Archive for May, 2018

Ron Flockhart and Mustang P51, Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne 1961…

I wrote an article three years ago about Ron Flockhart, his win together with Ivor Bueb aboard an Ecurie Ecosse Jag XKD at Le Mans in 1957 (he won in a D Type with Ninian Sanderson in ’56 too) and tangentially about his death in a Mustang P51 fighter in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges during preparations for his second attempt on the Australia-United Kingdon air record in April 1962. Click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

Recently I came upon some photographs of Ron in Australia taken during the 1961 pre-Tasman racing internationals, this led to another ‘Flockhart Google cruise’ and discovery of the substance of this piece which is an article first published in ‘Pilot’ magazine written by Neil Follett and Nick Stroud. That article is from an aviation rather than a motor racing perspective- I found it fascinating, I know many of you ‘crossover’ into ‘planes as well as cars so here ‘tis, the racing bits which are mine, will be clear I think.

Ron Flockhart in red and Ivor Bueb with Jag XKD ‘606’ after the 1957 Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans win (unattributed)

‘One of the first racing drivers to fly himself to meetings in his own aircraft, Ron Flockhart raced at the top level in sports cars and Formula One before a growing interest in long distance record flights led to high adventure and stark tragedy.

William Ronald Flockhart was born in Edinburgh on 16 June 1923. He began his motor racing career in 1951, going on to win the 24 Heures du Mans race in 1956 and 1957 while driving a D-Type Jaguar with the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team. Flockhart also participated in Formula One races, entering his first−the British Grand Prix−in 1954 and continuing throughout 1956–60. The Scotsman competed in fourteen F1 races with five different teams, his best result being a third in the 1956 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Flockhart also displayed an early interest in flying, owning Auster 5 G-ANHO during 1954–57, and becoming one of the first Formula One drivers to fly their own aircraft to race meetings. In the early 1960s he became interested in record flights between England and Australia, noting that the record was held by Arthur Clouston and Victor Ricketts in the DH88 Comet G-ACSS Grosvenor House.

The Comet won the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race and was the aircraft in which Ricketts and Clouston flew from London to Sydney (and then on to New Zealand) in 80hr 56min in March 1938. Flockhart considered that this record could be bettered. He was also interested in bettering the standing solo Australia−UK record, held by H F ‘Jim’ Broadbent, who had left Darwin in Percival Vega Gull G-AFEH on 18 April 1938, and landed in England on the 22nd having covered 9,612 miles in five days 4hr 21min, the last pre-war record flight between the two countries.

In October 1960 British holding company United Dominions Trust (UDT), through its subsidiary Laystall Engineering, formed an agreement with the British Racing Partnership to form a motor-racing organisation known as UDT Laystall Racing. As an extension of its racing activities, UDT became involved with the purchase of (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Fishermens Bend, Melbourne built) Commonwealth CA-17 Mustang Mk 20 VH-BVM for Flockhart’s record attempt.

This aircraft had originally been purchased from the RAAF by former RAF and RAAF pilot James L ‘Wac’ Whiteman, who intended to enter the aircraft in the 1953 London to Christchurch (New Zealand) Air Race. Wac withdrew from the race when he realised it would not be competitive with the jets entered and in 1954 its ownership passed to Arnold J Glass, a fellow racing driver against whom Flockhart would compete in the 1961 and 1962 New Zealand Grand Prix races. Used latterly for target-towing experiments, it was sold to UDT for around £2,000 with around 100 flying hours on the clock. Flockhart was also able to obtain 63 gallon combat droptanks for about £7 each’.

Flockhart with the unloaded left front of his Cooper T51 Climax just kissing the Warwick Farm Causeway tarmac in 1961 (J Arkwright)

Racing in New Zealand/Australia, Summer 1961…

Ron organised an ex-works Cooper for his limited campaign of races in the Antipodes in the hot summer of 1961. T51 Climax ‘F2-7-59’ was ‘ex-Works Car No 3 according to the Cooper Register…believed to be Masten Gregory’s regular car during 1959…Bruce McLaren’s race-winning car at both Sebring December 1959 and at Buenos Aires in February 1960…and may be either the works teams spare car during 1960…or the car sold to Fred Tuck for 1960’ according to oldracingcars.com. Whatever the case, whilst the T51 was a good jigger, it was no longer in the full flush of youth with the quicker cars that season the T53 ‘Lowline’ Coopers of Brabham and McLaren, the works P48 BRM’s of Graham Hill and Dan Gurney and Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax driven by Stirling Moss.

Flockhart and Denny Hulme fighting for 4th place during the 1961 NZ GP at Ardmore both in Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 FPF, Ron 4th, Denny 5th (sergent.com)

Moss disappeared into the distance in the 7 January NZ GP at Ardmore but was outed with a badly slipping clutch mid-race giving the win to Brabham from McLaren, Hill and Flockhart a plucky fourth.

With much preparation to do in Australia for his pending flight he missed the balance of the NZ events and re-acquainted himself with the Cooper T51 at the first international meeting held at the new, technically challenging Warwick Farm circuit laid out amidst a horse-racing facility on the western suburban outskirts of Sydney on 29 January.

Getty Images caption dated 2 February 1961 notes ‘The Flying Scotsman’ is travelling from Australia to England on a dual mission- first to marry BOAC hostess Gillian Tatlow and second to attempt to break the Australia-Britain record for single-engine planes..(Getty)

He was fifth in the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ held in scorching hot weather and won by the Moss Lotus 18 with its side-panels removed to help cope with the extreme conditions. A fortnight later he contested the last race of his ’61 tour, the ‘Victoria Trophy’ that year held on a circuit laid out on Ballarat Airfield, Ballarat is in Victoria’s Goldfields region 120 Km from Melbourne.

Flockhart at Ballarat Aerodrome, 1961. This Cooper T53 Climax  (autopics.coma.u)

Ron raced a Border Reivers Cooper T53 Climax to third to the works BRM P48’s of Gurney and Hill with Dan scoring the only ‘international win’ for that chassis that weekend. With that, and a fortnight until his scheduled Mustang departure for the UK he re-focused on a high-performance machine of an altogether different type.

Flockhart with G-ARKD, place? (Pilot)

Preparations begin…

‘With the end of the Antipodean motor racing season in early 1961, preparations began for the flight to the UK. Rolls-Royce ran checks on the Packard Merlin 38 engine, which had only run 110 hours since new, and which had never been ‘through the gate’. The magnetos were overhauled in Scotland and Smiths Australia set to work on overhauling the cockpit instruments.

Preparatory work on the airframe was undertaken at the Illawarra Flying School, which modified the fuel system by introducing a manual device by which the system could be depressurised. Two static vents were incorporated into the airframe under the cockpit sill, each containing a valve. This would enable Flockhart to run the droptanks dry without the risk of sucking air into the system. The system would then be repressurised from the exhaust side of the vacuum pump to assist initial transfer. This worked well, although a stiff bootful of rudder was required to counter the rolling moment causd by the change in lateral balance as a tank emptied.

In the limited space available in the Mustang’s cockpit two German Becker VHF radio sets were installed, which provided 36 communications channels, and Lear T12 automatic direction finding (ADF) equipment was fitted in the position usually occupied by the gunsight. No VOR, ILS, HF radio or marker-beacon receiver equipment was fitted−Flockhart held no instrument rating. Normalair supplied the oxygen equipment, Dunlop provided new tyres, and Lodge delivered new plugs. Rolls-Royce suggested that the Merlin be opened up to maximum continuous power every half-hour during the flight and again briefly during descent and approach.’

Bankstown Airport Sydney 1961 (G Goodall)

G-ARKD lookin’ a million bucks outside Fawcett’s hangar at Bankstown after final prep for the 1961 flight (G Goodall)

‘Final preparations and modifications were undertaken by Fawcett Aviation at Bankstown Aerodrome in Sydney, and the Mustang was officially added to the British register on 24 February 1961 as G-ARKD, in the name of Ronald Flockhart. In the days leading up to his departure for the UK Flockhart had logged a mere twelve flying hours in the Mustang.

In March 1961, Flockhart told British magazine Flight that piloting a Mustang for the first time was like ‘driving an ERA after a sports car; things happen very quickly’. He also admitted that it had taken some time to get used to the Mustang’s long nose and the technique of a curving approach, and had accordingly suffered ‘one or two bumpy landings’, but had quickly come to like the aeroplane very much. Flockhart noted that although the Mustang was big and powerful, ‘it was amply stable for the long hours of steady, level cruise’.

The planned route for the flight was Sydney—Alice Springs—Darwin—Sourabaya—Singapore —Rangoon—Calcutta—Karachi—Bahrain—Beirut—Brindisi—Nice and on to London, with overnight stops at Singapore, Karachi and Brindisi. Flockhart’s plan was to fly only during daylight hours and in segments of a maximum of five hours. All fuelling arrangments along the route were to be made by Esso, which Flockhart found to be ‘unfailingly helpful and efficient’

(Pilot)

Setting off…

‘On Tuesday, February 28, 1961, Flockhart and G-ARKD, painted in an overall bright red colour scheme with white detailing, departed Sydney for the first stop at Alice Springs. En route from the latter to Darwin, Flockhart experienced a magnetically charged dust storm, which affected his ADF equipment. He settled in at 12,000ft and followed the faint line of a solitary railway across the endless red terrain to Darwin.

The next day Flockhart departed Darwin for Surabaya on Java. Well out over the Timor Sea he saw an ominous line in the distance, marking an inter-tropical front piling clouds up to 50,000ft and higher. From 12,000ft he dived to low altitude to find a hole in the milky mist. After ten minutes the Mustang popped through the other side of the front with most of the paint on its leading edges stripped off. The diversion had cost a substantial amount of fuel and Flockhart elected to divert to Baucau on East Timor for replenishment.’

G-ARKD, Darwin 1961 (L Brighton)

‘After a quick refill from fuel kept in 45 gallon churns in a thatched hut, Flockhart took off for what he later recalled as ‘the loveliest part of the trip’−east-north-east over the Balinese islands and coral atolls to Singapore. The maximum endurance of the Mustang was seven hours, for six of which Flockhart could be on oxygen. Typical cruising speed was 225 knots at 12,000ft, although the speed would increase to 280 with the periodic opening of the throttle, as per Rolls-Royce’s suggestion.

