Superb, evocative Gnoo Blas shot. Ross Dalton, C-Type Jag, February 1960 (John Ellacott)

Gnoo Blas actually! Ross Dalton and his Jaguar C-Type, February 1960…

Gnoo Blas was a circuit around the public roads of Bloomfield Hospital in Orange, in the Central West region of New South Wales, 250km west of Sydney. Gnoo Blas is the aboriginal name of Mount Canoblas nearby.

The superb opening photo, taken by John Ellacott, is one of those ‘ the more you look the more you see shots’.

Note the ‘fag’ between the driver’s fingers, plastic raincoat, overloaded control tower, Kombi with ‘tarp drying on top, official with ‘cuppa. All are about as far from Bernie’s ‘manicured paddocks and corporate scene’ as it’s possible to be. And thank the good Lord above for that.

As the Australian economy recovered from World War 2 and disposable incomes increased, together with the availability of consumer credit, motor racing and racing circuits were opportunities for individuals and communities alike. Circuits popped up all over the place. Oranges’ ‘Cherry Blossom Committee’ saw an opportunity to establish a circuit as the promoters of the Easter Bathurst meeting ‘up the road’, the ‘Australian Sporting Car Club’ were in dispute with local Bathurst authorities and were looking for an alternative venue.

The 6.03km, triangular shaped circuit opened in January 1953, the ‘South Pacific Road Racing Championship’ attracted 12,500 spectators.

All of the stars of the period raced there including Prince Bira, Peter Whitehead, Tony Gaze, Ted Gray, Doug Whiteford and Jack Brabham who made his road racing debut there in 1952 in a Cooper Mk IV and held the lap record until the circuits’ final meeting.

John Boorman on the way to a win in XKC037, Gnoo Blas 1955 (J Psaros)



(Orange & District Historical Society)

The shot of above shows the atmosphere of the place and time. John Medley IDs the shot as lap 1 of the 1955 South Pacific Championship, ‘Brabham leading Whitehead- a remarkable performance.’ F2 Cooper T23 Bristol from F Libre Ferrari 500/625.

Dwindling crowds, debts owed to the original investors and difficulties in renewing the track licence with the NSW police led to the circuits closure in October 1961, the lap record was then held by Jon Leighton’s Cooper Climax at 105.2 mph. One era and circuit closed with Warwick Farm shortly to open in Western Sydney, another era commenced.


Reg Hunt on the way to victory in the South Pacific Championship on 30 January 1956. Maserati 250F. Check out the ‘steaming train’, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ van, the general oh-so-casual scene. Road racing at its best (Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club)

South Pacific Road Racing Championships 1956…

One of the best promoted meetings was the ‘South Pacific Road Racing Championship’ contested on 30 January 1956.

20,000 spectators crowded into Orange on race day to see a quality field of cars and drives; Reg Hunt in his new Maserati 250F, Jack Brabham and Ken Neal in Cooper Bristols, Curley Brydon Ferrari 125, Stan Jones in Maybach 3 and Alf Harvey in the ex-Bira Oscar V12.

Hunt dominated, he lapped the field, took the fastest lap and set the highest top speed at160mph over the ‘Flying Quarter’. Jones withdrew with a ‘leg out of bed’, a rod poking outside the block of the precious 6-cylinder engine. Brabham and Neal were second and third in their Cooper Bristols.


Gnoo Blas European Exotica. Alf Harvey’s ex-Bira OSCA V12 ahead of Curley Brydon’s Ferrari 125, South Pacific Championship, January 1956 (Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club)


Ex-Works/Gardner/Matich Jaguar ‘XKC037’…

gardner boorman c type tomago

pwoooaaah! Boys will be boys. XKC037 during John Boorman’s ownership at a meeting at Tomago Airstrip, near Newcastle NSW, 1955 (Dick Willis)

The ‘happy chappy’ in the Jaguar in the first photo at the top is Ross Dalton who acquired the car from Frank Matich. ‘XKC037’ started life as a works car. It was built as a standard specification reserve 1953 Le Mans entry in case the advanced lightweight cars under development failed in testing (XKC038 and XKC039 were built for the same purpose).

Stirling Moss raced it at Silverstone in May 1953 and rolled it. XKC037 was then rebodied and sold to the Kenyan Coca Cola bottler John Marussis who entered it at Reims but wrecked it at Dundrod.

Rebuilt again, it was then sold via 1951 Le Mans winner, Peter Whitehead to Cessnock, New South Wales doctor, John Boorman.

Frank Gardner bought the car as an insurance write-off after it was involved in a fatal accident. Gardner recalled in a ‘Motorsport’ interview ‘…Boorman hit a Ford Customline, killed the (two) occupants and ended up down a ravine (near Tamworth NSW)…I wrote to Jaguar asking for information so i could rebuild it… a few weeks later a package arrived with all the drawings so I knew which way to go to get it sorted’.

