Archive for April, 2015

martin 250 lm wf 1965

(John Ellacott)

Spencer Martin tips his Ferrari 250LM into the fast ‘Homestead Corner’ at Warwick Farm before unleashing the cars 3.3 litre V12 on the long Hume Straight, what a sound it must have made! August 1965…

Spencer Martin was one of Australia’s champion drivers of the 1960’s winning the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship in 1966 and 1967 in a Brabham BT11A Climax.

His career could be summarised thus; he saw, he came, he conquered from 1960-1966, retired to marry and have a family, focus on business and then returned many years later…

martin portrait

Spencer Martin in his racing heyday, Lakeside 1965. (Bruce Wells)

I don’t cover Spencer’s career in detail but rather introduce an interesting article i discovered in a rally guide for an event held in memory of David McKay. Martin outlines his experiences as a driver/mechanic with McKay and Scuderia Veloce, if not the first, then certainly one of the first of Australia’s professional racing teams formed in 1959…

A brief background of McKay and SV is contained in these articles i posted a while back. One is predominantly about McKay’s Ferrari 250LM, one of the most evocative cars ever raced in Australia, https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/ , the other about his Ferrari P4/Can Am 350, an equally stunning car https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/  .

Martin commenced racing at Gnoo Blas, Orange NSW in 1960 in a Nota, he built from a kit himself, then progressed through the Prad Holden, a very successful sportscar and into ‘Appendix J’ sedans. He beat some of the heroes of the day in his ’48-215′ or FX Holden and was  approached by McKay to join SV. Martin picks up the story…

martin 48 215

Spencer in the ‘Boomerang Service Station’ Holden FX, Catalina Park, Katoomba 1963. It was consistent ‘giant killing’ performances against Norm Beechey and the like which attracted McKay to Martin. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

‘Work on the racing cars was carried out in a garage at the rear of his (McKay) house in Wahroonga on Sydney’s upper North Shore. We later moved to new premises beneath the Shell Service Station on the Pacific Highway at Wahroonga.

At this time I was driving the ‘Boomerang Service Station Holden’ for Joel Wakely and was keeping Norm Beechey very busy around Catalina Park, Warwick Farm and Sandown Park. In 1963 David brought Brian Muir back from the UK to drive in the Hardie Ferodo at Bathurst and I was to be Brian’s co-driver. Brian had been driving a Ford Galaxie in the UK and had won the British Touring Car Championship

David was, thankfully very impressed by my driving with Brian and told me he was about to retire and would I like to take over driving his Brabham. (Ex Jack Brabham BT4 Climax) Well you may imagine how I felt getting out of an EH Holden into an F1 Repco Brabham! We took the car to the short circuit at Warwick Farm for a few familiarisation laps where I was shocked by how much power the car had, especially how the far the nose lifted when you put the ‘pedal to the metal’.

It was not long before David entered the car at Bathurst. It was now 2.7 litres and running on methanol. He told me to keep it under 4500rpm down the straight for a few laps and be careful over the hump. I ‘pulled the string’ on the third lap and was doing 172mph over the hump. The car became completely airborne with a very much nose up attitude. I was wearing a Les Leston helmet with a small peaked visor to help keep the sun out of your eyes. Well the wind at this speed would catch under the visor which gave the effect of lifting you out of the car. It didn’t take long for me to remove the peak!’

martin longford tasman

Its 1967 as the painted date on the Longford Viaduct says. Martin eases his Bob Jane Racing Brabham BT11A Climax ‘IC-4-64’ into the right hander to exit the turn, ’67 Tasman ‘South Pacific Trophy’ 5 March 1967. He only lasted a lap of the race, his Climax FPF suffering ring failure. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT23A Repco. Clark took the series win in his Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8. Love the local ‘topography’, sturdy stone viaduct!, hay bales, painted, slippery white ‘no passing’ lines on the public roads. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin wf brabham 1967

Spencer Martin exercising all of his Coventry Climax’ lusty 235 horses through Leger Corner, Warwick Farm, December 1966. ‘Hordern Trophy’ Gold Star round won by Frank Gardners’ Brabham BT16 Climax from Kevin Bartletts’ Brabham BT11A and Martins’ similar car in 3rd. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

‘The biggest difference in driving the cars of David’s and my time was the safety aspect. No seat belts, no fuel cells, no on-board fire extinguishers, no roll cages, no fireproof clothing. I was driving the Tasman Series in New Zealand and was wearing a polo-shirt made of nylon. When Jim Clark saw me in this he explained how dangerous nylon was in the event of a fire. Jim gave me a pair of his Dunlop Racing overalls. Boy, did I think I was smart wearing these and they were fireproof so I could go faster! Actually they gave you about 5 extra seconds in the event of a fire. They were made of cotton and soaked in a fire retardant. Rather different from today’s suits.

Another extremely dangerous factor was the aluminium fuel tanks which were placed either side of the drivers seat. We needed to have over 18 gallons of Avgas for a long race, so we packed dry ice around the tank prior to the race on hot days.’

001MartinAllenGibsonwm

Spencer Martins’ Ferrari 250LM ‘6321’  leads the ‘Country Club GT Race’ at Warwick Farm September 19 1965. The chasing Lotus Elan 26R’s are Niel Allen and Fred Gibson. (Heinz Federbusch)

‘Graham Hill was driving our new Brabham (BT11A Climax) at Warwick Farm in 1965. When we fuelled the car, an hour before the race, one tank was leaking through a crack in its top edge. I went into panic mode, Graham, however, asked me to go to the toilet and bring him back a bar of soap. He made this into a putty mixture and plastered it into the crack. As he explained, the leak was on the top of the tank, so after a few laps the fuel would be below the problem area. I used this fix a few times over the years. Can you imagine this sort of thing happening to an F1 Ferrari or McLaren?!

One of the biggest events to materialise at SV was when David talked Archie White, the Shell Racing Manager, into buying the 250LM Ferrari. I was not allowed to go to the wharf to bring it home as I had work to do on the Brabham. However I’ll never forget seeing it for the first time and David saying it was mine to drive!’

‘David was the best motoring journalist at this time. Not only was he able to write about cars, he could also drive them. David was at the front of the grid for the 1963 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm alongside Surtees and McLaren. He was the first Aussie home and all this on a 40 degrees Celsius day when many of the younger drivers stopped due to heat exhaustion. The temperature inside his car was measured at over 50 degrees.

agp 1963 front row

Front row of the AGP grid, Warwick Farm February 1963. Surtees on pole, Lola Mk4a Climax, McLaren Cooper T62 Climax and McKay Brabham BT4 Climax. Jack won in his BT4 Climax from Surtees, McLaren and McKay.(Autopics.com.au Collection)

David, in his motoring column, was very critical of the cars which Ford, GMH and Chrysler were building at that time. Sir Frank Packer allowed David to continue his reports in the Sydney Telegraph because his column was selling newspapers. When News Ltd took over the Tele, they would not allow him such a full hand as they explained they needed the advertisers money from the motoring industry so David left.’

martin bathurst 20lm 65

Spencer Martin in one of his early drives of the SV Ferrari 250LM at Murrays Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1965. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

martin

‘Australian Autosportsman’ magazine July 1965. Shell ‘Advertorial’! Martin on the cover in the SV Fazz 250LM, picture taken probably on the same day as the one above, but this time, i think, ‘Hell Corner’, which leads onto the uphill ‘Mountain Straight’ having gone past the pits. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

‘The first race for the 250LM was the Sandown Park Tasman round sports car race in February 1965…Graham Hill was to drive the Brabham in the Tasman race, however he put it on David to allow him to also drive the LM. David kept his word to me and told Graham that ‘the boy’ was going to drive it. Well, Frank Matich was leading (in Elfin 400/ Traco Olds) then suddenly we did a ‘Stephen Bradbury’ as Matich blew up and we went on to win it’s very first race. In reality it was no match for the more powerful Elfins and Lola’s. It did however win every long distance race in which it was entered.

The ‘Old Red Lady’ as David affectionately called the LM, was a fantastic car to race. With the V12 very low slung in the engine bay behind the driver, and with 8000rpm, the noise inside and out was certainly something to remember for driver and spectator alike.

David was a vary hard taskmaster. He expected me to work on customer road cars during the day and maintain the Brabham and Ferrari after hours. I was made an offer by Bob Jane which I decided was better for my future so I moved on. Years later David wrote me a letter saying he was sorry for being so hard on me. This lead to a rekindled friendship where we travelled overseas together to many of the F1 races.

I really miss ‘The Old Man’. He was a true Ferrari-ist, and gave us all the true pleasure of seeing the two best cars ever to race in this country, the 250LM and P4 Ferraris!’

rcn martin lakeside

This ‘RCN’ cover David Atkinson painting depicts Spencer winning the 10 July Gold Star race at Lakeside, Queensland 1966 ahead of Kevin Bartlett #14 Brabham BT11A Climax and John Harvey Brabham BT14 Ford 1.5…1-3rd in the race en route to Martins 1966 Gold Star title. (Racing Car News)

David McKay had this to say about Spencers’ departure and career in his wonderful autobiography, ‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’…‘I was both surprised and disappointed but in retrospect I had expected too much and had been too hard on the young man. I had treated him as I would a son and no doubt Martin thought ‘the son’ had had a lucky escape. Sadly I had planned to take Martin to Maranello where I was sure Mike Parkes would have got him a drive at Le Mans and he would eventually have graduated to F1.

