Archive for January, 2021

(B King Collection)

Geoff Hine’s Bugatti T23 Brescia is shown above during a meeting held on November 27, 1954.

The Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club used a stretch of road at Collinsvale, 20km north-west of Hobart for ‘demonstrations of durability and speed’ as early as October 26, 1924, it is still in use.

On that day the fastest time was set by K Sutherland aboard a 2 3/4 horsepower BSA- the smallest bike entered. ‘A word of praise is due to this young rider, for he is only a beginner’ The News reported. ‘The races were over a distance of a mile, in which there were a number of nasty bends, but except for a few minor accidents, all the events were disposed of satisfactorily.’

Hine raced the Bugatti at various Tasmanian venues including the Brighton Showgrounds where ‘long straights and wide grassy corners were perfect for high speeds’ in November 1953. At Longford he did 23.22 seconds during a Light Car Club acceleration test in May 1954.

T23 chassis ‘2467’ was owned by Herbert Hine for many years. His grandson, Michael Dunbabin, recalls the car in his Darcy Street, South Hobart home garage along with ‘Some old Bentleys and a Rolls Royce. As kids we used to jump up into the Rolls and play with all of the levers and buttons- it was such fun in that dusty, dark garage full of old cars and loads of stuff he bought at the Burns Mart auctions.’

‘After Geoff had finished racing the car it was restored to perfection over many years by my grandfather. He was really skilled, he worked for the Hobart Marine Board as a fitter and turner. He eventually moved from Hobart back to Bacchus Marsh in Victoria where he was brought up. On his death the Brescia passed to his sons, Geoff and Warwick.’

See here for a feature on Brescias, more detail on the Hine car to come; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/27/country-spin/

‘The News’ Hobart 27 October 1924

Etcetera…

I’ve included this November 3, 1951 article published in the Launceston Examiner I found fishing for information on Collinsvale.

That the newspaper felt the need to explain the history of motor racing is perhaps indicative of the local populace’ knowledge of our sport at the time. The piece makes clear the need for a racetrack in the Apple Isle. The use of Longford from 1953 and construction of Baskerville in 1958 and Symmons Plains in 1961 would solve the problem of course.

I note the article records the first road race in Tasmania as taking place in May 1911 and won by JK Heritage, does anybody have more information on this event?

Valleyfield is covered tangentially in this piece on Quorn Hall; https://primotipo.com/2020/12/17/quorn-hall-tasmania/

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Michael Dunbabin, The News

Finito…

 

 

 

 

(D Simpson)

John Harvey in Bob Jane’s McLaren M6B Repco-Brabham V8 nailing Warwick Farm’s Esses on May 2 1971.

The late Australian champion, who died on December 20, 2020, raced so many different cars during a career from fifties speedway to noughties historic racing gave a big editorial challenge, what photograph to choose for the opening shot.

Dick Simpson’s shot took my breath away when i first saw it five years ago, it still does. A marvellous car being driven with precision was the John Harvey style- he won the 1971 and 1972 Australian sportscar championships with it. He applied plenty of brio albeit in a precise, economic kinda-way. Piece on the car here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/09/sandown-sunrise/

In the weeks that followed the death of a man universally respected and liked a swag of photographs hitherto unseen popped up on social media. Treat this as a visual tribute to John rather than a distillation of a career well known to many of us. The shots play to my bias, racing and sports-cars.

(A Howard)

Aboard the McKay Offenhauser at the Sydney Showgrounds in the early sixties.

(S Dalton Collection)

Ron Phillips gave John the opportunity to transfer from speedways to circuits with a Cooper S prepared by the gifted, and soon to be great Peter Molloy. They won plenty of races in 1965-6.

WF Pit Straight (K Starkey)

 

Peter Molloy, Leo Geoghegan and JH @ WF (K Starkey)

 

JH, Peter Molloy and BT14. Elfin Catalina behind, what is car #6? Cooper (K Starkey)

When Bib Stillwell retired from racing, his fourth Gold Star in his pocket at the end of 1965 he sold the lot, including his beautifully prepared, lightly raced Brabham BT14 Lotus-Ford twin-cam ANF 1.5 to Phillips for Harves to drive.

The fast, forgiving little jigger was initially raced at 1.5-litres, John won that years ANF 1.5 title, but the engine was gradually taken to 1860cc at which capacity Harvey gave the slower 2.5s a serious run for their money.

The three shots above were taken by Ken Starkey at Warwick Farm’s May 1966 meeting.

(B Simpson)

It was obvious to all that John’s rightful place was amongst the big boys so a Repco-Brabham 2.5-litre 640 (or 740?) V8 was acquired to pop into the little BT14.

Peter Molloy went to the Repco Brabham Engines Maidstone factory to help assemble the engine. With Rennmax’ Bob Britton leading the charge, Bob and Peter fitted the Repco V8 and beefier Hewland HD gearbox into the spaceframe chassis designed for an in-line small four.

It all sounds easy enough (sic), but it took a while to get the suspension geometry, springs/shocks/bars right, a process not assisted by the Repco’s haughty, flighty behaviour. This phenomena seemed to affect most Tasman 2.5 customers to a greater or lesser extent.

By the middle of the year Harves was happy with the car. Simpson’s shot above is the finest of it on a circuit where the snapper had bugger-all decent background to work with. JH is in the process of winning Oran Park’s Diamond Trophy feature in September 1967.

Ron Phillips, arch enthusiast that he was, found the cost of racing at the top level expensive. His desire to exit the sport was contemporaneous with Spencer Martin’s retirement plans at Bob Jane Racing.

And so it was that Harve’s slender frame replaced the similarly svelte Martin in Jano’s BT11A Climax in the December 1967 Hordern Trophy Gold Star event at Warwick Farm. There, John was second aboard the car with which Spencer had just won his second Gold Star on-the-trot behind Frank Gardner’s ‘spankers Mildren Racing Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo 2.5 T33 V8.

JH in Bob Janes BT11A Repco 740 crossing WF’s Causeway during the February 1968 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round (D Simpson)

 

John Harvey, Brabham BT23E Repco 740 from Kevin Bartlett, Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 at Mount Panorama early in the Easter 1968 Gold Star meeting before John’s bad accident (G Toughill Collection)

Jane also bought the Brabham BT14 Repco from Phillips in a deal within the Shell Racing fold. Even though Harvey was at the end of Repco development dramas with the BT14 Bob decided to fit the Repco V8 sitting in it into the BT11A in place of its Climax 2.5 FPF. Maybe the slightly older BT11A frame was beefier than the BT14 but otherwise the plan sounds bonkers to me. Surplus to requirements, the BT14 was sold.

Harvey raced the BT11A Repco in the 1968 Australian Tasman Cup rounds, predictably, without much success. Bob Jane had a New Years present for John in the form of Jack Brabham’s ’68 Tasman mount, the Brabham BT23E Repco.

