Archive for December, 2022


F3/500cc ace Eric Brandon gets some sustenenace with some assistance from his wife Sheila before no doubt scoring another win on 18 July 1953…

Click here for an interesting article on this very talented driver;

image (GP Library)

Coopers galore! Alan Brown, Eric Brandon, Juan Fangio and Mike Hawthorn in F2 Cooper T20 Bristols before the Lavant Cup, Easter Monday 14 April 1952. This race was one of a series of performances which vaulted Hawthorn into a GP Ferrari seat in 1953.

Hawthorn won the six-lapper from Brown and Brandon and set the fastest lap.

Equally impressive was Hawthorn’s second place behind Froilan Gonzalez’ Ferrari 375 in the Formula Libre Richmond Trophy. Duncan Hamilton placed third in a Talbot Lago T26C.

And Fangio? I have one report that says the great man raced John Cooper’s Cooper T20 to a misfiring sixth place but he doesn’t appear at all in the results for the Lavanat Cup and Richmond Trophy I have. John Cooper offer the ride after Alfa Romeo failed to appear. Happy to take your advice on this one.


Walter Bellamy, GP Library


This shot begs a caption competition, surely?

The thoroughly delightful Eunice Fidock is shown beside an Austin 7 Special at Dowerin, Western Australia circa 1935.

Dowerin is a wheatbelt community 160km north-east of Perth. It had two pre-war racing venues, the Lake Koombekine one mile, dirt, circular speedway, and the Dowerin Showgrounds speedway in town. I’m not sure which of the two this is, but I’m happy to take advice.

My friend Tony Johns, Austin racer/historian is on the job as to chassis type and number, albeit he suspects a Perth built body on a standard or Super Sports chassis.

Eunice hails from Cottesloe, an inner Perth beachside suburb. Looking like that she would have cut quite a dash at Cotts’ Indiana Teahouse. Resplendent in leopard-skin shorts, she is showing lots of bumpy-curvy bits for the times and is therefore well armed to keep the more amorous of Dowerin suitors at bay. I’ll leave the make of weapon to you NRA members.


Lake Perkolilli Revival Facebook page, State Library of Western Australia



A slightly later model Austin – an Austin Junior Forty – shown in a Perth dealership circa 1951.


JPJ ponders the challenges of the day, the not long retired Gerard Larrousse by the left-front. ID’s of others folks?

Jean-Pierre Jabouille (JPJ) gathers his thoughts at the wheel of the Renault Alpine A500 Formula 1 test car during a two day session at Paul Ricard/Le Castellet, June 6, 1976. It’s a year before JPJ raced a Renault RS01 at Silverstone during the British GP weekend, the return of the great Regie to Grand Prix racing.

I tripped over this shot during my Patrick Tambay obituary research, it made me chuckle as Jabouille was a very busy boy that year, at the epicentre of three Renault race programmes; the European F2 and World Sportscar Championships and F1 test program.

The JPJ (up) Jean Guichet, Alpine A220 3-litre V8 at Le Mans in 1968, DNF electrics in the 16th hour. Rodriguez/Biancho won aboard a JW Ford GT40, 3-litre class by the 2.2-litre Rico Steinemann/Dieter Spoerry Porsche 907 (Twitter)
Happy chappy. JPJ after a win in the AGACI Cup, Montlhery April 28, 1968. Matra MS5 Ford, in front of Depailler’s works Alpine A330 Renault and Bernard Baur Brabham BT21B Ford

By then he was already a driver with vast experience, having started racing in the Coupe Renault 8 Gordini in 1966, then progressing through Formula 3 and Formula 2. He placed second in the French F3 championship, behind Francois Cevert in 1968, and Patrick Depailler in 1971, racing Matra MS5 Ford and Alpine A360 Renault respectively.

In 1968 JPJ made both his Le Mans and F2 debuts, and from 1970 mixed F2 racing and sportscar competition for a best of third at Le Mans aboard Matra MS670Bs in 1973-74. Despite an education in the humanities he developed a gift for the engineering of racing cars and their development, a role he performed for Alpine throughout.

JPJ aboard the Matra MS670B he shared with Francois Migault at Le Mans in 1974. They were third in the race won by the sister MS670C of Henri Pescarolo and Gerard Larousse (LAT)
JPJ, Alpine A440 Renault-Gordini 2-litre V6, Magny Cours 1973. The poor performance of the cars in 1973 led to the winter developments which made the cars utterly dominant in 1974 (unattributed)
Tyrrell 007 Ford during the 1975 French GP at Dijon. JPJ was Q21 and 12th in the race won by Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T. Scheckter was Q2 and ninth, Depailler Q13 and sixth in the other two 007s

After a couple of failed attempts to qualify for a Grand Prix he made the cut for Tyrrell in the 1975 French GP, qualifying 21st and finishing 12th in a Tyrrell 007 Ford. Importantly this gave him an appreciation of a competitive F1car, albeit a normally aspirated one, as he and his colleagues toiled to get the turbo-charged Renault-Gordini CHS V6 engine competitive in terms of power, throttle response and longevity…quite a challenge, despite the wealth of engineering nous the French giant possessed.

