Archive for November, 2016

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Cliff Allison releases his Lotus 12 Climax from the Monaco haybales in 1958, whilst teammate Graham Hill passes in the sister car…

It was a significant race for Lotus, their debut as Grand Prix competitors, Allison was classified 6th and Hill’s race ended on lap 15 with engine dramas.

Coventry Climax had still not built a 2.5 litre version of their FPF 4 cylinder engine, so Lotus, like Cooper were competing with engines of 1960cc, well below the 2.5 litre F1 capacity limit.

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Jesse Alexander’s shot captures the atmosphere of Monaco ’58, shot taken from the ‘Milk Bar’

 

Times of change in racing are of immense interest to those of us with an historic bent, 1958/9 is one of those eras with the growing influence of the ‘Green Cars’ a portent of the British dominance to come. And of course Cooper showing the mid-engined path still with us today.

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Cliff Allison at Monza in 1959 (Cahier)

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Lotus 12 in all its naked glory at Zandvoort in 1958. It was about as small as a front engined GP car could get, ignoring the fact it was designed as an F2 car! In 1958 ’twas as modern as tomorrow and as passe as yesterday simultaneously (Cahier)

Indicative of  mid-engined growing superiority was the failure of all the Maserati 250F’s entered to qualify; driven by Godia-Sales, Kavanagh, Taramazzo, Gerini, de Fillipis, Testut, Gould and the great, but aging Monegasque Louis Chiron. In 1957 Juan Manuel Fangio won the race in a factory ‘Piccolo’ 250F.

Successful British motor-cycle dealer BC Ecclestone had acquired the Connaughts but Bernie, Paul Emery and Bruce Kessler all failed to qualify the cars too.

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Bernie Ecclestone trying hard to qualify his Connaught Type B Alta, to no avail as was the case for his 2 teammates (unattributed)

Things were better for the Green Cars at the front of the grid with Brooks, Behra and Brabham in Vanwall, BRM and Cooper respectively. Salvadori and Trintignant were next up in Coopers, the quickest Ferrari, Mike Hawthorn, 6th in his Dino.

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# 18 Savadori Cooper T45 Climax, # 6 Behra BRM P25, #16 Brabham Cooper T45 Climax, # 30 Brooks Vanwall VW57, winner Trintignant partially obscured behind Brabham Cooper T45 Climax, # 32 Lewis-Evans Vanwall VW57…and the rest, turn 1, lap1 (unattributed)

In a race of changing fortunes Behra, Hawthorn and Moss all led but suffered mechanical failures. Trintignant won the race in Rob Walker’s Cooper T45 Climax from Musso and Collins in Dinos. Moss’ Argentina Cooper T43 win was no ‘flash in the pan’…

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Moss, Hawthorn, Brabham and Trintignant. Ferrari Dino 246, Vanwall VW57 with Monaco ‘snub nose’ and Coopers T45 Climax x 2 (unattributed)

Etcetera…

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Photo Credits…

Jesse Alexander, The Cahier Archive, John Ross Motor Racing Archive

Tailpiece: Allison made the Lotus 12 sing…

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As here at Monza 1958. He put the car 5th on the British GP grid, well in front of Hill in the new Lotus 16, finished 6th at Zandvoort, 4 th in the Belgian GP at Spa and 7th at Monza, such were his performances he was off to Ferrari in 1959 at Enzo’s invitation (John Ross)

 

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Jenson Button and David Richards, BAR Honda 005 and friends on the beach at St Kilda, close to Albert Park and the 2003 Australian Grand Prix…

Joint in the background is the Stokehouse Restaurant which burned to the ground a few years back, somewhat of a local icon but i’ve never had a decent feed there.

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Button was 9th in the race won by David Coulthard’s McLaren MP4/17D Mercedes, Jacques Villeneuve 8th in the other BAR. It was a tough season for the cars, Button the best placed of the two drivers, 9th in the championship won by Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari.

Credits…

Robert Cianflone

 

imageGarrie Cooper’s Elfin 600D Ford leads Vern Schuppan’s March 722 Ford through the fast swoops of the challenging Thomson Road circuit and into the hot, dense, green, steamy forests of the island city state during the 1972 Singapore Grand Prix…

Vern was 2nd in his March 722, a good result as he boofed the car early in the 30 March-2 April race weekend. ‘I crashed in qualifying when something broke in the rear suspension – the car was absolutely brand new. Luckily I hadn’t hit anything too solid and so we were able to cobble something together and I started from the back’. This chassis was the same one which, with modifications by Brian Falconer, he raced to victory in Singapore in 1973. Garrie didn’t finish the ’72 race he won in the very first Elfin 600 in 1968. I wrote an article a while back about the 1973 race, the last until the modern era, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2016/04/29/birrana-cars-and-the-1973-singapore-gp/

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Winner of the ’72 Singapore GP Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott Ford with Leo Geoghegan’s Brabham Brabham BT30 Ford right up his chuff and Bob Muir’s yellow Rennmax BN3 Ford in the distance (AOS)

I remember as a kid thinking Asia was a very exotic place…

Australia had, believe it or not, ‘The White Australia Policy’ (progressively dismantled from 1949-73) which kept non-whiteys, Asians included out of the joint, so back then you didn’t see ‘em on the streets. The place was bland, populated as it was by lotsa similar looking Anglos. Thankfully all that is a thing of the long distant past. People from countries to our immediate north have added hugely to the wonderful, disparate melting pot of race, creed and color we have enjoyed here, especially post World War 2.

To me as a kid though, Asia was exotic, different, but not far away like Europe. I read with great interest of the success of Kevin Bartlett in Macau and Leo Geoghegan at Fuji in 1969 when i flicked through the 1970 ‘Australian Motor Racing Annual’, my first road-racing magazine purchase, and marvelled at the circuits.

Two decades later, in 1989-91 I was regularly in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on business. Even though I had it in my mind then to walk as much of the Thomson Road Circuit as I could, I never did make the easy 12 kilometre excursion from central Singapore to do so, it was always too hot to walk the place. Dammit!, its such a wild looking track…

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Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Ford ‘7012’, Singapore GP 1972 (AOS)

Cooper was a popular Singapore visitor having won the race in 1968 in the very first Elfin 600 built. Garrie’s 1972 Singapore car is to me the ‘definitive ultimate’ Elfin 600; chassis 600D ‘7012’ was built as Cooper’s own, works, 2.5 litre Tasman Formula car powered by the ‘definitive’ Repco Tasman engine, the gorgeous little ‘830 Series’, SOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected ‘short block’ V8. Mind you, in that form it didn’t have the ‘fugly’ Tyrrell type nosecone it wears here.

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Garrie Cooper during the 28 June 1970 Gold Star round at Oran Park, 3rd in Elfin 600D Repco ‘7012’. Max Stewart won in the Mildren Waggott from Leo Geoghegan’s similarly engined car, Leo won the Gold Star that year (oldracephotos.com)

The Tasman 2.5 Formula was over as Australia’s ANF1 at the end of 1970 so the Repco in ‘7012’s frame was removed and fitted into an Elfin 360 sportscar. An injected Lotus/Ford twin-cam was then inserted into the spaceframe chassis for ANF2 racing. And for events in South East Asia which changed to a ‘twin-cam, 2 valve’ formula, effectively mandating the venerable, wonderful Lotus/Ford engine which was a mainstay of motor racing globally for the best part of 20 years.

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Cooper leads the rest of the 1968 GP grid on lap 1 into the Thomson Mile chicane, Elfin 600 Ford. Advice on following car ID’s gratefully accepted (AOS)

I’m in the middle of drafting an article on the Repco engined Elfin 600’s at the moment, all three of them, so will leave that topic for now. ‘7012’ was bought by Col Allison for his lad Bruce at the end of Garrie’s Asian tour, the speedy Queenslander was showing promise in a 600FF back home, steering ‘7012’ around Lakeside and Surfers Paradise was another step in Bruce’s rise to prominence and success overseas.

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Lovely side profile shot of Max Stewart and his winning Mildren in 1972 (AOS)

The winner of the 1972 GP was Max Stewart who took his final big win in the Mildren Waggott which had given him so much success over the years.

