Archive for February, 2015


Dick Simpson


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At the weekend I drafted this introduction to an unpublished piece on Adrian Newey…It’s been interesting to learn about and admire the careers of the sports outstanding engineer/designers before my time and since i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.


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)


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 ! ;

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;

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;

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. (

sigma front 1


Conceptual drawings on the journey to Sigmas’ creation.

sigma concepts


‘Retro Speed’ Joan Williamson, Scuderia Ferrari,, 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)


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 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 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 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. The car was competitive, winning the Junior 50 and Winter 100 at Phillip Island in 1934.

photo (2)

Ad for AF Hollins, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ 1947

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,

lombard 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 50000 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)

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.

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)

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. The event 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 5 years. There is a more comprehensive record of the cars competition record in Europe in ‘Etcetera’ 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.

When the car arrived in Australia it was prepared by Alan Ashton, Ashton acquired a reputation which recognised him as one of the most talented engineers in the country, he fettled cars for Barrett until the end of his career and later 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 8, Barretts’ Monza, also designed by Vittorio Jano, had a less sophisticated 2.3 litre supercharged straight 8. A big incident in practice involved Barretts’ 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.

60000 people attended the event, Barrett stalled at the start, losing 5 minutes in the process. He finished 8th, the handicap event won 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 Saywells 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…

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)

During WW2 Alf and ‘Gib’ served in the RAAF, returning to racing after hostilities ceased…

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)

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 making their facility available for creation of a road circuit. Over 30000 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 8 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 Victoria Trophy going 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. 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.

The first post-war 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)

Barretts’ 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 the Kleinig Hudson Spl of Frank Kleinig, Hope Bartletts’ Dixon Riley and Ewings’ 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 enlivening 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 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’…’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, 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 completed the event.

Alf contested the Easter Bathurst meeting which comprised some short handicap races, he didn’t win but set fastest lap in his. Gaze blew the Altas’ 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 Barrcloughs’ MG NE with a fine battle between the Barrett and Davison Alfas’, Barrett in the older car breaking the lap record at 3m 01 seconds with Davo recording 144mph down Conrod in the P3, a new straight line speed at Mount Panorama.

Melbournes’ Cup Weekend in November seems to be Alfs’ 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!

Alf retired at the top, John Medley commenting about 1948 as follows…’Cars new to the scene included Lex Davisons’ Alfa P3 and Tony Gazes’ two Altas with Alf Barretts’ 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 who was very quickly on the pace, practising the car on the back roads between Beaconsfield and Dandenong to help get the feel of the fabulous car.

He raced at Fishermans Bend, was 6th 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 2nd to Doug Whitefords’ Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’ and shared the fastest lap with Whiteford, a formidable driver with vastly more experience than Steele albeit a much less sophisticated car. ‘Black Bess’ famously based on an ex-Victorian Forestry Commission Ute!

Steele didn’t own the car 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)

Ron Edgerton was the buyer… 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.

edgerton victorai atrophy 1950

The car raced at the Bathurst October meeting in 1951, finishing 4th in the ‘100’ and 3rd in the 50 Mile ‘Redex Championship’. The year was capped with a 4th in class at the Australian Hillclimb Championship at Rob Roy, in Melbournes’ 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)


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 Sport’ 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…Alfs’ brother Julian or ‘Gib’ was also a racer and built a 2 seater sports car called BWA, colloquially the ‘Bloody Work of Art’ pre-War but actually named after the cars builders Barrett/Ashton/White.

The BWA was converted into a single-seater post war, the 1953 AGP regs allowed 2 drivers so Alf started the race and handed over to Gib. It wasn’t their best of races the pair losing 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 12th, Doug Whiteford won the race in his first Talbot Lago, it was his third and final AGP win, the Lago 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 driving 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


alf bathurst dipper monza

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


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 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


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)


Scuderia Ferrari


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.


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


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