Jack Brabham: Cooper T51 Climax: ‘Pub Corner’, Longford, Tasmania, Australia 1960…

Posted: January 20, 2015 in Who,What,Where & When...?
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Jack Brabham dipping under brakes as he approaches ‘Pub Corner’ in his Cooper T51 Climax on the first lap of the ‘Longford Trophy’ in  March 1960, wonderful Ellis French shot…

Jack returned to our Australian summer as the reigning World Champion, he didn’t disappoint the Tasmanian crowd winning the race from the similar MkIV T51’s of Alec Mildren and Bib Stillwell.

In those pre-Tasman 2.5 litre Formula days Australian National F1 was run to Formula Libre rules, by 1960 Coopers of various models and capacities were the dominant marque. There were still sports cars amongst the single-seaters though including Doug Whiteford’s ex-works Maserati 300S, sold to Doug after the 1956 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park when five Masers made the long trip south to Australia.

The Australian Motor Sports Annual Review 1960/61 has a report of the 1960 Longford Trophy and notes with superb understatement that ‘Possibly no circuit in Australia offers so many scenic attractions and quite so large a variety of racing hazards as that at Longford in Northern Tasmania.’

 The article continues ‘Although racing has been carried out at Longford for several years, it was only the selection of the circuit for a Gold Star race in 1958 that Longord became known to Australians outside Tasmania…One of the advantages Longford holds over any other mainland circuit is full government and community support. Unlike other states where motor racing is viewed with concern for safety or as a niose disturbing nuisance and a Sabbath breaker, Tasmania views motor racing as a vital tourist attraction and as such, gives it the fullest support’.

 Improvements to the track since the 1959 meeting resulted in a faster, more even surface with a softened approach to the railway crossing in Longford township.

Longford 1960 grid shot

John Ellacott shot of the front 2 rows gridded up: Brabham #4, Stillwell #6, Miller in yellow, all Cooper T51 Climaxes, and Arnold Glass in the Maserati 250F…evocative!

The main event of the 1960 meeting was the Australian Tourist Trophy whivh was won by Derek Jolly’s ex-works Lotus 15 Climax FPF 2 litre. Jack Brabham was secured by the organisers, the just crowned World Champion bringing the Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.5 with which he had won the NZ GP at Ardmore in January for the Longford Trophy Formula Libre event.

 Jack’s practice time of 2:38 was a second clear of Bib Stillwell’s 2.2 litre T51. A welcome addition to the grid was Alec Mildren’s new Cooper T51 Maserati, the frame of the car was adapted by Mildren and mechanic Glenn Abbey to fit a 4 cylinder DOHC Maser 250S sportscar engine running on methanol. The soon to be 1960 Australian Gold Star champion did 2:46.

Longford Trophy 1960 start

Stillwell gets the jump off the line, Glass at rear, Brabham on this side (John Ellacott)

Stillwell got the jump from the start and lead for the first three-quarters of a lap before Brabham passed him in his more powerful Cooper.

On lap 3 Jack did a 2:34, an average of 105.19 mph, on the following lap Jack recorded a top speed on the Flying Eighth Mile of 157.9 mph. Brabham reduced his pace and led comfortably from Stillwell, Mildren and Arnold Glass’s ex-Hunt/Stillwell Maserati 250F.

The punch of Mildrens Maserati engine was demonstrated when he sailed past Stillwell’s Coventry Climax engined T51 on the Flying Mile. At about the same time Bill Patterson’s 2 litre T51 passed Glass with Jon Leighton’s Cooper T45 Climax being challenged by Glynn Scott’s similar ex-Mildren machine, both of these cars were powered by 2 litre Climaxes.

 Towards the end of the 17 lap 45 minute 40 second race Brabham allowed Mildren to close up to within 100 yards of his car. Magneto failure spoiling Patterson’s good run in his 2 litre T51.

 Brabham won from Mildren, Stillwell, Glass, Leighton and Scott, the Glass Maserati the only interloper amongst the dominant mid-engined Coopers.

Brabham Cooper T51 Longford 1960

Brabham in his Cooper T51 Climax at Longford in 1960. I think the gent in braces at the rear is Jacks’ father, this chassis 1 of 2 he used in his successful 1959 GP season (oldracephotos)

Allen Browns’ wonderful archive ‘oldracingcars.com’ states that the car Jack drove at Longford was probably the first of two cars he used in his succcessful 1959 F1 season, chassis ‘F2-4-59’. He drove it in the early part of the year, it then became a spare when ’27-59′ appeared at Zandvoort.

When Jack’s Australian season ended the car was sold to Bib Stillwell who then had two T51’s to choose from, his Gold Star campaigns had started to become more serious and ultimately were very successful.

Brabham returned to Europe to successfully defend his world title, the domestic Gold Star series was won in 1960 by Mildren in his new, locally adapted Maserati 250S, 2.5 litre DOHC engined Cooper T51.

Longford scene 1960

Kevin Drages’ panoramic view of part of the Longford paddock in March 1960, looking across to Mountford corner with the Pit Straight on the right. Cars are green Derek Jollys’ Lotus XV Climax and the ‘Kenley Vincent Spl’.

Etcetera…

Brabham Longford media interview 1960

‘Modern media scrum’, Jack tells the press how it was post race. JB’s British Racing Drivers Club badge proudly worn on his overalls. Car is a Humber ‘Super Snipe’, in those days British prestige cars were very popular in Australia, the Germans steadily whittling them back by the early 70’s…(Kevin Drage)

Bill Patterson Cooper T51 Longford 1960

Bill Pattersons’ Coopers T51 x 2… Patterson went on to win the Gold Star in 1961, retired from driving but supported others for decades via his Ringwood, Melbourne, Holden Dealership. (Ellis French)

Jack Brabham and BIb Stillwell, Longford 1960

Jack Brabham and Bib Stillwell swapping Cooper set-up notes…or Bib is buying Jacks car!? Stillwell was a good Brabham customer over the years acquiring many Coopers including the car Jack drove at Longford that weekend and, later Brabham’s. Both men very successful drivers and businessmen (Kevin Drage)

Bib Stillwell Cooper T51 Climax Longford paddock 1960

Bib Stillwells’ Climax engine being fettled in the Longford paddock. Cooper T51 (Ellis French)

Jack Brabham Cooper T51 Climax on the approach to Pub Corner Longford 1960

Tailpiece: Lets finish on the same note as we started, an Ellis French shot of Brabham, this time ‘panned’ into the braking area on the entry to ‘Pub Corner’, Longford 1960…

For international readers Tasmania is a wonderful place to visit. The scenery is stunning on all of its coasts, the mountains in the middle worth climbing, the ‘Overland Trail’ in the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park worth walking. Hobart is a centre of culture and ‘Foodie Stuff’ is worth a stop for ‘Mona’ alone, a gallery of contemporary art…and you can still see a lot of the Longford circuit including the ‘Country Club Hotel’ with heaps of racing memorabilia.

Photo & Reference Credits…

Ellis French, John Ellacott, oldracephotos.com, Kevin Drage, ‘Australian Motor Sports Annual 1960/61’

oldracingcars.com

Finito…

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