Archive for March, 2015

geoff and jack

‘Cmon Dad £1 a week isn’t much…you know i’m saving for a racing car!? Lets cut a deal and then you can go back to qualifying ok?…’

I doubt he did the deal, Jack a notoriously tough negotiator and parsimonious, but Geoff did get his first racer, a Bowin P6F Formula Ford in 1974 and did rather well from there, Jack doing his bit along the way!

 

jack and geoff

Geoff’s first racing car drive? Jack clicking the watches at Oran Park, Sydney 16 August 1972. Car is the Jack Brabham Ford owned Bowin P4X normally raced by Bob Beasley, and in a bit of trivia, the car in which  Jack won his last single-seater race at Calder in 1971 in the ‘Race of Champions’ which pitted current and past stars against each other in FF’s (Getty Images)

brabham bowin p6f

Geoff Brabham in his Bowin P6F FF during his 1974 national campaign, F1 driver, Larry’s brother Terry Perkins won that year in an Elfin 620 (Bob Jane Heritage)

Brabham had done a few races in 1973 in an Elfin 620 FF but mounted a serious camapign for the Australian National FF title in 1974 driving John Leffler’s championship winning car from ’73. These Bowins were very advanced for their day; wedge shape, hip radiators and rising rate suspension front and rear, this in a car first built in 1972.So advanced were the cars that later Reynard designer, Malcolm Oastler was still winning in a P6F in 1983.

http://www.bowincars.org/mediawiki-1.6.12/index.php?title=Bowin_P6

Geoff progressed to Australian F2 in 1975 winning the title in a Birrana 274 Ford, ANF2 then was a 1.6 litre, DOHC 2 valve formula, effectively mandating the Lotus Ford twin cam engine, the ‘ducks guts’ variant, the ‘Hart 416B’ producing circa 205bhp.

This wings and slicks experience was important for Brabham in his UK F3 and US Super Vee racing in various Ralt RT1’s over the next 3 years.

brabham amaroo

Brabham, Birrana 274 leads the F2 field at Amaroo Park, Sydney in 1975. He won the title. Ray Winter Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ in 2nd and Andrew Miedecke Rennmax BN7 3rd, all Hart Ford powered. Birranas’ were jewels of cars built by Malcolm Ramsay and Tony Alcock in Adelaide between 1971 and 1974, around 21 were built; FF,F3,F2.Unable to make a $ in Oz they ceased construction, Alcock moved back to the UK joining Graham Hill and was on that fateful flight… (Unattributed)

gb raltrt1

GB BP British F3 Championship 1977. Brands Hatch 11 September. Ralt RT1 Toyota DNF in a race won by Derek Daly’s Chevron B38 Toyota. (David Lawson)

Brabham raced in the British F3 Championships in 1976 and 1977, moved to the ‘States in 1979 and won the Super Vee Championship in a Ralt RT1 also breaking into ‘big cars’ late that year with a Single Seat CanAm 5 litre Hogan HR001 Chev.

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Who said spaceframes were a thing of the past in the elite categories by 1979? GB in his Hogan HR001 Chev, Riverside GP, 4th. Jacky Ickx heading out to practice behind in his Lola T333CS Chev, Jacky won the CanAm title that year. Al Holbert raced the Hogan for most of the year, but it wasn’t quick or reliable, GB drove it in the last 2 rounds. (Chris Nally)

brabham vds

VDS001 Chev, GB won the CanAm in this car in 1981. VDS raced the Lola T530 in the previous 2 years, this Trevor Harris designed car used the centre of a Lola T530 monocoque; the fuel cell, roll bar and engine mountings. Front suspension was T530 derived but the rest of the car, inclusive of Tony Cicale designed body was built at VDS California workshop. (Unattributed)

Over the following years he mixed Indycars and CanAm winning the 1981 Championship in Count Rudy Van der Stratens VDS Teams self built car, VDS001 having been quicker than teammate and 1980 Champion Patrick Tambay in identical Lola T530 Chevs in the second half of the season.

He raced Indycars from 1981 to 1987, and then periodically, in the early 90’s, in the last 4 years just competing at Indianapolis, his best Indy finish 4th in a VDS entered Penske PC10 Ford in 1983.

brabham indy car

VDS Racing Penske PC10 Ford, Q 26th finished 4th at Indy in 1983, his best result. (Unattributed)

In sports cars he was an ace, winning 4 IMSA GT Championships with various of Nissans sports cars run by ‘Kas’ Kastner in the US.

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

Jack settled the family in rural Wagga Wagga in New South Wales in 1971, well away from motor racing but it was not long before the pleasures of bucolic life, whatever they may be, were overwhelmed by the Brabham boys ‘need for speed’, all graduating from Australian Formula Ford to F3 in the UK in turn!

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Peugeot 905 Evo 1 Le Mans 1993. GB won the race partnered by Eric Helary and Christophe Bouchot. Jean Todt popped him into the car for the final stint. (Unattributed)

Geoff Brabham returned to Australia in the early ’90’s racing both 2 litre ‘Super Tourers’ and ‘V8 Supercars’. He was runner up in both the 1995 and 1997 Super Touring Championship and won the 1997 Bathurst 1000 Super Touring race partnered by his brother David.

brabham in bmw

Mid 90’s in Australia in one of his BMW 2 litre ‘Super Tourers’. (Unattributed)

GB had a remarkably diverse career, as versatile in his time as Jack was in his, and a career of achievement especially if comparisons with his father, such a difficult act to follow, are put to one side!

The Brabham Racing Dynasty continues with Geoffs’ son Matthew finishing 4th in the 2014 Indy Lights Championship driving a Dallara Nissan for Andretti Motorsport. http://matthewbrabham.com/ David Brabhams’ son Sam is also competing and hoping to make the Le Mans grid this year…

Etcetera…

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Another angle of the wild VDS001 Chev in 1981. GB Used both this car and Lola T530 Chev to win the CanAm title that year. Circuit unknown. (Unattributed)

brabham ralt rt4

GB contested a few of our Formula Pacific Australian Grands Prix at Calder. Here Ralt RT4 mounted in 1983, he finished 4th in the race won by Roberto Moreno, also, inevitably in a Ralt! Alan Jones, Jacques Laffitte also contested the race. (John Brewer Collection)

brabham road america

GB at Road America IMSa 1992. Nissan NP91C 3rd behind 2 Eagle Mk3 Toyotas. (Mark Windecker)

905 drawing

1992/3 Peugeot 905 Evo 1. Carbon fibre chassis weighing 750Kg. ‘SA35’ 80 degree 3499cc DOHC 4 valve fuel injected V10. 670bhp@12500rpm. 6 speed ‘box.

