Archive for February, 2015

jack

Dick Simpson

Jack Brabham winning the 1969 Australian Gold Star Series event at Easter Bathurst in his Brabham BT31 Repco…he is heading across Mount Panorama between ‘Skyline’ and ‘The Dipper’…

Introduction…

Those who have read the first three Repco articles may recall that we have been chronologically going through the history of Repco’s F1 and Race Engine program of the mid 60’s partially through the eyes of Rodway Wolfe who worked for the company as both technician and storeman during the glory years from 1966.

This article is out of sequence, its’ about Jacks’ 1969 Tasman mount, the Brabham BT31 powered by the Repco ‘830 Series’ 2.5 litre V8, logically the 1967 and 1968 F1/Tasman/Sportscar engines and race records come first. Rodways’ manuscript is running ahead of my own research so we will run with this article now, one he is intensely passionate about for reasons which become obvious, i will re-number once we have covered 1967 and 1968 down the track.

‘In the historic vehicle world there are some fascinating stories of various cars and some seem to just keep accumulating historic events and happenings throughout their existence. The BT31 Repco Brabham is one such car. The following story is mine, I was lucky enough to purchase the BT31 early in its history making saga…

bathurst race

Brabham, BT31, Bathurst Easter 1969. It is such a shame the car did not arrive early enough to compete in the 1969 Tasman and/or the 1970 Tasman, it was potentially a winning car in 1970. ’70 Tasman won by Graeme Lawrences’ ’68 updated Ferrari Dino 246T despite F5000 cars also being eligible that year…(Unattributed)

BT31/1 was constructed by Brabham Cars  for Brabham Racing Organisation…(Sir Jack Brabhams works racing team, a separate entity from Jack and Ron Tauranacs’ race car production entity) It was built especially for the 1969 Tasman series, not just a modified Formula 3 car as some have suggested. It was bright red, unique itself as the FI BRO cars were all green and gold.

The engine was a ‘Tasman’ 2.5 litre ‘830 Series’ the car fitted with low profile wheels and tyres and various other features. It was consigned by sea freight to Australia, there seemed to be ample time for its arrival for the start of the Tasman series of races in New Zealand in January 1969.

I managed Repco Brabham Engine Company’s spare parts operation, we awaited the cars arrival with great anticipation. By a twist of fate the Melbourne ‘wharfies’ went on strike due to some industrial problem. They were cooperative and sympathetic to us and offered to unload the car if possible. A search revealed the car crate to be under many hundreds of tons of freight so it was not to be.

Eventually the strike ended and the crate arrived at RB on the Wednesday prior to the last race of the ’69 Tasman Series at Sandown Park, Melbourne. It was very disappointing but Jack being Jack he still wanted to be on the Sandown grid, Repcos’ home town race.

If anyone has been lucky enough to purchase a new Brabham they will know what I am talking about. The cars arrive in a very long crate just wide enough for the chassis and suspension, tanks and body parts are packed along the crate in front of the chassis. In this case a tubular space frame.

jack dandown 1969

Brabham Sandown, Dandenong Rd corner. Brabham BT31 Repco, Tasman 1969. (Unattributed)

The Car That Jack and Rodway Built…

As despatch and receiving was part of my job I had the great pleasure of assisting Jack to unpack the car. I have been lucky in my life to have many days I enjoyed to the fullest but that Wednesday with Sir Jack has to rank as the best. I spent the day helping the World Champion assemble his car, imagine a star of today doing that!

Every part went together like a dream, Jack sat in the cockpit while we fitted instruments, adjusted pedals, steering wheel reach etc. We discussed many subjects including his flying in Europe. He asked if I had seen any ‘Brabham Holden Toranas’ in my travels. At the time he had done a deal with General Motors Holden, it was possible to buy a Torana with Brabham badges and gear knob, steering wheel. It was truly a memorable day for a boy from the bush!

Meanwhile my RB colleagues were power testing the ‘830 engine’. It was one of the best and most reliable of our engines. Finally it was fitted and the car was ready for testing mid Friday afternoon prior to the Sandown meeting on Saturday/Sunday.

We loaded the car on an old open trailer of Jacks and set out for Calder Raceway, near Keilor, an hour from Melbourne. Kevin Davies went in his car, I went in mine and I think Michael Gasking took his too. (1959 Australian Gold Star Champion) Len Lukey and his wife took Jack and Betty Brabham and one of the toddler Brabham boys.

brabham testing at calder

Brabham testing at Calder the day before Sandown and the day the cars assembly was completed by Brabham and Wolfe…the DIY World Champion! Brabham is belted in but driving in a ‘parka’, no racesuit.(Rodway Wolfe)

Len Lukey towed the trailer. We stopped at Keilor and Jack disappeared into a house for a few minutes. He borrowed the key to the circuit from Calder owner, Jean Pascoe. We proceeded to the circuit, unloaded the car and with just a handful of us there Jack started testing.

The fuel cam was causing a hesitation coming out of corners but Michael Gasking had a selection of test cams and soon had the fuel mix OK.

Len Lukey parked his car on the infield and they all stayed in the car watching. At one stage Jack walked over and carried his small son to BT31 and took him for a few laps as he sat on Jacks lap, no wonder all those boys raced! Another memorable moment for me. It was such a lovely casual setting with Jack just wearing his Parka jacket, no fireproofs.

We had been there about an 1.5 hours, Jack seemed happy with everything and suddenly into the gate roared a car which skidded to a stop and out jumped a very irate man. He started shouting at us all, especially Jack who was still sitting in the cockpit. He yelled something about no engines were to be started at the circuit after 6pm at night and it was a council by-law etc. He would report us etc. When he finally managed to get a word in Jack calmly said ‘we will pack up now fellas’ the irate man left as fast as he had arrived.

I have often wondered how funny it was that he never knew he was abusing our World Champ!’

Needless to say the car was at Sandown next day for practice…

bt 31 dandenong road

Jack Brabham, Brabham BT31 Repco, Sandown Tasman 1969, ‘Dandy Road’ corner. Winged in the race, he tested also sans wing. Note the ‘old style’ Buco helmet…Jack was wearing Bell Magnums in Europe, i suspect this is an old helmet left in Oz, ditto the goggles! (Rod MacKenzie)

sergent.com reported the race as follows…

‘It was a battle for pole again between Amon and Rindt, although the dark horse of the meeting was Jack Brabham hurriedly arranging a marriage between a Brabham BT31B F3 chassis and the 2.5 twin-cam Repco V8 engine. It was certainly the smallest and lightest of the V8 powered cars at the meeting, and although he fitted a wing to the rear, Brabham was down on horsepower compared to the other Internationals.

John Harvey was having his first competitive drive in the Bob Jane Repco Brabham BT23 Repco V8 since his Easter accident at Bathurst in 1968, and was using the outing as an extended test session for the coming Gold Star rather than trying to drive a hard race first time out. This was born out by Harvey’s practice time which put him 14th on the grid among the 1.6 F2 cars.

bt 31 sandown grid

Brabham BT31 #9 beside Derek Bells’ Ferrari Dino 246T, Sandown Tasman grid 1969. Grey haired gent just in shot is Scuderia Veloces’ supremo, David McKay who entered the successful Amon/Bell Ferraris’ in both 1968 and 1969 Tasman. (Mildren Films)

Rindt (Lotus 49 DFW) got the start and lead the field through Shell Corner and held it through the very slow Peter’s Corner, but Amon (Ferrari Dino 246T) used his better gearing for the straight and took the Austrian as they headed over the hill and down toward the Esses. Hill (Lotus 49 DFW) had started in third position but dropped back sharply on the first lap when his throttle linkage came adrift and Courage (Brabham BT24 DFW) broke a previously twisted half shaft down the back of the circuit.

Amon and Rindt started to open a gap to Brabham, who was holding off Bell for third place. Kevin Bartlett (Brabham BT23D Alfa) pulled sharply into the pits on lap 5 with a broken exhaust which threatened to set fire to exposed oil and fuel lines while Hill re-joined the race and set about climbing back through the field. John Harvey spun when his Repco engine overheated and poured out scalding water at Dandenong Corner and he retired with a very sore neck from the results.

Meanwhile Hill was forcing his way back up and he took Levis on lap 33 for sixth place but couldn’t get any higher after his four lap deficit after the start. Garrie Cooper drove steadily throughout the race to finish eighth and first resident Australian home in his own Elfin 600B. Leo Geoghegan hadn’t started as mechanics found a leaking fuel cell in the Lotus 39 Repco V8 and they couldn’t repair it in time.’

Amon won the race and the Tasman Series that year from Rindt and Courage. Rindt and Brabham were second and third in the race.

Check out this fabulous film made by Alec Mildren Racing of the Australian Leg of the 1969 Tasman Series…

After that Sandown event, Jack returned to Europe to commence his F1 campaign for the year.  Brabham’s BT26’s fitted with the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 for 1969 rather than the RB 860 Series 3 litre V8’s which had been so unreliable for he and Jochen Rindt in 1968, and caused his decision to bring the F1 partnership with Repco to an end.

The BT31 returned to the Maidstone factory, the engine was removed and the car stored for a while. We had two 830 2.5 litre engines for the car, one of course the spare.

bt 31 bathurst dale harvey

Brabham, Bathurst Easter 1969. (Dale Harvey)

In April 1969 the car was brought out of mothballs and taken to Bathurst for the Easter ‘Bathurst 100’ race

‘This race has also been widely reported over the years needless to say the BT31 started from the rear of the grid and hosed off all the Australian cars and set a new lap record for open-wheel cars of 2 min 13.2 seconds.’

I wrote about this weekend in another post a while back; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

‘Of course that was the old track layout with the full Conrod Straight and notorious hump. Typical of Jacks foxiness, he fitted both front and rear high wings for Saturday practice which resulted in some teams working frantically all night to install front wings as well to their cars. Of course Jack rolled out the BT31 on race morning minus the high front wing’.

wings

Bi-winged during Easter Bathurst practice. One-off car based on BT28 F3 chassis. Multi-tubular space frame, front suspension by upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. Rear suspendsion by single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods, adjustable sway bars front and rear. Cast magnesium front and rear uprights. Repco ‘830 Series’ 2.5 litre SOHC 295bhp V8, Hewland FT200 5 speed box. (Rodway Wolfe)

The car was suffering some fuel starvation problems in practice. Very hastily the electric fuel pump was borrowed from Charlie Deans’ Lancia road car, some of you may remember Deans contribution to Australian motor racing in the Stan Jones article published a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

It assisted fuel flow into a reserve pot arrangement in the fuel system and a switch fitted to the instrument panel. Jack turned the pump on each lap for either the climb up the mountain or the run down Conrod I cannot recall which.

