Mellow Yellow…

Posted: July 6, 2021 in Fotos, Obscurities
Tags: , ,
(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…

Comments
  1. Emery says:

    Jim Hall shouldn’t get all the credit. A young Michel May was the first one to attach a wing to a sports car (in 1956) and his aerodynamic knowledge was eventually used to help give the Ferrari 250GTO stability with the tail spoiler. http://type550.com/history/special-spyders/winged-spyder/

    Jim Cushman put a wing on his sprint car in 1958 and by 1959 they were common on short dirt tracks. Wings also spread to short track stock cars as seen in southern California in the early ’60s.
    https://bangshift.com/general-news/grainy-8mm-footage-captures-earliest-winged-sprint-cars-ever-built/

    A wing even went to Indy in 1962, but it was too aggressive and needed more development. https://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/smokey-yunicks-winged-watson-offy/

    • markbisset says:

      Cheers Emery,
      I agree, Jim and his boys had the benefit of all who went before him.
      His success with the Chaparral’s so equipped was the final shove the F1 mob needed to head down that path of no return…
      Mark

  2. Martin says:

    Hi Mark,
    Mellow Yellow ….. Quite rightly!

    The Brabham BT23D looks great in its pre-wing configuration, probably my favourite Mildren car. One of my few trips to Bathurst was 1968. A bunch of us went up just on race day, and we hadn’t heard about the carnage during a wet practice session, so the starting field was a bit sparse. But KB was there with the Brabham Alfa, and was leading by more than a country mile when it broke, handing the win to Phil West.
    After the disappointment of the Brabham Maserati, Frank Gardner’s win in BT23D at the Horden Trophy with a new lap record, renewed my hope of Tasman success for the team.
    That wasn’t to be, however the Alfa V8 did give KB two Gold Stars.
    You have to give it to Alec, for thinking outside the box, his three “Italian Affairs” enriched our starting grids, and produced two wining cars, the Cooper T51 and the Brabham BT23D.
    Geez mate, I’m overdosing on nostalgia here!

    So, that just leaves the Mildren/Renmax Alfa/Waggot F2 car in all it’s various engine forms …. subtle hint.

    Martin

  3. Rob says:

    Mark,

    Given your love of all things Mildren, I assume that the intro above which reads “There is no such thing as Alec Mildren Racing….” was meant to read “There is no such thing as too much Alec Mildren Racing….”

    Cheers,

    Rob Bartholomaeus

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