JPJ Elf 2J Renault-Gordini from Patrick Tambay, Martini Mk19 Renault-Gordini at Nogaro in 1976 – perhaps Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Opert Chvron B35 Hart behind (MotorSport)
Renault-Gordini 2-litre CH1B V6 in the back of an Elf 2J at Thruxton in April 1976, both cars DNF. Maurizio Flammini won in a works March 762 BMW (MotorSport)

The jewel of a 2-litre, quad-cam, four valve, fuel injected V6 – the design of which was credited to a team led by Francois Castaing – was blooded in 2-litre sports-prototype competition. After a shaky start in 1973 the revised Renault Alpine A441 won all seven races of the 1974 2-litre Championship. The 300bhp CH1B engine was then handed to Jabouille and Tico Martini to mount a two team, four car, Elf supported attack on the 1976 European F2 Championship.

An Elf 2J spaceframe takes shape in Jabouille’s workshop, where folks? (G Gamand Collection)
JPJ with the bi-winged Elf 2J, Rome GP 1976. Jabouille perhaps inspired by Frank Matich’s success in a similarly endowed Matich A50 Repco-Holden F5000 machine in 1972-73 (unattributed)

In 1975 JPJ and his collaborator, engineer and ex-motorcycle/F3/sportscar racer Jean-Claude Guenard had built a spaceframe Elf 2J BMW F2 car which won the Salzburgring round of the F2 championship. They built two, or perhaps three new machines that winter for a a torrid All French F2 Battle in 1976.

The Equipe Elf Switzerland Elf 2J (aka Jabouille 2J) team – sponsored by the Swiss Gruyere and Emmental Cheese Foundation – took first Renault-Gordini blood over the Ecurie Elf Martinis at Vallelunga in early May. JPJ won the GP di Roma from Patrick Tambay, while Michel Leclere was fourth in the other Elf 2J, and Rene Arnoux retired the other Martini Mk 19 with engine failure.

Spaceframes weren’t so common in 1976 – they are still about today of course – so Ron Tauranac must have had a chuckle at Porsche’s ongoing success and the Elf 2J triumphs in endurance racing and F2 that year (G Gamand Collection)
JPJ, Michel Leclere and Giancarlo Martini, March 762 BMW at Vallelunga during the 1976 Rome GP weekend (MotorSport)

It was a timely win. JPJ and Patrick Depailler managed to run into one another from the front row of the Nurburgring 300K enduro aboard Renault Alpine A442 prototypes in front of Renault’s top-brass the month before. “Patrick was on pole, I was third but made a good start and took an immediate lead, imperative because it was raining and if you weren’t at the front it would be impossible to see anything,” JPJ recalled to Simon Taylor in a MotorSport interview.

Jabouille and Cevert had of course been scrapping with one another for years in France and the circuits of Europe. “I braked fairly late for a downhill left-hander, but Patrick tried to follow me and slid off hard into the barriers. We hadn’t touched, but I hit a drainage cover, got sideways and crashed. All the Renault managers were there and after about one kilometre both cars were out. They were absolutely livid, not so much with me, but suspended (the by then very well established Tyrrell GP driver) Patrick for the next three races. I think that was something of a first in the sport…”

Jabouille at Le Mans in 1976. He shared his Renault Alpine A442 with Patrick Tambay and Jose Dolhem, DNF with piston failure in the 11th hour. Race won by the Jacky Ickx/Gijs Van Lennep Porsche 936 (MotorSport)
The unseen long, hard slog of racing, JPJ testing an A442 Renault Alpine at Paul Ricard in February 1975

That season Renault-Alpine finished a distant second to Porsche in the World Sportscar Championship, with 47 points to the Zuffenhausen outfits 100 achieved with the Porsche 936 turbo. Renault would of course eventually win at Le Mans in 1978 when Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud triumphed aboard a A442 . In 1976 JPJ’s best result was third place sharing his A442 with Jean-Pierre Jarier at Dijon.

At that stage – the first WSC win for Renault-Alpine was at Mugello when Gerard Larrousse and JPJ triumphed in 1975 – Renault’s primary competition goal was to win at Le Mans. But as they made the 1997cc, Garrett turbo-charged circa 490bhp semi-monocoque, Hewland TL-200 equipped sports-racer consistently competitive there was cross pollination to the 1.5-litre F1 engine development program in which JPJ was totally immersed.

There was no such reliability problems for the circa 300bhp @ 10500rpm CH1B F2 V6 variant mind you. JPJ and Rene Arnoux went at it hammer-and-tongs all of that 1976 season with Arnoux winning four rounds of the ’76 Euro F2 title, JPJ three, and Leclere one. In the wash-up JPJ scraped home by a point, 53 to 52. There was karma in this, Jabouille had had a long F2 apprenticeship and of course designed and built his weapon of war, both would enter Grand Prix competition soon enough.


Engineer Bernard Dudot was instrumental in the development of the team which developed the turbo-charged engine. He outlined to Doug Nye that the 1976 F1 project team comprised four people, engineer, Jean-Pierre Boudy and two or three mechanics with Dudot splitting some of his time to it among his endurance commitments.

By then Castaing was General Manger of Renault Sport – formed in 1976 – and it was he who designed the F1 Alpine A500 laboratoire monoplace test car (photos above), Dudot having told Renault Chief Executive that it was possible to make a competitive F1 engine out of the cast iron block V6.

Initially Jabouille tested 2.1-litre CHS type Le Mans, and EF1 1.5-litre engines back-to-back in A442 sportscars at Paul Ricard. Initially Jabouille found the 1.5-litre undriveable, “The compression ratio was so low that we couldn’t get sufficient fuel pressure to start the engine,” JPJ recalled.

