Archive for August, 2014

dalton

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)

 

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(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.

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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.

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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’…

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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.

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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’…

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(Dick Willis)

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

(J Psaros)

Frank Gardner at Mount Panorama in 1957.

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(John Ellacott)

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

(unattributed)

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.

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(John Ellacott)

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

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(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.

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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!

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

 

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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)

 

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

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‘C Type’ cutaway drawing (Jaguar Heritage)

Etcetera: Gnoo Blas 1960 Australian Touring Car Championship meeting…

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(Unattributed)

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)

 

 

 

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

 

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Bibliography…

‘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

Finito…

ronnie & col

Colin Chapman and Ronnie Peterson ‘chewing the fat’ on the French GP grid, Clermont Ferrand 1972. Car is a March 721G Ford, Peterson finished 4th in the race won by Jackie Stewart (Pinterest)

‘C’mon Ronnie, its time to move to Hethel?! Other than Bernard Charles Ecclestone there were few people with Lotus boss Colin Chapmans’ charm, and powers of  pursuation when it suited him…

I doubt the weather was the topic of conversation! Ronnie learn’t his F1 stuff with March, starting with a quasi-works 701 in 1970, but the 721G, on which he is leaning, was an F2 car onto which a Ford Cosworth engine was grafted after the failure of its 721X and not as quick as the Lotus 72 Chapman is talking to Ronie about!

Ronnie replaced Aussie Dave Walker at Lotus in 1973, Peterson proving quicker than Emerson Fittipaldi, the 1972 World Champion. As is usually the case, these ‘Dream Teams’ usually end in tears.

Chapman refused to apply team orders later in the season, costing Fittipladi, the better placed driver, his second title, Lotus did pick up the Manufacturers Championship however.

Fittipaldi decamped to McLaren at the years end and a second title in ’74, Ronnie and Jacky Ickx were quick in the Lotus 72 in ’74 but it was getting long in the tooth and Lotus missed Emerson’s testing and development skills, neither of which were Petersons’ forte…

Gethin

 Gethin gently pursuades his beast to turn into Riversides’ turn 6; all 7.6 litres and 670 BHP of it, he is sitting so low spotting apexes must have been a challenge…

Denny Hulme won the 1970 series in the sister car, a fitting result for the team after Bruce McLaren was tragically killed in pre-season, M8D testing at Goodwood .

Gethin was recruited to fill Bruce’ F1 seat and later in the year scored the CanAm drive as well. Dan Gurney partnered Hulme initially until conflicting oil company sponsorships forced DG to relinquish the seat. Peter finished third in the championship despite missing the first three rounds.

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Gethin thru the Laguna Seca chicane, M8D October 1970 DNF with failed battery. Difference in height between tall Dan Gurney, who used this chassis prior to Gethin apparent from the roll bar extension installed for Dan but redundant for Peter!  (The Enthusiast Network)

dan the man

Check out Dans set in the cockpit to illustrate the point made in the previous photo! Here Dan in chassis #M8D/3 at the season opening Mosport, Canada round, 12 days after Bruce’ Goodwood death. Tyler Alexander, Team manager/Crew Chief at right. Gurney put the car on pole and won the race, a fitting tribute to McLaren and demonstrating the crews determination and resilience (Bob Harmeyer)

Major opposition to the McLaren Team in 1970 came from teams running ex-works and customer Mclarens, the factory/Carl Haas LolaT220 driven by Peter Revson, Jackie Oliver in the Ti22, and of course, Jim Halls sensational, outrageous, revolutionary ground effect Chaparrall 2J. The latter banned at years end after representations from all and sundry, including McLaren.

The McLaren domination of the CanAm Series commenced with the M6 in 1967 and still had a year to run with the M8F. Porsche were looking for something to do with its 917 program rendered obsolete by changes in World Sportscar Championship rules at the end of ’71, the CanAm series was chosen place to use the cars…  The turbo-charged Porsche 917/10 rewriting the record books as the ‘orange McLarens’ had…

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Chassis of riveted and bonded aluminium with fabricated steel bulkheads. Engine a stressed part of the chassis, also supported by tubular steel ‘A frames’ . Brakes Lockheed.(Profile Publications)

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Suspension: single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil spring/shock unit. Gearbox: Hewland LG600. Engines prepared in-house, Chev ZL1 Aluminium block, mainly 7.6 litres or 465CID. 670 BHP @ 6000 RPM. Hulme used 430 CID engine when some overheating was experienced . Full monocoque but ‘rear sponsons’ non load-bearing the engine bolted directly to a magnesium plate at the rear bulkhead, also supported by a steel, tubular ‘A-frames’. (Autosport)

 

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Wheelbase 239cm, track F/R 157/147cm, overall length 391cm, height to roll bar 91cm. Car christened ‘The Batmobile’ as a consequence of beautifully integrated rear wing, the high wing of the ’69 M8B outlawed along with all high wings by the FIA in all classes.(Profile Publications)

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Shot of Dan Gurney with dave Friedman early in 1970 showing the cars essential elements ‘laid bare’. (Pinterest)

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Peter Gethin was the son of a jockey, his compact dimensions a contrast to Tim Parnells’ whose father Reg was a farmer! Peter explains the handling of his BRM to team boss Tim at the 1972 British GP (Pinterest unattributed)

Bruce McLaren Trust…

http://www.bruce-mclaren.com/

Photo Credits…

Pinterest unattributed, Profile Publications, The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images

Tailpiece: Beast at rest, Gethin and M8D @ Laguna Seca…

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