Archive for September, 2019

(Natlib)

Jack Brabham sorts some Coventry Climax, or more particularly, Lucas electrical problems on the Ardmore pit counter during the 1960 New Zealand Grand Prix, January 9 weekend…

That Brabham’s mechanical abilities were right up there with his talent at the wheel has never been in doubt!

Note ‘the breakfast of champions’ bottle of Coke at the ready. The wooden box of Macleay Duff whisky is more troubling but I think its safe to assume Jack was not mixing the two liquids to assist his quest for greater speed. Not that early in the day anyway.

Brabham at Ardmore 1960, Cooper T51 Climax (Natlib)

Bruce led the race in a Cooper T45 FPF 2.5 ‘brought up to 1959 specs’ wrote Bruce Sergent, whilst Jack’s car was a new 2.5 litre T51.  McLaren’s 3 laps up front ended when he was passed by Moss’ Rob Walker T51, also fitted with a 2.5 FPF.

Brabham and Moss then staged a spirited dice with the lead changing a number of times before ‘Brabham’s determination and slight edge in performance’ put Jack in front on lap 18..

Moss was stopped by a broken clutch-shaft on lap 27- Brabham and McLaren then put on a show for the crowd before a ‘form-finish’- Brabham won from McLaren and then Aussies Bib Stillwell and Stan Jones in 2.2 litre engined T51’s. John Mansel and Arnold Glass followed in Maserati 250F’s in fourth and fifth and best of the front-engined, now, old guard…

(Natlib)

David Piper’s Lotus 16 Climax (DNF driveshaft) from Moss’ Rob Walker Cooper T51 Climax 2.5, #88 Ron Roycroft’s ex-Gonzalez Ferrari 375 (twelfth), Malcolm Gill, Lycoming Special (DNF) then Stan Jones, Cooper T51 Climax 2.2 and Ted Gray, Tornado 2 Chev DNF.

Brabham raced on in Australia after his NZ Tour, click here for that; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

Credits…

‘Natlib’- National Library of New Zealand, Bruce Sergent on sergent.com

Tailpiece…

(Natlib)

A couple of beaming youths- Brabham and a somewhat bloodied McLaren with the goodies. I doubt Jack thumped him so circuit grit is probably the culprit.

Finito…

(B Hickson)

Leo Geoghegan, left, Lotus 32 Ford, Greg Cusack Brabham BT6 Ford and Bib Stillwell, Brabham BT14 Ford with Bob Jane in the white Elfin Mono a couple of rows back, await the start of the ANF 1.5 race at Warwick Farm 16 May 1965…

This contest was an absolute cracker with Cusack ‘driving the race of his life’ according to Ray Bell. GC set the class record at 1:35.2 whilst ‘tigering’ after an early spin at ‘Creek- he dived way too deep in a late braking manoeuvre on Bib. Stillwell won from Geoghegan and Cusack.

Australian National Formula 1 was the ‘Tasman 2.5 litre’ Formula from 1964 to 1970 inclusive. The next level of single-seater racing was, variously, during this period, ANF 1.5 and ANF 2, putting the rule changes in F2 itself back then to one side.

ANF 1.5 existed between 1964-1968 inclusive, and, effectively as a twin-cam, two-valve formula ‘mandated’ the use of the Lotus-Ford ‘twin-cam’ Harry Mundy designed engine in 1.5 litre capacity, at least for those seeking victory. The engine was of course originally built to power Colin Chapman’s Lotus Elan, albeit it’s race potential was immediately obvious and exploited.

Arnold Glass’ Lotus 27 Cosworth Ford twin-cam in the Longford paddock 1964. Ain’t she sweet- in concept and execution very much a ‘mini’ F1 Lotus 25- daddy of the modern monocoque which first raced at Zandvoort in 1962 (R Lambert)

Mind you, the simple statement above does not do justice to the Cosworth modified four cylinder pushrod Ford engines which were dominant in Formula Junior, and were at 1.5 litres the engine to have in the early sixties before the ANF1.5 class was created in Australia.

The motors (not necessarily modified by Cosworth) were fitted to many small bore single-seaters at the dawn of the sixties and could still give a reasonable account of themselves after the twin-cam era arrived, but usually were no longer winners.

It seems the first entry of a twin-cam Lotus-Ford powered single-seater in Australia was Peter Williamson’s Rennmax BN1 in the 1 December 1963 Hordern Trophy, traditionally the season ending Gold Star round. That engine was supercharged and failed to take the start due to blower problems.

Arnold Glass and Frank Gardner (Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT6) raced twin-cams at the 1964 Australian Grand Prix at Sandown- Arnold’s Lotus was fifth in the race won by Jack Brabham’s Coventry Climax FPF engined Brabham BT7A. Cusack entered a Brabham BT6 similarly engined at Longford and so the bar was shifted in that class as the ‘rush’ to fit the latest and greatest got underway.

 

Lotus-Ford twin-cam. Surely one of the great, enduring race engines despite its road car parentage (Vic Berris)

The problem for the Tasman 2.5’s was the speed of a well driven ‘one and a half’! There were many occasions on which the 1.5’s showed very well in Gold Star competition including winning in the right circumstances.

Some examples of Gold Star top-two performances were Cusack’s second at Lakeside in 1964, Brabham BT6, Leo Geoghegan first in the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in December 1964, second at Lakeside and at the Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm in 1965 aboard his Lotus 32 Ford. John Harvey was first at Mallala in 1966 driving the ex-Stillwell Brabham BT14. Max Stewart was second at Bathurst during Easter 1968 in his Rennmax BN2 Ford. Garrie Cooper was second at Sandown in an Elfin 600 Ford with John Ampt, Clive Millis and Maurie Quincey all in Elfin 1.5’s in third, fourth and fifth places!

Fast and reliable is the observation about these machines.

