Archive for April, 2023

The first Pingelly Speed Classic was held on a 2.5-mile round-the-houses course in the West Australian town 160km south-east of Perth on January 30, 1939.

The five event programme consisted of the handicap Great Southern Speed Classic, run concurrently with a scratch race, two five lap handicaps – one each for racing and sports cars – and a four lap handicap and relay race for stock (standard production) cars.

(K Devine Collection)

The Clem Dwyer Plymouth Special and Duncan Ord Bugatti T57T take the chequered flag during the inaugural Great Southern Speed Classic on a fabulous Wellington Street panorama.

The very successful Plymouth, powered by a side-valve straight-six was based on a damaged sedan which was heavily lightened and modified, whereas Ord’s blue-blood 3.3-litre straight-eight twin-cam Bugatti (chassis 57264, originally 57222) was an ex-Lord Howe machine. It was the race debut of the Plymouth and first Australian event for the Bugatti which had arrived from France not long before.

Alan Tomlinson MG TA Spl S/c won from Bill Smallman, MG TA with Roy Sojan third in his Chrysler Special ‘Silverwings’. Duncan Ord was fourth.

(K Devine Collection)

The round-the-houses racing tradition – unique to Western Australia and the envy of the other states – commenced when the good-burghers of Albany decided on a Back To Albany Festival in 1936. With that, three entrepreneurs of the West Australian Sporting Car Club – Eric Armstrong, Clem Dyer and J Warburton – motored down from Perth and successfully pitched the notion of a Monaco style street race around their fair city to the Council.

The race became the highlight of the festival and spawned similar races at Applecross, Bunbury, Dowerin, Narrogin – at which the 1951 Australian Grand Prix was held – Pingelly and others until the gruesome 1955 Le Mans disaster frightened local councils and led to a clampdown on racing on public roads. Not that they eliminated it completely, the WASCC had a tremendous relationship with the WA cops and ran events in a variety of places right into the 1960s.

(K Devine Collection)
(P Narducci Collection)

Two shots of Bill Smallwood’s MG TA Spl during the 1939 race. Smallwood and Clem Dwyer had been Tomlinson’s pit-crew in a staggering win for the young West Australian in the Australian Grand Prix held on the daunting Lobethal road circuit three weeks before.

Sadly, Pingelly was his last victory, Tomlinson, shown below there in 1939, was badly injured at Lobethal in 1940 and never raced again. See here;

(T Walker Collection)
(E Rigg Collection)

Clem Dyer aboard the Bartlett Special in 1939. He bought this machine, built around an 1100cc twin-cam Salmson engine on a trip to the UK. Modified with Brooklands in mind, it was fitted with a Cozette supercharger and was said to be good for 120mph.

Raced at Lake Perkolilli, he gave Ossie Cranston’s Ford V8 Spl a run for his money in 1936, but the car never achieved the success hoped, the demands of the Brooklands bowl and round-the-houses West Australian tracks being quite different.

Unattributed and unknown, perhaps Jack Nelson, Ballot Ford V8 Spl

(W Duffy Collection)

Bob Lee won the five-lap handicap aboard this Riley Brooklands in 1939, and went one better as shown here in 1940, when he won the Great Southern Flying Fifty – the race had been increased from 5 to 10 laps, 25 to 50 miles.

(K Devine Collection)

During the 1940 race. “Park Street Hospital Hill with the old nurses home in the background behind the chook-yard” quipped Jennie Narducci. It’s Harley Hammond in the Marquette Special from Barry Ranford’s Ranford Special. In a long successful career through until 1958, the latter built four specials.

The 1940 programme comprised five events; a 10 lap Tourist Trophy for under 1500cc stock machines, a 5 lap handicap for racing cars, 4 lapper for stock cars plus the 15 lap classic.


Harry Squires MG PB Spl S/c – looks more like a T-Type to me?


The intersection of Park and Parade Streets with Jack Nelson’s Ballot Ford V8 Spl in shot, 1940.

The bones of this car – #15 – were those of the ex-Jules Goux, Cooper brothers Ballot 2LS which met its death at Phillip Island in 1935. Les Cramp had just acquired the car and was killed. This machine raced on well into the 1950s – with no Ballot left – before Mick Geneve died at its wheel, by then Chev powered, at Caversham in 1959. A tribute car exists.

This local footbridge lasted into the 1960s, while one of the local ‘cockies tells us there are two Gilchrist sheep feeders “built by the dozen on a site between the present police station and Shire Office.” Love the power of FB! (K Devine Collection)

Harley Hammond again aboard the Marquette Special. The serving RAAF man did well in this immediate pre-war period with this attractive Buick 3.5-litre sidevalve six-cylinder powered special; Marquette was a shortlived Buick sub-brand.

He won the Great Southern Speed Classic in 1941 – the last race meeting in Australia before the lights went out – and the Patriotic Grand Prix held on the Applecross round-the-houses course 10km from the Perth CBD, several months before.

In fact the November 11, 1940 Applecross races were to have been the final event but the Pingelly organisers slipped in one final meeting on the Australia Day weekend, January 27 with funds raised from the five event programme for cars and ‘bikes in aid of the British Air Raid Relief Fund.


Ken Devine Collection, Peter Narducci Collection, Eddy Ring Collection, Warren Duffy Collection, ‘Around The Houses’ Terry Walker



(R Lewis Collection)

What an incredibly talented photographer Robin Lewis is!

Thanks to social media his archive is accessible. If you are a Facebooker just key in Robin Lewis and have a look for yourself. A serial motor cycle racer/historian/fan the Hahndorf based professional has an immense body of work from his days in Melbourne as a freelancer, staff-snapper with the Herald & Weekly Times and ten-year reign as Head of Visual & Graphic Arts with ad-agency USP Needham.

Rather than choke on his work, I figure bite-sized consumption is better, the texture and flavours can be appreciated so much better that way. It isn’t all racing either, there are some marvellous observations of Australian life too.

The first shot shows Robin in the passenger seat of David ‘Chocolates’ Robertson’s Elfin 300 at Sandown during filming of an episode of ‘Homicide’ a very popular prime-time weekly cop show produced at Crawford Productions, based in the Olderfleet Building in Collins Street, Melbourne from the mid-1960s.

“We used mostly an Arriflex ‘S’, all 16mm…we played a very fast game, there was none of this three-take bullshit. Two takes at most and it’s in the can! We shot an episode a week with only one up the sleeve.”

David Lee, Homicide director sussing Robin’s shot (R Lewis Collection)

“Having shot nearly a years worth of Homicide there was never a dull moment. Dave Robertson is driving his Elfin, but the eye-opener was being in the other ‘camera-car’ Ted Brewster’s 1310cc Cooper S, it was the first time I’d experienced ‘hitting a brick wall’ under brakes!”Robin’s self-deprecating comment is wearing two different cravats on the one Sandown day.

“Having shot nearly a year’s worth of Homicide there was never a dull moment, long hours, hard work, non-stop! Particularly going to the Tok H (Toorak Hotel) or any pub with George (Mallaby, the young actor who played Detective Peter Barnes obscured by the camera in mission-brown) who was a pussy-magnet. Len Teale (‘Detective David Mackay’ raced Toyota Corollas in the early 1970s) was less colourful in many ways.”

(R Lewis)

Got him in one, the money shot! Classic Allan Moffat cockpit shot captures the ‘Canadian’ young professional in intense concentration in the Calder form-up area in 1970.

Marvin the Marvel was famous for his ‘don’t f’kin talk to me’ mode at race meetings. Most of his competition were businessmen at play on weekends, AM was one of the few true full-time driving professionals in Australia at the time and he needed the cash-register to ring on the weekends to fund his Malvern Road, Toorak operation. Works Ford drives duly noted.

Here is the BP magazine ad derived from Robin’s in-car shot above (R Lewis Collection)
(R Lewis)

Superb, eyes riveted on the Tin Shed apex. For a generation of Australian race fans this KarKraft Trans-Am defines the era. Full stop. For more of Moffat’s career and Mustang, click here;

Lewis said of this work for BP, “it was my introduction to ad-agencies while working at the newspaper, I never had to do shift work again…”

(R Lewis)
The tribal nature of taxi fans (shot above) is something we open-wheeler wally-woofdas can only dream of; Beechey and Geoghegan circa 1970 (R Lewis)
(R Lewis)
Yes it is a different number, noted (R Lewis)

(R Lewis)

In the best of company here. Robin as cinematographer for legendary Australian/Hollywood film director Fred Schepisi, then in his formative days directing a documentary for Kodak. See here;

(R Lewis)

The whole country went crazy – especially the huge local Italian community – when Giacomo Agostini turned up to race a works MV Agusta 500/3 for the first time in Australia in 1971.

