This fantastic shot of Lex Davisons’ Alfa Romeo P3 ahead of Doug Whitefords’ Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’, Nuriootpa, in South Australia’s’ Barossa Valley on 23 April 1949…
Look at the hay bales, stone houses characteristic of South Australia, the ‘Stobie’ light poles are still a feature of SA streets and the relaxed crowd. Captures the flavour of the day doesn’t it?
It’s funny where you find stuff. I was researching my article on Alf Barretts’ career and Alfa Monza a while back and tripped over this shot of Davo on the ‘South Australia History Hub’, but no details were provided. I knew who it was but not exactly when or where, Stephen Dalton fellow enthusiast/historian identified the place, date as well as the event.
‘The Vintage (as in wine vintage, the Barossa is a world renowned wine region) Festival Championship’ was a 25 mile event, 8 laps of the Nuri road circuit, it was reported in Graham Howard’s biography of Lex Davison, from which this article draws heavily.
As you will see from the cars described, the bulk of our elite fields were Australian Specials in the main, we are still several years away from a reasonable number of European GP cars on our grids and 5 years away from the ‘Red Car Period’ of the mid to late fifties, the factory cars then dominant.
The last AGP Win for an Australian Special was the 1951 Narrogin event in WA, won by Warwick Pratleys’ Ford ‘Flathead’ V8 powered George Reed Special. The last AGP win for an Australian built car was John Goss’ victory at Sandown in 1976 in a Matich A53 Repco F5000 car…Australian built but not a Special in the sense meant above!
‘The Vintage Festival Championship…’
‘Non-starters included Jack Days Talbot Darracq, Barracloughs Delage and Alfa Mercury. Cars were marshalled with the fastest at the back, Whiteford made the cleanest start. On his hammer was Jim Gullan Ballot Olds with Davison, Neale Ford V8 Spl, Wilcox Dodge Spl and Robinson Sunbeam Mercury, his car the 1922 GP Sunbeam fitted with a Ford V8 and with a body reminiscent of the Segrave 200mph car.’
‘In the next lap Davison passed Gullan and was right behind Whiteford, whose Ford V8 Spl was going very well, this car winning the 1950 AGP at this circuit, I covered this car a while back. Wilcox was close to Neale and behind Robinson.
Davo passed Whiteford by lap 4, the order remained unchanged from then. ‘Doug Whiteford did everything but tie knots in the Ford keeping up with the Davison Alfa and it was the first time he has been seeing really trying. The two leaders outstripped the rest by over a minute and a half and lapped the last man home…’
A great race and a portent of things to come from the two Melburnians… Davison the wealthy industrialist from Clendon Road, Toorak in the aristocratic GP Alfa and Whiteford the garage proprietor from Carlisle Street, St Kilda in the self built/developed but incredibly clever, quick Ford V8 Spl…several suburbs and poles apart but very much racing enthusiasts and champion drivers both.
4 AGP wins for Davison and 3 for Whiteford, some splendid racing was to follow in the ensuing decade from these two great competitors…
SA History Hub, Graham Howard ‘ Lex Davison:Larger Than Life’, Stephen Dalton research