Archive for June, 2017

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I was too young for the Lotus Cortina but drooled over its cousin, the Escort Twin Cam from the time they were released in Australia as a youngster…

‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’ was the tagline of the day. And it was too. At the dawn of the 1970’s their product lineup was irresistible as a kid; Escort Twin Cam, Cortina GT, Capri 1600 GT and 3000 GT V6 and then came the range topping big muvvas, the Falcon GT and GTHO. Both packed the famed 351CID V8, the ‘HO’ the Bathurst homologation special was truly outrageous. All had ‘Super Roo’ decals on the front valances making the striped, candy-red devices lustworthy in a pubescent kinda way. Always a realist, I thought the Twin-Cam the pick of the litter given its cost/size/performance equation, not to mention its looks.

Local, Melbourne, Kew driver Michael Stillwell was racing a BDA powered Escort in Australian Touring Car Championship races at the time, giant killing too, I still think its one of the sexiest touring cars of all time. Others were raced by Allan Moffat, John Bassett, Bob Holden and Garry Rodgers, with plenty of tyre under extensively flared guards they really did, do, look the goods.

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Mike Stillwell giving Don Holland’s Holden Torana GTR XU1 a love tap in the entry to Hell Corner, Bathurst during the 1972 Australian Touring Car Championship round (oldracephotos.com)

Eventually, post university, I was in the market to buy and drove a Twin Cam an old codger (about my age now) in Glen Iris had for sale. But i had been spoiled by a mates Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT I had driven a lot by then. The older Alfa ‘105 Coupe’ made the little Ford seem crude by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, it was quick, but the front suspension was doing one thing, the back another, you didn’t sit nice and low like in the Alfa. The rack had that sort of ‘rattle, chatter, shimmy thing’ no amount of wheel alignments or balance weights fixed on both my Mk2 Cortina GT and Capri 1600 GT. That always gave me the shits with those cars!

The engine was great, I still love Harry Mundy’s work and drive them reasonably regularly, usually mounted in Elans. Imagine motor racing without the Ford Lotus Twin-Cam engine from mild to Hart 416B wild specification!? The gearbox was great too, Fords single-rail box is one of the production ‘trannys of the era, knife thru butter with synchro’s which, when in good nick, could not be beaten.

My heart was with the ‘Twinc but the Alfa was so much more of an integrated, cohesive package with similar performance and matching looks so that’s the way I went. But I still love Cortina’s and Escort’s, mass market for sure but Ford got the styling of the things just right as their sales volumes proved…

Tailpiece…

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Allan Moffat slices his Ford Australia, Alan Mann built, Escort FVA into Warwick Farm’s Esses, bang on line, in 1971 (oldracephotos.com)

 

 

 

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(Ullstein Bild)

Sculptor Olaf Lemke works with Hans von Stuck on the bust of the pre-War Champion German driver, 1932…

Stuck cut his racing teeth in the hills and was soon scooped up by Mercedes Benz for whom he was a factory driver, but via the introduction of Adolf Hitler became Auto Union’s first star.

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Stuck in the Auto Union Type A, Avus 1934 (Getty)

He did most of the early development work on the AU Type A or P Wagen and won the German, Swiss and Czech Grands Prix in 1934, his best season. Had a European Championship been run that year he would have won it. His star rose and then fell as his capabilities were put into context by Bernd Rosemeyer, a ‘Gold Standard’ of outright pace admittedly.

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Hans Stuck leading the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1935, his final GP victory (Getty)

His last championship win was the 1935 Italian Grand Prix, the photos here show his Auto Union Type B 5 litre V16 machine, which triumphed over the Rene Dreyfus/Tazio Nuvolaro Alfa 8C-35 3.8 litre straight-8 and the Paul Pietsch/Bernd Rosemeyer AU B Types.

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Stuck with the Monza crowd in 1935 (Getty)

After Rosemeyer’s death he returned to the Auto Union team from which he had not long before been fired! He raced post-war with little success having obtained Austrian citizenship to do so.

