Archive for July, 2021

Today we are so used to cast or forged alloy wheels on our cars that we don’t think about them, at least not until we hear that infuriating crunch when we brush a curb. Just when the modern alloy wheel first appeared is subject to some speculation. (See The Nostalgia Forum – https://forums.autosport.com, 12 November, 2009 et seq.) When discussing these wheels, aluminium, magnesium and Elektron (a magnesium alloy) are often confused. Regardless of what we call them, ‘Mag, Alloy or Ali’, there is no disputing that Ettore Bugatti pioneered the use of aluminium wheels on racing cars when he used them on his ground-breaking Type 35 that first appeared at the Grand Prix de l’ACF (French Grand Prix) at Lyon on 3 August, 1924.

Ignoring Bugattis pioneering wheel for the moment, it would seem that cast or forged alloy wheels started to appear in general use in the late 1930’s – perhaps initially in the aviation industry – by this time the USA was a hotbed of experimentation in aluminium casting and alloy development. In England Alex Issoginis used 6 spoke Elektron wheels on his fabulous ‘Lightweight Special’ which he developed in the latter half of the 1930’s. These wheels had integral brake drums, à la Bugatti, but the spokes were bolted to the rim as distinct from being cast in one piece; a technique also used with aircraft.

Bugatti’s aluminium wheel as seen at the French Grand Prix in 1924 (B King)
Alec Issigonis aboard his Lightweight Special with electron wheels in 1961 (unattributed)

In the early post-war years, the use alloy of wheels became commonplace, particularly with racing cars. Perhaps the first to use these wheels in this period was John Cooper on his Mark II. Doug Nye in his seminal COOPER CARS , states that Cooper discussed the increasing difficulty in obtaining suitable wheels with his cousin Colin Darby and they came up with the idea of casting wheels with an integral brake drum “like Bugatti pre-war”.

They patented their design and had them cast, claiming that the wheels were “lighter and stronger than the old Fiat type”. Arthur Owens, THE RACING COOPERS, states that their first production alloy wheels appeared in 1947 and were “cast in Elektron with 8-inch brake drums cast integrally”. Others state that it was in 1948 that the Cooper Mk. II, their first production model, appeared with these wheels. Again, claims were made for better brake cooling, more rigidity and better access to the brakes. Other small-time manufacturers such as Laurie Bond with his eponymous Bond ‘C’ type of 1948 used alloy wheels; in the case of Bond, they were to his own design.

Meanwhile across the pond, ex-Douglas aircraft engineer Ted Halibrand began experimenting with magnesium alloy wheels in 1946 which he first used on his own midget racing car. He tried them out on Indy cars in 1949, but had problems with cracking and the soon to become ubiquitous Halibrand cast wheel did not appear at the Indianapolis 500 until 1950. Subsequently, every Indy car between 1951 and 1967 wore Halibrand wheels and Halibrand’s influence still looms large in the wheel industry and hot rod community.

‘Sure, it looked a lot more aggressive than a steelie with poverty caps’. Ted Halibrand with magnesium alloy wheels and other castings (Internet Commons)
A ‘modern’ Messier Bugatti alloy Boeing nose wheel serves as a hose reel for the writers garden hose. Yes, the Bugatti name survives in the aero-spatial industry (B King)

Historically, it had been generally accepted that the cast aluminium wheel was solely the product of the inventive mind of Ettore Bugatti. However, in 1981 influential American automotive historian Griffith Borgeson (1918-1997) set the cat among the pigeons with his BUGATTI by BORGESON (Osprey). The sub-title of this book is ‘The dynamics of mythology’, and in it he tries, at times too hard, to discredit some of the pioneering work of Bugatti. In chapter 13, ‘Wheels within Wheels’, Borgeson claims priority for the invention of the aluminium wheel for Harry A Miller in a US Design patent of 4 May 1920,

Miller’s design for an ‘ornamental wheel’ (G Borgeson)

Recently, while researching the racing history of Diatto factory works driver Carlo Massola we were shown a book on the marque by Sergio Massaro titled simply: DIATTO. We were astonished to see that on the front cover there was depicted a car with what appeared to be cast wheels. In fact, in 1923 ‘Automobili Diatto’ produced a version of their racing Tipo 20S with aluminium wheels described by Massaro as “the fantastic ‘holey’ wheel” which was cast in light alloy.

It is important to understand that there had been a long-standing relationship between Bugatti and Diatto dating back to their membership of the Turin branch of Club Automobilisti d’Italia as early as 1899 or 1900. According to Steinhauser’s ETTORE BUGATTI, Pietro Diatto, who was nine years older than Ettore, ‘Took an interest in Bugatti’s prototype T8 in 1907. Their relationship was uninterrupted’.

The T8 refers to Bugattis eighth car design which was for the German industrial giant that was Deutz. It was in effect a prototype for future Bugattis with an overhead cam actuating vertical valves via ‘banana’ tappets – a design feature later glorified by his highly successful Brescia model.  In October 1915 Louis Panabel, the Diatto agent for France, obtained an option for Bugatti’s pioneering eight in-line steel-block aero engine in the name of Cavaliere Pietro Diatto. This was the aero-engine which had grown from Ettore’s concept for a luxury car engine of eight cylinders with which he had been experimenting since 1912.

The Diatto-Bugatti aero engine was successfully tested in September 1916, Diatto sending an enthusiastic telegram to Bugatti “I am happy to announce the excellent results for the engine … the testing resulted in a brilliant 210 HP”. This collaboration led to a 1919 agreement in which Bugatti was to supply Diatto with fifty 16 valve car chassis made in Molsheim; they were to be fitted with Diatto radiators. (Other than the radiator and the bonnet, these cars were identical to the Bugatti factory product – they are what today is referred to as the ‘Brescia Bugatti’).

Three of these Diatto-Bugattis were shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1919, all with a Diatto radiator with a Bugatti badge. Bugatti displayed two of his outdated 8-valve cars on another stand. Bugatti was a late entrant for the show, and it would appear that the industrial giant Diatto had stolen a march on the under-funded Molsheim factory. There is an unsubstantiated claim in Wikipedia that Diatto also manufactured chassis for Bugatti.

The fantastic holey wheel used on the Diatto 20S (Massaro)

Dane Claude Teisen-Simony has written of the relationship between Bugatti and Diatto. According to Claude, Diatto, which was the second largest Italian automobile manufacturer post-WWI, formed what was “an absolute dream team. Not only did he start with the collaboration of Bugatti, he also linked-up with the outstanding engineering capacity of Giuseppe Coda of FIAT and SCAT racing fame plus two of the Maserati brothers, Alfieri and Ernesto”.

Teisen-Simony claims that “Bugatti used the much larger Diatto factory and its capacities as a test facility for his new ideas, such as a hollow front axle in 1920 and racing cars with superchargers in 1921”. He states that the remarkable Bugatti hollow front axle was developed as a collaboration between Bugatti and Coda. He notes that Borgeson also referred to a partnership between Bugatti and Coda in the development of the Deutz Type 8.

Although the source of the information on the alliance between Bugatti and Coda is not given, there is sufficient grounds to accept that Diatto and Bugatti worked closely on a number of projects, including aero engines and the sixteen-valve car. Other tangible evidence of the close association between Bugatti and Diatto is indicated by the similarity between their radiator badges and by their adoption of the term ‘Thoroughbred’ translated as, ‘Pur Sang’ and ‘Puri Sangue’ respectively, to describe their cars. It is not clear to the writer when Ettore first used the ‘Pur Sang’ description; but it has been applied retrospectively to the first Bugatti, his Type 13 of 1909 – ‘Le Petit Pur Sang’. Diatto used ‘Puri Sangue’ to promote the company’s success with their Tipo 30 (Bugatti).

The Diatto radiator badge has an identical form to the Bugatti badge (Massaro)
Diatto’s thoroughbred (Internet Commons)

The Bugatti cast aluminium wheel.

Cast wheels were not a novelty in 1924, and therefore not patentable; nor would the change from iron to aluminium have had patentable merit. Bugattis first patent for his wheel (FR581308), filed on 5 May 1924, was titled Roue à disque à refroidissement ‘cooled disc wheel’, concerning itself with the increased brake cooling provided via skewed spokes. (In production the spokes were parallel).