“Every morning one of the mechanics would get up before the others and put a camp-stove beneath the engine to warm it up, at the time it was the only way we could get it started. It seemed a long road from there to an engine capable of winning GPs…”

The huge problem of throttle response was addressed, in part by running a little less boost, “while Mahle and Goetze, their piston, liner and ring suppliers learned with them, as did Garrett, whose production turbochargers were made to inadequate tolerances for F1. Compressor wheels, turbines and axle wheels all failed, at this time they were running 130000rpm on plain bearings.” Doug Nye wrote.

These brief paragraphs do nothing more than skim the surface of the engineering and manufacturing challenges presented and overcome. A more thorough exploration of the evolution of the V6 from victorious 2-litre endurance and F2 engine to fire-breathing 1.5-turbo is for another time.

Three photographs during the 1977 British GP weekend at Silverstone. JPJ, Renault RS01 Q21 and DNF lap 17 with turbo failure. Race won by James Hunt’s McLaren M26 Ford from Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2 and Gunnar Nilsson, Lotus 78 Ford (MotorSport)
Renault Gordini EF1 1492cc single Garrett-turbocharged 510bhp @ 11000rpm engine (MotorSport)

JPJ made the Renault RS01’s race debut at Silverstone in 1977, where the Yellow Teapot retired from the race but not before making a big impression with what would become the new engine paradigm.

At the 1978 US GP Jabouille bagged the first points for Renault and turbo-engines. Critically, by this stage, Renault had their Le Mans Cup in the boardroom display case so all of Renault Sport’s resources were applied to F1. Jabouille took pole in South Africa in 1979 and that first fabulous home win at Dijon the same year.


Motorsport, Gerard Gamand Collection, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Getty Images, LAT Photographic



JPJ on the way to that win at Dijon on July 1, 1979 aboard his Renault RE10. The first championship Grand Prix victory for a forced-induction engine since Juan Manuel Fangio’s Spanish GP win at Pedralbes on an Alfa Romeo 159 on October 28,1951.

During the final laps most eyes were focussed on the titanic wheel to wheel battle 15-seconds back between two-magnificent-maddies, Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux, Ferrari 312T4 and Renault RE10, a nail-biter resolved in the French-Canadian’s favour.


PT aboard the Ligier JS17 Matra at Dijon in 1981. Q16 and DNF wheel bearing in his first race for the team. Alain Prost won in a Renault RE30

Patrick Tambay, grand prix winner and Can-Am champion died on December 4, 2022 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease, aged 73.

Every girl’s idea of a racing driver, the dashing Frenchman developed his need-for-speed in the European Alps where he was a schoolboy ski champion, but cars then grabbed his attention.

Total, Motul and Elf invested vast petro-francs to develop French drivers from the 1960s. The first wave who made it to F1 included Johnny Servoz-Gavin, Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Francois Cevert. Tambay was one of the mid 1970s talent-wave along with Jacques Laffitte, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Rene Arnoux, Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jarier.

PT at Villars, Rossignol ski type and year unknown! (unattributed)
Aboard an Alpine A366 Formula Renault at Paul Ricard during1972 (Winfield School)
Pau GP 1976, Martini Mk19 Renault V6. DNF accident, Rene Arnoux won in the sister car. Jabouille won the title in a Jabouille 2J Renault (MotorSport)

Tambay won the Winfield Racing School’s Volant Elf competition in 1971. After two years in Formula Renault he graduated to F2, finishing second in the European Championship to Jacques Laffitte’s Martini Mk14 BMW aboard a works March 752 BMW in 1975. He was third in 1976 aboard a Martini Mk19 Renault, behind fellow Equipe Elf pilots, Jabouille and Arnoux.

Patrick was picked up by Carl Haas to replace the injured Brian Redman in his works central-seat Lola T333 CS Chev Can-Am team in 1977. Tambay shone in the 525bhp Chev V8 missiles, taking the championship with six wins, and befriending Gilles Villeneuve who raced an unwieldy Wolf WD1 Chev for much of that season.

Press call for the Alpine A442 Renault at Paul Ricard in April 1977. Obscured J-P Jabouille, PT, Marie-Claude Beaumont, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Derek Bell. None of the cars finished Le Mans that year, with much more to come!
Feel the earth move. Haas Lola T333CS Chev at Mosport in August ’77. PT won the Can-Am race from George Follmer and Peter Gethin, Lola T332C and T333CS respectively (unattributed)
Ahead of Alan Jones during the 1978 French GP at Paul Ricard. McLaren M26 Ford and Williams FW06 Ford. Ninth and fifth in the race won by Mario Andretti’s Lotus 79 Ford

Both impressed during the ’77 British GP weekend at Silverstone, Patrick aboard a Theodore Racing Ensign N177 Ford, and Gilles a works McLaren M23 Ford. That silly-season McLaren signed Tambay and Ferrari got Villeneuve, Patrick topped the Scuderia’s list but Teddy Mayer beat them to the punch.

Tambay then endured two shocking years with McLaren, who were on one of their downers, then bounced back into F1 in 1981 with Theodore Racing, after winning another Can-Am title for Haas, racing a Lola T530 Chev in 1980.

In mid-1981 fortune again favoured Tambay when he replaced the injured Jabouille at Ligier, but he had shocking reliability, mechanical failures in every race. His GP career seemed on the rocks until Villeneuve’s fatal 1982 Zolder accident, he replaced his friend at Ferrari.

Tambay relished the competitive car, taking a tough win at Hockenheim the day after Pironi’s career-ending Ferrari crash. Third at Brands Hatch and second at Monza helped the team win the Constructors Championship with the Ferrari 126C2.

