Archive for February, 2016

39 esses

(Vintage Racecar)

Leo Geoghegan slices his venerable Lotus 39 Repco into the Warwick Farm Esses, Tasman Series, 15 February 1970…

Terrific shot, the focus is on the driver, the rest of the car blurred giving the impression of speed, something Geoghegan had in abundance.

Leo ‘made his name’ in this car, he was a front-runner from the time he bought it off Team Lotus at the end of the ’66 Tasman Series; Jim Clark was third in it, until the time it was put aside to make way for his Lotus 59 Waggott later in 1970.

geoghegan agp 1963

Faster! Deep in thought on chassis changes with his very hot mechanic, AGP practice 10 February 1963. Lotus 20 FJ 1.5 Ford 9th just behind Frank Matich in the quickest of the 1.5’s. Winner Brabham in a BT4 Climax 2.7 (David Mist)

Geoghegan had a long background in Lotus single-seaters after he graduated from sedans and sportscars in the team his father, Tom founded. Starting with an 18FJ in 1961 he progressed through 20, 20B, 22, 27 and then a 32, which, when fitted with a 1.5 Ford Lotus Twin cam engine gave him two 2nd placings in 1965 Gold Star events. He stepped up to the ‘big time’ with the Tasman Lotus 39.

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Leo G on his way to 8th in the little Lotus 32 Ford/Lotus 1.5, ‘Warwick Farm 100’ Tasman Series, 14 February 1965 (Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season)

The ‘old girl’ Lotus 39 was frustrating in many ways, its unreliability, like other Repco Tasman users, was notorious, but it gave him the critical 6 points at Symmons Plains in March 1970 before he switched to his new Lotus 59 Waggott. This won him the Gold Star he coveted and deserved…by 6 points from Max Stewart’s similarly powered Mildren. Max’s Gold Star turn would come for the first time in 1971.

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Easter Bathurst Meeting, 15 March 1970, thru ‘The Dipper’. Lotus 39 Repco (Jeff Nield/autopics.com.au)

Lotus 39 ‘R12’….

The Lotus 25/33 series of cars are amongst motor racing’s most famous, the Lotus 25 the first ‘modern monocoque’, Jim Clark took the 1963 and 1965 World Championships’ in Loti’ 25 and 33 respectively.

The 39 is one of this series of cars and like Jack Brabham’s 1966 championship winning BT19 chassis was built for the stillborn Coventry Climax FWMW Flat-16 engine.

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Coventry Climax FWMW 1.5 litre Flat-16 engine of 1964/5 (unattributed)

The story of this amazing engine is an article in itself; in a nutshell CC’s Wally Hassan and Peter Windsor-Smith were convinced the best route to more power was higher revs (than their FWMV V8) a ‘multi’ was chosen partially due to Harry Mundy’s exposure to the BRM Type 15 supercharged V16 in the dawn of the fifties. Design commenced in 1963, the prototype was on the test bench in 1964.

Torsional problems of the crank were major issues, the engine also failed to deliver more power than the 4 valve versions of the FWMV, which themselves took a bit of development to better the FWMV 2 valve outputs. Then the 1.5 litre GP formula ended and Jaguar took over Coventry Climax; that combination of factors ended CC’s pivotal role as a successful supplier of racing engines for better than a decade.

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Graham Hill’s BRM P261 leads Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax and Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco off Long Bridge, THAT post in front of GH’s LF wheel marks the apex…Wonderful Longford 1966 (autopics.com.au)

Colin Chapman needed a mount for Jim Clark to defend his Tasman title, he won it in 1965 with a Lotus 32B Climax, the unused 39 sitting in the corner of the Team Lotus workshop was ideal.

He tasked designer Maurice Phillippe to modify the engine bay of the car to accept a Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF engine. The 39 was different from its siblings in that the ‘D-shaped’ side pontoons of the chassis were ‘chopped off’ at the bulkhead aft of the drivers seat and a tubular steel subframe substituted to carry the CC Flat-16. Changes were made to the frame to accommodate the FPF.

Big thirsty Weber 58DCO carbs fed 2.5 Climax FPF. The frame to support the engine can be seen as can the rear of the Hewland transaxle (I MacNeill)

The 39 side pods also had a more pronounced belly than the 25/33 to ensure sufficient fuel could be carried, having lost capacity by hacking the ‘rear horns’ off the tub on each side. The suspension of ‘R12’ was pure Lotus 33 and was period typical; top rockers actuating inboard coil spring/damper units and lower wishbones and at the rear inverted lower wishbones, single top link and two radius rods for fore and aft location. Adjustable roll bars front and rear as well of course. Steering by rack and pinion and outboard disc brakes on all wheels.

Chapman bought two Climax engines from Bruce McLaren who didn’t contest the Tasman in ’66, he was too busy building cars for his F1 and CanAm programs having just left Coopers.

The 39 was soon on its way to the Antipodes for its race debut in the NZGP at Pukekohe on January 8 1966.

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AGP, Lakeside 20 February 1966. Clark 3rd behind Hill’s BRM P261 and Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT11A Climax (autopics)

By 1966 the Tasman game had largely moved beyond the old FPF. Brabham debuted his Repco Brabham RB620 V8 engine and BRM modified its F1 P56/60 V8 engines to 1930cc, Jackie Stewart took the title in a P261 with 4 wins from Hill’s 2 with Clark and Attwood (BRM) 1 win apiece.

Clark had a tough start to his 1966 Tasman campaign partially because Colin Chapman switched his Lotus tyre contract from Dunlop to Firestone not long before the Tasman commenced. The tyres had been developed by Bruce McLaren, he had used them for over a year and they were competitive but the 39 had to be adapted to them.

In addition Clark had a run of misfortunes which also reduced testing time; an abortive race at Pukekohe (gearbox) no practice at either Wigram (oil leak and engine replacement/accident when Gardner’s Brabham brakes failed) or Levin (snapped radius rod in practice/2nd). At Teretonga the cars speed was shown with a heat win from Stewart. He was moving away from Jackie in the final only to go out with a spin on dropped oil on lap 3.

In Australia he took a win at Warwick Farm, always a happy hunting ground for Clark. Graham Hill won the AGP at Lakeside from Gardner and Clark. He was 2nd to Stewart’s speedy BRM at Sandown and was 7th at Longford, he had carburetion problems in practice and a plug lead came off in the race requiring a stop and dropping him to the back of the field. Stewart was again the victor, with Jim finishing third in the series behind the BRM duo.

Clark had an amazing 1965 season winning the Tasman Series, Indy 500 and the World Drivers Championship, his start to 1966 was not quite so good, a portent of a tougher year!