His son, Hans Joachim Stuck became a rather handy racer as well…

Click here for an interesting story on Stuck Senior; http://8w.forix.com/stuck.html

Credits…

Getty Images

Tailpiece: Auto Union ‘Tempo’ V16 Boat…

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(Ullstein Bild)

Always interested in record breaking, Stuck took this craft to a speed of 81 or 82.5kmh on the Scharmuetzelsee in 1937. He set a new under 800Kg record with the craft which was powered by an Auto Union Type B V16 engine. It was built to Audi and Stuck’s order in Klaus Engelbrecht’s boatyard on the River Dahme, Berlin.

Tempo was sunk post-war, having survived the ravages of the conflict. After a bombing raid on 1 March 1943 the car was moved from Berlin to Southern Germany where is was less likely to be hit by allied bombing missions. It was wrecked when a joy-riding occupying forces officer lost control of the craft which sank to the bottom of a Bavarian Lake complete with V16 engine. The skipper survived!

Finito…

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Maurice Trintignant’s 1953 type Ferrari 625 from Harry Schell’s Maserati 250F and victor Mike Hawthorn’s 1954 type Ferrari 553 on the picturesque Pedralbes road circuit at Barcelona, 24 October 1954…

This event was famous for the race debut of the Lancia D50’s in the hands of Alberto Ascari and Gigi Villoresi, both were quick and Alberto led convincingly from Fangio’s Mercedes W196 until a clutch hydraulic failure caused his retirement.

The three drivers above had a great dice and all led at different points with Hawthorn taking the victory. Schell retired after a spin damaged his car and Trintignant with a fractured oil pipe. Hawthorn’s win was a good one made slightly easier by the problems Fangio was dealing with in his Benz, his W196 spraying oil into the cockpit.

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The Ascari #34 and Villoresi #36 Lancia D50’s, just unloaded at Pedralbes for an event which showcased Vittorio Jano’s design brilliance as well as the sublime skills of Alberto Ascari. Such a pity Lancia ran out of money! Still a world title as a Lancia Ferrari D50, and drivers title for Fangio in 1956 was a great reflection on the original design even if it had ‘evolved’ a bit by then (unattributed)

I’m leaving Australia’s winter for 3 weeks in France and Spain including Barcelona so look forward to retracing the street circuits of  Montjuic Park and Pedralbes whilst based in one of my favourite cities. My posts will be shorter over this period.

YouTube Race Footage…

Photo Credit…Yves Debraine

Donna Mae Mims…

Posted: June 18, 2017 in Compound curvature, Fotos
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Donna Mims prepares for the off in her MGB December 1964, no details of circuit unfortunately…

She was a prominent driver and character in the US and was the first woman to win an SCCA title in 1963 in an Austin Healey Sprite. Click here for a short article on the lady;

http://www.autoblog.com/2009/10/14/donna-mae-mims-first-female-scca-winner-and-cannonball-run-vet/

Credit…

Bill Ray

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Racers in 1966; Anita (sister of F1 driver Trevor) Taylor, Donna Mae Mims and future Indy 500 competitor Janet Guthrie, venue unknown (speedqueens)

 

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The Ludovico Scarfiotti/Peter Sutcliffe factory Ferrari P4 during the 1967 Brands Hatch 6 Hour held on 30 July…

Louis Klemantaski’s creative shot beautifully captures and ‘distresses’ the 5th placed car, Phil Hill and Mike Spence won the race in a Chaparral 2F Chev from the P4 of Chris Amon and Jackie Stewart.

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Sutcliffe dives the P4 inside the Enever/Polle MGB (Klemantsaki)

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P4 Ferrari cockpit at Brands ’67. Of the period ‘innit? Momo wheel, Veglia Borletti instruments, right-hand 5 speed change, car a spaceframe chassis with riveted on aluminium panels to add stiffness, beautifully trimmed for a racer-added to driver comfort over longer distances (Klemantaski)

I wrote articles about the Ferrari P4/CanAm 350, Chaparral 2F and 1967 Le Mans which may be of interest if you are into these cars and this great era of ‘unlimited’ endurance racing, check out;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/ and https://primotipo.com/2014/06/26/67-spa-1000km-chaparral-2f/ and https://primotipo.com/2015/09/24/le-mans-1967/