Tailpiece…

geoff and jack moulton

Photo Credits…

Bernard Cahier, Chris Nally, Mark Windecker, RIAM Photo Archive, John Brewer Collection, David Lawson, Bob Jane Collection, Getty Images

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sprite 1958 alpine rally

(Yves Debraine)

The Brookes/Well West Austin Healey Sprite zips through the Alps on is competition debut. Sprites finished first, second and third in their class…

The iconic ‘Bugeye’ was released to the press on 20 May 1958 just prior to the Monaco Grand Prix. The cars competition debut was shortly thereafter, in the July Coupe des Alpes, John Sprinzel and Willy Cave leading home a 1,2,3 in class and finishing 15th overall. Tommy Wisdom drove the second placed Sprite and Ray Brookes the third. The event was won by the Consten/de La Geneste Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

The first of many Sprite International and Club competition successes cars which continue to give pleasure to their owners 60 years after release. See this Shell film of the 1958 event…

ah sprite 1958 alpine rally

Ray Brookes and R Wells-West at Monaco during the 1958 Coupe des Alpes. (Unattributed)

Sprites were all about fun, modification and competition. They begged for it and were responsive to it. I flirted with one for 18 months or so when i first got my licence, my younger brother couldn’t afford a car so i part funded/owned his Bugeye which had been fitted with a Skoda! engine and gearbox in its past.

It sounds naff but the all alloy engine fed by a 45DCOE Weber and breathing through bigger valves and extractors made good power, the engine also considerably lighter than the good ole ‘A Series’, so handling was enhanced as the road testers would say.

I was busy fiddling with open wheelers at the time, so it was never used competitively but it was a quick, nimble, ‘pointy’, fun road car…as they were, and are.

austin-healey_sprite_1958_page

Chassis of unitary construction, 948cc BMC ‘A Series’ OHV 4 cylinder 43 bhp engine fed by twin 1 1/8 inch SU carbs, 4 speed gearbox. Front suspension coils and wishbones with the lever arm shock the top links. Rear solid axle sprung by quarter elliptic springs again with lever arm shocks. Drum brakes front and rear. (Theo Page)

1958-Austin-Healey-Sprite-Hambro-All-Part-Of-The-Fun-ad[1]

Credits…

Yves Debraine, Theo Page cutaway

Many thanks to Martin Ingall, John Sprinzel, Steve Nash  and David Scothorn for assistance in identifying the driver/co-driver of 487CKP. For those with an interest in competition Sprites check out this wonderful site;

http://www.sebringsprite.com/

 

tony marsh

Tony Marsh working his 1960 BRM P48 chassis ‘484’, 2.5 litre ex-Bonnier 1960 F1 car very hard, lifting an inside rear wheel into ‘The Courtyard’, Bo’ness Hillclimb, Scotland 1966…

Two of the reasons why the content of this blog is eclectic are that it suits my broad racing interests and that a photo is usually the inspiration for an article, this shot is one of those! I tripped over it on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, which is a wonderful place for those of you who may not paid it a visit. You can get lost in there for weeks! http://forums.autosport.com/forum/10-the-nostalgia-forum/

Lots of ex-GP cars have found their way into British Hillclimbing over the years and Tony Marshs’ BRM P48 is one of those…

p48

The old and new…P25 and mid-engined P48 prototype ‘481’ on test, circuit unknown, August 1959 (Unattributed)

The 1951 BRM P15 supercharged 1.5litre V16 racer was a disaster, too complex, too late, a fabulous bit of kit and the greatest sound in motor racing full-stop. Aural orgasm is not going too far to describe its musical, mechanical, sonorous howl!

The design which followed was the reverse, a simple 2.5 litre, DOHC, Weber carbed’, front-engined, space-frame chassis car which served BRM from 1955 to 1959, finally achieving a breakthrough win for Bourne in the 1959 Dutch Grand Prix. Jo Bonnier the driver.

But the game had moved on, Cooper dominated with their Coventry Climax engined, simple mid-engined cars. Jack Brabham took the title in 1959 and 1960, Tony Rudd and his team needed to respond.

brm p 48

(Vic Berris)

BRM were famous for their engineering process and toolroom quality but the P48 was a ‘quick fix’, utilising as many of the P25 components as possible. In essence the P48 was a mid-engined variant of the P25, right down to its controversial, less than reliable ‘cookie-cutter’, single, gearbox mounted rear disc brake.

monza

The ‘prototype’ chassis ‘481’ BRM P48 was tested in practice at the 1959 Italian Grand Prix, in September by both Harry Schell and Jo Bonnier. They stayed on at Monza for further testing. The P48 was then developed over the Winter of 1959/60 and made its race debut at Silverstone early in 1960. (John Ross Motor Racing Archive)

1960 was the last year of the 2.5 litre Formula, the P48 Mk II was more competitive than the first iterations and devoid of the ‘cookie cutter’ formed the basis of BRM’s 1961 contender.

This car, the P57 was Coventry Climax 1.5 litre FPF powered until BRM’s fabulous and successful P56 1.5 litre V8 was developed. See https://primotipo.com/2014/10/12/graham-hill-brm-p57-german-gp-1962/

The P48 evolved into the P57 delivering BRM’s first and only Manufacturers and Drivers Championships in 1962.

BRM P48 engine and rear suspension

BRM P48…space frame chassis, 2.5 litre DOHC 4 ex P25 front engined car. Strut type rear suspension, ‘cookie cutter’ single rear disc, not the most elegant of mid-engined cars but a good first up effort given the design was not ‘clean sheet’ and BRM learn’t fast! (Unattributed)

g hill

Graham Hills’ P48 ‘485’ took 3rd place in the 1960 Belgian GP at Spa won by Brabhams’ Cooper T53 Climax. The weekend was one of GP Racings’ worst, Moss broke both legs after an axle failure, Mike Taylors’ steering failed, he crashed into trees dying of his injuries several days later. Both were driving Lotus 18’s, the accidents in practice. In the race Chris Bristow crashed his Cooper at Malmedy, pushing too hard and was killed, and Alan Stacey was hit in the face by a bird near Masta, also crashing and dying instantly. (Unattributed)

Tony Marsh…

Tony Marsh German GP 1957

Tony Marsh attacking the Nurburgring in his Cooper T43 Climax, German GP 1957. (Unattributed)

Marsh was an iconic hillclimber, first taking the British Title in a Cooper Mk8 Jap in 1955, after two more successive wins he turned to circuit racing winning the British F2 Championship in 1957 with a Cooper T43 Climax.

He also competed in his private Cooper in the 1957 German GP, finishing fifteenth in his F2 car and eighth in 1958 in a Cooper T45 Climax.

Marsh raced a private Lotus 18 Climax and his own BRM P48/57 1.5 V8 engined car in 1962, in some Non-Championship F1 events. Best placings were 4th in the Pau GP and 7th in the International Trophy at Silverstone.

