Max Stewart with John Walker at right, Calder 1972. Repco-Holden V8, then circa 490bhp powered Elfin MR5 and Matich A50 (S Gall)

During 1972, then Australian automotive parts manufacturing and retailing colossus, Repco Ltd celebrated its half century.

Yes folks, that means the now foreign owned 400 store retailer of automotive bits and pieces made by others is a centenarian in 2022! They have some exciting things planned for next year, I won’t rain on their parade by sharing the bits I’m aware of.

Time flies all too fast, as a young teenager I attended two of the five Repco Birthday Series F5000 championship meetings run at Calder between March and December ‘72 as part of those celebrations.

The man who was ‘sposed to win the Repco Birthday Series, F Matich Esq. Bi-winged Matich A50 Repco-Holden, Calder 1972 (S Gall)

At that stage Repco had been out of F1 for four years, the 3-litre V8 Repco Brabham Engines program had yielded two GP world constructors and drivers championships for Brabham Cars (Motor Racing Developments Ltd), Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd, Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme in 1966-1967.

Repco’s cost effective means of maintaining a racing presence after pulling the F1 pin was a partnership with General Motors Holdens to build F5000 engines using GMH’ then ‘spankers 308 V8 as a base, from 1969 to 1974.

Phil Irving and Brian Heard did mighty fine jobs, their Repco-Holden V8 engine design won AGPs, NZ GPs, many Tasman rounds, several Gold Stars and countless sports-sedan and sportscar races.

The interloper: KB in his sinfully sexy and oh-so-fast Lola T300 Chev at Calder in 1972 (I Smith)

It was therefore a pain-in-the-tit when Kevin Bartlett’s Chev powered Lola T300 rained on Repco’s parade in their home state by winning a ‘72 championship the grand plan of which involved a Repco-Holden engined victory!

It wasn’t all bad, Frank Matich, in the Repco sponsored Matich A50 Repco-Holden won that years Gold Star, but KB’s two Birthday Series round wins gave him a nine point advantage over FM. Conversely, Bartlett was 12 points short of Matich in the Australian Drivers Championship, the Gold Star.

Repco’s race heritage goes all the way back. In 1935 they were sponsors of engineering substance, rather than just cash…not that cash is to be scoffed at (B King Collection)

In recent times Repco have returned to racing as series sponsors of the Bathurst maxi-taxis. In the forty years they were involved as OE and aftermarket suppliers to the motor industry, and constructors of cars (Maybachs, Repco Record), race engines, components and equipment from the mid-1930s to 1974 Repco’s involvement was supreme.

Still, the comparison is unfair. We once had an automotive industry in this country until it was sodomised to a standstill by a troika (sic) of incompetent, greedy fuckwits bereft of commonsense or a single-cell of vision; management, government and organised labour.

Gees he was a big, lanky prick wasn’t he? The capped Marvellous Maxwell Stewart partially obscured by mutton-chopped Bryan Thomson or Garrie Cooper (? who-izzit?) in the BP compound at Calder in 1972. Elfin MR5 Repco, not Max’ favourite car (S Gall)

Etcetera…

(T Johns Collection)

More on the use of Repco pistons and rings in 1935. This time fitted to Les Murphy’s MG P-Type during the ‘1935 Centenary 300’ held at Phillip Island in January.

(S Gall)

Warwick Brown proved he had the ability to handle these demanding 5-litre roller skates in 1972 having jumped out of a Cosworth FVC powered McLaren M4A – McLaren M10B Chev heading into Calder’s main straight in 1972.

(S Gall)

Graham ‘Lugsy’ Adams – then mechanic and later rather handy driver and F5000 constructor – does his best to focus on the Calder job at hand. Is that the future, and still current Mrs Brown looking thoroughly wonderful behind an M10B shortly to become Bryan Thomson’s Volksrolet?

Credits…

Stephen Gall, Bob King Collection, Ian Smith, Tony Johns Collection, Barry Edmunds

Tailpiece…

(B Edmunds)

John Harvey in one of the very few appearances of Bob Jane’s Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000 at Calder in 1972 – Surfers Paradise and Warwick Farm were the others as far as I can see.

Bowin bias hereby declared…here I go. Again.

This beautiful, small, light, compact, ingenious, variable-rate suspension F5000 never got the run it deserved. Supposedly Janey put it to one side because Castrol wanted him to focus on his taxis rather than his real cars.

Then Leffo bought it in mid-1974, sans Repco-Holden V8, to replace the P8 chassis he boofed at Amaroo and then stuffed up the installation of a Chev V8 into a chassis for which it was never designed, creating a car as stiff as a centenarians todger, with handling reflective thereof…

John Joyce’s P8 Repco design is a great Oz F5000 mighta-been, not that mighta-beens count for SFA in motor racing!

Finito…

Comments
  1. IAN SMITH says:

    My photo taken at Calder of Kevin Bartlet Chesterfield F5000

  2. Mark Hood. says:

    I’ll put ten bucks on it being Garrie Cooper standing next to Max Stuart. That was the thinking stance.

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