Easter Bathurst 1969: Jack Brabham 1970 and Retirement…

Posted: September 1, 2014 in Features, Who,What,Where & When...?
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bathurst

Max Stewart, Niel Allen & Leo Geoghegan (L>R) , Easter Bathurst, 1969 (Wayne McKay)

Start of the ‘Gold Star’ race Mount Panorama, Easter 1969…

In the Good ‘Ole Days there used to be 2 meetings a year at Mount Panorama, Easter when the Gold Star race was the feature and of course the ‘Taxi’ classic  later in the year.

In those days the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship meant something. A lot in fact, it was won down the decades by some great, World Class drivers including Lex Davison, Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Spencer Martin, Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, John McCormack, Max Stewart, Alfredo Costanzo and many others.These days it does not have the same cachet, and ‘Taxis’ dominate in Australia. Sadly.

This photo was posted on Facebook recently by Wayne McKay and shows the grid of the ’69 Gold Star event.

Leo Geoghegan is on pole in his evergreen, white, ex-Clark Lotus 39 Repco, alongside is Niel Allen in his ex-Piers Courage McLaren M4a Ford FVA (a European F2 car) Max Stewart having joined Alec Mildrens team that year is at the wheel of the yellow Mildren Waggott in which he would have so much success over the following 3 years. The Mildren was a car built by Rennmax’ Bob Britton on his Brabham BT23 jig.

The red car on the second row is John Harvey in Bob Janes Brabham BT23E Repco, repaired after his huge Bathurst prang the year before. The light blue car is Queenslander Glynn Scott in his Bowin P3 Ford FVA, a wonderful monocoque built by John Joyce in Sydney, Joyce not long before having returned from a longish stint as an Engineer at Lotus.

The red car towards the rear of the grid, on the fence side of the track is Jack Brabham in his Brabham BT31 Repco. Jack was making a rare Gold Star appearance in the F3 based car built for his 1969 Tasman Series campaign, but which could not be unloaded because of a ‘Wharfies’ strike, and only raced in the final Sandown Tasman round.

This car was the lowest mileage Brabham ever built, it raced at Sandown and then Bathurst, the 2.5 litre ANF1 was in its dying days, Repco were unable to sell it. Years later, after being a Repco display car Rodway Wolfe acquired it, eventually it commenced its second career as a historic racer in Bib Stillwells’ hands.

jack

Jack Brabham Brabham BT31 Repco , Bathurst Easter 1969 between ‘Skyline’ and ‘The Dipper’. He tried the car both bi-winged and with rear wing only during practice , racing the car as shown. BT31 a one off car based on the F3 BT28. Repco 2.5 litre ‘830 Series’ SOHC, 2 valve V8, circa 295 BHP @ 9000 RPM (raSimmo)

The Tasman 2.5 Formula…

The grid shows just how poor fields had become as the 2.5 litre formula came towards its end.

The Tasman 2.5 litre Tasman Formula commenced in 1965 in Australia and New Zealand. The Tasman Series, 8 events initially, 4 in both Australia and NZ over two months in the Southern Summer was well attended by works or semi works cars from BRM, Lotus, and Ferrari running 2.5 litre variants (bored versions of their 1.5 litre F1 engines out to about 2 or 2.1 litres, or ‘de-stroked’ versions of their 3 litre F1 engines) of their F1 engines.

Local competitors could, on more or less equal terms, compete with the internationals using cars in the early Tasman years powered by the Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine, dominant in the final years of the 2.5 Litre F1 and later on Repco’s Tasman V8’s, which were available to anyone with the cash.

As the 60’s went on it became harder to attract the European teams to the Tasman Series as the F1 season became longer, and local competitors, other than a small number of teams struggled with budgets to run a Repco.

Mind you, budgets in open-wheeler racing in Australia, whatever the era have always been a problem. It was time, in all the circumstances to consider a new ANF1. CAMS were vacillating between 2 litre F2, to commence in Europe in 1972, and Formula A or Formula 5000, which used ‘stock block’ American V8’s, and which had commenced in the US, but ‘taken off’ in Europe in 1969.