The Bugatti wheel was distinguished by its integration of the brake drum into the wheel, but this arrangement was not unique as many automotive wire wheels prior to WWI had their spokes laced into the periphery of the brake drum. Malicet et Blin (MaB) were well known for their use of this design and as parts suppliers to the automotive industry this pattern of combined wheel and brake drum appeared on many, mostly French, cars in the early days. Closer to home, Bugatti used this pattern of wheel on his Type 16, the Bébé Peugeot, from 1912 – possibly this influenced his thinking when it came to making an aluminium wheel with an integral brake drum.

The rear wheel of the writers Bebe Peugeot, showing the integration of the brake drum into the wheel (B King)
The original Bugatti aluminium wheel as patented in 1926 in the USA. It shows two rows of six spokes, offset; significantly different to the final product (Ploeg)
Bugatti wheel (Salzman)

Wheel manufacture had played an important part in Diatto’s history; Guglielmo Diatto was a thirty-year-old wheelwright and coachbuilder when he established his eponymous company on the banks of the Po River in Turin in 1835. In 1838 he patented ‘a perfect wheel’. From what can be seen in a photograph of the wheel taken from the patent application, it appears to be a normal metal spoked cart wheel. Was it the use of metal spokes that made it patentable, or was it a pioneering cast wheel?

Guglielmo Diatto’s ‘perfect wheel’ of 1838 (Internet Commons)

Aluminium wheels, Bugatti, Miller or Diatto?

It seems unlikely that Bugatti was influenced by the 1919 Miller design for an aluminium wheel. Miller, strictly, did not patent the design – it was a Model Registration that concerned ‘the ornamental design of a wheel’. The wheel was intended to be used on an innovative racing car known as the T.N.T., but in its one or two track appearances it was fitted with conventional wire wheels.  (Mark Dees, THE MILLER DYNASTY) The model registration did not address any perceived mechanical advantage from a cast wheel. The wheel was six spoked, compared with Ettore’s eight spokes, and there is nothing in the model registration to suggest it used an integral brake drum. It appears that Borgeson, not for the first time, was ‘drawing a long bow’ when he suggested that Miller’s design was the inspiration for Bugatti’s cast aluminium wheel.

In regard to the association between Bugatti and Coda, we are prepared to believe that the Diatto and Bugatti aluminium wheels might have had common antecedents. In the absence of documentation, just who influenced who remains unclear. The presence of Giuseppe Coda in the allegedly contemporary drawing of a Diatto 20S with perforated aluminium wheels does imply his possible involvement in this novelty.

Bugattis original patent described the wheel “as consisting of one, two or several discs, pierced in a manner to give the desired form to the ‘arms’ or spokes”. This description better fits the Diatto wheel than the aluminium wheel as it first appeared on the Type 35 Bugatti at Lyon in 1924. Could this design have arisen from discussion between Coda and Bugatti, or was Bugatti inspired to make his own version having seen the cast wheel designed by Coda? Italian patents relating to the aluminium wheel might be revealing.

A representation of Coda at the wheel of a Diatto 20S with cast aluminium wheels (Massaro)

What is certain is that Ettore Bugatti was the first to produce a practical light alloy wheel for racing and passenger cars – wheels that are now standard on modern cars.

Etcetera…

Aerolite wheels detail construction

More on the Aerolite wheels from Stuart Ulph, owner of the Almack Austin.

“I was completely unaware that a commercial fleet had been equipped with Airlite wheels. My knowledge of these wheels (apart from owning some) was derived from the “Motor Sport” article, so to me they were ‘Aerolite’. They were made by Bramber with, I am pretty sure, Dunlop rims, the rims being steel of course. I had wondered if High Duty Alloys were involved in the supply of materials – just speculation.

Pete Almack refers to them as ‘my patented wheels’. I assumed he was the patent holder  – he held other patents – but a patent search has revealed nothing. Peter also acted in some sort of consulting capacity to the patents board. It has occurred to me that Bramber may have held the patent.

As far as Austin Sevens are concerned, I know that both 15″ and 16″ wheels were made. I had heard that a ‘Motor Show’ Vauxhall 14 was equipped with Pete’s wheels and I have a set of 16″ wheels which were fitted to a BMW 315. Unlike the Austin 7 wheels, these do not have integral brake drums. The BMW wheels have a patent pending number on them as I recall but even this proved of no use to the searcher.

You would think that more of these wheels might turn up, given that Bramber seem to have sold quite a few sets. I telephoned Bramber circa 1980, by which time they had moved to Wales and their major occupation was in producing trailers for Land Rovers. Though interested by the story, by then they had no records or knowledge of the alloy wheels.”

CZ Z13 1.5-litre two stroke (D Ploeg)

And this contribution from Dick Ploeg, “You may also wish to add that the Czechoslovakian firm of CZ (CESKOSLOVENSKA ZBROJOVKA), on their 1931 Z13 racing car they copied the Bugatti alloy wheels, with integral brake drums.

Furthermore there was a French make of aftermarket light alloy wheels available shortly before and after WW2. These were seen, I believe, on Amilcars and Peugeot Darlemats of the period. I have no name available at the moment, but it must be recorded somewhere.”

Credits…

Bob King and his collection, Tony Johns, Mike Costigan, Stuart Ulph, Dick Ploeg, Diatto’ Sergio Massaro, Brockbank and other references quoted in the text

Tailpiece…

Finito…

Stunning Baskerville shot of James Golding late January during one of several demos done by the two GRM cars that weekend (Daniel Kalisz)

The announcement of the Tasman Cup being resurrected awarded to the winner of seven S5000 races at Bathurst and Surfers Paradise this November-December is fantastic news for Australian single seater fans.

The plan is a true Tasman, with races for the Ligier JS3-S5000 Ford chassis’ on both sides of The Ditch (Tasman Sea) next year, creating a series of races in New Zealand and Australia eagerly contested and watched in the sixties and seventies.

5.2-litre, 560bhp Ford Coyote DOHC, four-valve, injected V8 – chassis Ligier JS3-S5000 (S5000)
Cooper Webster at Phillip Island, won one of the three races there in mid March (S5000)

The new S5000, one make cars made their race debut at Sandown Park in late 2019, with the first Gold Star plans in 2020 scuttled by the dreaded Covid 19. This year Joey Mawson won the much coveted award in a closely contested series comprising 12 races at four circuits between January-April; Phillip Island, Symmons Plains, Sandown Park and Sydney Motorsport Park.

The Tasman plans build on that great start.

Readers of primotipo will be familiar with the Tasman Cup. Bruce McLaren won the first in 1964 racing a 2.5-litre Cooper T70 Climax, the last was taken by Warwick Brown in 1975 – his mount was a Lola T332 Chev F5000.

Phillip Island (S5000)
Phillip Island; Tim Macrow from Nathan Hearne and James Golding (S5000)

In 1976 we went our separate ways with F5000 series, if it was in any doubt the fate of the great championship was settled in 1977 when the NZers went Formula Pacific, while Australia remained the last bastion of Formula 5000 until the early eighties.

History suggests the Kiwis got it right.

Time to plan a trip to the Goldie, hmm, think I’ll stay in Byron and drive up each day…Hop to it folks, let’s get behind these fantastic home-grown racing cars.

Braydan Willmington during his solo Mount Panorama data gathering laps in April. The earth will move with a grid full of these missiles soon. Maxi-taxis lookout (S5000)
Nathan Hearne with a unique Bass Straight backdrop. Phillip Island (S5000)
(M Bisset)

And yep, I know the cars have been named Rogers AF1s recently but I am not fussed. They are Ligier JS3-S5000s according to the chassis plates and were called that for the first 3 years of their lives. The Rogers name ignores the IP in the cars which is primarily that of Chris Lambden, Mike Borland and Onroak-Ligier. Bless the Rogers’ money and commitment but the name horse well and truly bolted years ago.

See here for a piece on the cars; Progress… | primotipo…

Symmons I think, with Tim Macrow front and centre. He finished second in the Gold Star in Chris Lambden’s Ligier JS3-S5000 chassis #1. Done heaps of kays this baby, not that it affects its pace! (S5000)

Credits…

Daniel Kalisz, S5000 website and Facebook page

Tailpiece…

Braydan Willmington at Bathurst in April (S5000)

Finito…

Frank Gardner takes the chequered flag after winning the December 3, 1967 Hordern Trophy, traditionally the season ending Gold Star round at Warwick Farm…

Frank’s habit was to finish his European racing season and then head back to his home city, Sydney, and contest the final Gold Star round as a warm up for the seven or eight round Tasman Series which followed in January/February.

