Jack Brabham: Brabham BT23E Repco, Oran Park 1968…

Posted: December 22, 2015 in Obscurities, Rodways Repco Recollections, Who,What,Where & When...?
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brabham op circuit

(R Rice)

Jack Brabham shakes down his 1968 Tasman contender the Brabham BT23E Repco for Sydney’s media at Oran Park, 14 February 1968…

Nestled in the back is Repco’s latest ‘RB740’ 275bhp 2.5 litre V8, the Tasman variant of Brabham’s successful 1967 F1 3 litre (330bhp) engine. Denny Hulme took the drivers title from Jack in a BT24, with Brabham Repco winning the constructors championship for the second year on the trot.

jack, op

Brabham in the OP pitlane February 1968 (R Rice)

 

barbham op

Jack Brabham at Oran Park, Sydney 1968. He might have raced a Holden touring car there in the mid-seventies but didn’t in his ‘heyday’. Built in the 1960’s 60Km west of Sydney near Camden, OP was extended in 1974 hosting the F5000 1974 and 1977 AGP’s. Subsumed by Sydney’s western sprawl ‘Oran Park Town’ will house around 25,000 people (R Rice)

 

BT23E being fettled probably in Sydney during the Warwick Farm weekend, Jack hands on as ever,  RBE740 2.5 V8, Hewland FT200 gearbox (unattributed)

The Brabham BT23E/1was again built on Ron Tauranac’s BT23 F2 jig and powered by a 2.5-litre Repco V8- as it was for the BT23A he campaigned in the 1967 Tasman before its sale to David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce- BT23A used RBE640’s throughout the 1967 Tasman whereas BT23E used both RBE740 and a new design- the RBE830 (short F1 block and between the Vee crossflow, SOHC, two valve heads) on raceday at Sandown.

Jack Brabham made limited appearances in the 1968 Tasman series, he raced the BT23E twice, at Warwick Farm and Sandown Park in February.

bt 23e wf

(Brian McInerney)

Brabham in BT23E in the Warwick Farm pitlane several days after the cars Oran Park shakedown.

The car in front of Jack’s is Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261, behind him is the nose of Piers Courage’s McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car, third in the race. Jack was seventh in the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ on 18 February, Jim Clark ran away with the race from teammate Graham Hill’s identical Lotus 49 Ford DFW. Click here for an article on this meeting;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/14/warwick-farm-100-tasman-series-1968/

At Sandown on 25 February Clark again won the race and the title, Jack’s new Repco ‘830’ engine failed. It was a bit of a portent of the F1 year he and Jochen Rindt were to experience with the Repco engines.

The Ford Cosworth DFV, in its second year, challenged the new quad-cam 32 valve Repco RB860 V8, its fragility was as problematic as its RB620 and 740 brothers had been reliable…

Sandown AGP 1968. Clark, Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Chris Amon, Ferrari Dino 246T and Jack in BT23E/1. Row 2 is Graham Hill and Leo Geoghegan in Lotus 49 Ford DFW and Lotus 39 Repco 740 respectively. The other glimpse of a car beside the fence is Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa. Jim won in a thriller diller of a race by a ‘bees-dick’ from Chris (HAGP)

 

RBE830 engine cobbled together to fit in the BT23E frame- the blocks were different, note oil cooler and breather arrangements (R MacKenzie)

The car was then sold to Bob Jane Racing and driven by John Harvey, but he was injured in a massive accident in practice on his first outing in the car at Bathurst during the Gold Star meeting.

It was repaired before Harvey recovered from the life threatening accident, which was a bumma for John but also in terms of the ’68 Gold Star competition, it would have been great to have Harves give Kevin Bartlett, who won that year in Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo V8 a run for his money- Leo raced his ex-Clark Lotus 39 Repco.

Bob Jane gave Ian Cook a run in the car at Lakeside in July and then by Allan Moffat at Sandown Park in August, Moffatt crashed it again and it was out of action until the 1969 Tasman series. Moffat had returned to Australia after making a strong name for himself in the US in the two years before in Lotus Cortinas, a Ford Mercury Cougar in late 1967 and sharing a works Shelby Mustang at Daytona and Sebring in the first quarter of 1968.

Harvey in the bi-winged Brabham BT23E 740 at Bathurst Easter 1969 before the big accident caused by upright failure, the mangled mess is shown below. The car was run in this form only once (oldracephotos.com)

 

(J Davis)

 

(D Harvey)

 

Harvey and the marshalls push BT23E 740 to the inside on the run out of Dandenong Road at Sandown in February 1969- Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49B Ford DFV sings past (R MacKenzie)

When John and the car were ready to race again he contested Bob Jane Racing’s home race at Sandown but failed to finish after having engine problems.

Harvey raced it through the 1969 Australian Gold Star series, winning at Sandown in September and finishing second at Bathurst at Easter but retired from four races- due to oil pressure at Symmons Plains, undisclosed engine problems at Mallala, a cam-follower at Surfers Paradise and an accident in practice at Warwick Farm. Kevin Bartlett won his second Gold Star in 1969 aboard the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa from Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco and Max Stewart in the other Alec Mildren entry, the Mildren Waggott TC-4V 1.9 litre.

