Archive for January, 2018

(I Smith)

James Hunt, Elfin MR8C Chevrolet F5000, ‘Rose City 10000’ November 1978…

James Hunt ran true to form whilst on a short sojurn to Australia after the end of his Marlboro Team McLaren season in 1978, he had a very good time and won the race! He was also the supreme professional as he went about mastering the circuit and a car unfamiliar to him. Winton short circuit ain’t exactly the Nurburgring mind you. Nor was the ’76 World Champion new to F5000’s- he had Eagle and Lola experience of these 500 bhp roller-skates ‘Stateside.

I’ve covered this meeting in an earlier article on Garrie Cooper’s MR8 design, these photos by Ian Smith were too good not to share, click here to read the article; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/15/james-hunt-rose-city-10000-winton-raceway-australia1978-elfin-mr8-chev/

No other Elfin model had so many world class drivers steer them- Hunt, Vern Schuppan, Didier Pironi, Larry Perkins and Bruce Allison is not a bad roll call…

(I Smith)

Credits…

Ian Smith

Tailpiece…

(I Smith)

 

 

(Getty)

Juxtaposition!

The wild ‘Mana La’ solar car contrasted by the utilitarian functionality of a cement mixer. Stuart Highway, Northern Territory 1 November 1987…

The John Paul Mitchell sponsored car designed by Jonathon Tennyson is heading for Adelaide, 3005 Km away, sadly the brilliant vehicle DNF’d the race won by GM’s ‘Sunraycer’.

The genesis of this first Darwin to Adelaide ‘World Solar Challenge’ was critics telling adventurer Hans Tholstrup that Australia could not be crossed by a solar powered vehicle.

In 1982, together with Australian F1 driver Larry Perkins and his brother Gary, Tholstrup developed a car in which he became the first person to drive across Australia. The 4,000 Km journey in ‘The Quiet Achiever’ took him 20 days.

The Perkins Engineering- Larry and Gary Perkins built 1982 ‘The Quiet Achiever’ or ‘BP Solar Trek’ car. Rudimentary design which is deceptively clever and a precursor to the much more sophisticated, mega-buck cars which followed (NM)

Criticism of the car sparked what became the first World Solar Challenge five years later. In 1987 23 teams from Europe, the US, Asia and Australia entered the event with over 40 taking part in 2017.

The Danish born Australian’s desire to develop solar energy came after years of being a self-confessed fuel guzzler. ‘I was doing my penance…because I flew around the world, rode in race cars and powerboats, I did everything that used finite fossil fuel’ quipped Tholstrup in a recently ABC interview. He noted that solar panels are half the size they were in 1987 with the cars doing the same speeds.

One of the ‘big buck’ entries won the inaugural challenge, the Paul MacCready designed and built General Motors ‘Sunraycer’ was victorious in 44.90 hours at an average speed of 66.90 km/h.

At the wheel was ever-versatile Australian champion racing driver John Harvey who was also involved in testing the car at the GM Proving Ground in Arizona. Second into Adelaide two days later was the Ford Australia entry and the Ingenieurschule, Biel vehicle third.

The GM Sunraycer on day 3 of the 1987 challenge, 3rd November. Car is on the Stuart Highway 100 Km south of the Devils Marbles. Car took 5.5 days to complete the 3000 Km journey (P Menzel)

In some ways the most radical entry, the John Paul Mitchell Systems car ‘stole the show’, visually at least, albeit the car was out of the race way too soon.

Jonathan Tennyson designed and built the car funded by John Paul Mitchell Systems. With the help of James Amick, the inventor of the ’Windmobile’ Tennyson developed a vertical wing design to exploit the wind to help mobilise the car in addition to its primary source of power- solar energy. By covering the resulting arched wing of the ‘Mana La’ (power of the sun in Hawaiian) in solar panels the idea was to be able to expose the panels to the sun at all times of the day.

The radical machine is 19′ long, 6 1/2′ wide and 6 1/2′ tall. Its built from urethane foam, carbon fibre and vinyl ester resin weighing circa 250 Kg. An onboard computer distributed power to ‘NASA-grade storage batteries’.

(Petersen)

The visually arresting arch is covered by 140 solar panels. Sixty-four silver-zinc batteries retained the power collected and fed a pair of 2-horsepower, brushless direct-current motors. Each engine utilised two windings, one for lower speeds and higher torque, and another for higher speeds at lower torque.

Nicknamed ‘the hair dryer’ given its sponsor, the US$250,000 Mana La qualified second starting behind Sunraycer on ‘pole’. By 4 pm on the first day of the event, the car was out of the race. The crew ran too hard through the hills trying to catch the Sunraycer, exhausting their batteries in the process and were never able to harness the wind the car was designed to exploit. Their battery specialist estimated it would take 40 hours in the sun to recharge…what a great mighta been this quite stunning machine is.

In 2010 the car was donated to the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.

Bibliography…

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, paulmitchell.com

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Australian National Museum, Petersen Museum, Peter Menzel

(oldracephotos/Keep)

Richard Attwood hooking his big Grand Prix BRM P126 2.5 V12 into Longford’s Viaduct during the ‘South Pacific Trophy’ weekend, 4 March 1968…

He was fourth in the very soggy race, this shot is in the dry earlier in the meeting, won by Piers’ Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car from Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261 2 litre V8 and Frank Gardner’s Alec Mildren owned Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8- a varied lot don’t you think?

I wrote a short article about this meeting a couple of years ago but have just ‘upgraded it’ to feature length due to the large number of photographs of this meeting released in more recent times by Lindsay Ross and Rod Mackenzie. Click on these links to check out their archives.

http://oldracephotos.com/content/home/ and http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/

The photos really needed a nice home to make them accessible. So you can thank them for this extended piece! Click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

The big BRM was far from the car of the series- the Lotus 49 Ford DFW was, but the championship was successful in giving the Bourne outfit valuable testing miles of their new ’68 F1 championship contender albeit in 2.5 litre form.

The BRM design and engineering team led by Tony Rudd were ‘up to their armpits in alligators’ after two fraught seasons in 1966/67 trying to get the BRM P83, or more particularly its complex, heavy, wonderful H16 engine to race fitness.

BRM chief Louis Stanley therefore briefed Len Terry, latterly of Eagle and Lotus to design and build a new F1 car. Three P126 chassis were constructed by Terry’s ‘Transatlantic Automotive Consultants’ concern powered by the brand new ‘sportscar customer’ P101, chain driven DOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected 3 litre V12 which initially gave circa 370 bhp @ 9750 rpm, behind which was fitted a Hewland DG300 transaxle.

The Type 101 BRM engine- 60 degree all aluminium V12 with two chain driven overhead camshafts per cylinder bank operating two valves per cylinder. The compression ratio was 11.5:1, the bore and stroke 74.6mm/57.2mm, fed by Lucas fuel injection the power output during 1968 was initially 370 bhp rising to 390 bhp @ 9,500 rpm. The 2.5 litre variant was designated P121 and gave circa 340 bhp (unattributed)

Bruce McLaren had some good results with the first of the engines in late season 1967 F1 races bolted into the back of his M4B chassis. He was therefore more than happy to thrill his home crowds and assist the BRM lads testing and racing their new car in the New Zealand Tasman rounds before heading back to the UK and completing his own 1968 F1 machine, the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 powered M7A! When Bruce returned to the UK Attwood took over the car for the Australian rounds with Pedro Rodriguez racing P126/01.

In fact Bruce’s somewhat lucky win in P126/02, after Jim Clark’s late race excursion at Teretonga was the only race victory the P126/P133 (two cars designated P133 were built at Bourne to Len’s design) chassis ever had. But don’t discount this series of racers though.

