‘Yerd reckon Matich would be able to blow it off wouldn’t you?…

A GTS sure, powered by the little ‘253’ V8 maybe, steel wheels with Belmont/Kingswood hubcaps, lordy. Not to forget the ultimate ‘woggerisation accessory’, without putting too fine a point on it- a black vinyl roof. Yuck, vomitous yuck in fact.

I threatened to leave the house when the old man advised the family over Joan’s finest casserole and ‘smashed spuds that he was getting a vinyl roof affixed to the turret of his metallic mauve/purple HQ Premier- it sounds a toxic colour, it was anything but- sadly, he proceeded as planned. Upon return to Chez Pete & Joan- to copious abuse from my brother and i, he then asked when I would be removing myself from the premises, at fifteen this was not a commitment i felt was legally binding upon my goodself let alone enforceable on his part. To add insult to injury the Ford Fairmont GXL which replaced the ‘haitch-queue’ was similarly equipped- the useless shit one remembers stimulated by a snap.

Matich had a great Lady Wigram Trophy weekend in 1970- he popped his McLaren M10A Chev on pole for the Tasman Cup feature, in front of his similarly mounted arch-rival Graham McRae, and won the race ahead of American Ron Grable in another M10A then Max Stewart’s speedy Mildren Waggott TC-4V.

FM won two 1970 rounds, he took the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe the week before Wigram. He was quick everywhere too- on pole at Pukekohe, Surfers Paradise and Sandown but did not have the consistency of Graeme Lawrence, who, whilst only winning one round took the series with the ‘clockwork reliability’ of the same Ferrari Dino 246T Chris Amon used to win in 1969.

This and the shot below are at Wigram 1970- alongside the hangars here and airborne at The Loop below (E Sarginson)

 

(E Sarginson)

Frank, perhaps fatally, elected to miss the final Kiwi round at Teretonga to get back to Australia to properly prepare for the Australian rounds- specifically to rebuild his (the reports say) only Chev engine which by then had done over 1000 race miles, given he fell five points short of the Kiwi’s total, 1970 could be considered the Matich Tasman which ‘got away’.

’Racing Car News’ reported that the spankers Repco-Holden V8 engine had run on the Maidstone dyno on 24 January and ‘If everything checks out satisfactorily the engine will go straight into the car for the Australian rounds’ That was fanciful or PR bullshit given a 5 litre Holden never been run then, engine ‘RM1’, the first wasn’t tested until February 1970, let alone be offered up to the M10A chassis at this point.

FM never did bag a Tasman Cup despite being one of the quickest guys on track in both his 2.5 litre and 5 litre Tasman sorties. Matich was shy of McRae by four points in 1971, the closest he ever came in a ‘fair fight’ with McRae, both were aboard well developed M10Bs- each racer had five point scoring finishes in the seven rounds that summer, it was a very close run thing.

Back to our vinyl roof, the fellow in the Munro is catching some footage on the Wigram Trophy warm up lap for the local evening teev broadcast, i love the shot, not so much the car’s roof ‘trimmings’ however.

Hey dad, look what I found- Kris and Frank Matich mit brand-spankers yellow painted McLaren M10A Chev at Warwick Farm on or about 13 August 1969. FM’s scooter is a Lambretta- weren’t they distributed by Trojan, manufacturers of McLaren customer racing cars in the UK- did FM bag the local distribution rights?

Frank was a bit shitty with Bruce McLaren after he ordered this car only to find the new M10B was just around the corner.

Derek Kneller packed the car, chassis M10A ‘300-10’  into the plane in the UK and then followed it out to Australia where he, Peter Mabey and Frank modified it to pretty much M10B spec. Derek had built Peter Gethin’s M10B, the first, at McLarens so he had a pretty good idea what the differences in specifications were, and then Frank did enough test laps around Warwick Farm and ‘demo laps’ elsewhere for him to be right on the Tasman Cup pace despite being out of single-seaters for four years.

