Archive for March, 2019

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Promotional shoot for the ‘General von Hindenburg’ Junkers G.38 transport aircraft or perhaps the Mercedes Benz i wonder, circa 1934…

Any idea what model it is folks? The car I mean.

Credit…

Zoltan Glass

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Finito…

 

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

What do you do when you have already overdosed on Longford?…

Have some more of course! There is no such thing as too much of a good thing.

Lindsay Ross has popped a swag of oldracephotos.com.au photographs on The Nostalgia Forum recently- his focus with this batch of shots was just on The Viaduct section of this challenging circuit. See here for a lap of the place to orientate yourself; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

One of the things I love is the mix of shots, and do checkout the website, Lindsay has been ridiculously kind with his support of me since starting primotipo, without doubt there are more photographs from the ORP archive than any other. Lets support those that support us ; http://oldracephotos.com/content/home/ The cars vary from the sublime- Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261, to the more realistic end of the enthusiast spectrum- Formula Vee, and pretty much everything in between.

The opening photograph is of Graham Cullen’s CMS Vee, and he has a playmate in the undergrowth too- who is it? No he doesn’t, its just that his bodywork has become separated from the chassis on his trip through the undergrowth. The driver of car #71 zipping past the long-suffering marshalls is Garry Nielsen in a Tasman- I wonder who built these cars?

 

(M Hickey)

 

 

CMS is short for ‘Cullen Marine Services’ Graham Cullen’s primary business, he built about twelve of these ladder framed cars in the early Australian Vee years in the mid to late sixties.

By the time I had driver/engineer Peter Ward look after my Venom Mk2 FV circa 1979- he was building CMS’s of a totally different kind- very quick spaceframe cars raced by he and David Eyre-Walker and one or two others.

Like every man and his dog Wardy had an Elfin NG Vee copy he named ‘Spectre’, of which he built plenty in his Ross Street, Balwyn, Melbourne backyard workshop. I never worked out why Elfin Chief Garrie Cooper didn’t take to the cleaners all the pericks who knocked off that great design! Still, often the last thing to be found in a court of law is justice.

 

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

 

This panoramic shot of Frank Gardner leading the Touring Car pack down the hill into the Viaduct gives us some perspective- what a mega spot for spectators, blow the photo up and you can see the train line. I’ll take advice on the drivers too folks, but I guess its Bruno Carosi in the Jag Mk2 and Robin Pare in Don Elliott’s white Mustang. Rob Bartholomaeus and Bill Hollingsworth have Bob Holden in the ‘striped’ Cooper S, Gene Cooke in the Fiat 1500 and Rob Boote in the Holden EH. The year is 1967.

Have a look at this article on the Alec Mildren Racing Alfa GTA’s and their pilots; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

 

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

 

Then lets have a look at JYS in his BRM at ground level, at about the point Frank is turning in and pretty much the car at the same point from above, peering down into the cockpit.

Jackie looks as ‘snug as a bug in a rug’ inside that tight cocoon- unbelted as he is.

The shot above is of P261 ‘2614’ in 1966, he won the race from Graham Hill’s similar car and Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco. Look closely, the engine is a crossflow 1930cc P60 V8- inlets within the Vee and exhausts outside. Check out this article on the BRM P56/P60 V8; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/05/motori-porno-stackpipe-brm-v8/

 

(oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Whereas the photo above is in 1967, again the car is ‘2614’ albeit this time powered by a P60 V8 of a different configuration- see the exhausts between the Vee, and its of 2070cc in capacity.

Jackie DNF with gearbox problems- which was the weak link of the BRM’s that season, the power and torque of the larger engine was beyond the design limits of a gearbox first built for engines of 1.5 litres- the GP formula of the time.

Brabham won that day in BT23A Repco ‘740’ from Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8- the Tasman Championship winning combo that year. It too was a stretched, in terms of engine, 1.5 litre F1 car. Here is a piece about the 1967 Tasman and the fortunes of Stewart, Clark and Hulme; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/

 

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

 

Similar turn-in shot for Alan Hamilton who has his Porsche 906 Spyder beautifully cocked up in a delicate little slide- these cars were great, forgiving, customer machines.

Here is a bit more about them- Alan and his 906’s; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

 

(oldracehotos/DKeep)

 

Bruno Carosi in the ex-Bob Jane Jaguar Mk2 is under the Viaduct in 1967, whilst the shot below is of Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S just as he enters the light- by the look of that number on his cars nose its during the 1959 Australian Grand Prix meeting in which Dicer Doug failed to finish having driveshaft failure on the first lap- Stan Jones won the event in his Maserati 250F.

That race is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/08/stan-jones-agp-longford-gold-star-series-1959/

 

(oldracephotos/DSaward)

 

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

 

David Keep has a really unusual and interesting view of Pete Geoghegan chasing Frank Gardner away from the Viaduct and towards Kings Bridge, its 1967 again.

Who won the Taxi races?, my money is on Pete despite the more nimble attributes of the GTA. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/17/he-came-he-saw-he-conquered/

 

(oldracephotos/Harrisson)

 

Things went wrong of course.

The Viaduct had a fast approach- downhill, a tricky turn-in and bugger-all in the way of run-orf areas to capture the steed which has just gotten away from you, should that particular situation occur.

Which of course it did, as in this series of happy snaps!

 

(oldracephotos/Harrisson)

 

Phil Brooke looks fairly happy with himself so presumably he has not done too much damage to his pride and joy on that greasy race-day in 1968, we can’t see the rear of the little Angle-box mind you.

 

(oldracephotos/Harrisson)

 

Bruno has painted his Jag between the 1967 and 1968 meetings, he is just about to alight the machine being very careful where he pops his feet. Still, too much action about the place for the snakes to show interest I guess. They do have snakes down there I think?- just Googled, they do, copperheads, tigers and white-lipped, none particularly friendly or good for you.

 

(oldracephotos/Harrisson)

 

Lionel Ayers Rennmax built MRC Lotus 23B Ford looks as though it is suspended in a tree but its probably on solid’ish ground. It will may need a wheel alignment before tomorrow’s race all the same. Its 1968.

 

(oldracephotos/Harrisson)

 

Daryl Wilcox looks as though he has had a moment on the way into the corner and is perched precariously half on and half off the road. Just looked again it might be on the exit? Phil Brook’e youthful face I can just make out to the left of the copper’s head- clearly both chappies have left the island on the notoriously wet last day of racing ever at Longford on Monday 4th of March1968.

 

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au and in particular the work of David Keep who is for sure one of the Longford photographic gods, not to forget Mr Harrisson as well. Michael Hickey Collection

 

Tailpiece: Up The Escape Road…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

 

To get the entry to the escape road right takes real skill under pressure- so maybe Darryl O’Toole bailed real early in his Humpy. Its not a back road to Longford mind you- he is about to run out of gravel soonish.

