Archive for January, 2020

Jim Hall on the front row of the grid, a locale he became quite akin to and fond of in 1964/1965- Laguna Seca in May 1965, Chaparral 2A Chev…

1965 started fantastically for the boys from Midland, Texas with a mighty win over twelve hours at Sebring against the best in the world from Ferrari, Ford, Porsche and the rest- Jim Hall and Hap Sharp took pole, fastest lap and the victory.

The team contested the US Road Racing Championships using the fibreglass chassis 2A Chev- those cars in 1964 won Corry Fields, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Meadowdale and Mid Ohio- Jim Hall took the chequered flag in all of these events with the exception of Mid Ohio when his Chaparral business partner, Hap Sharp triumphed.

Sebring 12 Hour 1965- MG Bridge, the Hall/Sharp winning Chap 2A Chev goes inside the Ryan/Tidwell Porsche 904, behind is the second Hissom/Jennings Chap 2A, the famous deluge of rain which pretty much flooded the place is yet to come ( N Smuckatelli)

 

Jim Hall and Dan Gurney, Chaparral 2A Chev and Lotus 19B Ford during the LA Times GP at Riverside in October 1964 (E Rickman)

 

Roger Penske, Chaparral 2A Chev, LA Times GP 1964 (E Rickman)

In 1965 the Chaparral rout started at Riverside in May when Jim again won and continued through Laguna Seca, Bridghampton and Kent in early August before Hap won at Continental Divide and Mid Ohio in the back-half of August before Hall won the USRRC season-ender at Road America in early September.

Jim Hall on the way to another win, Laguna Seca in May 1965- Chaparral 2A Chev (T Palmieri)

 

Hap in the Corkscrew on the way to second at Laguna in 1965, Chap 2A Chev, Monterey GP in October (W Hewitt)

 

To the winner go the spoils- Jim Hall Laguna USRRC round May 1965 (J Christy)

On 10 October 1965 the more conventional aluminium monocoque 2C Chev made its debut, and won in Jim Hall’s hands at Kent, the 2C formed the basis of the 2E 1966 ‘definitive’ Can-Am challenger. For 1966 the highly popular, successful and growing popularity of sportscar racing in the United States was recognised with the creation of the first Can-Am series all of us got to know and love even across the other side of the Pacific.

Chaparral campaigned the 2E in the Can-Am and 2D Chev coupe in FIA endurance championship events- the team took their first win in that car at the Nürburgring in 1966.

The evolution of the all Chaparral’s, most racing cars for that matter is ongoing, particularly so the lads from Midland in a constant quest for evolution and occasional revolution.

Hall in the 2C Chev during the 1965 Nassau Trophy weekend- led the race until suspension failure when Hap Sharp took over (unattributed)

Traditionally the pro-series of races succeeded the US Road Racing Championship in the latter months of the year with rounds in both Canada and the US. Chaparral opened their 1965 ‘Autoweek Championship’ with a win for Jim in the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport aboard a 2A in late September 1965- the new 2C made its winning debut at Kent in October 1965- Jim won the Pacific Northwest GP from Hap’s 2A.

At Riverside Hap won in his updated in body 2A, with Jim a non-starter after an accident resulted in suspension damage which could not be made good in time for the 200 mile LA Times Grand Prix. A fortnight later in ‘Vegas Hap won again in his 2A with Jim third in his similar car- Walt Hansgen was second in a John Mecom Lola T70 Ford.

As you will see looking at the various photographs the 2A evolved quite a lot in appearance in from early 1963 to late 1965 and its pretty tricky to pick Hap’s late ’65 fibreglass chassis 2A from Jim’s late ’65 ‘spankers aluminium chassis 2C- see below the wonderful 2A cutaway drawing which inspired this piece.

The cutaway drawing is of the first Chaparral 2 (the A appellation was applied later) which made its race debut during the LA Times GP Riverside weekend of 13 October 1963, so my story should have started about there really, but lets see if we can bridge that gap from this point. So, another nutbag poorly planned piece…

Chaparral 2A and 2C Chev Design and Technical Specifications…

The Chaparral 2A of 1964/5 had evolved enormously from the original car depicted above- the LA Times debutant went like a rocket that weekend leading from pole until sidelined by an electrical fire after four laps despite using off the peg quick solutions such as a Colotti Type 37 four-speed gearbox, Lotus uprights hubs and wheels and front and rear suspension, Cooper steering rack and Girling brakes, not to forget the Chevrolet V8.

Whilst the car was utterly conventional in terms of its suspension front and rear- upper and lower wishbones and coil spring damper units and an adjustable roll bar and inverted lower wishbone, single top link, two radius rods, coil spring damper units an adjustable roll bar using magnesium uprights at both ends- the cars chassis, gearbox and body were far more edgy.

The overall design parameters for the Chap 2 chassis were laid down by Jim Hall and Andy Green of PlasTrend in Fort Worth- Hall plucked Green from the aerospace industry and backed his move to the private sector by becoming his first client- called for an overall weight of 150 pounds and a torsional rigidity of at least 3000 pounds/feet per degree.

The ‘tub’, made of fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP), comprised pairs of ‘torque boxes’ running down each side connected by bulkheads at each end of the cockpit and extended to the rear suspension mounting points and beyond. It extended right to the cars outside contours (as can be seen in the photographs), up to form the bottom of the door openings, inward to the sides of the Chevrolet V8 and to the drivers elbows and knees in the cockpit. It took full advantage of the sportscar’s overall size to get maximum rigidity from the torque-boxes (the stiffness of a torque box is proportional to its cross-sectional area) and does two jobs in forming part of the car’s outer skin.

At the time of its introduction the chassis was claimed to be the stiffest in motor racing. In the same way that Andrea de Cesaris proved the shuntability of John Barnard’s carbon-fibre McLaren MP4 Ford at the dawn of the eighties- its parent is the Chaparral 2, so too did Jim Hall put it to the test when he used the chassis he damaged at Mosport in late 1964 to win at Sebring in early 1965 partnered by Hap Sharp.

The same principles were applied to the lighter 2C aluminium frame for late 1965 which was closely related to the Chev Corvette GS-2 or ‘actually crafted by Chevrolet’, depending upon your source, we will come to in a little while.

Photograph of a Chaparral ‘fibreglass reinforced epoxy’ chassis from the Library of Philadelphia Collection. ‘…made entirely of fibreglass reinforced epoxy. Moulded in eleven pieces and assembled with an adhesive, the rivets maintaining alignment and gluing pressures. The engine bay is at the bottom with suspension mounting points outboard. Integral seats are above, passenger’s feet fitting into the dark opening at the front (top) of the chassis. The rectangular area will be cut down to form the dashboard cum bulkhead, and in the illustration (ute is justaposed to help with providing an idea of size) hides the front suspension mounting points. The round holes are for access to interior mounting points and the fuel tank…Chaparral designed by Jim Hall…with chassis elements designed and fabricated by Andy Green of PlasTrends…’

 

Chevrolet 3 speed and reverse spur gear non-syncro gearbox downstream of a torque converter (D Kimble)

The Chaparral 2 initially used, as mentioned above, a Colotti 5-speed manual gearbox until sufficient testing miles at Rattlesnake proved the durability and performance advantages of a Chevrolet designed and built automatic transaxle, the advantages of  which included  reliability, avoidance of driver error in terms of missed shifts or over-revs, and reduction in shock-loads to other components in the drivetrain. From a drivers perspective braking can be more accurate without the need to heel ‘n toe

The auto boxes were first raced at Laguna Seca in 1964, Hall and Sharp later claimed that it was only after a discussion between Dave McDonald and Dan Gurney after Mosport three meetings later after they listening to the cars in close company, that Dan asked Hall about the type of gearbox he was using.

The compact Chevrolet made unit comprised a hydraulic torque converter and compact two speed (three speed from the 2E) transaxle usually cast in magnesium. The ‘automatic’ was really operated manually. Before starting the driver engaged first gear and pressed the brakes with his left foot, releasing it upon ‘taking off’- literally. Gear changes to second (and top in the 3 speeder) were made by easing the throttle and moving the gear lever- downshifts were made similarly with a blip of the throttle. Those of us who have lost the use of a clutch have operated our Hewlands similarly. All Chaparral braking was done with the left foot- this left a foot free to operate the ‘flipper’ which we will come to shortly.

Suspension development was continuous from 1963-1965 with all of the bought in components replaced by bespoke Chaparral designed and built items as the performance envelope of the machine increased not least because of advances in polymer chemistry as applied to racing tyres- Chaparral’s ongoing testing of Firestone products provided plenty of valuable input in that regard. Brakes were Chaparral made cast iron solid discs clasped by Girling calipers front and rear.

The wheels were also bespoke, the development of which was first required to get brake temperatures down, the Chaparral spoke-like web structure wheels were strong, light and had a 1.5 inch advantage to the inner-wheel path through which heat radiated. Other advantages were that the bead depression or drop centre, necessary in ordinary wheels to get the bead over the rim flanges was neatly eliminated by making the outer rim flange detachable from the main wheel body- the absence of the depression provided an extra inch and a half on the inside diameter. A further advantage is that the same wheel body was used front and rear, as only the outer rim flange has to be changed to produce a wider rear rim.