Melbourne entrepreneur/racer Bob Jane brought him out to put bums on seats at Calder for the Melbourne GP Cup and secured the Australian distribution rights for the marque in the process. ‘Jano’ is looking uncharacteristically grumpy at Calder below.

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Alf Costanzo frying the front brakes of Alan Hamilton’s Lola T430 Chev F5000 car on the entry to Peters/Torana at Sandown in 1980.

One of our greatest ever, the little Italo/Australian won the Gold Star with this car in 1979, then with the succeeding McLaren M26 Chev in 1980 and two more with Hamilton/Porsche Cars Australia Tiga Formula Pacific cars in 1982-83.

(R Lewis)

When Costanzo graduated to Hamilton’s McLaren M26 Chev ground-effect F5000 Melbourne’s Bob Minogue bought the Lola and took to the old beast like a duck to water.

The shot above has the feel of Calder’s November 8, 1981 AGP support race in which Minogue was fourth behind John Wright, Lola T400 Chev, Rob Butcher, Lola T332 Chev and Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MR9 Chev. Here’s Minogue at Calder below a good few years earlier in an Elfin Mono Lotus-Ford twin-cam.

(R Lewis)

Robin’s quip, “Hey Bernie, how’s your memory?”…

(R Lewis)

XW Ford Falcon and sheep near Dunkeld in Victoria’s Western District circa 1969. The sheep dogs are sizing up the baa-baa’s with the intent of a Kiwi shepherd, where, for an optimist, “there is always a pretty-one to be found…”

(R Lewis)

Having a go in his Austin Healey 100S (chassis 3907) at Rob Roy circa 1963. Doug Whiteford’s mechanic, Bob Kitchen “had drilled most things on the 100S and lightened and balanced the rockers, rods and crank, polishing all to a shiny finish like chrome.” Chassis number folks?

And below, getting stuck into the slops after a Templestowe meeting in a manner most unacceptable to officialdom these days. Such wowdy-wascal behaviour would result in some sort of “bringing the sport into disrepute” charge from the blue-blazer mob.

(R Lewis)
Robin in the 100S at Fishermans Bend circa 1963 “with Herbert Johnson helmet, a gift from my mentor, Doug Whiteford.”
(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Talk about livin’ the dream…

Austin Healey 100S roadie, road and race bikes, surrounded by spunk-muffins in adland with all of the associated fringe benefits…and being paid to photograph chicks without too much on. I’m trying to work out the problems of being Robin Lewis in that particular era! At Narrapumelap Homestead, Wickliffe, Victoria 1980.

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis Collection)

This one of Doug Whiteford in Black Bess has me tossed as to place.

Dicer Doug won the 1950 Australian Grand Prix in the Ford V8 Ute based special in 1950 and later sold it. Not one of Robin’s, but probably given to him by Doug, he dates it as 1955. Where and when in Melbourne is this? It’s an unmistakable Mexican winter’s foggy day; Albert Park and Richmond Boulevard are both possibilities? The vapours from the exhaust suggest a freshly started engine, so some sort of promo-shoot perhaps?

See here;

(R Lewis)

A very youthful Ken Blake being interviewed by ‘Freddy Mercury’ at Bathurst, circa 1975. More on this great Australian rider in Lewis 2.

(R Lewis)

Big Dick.

The Dick Johnson Ford Falcon XD 351 V8 during the Sandown 400 Endurance Championship round during the wonderful Group C period of taxi-diversity, September 13, 1981.

The Ford frontrunner – successor to Allan Moffat – was always a crowd-pleaser but yielded to Holden’s favourite son that weekend, Peter Brock won the 119 lap race in a VC Commodore from Johnson.

Johnson and John French triumphed at the Mountain three weeks later, Dick also won the Australian Touring Car Championship that year in this car built from the TV-crowd-funding contributions of race-fans when Johnson’s previous Falcon XD was felled while in the lead of the Bathurst 1000 by an errant-on circuit-rock in 1980.

(R Lewis)

A couple of wonderful portraits of touring car icons of the earlier golden-era.

The Brylcreem era in the case of Mini Ace Peter ‘Skinny’ Manton, here having his characteristic fag, circa 1969, and five times Australian Touring Car Champion ‘Pete’ Geoghegan below. See here; and here;

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Ivan Tighe, perhaps, Tighe Vincent s/c at Templestowe circa 1959. Not so sure about that…Peter Holinger maybe, all bids taken…

(R Lewis)

I love this moody portrait of London born American Suzuki TR750 star Ron Grant who is lost in setup change thoughts at Calder in 1972. He won the Pan Pacific Series that year.

(R Lewis)

Old Holdens never die. Robin found this 48-215 Ute renovators-delight at Pear Tree Cottage, Dunkeld. Gone to god by now perhaps…See here;

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Not much moves the corpuscles of an Oz FoMoCo fan more than the two fabulous Lot 6 built, works-Super Falcon GTHO 351s.

Robin’s shot captures Moffat’s Improved Production car with XY look – FFS don’t write to me and bore me shitless with the differences of the XW and XY clips on these cars – barrelling onto Calder’s back straight during the March 1971 ATCC meeting.

Rare shot, great shot. See here for more on these cars of Al Pal and Pete;

(R Lewis)

Jack Brabham presenting the Tasman Cup to Kiwi great Graham McRae at Sandown after he took the first of three such wins on the trot -1971-73 – that year aboard a McLaren M10B Chev. See here;

(R Lewis)

The inherent beauty of Australian (Melbourne) 1970s streetscapes.

(R Lewis)

Mind the post. The perils of Bathurst in 1974, this is Gringo apparently. Who is he and what is he riding? Magic shot.

(R Lewis)

A couple of world class touring car drivers hard at it at Calder circa 1978.

Jim Richards has the inside line aboard his Murray Bunn built, 351 injected Gurney-Weslake headed powered Ford Falcon Coupe Sports Sedan (Australia’s anything-goes tourers) from Peter Brock in Bob Jane’s 350 Chev engined Holden Monaro GTS. The Munro is still with us, is that Kiwi built Ford?

Hmmm, clipping an apex, nah, more creating an apex. I wonder if Bobby invoiced them for damage inflicted on the real estate!? (R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Jimmy Watsons in Lygon Street, Carlton is a Melbourne wine bar-noshery institution.

An age old ritual is being played out here in the late 1960s, with the old bugger – younger than me I might add – thinking of conquests past as he assesses the beauty of the twenty-somethings.


Robin Lewis


(R Lewis)

Robin fizzes up a cardiologist’s-nightmare roadside enroute to Bathurst in 1974. These days of course the glitterati would get Maccas delivered to their Valiant on the Hume via Uber-eats app.

Many, many thanks for your work Robin, if one of you has his email or mobile number please send him a link to this homage to his greatness and a life being lived well!



The definitive article(s) on Stan Jones are still to be written. I like this piece on the great Australian’s early pre-Maserati 250F phase which helps plug some of the early gaps of timing and circumstances, forwarded on by my racer/historian/author buddy Tony Johns.

It’s from the June 1954 issue of CARS magazine, a 70 year-old long deceased title published in Melbourne by Larry Cleland Pty Ltd and edited by Bruce Kneale. It comes to us from the Darren Overend Collection via Tony – grazia. As Tony points out, the author of the article was not disclosed, a bumma given its quality.

Click on the links at the end of the piece for more on Stan…



As per text


Ad published in The Referee, Sydney on March 22, 1933

I’ve always had a soft-spot for Wolseleys, Nana and Pa Bisset had three of them from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. Some of my earliest motoring memories are of sitting in the back seat with the wonderful smell of leather in the last of these cars (no idea what model) with Nana at the wheel behind a lovely wood dash, she had the period granny blue-rinse of course, and all topped off by a hat.

