(J Saldanha)

This Macau Grand Prix has always had the exotic allure of the east for me.

The artwork by Joao Saldanha depicts Hong Kong’s John Macdonald, one of Macau’s stars, winning the 1973 Grand Prix aboard his Brabham BT40 Ford, he is approaching the Lisboa Hotel right-hander at the end of the straight.

Joao comments that ‘The British driver from Hong Kong is  the only one to have won the Macau GP in the events three categories, the Grand Prix (1965, 1972, 1973 and 1975), the Motorcycling GP (1969) and the Guia Touring Car Race (1972) which granted him the “King of Macau” title…’

I remember reading about Macau in the publication which got me interested in motor racing, the ‘Australian Motor Racing Annual 1969’ of Kevin Bartlett’s win in the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa Romeo V8 and thinking how cool it would be to race in Australia and up in Asia.

One minute board is up Macau GP 1969. Kevin Bartlett, the winner at left in the Mildren Alfa V8, John Macdonald, Brabham Ford FVA and O Masuko, Mitsubishi Colt F2C- the Colt behind is S Kato, #66 is Albert Poon, Brabham BT30. Bartlett won from Poon and Kato  (SCMP)

 

Porto Interior-Macau’s old inner harbour with China in the background. Lots of traditional Chinese junks and the old steam ferry to Hong Kong 1973 (K Petersen)

 

Dieter Quester, BMW 270- 2 litre 265bhp engine, 1970 victor. BMW raced these cars with 1.6 litre M11 engines in Euro F2 during the late sixties into the dawn of the seventies. Not a bad backdrop for a car race! (SCMP)

Whilst the race is on the bucket list i’ve never quite made it despite being in and out of Singapore and KL- not too far away, very regularly from 1990 to 1992- the Formula Atlantic/Pacific era would have been the one to see too. F3 just didn’t float my boat as much as the F Pacs did- but I still do want to go.

1958, G Baker, Ferrari Monza, T Reynolds, Jaguar XK140 and N Barnes, Porsche 356. Nose of Aston DB3S is Chan Lye Choon- the winner (unattributed)

 

 

1957. G Baker, Ferrari Mondial, A Pateman, Mercedes Benz 300SL and R Hardwick, AC Ace. On row 2 F Wong, Ford Spl and M Redfern, Jag XK140. #6 is Teddy Yip, Jag XK140. #22 is F Pope, Jag Spl. Pateman won (unattributed)

 

Triumph TR and Martin Redfern Lotus 11 in the Guia hill section, Maternity Bend, near the Police Barracks says Kevin Bartlett. Portuguese Police doubled on crowd control and ‘flag marshalls’ in the early days of the race (unattributed

The first event, held in 1954 was initially conceived as a treasure hunt around the streets and Guia hillside of the city by friends Fernando de Macedo Pinto, Carlos da Silva and Paulo Antas.

Not long after, having given Paul Dutoit of the Motor Sports Club of Hong Kong a lap of the suggested the 3.9 mile track, he excitedly exclaimed, ‘This is not a treasure hunt. What you have here is a Grand Prix!’.

And so it was that the first Macau Grand Prix meeting on 30 and 31 October 1954 comprised two events- the ‘Speed Regularity Trial’ was for production cars on the Saturday, the feature event, the Grand Prix the following day.

Robert Ritchie won the reliability trial in a Fiat 1100, thereby becoming the first to win a ‘race’ at Macau and Eddie Carvalho the GP in a Triumph TR2, in fact TR2’s took home first to third places in the four hour race- Carvalho from Dutoit and da Rocha. From these far from modest beginnings began a great annual carnival.

1954 GP with Le Mans start at 3 minutes after noon on Sunday 31 October 1954. R Pennels, Healey 100, G Bell, Morgan, then the E da Rocha, P Dutoit and E Carvalho Triumph TR2’s, F de Macedo Pinto, MG Spl, A White/J Bartlett Riley 2.5 and the rest (C&N)

 

Pennels Healey chases Carvalho’s winning TR2 through the Guia hillside in 1954. The trackside dust caused plenty of visibility problems (C&N)

 

The permanent pit and grandstand complex was indicative of a strong level of Government support- commenced in 1956, it was extended in 1958. Porsche 550 is Grant Wolfkill in 1960 (C&N)

In 1960 the GP was included on the international racing calendar as a ‘national race with foreign participation’ and thus became subject to FIA rules.