The thing nearly killed Harvey though. Despite the new car having only raced at the Surfers Paradise, Warwick Farm and Sandown Tasman rounds, a rear upright broke in practice for the opening Gold Star race of the year at Bathurst over the Easter 1968 long weekend.

John survived but was out for the year. Jane, typically, looked after him and popped him back in the car at JH’s request, a tad early really, that December. John again contested the Oz Tasman rounds and then raced the car through 1969 and into early 1970. Piece on the BT23E here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

JH BT23E Repco 830 at the right-hander before the Western Crossing. WF Tasman round, February 1970. These combination engine cover cum wings were common in F1 in 1969 post the Monaco GP hi-wing ban (D Simpson)

 

WF Tasman as above- from the Dunlop Bridge. Front wings @ stall? (D Simpson)

Jack Brabham’s two ex-works RBE830 V8’s (ex-Brabham BT31 two-race 1969 program) provided a bit more mumbo than the earlier spec 740, and the chassis was evolved with high and low wing-body packages as the rules pertaining thereto evolved. A bit like the Gardner/Bartlett BT23D, a BT23E photographic evolution from the ’68 Tasman to mid-1970 would make interesting viewing and give us all an understanding of the forces at play that the bigger local outfits were dealing with.

KB’s speed in 1968 carried him to his first Gold Star in BT23D Alfa and then on into 1969 when the superb Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ powered by the Alfa 2.5 V8, and then the first Waggott 2-litre TC-4V engine late in the season.

Dick’s BT23E Forrest Elbow Mount Panoarama closeup during the Bathurst Easter 1970 meeting. Right at the end of its frontline career. Loved Harve’s Peter Revson inspired helmet (D Simpson)

Harvey’s best result was a win from pole at Sandown in September and second at Bathurst, a year after ‘his biggie’. He was quick everywhere, but the Repco shat-itself at Symmons, Mallala and Surfers Paradise. At Warwick Farm he boofed the car and did not start the Hordern Trophy. He was equal fourth in the title chase with Niel Allen, behind Bartlett, Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco and Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott.

By this stage of the game Bob and John realised they needed a new car. Bob Britton knew BT23E well having repaired it after Harveys ‘biggie’ and Allan Moffats ‘littleie’ at Sandown when a wheel parted company going up the back-straight. Given 1970 was the last year in which the 2.5s were Gold Star kosher, Jane engaged Britton to build an ‘updated BT23E’.

His brief was to address the suspension geometry- the width and profile of the Firestones Harvey used in late 1969 were quite different from the Goodyears Ron Tauranac had in mind when he whacked together BT23E in late 1967. The bodywork and wing-package was evolved and a tube or three inserted here and there to stiffen things up a bit.

JH McLaren M6B Repco, Mallala October 1970 (J Lemm)

 

JH, Jane Repco 830 during the October 1970 Mallala Gold Star round. DNF suspension, Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott won the race and series. Nice Stobie pole behind best avoided (J Lemm)

Time is of the essence of course. Harvey’s 1970 Gold Star assault was cruelled a bit with a ‘Jane Repco’ that had insufficient testing time. Mind you, Garrie Cooper could play the same card as to his Elfin 600D Repco, one of his sexiest cars. So too could Leo Geoghegan, but once the Waggott 2-litre was popped into the back of Leo’s new Lotus 59B he had reliability he needed to lift a trophy he thoroughly deserved.

Bartlett was in the US for much of that year so the standard-setter of the last two years was ‘AWOL’, providing an opportunity for the rest. Leo won the title with two wins from six rounds with Max Stewart second and Harvey third- both also took two rounds. Harvey won at Symmons Plains and Sandown. He used BT23E in Tasmania and the Jane Repco from Lakeside where he was second but was 2 laps adrift. At Oran Park he was sixth, his fuel pump failed at the Farm and he had suspension failure at Mallala. Article on the 1970 Gold Star; https://primotipo.com/2019/07/05/oran-park-diamond-trophy-gold-star-1970/

JH, Brabham BT36 Waggott, AGP 1971 Warwick Farm Esses (L Hemer)

Bob Jane never allowed grass to grow under his feet. The Jane Repco was sold sans-engine and had an after-life as an F2 car. At around the same time he placed orders for a Brabham BT36 F2 car and a Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000 from John Joyce.

By the time the BT36 arrived and was fitted with a 2-litre Waggott the car was an also-ran as the F5000s by then- the ’72 Tasman, had reliability, sorta, as well as pace.

John raced it in the November 1971 AGP at Warwick Farm (Q3! DNF broken exhaust) and then at ‘home’ Sandown where Q12 and seventh was the yield.

When the Bowin P8 was ready during 1972 the Brabham was sold to Denis Lupton and Ian Cook, sadly Cook died in the car at Sandown in a practice accident in 1973.

John rated the ‘radical’ rising, or variable rate suspension, sinfully sexy Lotus 72 inspired oh-so-compact Formula 5000 car. If you can sense my Bowin bias your emotional intelligence is finely tuned.

JH Bowin P8 Repco from John Walker’s similarly engined Matich A50 in Warwick Farm’s Esses on 30 September 1972 (D Simpson)

Bob Jane Racing’s primary sponsor was Castrol. Most dumb-arse punters liked/like taxis, so Castrol liked taxis. Bob Jane Racing’s best cars (the P8 and M6B) were put to one side and the taxis were given an extra cut and polish.

So we- Jane, Harvey, Bowin’s John Joyce and open-wheeler nutbags never got to see the P8’s full potential. As factory built by Joyce and his team the it was a beautifully integrated bit of kit.

It is ironic that the driver who did the most to establish the Bowin marque, the great John Leffler also, unintentionally, did the P8 the ‘most harm’.

Leffo was mighty quick in two Bowin P4A Formula Fords in 1971-2 then won the 1973 Driver to Europe Series in a rising-rate P6F. He was potentially the F2 Championship winner in 1974 in a rising-rate P8 but the car arrived late. That’s not quite right. He had the car early and then booked it early in the season requiring a rebuild around the ex-Jane P8 tub. When Joyce and Leffler sorted it mid-year it was a jet.

For 1975 John bought a cheap Chev F5000 engine to the by then rebuilt P8 he crashed at Amaroo early in 1974. His team adapted the motor to a car designed for a Repco-Holden. The tight lines of the original were buggered by exhausts up in the airstream and outsized radiators. Worst of all, the critical mating of engine to chassis gave the thing the rigidity of a centenarians-todger so the package handled badly. It nearly won the 1975, wet Surfers AGP mind you, but the reputational damage was done. Leffo went off and bought a Lola T400 and bagged a Gold Star.

Gawd! Wot mighta-been had Bob Jane Racing developed that car with Harvey at the helm!

(D Simpson)

A few touring cars to finish off.