The big, ultimately fast, country-boy from Orange in New South Wales literally knew every nut and bolt in this long-lived cars frame. His most recent success in it was the 1971 Australian Gold Star series when he ‘nicked’ the title from his great mate Kevin Bartlett. KB’s F5000 McLaren M10B Chev had the speed in the first year the Gold Star was run to F5000, but Max had enough speed, better handling and much more reliability from his Waggott 2 litre, DOHC, 4 valve, circa 275bhp motor.

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Stewart from Geoghegan in the Circus Hairpin (AOS)

Max was racing an F5000 Elfin MR5 Repco in 1972 Tasman and Gold Star events, but no doubt victorious transition back to the little Mildren was as easy and sweet as a ‘booty call’ with a recent girlfriend!

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Max accepts his trophy. Neat scoreboard; #6 Stewart Mildren Ford, #129 Schuppan March 722 Ford, #7 Muir Rennmax BN3 Ford and #1 Rajah March 712M Ford (AOS)

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MS garlanded in the victorious Mildren Waggott. For this race it was fitted with 1.6 litre Lotus/Ford twin cam on Webers rather than the Waggott DOHC, 4 valve, injected engines of 1600/1860/2000cc capacity with which the car mainly raced over its long life. Brabham magnesium uprights clear in shot, interesting are the rubber bushed type spherical joints used. This very successful car was restored by Greg Smith in Elwood, Melbourne some years back with further work done in more recent times by Max Pearson who owns and keeps it, and Max’ 1972 Elfin MR5 Repco F5000, in amazingly fine fettle. Both are familiar cars to historic racing enthusiasts in Oz (AOS)

Missing from the ’72 Singapore GP grid was three times (1969-71) winner, Kiwi champion Graeme Lawrence who had an horrific shunt during the opening lap of the 1972 New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe in January which destroyed his brand new Lola T300, badly injured himself and killed Bryan Falloon, whose Rennmax/Stanton Porsche, Graeme collided with.

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Geoghegan, Brabham BT30 (AOS)

One of Lawrence’s many Australian friends Leo Geoghegan raced Graeme’s Brabham BT30, the 1970 Australian Gold Star champion finished 5th in the unfamiliar, but oh-so-forgiving Ron Tauranac designed chassis.

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Leo Geoghegan in Graeme Lawrence’s Brabham BT30 Ford, advice gratefully received on what part of the circuit many of these photos are, and a race report if anyone has one (AOS)

Ostensibly retired from open-wheeler competition, Leo was lured back in 1972 by Birrana Engineering boss Malcolm Ramsay, Malcolm a South East Asia regular competitor. The exploits of these two are well covered in the ’73 Singapore GP article referenced above.

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Vern tested the BRM P153B, the P153 the Bourne concerns 1970 challenger, during Belgian GP practice at Nivelles in 1972, the car was raced by Helmut Marko to 10th. Emerson Fittipaldi won in a Lotus 72D Ford (unattributed)

Vern would see a lot of his countrymen in the years to come in F5000 competition but it was the first time he had raced against Cooper, Stewart, Geoghegan, Muir, Bartlett and Kiwi, Lawrence.

Schuppan left South Australia’s Flinders Ranges town, Booleroo Centre, with some karting experience in Australia and via Formula Ford success in the UK, won the first British F Atlantic title in 1971 in a works Palliser.

He was very much a coming-man at the time of the Singapore GP, having a BRM contract in his pocket for 1972. BRM had more drivers than hot dinners that season, the Aussies only races were the non-championship May, Oulton Park ‘Gold Cup’ and October, Brands Hatch ‘Victory Race’ in which he finished 4th and 5th respectively.

Despite that, he impressed BRM boss Lou Stanley enough and signed a contract to drive alongside temporary Ferrari escapee Clay Regazzoni in 1973. Stanley’s hiring of Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Niki Lauda’s schillings sidelined him. ‘I knew that I had to be in F1 with a good team by the time I was 30 – and so I thought I’d cracked it. But when I arrived back in Australia for Christmas and picked up a Daily Express at the airport, there it was: Lauda Signs for BRM. I attended races with the team and did a lot of testing, something I always enjoyed – but it was a disappointment’ said Vern in a recent MotorSport interview.

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Sonny Rajah (above) was a Malaysian character who won a lot of friends in Australia in 1974 when he contested our Van Heusen Australian F2 Championship. He used the same March chassis, the ex-Ronnie Petersen Euro F2 Championship winning 712M, he drove to 4th place in Singapore, the misfiring March finishing between Schuppan and Geoghegan.

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Muir from Cooper and Schuppan at Circus Hairpin (AOS)

Rennmax BN3 Ford; Kevin Bartlett and Bob Muir…

Amongst the most numerous cars from one marque were Rennmax BN3’s, these cars raced by Stewart (nee Mildren) as well as his F5000 buddies Kevin Bartlett and Bob ‘Skinny’ Muir.

Regular readers may recall that these cars were built by Sydney’s Bob Britton on the Brabham BT23 jig he created to repair Denny Hulme’s works BT23 damaged in New Zealand during the ’68 Tasman Series.

Bob Muir’s car was, I think, Ken Goodwin’s chassis raced by Bob in Australia during 1971, notably at the Hordern Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm. Muir had a very competitive run in Singapore finishing 3rd in the yellow car.

KB leased Sydney driver Doug Heasman’s car and recalls the weekend well‘…unfortunately I had a DNF result after an off, due to slight damage to the suspension. Fire marshalls had inexplicably placed a fire hose across the road on a blind corner to douse a crashed car, I bounced off the road when the wheels hit it. There was no flag signal of the situation at the flag point before, which caused the problem’ recalled KB recently.

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Kevin Bartlett typically sideways, Rennmax BN3 Ford (AOS)

As to the Thomson Road circuit he related that ‘I quite liked the layout as a real road circuit. It had jungle like bush in many parts, with huge drainage ditches to one side in many places and virtually nil runoffs, certainly it was a challenging place. I remember leading for all but the last few laps one year (1970) from Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari (ex-Amon 1969 Tasman winning Ferrari Dino 246T in which Graeme also won the 1970 Tasman) with a DNF in the Mildren Alfa V8 ‘Yellow Sub’ the car in which KB won the 1969 Macau Grand Prix and Australian Gold Star Series.

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Kevin Bartlett and Graeme Lawrence on the front row of the grid for the 1970 Singapore GP, start/finish straight relatively narrow. KB #5 in Alec Mildren’s Len Bailey designed, Alan Mann Racing built Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa Romeo, here in its ‘definitive’ Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 litre V8 form, as it was originally designed. It was quicker when fitted with the 2 litre Waggott but always ‘sexier’ with the Alfa engine, for me it defines everything that was great about the Tasman 2.5 Formula. GL is in his equally lustworthy, and victorious, ex-Amon Ferrari 246T. #66 is Albert Poon’s Brabham BT30 FVA, the car alongside, I think is John McDonald’s Brabham BT23 FVA (AOS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bartlett leads the field on lap 1 of the 1970 GP into the Thomson Road chicane, Graeme Lawrence is almost obscured he is so close to KB’s FT200 Hewland. Then its Stewart in the Mildren Waggott #6 and McDonald’s Brabham BT23 FVA #16 and the rest. Bartlett won the preliminary 20 lapper on Friday and led the 40 lap GP, in a very spirited close race with Lawrence until lap 37 when a valve spring in the little V8 broke, dropping an inlet valve, KB recalls. The field was small, only 10 cars due to mechanical mishaps in the preliminary, 12 cars took to the grid in the GP but 2 crashed on the warm up lap! so 10 started (AOS)

 

 

 

 

 

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Muir ahead of Bartlett’s red Rennmax BN3 on the Thomson Mile with John McDonald’s ex-Rondel Racing white Brabham BT36 Ford. Back home these two Sydneysiders raced Lola T300’s in the domestic Gold Star Series with Muir immediately on the pace when he started racing F5000 during the ’72 Australian Tasman rounds. KB was the driver who well and truly served it up to Matich when he took delivery of his T300 during the ’72 Gold Star, which Frank won in his A50 Repco (AOS)

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Cooper in his brand new Elfin at the Circus Hairpin, Singapore GP 1968. Great looking cars, the only marginal change to the body, which made the things even sweeter was a ‘wedgier’ element or shape to the radiator cowl, you can see it in the shot above of Cooper’s 600D Repco at Oran Park up above earlier in the article (AOS)

Singapore GP 1968, Garrie Cooper and Elfin 600 ‘6801’…

Garrie’s win in the Elfin 600 prototype ‘6801’ was pretty handy commercially for the likable, talented South Aussie and his band of gifted artisans at Edwardstown, an inner south-western Adelaide suburb.

