1958 Australian Grand Prix, Bathurst…

Posted: February 5, 2021 in Features, Who,What,Where & When...?
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Towards Hell Corner for the first time. Jones’ Maserati 250F, Gray’s blue Tornado 2 Chev with Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 at left. Mildren’s green Cooper T43 Climax FPF 2.0 then Tom Clark’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo 3.4 and Merv Neil’s Cooper T45 Climax FPF 1.7 (M Reid)

The October 6, 1958 Australian Grand Prix was regarded as one of the great AGPs- a battle between the big red Italian cars of Stan Jones and Lex Davison and the booming blue homegrown Australian special raced by Ted Gray.

In the end Davo’s evergreen ex-Ascari/Gaze Ferrari 500/625 prevailed over the 100 miles, while the attacks of Stan’s Maserati 250F and Tiger Ted’s Tornado 2 Chev fell short.

The event took on greater significance over time as it showed the front-engined Italians at the height of their power in Australia before the full force of the Cooper onslaught bit.

Lex Davison dips his fuel level before the off, Ferrari 500/625 (R Reid)

 

Ted Gray during his glorious run in front for two thirds of the race. Tornado exiting Murrays (R Reid)

Lou Abrahams and his team had developed, arguably, the fastest car in the country during 1958. In addition they had improved Tornado’s reliability as they addressed, step by step, shortcomings in the machines drivetrain exposed by the prodigious power and torque of it’s fuel-injected Chev Corvette 283cid V8 fitted later in 1957.

Stan Jones found the consistency he needed to win the Gold Star in 1058 but Tornado was quicker. Lex Davison, the defending champion, wasn’t seen during the Gold Star as the AF Hollins & Co crew took a long time rebuilding the Ferrari’s 3-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine which blew after piston failure during the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in January.

Gray’s promise was proved with a win in the heat which contained the quicker cars. Not only was the car speedy over a lap, he was also considerably quicker than the opposition down Conrod – 152.54mph from Davison’s 146.74 and Jones’ 139.5

Tension mounts before the start of the second heat. #22 Clark and Davison, then Gray and Jones. The dark car on the outside of row 3 is perhaps Len Lukey’s Lukey Bristol with Ray Walmsley’s Alfa Romeo P3 Chev on his inside. The red car with the white nose-roundel is Tom Hawkes modified Cooper T23 Holden-Repco Hi-Power (R Reid)

 

Tail of the field thru Hell on lap 1- Alf Harvey’s light blue Maserati 4CLT OSCA 4.5 V12 with what looks like, perhaps, John Schroder’s Nota Consul. Harvey’s just rebuilt Maserati won it’s heat but ‘blew a spark plug right through the bonnet’ on lap 16. The Nota was out on lap 10 (ABC)

Early in the race the lead changed between the big three, who cleared away from the rest of the field to lead by nearly a minute at the conclusion of the first 10 of 30 laps- at this point Gray was 8 seconds up on the Jones/Davison battle.

By lap 22 Ted was ahead by a steady’ish 10 seconds but pitted to report erratic handling. A messy, unplanned pitstop ensued during which fuel was topped up and slopped all over the place. A post-race examination showed cracked rear suspension mounts were the cause of the handling misdemeanors. Ted returned to the fray determined to make up the gap but in his haste, and still with his problem, Tornado glanced off the fence on the mountain, then did a couple of slow laps before retiring on lap 24.

Stan Jones then appeared set take a race he deserved to win (he did at Longford in 1959) but he had been shifting gears sans clutch for 7 laps- during his 26th lap the 250F dropped a valve and he was out. Davo completed the remaining four laps to win from Ern Seeliger in Maybach 4 Chev and Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Holden-Repco Hi-Power. It was a happy day for Ern as he prepared both cars, and Tom’s was out of oil with a split sump!

Stan The Man in one of his muscle-shirts while in the lead early on. Maserati 250F exiting Murrays (I think) into Pit Straight (R Reid)

Etcetera…

(R Reid)

Credits…

‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Ors, Ron Reid Collection, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Tailpiece…

(R Reid)

A slightly fuzzy Jones, Davison and Gray through Reid Park in the early laps before Ted cleared out- Maserati, Ferrari, Tornado.

Finito…

Comments
  1. Gregory Holley says:

    One of the best days of my life lucky enough to have been there that day as I recall cold day we slept the practice night at Bathurst Railway station waiting room they had a fire that the staff kept going all night

  2. Iain Gordon Ross says:

    Great stuff,
    Never see much mention of the OSCA Maserati, what was its fate??

    • markbisset says:

      Iain,
      It only raced a tiny number of times here, Bathurst was immediately after Repco rebuilt the engine. Imagine the cost! Alf Harvey won his Bathurst AGP heat, its only Oz win perhaps?
      The car went to the UK in the late sixties for historic racing and was one of Tom Wheatcroft’s early Donington Collection acquisitions.
      Mark

  3. Terry Sullivan says:

    It’s strange that Davison’s name is not in the programme

    • markbisset says:

      Terry,
      Indeed. I’ve lent my copy of ‘Lex’ so cannot check that but HAGP makes it clear Lex did one of his Nellie Melbas earlier in the year. I did mention that he’d popped the engine at Ardmore in January as well. Raced on for another 7 years as you well know!
      M

  4. John Medley says:

    Mark. The car in pic guessed John Schroder Nota Consul is I believe Len Lukey’s Cooper Bristol

    • markbisset says:

      Hiya John,
      Nah! That Medley fella’s Bible has Len in his Lukey Bristol, HAGP shows it is green.
      Its got me tossed tho- the blue car is (surely) the Harvey Maser OSCA which must (?) make it that AGP meeting. Struggling to come up with a car the right shape…
      An interesting one!
      M

  5. […] It was one of the great AGPs, happy Lex takes the flag to win his third of four AGPs, see here; 1958 Australian Grand Prix, Bathurst… | primotipo… […]

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