JH was quick in everything, depending on the year he may have jumped between Brabham, McLaren and a Mustang or Holden Monaro or Torana during the same weekend. Such a lucky man, what a diet.

Here it’s Jane’s second Mustang, the thing which was born as a ‘390’ but is here running at 4.7 or 5-litres during the September 1969 Mallala Australian Touring Car Championship round.

(L Hemer)

The most hunky Sports Sedan of all was Jane’s John Shepard built Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco-Brabham RBE620 4.4-litre V8. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

Lynton Hemer has caught John at Oran Park in 1971 in the short period the high-wing was run. It upset CAMS so was removed.

(A Lamont)

At the December 1974 Baskerville meeting in the B&D Autos Holden Torana L34 5-litre V8.

(M Thomas)

Harvey and hard-man Allan Grice extend their Holden Torana A9X 5-litre cars during the Wanneroo Park, Perth ATCC round in May 1979. Car #87 is Ric Rossiter’s Torana L34.

Peter Brock won the race in the other Holden Dealer Team car, Harvey was second and Grice third. Bob Morris won the title in Ron Hodgson’s A9X.

(M Thomas)

 

(oldracephotos.com/Jenkins_

Harves blasts the Group A Holden VK Commodore 5-litre around the 3.3km Wellington Harbour track in 1987.

He and Neil Lowe were second in the first World Touring Car Championship round from their Peter Brock/Allan Moffat Holden Dealer Team teamates. It was a most impressive performance with most of Europe’s Group A topliners contesting the event.

Etcetera…

(B Pearson)

JH in Ron Phillips’ BT14 Repco 740 during 1967, circuit unknown.

(S Dalton Collection)

No time to wave to Ron MacKinnon as John plunges past his ‘Mountford’ property on the run down to the Viaduct during the very wet final Longford in March 1968. Not a place for the faint of heart at any time let alone in the pissin’ rain. Brabham BT11A Repco.

(K Bright)

Harvey in BT23E returning to the Sandown paddock during the September 1969 Gold Star meeting, an event he won. A good win too, from Bartlett’s Sub and Niel Allen’s McLaren M4A Ford FVA. That’s Henk Woelders’ Elfin 600B Ford behind.

Credits…

Dick Simpson, Alan Howard, Ken Starkey, John Lemm, Ken Bright, Geoff Toughill Collection, Lynton Hemer, Slim Lamont, Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com, Murray Thomas, Bill Pearson

Tailpiece…

On the dummy grid at Phillip Island historics not so many years ago at all. I wonder what he made of a return-bout with a car he loved in-period despite a race program which was pretty short. Brabham BT36 Waggott 2-litre TC-4V.

Finito…

(unattributed)

Stan Jones pressing on aboard his HRG 1.5 s/c ‘Bathurst’ during the January 2, 1950 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Nuriootpa, South Australia.

Stanley had a rush of blood during a preliminary event. He was engaged in a torrid dice for the lead with fellow Melbourne purveyor of fine automobiles, Bill Patterson, as a consequence both ‘cooked’ their machines. Stan didn’t take the AGP start and Patto retired his MG TC Spl from the feature with head gasket failure.

Click here for an article on this AGP including the HRG; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/10/1950-australian-grand-prix-nuriootpa-south-australia/ and here on Patto; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/02/patto-and-his-coopers/

More Jones, I know. This photo came from a mate of a mate who snapped the print of the HRG on the wall of a most discerning Murray Bridge, South Australia bakery!

Credits…

Love to know who the snapper is, Geoff Harris and Stuart Bowes, State Library of South Australia

Stan’s HRG in the Nuriootpa paddock. Note the hacking of the bodywork necessary to accommodate the blower and associated plumbing (SLSA)

Finito…

WB during practice (B Henderson)

Warwick Brown was the star of the show but didn’t win the AGP thanks to the failure of a crankshaft torsional vibration damper in the Peter Molloy tweaked Chevy V8 of his Lola T332.

To a large extent I covered this meeting in an article about Lella Lombardi a couple of months ago but the release of these photographs by photographer/racer Bryan Henderson made it clear that a second bite of the cherry was a good idea. See the Lella piece here; https://primotipo.com/2020/09/07/tigress-of-frugarolo/

Brown was the ‘form driver’. He was the first Lola T332 customer, he raced ‘HU-27’ throughout the 1974 Tasman Cup, then did the first Gold Star round at Oran Park before heading to the US to take in three US F5000 Championship rounds in which the Lola/Molloy/Brown/Pat Burke combination were extremely competitive.

WB was Q7, second in heat and 11th overall at Ontario, Q12, fourth in his heat and fifth overall at Laguna Seca and  then finished his tour with Q9, second in his heat and third overall at Riverside. It was not bad at all coming into their season ‘cold’ in the sense that four rounds had been contested by the time WB and Peter Molloy arrived. Brown came back to Australia razor sharp, those at the front in the US included Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, James Hunt, Al Unser and Bobby Unser, David Hobbs, Vern Schuppan and the rest.

Teddy Yip, WB and another in the OP paddock (B Henderson)

 

KB T332 from Max T330 (B Henderson)

Max Stewart was well prepared. His Lola T330, ‘HU1’, the very first development machine raced a couple of times in England by Frank Gardner in late 1972 before its sale to Max, gave nothing away to anybody. It was increasingly reliable to match the speed present from tits debut in Max’ hands at the start of the ’73 Tasman Cup.

Graeme Lawrence raced his T332 in the 1974 Tasman whereas Kevin Bartlett’s was a newer car, first raced at Oran Park. KB had a shocker of a Tasman. A crash at the Pukekohe NZ GP opening round broke the car and a leg and hip, but he would be on the pace having built up a car around a new Lola T332 tub.

Graeme Lawrence, Lola T332 Chev with a Birrana in the background (B Henderson)

 

Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden (B Henderson)

The Elfin MR5s were now long in the tooth having first raced in mid-1971.

John McCormack was back in his given the unreliability and lack of power of the Repco-Leyland V8 fitted to the compact Elfin MR6. Mac, the reigning champion had a shocker of a 1974 Gold Star, an accident at Surfers due to a structural failure ensured he missed the Calder round while repairs were effected to the front bulkhead.

McCormack ‘re-possessed’ his MR5 for the AGP. 1973 Australian Sports Car Champion Phil Moore had driven the car throughout the Gold Star with good pace and reliability despite few test miles. In fact he was the best placed of the Ansett Team Elfin pilots that year, ending the season third despite missing the final two rounds at OP and Phillip Island.

Garrie Cooper was still racing his MR5 which was a mobile test-bed for the talented designers new ideas.

The MR6 became a competitive car when the Repco-Holden engine was fitted and the front suspension geometry revised. Whilst 50kg heavier than the aluminium Leyland, the Repco-Holden’s 520 bhp was not to be denied, Mc Cormack won the 1975 Gold Star racing this combination.