In the best of company, Warwick Farm 100 grid 14 February 1965. Jim Clark, Lotus 32B, Graham Hill, Brabham BT11A and Matich in last years, but continually developed Brabham BT7A on pole, all 2.5 Climax FPF powered. Clark won from Brabham’s BT11A (on row 2) and Matich. Twelve months later the Matich ‘later sportscar period’ commenced with the Elfin 400 Oldsmobile aka ‘Traco Olds’ (D Williams)

 

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

Lynton Hemer was present at Warwick Farm- Hume Straight on the first weekend Rothmans Team Matich ran the M10A, 6 September 1969.

At team HQ in Castle Cove a Traco built Chevrolet engine using 48IDA Webers was fitted- the Repco Holden F5000 program was to come but it’s still a wee-while away, as we have already covered, the rear engine cover cum wing was fabricated by newbee Derek Kneller who would remain with Matich right to the very end of FM’s racing in mid-1974.

The eagle eyed will pick the Hewland LG600 gearbox is being run at this earliest of stages, the machine being raced outta the box, I dare say the job list after this weekend of racing was one of the lengthy ones for which Frank was famous.

Warwick Farm, September 1969- the white roundel has not yet been applied, the SR4 is aft of the McLaren. Beautifully strong ‘full monocoque’ aluminum chassis is very directly related to Bruce and Robin Herd’s 1968 F1 M7A Ford Cosworth GP winning design- it is an adaption thereof (J Bondini)

That big whoofin’ LG600 was deployed well however, after it was removed from the McLaren it was fitted into the back of the SR4 sportscar FM used to toast the competition during the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship- intended for the 1968 Can-Am both car and engine were hopelessly late so the car remained in Australia instead- the Hewland replaced the ZF transaxle fitted to the SR4, it’s limiting aspect was the degree of difficulty in changing gear ratios, not that the 4.8 litre Repco ‘760’ quad-cam, 32-valve V8 which powered the Sydney built beastie was lacking in torque.

Derek recalls driving, without an Oz drivers licence, the Matich truck to Melbourne together with Tony Williams, a couple of months after his arrival for a meeting at Calder at which both the SR4 and M10A ran- the sportscar was in the truck with the single-seater on a trailer, the next few shots are of that meeting.

(D Kneller)

 

(J Bondini)

Frank at left and Garrie Cooper on the right being interviewed by Ian Wells on that Calder weekend- love to know who the suited gent is on the left?

Derek is leaning on the roll bar, giving the young lass, as we say in polite society, all the attention appropriate, Tony Williams is the other mechanic.

Note that FM is still a Firestone man but his race tyre distribution business was soon to switch to Goodyear to better position himself for the future- that announcement was made just before the Hordern Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm in early December. The race and sporting tyre business was to operate from new premises in Military Road, Cremorne in addition to the existing garage/workshop in Eastern Valley Way, Castle Cove. Note too the McLaren’s wing has changed, more than likely it is a McLaren part and that the engine is still on Webers, not Lucas injection which will be installed before the car crossed the ditch for the first Tasman round at Levin on 3 January 1970.

Oh yes- the car is now two-tone blue, dark at the top an a bit lighter below, the nose of the car has been re-profiled too, it’s not as attractive as the original but doubtless the Heuers proved its on-track superiority.

The element i have not picked up on yet is the ‘pitched battle’ being waged by warring parties about the new Australian National F1 to commence from 1 January 1970.

The choices were to continue with ANF2.5 (highly unlikely) change to 2 litre ‘racing engines’ or go Formula A/5000- this article covers all of these issues- and the design and development of the Repco Holden F5000 engine exhaustively and exhaustingly; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

Matich had a big set of balls in ordering the McLaren when he did as F5000 was not the ANF1 choice at that time- nor was it necessarily the likely outcome when his bank he telegraphically-transferred plenty of ‘Oxford Scholars’ to Trojan Industries- in fact, as the article linked above relates the CAMS announced 2 litre as the future path before doing a back-flip two months later when they then announced a ‘Maccas burger with the lot’ solution of 2 litre/2.5 ‘Tasman’/F5000 with 1970 a ‘phase-in and out period’.