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Brands pits, 6 Hours ’67; the 3 factory P4’s in line astern with the Scarfiotti/Sutcliffe car ahead of the other two crewed by Amon/Stewart 2nd and Paul Hawkins/Jonathon Williams 6th. # 30 and 32 Lotus 47 Fords are Taylor/Preston 19th and Hine/Green DNF (Klemantaski)

Credit…

Klemantaski Collection

Tailpiece: Phil Hill in the winning Chaparral 2F Chev from the Scarfiotti/Sutcliffe Ferrari P4…

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(Klemantaski)

 

 

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Monaco Panorama; Ronnie Peterson eases his March 711 Ford around the hairpin at Monaco in 1971 on the way to second place, Jackie Stewart won in a Tyrrell 003 Ford…

Monaco was a happy hunting ground for the Swede, his brand of ‘balls to the wall’ driving was not necessarily the style that was rewarded in the principality but he took wins in the F3 Grand Prix in 1969 in his Tecno 69 Ford and in the F1 event in a Lotus 72E Ford in 1974.

He had a great year in the 711, an excellent Robin Herd design, he finished second to Jackie Stewart in the 1971 drivers championship, not bad for a driver in his second GP season!

The more radical 1972 March 721X made conceptual sense but was not so successful…Ronnie was then snaffled up by Lotus for ’73…

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Close up of Ronnie in the 711, Dutch GP 1971, he was 4th in the race won by Ickx’ Ferrari 312B2. Front suspension; top rocker, lower wishbone, inboard coil spring/Koni damper and adjustable roll bar all clear and beautifully fabricated by the Boys From Bicester (unattributed)

A couple of other posts on ‘Mad Ronald’ to look at…

His first GP season in 1970;  https://primotipo.com/2014/05/15/blue-cars-rock/

With Colin Chapman;  https://primotipo.com/2014/08/03/the-gentle-art-of-driver-seduction-colin-chapman-and-ronnie-petersen-clermont-ferrand-1972/

Photos…unattributed

 

 

The finalists are off to a flying start in the 6 October 1930 ‘World Championship’ for under 1500cc cars on dirt, Penrith Speedway, Sydney…

The glass plate negative, wonderful monochrome photograph creates such an evocative feel apart from the scene itself. From the outside is John Sherwood’s cumbersome looking Lea Francis Hyper, then the Sam Aggett and Charlie East driven Bugatti T37’s and on the inside Tom Lord’s, Geoff Lowe owned Austin 7 Brooklands. On the very inside verge is a touring Lea Francis slowing having paced the competitors for a lap before the championships 3 lap journey, East was the winner in his Bugatti.

Event and Competitors…

A record entry of 79 cars was received for the meeting. The winner of the feature event, Charlie East, described as an ‘old hand track and competition driver’, was proclaimed World Champion for cars under 1500cc on dirt tracks.

The 6 entries for this 3 lap race were all rather local notwithstanding the grandiose title of the Light Car Club of New South Wales promoted event, not that there is anything new in promoters ‘puff’ to put bums on seats!

The Nepean Times reported that the race was ‘No mere crow attracting stunt, but a legitimate worlds championship event’. The ‘International Racing Organisation…specified certain electrical timing apparatus, this to be controlled by officials sanctioned by the leading motor body of the state’. The event was supervised by the Royal Automobile Club of Australia, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport was not formed until the 1950’s.

The Sydney Morning Herald noted Mr TF Lord’s supercharged Austin 7 Brooklands was a new car with Messrs Charlie East and Sam Aggett entering 1496cc (T37) Bugatti’s. Tom Sulman had a career which went all the way from the early 1920’s in the UK to his unfortunate death in a Lotus 11 Climax at Bathurst in 1970, was entered in a 1096cc Salmson.

John Sherwood was a luminary as a driver, businessman, motoring and motorsport administrator down the decades, he entered a 1496cc Lea Francis. Sherwood was the driving force of the NSW Light Car Club as well as the key individual who created the Mount Panorama track at Bathurst. From a pioneering motoring family, he was a formidable competitor and later, as a Director of Empire Speedways, was a big contributor to the growth of Speedway Racing in Australia.