‘I did it right because even then a proper C Type meant something and i thought if i bastardise this thing it will look like cleaning up a bloody Rembrandt with aftershave lotion! But I couldn’t get it to run cool so I altered the radiator grille a bit…’

Former Cessnock resident Michael Hickey identifies this shot as Allandale Road, Cessnock. Equipe Boorman- C Type and Mk7 Jags, is on the way to Mount Panorama in 1955- he raced in both the Easter and October meetings (Jaguar Magazine)


Boorman at Mount Panorama, Bathurst date uncertain (unattributed)


FG in ‘XKC037’ when first rebuilt and fitted with one of Frank’s XK120 grilles and fibreglass bonnet, circuit unknown (unattributed)

The C Type replaced FG’s lightweight XK120 Jaguar and was an important stepping stone in the careers of both he and Matich, both progressed to ‘D Types’ after the ‘C’.

Years later ‘XKC037’ was acquired by Sydney Jaguar identity, Ian Cummins who completed its restoration in the mid ’70’s. It left our shores in 1984 for a sum considerably greater than the £2000 Ross Dalton paid in 1960!

‘C Type’ Jags won Le Mans upon debut in 1951 and again in ’53.

fm c type leatons servo

Frank Matich in ‘XKC037’ out the front of the cars owners, Leatons Motors workshop, 351 Stony Creek Road, Kingsgrove, Sydney in October 1958. What a shot! Love the Energol ‘The Oiliest Oil’ sign (John Ellacott)

Etcetera: ‘XKC037’…

boorman tomago

(Dick Willis)

Dr John Boorman, ‘XKC037’ at Tomago Airstrip, NSW 9 April 1955.

(J Psaros)

Frank Gardner at Mount Panorama in 1957.


(John Ellacott)

Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S chases Frank Gardner’s Jag ‘XKC037’ at Mount Druitt, November 1957.


FG ascending Silverdale Hillclimb during the 1957 NSW Hillclimb Championships, he won his class and was quicker than Arnold Glass in the ex-Lex Davison Australian Grand Prix winning HWM Jaguar.

fm mount druitt

(John Ellacott)

Frank Matich Jag C during private practice at Mt Druitt, Sydney in 1959.

fm c bathurst

(Kevin Drage)

The engine of ‘XKC037’ as raced by Frank Matich for Leaton Motors at the October 1958 Bathurst meeting.

The car contested the Australian Tourist Trophy, FM finished fourth, David McKay won the race in his second, ex-works Aston Martin DB3S.


Advertorial 50’s style! The Leaton Motors Team on the cover of Australia’s ‘Sports Car World’ magazine; the Austin Lancer dvr Brian Foley, AH Sprite dvr Doug Chivas and ‘XKC037’ dvr Frank Matich. (Sports Car World)

The current owner of this wonderful car, John Corrie, recently (March 2015) got in touch and sent these shots of the C Type, great to see it still being raced, Messrs Gardner, Matich and Dalton would be pleased!

xkc oodwood 2

David Brazell in John Corries’, ‘XKC037’, Goodwood Track day practising for the 2013 Revival meeting. (Chris Perrett)


xkc good wood

Superb shot in the English Summer…’Goodwood Revival 2013 during the Freddie March Trophy which was stopped after an hour the weather turned really bad’. David Brazell in John Corries car. (Chris Perrett)


xkc home

‘XKC037’ looking rather more immaculate than in its days as a workhorse for Frank Gardner and Frank Matich in Australia. (John Corrie)

jag c cutaway

‘C Type’ cutaway drawing (Jaguar Heritage)

Etcetera: Gnoo Blas 1960 Australian Touring Car Championship meeting…



Start of the one race, very first, Australian Touring Car Championship at Gnoo Blas on 1 February 1960.

Left to right are the Jag Mk1’s of Ron Hodgson, Bill Pitt and David McKay from pole who won the race.

Hodgson led early, the three Jags pulled away from the rest of the field- he ran wide and the other two spun at ‘Windsock’ on lap 1 then he did the same on lap 2 letting McKay and Pitt through. Max Volkers was fourth in his Holden FJ and Pete Geoghegan fifth in his Holden 48-215 until head gasket failure intervened.

By lap 14 McKay had a 26 second lead over Pitt, then rain fell catching Ron Sawyer’s Holden FJ out- he spun on the crest of Connaghans Corner hitting the inside bank and rolling- help was at hand when Des West stopped to assist the hapless driver from the car. McKay’s path was blocked by a Ford Zephyr which had also stopped (driver unknown) ‘McKay used his car to move the Zephyr out of the way’.

Further excitement occurred on the following lap when McKay spun yielding the lead to Pitt but the overdrive mechanism on that car began to fail allowing David McKay to regain the lead 2 laps from the end, he won the race six seconds ahead of Pitt with Ron Hodgson a minute in arrears then came Max Volkers a lap down in fourth.