CAMS announced the change to 2 Litres, which made sense as Merv Waggotts’ engine had already proved competitive. Under pressure from Ford, Holden and Repco, all of whom had commercial interests in the V8’s introduced into Australian road cars in preceding years, so ultimately and controversially in some quarters, F5000 became the new ANF1 from 1971, with the 2.5 Litre cars legal in the early years of Formula 5000.

Presumably Jack came to Australia to fulfil commitments to Repco, as a non-resident he was not eligible for Gold Star points, either way he was a welcome addition to the thinning Gold Star grid.

He was a busy boy in April and May. He was in Australia in April, raced in the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix in Barcelona and Monte Carlo on May 4 and 18, also practising, qualifying and then racing at Indianapolis on May 30. Indianapolis itself  occupying a big chunk of May.

indy

Jacks car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1969 was the BT25 built the year before. In 1968 they (2 cars bult by MRD) were raced throughout the season by Jack, Jochen Rindt, and Masten Gregory. Repco ‘760 Series’ 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled V8, circa 500BHP @ 8500RPM. Hewland GB300 gearbox, chassis using sheet aluminium as a stressed member for the first time in a Brabham.

Jack engaged Peter Revson to drive the other BT25, the cars powered by big 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled ‘760 series’ Repco V8’s, close cousins of the F1 ‘860 Series’ engines which had given so much grief in 1968.

AJ Foyt was on pole at 170.568 MPH, with Jack on 163.875MPH, Revvie squeaking into the field slowest qualifier at 160.851MPH. Revson showed his class in the race won by Andrettis’ Hawk Ford, finishing fifth whilst Jack had ignition failure.

The cars were competitive that season Revson winning a race at Indianapolis Raceway Park later in the season.

jack and pete

Jack Brabham and Peter Revson at Indianapolis 1969

High Wings…

Looking at the Bathurst cars the high-wings stand out, pun intended.

They had grown larger and higher over the previous 12 months, developments in F1 emulating the wings used first by Chaparral on their Cam Am and World Sports Car Championship cars.

Things were about to change though after numerous failures to wings and their mounts, Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill both experienced near catastrophic failures of the wing mounts on their Lotus 49’s in Barcelona on May 4. The FIA acted decisively at Monaco, banning high wings in all classes globally after Monaco GP practice. There on Saturday, gone on Sunday.

Jack experimented with bi-wings in Bathurst practice, had fuel feed problems problems so he qualified well back, but settled for a wing on the rear, and went sans aero-assistance on the front for the race. The fuel delivery problems were alleviated with the installation of the electric fuel pump from Repco Director, Charlie Deans’ Lancia and an on/off switch to avoid flattening the cars battery.

wings

Rodway Wolfes’ shot of Jack in practice, here with both front and rear high-wings, Mount Panorama Easter 1969. (Rodway Wolfe)

The skinny grid looked even thinner by the time the cars appeared out of ‘Murrays’ and onto pit straight at the end of lap 1, Stewart and Allen had a territorial dispute going into the Dipper tangling and neatly parking nose to nose high above the Bathurst Plains below.

maxxy

Niel Allen #2 and Max Stewart neatly parked high on the mount…’The Dipper’. McLaren M4a and Mildren Waggott respectively, Max extricating all 6’4” from the Mildren. Superb shot shows both the height and elevation of Mount Panorama. (John Arkwright)

Jack cantered way and won the Bathurst Gold Star race, his last win in Australia, but one?…

Brabham retired from F1 at the end of 1970, but let’s come back to that.

In 1971 Bob Jane promoted a Formula Ford “Race of Champions’ at Calder in August pitting some of the stars of the past and present against each other. Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton and Alan Moffat were amongst the drivers who took on Jack in his Bowin P4x. Jack Brabham Ford sponsored Bob Beasley who raced ‘Jacks’ car in the ‘Driver to Europe Series’, the Australian Formula Ford Championship that year, Jack taking the car to victory to much public acclaim…no way were one of the locals going to beat him having just retired!