WH Northam was the final entry in another 748cc Austin, a combination which had many wins at Penrith and who later raced to 6th place in the 1932 Australian Grand Prix aboard this car. Bill Northam had an extraordinary life of achievement in commerce, sport and as a charity fund raiser. Long after he stopped motor racing he took up yachting in his mid-forties making the Australian Olympic Team and winning the Gold Medal in the 5.5 metre class at the Tokyo 1964 games. He was knighted in 1976 and died, aged 83, in 1988.

Other races on the ‘Eight Hour Day’ Monday public holiday card were an all powers handicap over 5 miles, a handicap for under 850cc cars over 3 miles, a four mile scratch race and finally the NSW LCC handicap over 3 miles.

The Championship Race…

Four starters took the flag with Sulman and Northam knocked out in eliminations conducted over 1 lap, a mile, with each car having a flying start. Aggett was the fastest qualifier at 66.91 mph from East, Lord, Sherwood, Sulman and Northam the slowest on 60mph.

The racers were given a rolling start behind JA Fields Lea Francis, then East immediately took the lead in his Bugatti from Lord’s Austin, then Aggett’s Type 37 and Sherwood’s Lea Francis ‘handicapped by a cumbersome body’, ‘Sherwood’s Lea Francis could not be opened up except in the back stretch’ in 4th. East drew away to a lead he never relinquished, and led Aggett by 100 yards from Lord. East’s lead stabilised at about 400 yards from Aggett, who was handicapped by an oiled plug, Lord was 100 yards further back and then Sherwood last.

In the final quarter of a mile Lord and his little supercharged Austin seized an opening through the dust, coming alongside Aggett’s Bugatti in 2nd. ‘Aggett swung a trifle wide on the last turn onto the home stretch, and, straightening up, cut down to the inner edge of the racing course. The two cars touched with the Austin spinning wildly. ‘Lord’s car spun on its side, dragging the driver, who was half out, and half in the Austin. Lord sustained abrasions to his legs and face. Charlie East one of the Maroubra stars, won in a time of 2 minutes 33 seconds at 70.58 mph by 100 yards with a wheel, literally, between Aggett and Lord in 2nd and 3rd. Sherwood’s Lea Francis was last car home.

The excitement was far from over though. ‘With Lord in the hands of the ambulance people, the stewards took prompt action. They disqualified Aggett and ‘sent him out’ (banned him from competition) for six months’. ‘The Referee’s’ report of the race then pointed out the unfairness of this process which was so speedy, their was no call for full evidence and Aggett appealed. I’m uncertain of the response of officialdom to this request.

Aggett and Lord make contact, the accident attributed to the Bugatti T37 driver rather than Lord aboard the tipping Austin 7 Brooklands (Fairfax)

John Sherwood’s Lea Francis  won the final of the open class ‘Widgery Cup’ Handicap, the ‘Clyde Battery Cup’ handicap for cars under 850cc final was won by CB Tye’s Austin 748cc and the All Powers Scratch Race final by CO Spurgeon’s Rajo Ford with the Club Handicap for under 2000cc cars won also by Tye’s Austin. In a day of interesting racing a special match race between Captain Hammond’s Gypsy Moth aircraft was won by the plane over J McCutcheon’s Morris Midget by a few lengths, the distance a flying mile, pun intended!

Penrith held the international spotlight for a week during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the town is 50Km west of Sydney on the Nepean River, it was the site of the whitewater rafting and rowing competitions. But the hype about the Penrith 1930 World Championship race inclusive of its title were not indicative of the events true local nature.

The competitors were all from New South Wales, a notable absentee was Bill Thompson, three time winner of the Australian Grand Prix and in sparkling form in 1930. Earlier in the year he won his first AGP at Phillip Island and had swept the board in the same AGP winning Bugatti T37A during the Gerringong Beach racing carnival on NSW’s Illawarra Coast in May. Thompson was reported to be entered at Penrith but did not race, his entry was received ‘out of time’ and so was refused. Talk about a promoter putting due process in front of ‘the show’! ‘The Referee’ report noted the ‘the field was unworthy of a world championship. Without entries from Thompson, Drake-Richmond and Terdich, to mention but three of the missing cracks, the field was not even truly representative of Australia’. Both Harold Drake-Richmond and Terdich were Victorian stars, Arthur winner of the 1929 AGP at Phillip Island aboard a Bugatti Type 37A.