I do remember how great the car sounded down Conrod. It was the days of the apple orchards at Bathurst and BT31 looked magical going down through the apple orchards. When I purchased the car later it retained the Bathurst gearing, Peter Holinger and i calculated 5th gear at 186 mph at 9500 rpm so it was flying!

After the Bathurst meeting the car went to Sydney for display at Jack Brabham Fords’ Bankstown showroom.’

jack

Brabham during Bathurst practice pondering fuel starvation problems…(Rodway Wolfe)

‘Finally the BT31 was returned to our Repco factory at Maidstone…Jack Brabham had since returned to the UK, the cars engine was removed and it sat in a corner gathering dust.

Meanwhile Repco had been negotiating with Jack to purchase the car for the Repco Export Company to place on display in Japan at the upcoming ‘Expo 70’. Repco exported engine components around the world, most people would not know that Rolls Royce in the UK were supplied with Repco piston rings. So the display in Japan was a crucial part of the company’s export drive.

We will never know the details of Repco’s purchase of BT31, all I know it was involved with import duty with the amount paid dependent on the car being used as a race car or for advertising purposes.In other words, if the car was raced a higher level of duty applied than if the car was not.

One morning the works superintendant, Kevin Davies came out of his office and went down to John Brookfield in the welding shop, (John was our magic welder of all things aluminium) and was an excellent engineer. We all heard a bit of a discussion and Kevin disappeared back into his office. John was a big guy, his nickname, ‘Lurch’. We all knew something was wrong as Lurch came out of his welding bay with a red face, set to explode.’

‘Chop up BT31…

He told us with an incredible look on his face; ‘Kevin came and asked me to cut the BT31 chassis in half!!!??? I told him to F….k off and if he wanted it cut in two pieces he would have to find someone else to f…….g cut it for him…’

‘We all rebelled, the entire factory agreed on no destruction of BT31. It was something to do with Repco buying the car from Jack for advertising only, a space frame cut in half of course destroys the car and prevents it being raced. Anyway it was all to do with the usage of the car and the marketing idea at ‘Expo 70′ in Japan was to setup a display using a tunnel with the rear of the car disappearing in one end and the nose coming out of the other.

After a lot of discussion and refusal to damage the car the nose was removed and the bracket holding the radiator cut off the front. I didn’t visit Expo 70  but I understand the display did feature the car entering a tunnel. The car’s front high wing, the nose cone and the front wheels were in my care in our RB store until the car was returned in 1971’.

Editors Note: Without being an expert on Australian race car import laws of the past, the legislators allowed racing cars to be imported free of duty into Australia on the basis that the car left the country annually…perfect for Tasman series competitors as the cars left Oz for NZ to compete each year before returning. Eventually, when the car stays in Oz, duty is payable, therein commenced, often, a lot of ‘jiggery-pokery’ with chassis numbers as impecunious racers, seeking to avoid the taxmans net, applied very old chassis numbers to very new cars!  Repco, as an audited public company could not afford to play ‘ducks and drakes’ in this manner. I suspect the scenario Rodway outlines is around the points outlined here. That is, how to minimise the punitive duties whilst remaining ‘kosher’ in the process as large public company.Mark.

bt 31 cockpit

BT31/1 cockpit shot taken in 1983 at Sandown. Quintessential 60’s English racing car cockpit; Smiths chronometric tach, oil/water temps/oil pressure, leather bound Mota-Lita wheel and right hand change for the 5 speed Hewland FT200 gearbox. Chassis tubes clear as is aluminium fuel tank to left and right. (Mark Bisset)

‘When the car was returned by sea freight from Japan Repco had undergone huge changes in their motor racing policy…

The whole Repco Brabham project had been dismantled and the factory in Maidstone was being converted to a new company, Repco Dynamics, which was to construct a new concept in automotive wheel balancers. Most of the RB employees, about 70 at the time, were given their marching orders but a few were selected for the new entity or other Repco companies.’

In essence what occurred was the commercial flow on of Jack Brabhams decision to change from Repco to Ford Cosworth power in F1 with effect the 1969 F1 season.

RB Engines raison d’etre was the supply of engines to Brabham; Brabham received race winning engines and Repco reaped the advertising and promotional spinoffs.

The sale of Tasman 2.5 and 4.4/5 litre sports car and other engines in Australia and elsewhere did not generate a commercial return, the parent companies subsidy to keep its RB Engines subsidiary afloat was increasing each year. The PR rub off ended when Jack turned to Cosworth and had lost its gloss in ’68 due to the engines unreliability in F1. Whilst the 2.5 Repcos’ won Gold Star races they never won a Tasman or Gold Star series. Frank Matich’s 1969 Australian Sports Car Championship Matich SR4 Repco win was laudable but again did not, in Repco’s view, justify the significant investment made.

Repco therefore ‘flipped’ the stock of unsold engines and other assets of RB Engines into Redco, a new company, which it continued to support. The deal was probably done that way to maximise the tax effectiveness of the transaction, with Redco then looking after the needs of RB Engine customers needing spares etc, and taking on development of the new Holden ‘308 V8’ as a race F5000 engine, CAMS having finally made the vexed decison of the new ANF1 category between 2 litre race engine and 5 litre F5000 stock block alternatives.

These are topics we will explore in later articles, in essence this is a summary of the circumstances around the issues Rodway addresses above.

bi winged

Bi-winged BT31 during Bathurst practice. At ‘The Dipper’. (Unattributed)

‘In a corner of the RBE factory a wall was constructed with big doors and ‘No Entry’ signs, the new domain of  ‘Repco Engine Development Company’ (REDCO) was set up with Mal Preston as Chief…

The former General Manager of Repco Brabham Engine Co, Frank Hallam was transferred to Repco Research at Dandenong. Don Halpin, John McVeigh, John Mepstead and Brian Heard were placed in the new company with Malcolm Preston.

Being the spoilt brat from the bush, i refused to accept the closing of Repco Brabham which was my life really. I wrote a nice letter to the board and thanked them for employing me through the RB project and told them I was returning to Gippsland. I asked them to re-employ me when they started building F1 engines again. I had been offered a job as Service Manager assistant to Michael Gasking who was the new Chief Engineer of  Repco Dynamics.

It did have a huge future and I could not have found a better guy to work with than Michael Gasking but I was young and stubborn.

One day Charlie Dean arrived and said ‘What’s all this about you going home to the farm Rod’ I explained to him how I was not keen on the heavy cast iron 308 Holden engine. I had loved and appreciated my time on the Repco Brabham Engines. Anyway he said ‘right, I want you to work with Malcolm, he will need you to keep up the RB spares around the world as we have to maintain supply’.

‘The Repco Brabham engine spares represented $340,000 in value at that time!, were retained by REDCO,  to sell the parts to RB engine owners. I ended up behind the wall with Don Halpin and the other boys. Looking back it was great to have Charlie Dean tell me I couldn’t leave! The time I spent at REDCO with Malcolm is another story altogether.’

bt 31 bathurst bi-winged

Bi-winged BT31 during Easter Bathurst practice, car won sans front wing…and high wings shortly to be banned globally by the FIA during the 1969 Monaco GP weekend. (Dale Harvey)

Buying the Brabham BT31…

‘BT31 arrived back from ‘Expo 70’ in its crate and no one cared. Repco Brabham Engine Co did not exist, all the staff had gone. Mal Preston had not seen the car and was not interested as Charlie was continually on his back about Holden F5000 developments.

I did not envy Mal in those early months of the F5000 project he was under lots of pressure. Charlie Dean was like a small tornado wherever he went.

One day Mal asked me to unpack the BT31 as it was needed for a car show in Mornington. I spent a couple of days reassembling it around a mock ‘830 2.5’. It was rare for us to display a going engine. I recall once doing so with our one magnesium 3 litre, (which disappeared off the planet anyway) so at all times we used mock ups. They were mostly complete but had no internals.

There was no interest in the car, so i decided to write to the Repco Board asking to acquire it. I was a lot younger then but I did have some nous. I decided not to discuss it with anybody as I knew I was a ‘very small gear in a massive gearbox’. I pulled out a figure I would pay and got secretary Coral Allen to type the letter for me but I left a gap where the price offered was to be added later by me! Coral typed it and I duly posted it to the Repco Board. I trusted Coral completely but not all the bosses she typed for!

I really didn’t think I had any chance and I had not even given a thought to how i would pay for it. Malcolm asked if I would take the car to Mornington for a car show that Jim and Bill Leech had a lot to do with. I loaded the car on Jacks old farm trailer and took the car to the show, kept it polished and handed out Repco brochures and answered questions.

It was about mid afternoon when up bowled ‘Tornado’ Charlie Dean. Charlie told me he had read my letter and asked why I wanted to buy the car. I very politely (in Repco you rarely got to speak to a director anyway) told him I loved the cars history and it was important to both Repco’s and Australia’s history. He quickly replied yes we will discuss the matter next week.

He then commented on how good it looked and went to leave but just at that moment up walked one of the Leech brothers, these guys owned some serious cars including a Maserati 300S and Bugatti T37A, Jim was enquiring about the value of BT31, the conversation fortunately stopped when the entourage of Lancias’ arrived which Dean and the Leech boys joined…a close call!

A couple of weeks later I was cleaning the car. All of a sudden the double doors flew open with a crash and out came Mal Preston in ‘full flight’ RODWAY he shouted, ‘Did you write to the Repco Board offering to buy this car without even consulting me? I am your boss and the least you could do is tell me’ He was furious. He asked ‘Why didn’t you consult me first’. I replied in a rather shocked state, because you possibly would have talked me out of it Mal. He shouted at me for a minute then disappeared back to his office again. I was very low. I realised I had done my dash and might not even have a job!