He raced the event for Alec Mildren Racing from 1965 to 1968, winning two of the four events in the Brabham BT23D Alfa in 1968 and Brabham BT16 Climax FPF in 1966. He led the 1968 race in the Mildren Alfa Yellow Submarine but pulled out with fuel metering unit problems. His other start was in Alec’s Brabham BT2 Ford/Lotus twin-cam 1.5 in 1965, his 1965 Tasman mount, for the sake on completeness was a Brabham BT11A Climax which was not ready at the time of the Hordern.

Gardner in The Esses (oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

Bartlett cucking the BT11A around in the style which always made him a crowd pleaser- and quick. This car was at the end of its third full season of racing in late 1967- debut by Gardner in the 1965 Tasman (oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

The 1967 Hordern Trophy was disappointing in a way, that year Spencer Martin and Kevin Bartlett slugged out the Gold Star in identical Brabham BT11As; Spencer’s was owned by Bob Jane and KB’s by Alec Mildren. Click here for more; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/27/kbs-first-bathurst-100mph-lap/

Bartlett had to win the penultimate round at Symmons Plains the month before, November 12, to stay in the hunt at the Hordern, while he led in Tasmania, a broken oil line ruined his chances. Greg Cusack took the win in David McKay’s Brabham BT23A Repco from John McCormack – not really racing outside Tasmania at that stage – in his ex-Jack 1962 Caversham AGP mount, a Brabham BT4 Climax, and David Sternberg’s Alexis Mk6 Ford ANF1.5.

Martin won the Gold Star at Symmons despite failing to finish, observing a self-imposed 6800 rev limit, he had cam-follower failure. As already planned and announced, he retired. John Harvey took the seat from the Hordern Trophy, racing very successfully for Bob Jane for the next five or so years in a range of single-seaters, sportscars and tourers.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Martin above, and Bartlett below before the off at Symmons, Brabhams BT11A times two.

In the preliminary, KB led Spencer and Greg away with Cusack up to second before being clobbered by a rock in his visor, Martin retired with a duff plug, KB took the win.

In the main race Kevin led until lap 12, from Cusack and Martin before the oil line broke. After Glen Abbey fixed the problem KB gave the crowd a show by taking to the circuit and driving the last 34 laps flat-knacker, dropping the lap record to 56.4 seconds and being rewarded with a point.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

The Repco V8 engined Cusack car, Jack Brabham’s 1967 Tasman machine, Leo Geoghegan’s ex-Clark Lotus 39, or John Harvey’s Ron Phillips owned, converted F2 Brabham BT14, all powered by 640 or 740 series 2.5-litre V8’s coulda, shoulda taken the Gold Star from the Climaxes that year but unreliability prevented them doing so. And the sheer, raw pace of Martin and Bartlett.

Leo Geoghegan was so miffed with his Repco engine he fitted a Coventry Climax back into his Lotus for the Hordern Trophy, that didn’t work for him either, he was outed with overheating despite a good third grid position.

Greg Cusack sussed his tyres with the Firestone man during the Hordern Trophy weekend. Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco

Leo Geoghegan at Longford in March 1967- just before John Sheppard and Bob Britton converted the ex-Clark Lotus 39 from Coventry Climax FPF to Repco 640 V8 power (oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

(RCN)

This race summary draws heavily on Peter Wherrett’s January 1968 RCN coverage and that of Australian Autosportsman’s Ray Finnerman and Warwick Robbins. There were some amazing differences in the reports, where there were such the Wherrett view is my favoured one!

Gardner started the Hordern from pole having done a 1:29.6 seconds, the only man under 1:30.

KB jumped into an early lead but Gardner passed his teammate going into the Northern Crossing, and led for the balance of the 45 lap journey in an impressive display in what was a brand-spankers, new car.

Bartlett and a couple of other cars have just cleared the Western Crossing on the first lap- KB, Gerdner, Harvey, Stewart, Geoghegan, West, Gibson, Cooper out wide at left and the rest with Cusack well back (DBird/RCN)

KB ran very hard in second place leading Harvey and Geoghegan in Climax cars, Stewart’s ANF1.5 Rennmax BN1 Ford Twin-cam and the Repco engined Cusack Brabham who was making up ground hand over fist as a consequence of missing dry practice; he boofed the car at The Causeway which required workshop repair.

After Cusack came Phil West in Mike Champions’ ‘old chassis Brabham’ BT2 ANF1.5, Fred Gibson in Niel Allen’s ex-Gardner Brabham BT16 Climax, Glyn Scott, Lotus 27 Ford, Garrie Cooper, Elfin Mono Mk2D Ford, Alf Costanzo, Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford, Alex Lazich, Pirana Ford 1.1, Brian Page Elfin Mono Mk1 Lancia V4 and Milton Lambert, Elfin Mono Mk1 Ford.

“The spins came early with Costanzo who got the ball rolling with a big one on the second lap…Cary, Elfin FJ Ford 1.1 was having troubles of his own and was in the grass more than once early in the race and dropped back to last place” wrote PW.

Alf Costanzo, Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford gives Bartlett plenty of room into The Esses (oldracephotos.cm.au/Phillips)

Cusack took a win in the single-seater support during the AJC Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm in July 1967- beautifully on line here at Homestead Corner, Brabham BT23A Repco

So it was Gardner comfortably from Bartlett, he too not being hard pressed by Harvey and Geoghegan, Stewart, Cusack and Phil West.

Max comfortably led the ANF1.5’s and led that title chase. The ANF1.5 Championship was run concurrently with the Gold Star rounds to ensure adequate fields of both, especially the 2.5’s which were thin on the ground outside the Tasman Series.

Greg bagged Max on lap 3, “Cusack’s Repco V8 sounded great and he was noticeably faster than all but Gardner and Bartlett,” wrote Wherrett.

Stewart lost his clutch on the fifth lap from which point West was all over him.

By lap 9 FG led from KB by thirteen seconds in turn still well ahead of Harvey who ‘was very at ease with the old Martin car and was enjoying the renowned Climax reliability’. The latter comment probably a dig at the difficulties Harvey, Phillips and Peter Molloy had with the Brabham BT14 F2 car, converted earlier that year from 1760cc Ford Twin-Cam to 2.5-litre 640 Repco V8 form.

I know from comments made by (the late) Harves on social media in recent years that the team did get the BT14 going very quickly once the suspension was fully sorted- to the extent of a single-seater feature race ‘Diamond Trophy’ win at Oran Park and good race/qualifying pace in the Surfers, Sandown and Mallala Gold Star rounds. In fact I see his qualifying time at the first Gold Star round at Lakeside in June was just under 1.5 seconds away from Cusack’s pole time, so arguably the thing was thereabouts in pace, if not reliability pretty much from the start.

Quite why Bob Jane, who bought the BT14 Repco from Ron Phillips, then pulled the engine and ‘box from the then sorted, fast BT14 and plonked them into the back of the BT11A for the ’68 Tasman only for Harvey to go through the sorting process all over again makes no sense to me at all.

Back to the Farm.

Cusack passed Geoghegan who shortly after spun on some lose stuff in The Causeway. After another spin he gave up the battle with overheating and handling problems, when Leo departed the race after 11 laps he was piped-out by Creek Corner’s famous trumpeter who played the Last Post!

Gardner from the Elfin Mono (oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

John Harvey, Brabham BT11A Climax monstering Fred Gibson in Niel Allen’s ex-Gardner Brabham BT16 Climax. The Esses (oldracephotos.com.au)

Alfie spun on laps 14 and 16, Glyn Scott had a loop on lap 11 losing his spot to Elfin Chief GC Cooper Esq. Clearly there was a lot of muck on track- perhaps due to the rain the day before.

With plenty going on for the spectators, Fred Gibson pitted the Allen Brabham BT16 with braking problems on lap 14. The brake line had severed so the crew sent him out 5 laps later after the rear brakes were disconnected. Brave boy.

Cusack closed within four seconds of John Harvey, then spun at The Causeway without hitting anything this time, he didn’t lose a place in the process but had to do the hard work to bridge the gap to Harves all over again.

By now Phil West had passed Max Stewart but that was not a drama for The Big Fella from Orange, he had the points needed to bag the first of his many national titles.

With Gardner up front of Bartlett by about a half minute the Alfa Romeo V8 sung its song impressing all with its speed- FG tickled the thing into some delicate slides demonstrating the chuckability for which these Brabhams were famous.

