Brian Spurr Collection : 1968 Tasman Cup…

Posted: May 24, 2023 in Features
Tags: , ,
(B Spurr Collection)

Frank Gardner leads at the start of the Levin International, round two of the 1968 Tasman Series, won by Jim Clark’s works Lotus 49 Ford DFW, on January 13, 1968.

Clark is second, Chris Amon, Ferrari 246T third, then Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P126 and Piers Courage, McLaren M4A Ford FVA at the rear of the lead-bunch.

We have South African photographer, Brian Spurr to thank for these shots. He didn’t take them, but rather scanned them to preserve the deteriorating images given to him by a lady named Tracy Robb, then made them available through his Facebook page – via good friend, Peter Ellenbogen – for us all to enjoy. Brian has no idea who the snapper was, but clearly the man had a good eye. Many thanks to Tracy, Brian and Peter.

(B Spurr Collection)

Frank Bryan’s Mustang from, perhaps, Robert Stewart’s Cooper S at Cabbage Tree Corner during the same meeting.

(B Spurr Collection)

Graham McRae explores the limits in his Brabham BT2 Lotus-Ford 1.5. He failed to finish the 1968 race but three years later triumphed aboard the McLaren M10B Chev he took to the first of three-on-the-trot Tasman Cup victories from 1971-73. See here for an article about the amazing McRae and his cars, including his formative years;

(B Spurr Collection)

Contretemps between Vince Anderson’s Brabham BT11A Climax and Bill Stone’s #24 Brabham BT6 Lotus-Ford 1.5 in practice. Stone got his car repaired for the race, finishing sixth in the International.

(B Spurr Collection)

Chris Amon on his way to victory at Levin in front of Bruce McLaren’s brand-new, Len Terry designed BRM P126 and Jim Clark. Amon won the 63 lap race from Courage and Jim Palmer in another M4A McLaren.

(B Spurr Collection)

Jim Clark and the lads push Clark’s Lotus 49 #R2 back into the incredibly picturesque Pukekohe paddock during practice. The New Zealand Grand Prix was traditionally the first Tasman round and was usually held at the Auckland circuit, this is/was the January 6 weekend.

Bruce McLaren, BRM P126-02 (B Spurr Collection )

McLaren drove the BRM in the four Kiwi rounds only with his best results fifth at Wigram and a splendid win at Teretonga, then it was back to Colnbrook to ready the new Ford Cosworth DFV powered McLaren M7 and McLaren M8A Chev for F1 and Can-Am competition respectively.

Bruce’s analytical skills kick-started BRM’s development program for their new car, he was familiar with the Type 101 V12 engine, having raced his M5A with it in the latter part of 1967. See here for an article on these cars;

What was the Phil Irving line? “One more tube and you could breed from it!” BRM P126 highlighting the Hewland DG300 gearbox and 2.5-litre variant of their 3-litre F1 Type 101 V12 as first fitted to McLaren’s F1 car in 1967 (B Spurr Collection)

The undoubted stars of the show in 1968-69 were the works Lotus and Ferraris, arguably THE YEAR of Tasman competition in terms of variety was 1968.

Repco Brabham V8 engined Brabhams for Jack (in Australia) and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39, BRM V8s and V12s – the P261 and new P126, the V6 Ferrari 246T and of course the Ford DFW V8 in the back of Jim Clark and Graham Hill’s Lotus 49, the 1.6-litre Ford FVA powered Brabham BT23 raced by Denny Hulme and Piers Courage’s McLaren M4A FVA. Not to forget Frank Gardner’s one-off Alec Mildren owned Brabham BT23D powered by a 2.5-litre variant of Alfa Romeo’s sportscar Tipo 33 V8. Plus the 2.5-litre FPF Climaxes, so long the backbone of the series. We never had it so good! Vive Le difference

(B Spurr Collection)

Piers Courage re-launched his career with his performances in this self-run F2 210bhp McLaren M4A Ford FVA. He drove the wheels off it, stayed on the black-stuff and capped a series of speed and consistency off with a famous win in the teeming rain at Longford in the final 1968 race.

