosworth V8 engined cars was a couple of fifths on the grid…

(P Strauss)

Strauss picks up that vein, relating a conversation he had with Ron Tauranac “At Eastern Creek about 2014. While Ron Tauranac (above) was trying to figure out how to make BT31 run cooler, he mentioned that he had built a few cars (sic!) but recalls that they (MRD) were building a car for the ’68 (F1) season, smaller than usual to save weight and make it more slippery. He found out that fuel cells were going to be mandatory which meant that the BT31 would not comply as the tanks were wrapped around chassis members and could not fit bladders.”

A 3-litre 830 engined BT31 is an interesting theory/coulda been but RBE mechanics/engineers have long said that no 3-litre 830 V8 was ever built by RBE in-period, they were all Tasman 2.5s. Some 3-litres (and larger) were built in the modern era by Don Halpin and perhaps others.

Further, the F1 bag-tank rules RT alluded to were mandated from the start of 1970, not 1968 or 1969. This FIA requirement effectively forced Tauranac to part with the spaceframes he had hitherto used to such good effect in F1. His 1970 monocoque BT33 was rather a good thing too, whilst noting his 1968-69 BT25 Indycar used an aluminium monocoque too.

Credits…

Peter Strauss, Autosport, Stephen Dalton

Tailpiece…

(P Strauss Collection)

Brabham at Bathurst during the Easter 1969 Gold Star round, won convincingly by Jack who practiced with various wing combinations and permutations but raced BT31 as above.

One of the various what-ifs about this car is whether, suitably updated, he could have won the 1970 Tasman Series with it? This ignores the fact that his Repco deal was over and Betty probably would have shot him if he had raced that summer rather than chilled with the kids at the beach…

It was quick enough to win the ’70 Tasman Cup mind you.

Maybe.

Finito…