1.5 litre race dummy grid- #7 is the Cusack Brabham, ID of the other cars folks? (B Hickson)

Great drivers won the ANF 1.5 title too- in 1964 it fell to Greg Cusack’s Brabham BT6 Ford, in 1965 Bib Stillwell won in a Brabham BT14 Ford with John Harvey victorious in the same car the following year. In 1967 it was Max Stewart’s Rennmax BN1 Ford which took the honours, whilst Max and Garrie Cooper won jointly in 1968. Max raced a Rennmax BN2 Ford and Garrie Cooper an Elfin 600B Ford.

Max Stewart gets some attention during the Symmons Plains Gold Star weekend in 1967, Rennmax BN1 Ford (oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

With the exception of Stillwell, who was already an established ace- a multiple Gold Star winner when he won the title, the drivers were all ‘up and comers’- the ANF 1.5 Championship was an important part of a  journey onto greater things.

In 1964 and 1965 the championship was decided over one race at Warwick Farm and Bathurst respectively and from 1966-1968 by a series of events.

Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 32 Ford in the Warwick Farm paddock in May 1965 (B Hickson)

ANF 1.5 Championship, Warwick Farm, 6 September 1964…

Leo Geoghegan was the form driver in a top car, most would have their money on the Sydney Lotus 27 Ford pilot to win the race in his home backyard but a practice accident meant he was a non-starter come Sunday.

John Ellacott’s photo below shows Leo’s machine less a corner or two- ‘Racing Car News’ reported ‘a sudden inexplicable brake lock-up at the end of Hume Straight’ as the cause.

Leo’s Lotus is at the end of Hume Straight. What happened? (J Ellacott)

 

Geoghegan’s Lotus 27 Ford at Warwick Farm in one piece! (B Wells)

A good field of nineteen cars entered the race with Greg Cusack, Brabham, Roly Levis in Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT2, Glynn Scott and Arnold Glass in Lotus 27’s the likely lads with Cusack the favourite. Future Lotus GP driver David Walker entered his Brabham Ford FJ.

Cusack aboard his Brabham BT6, WF September 1964 (B Wells)

Despite a spin on lap 2 Cusack easily won the 34 lap 76.5 mile race from Glass, Levis, Barry Collerson’s Brabham, DJ Kelley in a Cooper and the R Price Lotus 18.

Shot below is the duelling Lotus 27’s of a couple of relative veterans, Glynn Scott chasing Arnold Glass. Glass had a recent past which included ANF1 Ferrari Super Squalo, Maser 250F and various Coopers. Glynn’s CV extended just into the next decade and sadly his tragic death at the wheel of an Elfin 600 Waggott TC-4V at Lakeside in 1970.

(B Wells)

Glass with a determined set to his jaw! Pretty car had its knocks, re-tubbed at least once in Glass’ hands, famously landing atop the Armco at Catalina Park on one occasion.

Arnold Glass, Lotus 27 Ford, WF Sept 1964 (B Wells)

(Terry Sullivan Collection)

Doug Kelley’s Cooper leads a gaggle of cars below on lap one- the distinctive rear of the R Price Lotus 18, #25 is Barry Lake in the Jolus Minx- a prominent racer/journalist and #16 A Felton’s Lotus 20, this group are a mix of ANF1.5 and FJ cars.

(B Wells)

ANF 1.5 Championship, Bathurst Easter 1965…

As noted above Greg Cusack won the 1964 ANF 1.5 Championship at Warwick Farm in his Brabham, he set off to Bathurst from his Canberra base to defend his title at Easter 1965.

Unfortunately his weekend was over almost before it started.

He spun on a patch of oil at The Cutting- he almost had the car back under control and then hit Ian Fergusson’s stranded Elfin which was perhaps the source of the oil Greg found.

The car was badly damaged, but he was ok- the championship was won by Bib Stillwell from Leo Geoghegan. In the photo below Leo’s Lotus 32 Ford chases Bib’s Brabham BT14 Ford up the mountain.

To compound Greg’s shocker of a weekend, earlier in practice Cusack was running his Lotus 23 Ford sporty, with that car badly damaged after crashing with brake failure. Again Cusack was ok but the trailer was awash with rooted cars by the weekend’s conclusion- it would have been a long sombre drive back to the national capital at the end of the meeting.

(J Ellacott)

Another photograph of a Stillwell/Cusack Warwick Farm battle…

Here its the 19 September 1965 meeting in the up to 1500 cc 10 lapper, i wonder who won this encounter? The photo is towards the end of Hume Straight approaching the Creek Corner braking area.

Its was not too long before Stillwell retired after a long successful career which included four Gold Stars on the trot from 1962-1965- this fast little Brabham was then sold to Ron Phillips for John Harvey to race. It was an important stepping stone in Harve’s career fitted as it was with successively bigger twin-cams and eventually with a Repco RB740 V8 to contest ANF2.5 races in 1967.

(J Ellacott)

The photo below is of Harvey in the now RRC Phillips owned Brabham BT16 after purchase from Stillwell, in the Warwick Farm paddock during the 1966 Tasman round.

In a very good showing he was eighth- second of the ANF1.5’s home just behind Leo G’s Lotus 32. The race was won by Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax, a car Leo acquired after the Tasman’s end in his step up to ANF1- a jump Harvey also made a year later in 1967. Both were to have their reliability challenges as Repco Brabham V8 engine users during this period!

(autopics.com.au)

The Elfin Connection…

Whilst the photographs above feature imported marques the ANF1.5 category was a sensational class for the local motor racing industry industry, particularly for Elfin Sports Cars.

Garrie Cooper built a swag of Ford 116E pushrod and Lotus-Ford twin-cam powered Catalina’s, Mono’s and early 600’s throughout the early to late sixties.

Below GC is showing off the prototype Mono Mk2 ANF1.5 at the Edwardstown works in 1967.

This chassis had wider swept back upper wishbones and alloy racing calipers on larger diameter 9.5 inch diameter disc brakes than the Mk1.

Whilst Cooper proved the pace of this car (win in the ANF1.5 class of 1966 Surfers Gold Star round) the unpopular with customers, top upper, boxed, swept back wishbones (look hard) were replaced by more conventional top links- so creating the Mono Mk2B.

