Archive for April, 2020

(S Jones)

Lots of shots are great, I’m accumulating way too many for an article apiece so this is the first in an ongoing series of ‘dumping ground’ of photographs most of which first saw the communal light of day on Bob Williamson’s Australian Motor Racing Photographs Facebook page. I will keep adding these ‘Oz Racing Random’ over time- about thirty in each article seems a nice number of shots…

The first one is of Stan Jones whistling along Phillip Island’s front straight in his Maserati 250F- its a tad outta focus but still wonderful with the magic blue sky and sea vista across Bass Straight and the crowd enjoying the early summer sun.

As to the date, probably the Phillip Island Trophy 26 December 1958 Gold Star round won by the local boy, their is plenty about Stan in this piece; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

(Sparks Family)

The film ‘Grand Prix’ created a huge hit wherever it was released, in Adelaide the film promoters organised an evening parade of racing cars throughout the city streets.

The #6 Lotus is Mel McEwin’s ex-Jim Clark 32B Climax, alongside is Stan Keen, Elfin Mono Ford with future Australian Grand Prix winner and Gold Star champion John Walker in his Elfin Mono Ford behind, the sportscar at rear on the right is Malcolm Ramsay, he of Birrana and much more fame, Elfin 300 Ford, whilst car #90 is Helene Bittner, Rebelle Ford 1500.

The cars are turning from King William Road into Hindley Street for you locals.

 

(J Strickland)

Wentworth Park in Sydney’s Glebe 1920s, these days it’s a trotting track.

Wentworth Speedway was used as a test and race venue from 21 April 1928 to 28 November 1936, a planned December meeting that summer was cancelled because of damage to the track surface and noise.

The venue was first used by bikes, then cars as well, all of the stars of the day competed there, close as it was- very, to Sydney’s CBD.

Anybody ever give the Kleinig Products Mist-Master a whirl?

All you want to know about one of Australia’s greatest drivers pre and post-war is here; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/06/frank-kleinig-kleinig-hudson-special/

 

(S Jones)

 

(S Jones)

Tornado 2 Chev at Collingrove, Angaston, South Australia circa 1961 when it was owned by Mel McEwin but it’s still in its first owner/co-constructor Lou Abrahams’ colours.

The car was an incredibly competitive tool in the hands of Ted Gray- with a bit more luck he could have been the winner of the 1958 AGP at Bathurst. He was a consistent front runner from the time Tornado 1 Ford begat Tornado 2 Ford and in its final Chev 283cid iteration set an Australian Land Speed record of 157.57mph average at Coonabarabran on 29 September 1957- apart from his many race wins.

Mel McEwin attempted to better Gray’s land speed record mark at Lake Eyre, South Australia in July 1960, his best in difficult conditions and with an engine not running properly was 151.101 mph- soon thereafter the car reverted to normal race mode and contested the 1961 Australian Grand Prix at Mallala where Mel was classified ninth amongst the mid-engine hordes led home by Lex Davison in one of Bib Stillwell’s Cooper T51s- it was the last time Tornado started an AGP.

The big beast didn’t have a great AGP finishing record, sadly, with DNFs for Ted Gray at Albert Park in 1956, Bathurst in 1958, Longford in 1959, the car’s two best results were ninth at Lowood in 1960 and Mallala in 1961 with Mel at the wheel but in both cases she was classified ninth and not running at the finish…

Click here for a piece on one of my favourite Australian Specials; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Postscript.

The ‘Victor Harbour Times’ 7 July 1961 records that whilst the then Casterton, Victoria domiciled 23 year old farmer McEwin ‘…failed by 9 mph when he averaged 148 mph (for the Australian Land Speed Record) he smashed a 23 year old record for the flying mile when he averaged 151.101 mph.’

Da Boys.

Riverside Drags at Fishermans Bend circa 1960.

Once the road circuit ceased to be used the growing hot rod and drag racing scene found a good use for the perfectly flat vacant ex-runways- cool photograph of some cool dudes; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/15/fishermans-bend-melbourne/

 

(B Jackson)

 

(B Jackson)

I wonder if Brian Jackson went stalking competitors in the 1966 12 Hour at Surfers Paradise or just happened upon the Mildren Racing Team Alfa Romeo TZ2 whilst looking for a decent bar?

Kevin Bartlett and Doug Chivas raced the car to third place behind the winning Jackie Stewart/Andy Buchanan Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM and Frank Matich/Andy Sutcliffe Ford GT40.

I betcha the Coral Court Motel isn’t still there, click here for a piece on Surfers Paradise opening Speedweek carnival in 1966; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

 

(A Howard)

Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM at Mount Panorama in its first year of competition- 1965.

Now that would have been a sight- and especially sound on that particular racetrack, click here for an article on this car and 250LMs generally; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

 

Bevan Kaine’s Morris Minor first up (A Morris)

 

(M Jenner)

Competitors line up at Penguin Hillclimb, Tasmania 1964.

The tiny north-west coastal Tasmanian town, 130km from Launceston, hosted the Tasmanian Hillclimb Championship from 1955 to 1971- the 1100 metre climb ran along Deviation Road starting just above Walton Street.

The organising club was the North West Car Club, the annual event was held just after Longford to ‘capture’ some of the interstaters whilst on the Island- FTD in 1955 went to Tom Hawkes’ Allard.

Local bloke, Stephen Mott is publishing a book about the place later in 2020, keep an eye out for it.

 

(R Moppett)

Longford control tower and Launceston Tram ‘nerve centre’- the pit complex and bridge are still a year or so away.

I’ve a million articles on Longford as regulars are well aware, lets link this one as instructive for those new to the place; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

 

(R Simmonds)

 

(R Simmonds)

 

(R Simmonds)

Everybody has to start somewhere, these shots by Ron Simmonds are of 1980 World Champ Alan Jones at Melbourne’s Templestowe Hillclimb not too far from the Jones abode in Ivanhoe, probably during 1964, meeting date folks?

The first shot is rounding ‘The Hole’, the second is the first corner and in the last he is running wide at ‘Barons’.

The Mini 850 was built up by Brian Sampson’s guys- was he trading as Motor Improvements then?

It begs the question as to when was the very first time the Jones boy competed? I’ve got Keith Botsford’s book somewhere, there is no shortage of conflicting material online about his early career, this machine was from a repossession yard recalls AJ. It is a far cry from a Williams FW07 Ford of course.

 

Terry Kelly, Ryleford at Hume Weir circa 1962-1963.

Who can tell us a bit about this special? Hume Weir, down the decades is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/06/hume-weir/

 

(D Wilson)

Amazing Panorama to Katoomba from Catalina Park.

This is one track I would love to have competed at ‘in the day’. Peter Finlay commented that he didn’t realise you could see the village as the place was so often shrouded in fog- that’s the Carrington Hotel smoking- where ‘everybody’ stayed.

Appendix J grid competitor names courtesy Rob Bartholomaeus- Bert Needham #6 Studebaker, with Spencer Martin in a Humpy Holden and Bruce McPhee, Holden FE on row one- then #40 Norm Beechey and Des West on row two with #53 Midge Bosworth all in Humpys and rounding out an all-star cast.

(R Martin)

 

(R Martin)

 

(R Martin)

On a clear summers day at Phillip Island you can see forever…

Here Bob Jane Racing are running in the January 1969 meeting- Bob in his second Mustang, the ‘GT390’ and Bevan Gibson who was driving the Elfin 400 Repco that weekend.

Click here for the Elfin 400; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

and here for some other of Bob’s cars including the Mustang(s); https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

 

1972 Dulux Rally Phillip Island stage- David McKay is about to disappear into the distance.

The Holden Dealer Team Torana GTR-XU1 of either Peter Brock or Colin Bond is alongside and the other is on row two- on the far side obscured by the Torana is Paul Older’s BMW 2002ti with the works Datsun 240Z of Edgar Hermann on the third row.

McKay won the 20 lapper aided by a very top fifth gear he had not used in a competitive stage to that point- click here for a piece on Australia’s Cologne Capris and the 1972 Dulux; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

 

(I Smith)

Ian Smith was quick on the scene, and on the shutter when a group of Mazda executives got more excitement on the trip to the 1973’ish Phillip Island 500km than in the race itself.

The track had an airstrip then, ‘the pilot tried landing from the ocean side with a tail wind overshot, Grant Steers from the Holden Dealer Team jumped in to assist…no injuries.’

 

(D Willis)

Dick Willis, forever young racer, with the JWF Milano Holden 179 in Grafton Street, Coffs Harbour he has just built in 1965.

Bruce Polain is writing a book about these wonderful cars, which will be one to add to the shelves.

Brian Caldersmith, who took the shot wrote ‘This image is a very rough assembly from smaller segments of the drawing of the GT2 done by Tony Caldersmith in April 1969 (B Caldersmith)

 

 

(Via Neil Stratton)

Its a riot.

Well almost, crowd scene after the one race Australian Touring Car Championship at Warwick Farm in September 1968.

Norm Beechey’s Chev Camaro SS awaits a tow after the finish- Pete Geoghegan’s Ford Mustang won from Darrell King, Morris Cooper S and Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911S/T- d’yer reckon Aussies like Taxis or what?!

 

(unattributed)

Jaguar in Jaguar Corner.

Bib Stillwell’s D Type chasing Jack Brabham’s Cooper Bobtail Climax during the Australian Tourist Trophy, Albert Park, November 1956, I wrote an article about this car not so long ago; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

 

(K Devine)

It could only be Longford’s Viaduct.

Mini ace Peter Manton’s Morris Cooper S on the turn in, guessing 1965- how’d he go folks?

See here for Manton; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/29/mini-king-peter-manton/

Credits…

Steve Jones, Reg & Craig Sparks Collection, James Strickland, Brian Jackson, Alan Howard, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Rohan Moppett, Ron Simmonds, Paul Kelly, David Wilson, Russell Martin, Dick Willis, Ian Smith, Neil Stratton Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Brian Caldersmith, Victor Harbour Times 7 July 1961, Rob Bartholomaeus

Tailpiece: Eclipse Zephyr Spl s/c…

(S Jones)

Whilst not the prettiest of things, agricultural is a word which may be applied to its physical appearance, all of Eldred Norman’s masterpieces bristled with innovation and speed.

Famously constructed in only ten weeks in the lead up to the 1955 Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield, the proud South Aussie needed a car to contest the event- its speedy construction belied the insights of its engineering.

The engine and gearbox were stressed components and, together with the Holden front crossmember formed a very stiff structure. Suspension was independent front and rear, the driver was offset, he snuggled the fuel tank as you can see and the Ford Zephyr six-cylinder engine was supercharged.