McCormack’s Elfin MR5, 1973 Gold Star Champion  (B Henderson)

 

Jon Davison working his Matich A50 Repco-Holden hard- look at the distortion of those Goodyears. A man very much on the pace when he acquired a T332 (B Henderson)

Matich standard bearers were Jon Davison’s ex-John Walker A50 Repco, chassis ‘004’ was the car Walker raced in the 1973 L&M. John Goss raced Frank Matich’ 1974 Tasman car, chassis ‘007’ the very last Matich built. This A53 was a sensational device, A51/53 ‘005’ won the 1976 AGP in Goss’ hands at Sandown.

The A53 JG used to win at Sandown was the car raced by Lella Lombardi at Oran Park during this 1974 weekend. Then in A51 spec, it was one of the two chassis raced by Matich in the 1973 US L&M F5000 championship. The other, for the sake of completeness, ‘006’, was destroyed in a Warwick Farm testing accident in A52 spec with Bob Muir at the wheel in later 1973.

Lombardi had a big year of F5000 racing in Europe. Her primary campaign was aboard a Shellsport Lola T330 Chev. Late in the year she ran in the US and Australia when promoters could see the value in a ‘crowd-pulling chick’ amongst the fellas.

The ‘Tigress of Turin’ did not disappoint in Australia despite racing an unfamiliar car. Her crew included Frank Matich and later multiple Gold Star champion Alfie Costanzo as interpreter.

I don’t think anybody was going to beat WB at this meeting had he finished but I could easily see how Lella could have been on the podium especially if she were aboard her own T330, but it stayed in the UK.

Lombardi sitting on Matich tub ‘005’ during practice (B Henderson)

 

(B Henderson)

Gloomy faces all round in the Goss camp. The Repco engine has run a bearing, without a spare JG is out for the weekend. The dude in the white T-shirt is Repco’s, or perhaps ex-Repco by then, Don Halpin. The fella with his back to us is Grant O’Neill who moved across with the A53 from Matich to Goss as FM wound down his operation in Cremorne. Grant looked after Goss’ open-wheelers and Falcons for some years.

Warwick Brown was predictably quick in all sessions. After he did a 65.3, the team packed up and left the circuit but crafty Max bolted on a set of British Goodyears and nicked pole late in the final session with a 65.2. Bartlett was third on the grid with 65.9 with Lombardi fourth hampered by clutch failure. She finally did some decent laps stopping the Accusplits at 67.0 dead.

The grid was a very skinny nine cars. John Leffler made the cut with his gorgeous, very fast Bowin P8 Ford-Hart 416B ANF2 car. As mentioned above Goss lost an engine with bearing failure in the morning warm-up.

From left- Lombardi, Brown, Bartlett, Stewart and a glimpse of McCormack (HAGP)

From the off WB led convincingly all the way to his engine failure on lap 50. Lombardi got a great start and led the two amigos, Bartlett and Stewart but both passed the pint-sized Italian by the end of the first lap.

So it was Brown, Stewart, Bartlett with Lombardi and McCormack falling back, then Lawrence, Davison, Cooper and Leffler. After about 15 laps KB passed Max, aided by the Jolly Green Giant’s broken rear roll bar mount and stripped second gear- the latter damage was done at the start.

Leffo gave Garrie Cooper heaps in the little Bowin, well suited to Oran Parks new ‘twiddles’ with John well aware of the MR5’s strengths and areas of opportunity having done a few races in Max’s MR5 late in 1973. Lombardi caught Stewart but the big fella strenuously resisted her passing manoeuvres, then on lap 47 her oil pump failed causing the Holden engine to seize.

Bartlett from Stewart (B Henderson)

 

John Leffler, Bowin P6 Ford-Hart ANF2. Leffo did a million race miles in this car in 1974, all of the F2 championship rounds where he was amongst the class of the field headed by the Leo Geoghegan and Bob Muir Birrana 274/273, and the Gold Star rounds giving Grace Bros plenty of exposure and racegoers much pleasure given his brio behind the wheel (B Henderson)

 

Lombardi, Matich A51 Repco (B Henderson)

Two laps later WB’s harmonic balanced was hors ‘d combat which gave Kevin Bartlett the lead. For a while the Australian Triple Crown seemed possible- the Gold Star, Bathurst and an AGP. Then, on lap 58 of 61 laps KB’s Lola was starved of fuel, the T332’s pumps were not picking up the last 13 litres of juice!

Stewart took the lead, and despite his machine’s disabilities, won the race from McCormack’s, Elfin MR5, Graeme Lawrence’s T332, a lap down with an engine not at its best, then Jon Davison’s Matich A50 Repco and Garrie Cooper’s MR5 Repco- five finishers. There was no future in AGP’s being run other than during our summer internationals, whatever the formula, to get decent grids.

WB was ‘man of the match’ but lucked out, Lola T332 Chev (B Henderson)

Brown was the man of the meeting, getting back on the Lola horse which nearly killed him (a T300 Chev) at Surfers Paradise in 1973 was mighty impressive. WB carried the momentum forward, winning the 1975 Tasman Cup in this car, the only Australian to do so. He did get an Oran Park AGP win in 1977 too, on the day Alan Jones pumped the start bigtime.

It was a pity Lombardi didn’t return to Australasia for the 1975 Tasman but she had bigger fish to fry. Funding was in place so it was F1 in 1975 as a member of the March team together with Vittorio Brambilla.

Max Stewart takes the chequered flag, with barely a soul to see. What Covid 19 friendly meeting! Not really, just no spectators in that part of the world.

Stewart was like a fine wine wasn’t he, he got better and better with age? He was not exactly in the first flush of youth when he got the second Alec Mildren seat with Kevin Bartlett in late 1968. He won his first Gold Star in 1971 in the Mildren Waggott and then took to F5000 like a duck to water.

His Oran Park win was his fifth 1974 Gold Star victory in a row. It won him the title. Maybe he was lucky to win the AGP in the pissing rain at Surfers twelve months hence but those in front of him dropped out with drowned electrics. Max, who prepared his car together with Ian Gordon had electrics which functioned, that is, he made his own luck.

Etcetera…

(B Henderson)

Poor Susie Ransom (?) is trying to interview KB who is more interested in a glass of Pophry Pearl at the Leppington Inn after the meeting. Commonsense then prevailed with questions about tyre pressures, wing settings and roll-bar stiffness addressed.

(B Henderson)

 

(B Henderson)

Teddy Yip was omnipresent throughout the weekend. Here he is pointing out the Matich tacho-telltale in Mandarin. Lella’s English was not flash, I doubt Mandarin was effective so they probably settled with English.

Teddy was getting the lie of the land and perhaps starting to think about the deal which saw him bring a Lola T332 to Australia for our 1976 Rothmans International. Vern Schuppan raced a Yep/Sid Taylor Lola T332 to victory that summer.