A few minutes later Mal appeared very quiet and subdued. ‘I am very sorry for that outburst Rodway, I have thought about your reply and you are probably right, I would have bloody well talked you out of it’. It is of great credit to Malcolm that he was that sort of boss. He treated us all as equals and he got the most out of his employees that way. As he went to depart I called to him. Are you with me or against me Mal, he turned and said I will help you all I can. The matter was never discussed between us again.

During the following weeks I heard all kinds of stories about BT31. Several people wanted to buy it internally. BT31 was built in 1968, by then it was 1971, it had only raced twice by Sir Jack himself and was still setup as he raced it including all decals, accessories, gear ratios etc. It certainly was not an old car as some have suggested. There must have been many discussions and arguments about what was going to happen to the car within Repco until one night about 6 pm I was consigning some parcels, when Mal Preston came storming out of his office over to my desk.

RODWAY  he shouted again, ‘I want you to get that F…..g car out of this f…..g workshop tonight, load it on a f……g trailer and I never ever want to see the f…….g car again ! As he stormed back to his office I called what about the money, as I had to get it. He shouted out he didn’t care at all about that just get it out of here now’.’

program

‘And so, BT31/1 was Mine…

BT31 spent the night on Jack Brabham’s old trailer in suburban Burke Road, Kew where I was living at the time with not much car parking. Anyway it was still there next morning! I rang up my good friend Peter Holinger who was now, after the Repco Brabham closure working in his own workshop in Warrandyte. He was happy to store the car in return for making a duplicate chassis for himself. He had decided to build another hillclimb car to replace the Vincent powered one that had brought him so much success.

Now that I had it I had to pay for it!, fortunately a wealthy uncle, who had a large, successful bakery business came to the party. It took a while for Repco to process my cheque, i firmly believe had i not paid for the car no-one would have asked for the money.

I left the car in Holingers’ care, it was in the safest of hands. He photographed the suspension and measured all the lengths of the components and duplicated the space frame so well that years later at Morwell Hillclimb he borrowed the shock absorbers and a few bits from BT31 and won the event with some of my suspension parts. He even used the fibreglass seat insert to make a pattern for another one.’

brabham letter

‘830 Series Engines, Paperwork and BT31’s Rarity…

repco 2.5 830 series

Repco ‘830 Series’ 2.5 litre ‘Tasman’ V8. SOHC gear driven per bank, Lucas fuel injection, 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 ex Garrie Cooper Elfin 600D and has the later ‘Indy’ sump assy and combined oil pressure/scavenge pump. (TNF)

BT31 was fitted with Repcos’ latest ‘830 Series’ Tasman V8. The engine was first used by Brabham in his BT23E in practice for the 1968 Sandown Tasman round, he raced with an ‘840 Series’, which failed, Jim Clark winning the race in his Lotus 49DFW.

The ‘830’ incorporated the shorter, more rigid ‘800 Series’ block developed for the 1968 F1 engines by Norm Wilson with the ’30 Series’ cross-flow SOHC heads. With a bore and stroke of 3.34X2.16 inches, the engine developed 295bhp @ 9000rpm and weighed 150Kg.

‘The 830 was such a good reliable engine Jack stated that had Repco developed a 3 litre version (despite what people may tell you, we never EVER built a 3 litre 830 but I think Don Halpin has since) we would have quite possibly have retained the World Champioship in 1968.

Jack said that the 830 was such a great engine in 2.5 form and was so much lighter than the oposition despite being down on horsepower by comparison. I remember Jack saying to us fellows in the engine assy area one day. ‘If Ferrari had the horsepower they claim to have they would be leaving me behind by a much bigger margin than they are leaving me behind’ !!! We will never know what the 830 would have produced at 3 litres capacity?’

At the time, two 2.5 Litre 830’s were built for the car. Other 830’s were subsequently built for other Tasman competitors.

‘Now as our commercial manager Bob Sippo had been moved on to the Repco Replex Company we had no-one really able to make any commercial decisions. One night the Bob Jane Racing fellas turned up and I was informed that we were lending them one of the 2.5 litre 830 engines. (for the Bob Britton built ‘Jane Repco’, a car constructed on Brittons BT23 Brabham jig at his Sydney, Rennmax facility)

What the various companies and individual teams were charged was up to the manager and the accountants, this applied to all customers including Jack Brabham, he was of course sponsored by Repco.

So I did as I was told. Later the Bob Jane Racing boys arrived again, their car was going to Tasmania for the next meeting and they needed a spare! Well that of course meant the spare BT31 engine went too. Now as this was while the car was in Japan on display with a mock up engine and I never of course dreamed of ever owning the car I just did as instructed. The person instructing me never really had the authority to lend either engine but the factory was in disarray and the Jane organisation had been great ambassadors of our engines, the decision made sense at the time.

Neither engine ever came back of course as many others did not either. I knew about stock control and the hazards of stuff being squirreled away, the amount of stock of RB parts and even engines that were removed from my store illegally is staggering. No names, no packdrill!

I was not the least concerned about obtaining an engine, i had a good mock-up engine anyway and their were still enough bits around to build an engine.

I was not ambitious enough to buy the car to drive it as at the time I believed it was ultra valuable as an historic car, totally original as described above.

To me it is as collectible as BT19, Jacks 1966 World Championship car now in the Victorian Historic Racing Register, Melbourne, museum in Box Hill. One of the BT31 engines lay under a work bench at Bob Jane Racing for quite a time so was available to any collector.

In contrast I went to Sydney and called at Jack Brabham Ford to see BT19 when it arrived from the UK. A salesman showed me what was left of an F1 car. There was not too much of the car there, no engine and lots of parts missing. I am not sure if the wheels were there. Later BT19 was totally restored by Jim Shepherd to as new condition, Don Halpin built an original ‘620 Series’ Oldsmobile engine for it.

What I am saying is that BT 19 did not have an original engine or body and was mostly built up to original, BT31 in contrast even had the Bathurst tyres still on it and was totally original with an original engine available.’

rod and bt 31 sandown

Rod Wolfe, Brabham BT31/1 and faithful Leyland P76 towcar, mid ’80’s Sandown.  Car fitted with mock-up ‘740 Series’ exhaust between the Vee, V8 in this shot. (Rodway Wolfe)

‘Working on the Repco F5000 Engine and home to Gippsland…

With the BT31 safely stored with Peter Holinger I continued at REDCO assisting with the new Repco Holden F5000 engine. We were all busy with only 5 of us to do everything, Mal Preston had a big job to do. Don Halpin was in charge of the workshop, he was exactly the right choice to work with Malcolm. Malcolm was always thinking, I mean always! so he would expect problems before they had a chance to happen in an uncanny sort of way and Don was seemingly unruffled at any problem so the combination worked very well with some very amusing conversations between them at times.

I had a variety of duties as I did stuff including porting cylinder heads and all the consignment of RBE parts and acquisition of F5000 bits. I enjoyed working with all my mates from the RB project and despite our regular ‘innings’ on various subjects I admired Mal Preston very much and learnt a lot from his rather unusual management style. He did tell me once after one of our sparring matches that out of all the boys I was the one most likely to end up working for myself eventually! I never worked out if it was a compliment or not.

Mal Preston was the right man for that F5000 project, his passing recently was very sad.

As I was not that happy with the situation, it was not a personal reason but a Repco political situation, eventually I resigned to go home to Gippsland. I ended up at Peter Holinger’s working with Pete and his wife Bev, after a period with them I departed Melbourne and towed BT31 behind to Gippsland. The car was a bit out of place on a farm in the country and various articles were appearing in motor magazines about it.

In my spare time I used to fully dismantle it and got to know every nut and bolt. My small son was toddler size and I used to make up a bed for him in the cockpit where he slept until the early hours of the morning and loved it. I am sorry to inform subsequent owners that my son holds the record for most hours in the cockpit!

I had the chassis gently sand cleaned and repainted by a good friend. You have to be very gentle with a space frame as you can upset the tension of the various tubes if it is sandblasted too severely. It was a satisfying pastime getting to know exactly what went into a Repco Brabham design.

I was a Kawasaki motorcycle dealer for a time and used BT31 as a display feature in the country showroom, it enabled me to meet lots of interesting people.

I would have loved to convert the BT31 to a hill climb car for myself as I had hill climbed a Cooper Mini and usually won my class at Morwell Hill Climb and loved it but I really believed to break that magic of Jack Brabham being the only driver and all original condition I would be a fool. One of my aims was to get recognition of Repco Brabham in Australia, even Phil Irving told me how Repco had totally missed the boat when it came to claiming the fame that they should have been recognised for.

I wrote to Ampol (Australian oil company) first giving them all the details and informing them of their association with the car. The car still had the Ampol decals on the nose cone too. A little secret here, we never did use Ampol oil, it was Shell ‘Super M’ in Ampol drums but that’s normal in advertising, only because Ampol did not make a racing oil. But even at director level they were not really interested. I have a file of old letters from various Australian Companies and museums. There was just no real interest.

I eventually moved to Metung on the Gippsland Lakes in the late ’70s and began a new sort of engineering with boats and became a Volvo Penta service agent.

BT31 gave me a huge insight into motor racing and motor sport generally. Many people were attracted to the car and i got to know them as a consequence. The legendary race car engineer John Sheppard spent holidays at Metung, we had many hours talking about his times including managing the Holden Dealer Team after Harry Firth.

The great Peter Brock and his engineer at the time, Bruce Nowacki spent hours leaning on the cars rear wing, Pete was a fantastic source of driving and handling technique so I was in another world. He and Bev even came and stayed at our holiday accommodation in Metung.

One day a guy showed up wanting to see BT31. He introduced himself as Austin Miller, or Aussie Miller. He was a fantastic character, he owned a crop dusting and spraying company in Northern Victoria. On looking up his past I realised just who he was. The fastest man on wheels in Australia prior to the Bluebird of Donald Campbell. A legend of Australia’s Motor Sports’ past and in the Guinness Book of Records.

I also featured the car on display at various race meetings. One Sandown meeting was very special. I met and talked for an hour or more with the great John Surtees. He was so down to earth and discussed the Italian Grand Prix between he and Jack Brabham at Monza in 1967. I also met and talked to Tom Wheatcroft, he told me all about Donington Park, his race circuit in the UK.