Here, circa 1960, Keith Rilstone, very quick in the car, prepares for a run up Collingrove Hillclimb- gotta do an article on this thing…

(S Jones)

Finito…

(autopics.com/DBlanch)

The field on the first of 85 laps- the ‘Angus and Coote Diamond Trophy’, Gold Star Championship second round, Oran Park 26 June 1971…

Kevin Bartlett, McLaren M10B Chev from Max Stewart, Mildren Waggott TC-4V, Graeme Lawrence, Brabham BT30 Ford FVC 1.9 and then the dark helmeted Henk Woelders in his Elfin 600E Ford twin-cam- the first of the 1.6 litre ANF2 cars.

The 1971 Gold Star was an interesting one in that both 2 litre ‘race engines’ and F5000’s contested the championship- whilst F5000 cars were eligible for the Tasman Cup in 1970 and 1971- that year was the categories first in the domestic championship.

On the face of it perhaps the favourites at the seasons outset were Frank Matich and Kevin Bartlett in ‘match fit’ McLaren M10B’s. FM’s Repco Holden powered car was the ‘same car’ he and his team had continually evolved for eighteen months whereas KB’s chassis was the machine Niel Allen had raced in the 1970 and 1971 Tasman Series- beautifully prepared by Peter Molloy it was ready to boogie. Other F5000’s were Alan Hamilton’s brand new M10B- Allen’s spare chassis built up and sold when Allen retired from racing, and John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco which appeared for the first time mid-season, at Sandown in September.

The quickest of the Waggott 2 litre TC-4V powered cars were Max Stewart’s Mildren and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B but Leo’s car was for sale so the reigning Gold Star champion contested few 1971 meetings.

Kevin Bartlett leads Max Stewart and Graeme Lawrence early in the race- KB appears to be running plenty of wing (L Hemer)

 

Gary Campbell and Tony Stewart in Elfin 600B/E Ford twin-cams inside Doug Heasman, Rennmax BN3 Ford (R Thorncraft)

It had taken until 1971 for the Tasman Cup to fall to an F5000- Graham McRae won it in an M10B whereas in 1970 Graeme Lawrence’s 2.4 litre Ferrari Dino 246 took the title, other Tasman 2.5 and 2 litre cars had been competitive amongst the 5 litre V8’s- the expectation was that an F5000 would win the Gold Star but Max Stewart’s fast, reliable Mildren Waggott won it with a win at this meeting- Oran Park and strong placings elsewhere to score 23 points to Bartlett and Hamilton’s 22 points each.

Bartlett was fast everywhere- he won the Governors Trophy Lakeside opening round- was on pole with Max at Oran Park, won the non-championship (that year) Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm, and the Victorian Trophy at Sandown a week later but had the wrong tyres, that is, no wets at Symmons Plains where they were rather necessary, and blew an engine whilst leading at Mallala giving the new Elfin MR5 Repco its first title win in the hands of John McCormack. Mac would do very well with this car in the next two years on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

Max niggling away at KB- the big V8 blasted away on OP’s long straight but otherwise the little Mildren- Max’ car for 2 years by then was mighty quick elsewhere on the circuit (L Hemer)

 

(Peter Houston)

 

And again albeit by now MS has lost his right-front wing- did he ping one of KB’s Goodyears to do the damage? (L Hemer)

Matich’s campaign fizzled away too. The team missed the opening round at Lakeside as they were successfully campaigning the McLaren in the US- the team raced at the first two US F5000 Championship rounds in California, winning at Riverside with a pair of seconds in the two heats and were second at Laguna with another pair of seconds in the heats behind David Hobb’s M10B Chev.

Back home at Oran Park FM ran foul of another car earlier in the week doing enough damage for the team to build a new chassis- they did this rather than buy one from Trojan to give them valuable experience in advance of construction of FM’s new monocoque chassis Matich A50 Repco which would win the AGP later in the season upon its debut race from pole.

Matich leading a couple of cars through Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew on the 2 May 1971 weekend, McLaren M10B Repco (D Kneller)

The Matich McLaren was ready for the third round at Surfers in late August winning from pole. He started the Victorian Trophy at Sandown from pole but retired with blocked fuel-injection slides- KB won. With no chance of winning the title the team missed the final two rounds at Symmons and Mallala to focus on completion of the A50.

Alan Hamilton was impressive in his first year racing these demanding cars, whilst he came back to the machines in the late seventies it is a pity he didn’t persevere then whilst in ‘his youth’ and when the class could have done with another well prepared frontish of the field car- Warwick Brown or rather Pat Burke bought this car giving Warwick’s career a big kick-along in 1972 of course, the machine prepared by Peter Molloy.

Another big guy being monstered by a little one- Alan Hamilton, McLaren M10B Chev and John Walker, Elfin 600B Ford (L Hemer)

 

A couple of dicing Elfin 600s trying to stay clear of the Bartlett-Stewart express right up their clackers onto the OP main straight- Clive Millis from Tony Stewart (T Coles)

 

Graeme Lawrence’s nimble Brabham attacks Col Hyam’s Lola T192 Chev- note the sidepods fitted to the car by Gardner (L Hemer)

At Oran Park Max won from Graeme Lawrence’s visiting Brabham BT30 Ford FVC and Hamilton’s McLaren, Bartlett retired with his differential pinion stripped- the good ‘ole Hewland DG300 transmission was always marginal for F5000 use unless its maintenance was entirely up to snuff. The gearbox was originally built for F1 in 1966- for Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham when both the 3 litre Repco V8 and Eagle-Weslake V12 had far less than 500 pounds foot of torque tearing away at its gizzards…

F2 honours went to Henk Woelders who was fourth in an Elfin 600E- the dominance of this car in ANF2 at the time indicated by the fifth to ninth placed cars being Elfin 600B’s raced by Tony Stewart, Jack Bono, John Walker (soon to jump into an Elfin MR5), Vern Hamilton and Don Uebergang.

Henk Woelders’ Elfin 600E chasing Vern Hamilton’s 600B (L Hemer)

Etcetera…

(P Houston)

Melbourne racer Colin Hyams jumped into the big league with the acquisition of the works Lola T192 Chev Frank Gardner campaigned in the Tasman Cup that summer- FG did well in it too, taking a win at Warwick Farm and finishing fourth in the overall pointscore. Colin retired at Oran Park with gearbox dramas.

(L Hemer)

Gary Campbell’s Elfin 600B/E Ford, chassis ‘7122’ worked hard that year raced by both the Sydney ‘Provincial Motors’ motor dealer and Larry Perkins to whom he lent the car for a successful attack on the Australian Formula 2 Championship.

(L Hemer)

Alan Hamilton’s McLaren M10B ‘400-19’ despite ostensibly a 1970 model F5000 was brand new given its very late build into a complete car by Peter Molloy and sale to Hammo. As many Australian historic enthusiasts know, all these years later AH owns both his old car and the Allen/Bartlett chassis ‘400-02’- the wheels of which have been twiddled by Alfredo Costanzo until recent times.

(L Hemer)

John Walker in his 600B chassis ‘7018’, by this time the following year he was racing the fourth and last built Elfin MR5 Repco ‘5724’ in which he made his race debut in the last, Adelaide International round of the 1972 Tasman Cup in February 1972- the start of a mighty fine F5000 career in Australasia and the US inclusive of an Australian Gold Star and Grand Prix win in 1979. He was seventh at Oran Park 6 laps adrift of the front-runners with undisclosed dramas.

(P Houston)

Bartlett always raced with passion, lots of fire and brimstone and bucket-loads of natural brio. Lucky bastard.

KB pedalled the car through the 1972 Tasman inclusive of a Teretonga round win amongst much more modern metal and then did a US L&M round or two in it before racing Lola T300’s in both Australia and the US that year.

Credits…

Special thanks to Lynton Hemer, whose great photos inspired this piece

autopics.com- D Blanch, Russel Thorncraft, Tony Coles, Derek Kneller Collection, Peter Houston, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(L Hemer)

Max Stewart accepts the plaudits of the crowd on the warm-down lap- by June 1971 Alec Mildren Racing was well and truly disbanded but such are the bonds between driver and entrant that Max still carries Alec Mildren Racing signage and Seiko continued to provide financial support to Max into his first F5000 foray with an Elfin MR5 Repco in 1972.

Finito…

(autopics.com.au)

Bruce McLaren, Cooper T70 Climax, Australian Grand Prix, Sandown Park 1964…

Its an unusual angle, Bruce is thinking about brakes as he passes the end of the pit counter and heads towards the tight ‘Peters’ left-hander before the blast up the back straight- unusual in that the shot is taken from outside the circuit, between the Armco fence and access road, a prohibited area for spectators and ‘snappers for most of the tracks life.

Click here for the ‘first McLaren’ Cooper T70 story; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

(J Lay)

This one is also at Sandown but a year later, 1965, as the drivers listen intently to the Clerk of The Course before the off.

Roy Billington is on the rear wheel of Jack’s Brabham BT11A Climax- the winning car, then the tall Tyler Alexander, Bruce is in the ‘Persil’ white Firestone overalls, Bib Stillwell behind him, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and David McKay playing with his iPhone. Jack won from Jim and Phil Hill’s Cooper T70.

Jack posing patiently for Paul Stephenson in his victorious BT11A- Sandown pitlane.

(P Stephenson)

 

(unattributed)

Back to the 1964 Sandown Australian Grand Prix.

Bruce takes a glimpse in his Cooper T70 mirror before lining up for the Shell Corner left hander, Jack Brabham in close attendance- Brabham BT7A Climax. Over to the right alongside the fence Jim Palmer is giving them plenty of room in his Cooper T53 Climax, he was sixth. Jack won whilst Bruce was out with engine problems.

Credits…

autopics.com.au, Jeffrey Lay, Paul Stephenson, Graham Rhodes in Australian Autosportsman

Tailpiece…

(Graham Rhodes photographer)

I chuckled when randomly coming across this photo because it is taken within 20 metres or so of the first one but is taken from under the Armco on the outside of Peters rather than the opening shot from outside Pit Straight towards the braking area into Peters.