 

(KBY191)

 

This November 2018 photograph by KBY191 shows that ‘The Viaduct and railway are still there, however nothing remains of the old track running down to The Viaduct since reconstruction of Illawarra Road which also bisects Tannery Straight with a round-about’.

 

Finito…

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(Klemantaski)

The geography of racetracks prior to the seventies highlights the need for accuracy to avoid damage to the local scenery let alone car and driver…

It’s Le Mans 1966, the 18/19 June weekend. The Ecurie Francorchamps Ferrari 365P2 of Pierre Dumay and Jean Blaton starts the long run along the Mulsanne Straight ahead of a factory Ford Mk2 and Pedro Rodriguez in the NART Ferrari 365 P3 ‘0846’ he shared with Richie Ginther.

I’m not sure which Ford it is but the two Ferrari’s failed to finish- the Francorchamp’s car with engine dramas and the NART machine with gearbox failure.

Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon won in a Ford Mk2, click here for a short article about the race; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/27/le-mans-1966-ford-mk2-andrettibianchi/

The Ginther/Rodriguez Ferrari P3 ‘0846’ ahead of a couple of Ford GT40’s at Le Mans in 1966 (LAT)

‘0846’ was the first of the Ferrari P3’s built and was the official press car.

Built as a Spyder, the 4 litre, 420 bhp, 24 valve, Lucas injected V12 machine raced throughout 1966-at Sebring, Targa and Le Mans- all DNF’s. At the end of the year it was converted to P4 specifications for 1967- becoming one of four factory P4’s raced that season in the International Championship for Sports Prototypes and Sportscars.

At the 1967 opening round- the Daytona 24 Hour, Chris Amon and Lorenzo Bandini shared the drive and won the race in it.

Two Ferrari at Daytona in 1967- the winning Amon/Bandini P4 ahead of the third placed Mike Parkes/Jean Guichet 412P (unattributed)

Entered at Le Mans, Chris Amon and Nino Vaccarella qualified the car in twelfth position amongst a sea of Ford GT40’s and Mk2’s.

On lap 106 Chris Amon encountered a puncture and tried to change a Firestone out on the circuit but the hammer he was wielding broke so he then sought to drive the stricken P4 back to the pits.

During this trip the shredded tyre somehow ignited a fire and as a consequence the car was severely burned- and subsequently thought by most historians to be destroyed.

(unattributed)

Amon lapping early in the ’67 Le Mans 24 Hour- the beached car is the NART entered Ferrari 365 P2 shared by Chuck Parsons and Ricardo Rodriguez which retired after completing 30 laps during the race’s fourth hour- Chuck is wielding the shovel.

(unattributed)

Incapable of economic repair, the P4 ‘0846’ chassis was discarded into the Ferrari scrapyard after inspection back at Maranello.

In recent times it has been confirmed, by Mauro Forghieri, that the repaired remains of the ‘0846’ chassis form the basis of the James Glickenhaus’ owned P4. Somewhat contentious, and the subject of much discussion on various Ferrari internet forums about the place, and ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ for more than a decade, some of you will have seen the car in the US or Europe.

Click here for an article about the Ferrari P4, and P3 in passing, and towards its end a link to the TNF debate about the restoration of ‘0846’; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

‘Veloce Todays’ bullshit-free summary of the car is here; https://www.velocetoday.com/cars/cars_69.php

Glickenhaus Ferrari P4 (unattributed)

Forghieri’s letter to Glickenhaus in relation to the chassis of the car, in full, dated 23 February 2016 is as follows;

‘Dear Mr Glickenhaus,

I am submitting my expertise regarding your Ferrari P4. It is based on the documentation that’s been made available to date and, to avoid any misunderstanding, I am submitting it in both English and Italian, the binding version being the Italian one.

1. The P3/4 denomination was never used in Ferrari and it is therefore deemed as incorrect. (Cars were either called P3 or P4)

2. The P4 chassis was almost identical to the P3’s, which were therefore routinely modified to produce P4 chassis.

3. The chassis I examined bears signs of modifications which are different from what was done in Ferrari as current practice. My opinion is that they were done by some other outfit after the accident of Le Mans 1967. The car involved was a P4 built upon a P3 chassis bearing the SN#0846, SN which was carried over as practice and regulations mandated. The car itself was seriously damaged in the 1967 accident and never repaired. The chassis, also damaged by fire, was returned to the Ferrari “scrapyard”.

4. It is my opinion that original parts of that chassis (as modified by some outfit; see above) are currently mounted on the P4 vehicle owned by you.

5. In spite of point 4 above, however, and as indicated in the factory statement that Ferrari sent you, it must be concluded that, for all legal purposes, SN #0846 has ceased to exist. Your car cannot be designated as “#0846”.

6. I can nonetheless state that your car, albeit containing non-standard modifications, is indeed a Ferrari P4.

Best Regards,

Mauro Forghieri

Modena, February 23 2016’

Chris Amon settles himself into ‘0846’ before the 1967 Le Mans classic in 1967. Injection trumpets clear as is the MoMo steering wheel, it looks pretty comfy in there.

Credit…

Klemantaski Collection, LAT Images

Tailpiece: Nino Vaccarella during the 1966 Targa Florio…

(unattributed)

P3 ‘0846’ was shared by Nino Vaccarella and Lorenzo Bandini in Sicily during the May 1966 Targa Florio.

The hometown team had completed 6 laps before Bandini crashed the car having misunderstood the intentions of the hand signals provided by the driver of a privateer Ferrari he was seeking to pass.

The race was won by the Filipinetti/Works Willy Mairesse/Herbert Muller Porsche 906.

Finito…

(K Drage)

‘If the 10,000 odd spectators who saw an attractive white racing car at South Australia’s Easter Mallala race meeting on 18/19 April 1965 thought no more about it, they may be excused. It won no events and did not complete the days racing…

Yet the Elfin Clisby, as it is called, is potentially Australia’s first internationally competitive Formula One racing car. Virtually every part of it has been built in Australia, by Australians with remarkably few resources.

The chassis is basically Elfin Monocoque, (Elfin T100 or more colloquially and commonly referred to as the ‘Elfin Mono’) the latest design by Garrie Cooper of Elfin Sports Cars, at Edwardstown South Australia’.

 

I’ve hit gold, in my own mind anyway- I’ve found a first hand account of the Elfin T100 Clisby V6 race debut at Mallala, South Australia over the Easter weekend in 1965.

It was written by ‘The Canberra Times’ journalist Bill Norman and published on Saturday 8 May, here it is in all of its contemporary glory untouched by me. The photo choices are mine though as the newspaper photo reproduction ain’t flash at all, as are the captions except one which is attributed to Bill.

An introduction to Australia’s only F1 car is here; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/18/clisby-douglas-spl-and-clisby-f1-1-5-litre-v6/

‘The previous spaceframe open-wheeler (the FJ/Catalina) handled so magnificently that it is doubtful whether the Monocoque is much better in this respect. However, frontal area is much less, and all up weight is down by 60 lb. This, combined with four-wheel disc brakes (which most variants of the Catalina had) and general refinement, make it as advanced a design as anywhere in the world.