In the best of company. Ronnie Peterson, PT, Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter, Paul Ricard 1978
PT, Ferrari 126C3, Italian GP 1983. Fourth, race won by Nelson Piquet’s Brabham BT52B BMW, Arnoux was second in the other Ferrari
It looked the goods at least. PT aboard the Lola THL2 Ford at Spa during the 1986 Belgian GP weekend. DNF after first lap prang, Jones was 11th and out of fuel. Mansell’s Williams FW11 Honda won

Patrick won again at San Marino in 1983, finishing a career best of fourth in the driver’s title. Ferrari won the ‘constructors again, but teammate Rene Arnoux’ three wins eclipsed him.

Two years with Renault followed in 1984-85, he was well placed occasionally, but a second and a couple of third placings was his best. Tambay was reunited with Teddy Mayer and Carl Haas at Beatrice Racing in 1986, his final F1 season. Good as the Lola chassis was, its Hart, and later Ford Cosworth GBA V6 lacked grunt and reliability, Patrick and Alan Jones had a grim season.

After a year aboard a Jaguar XJR-9 V12 in 1989 and two thirds in the Paris-Dakar, an event he loved, Patrick returned to F1 as a TV commentator and involvement in Cannes politics.

Two GP wins isn’t reflective of Patrick Tambay’s place in the pantheon of drivers, but his grit, valour and composure in the face of Parkinson’s reminded pit pundits just what an outstanding man he was.

PT’s Lada ‘Poch’ Samara T3 Porsche 3.6 during the 1991 Paris-Dakar, sharing the car with Lemoyne. The pair were seventh, the event won by the Ari Vatanen/Berglund Citroen ZX


MotorSport Images, Getty Images, Roger Hermsen, Winfield School Facebook page


Hans Stuck and Patrick during the GP Masters round at Silverstone in August 2006. Stuck was fourth and PT 11th in the race won by Eddie Cheever.

The cars, based on Reynard’s 2000 model 2KI Indycar, were built by Delta MotorSport. The engines were Ford XB derived 3.5-litre Nicholson-McLaren 80-degree, fuel injected V8s producing about 650bhp @ 10400rpm.


Jack Brabham put the cat amongst the Indy pigeons in 1961 together with John Cooper. Their Cooper T54 Climax FPF 2.7 blew the minds of the establishment. They were stunned by the speed of the itty-bitty, mid-engined roller-skate despite giving away 1.5-litres to the bulky Offy engined roadsters – which hung onto The Milk until 1965 of course.

Brabham returned in 1964 with Ron Tauranac’s BT11 derived, spaceframe BT12 powered this time by an injected 4.2-litre Offenhauser twin-cam, two-valve four. The pacey package also featured a robust Colotti Francis T37 transaxle.

BT12-1 in build at Motor Racing Developments, Weybridge, Surrey circa April 1964. Long-stroke, 4128cc, 420bhp @ 6600rpm Offy sits tall in the frame, Colotti-Francis GSD transaxle and inverted lower wishbone, single top link, two radius rods and coil spring/shocks, rear discs, knock on hubs and beefy driveshafts all clear (MotorSport)
Spaceframe chassis, upper and lower wishbone/coil spring-shock and roll bar suspension. Note the bungee’d in place oil tank and top-of-chassis little fuel tank. Note too the main tanks offset to keep the bulk to the inside. About 59 gallons of fuel when full (MotorSport)
Indy 1964 (MotorSport)

Jack didn’t qualify well with a multitude of problems, not least spring/shocks which were way too soft (as specified by car owner John Zinc), and time, pulled as he was by his GP commitments to straddle both sides of the Atlantic.

Famously wary at the start of that race – having been warned about how dangerous the Mickey Thompson built Thompson Ford was by Masten Gregory, who didn’t qualify his – Brabham picked up a small fracture in one of those ginormous aluminium fuel tanks in the horrific lap two accident caused by Dave MacDonald losing control of his Thompson Ford in the middle of the field. MacDonald, very much a man of the future, and the much-loved Eddie Sachs, Halibrand Ford, perished in the horrific conflagration. Brabham was out after 77 laps, the race was won by AJ Foyt’s Watson Offy from the similar front-engined roadsters of Rodger Ward and Lloyd Ruby.

Jim McElreath on the way to victory in the Trenton 500 during 1965, Brabham BT12 Offy. Note in the other Trenton shot below the symmetrical fuel tank setup compared with Jack’s at Indy the year before (DJ Teece)

When Jack returned to Europe, the John Zinc owned car was raced with plenty of speed by Jim McElreath, and a few decent hits too. The final shunt at Indy was a biggie, it wasn’t worth repairing the mild steel tube frame, in part because it would not have been legal under USAC’s 1965 rules.

Clint Brawner therefore built two chrome-moly steel tube copies of the BT12 late in 1964, one for Zinc/McElreath, and one for his – Al Dean sponsored – outfit to be driven by a talented young rookie named Mario Andretti.

A very young and happy Mario Andretti at Indianapolis in 1965 aboard the Brabham BT12 Ford aka Hawk 1 65 Ford. Apart from the Ford V8 installation note the changes to the bodywork which were thought later to provide some ground effect. This car was a rocket in 1965-66 despite the presence of plenty of Lotus 34 and 38 machines (unattributed)
The Dean Van Lines/Brawner outfit called their Brabham BT12 Ford a Brabham for a while, as proved above. They then named it a Hawk, and later a Brawner Hawk, not unreasonable given the evolution of the body and modifications to fit the Ford Indy V8
Andretti during practice at Indy in 1966. Still aboard his favourite BT12/ Hawk 1 65 Ford. He raced with #1, popped the car on pole, choosing to race it rather than the Lotus 38 he also had at his disposal (Dave Friedman/MotorSport)

Andretti loved the ‘Hawk Ford’ (chassis Hawk 1 65), winning the USAC Championship in it in 1965-66. In ‘65, McElreath was one of his closest competitors in the Zinc Brabham Offy, finishing third. The following year he went one better and placed second to the future 1978 F1 World Champ, this time Ford Indy V8 powered.