The diversion to Baucau meant a late arrival at Singapore, where Flockhart was further delayed by an accident which had closed the runway at his next stop, Rangoon. Having received the all-clear to depart, Flockhart headed into the darkness, his first experience of flying the Mustang at night. Finding that the ADF equipment functioned better at night, he followed airways all the way to Rangoon, where the scarlet Mustang received a great deal of attention, not least from the Czechoslovakian crew of a SA Tupolev Tu-104.’

G-ARKD- 63 gallon drop tanks being filled, place unknown but looks like Australia (I Leslie)

Across India…

‘The following morning there was still plenty of interest in the aircraft, and on departure for Calcutta Flockhart held the Mustang down on takeoff until he could pull up 4,000ft almost vertically into cloud.

Navigating largely by means of contact flying−using established landmarks− Flockhart experienced difficulties on the leg to Calcutta, becoming embroiled in a cloud layer at 2,000ft which caused him to miss the let-down beacon into Calcutta and overshoot, forcing him to put down at Barrackpore, some fifteen miles north of Calcutta.

After a swift refuelling, Flockhart was off again for the longest leg of the journey, across India and Pakistan to Karachi, which he completed in 5hr 50min using 43gal/hr of fuel. Flockhart later related that he ate only a few Horlicks tablets on this leg, and refreshed himself on landing at Karachi with ginger beer kept cold in the ammunition bays.

At Karachi the Mustang was turned around in less than an hour, Flockhart taking off in the moonlight to follow the Iranian coast to Bahrain. As he later told Flight: ‘Navigation at night was wonderful. There is a great tranquillity about it. The isolation and the beauty contrasts sharply with the actions of those on the ground, who try to tie you down with streamers of paper. Flying at night in the moonlight, the only shadows are on the surface’.

It was still night when Flockhart landed at Bahrain, where he discovered that air had been leaking from the port main wheel oleo. This caused little concern, however, and after a safe landing the undercarriage was quickly repaired by the RAF. Flockhart was soon off again, to follow an oil pipeline to the mountains of Lebanon and Beirut. He was cleared−and then recalled−by Damascus air traffic control shortly after passing over the city, but, short of fuel, he elected to continue to Beirut and face the consequences there.

It was indeed at Beirut where the trouble started.

Despite the diversions and delays owing to minor repairs, Flockhart was still well ahead of his own schedule when he taxied out at Beirut for the next leg to Brindisi on 3 March.

Confusion on the ground, however, led to the Mustang’s coolant boiling while Flockhart was held while other aircraft landed. The Mustang finally departed for Brindisi but poor weather forced Flockhart to divert to his nominated alternate, Athens.’

G-AKRD on the deck at Athens Airport. Aircraft later damaged by a cockpit fire, left exposed for years in Athens and eventually scrapped, now seemingly resurrected from the dead (I Leslie)

‘Anxious not to lose any more time, Flockhart refuelled quickly and requested clearance from the Tower, which was refused as no flight plan had been filed. Requesting to file an airborne flight plan, Flockhart was refused again, the Tower demanding that he pay landing fees, despite the fact that these had already been seen to by Esso. As Flight elegantly put it: ‘temperatures rose−in the Tower, in the cockpit and in the cylinder heads’.

Realising that resistance was futile, Flockhart retired for a rest, before trying again in a few hours. With the paperwork sorted, he returned to the Mustang in the early morning, but found on starting that steam was issuing from the cowling. Refilling the coolant system, he found that the coolant was running out between Nos 3 and 4 cylinders on the starboard bank. By this time he was twelve hours behind his schedule, but two days ahead of the solo record.

Exhausted and frustrated, Flockhart left G-ARKD at Athens and continued to London by commercial airliner to be married as planned a few days later on 11 March 1961. The Scotsman subsequently told Flight that it was ‘not the flying, nor navigation, nor preparation which was responsible for the failure. It was an air traffic system out of touch with the individual needs of a type of flying that has not yet, by any means, disappeared from the global scene’.

In September 1961 the Mustang was severely damaged by a cockpit fire while being taxied at Athens airport, putting paid to its use in any further record attempt.’

Arnold Glass’ BRM P48 inside Ron Flockhart’s Lotus 18 Climax, DNF for both – Lycoming Special of Forrest Cardon to the right 16th- Maser 250F to the left of Cardon is Chris Amon 11th  to the Lycoming’s left, Ardmore 1962 (sergent.com)

Racing in Australasia 1962…

There was plenty of the depth in the international fields local drivers confronted in 1962- visitors included Moss back with a choice of Rob Walker cars- Lotus 21 and Cooper T53, McLaren and John Surtees also ran T53’s with Jack in a T55. We had our first look at Jim Clark aboard a Team Lotus Lotus 21 Climax but like Flockhart, Clark was hamstrung a bit by having only a 2.5 FPF- in the hands of the top-liners de-rigeur in ’62 was a 2.7 FPF ‘Indy’ engine. Ron raced a Border Reivers Lotus 18.

In a bit of Mini Cooper racing trivia the first such cars were taken to New Zealand and on to Australia by Bruce McLaren and Ron- a third car intended for Roy Salvadori missed the trip. They raced the ‘bricks’ at several of the meetings in which they contested the feature races with their GP cars. The potential of the machines, despite their size, was not lost of any of the racers or spectators who watched cars which of course became icons which define an age.

Dennis Marwood’s Humber leads Jim Steans Mini and the Coopers of McLaren and Flockhart at Wigram in 1962 (J Steans)

It was a mediocre tour really, Ron’s two NZ races were the Ardmore NZ GP and Wigram with DNF’s due to engine problems and a failed universal joint respectively. Moss won both races, the NZ GP famously a very soggy one in the Lotus 18 powered by a 2.5 FPF.

Fifth at Warwick Farm was much better for Ron and a high point, Moss took that win too, this time aboard the T53 2.7 having tried both cars in practice with Moss preferring the more-chuckable Cooper to the Lotus around the ‘Farm. Flockhart had an early day in the Lakeside International after a collision on lap 20, the race was won by Brabham’s T55.

Flockhart in the Border Reivers Lotus 18 Climax in the Sandown paddock 1962 (autopics.com.au)

Flockhart missed the Longford round won by Surtees and rejoined for the first Sandown International, like Warwick Farm it was laid out within a horse-racing facility and on Melbourne’s then south-eastern outskirts 40 km from the city. Brabham won again with Flockhart suffering bearing failure in what turned out to be his very last motor-race.

Sandown Park is only 10 Km from Moorabbin Airport and 30 Km from Kallista in the Dandenongs, both sadly to loom large for all the wrong reasons shortly thereafter.

Flockhart and mount, outside the Brookes Aviation hangar, Moorabbin Airport, fateful morning of 12 April 1962 (G Goodall)

Take two…

Not to be deterred, within months (of the 1961 Athens airport fire) Flockhart began looking for another Australian Mustang for a second attempt on the record that had eluded him. The aircraft chosen was former RAAF Mustang VH-UWB, acquired on Ron’s behalf by AREF Ltd of Ascot, Berkshire and registered G-ARUK. Flockhart had announced his intention to try and beat the record again, with plans to follow the route Melbourne—Sydney—Darwin—Singapore—Madras—Bahrain—Brindisi—London, starting on 16 April 1962.

‘Jock Garden, chief flying instructor and manager of the Civil Flying School, the flying training arm of the Mustang’s operator in Australia, Brookes Aviation, recalled in his memoirs: ‘Ron arranged to buy VH-UWB from John Brookes, and Brookes Aviation undertook a complete overhaul on the aircraft. Rolls-Royce, as a co-sponsor [of his next record attempt], sent out two engineers from England to service the engine; the aircraft was repainted in red and re-registered in the UK as G-ARUK.

I flew Ron over to Essendon Airport in the [Beech] Debonair early in 1962 and during the flight I asked if he had any recent instrument flying experience. When he told me he had none in the last eighteen months, I suggested it would be wise for him to gain recent instrument flying practice in view of the intended long flight, but he did not follow up on that advice.

‘I had the pleasure of doing the flight-testing of the Mustang on 19 March 1962, after its extensive servicing and it was in perfect condition with the Merlin the smoothest running engine I had ever encountered.’

‘A couple of days before he intended setting out on his record attempt Ron was to fly to Sydney to have maintenance done on his ADF unit. The weather conditions on 12 April were bad, with low cloud and rain, but Ron was determined to go. This proved to be a fatal decision as, within only a few minutes after departure, he lost control in cloud over the Dandenong Range and entered a spiral dive from which he could not possibly recover. He was killed instantly.’

The official report of the accident by the Australian Department of Civil Aviation gives the following conclusion: ‘While there is insufficient evidence to establish conclusively the cause of the accident, the possibility that the pilot temporarily lost control of the aircraft while circling in cloud, and that it subsequently stalled during the recovery and turn to avoid high terrain, cannot be excluded’.

Flockhart was flying the Mustang from Moorabbin to Bankstown to conduct fuel consumption tests and have the ADF equipment serviced. After encountering low cloud, he reported that he was returning to Moorabbin. The Mustang then changed course some 140° before entering a narrow gap between cloud-obscured hilltops in the Dandenongs.

The report stated that ‘the pilot circled in the vicinity of Kallista several times at low altitude and for the most part in cloud. The aircraft then emerged below cloud at a height of approximately 1,300ft, carried out a left turn probably to avoid higher terrain and, in the course of this turn, the nose dropped sharply and the aircraft struck trees and the ground at a steep angle, while rolling and turning to the right’.

At the time of the accident Flockhart held a British PPL endorsed for single-engined landplanes under 12,500lb (5,670kg) maximum permissible all-up weight. His total flying time was 961hr of which 69 were on Mustangs. During the six months immediately before the accident he had flown only five hours. He was not rated for instrument or night flying. In late 1960 he had undergone about 21 hours of ground-based Link trainer instruction on ADF, ILS and VDF procedures, but his logbook showed no record of any instrument flying or Link trainer instruction since that time.

