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…

 

Comments
  1. Richard Townley 0418 324 052 says:

    Here is a little more to add to your 1953 Albert Park Australian Grand Prix post.

    My 1948 Patterson Brydon MG TC Special was part of the VHRR Historic Display at the weekend.

    You will find a great image of the TC entering the main straight ( Dunlop Corner)
    in this link http://ttypes.org/ttt2/mg-t-series-racing-in-australia
    The image was given to me by Ken Wheeler, hopefully it can be added to the post.

    Patterson Brydon MG TC Special’s outstanding race was the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park on
    the 21st of November, when Brydon finished second to Doug Whiteford’s Type
    26C Lago Talbot (Chassis No. 110007)

    The 1953 Albert Park AGP was very significant for Australian motor sport as it
    was the first AGP conducted to the FIA International Sporting Code under the FIA
    Formula Libre regulations.

    In fact Brydon may well have been placed first in the event as Phil Irving
    describes on page 436 of his book “An Autobiography”

    “Doug Whiteford, who won the 1952 Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst in the Lago
    Talbot, was lucky to repeat the performance because, although he crossed the
    line first, he was not immediately declared the winner, through an unofficial
    report that he had been helped by a bystander to get the Talbot onto the course
    after over-shooting a corner. Not having the use of a telephone, the Marshall on
    the corner concerned wrote out a report to be delivered to the Clerk of Course,
    who did not receive it until long 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 after 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 A.G.P., but it was not a very
    popular victory.”

    ‘Ultra vires’ is a Latin phrase that translates to “beyond the powers.” This means
    that someone is acting beyond the scope of the authority or power that is granted
    to him by law, contract, or agreement.

    The magazine “Wheels” described Brydon’s race in these terms: “Brydon took
    second place after an unhurried drive behind the dicing leaders. Not thrashing the
    car, he picked up places as others fell out and showed that anyone with a good
    car can run a high place over a long distance if he prepares it correctly.”

    Further reading: “An Autobiography” – Phil Irving

    “Totally T-Type 2” http://ttypes.org/ttt2/index.php

    • markbisset says:

      Richard,
      Many thanks for the above, which is fascinating stuff, and a really important contribution to the race history.
      I consulted my copy of Irving’s book, it’s interesting that in that chapter of ‘snippets’ the only comments Phil made about the race are of the LCCA’s success in getting the venue, the course layout and that controversy.
      I have added into the article Graham Howard’s comments from the AGP book about Brydon’s protest in relation to potentially too many folks assisting in Whiteford’s pit stop, but that is a different thing to the ‘outside assistance’ claim of Irving’s of which he makes no mention.
      Howard comments in the Davison book of Whiteford not attending the LCCA prize giving to collect his trophy, which perhaps indicates the angst at the time over the above. I’ve had a quick look on Trove and found a 23 November Sydney Morning Herald account of the protests which were heard on Sunday 22 November, the day after the race, mention is made of the protests Graham Howard mentions in his HAGP piece but not the ‘outside assistance’ claim made by Phil. Finally, thanks for the photo which I have popped into the article.
      Mark

  2. Richar Townley says:

    Hi Mark

    Thanks for including the Ken Wheeler image.

    I have emailed you some images of the Phil Irving’s book that were provided by the late and great Don Kinsey at his last ever PI race meeting.
    Don worked at the Herald Sun when Curley (never Curly) Brydon was the MD/CEO. Don said they would meet every week for coffee and talk about motor racing etc.
    When Don showed me his copy of the book that related to the 1953 AGP he was most excited as he said this confirmed what Curley had told him many years before about the race and the ‘late ‘ protest.

    May I suggest you include these images in your PT article as it may create some feed back from some of the old-timers if they are still around. It will also balance some of Graham Howard’s quotes that you have included.

    Speaking of 1953 AGP old timers it would be great if you could make contact with Noel Charge who was placed 13th in the event in his MG TC Special
    Neil’s brother Stuart was placed 8th in his Austin Healey 100.
    Neil is now over 100 and must be the oldest living Grand Prix driver in Australia if not the world.

    Please give me a call 0418 324 052 and I will give you the contact detail if you don’t already have them.

    Cheers

    Richard

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Richard,
      Look forward to seeing the images, Bob King sent me one overnight I will add too.
      I’ll give you a yell re Noel Charge. Fascinating isn’t it!
      Mark

  3. Richard Townley says:

    Oops…. apologies it is of course Neil Charge not Noel Charge

    • markbisset says:

      Ha-ha,
      I changed it to Noel but Neil was in the back of my head!
      M

      • JOHN GILLETT says:

        Hi Mark and Richard,

        This is a great article about one of the most important races in Australia, being the first FIA race and the first at Albert Park.