Bruce McLaren on the way to Teretonga International victory on 27 January 1968. Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW was 2nd and Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa was 3rd (I Peak/TRS)

Whilst the car’s Tasman Series was somewhat fraught, the best P126 results other than Bruce’s win were Dickie’s sixth in the Australian Grand Prix at Sandown and fourth at Longford- Pedro Rodriguez had the design leading two Grands Prix in 1968 and generally it was a front third of the field car, if lacking a bit in luck/reliability. These results included a front row start and leading the Spanish GP, second at Spa, third at Zandvoort, lead of the French GP and fourth in Mexico.

Lets not forget that sometime GeePee driver and 1970 Porsche 917 Le Mans winner Attwood took second place in the 1968 Monaco GP aboard a P126 too.

The late sixties BRM’s are often maligned but the P126/133’s results in 1968 F1 in a sea of Ford Cosworth V8’s (well five or six of them anyway in the hands of Lotus, McLaren and Ken Tyrell’s Matra International) were not too shabby at all, in part due to the learnings of the ’68 Tasman…

Attwood is attended to at Longford before another practice lap whilst John Harvey in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT11A Repco does the same thing behind (D Cooper)

Etcetera: Attwood, BRM P126 ’03’ Monaco 1968…

The ‘King of Monaco’, Graham Hill won in the principality as he often did in the sixties but Attwood was a very fine second in the third of the P126’s built, a chassis he raced at Spa, Zandvoort, Rouen, Brands and the Nurburgring that year.

(unattributed)

The high photos are beauties to show the key design elements of Len Terry’s car. The aluminium monocoque is a ‘full monocoque’ as against a ‘bathtub’, in common with his Lotus 38 and his Eagle T1G’s. Front suspension is period typical top rocker and lower wishbone with an inboard mounted coil spring/shock to get the mechanical gubbins outta the breeze.

See the spoiler on the nose- 1968 was the ‘Year of Wings’ with BRM being slow adopters and behind the eight-ball relative to other teams mid-season, but that is all to come. No seat belt yet for Dickie, which is interesting, six-point harnesses were not mandated until the start of 1972, but belts were common by Watkins Glen towards the 1968 seasons end.

(unattributed)

Love those mag-alloy wheels, brakes are Girling, engine is carried by the chassis and is not a stressed member as the predecessor P75 H16 engine was in the P83 BRM tub. The Type 101 V12 was originally developed as a customer motor for F1 and sportscar use so its fitment needed to be ‘universal’ in multiple applications.

(unattributed)

Beauty of a shot showing Attwood caressing his P126 through a delicate slide- it shows the effectiveness of the period typical rear suspension popping around 390 bhp to the tarmac. What was a leading Terry design trend are the parallel lower links which found their way into other designers lexicon circa 1971. The norm to that point was an inverted lower wishbone. Otherwise the coil spring/shocks, single top link, twin radius rods and adjustable roll bar are ‘the usual’.

A Varley battery is vertically mounted beside the Hewland DG300 5 speed transaxle- the P126 design is notable as the first BRM without a Bourne ‘box. It was a good choice, these tough old jiggers are still for sale and in use with 550bhp Chev V8’s tearing away at their internals.

The power of that lovely V12, as stated above, around 390 bhp at this stage of the engines long evolution into the four-valver V12 success stories of 1970-2.

Photo and Other Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au/D Keep, Ian Peak/The Roaring Season, Brian Jackson, oldracingcars.com- see Allen Brown’s piece on the P126; https://www.oldracingcars.com/brm/p126/ and P133; https://www.oldracingcars.com/brm/p133/

Tailpiece…

(B Jackson)

Pedro Rodriguez enters the old Sandown pitlane in P126-01 during the 1968 Australian Grand Prix meeting, DNF engine after 10 laps for the Mexican, Jim Clark won in a Lotus 49 Ford DFW.

Finito…

 

(unattributed)

Craig Lowndes dropping into Mount Panorama’s Skyline/Esses, McLaren MP4/23 Mercedes V8, 22 March 2011…

Australian Formula Ford has been a factory for the creation of V8 Supercar Drivers for a couple of decades now. Every now and again one escapes to international racing success, Mark Webber, Will Power and Daniel Ricciardo spring to mind. I’ve not forgotten Larry Perkins I’m just referring to more recent times. But in the main V8 Supercars and to a lesser extent Porsche Cup racing has given local aces a place to ply their trade as well paid professionals.

The popularity and commercial success of Touring Car Racing in Australia relative to Single Seaters began circa 1960 and has continued unabated since. Even very popular single seater formulae such as the 2.5 Tasman and F5000 classes did not put a dent in the rise and rise of ‘Taxis’. Why? Its a topic for a whole series of articles but perhaps fundamentally the cars are easier for the average punter to understand and relate to, are spectacular to watch and have had a succession of ‘characters’ racing them. The absolute professionalism in the way V8 Supercars has been managed for so long now has widened the gulf further.

Lowndes, Van Dieman RF93 Formula Ford, Oran Park August 1993. Craig won 5 of the 8 ’93 rounds including OP (autopics)

Sponsors re-prioritised their spend over time away from the purer form of the sport to tourers. Drivers chase the dollars of course. So Taxis grew and grew. Its not that simple but its not much more complex either.

Back to the point of the article which is to discuss young talent and progression into the professional ranks.

It wasn’t always the case though, a career path into tourers. Often guys won the AFFC right into the nineties and none were picked up by professional touring car teams- the class was a bit of a closed shop with the young thrusters not especially welcome. Tomas Mezera is perhaps an exception but he ended up at HRT after he came back from his sojurn in Europe, so too did Russell Ingall make the transition after he returned from Europe.

Cameron McConville, the 1992 AFFC champ looked as though he may set a trend when Dick Johnson recruited him to race the second DJR machine at Bathurst in 1993 but then he boofed a fence and that was it for him, so it seemed. A 1996 win in the Australian GTP Championship in a Porsche 993 RS CS saw him brought back in from the cold- he beat Jim Richards in the Warwick Fabrics car that year, I remember being hugely impressed by his speed and professionalism.

None of yer poofhouse single seater stuff in here matey! Peter Brock was a great mentor to Lowndes early on , this shot of an HRT Commodore circa 1996. Brocky had an all too brief sojurn into ANF2 circa 1973 with a Birrana 272 Ford (unattributed)

Lowndes was the one who really paved the way for the guys who followed- most of the V8 Supercar champs have been Karting and Formula Ford graduates since Craig showed the way.

Out of Karts of course, initially he raced an old RF85 Van Diemen Formula Ford in 1991 and then won the AFFC title aboard an RF93 in 1993. Longtime openwheeler racer and enthusiast (and 1975 Bathurst 1000 winner with Peter Brock) Brian Sampson threw him a lifeline by giving him some drives in his Cheetah Mk9 Holden Formula Holden in 1994. It wasn’t the latest bit of kit by any stretch, in fact it was and IS the very first FH built. But Craig made the thing sing, I recall some very good drives in the car against Greg Murphy in a much more recent Reynard.

Lowndes, a motor mechanic by trade, didn’t have much money but he had ability, a likable and engaging personality and ability to communicate and some contacts via his Dad, Frank Lowndes who had been in and around motor racing forever as a car/engine builder and scrutineer.

Holden Racing Team tested him and he was immediately quick, consistent, and easy on the equipment getting a drive in the 1994 Sandown 500. Soon he was team-leader and won the V8 Supercar title in 1996. He hadn’t lost the fire in the belly for open-wheeler success, and even though he had the local scene at his feet he negotiated a year in the European F3000 Championship via Tom Walkinshaw who by then owned HRT.

Lowndes, Lola T96/50 Zytec Judd F3000, Silverstone 1997 (LAT)

Lowndes had a shocker of a year being comprehensively blown off by Juan Pablo Montoya, his teammate at RSM Marko aboard the mandated Lola T96/50 Zytec. To be fair, he was coming back into single-seaters after an absence of some years into a group of the best F1 aspirants in the world straight out of F3 or doing a second or third year in F3000. Lowndes did not get a fair crack of the whip in the team with minimal testing, Marko ran Lowndes to settle a debt owed to Walkinshaw- and focussed, not unnaturally on the fellow who was winning races- Montoya.