‘Bartlett’s Brabham buried deeply in straw and Armco after its Causeway lose. Surprisingly the car was not badly damaged- nor was Bartlett. But he was sure annoyed! wrote Wherrett (D Bird/RCN)

Then KB lost it going into Polo on lap 27- the engine cut out and by the time he got going again he was back to fourth. “Then he did it again and it seemed the engine was going cold between gear changes” is Wherrett’s somewhat mysterious observation. Bartlett covered one more full lap without drama but then got onto some of the lose stuff and charged straight ahead through the straw bales and into the Armco.

So John Harvey was up to second place keeping a good eye on Cusack further back, the Canberra motor dealer narrowed the gap down to five’ish seconds but then had another spin, at Polo and this time put Harvey beyond his reach in the remaining laps to the finish. Wherrett reported that Harves had a half-lose in The Causeway too, but he caught it and drove to the finish behind Gardner.

West and Stewart diced hard for the balance of the race, Phil getting over the line only “with a lead of only one second” from Max- I notice the oldracingcars.com result credits West with 43 laps and Max 42- whatever the case it was a very fine showing by West who had stepped up from an FJ/F2 1100cc car to a Ford/Lotus Twin-Cam powered ANF1.5 for the very first time at this meeting.

Within months he was offered the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco seat vacated by Greg Cusack after his high speed 1968 Longford Tasman shunt hospitalised him and hurt him badly.

Phil West, Brabham BT2 Ford 1100cc, at Oran Park during 1967 (D Simpson)

Phil West on the way to a Bathurst 100, Easter Bathurst Gold Star win in 1969- Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco (P Cross)

When Gardner passed Harvey on lap 42 he had lapped the field, at the end of the race there were only two he hadn’t lapped twice.

FG won by a lap and 1.8 seconds from John Harvey in a very strong first race for Jane, Brabham BT11A Climax, then came Cusack, Brabham BT23A Repco a minute behind Harvey, a lap ahead of West, Brabham BT2 Ford, Stewart, Rennmax BN1 Ford and Costanzo, Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford. Then came Garrie Cooper, Elfin Mono Mk2D Ford, Glyn Scott, Lotus 27 Ford, Brian Page Elfin Mono Mk1 Lancia and Fred Gibson, Brabham BT16 Climax to round out the top ten.

FG with the Hordern Trophy- grand isn’t it!?

And on the Ferrari lap of honour below with friend and long time Mildren engineer/mechanic Glenn Abbey alongside- is that the flat-capped Alec in the passenger seat perhaps. Ferrari 275 GTS maybe.

There were three future Gold Star Champions in this race- KB, Max and Alfie. That the 1.5’s were so well up is indicative of the paucity of 2.5 machines outside the Tasman.

Gardner was probably feeling pretty good about his 1968 Tasman chances that day, but the competition was tough that year; Clark and Hill in Lotus 49 Ford’s, Amon’s works Dino V6, two BRM’s both P261 V8 and P126 V12 driven by Rodriguez, Irwin, Attwood and others, lets not forget Piers Courage’ F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

I guess the Light Car Club’s annual Victorian Trophy which pre-dates the Gold Star, first held in 1957, and the Hordern Trophy awarded by the Australian Automobile Racing Club were the most prestigious and longest lived of the Gold Star awards?

Sydneysiders are well aware of the enormous wealth generated by the Hordern family who arrived as free-settlers in in the mid-1820’s and grew an enormous retail empire from their first Mrs Horderns drapery store at 12 King Street.

At its height the massive Anthony Hordern and Sons Ltd ‘The Palace Emporium’, built in 1905, occupied a whole Sydney block bounded by George, Liverpool, Pitt and Goulburn Streets. The company employed over 4,000 and dealt in ‘everything from a needle to an anchor’ which were either made in its Sydney factories or imported by its agents. The company was taken over by Waltons Ltd in January 1970.

Sir Sam Hordern (1876-1956) was an early member of the Royal Automobile Club of Australia and twice its President. The RACA Club Trophy was introduced by Sam Junior to coincide with the opening of Warwick Farm. It was contested throughout the sixties with ‘traditional events at Wallacia (hillclimb) and standing quarter mile tests at Castlereagh Airstrip’ whilst simultaneously the Sam Hordern Trophy, usually abbreviated to Hordern Trophy was provided to the winner of the AARC’s Warwick Farm Gold Star event.

Bib Stillwell in a year he didn’t win! 1964 Hordern Trophy, Brabham BT4 Climax DNF lap 15 with Coventry Climax engine failure. The ANF1.5’s of Leo Geoghegan and Greg Cusack, Elfin Catalina Ford led the field home (B Wells)

The other three-time Hodern Trophy winner, Kevin Bartlett, in Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo, he also won the Gold Star in this machine in 1968 (unattributed)

There were twelve Hordern Trophy events from 1961 to 1972, Bib Stillwell won the first in a Cooper T53 Climax F Libre and Frank Matich the last in his Matich A50 Repco F5000.

Stillwell and Bartlett won three times, Gardner and Leo Geoghegan twice, with singleton wins for John Youl and Matich. The winningest marque was Brabham with four chequered-flags, the engine with the most notches in its sump was the good ‘ole Coventry Climax four-cylinder, DOHC FPF with five victories.

Late lamented Warwick Farm’s last open meeting was the July 15, 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship meeting, and the very last an AARC Clubbie on the Farms short circuit, August 12, 1973.

Peter Brock, Holden Dealer Team Group C Holden Torana GTR-XU1 during the final WF open meeting- the final round of the 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship on 15 July which Brock won from the similar Torana of Bob Morris and Pete Geoghegan’s Valiant Charger RT E49 (unattributed)

Etcetera: Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo…

Brabham BT23D ‘1’ was a one-off car built on Ron Tauranac’s F2 BT23 jig to the specific requirements of Alec Mildren- specifically fitment of an Autodelta Tipo 33 2.5 litre engine.

Mildren was an Alfa dealer, the new motor allowed him to join the Tasman V8 brigade and get some promotional rub-off in terms of car sales.

The car was built in the Motor Racing Developments factory in Weybridge with the engine installation carried out the Mildren Racing ‘shop in Sydney by Glen Abbey and the team. The Brabham BT23 family of Tasman cars is covered in this article;

https://primotipo.com/2016/09/29/bathurst-1969-and-jacks-tasman-brabhams/

The car had a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis with conventional outboard suspension front and rear. Wishbones top and bottom at the front with coil spring damper units and an adjustable roll bar. At the rear was an inverted lower wishbone, single top link, two radius rods and again coil spring/dampers and an adjustable ‘bar. Suspension uprights were cast magnesium front and rear- the front Alford and Alder units were given the flick with the introduction of the BT23!

(M Feisst)

The engine was a beauty and came to Mildren via Autodelta’s long Tipo 33 sportscar program which ran well into the mid-seventies and yielded an F1 flat-12 engine along the way; not to forget 3-litre F1 versions of the T33 V8s.

Kevin Bartlett has said Mildren had three of the V8’s along the journey from late 1967 to late 1970, which were fitted to the Brabham BT23D and Len Bailey designed, Alan Mann Racing built Mildren Yellow Submarine, the monocoque jewel which succeeeded the Brabham (as in Gardner’s 1969 Tasman weapon and KB’s car for the 1969 Gold Star and beyond- and ultimately fitted with a Waggott TC-4V 2-litre moteur).

Engine number ‘AD001’ was variously quoted at 2,464 and 2,472cc and was a 90 degree, DOHC, chain-driven, two-valve, twin-plug, Lucas injected, Marelli sparked V8 giving around 285 bhp; about the same as was quoted for Amon’s Dino in three-valve spec in 1968 (yes he raced four-valvers in Australia in 1968 too).

The gearbox was the ubiquitous Hewland FT200 five-speeder.

Teretonga- BRM’s Tim Parnell (seated) grabs a Coke with the Mildren lads- wonder who the cutie is at left? Front and rear suspension as per specs in text below. A beautiful bit of kit which FG exploited to the full (Ian Peak)

Arguably the BT23D Alfa was the best car Gardner ever drove in a Tasman, the ‘Sub’ was a better car but was neutered in part by its sub-optimal wing package in 1969.

Frank’s problem was the depth of the 1968 field too. With Clark, Hill, Amon, Hulme (emasculated with an F2 Brabham BT23 that summer) Rodriguez and Brabham, albeit Jack only did some of the Oz rounds, his race record, in that context is strong.