        I am the owner of #39, shown “abandoned” after the end of Jack O’Dea’s race at lap 9. The previous owner, David Harvey, for whom the car was built as a race car in 1949 by Tony Ohlmeyer in Adelaide, told me about the race. He said he “told Jack how to drive it”. The race was “a long distance, not a sprint”, which was a reference to Jack O’Dea’s record as a speedway driver. David told me the car was, subsequent to the 1953 race, sold by O’Dea Jack Brabham along with another car ( a Cooper 500?). JB confirmed this to me when he saw the car at Albert Park “Tribute to Jack Brabham” historic demonstartion in 2003. He said he didn’t plan to own a TC at that time, but since he had it he thought he should drive it, which he did at least once at Parramatta Park in late 1954. After this it went to Harry Gapps, JB’s friend. I have owned the TC since 1966 when I was a boy, and am still racing it, most recently in group Lb at Phillip Island two weeks ago.

        As it happens, I also own the MG K3 #22 driven to third place in the race by Andy Brown. This is the ex Prince Bira car brought to Australia by John Snow, and raced at victor Harbor, Lobethal, Bathurst, Nuriootpa , Albert Park and Port Wakefield Australian Grand Prix events. Therefore both my TC as well as the K3 were it was in the same races as the Patterson/Bryden MG TC, and in recent years, Richard Townley and I have again competed together many times at race tracks throughout south eastern Australia.

        Both the cars were on display at the 2013 AGP to celebrate the 60 year anniversary of the AGP at Albert Park, along with the Curley Bryden MG.

        Small world.

        regards, John Gillett

      • markbisset says:

        John,
        Many thanks for getting in touch, this article and the additional contributions have made it very content rich!
        Mark

  4. Rob says:

    Guys,

    I’m intrigued to see mention above of the 1953 AGP being “the first AGP conducted to the FIA International Sporting Code under the FIA Formula Libre regulations”. It says in the Official Programme that it was “A Formula Libre Scratch Race”, but why do we think that “FIA Formula Libre” applied? Wasn’t the term “Formula Libre race” simply used to signify that a race was not being run for cars of any recognised formula (e.g. FIA F1, FIA F2 etc)? If I am wrong and the organisers did specifiy “FIA Formula Libre”, would this really have been “very significant for Australian motor sport”? I don’t think that the 1953 field was fundamentally different to the usual Australian Grand Prix free-for-all lineups that had existed since 1938.

    Rob

    • markbisset says:

      Rob,
      I agree with you- in fact Australian GP’s from 1936 to 1963 were run to F Libre at which point ANF ‘Tasman 2.5’, colloquially, replaced it. You will appreciate that my definition starts with the December 1936 South Australian Centenary GP aka 1936 AGP- i simply refuse the recognise a December 1936 race as anything other than the 1936 AGP rather than this 1937 AGP bullshit.
      I’m not sure, nor do i care if F Libre is an FIA category- to me it was and is an ‘anything goes’ class. I’ll circle back to HAGP and the Barry Green book over the weekend to see if there is something in this ‘FIA F Libre’ thing.
      The more interesting point raised by Richard Townley, to me at least, is whether or not Phil Irving’s claim of DW receiving outside assistance is true or not- inclusive of the ‘out of time’ aspect. There appears to be nothing in AMS about it.
      Have you discovered anything germaine in that regard?
      Mark

  5. Rob says:

    Mark,

    Sorry, I haven’t been able to locate any additional information regarding the outside assistance issue. The ten page meeting report in the November issue of AMS doesn’t mention it.

    Rob

    • markbisset says:

      Rob,
      Thanks for having a look- I spent some more time on this on Saturday and can’t find any record of this at all. Huge Irving admirer that I am, he was far from infallible without citing some factual errors in his book. We all make them, I certainly do!- the beauty of this forum is that I can fix em when folks like you pick them up.
      I did add to the article, if you can be bothered having a final look- i’ve also asked a few wise old racing owls about this (outside assistance) and drawn a blank.
      So, my conclusion at this point is that (a) Phil is confusing the Sunday morning practice spin and probable push-start to get him going back to the pits and/with the post-race protests or (b) Phil was settling an ‘old score’ with Whiteford- an immensely difficult man on occasion by most accounts. Not that Phil was short of idiosyncrasies either! It is intriguing all the same.
      Mark

  6. Paul Cummins says:

    Love your website, some great photos and stories. In the photo with the Jag XK120 passing the pitted Maybach, it is the Lobb XK (Chassis #660832). It is also in the photo (from newspaper?) of the Talbot Lago’s wheel separating (Vic rego VC 262). The other XK120 in the race driven by Calvert (Chassis #660139) was a lighter colour and ran disc wheels instead of the Borrani wire wheels on Lobb’s XK. For reference see photo on page 47 in ‘The Jaguar XK in Australia’: Elmgreen and McGrath. The Lobb XK was owned by my father Ian Cummins since 1971 (which I now have), he was miffed that he wasn’t invited to the 60th Anniversary! 🙂

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Paul for getting in touch, lucky boy owning that particular XK120.
      I’ve changed the caption accordingly, a mate of mine has just bought an XK150- I must head down to Flinders and check it out and have a drive!
      Mark

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