What Lowndes needed was another season, but back to V8 Supercars he came and a couple of other titles, six Bathurst 1000’s and all the rest. Of course he is still racing at the top level too. It would have been interesting to see how far he could have progressed with another season in Europe.

(B Moxon)

Jenson Button and Craig Lowndes, car a 2008 spec (champion that year in Lewis Hamilton’s hands) McLaren MP23/4 Mercedes 2.4 V8

Lowndes nipping a brake into Hell Corner (unattributed)

The opportunity to get to drive a contemporary F1 car was too good to be true and came about due to Vodaphones sponsorship of both McLaren and Triple Eight Racing who ran VE Holden Commodores that year. The day, just before the AGP at Albert Park involved closure of the Bathurst public roads- the circuit is just that, roads for most of the year with Lowndes and Jenson Button swapping seats between their respective F1 and V8 Supercar racers.

(unnatributed)

For misty eyed open-wheeler fans it was also an amazing ‘if only’, for Bathurst is indeed, in the words of Australian motor-racing historian John Medley ‘The Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ and is where the Australian Grand Prix should be held. What a spectacle that would be! For that to occur the circuit would be destroyed to meet F1’s safety requirements, so of course it will never happen.

But for one day it was a reminder of what could be for enthusiasts and what might have been for Craig Lowndes had the racing cards been dealt or fallen a different way…

Comparo- F1 McLaren MP4/23 Mercedes Benz (2008) and V8 Supercar Holden ‘VE’ Commodore (2011)…

(Motor)

YouTube footage…

Credits…

Vue Images, LAT, Bruce Moxon, Motor

Tailpiece: Imagine 26 of them zipping past…

Finito…

 

Charles and John Cooper, Cooper Climax and Babe, late fifties…

I’m a big fan of the Getty Images archive, there are so many photographs there to inspire thousands of articles but Joisus the captions are usually pretty blardy useless. Good enough for the mum and dad recipients of the newspapers they were most often published in but lacking the detail anoraks demand!

This one is a case in point, it reads as follows: ‘Building Cooper Formula 2 racing cars for British racing. Charles Cooper (left) with a fitter at (sic) a Cooper Formula 2 car’, no date of course.

I’m not a Cooper expert but am keen to date the shot, identify the Cooper’s type and the name of the lissom young lass on the workshop wall!

Some hints: the Cooper has coil spring (when fitted) rather than transverse leaf front suspension. The Coventry Climax FPF engine is fitted with twin-SU rather than Weber carbs. The chassis is of no help to me in terms of distinctiveness, it’s the same ‘offensive to purists’ but ‘perfect in practice’ curvy Owen Maddock designed spaceframe which went into all Coopers of the period. Having said that an expert will see what I do not.

My guess, and its no more than that, is a 1958 Cooper T45 Climax. Mind you, that fuel tank is a biggie, matched by another on the other side- none fitted at the moment its more likely an F1 Cooper T51. Or maybe an F2 Cooper running in Gee Pee events as the T45 did with 2 litre FPF’s fitted in 1958.

But most importantly what is the name of blondie-locks, she really has the looks to lift the mood of even the snarliest mechanic on the coldest of Surbiton, winter mornings…

 Credit…

 PA Images

 

image

Stirling Moss guides his works Jaguar C Type through Fordwater on his way to 5th place at Goodwood sharing with 1951 Le Mans winner Peter Walker…

Britain’s first night race took take place at Goodwood on 16 August 1952. The British Automobile Racing Club hoped to emulate the commercial success of Le Mans, that classic a race of 24 hours duration of course.

The Goodwood enduro was a 9 hour event with a 3pm start to allow the spectators to see the cars in all their spectacular glory in the half light and full darkness.

Modifications were made to the circuits infrastructure by fitting floodlights to illuminate the grandstands and pits, the kerbs were given a coat of luminous paint and a beer tent was laid on, although due to post-war licensing laws it had to stop serving grog before the race ended! Sponsorship and plenty of pre-event publicity was provided by ‘The News of The World’ newspaper inclusive of £2,500 in prize money which represented a powerful incentive for the ‘local’ works teams and privateers to enter in force.

Jaguar and Aston Martin entered three car teams of C-types and DB3’s in the field of 32 cars. Both teams had much to prove. The C-Types were quick at Le Mans in June but all three cars retired with engine cooling related issues. The new Ferrari 250S and Mercedes Benz W194’s had been faster than the Jags, victorious at Le Mans in 1951, at the Mille Miglia in May. As a consequence Jaguar had designed a more aerodynamic body with a slightly smaller radiator. Jag’s cooling problems became apparent in practice, despite hasty modifications, solutions were not found pre-race. Peter Whitehead/Ian Stewart retired with a failed head gasket during the second hour, Stirling Moss/Peter Walker with engine problems in the third and the remaining Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton car with a head gasket failure in the fourth hour.

Le Mans 1952: #26 the Poore/Griffith Aston DB3 Spyder alongside the Parnell/Thompson DB3 Coupe, all three factory cars DNF (unattributed)

The new Aston DB3 ‘Spyders’ also failed to finish- Dennis Poore/Pat Griffith in the third hour with water pump failure and Lance Macklin/Peter Collins towards the finish with an accident in the twenty-second hour of the long, unforgiving race. The works DB3 Coupe driven by Parnell/Thompson retired in the second hour with gearbox dramas. The ’52 Le Mans was won by the Benz W194- Hermann Lang and Fritz Riess from the the sister car of Theo Helfrich and Helmut Niedermayr.

The chance to make a good showing on home turf was therefore ‘manna from heaven’.

Jaguar used the same driver combinations they deployed in France whilst Aston’s pairings were Reg Parnell with Eric Thompson, Peter Collins and Pat Griffith and George Abecassis with Dennis Poore.

Other strong entries included Pierre Levegh’s Talbot-Lago T26GS, famously for being so nearly the winner driving solo at Le Mans in 1952 before missing a gear very late in the race. Ferrari 225S’ were entered for Tom Cole/Graham Whitehead and Bobbie Baird/Roy Salvadori, a works Allard J2X for Anthony Hume and George Thomas plus a swag of Healey Silverstone, Frazer Nash Le Mans Rep, Jag XK120, Cooper T14 MG, HRG and HWM cars. In short, an interesting field that lacked only works Ferrari and Mercedes entries.

image

At the start Moss, at right, as usual, won the sprint to his car, but Tony Rolt, to Moss’ right led on lap one, but he was soon overtaken by Parnell’s Aston…

At the end of the first hour the order was Parnell, Rolt, Abecassis, Moss and Baird, Ferrari 225S, then Whitehead.

Then the weather started to improve and as the track dried, the Jaguar’s pace became apparent with both Rolt and Moss passing Parnell. So, Jag, Jag, Jag, Aston, but then Whitehead crashed his C Type.

Disaster struck the Feltham team on lap 91 during a routine refuelling pit stop when Parnell’s car caught fire, burning two of the crew and team manager John Wyer. Parnell showed great leadership and strength of character, whilst his race drive was over he stood in for the injured Wyer to take over the critical team management role.

Eric Thompson came into the pits 3 hours into the race with smoke pouring from the rear of the car. Wyer and mechanic Jack Sopp pulled up the seats to investigate whilst Fred Lowndes refuelled. Spilt fuel from the last churn went onto the tail of the car and ran down onto the undertray where it was ignited by hot oil from a leaking fuel seal- within seconds the car was engulfed in flames and smoke. Wyer and Sopp suffered bad burns, Lowndes not so much but all 3 were taken to hospital whereupon Reg Parnell took charge. Aston DB3/3 was destroyed- and later rebuilt, Parnell, drove it to 5th in the 1953 Mille Miglia (unattributed)

 

At half distance the Moss/Walker Jaguar C Type led from the sister XKC of Rolt/Hamilton. The third C-type had crashed at Madgwick and retired whilst the DB3 of Abecassis/Poore had also dropped out of contention.