Flockhart’s flying achievements were substantial and deserve a great deal of credit; his Mustang flight from Australia to Athens had been made with limited professional backing by a club-trained private pilot. Sadly, he never got the chance to finish the job — with his death on 12 April 1962, his final race had been run.’

Etcetera…

Flockhart hooting across Warwick Farm’s Causeway during the WF 100 in 1961, Cooper T51 Climax ( J Arkwright)

Flockhart’s Cooper T51 Climax in the Warwick Farm paddock in 1961. Car raced to a Longford win by Roy Salvadori the week later and then sale to David McKay at the end of the summer post the Hume Weir meeting also contested by Roy (J Arkwright)

‘Historic Dandenongs’ tribute to Ron Flockhart

Mustang A68-152, 135 and 175. All aircraft issued to 23 Squadron Brisbane so guessing RAAF Amberley circa late 1952/3. CAC Wirraway’s alongside (L Potts)

Etcetera: The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Mustang P51’s…

Source: airforce.gov.au- Point Cook Museum, Victoria

‘One of the finest American fighter aircraft of World War II, the North American Mustang owed its origin to a Royal Air Force (RAF) specification for a single-seat fighter to replace the Curtiss P-40. The first flight of the prototype NA-73 occurred in October 1940. Production models reached the RAF in November 1941 and these aircraft became known as Mustang Mk I (P-51) and Mk II (P-51A). The original 1,150 hp Allison engine lacked performance at high altitude, and the RAF employed the early Mustangs on low-level armed tactical reconnaissance sorties. Meantime, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) ordered a limited number of P-51s and P-51As as the Apache, to operate in the dive-bomber role.

However, once the basic P-51 design was mated with the proven Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the aircraft became an enormous success. Through P-51B, C and D models, the Mustang became one of the finest Allied fighters of World War II, and was just as capable at long-range escort as short ground-attack sorties. Fitted with a bubble canopy in place of the earlier ‘Razorback’ fuselage, the P-51D was the most widely produced version of the Mustang, with 8,956 built.

Interesting developments of the Mustang included the XP-51F and XP-51G lightweight versions and, the fastest Mustang of all, the P-51H, with a top speed of 487 mph at 25,000 ft. The ultimate development of the aircraft occurred post-war, when two Mustang fuselages were joined, resulting in the USAAF’s F-82 Twin Mustang.

In November 1944, RAF Mustangs were first flown by the RAAF’s No 3 Sqn in Italy.

Mustang P51D cutaway drawing (Haynes)

In 1943, the Australian government arranged for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) to manufacture the Mustang Mk IV (P-51D) under licence from North American Aviation. The RAAF urgently needed a new fighter, and so the first CAC Mustangs were built mainly from imported semi-finished parts. A prototype Mustang, A68-1001, was used for development trials and the first Australian production Mustang, A68-1, flew on 29 April 1945. This aircraft was handed over to the RAAF on 4 June 1945 and was used for trials by No 1 Aircraft Performance Unit until October 1946. It was placed in storage until 1953 when it was delivered to the Department of Supply at Woomera.

The first 80 Mustang 20s (A68-1/80) were delivered with Packard Merlin V-1650-3 engines, under the CA-17 designation. A second contract called for 170 improved Mustangs, but only 120 were completed. Known as CA-18, the first 40 were built as Mustang 21s (A68-81/120) with Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engines. The remaining CA-18s comprised 14 Mustang 22s (A68-187/200) with Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engines. A CA-21 contract for a further 250 Mustangs was cancelled and, in lieu of the remaining CA-18s and CA-21s, 298 lend-lease P-51Ds and Ks were taken on strength (A68-500/583 and A68-600/813). In addition, the RAAF also accepted Mustangs for the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (N3-600/640).

Produced too late for World War II, RAAF Mustangs were assigned to Japan for occupation duties and, early in 1946, Nos 76, 77 and 82 Squadrons flew into Iwakuni. In 1949 Nos 76 and 82 Squadrons withdrew to Australian and the Mustangs of No 77 Squadron remained to take part in the Korean War from June 1950 until April 1951, when they were replaced by Gloster Meteors.

In Australia, Mustangs remained in service with Citizen’s Air Force Squadrons until they were withdrawn from service in 1959.’

(MOV)

Technical Specifications CAC CA-18 Mustang Mk21…

Type/Airframe- Single seat long range fighter. All metal stressed skin construction

Engine- Single Packard Merlin V1650-7. SOHC, 2 valve, carburettor fed, two-stage supercharged V12. Bore/stroke 5.4×6 inches, 1650 cid, circa 1490 bhp @ 3000 rpm. Weight 1640 pounds

Dimensions- Span 11.28 m (37 ft): length 9,83 m (32 ft 3 in); height 3.71 m (12 ft 2 in).

Weight- Empty 3567 kg (7863 lb); loaded 4763 kg (10 500 lb).

Performance- Max speed 636 km/h (380 kt); Climb, 13 mins to 30,000 ft (9144 m); Maximum rate of climb 1059 m (3475 ft)/min; Service ceiling 41,900 ft (12 771 m); Range 1529 km (825 nm) on internal fuel tanks.

Armaments- Six 0.50 in calibre machine guns; two 454 kg (1000 lb) bombs or up to 10 rockets

Rolls Royce Merlin cutaway drawing (Aeroplane)

CA-17 A68-34 a pretty picture. Issued to 25 Squadron in 1951/2 so probably in the air over RAAF Pearce, Perth (SLSA)

Plane dudes have as much interest in chassis numbers et al as us car chaps of course, here they are..

A68-5 RAAF Serial no / Type CA-17 Mk20 Mustang / Construction no 1330 NA110-34370 (Flockhart’s 1961 plane)

Early build- 5th of a batch of 80 shipped to Oz as kits of parts, delivered to 1 Aircraft Depot ex-CAC 6 July 1945. To 78 Sqdn, then stored 14/11/45 till sold 30/1/53 to ex-Flt Lt JL Whiteman with only 35 hours up, Sydney- reg VH-BVM. To Arnold Glass, purportedly acquired with winnings from a racehorse ‘Johnny Zero’ which the aircraft was then called, Sydney May 1954. Target towing experiments with Fawcett Aviation in 1959, also flown by A Oates. To Ron Flockhart August 1960 with around 100 hours on the clock- reg UK G-ARKD Feb 1961. ‘Abandoned’ in Greece 4/3/61, cockpit fire whilst being taxied in Athens 7/9/61. Rego cancelled by UK CAA as ‘aircraft destroyed’ 26/11/61. Abandoned and left in the open in Athens 1961-1970. Reportedly broken up for scrap in Athens circa 1970.

6 June 2012 re-registered as G-ARKD to ‘Classic Flying Machine Collection Ltd’, Foulsham, Dereham, Norfolk, UK-‘remains/parts storage for restoration’

A68-113 RAAF Serial no / Type CA-18 Mk21 Mustang / Construction no 1438 (Flockhart’s 1962 plane)

Delivered to 1 Aircraft Depot ex-CAC on 1 April 1948. Issued to 78 Wing November 1949, to 1 AD July 1950, 10 Sqdn Townsville May 1953 for target towing duties. Sold August 1957, then again February 1958- Reg VH-UWB. Sold to Flockhart April 1962- reg UK G-ARUK. Flockhart’s fatal crash at Kallista 12 April 1962. Rego cancelled by UK CAA as ‘aircraft destroyed’ on 23/5/62.

CAC production line, Fishermens Bend circa 1945 (T Lyons)

Photo Credits…

‘Pilot’ magazine, Geoff Goodall Collection, W Cdr L Brighton, Ian Leslie, Jim Steans Collection, John Arkwright, autopics.com.au, Lionel Potts, Museum of Victoria, State Library of South Australia, Tony Lyons, Haynes, Aeroplane magazine

Bibliography…

‘Pilot’ magazine article by Neil Follett and Nick Stroud via aeroexpo.co.uk, sergent.com, oldracingcars.com, adf-serials.com.au, airforce.gov.au

Tailpiece: Cool dude- Flockhart, Warwick Farm 1961…

(J Arkwright)

Finito…

 

image

(Glenn Murphy)

Max  Stewart enjoying the trip back to the hotel aboard his evergreen, fast Mildren from Singapore’s Thomson Road Circuit 8-11 April 1971. Note the tow-rope!…

Max failed to finish in his Mildren Alfa that year, a successful one in which he won the Australian Gold Star Championship, albeit the car was Waggott 2 litre rather than 2 litre Alfa GTAm powered as it is here.

The Singapore race was won by Kiwi, Graeme Lawrence in a Brabham BT29 Ford FVC  from the Australian duo- John Walker’s Elfin 600 Ford twin-cam and Bob Muir’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott third. It was Rennmax’ galore in this race with Ken Goodwin 6th in his BN3 Ford with Stewart a DNF, his Mildren chassis also built by Bob Britton’s Rennmax concern.

Stewart on the way to his 1972 Singapore GP win, Mildren Ford, behind is Leo Geoghegan in Graeme Lawrence’s Brabham BT30 Ford (SMI)

In 1972 Max brought this car in which he had so much success over so many years back to Singpore and won the race held on 2 April…

The race had depth- Vern Schuppan ran a March 722, Garrie Cooper, the Elfin boss converted his Elfin 600D from Repco V8 to Lotus/Ford twin-cam spec, Leo Geoghegan raced Graeme Lawrence’s Brabham BT30, Bob Muir a Rennmax BN3 and Sonny Rajah his ex-Ronnie Peterson March 712M.

In fact that was the big change to the meeting- the organisers effectively adopted Australian National F2 engine regs which in a practical race winning sense mandated the use of the Lotus/Ford 2 valve, twin cam engine. Max’s car was fitted with a Paul England built mill in place of the Waggott 2 litre 4-valver with which the car won so many events.