Just to add to the date confusion, this one is the year before mind you- Bruce is in the Cooper T62 he raced that 1963 summer inclusive of the 1962 AGP at Caversham in November, Lex Davison acquired it at the end of that summer- lengthy piece on that car here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Finito…

‘XKD520’ was the seventh production D-type, it was ordered through the ‘Brysons’ Bridge Road, Richmond, Melbourne Jaguar dealership- the two storey glass sided showrooms housed lots of lovely curvaceous Jags and was well known to several generations of Melbourne enthusiasts…

The building is still there but houses ‘Dan Murphy’s’, a national booze outfit these days. The order for the racer was placed in June 1955 by Kew driver/dealer Bib Stillwell, who later recalled: ‘I purchased the car new from Jaguar and it arrived in Melbourne, Australia in January 1956. I competed with the car for two seasons and had numerous successes with it. Click here for a short but fascinating bio on Jack Bryson, the man who brought Jaguar to Australia; ‘http://www.johnbryson.net/memoirs/jack-bryson-an-uneducated-man

In the later stages of his racing career Stillwell developed into a driver of world class who was competitive with the generation of internationals who raced in Australasia during the immediate pre-Tasman and Tasman Cup (commenced 1964) years- he was the winner of Australia’s Gold Star, the national drivers championship for four years on the trot from 1962 to 1965 in Coopers and Brabhams. After retiring from racing his local and global business career in car retailing and aviation was even more successful, click here for a bit on the amazing Bib; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

Citizens of Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs will easily pick the location of the ‘Sports Cars and Specials’ (good magazine by the way, haven’t got many of ‘em but wish I had more) shot of Bib and his new car as on Kew Boulevard not too far from the Chandler Highway intersection- that’s Willsmere ‘nut house’ as my Dad useter delicately call the local mental health facility, in the distance. That stretch of road does not look that much different sixty-five years later.

Sir William Lyons and Jack Bryson, date and place unknown, mid fifties perhaps (J Bryson)

 

Stillwell slices into Longford’s Viaduct on the way to second place in the 1963 South Pacific Championship race- Brabham BT4 Climax 2.7 FPF, the winner was Bruce McLaren, Cooper T62 Climax (K Devine)

 

Bib Stillwell and Australian Jaguar concessionaire, Jack Bryson during XKD520’s debut weekend, Albert Park Moomba meeting March 1956 (unattributed)

The car was signed off for delivery by Jaguar’s famous test driver Norman Dewis as ok for delivery on 15 November 1955, it’s build was completed in September.

Australia’s ‘wharfies’ or waterside workers, were renowned for their militance, when the car arrived from the UK it was during one of their infamous occasional strikes, only a great deal of sweet talking by Bib ensured the precious cargo was unloaded and processed to make its planned local debut at Albert Park during the March Labour Day, Moomba long weekend, Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F was on the same ship, perhaps they put together a fund to appease the burly toilers to do the right thing…

There, he did very well, finishing second to Tony Gaze’ HWM Jaguar in the Moomba Tourist Trophy and on the second weekend of the carnival, gearbox dramas sorted, took the machine to victory in the Argus Cup in front of Stan Jones’ Cooper T38 Jaguar in a classy field- over 100,000 spectators are quoted as attending on each of the two days of this meeting.

(T Scott)

 

Jones, Cooper Jaguar, Stillwell, Jaguar D Type and Tony Gaze at right in his HWM Jaguar, Albert Park Moomba meeting, March 1956- beautiful atmo shot, note the man with the king-sized Oz flag(unattributed)

 

Jones driving with all the brio for which he was famous, Cooper T38 Jaguar only 12 months old itself, pushing Bib’s ‘spankers’ D Type hard at the Park, March 1956 (Ed Steet)

At the Easter Bathurst meeting the three recently acquired ‘outright cars’ new to the daunting circuit were the Hunt and Stillwell machines plus Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 he had acquired from good mate Tony Gaze after the end of the New Zealand internationals that summer- and so it was that the feature race, the Bathurst 100, was won by Davison from Hunt and Stillwell- Bib stopped the timing clocks on Conrod at 148.6mph.

 

Bib chasing the Brabham Cooper T39 Bobtail Climax during the 1956 ATT at Albert Park- heading through Jaguar Corner. Moss won the race- Bib was second behind Pitt in the ‘resident Australians’ classification and Jack was first in the under 1500cc class (unattributed)

 

Stillwell’s Jag being fuelled at Albert Park during the November/December 1956 AGP meeting (B Hickson)

 

Stillwell’s D Type at Bathurst on its first appearance at Mount Panorama, Easter 1956- lapping the J Martin MG Spl during the Bathurst 100 in which he was third (unattributed)

 

Bib, Bathurst Easter 1956, who is that alongside? (unattributed)

 

Shortly after Bathurst, on April 29, Bib set a new open class record at outer Melbourne’s Rob Roy Hillclimb ‘with his Jaguar D Type which can hardly be classed as an ideal hill-climb machine. His time of 27.48 seconds was exceptionally fast’ AMS reported.

Stillwell and his crew took the car to Port Wakefield, north of Adelaide and had an easier time of it than his closest competitors in the Formula Libre 30 lap South Australian Trophy- the race was held in wet conditions and as such his mudguards made it easier to see!, he won from Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F and Eldred Norman’s stunning Zephyr Special s/c.

AMS in its August issue noted that ‘Bib Stillwell should find the D Jaguar a better behaved car on its next outing, as the factory, impressed with his many wins, have sent him out the latest type rear-end assembly. He will be closer now than ever to the GP machinery!’

Stillwell raced the car at Port Wakefield again in early October and had success- third in an A Grade Scratch race which was won by Ted Gray’s Tornado 2 Chev, a win in the 20 lap Sportscar feature- the main event on the card, and fourth in the Racing Car Handicap.

Then it was back to the team’s longtime Kew headquarters in Cotham Road to prepare for the Fishermans Bend meeting in mid-October. This short trip yielded a win in the Sports and Saloon 8 lap event from Paul England’s Ausca Holden and Doug Whiteford in an Austin Healey 100S.

Travelling much further afield near Toowoomba, north of Brisbane, Stillwell took on Bill Pitt’s D Type on home ground at Lowood in the Queensland Tourist Trophy held over 1 hour on November 4. Pitt won the 76 mile race from Bib who had expected the Geordie Anderson owned car to retire after it experienced gearbox problems earlier in the day, this was only rectified moments before the race commenced.

 

Port Wakefield, October 1956- Bib, another car and white Austin Healey 100S of Ron Phillips (unattributed)

 

Stillwell on the front row at Phillip Island in December 1956 alongside the G Baillieu Triumph, Derek Jolly, Decca Mk2 Climax and Paul England, Ausca Holden

 

Australian Tourist Trophy 1956, Albert Park- a row back from the leading Maserati 300S of Moss and Behra are the Stillwell, at left and Bill Pitt D Type Jaguars, with part of Brabham’s Cooper Bobtail at far left, then the Phillips AH 100S and Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S (unattributed)

 

Back at Albert Park in November for the 1956 AGP ‘Olympic Meetings’ he was fifth in the Australian Tourist Trophy behind the factory Maserati 300S’ of Stirling Moss and Jean Behra, then came Ken Wharton aboard the Ferrari 750 Monza he would roll to his death in New Zealand a couple of months hence, and Pitt’s D Type.

Bib determined that his next logical racing step was into an outright Formula Libre single-seater and at the end of the meeting it was reported he had agreed to buy Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo. Reg raced the car in Australia and then the New Zealand internationals throughout the summer of 1957 before heading back to England and a new job, having retired from the cockpit, as Aston Martin’s Team Manager.

The deal fell over, but Bibs path was set, the near new Jaguar was advertised for sale in AMS, and before too long Bib bought Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F when that mighty fine driver retired way too early to focus on his Melbourne motor dealerships through which he amassed a fortune- he is still with us too.

Stillwell raced the Maserati for the first time in New Zealand- DNF in the NZ GP after 50 laps, the race was won by the very car Bib was purported to be buying- Parnell’s Super Squalo- his racing of the 250F is a tangent I will leave for another time.

Bib’s last run in the D Type was at the Phillip Island opening meeting on 15 December 1956, he was second in the Bill Thompson Memorial Trophy 12 lap feature, thirty seconds adrift of Jack Brabham- home for some summer Australasian racing in a Cooper T41 Climax, and fourth in the Formula Libre race also won by Jack.

 

AMS January 1957

At the end of the year ‘XKD 520’ was sold via dealer and former AGP winner John Crouch to the Ampol Oil Company for Jack Davey, a colourful and immensely popular radio personality for over thirty years.

John Andrew Davey was a Kiwi, after education at Kings College, Auckland he came to Sydney in 1931 and performed as a crooner with two radio stations- he was soon employed as an announcer on another network, possessed of a quick wit and a mellifluous voice Davey was away; click here for a summary of a marvellous life; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/davey-john-andrew-jack-9905

He was a lifelong car enthusiast who contested the first Redex Reliability Trial around Australia in 1953 in a Ford Customline with co-driver Lou Moss, finishing 91st.

Jack’s health was in decline, despite family and friends not wanting him to compete he again ran in 1954, but it was too much for him, he collapsed and was admitted to St Lukes Hospital not long after the event. Whilst his doctors, no doubt supported by friends and his commercial associates, ‘banned him’ from the 1955 event he did run in 1956 in another Customline and in 1957 and 1958 in Chryslers- in ’58 he achieved his best result, eighth in the Ampol Trial sharing the Chrysler Royal AP1 V8 with Eric Nelson and Bill Murison.

When Davey took delivery of XKD520 he had it repainted red, using it as a roadie and for promotional purposes, a passenger windscreen was also fitted. The D-type was left in the care of Bill Murray, whilst he was driving the car back to Sydney probably for use as part of the 1957 Ampol Round Australia Trial pre-promotion, the 1947 AGP winner lost control at high speed not too far from the Harwood Ferry which crossed (until 1966) the Clarence River on the Pacific Highway 650km from Sydney, and smashed into the back of a timber laden semi-trailer- both the D-type and Murray were badly hurt, this was in June 1957. The car was written off for insurance purposes, Murray, even after a long recovery process had ongoing health problems.

Jack Davey’s radio career went all the way to his untimely death from cancer at St Vincents Hospital in Darlinghurst, Sydney in October 1959. Such was his following that somewhere between 100,000-150,000 people stood in pouring rain outside St Andrews Cathedral to pay their respects.

 

Jack Davey with his D Type out front of his Gold Coast Ampol Servo- Davey had diverse business interests, this dovetailed nicely with Ampol support of various of his radio shows. Address folks?