The South China Morning Post suggested the race as an amateur event until 1966 when Belgian driver Mauro Bianchi entered an Alpine A220. Alpine Renault sent engineer Jean-Paul Castilleux to assist Bianchi in the cars preparation, his win led to greater exposure and increased professional team presence in the ensuing years.

The same circuit layout is used now as back then and comprises two distinct sections.

The back stretch around the seaward slopes of the Guia Hill is a roller-coaster ride of up hill and down dale curves and corners. In 1954 this seaction was not paved. The fast outer section along the harbour had a wide straight avenue with a relatively smooth sealed surface ‘Though the approach to what is now known as Fisherman’s Bend was often under a few inches of water since reclamation of this part of Macao from the sea had only recently taken place’ (!) Philip Newsome wrote.

The track is a flat-out roller coaster which has been likened to a cross between Monaco and Spa- it combines the technical complexity of a street circuit with the speed of the most challenging track in the world.

Most unforgiving, Arsenio ‘Dodjie’ Laurel’s death in 1967 was the circuits’ first tragedy.

‘Skips and Kiwis were regular and successful competitors in increasing numbers throughout the sixties- the Formula Libre regulations assisted in the events growth as one could race whatever you owned within reason.

The event evolved from a sports car race in the initial seven years, to Formula Libre from 1961 to 1973, Formula Atlantic/Pacific- a ‘Golden Era’ through to 1982 and Formula 3 since then.

In the ‘BDA years’ big names or up-and-comers included Ricardo Patrese, Alan Jones, Vern Schuppan, David Purley, Steve Millen, Andrew Miedecke, Roberto Moreno, Derek Daly, Keke Rosberg, Brett Lunger, Kevin Cogan, Tiff Needell, Geoff Lees, Sataru Nakajima, Desire Wilson, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Roberto Guerrero and others.

Ricardo Patrese, Chevron B40 Ford BDA, 1977 winner. This car was raced by Ken Smith and was later acquired by Brian Sampson in Melbourne until Peter Whelan convinced Sambo to release the car from his Aladdins Cave in Moorabbin. Peter and the Murphy brothers in Adelaide did a beaut job restoring it, Whelan raced the car for some years in Oz historics, its now in a museum in Macau I believe (SCMP)

 

Vern Schuppan, enters Melco on his way to taking pole, March 722 Ford 1972. John MacDonald won that year in a Brabham BT36 (SCMP)

 

Vern Schuppan, March 722 ahead of the John Dimsdale Lotus 69 in 1972

Graeme Lawrence, March 76B Ford 1977 (SCMP)

 

Teddy Yip again, this time in a Porsche 906, unplaced in 1972. Is this the car he acquired from Alan Hamilton?

 

Mal Ramsay, Elfin 600C Ford 1970. This practice accident was caused when the Aussie co-founder of Birrana cars borrowed some goggles which slipped off- he instinctively sought to grab them and before he knew it he was off course. He was ok and the car not too badly damaged (SCMP)

Lots of Australasians raced up there (i’m including up there as Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan) including internationals Vern Schuppan, Alan Jones and Bruce Allison.

Nobody did better business in the region for a couple of decades than Graeme Lawrence ‘who should have been given the keys to the city’ with multiple Singapore GP wins, victories in Malaysia but no win at Macau. Mind you, John Macdonald’s achievements across disciplines trumps even Graeme.

Max Stewart was very popular too- no win in Macau,, but one in Singapore. Speaking of which, Garrie Cooper won on the tough Thompson Road, Singapore track in 1968 aboard the very first Elfin 600- Garrie sold quite a few cars up there, particularly 600’s- twin-cam, Repco and Ford FVA engined (Hengkie Iriawan’s 600C).

Lanky Max acknowledges the plaudits of the crowd after finishing second in 1972. Results say Dolphin but it looks like a Rennmax BN3 Ford to me

 

Harvey Simon, Elfin 600B Ford sixth place in 1972 (SCMP)

 

 

 

Michael Schumacher aboard a Reynard 903 VW in 1990- won from Eddie Irvine and Mika Salo

 

European F3 was adopted in 1983- none other than Ayrton Senna won the GP in a Ralt RT3 Toyota. Michael Schumacher followed suit in 1990. Over the years the event has taken on great stature- a win in Macau means a lot- the list of later F1 drivers who raced there is long and deep, too long to include.

