Jack Brabham’s tiny Cooper T41 Climax takes on the big Ferrari 555 Super Squalo’s of Peter Whitehead #5 and Reg Parnell #4- to the right is Syd Jensen in another T41, Ardmore, New Zealand Grand Prix 1957…

Jack’s ‘slingshot’ didn’t topple the big guys that weekend but Stirling Moss ‘put the writing on the wall’ with his Argentinian GP Cooper win twelve months hence and by 1959 it was all over-red rover for the big front-engined glorious Grand Prix cars.

Brabham built this car at Coopers late in 1956 racing racing it twice in the UK before shipment to Australia- in the 22 September Oulton Park Gold Cup, DNF, the race won by teammate, Roy Salvadori’s T41, and then the BRSCC F2 race at Brands Hatch on October 14 where he again failed to finish with piston failure, again a T41 headed the field, Tony Brooks was at the wheel of Rob Walker’s car.

Off to the Antipodes he contested the NZ Internationals, the AGP at Caversham in March, and then the Victorian Trophy at Albert Park the following weekend- he then returned to Europe at the end of the summer having sold the car to Alec Mildren.

T41 chassis number ‘F2/P/56′ was fitted with a 1476cc Coventry Climax FWB sohc, two valve engine which gave circa 100 bhp @ 6500 rpm- it was a trend-setter in that it was the first of many, very many Climax engined Coopers to come to Australia. The design and construction progression of these Coopers (T41-T53) is covered in detail here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/04/cooper-t41-43-45-51-53/

Despite giving away 2 litres in engine capacity to the Ferraris, Brabham was third at Ardmore until lap 100 of the 120 lap race when his engine temperature soared and he retired with a burst radiator hose which had fried the Climax engines cylinder head gasket- Parnell won from Whitehead and Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F.

Brabham was Q3 and second at Wigram behind Whitehead, started from pole in the Dunedin Road Race this time finishing second to Parnell and then retired after completing 9 laps of the wild Southland Road Race at Ryal Bush where Peter Whitehead again prevailed.

Brabham at Oulton Park during the Gold Cup weekend, Cooper T41 Climax FWB (MotorSport)

 

Brabham during the 1957 AGP at Caversham in March 1957- behind him is the Fred Coxon driven Amilcar Holden Spl DNF (K Devine)

 

Caversham AGP start 1957- Brabham, Cooper T41 Climax, Davison, Ferrari 500/625, Lukey, Cooper T23 Bristol and Jones Maserati 250F. Car #12 Syd Anderson, Alta GP2, #14 Syd Taylor, TS GMC Special, #8 Tom Hawkes, Cooper T23 Holden- behind him is Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S, #6 Alec Mildren, Cooper T20 Bristol and #5 Jack Myers, Cooper T20 Holden (K Devine)

Off to Perth for the 4 March AGP Jack was third in the scorching hot event behind the 3 litre Ferrari 500/625 of Lex Davison and Bill Patterson and Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F which did that event with its 300S motor.

Then it was back across the continent for the Moomba meeting at Albert Park where the little car contested the 32 lap 100 mile Victorian Trophy Gold Star round finishing second behind Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 and in front of Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S.

Jack then returned to Europe but not before, Graham Howard wrote, driving Ron Tauranac’s new Ralt Vincent at Mount Druitt- i wonder who has a shot of that test day?

Alec Mildren raced the T41 only briefly ‘finding that the chassis kept breaking due to it being too light’ John Blanden wrote- in short order the car was owned and raced by Arthur Griffiths and John Roxburgh before passing to Lyn Archer in Tasmania who raced it very successfully, ultimately with a highly modified Hillman Imp engine, he sold it to buy an Elfin Catalina Ford, a machine he raced for years and is still owned by his family.

The T41 passed through many hands in the decades which followed before Tom Roberts acquired it with David Rapley heading up the restoration of the car, which made its debut at the 2003 Albert Park AGP.

Etcetera…

Australian colours aren’t they?- green with the gold nose, lovely profile shot by racer/photographer David Van Dal at Caversham, ditto below in the paddock.

 

(K Devine)

 

Jack aboard a Cooper T43 Climax FPF 1.5 at Brands Hatch, 8 August weekend 1957, he won both heats of the Rochester Trophy F2 event (unattributed)

Credits…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, ‘Glory Days: Albert Park 1953-58’ Barry Green, ‘Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, sergent.com, Ken Devine Collection, David Van Dal, MotorSport, F2 Index

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Lets go back to where we started, Ardmore 1957, and another cracker of a shot, this time just after the start.

