The little Alfa Duettos’ DOHC 1570cc would have struggled ferrying this lot, even for a lap…
It’s the victory parade after the 1968 ‘Warwick Farm 100′ won by Jim Clarks’ Lotus 49 Ford DFW from teammate G Hill, with Piers Courage third in his little McLaren M4A Ford FVA.
What driving talent aplenty in this car!
Driving the car is 1960 Australian Gold Star Champion Alec Mildren, Mildren also an Alfa Dealer and incredibly successful and generous race team owner of the 1960-1970 period, the Dutto immaculate in white and wearing a set of ex-GTA wheels, I wonder who owns it now?
Behind Alec is a youthful Alfredo Costanzo, first local home in an Elfin Mono Ford 1.5 and later to be very successful in Australia’s latter F5000 days and the Formula Pacific era in cars owned by Porsche Cars Australia’s Alan Hamilton, another very generous benefactor of the sport.
Brabham, Moss and Clark needing no introduction…
Clark won the race, the Lotus 49 the F1 standard from its ’67 Dutch GP launch, reliability cost Lotus the titles that year, the light, nimble beautiful handling Brabham BT24’s did the trick a second time, Denny Hulme pipping Jack for the Drivers Championship and Brabham Repco winning the Constructors laurels.
In 2.5 litre ‘DFW’ spec the Ford Cosworth powered cars were formidable Tasman weapons, Clark winning the 1968 title and Rindt the fastest man of the series in 1969, if not the most reliable.
The Tasman Series entries in 1968 were as interesting and diverse as ever, the interesting shot below taken as the cars line up for practice in Warwick Farms pit lane shows the business end of the new Len Terry designed 2.5 litre V12 BRM P126. Its Hewland DG300 gearbox just visible behind the Lucas fuel pump mounted to the rear of the ‘box, the Shell ‘el cheapo’ oil catch tank is a nice ‘in the field’ touch!
Richard Attwood in the hotseat retired from the race with gearbox dramas.
Two of the P126’s were entered in the Tasman, Bruce McLaren racing a car in the New Zealand rounds took a win at Teretonga, the cars in the Southern Hemisphere to be race proven, after the abortive H16 program, before the European F1 season but there was always a scramble to drive the old, but light, nimble and reliable 2.1 litre V8 P261…Pedro Rodriguez raced it at WF finishing 6th in a car which had so much Tasman success, Jackie Stewart taking the title in a P261 in 1966.
In front of the BRM is Frank Gardners’ Alec Mildren Racing, one off, Brabham BT23D Alfa. This magic little car powered by a 2.5 litre V8 developed via Alfas’ endurance racing Tipo 33 program. Its twin distributors, fired 2 plugs per cylinder a distinctive visual element of the little DOHC, 2 valve, injected engine. Later in 1968 the car won the Australian Drivers Championship in Kevin Bartletts’ capable, quick hands.
Forward of Frank is Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA. Piers came to Australasia with this car, two engines and did incredibly well, perhaps its not unfair to say he re-launched his career with this self funded Tasman effort. Numerous podium placings were surpassed by an heroic win in hopelessly wet conditions on one of the ‘biggest balls’ circuits of the world, Longford a fortnight after his strong third at WF ahead of many more powerful and equally nimble cars as his little F2 McLaren.
This McLaren stayed in Australia after the Tasman being bought by Niel Allen, and was also raced successfully by Warwick Brown in the formative stages of his career.
Graham Hill was perhaps not as focussed on a win as teammate Clark…get your hands off that young woman you bounder?!
Was there ever a bloke from ‘central casting’ who looked more like a dashing, debonair driver than G Hill? He did not have the absolute pace of teammates Clark, Stewart or Rindt but was a driver of incredible ability, the only winner of motor racings World F1 Title/LeMans/Indy ‘Triple Crown’ of course.
His greatest moments were to come in 1968 when he picked Team Lotus up by the scruff of the neck, despite the loss of his good friend Jim Clark, providing the leadership the team needed whilst Colin Chapman recovered from his own grief at losing his driver, friend and colloborator in April, only months after this race meeting.
Lotus’ wins in the Drivers and Constructors Titles in 1968 owe a lot to Hills character as well as his determination and speed.
Jack Brabham had a short 1968 Tasman, his Brabham BT23E was powered by Repco’s latest 740 Series SOHC V8 and competed in only the Warwick Farm and Sandown rounds.
In fact Repco, for all their F1 success didn’t ever have much Tasman glory in their own backyeard…to be fair the primary reponsibility of the Repco Tasman program each year was to sort out the engines for the coming Grand Prix season, but all the same, a few local wins should have been achieved given the resources deployed?
This fabulous car stayed in Australia, acquired by Bob Jane at the Tasmans’ duration, it was raced for him by John Harvey who was always fast in it, but also unlucky, surviving a high speed accident at Bathurst after a component failure, the low point for the team.
The Eyes Have It, Chris Amon absolutely focussed on the task at hand. He came back with another two Dinos’ he ran with the assistance of David McKays’ Scuderia Veloce in 1969, lifting the title in a tremendous and very popular fashion.
In 1968 he was very competitive, winning the first 2 Kiwi rounds at Pukekohe and Levin but did not ultimately have the speed of the Loti of Clark and Hill. The car was a Ferrari 166 F2 (1.6 litre formula at the time) to which was fitted the 2.4 litre DOHC, 2 valve, injected V6 engine from the cars used at the start of the 3 litre Formula 1 in early 1966.
In the 1968 Australian Tasman Rounds Amon mixed the racing of the Dino single seater with a P4/CanAm 350 Ferrari i wrote about a week or so back.
This shot captures the atmosphere of the Tasman Series generally and Warwick Farm specifically…there is no hassle of the drivers by the appreciative crowd and vice-versa, there would be uproar these days of course. Piers Courage looking relaxed and happy about his 3rd behind the 2 Lotuses of Clark and Hill, and Amon 4 th, still figuring he could take the title with 2 rounds remaining at Melbournes’ Sandown and Tasmanias’, Launcestons’ Longford. Ultimately he fell short of Clark by 8 points, Amon taking 2 wins to Clarks’ 4.
Jim Clark savouring the plaudits of the crowd and one of his last wins, Lotus 49 Ford DFW, 18 February 1968…
Grid and Results…
Photo and Other Credits…
Bruce Thomas, Peter Windsor, Brian McInerney, Wirra, John Ellacott
Stephen Dalton for the race program and ‘Racing Car News’ material