He returned to hillclimbing in the mid-sixties winning the championship a further three times and was competing right up until the time of his death at 77 years of age in May 2009.

tony marsh brussels gp

Tony Marsh ahead of Willy Mairesse in the 1962 Brussels GP held on 1 April. His BRM P48/57 was factory entered along with Graham Hills P57, both non-classified. The race was won by ‘Wild Willy’ in his Ferrari 156. (Unattributed)

tony marsh 2

Tony Marsh warming up his BRM P57 1.5 Litre V8 prior to practice of the ‘Aintree 200’ in April 1962. He qualified 10th, and retired on lap 6 with an oil leak , he had a lot of problems with this car! (Brian Tregilgas)

Bo’ness Hillclimb…

Bo’ness is 17 miles north-west of Edinburgh, the hillclimb used from 1934 to 1966 ran through the grounds of Kinneil House. James Watt of steam engine fame lived there, the grounds contain the ruins of his cottage and the boiler of his ‘Newcomen Engine’.

Tony Marsh set the record for the climb in June 1963, a record which stood for all time, the last meeting in June 1966. Revival meetings have been held in recent years.

Some former motor racing greats held the climbs’ record including Bob Gerard, Ken Wharton, Ron Flockhart and Jim Clark, early in his career with a Lister Jaguar in 1959.

Etcetera…

Dan Gurney P48 Silverstone 1960

Dan Gurney awaits adjustments to his P48 ‘486’ , Silverstone, British GP 1960. That transmission mounted ‘cookie cutter’ single rear disc and caliper clearly shown (Unattributed)

Jo Bonnier P48 BRM Monaco 1960

Jo Bonnier in the Tony Marsh BRM P48 ‘484’ at Monaco in 1960, he finished 5th. ‘Up his chuff’ is Stirling Moss, heading for victory in Rob Walkers’ Lotus 18 Climax (Unattributed)

Credits…

The Nostalgia Forum, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, Brian Tregilgas, Doug Nye, Vic Berris

From Ballarat to Bathurst, BRM P48’s in Australia, Part 2 soon…

 

bandini warwick farm 1962 cooper maser

(John Ellacott)

Lorenzo Bandini heading for fourth place in his ‘Centro Sud’ Cooper T53 Maserati, ‘Warwick Farm 100’, February 1962…

The race was won by Stirling Moss in Rob Walkers’ Cooper T53 Climax from Bruce McLaren in a similar car.

bandini portrait 67

Lorenzo Bandini 1967. (Unattributed)

Bandini joined Centro Sud in 1961 making his championship debut at Spa having scored 3rd place in the Non-Championship Pau GP earlier in the season.

He raced in the Southern Summer gaining valuable experience in the powerful F Libre cars raced in Australasia at the time against the Worlds best.

Bandini contested the Warwick Farm International, his only race in Australia but competed in New Zealand at the start of the year coming 5th in the NZ GP at Ardmore and retired at Wigrams airfield circuit and at Teretonga with an oil leak and ignition problems respectively.

Born in 1935, he commenced his racing career on motorcycles, progressing into cars with a borrowed Fiat 1100. He came to the attention of ‘Centro Suds’ Mimmo Dei after Formula Junior successes in Stanguellini and Volpini chassis’ in 1960 and 1961.

bandini brm

Have always thought BRM’s and Cooper’s look great in BRG but they look even better in red!? Lorenzo in his ex-works BRM P57 1.5 V8 in the British GP, Silverstone 1963. An excellent 5th in the race won by Jim Clarks’ Lotus 25 Climax. (Unattributed)

le mans 63

Victorious at Le Mans in 1963 in Ferraris’ first V12 mid engined endurance racer the 250P. He shared the car with fellow Italian Ludovico Scarfiotti. (Unattributed)

Bandini drove his first GP for Ferrari in 1962 but for 1963 drove in their sports car squad, Centro Sud kept him in GP racing campaigning an ex-works BRM P57…Ferrari did enter him in the last 4 GP’s of the season…he also won Le Mans in’63 partnered by Ludovico Scarfiotti in a Ferrari 250P.

For 1964 he partnered John Surtees in the F1 team winning the Austrian GP at Zeltweg, sadly his only Championship GP win.

bandini zeltweg

First in the Austrian GP at Zeltweg in August 1964 ahead of Richie Ginther in a BRM P261 and Bob Anderson, Brabham BT11 Climax…(Unattributed)

bandini germany 1965

Patiently bleeding the brakes of his Ferrari 158 in practice for the German GP, Nurburgring 1965. 6th in the rcae won by Clarks’ Lotus 33 Climax. (Unattributed)

bandini french gp 66

Disappointment on his face, Bandini pulls to the side of the Reims circuit, 1966 French GP. He was in the lead of the race and pulling away, of all things his throttle cable broke, well before the days of potentionometers! Jack Brabham took the lead in his Brabham BT19 Repco and became the first driver to win a race in a car of his own manufacture and name. (Unattributed)

Always competitive in F1, if not an absolute ‘ace’ Bandini was unlucky not to win the 1966 French and US Grands Prix’ when well in the lead of both races , mechanical problems with his 3 litre V12 Ferrari 312 intervening.

p2 targa 65

Famous shot first published in Automobile Year. Lorenzo in the Ferrari P2 he shred with local Nino Vaccarella to win the 1965 Targa Florio. (Automobile Year)

Luckier in sports car racing, in addition to the Le Mans victory, he also won the Targa Florio in 1965 and the Daytona 24 Hours and Monza 1000Km in 1967 racing the superb Ferrari P4 partnered with Chris Amon whom he first met at the NZ GP in 1962, Chris campaigning a Maserati 250F before he came to Europe…

Lorenzo died in a gruesome accident at Monaco in 1967, the fire which took his life accelerating improvements to circuit and driver safety, not the least the abolition of hay-bales with which he collided, fuelling the ensuing fire.

He was an immensely popular driver with his colleagues, the media and fans, 100000 of whom were in the streets surrounding the Reggiolo church in which his funeral was held.

bandini monza p4

Bandini in the gorgeous Ferrari P4 at Monza, 1967 1000Km’s which he won with Chris Amon. The P4 4 litre V12 was outgunned by the 7 litre Fords and Chaparrals that year but still scored some successes. (Unattributed)

le mns 63 poster

Shell ad to celebrate the 1963 Le Mans win. #10 Rodriguez/Penske Ferrari 330LM TRI, #18 P Hill/Bianchi Aston DP215, # 21 victorious Bandini/Scarfiotti Ferrari 250P, # 23 Surtees/Mairesse Ferrari 250P, # 8 McLaren/Ireland Aston Martin DB4 GT

Credits…

John Ellacott, Automobile Year,

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Richard Davison uploaded this YouTube footage of his son Alex’ driving his ex-Holland/Theodore Racing-Alan Jones/Jon Davison Lola T332 Chev ‘HU34’…

Crank up the volume, their is nothing quite like 5 litres of highly tuned fuel-injected Chevy. Very interesting looking at the smoothness of a top-line pro driving one of these beasts at lap record pace. It looks deceptively easy?! Not!