Up front it’s all Ferraris- Ron Roycroft’s 375 V12 from the two four cylinder Super Squalos of Whitehead and Parnell. Then out wide on the left is Jack’s Cooper, the Peter Whitehead owned, fourth placed #18 Ferrari 750 Monza driven by Ross Jensen and far right the HWM Alta I wrote about not so long ago being driven by Tom Clark.

The Cooper T39 Climax Bobtail is Ronnie Moores- to the right of him is the Talbot Lago T26C of Allan Freeman, and then, perhaps, Horace Gould’s #2 250F, whilst in the middle of the pack the unmistakable, regal lines of the Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 raced by John McMillan, the almost as ancient Maserati 4CLT-48 of Pat Hoare is out to the right- alongside him is the Jones 250F. I’ll take advice on the rest…

Click here for an article on the Super Squalo; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ and here for the HWM Alta; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/13/tony-gaze-hwm-alta-new-zealand-1954/

Finito…

Comments
  1. robert king says:

    Mark, I read ‘all over red rover’ just as I was thinking ‘the beginning of the end’. But the wonderful last shot still has a touch of vintage – towards the back of the field you can see the unmistakeable shape of Ron Roycroft’s Bugatti Jaguar. Peter Yendals is the driver – the car remains with Ron’s son, still with Jaguar power. Ron Roycroft is my hero, along with Stan Jones. Could Ron a subject of a Mark Bissett masterpiece in the future? I have plenty of references and photos.

    • markbisset says:

      Hi Bob,
      He pops up in all of the Kiwi articles i do- his career spanned a long time but i don’t have much information about him at all if you can oblige? I have done more NZ stuff in the last 12 months as, a bit like the Bob Williamson page, there are several NZ FB pages which are photograph rich, and there is often ‘crossover’ Oz connections with cars and/or drivers.
      Stay well.
      Mark

      • robert king says:

        Mark, I probably have too much for you digest, re Ron. A wonderful biography and a couple of books on NZ racing in the period. I am awaitng the Ralph Watson book; he was Ron’s engineer – a sort of Charlie Dean. My interest started in my early days of research into Bugatti racing in the period. The name Roycroft kept popping up, not Ron, but his dad who had the first Bugatti in NZ; this lead to a lifetime involvement in Bugattis by the Roycroft family which continues to this day – almost 100 years.

        Ron was a true amateur and succesfully raced a Bugatti, with Jaguar power, when others were driving P3 Alfas, Maseratis, etc. and then drove a P3 when others were in 250Fs, Ferraris etc. And then he had success with an old 375 GP Ferrari against Coopers and others – always battling the odds.

        To quote my ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand, 1920 – 2012’, ‘ in the 1956 New Zealand Grand Prix Roycroft was sixth and the first New Zealander home in a class international field. At Ryal Bush circuit in 1956, on a typically narrow, undulating track, Roycroft was fourth outright and was clocked at a maximum speed of 155mph. Brave stuff!’

        Enough to wet your appetite? – I have plenty of photos.

      • markbisset says:

        Bob,
        It does sound like a great topic- key him into Google and there are some very good National Library Of NZ shots of him. Lets pick the topic up when we meet after the lights are fully back on!
        Mark

  2. Rob says:

    Mark,

    The image captioned “Caversham AGP start 1957…….” includes reference to “#6 Cooper T20 Bristol”. I believe that should read “#6 Alec Mildren Cooper T20 Bristol”.

    Cheers,

    Rob

  3. David E.M. Thompson says:

    That “big Ferrari 555 Super Squalo” would just about fit, end to end, between the axles of the current Mercedes F1 car. And it was only 40″ high, though the driver sat head and shoulders above that 40″. The tiny Cooper had a longer wheelbase than the Ferrari.

    • markbisset says:

      Cheers David,
      It is such a powerful visual of the advantages of the mid-engined layout- perhaps the fairer comparison is the F1 T51 with Dino 246 in 1959 or T53 with Dino in 1960. I would not have expected the Cooper’s wheelbase to be longer but there ya go!
      Mark

  4. Rob says:

    Mark,

    The two colour shots of the Brabham Cooper at the 1957 Australian Grand Prix are credited as being “by racer/photographer David Van Dal”. That’s interesting given that he was a competitor in the race in a Bugatti. You wouldn’t think he would have had the opportunity for such activities, or the energy, given how hot it was that day!

    Rob Bartholomaeus

    • markbisset says:

      Yes Rob,
      He owned and raced some interesting cars and clearly used practice sessions well when he wasn’t on-circuit himself. Ken Devine’s Collection has some great shots by David- mind you, i think i have posted mots of them in a variety of articles, i must check- love his work.
      Mark

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