However, instead of telling me he’d been waiting for this chance and had his bags packed, Martin said he didn’t fancy Le Mans with its dangerous mix of cars and drivers and thank you but no thanks. I still consider to this day Martin would have achieved a successful career with Ferrari and we have often joked about what might have been. Martin argues that he has all his arms and legs in place and that his successive Australian Championships in 1966 and 1967 fulfilled his motor racing ambitions. It was twelve years before we were to speak again and it was the LM which brought us together’.

symmons grid 1966

Front row of the Symmons Plains, Tas 1966 ‘Gold Star’ grid. #7 the winning ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax of Greg Cusack, #5 Brabham BT11A Climax of Kevin Bartlett and on the near side Spencer in his Brabham BT11A Climax. The nose of John Harveys’ Brabham BT14 Lotus/Ford TC is on row 2. Cusack won from Harvey and John McCormack, Brabham BT4 Climax. (oldracephotos/David Keep)

martin WF

Martin on the way to 6th place in the SV Brabham BT11A ‘Warwick Farm 100′ Tasman race 13 February 1966 won by Clarks’ Lotus 39 Climax. This is not long before Martin left SV for Bob Jane Racing, this same chassis ‘IC-4-64’ won his 1966/7 Gold Star titles. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

As Spencer says he left SV and Sydney to join Bob Jane Racing in Melbourne, both Shell sponsored teams at the time and a controversial move albeit a very successful one for both driver and team…Jane acquired the Brabham BT11A Climax Spencer had been racing for SV, it was this car in which he won the Gold Star in 1966 and 1967. His toughest competitor was Kevin Bartlett in a similar car entered by Alec Mildren, the pair having many close dices with Bartlett famously setting the first over 100mph lap of Bathurst during their Gold Star encounter at Mt Panorama in 1967.

spencer

A touch of understeer for Spencer in his Bob Jane Brabham BT11, ‘Hordern Trophy’, Warwick Farm in December 1966. Race won by Frank Gardner from Kevin Bartlett. This shot is from a ‘period’ Shell magazine ad. (Spencer Lambert Collection)

In 1967 Repco’s 2.5 litre Tasman ‘740 Series’ V8’s powered the cars of Greg Cusack (SV Brabham BT23A), Leo Geoghegan (Lotus 39) and John Harvey (Brabham BT14 ) even though these cars were all competitive they lacked the consistent reliability which prevented Repco ever achieving a Gold Star Series win…Martins’ Climax engined Brabham won 2 rounds, winning his second title by 7 points from Cusack, his replacement at Scuderia Veloce and promptly retired.

Years later he re-established his relationship with McKay as he outlined above, he owned a share in McKays’ LM for a while and raced a range of exotic racing cars in historic racing in both the US and Europe. He still lives in Australia and is in happy retirement with a large extended family to keep him busy…and the occasional competition drive.

martin and mckay

Spencer Martin and David McKay pictured on 27 October 2004. Chris Haigh took this shot having just taken David for a lap of Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW in McKay’s original Jaguar Mk1 ‘The Grey Pussy’. David died on December 26 2004 at 83 of cancer. (Chris Haigh)

Etcetera…

longford grid lm

Spencer Martin stands by the front ‘guard of the SV 250LM, his second meeting in the car, Longford Tasman meeting February 1965. Yellow car is the Mildren Maserati, driven by Ralph Sach (built by Rennmax’ Bob Britton on his Lotus 19 jig) the yellow shirted Mildren mechanics are (L) Stewart Randall and (R) Glen Abbey, the latter behind many Mildren/Gardner/Bartlett/Stewart victories. Driver behind the Fazz perhaps Les Howard. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin brabham surfers

Martin leading and winning the Surfers Paradise Gold Star round in 1966. Shot taken below Repco Hill, Brabham BT11A Climax. (John Stanley)

Jackie Stewart contested the above, Surfers’ Gold Star 1966 race, this article may be of interest to some in his ‘one-off’ Brabham BT11A Climax drive…https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

mc kay lm longford 1965

The ‘Guvnor David McKay steers his 250LM through the Longford paddock in March 1965, the second meeting for the Ferrari driven by Martin. Graham Hill drove the SV Brabham BT11A Climax in the final ’65 Tasman race, the AGP, to 4th place, Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T79 Climax. (Ellis French)

symmons grid 67 martin brabham

Martin being congratulated before the start of the Gold Star race at Symmons in November 1967. DNF with cam follower failure, race won by Greg Cusack, his replacement at Scuderia Veloce, in a Brabham BT23 A Repco. #2 is Garrie Coopers’ Elfin Mono Ford TC. Its Martins’ final race of ‘his serious career’, he had wrapped up the Gold Star for the 2nd time in succession and retired, the car driven by John Harvey for Bob Jane Racing from then. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin lakeside barbham 65

Martin in the SV Brabham BT11A ahead of Leo Geoghegans’ Lotus 32 Ford 1.5 TC, Lakeside ‘Gold Star’ race July 1965. Martin won from Leo and John McDonalds’ Cooper T70 Climax. (The Roaring Season/Bruce Wells)

martin tassie brabham

Car owner, the stocky, strong Bob Jane tests the rear spring rates…whilst driver Martin does his best to ignore the chief. Symmons Plains Gold Star round November 1966. Brabham BT11A Climax, ‘box is Hewland HD5. (Ellis French)

Spencer Martin 2006 Tasman Revival

Spencer pictured beside the Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo raced by Frank Gardner in the ’68 Tasman and then Kevin Bartlett to Gold Star success in 1968. Car restored by Paul Moxham and driven by Spencer here at the Eastern Creek, NSW Tasman Revival Meeting in December 2006. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Spencer Martin Catalina

Spencer Martin signed program of the Catalina Park cover on which his Holden starred! (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Bibliography…

‘David McKay Memorial Rally 2012: Rally Guide’, ‘ David McKays’ Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay, The Nostalgia Forum

Photo and Other Credits…

John Ellacott, Bruce Wells, autopics/Richard Austin, The Roaring Season, Chris Haigh Collection, Racing Car News, Heinz Federbusch, Ellis French, John Stanley, Racing Car News, Chris Haigh

Lindsay Ross of Oldracephotos http://www.oldracephotos.com/content/home/ for the use of the shots by David Keep

David Blanch of Autopics Collection  http://autopics.com.au/

Stephen Dalton Collection, Spencer Lambert Collection

Finito…

Merit 02 (3)

French Racing Blue… Lago Talbot – just like Aussie, Doug Whiteford used for 2 AGP wins.

A little Merit – the era of Farina, Fangio, Moss, Hawthorn & Salvadori in miniature. Or closer to home Davison, Stillwell, McKay, Walton & Whiteford…

Many an enthusiast reading can possibly relate to a misspent youth building model kits. Referring to the instructions, cutting pieces from the sprues, filing, sanding, detail painting & gluing all the pieces together to create a plastic masterpiece. Hopefully with no spares left over!

The Merit brand from North London, UK-based toymaker, J & R Randall Ltd was an early player in the model kit industry. Racing Cars weren’t their only focus, ships, planes and even a Model T Ford played a part too. But here at primotipo.com the racing cars are really the only ones that matter.

Merit 06 (3)

Two times BRM Type 25. The one on the left is pretty much how Merit intended, the other has had a master modelmaker, Alistair Brookman makeover

The whole series cover many of the great racing cars of the late 1940’s through to the mid 50s and although they’re not in the later highly detailed Tamiya level, they make for a well proportioned 1/24 scale rendition of the actual racing car.
Fourteen kits make up a full set – covering the best of Italy, France, Germany and the UK industry.
Alfa Romeo 158
Maserati 4CLT/48
Maserati 250F
Lancia-Ferrari D50
Mercedes Benz W196
BRM Type 25
Connaught B Type
Cooper MkIX
Vanwall
Lago Talbot
Simca Gordini
Lotus 11
Jaguar D Type
Aston Martin DB3S

The kits made their way around the globe, with the Australian distributor being the father of a well known (just retired) Melbourne motoring book dealer. Finding them now is a little harder, but not impossible. The well known internet auction site might be your best friend for a search. As with many collectors items they’re worth more boxed and unbuilt. They are also popular for slot car conversion.

Merit 01 (3)

I see red… the Italian Merits – #2 Alfa Romeo, #17 Lancia-Ferrari, #15 Maserati 250F & #7 Maserati 4CLT/48.

Merit 03 (3)

More FRB with the Simca-Gordini F2, some German supremacy with the W196 Benz that Fangio and Moss dominated long before Hamilton and Rosberg got their gigs. The other car being the Cooper MkIX, these could be fitted with all sorts of Norton, JAP, Vincent or other motorcycle engines.

Merit 04

The British sporties… #2 Aston Martin DB3S, #6 Chapman’s Lotus XI and a Jaguar D Type (that one only part built).