Click here for my article on the 1972 Singapore race; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/24/singapore-sling-with-an-elfin-twist/

Max receives the booty and tells all after his ’72 Singapore GP win (SMI)

Their is a story to tell about fitment of the Alfa GTAm engine to the Mildren for its Asian Tour in 1971 though, and i would love to hear it!

The Singapore GP race in mid-April was well before the start of the Australian Gold Star Series at Lakeside on 6 June. So why was the Alfa engine, no doubt provided by Brian Foley, the only chap in Oz with a GTAm, fitted instead of the usual Waggott 2 litre with which it raced right through the 1971 season by Max and then the 1972 Australian Tasman rounds in Tony Stewart’s hands?…

(NAS)

Etcetera: Stewart, Mildren Waggott, Singapore Grand Prix 1970…

Max during the 1970 GP when the little Mildren was powered by Merv Waggott’s TC-4V 2 litre engine. The race that year was dominated by Stewart’s teammate in the Mildren Alfa 2.5 V8 ‘Yellow Submarine’- Kevin Bartlett won the 20 lap preliminary and led the GP until a valve spring let go, Graeme Lawrence’s ex-Amon Ferrari 246T with whom KB had been dicing throughout, took a popular win. GL won many races in South East Asia for the best part of a decade from the mid-sixties to the seventies. Not sure where Max placed.

Tailpiece…

(K Wyndham)

One article, one car, three pictures- three different engines.

Here is Max’s Alec Mildren owned machine- that’s Mildren talking to Glenn Abbey, his longtime friend and Chief Mechanic behind the truck in the Oran Park paddock in June 1970.

A successful weekend for the team as Max won the Gold Star round powered by a 2 litre Waggott engine from Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 59 Waggott and Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco 2.5 V8. The dude tending to the front Goodyear is Derek Kneller (his book is on the way and will be a beauty) with Stu Randall at the rear. I wonder who the pretty Missy is with an interest in all things mechanical?

The engine count for this chassis (in fact one car- two chassis frames) is something like- Alfa Romeo 1.6 twin-plug 2 valve DOHC F2, Waggott 4 valve DOHC- 1600/1860/2000cc, Lotus Ford 1.6 litre 2 valve DOHC and Alfa Romeo 2 litre 2 valve twin plug DOHC.

Credits…

Glenn Murphy, Singapore Ministry of Information/Arts, Ken Wyndham, oldracingcars.com, National Archives of Singapore

Finito…

 

 

(Mirrorpix)

The Coventry Climax ET199 was said to be the first British produced forklift truck, 8 October 1946…

‘Seen here being demonstrated by a girl worker at the Coventry factory that produces the truck. The demonstration included lifting a racing car weighing nearly one and a half tons’ the Getty Images caption advises. I wonder what the ‘racing car’ is?

So, there you go, a Coventry Climax trivia question the answer to which you have always been waiting for!

Post war ‘Climax changed its focus away from car engines into other markets including marine diesels, fire pumps and forklift trucks. The ET199 was designed to carry a 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) load with a 24-inch (610 mm) load centre and a 9 ft (2.7 m) lift height for those with a particular interest in these devices.

The fire pump market and race adaptations of that engine proved rather successful for the company!

(Mirrorpix)

In another bit of trivia Prince Phillip paid the lads in Coventry a visit on 21 June 1966 and is doing his best to show some interest in a 2 valve Climax FWMV V8. Those with a keen knowledge of the company’s history will recall the only works Climax engines deployed in F1 that year was the special 2 litre, 4 valve FWMV Leonard Lee built for Colin Chapman to tide Jim Clark over until the BRM H16 engine was ready to pop into Col’s Lotus 43 chassis. Click here for a short article on the Lotus 33 which used this engine.

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/28/jim-clark-lotus-33-climax-monaco-gp-1967-out-with-the-old/

Credits…

Getty Images, Digby Paape

Tailpiece: Clark in the 2 litre Lotus 33 Climax FWMV V8 at Levin, New Zealand in 1967, he won the race and the series in ‘R14’…

(Digby Paape)

Clarks Lotus 33 ‘R14’ was a chassis which had been kind to him. He first raced it at Brands Hatch in July 1966, and, fitted with the super, trick, only 2 litre version of the Coventry Climax FWMV V8 it had served him well, he drove the car when the heavy ‘H16’ engined Lotus 43 was unsuited to the circuit or circumstances. His best result against the new 3 Litre F1’s was a strong third in Holland.

He won the Tasman series in ‘R14’, assisted greatly by the unreliability of the Brabhams and the BRM P261’s which had been so dominant the year before. He raced a Lotus 43 in South Africa, the first GP of 1967, then ‘R14’ for the last time at Monaco, finally getting his hands on the Lotus 49 at Zandvoort. By that time he was a British Tax exile so the first time the Scot saw the car was when he drove it in Holland, he hadn’t even tested the thing!

Finito…

(Getty)

Jochen Rindt’s winning Lotus 72C Ford in the Brands Hatch paddock at the end of the British Grand Prix, 18 July 1970…

Its a top shot of the rear of a great, long lived racing car. Chapman’s latest masterpiece, the detail design of which was the work of Maurice Phillippe was only several months old- it made its debut at Jarama in mid April, but such were the changes needed to get the concept working as intended, only several months later it was already in ‘C’ specification. I wrote an article about the early 72 and it’s development a while back; https://primotipo.com/2017/05/19/designers-original-intent/

You can see how Chapman was putting more weight on the rear of the car in search of traction- the engine oil tank and cooler and upright Varley lightweight aircraft battery mounted aft of the endcase of the Hewland FG400 gearbox. Look closely either side of the gearbox and you can see the ends of the round tubular torsion bars which provided the spring medium on this car- the two vertical wing stays lower ends pick up on the brackets which support the torsion bars.

I know a bit about the 1970 international season. 1971 was the year of my motor racing awakening, which, having not yet been to a race meeting, was aided and abetted by the 1970 Australian Motor Racing Yearbook and Automobile Year 18 which cover the 1970 season. I borrowed and returned Automobile Year 18 dozens of times during the 1971-1974 period from the Camberwell Grammar School library in Melbourne. I’m such a sick little unit that all these decades later I can pretty much rattle off the winners of each GP and World Endurance event that season!

Keen students of 1970 and thereabouts will know that Jochen Rindt had a shocker of a year with Brabham in 1968- the BT26 Repco was fast but the ‘860 Series’ 32 valve Repco V8’s were fragile so the great Austrian decamped to Lotus for 1969- he finally archieved his breakthrough first championship Grand Prix win at Watkins Glen at the seasons end having comprehensively blown off the reigning World Champion, Graham Hill, from the time he first popped his butt into a Gold Leaf Team Lotus 49 during the Tasman Summer of ’69.

Rindt, Brabham BT26 Repco ‘860’ V8, French GP, Rouen 1968. The ’68 Brabham’s were fast- Jochen started from pole, but the engines were as unreliable as the 1966/7 motors were paragons of reliability. Such a pity Repco and JB didn’t race on into 1969- the ‘860’ 3 litres would have been competitive with development. Ickx’ Ferrari 312 won in France, Rindt DNF with a leaking fuel tank (B Cahier)

Jochen wasn’t a happy Lotus camper at all though, concerned as he was about the fragility of Chapman’s cars, not that his enormous Spanish Grand Prix accident, his worst of the year, was his only component failure or worry. He had raced Brabham F2 cars for years, had enjoyed his season with Jack and Ron Tauranac in 1968 despite the dramas and had agreed terms with Jack verbally to return to the Brabham Racing Organisation for 1970. Jack had told him of the teams plans to build their first monocoque Grand Prix car which promised to have all of the attributes for which Brabhams were justifiably famous- with the added strength, torsional stiffness and  safety afforded by such a design. With an ace secured, Jack planned to retire from driving at the end of 1969.

When Rindt told Chapman of his plans Colin put together a deal funded by John Player and Ford- an offer Jochen simply could not afford to refuse. Jochen put the situation to Jack, the ultimate pragmatist graciously did not hold Jochen to the agreement struck and allowed Rindt to stay at Lotus, win the World Title using a mix of Lotus 49 and 72, and, sadly, die in a Lotus 72 as a result of a brake driveshaft component failure at Monza.

Jack and Ron with Brabham BT33-2, Jack’s 1970 chassis. Car tested at Riverside prior to its South African GP debut win. This photo is at the cars ‘press launch’ at MRD, 9 Januray 1970, no frills for the boys from Brabham- start of the final year of such a successful and enduring partnership between two like-minded men (W Vanderson)

With all the best drivers committed for 1970 Brabham raced on for one final year with Rolf Stommelen bringing money from Ford Germany to secure the other Brabham BT33 seat.

Its interesting to look at the ‘Jack and Jochen F1 races’ of 1970, filled as they are with luck, misfortune and fate…

Jack started the season like a youngster, putting the new car third on the grid together with the new March 701’s of Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon.

Stewart jumped into the lead from the off leaving Rindt’s Lotus 49C Ford and Amon to collide at the first corner, with Jochen winging Jack on his way through but not damaging the car. Ickx Ferrari 312B, Beltoise Matra MS120, Oliver BRM P153 and McLaren McLaren M14A Ford got in front of the Australian as a consequence of all this- but Jack quickly recovered and had passed all four of them by the end of lap 6. In a great, spirited drive Jack set off after Stewart and took the lead on lap 20- and held it to the end winning from Denny Hulme’s McLaren M14A Ford and Stewart’s Ken Tyrrell run March 701 Ford.

No doubt Jochen reflected upon the speed of his friends new car as he awaited Chapman’s wedged wonder!

JB, BT33, Zeltweg, Austrian GP 1970. Q8 and 13th 4 laps behind after a troubled run. Ickx won in a Ferrari 312B, Rindt started from pole in his home race but raced behind Ickx and Regazzoni’s Ferraris before popping an engine. Note the ally monocoque tub, fuel filler, shift for the Hewland DG300 and simple ‘non-structural’ dash (B Cahier)

Jochen was frustrated, the Lotus 72 made its debut at Jarama, Spain- unsurprisingly with a somewhat radical car the 72 was not to have the debut wins of the 25 in 1962 and 49 in 1967, both at Zandvoort.