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Superb Clark portrait by Lindsay Ross. Lotus 39 Climax, Longford 1966. He was 7th after a troubled run, Stewart’s BRM taking the win. Note the cars ‘aero screen’ and truncated monocoque which ends at the drivers bulkhead (oldracephotos)

Geoghegans’ were the Australian Lotus importer so a deal was done to buy the car…

John Sheppard is a legendary mechanic/engineer/car builder and team manager with some of Australia’s greatest cars in his CV; the Geoghegan’s cars, Bob Jane’s Repco Torana, Laurie O’Neills Pete Geoghegan driven Holden Monaro and the Holden Dealer Team amongst an extensive and ongoing career of car construction and team management. Early in his career he was appointed as chief mechanic to the Geoghegans.  Tom took a liking to his work preparing the Youl brothers Cooper, the Tasmanian team were using the Geoghegan’s Sydney workshop at the time. John’s first event with the team was preparing Leo’s car for the Australian Formula Junior Championship at Warwick Farm in September 1963, which he won in his Lotus 22 Ford. He shares some of his recollections about his time with the Geoghegan’s throughout this article.

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John Sheppard in the 39 Repco cockpit circa 1967, hat is the Mickey Mouse Club! (John Sheppard)

Essentially 1966 was a learning year for Leo in the big cars in the domestic Gold Star Championship. His limited campaign excluded the Mallala and Sandown rounds, 2nd to Spencer Martins Brabham BT11A at Surfers Paradise his best result. A duff wheel bearing was the cause of a DNF at Lakeside, he didn’t start both the Symmons Plains and Warwick Farm rounds with Coventry Climax engine problems.

Sheppard recalls; ‘The Lotus 39 was a great car although the engine problems we had were a function of very tired engines, the blocks were cracked so it was a problem keeping them running in that first year. When we took over the car they had a strange set-up to deal with the vibrations of the big Climax-four, they put rubber o-rings between the cylinder head and inlet manifold letting them flop around, and i mean flop around so Jim had problems with throttle control. We easily fixed this with a more conventional set-up of putting the o-rings between the inlet manifold and carbs’.

‘We didn’t have problems with the Firestones but i recall Leo, having fiddled around with set-ups based on tyre temps and the like at an early tyre test embarrassing the Firestone guys a bit when his ‘seat of the pants’ set-up changes gave immediate results. Leo was quick in the car straight away, i asked Bob Jane to get his driver (Spencer Martin) to stop baulking mine at Warwick Farm and Bob of course telling me to piss-orf…’

Fifth in the Australian Grand Prix ’67 Tasman Round at Warwick Farm and 2nd the following weekend behind Clarks Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8 at Sandown was indicative of speed and better Coventry Climax reliability.

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Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 sharing the AMR 1968 cover with Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T. 39 here with ‘740 Series’ Repco V8 and quite the prettiest thing with its carefully, thoughtfully aerodynamic rear bodywork developed for it by John Sheppard. Knock on wheels, Castrol color scheme just gorgeous with the speed if not always reliability to match

In 1967 Sheppard and his team did a beautiful job converting the car to a 2.5 litre Repco ‘640 Series’, ‘exhaust between the Vee’ spec engine in April. They created quite the most beautiful sixties single seater. OK, maybe Gurney’s Eagle T1G gives it a run for its money! The FPF developed around 235bhp, the ‘640’ 275bhp@8500rpm.

Sheppard; ‘It was an easy decision to go with the Repco, our Climaxes were old and tired and Repco were keen to do business with everyone. It wasn’t the biggest saga to adapt the Repco V8, we made new chassis tubes to accommodate the wider engine and used the original Hewland HD5 gearbox. The suspension geometry wasn’t touched, in fact it wasn’t the whole time i worked on the car (to the end of 1968) which shows the bloke who designed and built it knew what he was about. As tyres evolved we still got the results by simply getting the best from the tyres making set-up changes based around getting tyre temps even across the tread. Basic but important stuff.’

‘The chassis and bodywork, we made a nice rear cowling or engine cover, was done by Alan Standfield who worked out of his fathers ‘Supreme Mousetraps’ factory out near Mascot. (near Sydney Airport) It was all a bit bizarre but he did good work in grotty conditions with loads of noisy machines making springs and sawdust from the ‘trap bases all over the place!’

Leo took his first Gold Star round win at Sandown in September, Sheppo recalls; ‘Early in the Repco piece i said to Frank Hallam (GM Repco) ‘you should be nicer to us because we will win the first Gold Star race for you, he turned and walked away. I had great delight in walking up to him and telling him ‘I told you so’ when we took that Sandown win which was Repco’s first Gold Star win too’

The Climax FPF engined Brabham BT11A’s were superbly driven by Spencer Martin and Kevin Bartlett and just had the legs and reliability to pip the more powerful Repco engined cars of Greg Cusack, Geoghegan and John Harvey that year. Martin took the title.

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On the end of a tow rope as was the case all too often. Here its a Coventry Climax engine failure; the FPF popped back into the car after early 1967 Repco frustrations for the final WF Gold Star round, DNF with overheating (Peter Windsor)

Leo was so miffed by the lack of reliability of the Repco that his team popped the Climax back into the car for the final Gold Star round, the Hordern Trophy’ at Warwick Farm, not finishing that race either, the Climax overheated.

Sheppard; ‘We didn’t have a good run with the Repco’s early in the piece. The 640 Series Repco, the Olds block engine chucked its oil out of the crankcase, the scavenging arrangements were poor, the stiffener plate was ‘out in the breeze’, oil sat on that and got thrown around. Leo said the engine was hard to drive as there was little power below 6500-7000rpm. The 700 Series blocks were better but in many ways by then the opposition had caught up with the Cosworth and Ferrari Dino engines competing in the Tasman. The engine was a clever design though, you could take the heads off without disturbing the timing chest and vice-versa, i give Repco ten out of ten for the way they went about things.’

For the 1968 Tasman Series all local Repco clients engines were updated to the latest specifications with 700 Series blocks.

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Leo’s 39 chases Richard Attwood’s BRM P126 at Surfers Paradise 1968. Great butt shot of both cars and a contrast of the beautifully faired Lotus and messy, bulky BRM V12. Neat packaging of the 1967 World Championship winning ‘740 Series’ V8 clear (here in 2.5 not 3 litre form). ‘Between the Vee’ exhausts easy for the chassis designer, no complex plumbing issues of pipes and tubes or an ‘ally tub. Trumpets for Lucas fuel injection and Bosch distributor cap clear also between the Vee. Car uses the same Hewland HD5 gearbox as it did with the Cov Climax FPF engine. Diaphragm to which ‘everything’ attached also clear at the very back of the chassis. Suspension at rear period typical; single upper link, inverted lower wishbone, 2 radius rods forwards for location and coil spring/damper unit with an adjustable roll-bar (Brian McInerney)

Into 1968 the Tasman Series got even tougher as the International Teams brought 2.5 litre variants of their current GP machines; the Lotus 49 DFW and the BRM P126 V12. The Mildren Team acquired a one-off Brabham BT23D powered by a 2.5 litre version of Alfa Romeo’s Tipo 33 sports car engine and Ferrari brought 2 2.4 litre Dino V6’s, the 246T.