So that little known FF event, I think, was JB’s last ever race win?

stillwell

Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’. Calder August 15 1971. # 6 Bib Stillwell Elfin 600, in his old helmet!, #1 Jack Brabham Bowin P4x, # 7 Unknown Elfin 600, and the obscured car alogside Jack is Frank Matich in, i think an Aztec. Trivia is that car # 6 is the Elfin 600 raced by Larry Perkins to win the FF Championship in 1971, Mike Stillwell raced the sister BS Stillwell Ford # 7 entry in the same Championship. (Unattributed)

Jack ‘came back’ and did some touring car events in the mid 70’s,including the Bathurst 1000 several times and even shared a Porsche 956 in the World Sports Car Championship race at Sandown in 1984, but I reckon that FF win was his last.

l34

In a promotional coup, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss shared a Holden Torana L34 in the 1976 Bathurst 1000. Unfortunately the car had a driveline failure and was hit up the ar$e badly damaging the car. Patched together, the pair put on a show for the crowd but the car did not finish (autopics)

porker

# 56 Porsche 956 driven by Jack Brabham and Johnny Dumfries in the Sandown 1000 round of the World Endurance Championship in 1984. The car was a camera vehicle, and again a promotional coup but still competing, although suffered rear suspension failure so was a DNF. Brabham and Alan Jones careers did not overlap in F1 but both Australian World Champs competed in this race Jones sharing another Rothmans Porsche with Vern Schuppan, also DNF. It was Jacks first experience of a ground effect car, at 58, quite different to the last ‘serious car’ he drove, the Brabham BT33 Ford in which he finished the Mexican GP in 1970, he acquitted himself well. (Pinterest)

jack 1

Whats it like out there Jack? It was a hot weekend, the challenge of the powerful ground-effects Porsche must have been considerable but Jack drove for over 2 hours in total, the car eventually failing. Whilst in works Rothmans colours it was a Richard Lloyd Racing 956

F1 in 1970…

These days F1 is all about youth, drivers start in Karts, some are in F1 by 20. Jack was 44 when he commenced his last season and was incredibly competitive at an age F1 drivers these days are long since retired. It was to be a very full season for Jack in a large number of different categories.

He won the season opening South African GP, made a last lap mistake at Monaco under pressure from Jochen Rindt whilst leading and came second. He also finished second to Rindt in the British GP at Brands Hatch as well  having passed him and was pulling away before running short of fuel on the last lap, an error made by then Brabham mechanic, and now McLaren chief, Ron Dennis.

monaco

Brabham leading a gaggle of cars early in the Monaco GP 1970. Brabham BT33 Ford, Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra MS120, Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B, Denny Hulme McLaren M14a and one of the Lotuses…Jack lead the race but Rindt gave the Lotus 49 its last victory in a phenomenal chase of Brabham, pressuring him into a last lap error into second place. Had Rindt re-joined Brabham for 1970, he enjoyed 1968 with them despite the foibles of the Repco ‘860 Series’ DOHC V8, instead of staying at Lotus Jack would have retired at the end of ’69 and Rindt, who knows?…(Pinterest)

He could have won the World Title in 1970 with a little more luck. Mind you luck was in short supply that year, friends and former teammates, Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt as well as Piers Courage  perished in 1970.

Grand Prix racing is the pinnacle but 1970 was a year of great depth, the grid comprised the established aces ; Stewart, Rindt, Hill, Ickx, Hulme and Rodriguez, as well as young chargers in their first F1 year ; Regazzoni, Petersen, Fittipaldi and our own Tim Schenken. Ferrari, Lotus, BRM, Brabham and March all won races in 1970 as well.

Ron Tauranac designed Jack a ‘pearler’ of a car for 1970. The team had been successful with space-frame chassis’ since it was formed. Chapman popularised the monocoque with his 1962 Lotus 25 but Brabham won championships in all formulae with their simple, used friendly, easy to repair, and forgiving cars. The latter both a design feature and a function of Jack doing the final chassis settings before ‘sign-off’.