(R Lambert)

The same chassis again, ‘MB6550’ this time with bodywork on- isn’t it a pretty little gem of a thang, at Mallala with mechanic and friend Norm Butler alongside.

(R Lambert)

Garrie’s own talent behind the wheel developed considerably in this period as he was contesting ANF1.5 races and his share of Gold Star rounds- honing his skills against the top-liners in more powerful, but not always faster cars.

Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600B Ford chasing John Walker Elfin Mono Mk2D Ford, both ANF1.5’s during the October 1968 Mallala Gold Star round- 4th and DNF in the race won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco (J Lemm)

Below the chief is being looked after by Bob Mills during the 1967 Symmons Plains Gold Star round won by Greg Cusack’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco.

GC was out with bearing failure in his Mk2D Mono ‘MD6755’. It is a beautifully composed shot with the local coppers and captivated crowd looking on, or are they St Johns Ambulance chaps?

Love Bob Mills using the Shell dispenser for the BP oil behind his foot- Elfin were a BP sponsored team right from the very start.

(R Lambert)

Plenty of future Australian Aces cut their teeth at elite level in these 1.5s, if I could put it that way, including Leo Geoghegan, David Walker, John Harvey, Max Stewart, John Walker and Alfredo Costanzo.

Alfie broke through in the Mono below and then was ‘in the wilderness’ for a few years as he raced the increasingly uncompetitive car before he re-launched his career with the purchase of the ex-Geoghegan Birrana 274 ANF2 car in 1975-later becoming one of Australias’s greatest in F5000 and F Pacific machines entered for him by Alan Hamilton’s Porsche Cars Australia.

Costanzo, Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford, Lakeside Gold Star round July 1968. DNF the race won by Kevin Bartlett’s Brabham BT23D Alfa  (J Lambert)

Cooper proved the speed of his new design, the spaceframe Elfin 600 Ford, by taking the prototype car, chassis ‘6801’ to South East Asia winning the 1968 Singapore Grand Prix in the 1.5 Ford twin-cam powered car.

He replaced it in mid-1968 with 600B ‘6802’ also 1500 t/c powered, here the car is being tested by Cooper at Elfin’s home circuit, Mallala. Cooper and Max Stewart shared the ANF1.5 Championship, as related earlier, in 1968.

(B Mills)

Cooper’s ANF1.5 class winning Elfin 600B is shown in the BP compound below at Sandown in September 1968.

GC was second outright in the Gold Star race won by Glynn Scott- he of earlier ANF1.5 fame- in the Bowin P3 Ford FVA F2, part of which is on the lower right. See the laurel wreath over the cockpit of the 600- love the atmospherics of this shot.

(J Lambert)

At 6 feet 3 inches Max Stewart was a big, tall, heavy bugger for an open-wheeler dude!

His F5000’s could more readily absorb his body mass and big frame popping out of the cockpit of his smaller cars upsetting their aerodynamic efficiency. He must have given away the equivalent of 20 bhp or so compared to shrimps like Alfie! So his small-car results are all the more meritorious as a consequence.

Below he is at Hell Corner, during the Easter Bathurst Gold Star round in 1968- Max was second outright, winning the ANF1.5 class in his Rennmax BN2 Ford. Somewhat symbolic of the state of ANF1 2.5 racing at the time is that the second to seventh placed cars at Mount Panorama were all 1.5’s.

The engine of Max’ Rennmax was acquired from John Harvey when Ron Phillips fitted a bigger twin-cam to their BT14 thereby providing Maxxy with a very potent motor he put to rather good use!

(D Simpson)

ANF 1.5 was succeeded by ANF2 and that categories evolution to a 1600 cc racing engine class- a logical move given the growing number of Ford Cosworth FVA engined cars in Australia throughout 1968.

Merv Waggott’s 1.6 litre TC-4V four-valve engine broke cover in the same year and was first raced by Max Stewart fitted to Alec Mildren’s Bob Britton/Rennmax built Brabham BT23 copy- the spaceframe ‘Mildren Waggott’ at Symmons Plains in early 1969.

ANF 1.5 was a relatively short lived class, but oh-so-sweet.

Clive Millis all cocked up in his Elfin Mono Mk1 Ford on the way to 6th place in the Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm Gold Star round in December 1968 won by Bartlett’s Brabham BT23D Alfa (R MacKenzie)

Photo and Other Credits…

Barry Hickson, John Ellacott, James Lambert Collection, Ron Lambert, Bob Mills Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection, John Lemm, Rod MacKenzie, Bruce Wells, Dick Simpson, Terry Sullivan Collection, The Nostalgia Forum, oldracingcars.com

Etcetera…

(oldracephotos.com.au/DSimpson)

Superb Dick Simpson shot of Garrie Cooper hiking the inside right, Warwick Farm Esses 1968. Elfin Mono Ford, I am intrigued to know the meeting date, before too long he had swapped his Mono for the new 600.

(S Dalton Collection)

Tailpiece: Bob Jane, Elfin Mono Mk1 ‘M6444’ Ford ANF1.5, Warwick Farm Tasman meeting, 13 February 1966…

(J Ellacott)

Finito…

So immaculate and spotless is the McLaren factory, make that laboratory really…

Ron Dennis gives George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, the cook’s tour of the joint- and of Jensen Button’s McLaren MP4/29 Mercedes in the week prior to the 2014 British GP, 27 June.

It wasn’t a great year for the team but a superb one for their engine supplier in a display of dominance which continues to this day- Lewis Hamilton won the title in the Mercedes F1 W05 with eleven wins from Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull RB10 Renault.

The McLaren was a stunning, I didn’t say pretty, bit of kit all the same- the MP4/29 was the end of an era in which McLaren and Mercedes had achieved so much together, it was the last year the Germans supplied engines to the British outfit. They have been in the wilderness ever since.

In the British GP Button was Q3 and fourth with Magnussen Q5 and seventh- the race won by Hamilton’s Mercedes on 6 July, I wonder if Mr Osborne attended the race as The Ronster’s guest?

The new car, designed by a team including Tim Goss, Sam Michael, Simon Roberts and Neil Oatley was launched on January 24 2014 with first tests at Jerez a week later, early on the car looked promising.

