Robin Lewis Collection…

Posted: April 22, 2023 in Features, Touring Cars
Tags: ,
(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!


  1. John Ballantyne says:

    Peter Hollinger from my heroes file

    • Rod Callaghan says:

      Re Robin, I almost forgot.
      I think he worked with Henry Talbot and Helmut Newton when they had their studio in Latrobe Street just around the corner from Russell Street – would have been in the late 60s.
      Not bad mentors to have.

  2. Nigel Foote says:

    Great article! I love the detail and research work you put into your archive. Thank you!

  3. Lynton Hemer says:

    Interesting that the first photo in your essay is the Robertson Elfin 300.
    I was lucky enough to have a first time look at it, both in the garage, and on the track in the hands of Kevin Miller, earlier today at the All Historic Mallala meeting……albeit in its later supercharged version.
    I might just indulge in a further, perhaps more studious examination tomorrow.



  4. Rod Callaghan says:

    Ah, the 100S.
    I have a photo of me next to it on the grid for practice at the first Winton Historics in 1977, think it was owned by the Sydney Alan(?) Jones then. Don’t remember it being very quick.
    An old girlfriend was one of Robin’s cast offs a very long time ago and she told me that his grandmother bought it (the 100S that is) for him for his 21st birthday: nice one Nanna!
    I think the 100S was the car John Roxburgh crashed at Hepburn Springs when I was a very wee laddie. Still remember the photo in AMS of the car on its side in a ditch. Maybe it was after this that the new nose went on it.

  5. Chris Mellor says:

    Great to see some bike photos
    Think Ago’s MV was a 500 triple as they didn’t go back to fours until later when forced to by the performance of the two strokes. Two pipes on one side and one on the other. I would love to have heard it.

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