Geoghegan, as in the prior year did only the Australian rounds; his 4th at Surfers on the same lap as the new Lotus 49’s in his 3 year old car his best result.

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Who is the Belle of the Ball? Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco DNF beside Brabhams Brabham BT23E Repco 7th , Rodriguez BRM P126 6th in a P261 with Clarks Lotus 49 1st. Warwick Farm practice, Tasman 1968 (The Tasman Cup)

He lost an oil line at Warwick Farm, finished 7th at Sandown, both events won by Jim Clark’s dominant Lotus 49 and elected not to start the final, very wet Logford round given the lack of a suitable tyre for the treacherous circuit.

39 and 49 surfers

Hill, Gardner, Geoghegan and further back Kevin Bartlett squabble over 2nd place on lap 2 of the Surfers ’68 Tasman round, Clark is up the road. Lotus 49 DFW, Brabham BT23D Alfa, Lotus 39 Repco and Brabham BT11A Climax (Rod MacKenzie)

Kevin Bartlett was the class of the Gold Star fields in 1968 winning the title by 10 points in the Brabham Frank Gardner drove in the Tasman. Geoghegan’s old Lotus was still fast; he took pole at Sandown and Mallala and won the race but otherwise the car lacked the consistency and speed to win the title.

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Geoghegan Catalina Park, Blue Mountains, NSW 1968 (Paul Hobson)

Chris Amon took the 1969 Tasman in his superbly driven and prepared Ferrari Dino 246T from Jochen Rindt, Lotus 49 DFW Piers Courage, Brabham BT24 DFW and Derek Bell’s Dino 246T.

Geoghegan, still driving the ‘old lady’ contested the full series; 5th at Pukekohe in the series opening NZGP behind the four drivers above, 4th at Levin, he missed the final NZ, Teretonga round.

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Leo’s Lotus 39 Repco ‘730 Series’ NZGP paddock, Pukekohe 4 January 1969. 5th in the race won by Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T (Habu/The Roaring Season)

Straight to Queensland he was a splendid 3rd in the AGP at Lakeside behind Amon and Bell. He was 5th in his home, Warwick Farm race and had fuel tank problems in the final Sandown round.

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Lakeside in the AGP; 4/5 year old car 3rd at Lakeside behind the Ferrari 246T’s of Amon and Bell (Rod MacKenzie)

Seventh in the series, the highest placed local was a superb result for a small team running a 4 year old car against GP Teams running their latest car.

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Leo running wings at the Warwick Farm Tasman round on 9 February 1969. Sydney the teams home base. With very low angle of attack mind you. He chose not to run them at the fast Tasman final round at Sandown the following week. He was 5th in the ‘pissin wet race won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49B Ford DFW, therefore this dry day is practice (Dick Simpson)

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Sandown Tasman practice, 15 February 1969. Running head of Alfie Costanzo’s McLaren M4A FVA. Leo DNS with a fuel tank leak, Alf DNF engine (Rod MacKenzie Collection)

For the 1969 Gold Star Series the 39 was more competitive than in ’68 being  fitted with the latest Repco’730 Series’, crossflow head V8 used in the Tasman, this gave 290bhp@8600rpm. The car was now running wings and whilst less aesthetically pleasing than its earlier form was fast.

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Symmons Plains Gold Star 3 March 1969. Leo was 2nd to Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Alfa (right)  (Ellis French)

Interesting shots at Symmons Plains, Tasmania 3 March 1969 above and below. Both the 39 and Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Alfa ‘Yellow Submarine’ sporting the hi-wings de-rigeur for the previous 12 months and soon to be outlawed over the Monaco GP weekend a month or so hence. My two favourite ‘Australian’ open-wheelers of the 1960’s albeit not in their most aesthtically pleasing form. Bartlett won the round with Leo second.

Repco ‘730 Series’ Repco V8, notice the steel ‘A-Frame’ to brace the wing supports referred to in the text and wider rear wheels but same sized fronts compared with earlier shots. Tyre widths increased dramatically from cars build in 1965 to 1970.

Locating stays for the 39 rear wing beefier than most, the failure of these in a whole swag of cars, notably the two Lotus 49’s of Rindt and Hill during the 1969 at Montjuich Park, Spanish GP the catalyst for the CSI to mandate changes to wings.

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Symmons Plains Gold Star 1969, Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco, KB’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa behind (Ellis French)

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Bathurst Gold Star round 7 April 1969; Max Stewart Mildren Waggott, Niel Allen McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco on pole. Brabham won in his BT31 Repco from the back of the grid with the front row all DNF. An accident took out Stewart and Allen, Leo had a gearbox problem (Wayne McKay)

Kevin Bartlett took the Gold Star championship again using the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, initially Alfa Romeo V8 engined and later in the year in Waggott TC4 valve form. This engine developed by Sydney engineer Merv Waggott is a story in itself, it won Gold Stars for Bartlett, Geoghegan and Stewart in 1969-71 beating 2.5’s and in 1971 F5000’s to the title.

Leo was 2nd with 20 points to Kevins 33 and had reliability but perhaps not the ultimate speed, seconds at Symmons Plains and Mallala Gold Star season highlights for the old beast.

The 39’s day finally arrived 4.5 years after it was built; Geoghegan won the 1969 JAF Japanese Grand Prix in the Lotus from Roly Levis Brabham BT23C FVA and Sohei Kato’s Mitsubishi Colt F2-C 1.6. I covered this great win in an article about Leo last year, click here for the link; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/02/leo-geoghegan-australian-driving-champion-rip/

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By 1970 F5000 was adopted as the new Tasman Formula albeit 2.5 litre Tasman cars were also eligible, the smaller cars gave the big V8’s ‘plenty of curry’ in that first year with Graeme Lawrence winning in Chris Amon’s victorious 1969 Ferrari 246T ‘008’. Bartlett took the Warwick Farm round in the 2 litre Mildren ‘Yellow Sub’, another small-car win..

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Tractable these Repco’s! Chugging thru the 1970 Sandown paddock. Nice shot showing the 33 style tub, fuel filler in front of dash bulkhead and late ’69-70 wing (Jeff Scriven Collection)

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Same day as above with Leo in the red hat alongside his mount. Hard to see but front suspension is top rocker, lower wishbone and inboard spring/damper actuated by rocker (Jeff Scriven Collection)

Geoghegan raced the Australian rounds only for 7th at Surfers and Warwick Farm, he was DNF at the Sandown final round.