The ever forceful FM played his part in applying pressure to the regulators by backing up his words with actions- to wit, one Formula 5000 racing car in Australia. Note that i have not forgotten Jim Abbott’s Brabham BT23D Oldsmobile ‘F5000 demo car’, a chassis which had been Alec Mildren’s Gold Star winning machine in Kevin Bartlett’s hands, Alfa Romeo 2.5 V8 powered in 1968. Whilst this machine was arguably Australia’s first F5000, lets not forget the Geoff Smedley/Austin Miller Cooper T51 Chev of 1961, without doubt Matich’ was the first ‘real one’ if ‘real one’ is defined as factory bespoke for the class.

My ‘Racing Car News’ collection is incomplete for 1969, but what i think is/was going on in the Calder photos above is that FM did some demo laps during this race meeting (the car is sans number) to demonstrate to the Victorian punters the speed and ‘blood and thunder’ of these big cars.

Ian Wells then ‘interviewed’ drivers Matich and driver/constructor Cooper about their views as to which category they thought was the way to go- as many of you know at that time Elfin had a great, newish race winning design- the 600 which was mighty quick fitted with a Repco Brabham 2.5 V8 or Lotus-Ford twin-cam (or anything else for that matter) so Garrie’s answer to the question is intriguing to ponder!- anybody hear them speak?

(D Kneller)

Amaroo, October 1969, Derek again fettling the demanding temptress.

The rear wing appears the same as that fitted at Calder but the guys are trying to get more front bite- note the very F1 1968’ish chin-wing/winglet and aluminium strips fitted to the leading edge of the front radiator vented outlet- I wonder if that DG300 is fitted yet- she is still on Webers too.

Matich took the car to Sandown on 9 November and easily won a ten lap Formula Libre event from Maurie Quincey’s Elfin 600B Ford F2 car wowing the crowds with the noise and impact of the car and times in the 1:8 second bracket but Frank predicted fours and fives during the Tasman round in the New Year- his estimations proved correct.

(L Hemer)

Roll forward to the Warwick Farm Tasman round over the February 1970 weekend- and who should be back in one of his favourite spots on the approach to Creek Corner but none other than our friend Lynton Hemer.

Note the ABC TV outside broadcast van and marshalls cars in the background- the Peugeot 404 was then a most worthy new car and long before their status as the most worthy ‘Tree-Huggers’ vehicle of choice in the eighties and beyond.

This shot is indicative of ‘300-10’ chassis’ 1970 Tasman mode- note the injected Chev fitted. Kevin Bartlett took a great win that weekend in Alec Mildren’s 2 litre Waggott TC-4V engined Mildren Yellow submarine- the competition for the most ever laps around the Farm would be a toss of the coin between Matich (DNF rear upright), Bartlett and Leo Geoghegan?

Things moved pretty quickly, as ever for Matich from this point.

He and Niel Allen could not race their McLarens in the 1970 Gold Star as F5000s were ineligible that year, the title was for 2 litre and 2.5 litre cars.

Frank already had support from Repco for his SR4 program in terms of provision of a 5 litre for 1970 ‘760’ series engine- John Mepstead built the most powerful of all Repco V8s over the summer of 1969-1970- this ‘big bertha’ gave 558bhp @ 7500rpm in Repco’s Maidstone test-cells.

The SR4 sadly had only a short race life as Matich’ primary Repco program from 1970 was that of works tester/driver of their new Holden-Repco F5000 V8 designed by Phil Irving, assisted by Brian Heard. As part of the reorganisation of priorities Repco acquired the SR4 from Matich, the car became a museum exhibit despite having the pace to win the next several Australian Sportscar Championships!