By 9pm the drivers had switched their headlights on, the spectacle of racing at Goodwood at night was fantastic but within half an hour of that a half shaft broke on the Rolt/Hamilton C Type which , allowed the remaining Aston of Collins/Griffith through, that car was then overtaken by the quick Ferrari 225S driven by Bobby Baird and Roy Salvadori.

Half an hour later Jaguar’s collapse was complete when the leading Moss/Walker car entered the pits with a broken rear radius arm that would take nearly an hour to repair. It is said that Jaguar boss Sir William Lyons was blissfully ignorant of all of the dramas which befell his team as he had retired to Goodwood House from the pitlane to enjoy what appeared to be a certain win!

image

The doomed Parnell/Thompson Aston DB3/3 earlier in the race prior to its demise (Getty)

In a race of rapidly changing fortunes the Baird/Salvadori Ferrari 225S had gone from from 4th to 1st in little more than an hour, but in a final twist of fate, on its last pit stop, the jack intended to lift the car sank into the patch of tarmac, softened by the earlier Aston DB3 fire! The loss of time was sufficient to let the Collins/Griffith DB3 into the lead with just an hour of the race to run. That pairing duly won despite an exhaust valve breaking an hour before the events end, from the two privateer Ferrari 225S’ driven by Cole/Whitehead and Baird/Salvadori.

Collins in the winning Aston DB3 early in the race (unattributed)

The Telegraph reported that ‘The Nine Hour had all the ingredients of a classic race; the changing weather, the drama of the pit fire and a dramatic fight for the lead, not to mention the fact that so many of the cars were competing on home soil. Yet the spectators were distinctly unmoved, many only arriving once the night racing began, and few staying for the duration. These were people who attended Goodwood for a grand day out – a nine-hour endurance race, where the leader wasn’t always obvious, was simply too long’.

‘When the Nine Hour race returned the following year it did so without any newspaper sponsorship to offer pre-event coverage. Spectators numbers fell as a result and with them the carnival atmosphere that made Le Mans such a success. Those who did go frequently left when it got dark, defeating the event’s raison d’être. It didn’t matter that the racing was first class (Aston would win again in ’53 and, after the race skipped a year, scored a third victory at what would be the last Nine Hour race in ’55) if nobody was there watching it. Perhaps the British will always see night racing as too good an excuse for a holiday abroad.’ the Telegraph concluded.

There was no World Sportscar or Manufacturers Championship in 1952, that competition started in 1953. However the classic race spoils went to Mercedes Benz W194/300SL at Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana with a Ferrari 250S victorious at the Mille Miglia and a Lancia Aurelia B20 at the Targa Florio

Vaino Hollming Jag XK120 leads Pierre Levegh Talbot-Lago T26GS then the Lawrence Mitchell Frazer Nash High Speed, Goodwood 9 Hour (Getty)

Aston Martin DB3 Technical Specifications…

Ex-Auto Union design team member Robert Eberan-Eberhorst first worked for ERA when he come to the UK post-war. He was contracted for 3 years from November 1930 to design a sports-racer for Astons which was to use the AML LMB 2.6 litre 6 cylinder engine and a David Brown 5 speed gearbox.

He chose a period typical ladder frame chassis design, the main members made from 16 guage, 4 inch chrome-molybdenum tubes with substantial cross bracing by three 14 guage 5 inch tubes.

Front suspension was similar to the DB2- trailing links, transverse torsion bars, piston type shocks and a roll bar. At the rear a more sophisticated De Dion rear axle was deployed. This was constructed from three steel sections welded together and was located by a Panhard Rod and parallel locating links. The upper links ran fore and aft, the lower links angled. Each of the lower links engaged by serrations with a transverse torsion bar. Armstrong double piston dampers were used. The car weighed circa 2165 pounds/980Kg with 9 gallons of fuel.

(Autocar)

Steering was by rack and pinion with 2 turns lock to lock, brakes were Al-fin drums, inboard at the rear. Spoked wire wheels were of course used with Rudge-Whitworth knock-off hubs.

The DB3 first raced in 2580cc form, with triple 35DCO Weber twin-choke carburettors. The alloy, DOHC, 2 valve head engine developed 133bhp @ 5500rpm. The gearbox was a DB S527, 5 speed with overdrive top gear, from July 1952 a DB S430/63R 4 speed box was used.

Into 1952 the engines ran Weber 36DCF carbs making 140bhp @ 5200rpm, still way too little. By the 1952 Monaco GP a 2922cc engine developed 147bhp @5000rpm but any increase in capacity of the LB6 engine was impossible as each pair of bores were siamesed.

163bhp was achieved from an engine with 35DCO twin-choke Webers and connecting rods with offset big ends at the Goodwood 9 Hour in 1952.

Bibliography…

Article by Chris Knapman in ‘The Telegraph’ April 2011, ‘Aston Martin: The Racing Cars’ Anthony Pritchard

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Klemantaski Archive, Don Price, Autocar

Tailpiece…

image

(unattributed)

Jochen Rindt awaits the start of the Australian Grand Prix, Lakeside, Queensland on 2 February 1969…

Alongside the Austrians Lotus 49B is Australian Niel Allen’s ex-Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2, the bi-winged device behind Jochen is the Piers Courage Frank Williams owned Brabham BT24 Ford DFW.

Jochen’s switched his engine off, as it tightened before it went ka-boom, having had problems in practice, on lap 43 whilst in third. Niel was 5th and Piers had an accident on lap 5 after a passing move on Graham Hill went pear-shaped at BMC bend. Chris Amon won in his works Ferrari 246T Dino.

Rindt’s Lotus 49 during dry, Saturday practice at Warwick Farm. He and Chris Amon’s Ferrari 246T had an electrifying duel for pole, won by Jochen in the final minutes of qualifying that day (R MacKenzie)

Allen Brown’s summary of the 1969 Tasman Series is a great one, it says a lot in the minimum number of words. I like that!

‘Chris Amon was back for 1969 and taking it much more seriously with two Ferrari 246T/69s for himself and teammate Derek Bell and four 300 bhp 24-valve engines. Despite the loss of Jim Clark, Lotus were present with a two-car team of Lotus 49Bs for Graham Hill and new teammate Jochen Rindt. BRM did not enter so the only other overseas entry was Frank Williams who had a Brabham BT24 for Piers Courage’.

Rindt, Brabham, Amon, Hill and Courage on Sandown’s pit straight with Rindt hooking into Peters Corner for the run up the back straight. Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Brabham BT31 Repco, Ferrari 246T, Lotus 49B Ford DFW and Brabham BT24 Ford DFW. Sandown International 100, 16 February 1969- Amon won from Rindt, Brabham and Gardner (unattributed)

‘Rindt proved to be Amon’s closest rival but spun away the lead at both Pukekohe and Levin, leaving Amon to win both races, before the Austrian took a comfortabe win at Wigram. A dominant victory at Lakeside’s Australian GP for Amon meant Rindt could no longer catch him and when Amon and Courage tangled at Warwick Farm, the Kiwi was champion’. Rindt had a stunning weekend in both practice and an amazing wet weather drive which blew the minds of the Sydney spectators and his rivals.

‘He (Amon) rounded off the season with victory at Sandown, his sixth in two seasons’.

Rindt mesmerised 16,000 soggy Sydney-siders with his raceday drive during the ’69 Warwick Farm 100 on 9 February. He ran away and hid after Amon and Piers Courage collided on the first lap (R MacKenzie)

Now that the visiting British teams were using F1 cars and then taking them home, there was no longer the annual influx of new machinery for the locals. Alec Mildren had the funding necessary to commission specials but the number of competitive 2.5-litre cars was definitely dropping. David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce was the nominal entrant of Amon’s Ferraris but no longer ran their own car. This season, Mildren had installed his Alfa V8 in a car designed for him by Len Bailey and constructed by Alan Mann Racing in England’(the monocoque Mildren Alfa ‘Yellow Submarine in addition to his ’68 Tasman Special, the Brabham BT23D Alfa driven by Kevin Bartlett’).