Charlie East, all smiles aboard the winning Bugatti T37, Penrith, October 1930 (Sydney Morning Herald)

Not that the quality of the final lacked talent in the context of Australian Motor racing, very much nascent at the time…

The Australian Grand Prix was held for the first time on an oval dirt layout around the showgrounds at Goulburn, New South Wales in 1927. The 1928 AGP, ‘The 100 Miles Road Race’ at Phillip Island, the first proper race in Australia on a road, run on a large, rectangular, gravel course was more indicative than Goulburn of the direction Australian racing would take and was indeed the race which started the tradition of road racing in Australia.

At the time Australian motor racing was largely amateur, a ‘run what you brung’ approach prevailed with most competing cars driven to and from the track. The sport evolved from hillclimbs, sprints and races on horse-tracks, the province of the gentry pre-War, to hillclimbs at Waterfall Gully, Kurrajong, Mount Coot-tha and Belgrave, beach racing at Gerringong and Sellicks to venues such as Aspendale, Maroubra and Penrith Speedways. Racing on Sydney’s banked, concrete  Maroubra Speedway track was very professional. Maroubra was owned by a commercial enterprise, not a car club, there was prize money to be won, the approach of the top competitors was consistent with that- the importation of cars and preparation thereof with a view to commercial success prevailed.

Some brave kids watching a competing car at Kurrajong Hillclimb, 75Km northwest of Sydney in the lower slopes of the Blue Mountains, October 1920, the competitor has the two outside wheels in the dirt on turn in! Hillclimbs were incredibly popular forms of motorsport in Australia at the time either as stand alone events or as part of trials which were events mixing navigation and speed events, usually sprints and hillclimbs. Between 1915 and 1926 there were at least 50! different hillclimb venues used across the country (Michael Terry)

John Medley wrote that ‘it was some time before other groups followed (the Light Car Club of Victoria’s Phillip Island) road racing direction, preferring the simpler expedient of running trials with speed sections included (rather like modern rallies) or contests on simple dirt speedways- both of these being more easily controlled by the organisers and also less accessible to the long arm of the law. One consequence was that their was very much a casual air to the whole occasion, with ‘chop picnics, family gatherings and exuberant overnight parties.’

I have not used the term speedway racing as the ‘forked road’ the sport took in later years had not yet occurred, competitors contested a variety of events as above. In addition solo intercity record-breaking attempts were also important with Graham Howard recording that ‘…intercity records…were the most consistent form of competitive motoring in Australia until the late 1920’s, and produced our first household-name drivers…’

A little snippet in the ‘Nepean Times’ article is a reminder of the important co-existence, with the motorcycle dudes the leaders, of ‘bikes and cars racing at the same meetings. The article notes that the Penrith meeting was ‘the only all car one in New South Wales for about five years’. It is also reported in terms of contemporary competitor numbers (79) that the meeting had ‘a record entry for a car race meeting for any part of Australia’. Also amusing, the ‘Times notes ‘Women are barred, (from entering the championship race) which means that Mrs J.A.S Jones will not be driving her supercharged Alfa Romeo. (6C1750) But it is hoped this fine car will race even with a mere male at the wheel’!!

Penrith Speedway’s first meeting was at Easter in 1924 and morphed through lap distances of 1 mile 80 yards to the 1 mile course used in 1930. The track was touted by international competitors who raced there as ‘The Worlds Greatest Dirt Track’ but its life was relatively short-lived. The Commonwealth Defence Department compulsorily acquired the land in 1941 and the circuit was consumed in that process.