The footage is at the Phillip Island Historic Meeting in March 2015.

Credits…Richard Davison, Motorsportlegends

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penske zerex

Roger Penske aboard his devilishly clever ‘Zerex Special’ Sports Car in 1963…

By 1962 Roger Penske was a well established competitor, whilst later his friend and driver Mark Donohue coined the phrase gaining ‘The Unfair Advantage’ in racing, Roger himself contrived rather a clever plan to develop a very quick sportscar for the lucrative US series.

Upon careful study of the SCCA Rulebook Penske concluded that whilst the sports car regs required said cars to have two seats the rules didn’t define their dimensions.

Rogers’ cunning stunt involved resurrection and fitting of a small seat and sports car bodywork to a Cooper T53 Climax F1 car (chassis #T53 F1-16-1) crashed by Walt Hansgen in the 1961 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

Walt was launched over Olivier Gendebiens’ Lotus, Olivier having spun and re-entered the circuit right in Walts path. Briggs Cunningham, the Coopers owner, sold the damaged Cooper to Penske in the ‘Glen paddock less engine.

hansgen cooper

Walt Hansgen Cooper T53 Climax ‘T53 F1-16-1’, the ‘Zerex’ donor car, behind is Roger Penske in his Cooper T53 Climax. US GP Watkins Glen 1961. Both cars 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered. (Ron Nelson)

zerex puerto rico grid

Zerex Climax looking absolutely superb on pole as Roger Penske settles himself into the cockpit for the 200 mile race. Puerto Rico GP 1962. Penske won from Tim Mayer in a Cooper T57 Monaco and Dan Gurney, Porsche 718 WRS. (Unattributed)

The car was then repaired, rebuilt and transformed by Roy Gane and Penske himself …by fitting a wider alloy body with round and square tubing and brackets added to support the new body and ‘mini seat’. The cars first race, powered by a 2.7 litre Climax FPF ‘Indy’ engine was the 1962 LA Times Grand Prix at Riverside in October.

It was an International event that attracted the Worlds’ best including Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, Innes Ireland and Masten Gregory as well as World Class Americans’ Penske, Jim Hall, Walt Hansgen, Ken Miles, Lloyd Ruby and others.

The Zerex, to all intents and purposes a current GP car with an all-enveloping body promised to be competitive!

At a distance, even up close, the car appeared to be a single seater in contravention of the rules, as soon as the car was unloaded in the paddock the SCCA were deluged with protests.

Watched by a large crowd of media, mechanics, specatators and drivers Penske calmly undid the Dzus fasteners attaching the left side panel revealing a small, cramped passenger seat, whereupon the lanky Philadelphian attempted to insert himself into said seat…the car was ‘Kosher’, legal to the letter of the rules, Penske canny enough to have the SCCA’s Chief Technical Inspector see the car when it was being concepted and approve it as compliant.

penske in car

Nearly in…Penske sees the funny side even if the competition does not…before the car takes to the track. LA Times GP October 1962. Scrutineering, SCCA had approved the car as ‘complying with the rules’ during the cars build. (Dave Friedman)

The car won 3 events in late 1962; at Riverside during its first race meeting from Jim Halls Chaparral 1 Chev, Laguna Seca and the GP of Puerto Rico.

The Riverside and Laguna races were USAC sanctioned. The car was protested but USAC allowed it to run, but storm clouds were brewing from some very pissed off, wealthy and influential car owners!

la times 62

LA Times Riverside 1962. Penske leads # 63 Hansgen Cooper Buick, #5 McLaren Cooper Monaco Climax, #8 Jerry Grant Lotus 19 Buick, #66 Jim Hall Chaparral 1 Chev, #3 Masten Gregory and #26 Lloyd Ruby both Lotus 19 into turn 1 lap 1. Penske won. (Dave Friedman)

zerex pqurto

Penske on the grid of the Puerto Rico GP 1962, a win. Car looks simply fantastic. Workmanship a treat. (Dave Friedman)

pr circuit

In the winter of 1962, the entire chassis centre section was cut, shut and widened by Penskes’ team to provide a seat either side of the Zerex centre-line to meet the quickly-tightened rules for 1963…

The car was sold to John Mecom in that form, the body modified to conform, the new seating arrangement, a new windshield and roll bar added and repainted in the blue and white Mecom colors.

zerex in paddock

Zerex in the paddock, circuit unknown 1964. Full roll bar and space for second seat, offset driving position. Zerex in its third evolution T53/Zerex central seat/Zerex 2 seat here, final evolution after McLaren fabricated new chassis centre section and fitted Olds F85 engine. Climax FPF and CS5 ‘box on display, as is simple brackets to retain body and ‘orrible curvy chassis frame. (Unattributed)

It is in this guise the Zerex raced during 1963, always with a Climax FPF engine. That year the Zerex won 2 SCCA national events; ‘Marlboro Motor Raceway’ and Cumberland and the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch in August, Roy Salvadori 2nd to Penske in a Cooper Monaco Climax.

mecom owned la times 63

LA Times GP Riverside 1963. The car now modified to include the second seat and owned by John Mecom but still driven by Roger Penske. Zerex 2nd to Dave McDonald in a Cooper Ford ‘King Cobra. (Dave Friedman)

la times 63 penske and macca

LA Times GP ’63 a fantastic 200 mile race initially lead by Halls Chaparral, DNF. Here is the later dice between Penske and Dave MacDonalds’ Shelby Cooper Ford for the lead, MacD prevailed in the 289cid small block Windsor engined Cooper. (Dave Friedman)

See this YouTube footage of both the ’63 LA Times GP and ’64 Sebring 12 Hour…

The Zerex is also historically significant in that it was sold to Bruce McLaren after Nassau in 1963 and was effectively the first in the long line of very successful McLaren sportscars which became the dominant force in CanAm and Group 7 racing from 1967…

In 1962 Bruce, a factory Cooper driver and Penske shared a Cooper ‘Monaco’ Maserati at Sebring. He later wrote, ‘After that race I came back to England and asked Charlie Cooper if I could run the sports car side of the Cooper Car Company because I felt sure there was a tremendous market for this type of car to use an American engine for American racing. I was convinced at that stage that sports car racing was going to really boom providing there were cars available, and that it would be a great market for an English manufacturer. Charlie turned me down flat.’

Penske moved on from the Zerex as it became less competitive, he drove a Chev engined Cooper for Mecom and later Chaparral before retiring from driving in late 1964, having signed to race for Jim Hall again in 1965.