Despite its stressed skin, aircraft-type construction using vast numbers of pop rivets, the builders say it is both easier to construct in the first place, and easier to repair following a crash rather than the ‘birdcage’ (sic-spaceframe!) Elfin before it.’

 

Early Elfin Mono sketch by Garrie Cooper sent to his friend/Elfin employee Tony Alcock, and later Birrana Cars partner/designer, then in England, 6 May 1964 (J Lambert)

 

Early stages of chassis construction- car ‘off the peg’ in the sense the car was designed for the pushrod Ford and Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine, not a V6 (R Lambert)

 

Burning the midnight oil- the racers lament (J Calder)

 

Ron Lambert further along in the build process, front and rear suspension being assembled, engine in situ (K Drage)

 

‘But the Clisby engine is the heart of the car, and the most interesting part of it. This is because no Australian has previously been ambitious enough to attempt to build a Formula 1 racing engine right from scratch.

This gives a clue to Harold Clisby’s character. He is a man who believes implicitly that “anything you can do i can do better”. Very often he is right. He is a master at finding an efficient way of doing things. His air-compressor business is a model of self-contained, compact manufacturing  and as well as marketing air-compressors in Australia, he has built up a growing export market.

Interests? Clisby seems to be interested in everything interesting. In a section of his workshop, alongside the Elfin Clisby are several perfectly restored veteran cars, including a steam locomobile. Ancient motor-cycle engines adorn his workshop. He recently bought the ex-Eldred Norman 14 inch Cassegrainian telescope, which is still the largest privately owned telescope in Australia. When Hovercraft were news some years ago, Clisby built one for fun.’

 

‘The sting to its tail…Mr Harold Clisby’s unique V6 engine is mated to a Volkswagen gearbox and differential. This photo was taken immediately after the first try out at Mallala when vibration shattered all four distributor caps and broke an exhaust bracket. The problem is now cured’ (Bill Norman words) In fact the photo is not at Mallala but outside Elfins- i’ve used his caption for this photo which is almost identical to a monochrome shot used in the article referred to above which will not reproduce in any way adequately.

 

‘His engine would take an entire article to describe in detail and i won’t attempt to do so.

The important thing to remember is that Clisby designed and buily every part except the electrical sysytem, in his small factory. Aluminium alloy castings, nitrided steel crankshaft machined from a solid billet, 120 ton vibrac conrods: the lot. He even built the two triple-choke carburettors- a tremendous task on their own.

Basic engine configuration is a 1.5 litre V6 with a bore of 78mm and stroke of 58.8. Cylinder banks are set at an angle of 120 degrees, using duel overhead camshafts for each bank and hemispherical combustion chambers. Each camshaft drives its own distributor, and each distributor has its own coil. Although complex, his two spark system should give reliable ignition far past the normal maximum rpm of 9,500.

In fact the engine has been tested to 11,500 rpm without trouble. When one looks at the components it is easy to see why. Short, chunky connecting rods, rigid crankshaft with big bearing areas and solid, but light, short skirt racing pistons all go to make it virtually unburstable.’

 

Engine from rear- ring gear machined into periphery of flywheel which is attached to the crankshaft by 6 sturdy cap screws (SCG)

 

Dummy run to mount the engine (MRA)

 

‘Lubrication is by dry sump, using 80 psi pressure. With this system, a primary pump provides oil pressure for the bearings, while a large scavenge pump keeps the sump empty of oil and passes it to the oil tank in the nose. It combats oil surge positively and makes it simple to cool the oil properly.

Dynamometer tested recently, the engine gave 165 bhp on a compression ratio of 9:1. Since this, the ratio has been raised and power should be now closer to 180 bhp. Assuming further developments to bring this figure to 190 horsepower, and considering the car’s much lighter weight, South Australia may soon have a Climax eater.

A modified Volkswagen gearbox differential unit is direct coupled to the motor, and power is transmitted through rubber universals and Hillman Imp halfshafts to the rear wheels.

The Easter Monday racing debut of the Elfin Clisby was promising in some ways and disappointing in others.

When well known driver Andrew Brown drove it in the first scratch race, two things were at once obvious. Firstly the engine had a a bad carburetion ‘flat spot’ in low to medium range, and secondly, the tremendous acceleration once this point was passed.

No one who saw the car apparently getting wheelspin in third gear really doubts that sufficient ‘urge’ is there. A healthy bark came from its two 2.5 inch exhausts and acceleration in each gear seemed almost instantaneous once the ‘flat spot’ was passed.

In his first race, Brown drove to a creditable fifth place against some very hard driven machinery. This despite a self-imposed rev limit of 8,000- well below maximum power at 9,500- and relatively slow acceleration away from the corners due to carburetion troubles.

A rear tyre blew out in lap one of the second race, and the Elfin Clisby ‘went bush’ in a cloud of dust. The suspension sustained some damage and ended the days racing for the car.

Inevitably there are a few teething troubles, but none seem very serious. The carburettor chokes are too large for good low speed torque when used in conjunction with a gearbox of only four speeds. Bottom, second and third gear ratios were not suited to the circuit, which magnified the first problem. High frequency vibration- always troublesome in a V6 engine- was a difficulty at first but now has been all but cured.

Undoubtedly the car has great potential. Perhaps come 1966 and the new Federation International de L’Automobile Formula One of 1.5 litres supercharged, we may see a supercharged Elfin Clisby taking honours overseas for Australia.’

 

Mk 1 Mono distinctive rear suspension (K Drage)

 

VW gearbox and battery of distributors clear. Car first raced with stack type exhausts, see article linked for later, conventional setup (K Drage)

 

(K Drage)

 

(J Lambert)

Credits…

Article by Bill Norman in ‘The Canberra Times’ Saturday 8 May 1965, Ron Lambert, James Lambert Collection, James Calder Collection, The Nostalgia Forum, Motor Racing Australia, Kevin Drage, Sports Car Graphic

Tailpiece: Ain’t She Sweet- Australia’s only F1 car, Elfin T100 ‘M6548’ Clisby, Elfin’s, Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown 1965…

(K Drage)

Finito…

1953 AGP grid. Front row L>R Davison HWM Jag, Jones Maybach 1, Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C, car 11 on row 2 is Ted Gray Alta Ford V8 (Dacre Stubbs)

The allocation of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix to Albert Park was the result of over two decades of work by the Light Car Club of Australia…

I live 800 metres from Albert Park Lake, I awoke this morning to F1 music at 7.05 AM- the sound of two-seater Minardi V10 engined cars ferrying their lucky cargo around gods motor racing country at high speed. The dawn of the 2019 race seems an apt time to upload this article on the 1953 event- the first Albert Park AGP.

Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Glory Days’, writes that there was a strong push to race at Albert Park in 1934. The Light Car Club of Australia, (LCCA) the promoter of race meetings at Phillip Island were aware of the ‘Islands growing unsuitability given its loose gravel surface as speeds increased.’ Extensive negotiations secured Albert Park as the venue for a race meeting to celebrate the Centenary of Victoria in 1935.