(B Henderson)

Goss with his team bemoaning the bearing failure in his Repco-Holden engine, he knew a thing or two about that particular affliction didn’t he? Blazing the Falcon GT Hardtop Group C path in 1973 gave plenty of bottom end dramas which was eventually sorted with an engineering solution which met the good graces of the CAMS.

(B Henderson)

The Elfin MR5 is a bit maligned in some quarters. The most highly developed of the four cars built was John McCormack’s ‘works’ machine which won the 1973 Gold Star as well as the New Zealand Grands Prix in 1973 and 1974 despite Mac first racing it in later 1971.

(B Henderson)

 

(B Henderson)

So near but so far, Bartlett had the ‘Triple Crown’ of Australian motor racing chance but it was not quite to be!

He won a heat at Surfers and had the second in the bag until a front tyre deflated. In a season where he showed the Pukekohe accident had not cost him a tenth, he was second to Stewart at Calder and Sandown and then took victory at Phillip Island’s last round after a great dice with Stewart.

(B Henderson)

Lella ready to boogie.

Credits…

Bryan Henderson, many thanks for the fantastic photographs.

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Others, Getty Images, Fairfax Media

Tailpiece…

(B Henderson)

Graeme Lawrence in the ‘star car’ of F5000, the Lola T332. Engine troubles ruined his AGP weekend. The 1970 Tasman Cup champion was in a three way shootout several months later to win the 1975 Tasman together with Warwick Brown and John Walker in the Sandown final round but the cards fell Brown’s way.

Finito…

Stan Jones and his mechanic, Charlie Dean, pose for a Mobil photograph out front of one of Stan’s ‘Superior Motors’ dealerships in inner-Melbourne during 1956. Note the babes in the slips-cordon. Look at that aluminium work, love the neat fillets or scoops to allow some air into the rear tail section, surface cooling of the oil-tank.

Jones acquired his Maserati 250F, chassis ‘2520’ that year. The machine succeeded the Dean designed and built Maybach’s 1, 2 and 3. To be more precise, Maybachs 2 and 3 were built by Charlie and his merry band of artisans at Repco Research (RR), Sydney Road, Brunswick.

Charlie was appointed Repco’s chief automotive experimental engineer in 1954, general manager of Repco Research in 1957 and joined the board as a director of Repco Ltd in 1960, a position he held until his retirement.

I’ve done these two blokes to death, here; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/08/stan-jones-agp-longford-gold-star-series-1959/

Jones in Maybach 1 from Ken Wharton’s BRM P15 Mk1 V16, Ardmore 1954. Interesting to see the way Repco used Maybach to plug its other products

The Repco/Maybach/Dean/Jones partnership ended when Maybach 3 went kaboomba at Gnoo Blas in the summer of ’56- the last of Repco’s stock of the German straight-sixes was carved in half after a major internal haemorrhage.

Of course they could have acquired another motor, but Stan said ‘Fuggit! I’m gunna buy a 250F’. So he did. And a 3-litre 300S engine as a spare, as you do.

The Maserati was initially prepared at RR. When Reg Hunt retired in 1956 Bib Stillwell bought his 250F and Stanley bagged Otto Stone, who had prepared Hunt’s A6GCM and 250F.

Stone was both a very capable racer and engineer. Stan’s most successful years followed. Notable wins included the 1958 Gold Star and 1959 Longford AGP. Jones’ mechanical sympathy was not rated ‘in period’. Stone prepared a robust car well. In addition, my theory is that Otto gave Stan a few ‘chill-pills’. That is, calmed him down a bit. ‘You have to finish races Cocko, just learn to read the play better. Play the percentages rather than win or bust’. I suspect he also called a few of those plays.

Jones and Stone shake after Stan’s 1959 Longford win. He finally bagged the win he deserved. John Sawyer in cap, Alan Jones sez ‘cheese’ (unattributed)

I am hopelessly biased in relation to Kevin Bartlett, Alec Mildren and anything and anyone related thereto (Rennmax, Merv Waggott etc, etc), Frank Matich, Elfin and Garrie Cooper, Repco, Stan Jones and Charlie Dean. So you should read what follows with due caution.

It’s hard to think of a more significant, resident, figure in Australian motor-racing from 1950 to 1976 than Charlie Dean.

His fingerprints were on Maybachs One to Four. Lex Davison’s 1953 Monte Carlo Rally Holden 48-215 was prepped by Chuck. He aided, abetted and developed Jones. Jones and Maybach 1’s 1954 AGP win was the first international GP won by an Oz car. Stan’s job behind the wheel was matched by Dean’s with the tools the night and day before.

Dean hired Phil Irving at RR, together, the Holden-Grey Repco Hi-Power head was theirs. Think of how many race and sportscars they powered. Many of the Holden (48-215, FC, FE etc) race developments were made by RR and then sold to all and sundry. In that sense Repco was in on the ground floor and assisted the explosion of touring-car racing from the mid-fifties.

The Maybach and Repco Hi-Power programs were critical incremental steps which led to Repco’s F1 world championships in 1966-1967. Frank Hallam’s early-sixties Coventry Climax FPF maintenance program was another.

Charlie Dean was not the Director in charge of Repco-Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. Managing Director, Dave McGrath appointed Bob Brown. Charlie did provide Board level support throughout though. Critically, he was asked by McGrath who should design the first V8 engine which became known as ‘RBE620′- he recommended Phil Irving, the 1966 title was the result. Dean was made responsible for RBE Pty. Ltd. after Frank Hallam was shunted sideways in late 1968 as the F1 program was wound down.

Charlie saw F5000 as a cost-effective ANF1 and the means for Repco to remain in racing. When CAMS dithered about 2-litre/F5000 as Oz’ next F1 Dean invited CAMS President, Donald Thomson, to Repco’s St Kilda Road HQ for a long-lunch in the wood-panelled boardroom during which CAMS’ finest was re-programmed. I’m not suggesting the Repco heavies were the only lobbyists to ping CAMS around that particular pin-ball machine.

The Repco-Holden F5000 program followed. Dean and Malcolm Preston brought Phil Irving back from the Gulag to knock that engine together with the assistance of Brian Heard. Several AGP’s, an NZ GP or two, Gold Stars and plenty of individual race wins resulted.

Most of the Repco-Holden’s internals formed the basis of the Holden Torana L34 and A9X donks. There were several Bathurst taxi-race wins there I guess. And an Australian Touring Car Championship or three.

Dean was a man of many parts. Trained as an electrician, he started and sold his business to Repco, raced at elite level including the 1948 AGP, was VERY adept as a hands on engineer and rose through the corporate ranks to become a long-time director of one of Australia’s biggest public companies. And the rest.

Sure, he had Repco’s cheque book in a ‘golden era’ for the industry. The point is that he used it parlaying his influence to the benefit of Repco- and the sport.

Happy to hear other views to my biased one. It will have to be a good argument to knock him over in the period defined however!

