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(LAT)

Stirling Moss leads the 1956 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in his works Maser 250F…

The dark, gloomy, wet weather shot could be in Europe. Stirling won the 80 lap, 250 mile race held on 2 December 1956 by a lap from teammate Jean Behra, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo, Reg Hunt’s Maser 250F and Stan Jones similar car.

The excitement of this post Melbourne Olympic Games race meeting run over two weekends I covered in an article about the Australian Tourist Trophy which Moss also won the week before, in another works Maser, this time a 300S, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2016/01/29/1956-australian-tourist-trophy-albert-park/

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Moss during the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix metting in Rob Walker’s Cooper T45 Climax. He raced sans the rear engine cover in the final, such was the heat, so this is a practice shot or heat (Fairfax)

 

This short article is pictorial in nature, I rather like the justaposition between his win in the conventional, state of the art 250F in 1956 and victory 2 years later in the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix. This time  Stirling was in a paradigm shifting, mid-engined Cooper, in this case a T45 Climax. He took the first modern era, mid-engined GP win on January 19 1958 in a Cooper T43 Climax at the Buenos Aires circuit in Argentina.

Moss chills in the Albert Park paddock before the off in 1956 (S Landrigan)

 

 

Stirling won that 32 lap, 100 mile Albert Park, Melbourne GP race run in super hot conditions on 30 November 1958 from Jack Brabham’s Cooper T45 Climax 2.2 FPF.  Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S and Bib Stillwell’s Maser 250F were third and fourth.

The race was a Formula Libre event attended by over 70000 spectators. Brabham led away at the start but Moss soon passed him and moved steadily away keeping a strong lead despite easing in the final laps given his cars water temperature, which was off the Smiths clock!

(R Jones)

 

 

Melbourne GP start, Jack gets the jump in the centre from Moss on the left, both in Cooper T45’s and Stan Jones Maserati 250F.

Stirling’s car was fitted with an Alf Francis built Coventry Climax FPF, 4 cylinder DOHC, 2 valve, Weber carbed engine of 2051cc, it was a ‘screamer’ with trick cams and crank. Jack’s T45 toted a 2.2 litre FPF, revised ‘Ersa’ 5 speed ‘box and double wishbone rear suspension.

 

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The two new-fangled Cooper T45’s were the class of the field, Moss and Jack took a heat apiece. The natural order of things in Australia changed very rapidly, just like everywhere else, albeit the last Australian Grand Prix won by a front-engine car was Stan Jones win at Longford several months after the Albert Park meeting, on 2 March 1959.

 

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Jack’s Cooper being fettled in the Albert Park paddock in 1958, probably a practice day shot, T45 Climax (G Rhodes via KBY191)

 

Brabham was still on the rise as a driver, he raced in F2 in 1958 (and in the F2 class of some GP’s) but took fourth in the Monaco classic, sixth in the French, seventh in the Portuguese and eighth in the Dutch GP at Zandvoort-all in works F1 Cooper T45’s. His time was shortly to come of course in 1959 and 1960.

 

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Moss takes the chequered flag in his Cooper T45, Melbourne GP, November 1958 (LAT)

 

Sadly, the 30 November 1958 Albert Park race was the last race meeting until the modern Albert Park era which commenced with the first of the F1 Grands Prix in 1996- or more precisely with some historic events in the years before which ‘softened up the public’ to the concept. The use of the park for motor racing became enmeshed in fifties Victorian State politics, the net result was the end of racing for nearly forty years.

Barry Green observed in his book, ‘Glory Days’, ‘In many ways that final meeting represented a changing of the guard. The two nimble, little rear-engined cars had blitzed the field, underscoring the fact that the writing was on the wall for the big, front engined cars’.

‘So too, the days of the wealthy sporting amateur, of racing for a silver cup and the fun of it all. Professionalism had arrived- to see that, one had to look no further than the darkening sky over Albert Park; to a hovering helicopter, about to pluck Stirling Moss from the crowd and whisk him off to Essendon Airport and connections to the Bahamas for the Nassau Speed Week’.

 

Start of one of the heats won by Brabham’s Cooper T45 on this side. In the middle is Ted Gray’s big, booming Tornado Chev with Bill Patterson in the white Cooper T43 Climax (R Jones)

 

Checkout this fantastic BP film, supporters of Moss’ attendance at the event, of the 1958 Melbourne GP meeting…

 

 

Bibliography…

‘Glory Days-Albert Park 1953-8’ Barry Green

 

Credits…

stirlingmoss.com, LAT, Fairfax Media, Graham Rhodes, Simon Landrigan, Robert Jones

 

Tailpiece: And a fine tail it is too. Moss, Maser 250F and mechanic in more recent times. ‘I won’t remember your number, text me’ is the gist of the conversation…

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(unattributed)

Finito…

Comments
  1. Ken Collins says:

    Brilliant! That No. 7 250F must be the one that Scalextric modelled their first tinplate racers on. Wish I still had mine!

    • markbisset says:

      Cheers Ken,
      It’s incredible to think Masers brought along 5 cars to the other end of the planet; 3 250F’s, two cars carried #7, a spare for Moss and a car for Behra. Plus the 2 300S which of course stayed in Oz.
      There was some contemporary chatter about Jack driving the spare 250F but sadly that didn’t happen.
      Have always thought it a shame Whiteford bought a 300S rather than a 250F; seeing him at it hammer and tongs over the next 2or 3 years with Davo, Hunt, Stanley and Gray wouldaa been something!
      Your 250F Scalextric is probably worth a buck or two!
      Mark

  2. Rob says:

    Mark,

    Looking at the image captioned “Moss on the very wet grid of the ’56 AGP……..”, I don’t believe that it is from the 1956 AGP. The appearance of the car doesn’t match that of either of the Moss cars shown at http://www.stirlingmoss.com/articles/feature/stirling-moss-race-history-1956-australian-grand-prix

    Rob

    • markbisset says:

      Oh yeah Rob, cocked that one up I think I got the shot and caption from Stirling Moss’ own website. Should have looked harder, it’s a much earlier 250F than the longer nose ’56 LWT’s which came to Oz and clearly a UK circuit. Thanks for spotting it, have just deleted the shot.
      Mark

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