Jochen dry practice on the Friday given the lack of punters- Warwick Farm (G Paine)

Bibliography & Photo Credits…

Allen Brown on oldracingcars.com, Rod MacKenzie, Glenn Paine

Tailpiece: Moody Rindt shot, Warwick Farm 1969- check the mirror folks…

(R MacKenzie)

Finito…

 

Reg Hunt #5 and Guerino Bertocchi #7 in Maserati 250F’s prior to Saturday practice, Albert Park, Australian Grand Prix, 1 December 1956…

Hunt looks pretty happy with himself whilst Maserati’s legendary tester/mechanic Bertocchi wonders if everything is AOK with the Moss ‘#2501’. To the left of Hunt’s car is Tom Sulman’s Aston DB3S.

James Lineham had a fantastic day at the ‘Park, the sun shone making it ideal for spectators, especially those with cameras. He used his expensive colour film wisely in the paddock, his camera wasn’t sophisticated, so best to take snaps of stationary or near stationary cars. Then he shot off some monochrome action work whilst he walked Albert Parks huge expanse.

Bib Stillwell’s Jag XKD perhaps, on Lakeside Drive looking to the south of Albert Park Lake

James life spanned 1925 to 1997, he was a young enthusiast aged 31 when he attended this meeting. After his death his wife very carefully went through all of his precious belongings, found these photographs and kindly donated them to the State Library of Victoria for enthusiasts like you and i to see, in 2014. Clearly, there are many donations of this type, it has taken four years for James snaps to be catalogued and uploaded onto the SLV’s website- I found them on a regular search I do every few months.

Lets thank James and Catherine Lineham for the photos. Blurry though some of them are, they ooze atmosphere of a weekend spoken about in reverential terms by those fortunate enough to have attended. One of the journalists of the day, I’ve forgotten who, wrote of the weekend as ‘when Australian Motor Racing came of age’- it was an important one in our racing history.

Moss or Behra Maser 300S on the pit or main straight, Aughtie Drive. Race direction these days the other direction, or clockwise

 

Circuit map from the meeting program (G Dobie)

I’m obsessed with a few circuits in Australia in particular- Warwick Farm, Mount Panorama, Longford, Lobethal and Albert Park- Longford and the ‘Park especially. I live in Windsor 750 metres from Albert Park’s Austin Healey Corner/Turn 13, the Union Street/Queens Road second gear right-hander.

I run around it every other day, I think about the fellows who conquered it’s oh-so-quick unguarded challenges in the fifties and do so in much more safety today. I feel its wonderful rhythm, vibe and its sense of history all the time. These snaps gimme that vibe, Albert Park is a wonderful place to be even at 5.15am with only the park’s Daffy Ducks as company!

I was going to package the shots with some other photos I’ve accumulated of that weekend but somehow that didn’t seem the right thing to do. So here is ‘James Lineham’s day at the races’ with some shortish comments about each car/driver. In the event one of you knew James get in touch and I will pop a brief bio into this piece.

Vrrooom in a 6 cylinder 3 litre DOHC kinda way. Moss Maser 300S. Aughtie Drive from the Olympic Tyres Bridge

Attached are links to articles already written about this carnival motor racing fortnight during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games which ‘put Melbourne, if not Australia on the map’.

In fact James had a big choice that day. He could have taken a vantage point on the Mens Marathon course from Clayton to the Melbourne Cricket Ground via Dandenong Road- Algerian born Frenchman Alain Mimoun won it in 2:25.00 from Franjo Mihalic of Yugoslavia a minute and a half behind him.

The Australian Tourist Trophy;

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

And Australian Grand Prix

https://primotipo.com/2016/12/27/moss-at-albert-park/

The short story of the race is that Stirling Moss won the 80 lap, 250 mile journey on 2 December 1956…

He did so by a lap from teammate Jean Behra, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo, Reg Hunt’s Maser 250F and Stan Jones’ similar machine. It was a dominant display from the plucky Brit who was always, and still is immensely popular when he visits Australia.

International representation included the two works Officine Maserati drivers Moss and Behra (#1 above) who brought no less than five Masers with them. They shipped three 250F’s, two of the latest specification and an earlier chassis, and two 300S sportscars both of which remained in Australia post event. The cars were based at Reg Hunt’s Holden Dealership just up St Kilda Road on the Nepean Highway in Elsternwick a few kms from the circuit, the 300S’ being famously driven between workshop and racetrack.

Prince Bira and Jean Behra in the Albert Park paddock (S Landrigan)

Jean did not have a great year being comprehensively bested by one of the most gifted drivers in the world, but third places at Buenos Aires, Monaco, Reims, Silverstone and at the Nurburgring is hardly shabby. Over the two weekend Australian carnival it was Moss winning both the AGP and the Australian Tourist Trophy the weekend before.

Moss raced #7 250F chassis ‘2501’ and Behra #1 ‘2522’. The spare car ‘2507’ was driven by both Moss and Hunt during practice and at one point it was thought Jack Brabham may race it, not having an AGP ride that year, but it was not to be. A pity, by that stage Jack had two seasons of racing in Europe behind him so would have given all but Moss and Behra a good go.

Scuderia Ambrosiana entered two Ferrari 555 Super Squalo’s powered by 3.4 litre ‘860’ Monza four cylinder engines.

Remember that the AGP at this time was run to Formula Libre rules, the cars above were driven by #2 Reg Parnell, chassis number ‘FL9002’ and #3 Peter Whitehead, chassis ‘FL9001’. Whitehead was a regular visitor to Australia dealing with the family wool business and had won the Australian Grand Prix way back in 1938 aboard his ERA chassis R10B- then he was 24 and in 1956 he was 42 years of age.

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/16/peter-whitehead-in-australia-era-r10b-1938/

Whitehead started the carnival well winning the ‘Bryson Industries Cup’ support event to the Australian Tourist Trophy the week before, ahead of Hunt and Kevin Neal, Maserati A6GCM.

Whitehead and Parnell were unlikely to be on the pace of the works Masers but would be good bets as best of the rest, as indeed they were- Peter was third and Reg sixth. The Parnell car remained in Australia, click here to read about it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

Car #9 in the background of the photo above is Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, Alberto Ascari’s 1952/3 dual World F1 Championship winning chassis ‘#0005’- iconic in Australia and winner of the 1957 and 1958 AGP’s at Caversham and Bathurst respectively. The 3 litre car, which then carried chassis number ‘#0480’ was 7th, 5 laps behind Moss with various problems

Ken Wharton was a well credentialled Brit in both single-seaters and sportscars, but his ‘Ecurie Du Puy’ (John Du Puy was an American resident in Switzerland) silver Maserati 250F was said to be, and looked, tired.

Chassis ‘#2521’ had been Behra’s works machine, a new car that season, in eight events earlier in the year before being sold to Du Puy. But it looked ‘in need of a birthday’ before leaving Europe, it was the latest bit of kit, properly prepared the car was a top three contender.

Ken retired the car on lap 19 and then journeyed on to race the Maserati and his Ferrari Monza in New Zealand that summer, unfortunately dying in a tragic accident aboard the Monza on 12 January 1957 at Ardmore during the NZ GP weekend.

The best prepared and equipped of the locals were the well heeled Victorians- motor dealers Reg Hunt and Stan Jones in Maserati 250F’s of similar specification and ‘cobbler’ Lex Davison, who owned a shoe manufacturing and distribution business.

Lex’ Ferrari was older than the 250F’s but was quick with its 3 litre engine and beautifully prepared by Alan Ashton at AF Hollins motor engineers just up the road in Armadale. In fact all three of these cars lived close to the circuit. Hunt was fourth, best of the locals, Jones was fifth and Davison seventh.