The Zerex was still sitting in John Mecoms workshop together with an aluminium Olsmobile engine which had never been fitted.  Bruce bought the car and shipped it back to the UK, it arrived with a 2.5 FPF fitted with the Olds F85 (the block used, in much modified form for the ’66 Championship winning Repco Brabham ‘RB620′ 3 litre engine) on a pallet just in time for Oulton Park in April 1964.

After several events with its original Coventry Climax FPF Tyler Alexander and Wally Willmott, Bruces’ mechanics fitted the Olds engine, the car competed at Oulton Park in April, the Aintree 200 defeating Clarks’ Lotus 30 Ford and the Silverstone International beating Roy Salvadoris’ Cooper Monaco Maserati 5 litre, all fitted with the Climax FPF.

aintree 200 sports 64

Start of the Aintree 200 Sports Car race 1964. L.R: #87 John Coundley Lotus 19 Climax, #95 Tony Lanfranchi Elva Mk7 BMW, Jack Sears AC Cobra, Bruce on the right in the Zerex Climax. McLaren won from Jim Clark, Lotus 30 Ford and Sears in the Cobra. (Unattributed)

The day after Silverstone Zerex was stripped at Bruces’ workshop in New Malden, South London… The chassis was then rebuilt from just behind the front suspension to just ahead of the rear suspension with the new McLaren designed centre-section welded in.

In its Penske modified form the car lacked the torsional rigidity to cope with the additional power and torque of the Olds engine. The chassis was far stiffer that the Zerex original, the main chassis longerons acting as structural members and as oil and water pipes from radiators to engine. A Colotti gearbox was used with the Olds engine.

There was no time to fabricate a new exhaust system, the car was flown to Mosport with eight stub exhausts poking up through the tail. First time out it won at Mosport in 1964 and again at Brands Hatch in August.

zerex mosport mac laren 64

McLaren victorious upon debut of car now named Cooper Oldsmobile with its new chassis centre section and Olds engine fitted. ‘Players 200’ Mosport, Canada 1964. (Unattributed)

Given the sensitivities about Jack Brabhams’ departure from Cooper and building his own car, calling the car a Mclaren was not going to wash with Charlie and John Cooper so the hybrid was entered as a Cooper Olds at Mosport.

In Bruces’ hands the car won the Aintree 200 in April 1964, the Silverstone International, the Player’s 200 at Mosport in June and the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch in August’. After the Toursist Trophy at Goodwood in August Bruce sold the car, via Mecom/Teddy Mayer car to Dave Morgan having obtained all the information he needed to build his first sports car. The prototype McLaren M1A , also Oldsmobile powered, appeared later in 1964.

Morgan raced the car into 1965 and 1966 in the US and Nassau. From Morgan the car was sold to Leo Barboza in Venezuela, the car is still there is his families hands.

Continually modified the hybrid Cooper T53/ Zerex/McLaren Olds maintained its ‘Unfair Advantage’ for 3 years…

zerex in venezuela

Cooper T53 aka Zerex aka Cooper Olds in Venezuela shortly after its arrival in 1967. (Unattributed)

Etcetera…

zerex paddock 2

Paddock shot in 1964, circuit unknown. T53 Cooper standard front suspension of upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. Widened chassis clear as is offset driving position and second ‘full size’ seat to comply with end of ’62 tightened rules…(Unattributed)

zerex butt shot

Zerex ‘butt shot’ in 1964. Beautiful aluminium fabricated body. Circuit unknown, Pensacola perhaps. (Unattributed)

cooper mosport

Mosport ’64 color shot of Bruce in his ‘new’ Cooper Olds. (Bruce McLaren Trust)

Tailpiece…

The ad which inspired this article…in a pile of ‘Road and Track’ magazines i bought. I was well aware of the ‘Zerex Special’, if not the infinite detail, the thing i didn’t know or care about! was the derivation of the Coopers’ name…Penske securing sponsorship from Dupont to promote their ‘Zerex’ antifreeze, not a product ever available in Australia, so now i know!

zerex ad

Bibliography and Credits…

The Nostalgia Forum generally and Doug Nyes posts ‘on topic’ specifically, Bruce McLaren Trust, MiniWerks Forum

Photos; David Friedman, Ron Nelson. Bruce McLaren Trust

Finito…

pedro spa

Rodriguez victorious at Spa in the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix in his BRM P153, the narrowest of wins from Chris Amons’ March on a circuit made for the Mexicans skill and bravery…

pedro & ricardo 1962

Pedro and brother Ricardo Rodriguez (right) in 1962. Ricardo died at the wheel of a Lotus 24 Climax in the Mexican Grand Prix 1962, the Rob Walker Racing entered cars’ rear suspension failed, the resultant collision killed him instantly at 20 years old. (Unattributed)

pedro in sebring

Pedro cruising through the Sebring paddock in his ‘NART’ Ferrari 330P  (Unattributed)

pedro cooper

1967 British GP, Pedro practices Rindts’ car, Silverstone, Cooper T86 Maserati. 5th in the race won by Clarks’ Lotus 49 Ford. (Bernard Cahier)

spa 1971 rod oli winner

Spa 1000Km 1971, victory with Jackie Oliver in a Wyer Porsche 917K, Siffert/Bell behind and finished 2nd…lookout marshall! (Unattributed)

pedro

Lotus 33 Climax, US GP  Watkins Glen 1966. Team Lotus entered an ‘old nail’ for Pedro, a 2 litre FWMV Climax engined 33 in a one off drive, he qualified 8th but DNF with transmission failure. Clark won in a Lotus 43 BRM. (Unattributed)

pedro and jo spa 1970

Pedro #25 and Jo Siffert #24 , Porsche 917K, Lap 1 Spa 1000Km, 1970. Friends and rivals in the JW Automotive Team, Rodriguez ultimately the better driver. A gaggle of 917’s and 512’s behind. Siffert/Brian Redman won the race, Pedro/Kinnunen DNF with gearbox failure on lap 44.(unattributed)

Rodriguez, Monaco 1967, Coopet T81 Maserati

Rodriguez delicately caressing the big Cooper T81 Maser around Monaco 1967. He was 5th in the race won by Hulmes’ Brabham BT24 (unattributed)

Rodriguez , Porsche 917, Brands 1000Km 1970

Pedro put in a stunning, famous drive to win the Brands Hatch 1000Km in his ‘JW Automotive’ Porsche 917K, partnering with Leo Kinnunen in 1970. He is #10 here ‘hunting down’ the rival ‘Porsche Salzburg’ #11 917K of Elford/Hulme/Ahrens. Oh to have been there! (Unattributed)

pedro portrait

Pedro portrait 1971 (Automobile Year 18)

MHC0177-1024x819fit

BRM P153 at rest, British GP, Brands Hatch 1970. Rindt won in a Lotus 72 Ford, Pedro DNF, prang on lap 58. (Mike Hayward Collection)

pedro 3

Porsche 908/3 1971 (Unattributed)

Rodriguez, one of those drivers who loved racing for its own sake, competed whenever he could was killed in an ‘Interseries’ (European CanAm or Group 7) race at the Norisring, Germany in July 1971.