The ‘Sun News Pictorial’ one of the Melbourne daily tabloids, and then as now a good thing in which to wrap ones fish n’ chips, announced the event on June 4 1934.

In doing so the ‘paper lit the fuse of naysayers who brought about the events cancellation, but not before racers Arthur Terdich, Bill Lowe, Barney Dentry, and Cyril Dickason in Bugatti, Lombard, and Austins respectively, lapped the track with mufflers fitted to prove noise wasn’t the issue.’

Stan Jones at speed in Maybach 1, Albert Park 1953, DNF. Stan made this series of cars sing, Maybach 1 won the ’54 NZ GP at Ardmore but none of the Maybachs- 1,2,3 or 4 won an AGP, such a shame! If the Chamberlain 8 is Australia’s most brilliant and innovative special surely the Maybachs are the greatest? Hopeless bias declared! (R Fulford /SLV)

Post war things were little different, but a partnership between the LCCA, the Australian Army- who had a facility at Albert Park, and Victorian Labor Senator Pat Kennelly was more successful.

The three groups/people provided the combination of race organisation, promotional ability, logistical capability- the Army being able to ‘man’ Albert Park, a site of some 570 acres, and political power and influence.

For all, the ability to raise funds in the aftermath of World War 2 was important. For the army, it was money for war widows and orphans, for Kennelly to finance much needed improvements to the park for to upgrade the local amenity, and for the LCCA, the betterment of motor racing.

The parties all were aware they needed to be very careful with the use of the facility so the event was a one day affair, with practice in the morning, racing in the afternoon with the roads open to the public in between. Total time absorbed by the racing activities was less than seven hours!

And so, the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, held at Albert Park over 64 laps, 200 miles in total, on Saturday 21 November, was won by Doug Whiteford in a Lago-Talbot, the last AGP win for ‘French Racing Blue’.

Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C passes the abandoned MG Spl of Jack O’Dea on the way to victory. Writing on the side of the car is a list of race wins. Whiteford owned two TL26C’s- this one, 1948-ex Louis Chiron chassis ‘110007’ and later, an earlier but higher spec car, chassis ‘110002’. Vern Schuppan is the current owner of ‘110002’. Crowd right to the edge of the track (R Fulford/SLV)

Entry…

The entry list was headed by local Melbourne businessmen Doug Whiteford, Stan Jones and Lex Davison.

Whiteford was perhaps the form driver, he won the AGP at Mount Panorama the year before in the same Talbot-Lago T26C. Doug was a tough grafter who owned an automotive repair and sales business a drop kick from the shores of Albert Park Lake in Carlisle Street, St Kilda.

The preparation and presentation of all of his racers was legendary. His career stretched back well pre-war to motor cycles circa 1932. He raced Norman Hamilton’s blown Ford. V8 Spl at Phillip Island circa 1935, an MG Magnette and a supercharged Ford Roadster before building the Ford Ute based ‘Black Bess’ his 1950 AGP winner.

A racer to the core, he competed all the way through into the early to mid seventies, after his long time at elite level, as a works driver for the Datsun Racing Team in small sedans and sportscars.

What a shot! Not at Albert Park I hasten to add, Fishermans Bend is my guess. Whiteford changing plugs on his TL T26C. A mechanic by trade, he toiled on his own cars, his race record, standard of preparation and presentation legendary. Date unknown (R Fulford/SLV)

On the up was Stanley Jones, another tough nugget from Warrandyte, rapidly building an automotive retailing empire which would fund an impressive array of racers over the decade to come- all of which would come tumbling down in the credit squeeze of 1961. Jones had thrown in his lot with Charlie Dean and Repco a year or so before- Jones bought Maybach from Dean with Charlie and his team at Repco Research in Brunswick continuing to maintain and develop it. Jones was as forceful as Whiteford was stylish- both were impressively fast.

Also on the rise was Lex Davison, native of St Kilda but then a resident of Lilydale and fast building the shoe manufacture, importing and retailing business he inherited from his father.

Lex by this stage had learned his craft on a varied mix of cars, most recently an Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 GP car. He had just bought an ex-Moss/Gaze F2 HWM to which he fitted a Jaguar 3.4 litre six-cylinder DOHC engine to ‘C Type’ specs and gearbox, this clever combination took his first AGP win at Southport, Queensland in 1954- a race Jones had a mortgage on until the chassis failure of Maybach 2 at very high speed.

Elite Racers All: L>R Jack Brabham Cooper T23 Bristo, third in this group, #3 Lex Davison HWM Jag and #8 Ted Gray Alta Ford V8. Shot included to show the HWM and Alta- Victoria Trophy Fishermans Bend 22 March 1954. Lex is soon to win the ’54 AGP, Jack is soon to travel to the UK and Gray is soon to get a competitive mount in Tornado 1 Ford! (VHRR)

Lex was an urbane man of considerable wit, bearing and charm- but he could and did go toe to toe with racers of Whiteford and Jones ilk and beat them. His career, which had far from peaked in 1953 stretched all the way to early 1965 when he shared the front row of the NZ GP grid with Clark and Hill, a couple of fellas ‘still in short pants’ in 1953.

Frank Kleinig and his Kleinig-Hudson straight-8 Spl could not be discounted nor could the Ted Gray driven Alta Ford V8 Spl- much more would be seen of this outstanding pre-war driver who cut his teeth on the country speedways of Victoria in the years to 1960 with the Lou Abrahams owned Tornados 1 and 2.

Oh to have seen this bloke drive at his best!- as here at Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 November 1947. Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson 8 Spl, a remarkable marriage of MG chassis, Hudson mechanicals and various other donor parts continuously developed over a couple of decades. A car which shoulda won at least one AGP. Kleinig another driver/mechanic ace (G Thomas)

Kleinig should have won an AGP or two, or three.

The Sydney driver was one of the very quickest immediately pre and post war but times had changed. The AGP was now a scratch race, not a handicap and Frank’s machine, development of which never stopped simply wasn’t quick enough to win outright whatever the undoubted skills of the bloke behind the wheel.

Ted and Frank both needed the ‘guns’ up front to retire and have a dose of reliability themselves for the long 200 mile race to win.

The Reg Nutt, Talbot Darracq 700, DNF dropped valve on lap 14 (Dacre Stubbs)

The balance of the entry was a swag of MG Specials, pre-war GP cars, sports cars and a sprinkling of Coopers including several new fangled JAP mid-engined cars.

Above and below. Davison, Jones and Whiteford. Further back #11 Gray, his Ford V8 creating the smokescreen, #7 Kleinig, #10 Hayes Ford V8 Spl #6 Vennermark/Warren Maser 4CL (unattributed)

Practice and the Race…

Practice commenced early at 8.30 AM and before too long their was drama aplenty amongst the topliners.