Doug Whiteford was another local- very, his dealership/workshop was in Carlisle Street St Kilda, a drop-kick from Albert Park.

Whiteford’s first Talbot-Lago T26C, chassis ‘#110007’ was an astute purchase, the robust, simple design was well suited to Australian events. It was beautifully prepared and driven by ‘Dicer Doug’ who won two of his three AGP’s in it- at Bathurst in 1952 and at Albert Park in 1953. Click here for a piece on Doug’s TL’s;

https://primotipo.com/2015/06/09/fill-her-up-matey-lago-talbot-t26c-melbourne-1957/

The purchase of the second T26C (photo above) wasn’t quite so smart though. An earlier chassis ‘#110002’ but later spec mechanically than ‘#110007’ sounded ok but the game in Oz had moved on- he needed something more modern and competitive.

Whiteford was a consistent third in the ’55 AGP at Port Wakefield behind Brabham and Hunt but by ’56 it was simply not on the pace. Still, his bankroll was more modest at the top level than most. A shame, as Doug, 42 then and as vastly experienced and tough as they come didn’t give a yard to any of the locals. Whiteford in a 250F or something of that performance envelope would have been worth travelling a few miles to see. Its a shame he bought a 300S off Maserati after this meeting rather than a 250F.

Doug and his crew roll his T26C towards the start (unattributed)

 

Reg Hunt made everybody take notice in his ‘Flying Bedstead’ Hunt JAP Spl in hillclimbs and on the circuits in the late forties/early fifties and then refined his craft with a season racing a 500 F3 Cooper machine in the UK in 1954.

On his way back to Oz he acquired a superb Maserati 250F engined Maserati A6GCM chassis ‘#2038’ (above with Kevin Neal at the wheel) with which he belted the locals in 1955.

Only mechanical failure kept him from the ’55 AGP won by Jack Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol. Hunt ordered a 250F for ’56, he was allocated a rebuilt 1955 works machine chassis ‘2516’ with Melbourne haulier Kevin Neal- who had also raced an ex-Hunt Cooper T53 Bristol the purchaser of the A6GCM.

Neal had a shocker of an AGP bending the car severely and injuring himself late in the race when he lost the car in the greasy conditions. I wrote a long feature about the A6GCM not long ago;

https://primotipo.com/2017/12/12/hunts-gp-maser-a6gcm-2038/

Lineham’s colour photos show fine taste and focus on the single-seaters- but who can fault his choice of Stan Coffey’s Ferrari 750 Monza sportscar (below) for his final colour snap. He raced the car in the Australian TT the weekend before, DNF in the classic won by Moss from Behra and Ken Wharton’s Ferrari Monza.

Its a rare, clear shot of the man, now whatever became of him? There is an obscure article topic, he raced a few interesting cars too, Cooper Bristol etc…

Entry List…

(B Moyle)

Etcetera…

(J Hunting)

The photograph above is in Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick workshop with ‘Gib’ Barrett’s #19 Alta GP-2 1.5 s/c alongside Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625. Behind are the two Ferrari 555’s of Reg Parnell on the left and #3 Peter Whitehead on the right. The other car we can just see at left is, I think, the Wharton silver Maserati 250F.

(Gray Family)

Reg Parnell’s Ferrari Super Squalo, Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, looking smaller in comparison and the dark coloured Kevin Neale Maserati A6GCM which did not look quite so pristine at the end of the weekend.

(O Plada)

Bibliography…

 8W.forix.com on Maser 250F chassis numbers, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credit…

James Lineham- State Library of Victoria, Simon Landrigan, Brian Moyle Collection, Gordon Dobie Collection, Oscar Plada, John Hunting, Gray Family Collection

Tailpiece: Oopsie, not quite, snapped too soon! Its the i dunno Maser 250F…

Easy i thought its #2 but that’s Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 555- the car is a 250F. Which one though? Not Moss, Behra, Hunt, Jones or Wharton all of which/whom are eliminated by virtue of number, colour or nose treatment. Hmm. Maybe its the works spare ‘2507’ carrying what looks like #2 whilst either Moss or Hunt did a few laps. Anyway that’s my story, but i’ll entertain other theories.

Finito…

 

 

 

 

 

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Amazing panorama of a hot, happy Riverside crowd in 1959, no details of date or race meeting, race in progress for sportscars…

These days with so much competition for our leisure dollars promoters globally find it hard to get such crowds. In the ‘immediate’ post war years there was pent up demand and plenty of money in a booming post war economy to draw a crowd to just about anything.

By the look of some of the grandstands, it would have been more dangerous as a spectator than as a racer…

Credit…

JR Eyerman

 

 

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(T Watts Collection)

A favourite car, favourite marque, favourite colour. Bert Howard’s Lola Mk1 Climax at Symmons Plains, Tasmania in April 1968…

It’s a simple enough shot I suppose, a well executed pan with classic blurred background, but too good not to share.

The colour is so clear it could be 2017, but the low roll bar, helmet and background devoid of advertising hoardings gives it away a bit, its 1968. The small, lithe little machine looks like a ‘big banger’ doesn’t it?, but the 1098cc Coventry Climax FWA engined car is anything but that.

The Lola Mk1 was seminal in Eric Broadley’s early commercial success. The story of the car itself, it’s development and specifications is so well told on Lola Heritage, just click on the link here to read about these magic cars;

http://www.lolaheritage.co.uk/history/types/mk1/mk1.htm

Bert’s car, Lola Mk1 chassis ‘BR15’  first came to Australia to the order of ‘Scuderia Veloce’ supremo, David McKay in late 1960.

By the time David McKay landed the sporty and Formula Junior Lola Ford ‘BRJ18’ the former World War 2 veteran, racer and motoring journalist had already been competing since the late forties. He had second place in the 1955 Hyeres 12 Hours in southern France together with Tony Gaze aboard a ‘customer’ Aston DB3S and the 1958 Australian Tourist Trophy, Bathurst, victory as career highlights to that point, the latter aboard his ex-works Aston Martin DB3S, see here for that car(s); https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

Most international readers would be by now familiar with McKay from various of my articles. He was a racer at elite level who founded ‘Scuderia Veloce’ to race his own cars circa 1959. The team very shortly thereafter morphed into an enterprise which entered cars for others including internationals, Chris Amon, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart- and into a retail motor dealership on Sydney’s North Shore which sold Ferrari, later Volvo and from 1969 Porsche cars.

McKay also aided and abetted the careers of many drivers from the early days- most notably Amon, Spencer Martin, Greg Cusack and right through into the 1970’s Larry Perkins and open-wheeler Formula Pacific ace John Smith in the latter period.

Throughout this era of the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies McKay was the most influential Oz motoring journalist as motoring editor of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers. See here for more;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

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David McKay, Lola Mk1 Climax, Forrests Elbow, Bathurst, Easter 1961. Won the 3 lap under 1500 scratch and was 4th outright and 1st in class in the 10 lap main sportscar event won by the Matich Lotus 15 Climax (J Ellacott)

A mate of McKay’s, dentist David Lewin based in London had written to the Sydneysider and extolled him of the virtues of both Lolas and McKay soon did a deal with Graham Broadley, Eric’s brother to acquire ‘BR15’, which was a works car raced by Peter Ashdown.

The FJ was a new car built for a category which was exploding globally. The shadows of the War by then had to a large extent diminished, globally the worlds economy was performing well and consumer credit was becoming more widely available- many young men could afford to go motor racing and FJ was very much a class of choice.

In Australia, finally some permanent venues were being built- Warwick Farm, Catalina Park, Lakeside, Sandown Park, Calder and others were all opened in the early years of the sixties. In fact McKay was keen to land both Lolas in time for the first Warwick Farm opening meeting in December 1960. ‘BR15’ was not available until the end of the British racing season however.