Merit 05 (3)

The GP cars that helped towards Britain gaining on the Italians. #8 Vanwall, #22 Connaught B Type & #4 BRM Type 25.

Merit 10

A bit of Vanwall history and the written instructions to assemble the Vanwall kit.

Merit 11

The other side… Vanwall illustrated instructions

Merit 07

This should be all the Merit racing car collection.

Merit 12

Aussie car magazine, Modern Motor depicted these Merits in a race for April Fools Day 1959. Their cartoonist/artist, Terry Trowel added the drivers.

Etcetera…

Merit 08

Side 1 of the Merit brochure. Note that not all the racing cars came out at once and that during 1958 the BRM, Maserati 4CLT/48 & Simca-Gordini would be added

Merit 09

Side 2 of the Merit brochure – note Donald Campbell’s Bluebird kit.

Bibliography…

Sept 55 (MS Archive 18/4/15) “J & L Randall Ltd have introduced a Merit Outfit plastic assembly kit which makes up into a 1912- model-T Ford two-seater complete with driver. Their address is Potters Bar, Middelsex.” p43

Modern Motor

Words and Merit Model Collection: Stephen Dalton…

fb and fazz...

(The Roaring Season/Gearbox Grinder)

Pat Hoares’ Ferrari 246/256 V12 being towed into Ardmore for the 1961 New Zealand Grand Prix, open trailer towed by an ‘FB’ Holden…

I blew my tiny mind when sent through this post of another time and place on ‘The Roaring Season’, check it out!  One of the wonderful things about blogs and websites is how amateur shots which would never see the light of day like this ‘cache’ can now be shared for all to see.

http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?1730-Old-Programmes-movies-and-memories-from-the-Fifties-Sixties-and-Seventies/page7

The Ferrari is a 1958 works F1 Dino ‘0007’ raced by Gendebien, Von Trips, Gurney and Phil Hill who won the 1960 Italian GP in it.

It was converted at Maranello to 3 litre V12 ‘Testa Rossa’ power, re numbered ‘0788’ and raced successfully in NZ amongst the ‘mid-engined hordes’ and ultimately restored to its original specs by Crosthwaite and Gardiner many years ago.

NZ GP start

1961 NZ GP start, Ardmore January 1961. Jack Brabham won from Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill in works Cooper T53 Climax x 2 and BRM P48. (Gearbox Grinder/The Roaring Season)

pat hoare nz 61

Pat Hoare on his way to 7th and first of the front engined cars in the ’61 NZGP. Ferrari 246/256. In an interesting sign of the times 10 front engined cars DNQ, the first 6 finishers were mid engined, other front engined finishers were 9th Malcolm Gill in the amazing aero-engined Lycoming Spl, 11th Frank Shuter Ferrari 625 and 12th Bib Stillwell Aston Martin DBR4-300. 3 Maser 250F’s DNF’d. (The Roaring Season/Gearbox Grinder)

1961 Ardmore programme

Credits…

The Roaring Season/Gearbox Grinder, Barchetta, Stephen Dalton Collection

berger busstop chicane belgianm 1989 fazz 640

Gerhard Berger pings his Ferrari 640 through the ‘Bus-Stop’ chicane, Spa 1989…

He spun off on lap 9, the race won by Ayrton Senna from teammate Alain Prost in McLaren MP/5 Hondas’ and Nigel Mansell in the other Ferrari 640.

ferrari 640 cockpit

The nub of the cars innovation, its electro-hydraulic 7 speed gearbox and steering wheel mounted operation; faster gearchanges, greater reliability by eliminating ‘muffed’ up and especially downchanges, two hands on the wheel at all times giving greater control and speed. (Unattributed)

Ferrari 640 and Innovation…

The new single-seater was known colloquially as the 640 after its design number, but was officially F1-89.

Nigel Mansell joined the team, Gerhard Berger was his teammate. Ferrari took three wins and was third in the Constructors’ Championship with 59 points.

The F1-89 hailed the return of the normally aspirated 12-cylinder engine and in a major first for Formula 1, also had a gear change bar mounted behind the steering wheel.

Ferrari have never been noted for innovation but this was a ‘game changer’ which all other teams and formulae followed.

Nigel Mansell won his debut race at Interlagos and then headed the pack across the line again at Budapest. The Scuderia’s third season win came from  Gerhard Berger at Estoril. McLaren took both titles that year with Alain Prost winning the Drivers’ Title for them.

The semi-automatic gearbox was Barnard’s solution to the problem of the long manual actuation mechanism. Barnard interviwed by ‘MotorSport’ in 2005 said ‘The project started because I wanted to make the monocoque really narrow. In those days we had to fit a gearshift run through the monocoque alongside the engine and back to the gearbox. It was a real pain to find a route for this and make room in the cockpit for the selector and the driver’s hand. I thought, ‘Surely, instead of a gear lever, I can have a switch.’ So it was a packaging imperative. The gear linkage affected lots of things, and of course the driver was taking his hand off the wheel during changes. The time-saving advantage came afterwards. Vittorio Ghidella, running Ferrari post-Enzo, was terrified of the ‘box failing and had a manual version built; Mansell tested it and said ‘forget it’. But the effort was a danger to the project.’

Originally intended to appear in ’88 on the 639, the electrohydraulic ‘box and normally aspirated V12 were held back until the following season once it was clear that the equivalency rules for ’88 made it vital to run a turbo to be competitive. When it did at last race in ’89 the new transmission was initially unreliable but it eventually became clear to everyone in the pitlane that here was a technology they would all have to copy.

Ferrari say that ‘the new gearbox and communications difficulties with Barnard who was working from England dragged out the car’s development’. However, when it finally did emerge, it was seen by the other constructors as a shining example of superb engineering and aerodynamics, the latter thanks to its extremely clean-looking form’

Boy, it was and is a stunning looking car, perhaps the last really sexy F1 car?

ferrari 640 cutaway

Technical Specifications…

With the banning of turbo-charged engines from the end of 1988, as stated above, Ferrari returned to a normally aspirated 65° V12 Bore/stroke 84 x 52.6 mm displacing 3497.96 cc. The  block was cast iron as a result of Barnard driving Ferrari hard on engine length and to get the crank as low as possible. He also influenced the 4 bolt pick ups for the engine, which differed from the way Ferrari hung their engines from the tub before.

Compression ratio was 11.5 : 1, maximum power 441 kW (600 hp) at 12,500 rpm. Valve actuation was DOHC per bank, five valves per cylinder, Fuel feed by Weber-Marelli electronic indirect injection, Ignition electronic, single spark plug per cylinder, lubrication dry sump. Clutch multi-plate with a 7 speed electro-hydraulic gearbox.

The chassis was designed by Barnard and his team at Ferraris’ Guildford Technical Office in the UK. When Barnard joined the team Ferrari had not won a race since 1985 so he was able to name his terms, inclusive of not working at the factory in Maranello! Ferrari agreed to the establishment of a design office near Barnards’ home in the UK.

The chassis was typical of the period, a Kevlar and carbon-fibre composite monocoque, its distinctive pannier shape a function of the large volumes of fuel, 220-230 litres carried at the time..

Barnard commented about the cars suspension ‘The 639 had conventional spring/damper units on top of the chassis, but because the 640 monocoque was so narrow I drew up a torsion-bar arrangement instead which started the short-torsion-bar fashion that continues today. It kept the installation as compact as possible and also I didn’t like coil-over dampers. The springs were never well enough made to avoid side loads on the damper rods and consequently added friction. I designed a lower friction package with the torsion bar, which ran on ball bearings. It was a really good solution’.

Front suspension comprised independent push-rod, torsion bar springs, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar. Rear suspension independent push-rod, twin wishbones, coil springs over horizontally-mounted telescopic shock absorbers. Brakes were steel discs. Steering rack-and-pinion. Fuel tank capacity 192 litres and Front tyres 25.0-10.0-13 and Rear tyres 26.0-15.0-13.

ferrari 640 naked

The beautiful symmetry and packaging of the car, a Barnard strength is seen to good effect in this shot from above. (Unattributed)

Apart from Mansells debut win at Interlagos in Brazil the gearbox gave early season troubles, both drivers having DNF’s in all subsequent races until the French GP, the ‘box the cause of many of them.

John Barnard again comments and sets the record straight ‘The semi-auto gearbox was slagged off early on for being unreliable, but that was unwarranted. A lot of the retirements in early 1989 listed as gearbox failures weren’t at all, they were due to loss of power to the ‘box. The alternator was driven by a belt from the crank and this kept falling off. It took a long time to find out why, using high-speed photography on the dyno. At this time the V12 only had a four-bearing crank which started to whip at certain revs, causing the front pulley to shed the belt. The alternator would stop and so would the gearbox electronics. We didn’t have any fundamental problems with the ‘box itself. It was pretty reliable. It was mostly standard inside and the hydraulic system was simple and robust.’