See the sequence of photographs below, mainly taken over the Nassau Trophy weekend late each year, from 1961 to 1965 to see the rate of Chaparral technological progress from using someone else’s front-engined chassis in 1960 technological tour de force by 1965, make that 1963!

Jim Hall, aboard the Troutman & Barnes built Chaparral 1 Chev Nassau 1961 (D Friedman)

 

Jim Hall’s brand new Chaparral 2A Chev upon debut during the 1963 LA Times GP 13 October weekend- pole and led until an electrical fire intervened (D Friedman)

 

Jim Hall, Chaparral 2A Chev and AJ Foyt Scarab Mk4 Chev Nassau 1963 (D Friedman)

 

Hap Sharp Chaparral 2A Chev Nassau 1964 (E d Faille)

 

Jim Hall, Chaparral 2C Chev, Nassau 1965 (unattributed)

Together with the car’s chassis, the Chaparral bodies are of great interest given how visibly they were at the forefront of automotive aerodynamics of the time.

The original 1963 body was based on some Chevrolet wind tunnel data but when tested at Midland the car became very light at 120mph which gave rise to the ‘snow-plough’ air dams first used at Riverside in 1963 and very evident in the Nassau 1963 shot- this solution, Chaparral  were the first to do it, was the result of ‘fooling around’ with test track fixes. The team found the approach worked well on smooth surfaces with a ground clearance of circa 2.5 inches from the ground.

The first major redesign of the body was a new front end which solved one problem but gave rise to rear end lift, the solution to which was a vertical lip attached to the rear of the car- a spoiler, it was not an original solution having been first deployed by Ferrari at Sebring in 1961.

As speeds continued to increase more front end lift occurred which was countered by the small  appendages shown in many of the accompanying photographs low on nose of the cars on each side- these were first fitted to Hap’s car at Riverside in May 1965- they grew at Mosport a month later into ‘cowcatchers’ of the type seen on steam-locos! These vanes or trim-tabs remained. The rear of the car evolved as well, often in fine detail, with the 2C eliminating the high ducts on the flanks for engine compartment cooling which was discovered were not required.

Hall’s #66 2C alongside Sharp’s upgraded 2A at Nassau in 1965. Note the size and pivot for the ‘flipper’  aerofoil, what would later be described as a wing- the mounts either side are ‘fences’ to guide the airflow where it was required. Bob Bondurant’s Lola T70 is just in shot (A Bochroch)

 

2A cockpit during the USRRC weekend at Riverside in May 1965- 2 speed ‘box (D Friedman)

The movable spoiler or ‘flipper’ attracted plenty of attention at the time- it was introduced on Jim’s new 2C and fitted to Hap’s 2A- the aerofoil was mounted between two fins either side of the car, the angle of which was pivoted by the action of the a pedal using the drivers (available) left foot. On the straights it was flat- parallel to the cars body, in corners inclined. An extra master cylinder, a small pedal to the left and a hydraulic piston comprised the actuating mechanism. The default setting was of course the safe one- ‘up’, to exert maximum downforce.

So equipped, the 2C won its first race but Jim was  bothered by the deterioration in road holding caused by the much stiffer springs needed to resist the high levels of downforce generated- a case of solving one problem and causing another! Over that Winter of 1965-6 he and his engineer friends at Chevrolet worked out a way to mount the wings directly to the rear suspension uprights thereby bypassing a sprung chassis and permitting a return to ‘more supple’ springs- the dramatic 2E.

At the time the aerodynamics of very fast cars travelling over 150mph was limited, Hall wryly observed ‘…very few people know much about automobile aerodynamics, especially in the 150-200mph range but have strong opinions because they held their hand out the window of the family car once’! Wind tunnel tests provided some information but didn’t then reproduce what is happening under the car. In a tunnel there was no relative speed between the cars underside and the road surface and the wheels were usually not turning in an aerodynamic test. Hall operated on the basis of data obtained from tests at Rattlesnake…all of this is somewhat prophetic given the short period of five years which was to elapse from the time of this 1965 interview with Jim Hall and the 1969 developed 1970 raced staggering, revolutionary 2J Chev ground effect ‘Sucker’ Vic Elford and Jackie Stewart raced in the 1970 Can-Am.

Vic Elford in front of one of the McLaren M8D Chevs at Laguna Seca in 1970, Chaparral 2J Chev, a package with bristles with innovation and original thinking from every pore (Getty)

When discussing most Can-Am cars of the period much of the narrative is around the engines used given the chassis and aerodynamics of most of the customer cars at least, were ‘pretty similar’- not so with the Chaparrals given the chassis (sometimes), ‘automatic’ transmission and aerodynamics where the ubiquitous Chev engines were secondary but of course whilst they were Chevs, they were trick ones…

At the time it was said ‘Chaparral are having less Chevrolet engine trouble than anybody else’s cars’- Sharp and Hall attributed that to their engines being more nearly stock than any of the others! Mind you they were using aluminium blocks and heads ‘the result of happy circumstances in which Alcoa salesman (at the time) Roger Penske) talked Chevrolet Division into getting hold of the tooling originally intended for Gran Sport Corvette use’. By doing so they saved about 110 pounds over the cast iron engine, but the aluminium block limited them to the stock bore, hence they ran at a capacity of 327cid.

Interestingly and logically since adopting the ‘auto tranny’, the engines were tweaked for a wide spread of torque rather than for outright power- ‘the transmission does not allow nearly constant engine speed to be maintained over a large band of road speeds and because it has only one stepped gear reduction there isn’t a chance to keep the engine in a narrow speed band by changing gears often.’

Hall and Sharp said the engines used many standard parts- handy as they had just bought the Midland Chev Dealership at the time! Pistons were standard but for a stress relieving hole drilled at each end of the slot in the oil-ring groove to stop cracks. Also stock were the crank, main bearings and rods with all reciprocating parts sized, balanced and very carefully assembled. At the time the engines were good for circa 415bhp @ 6800rpm and 380 pounds/foot of torque @ 5200rpm. Proposed for 1966 was a shift to 58mm Webers from the 48s then used. The 327cid Chev designed aluminium V8, or 5360cc if you like, had a 4/3.25 inch bore/stroke, Chaparral modified it used a compression ratio of 10:1, Bosch ignition and four Weber 146 HCF 5 carburettors

With the constant evolution of the three 2s (it’s only in more recent times the 2A appellation has been applied) they gradually porked up a bit in weight- but getting faster in the process and ‘nicer to drive’ as Hall put it. They decided upon an aluminium chassis for the 2C to get the weight down albeit the chassis ‘was of the same basic design’- as a consequence the ally tub was 70 pounds lighter than the fibreglass ones and the overall all up car weight of the car 100 pounds lighter.

Interesting at the time- as subsequent events proved neither Hall or Sharp were ‘completely sold on aluminium yet’ raising concerns about the crash safety merits of the two materials observing an accident would inevitably destroy the whole aluminium frame whereas a ‘plastic one can be repaired by bonding in new pieces’ but Hall didn’t profess to know about what was safe and what was not in an accident.

The sportscars.tv article concludes ‘…this then is a brief summary of development to date. Central to the story is the fact that the car has remained adequately fast for two years instead of the usual one. No really drastic changes have been made, but the evolutionary process has been such that today’s Chaparral 2C doesn’t look that much like that original 2.’

‘When the first 2C appeared at Kent, Washington in September 1965 there was anticipation that the new car would be revolutionary whereas the 2C ‘really isn’t the new car but a refinement of the 2 but gets the C suffix as its builders thought the changes were significant enough to warrant that descriptor.’

The central body of the 2C is lower than the 2, the guards are of the same height. The body width was cut by six inches, the front and rear suspension geometry was modified a tad for more anti-dive, lift and squat. ‘A total of 100 pounds has been saved by the use of the aluminium chassis, and all the latest body revisions are incorporated, but it is not nearly as significant as will be the Chaparral 3 when it appears though we make no pretence of knowing when that will be…’ the author wrote.

Perhaps this is the revolution referred to above!- at least the 1966 one anyway. Jim Hall’s patent application drawing for ‘Aerodynamic spoiler for automotive vehicles’ of 15 July 1969 to protect the intellectual property expressed in the 1966 Chaparral 2E Chev. Note the names of the designers- Jim, Jerry Mrlik, James Musser and Frank Winchell.

Chaparral 2A mechanicals…

(D Friedman)

(D Friedman)

The bunch of shots above are of the Chaparral 2A #001 during its first race meeting- the 1963 LA Times GP 200 miler at Riverside over the 13 October 1963 weekend.

Tests at Midland in this chassis with a Buick engine initially, and then the Chev have already resulted in the spoilers at the front to keep the car on the ground. The new machine started from pole and was leading when retired.

(D Friedman)

Nice shot showing the overall layout of the car and big, strong fibreglass chassis, plenty of interest from the punters not least John Surtees at right thinking ‘How am I going to explain a plastic car on pole to Enzo?’.

(D Friedman)

Hap and Jim, howdy partners? Happy with the speed of their steed no doubt.

(D Friedman)

Notice the way the chassis goes all the way to the back of the car to support the engine and Colotti Type 37 4-speed gearbox, suspension Lotus based inclusive of uprights and wheels at this stage.