During this period the car evolved in look a lot- constant experimentation with wings and engine- Bob Jane acquired the latest circa 300bhp RBE830 series V8 prior to the commencement of the Gold Star, the team yielded a performance dividend but not a reliability one. Repco Brabham Engines’ Rodway Wolfe recalls being instructed to give the two works RBE830 engines used by Jack Brabham in his little raced 1969 Tasman campaigner, the Brabham BT31 to Jane after Jack’s last event with that car- a win in the 1969 Easter Bathurst Gold Star round, so Bob/Harvey should have had the best of Repco Tasman V8s.

Harvey, BT23E, Warwick Farm 1970 (R Thorncraft)

 

Harvey, BT23E 830, Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round 1970. That neatly integrated engine cover/cowling wing assembly was fabricated by ex-Repco man John Brookfield in Melbourne (D Simpson)

Formula 5000 cars were eligible to enter the 1970 Tasman Series but despite that a good 2.5, or 2.4 litre car in fact won the championship- Graeme Lawrence won in the same V6 Ferrari Dino 246T chassis Chris Amon used to win in 1969. Bob Jane Racing entered only the Warwick Farm and Sandown rounds- Harves was a good fifth at the Farm where KB won in the Sub 2 litre Waggott powered whereas at Sandown he had an oil leak and retired the car- Niel Allen won ina McLaren M10B Chev.

He raced BT23E in the first round of the 1970 Gold Star series, winning at Symmons Plains in March from Leo Geoghegan and Kevin Bartlett but from the following round at Lakeside the teams front line tool became the Jane-Repco 830 V8- a machine built on Bob Britton’s Brabham BT23 jig but optimised to suit the latest generation of Firestone tyres- with more reliability Harvey had the speed to win the Gold Star that year. The story of that year is told here; https://primotipo.com/2019/07/05/oran-park-diamond-trophy-gold-star-1970/

After the sale of the car by Bob Jane it was converted to an F2 car with a Ford twin-cam engine and raced by Woody Curran in Tasmania from 1970-1977, it was sold to Bill Marshall who restored and historic raced passing via Ray Delaney into the hands of Art Valdez in the United States, and then a consortium in the UK in 2017, in more recent times it was acquired by Australian racer/restorer Aaron Lewis who has rebuilt it in RBE830 engined form.

Symmons Gold Star round 1970. From left Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 39 Repco 730, Kevin Bartlett, Mildren ‘Sub’ Waggott TC-4V 2 litre- Max Stewart on the row behind in the Mildren Waggott TC-4V 2 litre and John Harvey, Brabham BT23E Repco 830. Harvey won from Geoghegan, Bartlett and Stewart (H Ellis)

The last few races for the BT23E in its Repco heyday seem to be the 1970 Symmons Plains Gold Star round (above) on 2 March 1970, the ANF1 races during the Easter Bathurst meeting (no longer a Gold Star round due to safety issues) and finally the ANF1 races held during the RAC Trophy sportscar championship meeting (below) at Warwick Farm on May 3 1970

Harvey, BT23E 830 in its final front-line Repco engine race at Warwick Farm on 3 May 1970 (R MacKenzie)

 

(M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

Aaron Lewis’ restoration of the car is superb, as shown it is fitted with an RBE830 2.5 litre V8 and sans wings- that is the specification in which it raced in the 1968 Sandown AGP. This is the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings in Carlton during ‘Motorclassica’ in October 2018.

Surrounding cars include the ex-Alan Jones Williams FW07 Ford, the green ex-Nelson Piquet 1981 AGP Ralt RT4 Ford BDA, ‘Ansett’ Elfin MR8 Chev F5000 and red Allan Hamilton owned McLaren M10B F5000.

Etcetera…

(oldracephotos.com

Bob Jane Racing Council of War at Symmons Plains in March 1970, I guess that weekend they may have run the Shelby Mustang, Brabham, McLaren M6B Repco sporty and a series-production Monaro GTS350 perhaps.

Bob, Harvey, Pat Purcell, an obscured fellow and John Sawyer at right. Harvey is sitting on the rear tyre of the BT23E.

(R MacKenzie)

Three photographs of John Harvey at Bathurst in 1970- this was the famous meeting/event at which Niel Allen set a lap record for Mount Panorama in his McLaren M10B Chev F5000, which stood for a couple of decades .

Note that in the shot above at Easter the car has a separate wing rather than the integrated engine cover cowling and wing- cowling at Symmons in on 3 March, separate wing above on 27-30 March and back to the cowling fot that final meeting at Warwick Farm in May 1970- perhaps they were testing a different wing for the pending Jane V8?

Note the tyre going flat in the closeup shot below on the way down the mountain.

(Wirra)

 

Bathurst Easter 1970 grid (R MacKenzie)

 

(P Townsend)

Photograph in the Warwick Farm paddock during the May 1970 RAC Trophy meeting. That near engine over/wing does have a 1969 F1 Matra MS80 touch about it.

Credits:

R Rice, Brian McInerney, Wirra, Rod MacKenzie, Peter Townsend, Dale Harvey, oldracingcars.com, Harold Ellis, Dick Simpson, ‘History of the AGP’ G Howard and ors, M Bisset, Jeff Davis

Tailpiece: Jack’s BT23E cruisin’ the Warwick Farm paddock…

brabham bt 23e

(Wirra)

Brabham, Brabham BT23E Repco 740, Warwick Farm Tasman meeting 1968, all gorgeous in its turquoise/gold stripe livery.

Finito…

 

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