Pukekohe (NZ GP) Q4 and second. Levin Q2 and DNF after running wide on the fast sweeping left-hander, boofing the car and damaging the suspension after hitting a bank. Wigram, Q3 on the airfield circuit and DNF head-gasket. Teretonga, Q4 on the world most southern track and third.

Off to Australia.

Surfers Q4 and DNF- not sure why. Warwick Farm Q8 and DNF camshaft. Sandown Q6 and fourth. Longford, his qualifying time is not clear in the shemozzle over starting the sodden race but third was a good race result.

Gardner flirted with Grand Prix racing, he was happier doing a mix of touring cars, sports prototypes, F2 in most years, some F1 and an annual Tasman summer. He did great against the greatest, lets not forget the Lotus 49 Ford is one of racing’s greatest GP cars, Amon’s Dino was a works machine too, run by Amon’s local Kiwi crew.

It would have been very interesting to see how FG would have gone in a decent GP car, circa 1966 to 1969 when he was in his peak.

As it was BT23D gave Bartlett his first of two Gold Stars, the Sub the other. Then it became ‘our first F5000’ car when Jim Abbott bought it from Mildren and gussied it up as such as a display car to promote the class he believed in.

Into hill-climbing the chassis was modified and used by Abbott. Later Chris Murphy died in it at One Tree Hill, Ararat. Eventually restored by Paul Moxham, beautifully so too, the car now lives in Tasmania owned by the sympathetic Chas Kelly. The full history of the car is a topic for another time.

More on Alfa’s race 2.5 V8’s here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/30/motori-porno-alfa-romeo-tipo-33-tasman-2-5-litre-v8/

Etcetera: Symmons Plains Gold Star 1967…

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Greg Cusack confers before the off. His only Gold Star win was that day at Symmons, in some ways Greg’s small-bore single seater promise was not fulfilled in BT23A results.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Cooper in the ‘ultimate spec’ Mono- his factory outboard suspension Mk2D. GC used this chassis and a 600 to jointly win the ANF1.5 title shared with Max Stewart in 1968.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Royal Automobile Club of Australia, oldracingcars.com, Australian Autosportsman, Dick Simpson, Mike Feisst and Ian Peak on The Roaring Season, Paul Cross, Racing Car News, D Bird

Tailpiece: All Australian boy and all round sportsman…

(unattributed)

(Fairfax)

The black and white version, almost, of the opening photo which is ripped off from the cover of FG’s ‘Castrol Racing Drivers Manual’!

Finito…

Rupert Steele explores the limits of his Bentley in the ample confines of Fishermans Bend (JP Read/VSCC Vic Collection)

Sir Rupert Steele was a pillar of the Melbourne sporting and business establishment throughout the 1960-1980s.

With a period typical sense of duty he served in World War 2, including a year as a POW in the Stalag Luft III camp, in Sagan, Lower Silesia (now Poland) after the Lancaster in which he was a bomb-aimer was shot down over Germany.

Before he discovered thoroughbred racing, he was a racing driver of some ability despite few competition miles.

He took over his father’s 1937 Bentley and was soon competing in the heavy, 4.25-litre six-cylinder, pushrod, twin-SU 120bhp sedan; he was timed at 90.8mph in a 1940 Cowes Speed Trial.

Post-war – still with the cars Martin & King body fitted – he won the Light Car Club’s Peninsula Trial in 1947 overall, and the Boneo Hillclimb within that event. In 1948 he contested the Light Car Club’s Mountain Trial and a Rob Roy Hillclimb.

Rupert Steele after battle at Fishermans Bend (JP Read/VSCC Vic Collection)
Fishermans Bend is the name these days! (Motor Manual Annual)

His serious intent was made clear when he had the Bentley body removed during a Rob Roy Hillclimb weekend in 1949. He competed body-on during the Saturday runs, and raced without it on the Tuesday Melbourne Cup Day! This work was performed by Allan Ashton at one of the most prominent race-preparation ‘shops of the day; AF Hollins in High Street, Armadale, Melbourne.

He raced the Bentley only once, on the occasion shown at Fishermans Bend, in Melbourne’s inner-west, in 1949. It was then game on; he purchased the Alfa Romeo Monza chassis # 2211134 previously raced by great Aussie Ace, Alf Barrett, who was retiring, this car was also prepared by Ashton and his crew.

“Everything was less serious in those days of course. Rupert Steele recalled that despite the lack of racing opportunities he put in quite a bit of practice driving in the Monza on outer Melbourne public roads, for example, driving from Dandenong to Beaconsfield and back at five in the morning.” he told great Australian race-historian Graham Howard.

Super rare shot of Steele in the Alfa Romeo Monza at Rob Roy, Melbourne Cup Day meeting, November 1949. His first three runs got better and better but the fourth was a bit more exciting for he and spectators after a lose up from the Spillway (Tony Johns Collection)
Steele in the Alfa Romeo Monza at Nuriootpa during the 1950 AGP, a most impressive performance from a novice in a demanding GP machine. A pity he retired so early (John Blanden Collection)

Despite his inexperience, he gave Doug Whiteford and his Ford V8 Special, Black Bess, a serious run for their money in the 1950 Australian Grand Prix run on the Nuriootpa roads in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. This event is covered here; 1950 Australian Grand Prix: Nuriootpa, South Australia… | primotipo…

The Bentley lived to fight another day, after the meeting shown its standard body was refitted, so equipped Rupert went into battle with the similarly equipped matrons on the Toorak, South Yarra and Armadale roads.

Rupert Steele was born circa 1921 and died in August 2000. His life of achievement included directorships of some large corporates including Carlton and United Breweries, he was Chairman of the Victorian Racing Club from 1978-1983 and knighted in 1980.

Etcetera…

(Darren Overend Collection)

Bentley chassis B 28 GA “Brand new in Toorak, immediately after importation by Cyril Steele, Rupert’s dad, before being bodied by Martin and King in High Street, Armadale for the 1937 Melbourne Motor Show,” current owner Darren Overend writes.

“The driver is the Steele chaffeur, Arthur Jackson, who was drowned with Cyril in a boating accident (believed the boat capsized in stormy weather) on Port Phillip Bay near the Heads” (the treacherous, narrow entrance of the Bay and Bass Strait – the ocean).

‘Bentley Specials & Special Bentleys’ Ray Roberts (Johns Collection)
(Darren Overend)

Sir Rupert Steele with his old Bentley, looking a little different than it did in his days with it as a racer, Toorak 1995.

Credits…

JP Read photographer-VSCC Victoria Collection, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, John Blanden Collection, 1950-51 Motor Manual Australian Motor Racing Yearbook, Tony Johns Collection, Darren Overend Collection

Tailpiece…

(JP Read/VSCC Vic Collection)

That imposing radiator ranging up behind would have scared the lesser ranks into submission, surely! Bentley sedan looks mighty fine as a sports-racer. While it looks the part, mechanicals were standard. Fishermans Bend 1949.

Obiter…

(Motor Manual Annual)

Finito…

Dave Walker in the radical Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney, 4WD gas turbine powered F1 car during practice for the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort…

It is just over 50 years since the gritty Aussie raced this radical Lotus – developed and raced at the ’68 Indy 500 then adapted by Chapman and his team for road racin – through the Zandvoort sand dunes.

Perhaps with more practice in the car in advance of the meeting Walker may have made the podium in his famously wet race, instead, he braked too late late and went straight on over the bank behind the pits. He was ok but the car was too badly damaged to continue.

At that point Denis Jenkinson reported that “from the back of the grid he was galloping through the tail enders (armed also with the Firestone wets used by winner Ickx’ Ferrari and the other front-runners), really pleased with the way the smoother torque of the turbine and the 4-wheel drive were dealing with the appalling conditions, and was actually in tenth place at the end of the fifth lap. On the four previous laps he had arrived at the end of the long straight in company with a bunch of cars and they had all braked safely from 150mph, but on lap 5 Walker had gotten away from the others and was on his own and he braked too late, locked up his wheels and went straight on through the fence.”

Jenkinson then goes on to speak about Dave Walker in glowing terms, watch for an article soon.

(autopics.com)

Alec Mildren accepts the plaudits of the crowd after winning the Bathurst 100 Gold Star round over the Easter long weekend in 1960.

He won of the Gold Star rounds in this clever Cooper T51 powered by a 2.5-litre Maserati 250S engine, the story of which is told here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

The Elfin 600 has always been a sinfully sexy racing car

Arguably, in F3 form, as here with factory mag alloy wheels, rather than the steel wheels of an FF and devoid of wings this is about as good as they get in terms of purity of line- Brian Sampson eases into Peters/Torana Corner at Sandown in his 600B Toyota circa 1970.