After these problems were sorted the advantages of the gearbox were clear…Barnard had instigated the second technical innovation of his career, the first the carbon-composite chassis…

Check out this article on John Barnards’ McLaren MP4/1 Ford…

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/05/mclaren-mp4-ford-1981-the-first-carbon-composite-car-john-barnards-brilliance/

1989 brazilian gp start

Start of the 1989 Brazilian GP with L>R Berger, Prost, Senna, Patrese and Boutsen behind him…Ferrari 640, McLaren MP4/5 Honda x2 and Williams FW12C Renault x2. Winner Mansell is not to be seen, he won from Prost and Mauricio Gugelmins’ March CG891 Judd. (Unattributed)

Etcetera…

mansell onaco fazz 640

Nigel Mansell at Monaco in his 640 1989. He retired with gearbox failure, Senna won in his McLaren. (Unattributed)

Credits…

Scuderia Ferrari, MotorSport June 2005

 

image

Bonnier/Abate Porsche 718GTR in the Sicilian Hills. (Yves Debraine)

Jo Bonnier victorious in the Porsche 718GTR together with Carlo Abate…

The 718 Porsche was a development of the earlier, successful 550A/RS61, the GTR coupe the ultimate expression of the 718 was developed for the 1961 Le Mans classic. It was fitted with either the earlier 1.5 litre 4 cylinder or as here, a 2 litre variant of Porsches’ flat 8, quad cam F1 engine developing around 210bhp all of which hit the road through a 5 speed gearbox. Disc brakes were used, torsion bar suspension, the car very light at circa 570Kg.

The 904 followed the 718 as Porsches’ next racer hence the family resemblance…

Very successful, 718 variants won Targa in 1959/60/63 and the Sebring 12 Hour enduro in 1960.

The Bandini/Scarfiotti/Mairesse Ferrari Dino 196SP looked a certain winner until Willy lost the car on the last lap, he recovered but fell short of victory by 12 seconds.

It wasn’t Willy Mairesse’ race, he had started in a 250P 3 litre 12 cylinder Ferrari co-driven by Ludovico Scarfiotti and managed to hit a bump which flattened a fuel line, ultimately putting the car out of the race.

John Surtees then blotted his copybook, chucking the leading 250P co driven by Mike Parkes into the bushes leaving Lorenzo Bandini to uphold Ferrari honours with the 2 litre V6 Dino.

image

Scarfiotti/Bandini/Mairesse Ferrari Dino 196SP. Nowhere quite surpasses the rugged majesty of this place? (Yves Debraine)

Scarfiotti was enlisted to assist in the Dino to uphold Maranellos’ honour, the Bonnier Porsche very competitive in the cool, experienced and fast hands of the Swede.

Abate wasn’t as quick as Bonnier, slowly the Ferrari gained the lead, Ferrari team-manager Eugenio Dragoni putting Mairesse into the car as a fresh driver for the last two laps. A fresh driver but perhaps not the most ‘calm’!

The Sicilian weather deteriorated, rain began to fall and poor Mairesse goofed under brakes as he approached the finishing straight and off the road he went. He gathered up the car, dragging the engine cover along the ground as Bonnier looked on, the Ferrari just falling short of Bonniers time by 12 seconds…

image

The Ferrari boys watch their clocks! Bonnier has finished, it’s all down to Willy Mairesse as the weather deteriorates. Bandini in the pale blazer beside the ‘Wallopers’ and Scarfiotti to the left of Lorenzo. (Bernard Cahier)

image

Mairesse finishes the race dragging the engine cover of his Ferrari behind …(Bernard Cahier)

196 sp cutaway

Ferrari Dino 196SP: multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, 690Kg, 1983cc 60 degree V6, SOHC per bank, 3 Weber carbs. 210bhp @ 7500rpm, 5 speed transaxle. (Unattributed)

targa 'motor racing' mag

‘Ludovico Scarfiotti shakes the quiet Sicilian village of Campofelice in his 3 litre Ferrari 250P’, the first of 2 Ferraris’ crashed by Willy Mairesse, this one on on lap 4… (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Bibliography…

Automobile Year 11, Yves Debraine, Bernard Cahier, Stephen Dalton Collection

 

 

zasada 911

‘Polish rally ace Sobieslaw Zasada gave it all he had on the Numeralla to Hindmarsh Station stage, and the Porsche responded with the characteristic wail of its air cooled flat six engine. He improved from 9th to 5th place on this stage and ultimately took 4th place in the Marathon.’

The London-Sydney Marathon was run between 24 November and 17 December 1968. A field of 98 cars set out on a route covering 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometres) across Europe and Asia to Bombay, then from Perth to Sydney in Australia. It was the first in a series of epic transcontinental car rallies held in subsequent years, and possibly the most memorable of all. The event was sponsored by the London Daily Express and the Sydney Daily Telegraph and captured the imagination of the world, as the respective newspaper proprietors had hoped.

I was fortunate to be able to witness and photograph the final competitive stage of the event, over rough, unmade roads between Numeralla and Hindmarsh Station in southeastern New South Wales. This stage was designed to be a final, extreme test in order to find a clear winner.’

(Numeralla is a tiny little hamlet in sub-Alpine country not far from Cooma, between the national capital, Canberra and the NSW snowfields areas of Thredbo/Perisher Valley. The final run to Sydney was circa 420Km)

bianchi

‘The Bianchi/Ogier Citroen was a clear leader on this final competitive stage from Numeralla to Hindmarsh Station. There were only easy transport stages then until the finish in Sydney. The Citroen had excelled on the rough, outback roads of Australia as other competitors, including Roger Clark in a very fast Cortina Lotus, succumbed to mechanical problems.

As it happened, the result was determined on the subsequent, easy transport stage when the leading car, the Citroen DS21 of Lucien Bianchi and Jean Claude Ogier, was put out of the event in a crash with an out of control spectator car. Andrew Cowan/Coyle/Malkin in a Hillman Hunter unexpectedly inherited the lead and won the Marathon. A total of 56 cars reached the finish line in Sydney.’

cowan london sydney

‘The Hillman Hunter seemed an unlikely contender, but Andrew Cowan had this low budget, works car in second place to Bianchi by the end of the Numeralla to Hindmarsh Station stage. He then simply inherited the lead when Bianchi’s Citroen was cruelly eliminated when it was hit by an out of control spectator car on the following transport stage’.

zasada 911 2

‘The mighty Zasada/Wachowski Porsche waits to leave at Hindmarsh Station. It finished in 4th place. Its interesting ‘kangaroo catcher’ was never tested.’

Check out Bruce Thomas’ photographs of the rest of the Numeralla to Hindmarsh Stage…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96982658@N05/sets/72157644193948282/comments/

Australian Leg of the Marathon Map…

london to syd map

(Stephen Dalton Collection)

Photo and Writing Credit…

Bruce Thomas

Thanks to Stephen Dalton for the maps of the Australian phase of this amazing event

whitehead agp 1938

(John Blanden Collection)

Peter Whitehead kicks the tail of ERA R10B out on the dirt surfaced Mount Panorama circuit, Bathurst AGP 1938…

It was said in those far away pre-synthetic fabric days that Australia ‘rode on the sheeps back’, 120 million of the critters roamed Australia in 1938, we clothed the world, with 50% of the wool clip sold to the United Kingdom.

Peter Whitehead was a member of a wealthy Bradford family with extensive interests in the textile industry including Australia. The family company, ‘W & J Whitehead’ were worsted wool spinners making yarn for products ranging from clothing to furniture. Whitehead lived on a farm near Reading, ‘Motorwork’ of Chalfront St Peter was the base for his racing activities.

He was despatched to the Colonies in 1938 to help expand the family empire, his ‘tour’ creating enormous press and public interest as, in addition to his ‘sheep shears’ he brought with him ERA R10B the ‘fastest car in Australia’.

During his visit he ran the car at every opportunity in addition to his well known victory in the 1938 Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst including several attempts on the Australian Land Speed Record.

whithead and crew bathurst

Whitehead and his crew at Bathurst. Nice cockpit detail of R10B. ‘Altho Whitehead dominated the AGP in terms of speed and equipment, he had to drive hard all the way , and vastly impressed onlookers with his style. He was allowed to drive bareheaded so he might better listen to his engine’. (History of the AGP G Howard)

Whitehead, born in Yorkshire on 12 November 1914, started racing in a Riley progressing to an Alta and soon the ERA, acquired new from Raymond Mays and Humphrey Cooks’ concern in 1936. Peter was a ‘wealthy amateur’ but also a fast world class driver, a lifelong enthusiast who won Le Mans in a ‘C Type’ Jaguar in 1951 in a long, varied career in sports cars and single seaters.

His life was cut short by a 1958 Tour de France crash, he was a passenger in a Jaguar Mk1 driven by his half-brother Graham.

But back to the start…he commenced racing a Riley, quickly progressing he finished third in the Limerick GP, a Formula Libre race, which was the first major result for Geoffrey Taylor’s Alta firm.

In 1936 he finished third in the Donington Grand Prix, sharing his ERA, with his driving partner in the car throughout, Peter Walker.