Davison’s HWM suffered bearing problems in practice, the session started at 8.30am, the team linished them as best they could prior to the race start at 2.30 pm, but the same affliction stopped the car during the race.

Another top driver I didn’t mention above was Sydney ex-speedway star Jack Brabham but his new Cooper T23 Bristol succumbed in the morning session, like Davison, to bearing problems. The ace engineer/mechanic did of course turn this car into rather a formidable weapon- one which inspired him to try his hand in England a year or so hence.

Also having practice dramas was Whiteford, who had a lose, the car was quickly loaded up and trailered back to Doug’s ‘shop closeby ‘…where the front suspension was stripped. Jim Hawker used the table of a mill as a surface plate and found a bent stub axle he straightened in a press. The Lago also needed a new flexible hose; without a word Whiteford took a pair of side-cutters, walked across to the pre-War Triumph his nephew Doug McLean was rebuilding and liberated precisely the correct hose. This was fitted, the brakes were bled…’ wrote Graham Howard.

The Jones Maybach in for the pitstop which changed the race, albeit the car retired in any event. Passing is the Jag XK120 of Frank Lobb (Dacre Stubbs)

From atop a double-decker bus race officials and a crowd estimated by local newspapers variously at between 50,000 and 70,000 people saw Whiteford, Jones and Davison form the front row with Lex’ HWM leading into the first corner under heavy, muggy skies.

The start was fraught and chaotic as several crews were still with their driver and car as the flag dropped!

Davo’s lead was shortlived, Stanley passed him on the first lap and then drew away. McKinnon was a lap 1 casualty when he nosed the hay-bales but got going again, Arthur Wylie spun the Jowett Javelin Spl at Jaguar Corner but he too got going.

Early in the race Jones led Whiteford, Davison, Arthur Wylie’s Jowett powered Wylie Javelin and Curley Brydon’s  ex-Bill Patterson MG TC Spl.

Davo was out on lap 3, he watched the balance of the event from Stan’s pit.

Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports (AMS) wrote that ‘The trouble with the HWM was that the oil pressure relief valve was cockeyed on its seat allowing all the oil to rush right back into the sump through bypass: most surprisingly, the XK120 oil pressure gauge is so hooked in that, under such circumstances, full pressure was still indicated. Lex’s boys did their best with emery strip and managed to have the car on the line for the GP, but it was of no avail.’

Same scene as above from a different angle- Charlie Dean at bottom right (unattributed)

By half distance Stan still had a good lead over Whiteford, but on lap 40 he pitted for fuel and with his Maybach straight-six engine overheating- the car also needed a water pump drive belt.

His crew were not expecting him and in the confusion Stan was bathed in methanol fuel which necessitated a speedy dismount and then being doused in water before returning to the fray.

Whiteford could not believe his luck.

He perhaps lacked the pace to win, although Pritchett observed on the other hand that he didn’t think ‘Doug was unduly worried…Every few laps he would come up from his half-minute or so back and have a a look at the Maybach and then fall back into line again, so he must have had something up his sleeve’? Stan always pushed hard and was said to lack mechanical sympathy, something Doug had in spades. Jones retired Maybach on lap 56 with clutch failure.

Whiteford’s right rear separates from the Talbot Lago on the exit of Dunlop Corner (AMS)

It was not an easy win though.

Melbourne weather is capricious, the skies darkened and rain tumbled down and cars spun- Wal Gillespie’s HRG (shared with Thompson) amongst others. Spectators added to the challenge with ‘suicidal disregard for their own safety…John Calvert rammed a strawbale…when he had to take avoiding action. I suppose they just can’t understand that towards the end of the straight, the quick drivers are covering the best part of fifty yards each second…’ Pritchett mused.

Whiteford slows the TL 26C at the pits to change wheels having lost his right rear tyre. Fortunately the separation happened close to the pits and his efficient crew (Fairfax)

Two laps from home the right-rear tyre of the T26C came off its rim, fortunately only 300 metres from the pits.

After a stop of 30 seconds to change the wheel, with a huge gap to his pursuers, the local lad was on his way to win the race ‘in a Largo Talbot by 5 laps at an average speed of 82 mph for the 200 miles’ The Melbourne Sun, with its characteristic great attention to motor racing reporting detail, recorded in its 22 November account of the race.

Curley Brydon, a member of the RAAF’s crack 78 fighter squadron during the war, was second in his MG TC Spl 5 laps adrift and South Australian Andy Brown third in an MG K3 Magnette. Then came former AGP winner Les Murphy, MG Q Type and Lou Molina in the MM Holden Spl sportscar

Third placed Andy Brown’s very pre-war MG K3 in for a pitstop. K3 ‘030’ still in Oz- ex-Bira/Snow/Dunne/Davison/Brown and many others! (Dacre Stubbs)

Graham Howard in his ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ (HAGP) account of the race reports on some post race controversy which reader and owner of the Curley Brydon TC, Richard Townley develops further in his note below this article.

Howard wrote ‘…Curley Brydon, who had provisionally been placed third, protested that too many people had assisted with Whiteford’s tyre change, and indeed it was suggested one of the helpers was no more than a gate-crashing spectator; but it was agreed that Whiteford could have changed the wheel single-handed and still had time to win, and Brydon’s protest was withdrawn.

Curley Brydon, in the 2nd placed MG TC Spl s/c leads the 16th placed John Nind MG TB Spl (K Wheeler)

Whiteford is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) as saying ‘Our pit was very congested and there were more spectators around than mechanics. Evidently someone we didn’t know tried to help.’ Note that the SMH report states the protests were heard on Sunday 22 November, the day after the race.

As Richard Townley relates in his comments post publication of this article, Phil Irving wrote in his autobiography that Whiteford ‘…was not immediately declared the winner, through an unofficial report that he had been helped by a bystander to get the Talbot back on course after over-shooting a corner. Not having the use of a telephone, the marshal on the corner concerned wrote out a report to be delivered to the Clerk of The Course, who did not receive it until long after after the race had ended.’

‘Doug, who knew the rule book by heart was aware that the official report of the incident had not been lodged within the stipulated half-hour of the race finish, and shrewdly claimed that it was ultra vires and could not form the basis of a protest. This view being upheld by the stewards, Doug was awarded his third AGP, but it was not a very popular victory’ Irving wrote.

Let’s come back to this after dealing with the balance of the protests.

Howard continues ‘However, he (Brydon) also protested Andy Brown’s second placing, and after investigation it was agreed Brydon was second: Murphy protested Brown as well, claiming to have passed him on the last lap, but this was not upheld.’

‘Fifth was Lou Molina first time out in the neat little Holden-engined MM Special, and the first AGP finish for a Holden engine, Sixth was Jim Leech, a nice reward for his part in securing Albert Park for the race.’

‘Seventh, with a plug lead off, with only first and fourth gears useable and with his seat belt broken, was Frank Kleinig; from six AGP starts, going back 15 years to 1938, it was the cars first finish, and very popular. Nonetheless, the days of 15-year old AGP cars could not last much longer’ Howard concluded.