It was clear the 72 needed substantial work (as detailed in the linked article above) so Chapman also tasked his Team Lotus engineers to tweak the 49 one last time to ‘D’ specification, including changes to the suspension geometry and adoption of the 72’s wing package, to provide Rindt with a more competitive car for Monaco.

So Jochen approached this race with a very negative frame of mind. Nigel Roebuck wrote in a MotorSport article about the 1970 Monaco GP weekend that Colin Chapman said “If Jochen felt there was no chance of winning, quite often he just went through the motions…”

Despite the changes to the ‘old girl’ in the first session his 49 was ‘sixth fastest, but his time – 1m 25.9s – was almost two seconds slower than Jackie Stewart’s March; in the second it poured, and Rindt, disinterested, was slowest of all; in the third he felt queasy, and was two seconds off his Thursday time. The problem was seasickness. That weekend Rindt was sharing a private yacht with his good friend and manager Bernie Ecclestone, and while the future ruler of Formula 1 slept soundly through a choppy Friday night, Jochen did not, and that merely added to his despondency about the race. “No chance,” he said to his wife Nina. “I’ll just drive around…” Roebuck wrote.

Brabham in the Monaco pitlane wearing his ‘Jet Jackson’ aircraft type helmet a few of the drivers tried that season- Stewart and Courage also (unattributed)

The front two rows comprised Stewart from Amon, then Hulme and Brabham with Jochen way back in 8th slot. Stewart took the lead from the start and led Amon, Brabham, Ickx and Beltoise.

What about Jochen? In the early laps he seemed to be in ‘cruise and collect mode’, on lap 3 he was passed for seventh place by Henri Pescarolo’s Matra and there he propped with his position gradually improving by attrition. Ickx and Beltoise’ Ferrari and Matra disappeared early, putting Rindt up to sixth, which became fifth when Stewart’s March stopped with engine failure. At this stage, though, 28 laps in, he was already 16 seconds behind Brabham.

‘At least, though, his interest was awakened. On lap 36 he repassed Pescarolo, and set off after Denny Hulme, whom he got by on lap 41: third now, with only Brabham and Amon ahead.’

With a whiff of possible victory, 15 seconds behind the leaders, Rindt now kept pace with them, closing a little and when Amon’s March retired on lap 61- yet another GP win eluded the luckless Kiwi there was only his old employer in the car he could have driven, Brabham ahead.

Look at that crowd, 1970, protection still basic, Brabham BT33 (LAT)

Rindt bearing down upon Jack- second last lap (Deviantart)

Jack was unconcerned though. With Amon gone and Jochen still 13 seconds back, he seemed set for his first Monaco win since 1959 with only 4 laps to run, his lead was still nine seconds.

‘Then everything began to unravel. On lap 77, at the top of the hill, he encountered Siffert’s March, stuttering along with a fuel feed problem, Seppi paying little attention to his mirrors. Obliged almost to stop, Brabham instantly dropped five seconds to Rindt’ Roebuck wrote. ‘Three laps to go, and the gap was 2.4, with Jochen now inspired. On lap 78 Jack ran his fastest lap, 1m 24.4s, but even this was useless, for the Lotus went round in 1m 23.3s.’

‘Still it seemed as though Brabham would hold on, but even on the last lap the fates conspired against him. At Tabac, before the long drag down to Gasworks, he came upon three backmarkers, lost more time, and probably it was this, more than anything else, that unsettled him when he came across Courage.’ In 1970 Piers raced Frank Williams’ De Tomaso 505 Ford, rather than the Brabham BT26 Ford he raced so well for Frank in 1969- he had been in and out of the pits with the recalcitrant car since the start of the race.

You can see Jack’s track down the inside of Piers’ De Tomaso and onto ‘all the shit and corruption’ off line (unattributed)

‘Into the final hairpin Jack went off line – into the marbles – to get by Piers, and when he put the brakes on, his car understeered straight on, thumping into the barrier, right at my feet.’

‘Rindt, meantime, flicked into the hairpin, looking across at the stricken Brabham, shaking his head in disbelief. Finally Jack got on his way again, and managed to cross the line without losing second place. When he stopped finally, he stayed in the cockpit a long time.’

ka-boomba but not fatally so- the marshall referred to by Jack has not appeared- yet! (unattributed)

Moments after the shot above with Jack furiously hitting the starter button, simultaneously, a marshall sought to push the stricken BT33 clear of he armco, into certain disqualification. As Jack released the clutch in reverse the marshall fell onto the Brabham’s nosecone- once the marshall decamped quickly from the car Jack headed for home and second place, crossing the line 23 seconds after the staggered Rindt.

What was I thinking?! The normally unflappable Brabham close to the finishing line (unattributed)

‘Once the course car had been round, I ran the length of the pit straight, arriving in the area of the Royal Box just as Jochen climbed the steps, shook hands with Rainier and Grace, and accepted the garland and the trophy. Trembling, and with tears rolling down his face, he looked like a man coming out of a trance, and probably he was. After the national anthems, the French commentator excitedly announced his time for the last lap: “Une minute vingt-trois secondes deux-dixiemes!” For the first 40 laps of the race, Rindt’s average lap time was 1m 27.0s; for the last 40 it was 1m 24.9s – a full second faster than his qualifying time…’ Roebuck wrote.

‘I can’t believe my luck!’ Rindt, Lotus 49D Ford (B Cahier)

After the Gala Ball at the Hotel de Paris, Jochen came down to the Tip-Top Bar, as drivers did in those days. At midnight he and Nina arrived, swinging the trophy between them. At the Tip-Top they used to run a book on the race, and Rindt wanted to know what had been the odds on him. “Seven to two,” someone said. “Ha!” Jochen grinned. “Was anyone stupid enough to bet on me?”

The Belgian GP at Spa saw ‘BT33-2′ qualify fifth but its intrepid pilot was sidelined first by an off at Malmedy induced by an oily rag in the cars footwell- and then after he passed Rindt and Stewart, by clutch failure on lap 19. That was the epic race made famous by an incredible high speed dice between the BRM P153 of Pedro Rodriguez and Chris Amon’s March 701- Pedro won by just over a second from Chris. To my mind the 701 is a much maligned machine if you look at the number of times those chassis’ were in winning positions that year.

John Miles Lotus 72B, Jochen’s 49C and Jack’s BT33 in the Spa pitlane (unattributed)

In testing at Zandvoort prior to the Dutch GP Jack suffered a sudden left-rear Goodyear deflation. The car ‘…entered a vicious slide, and the deflated tyre left the wheel-rim, which then hit the road. The car broadsided into the sand, the wheel-rim dug in and we flipped, rolling over and over into the wire catch-fencing in which it wrapped itself up, trapping me inside my cockpit, trussed up like the Christmas turkey. I might not (quite) have been stuffed, but I was terrified I might yet get roasted. Had any leaking fuel caught fire, there was no way I could have escaped’ Jack recalled in his memoir written with Doug Nye.

The BT33 came to rest inverted over a ditch, with Jack hanging from his seat belts. ‘Here I was in another test session – on a deserted circuit – out of sight of the pits, trapped in a crashed car. I really was getting too old for this. I’d have needed wire cutters to make my way out. I could smell petrol. My finger was poised (over the extinguisher button). At last I heard running feet and voices. Hands began to yank the wire away. I took that as my cue to twist my safety belt release – forgetting I was hanging by it – and dropped on my head, with my entire weight twisting my neck. The Dutch spectators then managed to raise one side sufficiently for me to wriggle out…I would have a stiff neck for a while’. The car was virtually undamaged, but after two more punctures during the GP itself the Brabham combination finished twice-lapped, He was eleventh in the awful event in which Piers Courage was burned to death in a most gruesome fashion.

The French GP at Clermont-Ferrand resulted in a win for Jochen on this glorious undulating road circuit, together with his joyless victory at Zandvoort he was well on the way to putting a championship winning season together. To further underline his speed Jack finished third and set fastest lap in France, BT33 was as fast on open road circuits as the twists and turns of stop-start Monaco.

By the July British GP Rindt had told Chapman of his intention to retire at the end of the season, that decision no doubt in part due to the deaths of his friends and colleagues Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage at Goodwood and Zandvoort respectively.

In fine weather Rindt took pole from Jack and Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B- this machine one of the other cars of 1970- the Lotus 72 Ford, Brabham BT33 Ford, Ferrari 312B and BRM P153 the four supreme machines of the year.

Lap 1, the grid exits Druids Hill on the run to Bottom Bend, Brands, British GP 1970. Amons March 701 in shot, from Q17- wonder what happened to him in practice? 5th place (GP Library)

Jack and Jacky got away best from the start with Ickx holding the lead from Brabham until differential failure outed the Ferrari at the start of lap 7 at Paddock Hill bend. At the same time Jochen lunged for the lead and got through Jack’s defences. Jochen didn’t get away from the BT33 though, the guys were close together throughout the race. Oliver’s BRM held 3rd until lap 55 when the big V12 cried enough promoting Denny Hulme’s McLaren M14 Ford to third.

Rindt and Brabham were this close for much of the race- a nice visual compare and contrast between the brand new edgy, wedgy 72 and brand new front-rad ‘old school’ BT33- both equally fast mind you (Getty)

Sex on wheels- 72 visually about as good as a GP car gets- current GP cars can trace their fundamental layout and looks back to this baby, or more particularly the ’68 Lotus 56 Pratt & Whitney Indycar anyway. Rindt Brands 1970 (unattributed)

On lap 69 of 80 laps Rindt muffed a gear change and Jack was through into a lead he promised to keep until on the very last lap the car ran out of fuel on the run to the line- Brabham was able to coast home second with Denny third and Clay Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B fourth.

 

Jack glides to the line DFV in silence, but still in 2nd place (Getty)

It was an incredibly lucky win for Jochen and proved to the world, yet again, that at 44 Black Jack- he of the permanent ‘five o’clock shadow’, still very much had his elite level racing mojo.