 

Jack Davey and team at the Sydney Showgrounds start of the 1954 Redex Round Australia Trial DNF (unattributed)

 

Jack Davey applying suntan lotion to the lovely Sabrina’s chassis, doin the mutual celebrity thing in 1958. That teeny-weeny striped bikini seems to have no ‘rear suspension’, the wonders of photoshop in those days. Those 42 inch titties were insured against shrinkage for 100,000 pounds apparently- a drop to a petite 38 inches, if maintained for two months secured the businesswoman a payout of 5000 pounds, every inch lost after that paid another 2500 pounds.  The process of assessment in relation thereto would have been an interesting and enjoyable task. She was in Australia in 1958-9, Davey organised digs for her in Point Piper. Where else but primotipo could you learn useless shit like this? (nylon.net)

 

Frank Gardner across the top of the mountain, Bathurst, Easter 1956, 6 lap sportscar scratch. ‘On new disc pads, the Jaguar was at times almost brakeless and finished second (behind David McKay’s Aston DB3S). Frank obviously hadn’t read his 1970s book of advice to budding racing drivers!’ wrote John Medley. He won the last race of the weekend- the 6 lap sedan and sports handicap (unattributed)

 

Gardner and XKD520 looking all very nice, Mount Druitt, Sydney 23 May 1958. John Ellacott recalls FG did a 14.57 standing quarter in this sprint event (J Ellacott)

 

In the Bathurst paddock, Easter 1958 with FG looking across to David McKay, helmet on just about to jump aboard his Aston Martin DB3S- who is the slim driver in between? (unattributed)

 

FG is of that professional generation of drivers who started with an MG T Type, a TA his Uncle Hope Bartlett lent him at 17 to run at Marsden Park, NSW in 1949 and finished in ‘serious stuff’ with Lolas in the early seventies- a couple of races in the T330 in 1972 were his last events in single-seaters. What a vast ‘progression of technology’ he was a part of, noting his touring car career went for a number of years after that in Australia. He is aboard an F5000 Lola T300 here (unattributed)

 

Following the theme above, FG testing the Lola T260 Chev Can-Am car raced by Jackie Stewart as a Carl Haas works entry in 1971- no doubt the 7 litre Chev engined beastie felt somewhat different to XKD520 but it was part of what he called his ‘Big Cars’ progression. JYS would have preferred far more testing of this car before it jetted to the US BTW, an M8F McLaren it wasn’t…(D Phipps)

 

Lynton Hemer has captured FG beautifully on The Causeway during the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round in 1972. This is Frank and Lola’s Bob Marston’s whoosh-bonk F5000- take a T240 F2 tub- give the FVA and FT200 the arse, then bolt in a Chev and DG300 where they were, pop the radiators where they will fit, put some swoopy bodywork over the top, hey-presto T300- and instantaneously create a successful car- and one of the sexiest of the decade. It wasn’t quite that simple but you get the drift (L Hemer)

In mid-1957 ‘XKD 520’ was sold to the up and coming Frank Gardner via his friend Bill Graber who was in the insurance industry- there will be a ring to this to some of you as FG’s C Type Jaguar had also been involved in a bad (fatal) accident, and was then written off before rescue by Gardner and resurrection as a very competitive mount.

The D Type was restored to sparkling good health at the Sydneysider’s Whale Beach Service Station at Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches- several of Frank’s mates were involved in the process including Jack Myers who worked on the chassis, Clive Adams the body, and Alan Standfield who built a new bonnet to the latest D Type long-nose style. Click here for a link to an article about FG’s C Type; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/

Gardner raced the car continuously from his first meeting at at Schofields, NSW in March 1958 where he won- the car was painted white, just like the C Type and had its engine sleeved to 3.8 litres.

Frank added further laurels to ‘XKD 520’s history including a second at Easter Bathurst, first at Mt. Druitt, and third in both heats at Gnoo Blas, Orange, NSW- in a MotorSport interview with Simon Taylor FG claimed 25 wins out of 26 starts for his two Jags.

He sold the car to David Finch after deciding to leave Australia to race in Europe, selling a five year lease on the Avalon garage- that was his time frame to make it or not in search of fame and fortune- which he very much achieved until returning home to race for several more years in late 1974.

Finch is a Sydney fellow who had cut his racing teeth in an MG TF throughout 1955 and then progressed to an Austin Healey 100-4 he ran at Mt Druitt and Bathurst in 1956-1958, before taking the big step up from a production sportscar to one of the fastest racing cars of the day- handling the more demanding machine with considerable skill.

 

This group of three photographs are of David Finch in ‘XKD520’ during the Gnoo Blas, February 1960 meeting. Lovely family scene, it could almost be a BP advertising shot! (Kelsey)

 

Huge grid for the sportscar feature. Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax, Frank Matich in the ex-Gardner Leaton Motors Jaguar C Type, Finch in ‘XKD520’, on row two the ex-Kangaroo Stable Aston martin DB3S of Warren Blomfield #122 and Tom Sulman and the rest (D Finch)

 

Gnoo Blas as above (Kelsey)

 

Beautiful shot of David Finch on the way to a win in the 1961 Queensland Tourist Trophy at Lowood (unattributed)

Finch raced the D Type for the next three years, eventually fitting a factory-supplied 3.8-litre block after the original 3.4-litre ‘added its expiration to the fitting name of Bathurst’s engine-testing Con Rod Straight’ wrote the Fisken copywriter- in fact a piston collapsed and a rod punched two nice holes in the block.

He won the 1961 Queensland Tourist Trophy at Lowood with the new engine, ‘an encounter with a fence at Warwick Farm (September 1961) exceeded the ductility’ of the original bonnet and local aluminium ace Alan Standfield, again stepped in, and created a distinctively-shaped version of Jaguar’s long nose bonnet.

Australian drag racing pioneer and purveyor of ‘luxury’ American sedans, Ash Marshall was the next owner of ‘XKD 520’ from May 1962.

‘Flash Ash’ had come through speedway sedans, a sprintcar, rallying and raced on the circuits for a bit before a business trip to the US exposed him to Drag Racing for the first time- his key contact, Bob Fuerhelm took him along to a meeting and organised a ride in a super stocker which went 11.7 seconds over the quarter mile, he went for it hook, line and sinker.

Marshall imported two Plymouth super-stockers (’63 Plymouth Savoy Max and ’64 Plymouth Belvedere), first racing these at Castlereagh in November 1964, he then ‘doubled up’ by bringing in an outdated Rail called ‘The Vandal’- a short 137 inch wheelbase, full-length body, dropped l-beam front axle with transverse spring  American dragster.

Marshall was immediately a ‘headliner’ and very quickly applied his commercial skills to the business of motor racing, doing very well on and off the track for the balance of the decade, other cars- ‘The Scorcher’ and rear-engined ‘Soapy Sales’ followed Vandal.

Marshall was the first to break 200mph in Australia in February 1969 at Castlereagh and the first to go into the 6 second bracket- he did 6.98 seconds in 1972 at Castlereagh but the run was disputed and eventually disallowed.

Ash was involved in Pyramid Selling Schemes in Australia and the UK before moving to the US- in each country being one step in front of the authorities as such practices were made illegal, he settled in the US and ‘returned to his roots’ as a motor trader buying and selling exotics for high-flyers. He became involved again in the sport as the nostalgia scene developed in the nineties and died in January 2019.

Back to the D Type, when Ash and his team turned their attention to the Jaguar, they embarked upon a plush restoration complete with chromed accessories, XKSS style side exhaust and heat shield, plenty of polished aluminum, a carpeted interior and ‘a glass-like finish’ as described in Sports Car World‘, the car carried NSW registration ‘ASH 222’- Stan Brown worked on the body and Clive Adams painted it.

(T Scott)

 

Marshall loads up in front of a fascinated crowd at Riverside, during the first Nationals in October 1965. Vandal was the only USA ‘Top Fuel’ dragster in Australia at the time- troubles with the Chrysler Hemi intervened that weekend (D Cook)

 

Eddie Thomas’ Chrysler powered rail alongside Vandal in the fire-up road at Riverside during the ‘first’ nationals- there are claims by two events at Riverside in 1964, in October 1965. This pair never raced when Ash’ problems occurred (Street Machine)

 

Ash Marshall in the Vandal, this side and Jack ‘Fizzball’ Collins ‘Road Runner’ at Riverside, Fishermans Bend, October 1965 (moondog.net.au)

 

Later owners of XKD520 in Australia include Peter Bradley and Richard Parkinson who advertised it for sale in the September 1966 issue of Racing Car News magazine. Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins contemplated purchase during their visit to Australia to race in the Surfers Paradise 12 Hour but decided against it when they became aware that Richard Attwood wanted to buy it.

In 1967 ‘XKD 520’ moved to the UK, bought by the former Jaguar apprentice, Grand Prix driver and future 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours winner. He had it worked on by Jaguar’s Brown’s Lane facility and then displayed it in his Wolverhampton Mercedes-Benz showroom for many years before selling it in 1977- since then it has had numerous owners.

There was considerable passionate discussion between the Author and Art Director as to the layout of this piece- whether to mix and match the new photographs of XKD520 with the old or separate them. So heated was the exchange that The Editor intervened to avoid a most unpleasant fracas- such are the pressures of a small office in Covid 19 times like these- photo credits for the modern ‘XKD520’ material are to Fisken and Sotheby’s unless otherwise attributed.

 

David Finch closest, and Jack Murray. D Types by two at Mount Panorama in October 1960 (unattributed)

 

Etcetera…

 

 

Jaguar D Type cutaway published in AMS (HG Molloy)

 

(D Finch)

David Finch testing on Mount Druitt airstrip in 1958- a good reason to smile!

 

 

 

(unattributed)

Stillwell jumps aboard ‘XKD520’ at Lowood, alongside is Bill Pitt’s D Type, ‘XKD526’ which won this 1956 Queensland Tourist Trophy event, complete with Le Mans start.

 

 

(D Finch)

Jack Murray in the silver Jack Parker owned D Type ahead of David Finch heading through Murrays Corner at Mount Panorama in October 1960- the NSW Sports Car Championship race won by Frank Matich in the Leaton Motors Lotus 15 Climax. Murray was fifth, Finch unplaced.

By Easter 1961 David had the rhythm of the car, he was on the front row of the Bathurst sportscar grids alongside Frank Matich’ Lotus 15 and John Ampt in the ex-everybody Cooper T38 Jaguar finishing fourth in the 3 lapper and third in the 10 lap main sportscar race- progress indeed.

 

(unattributed)

Stillwell heading up Mount Panorama during the 1956 Easter meeting.

 

 

(HG Molloy)

 

David Finch at Lowood, on the weekend in which he won the Queensland Tourist Trophy in 1961.