In Australia Magnussen and Button were second and third after the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo for a fuel flow breach, the win taken by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, but that performance flattered to deceive- three fourth places by Jenson Button were the best results for the balance of a long year.

A front wing design by new Chief Engineer Peter Prodomou towards the seasons end showed promise- McLaren were fifth in the Constructors Championship behind Mercedes, Red Bull Renault, Williams Mercedes and Ferrari.

McLaren’s lean times continue of course, sadly, the teams last win was scored by Jenson Button’s MP4-27 in the 25 November 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, a long time ago.

The McLaren boys get to work during the 2014 Singapore GP weekend

Technical Specifications…

Carbon fibre composite chassis and bodywork

Suspension- Front, carbon fibre wishbone and pushrod suspension elements operating an inboard torsion bar and shock system. Rear, same as front but with pullrods

Steering- McLaren power assisted rack and pinion

Brakes- Akebono calipers and master cylinders operating carbon discs and pads, Akebono ‘brake by wire’ rear brake control system

Wheels and tyres- Enkei and Pirelli 12×13/13.7×13 diameter front/rear

Size- 950 mm high, 1800 mm wide, weighs 691 kg inclusive of driver and lubricants but excluding fuel

Engine- Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid. Turbocharged, 24 valve 1.6 litre V6 (80x53mm bore/stroke) with kinetic and heat Energy Recovery System, circa 800-850 bhp

ERS- Integrated Hybrid energy recovery via electrical Motor Generator Units. Energy Store- Lithium-Ion battery solution, between 20 and 25 kg, by Merceds AMG HPP

Transmission- 8 forward and 1 reverse gear, carbon-fibre composite case, McLaren Racing hand-shift. Diff epicyclic with multi-plate slippery diff, carbon/carbon hand operated clutch

Other than that proboscis, the car doesn’t look too bad from above.

Jenson at Monaco, Q22 and sixth- good in the Principality from that grid slot. Magnussen Q8 and tenth- Rosberg’s Mercedes won .

Credit…

Getty Images, F1technical.net

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Finito…

Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW 2.5 on the downhill plunge towards The Viaduct…

Its not the sharpest of images but an interesting one given the ‘different angle’ and Stephen Dalton’s narrative which goes with it.

‘Its Monday March 4 1968, Longford- playing in the rain on his 32nd birthday. After a few laps of mucky weather he is possibly wishing he could whip through the Mountford property gates and have a nice warm cuppa and some birthday cake’ with Ron MacKinnon, the President of the Longford Motor Racing Association.

‘The photo is coming down the hill from the Water Tower to The Viaduct- they are literally the gates to Ron MacKinnon’s Mountford (pastoral) property’ Stephen adds.

I wrote a feature about this race weekend a while back, the highlights of which were perhaps Chris Amon’s exploits in David McKay’s ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can-Am machine and Piers Courage’s win in the South Pacific Trophy, the very last motor race ever held at Longford in a European F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA. Click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Credit…

Stephen Dalton

Tailpiece: The start…

Finito…

Dunedin 1956 (T Selfe)

The Aston Martin DP155 single seater is surely one of the great marques lesser known models, here at Dunedin, New Zealand in February 1956…

It is significant too as one of the seminal steps in AM’s occasional quest to get into Grand Prix racing. The DBR4/250 cars were tested later in 1957 although not actually raced by Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby until 1959 by which time the mid-engine revolution was underway and by the seasons end ‘complete’. The Cooper T51 Climax delivered bigtime on the earlier promise of its predecessors.

I chuckled when I first saw Tony Selfe’s wonderful photo as the most successful individual GP chassis of all time- Tony Gaze’s ex-Alberto Ascari Ferrari 500 chassis ‘5’ is alongside its stablemate Peter Whitehead’s car and one of the least known GP cars of all time in far-away New Zealand! Not that its fair to call DP155 anything more than the test hack it most assuredly was.

There are not a huge number of photos of DP155 extant, whilst not super sharp the shot is useful to be able to further appreciate Frank Feeley’s body design within the constraints of the wide DB3S sportscar chassis upon which it was based and way up high seating position atop the driveshaft.

But lets go back to the start.

The project dates to the early 1950s when Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd first contemplated construction of a Grand Prix car, the first step was intended to be an F2 machine.

The intention was to mate a variant of the 2.6 litre LB6 engine with a DB3 sportscar chassis. An early prototype was assembled in the winter of 1951/2 using a mildly-tuned 2-litre version of the engine, however, Technical Director Prof Dr Robert Eberan von Eberhorst rejected the idea and the car was quickly dismantled and forgotten.

HWM’s John Heath showed interest in the ‘tuned down’ engine for his F2 cars but David Brown knocked that notion on its head.

The CSI announced a new 2.5 litre Formula 1 to which World Championship Grands Prix would be run from January 1 1954- a replacement for the 2 litre ‘F2’ formula of 1952-1953 during which the Ferrari 500’s in works and privateer hands had been dominant.

In Autumn 1953 Aston Martin contemplated F1 once more, but as a low priority, busy as they were with their sportscar programs which made great sense from product development and marketing perspectives.

The project was given the classification ‘DP155’, the car, allocated chassis number DP155-1, comprised a DB3S chassis frame ‘in narrower single seat form’ powered by a 2493cc (83×76.mm) version of the Willie Watson-designed 2.9-litre Aston Martin engine. Doug Nye cites works mechanics John King and Richard Green amongst those involved in the build, whilst Aston Martin’s legendary stylist, Frank Feeley, designed the bodywork.

John Wyer estimated an engine output of circa 180 bhp on alcohol fuel at the time- well short of the Tipo 625 Ferrari and Maserati 250F which developed at least 200 bhp in early 1954.

The twin-plug DB3S engines of 1955/6 developed about 210/215 bhp but by this time the F1 opposition were at 240/250 bhp so ‘it seemed a futile exercise for Aston Martin, whose sports-racing cars were notoriously and persistently underpowered, to contemplate building a Formula 1 car powered by a derivative of these engines’ wrote Anthony Pritchard.