Elfin 600’s won in FF, F3, F2 and ANF1; no other car in Australia (the world?) ever had that ‘bandwidth’.

Critically the car was built in relatively large numbers and exported providing valuable cashflow, the lifeblood of any business especially a small one financed, as they are typically in Oz, by a mortgage over the business owners home. 600’s were built from 1968-72 and were cars which helped launched a swag of careers not least Larry Perkins who won Australian titles in FF and F2 aboard a 600FF and 600B/E. The following, less successful model, the 620/2/3, were evolutions of the 600 spaceframe design and also sold well.

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‘6801’ in the Thomson Road paddock 1968, mechanical details as per text. The caption notes driver and shortly Elfin 600 customer Henkie Iriawan seated at far left with the car being fettled by the Elfin boys and Loh Yap Ting in white. So impressed was Iriawan that he bought ‘6801’ at the end of the race meeting, and later a 600B to which he fitted a Ford FVA engine. Local ‘shops who looked after the visiting teams were Federated Motors and Borneo Motors, both the preferred facilities (AOS)

Cooper and his team finished ‘6801’, raced it at Calder in Victoria in March and then shipped it to South East Asia. These shots show the beautifully fabricated steel spaceframe chassis, Lotus/Ford Weber fed, DOHC engine, a good 1600 twinc good for circa 170bhp at the time. Gearbox here is a Hewland HD5, production cars usually used Hewland Mk8/9 or FT200 dependent upon application.

The cars first race on its Asian tour was the Selangor GP at Shah Alam, Malaysia on the 6/7 April weekend, Garrie didn’t complete his heat with a broken crown wheel and pinion.

In the Singapore GP, Allan Grice had the gearbox problem, the case of the ex-Mildren/Gardner/Bartlett Brabham BT11A’s Hewland ‘box split causing the end of a good dice between Cooper and Grice. Jan Bussell’s Brabham BT14 Ford was 2nd and Steve Holland’s Lotus 47 Ford sportscar, the event was run to Formula Libre, was 3rd.

‘6801’ was still giving a good account of itself in ANF2 in 1973/4 in Paul Hamilton’s hands amongst all the modern Birrana, March and Bowin monocoques and is still raced by him in historic racing. It always brings a smile to my face whenever I see the little red, immaculate machine given its Elfin historic significance.

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Cooper accelerates out of Circus Hairpin on the way to his ’68 GP win. He is ahead of Allan Grice, later Australian Touring Car ace in a Brabham BT11A Climax and Albert Poon’s Brabham BT21 Alfa. Garrie led from lap 5, Poon retired on lap 10 with a damaged wheel (AOS)

Etcetera…

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(AOS)

Cooper (above) in the 600D Ford ‘7012’, Singapore 1972. He really did make a beautiful car as ‘ugly as a hat full of arseholes’ didn’t he?, no doubt it was effective though. Tyrrell started this F1 trend at the ’71 French GP.

These Elfin 600D experiments flowed directly into the modified noses of the MR5 F5000 cars which Cooper fitted to his, and John McCormack’s car during the Australian Tasman rounds in 1972. See photo below. Those noses became ‘definitive spec’ on MR5’s and the subsequent MR6 F5000. It was only at the very end of the MR5’s long life that Garrie tried a ‘chisel nose’ and side rads on his MR5 when he was assessing the body shape and profiles to be fitted to his 1976 MR8 F5000, a very successful series of cars.

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(Hemer)

This 1972 Oran Park shot above shows the MR5 ‘before and after’; John Walker’s car in front with the original 1971 blade front wing and Cooper’s car further back with the ‘Tyrrell’ type nose, both MR5’s are Repco powered. That’s Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott’s nose shoved up John’s clacker by the way. Interesting that he was racing the little 2 litre car rather than his MR5 at this meeting. What meeting is it folks, its not a Gold Star round, one of you Sydneysiders will know?

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(AOS)

Leo has had an argument with the local geography and lost, ‘sorry Graeme, it was like this…’, no damage to the rest of the little BT30 mind you.

Bibliography…

MotorSport ‘The Forgotten Singapore Grands Prix’ by Paul Fearnley September 2016, The Nostalgia Forum, Kevin Bartlett

Photo Credits…

National Archive of Singapore (AOS), Lynton Hemer

Tailpiece: Cooper accepts the plaudits of the crowd and the victors garland in 1968, neat rear cowl of the  Elfin 600 clear and a feature on all the production cars…

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(AOS)

 

 

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Achille Varzi’s Auto Union Type B pitstop during the 26 May Avus-Rennen, Berlin, 1935…

Note the onboard air-jacks, pretty schmick for 1935, I didn’t realise the technology went back that far, I wonder when they were first used in racing? It’s a nice shot also of the swing axle rear suspension, sprung by torsion bars in 1935 rather than the transverse leaf spring of the 1934 Type A.

Varzi was 3rd in his 4.9 litre V16 beastie, the race won by Luigi Fagioli’s Mercedes Benz W25. The race was a Formula Libre event so the German teams turned up with some streamliners including a Mercedes W25 for Hanns Geier, the cockpit cover of which could only be opened from the outside. No doubt Alfred Neubauer was happy to oblige at each pitstop.

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Avus 1935 heat 1 start; #1 Stuck AU Type B 1st from #4 Rosemeyer AU Type A Streamliner DNF, the Mercedes is Fagioli’s W25 2nd, #9 is Nuvolari’s Alfa Bimotore 6th, #20 Farina’s Maserati 4C 5th, #16 Siena’s Maserati 8C DNF (unattributed)

Continuing the themes of commonsense and bravery!, the meeting was also notable for the first ever car race of German ‘bike ace Bernd Rosemeyer. He ‘blagged his way’ into the Auto Union team for whom he raced from then until his untimely death in early 1938 during a brave land speed record Auto Union run. Read anything about this fella and the word brave will be peppered throughout the article.

The car racer novice plonked the notoriously twitchy 375bhp mid-engined Type B on the front row for his heat on the fastest circuit in the world, the AU’s were seeing 326kmh along Avus’ long straights. He punctured a tyre during his 7 lap heat so didn’t make the final which comprised the first 4 placegetters in each of the heats, but he had well and truly ‘arrived’…

Check out Kolumbus F1’s ’35 Avus race report, this being my favourite Pre-War race results site, have a good poke around if you haven’t visited it before;

http://www.kolumbus.fi/leif.snellman/gp3503.htm#9

Credits…

Kolumbus F1, Ullstein Bild, Zoltan Glass

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Auto Union Type A engine and rear suspension (Zoltan Glass)

Tailpiece: Varzi’s Auto Union Type B 4.9 V16 and Rosemeyer’s AU Type A 4.3 V16 in the 1935 Avus paddock…

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(unattributed)

 

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Shell’s ‘period’ ads are consistently good. I like this 1970 offering from Automobile Year 18 featuring some of my favourite cars, 917 Porker and 312B/512S Fazz… 

The 1970 Le Mans classic was the year in which Porsche broke through to win outright with the 917. Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood won in the #23 short-tail above by 5 laps from Gerard Larrousse and Willy Kauhsen in a long-tail with the 908 long-tail of Rudy Lins and Helmut Marko third. Just to reinforce their dominance the first two cars were powered by 4.5 litre variants of Zuffenhausen’s big flat-12, not the full 5 litres allowed by the regulations of the time.

The best placed of the Ferrari 512S’ was the NART car of Sam Posey and Ronnie Bucknum in 4th, 30 laps adrift of the winning 917.

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The winning 917 at dusk, Le Mans 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Automobile Year, Rainer Schlegelmilch

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Bruce McLaren tested the first of these Cooper T70 chassis at Goodwood in October 1963, lapping in 1:20.5 seconds with an engine well past its best, fiddling with tyre pressures and spring rates. The date of Tim’s test is unclear. Note the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing logo/sticker attached to the cockpit (Getty)

Tim Mayer sizes up the cockpit of  his new Tasman Cooper T70, full of optimism having just tested the car at Goodwood, October 1963…

Tim Mayer is one of motor racing’s many ‘might-have-beens’, cut down in his prime in a Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd Tasman Cooper T70 Climax at Longford, Tasmania on 28 February 1964.