Gardner’s Brabham at left, Amon’s Ferrari at right with Clark in the middle (B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collectionj

Les Jones’ Lotus 20B Ford 1.5 (DNS) and the spare BRM P261 raced that weekend by Pedro Rodriguez at the Shell depot in among the Puke trees.

(B Spurr Collection)

This will cause a state of excitement for Lotus historians. Peter Yock’s white Lotus 25 BRM is chassis R3, the machine used by Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor in 1962-63 before being sold to Reg Parnell racing in 1964 and fitted with BRM P56 V8s. Later, as here, R3 was fitted with a 2-litre BRM P60 V8 and sold to Yock.

This link to Allen Brown’s wonderful website tells all about the tortuous Lotus 25/33 chassis by chassis history; His records show this old-warrior contested 95! races in the hands of Clark, Taylor, Jack Brabham (Monaco 1963), Peter Arundell, Mike Spence, Pedro Rodriguez, Mike Hailwood, Chris Amon, Richard Atwood, Paul Hawkins, Giancarlo Baghetti, Jonathan Williams, Mike Spence, Rob Slotemaker, Piers Courage, Chis Irwin, Peter Yock and Peter Hughes…

Converted to Lotus 33 spec along the way, R3’s best results were wins at the 1962 US GP and Rand GP, and the ’63 Kanonloppet in all cases driven by Clark. Peter Yock’s ’68 Tasman was grim with DNF’s in all four of the Kiwi rounds he contested.

Better shots of the Lotus BRM engine installation – note the Owen Racing Organisation decal between the two front radius rod mounts. Circuit and date unknown (N Tait)
(B Spurr Collection)

Piers Courage and Chris Amon await their MGB ride prior to the off at Pukekohe. Who is the BP driver at right?

(B Spurr Collection)

Clark and Amon above, and the yellow nose of the Mildren Brabham, #2 is Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261 Bruce in the other car beyond in the shot below. The Goodyears on Chris’ car are interesting, I thought the Scuderia were contracted to Firestone at the time? Maybe ‘freelancing’ Down South was hunky-dory?

(B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collection)

No works Brabham Repco V8 for the ‘68 Tasman for Denny – ’67 World F1 Championship and all – he was off to McLaren for 1968 so had to run a Brabham BT23 Ford FVA F2 to keep the fans at home and in Australian happy.

In fact he used two cars that summer. BT23-5 is shown above on the Pukekohe grid. In a very dodgy accident on lap – the blame for which was attributed to Hulme, albeit it was ‘hushed up’ at the time – Denny took Laurence Brownlie’s Brabham off the road, frustrated with his failure, as he saw it, to get out of the way, injuring him very badly and effectively ending the promising Kiwi’s career.

BT23-5, the Winkelmann Racing chassis with which Jochen Rindt won so many races in 1967, was rooted. Sold to Feo Stanton and Alec Mildren, Bob Britton made a BT23 jig with it then set it aside in his Rennmax Engineering workshop. 50 years later it’s alive and well in Europe.

BT23-2 was then shipped to New Zealand, a works car raced by Brabham and Frank Gardner in 1967. His bests in that was third place at Wigram and fifth at Warwick Farm.

(B Sergent Collection)

Clark contemplating loading-up while the shape of BRM Team Manager, Tim Parnell is to the right, a burger-boy of the nicest kind it seems.


Parnell, a few moments later is amongst his lads, Bruce with his back to us is about to jump aboard his P126 while Rodriguez – centre shot – is about to board his V8 P261. Pedro was much keener to race this very well-sorted old-tool that summer, rather than the car he should have been focusing on, his V12 mount for the upcoming F1 season!

(B Spurr Collection)

The off, with someone shitting-himself mid-grid. It is not a good feeling…and what a unique Pukekohe view too. Frank Gardner is on the outside of the front row we can see, Brabham BT23D Alfa, with Jim Clark, Chris Amon and Pedro Rodriguez obscured to FG’s right.


Amon has the jump with Clark right up his clacker. Gardner’s #7 Brabham Alfa is outside, then Pedro’s P261 with Bruce’s V12 on the inside and Denny’s four-cylinder Brabham #3 on the outside.