All these people could see my dedication to the Repco Brabham engines and they responded by letting go on their own particular  Motor Sport interests.’

babe

BT31/1 and ‘Penthouse Pet of The Year’ Tracey Wallace..shot of poor resolution sadly. AGP Calder auction 1980. (Rodway Wolfe)

‘Time To Sell…

Finally as the salt air beside the lake at Metung was getting to the car, I was disappointed with the lack of interest in preservation of BT31.

So I sent the car to auction prior to the 1980 Grand Prix at Calder. I set a reserve price, there was lots of hype and Alan Jones and Tracy Wallace (Miss Penthouse of the year)  and other Australian motoring greats.I passed it in after a very good bid but slightly under my reserve. So I returned to Metung and kept the car for another term.

One day I received an offer from a museum owner who wanted the car for his collection. At last I thought I was on to something to keep me happy with the RB history. I believed this guy had the resources to purchase a going engine from Bob Jane. The guy purchased the car and forwarded a deposit and made several payments but never the full amount so the sale fell through.

I decided if Australia didn’t want the car I would advertise it in ‘Road and Track’. There were problems in placing the ad as they decided the car was a replica and didn’t want to run the advertisement! In the meantime a guy showed up in a Rolls Royce asking about it. He was a Sydney specialist Doctor. He specialised in repairing people after bombs had exploded, especially facial damage. He made up new jawbones from other body parts etc. It was a gruesome job, he had worked for many years in Ireland for experience. He never smiled and actually reminded me a bit of the film star Jack Palance. The Rolls Royce was filthy, covered in mud and he explained it had been in a motorkhana the weekend before!

He wanted BT31 and as I was browned off generally as all my attempts to preserve it for Australia had flown out the window. I had the advantage of already obtaining most of the required funds due to the museums closure and failure of the previous sale. So I agreed to sell the car, it was 1984. We did a deal and Don Halpin arranged to construct an engine for him.

Finally the ‘R&T’ ad bore fruit as Bib Stillwell contacted me. He was President of the LearJet Corporation in America at the time and wanted to buy  BT31. Of course being a mate of Jack Brabham’s he knew all about the car. I explained that I had received a deposit and had sold it to the Sydney doctor subject to his final cheque arriving. Much to Bibs’ frustration, he tried hard to convince me to sell the car to him but i had committed to Dr William Marshall. Bib got his wish and did buy the car later, he won a lot of races ‘in period’ with Brabhams and was keen to own it.

Marshall put a team together and did race the car for a time and had a fairly serious crash during his term of ownership.’

bt 31 sandown bo sippo

Dr William Marshall in the cockpit, older gent former RBE Commercial Manager Bob Sippo and a mechanic, Sandown, not long after the cars ‘re-debut’. (Rodway Wolfe)

‘Bib Stillwell and BT31…

Some time later I was invited to an historic Sandown meeting and sure enough there was Bib Stillwell with BT31 looking great in the Stillwell green colours, he bought the car from Marshall in 1987. I was looking at the car in the pits and had not made myself known and said in my typical fashion. ‘Hey what’s with this green’ a big guy stood up and said and why shouldn’t it be green. I piped up that it was built red, raced red and Bib hearing all this came over and said hello.

We ended up very good friends. At one stage he said ‘You should have sold it to me first Roddy’. I was impressed with his driving that day. He really put in. I also suspect a little extra effort because I was there in his pit, when he came back he was covered in perspiration and all red in the face. He walked over and put his arm around my shoulder and said ‘How was that Roddy did I do a good enough job?’. I was pleased that he cared what that I had kept the car in original shape for so long. He was a born racer as Bob Jane was as well. They were not just collectors they were users and drivers.

We Repco boys were invited to Geelong on Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay for a special sprint meeting on the waterfront. The Geelong sprints are a wonderful spectacle on a good day. During the afternoon Don Halpin came in to the RB tent and said to me ‘Bibs gone in’ of course meaning an accident. We did not all rush down there of course and later I became aware that somehow it had been a very bad accident and Bib had multiple fractures of his legs. He had an extensive stay in Geelong hospital and sadly I think that he never recovered fully from that accident.

It was a long and tough call on Bib and he was no spring chicken. He also had lots of problems as the bottom had dropped out of new car sales in Australia. Sometime later he tragically collapsed and died of a heart attack in his Kew showroom. I don’t think that the BT31 had added much to his fine racing career.

The car was rebuilt and sold overseas and has since changed hands numerous times, but is back in Australia.

Nowadays I have the great pleasure of occasionally seeing BT31 in flight under various owners and I was impressed to see the car looking so good at Phillip Island in 2014. It gives me a lot of satisfaction in my older age and the reception I get from the younger owners is pleasing to say the least.

Long live BT31, the only one built and built specially as a works car for Sir Jack Brabham to race in Australia. You cannot get a car much more historic than that’.’

bib stillwell and bt31

BT31 Phil Irving and Bib Stillwell, Sandown, late 1990’s. Stillwell won 3 of his 4 1960’s Australian Gold Star Championships in Brabhams, a World Class steerer in his day. (Rodway Wolfe)

bartlett brabham bt31

Kevin Bartlett track testing BT31, whilst owned by William Marshall in 1987 at Oran Park, Sydney for ‘Wheels’ magazine. Bartlett typically sideways! (Wheels)

Etcetera…Track Test of BT31/1 by Kevin Bartlett in 1987…

Australian Gold Star Champion in 1968 and 1969, Bathurst Winner and ex-Brabham racer Kevin Bartlett track tested the car for ‘Wheels’ magazine, the article written by Graham Howard was published in August 1987. These are excerpts from that article;

‘…The car fires up and Bartlett hops right into it, giving it three hard bootfuls of throttle on the way to the first corner. Just so the car knows whos’ boss right? To the onlookers there is no doubt. All the gearchanges go in, the throttle work is smooth and confident. Progressively he is getting faster everywhere, braking later-tho still a bit early, it seeems, and now after a few laps starting to find the outside of the kerbs on the way out of corners’. Then he comes in.

KB, ‘It doesn’t like getting its power to the ground, does it. And the brakes are a worry. The front to rear balance is not right. The throttle needs heavier return springs’. He removes the seat and goes again. ‘Its a good torquey little engine from 3100-3200’. He suggests shock and tyre pressure changes. Present day Australian Historic Regs don’t allow a wing which Bartlett concludes it needs.

‘You can see the understeer into the corner but his exits are clean, decisive much steadier as he steers the car with its own noise, vanishing away with successive upward shrieks of acceeleration, gearchange, more acceleration. He is fast and accurate and the impressive thing is how, with a very peaky engine and a car with a willingness to break into wheelspin, Bartlett is stringing together lap after lap without a slip. No extravagant wheelspin, no attitude on the car, this mate, this is car control.’

Says KB, ‘Its understeering, just, which is the way they used to be. A bit, thats all on turn in, but you fix that with the throttle. It is better with the lower tyre pressures and stiffer rear shocks, not perfect but better. The engine starts to work at 5000 and at 6000 the cams come in, so you’ve got to drive it between 6000-7500. Any engine like this you have to work it right thru its range. No point having your gears too close. Its a good engine though, a good car.’

Graham Howard asked KB how his 1968 Gold Star winning Brabham BT23D Alfa (2.5 litre T33 V8 engine) would go up against BT31…’It would be very even, it would depend on the driver. I feel the chassis we had, with the Alfa V8, might have got the power to the ground better. But with the right tyres and a wing this car could be fantastic. The actual driving position is full of memories. I did my championship years in cars like this. It feels like home again.’

bartlett brabham bt 31 1

Bartlett BT31 in profile, Oran Park 1987. KB raced Brabhams BT2 Ford, BT11A Climax, BT23D Alfa, BT43 Chev and others in his successful single-seater years…(Wheels)

Photo Credits…

Rodway Wolfe, Dale Harvey, Rod MacKenzie, Dick Simpson, Mildren Films,The Nostalgia Forum, Bob Frankel

Bibliography…

sergent.com, ‘Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, ‘Historic RacingCars in Australia’ John Blanden, Wheels magazine, Rodway Wolfe Collection, Racing Car News

Tailpiece: Brabham, Mount Panorama Easter 1969…

(B Frankel)

Finito…

duca and friends

Lotus council of war…Peter Warr, Ayrton Senna and Gerard Ducarouge with Niki Lauda. The three men responsible for the recovery of Lotus competitveness in the Mid-80’s…

I read with sadness of the death of French design great Gerard Ducarouge on 24 February at 73 years old.

At the weekend I drafted this introduction to an unpublished piece on Adrian Newey…It’s been interesting to learn about and admire the careers of the sports outstanding engineer/designers before my time and since i became interested in motor racing enjoy the efforts of the design stars of the day and wait in eager anticipation of their next creations.

It’s the ones who have enjoyed enduring success I have always been most drawn to. Janos’ and Chapmans’ contributions over 30 years truly amazing.

Dr Porsche, Vittorio Jano and Jim Hall predate my period of interest but Colin Chapman, Mauro Forghieri, Gerard Ducarouge, Gordon Murray, John Barnard and Adrian Newey i have followed since 1972.

Ducarouge obtained a Degree in Aeronautics and commenced his career with Nord Aviation and soon moved to Matra where he worked his way up through the ranks and was responsible for the fabulous 1969 F1 Championship winning Matra MS80 Ford, Jackie Stewart winning the drivers championship and Matra the manufacturers.

ms80

Ducarouges’ 1969 championship winning Matra MS80 Ford. Aluminium monocoque, front suspension upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/damper units. Rear single top link, parallel lower links, twin radius rods and coil spring/damper units. Ford Cosworth DFV V8, circa 435 bhp, Hewland FG400 gearbox. (Unattributed)

He was also responsible for the equally fabulous Matra MS670 championship winning sportscars before moving to Ligier, also Matra powered, when they entered F1 in 1976.

He was dropped by Ligier in 1981 after the success of the ground effects JS11 in 1979 and 1980, moved to Alfa and then Lotus where, together with Peter Warr (team manager) and Ayrton Senna turned around the fortunes of one of the great marques which had floundered since Colin Chapmans death in 1982. The Lotus 95T Renault was very competitive in Mansell and DeAngelis’ hands in 1984 and provided a base for the 97T which followed, a winner in Sennas’ hands in 1985.

He later worked with Larrousse and returned to Ligier in 1991, leaving in 1994 to return to his roots at Matra as International Development Director.