Jim Gullan’s Wolseley Hornet Special was a car of much greater performance. Gullan had built up a good reputation racing a 1.1-litre Grand Prix Salmson and was offered the six-cylinder SOHC Hornet Special which is the subject of this piece at a good price to help promote the marque in Australia. “It had been specially built by the MG Racing Department and competed in a team event at Brooklands, lapping at over 100mph.” Gullan wrote in his autobiography.

The FS Hutchens and BH Wickens Hornet Spl Daytonas, and at right EJ Erith’s Hornet International

Stanley Hutchens entered the winning team of cars in the The Light Car Relay Race held at Brooklands on July 16, 1932. Hutchens was Sales Manager of London Wolseley dealer Eustace Watkins Ltd. The cars comprised two new ‘Eustace Watkins Daytonas’ built on Hornet Special chassis – one of which was the Gullan car – and one 1931 ‘EW International’ built on a standard Hornet chassis. Hutchens, Bertram Wickens and Edward Erith won the 90 lap handicap event from 29 other three-car teams on at an average of 77.57mph, the quickest team member averaged 82mph.

MotorSport noted that “No one could catch the EW Hornet Special and at 5pm Erith crossed the line after a trouble free run. These cars, intended as fast and comfortable road vehicles, showed a turn of speed and stamina which even their keenest supporters hardly expected, and entitles them to rank amongst our most successful small cars.”

Hutchens told MotorSport after the race that “the car felt good for an unlimited number of laps. The engine was held at a steady 5200rpm, doing several laps at 86mph.”

When the Hornet was launched by Wolseley in April 1930 Eustace Watkins turned to Kings Road, Chelsea coachbuilder Whittingham & Mitchel for the first of many Wolseley Hornet EW Daytona Specials. This first handsome cycle-wing car – the photo was published in The Autocar in April 1931 – “became a visual template adopted by many other coachbuilders when bodying both Hornets and chassis from other marques.” (

Although its image in later BMC (British Motor Corporation) years became difficult to differentiate from others within the empire, in the early 1930s Wolseley was up-there in the ranks of sportscars. The Nuffield group of companies – Wolseley, Riley, Morris and MG – produced a great array of sportscars and while there was some standardisation of engines and other components, each car was distinctive in appearance and character and was built in a different factory with all of the cultural differences that implies.

The Hornet, based on a lengthened Morris Minor chassis, was released in April 1930 and was built in two and four-seat open and closed body configurations. The Hornet Special – sold only in chassis form and priced at 175 pounds from April 1932 – was initially fitted with the ‘short’ 1271cc (57x83mm bore/stroke) version of the Wolseley SOHC, two-valve straight-six. Fitted with twin-SU carbs and an oil cooler it was good for about 45bhp and a top speed of 75mph, depending on coachwork. With 12-inch hydraulic drum brakes, a remote shift-four speed ‘box, semi-elliptic springs and Luvax hydraulic shocks (some were fitted with Andre Hartford friction dampers) all-round, and of light weight overall, the Hornet Special was spritely for its day.

Wolseley Hornet Special as built and sold in its original – pre-crossflow engine and underslung chassis – form. This is the chassis spec of the car Jim Gullan raced while noting the engine differences (Wolseley)

For 1934 the Hornet Special chassis was strengthened and changed to an underslung axle arrangement at the rear. A new block was fitted and a crossflow cylinder head adopted, the 1378cc engine developed 47bhp. In addition, synchromesh was fitted on 3rd/4th gears.

In 1935 the ‘New Fourteen’ 1604cc (61.6x90mm bore/stroke) 50bhp @ 4500rpm engine was fitted to maintain performance as coachwork became porkier. Sadly, the model was dropped when Wolseley passed from the personal control of Lord Nuffield to Morris Motors Ltd late in 1935, ending the era of sporting Wolseleys.

Referee Sydney, December 12, 1935. NSW rego #30-183
“Specially built Wolseley engine. Three carburettors, extra exhaust pipe from centre of cylinder head” (Gullan)
Gullan and Wolseley at Rob Roy in 1937. Under 1500cc record. Victorian rego #228-334 (Gullan)

Jim Gullan outlined the specifications of his machine, car and chassis number unknown, but engine number 108A/127. “It was fitted with a Laystall crankshaft, high-compression Bartlett pistons and engine modifications included optional two or three SU carburettor inlet manifolds. There were two cast iron exhaust manifolds leading into separate exhaust pipes on the left hand side of the engine. On the right hand side a single exhaust pipe came out of the centre of the cylinder head, this to obviate head gasket failure through overheating of the cylinder head in the centre.”

Driven by Sydney racer, Noel Spark – who had competed in a standard Hornet in preceding years – in 1934-35. “It set class records of 18.5 seconds and 102mph for the standing and flying quarter mile and the combination won the Light Car Club’s coveted Castrol Trophy for success in a series of different competitive events in 1935.”

The car was then despatched to the Victorian Wolseley agents, Kellow Falkiner’s showrooms in St Kilda Road, Melbourne for display. “Looking out of place amongst the Rolls Royce and Wolseley sedans, it was disposed of to my advantage,” Gullan quipped. See this post for some background on this under-rated Australian racer;

Equipped with “an incredibly smooth” four-main-bearing six-cylinder engine, P80 Lucas headlights, Lockheed hydraulic brakes, an oil radiator and selective Free-Wheel, it was very much an upmarket car which cost nearly half as much again as an equivalent MG.”

“With the car came a type-written folder which gave the top speed of the car as 102mph at 6200rpm, with an allowable limit of 6500rpm through the gears. Different individual valve clearances were given for each valve and included were optional carburettor needles. There was a warning not to exceed 2000rpm until the oil pressure had dropped from 150 to 100psi, when starting from cold. This abnormally high oil pressure foretelling future lubrication troubles.”

After early plug and carburettor maladies were solved Gullan contested an event on Mitcham hill, placing second behind Lyster Jackson’s MG K3. This performance led to an invitation to contest the Boxing Day 1936 South Australian Centenary Grand Prix on a new rectangular course of roads between Victor Harbor and Port Elliott on Adelaide’s Fleurieu Peninsula. Aged 21, he was one of the youngest to contest an event appropriated as an Australian Grand Prix.

Awaiting the off, Gullan and Mick O’Neill, Wolseley Hornet Spl, Australian GP, Victor Harbor, December 1936. Tim Joshua’s MG alongside (Gullan)

The car was prepared by split-pinning “various nuts and bolts that had been disregarded in England”, removing the ‘Brooklands’ aluminium undertray, fitting an auxiliary fuel tank, “wheels were balanced with lead wire around the spokes. My motorcycle crash helmet was exchanged for two white polo-type helmets with peaks, their adequacy in an accident may have been doubtful, but at least they looked the part.”

Gullan provides valuable period context, “In 1936 the average person didn’t own a car, let alone have a garage to put it in. Most who owned cars were wealthy or used them for business purposes. The only member of the team who had a car was Tom Broadhurst who used it in his family business. He offered his new Ford V8 as transport to Victor Harbor and I could then drive the Wolseley back to Melbourne. There was no continuous road between Melbourne and Adelaide then. The route through Mount Gambier was three days, the alternative through Bordertown impractical.”

“With equipment and enthusiasm the team set off for Victor, the road to the South Australian border was good, but it deteriorated and finally disappeared after leaving Millicent and became a series of tracks across the salt lakes, all heading in the same direction. By the time we reached Meningie we had not seen another car, finally we reached Lake Alexandria and crossed by ferry to continue on to Victor Harbor.”

The Wolseley was entered for both the 250 mile GP and 50 mile Olympic Handicap in the three day carnival. Gullan deemed “the track a safe one, most of the accidents which occurred were due to misjudging stopping distances and ending up among the sandbags, most being able to stop and continue on.”

On the way to fourth place in the 50 Mile Olympic Handicap at Nangawooka Hairpin, Victor 1936 (Gullan)

Accompanied by Mick O’Neill as mechanic, car #30 started 38 minutes from scratch and held station behind the winning Les Murphy MG P-Type until being consistently out cornered by it, and he drove away. After 147 miles the boy’s race was over after leaving the road on sand deposited by a spinner on the track, then hitting a small, hidden tree-stump while returning onto the track. The front axle and track rod were bent, with their race over, the offending parts were sent to Adelaide for repair, then re-installed before the Olympic Handicap. There the car was fourth behind the Barney Dentry Riley Brooklands, Lord Waleran in John Snow’s MG K3 and Les Burrows’ Terraplane Spl.