The young American made a huge impact in Australasia during his 1964 tour and is remembered in very fond terms by enthusiasts fortunate enough to see him race the big GP Cooper here.

This article was inspired by John Ellacott’s color shot at Warwick Farm in the body of this article and some Getty Archive photos I tripped over researching something else. Other layers of personal interest are a growing obsession with Longford and that one of my mates, Adam Berryman, restored and owns one of the two Cooper T70 chassis.

I hadn’t intended to explore each chassis in this article but the level of interest created online makes it important to provide this summary of each of the two chassis and their destiny, the details are courtesy of oldracingcars.com and Adam Berryman. Here goes…

Tim raced ‘FL-1-64’ at Levin, Pukekohe, Wigram, Teretonga and Sandown. Bruce decided to swap cars with Tim at Warwick Farm, racing ‘FL-1-64’ at Warwick Farm, Lakeside and Longford.

McLaren raced ‘FL-2-64’ from the Tasman’s commencement at Levin, Pukekohe 1st NZ GP, Wigram 1st, Teretonga 1st and Sandown. Tim raced ‘FL-2-64’ at Warwick Farm, Lakeside and at Longford when it was destroyed in practice.

For his 1965 Tasman campaign Bruce returned with a new Cooper T79 for himself, only one was built, it was tagged ‘FL-1-65’.

‘FL-1-64’, the surviving 1964 chassis raced as above was updated and used very competitively in the ’65 Tasman by 1961 World Champion, Phil Hill. In fact the series was his last in single-seaters. When updated the perfectly good, ‘FL-1-64’ tagged frame was re-tagged with the ‘FL-2-64’ plate off the frame destroyed by Mayer at Longford. This was done at Coopers with the consent of all concerned; John Cooper, McLaren, Teddy Mayer.

It is this chassis, ‘FL-1-64’ now tagged ‘FL-2-64’ which raced on in Australia ‘in period’ by John McDonald and was later acquired by Richard Berryman, and upon his untimely death passed to his son Adam.

Simple isn’t it!

Far from it in fact. The details were only unravelled when Adam Berryman met Wally Willmott, who built the T70’s with Bruce at Coopers, all those years ago. As part of the rigorous process of Berryman getting the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport historic ‘Certificate of Description’ to race the car, the history of  the two chassis was clarified as a result of information shared and debated between Berryman, Doug Nye, (who wrote ‘Cooper Cars’) Willmott and Bryan Miller, the CAMS Historic Eligibility Commission Chairman.

Further detail on each chassis i will cover in an article on the T70’s.

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Bruce in #47 and Tim in the Pukekohe paddock 1964, wonderful shot captures the relaxed atmosphere of this demanding circuit (Getty)

Bruce went on to win the inaugural, 1964 Tasman Series with a fighting second place behind Graham Hill’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT4 Climax at Longford, the series final round He won by 6 points from Jack Brabham’s BT7A and Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT4.

Tim’s accident took place during the Friday afternoon practice session. He was keen to do well of course, racing amongst F1 champions Hill and Brabham, GP winner McLaren as well as host of aspirants; Frank Matich, John Youl, Tony Shelly, Jim Palmer, Greg Cusack, Frank Gardner, Dave Walker and others.

Longford’s 4.5 high-speed miles of undulating, tree and telephone pole lined roads with culverts was completed with a railway crossing, two bridges, a railway viaduct and more. Its blend of Tasmanian roads and topography was unforgiving to say the least. It had many nuances, younger drivers needed miles there to appreciate them. Neither Mayer or fellow Cooper pilot Rocky Tresise, a year later, learned the subtleties of the place and paid the ultimate price as a consequence. Undoubtedly it was a circuit to attack only after deep familiarity.

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Bruce in front of Tim in the Puke paddock, the other Cooper #8 is the very fast and reliable, several years old T55 of Taswegian John Youl. McLaren won the NZGP from Brabham’s BT7A, Ron and Jack’s latest ‘Intercontinental’ tool, and Mayer who was 26 seconds adrift of his team-leader. Cockpit very tight especially for the lanky American, note Bruce’s mini-dashboard to which the essential three Smiths instruments are affixed; tach, oil press, and oil and water temps (Getty)

I asked multiple Australian Gold Star Champion, Taswegian John McCormack if he raced his ex-Brabham BT4 Climax there, ‘I drove there, I wouldn’t say that I raced that first time though’ was John’s typically candid response.

Needless to say these cars were far from ‘safe’; they were of multi-tubular spaceframe construction and had no deformable structures other than the aluminium saddle tanks carrying plenty of Avgas…The 2.5 Coventry Climax 4 potter gave 235 powerful horses, the cars did better than 160mph on ‘The Flying Mile’, more than quick at a place like this. A ‘big one’ was all too often the drivers last in cars of this ilk.

Mayer was on the ‘back section of the track, on the fateful lap. He had completed pit straight, then headed down hill, traversed the left-hand, blind entry left, right Viaduct and crossed the River Esk on Kings Bridge. He was on Union Straight which leads to Longford/Pub Corner, a 90 degree right hander. Tim was using a tall top gear doing better than 160.

The tricky bit of the circuit here, important for lap times was to fly the hump before Longford Corner; critical was landing square and braking almost immediately upon landing but not being too savage on the brakes to avoid giving the car a big fright whilst it was relatively unstable.

The landing was the problem in this case. Perhaps the car landed badly due to wind or being lined up poorly, or perhaps Tim braked too hard before the Cooper had settled enough back onto its springs, either way it was all over in the blink of an eye. ‘The Cooper slewed sideways into a 15ft plane tree. The car split into two; Tim was thrown 50 yards to the other side of the road, instantly breaking his neck’ recounts Barry Green in ‘Longford: The Fast Track Back’.

Eoin Ypung in his report in the April 1964 ‘Motor Racing’ said ‘…Mayers Cooper landed slightly offline just before the right-angled right-hander at the hotel, and slewed sideways into a a tree…’

‘Sports Car World’ reported that ‘Apparently (always a worry when a report says this!) Mayer became airborne off the hump after Kings Bridge. The car landed slightly sideways, Mayer caught it, but the two left hand wheels had got into the dirt. The car then slid into a plane tree and disintegrated throwing Mayer out’. I don’t wish to labour the point but rather use three contemporary reports to look at their similarity and differences, it does not change the result but the actual cause will never precisely be known.

Tim’s death directly lead, as most of you know, to his manager brother Teddy Mayer’s involvement as a shareholder/director of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. Tyler Alexander was part of Mayer’s Tasman crew too, both he and Teddy were huge contributors to the phenomenal McLaren success which followed over the ensuing decade. In that sense, something positive became of the terrible events all those years ago, without in any way trying to make light of Tim’s demise.

Long Weekend at Longford…

Checkout this amazing short documentary on the ’64 Longford carnival. There is some in car footage which superbly illustrates the difficulties of the track, inclusive of the area where Tim came to grief.

 

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Mayer in the Goodwood paddock. The T70 was built in Coopers workshops but was Bruce’ project and conceptual design, designed for 100 mile Tasman events, rather than the GP cars he had previously taken home to the Antipodes. Its now said to be ‘the first McLaren’. The T70 was entirely conventional with spaceframe chassis albeit very narrow for the time, 25 inches wide cockpit, to slip through the air nicely. Front suspension was by upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units with anti-dive geometry, and single top link, lower wishbone with a single top radius rod for fore and aft location. The Coventry Climax FPF 4 potter was at its 2.5 litre GP capacity, down from the 2.7’s widely used during the pre-Tasman F Libre years, output circa 235bhp. The gearbox was a Colotti Type 21 5 speed in ‘FL-2-64’ and Cooper 6 speed in Tim’s ‘FL-1-64’ . This Colotti T21 was famous at McLaren/Cooper’s as the most used gearbox ever having started life in Tommy Atkins Cooper, was then used in the T70 and then later in the Cooper/Zerex Oldsmobile. Fuel tankage comprised 8 gallons under the seat and smaller side tanks either side of the drivers knees holding a total of 7 gallons (Getty)

The editor of New Zealand’s ‘Motorman’ magazine, Donn Anderson wrote this tribute to Tim Mayer soon after his death. This contemporary piece has a wonderful intimacy and familiarity about it written by a journalist upon whom Tim Mayer clearly made a big impact as both a young racer and as a man. It has far more validity than anything any of us can pen ‘from 50 years afar’…

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Mayer, Sandown 1964, ‘FL-1-64’. He was 2nd to Brabham when he started to have fuel feed problems and was overhauled in the last stages by Stillwell and Youl to finish 4th, Brabham won (autopics)

‘Scholar Journalist and Sportsman…Tim Mayer’…

‘It is so very hard to write an appreciation of one who was more than just another racing driver to us. Tim Mayer was a newcomer to international racing and although we knew him for only five weeks in New Zealand, it was not difficult to make an accurate appraisal of the 26-year-old American.