He had started the season well, lightning fast in both his BRM P160 F1 car and Porsche 917 Sports Car and was pointlessly killed in a race of no importance when a slower car edged his Ferrari 512M into the wall, the car erupted into flames and one of the ‘aces’ of the era died shortly thereafter.

Photo Credits…

Bernard Cahier, Automobile Year, Mike Hayward Collection https://www.mikehaywardcollection.com/

rcn surfers 1968

We all have our favourite local motoring and motor racing publications...

When I was a youngster here in Australia it was ‘Sports Car World’ for fast road cars, the monthly letter from noted NZ born but global motoring journo, Eoin Young on the European and American racing scene was not to be missed nor the column of Romsey Quints, a crusty curmudgeon who wrote about ye olde days.

And for racing it was ‘Racing Car News’ supplemented by the global giant ‘Autosport’ which required a tram trip into the big smoke as it wasn’t carried by my local newsagent.

RCN was the bible tho.

It was national, maybe a bit Sydney centric, edited and owned by Max Stahl, an ex-racer who knew everybody from clubbies to visiting World Champions in Australia annually for the Tasman Series. It was chock full of local to global news and events with ‘Stringers’ all over the place making its coverage remarkable at the time.

Delivery of information digitally takes the sense of excitement out of the visits to the newsagent eagerly anticipating these monthly publications arrival instore…having said that the ‘democratisation of the media’ means even ‘Schleppers’ like me can ‘have a go’.

There was not a page of RCN to be missed from Stahls’ editorial upfront to the classifieds up ze back, the paintings by David Atkinson, Colin Anderson and others reason alone to buy the thing.

This cover by David Atkinson captures the action of the 11 February 1968 Tasman Series Round at Surfers Paradise. It depicts Graham Hills’ Lotus 49 DFW leading Leo Geoghegans’ ex Clark Lotus 39 Repco from the Piers Courage McLaren M4A FVA around the ‘Repco Hill’ section of the circuit.

Clark won the race from teammate Hill, Courage in second, a great performance on this power circuit in the little 1.6 litre Ford FVA engined M4A and Leo G, first local home in third place.

RCN survived into the ’80’s but was never the same after Stahl sold it, somehow the thing lost its soul…these days there are print and digital Australian ‘publications’ but none are as good as Racing Car News…

clark and amon surfers

Stunning Roderick MacKenzie shot of Clarks’ Lotus 49 leading Chris Amons Ferrari 246T, Surfers Tasman 1968. Clark won, Amon DNF with an engine failure. Tweed Ranges in the background. Clark won the series and Amon returned in 1969 winning the it in a Dino. (Roderick MacKenzie)

leo g lotus surfers

Leo Geoghegans Lotus 39 Repco ‘740’ Series 2.5 V8 being given a big push, John Sheppard at the wheel and Geoff Smedley at left. ‘Castrol’ colors, Repco installation replacing the Climax FPF 4 cylinder engine lead by Sheppard creating just about the best looking 60’s single seater ever, this is not the cars best angle however! (wolseley680)

hill surfers loading up

Surfers dummy grid. Hill #5 loaded up, the Lotus behind awaits Clark. You can just see the #11 nose of Rodriguez BRM P126 (10th) a Ferrari nose amongst the crowd and the nose, far right of the Courage McLaren. (wolseley680)

Tasman 1968 Highlights…

Photo Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/ , wolseley680

Finito…

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Yes the F1 cars are fast, the ultimate and marginally less ugly, let’s not say attractive, than last year…

One of my sons is not a big race fan and hadn’t been for 2 years, and seeing and hearing the F1’s for the first time turned to me and said, and sadly it’s easy to have a conversation whilst the cars are circulating now, ‘What the fuck have they done to the cars!’

Precisely.

Still it was a fun day, the AGP program is packed with events and displays; support categories include V8 Supercars, Carrera Cup, Historics with Brabham the featured marque. And the F1’s, let’s not call them Grand Prix cars, ‘Petite Prix’ cars perhaps.

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Many car club displays, not much stuff we haven’t all seen before but still adds to the show and Albert Park is huge so there is lotsa space to fill!

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Touring Cars aren’t my thing but the V8 Supercars are interesting these days with Mercedes, Volvo and Nissan part of the show and providing diversity in addition to the local tribal followings of Holden and Ford. The cars are fast, loud and spectacular. Arguably the third best ‘Taxi’ series in the world behind NASCAR and the  German championship.

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Mad. And fantastic.

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Really good historic display, as noted above Brabham are the featured marque paying respect to JB with his recent passing. BT19 Repco, his 1966 Championship winning mount and well featured on primotipo in the past is the star of the show.

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

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RAAF ‘Roulettes’ elite squadron flying Pilatus PC9 aircraft and the McDonnell Douglas F/A 18 Hornet ‘demo’ are always much anticipated.

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This shot is of the V8 Supercars and shows the proximity of the City of Melbourne to Albert Park, it’s a walk or short tram ride depending upon where you stay. Gritty, trendy St Kilda my pick as a local especially for the young or young at heart. It’s an easy walk to the circuit being on its doorstep with plenty of pubs, bars and restaurants as well as being right on Port Phillip Bay, if the weather is beach friendly and it usually is in early March.

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Elfin Owners Club Display, from ‘black to back’ cars; F2 622 Ford, 600 FF, 500 FV, pink nosed F2 600 Ford, red ‘Mallala’ Ford Sports. Superb cars they are too!

Most of you are from far away, it’s a race and place worth visiting.

If you had 2 weeks leave I would; arrive in Cairns and visit and dive ‘The Great Barrier Reef’, have a few days in Sydney and then ‘back to back’ the Phillip Island Historic Meeting with the AGP doing some touristing out of Melbourne in the week between. Hope some of you come next year let me know if you do, happy to be a tour guide.

 

walker sandown

Robert Davies took this amazing shot of John Walkers’ F5000 Lola T332 scything at very high speed the Sandown Park horserailing on lap 1 of the Tasman Round, 23 February 1975…

Walker survived the accident and lived to fight another day, eventually winning both the Australian Grand Prix and ‘Gold Star’ the national championship for drivers in 1979 in another Lola T332.

The other cars in shot are also Lola’s ; Max Stewarts’ T330 left, Graeme Lawrences’ T332 centre and Kevin Bartletts’ similar car on the right. In fact it was in Bartletts’ T332 ‘HU22′, later owned and raced successfully by Bruce Allison before passing into Martin Sampsons’ hands in which Walker won the AGP and Gold Star in 1979.

The battle for the ’75 Tasman was decided in this race.