Front suspension from above as per text- upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/dampers. Steering rack is Cooper, fuel tank filler open, again note the chassis.

(D Friedman)

 

(D Friedman)

Rear suspension detail, note the spare wheel- Lotus ‘Wobbly-Webs’.

(D Friedman)

That front end is savage on the eye, data from Chev upon which it was based fell short- the radical front spoilers were a fix improved upon by the first new nose shown throughout this article. Nice cockpit shot and aluminium Chev small block.

(K Breslauer)

Final shot of 2A #001 in its earliest form is a month and a bit later in the December 1963 Nassau Oakes Field paddock.

 

(E d Faille)

Franz Weis sets to on Roger Penske’s 2A at Nassau in 1964.

Jim and Sandy Hall are there too, this is a post race shot where the cars suspension is being repaired in-situ. Penske took over Sharp’s car during the mandatory pitstop and they shared the win. Note the spoiler is inserted into a slot in the tail, located by fasteners.

(A Bochroch)

With Jim Hall’s arm in a cast Penske drove the second team car at Nassau- here in the course of pre-event preparation, Roger slipped off the track in the rain- breaking the car’s suspension- thanks to Hap’s generosity Roger shared the win. Notice the fibreglass chassis, ‘stack pipes’ and wheels.

 

(A Bochroch)

2A, same theme in the Sebring pits in 1965 before Jim and Hap go out and whip all the big guys. Hall is on his iPhone by the wall amongst the spare wheels- they raced two cars that weekend.

Note in particular the ‘plastic fantastic’ full monocoque chassis, of which we get a really good gander- it goes right to the back of the car to which everything is affixed, none of yer load bearing engines et al here.

Big steering wheel, small light above the roundel to illuminate number 3, inspection/access cover open below the coolant top tank, lotsa pipes- both inlet (Weber carbs) and outlet, big cast iron disc and that GM automatic transmission covered out of secrecy or fun…Marvellous, the more you look, the more you see.

 

(K Ludvigsen)

Hap Sharp’s 2A in the Riverside paddock, LA Times GP meeting in October 1965.

You can do your own compare and contrasts over the ensuing twelve months from Nassau in late 1964 but the front winglets, copious venting of the guards to allow trapped air to escape and plenty more rubber on the road are obvious.

(B Tronolone)

Nice shot of Hap Sharp with Jim Hall behind him, again at Riverside in October 1965.

Note the front winglets on Haps 2A and Jim’s 2C but the absence of the guard venting on the latest 2C compared with the earlier car. Hap’s also has the huge vent taking lotsa air into the cockpit which I guess is a driver preference thing. These close-up shots are gold really if yer get yer rocks off on this kinda minutae…

Chaparral 2C mechanicals…

(B Tronolone)

Jim Hall and his new 2C in the Riverside pitlane in October 1965.

Bob Tronolone took the shot above of Hap and then walked a few metres and captured Jim.

So the compare and contrast is of Hap’s ‘ultimate spec’ 2A and Jim’s new 2C- the chassis are different, bodywork similar, noting the comments above about the front guards- both machines are fitted with the movable rear ‘flipper’.

(E d Faille)

2C Nassau 1965 butt shot above and then this splendid ‘in all of its naked glory’ photograph again at Nassau below.

These big-block American iron are such enormous, heavy muvvas one gets a very clear sense of the packaging challenge. It doesn’t matter how low you can mount the thing in your you-beaut monocoque, 327cid of V8 still sits in the air like a country-long drop dunny!- mind you, half the height is inlet manifolds and carbs.

I think of these wheels as archetypal Chaparral! What a gorgeous but brutal instrument of war- during the race the right front suspension failed, the car left the course damaging the rear suspension and tub as well. The latter wasn’t too bad though being rebuilt as the first 2E- tagged 2E-001.

(E d Faille)

 

Jim aboard the 2C at Riverside in October 1965 during the LA Times GP 200 mile race.

Etcetera…

In the best of clever racing tradition, making use of what you have- and what still works the mix ‘n match of Chaparral 2 chassis is as follows;

#2A-001 reconstructed into 2D-001

#2A-002 reconstructed as 2D-002 (1966 endurance coupe), then 2F-001 (1967 endurance coupe) and ultimately restored as it began- 2A-002, no doubt some of you lucky folks have been thru the Chaparral Museum

#2A-003 reconstructed into 2F-002

#2A-004 chassis unused

#2C-001 reconstructed into 2E-001 (1966 Can-Am car) then later used as 2G (1967 Can-Am car) and restored as 2E

#2E-002 destroyed in Jim Hall’s accident 1966

#2H restored as was, 1969 ‘unloved by John Surtees’ Can-Am car

#2J restored  as was, 1970 Can-Am ‘Sucker-Car’

#2K 1980 Indy winner restored as such

(Getty)

Superb looking racing car- 2C Chev in the LA Times GP Riverside pitlane in 1965.

Bibliography…

‘Can-Am’ Pete Lyons, sportscars.tv article ‘Chaparral 2C – Work Leading To’

Photo Credits…

Getty Images- Eric Rickman, Toby Palmieri, John Christy, T&E Fornander, David Friedman Collection, gtplanet.net, chaparral.com, Eric della Faille, Albert R Bochroch, William Hewitt, Nigel Smuckatelli, Karl Ludvigsen, Kenneth Breslauer

Tailpiece: 

Oh for a future of substance for Chaparral…

Finito…

(HRCCT)

Chris Amon eases his Ferrari 350 Can-Am into Pub Corner, Longford village during the raceday sportscar support in 1968…

There are plenty of marshals but not too many spectators in evidence on this famously soggy day- the last day of motor racing at Longford. I’ve done this topic to death really but there is no such thing as too much Amon, Ferrari or Longford. See here for the P4/Can-Am 350; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

here for Longford; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

and here for the 1968 Tasman feature race, the ‘South Pacific Trophy’; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania- D Cooper Collection

Tailpiece: Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 ‘0858’ at rest, Longford- in the dry 1968…

(D Cooper)

And not a soul in those stands at this particular point of the day.

Finito…

(B Young)

Huge excitement was created by Geoff Duke’s visit to Australia in 1954, here his Gilera 500/4 is shown at rest in the Longford paddock…

The Brit was a ‘rock star’, he has just won back to back 500cc world titles aboard Gileras in 1953 and 1954 having won his first on Nortons in 1951. In total Duke won six 350cc and 500cc world championships between 1951 and 1955 and six TT races between 1949 and 1955.

But his fame extended beyond bikes given his film star looks and ability to communicate, as such he was a wonderful ambassador for the sport globally and in late 1954 he was poised to spread a bit of his angel dust throughout Australia.

I wrote an article about Geoff four years ago with a focus on his racing in cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/08/geoff-duke-norton-dutch-gp-assen-1952/

Longford (B Young)

 

In a whirlwind tour commencing on 7 January 1955 he raced in four states commencing in Western Australia at Mooliabeenie, a wartime airstrip near Perth on 16 January before a crowd of 15,000 people and then another airstrip at Gawler in South Australia, no doubt wheelspin in top gear was impressive to the 16,000 punters who experienced trying conditions in sweltering heat.

His main opposition in the west was from local all-rounder Peter Nichol on a G45 Matchless and from George Scott’s GP Triumph, at Gawler Keith Campbell and Roger Barker impressed.

Then it was off to the Bandiana Army Base near Albury, the Victoria/New South Wales border town on 30 January- the first half decent venue for the plucky gentleman in his tour to that point, the track comprised 4.5km of perimeter roads.

There, having carefully won the Senior Clubmans event in the slowest possible time, Eric Hinton’s handicap just gave him the edge over Duke to allow him to win the Unlimited Handicap in fading light, this was the only occasion on which the champ was beaten on the tour.

Duke, Bandiana

 

Maurie Quincey, Norton ahead of Duke at Bandiana

Gilera saw the commercial opportunity of a tour to promote their brand sending two current 500/4 bikes and works mechanic Giovanni Fumagalli to look after the machines.

The two bikes brought to Australia derived from a 250cc four designed by Engineer Piero Remor under Piero Taruffi in the early 1940’s. After Taruffi left Gilera to concentrate on car racing Remor and company founder Giuseppe Gilera began work on a 500cc bike whose origins lay in the earlier 250, in 1947.

The new racer was unveiled in 1948 with 1949 its shakedown season. After Remor’s departure to MV Agusta Taruffi was re-hired, together with engineers Colombo and Passoni changes were made to the cylinder head and rear suspension which allowed Umberto Masetti to win the 500cc world championship in 1950.

The bike was redesigned over the winter of 1950/51 adopting a new tubular frame with telescopic forks, pivoting rear suspension and hydraulic shocks. In 1951 Gilera won three GP’s but Duke took the title on a Norton, in 1952 Masetti again won the championship.

Fumagalli and Duke warming up the bike at Gawler (D Voss)

 

Gilera 500-4 1954 (unattributed)

When Duke joined the Milanese firm for 1953 he brought with him strong knowledge of the great Rex Candless designed ‘Featherbed’ frame Norton’s handling, upon his suggestions the Gilera frame was lowered and strengthened to bring better handling with the engine left untouched.