Between the purchase of the cars and their arrival in Australia the Australian Federal Government had increased sales tax on imported cars to 40%. Much to McKay’s chagrin the changes applied to both road cars AND racing cars including those ‘on the water’! His landed price having increased hugely, McKay quickly did a deal to relieve the financial pressure so created to sell the FJ to Sydney insurance broker Tom Corcoran who had been racing a Lotus 11. Corcoran raced the car under the SV banner thereby getting some support at race meetings and fuel and oil provided by Castrol who had about then done a deal with McKay. David of course raced the Mk1.

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Scuderia Veloce on Warwick Farm’s pit straight in 1962. Morgan Distributors Morgan Plus 4, Tony Loxley’s Ferrari 250 GT, Fiat Importers Fiat 1800, ‘Old Nail’ Cooper T51 Climax, Lola Mk1 Climax (J Fullarton)

Scuderia Veloce at the time included the little Lola, a Nardi modified Fiat 1800 taken out to 2 litres owned by Fiat Australia which David raced in the burgeoning Appendix J touring car class and his Jaguar.

By early 1960 his first Jaguar Mk1 3.4 ‘Grey Pussy’, the dominant touring car in Australia at the time had been sold to Ron Hodgson. David bought a second Jag, a 3.4 litre Mk1, like the first built by the Jaguar Competition Department, which was co-owned with Australian Jaguar importer Bryson Industries. He won the very first Australian Touring Car Championship, a one race event, at Gnoo Blas, Orange in the red Jag in early 1960 beating Bill Pitt’s 3.4 litre Mk1 and Hodgson’s car which by then was 3.8 litres in capacity.

He also occasionally raced Sydney businessman/yachtsman Tony Loxley’s Ferrari 250GT coupe in GT races.

In single-seaters, for a short time in 1959 McKay raced a new (Victa Industries owned) Cooper T51 Climax FPF 1.9 and after the 1961 Australasian International season- the Victa owned car having been sold to Bib Stillwell he acquired a Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2 from Jack Brabham. McKay realised, approaching forty that his time at the top was limited and he ‘needed to get on with it’ in single-seaters!

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Mallala AGP weekend 1961, this will be a heat as Bill Patterson started from pole after acrimony over qualifying times and Stan Jones DNS the GP itself after mechanical mayhem intruded. #6 Bib Stillwell in his new Cooper T53 Climax, #14 McKay in ‘Old Nail’ Cooper T51 Climax and #2 Stan Jones Cooper T51 Climax. That’s Gerry Brown tending to Bib and Kevin Drage with his hand on the tail of the car (K Drage)

The ‘Old Nail’ Cooper Jack Brabham had for sale was raced by Ron Flockhart and Roy Salvadori that summer as part of ‘Jack’s team (‘Ecurie Vitesse’) was none other than Bruce McLaren’s ex-works machine (chassis number either ‘F2-5-57’ or ‘F2-7-59’), the chassis in which Bruce took his first world championship GP victory at Sebring in late 1959 and another win at Buenos Aires in February 1960.

It wasn’t in the full flush of youth as a ’59 (or was it 1957!?) car with transverse leaf, as against coil sprung rear end but was still a pretty good thing to go head to head with Cooper mounted Stan Jones, Bill Patterson, Lex Davison, (noting Lex’ interludes in Aston Martin DBR4’s) Bib Stillwell, (ditto!) Alec Mildren and the rest of the local heroes in Australia.

Indeed, the difference between an Australian Grand Prix ‘Old Nail’ win for McKay and 3rd place at Mallala in October 1961 was a jumped start and 60 second penalty in the opinion of the race stewards…but not in the opinion of many informed onlookers! A story for another time. Lex Davison won the ’61 AGP, his fourth and last AGP victory aboard a Cooper T51 borrowed from Bib Stillwell (the ex-Victa Industries car raced briefly by McKay) and Bibs later, quicker!, Cooper T53 with McKay’s T51 third. As I say, that meeting is very much a story in itself for another time.

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Start of the Australian Touring Car Championship race at Gnoo Blas, Orange, NSW 1 February 1960. Ron Hodgson in Jag Mk1 3.8 ‘Grey Pussy’ at left, McKay in his new Mk1 3.4 right, Bill Pitt behind in another Mk1 3.4 then the Holdens led by Pete Geoghegan’s black 48-215. McKay won from Pitt and Hodgson (unattributed)

So, McKay was a busy boy and Lola was only one of his toys! McKay was well aware of the cars speed which was both demonstrated by the performance of the cars in the UK and Derek Jolly’s Coventry Climax FWA powered Decca’s which raced in Australia from the mid-fifties- and which McKay was well familiar with on-and off circuit.

The dominant sportscars in Australia at the time were Ron Phillips’ Cooper Jaguar, Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S, Derek Jolly’s 2 litre FPF powered ex-works Lotus 15 and then Frank Matich’s Leaton Motors owned ex-works 2.5 litre FPF powered Lotus 15 from the time it arrived in Australia in 1960. Matich then transferred his raw pace to a Lotus 19 Climax which further accentuated his dominance (which segued to Lotus 19B, Elfin 400 Olds aka ‘Traco Olds’, Matich SR3 Repco and Matich SR4 Repco- a decade of sportscar wins for FM in Australia)

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‘BR15’ at Symmons Plains 1968: spaceframe chassis, wishbone upper and lower front suspension with coil spring/shocks, 1098cc originally but by now probably 1220cc Coventry Climax Weber fed FWA engine and rubber bungee attached fuel tank all clear (oldracephotos.com)

The Lola was a famously light, beautiful handling car but it was not an outright contender toting only 1100cc so its place in the local order was to win the 1100 or under 1500 class and punch above its weight in outright competition.

McKay’s cars finally arrived from the UK in October 1960, their first outing a test day at Warwick Farm in October before the inaugural Warwick Farm open meeting on 18 December 1960. Bob Atkin had by then been engaged by McKay to look after the Lolas, Atkin formed a career with SV’s and was still Dealer Principal of Scuderia Veloce Motors when it was sold to Laurie Sutton a decade or so hence.

McKay won his class in the famously very wet meeting whilst finishing 2nd outright behind Matich’ Lotus 15 and ahead of Derek Jolly’s 15, Bob Jane’s Maser 300S, Doug Chivas’ Jag D Type and others. In a great day for McKay, he won a sportscar race in the Morgan Plus 4, was 4th in the Appendix J touring car race in the Fiat and took fastest lap as well as winning the 1500 class in the Lola Mk1. A great day at the office!

Over the next 12 months the car was unbeatable in its class with successes at Ballarat Airfield, Hume Weir, Longford and Bathurst.

Business end of the Lola, Longford 1960 (G Richardson)

 

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McKay’s Lola ‘BR15’ in very ugly Appendix K GT guise in 1961, circuit unknown. Gives new meaning to ‘slab sided’ ‘dunnit (M Schagen)

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport adopted Appendix K for GT cars for the 1960 season which made sense in terms of attracting people to buy and race closed coupes such as the Lotus Elite and Porsche Carrera being sold at the time. It left large numbers of sportscars out on a limb in the sense that promoters now chose between running races for the two categories-that is between Appendix C Sportscars and Appendix K GT’s.

CAMS oddly, but sensibly allowed open cars to compete as long as they had ‘a lid’. As a consequence all manner of cars including such exotica as D Type Jags, Maser 300S…and McKays Lola Mk1 were ‘converted’ from open sportscars to closed coupes.

The conversions were usually as ugly as sin, Bob Jane’s Maser 300S arguably the exception, with David’s Lola definitely in the ‘fugly’ category as the photo above proves! The work was done by Clive Adams North Sydney panel shop, ‘ there a master of aluminium work, one Stan Brown, had a small corner where he worked his magic’ as McKay so eloquently put it. ‘That it turned out an ugly duckling there is no doubt’. To make matters worse the increase in weight of the car and ‘top heaviness’ ruined the beautiful balance of Broadley’s original design.