David McKay, yeah-yeah, but nup.

Jones and Dean with Maybach 2 in 1954 (unattributed)

Credits…

Many thanks to David Zeunert for another great shot from his archive.

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Jones and 250F at Albert Park circa 1956.

Finito…

(K Buckley)

Don Holland’s Cooper S from Robbie Francevic’s monstering Ford Fairlane at Bay Park, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand in April 1968.

Imagine looking at that ‘block of flats’ baring down on you at some speed in ‘yer mirrors!?

Were these things ‘sports-racing closed’, or perhaps ‘sports-sedans’ by then. The Kiwis will have called theirs something else of course- what? In any event, these highly-modified tourers have always been my favourite taxi-variants.

Alan Boyle picks up the story, ‘Don Holland came other with two other Mini-racers, light-weight and extremely quick cars – John Leffler and Lynn Brown, three nice guys, I’ve visited them in Sydney since.

Relaxing in the Pukekohe paddock after the racing, ‘John Leffler, Don Holland Lynn Brown. Margaret and Violet Mini.’ I wonder if this visit was during the Tasman rounds, it would be  interesting to know the results? How did Violet go in her car? See this piece on the Francevic Ford; https://themotorhood.com/themotorhood/2017/11/24/special-feature-robbie-francevics-fairlane

More questions than answers this time…

(A Boyle)

Credits…

Ken Buckley photo via Milan Fistonic, Alan Boyle

Finito…

(P Jones)

Alec Mildren’s new, fifth-placed Cooper T43 Climax FPF 1.5 during the February 23, 1958 Gold Star weekend.

Stan Jones won the 28 lap, 50 mile ‘Victorian Trophy’ race in his Maserati 250F from Arnold Glass’ Ferrari 555 Super Squalo and Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S sportscar.

Many thanks to Melbourne enthusiast Peter Jones for sharing his photographs taken during a number of Fishos’ race meetings in the mid-fifties when he was in his mid to late teens. Thanks to Stephen Dalton for painstaking research post-publication to nail all the meeting dates.

Don’t Peter’s marvellous colour shots bring a drab airfield circuit to life? Many of the photographs were taken at this Victorian Trophy weekend, the second of nine Gold Star rounds, the title won by Stan Jones that year.

‘Patons Brake Replacements’ were omni-present at the time, a major trade supporter of our sport, they were ultimately absorbed within the Repco Ltd automotive manufacturing conglomerate. See this piece about the inner-suburban Melbourne airfield track; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/15/fishermans-bend-melbourne/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Tornado 2 Chev, the most successful form of the Lou Abrahams/Ted Gray/Jack and Bill Mayberry two racers. Bill and Lou are at far left.

Ted led the race early and was running in the top 4 when he pitted to address throttle linkage problems on lap 10. He rejoined and was third by lap 20 but the engine lost its edge, finally retiring after 26 laps.

Tornado won the Longford Trophy the following weekend. It was without doubt one of the fastest-if not the fastest car of 1958 together with Jones 250F, Ern Seeliger’s  Maybach 4 Chev and Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 when it raced. It was not the most reliable though.

October 1957 (P Jones)

As regular readers will know I am a huge fan of everything and everyone to do with the Tornados. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/ . Oh yep, a shorter one here too; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/20/teds-tornado-and-lens-cooper/

October 1956 (P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Sabina Motors entered, Reg Nutt driven Cisitalia D46 Fiat 1,100, October 1957 meeting. Bailey’s Talbot-Lago T26C alongside.

This car was imported by Melbourne’s Dale Brothers in the early fifties but seems never to have been raced ‘really intensively’ in period. I recall it appearing at Sandown in the mid-seventies in one of the historic events which supported the annual taxi-enduro. At that stage it was part of the Leech Brothers Collection in Brighton, Melbourne. Long since departed our shores.

Such significant cars. Doug Nye credits Dante Giacosa’s 1946 design for Piero Dusio as the first modern customer spaceframe. ‘The production racing car trendsetter for an entire generation of designers’. Little bit about it here at the start of this Cooper Bristol piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/24/the-cooper-t23-its-bristolbmw-engine-and-spaceframe-chassis/

Reg Nutt is a story himself, he was a riding mechanic in the Phillip Island twenties GP years and then a racer of note.

(P Jones)

David McKay, Aston Martin DB3S during the February 1958 meeting.

David chose not to race in the Formula Libre Gold Star round, how did he do in the sportscar races folks?

This ex-works car, chassis ‘DB3S-9’ is the second of his two Aston Martin DB3S. Perhaps its biggest Oz win, in a field of some depth was the Australian Tourist Trophy at Mount Panorama that October. The customer ‘Kangaroo Stable’ machine was ‘DB3S-102’. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/31/yes-frank-i-love-it-magnificent-in-fact/

(P Jones)

Owen Bailey’s ex-works-Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C from ace racer-engineer Otto Stone, MG K3.

The French machine won AGPs for ‘Dicer-Doug’ in 1952 and 1953 at Mount Panorama and Albert Park before it was replaced by an older and supposedly quicker machine.

Owen Bailey lined up for the start but transmission failure meant his race ended before it started. He did not have a great deal of luck racing this car.

See articles about T-Ls here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/16/1953-australian-grand-prix-albert-park/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/09/fill-her-up-matey-lago-talbot-t26c-melbourne-1957/

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type.

The car first raced at the 1956 March Moomba meetings at Albert Park. Meeting date 13/14 October 1956, Jack Davey was the next owner in early 1957. See this feature for a full history of ‘XKD520’; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Terry McGrath advises the XK120 #45 above is Murray Carter’s car.

(P Jones)

Poor Arnold Glass is stuck in the intake of his glorious ex-works-Reg Parnell Ferrari 555 Super Squalo ‘555-2’ during the ’58 Gold Star weekend. ‘It’s arrived not long ago from New Zealand, still has the NZ rego #495795 on the nose’ said Dalton.

Glass was second behind Jones’ 250F and in front of Whiteford’s 300S.

Australia’s ‘Big Red Car’ era ran from the arrival of Reg Hunt’s 2.5-litre Maserati A6GCM in 1954 and ended, say, after Stan Jones AGP win at Longford in March 1959. The little marauding Coopers were well on the march by then but not yet dominant.

The fans were excited by Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, the 250Fs of Hunt, Jones, Bib Stillwell and Glass, the 300S of Doug Whiteford and Bob Jane and this car raced by Glass. It wasn’t the quickest thing around, he got on better with his ex-Hunt-Stillwell 250F but it was still a fast, spectacular car the very successful motor dealer drove capably.

See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2020/10/10/squalo-squadron/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Bib Stillwell discusses progress with a mechanic, ex-Hunt Maserati 250F chassis ‘2516’.

He ran well in the first couple of laps with Stan Jones but then pulled over at Matchless Corner with bent valves. Bib raced with his usual race number 6, these shots of the car the October 1957 Fishermans Bend meeting.