 

 

Bib at the Phillip Island opening meeting on 15 December 1956- only Jack Brabham’s presence ruined his party. Touch of the opposites, not sure exactly where he is on a circuit I know rather well.

 

 

(unattributed)

Bib at Bathurst in October 1956.

He contested the 13 lap NSW Road Racing Championship for sportscars, a handicap event in the manner of the day, finishing sixth but did the fastest race time. He was unplaced in the sedan and sportscar handicap at the end of the weekend’s proceedings but again did the fastest race time.

Bathurst had a great tradition of a parade lap of competitors sans helmet at slow speeds- below are Stillwell and Bill Pitt leading this group in their beautiful D Types- other cars and drivers folks?

(unattributed)

 

 

Arcane with no semblance of relevance…

Hot rodding started in Australia just as it did in the US, in the depression years, when young men without any money created ‘specials’ from the amalgamation of parts of different makes- more often than not cast off bits and pieces. Sometimes V8s provided the power, into the 1940s American Hot Rod magazines started to jump the Pacific, this had an impact on hotting-up Holdens- doubtless the Repco Hi-Power cylinder head for the Holden Grey was a commercial response to that demand.

Street racing was a reality of course in Australia as elsewhere with ‘The Brickies’ on the present site of the Olympic sports precinct at Homebush Bay, the Mad Mile at Deadman’s Creek outside Liverpool and in Melbourne, Newlands Road, Coburg and Doherty’s Road, Altona North well known spots for ‘da boys’ in the day- each state had their favourite spots too- it was far from just an East Coast thing.

Getting these activities off the public roads was important of course, the Penrith Emergency Airstrip (west of Sydney, Penrith Speedway was a hallowed racing site between the wars) had been used for sprint racing pre-war and it was there during the 1959 NSW Sprint Championships that Ray Walmsley, of, amongst other things Alfa Romeo P3 GMC fame, first ran a Dragster in Australia- his Corvette powered ‘rail’ did a 14.04 second quarter mile pass.

Ash Marshall in his ’64 Plymouth Belvedere against a hot-rod at Castlereagh in July 1965, ‘known locally as Ramchargers, this and his ’63 Plymouth were way ahead of anything else with doors when they landed at the end of 1964’ (Street Machine)

 

Vandal at Surfers Paradise in 1966, note the commercialism disallowed on the circuits at the time (D Hill)

 

Marshall, crew, Miss Valvoline and Vandal at Riverside in 1965- see chassis and front suspension detail (Street Machine)

In Victoria the use of Pakenham Airstrip made things a tad more kosher from 1958 but the big step forward, with Victoria Police support, was the use of another former racing venue- Fishermans Bend, for drag racing from 1962, very quickly ‘Riverside Dragway’ became the first home for the sport in Australia with Eddie Thomas setting a local record of 10.07 seconds.

Riverside hosted the first nationals on October 2 and 3 1965, Ash Marshall’s Vandal made its first public appearance that day but ended up a fizzer when engine maladies intervened, ‘Top Eliminator’ was Jack ‘Fireball’ Collins ‘Road Runner’ over Eddie Thomas’ machine- the speed shop impresario a story himself.

Penrith, taken over by the NSW Hot Rod Association in 1965 and re-named Castlereagh International Dragway soon replaced Riverside as the home of drag racing in Australia, with Calder its ‘Victorian base’.

‘Eddie Thomas deploys the laundry in his first Greg Goddard built car at Riverside in 1965- Australia’s first parachute’ wrote Street Machine. Its interesting to look at Riverside, Lorimer Street Fishermans Bend and reflect upon its close proximity to the Melbourne’s CBD, and the houses closeby in Garden City for that matter- not something yerd see these days! (Street Machine)

Bibliography…

Sports Cars and Specials August 1956, various issues of Australian Motor Sports magazine from 1956-1960, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Street Machine article on Ash Marshall

Photo Credits…

Kelsey Collection, Barry Hickson, The David Finch Collection, John Ellacott, Fisken, Sotheby’s, Tony Scott, Street Machine, moondog.com.au, D Cook, nylon.net, Lynton Hemer

Technical drawings/cutaway by HG Molloy in AMS June 1956

(unattributed)

Finish where we started, a photograph of Bib Stillwell upon XKD520’s first race at Albert Park’s Moomba meeting in March 1956- the raucous straight-six singing along Pit Straight with plenty of spectators in attendance.

Tailpiece…

Whilst it is a photograph it looks like a drawing- unattributed crop from a KLG sparkplug ad- it, too, is during Bib’s victorious Argus Trophy run during the 1956 Moomba meeting at Albert Park. Nice I think.

Finito…

Allan Moffat, Brabham BT16 Ford from John Grames, Woodward DKW at Waterford Hills in July 1967- AM set both the class and outright lap record on that day (B Gordon)

Allan Moffat and John Smailes in ‘Climbing The Mountain’ provided the snippet…

‘Barry Nelson and Peter Thorn helped me conduct a fire sale of the Cortinas as well as a Brabham BT15 open wheeler in which i’d had one run and one win at Waterford Hills using a Cortina engine, and then they returned to Australia’.

Hmm, I thought, that’s interesting (to someone with a small mind like mine anyway), so Moff had a crack at Formula B in the US- bugger me, i’d not heard of that one.

I tried hard to find a photo of the car but had no luck other than the cockpit shot below before uploading my ‘Moffat Epic’, have a look here; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/06/moffats-shelby-brabham-elfin-and-trans-am/ but the Brabham topic was ‘unfinished business’ until this week when American enthusiast/racer Bob Gordon uploaded some of the photos in this article and some results- research gold.

Bob and his father, Hugh Gordon were both racers who competed against Moffat in Cortinas in the day at Waterford.

It gets better though.

Gordon’s photographs show that not only did Moff compete in Formula B in 1967 but also the season before, 1966. Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com race results support Gordon’s photos, the Canadian raced a Lotus 35 Ford in 1966 and a Brabham BT16 Ford in 1967. No wonder my BT15 internet searches were fruitless, I punched the wrong details into Google.

Barry Nelson with Allan Moffat and Brabham BT16 Ford at Road America on (B Nelson)

 

Allan Moffat leads Bob Gordon at Waterford from the July 1965 ‘Waterford Digest’- both in Lotus Cortinas (B Gordon)

 

Moffat, mechanic Vince Woodford, Jim McKeown and Cortina at Daytona in early 1967, Jim’s engine went ka-boomba causing un unplanned change of direction for AM in 1967- all of which turned out ok (CTM)

The engine failure of the Moffat/McKeown Lotus Cortina Trans-Am class challenger at Daytona early in 1967 basically put an end to any prospect of Ford support of another Lotus Cortina under 2 litre campaign. Ford’s Peter Quenet threw Allan a lifeline though, giving him the remnants of the Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina team to use that year with a guaranteed $300 for each race start per car.

Allan therefore ran ‘start money Lotus Cortina specials’ for renta-drivers as well as running a car himself. With a few engines to spare, he did a deal with Fred Opert, the US Brabham importer to acquire the BT16 inclusive of part exchange of one of his powerful Lotus-Ford twin-cams.

Barry Nelson recalls collecting the car from Opert’s on Interstate 78, Newark, New Jersey, a journey of 2050 kilometres there and back from Moffat’s base in Detroit- ‘Holiday Cars’ was a small second hand dealer/workshop in Telegraph Road, Southfield, a Detroit suburb where Moffat rented space.

‘I don’t remember Allan racing the Lotus 35 at all. But with the BT16 we dry-sumped one of our engines, fitted it all up and used it only three times- once at Road America and twice at Waterford Hills. I drove the car in a test session at Waterford as well as a Scot, John Addison, who had raced one of the Cortinas at Sebring and another guy.’

Formula B, a bit like the introduction of Australian National 1.5 (which evolved into Australian Formula 2 later) was in part born to find somewhere to put suddenly homeless Formula Juniors and as a ‘next-level’ up single seater category below ‘elite level’. The release of the Lotus Elan provided the engine de jour- the class was a production based, two-valve, twin-cam on carbs category. For the usual English car builders, this was money-for-jam, FBs were adapted F3 designs- the Brabham BT16 was a dual purpose F2/FB version of the F3 BT15 for example.

The class boomed from its creation in 1965, in 1967 for example, there was a five race ‘Continental Championship’, the national title if you will, run from mid-May to 1 October which was won by Gus Hutchinson’s Lotus 41C Ford t/c, in addition there were seven divisions of regionally based competitions across the length and breadth of the ‘States all of which had big, healthy grids.

Moffat competed in the ‘Central Division’. In 1966 he was fourth in the standings with 9 points, ‘Allan Moffat, prior to moving (back) to Australia, had a surprisingly new Lotus 35’ Allen Brown wrote. There were nine rounds in the Central Division Championship that year, what is unclear is how many meetings Moffat contested in the Lotus 35.

In the 1967 pointscore, Allan was seventh despite contesting only one of the seven rounds, at Road America on 17 June, the first round in fact.

Waterford Hills was (and still is) a local Detroit track near Moffat’s base, the two meetings he ran there were not on the ‘Central Division’ championship tour but were local meetings. Brown wrote in his 1967 Central Division summary ‘…An interesting name further down (the points table) is that of Allan Moffat, a future Australian touring car legend but then just a 27 year old Canadian-born budding racing driver…’

Allan made quite an impression on the local scene in his ‘two years as a local’ with online fans of the era describing him as ‘bad-ass’, as in a full on aggressive racer, Carl Zahler, a Waterford marshall observed that ‘when Allan was there, we knew we would see some good racing.’

Bob Gordon- Allan in a Lotus 35 at Waterford in July 1966 (B Gordon)

 

(Instagram)

A couple of young ‘Australian’ roosters going for it at Riverside in September 1966- Horst Kwech in the Alfa Romeo GTA and Moffat in one of his Cortinas.

Moff would say he had the inside line- he does, and Horst would say his nose was in front- hmm, maybe, but not a second before…For sure these two had a high degree of respect for each others abilities by the time they shared the Shelby Trans-Am at Daytona and Sebring in early 1968.

Jerry Titus’ Mustang won at Riverside with Horst sixth and Allan seventh.

The question which then occurs to we anoraks is ‘ok, cool, so which particular Lotus and Brabham did he use?’- the answer is, despite ‘pokin around, ‘I dunno!’

Brown gives us a hint though, ‘Steve Griswold, who would drive this ex-Moffat Brabham (BT16) a year or so later, believes Moffat brought it with him from Australia’, but we know from Barry Nelson now that is not the case- he got it from Opert. Griswold was both a racer and a dealer- a lot of cars passed through his hands, whilst his name pops up a lot in online searches I can’t get a sniff of a chassis number- ditto the Lotus 35- no mention on any of the online forums. Help required please?