This is not a detailed account of a great career, rather a short piece to recognise the passing of a great man and an innovative and intuitive designer

lotus 95t

Lotus 95T Renault. Ducarouge ’84 design, carbon fibre chassis, wishbones and pull rod suspension front and rear with coil springs. Renault EF4 V6 DOHC twin turbo 1.5 litre, circa 800bhp. Lotus/Hewland ‘box. 1190Lb. (Tony Matthews)

Credits…

Tony Matthews

 

ferrari 2016 concept 1

Ferrari have developed this concept as part of their contribution to the debate about how the Grand Prix car of the future could look. Am not so sure about it, but like a wart, it may grow on me over time…

They are seeking feedback from fans so let ’em have it ! ;

http://formula1.ferrari.com/news/concept-f1-we-value-your-comments

ferrari 2016 concept

One of my favourite contemporary F1 writers is Mark Hughes of ‘Motor Sport’, his view on what changes are likely in the next couple of years is worth reading;

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/opinion/f1s-aerodynamic-catch-22/

Pininfarina Sigma Ferrari Safety Concept Car 1969…

Funnily enough when i first saw Ferraris’ concept it reminded me of the ‘Sigma Safety Car’ which was equivalently ‘way out’ at the time, mind you it was a running car not a computer image…and was very effective in showcasing technology which saved drivers lives, not an effort ‘to spice up the show’ which the car above is fundamentally all about.

sigma front

Pininfarina Sigma used ‘hardware’ from the contemporary 1967/8 Ferrari 312. 3 litre 48 valve 430bhp V12 and 5 speed gearbox, front and rear suspension, uprights, brakes wheels and tyres. 590Kg. Pininfarina)

The idea for the car was inspired by Dr. Michael Hendersons’ 1967 book  ‘Motor Racing in Safety’. Dr Henderson is a Brit who moved to Australia in 1968. He is still a very active figure in CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport), he Chairs the CAMS ‘Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety’, was recently appointed a Fellow of the ‘FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety’ and still races, the ex-Niki Lauda March 722 Ford a car he campaigned not so long ago.

He raced in the UK before moving to Oz establishing the ‘Traffic Accident Research Unit’ in New South Wales.

He continued to race in Australia, but it was his professional involvement in accident analysis and the promotion of safety features in cars, both on road and track which lead to writing his book and the development of the original six-point GQ/Willans safety harness which was to be used globally in motor sport at that time.

Joan Williamson wrote in ‘Retro Speed’…’His contribution to motor racing safety continued with his involvement in the Pinafarina/Ferrari Sigma Grand Prix – a race safety concept vehicle that demonstrated features now carried by all current Formula One cars’.

sigma from above

Sigma from above; far forward rear wing which doubles as roll over protection, pontoons, enveloped front wheels, practice adopted by Tyrrrell in 1971. Ferrari front suspension inboard by top rocker operating coil spring/damper unit, lower wishbone. (Unattributed)

The Sigma, the name chosen by way of reference to a 1963 Pininfarina sedan safety project, was built in 1969 by Carrozzeria Pininfarina in cooperation with Swiss magazine Revue Automobiles’, editor Robert Braunschweig taking the lead role in the projects gestation and completion. Ferrari supplied its contemporary V12 FI engine, gearbox and other suspension and brake componentry.

Sigma was designed by Paolo Martin, Henderson flown to Europe to consult on the project. The car was designed as a safety prototype, never intended to compete but rather to showcase features to protect the driver.

I wrote an article about another of Paolo Martins’ designs for Pininfarina a while back, the Ferrari Dino Competitzione 206S;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/27/ferrari-dino-206-competizione-pininfarinas-1967-yellow-dino-and-ferrari-dino-206-s/

Mercedes and Fiat engineers were also involved and F1 driver/journalist Paul Frere was recruited to test the car. The Sigma was a great looking racer with the benefit of hindsight, but ‘visually challenging’ in its day, as Ferraris’ latest offering also is.

 

sigma tub

Sigma unique monocoque chassis. Deformable structure regs would come, ‘fully enclosed’ wheels would not in F1. (Pininfarina)

The chassis has two compartments, one for the driver and one for the engine. Each of these had collapsible impact zones to protect the driver. Sigma bodywork largely enclosed the cars suspension and wheels having pontoons each side for protection and to prevent ‘intersecting wheel’ collisions.

The rear wing was moved forward and reinforced to double as a roll bar or hoop. The car had foam filled flexible fuel tanks, an automatic built-in fire extinguisher, six-point safety harness and even a head and neck support system thirty years before F1 adopted the HANS device.

A car well ahead of its time, but one which lead the way for modern safety features which have now become standard.

Two wooden 1:5 scale models were built to refine the concept, these are owned by Automobile Revue and Ferrari whilst the car, which made its debut at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show, is part of Pininfarinas’ collection and occasionally travels around the world as a motor show starlet.

Todays F1 is relatively safe despite the ferocity of some of the accidents of the last 25 years, in 1968 Jim Clark,(F2) Mike Spence,(Indy) Ludovico Scarfiotti (Hillclimb) and Jo Schlesser (F1) all died in racing cars.

Sigma certainly played its part in the long process of changes to circuit design and licensing, competition car design and materials adoption and driver apparel improvements to get to where we are today…where Ferrari’s design of the future can address style rather than substance…

sigma rear

‘Butt shot’ shows the side and rear pontoons for both driver protection and to prevent intersecting wheels. Ferrari conventioanl rear end for the period; outboard suspension, single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin parallel radius rods, the top 2 can be seen and coil spring/shocker. (auta5p.eu)

sigma front 1

Etcetera…

Conceptual drawings on the journey to Sigmas’ creation.

sigma concepts

Credits…

‘Retro Speed’ Joan Williamson, Scuderia Ferrari, auta5p.eu, Theo Page

mini paddo

The Mini photographed in the year of its launch, 1959, at Paddington Station by Henry Manney of ‘Road & Track’ fame…

The Mini was launched to the press in April 1959, this photo taken by Henry Manney at Paddington Station. Maybe one of our British readers can tell us if this is the site of the cars launch?

Leonard Lord, the head of British Motor Corporation, laid down the design parameters for a small fuel efficient car during the Suez Crisis, which spiked the price of oil and caused its rationing in the UK. Alec Issigonis and his small team at Morris created a design icon which was voted the second most influential car of the last century after Henry Fords Model T.

The Cheltenham Spa Express or ‘Cheltenham Flyer’ is a train service from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa in Gloucestershire. Rivalry between railway companies in the 1920’s increased speeds, the ‘Cheltenham Flyer’ so named as trains on this route were the fastest in the world at various times…Train Driver Harry Rudduck, the Tazio Nuvolari of steam ! pushed his ‘Castle Class 5006 Treganna’ train to a record of an 81.6 mph average for the 77 mile trip in 1932.

Steam hasn’t survived nor has the ‘A Series’ powered Mini but it’s comforting that both forms of transport are as contemporary now as they were in 1959…

(Henry Manney)

image

Alf Barrett leads Frank Kleinig, Alfa 8C2300 Monza and Kleinig Hudson Spl, Australian Grand Prix, Mount Panorama, Bathurst 1947…

This was the race within the race, these quite different cars were outright contenders but the AGP was a handicap Formula Libre event in those days, the race won by Bill Murray in an MG TC, neither Barrett nor Kleinig finished the race.

Alf Barrett and the Monza were the fastest combination in the immediate pre and post war periods in Australia, he was and is regarded as one of the countries greatest drivers.

Noted motoring writer and journalist Mike Kable wrote in 1998 upon Barretts’ death, ‘Alf Barrett was known as the maestro. It was an appropriate nickname because of his achievements between and after World War 2 in a supercharged straight 8 Alfa Romeo 2300 Monza at his favourite circuit – Mount Panorama at Bathurst, New South Wales.’

‘The dapper Barrett drove the thoroughbred Italian car with world class finesse and flair with exceptional physical and mental coordination and intense concentration that enabled him to control sliding the car at its absolute limits with a calm smooth flick-of-the-wrist precision. Seeing the black-helmeted Barrett in action, sitting high in the cockpit, wearing his trademark dark blue short sleeved shirt was a never-to-be forgotten treat.’

‘In an era of self funded amateurs who drove for token prize money, the challenging 6.2 mile Mount Panorama circuit was the standard setter by which the best drivers were judged. Barrett became the master in 1940 with an against-the-odds victory in the New South Wales Grand Prix. The classic race was a handicap with Barrett starting from scratch position, many of his rivals had already covered several laps before he started. He went on with a stunning performance where he set a new outright lap record that made the ‘King of the Mountain’. He had started last and finished first’.

bareet dacre stubbs

This quite stunning, evocative shot was taken by racer/specials builder George Reed at Bathurst during the 1947 AGP weekend. Barrett is in the car, Alan Ashton being passed ‘plugs by Gib Barrett during a pitstop. Its a wonderful juxtaposition of the ‘high technology’ of the day with the rural NSW backdrop. (George Reed/Dacre Stubbs Collection)

bathurst map

Barrett was born in 1908 to a well to do family in the affluent Melbourne suburb of Armadale, he and his brother Julian or ‘Gib’ inherited their fathers passion for cars. Before too long the boys were experimenting with all kinds of petrol powered devices in the large grounds of their home.

Not too far away a young mechanic, Alan Ashton was serving his time as an apprentice at AF Hollins Motors, the three of them met and were messing around with cars and bikes which they tested at Aspendale Speedway. Alf and Alan built their first racing car, a Morris Bullnose Special in 1933, initially entering hillclimbs, it was competitive too, winning the Junior 50 and Winter 100 at Phillip Island in 1934.

photo (2)

Ad for AF Hollins, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ 1947

 

lombard 1936

Barrett then bought the ex-Jack Day Lombard AL3 in late 1935 and raced the car in his first Australian Grand Prix at Victor Harbour, in South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula on December 26 1936,

It was the first AGP held outside Victoria and has been known over time as the 1937 AGP despite being held on Saturday 26 December 1936…and named when held as the ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’. It seems this ‘corruption of history’ as historian John Medley called it, commenced in the 1950’s, whence it originated nobody seems to know.