Another two BT12 copies were built for Jim Hayhoe’s outfit, with drawings provided, perhaps, via Jack Brabham in 1968.

One of these Offy powered BT12s, with suitably updated body by Jud Phillips, finished fifth in the 1971 Indy 500 as the catchily named Sugaripe Prune Spl with Billy Vukovich at the wheel. In a strong year for the seven year old design, and three year old chassis, Vukovich was third in the USAC points table. His haul included two third placings at Milwaukee and Phoenix, and a staggering second to Mark Donohue’s state-of-the-art Penske McLaren M16A Offy at Michigan.

Bill Vukovich, Brabham BT12 Offy t/c at Indy in 1971, looking slightly different! to Jack’s BT12 Offy seven years before. I dare say the suspension geometry copped a tickle to accommodate the advance of tyre technology over that period (IMS)
Rick Muther in the ex-Andretti BT12/Hawk 1 65 chassis, now fitted with an Offy turbo at Indy in 1970. Q15 and eighth, race won by Al Unser, Colt 70 Ford
Shit shot of a Fugly Cup contender. Rick Muther in the ex-Andretti Hawk 1 65 Offy t/c before the 1971 Indy 500 (unattributed)
Muther, hanging onto his helmet while travelling sideways along Indy’s front chute at well over 120mph – no he didn’t go over. Chassis a tad second hand after this lot, Indy 1971

Equally amazing was that Andretti’s old nail – the Hawk 1 65 – that he raced so successfully in 1965-66, by then owned by Jack Adams, also started the 1970 and that ’71 500 with Rick Muther the driver.

The Offy powered, Arkansas Aviation entered car was involved in a spectacular accident with David Hobbs’ Penske Lola after completing 85 laps of the race won by Al Unser’s Colt 71 Ford. Hobbs engine blew, then Muther, immediately behind him swerved in avoidance, pegged the inside wall, then veered right into Hobbs’ path and the outside wall, taking both of them out in a lucky escape.

Who said that spaceframes were old hat by the end of 1962!?

Spaceframe BT12 out front of MRD. Note the Halibrand wheels (MotorSport)


The MotorSport Images shots at MRD were taken by David Phipps, DJ Teece, Indy Motor Speedway, Bill Daniels Collectibles

As always, thanks to Allen Brown’s mind-blowing – racing car history results and database website. I simply cannot get the level of historic accuracy – facts – into some of these articles without his one-of-a-kind website. Click on this link to Allen’s main Indy page Indy 500 and USAC racing 1971-1978 « then you can scroll for yourself through far more details about the BT12 cars; Brabham, Hawk and Hayhoe


Brabham ready to boogie aboard the Zinc Trackburner Special on raceday at Indianapolis in 1964.

Such an influential car the BT12, an unsung, or at least an under-recognised Brabham in some ways.


(R Schlegelmilch)

The Herbie Muller/Claude Haldi/Nick McGranger Porsche 935 during practice at Le Mans in June 1978…

It’s such a wonderful image evocative of a fun weekend in rural France. They failed to finish with a broken gearbox casing after 140 laps, during the 14th hour.

The Group 5 class was won by the Kremer Porsche 935 crewed by Jim Busby/Chris Cord/Rick Knoop, while the outright winner was the Alpine Renault A442B of Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. The 2-litre turbo-charged V6 prototype prevailed over the 2.1-litre flat-six turbo-charged Porsche 936/78 of Bob Wollek, Jurgen Barth and Jacky Ickx by five laps in an historic win for the French team.


Photo Credit…

Rainer Schlegelmilch


(Blackwood Times)

Osborne Scott ‘Ossie’ Cranston (1899 or 1903 – July 1, 1982) was one of Western Australia’s aces at a time Perth was a long way from the eastern seaboard (sic).

To race his Ford V8 Special in the December 26, 1936 South Australian Centenary Grand Prix (the 1936 Australian Grand Prix) at Victor Harbor required shipping his car on the interstate passenger liner, the Manoora, on the Tuesday before the race, from Fremantle to Port Adelaide. A trip to Melbourne is a lot further and Sydney even more. So race-fans in the more populous states of the nascent country of Australia didn’t see many of the faster West Australian cars, despite their thriving motoring scene.

Cranston and passenger en-route to victory, Ford V8 in the 10 Mile race at Lake Perkolilli in 1936. Standard wheelbase, chassis and hubcaps! clear. Wearing his dealer hat, Cranston’s modifications trod a sensible path between performance and familial connection to Ford’s standard offerings on his dealership forecourt. It’s attractive, the fin and stylised V8 logo are neat touches which take the eye off that long wheelbase. Fast car indeed (Kalgoorlie Miner)
Osborne Scott Cranston in his mid-thirties, as the Sunday Times artist saw him in 1937

In that sense, Cranston’s Victor Harbor (correct spelling) achievement was a great one over the more fancied Bugatti T37As, MG K3s, Frank Kleinig’s Kirby Deering Special and Hudson Special (he raced the latter) and Jack Phillips’ Ford V8 Special. Not that Cranston won the race.