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1961 GT Racing shot: Bob Jane, Maser 300S Coupe, Leo Geoghegan Lotus Elite, Frank Matich Jaguar D Type Hardtop and the red car is Keith Malcolm’s Skoden, Bathurst October 1961 (MK1220)

McKay in his autobiography describes the silver lining in the GT conversion work as the introduction to him of Spencer Martin, who worked at Adams shop and had started racing in a self built sportscar. Later they would achieve much together with Spencer driving both the SV Brabham BT11A Climax after Graham Hill had finished with it at the end of the 1964 Tasman Series and McKay’s famous, glorious ‘Red Lady’- his Ferrari 250LM.

The Lola ‘GT’ cannot have been too bad mind you, McKay was 2nd in the 50 mile, one race 1961 Australian GT Championship held at Warwick Farm in July 1961. Frank Matich won in a Jag XKD ‘GT’ from Brian Foley’s Austin Healey Sprite Hardtop and Bob Jane’s Maser 300S Coupe.

As McKay focussed on other cars he sold the Lola to Greg Cusack, the young motor-trader and rally-driver from Canberra was a man on-the-rise. Cusack raced the car for the first time, still under the SV banner, at Warwick Farm in December 1961. He achieved the same levels of success with it in the following twelve months as McKay.

Cusack also had an occasional race in the ‘Old Nail’ Cooper T51 Climax during 1962 including a very solid 4th in the ‘Bathurst 100’ Gold Star event on demanding Mount Panorama.

McKay played an important role in Chris Amon’s nascent career, running the young Kiwi in the Australasian International season aboard his Cooper T53 Climax in 1963- it was during that summer that Reg Parnell spotted Chris’ talent and spirited him off to Europe.

Chris had a few drives of McKay’s Coopers (Old Nail T51 and T53) in Australia in the second half of 1962 at Sandown and Mallala during practice and at the Gold Star season ending round at Warwick Farm in mid-October where he raced the T51 to 3rd place in the ‘Hordern Trophy’ behind Bib Stillwell and John Youl. The talented young Kiwi also raced the Lola Mk1 at Sandown in September to a class win in the Victorian Sportscar Championship.

The Lotus 23’s then beginning to appear gave the Lola a taste of competition for the first time. Cusack could see the writing on the wall so acquired two Elfins, a Catalina single-seater and Mallala mid-engined sportscar with which to take his career forward.

Cusack remained close to McKay, he would several years hence drive the teams Brabham BT23A Repco after Spencer Martin’s departure from Scuderia Veloce.

Lola was offered for sale and sold to to another very quick young driver, John Martin of Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains who had been competing in a Lotus 15. He first raced the car in January 1963 and achieved much success despite the more competitive grids in which the Lola now competed.

John Martin, Oran Park circa 1963

 

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Pete Geoghegan in ‘BR15’ giving Niel Allen’s new Elan heaps at the ’66 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting in February. It was a very effective ‘demo’ of the little cars pace despite advancing years and race miles. Geoghegan was doing as many laps in little lithe Lotuses at the time as the Touring Cars for which he was famous- he would have found Lola very much to his liking I suspect (B Wells)

Frank Demuth, a Sydney accountant was the next owner having bought the car in early 1964. He gradually got the hang of it, as a newcomer to racing, but soon traded it in after 12 months on the Lotus 23B Ford raced by Pete Geoghegan, the Geoghegan brothers were Australia’s Lotus importers.

Rather than leave the car sitting on the Parramatta Road used car lot, Pete decided to have a run in it to remind everyone Lola was about and for sale. He had the car painted the wonderful shade of yellow and added 8 inch wheels to get a bit more grip. By now the car’s Climax FWA was said to be 1220cc in capacity.

Geoghegan entered it in the 1966 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting sportscar races and gave Niel Allen’s ex-Leo Geoghegan Lotus Élan 26R and Demuth plenty of curry in the 23 he has just acquired! Still, Pete was a rather handy steerer whatever the theoretical superiority of the 1.6 litre mid-engined, Lotus/Ford twin-cam powered Lotus 23! The feature race, for the record was won by Greg Cusack in a Lotus 23B from Demuth, Geoghegan and Bob Jane’s E Type Lwt.

It was at this point that Bert Howard responded to the Geoghegan’s March 1966 ‘Racing Car News’ advertisement, asking price $A3400- read it and weep! It was a long drive from Hobart to Sydney and back but no doubt Bert had a big smile as his car towed ‘BR15’ onto the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ at Port Melbourne for the final leg of the 1600 Km trip home.

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Longford 1968: Bert Howard’s Lola in front of Doug Whiteford, works Datsun Fairlady, John Roxburgh Lotus 23C Ford and Ian Maudsley, Lotus Super 7 (oldracephotos)

There the car was beautifully prepared and presented for years at Longford, Symmons Plains and Baskerville, if increasingly outdated as the mid-engined hordes grew exponentially throughout the 1960’s. In the smaller capacity classes these cars included the Lotus 23, various local 23 ‘clones’, the Elfin Mallala, Elfin 300 and others.

Bert sold the car in the early seventies to Kent Patrick who raced it in various historic events before selling it to Kerry Luckins, well known in motorsport as the General Manager of Paul England Engineering in Melbourne, a Light Car Club stalwart and the ‘on-circuit’ Sandown commentator.

Proud new parent, Kerry Luckins picks up his new Lola from Kent Patrick’s, son Kurt observed ‘It still had the big rear tyres’. (Luckins Family_

Kerry stripped the car and rebuilt it fully with the assistance of  Jim Shepherd. It is in this period in the earlyish days of historic racing that I remember the Melbourne based car and later when raced by Ian and his son Nick McDonald, the car always looked ‘a million bucks’ and was very fast as the McDonald cars always are.

The car left Australia circa 2000 when sold to Tony Moy of Page and Moy, the specialist UK motor racing travel agency. Forty years had elapsed between the cars departure from and return to the UK- a great pity as the lovely little car had been an enduring and ever-present part of the Oz racing scene and a ‘belle of the ball’ wherever it appeared.

It never looked better than in its yellow phase in Bert Howard’s hands mind you…

Etcetera: David, Graham and Friends…

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(Warwick Farm)

Warwick Farm function during the Tasman Series, perhaps 1964, the year Graham Hill drove McKay’s Brabham BT11A. Left to right- unknown, McKay, unknown, Geoff Sykes Warwick Farm promoter and manager, GH and Mike Kable, motoring journalist.

(Luckins Family)

Kerry Luckins gets JM Fangio to try the seat of his Lola at Sandown during the 1978 ‘Tribute To Fangio’ meeting. Kerry was President of the organising club, the Light Car Club of Australia, see here for a piece on THAT Sandown which practically every racing enthusiast in the country attended from the Prime Minister of the day, Malcolm Fraser down;

https://primotipo.com/2018/08/21/juan-manuel-fangios-sandown-park/

Kerry was a well known, respected figure in the day, I admired the way he steered the Light Car Club as a member, he came across well on the Telly as part of the Sandown broadcast team, I met him later in his life in retirement at Sorrento. I visited to buy a Smiths chronometric tach which I still have, and look at his Birrana 274 (ex-Allison 274-07) but it was way too far gone for my limited mechanical skills- not sure that car has re-surfaced yet?

The very talented John Martin shows Lola’s delicate lines and pert little rump to very good effect at Oran Park circa 1963.

Bibliography…

‘David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Lola Heritage, oldracingcars.com, Terry Sullivan and Ray Bell on ‘The Roaring Season’, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

Photo Credits…

T Watts Collection via Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Geoff Harrisson/oldracephotos.com, John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, Marc Schagen via Aussieroadracing, J Fullarton, MK1220, Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season, Greg Richardson, Ian Thorn, Kerry and Jennie Luckins Family Collection

Tailpiece: David McKay at Catalina Park, Blue Mountains, NSW, Lola Mk1 Climax, date unknown, beautiful isn’t it…

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(M Schagen)

Finito…