Going into the Sandown final round Walker, Warwick Brown and Kiwi 1970 Tasman Champion, Graeme Lawrence all Lola T332 mounted could all win the series depending upon how ‘the cards fell’, with 30 points apiece from 7 prior rounds.

Sandown in February was typically hot throughout practice, Walker took pole from Brown, Max Stewart third and Lawrence 4th, their was nothing between the title protagonists, it was anybody’s race.

lcca shot

John Walker, Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence pictured at the Light Car Club, then the Sandown promoters, a day or so before the race. The Melbourne ‘Sun’ was a good paper in which to wrap yer fish n’ chips but had no merit otherwise, much as the Herald-Sun does now. The article rabbits on about Alan Moffats new ‘Cologne’ RS3400 Capri, indicative of the Aussie fixation with ‘taxis’ (touring cars), making no mention of the Tasman finale…nice shot tho!

wb sandown 75 pits taright

Warwick Brown, razor sharp after a series of races in the US in 1974 in ‘HU27’. He had been racing the car a full year, he and engineer Peter Molloy understood all of the cars nuances, this chassis the very first of the T332’s, made its debut in the ’74 Tasman. This shot is on the old Pit Straight, the car ‘nose up’ under acceleration in 3rd gear. (Robert Davies)

Brown was perhaps the ‘form driver’…he broke into F5000 in the ex-Alan Hamilton McLaren M10B which was engineered by the very experienced Peter Molloy, Molloy having prepared the sister M10B to this when owned by Niel Allen.

Molloy knew the car intimately and was equally adept as a driver mentor/coach. Brown was immediately on the pace in what was an old car in 1972. He then jumped into the ex Allen/Muir Lola T300, a quicker but twitcher, more challenging conveyance than the M10B and was very competitive in the ’73 Tasman but became a ‘Lola Limper’ in an horrific high speed accident at Surfers which could have taken his life. It was not the last Lola ‘big one’ in Warwicks’ career either.

When he recovered his Patron, Pat Burke, bought the very first T332 which he ran in the 1974 Tasman Series doing well enough to win the final Adelaide round, he competed in the first round of the domestic 1974 Gold Star series, which Lawrence and Walker also contested. Browns’ team then shipped ‘HU27’ to the US successfully competing in several rounds of the ’74 Series before returning for the AGP at Oran Park in mid-November. Warwick ran the final US round in the Talon nee McRae GM2, he would contest the ’75 US Series in. Brown was well and truly ‘match fit’ by the start of the series , his confidence buoyed by his competitiveness in the ‘States.

Max Stewart won the ’74 AGP from Kevin Bartlett, KB also a ‘Lola Limper’ by virtue of his awful leg-breaking Pukekohe Tasman ’74 shunt. Graeme Lawrence was 3rd in his T332 ‘HU28’ which he also raced in the ’74 Tasman and the whole Australian Gold Star series, he was well familiar with the car by the commencement of the ’75 Tasman.

lawrence sandown 75

Graeme Lawrence in his T332 Chev ‘HU28’. GL raced this car successfully over several seasons. (Robert Davies)

Graeme Lawrence won the Tasman Series in 1970 in the Ferrari Dino 246T ‘0008’, also Chris Amons’ 1969 Tasman winner…1970 was the first year F5000’s were eligible to compete for the title. He started in F5000 in a Lola T300, that car short lived after Lawrence was involved in an horrific high speed, ‘nobody’s fault’ accident with countryman Bryan Faloon in the ’72 NZ GP at Pukekohe, Faloon losing his life and Graeme breaking both legs and sustaining other serious injuries. Like the other ‘Lola Limpers’ described herein he continued his passion for the sport. After he recovered long time sponsor Air New Zealand supported a Surtees TS15 Ford F2 car he ran in the ’73 Tasman and in South East Asia, before returning to F5000 with the T332 for 1974.

Bartlett and his great friend Max Stewart were not as competitive ’75 Tasman contenders as they hoped. The great friends were the first customers of Lola’s F5000 latest; the trick, schmick but not ultimately quick, rising rate suspension T400.

Bartlett’s 3rd at Levin in the opening round flattered only to deceive, the cars were reasonably reliable throughout the series but not as quick as the T332’s. So unimpressed with the T400 were they, that both contested the Adelaide and Sandown rounds in their old cars. Bartlett his T332, his T330 rebuilt around a new 332 tub after his Pukekohe prang and Max the very first, very fast, very successful T330, ‘HU1’, the prototype tested and raced in the UK in late 1972 and honed to a fine pitch before handover by Frank Gardner to Stewart prior to the ’73 Tasman commencement. It would have been very interesting to see how this pair would have faired had they run their well proven older cars…but there was no reason to believe the T400 would not be a quicker car than the successful previous Lola F5000’s had been. Each one quicker than the previous model.

The T400’s ended up being successful in the hands of Count Rudy Van der Straatens ‘Team VDS’ in Teddy Pilettes’ and Peter Gethins’ hands in Europe and by Max Stewart in Australia but were otherwise shunned by most Lola customers who continued to modify and develop their T330/2’s, the T332C THE definitive F5000 car.

jw sandown practice

John Walker in his Lola T332 Repco in Shell Corner or turn 1 onto the old Pit Straight in practice, Saturday 22 February. Lola T330 ‘HU23’ B, rebuilt as a T332 after the first of its numerous shunts, unique in fitment of Repco Holden F5000 engines. These were ‘carry-overs’ from JW’s previous Elfin MR5 and Matich A50 both cars designed for the Repcos’. Repco withdrew from racing in 1974 but continued to provide parts support to their many customers. JW car fitted for Sandown ’75 with the last ‘flat plane crank’ Repco engine developing circa 520bhp in addition to the Repcos’ legendary ‘truckload’ of mid range torque. (Robert Davies)

In many ways the least well prepared of the ‘Tasman Finalists’, at the Series commencement was John Walker.

The Adelaide crash repair business proprietor came into F5000 from F2, swapping his Elfin 600 for an MR5 Repco, the first of Garrie Coopers’ Elfin 5 litre single seaters.

