(P Ansell)

It does all get a bit serious these days doesn’t it!?

Here Jim McGuire and Alan Tatham are enjoying their Cooper Mk4 Norton at Gnoo Blas, circa 1957…

Aren’t these an amazing group of colour photographs of a race meeting at the popular, relatively shortlived Orange, NSW circuit. Such vivid images of race meetings in Oz at the time are not exactly plentiful.

These shots were posted on Bob Williamson’s Old Motor Racing Photographs – Australia Facebook page by Paul Ansell and immediately provoked a response from a swag of enthusiasts contributing information about the car and that day.

McGuire works, Tatham poses for the babes, as drivers do (P Ansell)

Australian Ace Kevin Bartlett recognised his ‘blue Morris Minor Series 2 fitted with a fibreglass top…’, that’s KB in blue standing beside the door of the car in the background. In fact Jim McGuire and his wife Carmen aided and abetted the careers of several drivers including KB, who raced the Elfin Imp for them in the mid-sixties and Peter Wherrett- the latter raced this very Cooper Mk4 with a Hillman Minx four-cylinder engine installed in the early sixties.

Here the Cooper is fitted with a Norton Manx engine. The red car over the back in the first photo is the Profilio MG Spl which still exists in historic racing as indeed does the Cooper Minx- restored by David Kerr a couple of decades ago.

By the time McGuire acquired the car, chassis # ’10/54/50′ was already a veteran of the 1954 Australian Grand Prix, Charlie Swinburne raced it, Manx Norton powered, to tenth place. Its thought when first imported to Australia the car was originally supplied to Les Taylor in Queensland fitted with a JAP 1100 motor.

Later raced by Queensland’s Ray Lewis as the ‘LPS Cooper Norton’ (Lewis/Bill Pitt/Charlie Swinburne) during 1953, Jim McGuire bought it from Tony Crick of Wellington, NSW, initially racing the machine with Tatham at the wheel.

Barry Collerson in the Cooper Minx leads an Elfin Catalina at Oran Park circa 1961 (Alan Stewart)

Later, in 1959 or early 1960, Jim mated a Hillman Minx 1500 engine and VW gearbox to the frame, the car in this form contested the 1960 Australian Grand Prix at Lowood.

The photo below shows Tatham aboard the Cooper Mk4 Hillman together with the #37 D Russell MG TD, #49 N Barnes MG TC s/c. I’m mystified by a couple of the cars but it appears to be the great Tornado 2 Chev down the back, by that stage driven and owned by Mel McEwin.

(F Pearse)

Up front a thriller of an AGP was won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati by a whisker from Lex Davison’s Aston Martin DBR4/250, the little Cooper retired with an undisclosed ailment. Not so long after Lowood Tatham ceased to drive the car but it raced on, still owned by Jim at Strathpine, Tarrawingee, Hume Weir, Oran Park and Warwick Farm driven by Peter Wherrett and Barry Collerson.

Peter Wherrett, Cooper Minx, Warwick Farm May 1961 (P Wherrett)

Both Sydneysiders were talented coming-men of the day with Collerson racing an ex-Doug Whiteford GP Talbot-Lago in Australia before chasing the  FJ circuit in Europe for a couple of years. He has written a book too- i must buy ‘Mount Druitt to Monza’, been meaning to for ages.

Wherrett is incredibly prominent in the memories of several generations of us for his racing, his ‘Racing Car News’, for many years THE Australian motor racing monthly bible- race reports, ‘Peter Wherrett Advanced Driving’ school and ‘Torque’ the seminal, defining, brilliant ABC television motoring program of the mid-seventies. The genre popularised by Jeremy Clarkson much later started with Wherrett and a team at the ABC. Remember PW’s track test of Warwick Brown’s Lola T332 Chev?, it just blew my tiny, teenaged mind!

The Cooper Minx later fell into the tender, loving hands of David Kerr who restored and raced it extensively in historic racing with John Herman the last reported owner.

Lets Get Physical! Little Barry Collerson trying to stay aboard the Cooper Minx at Warwick Farm in August 1962. Note the different, later fibreglass nosecone in this shot (P Wherrett)

Credits…

Paul Ansell- photos. Dick Willis, Kevin Bartlett, Greg Smith, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Fred Pearse Collection, Alan Stewart Collection and Peter Wherrett Collection on aussieroadracing.homestead.com

Etcetera: Cooper Minx, circa 1961, perhaps at the McGuire’s home in Sydney- Peter Wherrett Collection photos…

Water radiator neatly integrated given air-cooled engines originally fitted

Front transverse leaf suspension as standard Cooper Mk4

Rear suspension and wheels appear as standard Cooper Mk4

Hillman Minx 1500 four fed by a couple of downdraft Strombergs, transaxle is modified 4 speed VW

Tailpiece: Gnoo Blas officialdom, Cooper Mk4 unwell…

Never seen so many crisply laundered white overalls! Tatham in Cooper Mk4 Norton. Bucolic Gnoo Blas (P Ansell)

Finito…

Comments
  1. daleharvey96 says:

    Gee Mark the red car, #114 and listed as KB in a Lynx,looks like an Elfin Catalina to me.

    • markbisset says:

      Dale,
      Spot on- I agree upon looking closely, I used the caption rather than look carefully myself. I’ve changed it, any idea who the driver may be. Car Matich raced was red? Many thanks.
      Mark

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