His death during a practice session for the final round of the Tasman Championship at the Longford circuit in Tasmania on February 28 was a sudden shock to many. Twelve months ago he was practically unknown and even of late his appearance to some was much of a novelty.

Tim was not the ‘boy’s book’ ideal of a racing driver. He looked more the university or law student figure and, indeed, he did have a very sound education. Tall and slender – 6 foot and 145 lbs – Timmy was married in 1961 to charming Garril.

He was born to a wealthy family in Pennsylvania, and it soon became obvious that he was talented in both studying and athletic fields. Some six years ago he went to his first motor race at Sebring with a cousin and was immediately taken in with the sport. He entered his first race in an Austin Healey in 1959. ‘It was wet and I was very much a newcomer to motor racing,’ Tim told The Motorman recently. ‘I spun trying to change gears down a straight!’ The young driver competed in 5 of 13 national races that initial year with the Healey and finished fourth in the national class standings

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Mayer Pukekohe, small size of the car accentuated by the way Tim sits out of it! T70 chassis # FL-1-64 (Getty)

Even then Timmy was backed and assisted by his brother, Teddy, who has accompanied him throughout his career with cars. Of his early racing he says it was mostly ‘crash, burn and try to learn.’ For 1960 Tim had a new Lotus 18 junior and in eight races he was second five times. The car was wrecked when Timmy ran into a horse barn at Louisville, thus bringing the year’s racing to an end. At that meeting he met Dr Frank Falkner, Cooper’s agent in the U.S., who was to help the young American. By the age of 22 Tim had a degree in English literature from Yale University but it was time for the two-year army stint.

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The Long and The Short of It: Tim in the shades at rear and Teddy in between the well nourished lads at Cumberland in 1962. Teddy’s flair for team management was clear early on; ‘Revem Racing’ ran Tim, Peter Revson and Bill Smith in FJ in ’62. Tim WAS fast and Teddy managed his brother well (unattributed)

Of his first run in a single-seater Tim said: ‘I had overturned the Lotus 18 within 10 minutes of driving the thing and finished hanging upside down strapped in with my seat belt. Everyone uses belts, even for open cars, in the States, so when I went to Europe it took a while to become used to not being tied in.’

Tim was able to continue pursuing his desire to become a top-line driver in the army, however, as the officers appreciated the value of a quick corporal at motor race meetings. He used an FJ Cooper and while based in Puerto Rico was able to race almost every weekend in many parts of the country.

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Tim Mayer Cooper T59 Ford from Peter Revson in a similar car, first and second. #106 Bill Smith Lotus 20 Ford. ‘Jaycees Cup’ Cumberland Airport, Maryland 13 May 1962.Tim won the US FJ Championship in 1962 from Floyd Aaskov and Walt Hansgen, Revvie was 5th, Augie Pabst 6th and Mark Donohue and Roger Penske equal 9th In 1963 Teddy (and Bruce?) introduced Tim to Ken Tyrrell who ran him in a handful of European and British BARC FJ Championship rounds in a Cooper T67 BMC, not the engine of choice at all. Even tho the season was well over, the contenders dialled into their cars, to say the least, Tim was in amongst the top 6 Cosworth engine cars.  Mayer’s European FJ campaign comprised a fast blast through France in mid-year, he contested the GP de Rouen, Coupe International de Vitesse des Juniors, the FJ support race during the French GP weekend at Reims and Trophee d’Auvergne at Clermont Ferrand on June 23, 30 and July7 respectively. At each meeting he was ‘first in the BMC Class’ in 7th,8th and 4th in his Tyrrell Cooper T67, the races won by the Ford powered Brabham BT6’s of Paul Hawkins, Denny Hulme and Jo Schlesser. The BARC British championship leader board that year included amongst its Top 13 Peter Arundell, Denny Hulme, Frank Gardner, Richard Attwood, David Hobbs, Paul Hawkins, Mike Spence, Alan Rees, Peter Procter, John Rhodes and Brian Hart amongst others, Tim was 13th with a point. That he shone through in a tiny number of races amongst this lot says a lot! (unattributed)

The big break came in 1962 when he was acclaimed the most improved and outstanding driver of the year. With a brand new Cooper junior he won the United States SCCA Formula Junior Championship. These results landed him an entry in the US Grand Prix with a third car owned by the Cooper works. He was the fastest of the privateers in practice but the gear lever came unstuck during the race.

Last year Tim was off to Europe to join the Ken Tyrrell racing team. Although the Cooper Juniors were down on power compared with the Lotus Fords, he was able to gain much experience all over England and Europe. ‘There is much more competition in Europe compared with the States. Formula Junior racing in Europe is like Russian roulette. The BMC engines were outdated and if we finished fourth or fifth we were doing well. The Cooper had little power but fantastic cornering – superior to the Lotus.’

He crashed during the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1963 after a brake caliper broke and suffered a badly twisted neck, and he also had a bad shunt at Silverstone. Driving his own 2.7-litre Cooper Monaco, Tim was third to Penske and Salvadori at the international Brands Hatch meeting last year. He also had a number of races with Cooper’s Minis. “I had a lot of fun with Sir John Whitmore – he must be the second best known driver in the U.S. next to Clark

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Tim Mayer Pukekohe (Getty)

At Riverside last year he led the 2-litre class with a new Lotus 23B until heat forced his retirement, but he won his class and finished 5th overall at Laguna Seca.

He was made two Christmas presents – a drive with one of the McLaren Coopers in the Australasian series, and number two man in the Cooper works formula one team for 1964.

When Tim first drove the 2.5 he found it a different kettle of fish to the juniors. ‘With the little cars you have no power to get out of trouble.’ So Tim, Garril, Teddy and mechanic Tyler Alexander came south to New Zealand with the McLaren team – and they won many friends. He was second at Levin, took third place at Pukekohe, but had trouble at Wigram and couldn’t do any better than 8th position. At Invercargill he finished second to his team-mate and was fourth in the Australian GP after losing second position with fuel trouble. He was third at Warwick Farm.

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Mayer, ‘Warwick Farm 100’ 16 February 1964, Homestead Corner, T70 ‘FL-2-64’ : Tim qualified just behind Bruce at The Farm, his first time at the highly technical circuit. Peter Windsor on his blog ‘…clearly remembers Timmy biffing the back of Bruce’s Cooper…on the opening lap at Creek Corner. Team leader nudged by his number 2! Both raced on though and finished 2nd and 3rd (Jack won in his BT7A by 4 tenths of a second from Bruce with Tim 10 seconds adrift-not bad in this company on that track, familiar turf to the other two blokes)…I watched them all afternoon. Timmy was always fast, always aggressive punching the throttle out of Creek (corner, a hairpin), applying the opposite lock with crisp precision. Bruce by comparison, was only slightly more fluid. Timmy, clearly was fast’ was Windsor’s conclusion (John Ellacott)

Consistent placings resulted in the American driver finishing third on points in the New Zealand races for the Tasman Championship, behind McLaren and Hulme, with 16 points.

Timmy – the nephew of Governor Scranton of Pennsylvania – had a real American outlook to motor racing: he wanted to go to the top. He was perhaps fortunate in having financial means to purchase the best machinery during his early career, but he also developed the ability to handle same. Money cannot buy driving skill.

From his ‘varsity days when he worked as a disc jockey on radio stations he was a keen journalist and wrote for a number of publications.