John hadn’t raced the car for long before deciding to compete in the ’73 US F5000 ‘L&M Series’, and bought a Matich A50 to do so, the Elfin lacking the ‘bag tanks’ required for that series and the ultimate competitiveness Walker sought.

matich watkins gelen walker

Walker and team on the Watkins Glen grid. Matich A50 Repco ‘004’. JW finished 8th in the race won by Jody Scheckters’ Lola T330, T330’s filling the first 6 places, such was their dominance that year. Mind you Scheckter won the L&M US title that year mainly driving a Trojan T101. Mechanic clearly has had a shopping trip to San Francisco…(Chris Parker)

He did well in the US, finishing 8th at Michigan and Watkins Glen in the limited campaign returning to Oz for the ’73 Gold Star series a notably faster driver…and with a Lola T330 he bought from Carl Haas to which he fitted the Repco Holden F5000 engines which had nestled in the back of both the Elfin and Matich. Both cars were designed for the Repco engine, the Lola was not, and whilst JW was not at the top of the ‘Repco food-chain’ initially, sponsored driver Frank Matich was, the Lola was always a ‘jet’ with the lighter, torquier, albeit slightly less powerful than the best Chevs, Repco donks.

walker mid ohio

John Walker looking longingly at fellow Aussie Bob Muirs’ Lola T330 ‘HU4′ in the Mid Ohio paddock on 3 June 1973. He was mightily impressed by the T330s’ he had been chasing around the US circuits…by 24 July Lola had invoiced him for ‘HU23’ in ‘Viking Orange’, the car delivered in the US, the Repco fitted there, but first raced in Australia at the Adelaide Gold Star round in October 1973. (Terry Capps)

JW contested the ’74 Tasman in the T330 winning at Levin and in the first rounds of the ’74 Gold Star series but pranged the car in the second heat at Surfers Paradise doing sufficient damage to require a new chassis…this car had ‘more hits than Elvis’ over the years, as the oldracingcars.com history shows!

T330 ‘HU23’ was then rebuilt around a T332 tub, and whilst Walker didn’t do any of the remaining ’74 Gold Star rounds he had done enough test miles around Adelaide International in his new car to be competitive from the start of the ’75 Tasman.

old Sandown circuit map

Circuit map of Sandown in its original guise. JW accident occurred at the fast, downhill lefthand kink after ‘Mobil’, the approach top speed in 5th gear, before braking…

By the time the ‘Tasman Circus’ arrived at Sandown in February the 7 rounds had been won by Lawrence (Levin and Adelaide), Brown (Pukekohe and Oran Park), Walker (Surfers Paradise) with Chris Amon winning at Teretonga in his Talon MR1 Chev and Graham McRae Wigram in the Talons cousin, McRae GM2 Chev. (the Talons were cars built in the US by Jack McCormack to the GM2 design sold by McRae to McCormack)

And so the scene was set. There was much excitement in Melbourne with the mainstream media, usually only interested in Aussie Rules, Cricket and Donkeys (horse racing), providing substantial coverage to the cars and drivers for a wonderful showdown of ‘local drivers’ Graeme Lawrence a Kiwi but much admired and respected by local fans as a driver ‘from over the ditch’.

The day dawned bright and sunny, it was with a great deal of anticipation and interest that we fans ventured out to the circuit. I jumped the pit fence gaining my ‘students discount’ to the paddock and took in pre-race preparations and watched the start from the pit counter, JW went past in 2nd behind Brown, John Goss taking 2nd from Walker on the run uphill…

Photographer, Robert Davies described the bellowing field of cars heading up the back straight …’I was pre-focussed on the track at my favorite vantage point at ‘Marlboro Country’ (the top of the back straight on the outside of the corner) ready for my usual shot of the leading cars on the opening lap. JW lost control of the Lola and slid at very high speed along about 100 metres of the fencing that separates the horse racing track from the motor racing circuit. He was very lucky, the fence posts snapped like matchsticks and the water pipe that ran along the top of the fence (to water the horse racing grass, you can actually see the water pipe atop the rail) passed over the top of his helmet’.

Walker was unconscious and was removed from the car and taken to nearby Dandenong Hospital, discharging himself shortly after arrival.He escaped serious injury from what was a very nasty accident with the best of outcomes, some years later Garrie Cooper went off after a wing-post failure at a similar spot in his Elfin MR8, he broke limbs but again was lucky to survive, Sandown is not without its perils.

The reason for the accident has never been clear, mechanical failure ruled unlikely by post race inspection of the wreck.

brown marlboro country

WB on the downhill plunge from ‘Marlboro Country’ to Dandenong Road in his T332 Chev, past the orange colored remains of Walkers’ car on the way to 6th place in the race and the Tasman Series win. The only occasion on which an Australian won the Tasman title. (Robert Davies)

A good deal of interest in the race was removed with JW’s demise but it was tempered with the knowledge that he was ok, and the subject of mass media coverage in the days which followed as a consequence.

Graeme Lawrence had fuel metering unit dramas and Warwick Brown slowed and had a quick ‘splash and dash’ with low fuel and finished 6th, gaining the vital point to win the title, it was a fitting victory for a driver who jumped back into these awesome cars after an accident as horrific as the one shown above but with far more dire consequences 2 years before…

John Goss won the race, his first F5000 victory in the Matich A53 Repco, the last of Franks’ superb cars…It was to be the last Tasman Series, the Kiwis and Aussies ran F5000 Series in 1976 of 4 races each back to back but the New Zealanders then changed their National Formula to Formula Atlantic/Pacific from 1977 Australia soldiering on with F5000.

goss sandown matich 1975

John Goss on the way to Sandown victory in his Matich A53 Repco (007). Sandown was a happy F5000 hunting ground for JG, in addition to this, his first F5000 win, he also won the 1976 AGP in a very close race with Vern Schuppans’ Elfin MR8 Chev, Goss victorious in his other Matich, A51/3 ‘005’. Goss started racing in his native Tasmania in a self-built sportscar, and but for some FF races in the first Birrana F71, made his name as a touring car driver in Ford Falcon GT’s…but he became an awesomely quick F5000 driver, immediately on the pace in Matichs’ fantastic cars from mid-’74. Here he is descending the hill below ‘Marlboro Country’, the horse railing mown down by Walker, and the destroyed Lolas’ orange airbox clear to see. (Robert Davies)

So that was that, a wonderful series of 8 races in the Australasian Summer which started in 1965 and had seen the best in the world compete in the Southern Hemisphere annually was at an end.

Both countries continued with summer International Series but the magic of the Tasman was forever lost…the Australian Grand Prix is superb but it isn’t 8 wonderful races in 2 months!

jw with lola lcca

John Walker pictured in Roy Street Melbourne behind the old Light Car Club of Australia premises during a pre-Sandown promotional shoot in 1978. Car is the Martin Sampson/Magnum Wheels owned Lola T332 Chev ‘HU22’ in which Walker won both the 1979 Wanneroo Park, WA, AGP and Gold Star Series. (Ian Smith)

Etcetera…

walker paper 2

john walker paper article

Lola T330 Chev…

Those with an interest in what makes these cars tick may find this series of articles on Peter Brennans’ restoration of the ex-Lella lombadi T330 ‘HU18’ of interest.

https://primotipo.com/2014/06/24/lellas-lola-restoration-of-the-ex-lella-lombardi-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-1/

Photo and Other Credits…

Robert Davies; check out Roberts’ other amazing shots on Flickr

https://www.flickr.com/photos/robsretroracing/

Ian Smith, Terry Capps, Chris Parker

Thanks to Rob Newman for reading the draft and correcting some facts