No doubt Kleinig was well pleased with the result as Pritchett wrote that he left Sydney very late for the meeting with trade-plates affixed to the racer to run it in on the Hume Highway!- when that process was complete the car took its place on the trailer for the balance of the trip south.

So what do we make of Phil Irving’s claims of Whiteford receiving outside assistance?

I can find no record of this in any of the published information I have access to.

It is not mentioned in any of the contemporary newspaper reports of the meeting- not in Howard’s AGP account in HAGP, Howard’s ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’, Barry Green’s superb long piece on the meeting in ‘Albert Park Glory Days’ or in the November or December 1953 issues of Australian Motor Sports.

Lets not forget that the protests were heard and decided, according to the SMH, on the day after the race- Sunday 22 November.

The Stewards of the meeting, given all of the circumstances, and I have in mind the logistics of communication at the meeting, could choose to admit as evidence what they saw as appropriate- and call witnesses.

By that i mean the Marshal concerned could have been called, and no doubt others who were stationed on the corner at the time to give their account of what Irving wrote occurred, to the Stewards, and for them to then make a determination accordingly.

So, on balance, and in the absence of other accounts which agree with Irving’s I don’t believe his version of events to be the correct one. I am happy to alter that position if other proof, a photograph or first-hand spectators recollection, for example can be made available.

I wonder if Phil, writing his book years later- it was published after his death in 1992, is somehow linking DW’s Saturday morning practice spin with the Saturday post-event protests? Irving makes no mention in his book of the other protests addressed by Howard, Green and the SMH in their reports.

Intriguing isn’t it?

(Fairfax)

Winners are Grinners: ‘Dicer Doug’ has won his third and last AGP.

His birthdate is a bit of a mystery but a consensus seems to be during 1914, so it makes him 39, still a young man albeit a racing veteran of not far short of 20 years then.

A great shame to me was his purchase of a 300S Maserati when the factory lobbed with five cars- three 250F’s and two 300S for the 1956 AGP right here at Albert Park- those machines were driven by Messrs Moss and Behra.

I mean it’s a shame in that, if he had bought and raced a 250F he would have been right in amongst Jones, Davison, Reg Hunt and Ted Gray with an equal car. He made the 300S sing but a 250F would have been a more appropriate car methinks

Things go better with Melbourne Bitter- Coke in this case for ‘Dicer Doug’ (Fairfax)

’53 AGP Australian Motor Racing Context…

This excerpt from the 1953-54 LCCA Annual Report is self explanatory and whilst it is self-serving does provided valuable information about the positive impact of the event in terms of the public’s perception of motor racing.

‘When your committee finally obtained permission to conduct the Australian Grand Prix on Albert Park circuit the victory was only half won.

To overcome public prejudice has been the major bugbear of organised racing on public roads and any incompetent handling of this delicate situation could easily have touched off an explosion of indignation.

That we did not receive even one complaint can be attributed to good fortune and untiring organisation of directors and officials. As it can be said that enthusiasts will make the best of the most adverse conditions, our achievements at Albert Park was the greater in having gratified both the general public and the competitors.

In justifying the faith which the Albert Park Trust, inexperienced in motor racing, was prepared to place in our ability, we have broken down one of the few remaining barriers to a more general acceptance of motor racing as one of the national sports.’

Etcetera…

Whereizzit?! Whiteford sneaks a peek at what he already knows- his pit is close and he has 5 laps in hand, but still a heart in the mouth moment.

Bob King recalls the moment ‘My memory says I saw Doug on the bare rim at Melford Corner, but this must be wrong. This photo is probably taken on the way from Jaguar Corner (which is still there if you look for it) and the pits. After all, I was only 15 and it was my first motor race: A life changing event.’

(S Wills)

Ted McKinnon’s 15th placed Maserati 6CM1500. An ex-works car, this machine first raced in Australia at the 1951 AGP at Narrogin, WA, raced by visiting Englishman Colin Murray.

Car #57 alongside is not entered in the AGP (Dacre Stubbs)

(Dacre Stubbs)

 

(R Townley)

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and ors, ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’, ‘Glory Days’ Barry Green, Australian Motor Sports December 1953,

Melbourne Sun 22 November 1953, Sydney Morning Herald 23 November 1953

Photo Credits…

Dacre Stubbs Collection-Martin Stubbs, R Fulford Collection, State Library of Victoria, VHRR Collection, Fairfax Media, Ken Wheeler via Richard Townley Collection, Spencer Wills via Bob King Collection

Tailpiece: Whiteford on the way to victory, Talbot-Lago T26C…

(R Fulford/SLV)

Finito…

 

Frank Matich’s ‘exhaust blown diffuser’ 1972 style, Matich A50 Repco F5000, on the way to victory in the Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm 5 November …

 Sydney based Team Matich may have been relatively small but they were well funded by virtue of support from Repco, Goodyear, Shell and others depending upon the season.

Nobody did more testing in Oz than FM, it was part of his Goodyear contract after all.

He was a deep thinker too.

The engineering, development and conceptual design of Frank’s cars- from the customer Lotus 19’s, Brabham BT7A and Elfin 400 to the Matich team constructed SR3 and SR4 sports cars and A50-A53 series of six F5000 cars were his and a function of racing the cars at the highest level. His testing abilities were the equal of any of the contemporary driver/engineers on the planet too- Brabham, McLaren, Hall, Gardner, Bennett, McRae, Ganley etcetera.

Therefore Matich had the ability to not only come up with new ideas or set-up directions but analyse the impact of them on the car and determine any further changes which may have been required to optimise the explored direction of the day.

FM was always trying ‘stuff’ in an effort to seek the ‘unfair advantage’.

Adelaide International Tasman round 1973- Bob Muir, McLaren M10B Chev alongside FM’s A50

Derek Kneller, FM’s chef mechanic and confidant throughout the Matich F5000 years recalls how the experimentation came about.

‘Frank had been in the ‘States and watched a Goodyear tyre test at Ontario Motor Speedway in early 1972. When he arrived back he told me he had observed a driver called Jim McElreath testing his car with a very low mounted rear wing.’ (Jim McElreath raced an Eagle 72 Offy in USAC racing in 1972- a guess is that MAY be the car Frank spotted being tested at Ontario)

‘He came down to the workshop (in Sydney) and took our spare wing and placed it one two-gallon oil cans that he placed on their sides behind his A50. He then told me to make some mounting brackets so that we could run the car in that position.’

‘We mounted the wing as Frank requested and did some static tests to prove that the wing would be secure and would be able to transmit the load to the chassis without breaking.’

A50 Repco, Derek Kneller with hands on hips, Frank Matich and a good view of the wings and location of the exhausts during the 1973 Tasman Series in NZ (D Kneller/B Sala)

‘The first test for the car with the lower wing mounted lower down was a tyre test at Surfers.