The Sporting Car Club of South Australia was formed in 1934 and played an active part in the celebration of 100 Years of European settlement of South Australia, the piece de resistance of the organising committee of the South Australian Centenary Committee was SA’s first real road race held 50 miles from Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, only a few miles from the mouth of the mighty Murray River on public roads beteen Port Elliott and Victor Harbour, then as now a summer playground. The event was run over 32 laps, 240 miles in total.

The race attracted the best cars and drivers from all around Australia, the limit men of the handicap race drove MG K3’s and Bugatti Types 37 and 43 and over 50,000 paying customers came to an event then a long way from Adelaide.

Barrett entered the Morris for Colin Anderson, his MG ‘P type’ for Tim Joshua, driving the Lombard himself. He had a handicap of 21 minutes but lost a supercharger pop-off valve and failed to finish, Andersons Morris was delayed by overheating problems and was flagged off. Tim Joshua drove an exceptional race in the P Type and was leading the event for some laps before a 7 minute stop in the pits for unidentified maladies, he finished the race second behind the winning MG P Type of Les Murphy.

victor harbour circuit

The Victor Harbour road circuit used for ‘the 1937 AGP’. Used public roads as the map shows close to the Southern Ocean, joining Port Elliott and Victor Harbour. (The Advertiser)

 

wirilinga 1938

Barrett racing his Morris Cowley Spl in the 1938 ‘Kings Birthday Grand Prix’, Wirlinga road circuit on the outskirts of Albury, NSW. (Unattributed)

In the 1938 AGP Barrett again raced the 1927 Lombard but the Cozette supercharged car, running off 22 minutes retired from the race held at Mount Panorama. Visiting Englishman Peter Whitehead won in his ERA Type B off a very favourable handicap winning from Les Burrows in a Terraplane Spl.

As part of the Albury 150th anniversary celebrations a new 4.2 mile circuit was laid out on public roads at Wirlinga, an Albury suburb, Albury is a town on the Murray River on the New South Wales/Victoria border.

Barrett contested the ‘Kings Birthday Grand Prix’ or ‘Interstate Grand Prix’- the event seems to have been attributed a variety of names, in the Cowley on 19 March 1938, it was won by local Wangaratta boy Jack Phillips in his self built Phillips Ford V8 Spl.

barrett cowley lobethal 1938

Barrett competing in the Morris Bullnose Spl, Lobethal ’50 Mile Handicap’ 1938. Kayannie Corner. The practice would be put to good use the following year. (Norman Howard)

 

monza blanden cover

This is the fabulous cover of John Blandens’ seminal book ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’. The fact that Barrett and the Monza, of the hundreds of cars and drivers written about in the publication made the cover says everything about the noted late historians opinion of Barrett and his place in the pantheon of Australian drivers…the scene depicted is at Bathurst 1938.Alan Ashton and Alf changing a wheel on the Monza.

In late 1938 Barrett acquired and imported the Monza from the UK, it had been raced successfully there by AP ‘Ginger’ Hamilton.

Chassis #2211134 was built in 1932 and sold to Raymond Somner, he won the Marseilles Grand Prix at Miramas in September 1932 and several other events selling the car back to the factory having acquired a Maserati for 1933. Hamilton bought it in late 1933 and raced the car extensively in the ensuing five years, there is a comprehensive record of the cars competition record in Europe in at the end of this article.

I wrote about the design and specifications of the Alfa Romeo Monza in an earlier article so will not repeat that information here, click on this link to that article. https://primotipo.com/2014/10/09/antonio-brivio-targa-florio-1933-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

When the Monza arrived in Australia it was prepared by Alan Ashton, he acquired a reputation as one of the most talented engineers in the country, fettling cars for Barrett until the end of his career and later Tony Gaze and then Lex Davison throughout his reign in the 1950’s and 1960’s as well as various international drivers who sought his talents.

The Alfa arrived in time for the last pre-War AGP held on the fast, daunting road course at Lobethal in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

barrett lobethal

Barrett Lobethal 1939 AGP, superb Norman Howard shot. Sandbags, barb wire fences, eucalypts, crowd on the hill, wonderful. Dangerous but wonderful…

 

lobethal map 2

 

lobethal township

Bucolic Lobethal in the late 1930’s…the race progressed into, through and out of the main road shown in this aerial shot. (State Library of SA)

South Australian, Patrick Atherton in his website ‘Lagler Racing’ paints a vivid picture of the circuit, these are still public roads upon which you can drive thus…

‘From the old start-finish and grandstand area north of Charleston you could be forgiven for thinking it’s nothing special. No really challenging corners just sweeping curves. But put it into context; these cars had spindly wires and tyres, cart springs and beam axles and near useless drum brakes. These ‘curves’ are all blind. There are crests preceding all of them, particularly the bridges, which funnel into chutes. Think of these machines dropping on to their suspension in mid-air whilst turning at 100mph.

Through the little town of Charleston, with it’s pub (still there) the crowds were thick. Stories abound of drivers stopping, mid practice sessions for a pint or two.Out past here are frightening kinks, all blind, all crests and dips. Then a blind right hand kink sucks you into Kayannie corner, the tight right hander leaving Woodside Road and heading towards the township of Lobethal. Here the spectators got off the train from Adelaide straight into spectator areas at the side of the track, driver’s left.

The climb up the hill is significant, mostly straight for almost two km, but at the top, this track steals straight from the soul of Nurburgring. Lined by trees, the blind crest plummets away left, bottoms out right, drops away again, into a rollercoaster left. Then it flattens, raises slightly, then another drop into the braking area for the hard right hander (Mill corner) into Lobethal’s main street. Even the main street isn’t straight. Past the pub on the right there’s now a little ribbon of paving (Indianapolis-style) across the road and a plaque to commemorate the racing era.

Up the hill it funnels between shops and houses and then there is the blind, off-camber Gumeracha Corner, which claimed lives. The stretch from here to the start-finish hairpin has to be experienced. 5 km of crests, blind curves, feature changes and major undulation. Here is where the truly great drivers would have made up time on nothing more than sheer bravery. Indeed they did, and one in particular, winner Alan Tomlinson.’

barrett lobethal practice

Barrett during practice with a passenger, a fearsomely quick ride on this roller-coaster technically very difficult circuit of the brave, skilful and committed. Kayannie Corner, Lobethal AGP 1939. Railway line to Adelaide, bucolic delights of Lobethal clear to see. (Norman Howard)

Jack Saywell had the car with the most potential, an Alfa P3 fitted with a 2.9 litre supercharged straight-eight, Barrett’s Monza, also designed by Vittorio Jano, had a less sophisticated 2.3 litre supercharged straight 8. A big incident in practice involved Barrett’s avoidance of a slow moving MG, the Monza ran off the road at high speed, a rear wheel hitting a gutter and throwing the car high into the air landing 20 metres down the road. Alf brought the car back under control, the incident causing a bent back axle and buckled wheel which were fixed by Ashton overnight, but the wheelbase was 2 inches shorter on one side of the car than the other.

60,000 people attended the event, Barrett stalled at the start, losing 5 minutes in the process. He finished eighth, the handicap event was won in legendary fashion by Alan Tomlinson in a supercharged MG TA Spl.

Despite his handicap Tomlinson ‘punched way above his weight’, his preparation for the race meticulous. He walked the circuit in the weeks prior to the event and drove around it in another TC practicing each section patrticularly the 5Km stretch from Gumeracha Corner to the Start-Finish hairpin, he knew that section would be key for a driver in a notionally slower car, if you were brave enough…Tomlinson was to say after the race that Saywell’s Alfa held him up on that stretch! Tomlinson returned to Lobethal in 1940 for the SA Trophy and almost lost his life in an horrific accident after colliding with another car, careering off the road through a wire fence, lucky not to be decapitated and hit a tree. The young WA driver did not race again but lived into his 90’s.

Check out this fabulous documentary on the short but sweet history of Lobethal road circuit…https://vimeo.com/83756140

The Monza quickly established lap records at Lobethal, Bathurst, Albury Wirlinga, Nowra, Ballarat and Point Cook. It’s last pre-war start was at Wirlinga in 1939, winning a short handicap and setting a lap record of over 90mph on the gravel course.

monza nuroootpa 1939

Barrett sorts himself and his new Monza out at the start of the 1939 AGP at Lobethal SA. He stalled the car and was well behind the field by the time he cleared fouled plugs. (Norman Howard)

 

barett lobethal 2

Wonderful high speed pan of the 8C2300 Monza, and its dark blue shirted driver, Lobethal 1939. (Norman Howard)

 

lobethal scene

AGP Meeting crowd scene, Lobethal 1939…captures the atmosphere and undulatig nature of the roads. (State Library of SA)

 

barett bathurst 1947

Barrett showing the deftness of touch and relaxed driving style for which he was famous. Monza, Bathurst AGP 1947. (John Blanden Collection)

During WW2 Alf and ‘Gib’ served in the RAAF, returning to racing after hostilities ceased,
in late 1946 the Monza was again race prepared.

The first race meeting organised by the LCCA in Victoria was at Ballarat Airfield in February 1947, the RAAF made the facility available for creation of a road circuit.

Over 30,000 people attended the event which featured all of the stars of the day, Barrett thrilled the crowds with his driving and the sight and sound of the fabulous supercharged straight-eight engine. Alf didn’t beat the handicappers on the day, off scratch he gave away 22 minutes to the limitman, Hollinsheads’ MG J2, victory in the feature race, the Victorian Trophy went to Doug Whiteford in ‘Black Bess’, the Ford V8 Spl later to win the 1950 AGP.

This fantastic bit of footage shows both the Ballarat 1947 event and 1961 International Meeting contested by Dan Gurney, Graham Hill and many others. Don’t be put off by the commentary, Barrett is driving his Monza not an Alfa P3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2uwd7m6UGo barett ballarat

At Nowra, a new airstrip venue in June Barrett won both the over 1500cc event and 110 mile NSW Championship in the Monza achieving both the fastest lap at 93mph and time despite a pitstop.

Whilst motor racing recommenced post war in Paris on September 9 1945 the first post war Australian event seems to be a Hillclimb at Foleys Hill out of Sydney, whilst the AGP was not held until 1947 at Bathurst.