Over the following two years Gullan had good results in the car at Phillip Island, Rob Roy hillclimb and elsewhere, even using it in a Treasure Hunt. This became a full-blown rally starting from Brighton Beach and then went around the suburbs. After a Morris landed in a golf course, a Salmson became airborne and an MG ran into a lightpole it was the end of Treasure Hunts!

Phillip Island Trophy race in 1937, Wolseley here ahead of Alf Barrett’s Morris Bullnose Spl (Gullan)

“If I’d been asked if the Wolseley was reliable by the standards of the day I’d have said yes. But looking back (in 1993) cars were anything but reliable with blown head-gaskets and failed crankshaft bearings the main problems.”

“On two occasions the Wolseley lost power when the head gasket failed between the two centre cylinders caused by exhaust gases passing from one side of the overheated cylinder head to the other, and the reason for the extra exhaust pipe.”

“Gaskets then were made of two sheets of copper with a layer of asbestos in between. In time the thickness of the asbestos was reduced with beneficial results. Soaking the gasket in water showed little confidence in the product, and it was necessary to examine the gasket before fitment to ensure any overlapping edges were correctly aligned. Supercharged cars were fitted with solid copper or steel gaskets, the supercharger pressure would just blow the asbestos out off a normal gasket,” vastly experienced racer/engineer Gullan wrote. “It was one reason why early Bugatti, Bentley, Maserati and Salmson engines were fitted with non-detachable heads.”

“The other major problem pre-war involved crankshaft bearings. Before steel-backed shells, white metal was cast into the connecting rods and crankshaft bearing caps then machined to size. Although white metal bearings had excellent wear properties, the load carrying capacity of the soft metal was poor. To compensate, a number of shims were placed between the the parting faces of the bearings. As the running clearance increased, shims were removed to bring back the clearance to minimum size, one reason engines were required to be run-in.”

“It was not unusual, with a run-bearing, when stranded out on the road, to remove the connecting rod and piston, together with the spark plug lead, as there were stories of sumps being blown off by a firing spark plug.”

“For any high-speed work everyone used castor oil or Castrol R, it may have been a way to stop run-bearings, but the gummy sludge it created caused a lot of other problems. When high viscosity mineral oils came into vogue, they were really welcomed.”

The Ballot 5/8 LC #1004 in suburban Melbourne (Gullan)

The Wolseley’s fate was determined when Jim Gullan walked into Alan Male’s Latrobe Street, Melbourne car showroom and fell-in-lust with the 1919 ex-Louis Wagner/Alan and Hal Cooper/Fred Bray Indy Ballot 5/8 LC, a fast, complex 4.8-litre twin-cam, four-valve straight-eight racer. “An enormous trade-in price on the Wolseley sealed the deal.”

Melbourne solicitor Adrian Akhurst was the next owner, he fitted a circa 2.5-litre Durant engine and ran it in the Victorian Light Car Club Reliability Trial. It then faded from view in the war years to reappear at a 1947 Rob Roy meeting driven by Bill Whitchurch. Fitted with a Willys-Jeep 2195cc engine, he competed body-less while building up a new body. Peter Thomas, of later Aviation Welding fame, was involved in the engine installation, the car was then registered GV410.

Sold to Eltham’s Richard Ham in 1948, then to Walter Nowell who offered it for sale from Hawthorn and Windsor addresses in 1953-54. In the final advertisement the car was dismantled, what was unsold was scrapped. And that rather special engine? One Gordon Opie advertised it for sale, “perfect, complete to flywheel” from a Gardenvale address in April 1948, its whereabouts unknown.

A sad end for this Wolseley Hornet Special. About 31686 Hornets were built, 2300 of which were Hornet Special chassis, of those about 100 came to Australia.



1932 Wolseley Hornet Spl clad in Eustace Watkins Daytona coachwork. EW were the London Wolseley dealers in the 1930s and contributed hugely to the growth of the brand with their special bodies, the majority of which were sportscars.

The bodies weren’t made by Eustace Watkins but rather contracted from coach builders Whittingham & Mitchel and Abbey Coachworks in Merton, later Acton. Other Hornet body builders included Swallow, Jensen, Maltby, Holbrook & Trinity and Hardy.

The chassis number of the Gullan car is a mystery to me, doubtless one of you Hornet perves will know it. On identification numbers, Graham Whitaker wrote, “For cars before 1934 models – those with inlet and exhaust on the nearside, Wolseley did not stamp the number on the chassis. It was on the axles but usually cannot be read. The numbers were on brass plates fastened to the bulkhead, thus easy to fake. From 1934 onward the same brass plates were used, plus the chassis number was on the nearside of the chassis, as well as the axles.”

Check out this wonderful article about the history of Wolseley, the origins of which are the Wolseley Sheep-Shearing Company established by Frederick Wolseley in Sydney in 1887;


(P Partridge Collection)

Some photographs of the Wolseley Hornet Special owned by the Cato family in Perth, the local Wolseley dealers.

The car was owned by Frank Cato and driven by his son Fred and was raced on the Round the Houses tracks laid out on the public roads of country towns, and at Lake Perkolilli. Note the enthusiasm of the co-pilot below!

(P Partridge Collection)

(P Partridge Collection)

Frank Cato prepared this ageing Wolseley for the 1931 Lake Perkolilli event but had a troublesome weekend with front axle failure.


‘As Long as It Has Wheels’ Jim Gullan, Graham Whitaker on the, MotorSport August 1932, MotorSport Images, LAT, ‘Wolseley Hornet Specials in Australia and New Zealand’ by Russell, Santin and Clucas via Cummins Family Collection – many thanks Paul Cummins, Peter Partridge Collection

(MotorSport Images)


Bubbles or beer? Beer I think, ah, they are proper chaps! Hutchens, Erith and Wickens celebrate their Brooklands first placing. Car is a 1931 Wolseley Hornet fitted with Watkins Eustace International body.


Sydney enthusiast/photographer/journalist Peter Bakalor posted these evocative photographs of the 1970 and 1971 Australian Grands Prix on social media in recent days. He covered the meetings for Autosport magazine.

Frank Matich won the November 22, 1970 event in his newish McLaren M10B Repco-Holden F5000 machine from Niel Allen’s similar Chev engined McLaren, and Graeme Lawrence’s 1969-70 Tasman Cup winning Ferrari Dino 246T 2.4-litre V6. The first shot is, I suspect, FM getting the jump on Lawrence at the start, the other car in shot that of Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev.

The two Alec Mildren Yellow cars are #6, Max Stewart’s tenth place Mildren Waggott TC-4V and Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Chev- DNF. You can see KB beside his car – with Glenn Abbey alongside – and Leo Geoghegan with the Castrol patch on his overalls. #2 is Allen’s M10B Chev with Niel getting last minute instructions from Peter Molloy at right, they were second. 1970 Gold Star champion, Geoghegan’s immaculate white Lotus is next, he was fourth. Up the back is Ian Fergusson’s green Bowin P3A Ford twin-cam 1.6, 11th.

(P Bakalor)

Frank Matich before the off. It was the first big-win for the Repco-Holden F5000 program based on the then new locally built General Motors Holden 308 V8. Derek Kneller is looking hopefully at the engine!, with ace mechanic, handy-steerer and Adams F5000 constructor Graeme ‘Lugsy’ Adams with his arms crossed. In the distance is Len Goodwin’s Pat Burke Racing McLaren M4A Ford FVC, this ex-Piers Courage/Niel Allen car is about to pitch Warwick Brown to prominence. The shot below is post-win with The Australian motoring editor, Mike Kable in the blue jacket behind.

(P Bakalor)
(P Bakalor)

Lynton Hemer identifies this shot as the start of the Series Production event with Colin Bond, #54 Holden Torana GTR XU-1, then Bob Forbes and Don Holland in similar cars, John Harvey in Bob Jane’s Holden Monaro GTS 350 and Leo Geoghegan’s Valiant Pacer.

(P Bakalor)

In the Improved Touring race Jim McKeown’s Porsche 911S gets the jump from Brian Foley’s similar car, Allan Moffat’s Ford Mustang Trans-Am, with Pete Geoghegan’s white Mustang also just in sight.

Twelve months later, the AGP was again held at the Farm, with the star attraction John Surtees appearance (below) at the wheel of one of his own cars, a Surtees TS8 Chev F5000 car that Mike Hailwood would race in the 1972 Tasman Cup.