As Brabham coasted to a stop after finishing, Jack spotted Ron Dennis sprinting along behind him. ‘I thought I bet I know what’s happened, the silly bugger’s left the injection set to ‘Full Rich’ – the setting used to start the engine from cold’ – he shrugged off his belts and leapt out determined to check the setting first. ‘Sure enough, it was on ‘Full Rich’. For thirty years Sir Jack would blame Ron Dennis for the oversight, but at dinner with another team mechanic – Nick Goozee – in 2002, owned up: ‘That wasn’t Ron – it was me’.

Ron Tauranac, Ron Dennis, Nick Goozee? and Jack, Brands pits 1970 (B Cahier)

Rindt won again at Hockenheim and in a season of many different winners- Ickx, Rodriguez, Stewart, Regazzoni, Fittipaldi, Brabham and Jochen, had amassed enough points by the time of his death at Monza in September to win the drivers title posthumously from Jacky Ickx who had a serious shot to overtake Rindt’s points haul in the final three rounds but ‘karma prevailed’, the dominant driver in the fastest car of the year won- albeit he had a bit of luck. Just ask Jack!

‘Cor Jochen, we nicked another one off ‘ole Jack!’ Chapman, Nina and Jochen Rindt (Popperfoto)

One of the many fascinating things about motor racing are its ‘ifs, buts and maybes’- the greatest of 1970 was Rindt winning a World Title in a Brabham BT33 Ford and retiring at the seasons end, alive…

Brabham BT33 Ford cutaway by (Bill Bennett)

Brabham BT33 Etcetera…

Where is that DFV? Never a clearer expression of the structural role played by that particular engine than this one! Austrian GP weekend, Zeltweg (B Cahier)

Ron Tauranac preferred the lightweight, easily-repairable, highly-tuneable, multi-tubular spaceframe chassis construction into 1969, albeit his 1968-69 BT26 and BT26A designs were spaceframes with partially stress-skinned, sheet aluminium to augment the designs rigidity. Whilst the approach could be said to be ‘old school’ compared to the monocoque, the modern expression of which was the Lotus 25 which made its debut at Zandvoort in 1962- the BT26A Ford was one of the fastest cars of 1969 with Jacky Ickx winning at the Nurburgring and Mosport.

1970 revised Formula 1 regulations demanded greater protection for F1 car fuel tanks- bag tanks, which in effect dictated the adoption of fully stressed-skin monocoque construction. Tauranac first monocoque chassis was Brabham’s 1968/9 Indianapolis contender, the BT25 powered by the Repco ‘760 Series’ quad-cam, 32 valve 4.2 litre Lucas fuel injected V8.

Jack’s 1970 BT33 chassis under construction at MRD, Weylock, Weybridge, Surrey 8 January 1970. Technical comments as per text below (Getty)

Motor Racing Developments built three BT33 chassis during 1970- BT33-1 was the car raced by Rolf Stommelen until he damaged it in practice for the British GP. Rebuilt, it was raced by Graham Hill, Tim Schenken and Carlos Reutemann in 1971.

BT33-2 was Jack’s 1970 chassis.

BT33-3 was built after Rolf damaged his car too badly to race during the British Grand Prix meeting- used by him for the balance of 1970, it was raced very competitively in 1971 by Tim Schenken, and by Graham Hill and Wilson Fittipaldi in early 1972.

All of the BT33’s were sold by BRO after the end of their useful frontline racing lives.

The BT33 chassis is an aluminium ‘bathtub’ monocoque with strong bulkheads providing a structure of great strength and structural integrity. Front suspension (see photo above) is inboard by front rocker, lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. At the rear single top links, an inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and outboard coil spring/dampers are used. Adjustable sway bars were fitted front and rear. Steering is MRD rack and pinion, uprights cast magnesium front and rear.

At this stage of its development the 3 litre Ford Cosworth DFV V8 gave around 420 bhp @ 9500 rpm, the gearbox was a Hewkand 5 speed DG300. The engine, as you can see from the colour shot above is a stressed member- it is a part of the cars structure, it bolts to the rear chassis bulkhead.

Whilst far less exotic in its conception than the Lotus 72, Tauranac’s BT33 didn’t give an inch to Hethel’s finest. Jack got every ounce of performance available from that car but Rindt would have squeezed even a smidge more. Oh to have seen him in a Brabham that year…

Credits…

Popperfoto, Getty Images, LAT, Bernard Cahier, William Vanderson, Deviantart, Bill Bennett

Bibliography…

Automobile Year 18, MotorSport Magazine May 2013 article by Nigel Roebuck, ‘The Jack Brabham Story’ Doug Nye, oldracingcars.com

More 1970 Reading…

Brabham’s 1970 season; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

Lotus 72; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/08/flowers-mark-the-apex-jochen-rindt-lotus-72-ford-dutch-gp-1970/

Ferrari 312B; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/26/life-is-all-about-timing-chris-amon-and-the-ferrari-312b/

Matra MS120; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/06/venetia-day-and-the-1970-matra-ms120/

March 701; https://primotipo.com/2014/05/15/blue-cars-rock/

Spanish GP; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/14/spanish-barbecue-1970-gp-jarama/

Belgian GP; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/03/ferrari-312b-jacky-ickx-belgian-grand-prix-spa-1970/

The one that really did get away: Brabham, BT33 Brands 1970- leaping out to check the DFV’s fuel injection settings…

Finito…

 

Dan Drinan prepares Michael Andretti’s March 86C Cosworth DFX at Indy, 19 May 1986…

Its the final few days of preparation before carb day and the final chance to test the car before the Memorial Day classic on 31 May. Michael’s cheque for qualifying third on the grid is on the wall.

Bobby Rahal won in a similar March with Michael sixth from grid 3 having led 45 of the 200 laps including the first 42. In a rout for March, the Bicester concern had cars in nine of the top ten placings, the only interloper was Al Unser Jr’s Lola Cosworth in fifth.

Rick Mears, Kevin Cogan and Rahal battled for the lead. In an emotional win, Rahal got the jump from Cogan after a lap 194 restart and took the victory for his team owner Jim Trueman who died of cancer eleven days later. Rick Mears was third.

Michael Andretti, Indy 500 1986, March 86C Cosworth (B Harmeyer)

With an opening photo like that the focus has to be on that magnificent engine and it’s conversion from F1 ubiquity to CART interloper.

John Barnard’s appointment to replace Maurice Philippe as Designer for the Vels- Parnelli F1 and Indy team was at the behest of his former Lola colleague, Jim Chapman, then VPJ Team Manager.

Barnard achieved much with both VPJ and Chaparral before returning to Europe and staggering F1 success with McLaren, but its his role in development of what became the Cosworth DFX V8 turbo which is of interest in this article. His primary job at VPJ was to design and develop the ground-breaking Parnelli VPJ6B and 6C which introduced the turbo Cosworth DFX to Indycar racing. Over the next dozen years the DFX dominated, winning 151 races, including 10 consecutive Indy 500s between 1978-87.

When Barnard arrived at VPJ in Southern California in 1975 he was thrown into the deep end, fettling the team’s F1 car and designing the drivetrain for Parnelli Jone’s off-road Ford truck- you can’t argue with those extremes of variety.

Danny ‘On The Gas’ Ongais, Parnelli VPJ6B Cosworth , Indy 1977 20th from Q7 (B Harmeyer)

Al Unsers VPJ6B rear, Indy 1977. Note turbo plumbing and wastegate outlet (B Harmeyer)

Through the early and mid-1970s Indycars were allowed to run unlimited boost with the ageing four-cylinder Offenhauser pushed beyond its limits. “I was on USAC’s rules committee and we kept blowing up engines,” says Parnelli Jones in a Gordon Kirby article published in MotorSport. “You could not buy an engine from Drake Engineering (manufacturers of the Offy) and run 500 miles. You couldn’t even run it 100 miles because of porosity in the engines. We had a machine to impregnate the engines so we could keep ours together, but you had to pull it all apart and blueprint it after you bought it…Then USAC cut the fuel mileage back to 1.8 mpg and I said to Vel, ‘We’ve got those little Formula 1 Cosworths. I think they could work’.”

In amongst the team’s F1, USAC and F5000 programs Barnard was beavering away ‘converting’ the F1 design into a USAC car by means of a variety of changes including turbo-charging the Cosworth DFV F1 motor.

John Barnard picks up the design changes: “It was actually a completely new chassis. We put coil springs on the rear, but I kept the torsion bars on the front. The Brit strengthened the car by double-skinning the monocoque and designing a much stronger front bulkhead. “That proved very useful,” Barnard says. “In ’77 we were practising at Indy and Al ran over Janet Guthrie’s turbine wheel, which came out on the track, and had quite a big accident. But he walked away. I was glad I had double-skinned that front bulkhead.”

The resulting VPJ6B was a much smaller overall package than the existing Offy and Foyt/Ford-powered chassis then racing.

Ongais again in 1977, note front suspension linkages, torsion bars the spring medium up front (B Harmeyer)

Unser 1977, Q3 and 3rd in the race won by AJ Foyt’s Coyote Foyt/Ford V8 turbo and Tom Sneva McLaren M24 Cosworth who started from pole (B Harmeyer)

Barnard also designed many key components for VPJ’s DFX development program. “There was a lot to do on the engine — inlet manifolds and all sorts of things. I was drawing conrods and pistons, an oil pump system, fuel injection and God knows what else. It was fantastic for me because I had never really got into engines much, but we had our engine shop so we could do this stuff to every part of the car and engine. It was fantastic, just like having a toy shop.”

But there was little support from Keith Duckworth for turbocharging the DFV. Duckworth famously didn’t believe in turbos. “I remember him giving me a lecture about turbos,” Barnard adds, “and another one about why 4WD wouldn’t work. I remember Vel reporting that Cosworth told him he was a bit of a twit trying to get all this horsepower out of an engine that was designed to generate 500bhp, and there we were getting more than 800,” Barnard says. “Vel told me, ‘Those bloody guys at Cosworth don’t mind selling me pistons and heads all the time. I’ve spent $100,000 with them just on pistons.’ But they told him we were idiots for making a turbocharged version of their engine.”