Into the domestic 1970 season Leo raced the car in the first Gold Star round at Symmons Plains, here below he shares the front row of the grid with John Harvey’s red Brabham BT23E Repco and Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Waggott ‘Yellow Submarine’. KB’s absence racing in the US for much of the year took out a tough adversary in 1970.

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Gold Star round 1 1970. Symmons Plains 2 March 1970. John Harvey won in his #2 Brabham BT23E Repco from Leo obscured this side and Bartlett’s #5 Mildren Waggott (autopics.com)

The last significant meeting in which the 39 raced was the March Easter Bathurst meeting in which Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev F5000 car set a lap record which stood for decades. ‘Outright’ open-wheelers have not raced at Mount Panorama given the speeds of the cars and inherently dan gerous nature of the circuit as it was then. And still is, despite huge improvements in circuit safety.

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Easter Bathurst 1970, contrast this shot with the hi-wings from the year before above. John Harvey’s #4 Bob Jane Brabham BT23E Repco ‘830 Series’ Repco V8, Leo’s 39 Repco ‘730 Series’ V8 and Niel Allen’s obscured McLaren M10 B Chev F5000 (Rod MacKenzie Collection)

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Leo in the new Lotus 59 Waggott, Warwick Farm’s Pit Straight 1971 (oldracephotos/Schell)

Whilst the 1970 Tasman series was run to F5000 the Gold Star Series in an interesting piece of CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motorsport) decision making driven by politics was run to the 2.5 Tasman Formula.

From Leo’s perspective the path was clear; the circa 275bhp 2 litre Waggott engine was powerful, light, reliable and better still would bolt straight into the back of the Dave Baldwin designed F3/F2 Lotus 59. As the Lotus importer, the core of the Geoghegan’s business road cars of course, his preference was a Lotus which could win the title, his F5000 options were a domestic season away.

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The Geoghegan’s cars; Leo’s and Pete’s Touring cars were always beautifully presented, giving the sponsors great exposure. Here the 59 Waggott, in Castrol colors. As beautifully integrated a package as the 39 Repco in its ‘740 Series’ Repco days. Oran Park Gold Star round, 27 June 1970 (Lynton Hemer)

The 59 already had a successful season of racing in Europe with Emerson Fittipaldi taking the 1969 British F3 title and Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill winners in European F2 events; 4 rounds for Jochen and 1 for Graham. In essence the engine and chassis were a proven package.

And so it proved to be; Leo took wins at Warwick Farm and Mallala and seconds at Oran Park and Symmons Plains when the ‘old lady’ 39 held together and scored 6 valuable points…

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Leo G during tyhe driver parade before the 27 June Oran Park 1970 Gold Star round won by Max Stewart (Lynton Hemer)

Leo Geoghegan’s Later Open-Wheeler Career…

This article was to have been a ‘quickie’ around the few shots at the start  but as usual i have  ‘rabbited on’.

The article isn’t intended to be a Leo G whole of career one, the focus was the Lotus 39. Leo raced the Lotus 59 Waggott on into 1971, that chassis is still in Australia, i will write about it separately.

Geoghegan was a factory driver for Chrysler, as covered in the other article link provided earlier, he developed and raced Valiant Pacers and Chargers for the Tonsley Park, Adelaide based company in the incredibly popular Series Production (showroom stock essentially) races which proliferated, like a disease, in Australia in the late 1960’s, the growth of ‘Taxi Racing’ in Oz remains undiminished and omnipotent.

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Leo at Oran Park, ‘works’ Grace Bros sponsored Birrana 274 Hart Ford 1974. Jewels of things, fast ones. Aluminium monocoque chassis, Hart Ford 416B injected, often ‘ally blocked, Twin-Cam circa 205bhp, Hewland FT200 5 speed ‘box (oldracephotos.com/Peter Schell)

But Leo was a ‘died in the wool open-wheeler man’ and accepted a works drive with Adelaide’s nascent Birrana Engineering; Malcolm Ramsay and engineer Tony Alcock built some fabulous cars in three short years which turned upside down the local single-seater market, the jewel like cars winning the Australian F2 Championship from 1973-1976.

Leo took two of the titles in 1973 and 1974, finally retiring from single-seaters at the end of 1974. He went out with a bang though. The 1974 AF2 Championship was one of the most closely contested and competitive openwheeler championships in Australia ever. ‘Van Heusen’ shirts tipped in good sponsorship and established F5000 aces and young thrusters made for some sensational racing. But wily Leo, at 38 still very fast took the title by 4 points from Aussie International Bob Muir in another Birrana.

Birrana Cars is a story for another time.

John Sheppard on Leo as a driver; ‘He was incredibly fast, as good as anyone he competed against capable of just not keeping up with but beating world champions. Leo in a way kept to himself, Pete was more ‘one of the boys’ so Leo and i didn’t discuss his career aspirations but he got a lot of satisfaction from racing with the drivers that he did; world class drivers. He was very precise, Pete would throw around what he was given, Leo used the same bit of road lap after lap, very consistent, precise and fast’.

R12 in Modern Times…

Leo focussed on the 59 but gave Formula Vee ace Bernie Haehnle a test of the 39 in the wet, at Amaroo Park in May 1970. With predictable results, poor Bernie took the left-rear corner off the car. The difference from a 40bhp Rennmax FV to 280bhp Tasman car in the wet would have been marked!

39 after Bernie Haehnle’s Amaroo Park 1970 shunt (D Simpson)

 

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Leo G, 1970 Gold Star champion in his old car later in the year at Warwick Farm. 22 November. Lotus 39 Repco (Dick Simpson/oldracephotos.com)

The car was tidied up visually, Leo gave it a run at Warwick Farm late in the year in its original color scheme but still running a Repco engine, it was then offered for sale. The Repco engines on loan were returned to Melbourne and those owned by the Geoghegans sold. Australia’s sports-racing car fields were the beneficiaries of a surplus of ‘cheap’ 2.5 litre Repco V8’s; two Elfin 360’s and  two Rennmax’s  specifically.

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Darryl Pearsall’s Lotus 39 Ford Twin-Cam ‘R12’ in the Winton, Victoria paddock in 1973/4 (oldracephotos.com)

The long racing life of R12 continued on for a year or so as an AF2 car, Darryl Pearsall the new owner. F2 then was a 1.6 litre, 2 valve class effectively mandating the Lotus/Ford Twin Cam. The car was fitted with a Twin-Cam and when sold was purchased by John Dawson-Damer for his superb collection of Lotus’s in 1976.

The car was restored to its original Coventry Climax FPF engined form and fortunately when sold after JDD’s death and realisation of some of his collection remained in Australia, fitting given the cars Australian history. It lives in Tasmania loved to bits by a lifelong Jim Clark fan, Chas Kelly.