In 1953/54 Passoni redesigned the motor by increasing its stroke, changing the valve angle and elongating the sump to allow the unit to be lowered in the frame by three inches, by this stage the engine produced circa 65bhp @ 10,000rpm.

The frame was of double cradle design made of tubular steel with telescopic suspension at the front and pivoting rear suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. The four cylinder, four stroke, air-cooled engine displaced 402.7cc and was undersquare having a bore and stroke of 52mm x 58.8mm. With two valves per cylinder operated by two overhead camshafts and fed by four carburettors the engine gave circa 65bhp as stated above.

1954 Gilera 500 with the dustbin fairing they commenced to experiment with in 1954 (G Cavara)

 

Back to Dukes Tour of Oz. From Albury it was then off to Sydney and a round of public appearances and a visit to Mount Panorama before the next race meeting at the permanent Mount Druitt circuit west of Sydney.

The surface was poor though due to damage from recent car meetings but Duke dominated as he did everywhere else, Keith Stewart impressive in second on a new Matchless G45 twin in the Senior GP.

Mount Druitt

 

Mount Druitt after one of his wins with Keith Stewart on a Matchless G45 behind

Duke’s final two meetings of the tour were down south, at Fishermans Bend in inner Melbourne and majestic Longford in northern Tasmania, which must surely have impressed.

At Fishermans Bend Maurie Quincey led the 500cc race on his Norton for a while before clutch slip set in and Duke pounced in the second Gilera having put the first to one side, it had lost its edge.

Longford was held over two days- with racing on the Saturday and Monday, in the opening race the engine began to lose power with what was diagnosed as magneto problems. The other bike, in Melbourne awaiting shipment back to Italy was stripped of the part which was despatched overnight to the Apple Isle. With the machine back in fine fettle Duke won and set a new lap record in the Unlimited race of 152km/h. Oh to have heard that Gilera screaming its way along The Flying Mile @ 10,000rpm!

Ready for the off at Longford, Duke at right (S Scholes)

Jim Scaysbrook summarised the impact of Dukes tour in ‘Old Bike Australasia’; ‘His whirlwind tour had taken him to every state except Queensland and his charming and eloquent manner did incalculable good for motorcycling. The unprecedented publicity generated helped to dispel the popularly held, media fuelled belief that motorcycle racers were a bunch of halfwits with a death wish. It also had a profound effect on the local riders, serving as a stark reminder of the gap between our rather primitive scene and the European big-time.’

‘A number of up and coming stars impressed him, including Keith Campbell, Roger Barker and particularly Bob Brown, who had just gained selection as Australian representative to the 1955 IOM TT races. “This young man is a joy to watch, uses his head, and should figure very well in the IoM and on the continent” he said in his report to the British Press. When Duke was injured at the start of the 1957 season, he recommended Brown to take his place in the Gilera team for the TT, resulting in two excellent third places. For 1958, Duke personally sponsored Bob on a pair of Nortons’ Jim wrote.

Etcetera…

(D Tongs)

The second of the two Gileras at rest in Longford.

The contribution and significance of this series of Gileras is recognised in a wonderful, highly technical and thoroughly researched scholarly paper titled ‘Grand Prix Motorcycle Engine Development 1949-2008’ written by David Piggott and Derek Taulbut.

https://www.grandprixengines.co.uk/Grand_Prix_Motorcycle_Engine_Development.pdf

The authors recognise ‘Piero Remor’s contribution to Grand Prix engine design’ as follows;

‘The defeat of the original MV 4 in early 1966 had brought to a close after two successful decades the career of the 1947 basic 500cc design of Phil Remor. Initially for Gilera, this introduced the Naturally Aspirated aircooled transverse 4-cylinder with double overhead camshafts and 2 wide angle valves per cylinder, bore-stroke ratio around 1. Remor’s concept, although changed in detail development by others in Gilera and MV, is worth remembering. There had also been successful 350cc versions. Remor had actually been associated with transverse 4’s since 1925 when it was the layout of the Italian GRB (Gianini-Remor-Bonmartini) which ultimately had been transformed into the water supercharged Gilera which powered Dorino Serafini to the European Championship in 1939.’

This piece is based on a wonderful article by Jim Scaysbrook titled ‘Geoff Duke- The Duke’s Crusade’, do have a read, it’s terrific.

Geoff Duke – The Duke’s Crusade

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

Bob Young Collection, Des Tongs, Stephen Scholes, Doug Voss, ‘Geoff Duke- The Duke’s Crusade’ article by Jim Scaysbrook in Old Bike Australia issue 13 May/June 2009, ‘Gilera Motorcycles and Racing History’ by Lucien C Ducret, ‘Grand Prix Motorcycle Engine Development 1949-2008’ by David Piggott and Derek Taulbut.

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(A Robinson)

Andrew Robinson worked for Alec Mildren’s Pymble dealership for a number of years, starting as an apprentice motor mechanic in 1977 and was given these discarded photographs which span a decade of Alec Mildren Racing from about 1964 to 1972, many thanks to Andrew for sharing them with us, rolled gold they are too…

I have arranged them pretty much in chronological order- the cars themselves are easy enough to identify but in some cases I don’t know where they are, hopefully Kevin Bartlett or others can assist in that regard!

The first (above) is the Mildren Maserati sports-racer with Alec, long time Mildren race mechanic/engineer Glen Abbey and another dude checking out the car which appears brand new- note the XK150 and Mk2 Jaguars.

After speculating online that the locale was Glenn Abbey’s home in Avalon for a couple of days Kevin Bartlett’s memory kicked into gear ‘The penny has just dropped…its the “Railway Shed” where many of the cars were worked on. It was opposite the Mildren Pymble headquarters on the Pacific Highway alongside the Northern Railway (look closely at the top of the shot and you can see the railway track). I also remember building a pushrod Ford engine for a Brabham in the floor above the workshop. We ceased using it in 1967 when the cars were worked on behind the main building.’

The car was built by Bob Britton of Rennmax Engineering on his Lotus 19 jig around the core mechanical components of Alec’s 1960 Gold Star Championship winning Cooper T51 Maserati- suspension and brakes, Maserati T61 2.9 litre DOHC four cylinder engine and Colotti gearbox. The story of this car is told at the end of this lengthy piece on Alec; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

(A Robinson)

Beautiful shot of Alec and Marjorie Mildren, Frank Gardner, the tall Glenn Abbey, Bob Grange or Stuart Randall on the pit counter at Warwick Farm circa 1965.

Gardner’s pattern throughout the decade was to race in Europe in F1/F2/Sportscars/Touring cars and then return home in the summer time taking in the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in December as a warm up for the Tasman Series in January, February and just into March against the best in the world before heading back to Europe.

Great work/life balance it seems to me!

(A Robinson)

Mildren Racing became outright Tasman Series contenders with the acquisition of a Brabham BT11A Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF before the 1965 series, the car is chassis number ‘IC-3-64’.

Here Alec at left, is sussing his new racer together with his son, Jeff Mildren and Glenn Abbey in late 1964, probably in the workshop over the road from Alfa Romeo Dealership at 970-980 Pacific Highway, Pymble on Sydney’s Upper North Shore.

The car was first raced in the 1965 Tasman Series opener, the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe, where he was second to Graham Hill’s identical, Scuderia Veloce machine. No doubt Frank gave it a whirl around the Farm before venturing to the Land of The Long White Cloud- he didn’t run at in the 6 December 1964 Hordern Trophy though, which means either he or the car, or both, were not in the country by then.

Note the the rear of a Hewland gearbox on the bench and rear springs missing from the Brabham at this point- no FPF either BTW. Checkout this article on the ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

The shot below is the same spaceframe chassis unclothed.

(A Robinson)

During 1965, after a very successful Tasman in which FG was equal fourth, Mildren was looking for a Tasman Series ‘Unfair Advantage’ for the coming year. ‘Everybody’ ran the Coventry Climax FPF which was becoming a bit long in the tooth, BRM planned to race their 1.5 litre F1 P261’s with the V8 taken out to about 1.9 litres and Repco announced they were to race their new 2.5 litre V8- which first fired a shot in the Doonside Street, Richmond Repco Engine Lab in March 1965 during the 1966 Tasman in advance of an assault on the F1 World Championship.

Alec found an exotic solution via his old buddies at Maserati.

He was a Maserati dealer and had impeccable connections within the racing side of the company by virtue of his successful Gold Star tilt, Maserati powered in 1960, and so it was he obtained a 2.5 litre Maserati Tipo 58 (250F T2) quad cam, two valve, six-Weber carbed, circa 310bhp V12 which had been lying around Modena since Officine Maserati tested and occasionally raced V12 versions of the 250F in 1957. Fangio won the last of his five F1 championships racing six-cylinder 250Fs that year of course.

(A Robinson)

The engine was shipped to Sydney where it was married to the team’s BT11A ‘IC-3-64’- our friend above, the frame of which was lengthened more than a smidge to suit, a bell-housing was cast to mate the engine to a Hewland HD5 gearbox and away Gardner went in practice for the 1966 Warwick Farm 100- the photo above is on that very day, 12 February 1966.