Australian Grands Prix, until the dawn of the 1950s, were handicap events given the shortage of racing cars spread across a huge space – Australia is a big joint, have a look at a map one day – and the vast disparity in performance between those cars. Cranston did the fastest elapsed time but finished sixth on handicap. Les Murphy won the 250 mile race in an MG P-Type. See here for a long epic on this race around a rectangular 7 4/5 mile, sandy-gravel course, between Victor Harbor and Port Elliot. ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’ 26 December 1936 aka 1937 Australian Grand Prix…… | primotipo…

Cranston, Ford V8 Spl, Lake Perkolilli date unknown (unattributed via Graeme Cocks)
Arthur Colliver, Chrysler 70 ‘Silverwings’, Bugatti T37 driven by the Perth importer, Cyril Poole (or AN Other), Cranston in Ford T Heza-Henry and Jack Smith, Buick Spl, Lake Perkolilli 1927 (SLWA))

Cranston’s car started life as a 1935 model (1933 in some references) Ford V8 utility. It was then modified with a light racing body – the long tapered body with fin atop was fitted in 1935 – magneto ignition, competition exhaust manifold, flattened road springs and two Winfield carburettors in place of the single standard item. “Otherwise”, the ‘papers of the day reported, “the car is identical with the Ford V8s sold by Lynas Motors Ltd”, the Hay Street, Perth, Ford dealership of which Cranston was a partner/shareholder with V Lynas and J Victor Pascoe. Later fitted the with a ’36-model radiator, it was then erroneously and continuously called a ‘1936 car’.

I won’t repeat the successes of the car at Lake Perkolilli and other Western Australia venues already outlined in the opening image.

Cranston grew up in the comfortable surroundings of Swanbourne Beach. He began his working career as an apprentice mechanic with Grave and Dyer, working on Standard and Imperial cars. The business was Perth’s first Ford Dealer, over 15 years he rose through the ranks to become Works Manager. From there, Cranston was recruited by Ford as Works Superintendent of their assembly plant at North Fremantle. Later, he and his partners, former colleagues from Grave and Dyer, formed Lynas Motors Ltd.

Cranston with 3.5hp Triumph circa 1920 (Sunday Times)

In 1917 (or 1919) Ossie took up motorcycle racing, he won his first competitive race, the three-mile Charity Handicap at the WACA, riding a Triumph “in a brilliant performance for a novice.” He raced mainly on the grass tracks at Claremont Showground, Loton Park and on the road riding Indians and Triumphs for the Armstrong Cycle and Motor Agency. Six track/road championships followed, one “was recognised by Triumph in England with a gold medal and a particularly eulogistic letter of appreciation,” the Sunday Times wrote.

A large crash at Claremont in 1922 encouraged a shift to four-wheels. While still at Grave and Dwyer, he initially drove a Ford Model-T in hillclimbs, setting many fastest times in a car affectionately nicknamed ‘Heza Henry’. Hez had a hand-formed, torpedo-shaped rear which incorporated ‘guards for the road which were removed for competition work. It did 68mpg on the Perkolilli claypan in 1927.

With the introduction of the Model-A, Ossie built up ‘Cactus’. It had a less refined vinyl boat-tail body than Heza, from the dashboard back, two bucket seats and a fairing in front of the driver. Various engines were fitted along the way but the body was a constant.

Cranston in the Ford T-Spl Heza-Henry and JC Smith, Buick Spl, Lake Perkolilli 1927 (SLWA)
Ford A-Spl Cactus at Perkolilli, year unknown. Intrigued to know which of the Perth artisans built the various Cranston bodies (G Cocks Collection)

Well suited to hillclimbing but not so much Perkolilli’s long curves, he still finished third behind the Armstrong driven Auburn and Colliver Chrysler in the RACWA State 20 Mile Championship in 1929. He won the 10 Mile handicap that day too, claiming that the car was capable of 100mph. Cranston went one better in 1930 taking 10 Mile Lake Perkolilli State Championship.

The 3.3-litre, four cylinder, side-valve – for a while supercharged – engine had a range of modifications to the cylinder head, carburetors, intake and exhaust systems and a taller top (third) gear fitted to Ford’s coupe.

Further success ensued throughout 1931-32 at Whittakers Hill, North Dandalup, Lake Pinjar, Bunbury Beach, and Whittakers and Greenmount Hills. By late 1931 Cactus maxxed out at 89 mph to win the flying quarter-mile event at Wattle Grove.

In 1932 the Brooklands Speedway opened (on the West Subiaco aerodrome site), where Perry Lakes and the Uni WA sportsgrounds are today. Brooklyn had only a short commercial life, but Cranston – belted pretty hard by the handicappers – set a four-lap record for the one-mile, limestone track in 4 mins 38 secs in 1932, not too long before Cactus was retired.

Perth’s finest with their Bentley Speed Six’ (chassis LR2783 and LR2785) during their long period, 1930-1947, of service. Coachwork by Bryan’s Motor Body Works, 522A Hay Street, Perth, close to Lynas Motors. Cars extant, ‘Bentley Patrol’ is a whole story in itself! (WA Govt)
(The Daily News, September 21, 1933)

One of the more bizarre days of Cranston’s long life was a police invitation for he and Cactus to join a posse of cars to help catch some baddies in September 1933. Said crooks were committing smash and grab robberies in the country, then escaping in a stolen, fast, ‘high powered car’.

