(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…

Comments
  1. Martin says:

    Thanks Mark,
    Am now waiting patiently for the Brabham Maserati article. Such a tease!!!
    There is a thread on TNF about the car, but of course all the photos have vanished, so hoping you have found lots of pix.
    I can recall being disappointed when the Brabham Maserati V12 didn’t show up for the Warwick Farm Tasman race, only learning of the engine problems latter.
    At the time my teenage brain had decided, that here was a chance for a local team to blow-away the Internationals ….. ha bloody ha!
    Cheers, Martin

    • markbisset says:

      Yes Martin,
      What a car and adventure they embarked upon- pity it was so short. All done really, just need to double check a few facts with KB. TNF was, is and remains a wonderful resource but it’s almost criminal the way their image hosting changes have ‘lost’ tens of thousands of images. Unfortunately by the time I discovered the forum the ‘gold’ was long since lost. I now do screen shots to grab what I may need in the future…Lesson learned.
      Mark

  2. Rob says:

    Mark,

    I have no reason to doubt that the 1971 photo of Max Stewart in the Mildren Waggott (above) was taken during that year’s Hordern Trophy, but I am sure that this cannot be described as a “Gold Star race.” A look at the page “Australian Gold Star (F5000) races 1971-1981” at https://www.oldracingcars.com/results/racelist/?CategoryID=A5 reveals that there were six Gold Star rounds that year plus the non-championship Hordern Trophy and Australian Grand Prix events.

    Rob

  3. Alan Pate says:

    Excellent article Andrew. Brings back fond days of my being assistant service manager at Mildrens with you being my best apprentice. Still playing with race cars today, having a quick Lotus Elan driven by another ex AGM employee, Len Goodwin. Best wishes Alan Pate

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