So, what became of AM’s single-seater aspirations?

It may well be that after the Brabham race meetings Moffat’s focus changed from his first very impressive Mustang drive in mid-August, which segued, in Moffat’s view with some assistance from Peter Quenet, into the Mercury Trans-Am works drive from the Modesto round on 10 September, the first of four drives in the series final rounds. In essence he had no time for the Brabham when his future pro-career hinged on these critical races- Barry agrees with this theory, ‘We simply put the Brabham to one side in the Southfield shop’.

Nelson, ‘The last race we did was in the Cougar in Washington, after that we closed things down, transported the Cortinas and spares back to Ford and sold the Brabham back to Opert. I returned to Australia in the new year and freelanced with Maurie Quincey for a while but that turned to crap- a very difficult guy to work with.’

‘My dad, Lionel Nelson knew Bob Jane very well, they were mates, so via that connection I did some engine work for Bob. Later in the year Allan joined Jane doing some promotional work and raced a couple of the cars’- the Elfin 400 Repco sportscar and an abortive attempt to race the Brabham at Sandown, a wheel came off the car.

‘My dad was the Technical Service Manager of motor sport of S Smith & Sons in Australia who sold ‘Smiths’ automotive gauges and KLG sparkplugs- that’s how I met Allan, he knocked on my dads door looking for sponsorship for the Cortina he brought back from the States and dad made the introduction when he found out he needed help with the car’s preparation.’

‘After he left Jane’s he let me know he had got something happening, when the Trans-Am arrived we got together again, I was there until the end of 1972. I love the guy to this day and still see him- I come down from Shepparton where I’m retired and catch up with him usually at Romeos or Duttons. Sometimes he is gruff “What do you want?” and others you can’t shut him up- like the last time I saw him two months ago.’

‘His health is not bad, you can still have a great conversation with him, sometimes his memory lapses a bit- a combination of Andrew Moffat, Phil Grant and Larry Perkins look after him.’

Barry, when asked about his driving said ‘If the car was great he was awesome- no-one could get near him but sometimes we would struggle to understand the changes he wanted because he couldn’t tell you what he wanted. He had huge self-belief but could also have a negative mindset so getting him in that zone- “all fixed, off you go” was important. But wow, when things were perfect…’

‘After I left Allan, Ron Harrop and I built Kingsley Hibbard’s GTHO-  we both went to the states and sourced some parts from Bud Moore similar to the Trans-Am and then got the engine bits from Falconer and Dunn in California but that was a disaster as he wasn’t paying his bills- I got paid and left.’

‘I then raced a Torana GTR-XU1 for a while and occasionally tried bits and pieces on my car for Harry Firth, who was close to my father. When my kids grew up they both raced- Warren ran in the Sprintcar World Series for five or six years with the younger bloke, Brooke having some fun in Midgets’

Barry Nelson’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1 leads Bernie McLure, Holden Torana SLR5000 L34 Improved touring cars at Calder’s ‘Tin Shed’ during 1974 (unattributed)

 

Allan contemplates the ex-Brabham 1968 Tasman tool- a Brabham BT23E Repco ‘740’ 2.5 V8 on the day of his run at Sandown, which ended early when a wheel parted company with the just rebuilt car. He is in the back lane aft of the Bob Jane Racing workshops at the rear of the Chrysler/Valiant dealership fronting 740 Sydney Road, Brunswick. Barry Nelson notes the facility housed the dyno, Finance Department ‘Blackwood Investments’ and was the first home of Bob Jane T-Marts (B Nelson)

 

Moffat extricates himself from David Green’s Wren Formula Ford after the Calder 1971 Formula Ford Race of Champions. Allan recalled in ‘Climbing The Mountain’ ‘…after I ran up the back of Jack Brabham’s Formula Ford and retired hurt’. This car still exists in Queensland, owned by racer/enthusiast/official Ian Mayberry (CTM)

 

AMR team members at 711 Malvern Road, Toorak very early 1969- the Trans-Am still lacks its red paint of war. Barry Nelson, AM and Peter Thorn were all blooded together in the US- and Brian Fellows at right (CTM)

Postscript…

So, it seems thus far on the evidence we have, that Allan Moffat’s single-seater career comprises a race in the Lotus 35 at Waterford Hills in July 1966, three races in the Brabham BT16 in 1967, an ill-fated attempt to race Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco Tasman 2.5 Formula machine in the Sandown Gold Star round in late 1968 and one Formula Ford event/meeting- the ‘Race of Champions’ won by Jack Brabham at Calder in 1971.

Did Allan test an Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden F5000 car ‘in the day’, or is my imagination getting the better of me yet again?- mouth watering thought that, Moffat in a Boss 302 powered F5000 during the peak period of his long career…

As originally completed this was where i left off the story as it relates to Moff’s single-seater career and then David Hassall and Glenn Moulds got in touch as below.

David confirmed that Elfin’s Garrie Cooper ran a test day at Calder on Monday 13 September, the day after the 1971 Gold Star ‘Victorian Trophy’ round at Sandown won by Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10 B Chev- John McCormack was second in the first completed Elfin MR5 Repco, chassis ‘5711’ in its first race.

From its inception Elfin were supported by BP, a production run of four high value F5000 cars was a big investment for the small Edwardstown concern so it is no surprise that the drivers who tested the car on that day were mainly supported by BP- Moffat, Elfin 600E F2 driver and 1971 ANF2 Champion Henk Woelders, speedway star and then Elfin/Bowin Formula Ford driver Garry Rush with the interlopers being Castrol sponsored John Harvey and Scuderia Veloce owner/journalist and ex-racer David McKay.

By that stage Bob Jane Racing’s Bowin P8 F5000 would have been very close to delivery so Harves’ drive is interesting. Sadly, whilst Kevin Bartlett was there, he didn’t have a run in the MR5- his opinion would have been fascinating given he was peddling one of the two quickest F5000s in Australia at the time- the class of the field was KB’s ex’Allen McLaren M10B and Frank Matich’ Repco-Holden engined M10B- both fellas were Shell drivers with FM’s Matich A50 Repco only a couple of months away from its 1971 Australian AGP debut and win.

(Auto Action 17 September 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Motoring News 1 Oct 1971- D Hassall)

As you can see from David’s Auto Action and Australian Motoring News magazine collection Moffat did a good number of laps in a car which was as it finished Sandown fitted with too tall gearing, well used tyres and full tanks doing a best of 44 seconds dead.

Cooper’s run of four cars were raced by he and McCormack as works ‘Ansett Team Elfin’ entries and sold to John Walker and Max Stewart, both of whom were BP supported and fitted with Repco Holden engines.

There seems little doubt that BP’s John Pryce was keen to get one of his star drivers into F5000, the snippets show the media ponderings at the time about the potential support of Moffat’s then core sponsors Ford, BP and Coca-Cola- as Australian enthusiasts well know the Coke dollars applied to his Trans-Am Mustang racing not his Ford factory GTHO Falcon Series Production program.

The dollars had to make sense to Allan as a pro-driver.

Interestingly the car Moffat appears to have been considering and ordered was John Surtees’ 1972 F5000- the TS11 which did end up a competitive car albeit the ‘Class of 1972’ was the Lola T300.

Moffat’s car had to be Ford powered which was not a huge deal even if the Chev was de-riguer in the US and Europe. There were a smattering of Ford 302 Boss engines in use with Falconer & Dunn probably the logical choice of engine builder- Allan’s boys obviously knew their way around these motors pretty well in terms of maintenance.

(Motoring News 5 November 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Motoring News 17 November 1971- D Hassall)

As the 1972 Tasman got closer the speculation continued about the Surtees until Auto Action reported in January that the order for the car had been cancelled ‘following pressure from his chief sponsor, Coca Cola, not to get involved in open-wheeler racing.’

For the record the ’72 Tasman was a ripper series won by Kiwi Graham McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev.

So that seemed to be that, no single-seaters for Moffat, at least preferably not on Coke’s watch.

(Motoring News 31 December 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Auto Action Allan Moffat column 24 December 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Auto Action 7 January 1972- D Hassall)

But then, perhaps with his appetite whetted by the ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder in 1971 Allan had a drive of BP sponsored Bob Skelton’s Bowin P4A Formula Ford in a BS Stillwell Trophy Series (FF and ANF3) round at Calder on 15 May 1972- Skello raced his Bowin to victory in the Driver to Europe Series that year but there was no DTE round at that meeting.

Skelton was Sydney based, doubtless it was in his interest to get in some practice at Calder, which he did in a 5 lap preliminary but Moffat did the Stillwell Series race but had an off at Repco and retired after only a few laps.

Moffat didn’t race the Mustang at that meeting but had wins aboard the works HO Phase 3 in the 10 lap heat and 20 lap final- but i bet the races which held the most interest for him were the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ F5000 events both of which were won by Matich’s A50…

It seems he really was keen to keep his open-wheeler hand in and perhaps harboured thoughts of a Gold Star or Tasman run in 1973…

Bob Skelton’s Bowin P4A in front of Enno Buesselmann’s (?) Elfin 600 during a Warwick Farm Formula Ford DTE round in 1972- do get in touch if you have a photo of AM driving this car at Calder (FFA)

Waterford Hills…

Waterford Hills is a 1.5 mile long road-racing circuit located just north of Detroit, the circuit map below gives us the picture of a circuit many of us are unfamiliar with.

Allan is a much respected Waterford racer/graduate with a large number of followers amongst their community who can be followed by a very active Facebook page- just key Waterford Hills into the FB search engine.

Moffat has had a couple of visits back there, most recently in July 2018 when he caught up with old friends and made acquaintance with younger folks who are only aware of his racing exploits from afar.

(Instagram-unattributed)

Moffat pushes his Lotus Cortina hard at Waterford Hills in 1965- lets avoid the tangential dissertation on early Lotus Cortina rear suspension Mark, stay on point man…

(Official Allan Moffat)

Lapping Waterford in July 2018 in an open car if not an open-wheeler- how’s it handle Moff- soften the front bar or what!

(B Gordon)

I really like this photo as it shows Ford’s Peter Quenet’s Ford Anglia racing with Allan Moffat (front) and Hugh Gordon- Bruce’ father in Lotus Cortina’s at Waterford in the summer of 1966.

What comes through strongly in Moffat’s book are the pivotal roles a relatively small number of people made in advancing Allan’s career at key points in time, Quenet is one of those.