During the war he joined the RAF as a pilot. Once the war was over he was back racing, taking his ERA to second place in the British Empire Trophy on the Isle of Man in the summer of 1947. Later that year he raced at Lausanne as well. In 1948 he survived a plane crash at London’s Croydon Aerodrome being seriously injured. He had been preparing to fly to Milan to arrange the purchase of a Ferrari 125.

In 1949, after convincing Enzo Ferrari to sell him the car, he became the first Ferrari F1 privateer. With the green painted 125, he won the Czech GP, becoming the first Briton to win a major race abroad since Seaman. He almost won the French GP as well but gearbox problems pushed him back to third.

51 le mans win

Victory at Le Mans in 1951 with Peter Walker, Jaguar XKC. (Unattributed)

In 1950 he won the Jersey Road Race and the Ulster Trophy at Dundrod and achieved a career highlight at Le Mans in 1951 sharing the winning Jaguar ‘C Type’ with Peter Walker.

He continued to race and win in Formula 2 events across Europe in 1951 and 1952 with an Alta, a Cooper-Alta and his Ferrari.In 1953 he shared victory with Stirling Moss in the Reims 12 Hour in a C-Type Jaguar winning the race again the following year in a D Type, sharing with Ken Wharton, the ‘D’s  first win.

1950 italian gp

Whitehead 7th in the Italian GP, Monza 1950. Ferrari 125. (Unattributed)

In 1953 he won the French 12 Hours of Hyeres and added Ferrari single-seater victories in the Lady Wigram Trophy in New Zealand and in the Rand GP in South Africa.

He returned to Australia in 1956 contesting the ‘Olympic Grand Prix’ at Albert Park finishing 3rd in his Ferrari Super Squalo in the race won by Stirling Moss’ works Maserati 250F.

At Le Mans in 1958 he shared the second-placed Aston Martin DBR1 with his half-brother Graham then, a couple of months later, Peter lost his life during the Tour de France. Their Jaguar, with Graham at the wheel, crashed over a bridge parapet into a ravine, injuring Graham and killing Peter.

whitehead era

Lovely Portrait of a happy driver, Peter Whitehead. Car, Alta? date and place unknown. (Unattributed)

ERA logo

shepherd ERA drawing

This is not R10B…or even a ‘B Type’, its actually a ‘C Type’, ignore the Porsche type front IFS and pretend its the beam axle of the A/B Types…otherwise the overall look is captured, too nice a drawing by Bob Shepherd of ‘Australian Motor Sports’ not to use i reckon!…(Bob Shepherd)

ERA R10B…

ERA was founded by Humphrey Cook, Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon on November 6 1933 and established in Bourne, Lincolnshire next to Eastgate House, Mays family home.

Their ambition was to build a team of single seaters capable of upholding British prestige in European racing. Given the cost of Grand Prix racing, they focussed on the smaller voiturette, 1500cc supercharged class, the Formula 2 of the day.

Humphrey Cook financed the operation. Peter Berthon was responsible for the overall design of the cars, while Raymond Mays became its principal driver, he had most recently raced the ‘White Riley’, the success of which inspired Cook to back its creators in founding ERA.

It’s said the first design drawing by Reid Railtons’ assistant Ralph Beauchamp was dated 23 October, before ERA was formally incorporated.
The chassis, a channel section frame, was designed by Railton who had also successfully designed the Bluebird Land Speed Record cars for Malcolm Campbell. The frame was built by Thomson & Taylor at Brooklands.

The wheelbase was 96 inches, the front and rear track 52.5 and 48 inches respectively.

Panel-beating brothers George and Jack Gray hand crafted the bodywork, to a design credited to a Mr Piercy who had previously designed ‘Bluebird’s body.

r10 b warming up 90 mile

Peter Whitehead warming up the engine and transmission of R10B before his unsuccessful attempt on the Australian Land Speed record on the 90 Mile Beach, Victoria in September 1938. (EH Price)

Suspension front and rear (A & B types, the works team raced the ‘A Type’ in 1934/5, the ‘B Type’ had a slightly revised chassis and more reliable engine) comprised ‘H Section’ live axles forged by Hadfields, sprung by semi-elliptic leaf springs, dampers were Hartford friction type.

The engine was based on the well proven Riley 6-cylinder unit, modified in a number of significant ways. A stronger forged crankshaft with a large centre Hyatt roller bearing, 3 main bearings in all, was made and an entirely new aluminium cylinder head designed. The engine used a bespoke supercharger designed by Murray Jamieson which was fed by a single SU carburettor. One plug per cylinder was ‘sparked’ by a Lucas magneto.

The ERA engine was designed in three capacities; a base 1488cc, 1088cc and 1980cc. It ran on methanol, in its 1500cc form it produced circa 220-240 bhp with in excess of 275 bhp in 2000cc form.

The cars were fitted with Wilson four-speed pre-selector gearboxes, Girling mechanical brakes and 16X5.25 inch tyres, total dry weight was 2016 pounds.

The unveiling of ERA, ‘R1A’  took place at Brooklands on 22 May 1934. After initial handling problems, which required a number of modifications, ERA had a winning formula. By the end of the year ERAs had scored notable victories against many more established marques.

R10B was built to Peters’ order in 1936 with a capacity of 1.5 litres. The price quoted was 1500 pounds. R10B remained 1.5 litres in capacity until Whitehead fitted a 2 litre engine and two-stage blower in 1949, but for the period we are covering was a ‘standard’ spec 1.5 litre ‘B Type’ ERA.

era engine 90 mile

Super-charged 1.5 litre inline 6 cylinder, cast iron block, alloy head Riley based engine of R10B at the 90 Mile Beach, Victoria in September 1938. Steering column and box, throttle linkage, magneto, super-charger, engine rocker cover detail and chassis rails all visible. (EH Price)

ERA cutaway

Cutaway drawing nicely shows the key elements of the very successful design. (DMJ Illustration)

England to Australia…

maroubra circuit

Maroubra Speedway: Sydney, NSW April 1938…

Its not recorded from whence the Whitehead crew set sail in England but the first event for the car in the Southern Hemisphere was the Australian Grand Prix held at the new Mount Panorama circuit on the weekend of Easter Sunday 18 April 1938

That Whitehead tested his ERA or ‘ran in his engine’ on what remained of the Maroubra Speedways’ concrete bowl whilst in Australia does not seem to be in doubt. Perhaps it was prior to travelling to Mount Panorama. This is plausible if the car was shipped from the UK to Sydney, docking at King Streets ‘Hungry Mile’, infamous as the place where thousands of unemployed labourers sought a days work in the long years of the depression or Jones Bay Wharf in Pyrmont.

To test the car with the resources of the Sydney ‘fettlers’ closeby makes ‘racers sense’ after the ERA’s long voyage. The other possible time of the Maroubra test was perhaps after the failure of a piston and the engines rebuild or replacement after the cars failed Australian Land Speed attempt at Gerringong Beach, NSW on November 10. That seems to have been the cars last event in Australia, R10B needed to be race ready for the 2 events in South Africa Whitehead contested in January 1939 on the way back to the UK.

Maroubra is a Sydney Southern Beaches suburb adjoining internationally known Bondi.

speedwayandroadracehistory describe the history of ‘Olympia (Maroubra) Speedway’ as follows…’The paved bowl Maroubra Speedway opened on the 5th of December 1925. It had the reputation as Australia’s most notorious ‘Killer Track’

‘Situated South of Sydney in a natural hollow in the Maroubra sandhills, it was an ideal area for the track as the natural landscape lent itself to a huge saving on the cost of earthworks and the large population of Sydney was just down the road. Once the track was completed claims of up to 70,000 spectators spectators were made. The track was that steep through the turns that it was impossible to walk up the track face.’

‘Snakes were a major problem as they would come out during the heat of the day to soak up the suns rays on the race track, a bit of a worry with no protection from another cars wheels flicking up a Dugite snake into the open cockpit’. Hmm, yep!

‘Five competitors would loose their lives in just two years during the 1920’s, In 1927 the great Phil Garlick driving his super-charged Alvis, blew a tyre and rode over the top edge of the race track, hitting a light pole and died instantly.’

Plagued with problems the short 5/6th of a mile venue closed in 1927, long gone were those two years of large crowds looking on in amazement at the motorcycle racers reaching speeds of up to 100mph side by side on the big banked oval.

Less sensationally, Graham Howard in an article for ‘Motor Racing Australia’ remarked on the bravery of the promoters in building a facility unlike any in Australia before, the short concrete track having curves of 16 degrees and dizzying 48 degrees elevation built by contractors with no expereince in anything like it.

Crowds never matched any more than one third of the 60000-90000 estimated on the opening day, many spectators avoided paying for the entertainment on offer by making use of the local surrounding sandhills which attracted the investors in the first place. The original entrepreneurs went bust in 1926, subsequent management tried night racing for both cars and ‘bikes. The danger of the place caused competitor entries to decline, all the racer fatalities occurred on the same section of track after the north-east curve.