Frank and Kevin Bartlett tested the car at Oran Park early in the summer, the engine blew, the machine had plenty of power but its delivery- exactly as JM Fangio and Jean Behra experienced in their 250F’s when they tested (and raced in Behra’s case at Monza) them so equipped in 1957, was either ‘on or off’ so Frank raced his Climax engined BT11A ‘IC-2-64’ at the Farm instead, he was third behind Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax and Graham Hill’s BRM P261.

This latter BT11A was the machine Bib Stillwell used to win his final Gold Star in 1965 which was then acquired by Alec when Bib retired, for Frank to use in the NZ Tasman rounds whilst Stu Randall rebuilt the Maserati engine with bits flown in from Italy and re-fitted it to BT11A chassis ‘IC-3-64’ for Frank to use at Warwick Farm, the first Australian Tasman round.

Tested again in practice at Sandown a fortnight later, the Brabham Maserati was put away when the engine blew again and that was that, what became of the engine is uncertain.  BT11A ‘IC-3-64’ was converted back to Climax spec and raced with much success by Kevin Bartlett in 1966, 1967 and the ‘68 Tasman. Meanwhile ‘IC-2-64’ was sold to Kiwi Kerry Grant but not before Bartlett and Jackie Stewart had a ding-dong of a dice in these two BT11A’s at Surfers Paradise in mid-1966, see here;

https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

There is more to the Brabham Maserati story, lots more, but you will have to wait a few weeks whilst I finish a feature…For now salivate about an amazing engineering sidebar in Tasman History- truly a great mighta-been from the little team in Sydney.

(A Robinson)

From one rare beastie to the next.

This time the Mildren Alfa Romeo, not ‘The Sub’ mind you but the first Mildren Alfa, the lesser known one.

Another Bob Britton built car, this one was constructed on Britto’s Brabham BT23 jig and fitted with an uber-rare Alfa Romeo 1.6 litre, four valve, fuel injected European F2 engine and 5-speed Hewland FT200 transmission, both of which are clear as a bell in the shot above.

The car made its race debut driven by Kevin Bartlett at Warwick Farm on 8 September 1968- it raced in Alfa engined form a miniscule number of times before the very first of Merv Waggott’s TC-4V engines was popped into the back of the chassis and raced by Max Stewart who joined the team alongside KB with effect from the start of 1969.

The tale of ‘Max’s’ car is long, successful and slightly tortuous with the appearance of a second chassis, the provenance of which is not in doubt,  in the last decade or so, but is not for now- i did write a ‘quickie’ about it a while back though; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/29/singapore-sling/

(A Robinson)

Speak of the devil, there is the man himself, Max Stewart corner-weighting the Mildren Waggott as it then was in 1969 or 1970.

You can just see the front corner of a ‘105’ Alfa at far left, the race truck out the doorway and the rear of the chassis of Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ just left of Maxxies midriff.

(A Robinson)

Speak of the other devil, there is KB at Warwick Farm in the ‘Yellow Submarine’ Mildren Waggott TC-4V.

With that circuit, livery, helmet and engine I wouldn’t mind betting the shot was taken during the 7 December 1969 Hordern Trophy Gold Star meeting, KB won the race upon the debut of the 2 litre Waggott engine, what say you Mr Bartlett? Max was second in the 1.6 litre Mildren Waggott and Niel Allen third in his ex-Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

Both these Mildrens are iconic in the pantheon of Australian motor racing, ditto the drivers and entrant.

(A Robinson)

A couple of Mildren Waggott, Max Stewart, Warwick Farm compare and contrasts.

The shot above circuit, livery, bodywork and helmet suggests probably the 1969 Hordern Trophy meeting too whereas the one below is during 1971 by which time Max had acquired the car from Alec, still in the same livery and with support from Seiko- it was the year in which Max ‘nicked’ his first Gold Star from the F5000 fellas, brittle things that they were.

The photo below is during the September Hordern Trophy race in which Max was third behind KB’s McLaren M10B Chev and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott TC-4V.

(A Robinson)

Whilst the unreliability of Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10B Chev cost KB the 1971 Gold Star Max had to get with the F5000 strength and bought an Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden which he first campaigned during the 1972 Tasman Series.

Note the retention of Seiko still and the Mildren Yellow colour (take my word for it) despite the commercial relationship between Alec and Max being at an end, Alec Mildren Racing ceased after the conclusion of the 1971 Tasman Series.

(A Robinson)

Here the car is on the grid of the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round with Teddy Pilette’s Racing Team VDS McLaren M10B Chev alongside in February 1972.

Max didn’t have a happy race, his Repco engine broke its crank after 8 laps whereas Teddy was seventh, the race was won by Frank Matich’s Matich A50 Repco from Frank Gardner, Lola T300 Chev and Kevin Bartlett, McLaren M10B Chev.

Max became an F5000 star of course in a succession of cars- the Elfin and three Lola’s are covered in this article here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/24/maxwells-silver-hammer/

Credits…

Andrew Robinson Collection, Kevin Bartlett, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(A Robinson)

Patron Mildren, Glenn Abbey and Don Baker (of Brabham/Dolphin and other such fame) at Warwick Farm- perhaps this shot too is over the 1969 Hordern Trophy weekend…

Finito…

A McLaren MP4 TAG-Turbo was not a run of the mill testing sight at Porsche’s Weissach test track, so it is hardly surprising to see most of the workforce down tools for the occasion on 29 June 1983…

The race debut of a Porsche-turbo powered McLaren at Zandvoort in the hands of Niki Lauda is only two months away. On this fine, cool day John Watson put McLaren’s test hack MP4-1D TAG through its paces for the first time at Porsche’s renowned test track.

 

McLaren created a new paradigm with the debut of the carbon-fibre tubbed MP4 Ford in 1980. Whilst the cars were the best of the Ford brigade going into 1983, 550 bhp of normally aspirated Cosworth DFY V8 was no longer a match for 700 bhp plus turbo-charged Brabhams, Ferraris and Renaults. The ‘boiling tea kettle’ days of the first Renault V6 turbo-charged engines were a long time in the past.

McLaren International’s Directors pondered the available engines they may have been able to acquire or lease but design chief John Barnard rejected those as either compromised designs- the BMW-four and Renault V6 or insufficiently developed and compromised- the Hart-four.

The very focused Barnard held sway over matters technical and was determined, as Colin Chapman had been with Keith Duckworth in developing the Ford DFV, to very tightly prescribe the overall layout, dimensions, location of ancillaries and attachment points to the chassis of his new engine.

It was the era of ground effect tunnels, McLaren’s engine had to be designed in such a way that their efficiency was not compromised given how critical aerodynamics were to the overall performance of the car.

Watson in a Ford engined MP4/1C Ford DFY at Monaco in 1983, just to remind us of what McLaren’s primary contender looked like in 1983. Despite running Ford DFY’s both cars failed to qualify as a result of poor handling on the Michelins they had on Thursday and rain on Saturday…Rosberg won in a Williams FW08C Cosworth

Porsche had more turbo-charged road and race experience than any other manufacturer at the time, as a consequence they had been approached to build an F1 engine by others on a customer basis but Ron Dennis’ pitch to Porsche’s R&D Chief Engineer Helmuth Bott in the winter of 1981/2 was different in that his enquiry was to ascertain the companies preparedness to build an engine for McLaren International, who would pay for it. A novel concept in motor racing of course where nobody wants to pay for anything.

In short order John Barnard wrote a tight specification of his requirements which outlined in detail a narrow engine with a small frontal silhouette, it’s exhaust plumbing raised high each side to clear the raised underfloors.

Doug Nye wrote that his requirements to Hans Mezger of Porsche’s engine design unit included the maximum crankcase width and height, and maximum width across the cam-boxes. Pumps for oil and water had to go to the front of the engine within its crankcase silhouette. Exhaust pipes had to leave the heads horizontally, not downswept so as to leave the underfloors high on both sides.

 

Nye goes on to explain that the engine had to be a stressed member of the chassis just as the DFV and it’s successors were- Barnard wanted it to pick up similarly to the chassis. He even specified a precise crankshaft height, the same as the DFV, to offer the best design parameters for the whole car. It could have gone lower but John had concerns about potential piping and underbody problems. He had concluded that a V6 would provide the optimum blend of size and power but sought Porsche’s opinion in that regard.

Porsche R&D were an organisation notorious for the cost of their services but eventually Ron Dennis signed a contract for design of the engine and prototype build after which the design rights would be McLaren International property. The time allocated was six months which gave Dennis the period in which to embark on a journey to find a commercial partner to fund the cost of the engines themselves and their ongoing development.

Porsche modelling determined a V6 was the best approach with an 80 degree included angle between the two banks of three cylinders the optimum in terms of structural strength of the block, primary balance and room within the Vee for ancillaries.

The quoted bore and stroke of the TTE-PO1 V6 motor was 82mm x 47.3 mm for a capacity of 1499cc. The design of course included four gear driven camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Traditional Porsche suppliers Bosch and KKK provided the sparks, fuel injection and two turbo-chargers. Quoted power was initially 600 bhp with peak power produced at between 10000 to 11500 rpm, total weight ready to pop into a McLaren chassis was 330 pounds.