The police generals figured they needed more pursuit cars capable of in excess of 80mph, than their two 6.5-litre Bentley Speed Sixes. Yes folks, the WA police were the only wallopers on the planet to have these expensive blue-bloods as patrol cars. The plan was to create a cordon around Perth to chase down and catch the dirty-rats. So, some racers were recruited as Deputy Sherriffs including OS Cranston.

While Cactus wasn’t involved in a high speed chase, the four-perps (police talk I believe) ran off the road alongside where Cactus was parked, near the gate of the national park at Greenmount (23km east of Perth). They were arrested with a cache of stolen goods found close by.

In another bizarre, only-in-Australia moment, the handcuffed crooks were kept warm beside a fire lit by the coppers while Cranston high-tailed it back to Perth in Cactus. The Bentleys had radios, no other WA police cars did, Ossie’s mission was to give the good news to senior police and organise a patrol car to take the shaken, but warm robbers back to the city lock-up…

Sunday Times, June 30, 1935

By 1934 Cranston was quite the man about town too. In addition to his Lynas responsibilities he was a director of Rural Motors Ltd, Bunbury Motor Estates Ltd and General Investment Co Ltd, which provided consumer finance for Fords. He was also the director of several companies outside the motor trade.

Wearing his Lynas Motors hat Ossie travelled to ‘The Orient’ (is that term a no-no these days, one never hears it used?) in mid-1934. “Wherever you go you’ll see a Ford,” he quipped to the Perth Mirror on his return.

Cranston was amazed by the number of baby Fords in Singapore and amused that the first news he received in Ceylon was about the success of a small Ford in a local hillclimb. In Java he observed that cars were ancient, “the post Depression prices of sugar and rubber are low.”

Things were better in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Siam made the railways pay, “with no roads between the principal centres people are forced to use the trains!”

Asked about the new Datson (sic, the machine would have been the Datsun – Nissan – Type 13) car, “a new light job similar to the 7hp units with which we are all familiar, being built in Japan.” Cranston said “I didn’t see one on the trip. Agents have been appointed in various centres of the orient, but it’s unlikely any are expected in Australia.” Not for three decades or so, in any event!

The Daily News, November 19, 1935

In 1934 Cranston returned to racing with the Ford V8, setting a new Australian record at Perkolilli over 10 miles (16 kilometres) at an average speed of 97.61mph (157 km/h), and later a new State record of 111.1mph (178.8km/h) over a flying quarter-mile on Nicholson Road, Cannington, beating the record set in the Model-A.

After success in the South Australian Centenary Grand Prix, held at Victor Cranston told the Motorist and Wheelman that he was retiring from racing because he was “too old”.

Ford recognised his contribution to the sport and polishing the marque’s brand via his racing exploits over a long period with the presentation of a ‘gold wristlet’ at a function of dealers in Perth in April 1937.

His final motor racing event – just before the lights-went-out in WW2 – was the Patriotic Grand Prix, held on the Applecross streets of Perth in November 1940.

Following Cranston’s decision to retire, he sold the Ford V8 racer to Bathurst Ford dealer and 1920-30s intercity record breaker Norman Aubin. John Medley wrote that Aubin prepared the cream and green car for 27-year-old local driver, George Reed to race in the 1938 AGP held at Bathurst.

Reed’s race was brief as the big car spat its fan through the radiator early on. It would be interesting to know what the young driver thought of Cranston’s car. He was to build some very fine Ford V8 Specials of his own, including the George Reed Special Warwick Pratley raced to AGP victory around-the-houses at Narrogin, Western Australia in 1951.

The ’38 AGP was won by British international Peter Whitehead’s ERA B-Type. After that Easter meeting, Aubin sold it to a Sydney buyer, who repainted it red, but it never raced again.

Another report has it that the car was sold to an eastern states competitor who was killed in it at Bathurst. The engine was fitted to a speedboat and the chassis stored for a bit before being destroyed. Does anybody know the facts?

In 1983 Clem Dwyer started the build of a replica which remains a welcome competitor in historic events.

Cranston and passenger (who?) in the Ford V8 ahead of a Lagonda at Albany in 1936. This downhill stretch would have been a serious test of the brakes of the day (K Devine)
Ossie’s Ode to the Backmarkers. Perhaps Max Verstappen could try that approach in next March’ Albert Park programme (Albany GP programme)

Cranston hadn’t lost his passion for motorsport though. He had built ‘Miss Frances’, a Ford V8 powered speedboat which generally “spreadeagled rivals in much the same fashion as he had been doing for years on the terrain.”

“When not tied up with one or other of the multitudinous business matters which occupy his attention, Mt Cranston golfs, his one vice.” There was another though, with the encouragement of his wife he commenced horse riding at about 40. So keen and proficient was the Mosman Park resident, that he became Master of The Hounds for the West Australian Hunt Club.

Ossie remained involved and close to motorsport. An Ossie Cranston Trophy was contested in West Australian Sporting Car Club events for years, Cranston was a stalwart of the club, formed on November 17, 1929. Together with Eric Armstrong, CS Dyer and Claude McKinley he kept the very successful organisation together in some of its more difficult years.

Cranston was ‘the official driver’ at Caversham (first used on March 13, 1948) and into the 1970s at Wanneroo Park. He died on July 1, 1982 – born in either 1899 or 1903 – his remains are at the Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.

PS; Most of this piece was written via extractions from period newspapers. Of their nature they are light-on with the specifications of the cars. If any of you can assist in that regard, or in fleshing out Ossie’s story, do get in touch.