Not only was Timmy a fine driver and scholar: he was also an enthusiastic athlete. Water skiing, squash and other activities were the order of the day in New Zealand when other business was cleared.

He was genuinely interested in motor racing, no matter where. He spoke to me at length on the unfortunate situation of import duty and restrictions in this country and said it must stifle the sport here. ‘An FJ Cooper can be imported into the States for less than 1200 pounds, whereas it costs more than twice that here.’

Wherever the Mayers went in this country they gained respect. Tim, with his broad accent, was a fine ambassador for his country and a true enthusiast. There was always time to talk to anyone – no matter how small they were on the circuit, or how insignificant their name might be.

Quiet, unassuming, and not likely to be noticed in a crowd of drivers, Timmy Mayer left his mark in this country. It would seem very cruel that we should lose a fine driver who had come so far in such a short time. We pay tribute to Tim Mayer and his kin, Garril and Teddy who helped him so much in the sport he loved’.

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Garril and Tim Mayer at Warwick Farm 1964, T70 ‘FL-2-64’ (autopics)

 

McLaren himself spoke of Mayer in the Autosport column he wrote together with journalist Eoin Young;

‘Intelligent and charming, Timmy had made dozens of friends during his career.  As often occurs, to look at him you wouldn’t take him for a racing driver.  You had to know him, to realize his desire to compete, to do things better than the next man, be it swimming, water-skiing or racing.

So when, during second practice at Longford, he crashed at high speed and we knew immediately that it was bad, in our hearts we felt that he had been enjoying himself and ‘having a go’.

The news that he died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us.  But who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his 26 years than many people do in a lifetime?

It is tragic, particularly for those left.  Plans half-made must now be forgotten and the hopes must be rekindled.  Without men like Tim, plans and hopes mean nothing.To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy.  I can’t say these things well, but I know this is what I feel to be true.  It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability.  Life is measured in terms of achievement, not in years alone.’

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Love this casual shot on the Teretonga grid, T70 ‘FL-1-64’. Famously the most southern circuit on the planet. Tyler Alexander and Tim await the off. It was a great race for ‘Team McLaren’ with Bruce over the line by a tenth of a second from Tim with Kiwi Jim Palmer 3rd in a Cooper T53. That Tim was quick was undeniable, his pace in these big, fast GP cars was immediate (Alexander)

Bibliography…

Article by Donn Anderson in the April 1964 issue of New Zealand’s ‘Motorman’ magazine, oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum, Stephen Dalton, Ray Bell, Bryan Miller

Credits…

John Ellacott, Getty Images, oldracingcars.com, Tyler Alexander, autopics.com, Stephen Dalton Collection, Euan Sarginson

Etcetera…

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Tim Mayer chats to some young enthusiasts/admirers at Levin (Sarginson/Dalton)

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Tim all loaded up in the T70, chatting with Kiwi international, Tony Shelly ‘adopted’ by the Davison’s as Ray Bell put it, complete with one of Lex Davison’s ‘Ecurie Australie’ tops Pukekohe 1964 (Getty)

 Tailpiece

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Tim Mayer Goodwood, October 1963. Trying to jam his lanky frame into the confines of a car designed around Bruce’ more compact dimensions! Which chassis?, i’m not game to guess! (Getty)

 

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I ‘spose the reason for the lack of high speed butt shots like this is a shortage of vantage points for photographers to capture the incredible distortion of Goodyears upon their ‘Melmags’ and suspension geometry and componentry doing their job, or not!…

Carlos Reutemann is hustling his Brabham BT37 through one of Osterreichring’s very fast sweepers on his way to a DNF with fuel injection dramas on lap 14 of the ’72 Austrian Grand Prix. He started the car an excellent 5th on the grid.  The race was won from pole by Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus 72D Ford on his way to his first title.

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Reutemann BT37 from Peter Revson McLaren M19C Ford 3rd, Chris Amon Matra MS120D 5th then the two Surtees TS9B Fords of Mike Hailwood 4th and Tim Schenken 11th. Austria ’72 (unattributed)

This design, the first in the ‘Bernie Brabham Regime’, Ecclestone having bought Motor Racing Developments from Ron Tauranac at the end of 1971, was Ralph Bellamy’s re-work of Ron’s ’71 BT34 ‘Lobster Claw’ with conventional front radiator and narrower tracks front and rear. BT37 wasn’t the marques greatest car, Gordon Murray’s arrival the precursor to a decade of Brabham’s befitting the great name created by Ron and Jack, from his 1973 BT42.

The Brabham BT37 was a typical ‘kit car’ of the era; aluminium monocoque chassis, Ford Cosworth 3 litre DFV V8, Hewland FGA400 5 speed transaxle and a host of other bits and pieces provided by sub-contractors based in England’s Thames Valley and surrounds.

Carlos and Graham Hill raced the two BT37’s built in 1972, the cars best result Carlos’ 4th in the Canadian Grand Prix…

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Reutemann, BT37 Osterreichring 1972 (unattributed)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Carlos ahead of Chris Amon’s Matra MS120C 15th in the ‘Lobster Claw’ one-off Brabham BT34 Ford, upon which the BT37 was based, South African GP, March 1972 DNF. The Ferrari 312B2’s of Andretti 4th and Ickx 8th are further back…

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I like these photos which rather reminded me of  impressionists work. A Shell promotional exercise but rather good all the same…

The F1 Ferrari’s are the 1951 375 4.5 litre V12 and 2015 V6 turbo-hybrid SF15-T.

The banking photo shoot was after qualifying on 5 September 2015 with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in attendance. The race was won by the dominant 2015 combo, Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid , Sebastian was 2nd and Kimi 5th in the SF15-T.

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Credits…

Bryn Lennon

Tailpiece…

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(Adelaide Advertiser)

Jim Gullan dealing with a delicate slide on turn-in to Kayannie Corner , Ballot Oldsmobile. He is on the way to winning the 12 lap 105 Mile Road Race on the fearsome, Lobethal, Barossa Valley circuit…

The race was held on New Years Day, 1 January 1948, the Victorian won from Granton Harrison’s Phillips Ford V8 Spl and Ron Egerton’s MG TC Spl which is in shot behind Gullan above.

Amongst the 21 ‘South Australian 100’ entries were later champion drivers Tony Gaze, Bill Patterson, Doug Whiteford and Ern Seeliger as well as then current fast-man John Barraclough.

The limit man was D Howard’s MG PA with a handicap of 16.5 minutes, Jim Gullan’s Ballot was away at the 7.05 mark, Doug Whiteford off 2.5 minutes with the scratch car Denneston’s Itala Mercury Spl.

Whiteford stunned onlookers with an 85mph standing lap, Ern Seeliger was an early retirement after being badly baulked at over 110mph, assaulting two trees in the process. The car was destroyed, the owner presented the rooted chassis and body to a local farmer! Ernie suffered only a bruised wrist and severe shaking and lived to be a formidable engineer and competitor until late in the 1950’s.

By lap 4 the positions on handicap were the Harrison Ford Spl from Ron Edgerton’s MG TC and Whitefords Ford Spl, the latter on a path, at the speed he was going, to win the race before a rear tyre threw a tread. With no spare the Melbourne driver was out.

By lap 7 Gullan led from local driver Harrison in the ex-Phillips Ford V8 from Skinner in the Ballot Ford and Andrews Austin 6 in 4th. Barraclough withdrew due to low oil pressure on lap 9 and Bill Patterson was out of fuel on the same lap.

On the last lap Gullan still lead by several hundred metres from Harrison and Edgerton’s MG TC. Harrison did the races fastest time and Whiteford its fastest lap at 6 min 7 seconds, 88mph and won the Lobethal 50, the final event of the program.

Ballot Oldsmobile…

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Jim Gullan, #21 Ballot Olds, an MG then the Dennis Curran Curran Ford V8 Spl DNF Australian Grand Prix, in the Nuriootpa paddock, Barossa Valley, South Australia 1950. Gullan 3rd outright and 1st on handicap (State Library of SA)

Jim Gullan replaced his Ballot Ford in 1944 with a 2 litre Ballot bought nearby to his families garage in South Melbourne, a chassis for the car was designed and built by Gullan styled on the ERA, the racer was fitted with an Oldsmobile engine and gearbox.