I think of him as a Cheetah man- he and Brian Shead conquered F3/F2 between them for years in Cheetahs built by Shead, and Toyota Corolla 1.3-litre race motors tuned by Sambo’s Motor Improvements concern in St Kilda. See a feature in the current issue of Auto Action on Sampson, Shead and his Cheetah Mk6; AUTO ACTION 1815 – Auto Action

Sampson with a narrow lead from young whipper-snapper John Bowe at Shell Corner, Sandown in 1979- Cheetah Mk6 Toyota and Elfin 792 VW during the ANF2 1.6 pushrod/single SOHC days (B Jones Collection)

Brian was handy in anything mind you, he had a long history in touring cars and sportscars before he added open-wheelers to his diet at a time he and Shead had Toyota factory support- remember Sampson’s Celica, which he still has. Oh- he did win Bathurst co-driving with Brocky aboard an L34 Torana in 1975.

Sampson has had the VHT franchise in Australia since JC was playing for the Jerusalem thirds. A nice giving back touch is he and Brendan Jones S5000 Series support- great stuff boys.

(S5000)

(A Patterson)

Two eight-cylinder specials front and centre in the Victor Harbor paddock during the 26 December, 1936 Australian Grand Prix.

Car #7 is the WA McIntyre owned, Frank Kleinig driven McIntyre Hudson Spl, DNF and #6 Ossie Cranston’s sixth placed Ford V8 Spl- look at the stylised V8 on the tale of that handsome car. Car #9 is Arthur Terdich’s eleventh placed Bugatti T37A and #12 alongside is George Smith’s Austin 7, DNF.

By the look of the size of the crowd it’s raceday, the handicap event was won by Les Murphy’s MG P Type from Tim Joshua’s similar car Bob Lea-Wright’s Terraplane Special.

Click here for a feature on this race; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/27/south-australian-centenary-grand-prix-26-december-1936-aka-1937-australian-grand-prix/ and here for the stupidity surrounding the naming of the event; https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

The shot below is of the very versatile McIntyre which did trials, hillclimbs, sprints and races of all types including the AGP. It is, happily, still with us in relaxed retirement in the Birdwood Mill museum in the Adelaide Hills.

(A Patterson)

(Hartnett Family Collection)

John Ampt and crew considering the next change to to the wonderful Cooper T38 Jaguar in the Mount Panorama pits in 196?

This car had a wonderful in-period history with Peter Whitehead in Europe inclusive of Le Mans in 1955 before passing through Stan Jones hands in early 1956 before finding plenty of success with Wangaratta’s Ron Phillips, who won the 1959 Australian Tourist Trophy at Lowood in it, before it passed to Ampt and more success.

You can see the old jigger is looking a bit tired in the body but for much of its life in Australia it had been beautifully prepared by Ern Seeliger. I wrote a lengthy feature in Auto Action #1812 AUTO ACTION 1812 – Auto Action

Ampt is still alive and well, on his farm at Rainbow in Victoria, although these days two brothers work the property.

(S5000)

Warwick Brown became an F5000 stalwart.

He raced a Brabham and McLaren before graduating to the ex-Alan Hamilton McLaren M10B in 1972, then raced ‘all of the Lolas from T300 to T333’ (all but the T330 and T400 anyway) in a career which yielded much success in Australasia and in the US. From 1977 onwards he raced F5000 ‘in drag’ – central seat 5-litre Can-Am cars.

The shot above is in the Sandown pitlane in 1977 aboard the Team VDS T430 Chev, he boofed it on the warm-up lap but won the Rothmans series, the one below is the following year in a T333/332C Chev. He won this race, one of all four rounds of the Rothmans International he took that summer.

More about WB here; ‘WB for ’73’… | primotipo…

(S5000)

(J Wakely)

Glorious ‘As it Was’ shot of the ‘Boomerang Service Station’ Holden 48-215 raced by Spencer Martin outside the Colonial Motel, Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.

It’s during a Catalina Park meeting in 1963, Spencer made his name with some amazing performances in this car, he was picked up by Scuderia Veloce’s David McKay not too long after this. Spencer progressed with McKay’s Brabhams and Ferrari 250LM, but it was with the Bob Jane owned ex-McKay Brabham BT11A Climax that Spencer won his two Gold Stars, then promptly retired.

Spencer’s not long ago released book is worth a read. See here for a feature on Martin; Spencer Martin: Australian ‘Gold Star’ Champion 1966/7… | primotipo…

(Cummins Archive)

Most of us think of Bryan Thomson as a touring car/sports sedan racer but here he is in the early open-wheeler phase of his long career in a Cooper T51 Climax at Hume Weir on Boxing Day 1962.

His penchant for innovation was on show early in his career too – remember the Chev F5000 engined Volksrolet and four-valve Chev V8 he and Peter Fowler developed in the mid-seventies – the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF engine in a car which was a little dated was supercharged, giving the machine a new lease of life.

Behind him is Wally Mitchell in Brabham Numero-Uno, the ex-Gavin Youl MRD Ford, see here for a piece on car and driver; Merde… | primotipo…

(Cummins Archive)

(G Thomas)

Bib Stillwell with a big smile on his face at Rob Roy on April 20, 1947, MG Magna.

The exhaust system looks impressive, sorta, but I wonder if it cost or enhanced power? At 20 years old Bib is just starting out on a career which took him all the way to the top of Australian motor racing and equal to all of the internationals other than The Gods.

See here; Bib Stillwell: Cooper T49 ‘Monaco’: Warwick Farm, Sydney December 1961… | primotipo… and here; Stillwell’s D Type… | primotipo…

(I Smith)

Ian Smith is a Melbourne photographer who went to Sydney and found an unusual angle on a circuit not noted for atmosphere shots.

As to the cars- a Lola T330 or T332 at left and an Elfin MR5 or Chevron B24 circa 1974. The F5000s are coming off The Dogleg with the Energol spectator mound beyond.

(R Page)

Bob Tanner in his VW ‘Bed Base’ at Lakeview Hillclimb, the Canberra Car Club’s venue in the mid sixties.

Can anybody tell us a bit more about this car?

Larry Perkins from Keke Rosberg, Ralt RT1 and Chevron B45 coming onto Pit Straight at Bay Park, New Zealand in 1978.

Perkins drove the wheels off this self-run Graham Watson/David McKay owned car, but the ex-F1 driver was bested by F1 aspirant Rosberg who won the series in his much better supported Fred Opert ‘works’ car. Click here; Keke Rosberg Attacks the Pukekohe Chicane, New Zealand Grand Prix, January 1978… | primotipo…

Many top young drivers contested the NZ Pacific Series, the 1978 crop included Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, David Oxton, Ken Smith, Richard Melville, Dave McMillan, Steve Millen, Andrew Miedecke and others.

(D Foster)

John French’ Centaur Holden-Waggott at Lakeside on the July 8, 1962 weekend.

A couple of great shots of the very clever Tim Harlock built car powered by the equally clever Merv Waggott built twin-cam, triple Weber Holden 200bhp, 3-litre ‘Grey’ six cylinder engine. See the Waggott-Holden bit within this piece; Repco Holden F5000 V8… | primotipo…

On this weekend the talented Queenslander won the 100 mile, 50 lap Australian GT Championship.

(D Foster)

(R Reid Collection)

Start of the 1958 Australian Grand Prix at Mount Panorama that October 6.

Stan Jones, Ted Gray and Lex Davison- Maserati 250F, Tornado 2 Chev and Ferrari 500/625 and then the Alec Mildren, Cooper T43 Climax and Kiwi, Tom Clark, Ferrari 555 Super Squalo.

(R Reid Collection)

Any of Jones, Gray and Davison had the speed to win but Davo had the reliability, and, perhaps the patience. Stan dropped a valve after 7 laps of clutch-less gear-changes (above) and Ted pushed too hard after a botched fuel stop, boofing a fence.

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…

(S5000)

Bob Jane grabs a breath of air aboard his Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 litre V8 during 1967.

A mighty fine car with a somewhat chequered history, stories about the Elfin 400 and its design are here; Elfin 400/Traco Olds: Frank Matich, Niel Allen and Garrie Cooper… | primotipo…

and about Bob’s car in particular here; Belle of The Ball… | primotipo…

Mark Webber aboard his Red Bull RB3 Renault during the 2007 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

105,000 Australians were keen for a home win but Kimi Raikkonen started from pole in his Ferrari F2007 and won the race at the start of his championship season, Webber Q7 and 13th. A bit about Red Bull and Webber here; Mark Webber: Red Bull RB6 Renault: Singapore Grand Prix 2010… | primotipo…

(AN1Images.com)

‘Yer not takin’ the Kingswood…

But apparently so, Ted Bullpitt would not be best pleased.