Unser and Andretti ran a few practice laps at Indianapolis that year in an early version of the VPJ6, and the first complete 6B made its debut in Unser’s hands in 1975’s season-closing race at Phoenix, finishing fifth. “Once we got in the right ballpark with wheel and spring rates we had pretty good balance, and it got better and better,” Barnard remembers. “We continued to muck about with the engine. It was an ongoing programme. I was making wastegates and all sorts of things.”

Unser scored the Parnelli-Cosworth’s first win in the Pocono 500 in June 1976, then won again at Milwaukee in August and Phoenix at the end of the season. “We proved that the engine worked and we brought Duckworth over to Pocono because we wanted to get a distributorship for the Cosworth Indy programme,” Parnelli recalls. “So Duckworth came over and damned if he didn’t turn around and steal Larry Slutter and Chickie from us.”

Ongais 1977 (B Harmeyer)

Unser 1977, gorgeous bit of engineering kit. Won the first Cosworth DFX  Indy win aboard a Chaparral Lola in 1978- 11 of the 33 starters were Cosworth powered  (B Harmeyer)

Barnard took a dim view of Duckworth’s manoeuvre. “As soon as we won Pocono, Cosworth saw the light. It wasn’t long afterwards that they nicked Larry Slutter and set their own engine shop up right there in Torrance, which to be honest I thought was pretty mean. “I was told by somebody at Cosworth many years later that the turbo Indy engine programme — the DFX as they called it — was their most profitable programme of all. So I wasn’t impressed with the way they did that. Vel and Parnelli were the ones putting their hands in their pockets to develop this car and engine, and I don’t think they ever got the proper credit.”

After all the money and effort VPJ had put into developing the engine, not being able to turn it into a commercial enterprise was a big blow, playing a role in the team’s demise a few years later. “Of course,” Jones says, “we were in a catch-22 because you had to satisfy your sponsors and we needed to order parts from Duckworth. We could have sued him, but we decided to try to work with him.”

For the 1977 season both McLaren and Penske built new Fl-based cars with DFX engines and Tom Sneva won the USAC Championship aboard Penske’s Cosworth-powered McLaren M24 and Penske PC5. Johnny Rutherford also won four USAC races in the works McLaren DFX while Unser and new team-mate Danny Ongais each won a single race, with Big Al taking the California 500.

Barnard quipped “I didn’t start the Cosworth programme,” he adds, “but I had most of the input making a car work around that engine. Looking back, I learned massive amounts and enjoyed it, too. It was bloody hard work, but I was a young man and ready to do whatever it took.”

Unser 1977, classic aero of that just before ground effect period. The F1 Lotus 78 raced throughout 1977- the first of the Lotus g/e’s (B Harmeyer)

Bibliography/Credits…

MotorSport article by Gordon Kirby 2013, Getty Images- Bettman and Bob Harmeyer

Tailpiece: Cosworth factory DFX studio shot…

Finito…

The covers of some old magazines are amazing aren’t they!?…

Rob Bartholomaeus, one of our friends in South Australia sent me this ‘Motor Manual’ 1950-51 Year Book to assist in the research of the Derek Jolly article I wrote not so long ago.

This magazine lasted well into the 1970’s, to me it was always a distant third behind the two Australian road car monthlies- ‘Wheels’ and ‘Modern Motor’ both of which survive today, the latter title became simply ‘Motor’ in 1992. These yearbooks are research gold now. Mind you Rob and I can make no sense of the painted cover in terms of the cars and places represented, perhaps the blue car has a bit of Maserati 4CL about it- I like it all the same!

The content of the ‘Tailpiece’ is different though- and a beauty it is too from Brian Caldersmith’s collection. It is MM’s Yearbook Number 6 of the 1955 season. The top image is Reg Hunt’s Maserati A6GCM, arguably the dominant car of the season if not the AGP winner. The bottom photo is an Albert Park grid front row with the nose of Kevin Neal’s ex-Hunt Cooper T23 Bristol alongside Doug Whiteford’s blue Talbot-Lago T26C and Hunt’s A6GCM at right.

Sweet aren’t they?

Credits…

Rob Bartholomaeus, Brian Caldersmith

Tailpiece…

Finito…

 

(B Dunstan)

Derek Jolly racing past the Country Club Hotel, Longford on his way to winning the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy, 7 March 1960, Lotus 15 Climax FPF…

I wrote an article a while back about Derek and his career inclusive of a snippet about this win, but I had a swag of wonderful photos of the Longford meeting, too many for the earlier piece. So here they are courtesy of Kevin Drage, John Ellacott and Ellis French. Some of Ellis’ shots are his own, some from the Walkem Family Collection and Brian Dunstan, hopefully I have the attributions correct.

Sportscar racing has waxed and waned in this country, I guess everything other than touring car racing has really. Mind you, GT racing is a strong class at present, interesting too such is its variety.

The Australian Tourist Trophy has some great names inscribed upon it including Stirling Moss, who won the classic aboard a works Maserati 300S in 1956, Bib Stillwell in 1961/2, Cooper Monaco, Pete Geoghegan drove a Lotus 23 Ford in 1963/5 and in 1977 won with Laurie O’Neill’s much more brutal Porsche 935. Frank Matich had a mortgage on the race for a while, he won in 1964, Lotus 19B Climax, 1966 with an Elfin 400 Olds and in 1967 in his self constructed Matich SR3 Olds and then again the following year in an SR3 this time Repco ‘620’ V8 powered. I saw Paul Gibson’s Rennmax Repco ‘740’ 5 litre V8 win at Winton in 1979, that too a memorable machine. After a period in which the title was not contested the ATT was reinstated in 2007 and usually awarded to the winner of designated events rather than a one-off race as in its earliest days.

Doug Whiteford’s attention to preparation and presentation detail was legendary with all of his cars. Here his Maser 300S during the ATT weekend. Rice transporter of Austin Miller’s Cooper in the background, and a Morris Major- don’t road cars of a period provide wonderful context for a racer of the same era? (J Ellacott)

In the distant past sportscar racing was up there with single-seaters, indeed in the days when the Australian Grand Prix was held to Formula Libre prior to 1964, but especially in the AGP’s handicap days and then before 1960 it was common for sportscars to contest the AGP.

One of the 1960 ATT strongest contenders, Doug Whiteford fitted into that category. The former thrice winner of the AGP entered his ex-works Maserati 300S in the AGP at Longford in 1959- he knew the tricky, demanding place like the back of his hand. Doug was a formidable competitor of vast experience. Even though the Maser was not the latest bit of kit, with his driving skill and car preparation the combination could be expected to be there at the finish- at the front.

Matich D Type and Ampt, beside his Decca Mk2 Climax, #92 Finch D Type, light car to his right the Jack Cooper, dark coloured car nose of Jolly’s Lotus 15. Tall fella in blue driving suit with his back to us in silver helmet is Jolly. Darker red car the Wright Aston DB3S (K Drage)

From John Ellacott- Longford paddock- Frank Matich at left, long-sleeved Joe Robinson an owner of Leaton Motors and in the green overalls Joe Hills and the Leatons XKD (J Ellacott)

Frank Matich and Derek Jolly were both coming-men.

Matich was aboard the Leaton Motors Jaguar XKD ‘526’ first owned by the Anderson Family in Brisbane and raced with much success by Bill Pitt. Matich progressed thru Healey’s then the Leaton Motors C and D Type Jaguars, proving his pace in all of them. The Sydneysider’s career as a professional of elite world class would extend all the way to early 1974. Let’s not forget the race winning cars he and his team built from 1966 to 1974 either.

Jolly, Lotus 15 in Longford’s pit straight (E French)

Derek’s Lotus speed was proven in his earlier Lotus 15 despite it toting only an FPF Coventry Climax engine of 1475cc- this car met its maker at Albert Park in late 1958, probably due to component attachment failure. Derek raced his replacement Series 3 15 as a works entry at Le Mans in 1959 with Graham Hill, the engine blew with Derek at the wheel when the infamous Lotus ‘Queerbox’ jumped out of gear. The revs went sky high, an errant rod then comprehensively carved the alloy block in half.

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Jolly at left and Kevin Drage discuss the Lotus in the Longford paddock. Note the 1960cc Coventry Climax FPF fed by twin-throat SU carburettors (E French)

Jolly’s Lotus had only just arrived in Australia, equipped with a 1960cc Coventry Climax four-cylinder FPF engine was the latest bit of 15 kit. In fact it was the most modern car in the field. Derek took a debut win in its first Australian race meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales in early February winning the ‘South Pacific Sportscar Championship’ from David Finch in a Jaguar D Type.

Finch also entered the Jag at Longford. ‘XKD520’ was first owned by Melbourne car dealer/racer Bib Stillwell and was a car through which Frank Gardner progressed before his departure to Europe. When Frank decamped to the Old Dart Finch raced it with skill, mainly in New South Wales and Queensland. The car left Australia in 1967, the purchaser none other than Grand Prix driver and later Le Mans winner Richard Attwood.

These panoramic shots give a sense of perspective about this part of Tasmania and the exacting nature of the circuit. Here Alan Jack Cooper T39 Climax, David Finch D Type and Geoff McHugh Allard J2 are coming off Long Bridge. McHugh was not entered in the ATT so this is either practice or the Monday LCC Tas Trophy race (E French)

Tom Sulman, by then one of racings senior citizens, entered his Aston Martin DB3S, a car he had raced since its inclusion as a member of the three Aston ‘The Kangaroo Stable’ team in Europe in 1955. Sulman was a driver of vast experience in all kinds of cars and surfaces going back to his mid-twenties speedway days in both Australia and the United Kingdom. But his car was a winner only in the event of mechanical misfortune at the front of the field. Jim Wright entered another ex-Kangaroo Stable DB3S. He was stepping up from the Buchanan TR2 he had raced at Lowood in the ATT in mid 1959.