(P Bakalor)

The TS8 was Surtees 1971 F5000 design based heavily on the 1970 TS7 F1 car. Eight were built, with the monocoque chassis, wheels, suspension and brakes all using TS7 jigs/patterns. Mike Hailwood did the best of the drivers with his car(s) in Europe, only persistent engine problems perhaps getting in the way of the European title won instead by Frank Gardner’s Lolas: T192 and T300. For more details on the cars click here;

(P Bakalor)
(P Bakalor)

Matich again won the AGP, this time in a car of his own design and construction. The Matich A50 Repco-Holden was only days old when it took its debut win! Kevin Bartlett was second and Alan Hamilton third, both in ex-Allen McLaren M10B Chevs. Graeme Lawrence was fourth in a Brabham BT30 Ford FVC 1.8 and Max Stewart – who had just won the Gold star – was fifth in his Mildren Waggott TC-4V. Surtees was 14th after two pitstops for punctures in his first visit to Australia since contesting the NZ and Australian Internationals with a Lola Mk4 Climax in 1963.

(P Bakalor)

Nose jobs. Surtees TS8, Ian Cook, Devione LC2 Ford twin-cam, Alan Hamilton’s McLaren M10B Chev then the orange nose of Warwick Brown’s McLaren M4A Ford FVC, then two Elfin 600B/E Ford twin-cams: Clive Millis’ light yellow one at left and Henk Woelders’ white with blue stripe car on the right.


Peter Bakalor, Bob Williamson’s ‘Old Motor Racing Photographs – Australia’ on Facebook,


(P Bakalor)

Graham McRae telling John Smailes how it is in the Warwick Farm paddock during the 1971 Tasman, McLaren M10B Chev. He must be reporting for the ABC with a suit on!

He had a blinder of a series, winning three of the seven rounds, but not here where Frank Gardner’s works-Lola T192 Chev prevailed. It was the first of three Tasmans on the trot for the oh-so-talented Kiwi driver/engineer.

P Bakalor)

Equipe Allen in natty, matching team attire! A steamy Sydney 1971 Tasman qualifying day with safety boots well to the fore. Peter Molloy and M10B front and centre. Love the nifty Bell bag.

Niel won two of the seven Tasman rounds at Levin and Teretonga, and finished third overall behind McRae and Matich. With a little more luck in Australia he could have won, but he retired from racing instead.


Barney Dentry and unknown passenger aboard the Dentry modified Riley 9 Brooklands, giving the Bill Thompson Bugatti T37A a wide berth at Heaven Corner, Phillip Island 100, January 1, 1934. The Bugatti is about to spin, possibly distracted by the Riley’s change in trajectory, DNF valve, Barney was third (Dentry Family)

Melburnians Gordon Henry Scott ‘Barney’ and Bess Dentry were stalwarts of Australian motor racing from 1925 until the outbreak of World War 2 when the perils of both parents of two young boys (Charlie born 1929 and John 1933) racing together as driver and co-pilot-cum-mechanic became all too clear and untenable.

Bess and Barney Dentry reunited with Riley Brooklands during the 1978 Phillip Island 50 Year AGP celebrations (Dentry Family)
Bess and Barney with their ever-evolving Riley at Wirlinga, Albury in March 1938 (John Blanden claims Victor Harbor 1936) (Dentry Family)

Barney, a returned soldier, bought a St Omer of about 1920 vintage as his first car. Acquired without body, he assembled the machine during his courting-Bess Wheeler-days with various components including an 1100cc air-cooled 10hp Precision cyclical engine. The Senechal that followed as a roadie was progressively modified into a competitive racer.

Beanpole Barney and Ted Major during the Victorian Light Car Club’s 1928 100 Miles Road Race – aka 1928 AGP – at Phillip Island, Senechal (Dentry Family)
“A Riley Specialist. This is George Dentry, one of the best known and most successful competition drivers in Victoria. He has the fastest Riley in Australia. But he is not satisfied, he is working on a supercharger of his own design” (The Referee, March 13, 1931)
Barney, Senechal, on Wheelers Hill c-1927. Now an outer east Melbourne suburb of the same name – this road and hill is now a six-lane arterial (Dentry Family)

Wildwood Hillclimb and the 50-Mile Championship on the Aspendale Speedway, and Flinders Hillclimb in 1925 were the the cars first events; with first/FTD, second place and first in the 1100cc class and second outright the results. Bess won the ladies event at Flinders.

Outings at Aspendale in 1926 and Wheelers Hill in 1927 and 1928 were followed by an entry in the 100 Miles Road Race – later appropriated by the Victorian Light Car Club as an Australian Grand Prix, the first AGP having being run at Goulburn Racecourse in 1927 – at Phillip Island in March 1928. Bess was heavily pregnant with first son Charles at the time so Barney was co-driven by Ted Major to first in class and fifth overall. Captain Arthur Waite was victorious in his diminutive, quick and robust Austin 7 s/c.

Robert Marie Georges Senechal (5/5 1892 – 30/7 1985) was a French aviation pioneer, racing driver, industrialist and winner of the first RAC British Grand Prix at Brooklands in 1926 aboard a Delage.

At the end of the war, the heavily decorated Senechal directed the sale of French Government owned surplus stocks of cars and trucks, together with Pierre Delage, son of Delage founder Pierre Louis Delage. Senechal then evolved the Eclair cyclical manufacturer in which he was an investor, into carmaker Cyclecars Robert Senechal in Courbevoie, Paris in 1921.

Robert Senechal aboard one of his cars (BNF)

While continuing to race successfully – 1923 Champion of France, twice Bol d’Or winner, Spa 24-hour victor etc – he did a deal with Chenard & Walcker to produce his cars. 5000 were built in their Gennevilliers, Paris factory until 1929 when Senechal left the business to establish a successful Chenard & Walcker, Delage and Bugatti dealership in Paris.

By the 1924 Paris show the product range comprised cyclecars of 972cc and 1100cc in capacity, such power units provided by outside specialists, Ruby (mainly) Trains and Chapuis-Dornier. By 1928 the company built Chenard & Walcker voiturettes of 1100 and 1500cc capacity.

Barney’s notes on the specifications of his car are as follows, “1100cc ohv engine (which perhaps implies the car was originally fitted with a 972cc Ruby manufactured engine) first used at Wildwood in 1925. The car first used a fabric body, later a metal body and later still was fitted with a hood. Bore/stroke 58x100mm, max rpm 4900, 7:1 compression ratio, wet-cone clutch, three-speed and reverse gearbox, open tail shaft, no-diff. CWP straight-tooth, ratio 4:1 and Barney made a 4.25:1 unit for Aspendale. Rear brakes only were six-inch drums with a five-inch transmission brake. Steering was rack and pinion 1:1 ratio. Carburettor was a 30mm Solex with Bosch 60 electrics.”

Dentry Senechal engine bay circa 1924 (Dentry Family)
“Barney’s section of Duponts” c-1924 (Dentry Family)

During his Senechal phase, Barney was employed by LF Dupont Pty. Ltd at 26 Toorak Road, South Yarra, the agents for Senechal, Chenard & Walcker and Calcott, “a sturdy little English car.”

The Senechal became a regular drawcard at Aspendale throughout 1929, the speedway had by then had its concrete surface replaced “with the original white granite”, no doubt to create more action for the punters. Six meetings yielded 4 first, 2 second, 2 third and 1 fourth placing.

Barney and Bess contested an AGP for the first time together in 1929 when they were second in class and sixth overall in the 206 mile, 3 hour 51 mins race at Phillip Island won by Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti T37A. After 10 laps the Dentrys were in a group of six cars contesting the lead, John Blander wrote that “The best cornering was shown by Arthur Terdich who was now well clear in the lead, and by Barney Dentry who was driving the Senechal superbly, aided by his wife as mechanic.” The Great Southern Advocate reported that “Thousands of women showed great interest in the race, and greatly admired Mrs Dentry for accompanying her husband throughout in his Senechal car.”

Demonstrating its versatility – this ‘GP car’ was road-registered throughout its life – the couple entered the November 1929 Herald Rally and Reliability Trial where it was first in Class-B.

