Werrangourt Archive 14: Hawkesbury Hillclimb, by Bob King…

Posted: December 13, 2021 in Obscurities, Who,What,Where & When...?
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(B Daley)

A Bill Daley photograph of Hawkesbury hill climb, circa 1948.

How many of these cars ran in an Australian Grand Prix, is the question which pops into my mind?

In the absence of a programme for the event, this classic study of racing cars taken at Hawkesbury Hillclimb has left the experts unable to identify all the cars; we call on our readers to fill the gaps.

The photograph came from the VSCCA (NSW) collection, per favore of Richard Walton. Note the spectating ladies with their handbags; they look as though they may have come straight from church.

Surprisingly, the owner of the Jowett Bradford van has been identified. John Medley says it belonged to Bob Pritchett – familiar to many of us as the ‘RBP’ of ‘Spotlight’ in Australian Motor Sports (R. Beal Pritchett). Kent Patrick describes the van as: “The bronchial Jowett Bradford – (which will) roll over with its engine stopped”. Within coughing distance to the right of the van is the unmistakeable shape of the Sulman Singer (#32) as it appeared pre-war in Tom Sulman’s hands. Kent speculates that the Riley, next in line (#28), might be Len Masser’s Lynx Sprite. I guess the next is a ubiquitous Ford A ute.

The nearest line of cars, backed up to the fence, pose some real problems. The car to the left of the tree is a mystery; the one to the right has an external exhaust on the left side – what is it? We then have the ex-Bill Thompson K3 MG (with bonnet open) – Kent suggests it might have been owned by Ken Tubman around this time. Ken was a graduate of Fort St School, a pharmacist, and is best remembered for winning the first Redex Round Australia Trial in a Peugeot 203. He still had the K3 in the sixties; we recall him bringing it to the Geelong Speed Trials as a spectator.

The first Grand Prix Bugatti with the folded full width windscreen is probably the Type 37 of Frank Lyell, chassis number 37160. This car had been discovered abandoned in a shed behind the Federal Hotel in Narromine a few short years before – it changed hands for 10 pounds! To its right is Type 37, chassis number 37209 owned by Irwin ‘Bud’ Luke, who was very competitive in the car; he finished seventh in the Australian Grand Prix at Leyburn in 1947. Kent thinks it might be Bud attending to the front wheel with his partner Ida at the rear of the car.

The touring bodied Bugatti bears elegant coachwork by Carrosserie Profilée and is chassis number 4264. It was probably owned by Doug Helsham and likely powered by a Chrysler Six. ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray’s Day Special is next (second car from the right), a Ford V8 powered Type 39 Bugatti, chassis number 4607, which won the 1931 Australian Grand Prix driven by Carl Junker. The last parked car appears to be an Austin ‘7’ special, possibly Frank Lyell’s car. Of course, the car leaving the starting line (partially obscured at the bottom) is Frank Kleinig in his eponymous special.

Since writing this, Cummins Archive (Paul Cummins) have posted on Facebook a 1948 programme for Hawkesbury hillclimb. It is not ‘our event’ as the numbers on recognizable cars differ – viz. Sulman Singer 32 in the photo and 44 in the published programme. This programme might help with the identification of some of the other cars – could Riley number 28 be the Rizzo Riley and the last car, which appears to be an Austin ‘7’ special be that of Ted Ansell? The list of competitors, which is a virtual Who’s Who of immediately post-war NSW racing drivers, appears to confirm Kent Patrick’s suggestion that the K3 MG is that of Tubman – see his listing under ‘Additional Entries’.

(Cummins Archive)
(Cummins Archive)
(Cummins Archive)
(Cummins Archive)

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Cummins Archive via Paul Cummins

Finito…

Comments
  1. Greg Stasko says:

    Remarkable that the tail section is off the Bugatti on the right. Know how long it takes to remove and refit one of those? 😀 How much time could they possibly have had between runs?

  2. robert king says:

    Greg Statsko. Not so long: maybe a couple of hours. However it is likely it wasn’t fitted – save a bit of weight etc. Basically, apart from a bit of streamlining, it is there to hold the number plate and the tail-light – oh, and for aesthetic reasons.

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