Amon Pukekohe (B Spurr Collection)

Chris Amon drove a great race to win his national Grand Prix from Frank Gardner, the Aussie was the only other driver to complete the full race distance of 58 laps. Piers Courage was third, Jim Palmer fourth in his McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Australian, Paul Bolton fifth in the Rorstan Racing Brabham BT22 Climax.

Jim Clark had engine failure after 44 laps, while Pedro Rodriguez’ old faithful BRM P261 V8 lasted only 28 laps until clutch failure, while Bruce McLaren’s P126 V12 was hors de combat with clutch failure after completing only 14 laps. More on the race here;

(B Spurr Collection)

Winners are grinners! ‘Sir Christopher’ Amon, Pukekohe 1968. Other dudes folks?


(B Spurr Collection)

I love the look of this Pukekohe paddock, the death sentence has just been made on this place, Denny.

(B Spurr Collection)

David McKay’s – to the right of the car touching his chin – Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM was racing-royalty in this part of the world, competition Ferraris being very thin on the ground. Click here for an article about the car;

Here the machine is sharing the grid with another legendary car, the Lycoming Special – in which Jim Clark did some laps one year – with Jim Boyd at the wheel, the flash of red at right is the Stanton Corvette raced by Geoff Mardon.

The shot below is of the same three cars at Levin the week after Pukekohe at Cabbage Tree corner.

(B Spurr Collection)
Pukekohe paddock (B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collection)

Together with Scuderia Veloce and Frank Matich Racing, Alec Mildren Racing was the only other fully-professional racing outfit in Australia at the time. See here; and here on the BT23D;

Gardner finished equal fourth in the Tasman title chase, with Graham Hill, his best results were second place at Pukekohe, third at Teretonga and Longford, and fourth at Sandown, the AGP.

While the car fell short in international competition, Kevin Bartlett took BT23D over when FG returned to Europe and won the 1968 Australian Drivers Championship, the Gold Star, in it in 1968 before contesting the Australian 1969 Tasman rounds. After a chequered history, BT23D-1 is still with us.

(B Spurr Collection)

Andy Buchanan’s Elfin 400 Chev, looking superb as it did in the day, and now does! A Kiwi mate sent an image of this car very recently, the restoration is now nearly complete albeit the car is not yet running.

(B Spurr Collection)

He’s a bit anally retentive as a sculptor, but let’s give him points for creativity anyway. Those are called long-necks or depth-charges in this part of the world, unlike the little poofhouse things we mainly drink from today.

(B Spurr Collection)

Clark’s 49 R2 alongside Laurence Brownlie’s Brabham BT18/23 Lotus-Ford 1.5. Brownlie’s car – the quickest of the Kiwi 1.5s that year – was destroyed in the terrible accident with Denny Hulme mentioned earlier. More on the ’68 Tasman cars here;

(B Spurr Collection)

Bruce labours on BRM P126-02, giving us another look at the DG300 Hewland – rather than one of Bourne’s own ‘trannies – and Len Terry’s signature twin-parallel-link lower rear suspension, which soon thereafter became the ‘industry standard’.

Note the local work-boots, typical attire on both sides of The Ditch (Tasman Straight). OH&S, WTF is that?

(B Spurr Collection)

Rod Coppins in Pete Geoghegan’s first Ford Mustang, ain’t she sweet.

BRM P60 V8 in the back of Peter Yock’s Lotus 25/33 (N Tait)

BRM maintenance on a shoestring.

I love this explanation by Warner Collins, one of Peter Yock’s mechanics, about repairs to the BRM V8 to keep his driver in the field. It appeared on the Old New Zealand Motor Racing Facebook page.

“The engined no compression in one front cylinder. BRM were stationed at Croydon Motors, so I went and spoke to Tim Parnell who pointed out boxes of V12 and V8 spares, nothing suited. Of course this was Wednesday/Thursday before Wigram so I told Peter Yock it couldn’t be fixed. He then went and barrelled Tim, who said they had no spares for the obsolete engine.”

“Peter said we had to try, so my brain kicked into gear, we got the car onto its side, got the sump off – there was no way the head was coming off without gaskets, 50,000 gears and no manual – so another thinking session. I managed to get the piston and rod out the bottom, the two-ring piston had a broken compression ring. After all day I managed to find a motorbike sized one, the .20th gap was a bit large but in it went. Getting it back in was a mission, I had to get around the crank and compress the rings without breaking them, and bolted the thing up, even having to make a sump gasket.”