Maroubras’ last race meeting was held in November 1934, the original crown lease was assumed by the Housing Commission, by 1951 construction of dwellings had commenced and by 1961 the area was occupied by 4000 people. Sydneysiders can check out the area bounded by Anzac Pde, Malabar Rd and Fitzgerald Avenue as the site of actions of derring-do in the 1920’s…

I’ve not uncovered any photographs of Whitehead at Maroubra but have chosen a couple of period photos’ to provide the flavour of the place.

hope on banking

This shot of Hope Bartletts’ Bugatti Brescia chosen to show the steepness of the concrete bowl. 22 December 1926. (Unattributed)

marourbra ballot and bugatti

Harry Cooper Ballot and Hope Bartlett, one of the stars of the day, Bugatti Brescia. Big crowd, date uncertain. (Unattributed)

bathurst map

Whitehead timed his stay in Australia around the AGP, held that year at Bathurst, Easter in April…

The daunting circuit was newly built and had a gravel surface. Whilst Whiteheads’ ERA was the most advanced, new car in the race, the AGP was held to Formula Libre and handicapped until 1953 due to the paucity of equivalently competitive cars, the sport very much an amateur activity at the time.

John Medley wrote the 1938 Chapter of Graham Howard’s magnificent ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’, Medley records…’The new circuit over Bald Hills near Bathurst was the sene of the 150 Mile AGP…The first ‘real’ AGP outside Victoria, it drew the largest field so far, 39 entries, it continued the trend towards larger engines, it had a multi-state entry (and 2 from the UK), it produced the first overseas winner of an AGP, and was run on the only one of the great traditional old circuits to survive to the present day’.

agp pre start

AGP field awaits the start, R10B in shot. (History of The AGP G Howard)

The ERA dominated the entry list, the car had been raced by both Whitehead and Peter Walker, having finished 3rd in the 1936 Donington GP, the 1936 Nuffield Trophy, the 1937 Junior Car Club 200 Mile event at Donington and the 1937 Empire Trophy also at the Leicestershire circuit.

Medley reports the quickest Australian cars entered were the McIntyre owned, Frank Kleinig driven ‘Kleinig Special’ an 8 cylinder Terraplane powered car based on an MG ‘L Type’ Magna chassis (the development of this amazing car over 15 years is a story in itself). Tom Peters was entered in the Ford V8 powered Bugatti T37A which won both the 1930 and 1932 AGP’s at Phillip Island in Bill Thompsons’ hands.

Colin Dunne entered an ex-Bira MG K3, Jim Fagan another K3, ex-Birkin/Don/Hall, and Lyster Jackson the final K3 ex-Hall.

Fellow Englishman Alan Sinclair joined Whitehead racing an ex-Winterbottom Alta 1100…’The Alta an infrequent starter in Australia, being a temperamental beast-apparently like its owner who had a lively time whilst in Australia. The Alta non-started at Bathurst too, but that may have had something to do with Sinclair spending the previous Friday night in the cells on sundry drunk and disorderly charges’ Howard reports.

Other entries included Tim Joshuas’ Meadows engined Frazer Nash, the ‘Mrs Jones owned’ Alfa Romeo 1750SS to be driven by future AGP winner John Barraclough, George Martins’ BMW 328,(this 328 won the 1948 AGP in Frank Pratts’ hands) Barney Dentry in the Riley which won the 1932 Brooklands 500 Mile Race, Dentry having competed in all but one AGP.

bathurst start

Limit man Ron Uffindells Austin 7 is away. AGP start 1938. (John Blanden Collection)

The importance of Australian Specials at the time is highlighted by the entry of George Bonsers and Harry Beiths’ Terraplane Spl’s. Wangarattas’ Jack Phillips’ entered his Ford V8 Spl, so too were Queenslander Charlie Whatmore and Arncliffe, Sydney garage proprietor Fred Foss similarly mounted.

Shanghai born Bob Lea Wright was remakable chracter, a WW1 fighter pilot, national swimming champion and a good boxer who rose to the rank of Major during WW2 in the Service Corps. He too was in a Terraplane Spl as was Bowral, NSW, Hudson/Terraplane Dealer Les Burrows.

Alf Barrett, about whom i wrote not so long ago entered his Morris Bullnose Spl for Colin Anderson and the ex-Jack Day 1927 supercharged Lombard AL3 for himself.

New MG ‘T’s were entered for John Crouch, Alan Crago and R Kerr stripped of ‘guards and lights as was the 1934 Riley Imp of George Thame.

On the face of it the ERA was easily the fastest car in the race but the AGP was a handicap, anything can and did happen over the years the event was held to the F Libre/Handical format.

John Medley reported that ‘ Despite the bitterly cold morning over 30000 spectators thronged all parts of the circuit…After a grand parade, the limit marker, Ron Uffindells’ Austin 7 was away on its long journey. Over the next half hour the rest of the field left the line, scratch marker Whitehead leaving a blanket over the ERA radiator until the last moment’.

era start ag[p

34 minutes after limitman Uffindells Austin 7 set off Whitehead is away, past the St Johns Ambulance. Grey, cold Easter Bathurst day. (History of The AGP G Howard)

‘Already by the time of Whiteheads’ raucous departure there had been pitstops and retirements’; Thames Riley Imp broke its crank, Barretts Lombard was out with either magneto trouble or run bearings but Alf was impressed by the ERA, the purchase of an Alfa Monza via Thomson and Taylor shortly thereafter the result of a desire to get a competitive, reliable car. Les Murphy lost time with a long stop and Frank Kleinig retired after throwing a fan-belt.

‘So through the dust and ruts and the flying stones Uffindell lead with Anderson and Pike in pusuit…the battling MG ‘T’s were next from Crouch, Keir…further back Burrows Terraplane, the McKellar V8 but already Whitehead was looking the likely winner, lapping faster than expected’.

whitehead

Shot shows the challenges of high speeds on the narrow, dirt surface of  Conrod Straight, perhaps the Dentry Riley behind Whiteheads ERA. The Esses/Forrests Elbow in the distance. (Dave Sullivan Album)

On lap 20 Peter pitted for oil, fuel and water, by then the Norman Aubin Ford V8 Spl, Williamson Chrysler, Joshua Frazer Nash and Weir  MG had retired.

‘According to the ‘Bathurst Advocate’…this intrepid Englishman apparently does not know the meaning of fear. Once or twice his car slid badly and began to waltz about on the road but he just smiled unconcernedly and set it racing on a perfect course again with the utmost simplicity’.

crago mg mt p

The Crago/Sherwood stripped MG T Type lead at the half way mark. Here he is at the top of Mountain Straight turning into Quarry. Bathurst countryside as far as the eye can see. (Bob King Collection)

At the 100 Mile mark the Crago MG driven now by John Sherwood lead Uffindell by a minute, Crouch and Burrows side by side across the line in third and fourth. ‘But the writing was on the wall-either Whitehead or Burrows would win’.

‘The race continued with the corners badly rutted and increasingly dangerous. The Foss Ford V8 Spl, Pike and Beasley Singers and Fagans noisy megaphoned MG K3 also fell out and the Burton Alvis in a race punctured by incidents spun again at the Esses’.

burton alvis

Paul Burton was a WW2 test pilot. His 1482cc supercharged FWD Alvis was ‘driven with enterprise’, the car survives today. (John Blanden Collection)

‘On lap 30 Burrows lead by 8s from Sherwood with Whitehead in 6th place and 3m40s behind…rapid calculations suggested that Burrows might beat the black ERA home-but it was not to be; a disappointed Burrows slowed, the Terraplane sounding woolly, and Whitehead, despite a windscreen broken by a flying stone 5 laps from the end, passed him during lap 35 to forge away. Burrows maintained his distance ahead of Sherwood in the Crago MG’.

Whitehead received the chequered flag from Whatmore and Sherwood. Many pitcrews disagreed with the official results, after protests the placings were; Whitehead in R10B, Les Burrows in the Terraplane Spl, Crago in MG T, T Peters in the MacKellar Spl s/c, John Crouch MG T and Jack Phillips, Ford V8 Spl.

terraplane spl

Beiths’ 3455cc straight 8 Terraplane Spl leads Kerrs’ 3621cc V8 Ford Spl. Kerrs’ passenger working hard! Australian Specials the essence of this race for so long. Hell Corner, the run onto Mountain Straight. (Wheels magazine)

Medley…’Whitehead received a tremendous ovation at the finish and afterwards was surrounded by a huge crowd. Dusty, dirty and deaf in a dark blue shirt, spotted tie and grey slacks, mug of beer in hand, he praised the circuit, fellow competitors, and the race itself: ‘I think it is a really fine track. It has the fast corners and the slow corners and a long straight that enables cars to make up lost time…when tar paving is carried out it will be hard to better it…some nasty bumps appeared down the Mount during the latter part of the race’. He said he had not been troubled by spectators walking on the track!

In the best traditions of motor racing Whitehead and Sinclair lead the celebrations; Jim Leech in the Light Car Club of Australia History ‘ …at the prize presentation His Worship The Mayor had just finished his address to the multitudes and was on the point of handing the winners trophy to Whitehead when he was squarely hit on the head by a large cauliflower. This being followed by a shower of similar vegetables resulting is His Worship, his 2 daughters and other Coucillors retiring in disordered haste’.