Dennis approached a number of potentional backers, Mansour Ojjeh’s Techniques d’Avant Garde were the successful partner- TAG Turbo Engines was duly incorporated with the production contract signed by Porsche in December 1982. By that time the prototype engine had been humming away on a Weissach dyno since the eighteenth of that month…

The prototype engine was shown for the first time at the Geneva Salon in April 1983.

McLaren used a float of 15 engines in 1984, the TAG truck and Porsche technicians would have been very busy

 

 

Nye explains at length the adversarial and on many occasions difficult relationship between customer and client which extended to the testing of the engine. Porsche wanted to run the motor in a 956 test hack whereas McLaren sought all of the testing to be done in an F1 car.

Porsche went ahead anyway, little was learned by Niki Lauda and John Watson in the 956 prototype but ‘…Lauda drove very hard, ignoring the meagre safety facilities of the undulating test track. He revelled in the new engines smoothness after the Cosworth V8’s vibration. And there was no doubting the power “Incredible, Fantastic, just like being hit from behind by a bomb” Nye quoted Lauda as saying having tested the 956. Importantly, with both drivers doing plenty of miles, engine reliability was good.

The car Watson is testing in these shots is McLaren’s original prototype carbon fibre chassis MP4/1-1 with 1982 straight sided bodywork- converted into the turbo test hack it was dubbed MP4/1D.

Initial problems centred around excess turbo-lag which had been disguised in the much heavier 956 sports prototype, and oil consumption. Porsche set to in solving both problems, with changed KKK’s and exhaust sizes the lag fixes. At Silverstone on test Lauda was delighted to be whistling along Hangar Straight at 186 mph, far quicker than he had ever gone before.

A major battle then erupted within McLaren between Lauda who wanted the car to be raced immediately, on the basis that there was no substitute for the sorts of pressures of a race weekend, and Barnard who wanted to continue testing but take the time needed to refine the design of his 1984 package.

Lauda’s car in the Zandvoort paddock

 

Lauda in MP4/1E at Zandvoort, not a bad looking car for one knocked together very quickly (unattributed)

The politically astute, wiley Lauda lobbied sponsor Marlboro and prevailed, so ‘in six weeks our blokes built two cars- well one complete runner and one 85% complete- ready for Zandvoort’ said Barnard. The new cars were allocated the tags MP4/1E-01 and 02, they were based on former chassis, MP4/1C-05 and 06.

At Zandvoort ‘Niki was unbelievably quick on the straight (in MP4/1E) but basically the Cosworth wing package download was way deficient with turbo power. We cooked the brakes in the race, a function of the turbo car going about 30 mph faster down the straight than the Cosworth’ said Barnard.

The Dutch GP was won by Rene Arnoux’ Ferrari 126 from the sister car of Patrick Tambay with Watson’s Cosworth powered McLaren in third.

Zandvoort again, photos emphasise just how much space was taken up by the turbo-chargers and related ancilliaries in these 1.5 t/c cars

 

Lauda, MP4/1E in the Kyalami pitlane, mid October 1983. Lauda Q12 and DNF electrical on lap 71 of 77 whilst poor John Watson was disqualified for passing a couple of cars on the parade lap. Piquet won the race and took the drivers title, Brabham BMW the constructors one

McLaren and Porsche were away, there were huge Bosch fuel injection problems to solve to develop their ‘Motronic MS3’ electronic injection system to meet the fuel restriction rules of 1984 but the 1984 McLaren MP4/2’s triumphed, Alain Prost took the first race win in the opening  round of the championship in Brazil- and won seven GP’s but he still lost the title by a smidge to Lauda who won five races but had greater consistency throughout the year.

Prost took the title in 1985 racing an MP4/2B to five wins, with Lauda winning another in his final year of racing. Watching him retire after a minor crash in Adelaide caused by locking brakes whilst well in the lead was a real bummer in his very last race for we Australian Lauda fans!

Hans Mezger getting the lowdown from John Watson, Weissach

Zandvoort 28 August 1983, McLaren TAG race debut…

I

‘l am telling you Ronnie, ve vill schitt on zem all next jahr! Say nuzzinc to any of zem journalists!’

Renault’s Gerard Larousse looking very thoughtful at right rear and thinking ‘holy merde’ this thing will be quicker than a Matra air to ground missile- and it was.

‘I’ll bet I am going to pay for a few more of these Turbo thingies in the next few years!’ is perhaps what Dennis is thinking above.

The first ‘in the field’ KKK change perhaps?

 

More power, gimme more! is perhaps Niki’s exhortation.

The engine itself is tiny, note the water and oil coolers in the sidepods and beefy intercooler.

Another TAG-Porsche powered MP4 1983 shot above of Lauda during the European GP weekend at Brands Hatch in September- Q13 and DNF whereas Watson was Q10 and DNF accident. Nelson Piquet won in a Brabham BT52 BMW from Alain Prost’s Renault RE40 with Nigel Mansell’s Lotus 92 Ford Cosworth the best of the normally aspirated brigade.

Credits…

‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye

Getty Images- all Weissach photographs by Hoch Zwei

Tailpiece…

The Swabian Hills are alive with the sound of Vee-Six Turbo Music- Watson up in June 1983.

Ya kinda get the impression it was an important day in Porsche history as indeed it was. Ditto McLaren International…

Finito…

 

 

The Arthur Barnes driven TH. Schneider broke the Adelaide-Melbourne record with a time of 12 hours 10 minutes for the wild ride over a very rough roads on 11 April 1925…

Sydney motorist AH Barnes was accompanied by J W (William) McCulloch, in the 25.5 hp French six-cylinder 4.5 litre machine. It was national news, this advertisement was placed in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 May 1925.

The same car, engine number #29, set a Broken Hill-Adelaide record of 8 hours 3 minutes for that 336 mile journey, an average of 42 mph, on 19 August 1925, ‘speeds of more than 100 mph were attained along the route’- that record was previously held by an Amilcar.

Three veteran and six vintage TH. Schneider chassis are known to have been imported to Australia through agents in South Australia and Victoria- George H Booth and Thomas Mitchell and Co-pre-War, and Domain Motors/Kellow-Falkiner Pty Ltd-both post-war, respectively in each state.

The two photographs below show the 25.5 hp TH. Schneider (variously TH. Schneider, Th. Schneider and both of these without the full-stop- I have used the variant on the badge below) out front of Geo Booth’s premises in Adelaide after the Broken Hill to Adelaide run on 19 August 1925. The crew was again Barnes as driver and McCulloch the mechanic.

George Booth of 411 King William Street Adelaide and Domain Motors of 348 St Kilda Road in Melbourne were the agents for the cars at the time and of course sponsors of the successful record attempts.

(SLSA)

 

(SLSA)

Theophile Schneider first entered the motor industry in partnership with Edouard Rochet to build the Rochet-Schneider at Lyon in 1894, he then moved to a factory in Besancon, east France near the Swiss border to build cars on his own- his first was an 1850cc four cylinder machine with a radiator behind the bonnet, a style later popularised by Renault.

These first ‘Schneiders, fitted with engines from 10 to 35hp were raced circa 1912-1914, the best result second place in the June 1912 Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France held on a course based at Dieppe, the car was driven by Rene Croquet with riding mechanic Rene Champoiseau.

After converting to manufacture of components for the war effort the company resumed car production post-war and changed its structure to that of a limited stock company, the record-run car is a type 21.20.1, 25.5hp six cylinder, 4480cc six cylinder, for speed manual with a solid front axle, live rear axle fitted with semi-elliptic springs and two rear wheel brakes, the wheelbase was 3505mm

Three of this model were imported into Australia by Domain Motor Body Builders/Domain Motors. At 1950 pounds they were nearly twice as expensive as the 4.5 litre Bentley of the day, Domain Motors ceased business around July 1926 at a time Th. Schneider themselves were in deep financial trouble at home, having been declared bankrupt in November 1921.

The reputation of the marque allowed the company to trade profitably through the mid-twenties, re-entering racing inclusive of participation at Le Mans in 1926- Pierre Tabourin and Auguste Lefranc were sixth in a 1954cc 25SP and in 1927 when Robert Poitier and Pierre Tabourin DNF accident in a 25SP.

‘White House Crash’ aftermath- the #2 d’Erlanger/Duller Bentley Sport 3 litre at left and #1 Clement/Callingham Bentley 4.5 litre at right- ditto photograph below (unattributed)

 

(unattributed)

The Tabourin driven TH. Schneider is infamous amongst Bentley enthusiasts as the cause of the ‘White House Crash’ which involved three Bentleys. At dusk Tabourin approached the corner too fast, lost control and hit a building close to the road coming to rest and partially blocking the track, Leslie Callingham, following closely, swerved to avoid him and ended up in a ditch on the opposite side of the road, George Duller then hit Callingham, and then Benjafield too hit Callingham in avoidance of Tabourin- Benjafield was able to continue but the race was well over for the other three machines.

No-one was seriously injured but Pierre Tabourin was taken to hospital with broken ribs, the #12 ‘Schneider driven by Chanterelle/Schlitz withdrew from the race out of respect for the injured Tabourin. In a happy ending for Bentley Benjafield and Sammy Davis won the race in the Sport 3 litre ‘old number 7’.