“The BRM guys came over and said, ‘You must be joking!’ They would’ve sent the engine back to BRM. It was ok, not 100%, at least it was on 8-cylinders, well that is my story! I think Peter got tucked up a bit, a Lotus with a cobbled up, well-used V8. Peter wanted me to do the rest of the series, but it was not for me, you can’t run a car like that without spares.”

Peter Yock responded to Warner and Gary Sprague, “Well, you are both right. I probably did get tucked up, but for 3000 pounds it wasn’t overly expensive. After the Timaru meeting we went into Ernie Sprague’s garage and completely reset the ride height and suspension and the following week at Ruapuna we blew the opposition away, different handling car altogether.”

“I don’t know if you guys are aware, but the car ended up in Dawson-Damer’s collection in Sydney, after he was killed at Goodwood it was sold at auction for 1.2million. Mind you, it had to be completely restored to to the Jim Clark winning 25 with Climax engine.”


Brian Spurr Collection, Bruce Sergent Collection, Naomi Tait,


Amon’s Ferrari 246T, Pukekohe (B Spurr Collection)

‘cor, dunnit look utterly lovely! Amon’s long-time mechanic, Bruce Wilson has lovingly, carefully, skilfully built up 246T/68 #004 for his longtime friend. They won two rounds in 1968 – Pukekohe and Levin – but returned the following year and went all the way; two cars for Chris and Derek Bell with logistics taken care of by Scuderia Veloce.

2.4-litre V6 is a three-valver here, the four-valve units mainly used in Australia gave very little away to anything else, Amon missed winning the Australian Grand Prix at Sandown so equipped, by only one-hundredth of a second to Clark’s flying Lotus 49 V8.

As you all know, that ’68 Tasman was Jim’s last championship win.


  1. Alec Hagues says:

    Hey Mark – the touring cars are Australian Frank Bryan in the Mustang and most likely Robert Stewart in the Mini Cooper S (with an outside chance it could be his PDL team mate Clyde Collins). Cheers – Alec

  2. prn31 says:

    A great find Mark. They’re great photos!

    Apparently BRM bought out four cars for the 1968 Tasman – two P126 V12s and two P261 V8s. One of the P261 was for Robbie Francevic but Bruce McLaren talked him out of buying and racing the car. In Old Racing Francevic is down as DNS in 2614, which was the same car that Rodriguez would race in NZ and Australia.
    I wonder whether the other car was 2616? I don’t have a copy of Doug Nye’s BRM Vol 2 – maybe it is all explained there?

    The BRM saga put a halt to Francevic’s open wheeler ambitions but he would return in the ’72 Tasman in a McLaren M10A and later on in NZ Formula Atlantic in a Modus M3.


    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Paul,

      They are great photos, there are more too, I’ll circle back and do another piece(s) with them down the track.

      Doug devotes most of pages 316-317 of BRM 3 to the Francevic/Ron Frost/McLaren/Parnell P261 #2614 saga! You’ve nailed it but the nuances are fascinating, not all of the sharks on this planet are in our waters…

      The other car was #2616 as you say, Pedro did far more miles on the tour in the two P261s than his V12.

      Nye quotes a funny McLaren anecdote in which Pedro only realised the P261 had a six-speed box during early practice at Wigram – after racing one at Puke the week before – when overhearing the mechanics discussion about gearing. He’d assumed the V8 car had a five-speed box as the V12 did!


  3. Terry Sullivan says:

    The photos of Team Lotus here are very special as it was the second last time that it raced in its traditional British Racing Green with Yellow stripe. So it was Jim Clark’s second last race in those traditional colours.
    For the third round of the Tasman Series at Wigram the FIA had changed the rules to allow advertising on race cars.
    So for Wigram the cars were turned out as Gold Leaf Team Lotus. Colours were now Red, Gold and White. Clark won the race giving GLTL its first of many wins.
    I personally preferred the green and yellow.
    I am surprised this wasn’t mentioned in the above article.

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