For 1970 monocoques had effectively been mandated by the FIA, new regulations demanding bag fuel tanks to improve the safety of the cars. Tauranacs’ first stressed-skin chassis was the BT25 ‘Indycar’ pictured above. The BT33 could be said to be standard ‘Cosworth powered kit-car’, an aluminium monocoque, Ford DFV engine and Hewland gearbox were its essential elements, but it was a very good one, and still competitive in Tim Schenkens hands in 1971.

bt33

This shot is at Hockenheim 1970, Stommelens’ car in front (5th), Jacks (DNF) at rear. Essential elements the ‘bathtub’ aluminium monocoque chassis. Front suspension by top rocker and lower wishbone operating inboard mounted coil spring/damper unit. Gearbox and rear suspension ass’y rolls away for the engine change minimising time spent especially on time consuming wheel alignment in the field..mechanics will still align the car mind you..but not as big a job! The more you look, the more you see…(Pinterest)

Matra…1970

Jack had decided to retire due to family pressure at the end of 1969 when he agreed terms verbally with Jochen Rindt to rejoin the team for 1970. Jochen enjoyed his season in 1968 despite the problems with the ‘860 Repco’ engine but ultimately asked Jack to release him from his undertaking as a consequence of an offer from Lotus which was too good to refuse. Had that course of events transpired history would of course been quite different…Rindt dying at the wheel of a Lotus 72 at Monza and winning the 1970 World Championship posthumously.

Jack told his wife Betty he would compete for one more year, putting everything into that last season, and not just F1.

He participated in the World Sports Car Championship for Matra competing at Le Mans in an MS650, a spaceframed car using an endurance version of the compnay’s F1 3 litre, 48 valve V12. He shared the car at LeMans with Francois Cevert, the car not finishing with engine failure.

He also did the lead up events to Le Mans including Daytona, 10th with Francois Cevert, Cevert breaking into F1 that year. He also shared a car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise at Brands and Monza finishing 12th and 5th respectively.

1970 and 1971 were the years of the ‘5 litre monsters’ the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S, it was tough for 3 litre prototypes, Matra steadily evolved their cars to be the class of the field in 1973/4/5, but Jack enjoyed the season and having simply to drive, not do literally everything else.

brands

In search of downforce…Brabham in the Matra MS650, Brands Hatch 1000Km, April 1970, 12th sharing the car with Beltiose (Pinterest)

And Indy…1970

Ron Tauranac built a new monocoque car for  the race using  a 2.65 litre turbo-charged 4 cylinder ‘Offy engine and Weisman gearbox. Jack was classified 13th but had piston failure which carved the block in half. The race was won that year by Al Unser in a Colt Offy ‘Johnny Lightning Special’.

bt32

Formula 2 in a Brabham BT30…1970

pau

Pau GP 1970 front row L>R : Jochen Rindt on pole Lotus 69, Francois Mazet & Jack Brabham both in Brabham BT30’s. Green helmet in the secong row is Henri Pescarolo in another Barbham BT30, and alongside Clay Regazzoni, Tecno 69. All Ford FVA powered. Rindt won from Pescarolo and Tim Schenken, also in a BT30…(DPPI)

John ‘Nuggett’ Coombs was a longtime privateer entrant running Brabhams and in 1970 had a ‘dream team’ of Jackie Stewart and Jack sharing a Brabham BT30.

Jack competed at Pau, Rouen and Tulln-Langenlebarn (Vienna), his best result second in the latter meeting to the Ickx BMW 270.

jack

Brabham ahead of Jochen Rindt at Pau, France 1970. Jack DNF, Rindt winning the race in his Lotus 69 Ford FVA. The European F2 Championship was won in 1970 by Clay Regazzoni in a Tecno Ford FVA. Brabham is driving a Brabham BT30 FVA owned by John Coombs. (Pinterest)

Tasman Series 1970 and Retirement…

The only series he didn’t do that he usually did was the Tasman Series in our Summer, his Matra campaign commenced on January 31 at Daytona, but it was the first year of the F5000 Tasman series, albeit the 2.5 Litre cars were still eligible, maybe he figured it wasn’t worth the effort as MRD didn’t build an F5000 car at the time? Either way he spent February in Australia.

Graham Lawrence won the Tasman series that year with his ex-Amon Ferrari 246T, consistently running with and beating the more powerful but less nimble F5000’s.