Problems in 1928 led to a second bankruptcy in March 1929 and closure of the Besancon factory doors in early 1930- right in The Great Depression of course.

TH. Schneider’s assets were acquired by French company Societe SADIM, the name continued but was applied to caterpillar tractors- World War 2 saw the end of a once proud marque.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, the insolvency sale of Domain’s assets resulted in four Ansaldos, three Ansaldo chassis and ‘four brand new latest model Schneiders’, of which one was the record breaking car- number ’29’ the other a new DS six cylinder 25hp model changing hands.

The record breaker, which John Bisley has (as of 2015) was never bodied, it was acquired by Watts McNamara and went from Myrtleford to Griffith in 1927- where it remained for most of its life. If any of you can fill in the ownership details of the car since it arrived in Australia please get in touch.

The record breaker at the Cockburn Hotel, in South Australia, not far from Broken Hill near the South Australia-New South Wales border (Richard C)

 

(unattributed)

Even though the cars were small in number in Australia, motorsport was used in attempts to build the brand inclusive of an entry in Australian Grand Prix where a 2 litre TH. Schneider driven by Ernest King contested the 1929 event held on the daunting, dusty, undulating and fast Phillip Island road circuit- King failed to finish having lost a wheel on lap 17 of the race won by Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti T37A.

The photograph above shows King contesting a hillclimb at Wheelers Hill in Melbourne’s outer east in June 1928, six months prior to the 1929 AGP- Th. Schneider 2 litre 25SP.

‘Schneider’s motorsport participation in Australia extended to the reliability trials which were popular at the time and of which I have written in the past. In March 1927, a 7hp car was first in class and fifth outright in a field of about forty cars- the driver was AGP winner Arthur Terdich as below.

(unattributed)

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

Rene Croquet and Rene Champoiseau aboard their TH. Schneider during the second day of the 1912 French Grand Prix on 26 June- the road race comprised 20 laps of a 77km course based in Dieppe, a total of 1540km.

Contestants raced over 10 laps on each day with the results aggregated to produce a winner.

Georges Boillot won in a Peugeot from Louis Wagner’s Fiat S74 and Victor Regal in a Sunbeam with Rene seventh, Rene Champoiseau raced another TH. Schneider but retired.

 

Credits…

SLSA- State Library of South Australia, thschneider.wordpress.com, prewarcar.com, Richard C, F2Index

Tailpiece…

The site of Domain Motors business premises at 348 St Kilda Road- a nice spot right opposite The Shrine of Remembrance, next door to the French Consulate which is apt! and not too far from Albert Park Lake, for international readers, is now, in the best Australian tradition, a block of luxury apartments…

Finito…

(M de Lang)

No Australian racer comes close to owning and racing as many interesting cars as Bob Jane…

The tough nut from Brunswick developed a used car business initially, and shortly thereafter took on new car franchises before creating ‘specialist tyre retailing’ in this country- Bob Jane T-Marts are as iconic now as they were novel in the late sixties when Jane initially rolled the arm over with what was a new concept here.

Bob was the embodiment of ‘living life to the full’, he did not die guessing. Calder Park’s owner collected wives with as much enthusiasm as he did racing cars but found that they are not as easy to unload as last years Holden, the complications of his various ‘families’ screwed the later decades of his life comprehensively, which was a great shame as someone who gave much to many.

Big hitters. Niel Allen, Bob Jane and Frank Matich in Matich’s Firestone Racing Tyres tent at Sandown, circa 1967/8 at a guess. The vented guard belongs to Bob’s Elfin 400 Repco (M Kyval)

I’m not suggesting the man was perfect i might add, but in a motor racing sense he put far more into the sport than he ever took out.

This series of paintings were commissioned of Martin de Lang to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Bob and Harry Firth’s Ford Cortina GT, Bathurst 500 win in 1963. I’ve set them more or less in the chronological order Bob raced them, there were plenty more Jane owned racing cars than this though, check out the list at the end of the article.

The painting at the article’s outset shows Bob’s Maserati 300S in front of his great mate, Lou Molina’s Molina Monza Holden-Repco from Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and then Bill Pitt’s Jaguar D Type at Albert Park on 23 November 1958- Bob and Lou are about to be lapped by the other duo during the 32 lap, circa 100 mile Victorian Tourist Trophy won by Whiteford from Ron Phillips’ Cooper Jaguar and Pitt, Bob was fifth and Lou unplaced.

(K Drage)

In the beginning.

Kevin Drage’s shot of Bob is at Fishermans Bend on the race debut of his ex-works 300S ‘3059’ in October 1958. Doug Whiteford and Jane (in Bob’s case after Reg Smith had it briefly first) acquired the Officine Maserati cars raced by Jean Behra ‘3055’, and Stirling Moss ‘3059’ during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix/Australian Tourist Trophy weekends in late 1956.

Bob was initially rough and ready in it, even inspiring Reg Hunt to move his boat further out into Albert Park Lake to keep it out of harms way- he did get the hang of this racing caper mind you. Stephen Dalton’s first competition outing for Bob Jane, he believes, was in a Ford Customline at Hepburn Springs hillclimb in October 1956. See here for an article on the 300S;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

(B Jane)

Another shot of Bob at Albert Park on the same weekend depicted in the opening painting. In a decade of stunningly beautiful racing cars as curvaceous as Sophia Loren, surely the 300S is up there for the title of the prima-donna sportscar of the fifties?

 

(M de Lang)

Jane’s locally developed Appendix J Jaguar Mk2, ultimately raced at 4.1 litres, won his first couple of Australian Touring Car Championships (ATCC) in the days the title was decided in one race- in 1962 at Longford and 1963 at Mallala.

See the article here about the car; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/20/australian-touring-car-championship1962-longford-tasmania-battle-of-the-jag-mk2s/

Warwick Farm circa 1962 (J Psaros)

 

(M de Lang)

The factory Jaguar E Type Lightweight didn’t make a lot of sense given the way it fitted into our local class structure at the time, and given the lack of endurance events in Australia of the type for which the car was built, but who can argue with the beauty and spectacle it provided all the same. Mind you, Bob did win the one race Australian GT Championship at Calder in December 1963, I rather suspect 10 miles could not really be characterised as an endurance event.

This machine, like Bob’s 300S and D Type, he retained for decades but was ultimately sold, global cars that they are- all left Australia, which is a bummer.

(B Miles)

Spencer Martin with the white helmet in hand, John Sawyer and Bob leaning on the delicate aluminium panels of his car at Lakeside before the start of a heat of the Australian Tourist Trophy in 1965- Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra is on the row behind. See here for a piece on Bob’s E Types, he had a couple, as one does; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/15/perk-and-pert/

 

(M de Lang)

Whilst Jane raced single seaters and won in sportscars he was most formidable in all types of touring cars from Series Production machines such as the Cortina GT in which he won at Bathurst in 1963 together with Harry Firth, through to the animal savagery of the Chev Monza Sports Sedan shown further on.

The Jane/Firth pair won three of these 500 mile production car enduros on the trot, the first was the 1961 Armstong 500 at Phillip Island aboard an ‘Autoland’ Mercedes Benz 220SE-they then followed up in a ‘works’ Ford Falcon XL in 1962.

 

Harry Firth behind the wheel of the winning Cortina GT, Murrays Corner, Mount Panorama 1963- that’s Max Volkers in a FoMoCo Cortina 1500 behind (unattributed)

In 1963 the event moved to Mount Panorama as the ‘Islands track surface was too badly damaged by the ’62 event to continue to stage the race- in fact racing came to an end there until Len Lukey bought the facility circa 1964, reopening it in 1967. At Bathurst they won in a ‘works’ Ford Cortina GT.

In 1964 Jane won again in a ‘works’ Cortina GT but this time shared the drive with George Reynolds- all of these ‘factory Fords’ were prepared by Harry Firth and his team in his ‘Marne Garage’ on the corner of Burke and Toorak Roads, Glen Iris in Melbourne’s twee inner east.

 

(unattributed)

Jane’s first 1965 Ford Mustang was locally developed with plenty of goodies bought over the counter in the US, it met an untimely end at Catalina Park in an accident the young entrepreneur was extremely lucky to walk away from.

The shot above shows it in rude good health at Warwick Farm entering Pit Straight, whereas it is in its death throes in Martin’s painting below, 7 November 1965.

(M de Lang)

 

 

(unattributed)

She is well and truly rooted- the angle from the other side is worse but I don’t have a clear, sharp shot from there to pop up. It was a case of pull all the good bits off and start again- Bob is clear with the white blotch on his head, I think its a flaw in the photo rather than Nurse Ratched gone berserk with bandages.

‘Cripes, its gunner need more than bog to fix this lot!’

RF Jane with Nomex shirt reflects upon the remains of a Mustang which was pristine ten minutes before. Leo Geoghegan looks on from behind whilst Bob Jane Racing Chief John Sawyer ponders gathering up the pile of shrapnel and popping it into the truck before the long trip back to Melbourne.

 

(M de Lang)

Bob certainly had a penchant for Mustangs, this is his second, a 1967 GT fitted with a big-block 390cid V8 and also raced later with small-block engines.