(J Melton)

A couple more shots of Peter Quenet, who was a very good racer in addition to his Ford executive responsibilities.

Whilst running with the ‘FB’ grid, the car is a Lotus 51 Formula Ford, no doubt Peter is doing his bit to get the class off the ground in the US in 1968.

We get a bit better look at his face in the photo below- this self built Anglia still exists, in ultimate spec Peter created a ‘spaceframe’ type of chassis, this shot is circa 1968 at a guess, Waterford?

(Instagram)


Etcetera…

 

Bruce Jennings, Plymouth Barracuda, two Mustangs, then Kwech, Alfa Romeo GTA, the red Alan Mann Lotus Cortina of Frank Gardner, Bob Tullius’ blue Dodge Dart- Allan Moffat at the back of this lap 1 pack and the rest- assistance welcome (Instagram)

Moffat’s outright Trans-Am win in the 1.6 litre Lotus Cortina of the 1966 Bryar Motor Sport Park 250 Trans-Am in London-Laconia, New Hampshire, July 1966 really was a big deal.

The scale of the achievement is given some context from the photo above- the ‘yellow speck’ at the back of this group of cars just after the start is Moffat’s winning car.

The win ‘earned him the title of the only outright winner of a Trans-Am in a Cortina. He quite often out qualified and finished ahead of the factory Alan Mann Racing cars in the ’66 series, which compared to other AMR’s other campaigns, was a failure. It isn’t even mentioned in the Alan Mann biography’ Gramho posted on Instagram.

Moffat won from Bruce Jennings, Plymouth Barrcuda, Horst Kwech, Alfa GTA and the Yeager Ford Mustang, only Moffat and Jennings finished the full 156 laps of the tight 1.6 mile course, the third and fourth placed cars were 2 laps further adrift.

Moffat takes the chequered flag at Bryar- that is a pond in the background (auslot.com)

 

(auslot.com)

All smiles from AM and the Miss New Hampshire contestants. Doesn’t he look young!- note Goodyear support at this early stage- an enduring business relationship all through Moffat’s career.

Lotus Ford Twin-Cam…

Always follow the money is a business basic and so it was that the tuners of the Lotus Ford ‘twinc’ saw the natural advantage the engine had in Formula B, a buoyant economy and plenty of young racers keen to compete.

Cosworth, BRM, Vegantune and others in the UK and US produced engines with power outputs progressively rising from the Cosworth’s Mark 12’s 140bhp @6000 rpm up through 170/180bhp to around 205bhp of the early seventies Brian Hart prepped 1.6 litre, injected ‘416B’ common in Australian National F2 from 1972 onwards.

Of interest to Lotus-Ford twin-cam nutters are the ‘data-sheets’ of the Cosworth built Marks 12-15 variants.


 

Research and Photo Credits…

Special thanks to Bob Gordon for the material which stimulated this piece and Barry Nelson for his photographs and time by phone- he is happy to assist with a ‘Racing the Lotus Cortinas’ piece in the future which promises to be good.

Thanks too to Glenn Moulds and David Hassall for their contributions and access to David’s extensive magazine collection. oldracingcars.com, Cosworth Engineering

Bob Gordon Collection, Barry Nelson, Waterford Hills Facebook page, ‘CTM’- ‘Climbing The Mountain’ Allan Moffat and John Smailes, ‘AMC’- Allan Moffat Collection on Official Allan Moffat Facebook page, Gramho on Instagram, auslot.com, racecarsdirect.com, Jerry Melton on etceterini.com

Tailpiece…

Formula B lap record in the Brabham BT16 Ford and ‘Sedan 4’ mark in one of the Lotus Cortinas.

Finito…

Moss, Lotus 21 Climax, Warwick Farm 100 practice 1961 (Mal Simpson)

Father Time waits for no-one, not even ‘the immortals’, sadly the great man’s time had come- Stirling Moss, 17 September 1929 to 12 April 2020.

What an extraordinary life of achievement.

To me he personified grace, sportsmanship and fairness despite being a fierce competitor, a certain clever conservatism but with an impish naughty streak and sense of humour. He was everything that is great about Britain and the essence of what to me it is to be a Brit.

Without doubt he was the living embodiment of motor racing, his passing deprives the sport of its greatest global spokesman and ambassador.

I can’t remember if I was aware of Stirling before seeing the Chrysler Valiant ‘Hemi’ ads as a kid on Australian telly circa 1970 (remember those?) or whether it was after my interest in the history of the sport commenced a couple of years later.

Whatever the case he has been a constant in Australia since he first raced here in 1956 through the 1961 internationals, then into the Tasman years after he had retired from the cockpit when more often than not he travelled with the circus, and from 1985, first in Adelaide and now Melbourne was a regular in F1 historic support parades and events.

I have a photo of him with my youngest son taken in the Albert Park historic tent, even though it was the five-millionth time he had done that, he still exchanged a few pleasantries with Nick- he still remembers it despite being six at the time, twenty years ago.

RIP from all your Australasian friends Mr Moss, we salute your achievements, applaud the way you conducted yourself and thankyou for all the entertainment and pleasure you gave us…

Behra, Moss, Albert Park, AGP 1956 (unattributed)

Credits…

Mal Simpson, Stephen Dalton Collection, John Ellacott

Etcetera: ‘For All The Right Reasons’…

For international readers the Chrysler, Valiant factory shown in the first ad was on a 65 acre site named ‘Tonsley Park’ at Clovelly Park, 12km south-west of Adelaide. The beach scenes will be closeby to that facility on one of the Fleurieu Peninsula beaches.

Etcetera…

A couple of Australian motor magazine covers from Stephen Dalton’s Collection with Stirling on the cover- as he so often throughout the world was!

This photo taken by John Ellacott posted on The Noatalgia forum by Ray Bell is of Stirling giving Paul Samuels’ Lotus 18 Ford Formula Junior a whirl at Warwick Farm in 1961.

His Rob Walker Racing Cooper T53 and Lotus 21 (car in the first photo) were late arriving in Sydney from New Zealand so he jumped into a couple of cars to do some familiarisation laps of the new, quite technical Warwick Farm layout.

(J Ellacott)

Finito…

 

Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 being pushed through the Gnoo Blas paddock- that’s lanky, slim Jack Brabham with helmet on behind (F Pearse)

The natural or established order of Australian motor racing was shaken up and greatly changed by events over the summer of 1955…

The Ardmore, New Zealand Grand Prix in January was won by Prince Bira’s Maserati 250F from Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze in their matching Ferrari 500/625 3 litre, four cylinder hybrids, Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol and Reg Hunt’s new Maserati 250F engined A6GCM, fifth.

Other Australians who made the trip but failed to finish were Stan Coffey, Cooper T20 Bristol, Lex Davison, HWM Jaguar and Dick Cobden in the Ferrari 125 V12 s/c he acquired from Peter Whitehead after the NZ GP the year before.

Lex Davison being chased by Bira and Tony Gaze at Ardmore, 1955 NZ GP. HWM Jaguar, Maserati 250F and Ferrari 500/625 (thechicaneblog.com)

 

(CAN)

A group of the front running cars at Ardmore in ‘Phil Neill’s showroom a day or two before the race.’

Bira’s 250F and Gaze Ferrari 500 in front with Whitehead’s #2 similar 500, #3 is Reg Hunt’s Maserati A6GCM, #77 Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar, #9 George Palmer’s Mercury powered Palmer Spl, #6 Cobden’s Ferrari 125 and hidden, unfortunately, in the corner Bira’s ‘second-string’ Maserati 4CLT Osca V12 with a Ford Consul providing marvellous context!

 

Tony Gaze warms up his 3 litre Ferrari four with plenty of admiring Kiwis by the Dunedin wharves, Ferrari 500/625, January 1955. Reg Parnell’s Aston Martin DP155 is behind and then an Aston Martin DB3S (unattributed)

 

By the end of the Ardmore weekend, Brabham, buoyed by his speed and his mind filled with ambition, ideas of opportunity and success paid bonuses from trade suppliers in the UK by the visiting RAC’s Dean Delamont- had determined to sell his Cooper and chance his luck in the UK.

Dick Cobden, another of the fast-men in Australia- his dices with Brabham during 1954 had drawn fans to meetings from far and wide, also planned a racing holiday in England in between continuing his stockbroking career in a London brokers office.

‘He was accompanied by mechanic Fred Pearse and the fascinating, frustrating Ferrari (125), and enjoyed some mobile spectating…Cobden hoped to collect the D Type he had ordered, but long delays led to him cancelling the order, and the overseas trip was effectively his farewell to motor racing’ Graham Howard wrote.

Fred Pearse attending to Cobden’s Ferrari 125 (F Pearse)

 

Pat Ratliff and Tony Gaze with Gaze’s Ferrari 500/625- the oh-so-famous ex-Alberto Ascari 1952 and 1953 World Championship winning chassis- one of the ‘winningest’ if not the most, GP cars ever (F Pearse)

But first the travelling circus headed by sea to Sydney and then by road west to the Gnoo Blas road circuit at Orange for the ‘South Pacific Championship’ international held on 31 January. Bira, Whitehead and Gaze then planned to race their cars in South Africa.

Whilst Brabham and Cobden contested Gnoo Blas, Hunt and Davison, Lex the winner of the 1954 Southport AGP did not- Hunt was short of some critical parts for his A6GCM whilst Lex did not make the trip.

Hunt’s pace had always been apparent in Australia and in the year he raced a Cooper 500 in the UK and Europe- with the purchase of  the A6GCM he vaulted over the top of everyone in Australia- the speed of car and driver was THE combination of 1955.

Whilst Lex’ HWM Jag was fast, it wasn’t fast enough nor, despite ongoing development was it sufficiently reliable, it did of course hold together at Southport some months before, the 1954 AGP win was the first of Lex’ four victories in Australia’s premier event.

Davison no doubt showed more than passing interest in his good mate Gaze’s Ferrari 500 in the early months of 1955- a purchase he would consummate later in the summer of 1955-1956 and as a consequence set the standard- along with the local 250F’s of Hunt and Jones and Ted Gray’s bellowing V8 Tornado 2 Ford/Chev in the coming years.

Gaze #4 and Whitehead Ferrari’s getting a tickle- car behind is Bira’s Maserati 250F and at the rear the Broadbent/Haig Hurst Bentley (F Pearse)

In Orange the ‘star cars’ were garaged in a workshop where several of these photographs were taken. The images by Fred Pearse, kindly circulated on social media by Peter Reynell who cared for Fred in his final years, take ones breath away.