If only Jack had dusted off the BT31 which won at Bathurst the previous April, fitted current tyres and wings maybe he would have taken the Tasman Series a second time…

Jack said in later years that he felt he had another 3 or 4 competitive years in him. He recounts to Doug Nye in his biography that his father, who had always been his strongest supporter within the family and reinforced his decisions to continue racing, advised him not to reconsider his retirement during 1970 given the deaths which occurred that season.

At the end 0f 1970 Jack returned to Australia to a farm near Wagga, Jack Brabham Ford in Sydney and his aviation interests in addition to investments in the UK.

What can you say about this remarkable Australian which hasn’t already been said? To my way of thinking he is Australias greatest sportsman ever. No other individual performed at the same level for so long, was as innovative as he was, and took on the best in the world and won, both in terms of his driving and in the deployment of Australian technology.

RIP Jack Brabham and thank goodness you did retire at the end of 1970.

bt 31

Jack Brabham, sans wings, Sandown Tasman practice 1969…surely a competitive mount in Tasman 1970 had he entered…?(Flickr unattributed)

 

jacks

Deep in set-up thought. Jack in his BT33 F1 car during 1970. ‘Jet Jackson’ fighter pilots helmet that he, Jackie Stewart and Piers Courage tried that year. Skiers goggles. No nomex gloves, leather, nice Rolex watch. Lovely shot which captures the essence of the guy i think!? (Getty Images)

 


 

Etcetera: Bathurst 1969…

 

bathurst

bathurst

Jack Brabham , Bathurst practice Easter 1969. Brabham BT31 Repco ‘bi-winged’ in practice (Facebook)

bathurst 3

Brabham in the race which he won, sans front wing. Bathurst Easter 1969. (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: Calder FF Race 1971…

 

calder

 

calder

Brabham takes the spoils of victory…’Race of Champions’ Calder, Australia August 1971. Car is a Formula Ford Bowin P4x (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: F1 1970 and Brabham BT33…

 

bt 33 cutaway

Drawing of Ron Tauranacs’ 1970 Brabham BT33 Ford, Motor Racing Developments first ‘real’ monocoque chassis car

spain

Jarama, Spanish GP 1970. Avoiding the fire as a result of the Ickx/Oliver collision, both the Ferrari and BRM were destroyed but the drivers escaped an accident caused by a stub axle failure of the BRM (Pinterest)

monaco

Jack Brabham, Monaco 1970 . BT33 from above, wet Saturday practice (Pinterest)

rolf

Jack trying teammate Rolf Stommelens BT33 in Spain practice, both DNF in the race won by the March 701 Ford of Jackie Stewart (Pinterest)

 

Etcetera Matra…

 

daytona

daytona

Jack Brabham, Matra MS 650, Daytona 1970 (Nigel Smuckatelli)

Photo and Other Credits…

oldracingcars.com, Pinterest, Getty Images, ‘Jack Brabhan with Doug Nye’, Nigel Smuckatelli

The End…

Comments
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  2. […] He competed at Le Mans with Nissan in 1989 and 1990 and was a logical choice for Renault as a safe, experienced, fast driver as part of the 1993 Peugeot Team to repeat the success of the year before, the 3.5 litre V10 905 Evo 1 a very quick car, in essence a 2 seat GP car. He won the race partnered by Eric Helary and Christophe Bouchot, taking a race win that Jack didn’t, JB wasn’t a LeMans regular but did compete with Matra in 1970, his final season in Europe. https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/ […]

  3. graham64 says:

    That 1971 “Race of Champions” at Calder was Allan Moffatt’s only drive in an open-wheeler in Australia (and probably anywhere else where he raced too.)

  4. […] early years, click on these links to read the articles which remain amongst my ‘most read’; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/ and; […]

  5. […] Easter Bathurst 1969: Jack Brabham 1970 and Retirement… […]

  6. Rob Bailey says:

    Never knew a Formula one Repco powered car raced at Bathurst like the BT31.

    • markbisset says:

      What have I written Rob?, such a long time since I wrote that article! Tasman ‘RB830’ Series V8 in any event!
      Was your car @ Wesley last weekend, lots of nice 105’s there!
      Mark

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