Tom Sulman rolls his Aston DB3S onto the Longford grid beside Whiteford’s Maser 300S. Perhaps before practice or a preliminary, I don’t be live the other two cars contested the championship race (J Ellacott)

 

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Ellis French Collection

The other outright contender was Wangaratta’s Ron Phillips in a Cooper T33 Jaguar. Reg Parnell raced the attractive beast in the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1955, the car was then acquired by Stan Jones who sold it on quite quickly having raced it at Fishermans Bend and Albert Park. John Aldis raced it without much success. Its return to competitiveness was as a result of the combination of Phillip’s driving skill and the racers preparation by Melbourne driver/engineer Ern Seeliger.

Seeliger had looked after Phillips Healey 100S and was the fellow who created Maybach 4- the final iteration of that great series of Charlie Dean designed and built, (Repco Research team duly acknowledged) Stan Jones driven cars. Maybach 3 was modified by Ern by the fitment of a Chev Corvette V8 where six-cylinder Maybach motors previously existed. And some other mods by that clever chap too.

Ron Phillips Cooper Jag on Pit Straight (J Ellacott)

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Ron Phillips enters The Viaduct, Cooper T33 Jaguar (HRCCT)

The Cooper Jag was a real chance with a mix of handling and grunt well suited to Longford’s nature, Ron had raced it at Longford the year before so knew his way around the place. Phillips was also ‘in form’ having won the ATT at Lowood, Queensland in June 1959 from Bill Pitt’s Jag D and Bob Jane’s Maser 300S- the sister works car to Whiteford’s which came to Oz during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix carnival. Phillips and Jolly had jousted regularly when Derek raced his Decca Mk2 Climax FWA in 1956-58 with Ron then racing a very quick Austin Healey 100S. Both drivers had stepped up to more powerful ‘outright’ cars.

Ron Ward MGA from Tony Basile Porsche Carrera (oldracephotos.com.au)

The 22 car field was rounded out by smaller cars of which the John Ampt Decca Mk2 Climax, ex-Jolly, the Eddie Perkins (father of Larry) Porsche Super, Owen Basile Porsche Carrera and Alan Jack’s ex-Bill Patterson Cooper T39 Climax ‘Bobtail’ were the strongest.

Whiteford and Jolly were generally considered favourites for the race, but the ‘Australian Motor Racing Review’ report of the event states that there was confusion over practice lap times and as a consequence that pair and others were placed well back on the grid.

The start: Phillips, away quickly from pole #87 Matich, to his left, partially  obscured is Ampt, arrowed is Jolly,  behind Derek in the Porsche is Eddie Perkins, #92 is Finch, #8 Jack, well back is #10 Whiteford, #16 is T Cleary Austin Healey 100S (K Thompson)

The Phillips Cooper Jag and the Matich D Type were on the front row. Behind them were Alan Jack’s Cooper Climax 1.5 and David Finch’s D Type, then John Ampt in Decca Mk2. Tom Sulman’s Aston DB3S was on the next row with Jolly, then Whiteford’s Maser and one of the Porsche’s- and the rest of the field.

Phillips, Cooper Jag, #32 Ampt Decca Climax, #92 Finch Jag D, #8 Jack Cooper Climax- with the two Aston DB3S of #99 Sulman and #126 Wright in line astern behind Jack. Tail of Jolly Lotus 15 is behind Finch, the red of Whiteford’s Maser back a bit centre, Porsche Carrera Coupe is Eddie Perkins and the rest (B Dunstan)

Race…

 The ‘Australian Motor Racing Review’ report of the event follows.

‘With terrific acceleration at the start Derek Jolly moved through the field to the front and soon showed that the other 22 cars in the field would have a hard job trying to catch him.

Moments after the start: Jack, Cooper and Finch D Type. Look closely to the right of Finch’s helmet and you can spot the silver Jolly helmet- he has jumped away at the start. You can see the red of Whiteford’s Maser further back. Porsche is #46 Porsche Eddie Perkins, #16 John Cleary Austin Healey 100S (oldracephotos.com.au)

Ron Phillips in second place, was fighting hard to keep ahead of Matich’s D Type and Whiteford was well behind in fourth place. On the sixth lap of the 24 lap race Whiteford began to increase his speed and on the seventh lap passed Matich to move into third place’.

Matich at speed in the Leaton D Type. He hit his straps and proved equal to the ‘Big Car Challenge’ as Frank Gardner called it during the Leaton phase of his career- Jag C, Jag D and the Lotus 15 to follow the D Type proved his sheer pace (oldracephotos.com.au)

‘On the ninth lap, Phillips, who was experiencing brake trouble, slowed and allowed Whiteford into second position 11 seconds behind Jolly. In the next lap Whiteford put in an amazing burst to reduce this lead by a further 2.5 seconds’.

Whiteford turns his Maser into Mountford Corner during practice. Sex on wheels- few fifties sporties prettier than this. 3 litres wasn’t enough to be an outright contender when they were first built in Europe, but plenty quick in Australia. Such a shame he didn’t buy a 250F when Maserati returned back to Europe at the end of the ’56 AGP carnival, rather than the 300S raced in that carnival by Jean Behra- to see him mixing it with Davison, Hunt, Jones and Gray in that 1956-58 period in a single-seater would have been mega (K Drage)

‘Jolly, having been notified of this by his pit crew, increased his speed. On the fifteenth lap Phillips retired from the race with smoke steaming from his car. By the seventeenth lap Whiteford had closed to within 5 seconds of Jolly but the speed of the Lotus was again increased until, on lap 26, Whiteford had dropped back to 13 seconds behind.’

Cruisin’ @ high speed through the Tasmanian countryside, perils of the formidable Longford circuit readily apparent. Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax ‘608/626’ (oldracephotos)

 

Matich on Pit Straight during the race (J Ellacott)

‘In the closing stages Whiteford seemed to have lost one or more of his lower gears and Jolly went on to win from him with Matich a long way behind in third place’. Another report has it that Whiteford’s problem was a slipping clutch. John Ampt was fourth in the 1100cc Climax FWA engined Decca Mk2- this little car had a wonderful track record in Australian Tourist Trophy races despite its modest capacity, it was 5th in 1958, 4th in 1959 as well as its 4th in March 1960. Tom Sulman was fifth in his Aston DB3S and then David Finch sixth in his Jaguar D Type.

An elated winner. Jolly, Series 3 Lotus 15 Climax FPF 1960cc. Works entered @ Le Mans 1959, it was a trick, schmick car. Jack Cooper T39 and the Matich D Type further back (Walkem)

Winners Are Grinners…

To the victor the spoils of success. Well warranted and well deserved.

Derek had completed his apprenticeship, having first started racing Austin 7’s in his native South Australia in 1948 and progressed through his Decca Climax FWA powered specials in the mid-fifties into the outright Lotus 15. The best if not the most powerful car in the field, and one he drove with great skill.

Lets not forget his winning Lotus 15 was a Team Lotus works entry at Le Mans in 1959, the drive shared with Graham Hill. He was no slouch. In many ways it is a shame business pressures forced Derek out of racing, he had not peaked, there was still more to come I think.

(Walkem)

A great mighta-been is how he would have fared aboard a single-seater Lotus 18 or 21 FPF engined ‘Tasman’ car in the early sixties- he was the Australian Lotus distributor after all. His battles with Frank Matich, seen below congratulating Jolly from the cockpit of the Leaton Motors Jag, would been great to behold. So too those with other top-liners of the period such as Lex Davison, Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell and David McKay.

(B Dunstan)

Etcetera: Other Longford ATT Photographs…

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Doug Whiteford and Maserati yet again, on the grid for the Monday Light Car Club of Tas race- #120 is the very neat Zephyr Special of Jim Barrie (E French)

Kevin Drage doing a plug change on the Jolly Lotus 15 in the Longford paddock (K Drage)

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Doug Whiteford again, the photographers are drawn to these wonderful red cars! Maser 300S near the start line

Pre start vista with the Ampt Decca Climax, Jolly Lotus and Finch D Type in view(oldracephotos.com.au)

Refuelling Whiteford’s Maser 300S and the Ern Tadgell owned Lotus 12 Climax FWB ‘351’ aka ‘Sabakat’. Ern, unclassified, contested the F Libre Longford Trophy won by Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax. Recreation of Sabakat still extant (K Drage)

Related Articles…

 Lotus 15

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

 Aston Martin DB3S

https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

 Jaguar XKD

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

 Maserati 300S

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

Longford 1960

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax on Pit Straight during the race (J Ellacott)

 

 

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ G Howard and Ors, Australian Motor Racing Review 1959/1960, Ellis French Collection

Photo Credits…

 John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, Ellis French, Walkem Family, Brian Dunstan, Keverall Thompson, oldracephotos.com.au, Ken Devine Collection

(K Devine)

Arcane and Irrelevant: The Last Sportscar To Enter an Australian Grand Prix?…

I think it was Jeff Dunkerton’s Lotus Super 7 Ford 1.5 pushrod, above, which contested the ’62 AGP at Caversham- he was classified 9th having completed 46 of the 60 laps covered by the winner, Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7 FPF.

In the days when full 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF’s were as rare as hens teeth in Australia- they were in the hands of F1 teams, Frank Matich’s Lotus 15 Climax 2.5 FPF was the last ‘competitive’ sportscar AGP contender, i reckon. His ex-Team Lotus car was delivered with a 2.5 FPF, much to the annoyance of the locals running single-seater Cooper T51’s who couldn’t get their hands on one.

FM failed to finish the 1960 Lowood AGP only completing 9 laps. The race was won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati 2.5 by a ‘bees dick’ from Lex Davison’s glorious front engined 3 litre Aston Martin DBR4 GP car. I’m not saying Matich would have knocked off Alec and Lex but the 15 had the pace to finish 4th– in behind Bib Stillwell’s Cooper T51 Climax 2.2 FPF. He would have given Bib a run for his money too!

Anyway, its interesting how long sportscars were a part of our great race…

Tailpiece: Kevin Drage’s Longford paddock panorama in March 1960…

Kevin was Derek Jolly’s mechanic/crew, the Lotus 15 is centre stage with the Geoff Smedley built Kenley Vincent Special alongside (K Drage)

Finito…