We covered the car and wing with tufts of wool to assess the air-flow over the car and wing. Frank drove the car on the track around the track with me filming the car from our hire car which was being driven by one of the other team members.

Frank also got me to drive the A50 while he followed in the hire car so he could see for himself what was going on, obviously the speed was much reduced and the car was filmed from both sides.’

‘After two days of testing Frank determined there was a benefit from running the wing, he felt he could enter the main straight at a higher speed due to more downforce making the car more stable, we had been reducing the angle of the main (upper) wing and picking up more speed along the straight. We ended up a second under our lap time from the previous Tasman race earlier in the year.’

‘To be honest we didn’t know exactly how we gained the time, but from what we now know about blown diffusers we must have been getting downforce when Frank was on the throttle with the exhaust blowing over the lower rear wing as he powered onto the straight at Surfers. We then were always running far less angle of attack on the main rear wing than our other competitors’ Derek concluded in what is a fascinating slice of aerodynamic racing history.

Aerodynamic Developments Which Followed…

1974 Lotus 76 Ford DFV- the innovative car incorporated an electronic clutch and bi-plane rear wing but was not a success in the hands of Ickx and Peterson, the venerable 72 was updated again for 1975 (Getty)

I’m not suggesting Matich fully understood what he was exploring, nor is Derek Kneller, but explore it he did, with the result felt by Matich and reflected on the stopwatches.

His two Matich A51’s were so equipped throughout the US L&M Championship in 1973.

That series, very well covered by the global motor racing media is probably where Colin Chapman first saw the approach and thought ‘Hmmm, lets have a look at that for 1974’, mind you he only applied half of the Matich approach- the two wings, not the exhaust blowing the wing.

Lets not forget that Matich made these changes two years before Colin Chapman followed suit with his 1974 F1 Lotus 76 Ford DFV.

(D Kneller)

McLaren tried the twin-wing set up as well, albeit a couple of years further on.

Here Jochen Mass’ M23 Ford is so equipped at Monaco in 1976, the flatness of setting of the lower wing clear. They did not persevere with the approach.

FM was even further ahead of his time, in that the first ‘exhaust blown diffuser’ is generally acknowledged to be the 1983 Renault RE40 Turbo, the conception of which was that of Jean Claude Migeot.

He placed the exhausts and turbo-wastegate flow directly into the diffuser. Before this everyone had routed the exhausts into the area of least influence, usually above the gearbox or with long pipes through the rear suspension or in the cars of the early to mid 1970’s between the upper and lower suspension links or above the top links- between the wing and suspension top link.

Prost, Renault RE40 1983 (unattributed)

 

Renault RE40 1983, cutaway (Pinterest)

At least one racing historian, Gordon McCabe, believes that whilst Renault were the first to blow their exhausts into the diffuser, ‘…exhaust blown diffusers include not only those which blow into the diffuser, but also those which blow over the top of it…and it could be argued that the first such device appeared on the 1982 McLaren MP-4B…’

Matich, US L&M Series 1973, Matich A51 Repco (T Rosenthal)

Etcetera…

(G Ruckert)

Matich on the way to victory in the third round of the Gold Star, the Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, at Surfers Paradise in late August 1972.

He won four of the six Australian Drivers Championship rounds that year- the Victoria Trophy at Sandown in April, the Belle Magazine Trophy at Oran Park in June, here at Surfers, and the Hordern Trophy at home, Warwick Farm, in November. He did not contest the Symmons, September round.

(unattributed)

FM ‘shared the love’ in terms of development items on the A50 with his local customer, John Walker.

Here his twin-wing A50 Repco is shown in the US during the 1973 L&M Championship, I am uncertain as to circuit.

Additional Reading…

Matich F5000 cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Exhaust blown diffusers; checkout this detailed article on the formula1 dictionary site; http://formula1-dictionary.net/diffuser_blown.html and here on ‘McCabism’; http://mccabism.blogspot.com/2012/06/first-ever-exhaust-blown-diffuser-in-f1.html

1983 Renault RE40 blown diffuser details

Bibliography…

Derek Kneller

Photo and other Credits…

Tony Glenn, Mark Pearce, Derek Kneller, Bryan Sala, Tom Rosenthal, Getty Images, Giorgio Piola

Tailpiece…Mark Pearce has captured FM beautifully during the  1973 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Round…

No doubt the aerodynamicists amongst you will be able to interpret the effectiveness of the wing configuration based upon your analysis of the vortices of water produced on that soggiest of days- the event was won by Steve Thompson’s Chevron B24 Chev, aided by some trick Firestone wets, only a smidge, less than two seconds, from Matich.

Finito…

The #26 Ron Ward sixth placed MG TB, #32 Alby Johnson DNF MG TC and a distant Gordon Stewart DNF, MG Magna L-Type, during the 16 June 1947, Championship of New South Wales meeting at RAAF Nowra airbase…

This event was to have been the ‘New South Wales Grand Prix’ until the intervention of the Australian Automobile Association, the governing body of motorsport in Australia at the time, a week before. They deemed the ‘Grand Prix’ title as one reserved exclusively for the Australian Grand Prix. Contemporary newspaper reports of the day indicate the confusion about the name of the race, variously describing it as ‘The Grand Prix’, ‘Grand Prix Speedcar Championship of New South Wales’- the official title seems to be the ‘1947 Championship of New South Wales’.

The race was a 110 mile handicap conducted over 25 laps of a 4.35 mile course laid out on runways and connecting taxiways of what, over the years, was variously named RAAF Nowra, HMS Nabbington and in more recent times HMAS Albatross. The airfield also hosted a race in 1952, on that occasion using taxiways, hard-stands and aprons for a shorter lap distance of 1.6 miles.

Luvvit! Alf Barrett’s road registered Alfa Monza at Rob Roy circa 1949. The fastest combo in Australia in the immediate pre and post war years (J Montasell)

The event organisers, the Australian Sporting Car Club secured all of the aces of the day- Alf Barrett in his Alfa Monza, Frank Kleinig’s Hudson Spl, John Crouch in the Delahaye 135CS imported by John Snow pre-war and the latter in his Dixon Riley.

Some past, present and future racers entered a variety of MG’s including Curley Brydon,  Alf Najar, Bib Stillwell, Bill Patterson, Hope Bartlett, John Barraclough and Ron Edgerton. Other notables were Lex Davison, Mercedes 38/250 s/c, Tom Sulman in the immortal Sulman Singer, Ted Gray in the ex-Mrs JAS Jones Alfa 6C1750 SS by then fitted with a flat-head Ford V8, ‘Wild’ Bill Murray, Hudson, Alec Mildren, AGM Ford V8 Spl and others.

(J Hunter)

The Nowra grid ready for the off. From left to right- #5 Jack Murray MacKellar Ford V8 s/c,  #3 John Crouch Delahaye 135CS, #14 Alec Mildren, AGM Ford V8 Special, #4 Frank Kleinig, Hudson Spl and #1 Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza.

Frank Kleinig didn’t take the start with piston failure so perhaps this an earlier event. I am intrigued to know.