Despite problems with the police in getting the requisite permit and dissension in the ranks of the drivers there were 29 acceptances and 22 starters of the race.

monza bathurst 1947

The caption of this photo is of ‘Alf Barrett receives the chequered flag October 1947’, he DNF’d the AGP so perhaps this is the finish of a preliminary race. Wonderful shot all the same. (Unattributed)

Barrett’s Monza was off scratch due to the absence of Saywells faster P3, it’s engine was dispatched by sea prewar to Italy for a rebuild, never to survive the voyage. Lex Davison entered a Mercedes SSK 38/250, the first of many successful AGP’s for the Victorian, other fast cars included the Kleinig Hudson Spl of Frank Kleinig, Hope Bartlett’s Dixon Riley and Ewing’s Buick Spl.

davison and barrett bathirst 1947

Lex Davison leads Alf Barrett AGP 1947. Mercedes 38/250 and Alfa Monza respectively…it would not be long till Lex impoted a Jano designed Alfa of his own, he imported a P3 in 1948 Davison set the fastest overall race time in the fearsome 7.6 litre SSK but was classified 3rd under the handicap system. (Byron Gunther)

Practice was on the preceding Thursday and Sunday, Barrett enlivened proceedings by taking all and sundry for rides around Mount Panorama in the Monza, as did Lex Davison in his Merc complete with linen helmet, goggles, coat and tie!

Barrett gave away 37 minutes to the first car away, Alf lapping at 3:08 and 124mph down the ‘narrow, bumpy and spooky Conrod Straight between the trees’ but retired on lap 27 with valve insert trouble- he really didn’t ever have a surplus of AGP luck!, the race was won by Bill Murrays’ MG TC.

‘Alf in his 8C2300 was the fastest driver in Australia in 1947’ according to John Medley but for 1948 the level of competition increased with Tony Gaze and Lex Davison importing a 2 litre supercharged Alta and Alfa Romeo P3/Tipo B respectively.

barrett with passenger 1947

Barrett with a passenger sans helmet…before the 1947 AGP at Mount Panorama. What a wild ride it must have been. (Byron Gunther)

The 1948 AGP was held at Point Cook, its easy to forget the context of the post war times in a low key year for motor racing in Australia, John Medley in ‘Cars and Drivers #3’ wrote ‘The post war age of austerity with its restrictions and ration books still prevailed with a shortage of fuel, oil, paper, steel, food and power.’

’In fact fuel rations were tightened during the year which placed a limit on the number of events…The mainstay of Australian motor racing still remained the homebuilt sprecial, a few of them single-seaters but most two seaters used on the road with number plates and lights, and for racing.’

barrett point cook

With ‘B24 Liberator’ and 1 Bristol Beaufighter aircraft as a backdrop Barrett leads Bill Fords’ Hudson Spl (7th) and Dennis Currans’ Willys Ford V8 Spl (5th) during his brief race in conditions which were amongst the hottest of any AGP. Fantastic evocative shot. (George Thomas)

Point Cook is in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs, it was the first time the AGP was held at an airforce base and the first AGP not held on a course using public roads.

26 cars entered the race held on Australia Day, 26 January which was over 42 laps of a 3.85 km circuit comprising airfield runways, taxiways and service roads- a total distance of 100 miles. Only 10 cars completed the race which was held in excruciating hot conditions, no shade was to be had on the desolate airfield.

The handicap event, AGP’s not held as scratch events until 1951 was won by Frank Pratt a Geelong, Victoria motorcycle racer/ dealer in a BMW 328.

Barrett started the race poorly having some issues which slowed him down then was the fastest car in the race for a while before withdrawing from the event with heat exhaustion on lap 22- he was far from alone, only 10 cars finished as stated above.

Alf contested the Easter Bathurst meeting which comprised some short handicap races, he didn’t win but set fastest lap in his Alfa, Gaze blew the Alta’s 2 litre engine and Davison retired early after troubles arising from a spectacular practice crash. The feature, handicap race, the ‘NSW 100′ was won by John Barrclough’s MG NE with a fine battle between the Barrett and Davison Alfas, Barrett in the older car broke the lap record at 3m 01 seconds with Davo recording 144mph down Conrod in the P3, a new straight line speed at Mount Panorama.

Melbourne Cup Weekend in November seems to be Alf’s final race with the Monza, winning his class at Rob Roy Hillclimb at the Australian Hillclimb Championship.

With a growing family and a business to run Barrett sold the Monza and retired from racing, not entirely though!

He retired at the top, John Medley commenting about 1948 as follows…’Cars new to the scene included Lex Davison’s Alfa P3 and Tony Gaze’s two Altas with Alf Barrett’s Monza Alfa Romeo still the car to beat in major races’

The Monza passed into the hands of Rupert Steele in late 1949.

A Victorian, he was very quickly on the pace, his previous experience in a Bentley, practising the Alfa on the back roads between Beaconsfield and Dandenong to help get the feel of the fabulous machine.

He raced at Fishermans Bend, was sixth in the SA Championship at Nuriootpa, SA in 1949 and put that practice to good effect in the 1950 AGP which was also held on that quick road course in the Barossa Valley.

The race was still a handicap event, Steele finished second to Doug Whitefords’ Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’ and shared the fastest lap with Whiteford who was a formidable driver with vastly more experience than Steele albeit driving a much less sophisticated car- ‘Black Bess’ was famously based on an ex-Victorian Forestry Commission Ute!

Steele didn’t own the Monza for long, later in life he became a notable Victorian in business and horse racing, the car was advertised again for sale.

rupert steele monza nuriootpa

Rupert Steele in the Monza contesting the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa in the SA Barossa Valley. He finished second and shared the race’ fastest lap with Doug Whiteford, the winner. (John Blanden Collection)

 

edgerton victorai atrophy 1950

The next owner was Victorian ‘Racing Ron’, a very experienced driver was very competitive in the Monza racing it around the country, an initial win at Ballarat Airfield in the 1950 Victorian Trophy against strong opposition was impressive.

The car raced at the Bathurst October meeting in 1951, finishing fourth in the ‘100’ and third in the 50 Mile ‘Redex Championship’, Edgerton’s year was capped with a fourth in class at the Australian Hillclimb Championship at Rob Roy, in Melbourne’s Christmas Hills.

edgerton bathurst

‘Racing Ron’ Edgerton in the Monza ‘2211134’ ahead of Frank Kleinigs’ Kleinig Hudson Spl, Hell Corner, Bathurst in the 50 Mile ‘Redex Championship’ in October 1951. (WJ Farncourt)

 

With the inside front wheel pawing the air, ‘Racing Ron’ Edgerton drives the Monza hard up Rob Roy in 1951 (unattributed)

 

barrett

Alf Barrett hadn’t entirely retired, here he is at Bathurst in 1950 driving Tony Gaze’ 2 litre Alta Monoposto ’56S’, whilst the latter was overseas. (John Blanden)

The Winter 2012 issue of ‘Loose Fillings’ the wonderful Australian Newsletter about air-cooled racing cars had an article by the late lamented Australian Historian/Enthusiast/Racer Graham Howard.

‘He (Barrett) was at Bathurst in October 1951 as a spectator when offered a drive in Misha Ravdell’s Firth-prepared Mk4 Cooper Vincent… after Ravdell himself had been injured in a local road accident. Not having driven a racing car of any kind for more than a year and with no experience whatever of a Cooper-style car, he won a six-lap under 1500cc handicap and was well placed in the main event when he ran over a displaced sandbag and broke a driveshaft universal joint. He vividly remembered the Cooper’s vibration. ‘It was like driving a lawnmower– dreadful. You’d get out of it as if you’d been driving a lawn-mower.’ But everything else compared to his beloved Alfa was a revelation.

‘The Cooper made my hair stand on end. It ran so straight and it stopped straight. The brakes were like running into cotton wool. With the Alfa you always felt you were a foot off the ground and it would get such dreadful brake tramp. ‘The thing I noticed with the Cooper, it held on until all four wheels went together. You could go too far with the Alfa and cars like that, and they’d still hang on, the Cooper would just go snap. ‘But that little Cooper – it just went straight, it stopped straight. So when I say the Alfa was good, it was good-until the Cooper’.

barett cooper bathurst

Barrett in the borrowed Cooper Mk4 Vincent, Bathurst October 1951, he finished 1st in a race despite not having sat in the car before! He is in his ‘civvies’ collar and tie…and with a noticeable smile on his face! (John Medley)

Its fascinating to get the insights of the day from a top driver of the comparison between ‘the old and new paradigms’ of front and mid engined cars…Cooper won their first Grand Prix in Argentina 1958, in Stirling Moss’ hands, himself a former Cooper 500 exponent.

The Monza was offered for sale by Edgerton in ‘Australian Motor Sports’ in April 1951 and was bought by Toorak, Melbourne enthusiast Earl Davey Milne, it is still owned by the family and whilst in good hands and complete it remains disassembled and unrestored.

alf bwa 1953 agp

Alf racing and sharing brother Gibs BWA, in the early laps of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. The car was a fusion of MG TC Chassis, Lancia front end and steering box, Lancia wheels, brakes and 1935 Chev truck driveshafts powered by a 1.5 ltre supercharged Meadows 4 cylinder engine from a Frazer Nash! (Unattributed)

Alf made a comeback of sorts in the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, the first held at Albert Park.

Gib built a two-seater sports car called BWA, colloquially the ‘Bloody Work of Art’ pre-War but actually named after the cars builders, Messrs Barrett/Ashton/White. The BWA was converted into a single-seater post war, the 1953 AGP regs allowed two drivers so Alf started the race and handed over to Gib.

It wasn’t their best of events the pair lost 15 minutes at the start with fouled ‘plugs and then managed to set fire to it after a fuel spill at a pitstop. Still, they finished twelth, Doug Whiteford won the race in his first Talbot Lago, it was his third and final AGP win, the Lago was as aristocratic as Black Bess, his 1950 AGP winner, was proletariat having won the AGP at Bathurst in 1952 in the Lago as well.

bwa ablaze

The BWA ablaze at the Albert Park pits…this was the end of the conflagration, the ‘BBQ’ was immense at the point of ignition…the Barretts got the car going and finished the event. (Youtube)

Barrett remained a motor racing enthusiast and in a neat bookend to his careers commencement also finished it in a Morris.

