Frank Matich RIP…

Posted: May 11, 2015 in News/Events
Tags: , , , ,

cranky

Sad news is filtering through that one of Australias’ greatest drivers and constructors, Frank Matich died this evening…

Matich won in small bore single seaters, 2.5 litre Tasman cars and of course F5000, a class in which he was ‘first among equals’ in Australia until his untimely retirement in 1974. He was similarly dominant in sports cars; front engined C and D Type Jags and a Lotus 15 in the 50’s before success in mid-engined cars including Lotus 19, 19B, the Elfin 400/Traco Olds and his own very successful SR3 and SR4 series of cars.

I chose the Shane Lee shot above last week for an article i am drafting about the Traco Olds, it captures the essence of this great competitor pondering setup changes to find more speed ftrom his Matich A50 Repco F5000 car in Wigram, New Zealand in 1973.

Matich on many occasions showed he was more than a match for the best in the world in equal cars, one of Australias ‘motor racing maybes’ is what impact Frank would have had in GP racing had he accepted one of the offers made to him in the early 60’s. Family and business priorities meant he never made the move to Europe, achieving success in Australasia and the US instead.

Rest in peace.

fm c type leatons servo

FM in his Leaton Motors owned Jag C Type, in flat hat on the forecourt of their Stony Creek Road, Kingsgrove, Sydney ‘servo’ in 1958. (John Ellacott)

Fantastic article about Matich by Michael Stahl in ‘MotorSport’ published in 2012…

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-2012/73/frank-exchange-views

matich 1

Its fair to say FM’s cars were very soundly designed and built but conventional for the period. But he was always tinkering…Derek Kneller, FM’s mechanic said of this twin rear wing setup, in advance of its trial in F1 ‘it was balanced at the front, it allowed the top wing to run with less rake and drag, it worked very well, an early blown diffuser’. FM in driving suit, NZ Tasman Series 1973, Matich A50 Repco. (Derek Kneller/Bryan Sala)

matich 2

Frank Matich in the US ‘L&M Series’ 1973. Matich A51 Repco. (Tom Rosenthal)

matich 19b

FM in his Lotus 19B Climax, Lakeside circa 1965. (Peter Mellor/The Roaring Season)

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matich

Frank Matich, Matich SR4 Repco, Bathurst Easter 1969. (oldracephotos.com.au/Dick Simpson)

Etcetera…

matich lotus 15 bathurst

FM delicately places the Leaton Motors Lotus 15 2.5 Climax into Forrests Elbow, Bathurst, Easter 1961. Matich further proved himself as one of the countries top drivers in this car. It was later fitted with an F85 Olds aluminium V8 before being restored by Mike Ryves and raced successfully by him and Paul Samuels before its inevitable departure to Europe a few years back. (John Ellacott)

Credits…Shane Lee, oldracephotos.com.au/Dick Simpson, Peter Mellor/The Roaring Season, Derek Kneller, Bryan Sala, John Ellacott

 

Comments
  1. Stephen Dalton says:

    Frank Matich 25/1/35 – 11/5/15
    As we approach 12 months since fellow racer and racing car constructor, Jack Brabham passed away, it’s sad to see another of the greats has left the grid.

    I only met Frank once at the 2006 Tasman Revival at Eastern Creek. He was more than happy to sign something and I was more than happy to just sit and watch Frank sitting with Frank Gardner bantering away with each other and enthusiasts. Maybe FG has left a spot on the new grid FM! But maybe not pole!

    My condolences to all Frank’s family and friends.

    Stephen Dalton

    • markbisset says:

      Well said Stephen. I never met Frank but was a big admirer of his on track skills, engineering capabilities expressed in his successful cars and business nouse. He put the whole package together well to win but also with his franchises over the years; Goodyear, Bell and others established a good enterprise which prospered long after his days as a racer ended.
      No doubt he, Stillwell and Brabham are swapping yarns ‘up yonder’…

  2. Rodway Wolfe says:

    The passing of Frank has left me quite sad, he was a man that I admired so much. He was dedicated to the extreme at times and more than once upset engineers with his dogged determination. He “Put In” with his driving. If you could give him 20 more horsepower he knew, he could feel it, and he used it. At practice sessions he would come into the pits, his face purple and perspiring and in no uncertain terms tell the mechanics if there was anything wrong or if the horsepower was down. I will never forget his Sandown race and domination of the Ferrari P4 “works” sports car with Chris Amon at the wheel. Frank and the magnificent SR4 led from start to finish with all the International F1 drivers there for the tasman series standing on the hill behind the old pits and watching and so very impressed. We at Repco were so proud of Frank. RIP Frank, thanks for all those fantastic memories.

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