Oopsie, a bit of PE from the front of the Gas Producers Stock Car grid before the start of the 4-lap 10-miler. Patriotic GP meeting, Applecross, on a hot November 11, 1940. Car ID’s folks? (K Devine)


It’s a Gas

Pretty much the final motor race of any size in Australia before motorsport was set aside for the duration of World War 2 was the Patriotic GP, attended by a “huge crowd” at Applecross on November 11, 1940.

In his return to racing, Cranston ran a ’38 Ford in the novel, Producer Gas Race for stock, or standard cars. Ossie finished second in this handicap behind WJ Stitt’s De Soto straight-eight.

Interesting, perhaps – in the context of fuels of quite dissimilar quality, and the use of gas to power cars during the conflict – is the difference in performance between Ron Possetts’s petrol fuelled ’39 Ford V8, which won the stock (standard) car race and Ossie’s machine. Possett’s (rated a very good driver) best lap was 3 min 12 sec, and Cranston’s 3.44.

“The hilly course was a good test, the contest admirably fullfilled its purpose, which was to demonstrate that the sacrifice of performance made by the use of producer gas, is small,” wrote the South Western Advertiser.

The ‘Tisers’s journo continued, “A most interesting feature of Cranston’s car was that the ‘gas-works’ were all enclosed; producer, cleaners, pipes etc were all hidden, in the luggage trunk, beneath the bonnet or under the floorboards, and, except for cooling-louvres in the lid of the rear compartment, the big modern sedan had the appearance of a standard petrol model.”

All we need now is a happy-snap of the car, can anyone oblige?

Jack Phillips and Ted Parsons aboard their Ford V8 Spl during the 150-mile 1939 Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal, South Australia. They were third behind Allan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c and Bob Lea-Wright’s Terraplane Spl (N Howard)

Top Gun?

Looking at the performance of Ossie’s car, it has to be a contender for fastest-best Australian Ford V8 racer in that pre-war period?

Jack K Phillips’ similar machine (above) has to be in the mix too. He too was a Ford dealer, in Wangaratta, Victoria. Yep, I’ve heard of Black Bess, while built pre-war, Whiteford didn’t get her performing well until after the conflict.

The Cranston and Phillips cars were Special Ford V8s rather than Ford V8 Specials. That is they were modified Fords, rather than a concoction of parts of various makes powered by modified Ford V8s.

I’m interested to hear from those of you who know about such things, which car was the quickest-best Ford V8, and quickest-best Ford V8 Spl pre-war?

Cranston and passenger on the hop – he did fastest race time remember – during the South Australian Centenary aka AGP at Victor Harbor in December 1936, Ford V8 Spl. #25 is the H Abbott, Austin 7 Spl s/c (SLWA)

1936 Australian Grand Prix

I’ve got my great mate, Tony Johns, to thank for the wonderful loss of a couple of days researching this piece.

During his weekly State Library of Victoria research visitations, Tony came upon a snippet about the Light Car Club’s endeavours to run the 1936 AGP on a road course at Mornington, then a quiet, seaside village, 70km from Melbourne.

The Phillip Island road course which hosted the AGP from 1928-1935 was on-the-nose given its dangerous nature for cars of less than 2-litres, let alone the unlimited cars which should also have been included in the fun.

I’ll get to Mornington in due course.

There was no AGP called, promoted and run as such during 1936. The December 26, 1936 South Australian Centenary Grand Prix was later appropriated as an AGP – I’ve no issue with that – but the nincompoop(s) who did so, determined that a race held in 1936 was the 1937 Australian Grand Prix. WTF etc.

I’m on a one-man crusade to right this wrong, that is, the 1936 AGP event was the one at Victor. There was no AGP called, promoted and run as such in 1937 either. If we want to anoint one significant race held in 1937 as a part of the pantheon of AGP’s I’ve an open mind, send me your ideas and justifications…See here; 1936 Australian Grand Prix, Victor Harbour… | primotipo…

Anyway, in Troving (Trove is a digital record of Oz newspapers) with search-words like ‘Mornington 1936 Australian Grand Prix’, up popped the article which starts this piece. I’ve very much enjoyed writing it, knowing little about Mr Cranston and his achievements two days ago…

(R Bartholomaeus)

Port Victor

The poor old South Australians can’t make their minds up about Victor Harbor.

We Australians adopted the Pom’s version of English on the basis that as they invented it they should have half-a-clue about how stuff should be spelt.

Despite that, the township of Victor Harbor, rather than Victor Harbour, was proclaimed in 1914, for reasons almost as obscure as those related to the year in which the 1936 AGP was held.

Clearly the author of the South Australian Centenary meeting programme was confused too. Despite the race being held in Victor Harbor, the event was contested, seemingly, on the Port Elliott-Victor Harbour Circuit.


The Blackwood Times, Friday January 15, 1937, Sunday Times Perth June 30, 1935, Mirror Perth July 7, 1934, Kalgoorlie Miner, various many other newspapers via Trove, ‘Cactus-Work in Progress’ Graeme Cocks, State Library of WA, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Ken Devine Collection,, Norman Howard, Rob Bartholomaeus Collection, Bob King

(Recorder, Port Pirie, February 21, 1938)


When you’ve spent a good chunk of your annual capex-budget on a couple of Bentleys, the Perth Polizia PR department worked the local papers hard to ensure the Bentley Patrol bagged as much of the crime-solution-limelight as possible, however tenuous the connection between the misdemeanor and WO’s finest.

Doubtless the lissom Subiaco lass slept easy knowing the Bentleys were prowling the streets with as much stealth as Merv the Perve…