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Lotus 39 Climax ‘R12’ at the Longford Revival Meeting in April 2011. Restored but not over-restored, a balance we tend to get right in this country! (Ellis French)

Etcetera…

Clark Lotus 39.

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Longford front row 1966. #1 Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax and the two BRM P261’s of Hill #2 and Stewart beside the fence (Ellis French)

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Clark and mechanics looking typically relaxed during the Tasman. Here at Warwick Farm with R12. February 1966 (unattributed)

Click on this link for a lovely story related to the photo above about the ’66 Tasman.

https://open.abc.net.au/explore/45668

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Geoghegan 39.

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Leo G portrait circa 1963. Colors on helmet ‘Team Total’, the French oil company a strong supporter of motor racing in Australia at the time. Lotus 22 or 27 (Ray Berghouse)

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Sandown Park paddock, Tasman ’67. Leo finished 2nd to Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8 in ‘The Sandown Cup’. Nice shot shows the car in its Coventry Climax FPF engined/Castrol Racing colors. This is 26 February 1967, the Repco V8 was installed that April (Mike Feisst/The Roaring Season)

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This is a nice shot of the 39 of the Repco 740 Series V8 installation, Surfers Tasman round in February 1968. Cooper S is that of top touring car driver John French (Rod MacKenzie)

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These days the crowds are all over the ‘Taxis’, in the days of yore the focus was where it should be, on fast open-wheelers! Sandown paddock, am guessing Tasman Meeting 1969 (Jeff Morrall)

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Leo’s Lotus dips under brakes for Creek Corner at the end of Hume Straight in 1970 (Lynton Hemer)

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Lotus 39 business end in its Repco ‘740 Series’ 2.5 V8 days. 275bhp@8500rpm, the engine weighed 345lbs/157Kg. Gearbox Hewland HD5. Note Repco logo on LH cam cover, Smiths tacho drive on the RH cam cover. Lucas fuel injection, Bosch distributor between the Vee. 1967/8 (John Stanley)

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Bibliography…

Thanks very much to John Sheppard for his time and recollections

Graham Howard and Ors ‘History of The Australian GP’, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

Vintage Racecar, oldracephotos.com, Peter Schell, Dick Simpson, Bruce Wells, Habu, Mike Feisst/The Roaring Season, Lynton Hemer, Rod MacKenzie, Ellis French, John Stanley, Paul Hobson, Wayne McKay, Jeff Scriven Collection, Ray Berghouse, David Mist, John Sheppard, Brian McInerney, Jeff Nield/autopics.com.au, Tony Loxley ‘Tasman Cup’, Peter Windsor, Ian MacNeill

Tailpiece: Leo takes Miss Queensland for a squirt around Lakeside in the family Lotus 23 Ford. Brother ‘Pete’ raced this car, not certain of the date, but 1965’ish…

39 babe

 

webber

Mark Webber’s Red Bull in a great late afternoon shot at Circuito de Jerez, in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain on 6 February 2013…

Webber is grinding around honing the RB9 Renault chassis into a fine pitch before the start of the 2013 GP season, his last before departing to sportscar success with Porsche.

He is, pictured below in the Porsche 919 Hybrid he shared to 2nd place at Le Mans in 2015 with Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, the Porsche trio of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb won the classic.

I have tried hard to find photos which show the efficient, complex, fast machines lines to best effect but no angle is a visually pleasing one.

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Porsche 919 Hybrid; Chassis: composite carbon fibre honeycomb Suspension: front and rear multi link actuated by pushrods Steering: hydraulically assisted rack and pinion Brakes: carbon fibre discs front and rear: Wheels/Tyres Michelin 310/710mm-18inches in diameter front and rear Weight circa 870Kg. Engine: 2 litre V4 turbo developing circa 500bhp with accumulator type lithium-ion battery, with Engine Generator Unit developing circa 400bhp on front axle Transmission: rear wheel drive, all wheel drive via KERS on front axles, gearbox itself 7 speed sequential with hydraulic actuation (Getty)

Click here for a fantastic detailed technical description of this amazing car in ‘Racecar Engineering’…

http://www.racecar-engineering.com/cars/porsche-919/

Webber’s teammate Sebastian Vettel took the 2013 F1 title for the fourth year on the trot but it was a lean year for Mark in terms of race wins, he was second in Malaysia, Britain, Japan and Abu Dhabi and third in the drivers title chase behind Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Off to challenges anew in Stuttgart for Mark including the Drivers Title win for Webber, Hartley and Bernhardt for Porsche in 2016…

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Le Mans 2015; Porsche 919, Mark Webber (Getty)

Credits…

Paul Gilham, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Webbers #17 Porsche 919 at Le Mans in 2015…

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(Getty)

 

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The Formula Junior field starts the Vanderbilt Cup at Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island, New York on Sunday 19 June 1960…

On April 2, 1960 the New York Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) announced a ‘revival’ of the Vanderbilt Cup.

The feature race was one of nine events viewed by 37000 spectators and took place at the SCCA’s new road circuit on the Roosevelt Raceway’s grounds. The track used a portion of the car park and access roads of a harness racing track. Its 11-turn, 1.5 miles included a half mile straight.

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The ‘Cornelius Vanderbilt Cup Race’ was run on Sunday, June 19, 1960. Usually the province of amateur drivers, this SCCA event was granted special status which allowed professionals to compete in what was a ‘Junior Formula’ race. As a result Indy Winners Jim Rathman and Roger Ward competed along with Carroll Shelby, the ’59 Le Mans winner and future GP drivers Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez, Jim Hall and Lorenzo Bandini.

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Jim Rathman (left) and Carroll Shelby pose for a pre-meeting publicity shot (nydailynews)

‘At the turn of the 20th century the superiority of European automotive craftsmanship cast a long shadow over America’s fledgling car industry. To encourage American automobile manufacturers to challenge European quality, 26-year old William K. Vanderbilt Jr., heir to a railroad fortune and a pioneer race car driver, organized America’s first international road race, modeled after those held in Europe. The six Vanderbilt Cup Races held on Long Island from 1904 to 1910 were the greatest sporting events of their day. These colorful, exciting and dangerous races drew huge crowds from 25,000 to over 250,000 spectators’.

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Winner Henry Carter receives his little! trophy from Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, author, newspaperman and nephew of WK Vanderbilt the founder of the VDB Cup series of races (nydailynews)

The 1960 FJ race was a 50 lapper over 75 miles and won by Henry Carter driving a Stanguellini Fiat. Of the ‘name drivers’, only Pedro Rodriguez finished in a Scorpion DKW, 2nd was Chuck Wallace in a similar car and Jerry Truitt 3rd in a Stanguellini.

If any readers know the cars/drivers let me know, whilst there is some interesting information about the race i’ve not been able to find an entry list complete with race numbers.