The car was put to one side in the workshop as sportscar programs were prioritised. Click here for articles on the DB3S; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/, and; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/31/yes-frank-i-love-it-magnificent-in-fact/

Reg Parnell testing DP155 at Silverstone (or is it Chalgrove?) fitted with 3 litre supercharged engine (RAC2)

The DP155 2.5 litre engine was subsequently installed in works Aston Martin DB3S sports-racing car chassis ‘5’, which Reg Parnell drove to good effect in that year’s British Empire Trophy race at Oulton Park- he was third behind Archie Scott-Brown’s Lister Bristol and Ken McAlpine’s Connaught ALSR.

This prompted contemporary rumours that Aston Martin was considering an entry into Grand Prix competition. Such stories were denied but the belief that this was the case intensified when Aston Martin confirmed that Reg Parnell would race a DB3S-based single-seater car in New Zealand during the first months of 1956.

Reg had identified far-away New Zealand races as offering very useful motor racing earnings during the northern hemisphere winter, perhaps in conversation with Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze who were ‘veterans’ of the trip south to the Land of The Long White Cloud having raced there the two years before in their matched Ferrari 500’s.

The prototype DP155 was dusted off with its original drum-braked 1953 chassis and  fitted with the supercharged 3-litre engine Parnell had used with co-driver Roy Salvadori at Le Mans in 1954.

The supercharged engine then exploded while being tested by Reg at Chalgrove so DP155 was shipped ‘down under’ with a normally aspirated 2493cc engine ‘fitted with special camshafts, connecting rods and pistons’.

The British contingent to New Zealand comprised Stirling Moss, Maserati 250F, the two-amigos Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze with their Ferrari 750S engined Ferrari 500’s, Leslie Marr’s Connaught B Type Jaguar and Parnell’s Aston Martin.

Sir Leslie Marr (still alive at 97 years of age) is a landscape painter of some considerable note, it was in the formative stages of his evolution as a painter- an interest and capability he explored whilst an RAF Technician during the war, that he also raced cars, contesting amongst other events the 1954 and 1955 British Grands Prix.

Kids Jist Wanna Have Fun. In the Wellington backstreets, just unloaded off a ship and about to be sent by rail to Auckland, Ardmore. L>R Gaze HWM Jag, Whitehead Cooper Jag, McKay Aston DB3S and Moss Maserati 250F (CAN)

 

The first race of the tour was the Third New Zealand International Grand Prix at Ardmore Airfield, 25 km south-east of Auckland, in the north of NZ’s North Island.

Senior Kiwi motoring journalist Allan Dick wrote a very concise, interesting piece on the development of racing in NZ post-war in his ‘Classic Auto News’, i am going to use elements of that into this article as the history and most of the venues will be unfamiliar to many.

‘As far as can be ascertained, prewar “racing” had been confined to beaches with only one “circuit” race- the 1932 Prosperity Grand Prix run on a road circuit in the Auckland suburb of Orakei- very much a one off.’

‘While there had been motorsport and car clubs before WW2, it was when peace returned that the sport got organised…It had its roots in Dunedin, when, in 1947, Percy and Sybil Lupp and Harry Hedges formed the Otago Sports Car Club…then Harry went south and was one of the prime movers in creation of the Southland Car Club.’

‘With new clubs joining with the old it was decided to form a national umbrella body, which became the Association of New Zealand Car Clubs- the ANZCC…now MotorSport NZ.’

Allan continues, ‘With the new structure, getting circuit racing going became a priority…with no permanent racing circuit in NZ. In 1948 the Canterbury Car Club was determined to hold a race meeting…on the outskirts of Christchurch. The authorities would not approve the road closure…a deputation including Pat Hoare approached the government and approval was given for the use of Wigram Air Force base…it became a regular annual feature for decades.’

‘Inspired by this, the Manuwatu Car Club got the use of the Ohakea Air Force base and staged the first NZ GP there in 1950. In 1951 public roads were closed in Christchurch for the running of a meeting at Mairehau…so…proper circuit motor racing was now well and truly established, but these were temporary airfield or road circuits.’

‘For 1953, Mairehau, Wigram and Ohakea were joined by a fourth- a genuine inner city, “round the houses” meeting near the wharves in Dunedin.’

‘…any “international” aspect to these meetings had come from Australia, but in 1954 the whole motor racing scene shifted up several gears with the first truly international race meeting- the New Zealand International Grand Prix on the air force base at Ardmore…Now we had five race meetings annually- three airfield and two road circuits. Two in the North Island and three in the South.’

The 1954 meeting (and season) contestants included Ken Wharton’s BRM P15 V16, Peter Whitehead, Ferrari 125, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta and a swag of Australians including Stan Jones in Maybach 1, Jack Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, Lex Davison’s, ex-Moss/Gaze HWM but fitted with a Jaguar XK engine instead of the F2 Alta unit and others in addition to locals.

Wigram Trophy 1954. Ken Wharton in the extraordinary BRM P15 on pole beside Peter Whitehead, Ferrari 125, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta and Fred Zambucka, Maserati 8CM. Whitehead won from Gaze and Wharton (LibNZ)

The first NZ GP at Ohakea was won by John McMillan, Jackson Ford V8 Spl in 1950, the other two events prior to 1956 were at Ardmore in 1954 and 1955 and won by Stan Jones, Maybach 1 and Bira, Maserati 250F

And so it was that our 1956 visitors looked forward to a summer of great racing with the Moss Maserati a huge drawcard and NZ GP race favourite off the back of Bira’s 250F win twelve months before.

Shipping problems with the Moss car, the two Ferrari’s and Marr’s Connaught- which were sent to Wellington rather than Auckland did not get things off to a good start. The Connaught was deep in its ships hold and had to be flown to Auckland on the eve of the race, hurriedly assembled and run without being properly prepared.

For the other visitors it was missing spares and wheels that were the issues but all was made good by the time of the race.