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

Stillwell’s preparation and presentation was five-star, it is intriguing why he has not re-painted Reg Hunts luvverly Rice Trailer in his own colours. Make and model of the American car folks?

Reg Hunt tested and acquired the machine at Modena in December 1955, first racing it in Australia at Gnoo Blas. He won the South Pacific Championship in it and ‘was the class of 1956’ behind it’s wood-rimmed wheel. Who can fault his choice of early retirement to focus on his growing dealership empire but our grids were robbed of a great competitor. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

October 1957 (P Jones)

By this stage of his career Stillwell’s Kew Holden dealership and related enterprises were spitting off serious wads of cash, the quality of his racing cars reflected this.

An arch enthusiast, as well as an elite level racer- no driver other than Bob Jane had so many sensational racing cars ‘in period’ and later in his life when he returned to racing ‘historics’ globally.

(P Jones)

With a keen eye on the growing speed of Coopers, Bib bought the T43 Climax (above) Jack Brabham raced in the 1958 New Zealand Internationals and South Pacific Championship race at Gnoo Blas in January. Jack won the Levin International and the Soupac Championship in the 2.2-litre Climax FPF engined machine.

Bib practiced both the Cooper and Maserati at Fishos, he elected to race the 250F.

He entered the Cooper in the Bathurst Easter meeting where the 1.7-litre FPF engined car (presumably Jack took the 2.2 back to England) was very fast. In a 3 lap preliminary Bib started from pole but his new Cooper jumped out of gear. He quickly plucked it and set off amongst the mid-field bunch but touched wheels with Alec Mildren’s similar car (our opening shot machine) in the first turn- Hell Corner. The car somersaulted several times before landing back on its wheels. Bib was ok with facial cuts and abrasions but the Cooper was a tad worse for wear. After repair it was sold to Bill Patterson who raced it for the first time at Lowood in August.

Stillwell raced the 250F throughout the rest of 1958 and sold it to Arnold Glass in early 1959 after a good run to sixth in the Ardmore NZ GP. Carroll Shelby’s 250F was the best placed front-engined car that afternoon, two laps adrift of Stirling Moss winning 2-litre Cooper T45. It was very much time to sell, Arnold did very well with it in 1959-1960 all the same!

October 1956 (P Jones)

Paul England and Bill Hickey’s Ausca Holden-Repco is one of the sexiest and quickest of Australian sportscars of the period.

Ya can’t go wrong with styling nicked from the Maserati A6GCS! The ladder-frame chassis machine was built after-hours by Paul and Bill at Repco Research in Sydney Road Brunswick. It used a Holden front-end, rear axle and engine. It was the rolling test bed for the Repco Hi-Power Holden Grey-Six engine developments.

England’s skill at twiddling a wheel did the rest. Happy to have this little baby in my garage. Not sure of the meeting date.

October 1956 (P Jones)

 

October 1956 (P Jones)

Hedley Thompson’s Edelbrock Special.

Thompson, a highly skilled welder/fabricator employed by Trans-Australian Airlines operated from a workshop behind his home in Melbourne’s inner-eastern Deepdene. The car used a ladder frame chassis and Ford V8 with lots of Vic Edelbrock bits within- hence the name. The gearbox was also Ford, the rear end incorporated a quick-change Halibrand diff. A Delage donated the brake-drums which used Holden cylinders and Holden worm and roller steering.

The car made its debut sans-bodywork at Hepburn Springs in 1956 and later passed to Barry Stilo who made it sing. It exists today, a quite stunning car.

(P Jones)

Ern Seeliger’s Maybach 4 Chev in the ’58 Fishermans Bend paddock.

This thing was still quick in 1959, Stan Jones won the Port Wakefield Gold Star round in it.

Seeliger did a mighty fine job replacing the Maybach SOHC-six with a Chev Corvette V8. Additionally, considerable changes were made to the rear suspension and other refinements- Maybach 3 became Maybach 4.

Ern was like a rocket at the Bend! He hassled Stan early then passed he and Glass for the lead. The look on the face of the cars owner- Stan Jones would have been priceless! But it was not to be. Ern started the race with worn tyres, he was black-flagged when the stewards caught sight of white breaker-strips on the hard worn tyres!

See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/09/stan-ernie-and-maybach-4-chev/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2020/07/14/john-comber-collection/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S was one of the best prepared and presented racing cars- all of the work done by the three-times Australian Grand Prix winner himself.

Here is the ex-works Jean Behra 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy meeting car during the February 1958 meeting. Doug finished third in a typically speedy, reliable run. See 300S feature here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

February 1958 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

Bill Patterson’s Cooper T39 Climax, wouldn’t it have made an ideal road-car.

Patterson’s outer-east Melbourne Ringwood Holden dealership was not too far from Templestowe and Rob Roy hillclimbs, close enough for a bit of lunchtime practice or failing that a romp through the Dandenongs.

The plucky racer was one of the very fastest of his day, a Cooper man throughput after his formative MG stage. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/02/patto-and-his-coopers/ Stephen reckons the side view of the car alongside the T39 above is Brian Sampson’s Morris Special- ‘Sambo’, was very close to the start of a long, diverse and successful career which was only finished by a road accident not so long ago.

He won the Gold Star in 1961 aboard a Cooper T51 Climax, the machine below is the T43 Climax FPF ex-Brabham-Stillwell #5 referred to above, perhaps in 1959.

(P Jones)

Note John Roxburgh standing at right and what looks a bit like Bib Stillwell in the cream jumper? Holden Ute and wonderful colour gives us a perspective on male fashion of the coolish day- October 1958 or February 1959 meeting.

(P Jones)

Len Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol, probably, ace Cooper historian Stephen Dalton thinks, during the October 1957 Fishos meeting where the car carried #33.

He surmises, based on AMS magazine reports, that Len’s team fitted the longer nose in an attempt to make the car more slippery before the Commonwealth Oil Refinery (C.O.R. later BP) sponsored speed-trials held at Coonabarabran, New South Wales in September 1957.

Two years hence Len would be aboard an ex-Brabham Cooper T45 Climax at the start of the longest Gold Star season. A successful one too, he won the Gold Star; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/26/len-lukey-australian-gold-star-champion/

Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F below, it is chassis #2516 featured above, bodied as it was when Reg first imported it in early 1956, this probably the October 1956 meeting.

(P Jones)

 

Peter with a modern Yamaha, above leading Eric Debenham and Eric Hindle at Oran Park on the TR500 in 1970. With ‘mo’ after a win on the TR500 in 1970 (Old Bike Australasia)

After completing the piece to this point via to-and-fro emails I gave photographer Peter Jones a call to thank him and find out a bit about him. To my pleasant surprise I learned he was an Australian champion motor-cyclist in the sixties and seventies, so lets have a look at his career! What a fascinating journey Peter’s has been.