With purchase of a Riley Brooklands it was time to sell the faithful Senechal, Barney’s The Car November 15, 1929 ad invited “you speedsters and all who appreciate a first-class car, here’s the chance of a lifetime, get in touch with Barney today” at 22 Rankin’s Road, Newmarket. Do get in touch with me if you know what became of this significant car.

Barney and Bess aboard their Riley 9 Brooklands during the 1930 AGP weekend at Phillip Island. Somehow the photographer has managed to make the small Riley look like a big-banger! Shot is probably in the garage area behind the Isle of Wight Hotel in Cowes (R Brownrigg Collection)

For the balance of their racing careers the couple mainly – speedway midgets duly noted – raced this Riley 9 Brooklands, chassis number 8062, competing in the Australian Grand Prix almost every year until 1938.

The pair were seventh outright and first in class-B (1100cc) in 1930, where Jack Edwards was eighth outright and second in Class B aboard their old-faithful Senechal. Four Brooklands Rileys were entered with the Dentry car expected to be, and was, the quickest, but they also had dramas. While running second Barney collided with Howard Drake-Richmond’s Bugatti T37 in the heavy dust, then – still second outright – the Dentrys pitted with valve troubles, costing them five laps.

In 1931 the pair were fourth outright and again first in class-B off a handicap of 11 minutes, with only the five Bugattis behind the Riley at the start. Carl Junker’s Bugatti T39 won from Cyril Dickason’s Austin 7 and Howard Drake-Richmond’s Bugatti T37.

In 1932 they were tenth, last of the finishers off a handicap of six minutes, with only the Bugattis of Carl Junker and winner Bill Thompson behind them at the start. It was the first AGP appearance with Barney’s slinky aluminium body. Dentry modified the body of the Riley by replacement of the fabric standard coachwork with a light, slipper type aluminium body which placed Bess more behind, rather than beside Barney. Initially stub exhausts were used but these were replaced by a tuned length pipe which exited atop the passenger side rear wheel.

The Riley factory were so impressed with his performances they gave him one one of only six very special Ulster engines free of charge,” wrote Blanden. Unfortunately Barney had problems with enormous oil-feed problems. “Despite having obtained a response from England as to a likely cure to the problem it was not successful and he had a number of pitstops in an endeavour to lessen the trouble. Even with those Barney and his wife still finished tenth.” wrote Blanden.

Come 1933 they missed the race as Bess was ill, in fact it appears she was pregnant. “My wife has been my mechanic for eight years. When she drops out of the race, both the car and I do likewise,” Barney told the Barrier Miner.

“As a combination we do fairly well, but without her I would lose a certain amount of confidence. She is very cool and thinks hard during the race. I do nothing but keep the car on the road and get all I can out of the engine. Her job takes concentration, an alert brain and quick decisions. And she does it really well.”

Bess picks up the thread, “We have only had one accident, when we ran into a fence at Nar-nar-goon. I was thrown out but not hurt. It had no effect on my nerve, thankfully. A mechanic never looks ahead during a race. I watch the other cars, and touch my husband on the shoulder when one is overtaking us. With the left hand I work the fuel pump and I cast frequent glances at the gauges.”

“Along the track we have friends stationed, and I watch for their signals. The first 30-miles of this long race are the worst. Sometimes I wonder how I will manage to last the remaining 170. But the miles and minutes move so fast, there is so much to do and think about, that the end comes quickly.”

The handicapper had well and truly caught up with the Dentrys years before. In 1934, of 20 AGP starters, only three competitors had tougher handicaps, Cec Warren’s MG J2, Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti T37A and scratch-man Bill Thompson, MG K3. The Dentrys were unclassified, doing 29 of the 31 laps, but lost 14 1/2 minutes pitting to rectify a loose bonnet on their 20th lap. Bob Lea-Wright won aboard a Singer 9 from the flying Bill Thompson’s MG K3, and Jack Clements’ MG J2.

Later in the year, in a stellar field, the Dentrys led the field in the 230-Mile Victorian Centenary Grand Prix – the longest race held in Australia to that point – with three laps to go but the usually reliable Riley had fuel-air feed problems which lost them much time and again precluded the pair from taking their long-awaited first big-win. Mick Smith and Lin Terry won aboard a Ford V8.

1935 AGP collage – note the Dentry family at top left (The Referee)

For the last of the Phillip Island AGPs in April 1935 the bar was raised again, the Dentrys and Bill Williamson’s Riley Imp had handicaps of 8 minutes 47 sec with only Thompson’s MG K3 off scratch behind them. In a strong result they were fifth in the race won by Les Murphy’s MG P-Type, despite losing four minutes with a dead engine and taking to the Gentle Anne escape road.

Ron McCallum puts some of Dentry Riley reliability down to the fitment of a taller-geared back end from a Rugby. “He just welded the pinion to the Riley tailshaft. This would have saved him a lot of revs, aiding his incredible AGP reliability,” Ron said.

In May 1935 Dentry thrilled the Phillip Island crowds during the Jubilee meeting, “One of the most consistent of Victoria’s racing motorists, was the unluckiest man on the track. Although he recorded fastest time, and fastest lap with his Riley in the two events in which he competed, his handicap in each case was too great to allow him to reap the rewards of his superior skill and speed.”

In the 50 Mile Handicap he was second to Alf Barrett’s Morris Cowley Spl, it was Barrett’s first race at the island, “driving with superb judgement and cornering in a manner to earn the envy of veteran racers.” The Argus reported. It was very much a portent of what was to come from the wealthy, gifted Victorian who came to be regarded as one of Australia’s greats aboard an Alfa Romeo Monza immediately pre and post-war.

Riley on the hop at Victor Harbor in December 1936, 1936 AGP. The aluminium body was styled and made by Barney (Dentry Family)

On Boxing Day 1936 the South Australian Centenary Grand Prix was held, a race later appropriated as an AGP. The Dentrys were again fifth in this contest run on a rectangular 7.8-mile public road course between Victor Harbour and Port Elliott on SA’s Fleurieu Peninsula. Les Murphy won again in his MG P-Type. That year the Riley was said to be equipped with an ex-George Eyston 1935 factory motor, but as John Medley wryly observed, the car “was perhaps never as quick as the handicappers expected.” Better was to come in the support Olympic 50-mile Handicap though, when the fast Dentry duo finally took the chequered flag from Lord Waleran in John Snow’s MG K3 and Les Burrows’ Hudson Eight Spl.

The first road-race in Victoria – the publicists of the day somehow forgot that Phillip Island is part of Victoria, separated from the mainland by only about 250 metres! – was the Benalla Centenary 100 mile race held on the outskirts of the north-eastern Victorian town in April. After a neck and neck struggle with Les Murphy’s P-type in front of a crowd of 20000 people, Barney and Bess had seemingly won, got the garland and the plaudits of the crowd but then lost the race after a lap-counting error. It was far from the first or last lap counting squabble in Australian major events, Vin Maloney won in an MG Magna from the Dentrys.

The happy couple at Benalla in 1936, another big-win opportunity which eluded the Riley duo (Dentry Family)

No AGP was held during 1937, but 1938 was a biggee with the opening of Mount Panorama, Bathurst. Prominent Brit Peter Whitehead spent the better part of a year in Australia mixing duties for the W & J Whitehead woollen mill enterprise and racing his ERA B-Type, R10B. Whitehead disappeared into the distance off scratch, winning by 1.5-minutes from Les Burrows. The Dentrys were 16th and last of the finishers off a handicap of 12-minutes, eight cars started behind them in the 30 car field.

And that, it seems was the end of the Dentry’s racing career. By then Charles Dentry would have been 8/9 and younger brother John 4/5 years old so the sensible thing to do was to quit while they were ahead. Ron McCallum recalls a race accident as the catalyst for retirement, but I can’t find an accident in which the couple were involved at this stage.

By 1939 the Dentry business premises were located at 2 Peel Street, Windsor on St Kilda Junction, where he positioned himself as a specialist Riley, MG and sportscar repairer.

Retirement from racing wasn’t a catalyst for sale of the Brooklands Riley which was retained until 1946, then sold to Ken Wylie. The car later passed through the hands of Bill Clymer and Bill Blewett before being acquired by Ron Brownrigg in 1964. He restored it amidst his own business commitments, the car first appeared at Phillip Island in 2005.