Bob Pritchett makes mention in his AMS report of the race, of the OSCA being looked after at Lapham’s Garage in Orange, Mr Lapham was the Chairman of the Orange ‘Cherry Blossom Car Racing Committee’ which staged the event along with the Australian Sporting Car Club. Laphams is most likely the venue of the garage shots.

Tony Gaze Ferrari 500 (F Pearse)

 

Ratliff and Gaze (F Pearse)

Thirty-nine cars entered the 100 mile South Pacific Championship, there were also events for sport and touring cars, a purse of two-thousand five hundred pounds was offered for the feature race, very good money at the time.

The entry included Kiwis Fred Zambucka in the Maserati 8CM he raced in the ’54 AGP and John McMillan’s Alfa Romeo Tipo B- both pre-war machines which were at that stage a little too long in the tooth to be a threat, the race was a scratch event, even if, in a nod to the past, handicap placings would also be awarded.

Jack Murray, Allard Cadillac, Ted Gray aboard Tornado 1 Ford was fitted with the Lou Abrahams developed fuel injection setup for the first time. Tom Sulman had rebuilt his Maserati 4CM after a blow up at Gnoo Blas’ last meeting with parts flown specially from Italy to Sydney. Curly Brydon’s supercharged MG T single-seater special was one of the fastest in the country. Albury’s Jack Seaton entered a Maserati, Jack Robinson his Jaguar Special and Stan Jones had Maybach, a Cooper JAP and his Lancia GT entered- in the end Stan raced only the Lancia .

A special practice session was laid on before breakfast on the Sunday for the benefit of Bira, Gaze and Whitehead but it wasn’t of much benefit to the member of the Thai Royal Family when his Maserati 250F threw a rod after only 3 laps of practice, the car had done some miles in New Zealand, was rather tatty and overdue for a rebuild- this was the precursor to the tragedy which followed involving Iain Mountain and his very clever Mountain Peugeot Special the following day.

Practice itself started after breakfast and continued with breaks through until 5.30pm. No appearances were made by Hunt, Zambucka, Davison, the Jones Cooper 1100, James Barclay Special, the Moy MG Magnette Holden or the Peek MG Q Type.

Both Gordon Greig and Sydney’s Bill Reynolds appeared at the wheel of the Alfa Tipo B Alvis which Greig had only just acquired from Ash Marshall. Cobden’s Ferrari was spewing oil out of its breathers, Gaze’s had clutch and magneto problems and Bira’s crew had work to do on the exotic V12 OSCA’s oil scavenge pumps, so there would be no shortage of midnight oil poured in Lapham’s workshops.

Alf Harvey, ex-Bira Maserati 4CLT Osca V12 aka Osca V12 from Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 at Gnoo Blas during the 1956 South Pacific Trophy – Can’t find a shot of Bira in the car the year before (Gnoo Blas)

 

The ill fated Ian Mountain aboard his neat Peugeot Special, Sulman’s Maserati behind (K Devine)

 

Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol

 

Raceday started at 10.20 am with the ‘KLG Handicap’ for closed cars under 1100cc won by R Long’s Fiat 1100. The 5 lapper for Sports and Closed cars was taken by Jack Myers Holden, was he the ‘King of The Holdens’ at that stage?

Bira’s spare car was his OSCA V12- a marriage of a 4.5 litre, circa 300 bhp OSCA V12 with his old Maserati 4CLT/48 chassis, as noted earlier his crew had been trying to adequately prepare the car the evening before the race.

In the preliminary 5 lap ‘Gnoo-Blas Handicap for Racing Cars’ event it too suffered a major mechanical failure- a scavenge pump, the motor dumped its oil all over the road with Iain Mountain, who was following closely, lost control on the oil, left the road and crashed through a barbed wire fence at Connaghans Corner killing himself and 26 year old Ballan, Victoria, spectator James Young. Several spectators were injured, two of them were admitted to hospital- all were standing in restricted areas.

The MotorSport account is the one above, the Australian Motor Sports report of the race attributes the accident to driver error ‘Ian had been cautious about the corner on which he came to grief and it could be that he was off line to avoid stones thrown up by Curly Brydon’s car, which he was chasing; Curly actually saw him behind, and slowed down, having discussed the corner with Ian and knowing how he felt about it…’

Whatever the case it was a tragic motor racing incident, the ‘lotsa-money superb preparation of car’ Bira days were long gone. Poor Mountain, 26, had only married four months prior to the 1954 AGP weekend at Southport and had only been racing the beautifully built car from its first appearance at Fishermans Bend in early 1954.

Jack Robinson’s Jaguar Special won the race in which Mountain died, the South Pacific Championship for Closed Cars and another similarly titled 14 lap 50 mile race were won by Les Cosh’ Aston Martin DB2 and Bill Kelly’s Jaguar XK120 respectively.

South Pacific Championship…

The main event was delayed by 50 minutes for obvious reasons, with some indecision about the grid- it was to be 4-3-4, then decided to be 3-2-3 given the narrow road and ended up being 3-2-4. What follows is a summary of the AMS race report.

As the flag quivered before dropping, Jack Murray shot his Allard Cadillac between Gaze and Whitehead and led the field out of sight of the hill crest; Gaze somehow managed to get his clutch operational enough for the getaway and almost as soon as the last sound of the last cars had died, Jack Brabham flashed past the pits, his Cooper Bristol a good fifty yards ahead of Whitehead’s Ferrari, then Murray, Gaze, Cobden, and MacMillan in close quarters.

Gaze was past Murray in the next lap, but Cobden’s Ferrari was smoking and retired after 2 laps at Muttons Corner with a cylinder full of water and a bent rod which was shades of the last Orange meeting.

Brabham (K Devine)

 

Murray, Allard Cadillac (K Devine)

 

Tom Sulman, Maserati 4CM

Brabham’s lead was shortlived, it was not many laps before Whitehead was past the Cooper Bristol- but he drew away slowly indeed and, on the fast sweep and slow right angle corner, Brabham was very visibly fastest of any car in the race, drifting the sweep beautifully with all four wheels leaning outwards, braking late and going through Muttons Corner as clean as a knife…

Gaze, hampered by not having a fully operational clutch and only one effective magneto, was not as happy as he could have been.

For some laps there was a good duel between MacMillan in the Alfa Tipo B and Greig in the Alfa Tipo B Alvis, the two red cars looking very impressive as they came around in close company. Jack Robinson and Joe Murray went at it for most of the race, the Jaguar just ahead until towards the finish when he stopped briefly at the pits and lost two laps.

Curly Brydon, always quick and neat, kept hard on Tom Sulman’s hammer, and Bill Wilcox went very well in his green Ford Special until it went bad over a space of 3 laps or so and he retired. Noel Barnes had the ex-Ron Ward MG Special sounding very sweet and healthy even though he was lapped several times by the faster cars.

Finally, the sun well down on the Western horizon, Peter came around grinning and without his crash hat and we knew the race was finished. As Brabham was less than a minute behind at the end he naturally won the handicap, Peter had fastest lap in 2:21.

Peter Whitehead Ferrari 500/625, won from Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, Gaze, Ferrari 500/625, Jack Murray Allard Cadillac, Tom Sulman Maserati, Curly Brydon MG Spl, G Greig Alfa Tipo B Alvis

Whitehead’s top speed was 149 mph, Gaze 147, Brabham 136, Sulman 110 and Brydon’s 115mph.

Cobden about to go out, Sulman readies his Maserati (K Devine)

 

One of the Ferrari 500s at Laphams (F Pearse)

Snippets by AMS’ Bob Pritchett…

‘The 3 litre motors of Gaze and Whitehead have a bore and stroke of 104 x 90 mm and the inlet valve is open for, wait for it, 330 degrees of the revolution…I saw Gaze’s motor stripped later; the valves are simply tremendous, and the pistons are like outsized salmon tins with bumps on them, rods like a short length of RSJ and the five bearing crankshaft a beautiful piece of work’.

Big Muvvas: Weber sand cast 58 DCO’s (F Pearse)

Hunt didn’t race but was present in person ‘…With no Maserati, marooned in Melbourne with a broken back plate. He tried to borrow one of Bira’s spares but received the rather discouraging reply, that he could have them all and the car for 4000 sterling. Slightly different to the Australian approach- Tony Gaze did the race with a magneto coil out of Cobden’s Ferrari for instance.’

Bira’s Maserati 250F (F Pearse)

‘I reaped some sort of macabre delight out of watching the Clerk of Course Daimler steaming around festooned with advertising matter during the wrangle about slogans on cars which resulted in Coffey’s dramatic retirement on the (start)line, masking tape all over Murray’s Allard Cadillac, funny little blobs of green paint on Brabham’s Cooper Bristol and such.’

Stan Coffey’s Cooper Bristol, after a stoush with CAMS about advertising he did not take the start, I see Clive Adams prepared the car. Cobden Ferrari 125 at rear (K Devine)

Etcetera…

(K Devine)

Jack Robinson being push-started in his Jag Special whilst alongside Tom Sulman fettles his Maserati, photo below of Robinson’s Jag XK engine.

(K Devine)

 

#2 Whitehead, Ferrari 500 #4 Gaze’s similar car and #1 Bira’s 250F (F Pearse)

 

Tom Sulman, Maserati 4CM

Bibliography…

MotorSport May 2006 article by Jim Scaysbrook, Australian Motor Sports February 1955 race report by Bob Pritchett

Photo Credits…

Fred Pearse Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection, Allan Dick’s ‘Classic Auto News’, Australian Motor Heritage Foundation, Russell Hawthorn, Doug Chivas Collection

(D Chivas)

Postscript…

Brabham left for the UK in mid-March 1955 after a function held at Jack’s parents home in Hurstville attended by over 100 guests including the Mayor and Mayoress- at that stage he was expected to be away for six months.

It turned out to be rather longer than that of course, the great Australian finally retired from Grand Prix racing at the end of 1970 having been a front runner that season inclusive of one GP win which but for poor luck should have been three- competive to the very end of his long career.

He couldn’t stay away from racing for too long though, by August 1971 he was back in the seat of the Jack Brabham Ford sponsored Bowin P4X Formula Ford and won the ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder from Frank Matich, Kevin Bartlett, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton, Allan Moffat and others.

I think it was his last ever real ‘race win’, 1978 Sandown demo with JM Fangio duly noted?…

(R Hawthorn)

Tailpiece: Smorgasbord of ‘Big Red Cars’…

Whitehead, Cobden, Gaze and Bira, not that his 250F was red (F Pearse)

Finito…