(Ian Lord Collection)




finch d type

David Finch, Jag XKD Type ,Windsock Corner, Gnoo Blas 1960. (Don Read Collection)


gnoo blas


‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, John Medley, Michael Hickey

Photo Credits…

John Ellacott, Jaguar Heritage, Orange & District Historical Society, Paul Cross, Don Read Collection, Dick Willis, Chris Perrett, John Corrie, Frank Gardner ‘Motorsport’ magazine interview March 2008, Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club, Jock Psaros, Jaguar Magazine, Ian Lord Collection


  1. John Corrie says:

    Mark – this blog contains two fantastic shots of XKC037; some of the very best I’ve seen. I am the current owner of the car, which is now back in the UK and used for various tours and events including the Goodwood Revival. I would love to obtain some high res images of the two pictures so that I could get them printed and framed to hang on the wall in the garage by the car. Are you able to let me have them?

    • markbisset says:

      Lucky Boy! wonderful car. Both photographers, John Ellacott and Dick Willis are still alive but I don’t have contact details. I will make some enquiries to see if I can get addresses. Both shots were sourced on-line and attributed, so I don’t have high res scans. Would you mind sending a couple of shots of the car now and I will update the article? mark@bisset.com.au. Will revert when I have sussed addresses. M

  2. John Corrie says:

    Will do.

  3. Rob says:


    Based on photos pubished in “The offical history – Australian Touring Car Championship – 50 Years”, it would seem that each of the Jaguars in the 1960 ATCC race at Gnoo Blas was a Mk 1 rather than a Mk 2.

  4. Rob says:


    The Tony Gaze site at http://www.tonygaze.com/ has the above image of “Gaze racing a Ferrari at the Gnoo Blas Circuit…” captioned as “Tony in his Ferrari 500/625 at Wigram New Zealand 1956”. I don’t think it was taken at Orange as Gaze ran No 4 on his Ferrari when he ran it at the NSW circuit in 1955.



    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Rob, As you can see the caption wherever I found the shot was wrong it seems. I wonder if he raced it at Gnoo Blas more than once, in any event let’s assume the Gaze site is right! Will delete it, regards, Mark

  5. Rob says:


    With regard to the caption under the 1960 Australian Touring Car Championship photo, I don’t believe that the leading cars are “Jag Mk2’s”. Looking at the 1960 ATCC images published in “The official history – Australian Touring Car Champinship – 50 Years” I would say that the McKay, Pitt and Hodgson cars were all Jaguar Mark 1s. The wide, body-coloured B pillars are the most obvious pointer to these being the earlier cars ,with Mark 2s having narrower, chromed B pillars.



    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Rob,
      I wouldn’t know the difference between the two models, thanks for that, will change.
      I should stay clear of ‘taxis’ I’ve no interest in them at all really!
      Nice to do the occasional article though, I guess.

  6. Terry Larson says:

    Mark, Thanks for posting this interesting article. This is a car i know well. I did a major restoration on XKC 037 in the early 90s. It is a fantastic car with wonderful history. I have been the caretaker of XKC 017 for 30 years now. I have over 100 races on the car (with only 1 DNF) and thousands of road miles. The C Type is one of the most iconic cars ever built.

    Terry Larson

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Terry,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article- lucky boy to own XKC017, am intrigued to know the history of that particular chassis.
      We were lucky in Australia to have so many C and especially D Types here for decades but pretty much all have left our shores progressively since the mid-seventies- such is the global collectable market.
      Thanks for getting in touch.

  7. […] David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 is another car which has been well covered in these pages, here at Albert Park it has not been in the country long at all. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/ […]

  8. John Medley says:

    Opening pic shows Lap 1 of main race, Brabham narrowly leading Whitehead– a remarkable performance….

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks John,
      Have changed the caption accordingly. John Ellacott’s opening shot still blows me away. One of my favourites of all of the thousands of photographs i’ve popped up.

  9. […] He won the lap race from Bill Pitt’s Mk1 3.4 and Ron Hodgson’s Mk1 3.8 it was the second Australian Touring Car Championship, the first was won by Tom Brady’s Singer Bantam at Lobethal way back in January 1939. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/ […]

  10. […] We’ve done Bob’s 300S before, no point making you suffer again; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/ Gee-whizz, there is this masterpiece on Gnoo Blas too, a bit of a mess, she’s clearly grown like topsy over time but in a most un-savoury kinda-way; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/ […]

  11. Bruce Hugh Polain says:

    Hello Mark
    Reference your spelling of Curley Brydon – it looked wrong to me so dragged down my 1947 bound volume of AMS and yes – in those days it was Curly Brydon. Love what you are doing – Cheers…BP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s