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 was 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…

He raced John Leffler’s championship winning car from 1973. These Bowins were very advanced for their day having a 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.

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’ produced circa 205bhp.

This wings and slicks experience was important for Brabham in his UK F3 and US Super Vee racing in various Ralt RT1s 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 contested the British F3 Championships in 1976 and 1977 racing a Ralt RT1 Toyota, products of father Jack’s former business partner, Ron Tauranac of course.

He then moved to the United States in late 1978 and then won the US Super Vee Championship aboard a Ralt RT1 in 1979, critically, he broke into ‘big cars’ late that year with a single seat Can-Am 5 litre Hogan HR001 Chev.


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 Can-Am machines…

He won the 1981 Can-Am Championship in Count Rudy Van der Straatens 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 90s, in the last four years just competing at Indianapolis, his best Indy finish was fourth 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…

Brabham won four 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 two 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.

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!


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)


brabham in bmw

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

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. David Brabhams’ son Sam is also competing and hoping to make the Le Mans grid this year…


GB and supporters with his Ralt RT1 Super Vee at Pocono in 1979, the year he won the US FSV championship (Matt Brabham Twitter)



Another angle of the wild VDS001 Chev in 1981. GB Used both this car and Lola T530 Chev to win the Can-Am 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 fourth 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.


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


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.


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)



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;


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!

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


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

The 1951 BRM P15 supercharged 1.5 litre V16 racer was a disaster, too complex, too late but 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, the P25 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 by then the game had moved on, Cooper dominated the grids with their Coventry Climax engined, simple mid-engined cars- Jack Brabham and Cooper took the drivers and constructors titles in 1959 and 1960 with Coopers Types 51 and 53, Tony Rudd and his team needed to respond.

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.

brm p 48

(Vic Berris)



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 used for most of the season and were devoid of the ‘cookie cutter’ and used the wishbone rear suspension which formed the basis of BRM’s 1961 contenders design intent.

This 1961 car, the P57, was Coventry Climax 1.5 litre FPF powered until BRM’s fabulous and successful P56 1.5 litre V8 was developed for use from the 1962 season. See this link; The P48 evolved into the P57 which delivered BRM’s first and only Manufacturers and Drivers Championships for the marque and Graham Hill 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 Hill’s P48 ‘485’ (above) took third place in the 1960 Belgian GP at Spa won by Brabham’s Cooper T53 Climax.

The weekend was one of racing’s worst, Stirling Moss broke both legs after an axle failure, Mike Taylor’s steering broke, he crashed into trees suffering grievous injuries which made him paralysed, eventually with therapy he walked again- both were driving Lotus 18’s, the accidents took place in practice. In the race Chris Bristow crashed his Cooper T51 Climax at Malmedy whilst pushing too hard and crashed to his death whist Alan Stacey’s Lotus 18 Climax was hit in the face by a bird near Masta, also crashing and dying instantly.

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 Hillclimb Championship 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 contested 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 fourth in the Pau GP and seventh in the International Trophy at Silverstone.

He returned to hillclimbing in the mid-sixties winning the championship a further three times and was still 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 was used from 1934 to 1966 and 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, one which stood for all time, the last meeting at the venue was held in June 1966- revival meetings have taken place in recent years.

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


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)


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…



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


John Ellacott, Automobile Year,


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




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)


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)


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


pedro spa

Rodriguez victorious at Spa in the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix in his BRM P153, the narrowest of wins from Chris Amons’ March 701 Ford on a circuit made for the Mexican’s 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 machine’s rear suspension failed, the resultant collision killed him instantly at 20 years old.

pedro in sebring


Pedro cruising through the Bridghampton paddock in his ‘NART’ Ferrari 250P- 1963 ‘Double 500’.

pedro cooper

(Bernard Cahier)

1967 Monaco Grand Prix, Cooper T81 Maserati- the eyes have it. Tragic race of course, Lorenzo Bandini lost his life in a Ferrari 312 in the latter stages of the race.

spa 1971 rod oli winner


Spa 1000Km 1971, victory with Jackie Oliver in a John Wyer Porsche 917K, Siffert/Bell behind and finished second, the marshal gets maximum points for stupidity.


(M Le Grand)

Lotus 33 Climax, Mexico City 1966.

Team Lotus entered an ‘old nail’ for Pedro, a 2 litre BRM V8 engined 33 in a two off drive (Watkins Glen too), he qualified the Ron Harris run car eleventh but DNF with transmission failure after 49 laps. John Surtees won in a Cooper T81.

pedro and jo spa 1970


Pedro #25 and Jo Siffert #24 , Porsche 917K, lap 1 of the Spa 1000Km 1970.

Friends and rivals in the JW Automotive Team, Rodriguez was ultimately the better driver. A gaggle of 917’s and 512’s behind. Siffert/Brian Redman won the race whilst Pedro/Leo Kinnunen DNF with gearbox failure on lap 44.

Rodriguez, Monaco 1967, Coopet T81 Maserati

(M Le Grand)

Rodriguez delicately caressing the big Cooper T81 Maserati V12 around Monaco in 1967. He was fifth, four laps adrift,  in the race won by Denny Hulme’s light, nimble Brabham BT20 Repco V8.

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, partnered by 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!

pedro portrait

(Automobile Year 18)

Pedro portrait 1970. I remember first seeing this photograph in the Camberwell Grammar School copy of Automobile Year 18- the review of the 1970 season, and  thinking ‘Wow!’, as I did so often in relation to the photography of that publication in that era…


(Mike Hayward Collection)

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

pedro 3

Porsche 908/3 Nürburgring 1000km 1970 (Unattributed)

Rodriguez was one of those drivers who loved racing for its own sake, he competed whenever he could and was killed in an ‘Interserie’ (European Can-Am 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 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 , Max Le Grand