Born in 1942, he was raised in Melbourne’s Kew and then Beaumaris. Qualified as a fitter and turner he commenced his racing career aboard a a Yamaha YDS2 jumping in right at the deep end- his first meeting was at Bathurst in Easter 1964, third in the 250cc Production race was a good start on this most daunting of circuits!

He progressed through an Aermacchi Ala d’Oro 250 pushrod single as below. ‘Built 1963 or 1964, I bought it second hand from the distributor. It was a toss-up between this and a Yamaha TD1-A and I went with this. Great handling and brakes but in my ownership it was lacking in reliability, which in hindsight was a combination of me and the bike.’

‘The battery has a Yamaha logo on it, I knew the Yamahah importers well and had owned two Yamaha 250cc road bikes so when I needed batteries I went there. Back of the photo says Calder February 1965. That’s my Holden FC Ute behind.’

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Peter then bought a Yamaha TD1-B which allowed him to demonstrate his talent and progress to B-Grade, the bike is shown exiting Griffins Bend at Mount Panorama in 1966 above.

‘I enjoyed this bike a lot, had some success with it while still learning my way. I had a very experienced racing mechanic, Les Gates of Murrumbeena, looking after me so reliability was not a problem. A great weekend was 4 or 5 riders working on our bikes in his backyard with us doing the simple things and Les the more complex. The machine was painted in standard Yamaha colours of white with a red stripe. My Cromwell jet-helmet was white, I painted it blue on each side. The emblem on the front of the helmet is the Sandringham Motorcycle Club- spoked wheel with wings, the club still exists today.’

Graham Laing at Melbourne Motorcycles invited him to assemble a batch of Suzukis which had arrived in December 1965. This led to a full-time gig and the offer to race a Suzuki TR250 production-racer in 1966, I looked after this bike. After a lot of work to improve the performance of the bike Peter hit the big time at the Bathurst  Easter meeting. He finished second to Bryan Hindle’s Yamaha TDC-1 in the B-Grade Junior and then second to Eric Debenham’s big Vincent in the B-Grade Unlimited. He was second behind Ron Toombs’ Yamaha in the Junior GP. Better still, a slow-starting Toombs gave Jones the break he needed to win the Lightweight GP in 1969.

The Auto Cycle Union of Victoria provided a grant for Peter to represent the state in the Australian Championships at Surfers Paradise- he was nominated in the 250, 350, and 500 races, all aboard the TR250. The young rider won the 250 and 350, and then the 500 as well. Ron Toombs led on the latter aboard his Matchless but then DNF’d.

(P Jones)

‘The shot above is my first meeting aboard the Suzuki TR250 at Mallala in January 1966. It must be during practice as the engine mounts cracked so I didn’t start. It’s the left-hander after the hairpin, the bike in front is a Kawasaki 250 production racer.’

Peter built up a 500 from a road-going T500 on which he won the Jack Ahearn Trophy at Amaroo Park. A promised TR500 which was due for early in 1970 finally arrived late in the year but without the rear wheel assembly including Ceriani rear brake. Suzuki sent it anyway! and Peter completed it with road parts.

Determined to race in Europe in 1971, Graham Laing agreed that Jones could take the TR500 with him. En-route to the UK Jones ordered and bought a TR250 from Ron Grant (which turned out to be a very poor replica which brings a twitch to my left eye when i think about it!) who was racing at Daytona. He also took his T20 roadie on which he learned the Isle of Man course in the week before the race!

Jones was awarded a Bronze Replica for his performance on the 250 and a Silver on the 500 but admitted, ‘for me, the races were sort of fast touring’. He also rode a Suzuki GB entered T350 in the Production Race.

Later in the season Peter and very-good British rider Keith Martin, aided by Australian mechanic Dave Hall rode the same machine to seventh in the 24 Hour classic at Montjuich Park, Barcelona. ‘Dave Hall was touring the UK and Europe on his BMW. We first met up at the IOM but he assisted in the meetings I raced including manning our Barcelona pit for the full 24-hours, an amazing effort. He later worked for the Suzuki GP team and sponsored riders on a 250cc production bike when he returned to Australia.’ Other non-championship internationals were at Hengalo, Holland and the Southern 100 at Brands Hatch.

In 500s ‘The only works team at the time was Ago and the MV’s, but even that was just a van and some mechanics. The biggest team was the Dutch Van Kreidler team in the 50cc class.’

‘On the 500’s the guys chasing Ago were Keith Turner, Robert Brom and Jack Findlay on his TR500 engined bike. I did the TT, the Swedish GP in torrential rain and the Spanish GP at Jarama where i got seventh in the 500 GP for four world-championship points. The shot below is at the Isle of Man in 1971 aboard my 1970 Suzuki TR500, it was a great bike, easy to ride, I enjoyed it a lot.’

(P Jones)

Back at home with new wife Lyn early in 1972 with the overseas racing bug out of the system, the TR250 and 500 were converted to run on methanol in an attempt to keep them competitive. Later a water-cooled TR500 was little better.

Peter contested the Amaroo Park Castrol 6-Hours in 1970 and 1972 but lap scoring which left a lot to be desired was no incentive to maintain his interest. Peter won the 1973 ‘King of The Weir’ at, you guessed it, Hume Weir.

Peter’s waning interest was piqued with the purchase of a fabulous Suzuki RG500 square-four in time for the infamous Laverton RAAF base February 1976 Australian Tourist Trophy meeting. This was headlined by Giacomo Agostini’s works MV Agusta 500-four.

Jones qualified second behind Ken Blake’s RG500, ahead of Ago on the 5.3km circuit. In the race he muffed the start and finished fourth behind the victorious Blake, then Agostini with Greg Johnson on another RG500 in third.

‘Below is the RG500, now that was a racing bike! Square-four, great power delivery and handling, everything you could ask for. Here braking for Laverton’s far-hairpin, we did a U-turn around the hay-bales and then back up the other side. My last racing motorcycle as I retired during 1976.’

(P Jones)

It was time to hang up the helmet for the Service Manager role at Melbourne Motorcycles. Senior executive roles followed at Suzuki Australia, Yamaha’s Milledge Brothers and Yamaha Motor Australia where Jones had a support role in the early 2000’s with the companies’ Australian Superbike and Moto GP rounds.

Retired in Sidmouth, Tasmania, Peter has his TR250 and air-cooled TR500 to restore and in more recent times has been carefully sorting rather a nice collection of his photographs…

Photo and other Credits…

Peter Jones- many thanks for sharing your story and photographs with us

Peter Jones Old Bike Australasia article by Jim Scaysbrook, Stephen Dalton, Terry McGrath

Tailpiece…

(P Jones)

‘I obviously like the colour of it’ Peter quipped, there were quite a few shots of the same car. N Ronalds, MGA, during the October 1956 meeting.

Finito…