He contested the 1969 Bathurst 500 in a Morris 1500 shared with Kyneton, Victoria motor dealer/racer Mel Mollison, they finished 37th. Barrett drove the car with the same verve and flair for which he was famous if not wearing the blue T-Shirt for which he was also renowned, he died in 1998.

barrett morris 1500

Tailpiece…

alf bathurst dipper monza

Barrett and Monza, descending the mountain thru ‘The Dipper’, Bathurst 1939. (Unattributed)

Etcetera…

barrett bwa rob roy

Alf Barrett racing brother Gibs’ BWA in early unbodied form. The car was a fusion of MGTC chassis, mainly Lancia componentry and supercharged 1.5 litre Meadows engine. 16th Rob Roy Hillclimb. (State Library of Victoria)

 

barrett wirlinga 1938

A close up of Alf Barrett and his Morris ‘Bullnose’ Cowley Spl, Wirlinga, Albury 1938. Car built together with brother ‘Gib’ and Alan Ashton. Historian John Medley noted that this car was destroyed in a bushfire, the engine only survived. (Unattributed)

 

Alf giving his new Monza plenty at Rob Roy on 30 January 1939 (B King)

 

alf lobethal 1939

Barrett AGP Lobethal 1939. (Norman Howard)

 

barrett lobethal 1939 2

Yet another stunning Norman Howard AGP Lobethal 1939 Barrett shot.

 

lobethal paddock

Monza in the Lobethal paddock 1940. To the left is the Jack Phillip’s Ford V8 Spl which won the main event at that meeting ‘The South Australian 100’ and at far left a Bentley Ute used as a tender vehicle. Barrett DNF with rear axle failure but set fastest lap at 5m 48sec, 92mph avg. (Ean McDowell)

 

monza ballarat

Barrett and the Monza at Ballarat Airfield February 1947. (John Blanden Collection)

 

alf bathurst 1947

Barrett, Monza, Bathurst AGP 1947…the fastest car driver combination again that year. (Byron Gunther)

 

lago and monza

Doug Whitefords’ Talbot Lago in front of the Monza, then owned by Ron Edgerton at Bathurst in 1951… a happy hunting ground for both cars. (Unattributed)

Monza # 2211134 History…

The following article was published in ‘Motor Sport’ by Denis Jenkinson in 1976 with input from Earl Davey-Milne, a Melburnian who still owns the car. monza m spoort 1 monza m sport 2

Bibliography and Credits…

John Medley in Graham Howard’s ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, ‘Loose Fillings’ Winter 2012, Motor Sport, MotorMarque, Patrick Atherton Lagler Racing, ‘Cars and Drivers’, John Medley

John Blanden, George Reed, Dacre Stubbs Collection, John Blanden Collection, Ean McDowell, John Medley, autopics, State Library of Victoria, W J Farncourt, George Thomas, Byron Gunther, Norman Howard, Allan Griffin Collection, Bob King Collection

Finito…

2001 Hungarian GP Schumacher

No-one in Schumi’s era consistently extracted more from their car and team than he did…

He raised the bar in terms of driver performance and commitment and lowered it if ‘sportsmanship’ has its place in modern professional sport/business. I like to think that it does.

2001 Season…

Schmachers’ win in the Hungarian Grand Prix was his 51st, equalling Alain Prosts’ record. It also secured his fourth world-championhip.

2001 brought a repeat of the previous year’s great results. Schumacher and Ferrari won the Drivers’ and Constructors’ title an incredible three months before the end of the season in a magnificent one-two at the Hungaroring (Schumacher from Barrichello).

It was an amazing season with nine wins (Australia, Malaysia, Spain, Monaco, Europe, France, Hungary, Belgium, Japan), 11 pole positions, 19 placings in the points with 15 of those podium positions. Ferrari finished the Championship with a total of 179 points in the Constructors’ and 123 in the Drivers’ World Championships.

f2001 ferrari cutaway

F2001 Design and Specifications…

Ferrari by this time were designing a completely new single-seater each year to keep ahead of the competition, starting with the engine, the Tipo 050, which had the same 90° vee-angle but was lighter at just 100 kg. The whole car was lighter and had been tweaked so that the regulation 600 kg minimum weight could be reached with ballast strategically positioned by the engineers around the chassis to suit the track to be raced on.

The engine is a 90° V10 Bore/stroke 96 x 41.4 mm, 2996.62 cc in total. Compression ratio 12.6 : 1 Maximum power 607 kW (825 hp) at 17,300 rpm. Valve actuation by DOHC per bank, four valves per cylinder. Magneti Marelli electronic indirect injection. Ignition electronic, single spark plug per cylinder, dry sump lubrication.Clutch multi-plate. Transmission electro-hydraulic 7-speed + reverse

The chassis was a honeycomb and carbon-fibre composite monocoque. Front suspension independent push-rod, twin wishbones, torsion bar springs, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar. Rear suspension independent push-rod, twin wishbones, torsion bar springs, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar.

Brakes carbon-carbon composite discs. Steering electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion. Front tyres 13”, Bridgestone Rear tyres 13”, Bridgestone.

schumi belgiam f2001 fazz

Schumacher Ferrari F2001 victorious at Spa 2001. Coulthard McLaren MP4/16 Mercedes and Giancarlo Fisichella Bennetton B201 Renault were 2nd and 3rd. (Unattributed)

Credits…

Scuderia Ferrari

image

Jim Clark takes a deep breath as he aims his big, heavy Lotus BRM around Oulton Park in 1966…

The Oulton Park Gold Cup was one of  numerous non-championship F1 races still run in the mid-sixties.

Clark practised the car but discretion was the better part of valour, he raced his reliable, nimble Lotus 33 Climax in the race won by Jack Brabhams’ BT19 Repco, the dominant car of 1966.

Clark finished third in the 33, a car he took over from teammate Peter Arundell after the H16 engine in his Lotus blew up shortly after setting the third fastest time, a time equalled by Jackie Stewarts’ BRM ‘H16′.

The engine famously had it’s only victory, in a Lotus 43 in Clarks’ hands in the US Grand Prix several months later.

image

Brian Watsons shot of the smoky H16 engine in Clarks’ Lotus 43 about to pop at Oulton Park!

The Lotus 43 was a much maligned car…but the facts tend to suggest it wasn’t quite as bad as many would have us believe. Clark raced the car four times in the 1966 Italian, US and Mexican GP’s and in the first of the 1967 Grands’ Prix in South Africa. He scored one win at Watkins Glen, qualified on the front row three times, once on the second and was competitive in all four events…i’m not saying he wasn’t happy to race a nimble 33 at Monaco rather than the 43 or that he was sorry to forsake the 43 for the 49 at Zandvoort however!

Its technically interesting in that the P75 BRM engine was used as a stressed member of the chassis in the same way the Ford Cosworth DFV in the  49 which followed was, much is made of this aspect of the Ford DFV’s attachment medium to the car but Vittorio Jano used the technique in his 1954 Lancia D50 GP car. T’wasnt the first time it was done.

The BRM engine was attached to the rear bulkhead, as was the DFV to the 49, the suspension mounted to the engine and gearbox as was the case with the 49.

Look at the 43 and 49 from the front and they are hard to pick…conceptually they are similar in terms of chassis and suspension, but look aft of the rear bulkhead and the massive girth of the BRM engine is in marked contrast to the svelte Keith Duckworth designed, Ford Cosworth 3 litre DFV V8… Chapman famously concepting the engine he wanted and the means by which it was to be attached to his chassis…

Jim Clark Lotus 43 BRM Italian GP 1966

The BRM P75 engine was a massive lump…essentially it was two of the P56 BRM 1.5 litre V8’s, but at 180 degrees, placed on top of each other.  Its designed weight of of 380Lbs ballooned to 555Lbs…the DFV weighed less than 400Lbs.

‘Road and Track’ magazine published the scrutineered weights of the cars at the 1966 Italian Grand Prix, the ‘Twiggy like’ Brabham BT19 weighed 1219Lb, a marked contrast to the Cooper Masers 1353Lb, and the ‘pork-chop’ BRM and Lotus 43 at 1529Lb and 1540Lb respectively.

Mind you, the Honda topped the scales at 1635Lb. Interestingly the ‘Hondola’ (Lola designed chassis) which won Monza in 1967 weighed 1309Lb, having lost 300 Kg in twelve months whereas the BRM’s had gotten heavier at 1570Lb…the Lotus 49 weighing 1200Lb.

The DFV at that stage developed about 405 BHP whereas the BRM P75 ‘H16’ never developed its claimed 400BHP and had a lot of weight to carry.

The Lotus 43 was far from the worst Lotus ever built…and many of its GP cars didn’t win Grands Prix, for sure the BRM P75 ‘H16’ engine was never to have the reliability of the 49’s Ford Cosworth DFV which one wag descibed as ‘ the spacer between the rear bulkhead and the gearbox’ such was its dependable nature!

The 49 deserves its place in the pantheon of Great Grand Prix cars but the 43 is conceptually closer to the 49 than Chapman probably wanted to admit at the time…

Jim Clark Lotus 43 BRM US GP 1966

Clark launches his Lotus 43 off the line at the start of the 1966 US GP. He is using the BRM teams spare ‘H16’ engine , his own failing at the end of practice having just qualified behind Brabhams BT 19 on pole. Clark against the odds won. Thats Surtees Coopet T81 Maserati behind and the nose of Bandini’s Ferrari…(unattributed)

Jim Clark Lotus 43 BRM Monza 1966

Clark looks happy enough as he mounts his Lotus, Monza 1966. It looks like Brabhams BT19 Repco being pushed alongside…bulk obvious, weight of engine and gearbox 675 Lbs! (unattributed)

Lotus 43 BRM drawings

Etcetera…

Jim Clark Lotus 49 Ford Dutch GP 1967

Front shot of the Lotus 49 Ford at Zandvoort 1967. Clark up. Hill won on debut after Clarks car retired whilst in the lead..not so different from the 43 at the front at least! (unattributed)

Lotus 49 Ford rear, Clark Dutch GP 1967

The delicate rear end of Jim Clarks’ Lotus 49 Ford on its debut at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1967, in marked contrast to the big, butch BRM ‘H16’! ZF gearbox. Suspension and chassis design oh, so similar to the Lotus 43…as was attachment of engine to chassis and its use as a stress bearing member (unattributed)

BRM H16 engine article

Photo Credits…

The Nostalgia Forum, Brian Watson