Barney’s services were much in demand given his success as a driver and motor engineer. Both the Senechal and Riley were continually modified throughout their lives, the Riley was Colette-supercharged for a while when used it in Aspendale Speedway competition. One example of his skills being deployed post-war was the mechanical work turning the Lex Davison owned Alfa Romeo 6C1500 ‘Little Alfa’ into its current monoposto specifications way back when.

‘St Omer’ at Hampton, Port Phillip Bay in 1948 (Dentry Family)

The couple lived at 3 Villeroy Street, Hampton from 1925, then 69 Holyrood Street, Hampton from 1937 to 1957 and finally at number 19 Coronet Grove, Beaumaris where Bess lived after Barney’s death in 1987, aged 88. Bess died in 2000, are either of the sons still with us?

Living bayside, during 1946-48 Barney built a motor-yacht the couple named ‘St Omer’ to a US design. Initially powered by an Essex four-cylinder car engine, later a JAP marine engine enabled a top-whack, need-for-speed 24mph.

The boat was sold to release capital to build new business premises on the southwest corner of Bay Road and George Street, Sandringham in 1957. Barney operated that motor service and repair operation until 1972 when he retired and sold the building, which still exists as a tyre sales business.

AGP 1931 collage, that’s Barney at the far left (The Referee)

Let’s not forget Barney and Bess Dentry, very competitive stalwarts of Australian motorsport in the pre-war era. Until doing my research I’d not realised just how much at the pointy-end they usually raced, with only luck and the handicapper between them and greater success.

I’m happy to add to this article if any of you can help flesh out the story.


(Dentry Family)

Barney Dentry and Bess Wheeler at Hampton Beach in 1924.

(Dentry Family)

The Dentry Senechal in its final form circa 1924. The diminutive machine is fitted with aluminium body, siren, ‘guards, hood, spare wheel and luggage carrier in the tail. “Total weight 8 1/2 CWT, 7 CWT in racing trim.”

(Dentry Family)

Barney perhaps giving some lucky bloke a joyride in the Dentry Riley circa 1932. Riley 9 Brooklands. Chassis 8062 was variously described in-period as a Brooklands Riley, Ulster Riley and Dentry Riley, all of which are correct depending upon the specs at the time.

Dentry Family)

The Bay Road Sandringham workshop built by Barney Dentry in 1957, in more recent times, and fondly remembered by older Melbourne bayside resident/enthusiasts.


Tony Johns Collection, Motorsport Memorial, Sandringham & District Historical Society via a David Zeunert tip-off, Barrier Miner March 11, 1933, Ron McCallum discussion with Bob King, BNF-Bibliotheque National de France, Ron Brownrigg Collection, John Medley in ‘The Australian Grand Prix:Fifty Year History’, ‘History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ John Blanden, Rob Bartholomaeus


(Dentry Family)

Bess Dentry aboard the Senechal with its brand new aluminium body, circa 1924.


Maybach 1 and friends, Government House, Melbourne March 30, 2023 (M Bisset)
Oscar Piastri, Brundle Corner, McLaren MCL60 Mercedes (P Crook)

I think I’ve missed being present at only two Australian Grands Prix since 1980 – the birth of two of my three sons put paid to the granting of leave passes, bloody sods – but this year is the only occasion I’ve been a competitor. Actually participator is a more accurate way of describing the 60 Historic Demonstration folks.

Bob King very kindly offered his AC Ace Bristol for use in the three 20-25 min Historic Demo sessions on Thursday-Saturday and the one-lapper on race-day. Many thanks is the greatest of understatements Bobby!

AN Ace, AC Ace Bristol (B Williams)

I’m intimately familiar with Albert Park as I live only 800 metres from the Lakeside Drive/Ross Gregory Drive (turn 11) corner and walk or run the joint 5-6 days per week. But of course I don’t use the roads when I do that, it’s only driving it you realise just what a fast, flowing track the place is, especially for a normal roads track. It’s only Brundle (turn 3) and the ease-it-down-pit entry turn 13 that are really slow. Turn 1 to Albert Road Drive/Lakeside Drive Turn 6 is my favourite bit.

From a participants perspective the organisation is first-rate from entry, to bump-in (last Tuesday morning), communication and marshalling throughout the weekend, to bump-out this morning (Monday).

There was plenty of Oscar-mania, local boy as he is. Piastri hales from Brighton only 7km or so from Albert Park so the race is very much in his back yard (Getty Images)
Piastri, April 1, McLaren MCL60 Mercedes (M Keep)
The many colours of Oscar (Getty Images)

The Grand Prix was of course a clusterfuck in terms of red-flags but in these days of Drive to Survive Liberty Media hype and bullshit, get used to it. The cars – what cars? NONE of the technical elements of any of the categories of cars get a single-word in the programme – are just a prop, apparently, for all the people stuff.

Having said that, the increase in crowd numbers is welcome. The Victorian taxpayers kicked in $A78 million last year, as we fund the revenue shortfall every year, to retain the race. 444,631 punters attended the event over the last four days, a record since Victoria stole the race from the South Australians in 1996. Fat-Four global accounting firm EY quantified the 2022 race benefit to the Victorian economy as $A171 million. This is great as the race has, on occasion, been a political football. But these days the ruling, progressive Labour Party and opposition conservative Liberal Party (both outfits are parties of the centre in world terms) are both more or less onside in favour of the race. So the Sydney pricks probably won’t steal it from us!

My youngest got a poverty ticket on-the-fly on Friday – “fuck Dad you are barely moving in that old clunker!” – but the joint was sold out on Saturday-Sunday yonks ago. Not just the grandstand seats, ground passes too. Albert Park is a big joint, 680 acres, 120 of which is the lake, but 140,000 folks is a lot with the infrastructure which is almost entirely brought in onto the site. Only the huge pit-building is a permanent structure, it doubles as indoor sporting facilities for the balance of the year. The queues for the dunnies (toilets) weren’t amusing, nor was the overnite cleaning up-to-snuff. Stuff to fix.

Formula 2 Dallara F2-2018. Luca Pignatta designed carbon fibre monocoque powered by a Mecachrome V634T 3.4-litre turbocharged 620bhp V6. Hewland LFSC-200 six-speed sequential semi-auto transaxle (M Bisset)
The car pictured is Dallara F2-18 chassis #042 raced by Barbados thruster, Zane Maloney for Team Rodin Carlin (M Bisset)
Yummy yum-yum workmanship and finish. Upper and lower wishbones with pushrod actuated torsion bars, two inboard shocks (M Bisset)

The AGP is famous for the value provided in terms of support categories and exhibits right around the site and this year was no exception. Categories of cars were F1, F2, F3, Supercars, Porsche Carrera Cup and Historics. Somewhat contentious was the imposition of F2 and F3 among some local enthusiasts but both classes were fantastic with F3 the pick of the weekend exhaust notes. Oh for F2 to be normally aspirated! I didn’t see too much of their racing but what I did see was great.

Tim Miles’ great looking Hermann/Attwood 917 livery-inspired Carrera Cup car, and buddies (M Bisset)
Porsche 911 (992) 4-litre 510bhp GT3 Cup cars, final turn into Pit Straight, turn 14. Aren’t numbers a dull, shit-boring way to describe on-circuit locale? (M Bisset)

Paddock access to the Cup cars is great, the Supercars ordinary – the ‘Mustangs’ and ‘Camaros’ are in their trackside pits, part of the huge pit complex – and F2 and F3 cars virtually non-existent. A real bummer for open-wheeler nutters. One by-product of commercial success is more trackside grandstands which puts space at a premium generally and specifically makes trackside access to some of the best spots difficult to impossible.

The new Gen-3 Supercars – spaceframe V8 powered silhouette machines with carbon fibre/glass bodies – are spectacular things, only the ‘two-make’ sameness gives me the shits, as it has for the last 30 years. All of the one-make (or one chassis, two engines as here) stuff sucks, vive-le difference. I missed some of the races, the ones I did see were marred by safety cars, a bummer as they always put on a good show. An absolute pisser is that General Motors are dropping the Camaro as a production car just as maxi-taxi-centrale (Supercars Australia) are foaming at the mouth with hype about their brand new – 2023 – product and relevance of same to the buying public. Never mind, perhaps Hyundai will step forward with the i30…

Anton De Pasquale, Ford Mustang S650 Supercar aviating at the fast left-right Brocky’s Hill, turn 10. Spaceframe chassis, KRE built aluminium Ford 5.4-litre quad-cam, four-valve circa 600bhp Coyote V8. Xtrac six-speed transaxle (I Glavas)
A Camaro in front of a Mustang and a Camaro in front of a Mustang. #18 Mark Winterbottom, #56 Declan Fraser and #88 Broc Feeney and #25 Chas Mostert. Camaro ZL1 has a spaceframe chassis and is powered by a Herrod Performance Engines built aluminium Chev LS-based 5.7-litre pushrod, two-valve circa 600bhp V8. Xtrac six-speed transaxle (Getty Images)

Porsche Carrera Cup in Australia was once the preserve of a few pensioning-off Pro’s and well nourished business execs. These days it’s take-no-prisoners young(er) thrusters and just a few Pro-Am guys with the keys to the office booze cabinet and the secretarial pool. The racing was great, spectacular in the half-light as last event each day.