Noted journalist and historian Ray Bell; ‘Jim Gullan’s Ballot will always rank as one of those cars that looks the part of an Australian Special. The raked nose, the heavily drilled chassis, steering wheel close to the chest and mandatory straps over the bonnet, its wire wheels carried a car that mixed European and American as well as any other’.

Gullan’s book, ‘As Long As It Has Wheels,’ is a fascinating account of a drivers career which evolved from road racer pre-war, to racing an Alta in Europe after hostilities ceased, through being a pioneer of drag-racing in Oz in the 1960’s and finally as a club racer in his dotage living on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Amazing. Jims book covers the Ballot in detail.

Gullan’s Ford V8 powered Indianapolis Ballot, his new acquisition was a 2 litre with sohc engine and knock-on wire wheels, it had a poor body and as inspection proved, the chassis was in even worse shape.

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Gullan, AGP, Nuriootpa 1950, 3rd place outright and 1st on handicap, Ballot Olds. Doug Whiteford won in his Ford V8 Spl, ‘Black Bess’ (unattributed)

Soon after buying it a workmate offered money for the engine, gearbox and radiator to fit into a Bugatti chassis. Said Gullan, ‘It seemed a dubious exercise but I suppose any engine was better than none.’  Having just the chassis left, he was reluctant to go for another Ford engine having had bad experiences with the V8, so an ad for an Oldsmobile unit and ‘box (unused spares purchased for a taxi) overcame his problems. It was to have triple Ford carbies and extractors.

A chassis was made styled on the ERA but lower in profile, and used nothing from the Ballot chassis such was its parlous condition. ‘By the time the Ballot Olds was completed, about the only parts left of the original Ballot were the wheel hubs. The only reason the Ballot name was retained was for (ease of) registration purposes’ wrote Gullan.

It new chassis was 760mm shorter and 230mm narrower than the Ballot, designed to be ‘strong in the middle,’ boxed and drilled liberally ‘as on the SSK’ for lightness. ‘To lower the car new, new springs and hangers were made to sit outside the chassis rails. To stop front axle movement and to assist steering geometry, the spring shackles were located at the front of the spring instead of at the rear, this also assisted the brake reaction cables to keep the axle from turning whilst braking. Wheels were built to suit the wider, smaller diameter, modern tyres.’

With new cross members the engine and gearbox were installed into the chassis and the body shape was outlined using welding rods and strands of string.

Bob Baker lived only a few doors away from Gullan and built the body round an angle iron frame, which was screwed to the chassis with small reject aircraft bolts. A deliberate effort was made to reduce frontal area, hence the car’s low appearance. Quick-fill petrol and radiator caps were fabricated by Jim and the instruments (like the carbies) came from army disposals.

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Gullan at 16th Rob Roy, 2/5/1948 Ballot Olds. Superb looking body built by Bob Baker, the first of many racing cars he built bodies for. Gullan’s design was ingenious in its amalgam of parts and a consequence of his vast experience with previous cars (Thomas)

With Baker’s assistance a 3 carb inlet manifold and extractor exhaust system was made and a Ford radiator shell reworked to look like an ERA, the gorgeous little car was painted blue with silver wheels. Finned alloy drums off a spare 2-litre Ballot Jim bought and sold were the first of many modifications over the years.

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Ballot Olds cockpit shot taken at the SA Grand Prix 70 year celebration at Lobethal in 2008 (Veloce)

The Ballot’s first meeting was at Greensborough Hillclimb in 1945 (see below), teething problems were limited to the throttle linkage bending and as a consequence full power could not be applied. The rear axle ratio was made taller, the drawings for the 3.5:1 ratio done by Gullan.

The first post-war race was at Ballarat at the beginning of 1947. Gullan had a good meeting including winning the Ballarat Cup, after this meeting the cars braking system was converted to hydraulic operation.

The next race was the Lobethal 100 covered at the articles outset, ‘The main reason for my quick times was my familiarity with the track. I had driven there in 1938 and 1939…in handicap racing it was our policy (Jim and his time-keeper wife Christine) and although the handicappers kept putting us up the field, we just made the car quicker’.

Gullan was a close friend of and in business with Doug Whiteford. When Doug imported an Edelbrock cam and heads (he’d melted a pair of alloy heads at Lobethal in 1940!) Bruce Rehn copied the cam profile and lift for the Olds.

By the time of the Point Cook AGP (1948) ‘…at a Dutch auction at the Light Car Club before the race, the Ballot was selected as the car most likely to win, a bad omen as far as i was concerned’,  quipped Gullan.

For the AGP there was yet another higher lift cam lifting rpm’s to 6000 and special ratios in the gearbox. As a result of the intense heat at Point Cook, with the Olds running so cool and well, the engine was subsequently bored by 5mm and also fitted with an enlarged sump with cooling tubes. Gullan had tyre problems in practice, but retired the car in the extreme heat after 15 laps. ‘I finished up sitting next to Alf Barrett, in the back of a van getting cooling down treatment’.

At Fishermans Bends first meeting Gullan won the Victorian TT, but the stop-start nature of the airfield circuit made it clear the cars brakes needed development. Jack Pearce at Repco PBR supplied some light commercial brake drums and made appropriate shoes with aluminium backing plates. ‘…They were so powerful they were bending the chassis making the car almost unsteerable when braking on the rough roads. The only thing to do was to apply them gently’.

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Gullan, 10th Rob Roy 17/6/1946, the bucolic Christmas Hills are pretty much the same today (Thomas)

In the months leading up to the 1950 Australian Grand Prix at Nuriootpa the Ballot was run in various minor events to get it sorted. Jim started 21st of 43 starters. The race was billed as a handicap race, Gullan won the handicap but not the Grand Prix which was awarded to Doug Whiteford in Black Bess. Jim was not happy about the result and emphasis given to the ‘fastest time’ as against the ‘handicap winner’, the AGP having been run as a handicap since it’s start at Phillip Island.

‘Normally the car would run 130 miles on a tank of fuel, but with the car developing more power, it was decided that if i was far enough in the lead i would pull in for a quick stop to add 10 litres. This i did and drove over the line to win what i thought was the Australian Grand Prix. There were still 20 litres of fuel left in the tank at the end of the race’ and therefore he could have completed the race without a stop.

‘The Adelaide Advertiser ran a big headline ‘Big Car Handicap to J Gullan’, the article didn’t even mention that Doug Whiteford had finished in 5th place. At the presesntation i got the wreath, the trophy and the prize money, Doug received equal money for fastest time. Once again i had driven a copybook race, but was later disappointed it would not be recorded as a Grand Prix win. Sometimes i wish i had just gone for broke…’

A counterpoint to Gullan’s viewpoint is contained in ‘The History of The AGP’ which makes it clear, quoting the Australian Motor Sports contemporary magazine coverage of the race. It says, that consistent with the 1949 policy of the Australian Automobile Association, from 1949 the AGP would be a scratch title,’The Australian Grand Prix will be run as a handicap but the Grand Prix winner will be the competitor finishing with the fastest time for the race’, that is, Doug Whiteford in his Ford V8 Special Black Bess.

Gullan raced the car one last time at Fishermans Bend before selling it.

Interestingly the two great mates, Whiteford and Gullan who had developed their clever specials together drove one anothers cars one evening at Albert Park ‘Dougs impression of the Ballot; very smooth high revving engine, steering and brakes too sensitive, difficult to drive!’ wrote Gullan. Albert Park is a public park, it would have been interesting to be going for a post-dinner walk and seen two Grand Prix cars being driven at high speed around the sleepy confines of Albert Park, the first GP there was still several years away at the time!

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Love this shot for its vibe, Fishermans Bend, October 1953. Greg McEwin HRG left, O’Donohue’s now red Ballot Oldsmobile and Otto Stone’s MG K3 (SLV)

It was now 1950, the Ballot had reached the end of its development, and Jim decided to race in Europe, an interesting story for another time. Alan Watson and John Cummins (the latter very sadly died only last weekend) bought the car for 850 pounds.

Ray Bell, a writer of the ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ puts Gullan’s wonderful car and his design and development skills in context ‘The car was Gullan’s expression of all he’d learned from observing racing and running his own Salmson, Wolseley, Austin and Ballot V8′.