RG Potts racing the Mrs JAS Jones owned Lea Francis on Gerringong’s Seven Mile Beach, 50 Mile Handicap on 10 May 1930. You can just see the pole at left which Potts is turning around to head back the other way on this beach near Kiama, 130 kilometres to Sydney’s south. There was no road racing in NSW at the time so racers did ‘the lot’- sprints, the hillclimbs which were often part of the trials conducted by local car clubs, the speedway at Penrith, and here upon Gerringong Beach. Sellicks Beach on Adelaide’s Fleurieu Peninsula was also used by ‘bikes and cars to race (Fairfax)

The six ‘World Championship’ entrants were all experienced New South Wales competitors with Sherwood and Sulman later entrants in Australian Grands’ Prix. Sherwood’s car appears to be a Lea Francis ‘Hyper’, a competition variant of the marque successful in the UK at the time and powered by a supercharged 1496cc 4 cylinder engine.

I can find no details of Sulman’s Salmson and am keen to hear from any of who may know about his car. Tom Sulman is revered in Australia as a doyen of racers who simply never stopped until the sport eventually took his life. I was at Winton a fortnight ago and looked again at the Sulman Singer, the amazing self-constructed dirt car Tom built and raced in England in the 1920’s before his return to Australia. It was a constant in Australian motor racing in both contemporary circuit events, and later from the mid-seventies, in historic racing when driven by Ron Reid. Upon his death not so long ago, his sons continue to race a car which must have done more racing miles than any other on the planet!.

Somewhat bizarre is that the ex-Charlie East Bugatti T37, chassis  ‘37104’ sits in Earl Davey-Milne’s garage in Toorak, Melbourne one kilometre from where I am writing this article right now! Chassis ‘37104’ was the fourth T37 built and shipped to Sydney’s  Russell Taylor, the prosperous owner of the Advanx Tyre company. It was raced for him by Charlie East, a driver whose stature was growing at the time. East was a Maroubra regular, one of its stars having first raced there in 1926 and subsequently lapping at over 96mph and on one occasion his lap was timed at over 116mph. Davey-Milne bought the car in 1943, it remains in the Chev Corvette V8 engined, open chassis form Earl rebuilt it to in the late 1950’s. East didn’t race the car in an AGP but ‘37104’ was raced in the 1933/4/5 events at the ‘Island driven by Cec Warren in 1933 and John McCutcheon in ‘34/5.

It isn’t clear if either or both the East and Aggett Bugatti T37’s were normally aspirated or to T37A, supercharged specifications. I can find no references as to which particular Bugatti Aggett raced and am keen to hear from any Bugatistes who can help with the identity and specification of the car and the drivers background. Similarly, whilst Lord’s Austin 7 is reported to be of blown Brooklands specification I have no details of the Northam Austin 7. All details again gratefully received. These snippets of history are all interesting i think!

In this case the photo which inspired the research and the resultant article popped up on that internet thingy when I was messing around looking for shots of Bill Thompson after reader Rob Bartholomaeus corrected the caption of an article I’d written about Thompson and his Bug T37A. Its funny how one thing can lead to another!…

Intercity record breaking was a popular form of solo road competition in Australia until outlawed in 1935 due to accidents. Here is the 25.5hp Th.Schneider with Arthur Barnes at the wheel and mechanic Bill McCulloch alongside- they have just taken the Broken Hill, NSW to Adelaide, SA record covering the 533 kilometres of unmade roads in 8 hours 3 minutes. The car is parked out front of Booth’s Garage, 411 King William Street in Adelaide’s CBD. 12 August 1925 (WS Smith)

YouTube Footage of Penrith…

Makes clear the speed and danger of the place! I looked at the film enthralled but the danger was readily apparent before discovering other footage of a multiple fatality when a car crashed into spectators in 1938. When ‘shit happens’ at speed, without protective barriers, its all over in the blink of an eye. Racing entry tickets still have the ‘Motor Racing is Dangerous’ message to this day, and so it was for all, spectators included until not so long ago!

Bibliography…

‘Nepean Times’ 27 September 1930, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ 30 September and 7 October 1930, ‘The Referee’ Sydney 8 October 1930

‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’, John Medley, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Ors, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Photo Credits…

Fairfax, Sydney Morning Herald, State Library of South Australia, WS Smith, Michael Terry

Finito…