(L McGrath Collection)

The photographer, Mr McGrath, has composed and executed a brilliant oh-so-wide format shot of the battle for outright honours between Alec Mildren’s leading Cooper T51 Maserati and his pursuer, Lex Davison in his new but old-school, glorious front-engined Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre during the 1960 Australian Grand Prix.

The shot really has drama doesn’t it?

The action is framed by the crowd in both the foreground and background, half of them are sun-smart- love the ‘coolie-hats’ (am I allowed to say that these days?) but my favourite headgear is the ‘Cockie’ to the left in the worn Akubra. Checkout the two ‘thrill-seekers’ atop the Castrol sign filming the action- hopefully there was no involuntary swan-dive before the end of the race. Marvellous shot despite the flat as a tack ex-airfield terrain McGrath had to work with.

The other shots herald the death of Lotus 12 Lycoming ‘351’ aka ’Sabakat’ in a preliminary event after the fearless Ern Tadgell lost control of one of the biggest piles of merde ever allowed through a scrutiny bay in this country.

The inspecting fellas must have misplaced their guide dogs that day even if I try to apply the standards of the day which were far less risk averse than in the litigious lilly-white politically correct world in which we live today.

(L McGrath Collection)

 

(AAA)

Crop duster pilot/entrepreneur Tadgell had wedding tackle of porn-star proportions to drive the Lycoming aero-engined monster he created from the delicate little flower imported from England, but in the end the laws of physics got the better of him- either a rear hub broke or the car ran wide on a corner, it then rolled, throwing Ern clear whereupon the whole lot burned to death in a conflagration Guy Fawkes would have been happy with. Tadgell, thankfully and luckily, lived to fight another day in an exciting life lived to the absolute full.

(AAA)

 

(L McGrath Collection)

‘Far-canal, what are we going to do with it now!?’ seems to be the issue at hand.

Digger at right awaits instructions, which are just about to be provided by the ‘fog-horn’ wielding Queensland Racing Drivers Club official in blazer and tie (must have been hot in that). The lean fella at left in the white overalls appears to be a crew-member, he is holding a cast iron brake rotor which has survived as has the steel spaceframe chassis, or parts of it anyway.

You can see the rear of the chassis frame- it is upside down with the rear facing us. There are a couple of driveshafts and remains of wheels, a fuel tank at right, a coil spring and the remains of some of the torn fibreglass bodywork. The Lycoming 7.86 litre six cylinder engine was constructed mainly of light alloy, so it, and the Cheshunt made cast components melted in what was a decent old bonfire.

Whilst the wreck was deemed beyond economic repair back then many a modern ‘rebuild’ has started with far less than this, a nose badge or vinyl decal will do. As you will see from the Sabakat story attached Graham Howard would have been delighted to have had these discarded, very well heat-tempered chassis parts when he chased the remains of this car in the early seventies before building the faithful replica we all know and love today; https://primotipo.com/2019/08/22/just-add-lightness/

(L McGrath Collection)

 

(AAA)

Mildren and Davison race to the line- in the end the 2.5 litre Maserati four triumphed over the brawny 3 litre Aston Martin six in that final sprint, a well deserved win for Alec, this time Davo’s famous AGP luck did not not quite hold by half cars length, with the epitome of a sportsman gallant and generous in defeat. Click here for a full report of the race towards the end of this feature on Mildren’s Cooper; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Credits…

Lindy McGrath Collection, ‘AAA’- Aussie Automotive Archives

Race Footage (no sound)…

Tailpiece…

(L McGrath Collection)

It burned and burned, famously, the start of the AGP was delayed so much that Alec Mildren was able to repair his Cooper’s broken driveshaft in time to take the start- and subsequently win the race.

Ernie was a very lucky boy that day but that car…

Finito…

Comments
  1. robert king says:

    Mark, it would appear that a couple of decent fire extinguishers would have saved the Sabakay.

    B

  2. Rob says:

    Mark,

    I am intrigued by the choice of cars for the cover of the 1960 AGP Programme, as shown above. The inclusion of Len Lukey’s No. 5 Cooper T45 is fair enough given that he was the reigning “Gold Star” champion, but the No 54 Taraschi Formula Junior is a rather obscure car. Looking at https://www.newspapers.com/clip/16161150/ram-taraschi-australia-140959/ and https://web.archive.org/web/20121003060835/http://members.optusnet.com.au/dandsshaw/images/results/races59.htm it would seem that American Rod Carveth entered but did not start the 1959 NSWRRC at Bathurst in a No. 54 Taraschi. Someone must have been very impressed by the little jigger!

    Rob Bartholomaeus

    • markbisset says:

      Hi Rob,
      To be honest the program cover was a filler, I took no notice of the cars.
      Looking at it thoughtfully a decent graphic designer has produced a nice clear format with plenty of clear space- the images were probably chucked at him or her by the organising club.
      In 1959 the standout FJs were the Stanguellini (especially) and Taraschi both of which have genuine lust factor, forgotten the name of the bloke in Melbourne who has a Stanguellini but I am always drawn to it at meetings, think I might have done an article about them a while back.
      An obscure choice? yep- an informed one too!
      Stay well over there.
      Greetings from Mexico- we are not top of the pops @ present.
      Mark

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