Moss, Whitehead and Parnell all took 2 seconds off Ken Wharton’s two year old BRM T15 V16 lap record in practice with Moss taking pole from Whitehead, Gaze, Brabham, Cooper T40 Bristol (the car in which he started his championship career during the 1955 British GP- and in which he won the Australian GP at Port Wakefield later in 1955), Ron Roycroft, Bugatti T35A Jaguar and Parnell.

Ardmore 1956 grid. Moss, Whitehead and Gaze #4 up front. Row 2 is the Roycroft Bugatti T35A Jaguar, #6 Parnell, Cooper T38 Jag, Syd Jensen, Cooper Mk9 Norton and Tom Clark, Maserati 8CM on the outside. Frank Kleinig is in the light coloured Norman Hamilton owned Porsche 550 Spyder and probably David McKay’s Aston Martin DB3S beside Kleinig and perhaps Alec Mildren’s Cooper T23 Bristol this side of the Aston (unattributed)

 

Tony Gaze Ferrari 500 chasing Leslie Marr Connaught B Type Jaguar at Ardmore during the 1956 NZ GP (Ardmore)

Reg had a fraught start to his weekend in that DP155 threw a connecting rod during the second day of practice. He was well and truly up the creek sans paddle without a spare engine but via the good graces of Peter Whitehead raced his Cooper T38 Jaguar in the race, a most sporting gesture (and the car Stan Jones acquired that summer). Click here to read about the car; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/05/mount-tarrengower-hillclimb/

Gaze led for some of the first lap but then Moss romped away for the balance of the 200 mile journey- he had lapped the field by the end of his thirty-third tour. Some late race excitement was provided when a broken fuel lead sprayed fuel into his cockpit but even after a pitstop to top up the cars fuel he won by three-quarters of a minute from Gaze, Whitehead, Marr and Parnell. Brabham didn’t start with gearbox failure- it split as he was warming it up in the paddock.

All the fun of the fair, 1957 Wigram start. The splash of colour on the front row is Ron Roycroft’s blue Ferrari 375 and the red Ferrari 555’s of Peter Whitehead, who won, and Reg Parnell. The green car on the front row left is Brabham’s Cooper T41 Climax (unattributed)

 

Reg Parnell, DP155 at Wigram (RAC1)

 

The circus then gathered at Christchurch in the north-east of the South Island for ‘The Lady Wigram Trophy’ held at the RNZAF Airbase 7km from the city on 21 January 1956.

The crew in Feltham ensured a new 2922cc engine was flown out to allow installation in DP155 in time for practice.

Moss had returned to Europe after Ardmore but his 250F was put to good use by Ross Jensen and later John Mansel for the ensuing five years or so.

NZ was to be a happy hunting ground for the Brit who won the countries premier race in 1956, 1959 aboard a Cooper T45 Climax and again in 1962 in Rob Walker’s Lotus 21 Climax not too long before his career ending Goodwood accident.

DP155 finished a distant fourth in the 71 lap Trophy race- up front Peter Whitehead was over 5 minutes ahead of the Aston hybrid- he won from pole ahead of Tony Gaze and Marr. Leslie was 1m 35secs adrift of the winning Ferrari with Syd Jensen the first NZ’er home in his Cooper Mk9 Norton 530cc.

Gaze Ferrari at the Dunedin Wharves- David McKay’s Aston DB3S at left (CAN)

 

Dunedin heat start- Gaze Ferrari left, the Arnold Stafford Cooper Mk9 Norton in the middle on pole and Roycroft’s Bugatti T35A Jag at right on the second row (unattributed)

 

Vroom-vroooom-vrooooooom. I can hear the sharp, staccato bark of the 3 litre four as Tony Gaze warms up 500/5 at Dunedin. Uncertain of the car behind but it’s an Aston DB3S a bit further back (unattributed)

 

Syd Jensen, Cooper Mk9 Norton on pole for the feature race alongside Gaze’ Ferrari 500 (TA Thompson)

From there the circus travelled south, still on the South Island to the Otago Harbour city of Dunedin for the ‘NZ Championship Road Race’ on 28 January.

The event of 120 km was 44 laps of 2.74 km around the Dunedin ‘Wharf’ Circuit. Not everyone liked the place as the surface was rough and tough and included a section with a gravel surface.

Syd Jensen’s nimble, fast, Cooper Mk9 Norton started from pole with Gaze and Arnold Stafford in a similar Cooper on the outside of the front row. Marr, Parnell and Whitehead were back on row 3- Kiwis Ron Roycroft Bugatti T35A Jaguar 3442cc, Ron Frost, Cooper Mk9 Norton and Tom Clark, Maserati 8CM were on row 2.

Jensen set the crowd afire in the little Cooper harrying the bigger cars finishing third overall and setting the fastest lap of the race.

Gaze won from Parnell, Jensen, Whitehead and Tom Clark. Marr started the race, did one lap to get his staring money and then retired, not impressed with the place at all, with the other overseas drivers complaining that they were unused to driving on a metalled surface where some sections of the track were unsealed.

 

Parnell head down, bum up whilst Peter and Tony contemplate a post loading cool bevvy. Aston DP155/1 in all of its glory nicely juxtaposed by the industrial surrounds (T Selfe)

Immediately after the Dunedin race these amazing photographs were taken by Tony Selfe of Parnell, Whitehead and Gaze loading their exotic racers onto a low-load railway truck for transport to the next round they were to contest at Ryal Bush, 20 km north of Invercargill, at the very south of the South Island.

Parnell is still ‘suited up’ in his racing kit, the intrepid competitors in the DIY style of the day have helped Tony sip the victory champagne or beer and then taken their machines straight to the adjoining railyards for the Dunedin-Invercargill trip. That chain looks a very butch way to attach the light, alloy Ferrari to the flat rail-car.

Next up is Whitehead’s Ferrari- Peter steering, Tony rear left and Reg at right (T Selfe)

The visitors missed the 4 February South Island Championship at Mairehau but were at Ryal Bush the week later, 4 February for the First ‘Southland Road Race’, a 240 km race- 41 laps of a 5.87 km road course.