‘Considering just how it came together – the bits that just happened to be there, the chance acquisitions – it worked very well. Gullan was a handicap specialist, with his wife Christine timekeeping and acting as strategist, and they beat the handicaps with monotonous regularity. He comments that he just had to keep on making the car quicker to keep on beating them, so it was well developed when sold to Alan Watson.’

‘He mentions getting airborne over the top of the hill approaching Lobethal at 110mph, touching 116mph on the straight and holding it flat all the way from Lobethal to within sight of the pits at that early stage of its development. By the time it won the handicap section of the 1950 AGP it must have been a fairly quick car’.

The car passed through many hands over the next 20 years, raced as late as 1963 at Calder, Victoria. It has been used since 1970 in historic events, and is still alive today in Frank Moore’s Collection of Australian Specials in Queensland.

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Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds, Greensborough Hillclimb. Crowd control and safety barriers well to the fore! (Thomas)

Greensborough Hillclimb…

Its interesting this internet thingy, data and images are being uploaded all the time. When I wrote the article about the Lobethal AGP 1950 12 months or so ago some of the images in this article weren’t there, but information is being continually shared through this wonderful medium.

The shot above is of Jim’s car at the second Greensborough Hillclimb on 7 October 1945, an Australian Motorsport article describes the casual nature and speed at which a new venue could be created all those years ago!

The Australian Motor Sports Club sought the use of the LCCA’s Rob Roy Hillclimb to run its first post war event. When the LCCA refused the club permission they sought other venues. Every alternative ‘smooth enough and close to Melbourne’ failed until the club secretary George Beecham fluked on a market gardner, an ex-motorcycle rider…His property had a very stiff hill. It was decided at the club meeting on the Thursday night before the Sunday scheduled for the climb to hold it at Greensborough on the market gardners hill. The owner of the property Bill Halliburton, did everything in his power to knock the hill into shape for the club…to get the hill right in time’.

Try getting a hillclimb built and certified by the FIA/CAMS in two days today, different times weren’t they!

Jim Gullan recalls the event in his book, he was Vice President and Doug Whiteford President of the AMSC. The two great mates loaded up a utility filled with reject concrete slabs from the Hume Pipe Company, for whom they worked and set off for ‘Orchard Farm’ to lay out a starting grid, completing the exercise in pouring rain.

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A couple of young-bloods take to the Greensborough Hill to get a better vantage point, marshalling/start area below. Public address system you can just see to the bottom left, crowd numbers would be interesting to know in immediate post war-starved of entertainment, Melbourne (Thomas)

So much rain fell on the Saturday the event looked to be a washout but the can-do attitude of the members, starved of competition during the war years prevailed and after the track dried competition took place with FTD going to Ern Seeliger’s Ford V8 Spl. (the car destroyed in the SA 100 event in 1948 described at this articles outset)  It was the union of an Itala chassis, with large drum brakes, a 3:1 diff ratio powered by a modified ’38 Ford V8 modified with high compression heads and a Vertex magneto providing the spark. The engine was mounted low in the chassis, the car raced in chassis form devoid of body.

‘Greensborough No 2 was just as well organised and ran as smoothly as the No 1 event was bad. Everything seemed to go right, even the Melbourne weather! The hill had been prepared at some very substantial cost to the club and was as smooth as a table-a good table too’, you will note from the photographs that the surface was gravel.

The AMS report notes the pace got hotter as the day progressed with several cars leaving the track, notably an elderly Morris Spl, a Vauxhall, Stud Beasley’s Speedcar and Ted Gray’s Ford V8 powered Alfa Romeo 6C1750, Ted broke the diff of the car in the process.

Ken Wylie set fastest time of the day in his Speedcar but ‘in doing so rushed through a fence after he had completed his climb, cleaned up half a dozen push-bikes leaning against said fence, bowling over a gum tree and ended up in a ditch…’.

Gullan notes ‘…luckily we had plenty of money to be able to compensate the cycle owners…We were not prepared for the huge crowd that turned up. The narrow country road was blocked for kilometres, many never reached the entry gate. The entry fee was a ten shilling note, to get his share the farmer stood at the gate and stuffed his shirt full of banknotes (not much different to BC Ecclestone today really). By the time the hundreds of spectators had left, the place was in a shambles, the irate farmer said “never again”, but we figured a shirt full of banknotes more than made up for it!’

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Unknown Wolseley and driver, Greensborough (Thomas)

Doug Whiteford fitted dual rear wheels to his Ford V8 engined 1950 AGP winning special ‘Black Bess’ but struggled to get traction, as did Ern Seeliger’s car the AMS report noted. That report concludes by listing other competitors cars; Ken Hume’s 8/60 Buick engined Talbot, Tom Hollindrake’s MG s/c, Les Phillips Austin Spl. Gullan’s Ballot Olds only had two runs, as the event organiser he was preoccupied, Bob Chamberlain’s Chamberlain 8 and Stud Beasley’s Willys 77 Speedcar also competed.

What is interesting is the way a large number of hillclimbs relative to the population of Melbourne at the time, popped up in an arc on the cities outskirts from the north-east to the east of the city; Greensborough is 23 km from town, Templestowe 19, ‘Rob Roy’ at Christmas Hills 43Km and the two climbs at Lilydale, the Davisons ‘Killara Park’ property and Ern Abbott’s ‘Lakeland’ circa 45 Km from Melbourne. They weren’t all running concurrently mind you, some were. I suppose the reasons are availability of the right terrain and proximity to the city for competitors.

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Frank Moore, who still owns the Ballot Olds, at the Lobethal carnival in 2008, lines of Gullan’s car still look great don’t they? The ERA influence clear (Veloce)

Bibliography…

‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan, ‘History of The Australian GP’ G Howard and Ors

Ray Bell on The Nostalgia Forum, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ February 1946

Credits…

Adelaide Advertiser, George Thomas, Veloce Magazine

Tailpiece: Gullan and Ballot Olds, Geelong Road, Australian Motor Sports Club, sprints, 4 August 1946…

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(Thomas)

 

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(oldracephotos.com)

Few drivers knew Warwick Farm like Frank Matich and Kevin Bartlett…

They raced at the track from its earliest days, it’s first meeting in 1960 I wonder?, and certainly the last international meeting, sadly the 1973 Tasman round run 12 months after the photos here were taken, Steve Thomson won that very wet race in a Chevron B24 Chev.

Here the two Sydneysiders are attacking The Esses during the 1972 F5000 Tasman round, the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ on 13 February. Matich was 1st in his Matich A50 Repco and KB 3rd in his McLaren M10B Chev, not really a front-line tool by that stage but still quick enough in Kevin’s highly skilled hands to win at Teretonga, the final ’72 Kiwi round, a fortnight before.

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Bartlett and original owner Niel Allen had a lot of success in this McLaren M10B ‘400-02’, car now in the tender, loving hands of Alan Hamilton, also a former Australian champion .KB here during the ’72 Tasman race. A Lola T300 would replace the car in time for the domestic Gold Star Series (unattributed)

Matich didn’t have a good Tasman, the A50 was quick enough to win the series but FM didn’t have a lot of luck, the championship was convincingly won by Kiwi arch driver/constructor rival Graham McRae in the Leda/McRae GM1 Chev penned by Len Terry.

Click here for an article on the Matich F5000 cars including the 1972 Tasman Series:

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Credits…

oldracephotos.com, Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece: The Lola T300 was ‘a chick’ with a great arse and hips, visually arresting…

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Frank Gardner and Lola T300 Chev ahead of Frank Matich in the ’72 WF pitlane for tweaks. FG won the ’72 NZ GP in this T300 at Pukekohe, his last single-seater win, I think (Bob Williamson)

 

Frank Gardner split Matich and Bartlett, he was second at Warwick Farm in the factory T300. Frank was not exactly unfamiliar with WF either, mind you no-one would have done more laps around it than Matich, Frank tested tyres for Firestone, and later Goodyear and his cars a lot!

Between Gardner and Bob Marston they concepted a small F5000 based on Lola’s F2 tub. By placing the big water radiators, you needed plenty of coolant to look after the needs of a big Chev, at the cars hips they gave the car, and the T330/332 which followed it their most distinctive and attractive feature. Effective too in terms of aerodynamics and centralising weight, an article on the T300 is one for another time…

Finito…