Motorcycles first raced at Macau in 1967- bonkers! Aces like Kevin Schwantz, Carl Fogarty, Ron Haslam and Michael Rutter have all participated.

The Singaporeans were onto the opportunities of Touring Cars from early in the piece with guys like Brian Foley and John Leffler visitors- in Macau the ‘Guia’ Touring Car races commenced in 1972.

The photo below is of Allan Moffat aboard a Bob Harper sponsored Ford Capri RS2600 in 1973- he must have been impressed with the car, acquiring a later ex-works RS3100 a couple of years later which raced all too briefly in Australia.

 

1973. Obscured John Macdonald, Brabham BT40, Vern Schuppan, March 722 and Sonny Rajah at the right, March 712 Ford. Macdonald won from Max Stewart’s Dolphin Ford and Rajah

 

 

Wonderful panoramic shot of the Main Straight in 1962 ‘taken from where the Mandarin Oriental Hotel now stands…the timekeeprs enjoyed a better line of sight from their small stand, though this was perched somewhat precariously over the harbour.’ Not sure of the Triumph and Porsche drivers (C&N)

 

Etcetera…

 

 

 

(unattributed)

1956 start with a Mercedes 190SL of D Steane, L da Costa Ferrari Mondial and R Ritchie, Austin Healey 100- R Pennel’s Healey 100 on row 2 beside the F Pope, Jag Spl. Steane won from da Costa.

(Getty)

Modern vignette over the last 5 years, cars are 2 litre Euro F3.

Ken Araoka, Suzuki RG500.

(C&N)

Race poster has a touch of the Mike Hawthorn/Ferrari 500 about it.

This is the crowd Kevin Bartlett confronted in 1969- no doubt a few more folks than even the ‘Warwick Farm 100’!, perhaps the premier Australian Tasman round at the time.

 

 

Allan Moffat at left in his Group C Mazda RX7 during the 1981 Guia race.

Sonny Rajah’s March 712 Ford-Hart during the 1973 GP.

Rather a famous car in that Ronnie Peterson won the European F2 Championship in it in 1971- here the car wears 732 bodywork.

In Australia we got a close look at the car/driver combination as the likeable, quick Indonesian did a few of our ANF2 Championship rounds in 1974. I wonder who owns the car now?

Edward Irvine Esq, Schumacher and Mika Salo.

Where is Mika Hakkinen? Michael is thinking, oh yeah, he ran into me, pity about that! Hakkinen had the two heat contest in the bag and made a way too optimistic attack on Schumi in the final lap of the second heat which came undone.

(SCMP)

1971 GP- beautifully framed shot shows Sonny Rajah, Lotus 69 Ford from Albert Poon’s Brabham BT30.

Jan Bussell won in a McLaren M4C.

(unattributed)

1957. The R Pennels Healey 100 from Pateman, Benz 300SL- #6 is the Yip XK140.

(J Santos)

Holden LC Torana GTR in 1973, driver anybody?

(unattributed)

Ayrton Senna won in 1983 aboard a Ralt RT3 Toyota- the first year of Euro F3 in an F3 season when he slugged it out with Martin Brundle- both graduated to F1, Toleman and Tyrrell respectively.

Vern Schuppan certainly received plenty of support from Teddy Yip throughout his career.

Here he is running the Theodore Racing March 772 Ford BDA during the 1980 GP- fifth. The race was won by Geoff Lees Ralt RT1 Ford. Lees was later a factory Ralt pilot inclusive of an F2 Championship in a Ralt RH6 Honda V6.

 

(SCMP)

John Macdonald’s Brabham BT36 Ford en-route to 1972 victory. Ex-Rondel Racing?

1990 warm up lap- look at that field.

Hakkinen, Ralt RT34 Mugen, Schumacher, Reynard 903 VW, #1 Irvine, Ralt RT34 Mugen and #15 Mika Salo, RT34 Mugen.

Talent in this field of great depth included Alex Zanardi, Laurent Aiello, Richard Rydell, Eric Helary, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Pedro Chaves, Olivier Panis, Otto Rensing and Oliver Beretta.

Glen Abbey with bottle of Coke and KB sans top body panel with the victorious ‘Sub’ after the Alec Mildren Racing victory in 1969.