Colin Bond flinging around this HQ Holden Kingswood, Holden’s iconic four door family car of the early seventies. Any idea of the gig folks?

Stan Jones at his exuberant best on the streets of Sydney.

Stan The Man is both trying to stay in the seat of Maybach 1 and control its slide at Parramatta Park in 1952- isn’t it a corker of a shot and rare for the period, colour?

And below in the paddock with Reg Robbins leaning on the cockpit. See here for a feature on Jones, with plenty on the Maybachs; Stan Jones: Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix and Gold Star Winner… | primotipo…

(J Mangano)

Tim Mayer with his Bruce McLaren Racing Cooper T70 Climax during the Lakeside 99 Tasman Cup meeting in February 1964.

There is a certain poignancy in this shot- probably a press one taken in the lead up to the race.

The young American had the world at his feet, he had impressed all of those who mattered on that tour with his driving of what were the fastest road-racing single-seaters in the world, and also his demeanour.

Sadly, he made a mistake at Longford a fortnight later and lost his life- a bright light extinguished way before time. See here for a lengthy feature; Tim Mayer: What Might Have Been?… | primotipo…

(S Griffiths)

This shot of the Porsche 550 Spyder has a great moody quality about it taken as it was, late in the day.

Its the Templestowe Hillclimb in Victoria’s outer eastern suburbs in 1963, see here; Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder… | primotipo…

(Brabham Family)

Matt Brabham did two Indycar events in a Dallara Chev in 2016; the Indianapolis Grand Prix, as shown here and the Indy 500 during May.

He was 16th on the road course and thirtieth in the Memorial Day classic.

His father, Geoff Brabham and grandfather Jack ran at Indy many times. Jack’s most important start was his first of course. His Cooper T54 Climax FPF 2.7 finished ninth and showed the Indy establishment the mid-engined path; Jack’s Indy Cooper T54 Climax… | primotipo…

(Indy Museum’

Jack and Geoff Brabham before Geoff’s first Indy 500 start in 1981- twenty years after Jack’s Brickyard debut in a nice bit of symmetry. GB’s car is a Penske PC9 Cosworth, was fifth in the race won by Bobby Unser’s Penske.

(AMS)

An ‘Australian Motor Sports’ Ferodo ad- car featured a circa 1951  HRG ‘Bathurst’ perhaps.

Credits…

B Cahier, Getty Images, Adrian Patterson Collection, Joel Wakely, Brendan Jones Collection, George Thomas via Richard Townley Collection, Ron Page, Terry Marshall, Darren Foster, Ron Reid Collection, John Mangano, AN1Images.com, Stan Griffiths, Brabham Family Collection, Indianapolis Motor Museum

Tailpiece…

The start of the 1975 Australian Grand Prix at Surfers Paradise.

The challenge of driving a 500bhp F5000 car in the teeming rain does not require much imagination, 11 F5000s started the race, and three ANF2.

Bruce Allison started from pole but was outed by ignition dramas, for a while it looked as though John Leffler’s Bowin P8 Chev may take the chequered flag but the Sydneysider’s electrics were drowned too, Max Stewart took top honours in his Lola T400 Chev.

Finito…

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Sandown, 25km from Melbourne, in the south eastern suburb of Springvale was first used for horse racing in the late nineteenth century, but closed in the 1930s.

Resuscitation commenced post World War 2 when the Victorian Amateur Turf Club planned and built a facility for horse racing, the donkeys galloped for the first time in the modern era in 1965. The dish-lickers (greyhounds) were catered for within the complex too, happy days. You have not lived until yerv’ had a night at the doggies, once will do mind you.

Fortunately the VATC allowed the Light Car Club of Australia to build a race track as well. The feature race of the first open meeting was the Sandown International Cup in March 1962; fittingly, Jack Brabham won in his Cooper T55 Climax.

With the Sword of Damocles hovering near, if not over a track so dear to many of us, it makes me a bit misty eyed to see this early shot of two-thirds of the circuit, and the design schematic below.

It’s undated, but let’s guess 1960 as an approximation.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The original circuit map below – upside down deliberately, I’ve not imbibed any more giggle-juice than usual – allows an easy view of the differences between the draft above, and the track as used in the first phase of its long life until 1984; these are fundamentally a left-right kink on the way to Dandy Road, and the high speed right-left blast across the Causeway and under Dunlop Bridge.

At the height of the Tasman Cup there was an important bit of commerce to be conducted every year; the assemblage of a great field of cars and the fees to be paid to them by the seven or eight car clubs which owned or leased the tracks upon which the aces raced.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The negotiations were led by Geoff Sykes (Warwick Farm) and Motor Sport New Zealand’s Ron Frost, on behalf of the Kiwi circuits.

This July 1967 letter (above) from Frost to his buddies in Australia, in this case to the LCCA, is an update on how things were looking. Hopefully you can read his progress on BRM, Ferrari, Lotus and the rest.

Ultimately BRM brought a team comprising the new Len Terry designed and built V12 P126, and old favourite, the V8 engined P261. Drivers were Bruce McLaren (NZ only), Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood. Jim Clark triumphed in a 2.5-litre Cosworth DFW engined Lotus 49.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Winding back the clock four decades, checkout the table-card for the ‘Smoke Social’ to hand out the prizes for the 1929 200 Mile Road Race (aka the 1929 AGP) held at Phillip Island – which the Victorian Light Car Club organised and promoted – that March.

VLCC committee man, Arthur Terdich won the race aboard a Bugatti Type 37A, and is the subject of the caricature. A significant part of the VSCC Collection is the Terdich Archive, this is Arthur’s own card from a very special night.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

The Poms have their London-Brighton veteran car run each November, the LCCA had their own Melbourne to Brighton event in the 1930s. I wonder when it ceased to be held, or if once was enough?

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Credits…

Vintage Sports Car Club (Victoria) Collection

Tailpieces…

I’ve occasionally wondered what a Competition Licence looked like in ye olden days. Here is that of Forbes Tough for the 1939 calendar year.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

Finito…

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

I guess Bugatti were one of the first, if not the first to sell customer racing cars in large numbers to those lucky enough to afford them.

So you would expect their communication with clients to have been pretty good.

This January 13, 1931 letter, on the key operational specifications of a Grand Prix Bugatti Type 37, is from Bugatti’s UK agent, Sorel, to Australian customer, Harold Drake Richmond, a regular in the Phillip Island AGP years. His best placing was second in the subject car, in 1930 and 1933, and third in 1931- chassis 37164.

“I’ve seen a lot of these types of letters from Bugatti to their customers,” Bugatti racer/historian Bob King commented.

I love this type of period communication; both the content itself and the formality of the language of the day.

Harold Drake Richmond in his Bugatti Type 37 during a snowy Alpine Trial in the Victorian high country, perhaps November 1930 (VSCC Vic Collection)

This material comes from the Arthur Terdich Collection, part of the Vintage Sports Car Club of Victoria Collection. Terdich was the winner of the 1929 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, prominent local businessman and early Melbourne motoring leader.

Many thanks to me’ mates Bob King and Tony Johns for creating the opportunity to access material seen by few, and to Ashley Tracey, the VSCC librarian, for being so kind with his time to allow Bob and I to pick the eyes out of the content. Over time we will share the material.

All new Bugatti’s delivered to Australia passed through the hands of Sorel, Bugatti’s UK agents. Not necessarily physically – that is delivered to the UK before on-shipment to the colonies – but legally. Why this was so is still a mystery to King, but doubtless was a technique to avoid the worst ravages of the fiscal-fiend (tax office) in France and/or Australia.

Etcetera…

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Credits…

Bob King, Tony Johns, Ash Tracey and the VSCC Victoria

Finito…

(D Simpson)

There is no such thing as too much Alec Mildren Racing; the man himself, the cars and their colour, drivers – the lot…

So, here we go again! I got a chuckle out of the first three photos which were uploaded onto social media within a couple of days of each other a while ago.

The wry amusement was about the car, Mildren’s Frank Gardner and Kevin Bartlett driven Brabham BT23D-1 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8 – particularly its evolution from wingless beauty to appendaged warrior over the period of several months – between Easter and July 1968 to be precise.

