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

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 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 ‘FL9002’ and #3 Peter Whitehead ‘FL9001’. Whitehead was a regular to Australia dealing with the family wool business and had won the Australian Grand Prix way back in 1938 aboard his ERA 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 (car above) 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 ’56 before being sold to Du Puy. But it really 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.

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…

Bibliography…

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

Photo Credit…

James Lineham- State Library of Victoria, Simon Landrigan

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…

 

 

 

 

 

Comments
  1. Rob Bailey says:

    Doug bought the 300s with the thought of more starting/prize money ..sports car racing and Formula libre.

    • markbisset says:

      Rob,
      Yep i know what he did makes sense i guess given he was a pro and looked at all the commercial angles. At 42 he was still young enough to take them all on with a 250F- i guess selfishly I’ve always thought it a shame he didn’t have an outright single-seater car at the same time as Davison, Hunt, Jones and Gray. The races would have been epic contests, then Hunt went and spoiled the show and retired. ’56, ’57, ’58 and even into ’59 could have been great with all that lot in equally competitive cars.
      Mark

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