John Medley, ‘The sporting newspaper ‘The Referee’ had earlier predicted that ‘Englishmen Whitehead and Sinclair will add tone to the event’…

bathurst finish

Peter Whitehead takes the chequered flag in Pit Straight in cold, dusty conditions, love the salute of the bloke on the right! (Frank Wetton in ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ by John Medley)

Land Speed Record Attempt: Canberra, ACT June…

whitehead canberra

Amazing photo of Peter Whitehead fettling R10B in between runs, first hand accounts suggest he would have attained the record had the timing equipment done its thing. Canberra in June is bloody cold! hence the cardboard, by the look of it, blind to assist in retaining some water temperature. (Ted Hood)

The Canberra Speed Trials were annual events conducted during the 1920’s and 1930’s featuring standing start and flying start time trials along a rural road which is now Northbourne Avenue, literally Canberras’ main street. I can find little reference to these events but the photos in Ted Hoods’ Collection in the State Library of NSW make up for the paucity of information otherwise.

Racer Arthur Rizzo, in an article about his Rizzo Riley Spl said of Whiteheads attempt ‘1938 saw us in Canberra to watch the attempts on the Australian records. Peter Whiteheads’ ERA sounded terrific and was hand timed to around 150mph.’ (the timing gear refused to record his time)

‘Later the same year we saw the ERA at Bathurst on a circuit that was all dirt. We were at the top of Conrod looking up at The Esses and i remember the ERA coming down into Forrests Elbow in the deep wheel tracks, the fixed crank handle digging into the mound between the tyre tracks and making a noise like a machine gun’.

whitehead canberra 2

Tiny crowd, at least from this angle watching the record attempts. Its a hazy shot but its Whitehead on one of his runs. Road now Northbourne Ave, a main Canberra artery. (Ted Hood)

era canberra whitehead fettling

Whitehead in Canberra. Nice detail shot of forged ‘H Section’ beam axle, Hartford friction dampers, finned brake drum, fixed crank handle which received a serious workout on Bathursts’ late race rutted surface! (Ted Hood)

rob roy descrip

After the AGP the ERA journeyed from Central New South Wales to the outskirts of Melbourne to contest the Australian Hillclimb Championship at ‘Rob Roy’ in the Christmas Hills on 13 June…

pw rob roy

R10B Rob Roy, June 1938. (Leon Sims/ MGCC)

Peter needed to run in some engine parts so did part of the journey in R10B from Canberra on the Hume Highway, the main road between Melbourne and Sydney! It’s hard to imagine Lewis Hamilton doing something similar in his ‘Benz whilst he was in Oz for the 2015 AGP. Mind you, according to one report the ERA was locked up for a bit due to this escapade.

Such were those wonderful far away days.

Rob Roy is still in use, it’s a short climb and was then, as so many of our venues were, unsealed until the following year.

The ‘Melbourne Argus’ reported that 3500 people attended the pretty little hamlet and watched Whitehead clip 3.94 seconds off the previous record , his best time was 31.48 seconds winning both the Australian and Victorian Hillclimb Titles from Jack Phillips Ford V8 Spl and Arthur Terdichs’ Bugatti T37.

pw r roy 2

rob roy top towards start

Rob Roy, Christmas Hills panorama in 1947, looking down to the start. Not that much different today, its still rural despite being (longish) commuting distance from Melbourne. (George Thomas)

pw rob roy 3

Whitehead at Rob Roy, Victoria. (MG Car Club)

era 90 mile beach

Peter Whitehead battles an unfavourable tide. 90 Mile Beach September 1938. The relatively narrow patch left for the ERA of ‘solid’ sand is clear between the soft sand and the shallows. (EH Price)

Land Speed Record Attempt: 90 Mile Beach, Woodside, Victoria Sunday 4 September…

The ‘Perth Sunday Times’ expected the Australian record of 92mph to be surpassed at the 90 Mile Beach, as the name suggests, a long expanse of coast at Woodside near Yarram 210 kilometres from Melbourne. The attempt was made under the auspices and control of the Australian Automobile Association and a top speed of over 120 mph was expected over the 4 miles of pristine beach chosen for the attempts of Whitehead and others.

‘The Adelaide Mail’ in its pre-event report described Whitehead ‘as a pleasant young Yorkshireman, a shock headed wool buyer and amateur racing motorist’.

Whitehead was quoted as saying ‘ The car can do it if the conditions are good…You just sit there and tread on the gas, and hold tight to the wheel. On a good test run particularly, it is not the driver that counts but the engine. The ERA is good class here, but in England she is pretty slow. At the beach on Sunday i am not going to be a Segrave or a Campbell!! So do not be disappointed’.

90 mile beach crowd

Crowd scene at the 90 Mile Beach near Woodside, Victoria, September 1938. 6000 people a large number at this remote location far from any City of substantial size. (EH Price)

That 6000 people ‘conveyed by nearly 2000 motor vehicles ‘attended the event at the time is remarkable given the distance from Melbourne, the small local population and the lack of public transport to access the then relatively remote location.

‘The Melbourne Argus’ reported that the attempts were stymied by a strong south easterly wind which prevented the usual fall of the tide. After Whitehead achieved 118.8 mph in the ERA waves washed over the track preventing any further serious attempts. As Peters ‘ speed was in one direction, the rules requiring a two way average a new record was not recognised, the existing record set in Canberra some years before, by Bill Thompsons’ Bugatti, at 112.5mph remained. The report noted that Thompson was an interested onlooker.

paer article 90 mile beach

‘The Sunday Times’ Perth 4/11/38.

I love the terminology of the day ‘…the crowd began to throng the sand hummocks along the picturesque track many hours before the events were timed to begin. Trials were impossible owing to the tide. When Whitehead warmed his engine up for the first run at 2pm officials expressed keen disappointment at the failure of the tide to fall to within 20 yards of the usual mark’

‘With only a few yards of wet sand between the flags and the waves on the four mile course, Whitehead pluckily started up so as not to disappoint the crowd. He was obstructed by water in his first run however, and although he averaged 118.8 mph in his next run, his car plunged through the lip of a wave, tearing away the apparatus for cooling the brakes, ripping off the oil filler cap, and partially flooding the crankcase with salt water. He maintained control but it was evident that he had no chance of putting the record up to 135mph which was his hope’.

90 mile warmup

Whitehead gently warms up the cars engine and Wilson pre-selector ‘box prior to a 90 Mile Beach run. The shot shows the ‘packaging’ of car and driver in the day. Collar and tie a nice touch! (EH Price)

Officials decided to allow other drivers some runs whilst Whitehead attempted repairs but the day was abandoned ‘ with waves lapping the tent containing the electric timing apparatus and washing completely over the finishing point…there was a rush to get cars off the beach before the tide rose further’.

In an indictment of the morals of the men of the day ‘The Argus’ on the same page breathlessly reported that ’55 men were arrested in Flinders Lane, Melbourne having been in a ‘common gaming house’, punting on the horses not allowed off course at the time!

90 mile push start

Surfs not really up. Whitehead thwarted by bad luck, weather conditions, engine or timing gear failure at all 4 of his attempts on the Australian Land Speed Record in 1938. (EH Price)

 

aspendale argus

aspendale r10b

Peter Whitehead winning the feature event at Aspendale Speedway, Melbourne, Victoria in October 1938. ERA R10B. He also set the lap record. (EH Price)

Aspendale Speedway: Melbourne, Victoria 1 October…

That Whitehead would run the car everywhere was shown again when he contested a ‘feature race’ at Aspendale Speedway in October. The venue was conceived as a horse racing track by James Crooke in 1891 but incorporated a track for ‘new fangled automobiles’ from 1906.

In fact one of the very first races in Australia was contested at the venue that year.

aspendale 1906

Aspendale is a suburb 25 Km from Albert Park, also on Port Phillip Bay, which you can see from the AGP telecasts. When built the facility was on Melbourne’s fringe but growing urban encroachment meant the track was subsumed for housing, the venue used for motor racing into the 1940’s.

‘The Argus’ reported ‘The success of Peter Whitehead, the English racing car driver was a feature of the motor races conducted at the Aspendale Speedway on Saturday by the Light Car Club of Australia. Whitehead displayed the amazing acceleration and power of the car on the straights, especially the back stretch where he attained about 100 miles an hour. In the invitation race of 10 laps he completed 1 lap in 43.45 seconds at 82.79 mph. This established a lap record for the track.’

Whitehead won the feature from R Curlewis, MG and P Chain, Frazer Nash.

aspendale other comptitors

Other unidentified competitors at Aspendale Speedway during the 1938 meeting at which R10B competed. (EH Price)

IMG_2886-e1402199199892

Peter all loaded up and ready to go, Parramatta Park. His was one of a couple of practice accidents which gave ‘the coppers the wobbles’ and caused the events cancellation. (Unattributed)

Parramatta Park Grand Prix: Sydney 5 November…

It was the first time such an event was to be held in Sydney, a Grand Prix in Parramatta Park, an inner city suburb 25 kilometres from Sydneys’ centre. The event, conducted by the NSW Light Car Club and Empire Speedways was to be held on 5 November 1938, the finale of a series of events as part of Parramatta’s 150th Anniversary celebrations.