Frank shipped the M10A to Singapore in March 1970 but slipped off the daunting Thomson Road circuit during a Singapore GP support race, so was unable to contest the GP which was won by Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

A new M10B was soon on its way to Australia, chassis ‘400-10’ was the first of many cars to be fitted with Repco Holden engines. The M10A was repaired around a replacement tub, fitted with a Repco Holden engine then sold and raced by Don O’Sullivan as a second Rothmans Team Matich entry in the 1971 Tasman Series. Don crashed the car badly at Teretonga, twisting the chassis badly, surviving parts were later used in the Jaime Gard designed O’Sullivan financed ‘Gardos Repco’ F5000 car- see here for that story inclusive of photographs not in this piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/30/dons-party-f5000-party/

Matich and M10A Chev in the Thomson Road paddock during the 1970 Singapore GP weekend (E Solomon)

 

Matich and Allen post prang- Niel’s M10B Chev does not look so flash whereas Matich’ car at right looks perfect from this angle at least! Warwick Farm July 1970 (K Matich)

The McLaren M10B arrived in Australia and was soon fitted with its new Repco Holden engine- the story of this motors design and development is told in the first article linked above.

After many practice laps at Warwick Farm the M10B Holden made its race debut at Warwick Farm on the 12 July weekend but the original chassis’ life was very short as it was smote a savage blow in a close encounter with Niel Allen’s similar car in a somewhat bizarre accident during that Australian Touring Car Championship meeting, the race won by Jim McKeown’s Porsche 911S.

The 15 lap F Libre/ racing car event had a great entry including the Mildren duo of Bartlett and Stewart aboard 2 litre Waggott TC-4V powered Mildrens, KB was in sparkling form having raced in USAC events in the US for several months, John Harvey was in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco and Leo Geoghegan in his soon to be 1970 Gold Star winner, Lotus 59B Waggott.

The race commenced with five fantastic laps, Bartlett, Allen, Matich, Harvey and Geoghegan raced nose to tail this was ruined when Bartlett and Garry Rush (Bowin P4A) collided- it was a racing accident but the stupidity of including Formula Fords within a grid of far quicker cars was not lost on the organisers…

So Allen led, after KB was eliminated he but was soon passed by Matich- as Niel made a run at FM into Creek Corner the harmonic balancer on his Peter Molloy Chevy engine broke, shearing a rear brake line, unable to haul the heavy Big Mac up Allen ran into the side of the other M10B creasing the aluminium monocoque badly.

A replacement tub was soon on the way from the UK to ensure not too much time was lost in the important process of developing car and engine prior to the AGP and Tasman Series beyond.

M10A Goodies for sale- the fact that two Chevs are being offered for sale rather suggests that FM had a 1970 Tasman Cup spare motor as one would have expected of a well funded front runner- that being the case why did he not contest Teretonga i wonder?

 

(R Wolfe)

Amaroo Park test of the just rebuilt McLaren M10B fitted with a very early Repco Holden V8.

All hands were on deck this particular day, perhaps before the 13 September 1970 meeting, Ian Messner recalls- Kneller, Peter Mabey walking past the car with that great talent and character Graeme ‘Lugsy’ Adams working on it- Lugs was soon to be a Holden Torana XU1 racer before progressing to the build and driving of his own F5000 ‘Adams’ five or so years hence.

In what racer/journalist and later broadcaster Peter Wherrett described as a ‘Demo Run’ Matich demolished two 1.5 twin-cam engined Rennmax’ raced by Ray Winter and Erol Richardson in a 10 lapper- all important race preparation prior to the AGP at Warwick Farm.

The team travelled to Melbourne in the interim, bolting the latest Repco Holden engine into the car and demolished another F Libre field during the 18 October meeting, on this occasion Bob Jane was second in his McLaren M6B Repco sporty with Ken Hasting’s third in the ex-Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400B, Ford V8 engined i think.