The car arrived in Australia in late 1967, seven months before wings first appeared in F1. Ferrari and Brabham were arguably the first over the July 7, 1968 French GP weekend at Rouen. The performance dividend of wings cascaded across the single-seater world. Lets not forget Jim Hall ‘started it’ with his gorgeous Chaparral sports-racers, to give credit where it is due.

Dick Simpson’s ripper shot (above) is Kevin Bartlett traversing Hell Corner at Bathurst during the Easter ’68 Gold Star weekend, as is the one below at Forrests Elbow. The stationary shot is the car in its final 2.5-litre Tasman form during the Warwick Farm Tasman round in 1969 with KB at the wheel in the form-up area/dummy grid.

(P Maslen) 
(K Bartlett)

Treat this piece as a pictorial of BT23D-1’s short life as a front line tool. It was sold after the ’69 Tasman sans engine to Melbourne publisher/motor show promoter Jim Abbott to become his display F5000/hill-climb car. In this form it was fitted with an ex-Frank Matich Oldsmobile V8 and ZF five speed transaxle. Abbott was part of the push to adopt F5000 as the replacement for the Tasman 2.5 ANF1, the modified Brabham was a tool to advance that cause.

Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm, December 1967…

Frank Gardner took a great win upon the cars debut at the December 3 Hordern Trophy Gold Star final round at Warwick Farm, from John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A Climax.

The car didn’t have the ultimate pace during the Tasman Cup of the works Lotus 49s or Chris Amon’s Ferrari 246T.

(AutoSportsman)

Warwick Farm 1968…

When Gardner headed back to Europe, Bartlett stepped into the car having raced Mildren’s Brabham BT11A Climax throughout 1966 and 1967.

In close hand-to-hand-combat with Spencer Martin’s Bob Jane Racing BT11A, KB ran Spencer close, but Martin took the Gold Star honours in those two years.

The shot above is at the Farm after The Esses exit during the July 14, 1968 weekend, BT23D’s last wingless meeting.

“Frank (Gardner) sent us a drawing of a rear-wing from Europe. Alan Stanfield fabricated it for us together with Glenn Abbey. We took the car out to Oran Park to test, it was so such more stabile and quick” Kevin Bartlett recalls.

“That was just before the Gold Star round at Lakeside in July. We raced the car there with the wing fitted and became the first local team to win a race with a rear wing fitted.” KB shared pole with Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco, and comfortably won from Phil West’s Brabham BT23A Repco and Peter Macrow’s McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

Things Go Better With Coke! It seems.

KB’s own shot of his car with its new wing in the Lakeside paddock that July 4 weekend. Lets focus on the wing, not the engine, which is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/30/motori-porno-alfa-romeo-tipo-33-tasman-2-5-litre-v8/

The shape of the wing – via Frank Gardner as noted above – was based on contemporary European practice. The vertical mounts locate on the chassis inner spring mounts. The triangular horizontal stays are simple bits of engineering Lotus chief, Colin Chapman should have had a gander at. Note the pivot atop the roll bar, and simple means of altering the wings angle of attack, or incidence.

Surfers Paradise, Gold Star, August 1968…

(P Maslen)

A month after Lakeside, the circus returned to (or stayed in) Queensland.

Bartlett won the race by over 20 seconds from Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco- it too was the was subject of much aero experimentation by John Sheppard and Geoghegan – and Glyn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA.

(Rod MacKenzie)
(Rod MacKenzie)

Mallala, October 1968…

(Alexis Scott)

Leo has wings too – but not Phil West in the SV Brabham BT23A Repco – behind Geoghegan’s evergreen Lotus 39 Repco.

Leo out-qualified KB by a second and won from the Brabham and Glyn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA. The car alongside West (fifth) is John Walker, a Gold Star and AGP winner a decade and a bit later, in an Elfin Mono Ford, DNF. Glyn Scott is behind Bartlett at the off, he finished third.

Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm, December 1968…

(Rod MacKenzie)

Bartlett won the Hordern Trophy and the Gold Star by 20 seconds from West and Fred Gibson in Niel Allen’s F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

(D Harvey)

Warwick Farm Tasman February 1969…

(R Thorncraft)

Look closely and you can see that KB can’t- see that is. He has put aside, or more precisely pulled down his goggles away from his eyes in an endeavour too see where he is going.

Jochen Rindt won the race in famous fashion- it’s a drive remembered by all who attended that race weekend.

Sandown Park Cup, Tasman Series, February 1969…

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Bartlett’s last race in BT23D-1 was in the final round of the 1969 Tasman, with exhaust problems he was out after five laps in the race won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

Frank Gardner was fourth in the Mildren Alfa Romeo ‘Yellow Submarine’, a car KB would take over after Gardner returned to Europe. The aerodynamic experimentation continued in a car which KB raced to his second Gold Star, and the Macau Grand Prix, a story for another time.

Two hands are for beginners on the exit of Peters Corner, Sandown.

Credits…

Dick Simpson, Kevin Bartlett, Peter Maslen, Alexis Scott, Russell Thorncraft

Finito…

Carlo Massola and riding mechanic aboard his works Diatto Type 20 during the April 1922 Targa Florio weekend. DNF after one of four 67 mile laps. #18 is the nose of Giulio Foresti’s Ballot 2LS – a Maroubra visitor in 1925 (BNF)

Formed by 30-year old Guglielmo Diatto in Turin in 1835 as a coach-builder, Fratelli Diatto later morphed to railway engineering in 1864 before (Vittorio and Pietro Diatto, grandsons of Guglielmo) focusing on new-fangled motor automobiles in collaboration with Adolphe Clément in 1905. Its first cars were licensed Clément-Bayard designs, known as Diatto-Cléments.

After Clement’s 1909 departure, Diatto (Societa Anonima Autoscostruzioni Diatto), a major concern of over 500 employees, made its own cars, the 12/15hp Tipo Unico was its most popular pre-War.

After the conflict Diatto built the Giuseppe Coda designed Tipo 20. Powered by a 2-litre SOHC four, it produced 40bhp and was exported globally. With assistance from the Maserati brothers – Alfieri Maserati split his time between his Bologna factory and Diatto in Turin – Diatto produced the short-wheelbase 2-litre, DOHC, 75bhp Tipo 20S Grand Prix car for the 2-litre formula which commenced that year.

Carlo Massola was a FIAT mechanic and test driver before joining Diatto to fill a similar role. He contested the 1922 Targa Florio in a Tipo 20 (or 20S, accounts vary) but failed to finish, as did Domenico Gamboni in the other works car which started; Giulio Masetti won in a 1918 Mercedes GP 18/100.

At the end of the year Massola emigrated to Australia to join the Ongarello brothers’ Diatto Australian agency, based in Melbourne.

He successfully raced his Targa Diatto, and other marques, at Aspendale amongst other venues from 1923, later still he took Australian citizenship. His son Silvo was a noted racer/engineer post-war; HRG, Bugatti and the M.M. Holden are amongst his race/construction credits.

The Ongarellos sold Diatto Tipo 20A’s in rolling chassis form, the most infamous of which was owned by Melbourne’s Roaring Twenties gangster, Joseph ‘Squizzy’ Taylor who was gunned down in a 1927 Carlton shootout (in a Barkly Street terrace, not the Diatto!).

After a succession of financial reconstructions, Diatto ceased car production in 1927 to manufacture other products. In 2007 the Carrozzeria Zagato revived the brand for a concept car displayed at the 2007 Geneva Motor, the Diatto Ottovù Zagato.

I am in the process of researching an article about Carlo inspired by Bob King with the assistance of the Massola family. Carlo’s race record in Australia is pretty clear, his career in Europe is not.

I am keen to hear from any readers, particularly Italians who may have access to race-records in the decade before 1923, to fill in the gaps. Gimme a yell at mark@bisset.com.au if you can assist, many thanks!

Alfieri Maserati and mechanic, Diatto GP305/20S 3-litre four, DNF oil-tank, during the November 1922 268 mile Coppa Florio. Boillot won on Peugeot 174S. Wonderful action, whites of the eyes shot (Wiki-unattributed)

Credits…

Bibliotheque Nationale de France, ‘Diatto’ Sergio Massaro via Bob King Collection, Wikipedia

Tailpiece…

(S Massaro)

Beautiful drawing from the Massaro book showing a race Diatto 20S long-tail. The light-alloy, holey wheels date from 1923.

Finito…