Click on this link to an article about the 1960 race, have a fossick around this site which has a wealth of detailed information about the ‘real’ Vanderbilt Cup races;

http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/races/story/1960_vanderbilt_cup_race

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Henry Carter’s Stanguellini Fiat takes the chequered flag from Chuck Wallace’s Scorpion DKW in 2nd (nydailynews)

Credits…

New York Daily News, vanderbiltcupraces.com

Tailpiece…

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sebring

Amazing Sebring aero backdrop for the Porsche Abarth 356B Carrera’s of Bob Holbert/Don Wester and Edgar Barth/Herman Linge, 9th and 10 placed in the race won by the Surtees/Scarfiotti/Bandini Ferrari 250P…

Wonder what the aircraft is?

Credit…Bernard Cahier

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The ‘Stack Pipe’ 1.5 litre P56 BRM V8 nestled in one of Graham Hill’s BRM P57/578 chassis’ during his and BRM’s victorious 1962 season…

This series of engines was immensely successful being competitive throughout the 1961-5 1.5 Litre F1 and was ‘stiff’ not to have won the title on multiple occasions. Later in its life it became, in 2 and 2.1 litre capacities an effective Tasman Series weapon. It was victorious at 2.1 litres against new 3 litre cars winning the ’66 Monaco GP Jackie for Stewart that May. It is one of Grand Prix racing’s great engines.

This is the first in an occasional series of articles focussing on engines, mind you, as usual its longer than intended. As is the case with most of my stuff the article is a function of a great photo (above) inspiring the piece rather than me thinking strategically about the relative merit of one engine to another in a particular era!

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Graham Hill’s P56 engined ‘Stackpipe’ BRM P57/578 on its way to victory at Zandvoort, Dutch GP 1962. The P56 engine’s first championship GP win (Cahier)

Background…

BRM commenced the new 1.5 litre F1 in 1961 by using a Coventry Climax FPF Mark 2 engine, it’s ‘Project 56’ 1.5 litre V8 started late and was running behind schedule.

The teams long serving but ‘too dilettante’ technical director Peter Berthon was ‘shunted sideways’, seconded to work at the Harry Weslake Research consultancy in Rye, 280 km away leaving Tony Rudd, his assistant in charge.

By the time this 1960 Dutch GP change was effected Berthon, with the assistance of consultant engineer Charles Amherst Villiers an old school friend of BRM founder Raymond Mays and a long term associate of Berthons too, was already laying down the conceptual design and detailing of P56. The Shell oil companies research boffins also contributed their knowledge via a project they were completing at the time on ‘combustion in high speed transport engines’.

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The great Tony Rudd in the glasses overseeing Graham Hill’s P56 engined BRM P57 (DNF) with Cyril Atkins beside him. Dutch GP, Zandvoort 1963. Its Jack Brabham in the helmet about to board his BT7 Climax DNF. I wonder if the chap closest to camera is Keith Duckworth? The back of that BRM is ‘all breathers’, engine and gearbox isn’t it? Clark won the race in his Lotus 25 Climax (GP Library)

A core conceptual design foundation was efficiency at extremely high RPM by the standards of the time, and, for the first time for BRM the engine was to be offered for customer sale rather than just being a ‘works engine’. There was money to be made, as Coventry Climax had proved in recent years by flogging engines to those with the ‘readies’, at Sir Alfred Owen’s insistence BRM were to contest that customer market.

In keeping with the BRM charter of using British suppliers if at all possible, Lucas’ new fuel injection system was chosen. Several design features of the old V16 were used including its timing gear, camshaft drives and similar con-rods, higher inertia loads of heavier pistons (than the V16) involved different big-end bolt arrangements though.

The engine is a 90 degree V8 with a bore and stroke of 68.1 X 50.88mm for a capacity of 1498cc, it’s heads and block cast in LM8 aluminium alloy. The sump was magnesium and the crank machined from nitrided EN40U alloy steel and ran in 5 Vandervell, 2.5 inch wide plain metal bearings.

The cams, water pump and distributor for the transistorised ignition system were driven by gears off the cranks nose.

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P56 engine cross section showing gear train, ‘inverted cup tappets, which allowed cooling oil to reach valve springs. Exhaust valve guides in contact with water’. 90 degree V8, 2 valves per cylinder. First series cross-flow head engine (grandprixengines.co.uk)

Two ring die-cast pistons and forged con-rods were used initially but forged pistons with a different profile were experimented with later in the successful search for more power. Results justified Berthon’s original concept of minimising rotating and reciprocating mass with a very ‘over-square’ bore/stroke ratio by the standards of the day to facilitate high RPM.

Up top the four cams ran in 5 roller bearings operating 2 inclined valves per cylinder via inverted tappets. Valve sizes were 1.5625 inch inlet set at 45 degrees from the bore axis, and 1.20 inch exhaust set at 30 degrees. Double valve springs were used and proved effective even at 11000rpm, the valve-gear was designed for a maximum of 13000rpm.

The Lucas new fuel injection system was of the port type, throttle slides were used after early butterfly throttles were tried and rejected. The compression ratio using mandated 100 octane fuel was 11.5:1. The fuel injected works engines claimed 10bhp more than the Weber carbed customer units in the first year. The metering unit was driven by a toothed rubber belt.

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P56 V8 again 1962 first series cross-flow, 2 valve heads. 2 plane crank (grandprixengines.co.uk)

Lucas also provided the transistorised ignition system made necessary by 11000 rpm; a conventional coil setup produced around 400 sparks per second, a magneto 500 whereas the BRM needed 733 sparks per second at 11000 rpm, which the Lucas transistors achieved.

Ignition timing was controlled by pole pieces mounted on the back of the flywheel in conjunction with a magnetic pick-up on the engine backplate. Current was provided by an alternator driven from the right-side inlet cam.

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P56 in Trevor Taylor’s BRP Mk2 BRM, Belgian GP, Spa 1964. 7th in the race won by Clark’s Lotus 25 Climax (Schlegelmilch)

The prototype P56 engine ‘5601’ was assembled at Bourne in June 1961, without starter motor weighing 251 pounds, on 12 July in the Folkingham Aerodrome test house it first burst into life.

A second engine was built and run at Monza, in practice only in 1961. That engine ‘5602’ produced over 184bhp. During 1962 maximum power was 193bhp@10250rpm, the engines dyno curves showed 110@6000, 150@7500, 173@9000 and 190bhp@9750rpm.

At Monza in 1962, Hills victorious P578’s P56 engine achieved 10.6 MPG.

Graham Hill’s 1962 season is briefly covered in this article, click here for the link; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/12/graham-hill-brm-p57-german-gp-1962/

Initially the engines were fitted with separate individual megaphone exhausts raking back at near to vertical on each side but they fatigued during a race and progressively broke. A low level system made its debut at Spa in 1962 but by then the ‘Stackpipe BRM’ label had stuck!