The happy Matich and Repco (blatant bias again hereby declared) ending to this story is that despite not being able to compete in the Gold Star series in 1970 Matich scored a great 22 November AGP win from Niel Allen’s M10B Chev and Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

I’ve now strayed from the M10A intent of this piece, make sure you suss the Gardos link above for more on the M10A- to pick up the McLaren/Matich story to mid-1974 from this point click on this link to an article which covers all of the Matich F5000 years 1969 to 1974; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Matich slices thru the Warwick Farm Esses during his victorious 1970 AGP run- McLaren M10B Repco (R McDonald)

Etcetera…

David Atkinson, Matich M10A Chev ‘Racing Car News’ post Tasman Cup March 1970 cover

 

Trick Goodyear slicks displayed in advance of the 1971 season in this Matich Xmas ad placed in the December 1970 RCN issue

(L Hemer)

After I uploaded the article Lynton got in touch with some more photos of the July 1970 Warwick Farm meeting- the Repco-Holden engine’s race debut and Niel Allen’s involuntary assault on Frank race.

The Esses shot above shows KB leading in the Mildren Yellow Submarine from Allen who has clearly given KB or something or someone else a tap- his right front wing is damaged enough, to make him easier prey to the pursuing Matich. The shot below shoes the two M10Bs- same place with Repco-Holden in front of Peter Molloy-Chev!

(L Hemer)

The shot below is a bit more poignant- it’s Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco 2.5 from a very smokey Glynn Scott, Elfin 600B Waggott TC-4V, the popular Queenslander is not too far from a pit stop or a DNF- sadly he died a fortnight later at Lakeside, 26 July 1970.

(L Hemer)

The photograph below shows one of the Bowin P4A Formula Fords- not sure if it is Garry Rush, staying wide in The Esses as the big boys come through. Max Stewart is ahead of Frank Matich- 2 litre Mildren Waggott and M10B Repco-Holden.

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

This Esses joust is between two new cars- John Harvey’s Bob Britton/Rennmax built, Bob Jane owned Jane Repco V8 and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott TC-4V 2 litre.

Credits…

Bill Pottinger Collection, Euan Sarginson, Getty Images, Lynton Hemer, Derek Kneller, Jay Bondini, Dennis Williams, Rodway Wolfe, Kim Matich, Eli Solomon, Rory McDonald Collection, oldracingcars.com, Racing Car News

Tailpiece…

(J Bondini Collection)

Matich and the M10A Chev on the 1970 Warwick Farm, Tasman Cup meeting promotional poster.

Finito…

 

Comments
  1. Martin says:

    Mark,
    A slight correction, Matich on pole at the 1965 Warwick Farm Tasman race. Frank made a habit of grabbing pole at the Farm with the 2.5 Brabham.
    Yeah, I also detested those vinyl roof conversions, what were they thinking.

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Martin,
      Too much memory and not enough checking and logic!
      Mark

      • Martin says:

        Mark,
        Forgot to thank you for the fab article, and what a top shot of the front row at the Farm.
        That was an easy mistake to make mate, I think Jimmy started in 4 Tasman races at the Farm, and won 3 of them, he was pretty dominant.
        From my dodgy memory, I think Frank Matich was the only local to out-qualify the internationals during the 2.5 era. He was also on pole the previous year in front of Sir Jack.

  2. Rob says:

    Mark,

    With regard to Frank’s 1970 Singapore GP escapade, it is stated above that he “slipped off the daunting Thomson Road circuit during a Singapore GP support race”, however Eli Solomon’s “Snakes & Devils” book states that he “crashed in practice on Thursday” and “was not seen again”. He is not mentioned in the paragraph on the Preliminary support race for the Grand Prix contenders.

    Rob Bartholomaeus

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Rob,
      Doubtless Eli is correct- not sure where my snippet came from, i found it when i wrote the Repco-F5000 monster a couple of years ago. THAT car would have been a huge HANDFUL on THAT circuit!
      In a previous life i was in Singapore regularly for 2 or 3 years and even tho i was well aware of the race/circuit then i never took the time to have a peek. Lost opportunity.
      M

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