Car in repose in the Macau paddock below.

Glorious looking engine is an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 litre, DOHC 2 valve, injected V8. Later a Waggott TC-4V 2 litre, DOHC 4 valve, injected four was fitted.

 

(SCMP)

Gerhard Berger, BMW 635CSI during the 1984 Guia race.

Vern Schuppan gives team owner and ‘father of Macau’ Teddy Yip a ride aboard his Ralt RT1 Ford BDA after his second and final Macau GP win in 1976. His 1974 victory was aboard a March 722 Ford BDA.

Businessman, racer and entreprenuer Yip is a story, a long one, in himself. Suffice it to say his contribution to this race as a racer, entrant, team owner, ‘global ambassador’ and sponsor was extraordinary.

Credits…

‘SCMP’- South China Morning Post, Getty Images, Natalino Couto, ‘C&N’- ‘Colour and Noise’ Philip Newsome, Jose Santos

Tailpieces: The Ages…

D Steane, Mercedes Benz 190SL 1956.

 

Dallara Mercedes circa 2017.

 

(J Santos)

Art at the start and art at the finish.

Stunning image by Jose Santos of Leo Geoghegan’s works Birrana 273 Ford-Hart ANF2 car during the 1973 Grand Prix.

Just marvellous.

Finito…

Comments
  1. Fred.Radman says:

    Some Video Footage From Macau

  2. gray chandler says:

    Ken Araoka on the Suzuki RG500 #17 cheers.

  3. Angus Lamont says:

    The picture labeled ” R. Ohobo’s wide-nosed Brabham etc” is actually John Macdonald’s Brabham BT36 using the “shovel” nose. He won the 1972 Macau GP in this car.

    What a great collection of photos and the interesting history of this race.

    Angus

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Angus,
      I used the South China Morning Post caption. Do you know if that chassis was one of the Rondel Hill/Schenken chassis out of interest?
      Will make the change to the article. It is a fascinating topic- one of my sons wants me to take him up to the Singapore GP next year- i’d rather go to Macau really!
      Mark

      • Angus Lamont says:

        Hi Mark,

        Yes, the car was bought from Rondel Racing and was used by Graham Hill in F2 races. It had a serious shunt in South America and the repair was clear to see. After purchase the new owner commented to me that the chassis was “bent like a banana”! It took quite a few tweaks on the suspension set up to get it handling correctly. The chassis was number 2.

        Sad to say that, in my opinion, the Macau Grand Prix is a shadow of what it used to be. Currently two heats mostly run under a yellow flag!

        As I now live in Singapore I am probably biased as besides the unique situation under which the F1 race is run there are also plenty of other events linked to the occasion. It has a real carnival atmosphere.

        In the event that you do decide to come to Singapore please let me know so that we can meet up for a chat.

        Angus

  4. prn31 says:

    Hi Mark,

    The first Australian to race at Macau was Bill Wyllie who raced his self built TR3 powered Wyllie Special there in 1958. The following year he qualified on pole and finished second in an Auto Union 1000RS. He also qualified on pole in 1964 in the Team Harper Lotus 23 but retired. He had successes in the Johore GP and Singapore GP during that time

    Wyllie was a successful businessman in Asia managing motoring group Harper International in the 1960’s and 70’s and then made his fortune in mining and property in his native Western Australia. He died in 2006 aged 73. His widow Rhonda still features in the States rich list as well as the social pages for her charity work. There was a great profile of the man on the Wyllie Group website, but alas it is no longer there and there is little on the internet now.

    Paul

    • markbisset says:

      What a great addition to the story Paul,
      I’ve never heard of the man despite a regular AFR diet all these years! The usual thing with me- a couple of photos inspired the story, made easy by ‘Colour and Noise’ which I bought 20 years ago but never read, I’m now picking my way through it, shall read about Wyllie with particular interest. The Macau Oz roll-call is far longer than I had imagined.
      Mark

  5. Rob says:

    Mark,

    The Bill Wyllie story that was on the Wyllie Group website can be viewed at http://web.archive.org/web/20140306043516/http://www.wylliegroup.com/bill/history

    Rob

  6. Angus Lamont says:

    Hi Mark,
    Saloon Car 42 in the 1973 Macau was entered by Team Motolux HK and the drivers were Wan Shik Kong and Pochiu Lui. Another query sorted for you!

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