A cross-over exhaust and ‘flat plane crankshaft’ liberated a bit more power as did new Shell low viscosity oils, by February 1963 the works engines gave 200bhp from 9750-10500rpm.

Four valve heads were tried for 1964 but ‘flopped fearfully’. Reversed port two valve heads and between the Vee exhausts at the Italian GP provided 208bhp @10750rpm.

Eventually by filling combustion chambers with weld and re-machining, trial and error stuff engine ‘5618’ produced 220bhp@11750rpm this engine was used by Hill at the 1965 BRDC Trophy and became his regular engine thereafter ‘maxing’ at 222bhp.

For the sake of completeness the ‘P56 engine family’ also includes the P60 used in various capacities for 2 litre sportscar, endurance, Tasman and hillclimbing competition as follows;
1965/6 1880cc, 1966 1916cc, 1966-7 1998cc and 1966-8 2070cc.

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Jackie Stewart heads for the BRM P56 engines last championship GP win in his P261, 22 May 1966 Monaco. He won from Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari Dino 246 and teammate Graham Hill’s P261. Majestic Monaco. The BRM P261 was an exquisite, successful, long lived car. It was slippery and quick partially due to power but also the small, beautifully ‘packaged’ engine, its between the Vee exhausts and compact ancillaries allowing the rear cowling which helped it slip thru the air (Schlegelmilch)

Race Record…

The P56 and its big P60 brother was a remarkably long-lived engine at International level, let alone its national level wins.

The engines first International win was in the rear of Graham Hill’s BRM P57 in the 1962 Brussells GP on 1 April, its first Championship GP win the Dutch on 20 May 1962, its last Jackie Stewarts 1966 Monaco GP victory in 1966 amongst the new 3 litre GP cars. Jackie Stewart also scored the engines last International win in taking the Australian GP at Warwick Farm on 19 February 1967 in his BRM P261.

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This is the butt of Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261 ‘2614’ pictured in the Warwick Farm paddock on 19 February 1967, the engines last International win. JYS won the AG Prix  from Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax FWMV V8 and Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT16 Climax FPF. P60 engine now at 2070cc, the ‘weak link’ of the car by then the transmission which was struggling with power and torque for which it was not originally designed in 1.5 litre GP spec  (Mike Feisst)

 

Pedro Rodriguez in the Longford pitlane in 1968- P261’s final race as a works entry (D Cooper)

The engines final entry as a ‘works engine’ was in the back of Pedro Rodriguez’ P261 at the Longford Tasman round in March 1968, he was second to Piers Courage McLaren M4A FVA.

During that period the engine won the ’62 Drivers and Constructors titles with Hill. Hill/BRM were second in both the drivers and constructors titles in ’63 to Clark/Lotus in ’64 to Surtees/Ferrari and in ’65 to Clark/Lotus. The BRM P261 won the 1966 Tasman Championship for Jackie Stewart in a dominant display, BRM won 7 of the 8 rounds.

For the sake of completeness the wins for the engine, note that i have not included heat wins in Non-Championship events, only ‘Finals’, are as below. What comes through strongly is just how much Hill.G’s career was intertwined with this engine and how smart it was to sell the engines to ‘all-comers’.

1962;

Championship; Dutch, German and Italian GP’s , all Hill in BRM P57 chassis

Non-Championship; GP Brussells, Glover Trophy Goodwood, Intl Trophy Silverstone all Hill BRM P57, Crystal Palace Trophy Innes Ireland Lotus 24 BRM, Kanonloppet Karlskoga Masten Gregory Lotus 24 BRM

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Piers Courage, BRM P261, ‘Teretonga International’, the most Southerly race circuit in the world. NZ Tasman 28 January 1967. Piers DNF engine in the race won by Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax, teammate Richard Attwood was 2nd in the other BRM (Ian Peak)

1963;

Championship; South African, Monaco and US GP’s all Hill BRM P57

Non-Championship; Int Trophy and Aintree 200 both Hill BRM P57, Glover Trophy Ireland Lotus 24 BRM, GP Siracuse Siffert Lotus 24 BRM

1964;

Championship; Monaco and US GP’s both Hill in BRM P261

Non-Championship; Daily Mirror Trophy Ireland BRP BRM, GP Mediterraneo Enna Siffert Brabham BT11 BRM, Rand GP Natal Hill Brabham BT11 BRM

1965;

Championship; Monaco and US GP’s Hill, Italian GP Stewart all BRM P261

Non-Championship; Int Trophy Stewart BRM P261, GP Mediterraneo Siffert Brabham BT11 BRM

1966;

Championship; Monaco GP Stewart BRM P261

Tasman; Pukekohe NZGP and Lakeside AGP Hill and Wigram, Teretonga, Sandown and Longford rounds, Stewart all in BRM P261

1967;

Tasman: Pukekohe NZGP and Warwick Farm AGP both Stewart in BRM P261

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Relaxed scene at Longford on the 5 March 1967 Tasman weekend. JYS on the wheel of P261 ‘2614’, Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax alongside. #9 is Spencer Martin’s Brabham BT11A Climax with his car owner Bob Jane the stocky little dude in the drivers suit beside JYS. Nose of Chris Irwin’s P261 ‘2616’ also clear. On raceday Jack Brabham’s BT23A Repco won the ‘South Pacific Trophy’ from Clark and Irwin (Ellis French)

Etcetera…

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BRM P60 power at the Lakeside, Australian Grand Prix Tasman round on 20 February 1966. JYS and Graham lead in BRM P261’s, Clark in Lotus 39 Climax, Gardner’s yellow nosed Brabham BT11A Climax, Jim Palmer’s Lotus 32B Climax, Spencer Martin’s red Brabham BT11A, Leo Geoghegan’s white Lotus 32 Ford 1.5 and the rest. Hill won from Gardner and Clark (History of The AGP)

 

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Graham Hill’s BRM P60 engined Lotus 33 at the 29 April 1967, BRDC Intl Trophy Silverstone. That’s Damon practicing in cockpit! DNF but fastest lap, the race won by Mike Parkes 3 litre Ferrari 312. Graham had just left BRM for Lotus for the ’67 season but not the P56/60 engine which gave him so much success! Lotus’ engine of choice for ’66 was the BRM H16 but Chapman used the V8’s as a stopgap, the H16 running late; Chapmans Lotus 33’s comprised a 2 Litre Climax engined chassis for Clark and 2070cc P60 BRM engined one for Graham (Getty)

 

(J Saltinstall)

Bibliography…

The bibles on all things BRM are Doug Nyes 3 books, hopefully Vol 4 is not too far away! This article is a précis of Nye’s article on the P56 engine in his seminal, sensational ‘History of the GP Car 1945-65’

Photo Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, The GP Library, Cahier Archive, Ellis French, Mike Feisst Collection & Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, G Howard and Ors ‘History of The Australian GP’, grandprixengines.co.uk, Dennis Cooper Collection, John Saltinstall Collection

Tailpiece: ‘Top Fuel’ Dragster…

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Trevor Taylor’s BRP Mk2 BRM and its P56 V8, Spa 1964. He was 7th, race won by Clark’s Lotus 25 Climax. Interesting that the ‘stackpipe’ exhausts were still being used by BRP this late when the low level exhausts were producing more power (Schlegelmilch)

Trevor Taylor’s BRP Mk2 BRM and its P56 V8, Spa 1964.