Back to Allan Dick’s history lesson on the evolution of NZ circuits.

‘To the farthest south, Invercargill motor racing enthusiasts looked north, and, as one of the founding members of the ANZCC felt it was their duty to join the motor racing scene and they eyed a vacant bit of land on the outskirts of Invercargill on which to build a permanent circuit, but they lacked funds.’

‘But 1956 was Southland’s Centennial Year so it was decided to hold a race meeting on a road circuit to get the sport established and help raise funds. Unlike their Dunedin cousins, the Southlanders opted for a country circuit rather than a city one after plans to close roads around Queens Park failed…they moved into the country and closed three roads around the small settlement of Ryal Bush which included a section of the main road to Queenstown.’

Whitehead was on pole from Marr, Gaze, Clark and John Horton in an HWM Alta 1960cc s/c (ex-works/Gaze) whilst Reg was back on row 3 in the Aston on the stretch of road being used for racing for the first time.

Dick describes the place as ‘…the Reims of NZ- three long straights with three tight corners and high speeds…But unlike Reims, Ryal Bush was narrow and lined with lamp-posts, hedges, ditches, drains and fences. Average speeds were around 150km/h, making it the fastest circuit in New Zealand.’

Given the vast European experience of Whitehead, Gaze and Parnell they should have felt right at home!

(CAN)

Allan writes of the photo above, ‘Photographs of this era are rare. Photographs from Ryal Bush are even more rare. The starters flag has just dropped and the cars are away with a very clear indication of just how narrow the roads were…take your time and drink in the details.’

‘Car #3 is the Ferrari of Peter Whitehead and the Streamliner is Leslie Marr’s Connaught. Car #4 on the second row is Tony Gaze and the antique looking car is Tom Clark in the pre-war Maserati 8CM. Clark had picked and chosen his races this season. Behind Clark is John Horton in the HWM Alta and alongside him is Frank Shuter in the Edelbrock Special.’

‘Also in the photograph can be seen the white Austin Healey 100S of Ross Jensen, the black 100S of Bernie Gillier and the Bugatti Jaguar of Ron Roycroft.’

‘I think it may well have been the start of a heat as there were several other cars entered that aren’t there- including Parnell in the Aston Martin, the Australian Aston Martins (Tom Sulman and David McKay), Pat Hoare’s 4CLT Maserati, Bill Crosbie’s local special and Bruce Monk in the advanced JBM Ford.’

Peter Whitehead won in 1 hour 35 minutes from Gaze, Parnell, Roycroft and Frank Shuter, Cadillac Spl V8 5200cc. Marr retired after an accident on the first lap.

The meeting was a huge success with plenty of money made, preliminary work began on what became Teretonga, its first meeting was in November 1957.

Peter Whitehead, perhaps, in front of Leslie Marr, Connaught at Ryal Bush in 1956- note the row of haybales in front of the wire farm fence and extensive crowd (Southland Times)

 

Parnell in NZ 1956, Aston DP155 circuit unknown (S Dalton)

 

Ryal Bush entry list

Peter Whitehead was complimentary about the meeting in an interview with ‘The Southland Times’, quipping ‘We’ll be back next year- if they will have us’- he was too, he won the race in his Ferrari 555 from Parnell’s similar machine.

Peter had some suggestions about how to improve things, these extended to shifting the pits to a slower section of road and that the corners be concreted, apart from that he ‘spoke highly of the race, its organisation and the favourable report he was going to give to the Royal Automobile Club in London.’

The visitors missed the season ending Ohakea Trophy at the airfield of the same name on 3 March, shipping their cars back to Europe- not so Tony Gaze mind you, he sold both the HWM Jaguar sports and the Ferrari 500 to Lex Davison who would also do rather well in the years to come with the ex-Ascari chassis- the 1956 and 1957 Australian Grands Prix amongst its many victories.

Before leaving New Zealand the visitors indulged in some deep sea fishing out of The Bay of Islands for a week before heading home. ‘Whitehead is headed for South Africa, and two important international races, including the South African Grand Prix at Johannesburg- he won the event last year. (he won the 24 March Rand GP in March 1956 too aboard the Ferrari 500) Mr Parnell’s next important engagement is the 12 Hour Sebring race in the United States’ the report concluded.

Parnell continued as a works-Aston Martin driver with DP155/1 put in a corner of the Feltham race shop until sold to ‘inveterate specials builder’ and entrant of the RRA (Richardson Racing Automobiles) Specials, Geoff Richardson, fitted it with a 2.5 litre single-plug engine.

Richardson told Anthony Pritchard ‘I paid about 900 pounds for it and it proved a great source of annoyance to me because John Wyer guaranteed when I bought it that it gave 190bhp. I put the engine on my test bed and got 145/146bhp. Wyer had a twin-plug engine but he wouldn’t sell it to me, I never spoke to him again. I made up a 2483cc Jaguar XK engine for it and got nearly 200bhp on pump fuel.’

Geoff Richardson in DP155/RRA Spl at Snetterton in 1957 (Autosport)

 

DP155/RRA Special circa 1961 at left and in the early 1970’s at right. Note RRA badge on grille at left, wider wheels and tyres at right (AMOC Register/HAR)

Richardson only raced the car twice before buying an ex-works Connaught B Type and therefore decided to sell it.

At the request of David Gossage, the new owner, Richardson rebuilt it in 1957 as a sportscar fitted with the body from the Lord O’Neill DB3S/105- modified at the front of the with a simple oval radiator intake. It was registered UK ‘UUY504’.

Gossage sold it to a hotelier, Greville Edwards, who had a bad accident in it in which his girlfriend was killed.

Richardson then re-acquired the car and built a replacement chassis using ‘main tubes supplied by Aston Martin’ said Geoff- and further modified it in the rebuild by replacing the torsion bar rear suspension with coil/spring damper units and fitted the de Dion axle with a Watts linkage in place of the sliding guide. Also ftted was a Salisbury ‘slippery diff. He modified the nose to make it more aerodynamic and finessed a 3 litre crank into a 2.4 litre Jag XK block to give a capacity of about 3.2 litres.