It met its maker when Chris Brauer had a very nasty career ending accident in it at Lakeside in 1970. Bob replaced this one with the 1968 Shelby built Trans-Am factory car, it still exists in the US.

The livery and specifications of this car evolved a lot over a short space of time not least driven by the needs of ever widening tyres with the photograph below in the machines at Warwick Farm in 1967.

(B Williamson)

If any Mustang enthusiast can give me details of the evolution of this car’s specifications from 1967 to 1970 please get in touch and i will add them in.

Jane is blasting across the top of Mount Panorama in de Lang’s photo above at a guess, whereas in the photograph below he is exiting Hell Corner, after a change to Shell colours, circa 1967. Perhaps this photo is a Shell shot given the background. The grille evolved to a simpler, later look too making identification of the car and year tricky, especially in monochrome!

(unattributed)

 

(M de Lang)

Pure touring car sex on wheels. Moffat’s Trans-Am, Foley’s GTaM and this John Sheppard built LC Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 Sports Sedan are my favourite Taxis.

This jigger was brilliant in conception and exquisite in the detail of its execution right down to the ‘standard interior trim’ and an engine compartment which looked as though it was made for a Repco V8 rather than an inline-six. The art shows Bob at Hume Weir circa 1971.

Just brilliant, not to forget the shedload of races Bob and John Harvey won in the thing circa 1970-1972. Bob should be shot for allowing Frank Gardner to commit automotive rape upon the little sweetie when he shoved a 5 litre Chev into it in 1975- although FG did squeeze an extra season up front despite said atrocity…

Warwick Farm, 5 September 1971 (L Hemer)

CAMS took exception to the wing, which was fair enough, it was outside the rules, but didn’t it look even more of a menace in this specification?

Extant but not likely to see the light of day until someone with very deep pockets scoops it up- there is a bit about this car in this article about McCormack’s Charger Repco and Sports Sedans more generally; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

 

(M de Lang)

Didn’t Jane put the cat amongst the pidgeons with this Chev Camaro ZL1 427 ally blocked weapon! The painting depicts the car at Dandenong Road corner, Sandown 1971.

Looking at it reminds me of the spectacle of ‘full on body contact’ between Bob and Allan Moffat’s Mustang Trans-Am in 1971-2. Bob won the ATCC in 1971 with the big fella fitted and when shafted by CAMS, who changed the rules to eliminate the 427 motor, stuck it up the regulator and won again fitted with the ‘liddl 350 cast iron engine in 1972.  ‘Nice one’, i thought at the time, plenty of lawyers improved their billings for the year by being involved in some serious litigation between RF Jane and the CAMS down the decades.

(unattributed)

Ere we go again…

Did Moffat lose it or did Bob give him a Rock Hudson to assist?

With the splendour of Springvale ‘Triple Fronted Brick Vanilla Slices’- 1950’s cream brick-veneer houses of the type I was brought up in, in the background, Moffat and Jane engage in a territorial dispute under brakes into Sandown’s Dandenong Road- meanwhile Graham ‘Tubby’ Ritter takes avoiding action at right. Cooper S pilot folks? Jane won this race.

‘I still don’t know if he hit the Armco?’ quipped Lynton Hemer @ the precision of this particular apex, 9 July 1972 (L Hemer)

 

(M de Lang)

The HQ Holden Monaro GTS 350 started life as an Improved Tourer in late 1972- its race debut was in John Harvey’s hands that year at Surfers Paradise, but morphed into a most formidable Sports Sedan when Group C replaced Improved Touring as the class to which the ATCC was run from 1973- Pat Purcell modified the car further as the Sports Sedan rules allowed.

Another Sheppo built car originally, it raced in Bob’s hands until 1978 and still exists restored to its original form, the art depiction is probably Oran Park whilst noting the signage isn’t correct.

(B Keys)

Nice and close at ‘Torana’ as it then was or ‘Peters’ as it originally was, corner at Sandown circa 1974/5.

Bob has the Monaro tucked inside John Pollard who has given the faster car room in his Holden Torana L34.

Hallmarks of all of Jane’s cars, whoever was Boss Cocky of the team at the time was the immaculate standard of presentation and preparation. I’ve always been fond of the look of HQ’s, surely one of the most harmonious and fully resolved of all of GMH’s styling exercises- lowered and with plenty of wheel and tyre under the ample guards they were/are mighty fine looking road cars with this beast, and Mal Ramsay’s HQ Kingswood Repco visual delights as racing cars.

 

(M de Lang)

One can easily imagine the excitement around the Jane transporter at race meetings circa 1971 with their bit of the paddock occupied by the Camaro, Torana, Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre and this McLaren M6B Repco ‘740’ V8 5 litre- which won a pair of Australian Sportscar Championships in 1971 and 1972.

Excitement around the Bob Jane transporter, or Shell tent anyway, circa 1965. Nose of the Mk2 Jag at left, first Mustang, E Type Lwt and nose of the Elfin Mono at right (M Kyval)

The story of this thing, one of the best looking Can-Am cars ever built, is told here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/16/sex-on-wheels/ ,the art is of Bob at the wheel, circuit who knows, it could be anywhere, whereas the shot below is of Bob giving John Harvey a lift just after Harves won the Symmons Plains round of the 1972 ASCC- and the championship itself.

(E French)

 

Who could ignore Sports Sedans, even as a devout open-wheeler woofda, with savage beasts like this thing providing quite a show.

Watching Bob drive this car was magic, seeing Peter Brock race it after Bob retired was sensational- he teased everything out of Pat Purcell’s magnificent racer, another painting at Sandown’s Dandenong Road corner.

(C Parker)

Chris Parker caught all the heavies on the grid at Calder August 1982- Australian GT Championship round 6, heat 1- Alan Jones won every race of the nine round championship.

Alan Jones is on pole in the Porsche Cars Australia Porsche 935 alongside Peter Brock in Jane’s Monza, on the row two is Jim Richards’ black BMW 318i turbo and alongside him Tony Edmondson’s Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Chev and then the white Colin Bond driven PCA Porsche 944 GTR turbo- on his inside is Rusty French’ Porsche 935. On the back row on the inside is Brad Jones’ Mercedes SLC and on this side the Bob Jolly Holden Commodore. They really were the most exciting grids of things at the time even if the 935’s rained on everybody else’s parade…

Everything about this car was big! Originally built by a team led by Pat Purcell it was raced by Bob from 1980, then rebuilt by Pat and Les Small before being raced by Peter Brock in 1982/3, then Allan Grice raced it in 1984 to an Australian GT Championship and then Bryan Thomson to the title the following year. It morphed into a Toyota Supra in 1989- where is it now? Click here for a summary of the car; http://www.scharch.org/Cars/Monza_Racecars/Cars_MonzaAU_Purcell-Jane.htm

(B Jane)

Peter Brock awaits the start at Calder circa 1983- the formidable size of the car evident in this shot- 6 litre Chev V8 upfront and a transaxle at the rear.

Etcetera…

The list of cars Bob owned and raced, or were raced for him by others is as below. It isn’t complete, it’s out of my head, i am happy to add others to the ‘good stuff’, no road cars only racers he owned…

Sportscars

Maserati 300S, Jaguar D Type, Jaguar E Type 3.8 FHC, Jaguar E Type Lwt, Elfin 400 Repco 4.4, McLaren M6B Repco 5 litre

Single-seaters

Elfin T100 ‘Mono’ Ford twin-cam 1.5, Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5, Brabham BT23E Repco V8 2.5, Jane Repco V8 2.5, Brabham BT36 Waggott TC-4V 2 litre, Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000, Ralt RT4 Ford BDA F Pac, McLaren M26 Chev F5000

Tourers

Ford Customline, Holden ‘Humpys’, Jaguar Mk2 4.1, Mercedes Benz 220SE, Ford Falcon XK, Fiat 2300, Lotus Cortina, Ford Mustangs- three of em- 1965, 1967 and 1968 Shelby Trans-Am, Ford Falcon GT ‘XR’, Chev Camaro ZL1, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco 4.4, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Series Prod/Group C, Holden Monaro GTS 350 Imp Tourer/Sports Sedan, Holden Monaro GTS 350 Series Prod, Chev Monza, BMW 635Csi, Holden Torana L34, Holden Torana A9X, two Mercedes Cosworth 190. In addition there were numerous ‘Thunderdome’ thingies

Not bad is it- in one lifetime.

The ‘Jane Estate’- those two words are a catch-all of ‘Jane Family individuals, corporate entities and trusts’, i think, still own the Brabham BT11A, Ralt RT4 and McLaren M6B. I am happy to take advice from those who have the facts rather than ‘i reckon’…

Image and other Credits…

Martin de Lang- artist, Stephen Dalton

Mike Kyval, Kevin Drage, Bill Miles, Chris Parker, Jock Psaros, Ellis French, Lynton Hemer, Bruce Keys, Bob Williamson Collection, Bob Jane Heritage Collection

Tailpiece…

(M de Lang)

Peter Brock in the Porsche 956 he shared with Larry Perkins at Silverstone and Le Mans in 1983- didn’t this ‘Aussies taking on the world attack’ capture us all at the time.

It symbolises a few things not least Bob’s world view and a couple of blokes in a very long list Jane supported from the early sixties…

Finito…