John Crouch on the way to Australian Grand Prix victory in the John Snow imported Delahaye 135CS at the Leyburn Airfield circuit in 1949 (unattributed)

There were thirty-eight entries in all from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria which reflected the pent up demand for racing in the early post-war years.

Crowd estimates vary from between 15,000 to 25,000 people- they saw Manly, Sydney driver Tom Lancey’s MG TC win the race from a field of 30 who took the starters flag.

Lancey had raced for three years before the conflict in an MG NE Magnette and spent six years with the RAAF during the war so it was a nice bit of symmetry for an RAAF bloke to take the win at an RAAF base- he was off a handicap of 21 minutes and 30 seconds. The Barrett Alfa raced off scratch.

Second and third places were also taken by MG’s- Bill MacLachlan in an MG TA monoposto off 14:30 and Curley Brydon aboard an MG TC, 21:30 with Dick Bland’s Ford V8 Spl off 11:00 in fourth place.

John Medley wrote, ‘Tom Lancey packed his wife and young daughter into his fully equipped, road registered MG TC at his Manly home- drove to Nowra, unpacked, removed the screen and hood, started in the NSW GP as an early marker- and won it…’ Then he did the whole process in reverse. The simplicity of it all is wonderful.

Was thrilled to find this shot which is captioned as the ’47 Nowra NSW GP/Championships but is according to John Medley Hell Corner Bathurst during the October 1939 meeting. #5 is the ‘Salmon Special’ McIntyre Hudson of Kevin Salmon, #6 is the Edison Waters Jaguar SS100, #1 Alf Barrett’s Alfa Monza, #4 John Crouch Delahaye 135CS and #9 John Barraclough, Alvis Terraplane (Fairfax)

The race favourite was Australia’s immediate pre and post war ace, Alf Barrett in his beautifully prepared and presented Alfa Romeo Monza which ‘is considered the fastest car in Australia’.

Alf and John Snow in the Dixon Riley ‘were fighting a fierce duel from the back mark’ (Snow raced off a 2 minute handicap) but Alf lost time with a tyre change earlier in the race and engine problems later on- he was ninth and set the fastest race lap. Snow retired with magneto or spark plug problems on lap 18.

The newspaper reports of the day focused on Barrett’s top speed of 120 miles per hour which provides perspective on the average performance levels of commuter bolides of the time.

Barrett’s day was not altogether lost with a win in the Open or Over 1500cc Championship scratch race in which the thoroughbred straight-eight Grand Prix Alfa prevailed from Frank Kleinig’s self built and developed Kleinig Hudson Spl and John Snow’s Dixon Riley.

There are plenty of photos of ‘Dirt Track Charlie’ Frank Kleinig aboard his self built Kleinig Hudson Spl because he raced the ever developing steed for so long but this is my favourite. He is re-taking the Rob Roy Hill record he first set in the car in 1939, in November 1948 setting a mark of 28.72 secs- his last trip to the Christmas Hills. You can see and feel the energy and effort going into the big, powerful car- as was always the case with this very fast, if somewhat, its said, inconsistent driver (G Thomas)

Kleinig’s amazing machine, competitive over a couple of decades, was an amalgam of many parts but particularly an MG L-Type chassis and very highly developed Hudson 4186cc straight-eight engine. He finished the race 14 seconds adrift of Barrett. It was subsequently found that a piston broke, fouling the oil system, running a rear big end bearing and ruining the crankshaft in the process.

One of the great pre and post war ‘what ifs’ is Kleinig in a thoroughbred car- not that his commitment, brio, engineering nouse and application was in any way lacking in his endeavours with his Special! Kleinig in Snow’s Delahaye or Barrett’s Alfa for example would have been a sight to see. End of digression!

Amongst the long list of Nowra DNF’s was 1960 AGP and Gold Star winner Alec Mildren’s attractive and fast, self-built AGM Ford V8 Spl. The big beast, off a handicap of 12 minutes, overheated, with Alec retiring on lap 14, a common affliction of these engines in modified form (Mildren)

Pre-war Maroubra Speedway ace, Hope Bartlett won the Under 1500cc championship in his MG TA s/c after a race long battle with Alf Najar’s MG TB s/c. Gordon Stewart in an MG Magna L Type was well in the lead of the Under 1100cc title- and then, having to coast to the finishing line after a last lap fuel blockage was passed by Tom Sulman in his self-built Sulman Singer and Bruce Myers Riley Imp in the final stages.

Some excitement was added to the meeting ‘when a privately owned plane landed on the strip which was being used for the car racing. Service and local police ordered the pilot to remain until after the meeting’!

WW2 shot of RAAF Nowra (RAAF)

Postscript: The state of Australian circuits in 1947…

A sign of the times and the use of a venue such as Nowra was the September 1947 meeting of the Australian Automobile Association in Perth during which the allocations of the AGP was announced for the next few years- NSW 1947, Victoria 1948, Queensland 1949, South Australia 1950 and Western Australia 1951. It was noted that ‘Victoria had not a suitable circuit for the Grand Prix at present but it was hoped that such property could be secured on Phillip Island’.

Of course Phillip Island was reinstated as the racing venue we know and love but not until December 1956- the Albert Park Lake facility ended up being the ‘in period’ AGP Victorian venue in 1953 and 1956.

In fact the race allocations went ahead as planned- in NSW, 1947 at Bathurst, 1948 at Point Cook just outside Melbourne, 1949 at Leyburn, 200 km from Brisbane, 1950 at Nuriootpa in SA’s Barossa Valley and 1951 at Narrogin south of Perth in WA’s wheatbelt.

Nowra, Point Cook, Mount Druitt and Leyburn were all current or past RAAF bases with Narrogin a ‘Round the Houses’ venue used on numerous occasions whilst the Nuriootpa road circuit was not used for motor racing after its time in the sun as a one off AGP venue. The search and challenge of finding permanent road-racing venues was on throughout Australia in earnest.

At the time of the Australian Automobile Association meeting Mr J Austin Patterson said that ‘the greatest desire (of the AAA) was to help the sporting bodies and the sport generally. At present motor sports were up against police opposition. This could not be overcome unless it could be shown that meetings could be held without danger and undue inconvenience to the public.’

In a similar vein the NSW Light Car Club put a proposal to the Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce for the establishment of a race track at Katoomba in October 1947, it took a while but Catalina Park opened in February 1961.

Of course the ‘floodagtes’ of circuits opened in the mid to late fifties and early sixties with Port Wakefield, Warwick Farm, Lakeside, Sandown, Calder, Mallala and others opening but such numbers of permanent facilities were a long time coming.

Car rally from Canberra to Nowra in recent times- one flat airfield looks pretty much the same as another really! (unattributed)

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

The Sydney Morning Herald 17 June 1947, Fairfax Media, John Hunter, The Telegraph Brisbane 22 July 1947, J Montasell, George Thomas, Alec Mildren Collection, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

Finito…