Taylor was seventh, the race won by Clark’s Lotus 25 Climax. Its interesting that the ‘stackpipe’ exhausts were still being used by BRP this late when the low level exhausts were producing more power, budgets and all that no doubt.

Finito…

 

french gp 1967

As Jeremy Clarkson would say. The 3 litre Formula 1 ushered in another era when a surfeit of power over chassis grip made the cars spectacular to watch and a challenge to drive…

Here Graham Hill #7 gets off pole with a minimum of Firestone wheelspin, not so Jack Brabham #3 and Dan Gurney #9, Repco V8 and Gurney-Weslake V12 leaving behind plenty of ‘Goodyear’. The noses of the cars behind are Clark’s yellow striped Lotus and Bruce McLaren in Dan’s second Eagle, his own car being not quite yet ready.

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Bruce McLaren getting the feel of the Eagle T1G Weslake. Q5 and retired on lap 26 with ignition failure. He also raced the car at Silverstone and the Nurburgring (The Cahier Archive)

Dan was on top of his game, he won the Belgian Grand Prix a fortnight before in his Eagle T1G and Lotus the first race for the 49 and its Cosworth engine two weeks before that. But it was the ‘old stager’ Brabham who took the French Grand Prix win in his BT24 from teammate Denny Hulme and Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261.

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Brabham’s BT24 ahead of Dan Gurney’s Eagle T1G DNF fuel line. Circuit Bugatti 1967 (unattributed)

The Automobile Club de France laid out a ‘pissant’ circuit built for the racing school which also used the start-finish straight of the classic 24 hour circuit but the ‘Circuit Bugatti’ had none of the atmosphere, grandeur or challenge of Reims, Rouen or Clermont Ferrand the other options available to them!

The ‘punters’ reacted accordingly, only 20000 showed up, the race was held at Rouen the following year.

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Grid ready to go, G Hill popping on the Nomex, Bruce McLaren in an Eagle T1G and to his right Jochen Rindt’s Cooper T81B Maserati DNF engine (Getty)

 

frencj barabhams

#4 Hulme’s Brabham BT24 Repco 2nd in front of Jack’s car, #16 is Guy Ligier’s Cooper T81 Maserati N/Class. Le Mans paddock 1967. How small, light and neat do those BT24’s look? Champions in ’67 of course with Hulme D (unattributed)

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Superb shot of Chris Amon’s Ferrari 312. He qualified 7th and ran as high as 3rd before the throttle cable broke at half distance (Sutton)

Jack lookin’ pretty happy with a good days work in his BT24 Repco both before the race and after its successful conclusion…

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(Getty)

Credits: The Cahier Archive, Getty Images, Sutton Images

Tailpiece: You can take the Racing Driver out of the Engineer…

mc laren le mans eagkle

Ever the engineer Bruce helps with a plug change on his Weslake V12. Le Mans 1967 (Getty Images)

 

 

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All of the ‘hey man, hip cat, cool, groovy funky dude’ areas in any city I’ve visited globally share common attributes; inner city precincts filled with students, professionals and those of more limited means, ‘tree-huggers’, bohemians and artists with the restaurants and shops those types attract in areas which are architecturally interesting, a blend of the old and the edgy in terms of the built environment?!

Melbourne’s CBD in totality ‘cuts the mustard’ these days, do stay in the CBD if you visit for the Australian Grand Prix.

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Smith Street urban art

Outside the city grid Melbourne has two precincts which meet said criteria, there are some pretenders which have fallen from grace in my book. These include Chapel Street and Toorak Road South Yarra, Lygon Street Carlton, Fitzroy and Acland Streets St Kilda and Greville Street in Prahran. A sure sign an area is about to lose its appeal is the arrival of major retail chains  despoiling the magic of  places which are about difference, not the formulaic sameness of da big guys.

So, my (and more importantly my 3 sons who are in the right age-group to judge such things!) two hey man etc precincts in Melbourne at present are the stretch of Chapel Street, Windsor from High Street to ‘Dandy’ Road and Smith and Gertrude Streets Collingwood/Fitzroy with that intersection the epicentre.

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‘Suus’ is a motor-cycle emporium which has recently moved into Collingwood adding some coolness @ 12 Smith Street. The place is a blend of retail outlet, clothes and bikes, custom shop to build and modify ‘cafe-racers’ and most recently a coffee shop. I do mean coffee, just coffee.

http://suus.com.au/

I’ve no vested interest in the place at all other than the hope that a venue where bike and car guys can go and talk about salient gob-shite survives and thrives.

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‘Suus’ nice Ducati 750SF in the window @ present

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Coffee area, workshop out ze back

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‘Bell’ stockist, ‘mood and vibe’ of the place tops

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It’s a long time since automotive establishments where one could gather like the Light Car Club, Lou Molina’s ‘Anchor and Hope’ or more colloquially and appropriately the ‘Anchor and Grope’ hotel and more recently Jeff Duttons house of fine cars existed.

The latter was a global pioneer of the automotive retail/food/lifestyle cocktail in his Church Street, Richmond facility. ‘Duttons’ survives in a fashion but lost its soul when Jeff exited and is now in the bowels of Richmond way outta sight.

The point is we don’t have too many nice Melbourne ‘automotive’ environments so check ‘Suus’ out when next in the area. Better still take the other half, there are loads of ‘chick boutiques’, restaurants and bars close by so one can have a win for a change; keep yourself and ‘the chief” happy.

The pick of the local pubs is ‘The Builders Arms’ in nearby Gertude Street, order the fish-pie which is sensational and will sate the appetite of even the most corpulent. The bar is a place where fossils like me feel just as comfortable as the young and the pert. The outside area is tres-pleasant with trams rumbling gently past under brakes for the off-camber approach to the challenging Smith Street apex…

Etcetera…

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‘Builders Arms Hotel’ one of Andrew McConnell’s joints so is consistent. As in good

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‘Pickings’ in Gertrude Street for hipster gear should you be so inclined

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Gertrude Street looking west towards the city and Brunswick Street

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Gertrude Street towards Smith Street, out front of ‘Ladro’ also good Italian grub

Credits…

Photos M Bisset

Tailpiece:’Suus’ showroom…

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