The entertainments not over though – one aspect of taxpayer funding is the value provided to all – for those who aren’t fully-juiced can walk-on-water (across the lake pontoon) to the golf course and take in live band performances. Not me though, I need me beauty sleep.

I did make it to the Governor’s bash mind you, courtesy of Auto Action editor, Bruce Williams who invited me along as his-bitch as he so delicately put it. On the basis that I didn’t have to provide any special-treats at the night’s end, I was happy to oblige. The Thursday evening gig for 1000 of Melbourne’s great, good and grovelling is terrific. The Governor is an amusing speaker and the fact they have the event at all reflects well on the way the sport is regarded by The Establishment.

(M Bisset)
(M Bisset)
Maybach 1, Stan Jones’ Charlie Dean/Repco Research built 1954 New Zealand GP winner was a bit of a rock star throughout the weekend as one of three or so cars present which competed in the ‘53 AGP at Albert Park. ‘Twas the 70 year anniversary since the first car racing @ AP (M Bisset)

That Jones fella gave a good speech and not too long after made a bee-line for Williams, who he knows quite well. We had him for about 10 minutes before he was dragged away. AJ had us both sad in recalling that his breakthrough British F3 Championship win (in 1973) was two days after father Stan’s death in London, and pissing ourselves about his short, Glenburn-farmer phase. That was just before he returned to Europe for his second F1-bite-of-the-cherry. My Top Three Favourite Cars question was easily answered; Williams FW07 Ford, Lola T332CS Chev Can-Am and (Alan Hamilton’s) Porsche 935 which, “with 800bhp just about lifted the front wheels off the ground on the exit of slower corners.”

As you all know, the F1 phase of the Australian Grand Prix – first held at Goulburn in January 1927 and won by Geoff Meredith’s Bugatti T30 – commenced in 1985 in wonderful Adelaide. Great as the Melbourne GP is, Adelaide was better. It turns out that Historics are the only support category that has been part of the bill every year. Yay team. And there are some clever, good-guys running the show led by Adelaide businessman and Austin Healey owner/fanatic Tony Parkinson, so long may that continue. Parky tells us the Grand Prix Corp punter-exit-surveys on the historics are always good. This year the mix of cars ranged from a 1920s Bentley Speed-Six to early 1981 Williams FW07, all single-seaters and sportscars.

George, Fernando, Chuck and Max (Getty Images)
Alonso heads out on 31 March, Aston Martin AMR23 Mercedes, and below the front chassis detail (C Putnam)
(C Putnam)

Having decided we wanted an Alonso Aston Martin win if Piastri/McLaren could not provide it, and having been on-site since early Thursday we bailed in time to get back to King’s TV at home for the race. The telly images of the city are terrific – wearing my taxpayers hat – and it was great to have the commentators interpret/guess officialdom’s next move. Quite why that Croft fellow has to go on like he has a cattle-prod perpetually attached to his hind-quarters I don’t know. The on-track action mainly does not justify his orgasmal level of aural excitement.

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, LAT, M Bisset

The morning after, Monday April 3, 2023 (M Bisset)


The first trucks delivering gear on-site arrived at 7.04am on January 1, 2023, it will be interesting to see when the last ones leave after the de-erection process.

(Getty Images)

It’s all about the customers, and my-lordy, aren’t they engaged!?


FM in SR3-1 Oldsmobile on Sandown’s main straight during his victorious Victorian Sportscar Championship run on April 16. Car pretty as a picture, the SR3’s got more butch as the aero-revolution kicked in from 1968 onwards (R Davies)

One of my online buddies is to blame for yet another variation on Frank Matich themes.

‘Catalina Park’ – I hate this avatar bullshit, if ‘yer name is Freddie Fuddpucker be loud and proud of it right?! – sent the link to this clip of Frantic Francis Matich winning the Victorian Sportscar Championship at Sandown in April 1967, it got me thinking about that year. See here;

Winner of the Australian Tourist Trophy that year, there is little doubt that FM’s new space frame design – whether it was an exact copy of his existing Elfin 400 chassis with a few extra tubes, or almost exact copy of the 400 with a few extra tubes is a moot point – was the best Australian sportscar of the year.

The 4.5-litre Oldsmobile V8 powered machine was quick outta-the-box from its debut Tasman Cup support event performances that January-February, and was a jet by the time it was fitted with a 390bhp Repco Brabham 620 SOHC, two-valve, Lucas injected V8 in time for the Can-Am Cup that September-November.

“Jesus they are quick”, or thoughts to that general effect by Matich and Mabey. This and the following shots were taken at Bridghampton – Can-Am round 2 – over the September 17, 1967 weekend. Chassis SR3-3, RB 620 4.4-litre V8, spaceframe chassis, ZF transaxle and period typical rear suspension; mag uprights, single top-links, lower inverted wishbones, twin radius rods, coil-spring/shocks and adjustable roll bar (S Rosenthall)
“What next?” Matich was as good a design and race engineer as he was driver, the full-package. The watermark you can see is ‘Revs Institute’, which I recommend as a research resource. The nose of car #1 behind is Sam Posey’s – he raced a Surtees TS11 Chev in the ’73 Tasman, remember? – Caldwell D7 Chev (S Rosenthall)

Mind you, he got blown ‘orf the face of the planet over there. The SR3 was very light but its all-alloy 4.4-litre V8 – however many cams it had – was positively poofhouse-effete compared with the big, brawny 6-litre and above yankee-pushrod V8s. 1967 was the start of the Papaya-Revolution, the dominance of McLaren Cars in the Can-Am from 1967-71 before Porsche rained on their parade.

Matich entered four of the six rounds – Road America, Bridgehampton, Laguna Seca and Riverside – and failed to finish any of them, he only got past the halfway mark once, at Bridghampton. But he impressed pit-pundits with the speed of his cars, and both Team Matich and Repco Brabham Engines got their heads around 200-mile races, Can-Am events were GP length, so the cars needed a blend of speed and endurance.

Frank did good business over there, he sold two cars – SR3-1 to Marvin Webster and SR3-2 to Kent Price, both buyers were Californians. Matich used SR3-2 at Road America, and SR3-3 in the rest of the US races, then brought it home and clobbered Chris Amon’s ex-works Scuderia Veloce owned and run Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 in the 1968 Australian Tasman Cup support rounds.

That was the benefit of the trip to the US, Matich and Peter Mabey honed SR3 to a fine-pitch in the intensity of competition stateside, with all of their learnings applied to the 4.8-litre Repco 760 V8 engined SR4 for 1968 Can-Am competition, but the car ran late. That saga is related at length here;

Hinchman overalls, Bell Magnum helmet – pro-driver paradigms for the day. Note the lack of a spare wheel/tyre, Can-Am rules dispensed with that stupidity. Note also the four-point harness, not a fitment – I think – he had in SR3-1 before going away. I don’t think they were mandated in the Can-Am – USAC mandated them in Champcars mind you – then but I may be wrong. A good idea all the same…the rollover bar is a tad-low mind (S Rosenthall)


Robert Davies, Stanley Rosenthall-Revs Institute,


(S Rosenthall)

Yep, yep, I noticed the mechanic. Given my very school-boy smutty mind, my immediate thought was the acrobatics of a particularly athletic girlfriend when I was 19, my-lordy she had a trick or three. Anyway, I wonder what Mr Mabey or the other mechanic – who is he, wasn’t Rennmax Engineering’s Bob Britton, who fabricated the chassis over there for a bit? Whoever it was would have needed a chiropractic treatment for a fortnight after returning to the pitlane…