Interest from drivers and the public was enormous. Twenty five entries were received including Whitehead, Frank Kleinig, Les Burrows and Hope Bartlett. Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo and John Snow’s Delahaye, two of the fastest cars to have been brought into Australia were also set to oppose each other at the Parramatta Park track, described as being ideal with a good straight and challenging corners.

A grandstand with a capacity for 1100 spectators was built at the start-finish line, one thousand reserve tickets had been sold and about 50,000 people were expected to turn up to watch the event, which comprised 3 20 lap heats and a 50 lap final.

parra park map

Leading up to the race the safety of the track was reviewed, Graham Howard reported ‘some corners had been protected with sandbag walls, and spectator fences erected and at police request resited further back from the road. In practice Whitehead hit a sandbag wall, more worrying was Reeds’ collision with an off course tree after the steering jammed in his Willys 77′

Peter Arfanis wrote ‘However, all the excitement of the event was transformed to astonishment then fury by 5.30pm Friday 4 November. At the eleventh hour Police Commissioner Mr. MacKay decided to ban the race. The decision immediately caused an outcry with the Mayor of Parramatta, Alderman Irwin, calling for a public inquiry into the decision. Crowds had begun gathering on race day unaware that the race had been cancelled. It was a major disappointment for the people of Parramatta.

The organisers were adamant that the race should continue and placed a fresh application for the race to be held on the following Saturday. Organisers were prepared to protect the public by erecting a ‘stout wire-meshed safety fence’ at any point that the police felt it necessary.

The police stood firm stating that the track with its difficult bends would have been dangerous to both the public and the participants’.

Graham Howard in his article in ‘Motor Racing Australia’ about the circuit speculated, i suspect accurately, that the ‘twitchiness’ of the authorities about circuit safety was probably a consequence of the death of spectators at the privately owned Penrith Speedway (in Sydneys outer west) 5 months earlier. ‘Not on my watch etc!’

In practice Whitehead lapped the track in 1m 4.5 seconds ahead of Frank Kleinig (Hudson Spl) 1:7.6 and Jack Saywells’ Alfa P3 1:9.0, the circuit 1.1 miles long. Several events were run post war; Stan Jones did 1.01 in Maybach 1 in 1952 and Jack Brabham 59.5 in his Cooper T23 Bristol in 1954 with no quicker car beating his time at the final meeting in the Park in 1955.

11-4-1938-SMH

ParraGP-450

Land Speed Record Attempt: 7 Mile Beach, Gerringong, NSW 10 November…

gerringong beach races

Not Whiteheads’ ERA… but a group from 16 November 1929 to give the flavour of the place…L>R; Studebaker 8, Chrysler with outside exhausts, W Thompson Bugatti T37A and Hope Bartlett Bugatti T43. (MC Hinder, Sydney Morning Herald)

‘Seven Mile Beach’ became known as the Gerringong Speedway, it was a popular outing to attend the races, and was the scene of a significant event in  Australian motor sport history when the 100 miles per hour barrier was broken.

There were regular races throughout the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Around 2000 spectators were present at the Royal Automobile Club speed trials in March 1925, hoping to see the 100m/h barrier broken. Don Harkness did so on October 7, 1925.  His official speed was 107.75mph in a Hispano-Suiza V8 powered Minerva.

The crowds were excited by the car racing and land speed trials on Seven Mile Beach but in 1933 an entirely new era of transport began there. Local cars used their headlights to provide extra illumination for the first commercial flight between Australia and New Zealand. Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith used Seven Mile Beach as the runway for this flight between Australia and New Zealand and several thousand people came to watch the 2:30am take off.

The Canberra Times reported on 11 November 1938 of another attempt at the Australian LSR which continued to elude Peter ‘An attempt to establish an Australian Land Speed record by the English racing driver, Peter Whitehead on the Seven Mile Beach at Gerringong, yesterday failed at 132 mph when a piston broke.’

It would be interesting to know who rebuilt the engine in Oz, or perhaps he had a spare, probably did given the professionalism involved.

Whitehead Returned to the UK…

I’ve not been able to ascertain exactly when Whitehead shipped R10B back to England, he travelled via South Africa on the way home. R10B contested 2 races, DNF with piston failure in the 5th South African GP at East London on 2 January 1939, the race was won by Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati 6CM.

On January 14 he raced in the Grosvenor GP at Capetown again suffering piston failure, Franco Cortese won in another 6CM.

His 3rd place in the Nuffield Trophy at Donington Park on 10 June 1939, the race won by Biras’ ERA R12C,  appears to be his last success in the car before it was laid up for the long years of the War…

Peter returned to Australia to race post war as recorded earlier, he was a welcome visitor but few racers have made the impact Whitehead and R10B did throughout 1938…

1978 PI 01

R10B Returns to Oz in 1978…

1978 was the 50th anniversary of the first AGP held on the dusty public roads of Phillip Island in 1928, fittingly there was a fantastic weekend of celebrations to recognise what is one of the oldest continuous Grands’ Prix in the world. A championship event only since 1985 granted, but a GP with a long history all the same.

I was a young university student at the time and camped there for the weekend, the Phillip Island circuit had not long since been reopened, in addition to the re-enactment runs on the public roads there was a fantastic weekend of historic competition bringing together many of the cars which contested the event, including the 1938 victor, R10B.

At the time the cars custodian was Joel Finn, he provided a great demonstration of the sight and sound of these fabulous cars.

1978 PI 02

R10B returns to Oz again in 2015…

The current custodian of the car Paddins Dowling raced in the Phillip Island Classic in 2015, Stephen Dalton took these shots of the car.

era front

era 1

era 5

era 4

Etcetera Whitehead in Oz…

1948 Bathurst programme ERA

From the 1948 Bathurst program via Stephen Dalton

ERA Whitehead

The ERA at the 90 Mile Beach , Victoria in September 1938. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

agp 1956

the mail adelaide

‘The Mail’ Adelaide

Etcetera Whitehead…

whitehead jersey 1947

Whitehead warms up the engine and transmission of his ERA ‘E Type’ in the pits of the 1947 Jersey International Road Race. Charlie White standing beside the cockpit. 8th on the grid, DNF on lap 1 ‘cracked tank’. Race won by Reg Parnells’ Maserati 4CL. (adam@forgham.com)

whitehead ferrari jersey geo thomas

1950 JCC Jersey Road Race ‘Jersey GP’. Whitehead Ferrari 125 victorious. His half-brother Graham was 7th in good ‘ole R10B, then 14 years old. 9 July 1950. (George Thomas)

jersey gp

Whiteheads’ (pants tucked into his socks) Ferrari 125 alongside #11 Bob Gerards’ ERA R14B, 4th. Jersey Road Race 1950. Lord Freddy March sitting on the shooting stick. (Doug Nye-The GP Library)

dundrod 1950

Peter Whitehead races to victory in his Ferrari 125 # ’10-C’. Ulster Trophy, Dundrod, 12 August 1950. (Unattributed)

int trophy silverstone 1950

Whitehead #17 Ferrari 125 on the Silverstone grid alongside Giuseppe Farinas’ Alfa 158, 3rd and 1st respectively in the final. BRDC International Trophy, 26 August 1950. (Unattributed)

le mans 1951

L>R The 1951 LeMans winning #20 Whitehead/Walker Jaguar XK120C Type beside the # 23 Biondetti/Johnson DNF oil pump and #22 Moss/Fairman DNF oil pressure, cars. (Autosport)

Bibliography…

John Medley’s 1938 Chapter in Graham Howard’s  ‘History of The AGP’. Howard’s ‘Motor racing Australia’ article on ‘Closed Circuit-Maroubra Speedway’, Arthur Rizzo interview via Ray Bell TNF, Illawarra Shire website, Parramatta City website/ Peter Arfanis, ‘Closed Circuit:Parramatta Park’ article by Graham Howard in ‘Motor Racing Australia’ magazine, Whitehead career summary historicracing.com, vintagespeedway.com, ERA Club, The Nostalgia Forum

‘The Mail’ Adelaide 3/9/38, ‘The Argus’ Melbourne 5/9/38, 14/6/38, 3/10/38, ‘Sunday Times’ Perth 4/9/38, ‘The Canberra Times’ 11/11/38, Sydney Morning Herald 4/11/38

Research Assistance…

Stephen Dalton, enthusiast/historian for the advice, photos, sourcing some of the references, and ‘post posting’ errors detection!

Photo Credits…

Ted Hood, John Blanden Collection, Bob King Collection, Graham Howard ‘History of The Australian GP’, State Library of NSW, Leon Sims/MG Car Club, Stephen Dalton, Bob Shepherd, DMJ Illustration, Dave Sullivan Album, The GP Library, Autosport, Wheels magazine, Frank Wetton, John Medley ‘Bathurst: The Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’

Martin Stubbs of the Dacre Stubbs Collection for securing the use of the 90 Mile Beach and Aspendale Speedway images of the late EH Price from the Collection of John Hazelden. Thanks Martin and John for the use of these rare images.

Finito…