Geoff and his wife ran it in a few sprints and on the road before its sale in 1973. Richard Bell restored the car to original DB3S shape and built a twin-plug engine of correct spec. The car passed through a couple of sets of hands before being modified to 1955 team car configuration by Roos Engineering in Berne.

The last reported owner is in Tennessee…whilst the line of provenance is clearish the car in the US is quite different to the one Parnell, Gaze and Whitehead loaded onto a train on that gloomy Dunedin evening in February 1956!

DP155 via RRA via DB3S/105 body in 1988 and referred to as chassis 131-DB135 registered UUY504

 

Etcetera…

 

Reg Parnell in Peter Whitehead’s Cooper T38 Jaguar at Ardmore during the 1956 NZ GP (sergent.com)

 

Ryal Bush program signed by Whitehead, Marr, Gaze and Parnell.

 

Gaze’s Ferrari 500 in the Dunedin railyards 1956 (T Selfe)

 

Tom Clark’s Maserati 8CM, Dunedin 1956 (CAN)

Photo and Reference Credits…

Tony Selfe, ‘Aston Martin: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, Allan Dick and ‘Classic Auto News’ July 2016 post on Ryal Bush, ‘Hissing Cobra’ by Mattijs Diepraam and Felix Muelas on 8WForix, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, sergent.com, Aston Martin DP155 thread on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, Stephen Dalton Collection, Aston Martin Owners Club, The Southland Times, TA Thompson, astonuts.free.fr, Graham Woods Collection

Tailpieces…

(T Selfe)

A crop of the opening shot, Aston Martin DP155 being washed at Dunedin in February 1956, maybe one of you proficient in Photoshop can sharpen it up a bit.

Its just a footnote in motor racing history, but quite an interesting one all the same. It is a shame it lost its single-seater identity, what interest it would create had it survived in ‘original’ specification today.

And below, Reg at Wigram.

(unattributed)

Finito…

(CAN)

Lionel Bulcraig, Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre, eighth and last runner in the ‘Waimate 50’ New Zealand Gold Star round on 21 February 1963…

I popped this image up on Facebook a while back and was never satisfied that the car or driver was correctly identified. I strayed onto Allan Dick’s ‘Classic Auto News’ page and got the answer. He wrote, ‘Having made very good sportscars and won Le Mans (in 1959 with the DBR1), Aston Martin toyed with the idea of getting into Formula 1- but they arrived late in the 2.5 litre formula and were swamped by the rear-engined revolution of 1959.’

Aston Martin pulled the plug on the works F1 program but happily sold cars to Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell in Australia- as i wrote a while back Lex came within a car length of winning the 1960 Australian Grand Prix at Lowood, Queensland in his- Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati just got home in front after a titanic race long arm wrestle.

See here for that encounter; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/ and this one about Lex and Bib’s Aston passion; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/22/aston-martin-db4gt-zagato-2vev-lex-davison-and-bib-stillwell/

‘Stillwell brought his (chassis number DBR4/250 ‘3’) to New Zealand in 1962 for the last GP at Ardmore then sold it to Kawakawa Car Sales owner Lionel Bulcraig. He raced the car infrequently, this is him at Waimate in 1963 where he was the last running finisher in eighth. Its a rare photograph of a rare car’ Allan concludes.

Indeed it is, mystery solved!

(Ardmore)

Bib Stillwell above in the Aston DBR4/250 during the 1962 NZ GP at Ardmore on the occasion of Stirling Moss’ wet-weather Lotus 21 Climax 2.5 racing masterclass.

He lapped the field in the shortened 50 lap race- John Surtees did unlap himself on the penultimate lap with soggy Bib tenth, six laps in arrears and no doubt wishing he was aboard one of his Coopers.

Click here for an article on Moss’s Lotus 21; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

(CAN)

Waimate is a town on the east coast of the South Island 45 km from Timaru, the street circuit was in the local town precinct and 2.25 Km in length.

During that summer of 1963 Bulcraig contested the NZ GP at Pukekohe for Q12 of 17 and DNF in the race won by John Surtees’ Lola Mk4 Climax 2.7 FPF. He DNF at Wigram from mid-grid after colliding with Jim Palmer’s Lotus 20B Ford. He missed the next, Teretonga, round but raced at Waimate for eighth having started from row 2- Palmer won that day.

(CAN)

Several other shots of the 1963 Waimate 50 below.

Tony Shelly, Cooper T45 Climax 2 litre, #27 Ken Sager Lotus 20 Ford, behind him in #20 is John Histed, Lola Mk2 Ford with Arthur Moffat in the Lotus 15 Climax. #44 is Doug Lawrence, Lola Mk1 Ford, #1 is David Young, Cooper T65 Ford FJ.

Allan Dick advises further back is #2 Frank Turpie, Lotus 20 Ford with Barry Cottle’s Lola Mk1 Climax. Cooper T51 Climax #9 is Bill Thomasen, whilst the red car at the rear is Bulcraig’s Aston Martin.

Missing from this wonderful shot is the front row- Jim Palmer, Lotus 20B Ford- the winner, Roly Levis, Cooper T52 Ford and Maurice Stanton, Stanton-Corvette V8.

(CAN)

Tony Shelly has run out of road below, Cooper T45 Climax.

He overshot the corner into the short leg of the main straight. The hay-bales and water-filled drums separated the cars ‘coming and going’ up and down the main street.

(CAN)

Another section of the track with N Cleland’s unidentified mount ahead of WR Baker in a Cooper Norton- it looks like a lot of fun if somewhat perilous!

(CAN)

Credits…

Allan Dick- CAN- ‘Classic Auto News’, Ardmore, NZ Classic Driver

Tailpiece: Len Gilbert, Cooper Bristol, Waimate 1960…

(NZ Classic Driver)

Love this shot of Gilbert’s Cooper Mk 2 Bristol ‘sports’ which rather captures the spirit of the time and place rather well. Len is coming out of Queen Street during the February 1960 meeting.

He was sixth in the race won by John Mansel’s Maserati 250F.

Finito…