(B King Collection)

This is the first in an ongoing series of pieces based on my (vulgar) first response to a photograph that makes no sense to me. Regular readers will appreciate that an inferior intellect like mine elicits such responses often.

When I first saw the photos – the first one above and the second last – I thought no way were they in Australia, both had a USA feel to me, wrong on both counts.

The first is from me’ mate Bob King’s Collection and was taken at the Warragul Showgrounds pre-War. The last was shot at Drouin, just up the road, that both photographs were taken in two small West Gippsland townships close together 100km to Melbourne’s east is coincidental.

King’s caption for the ‘bike race photograph reads “Darby – in front – was killed in this race.” Sadly that is the case. A bit of judicious Troving confirms that the small Warragul community ran grass-track meetings on their local showgrounds from the mid-1920’s until 1941, with a final meeting, perhaps, in 1953. Ploughing through the results of meetings in the 1930s revealed that Leslie Edwin Darby is our man.

The Auto Cycle Union of Victoria sanctioned events were usually run over the Easter long-weekend on a track “6 1/2 furlongs” (1308 metres) long, timed after the speedway and trotting (nags) seasons had ended, these ran from November-April. As the photo shows, the crowds were huge, 6000-8000 people, not bad for community of less than 500 at the time.

Warragul Showgrounds really looks a nice place, it’s still there too. I often go the long way to Phillip Island via Drouin-Poowong-Loch-San Remo, a fabulous driving road devoid of The Fuzz, so time to do a Warragul detour next time. No details of the above (SRRH)
Two riders at Warragul, no details (SRRH)

Darby was a star of the sport, holding over 30 Australian and Victorian grass track championship wins and over 150 placings. He had won four Victorian and Australian championships at Warragul in the 350 and 500cc classes. He also competed with success in road racing, holding the 250cc lap record at Phillip Island, in 1937 he set FTD at Rob Roy hillclimb, besting all the cars present.

Showing his adaptability, Darby also contested sidecar events, winning the Victorian Sidecar Championship in 1934, and placing third in the famous Victorian Tourist Trophy at Phillip Island held over 75 miles that same year.

Les had a lucky escape at Warragul in April 1936 when he crashed at high speed, somersaulting over a perimeter fence when his ‘bike struck it. Unharmed, other than by cuts and abrasions, he jumped aboard another machine and won the Australian All Powers Three Mile Championship. Warragul claimed three lives, its variety of ever present dangers were demonstrated by Bud Morrison who was thrown from his bike into an adjoining creek and nearly drowned before ambulance officers intervened, during the same 1936 meeting.

Poor Darby’s luck ran out in tragic circumstances on Boxing Day 1940. Shortly after passing the finish line at the end of the the final of the Gippsland Solo Scratch – in which he was battling Edward Smith for the win – Smith, narrowly the victor, lost control of his machine just after the line and fell. Darby swerved in avoidance and hit the fence at over 70mph before cannoning into the crowd. He was declared dead at West Gippsland Hospital shortly afterwards, aged 32. Two spectators were seriously injured but survived.

Les Darby is buried at Kew Cemetery, close to where I grew up, I shall make a pilgrimage to pay my respects soon.

(The Gazette – Warragul & Drouin)

Thankfully the Drouin shot is happier but no less impactful.

William Russell is putting the four-gallon monthly ration of petrol into a customers car at Drouin in 1944. The sign is for the benefit of United States servicemen using the Princes Highway, a main Melbourne-Sydney artery.

The photo is one of a series of Drouin shots taken by government photographer Jim Fitzgerald (Australian Dept of Information) to document the impact of the war on ordinary people, they were used here and in the US.

William Russel & Son Pty. Ltd. the biggest servo in Drouin had two sites employing 16 people and appears a good business with franchises for Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac. Aged 80, William was still on-the-tools…

Born in Brechin, Scotland in 1865, a year later he emigrated to Australia with his parents and older brother, a voyage which took 95 days. William was apprenticed as a blacksmith, wheelwright and coach builder, acquiring the Monroe and Morse, Drouin business in 1890. As horsepower evolved from hooves to wheels the business evolved into a garage, car showroom and servo. William died on May 11 1950 and was such a highly respected member of the local community the hearse taking him on his final journey was followed by over 100 cars.

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Trove – various newspapers, The Gazette-Warragul and Drouin, motorsportmemorial.org, Speedway and Road Race History – SRRH

(B King Collection)

Tailpiece…

After I posted this article I sent it straight to Bob King who provided the shot, or more specifically I scanned it during one of our many illicit, keep-ya-sanity, Covid 19 trysts at his place in the winter of 2020. We Victorians were locked up tighter than a nun’s chastity belt by our beloved Dictator Dan (State Premier Dan Andrews) for most of that year, and a good chunk of 2021, bless the Chinese Alchemists and their magic potions.

His response was “All good stuff, I now recall the name of the patient who gave me the Darby photo, John Soutar, I believe. I think he raced against Darby, my last contact with him was 30 years ago, I just googled Soutars Garage, which is still in Warragul, may be worth a visit.”

There ya go, that explains the WTF photo above.

King’s caption for it is “John Soutar”. The scan was in Bob’s album above the one of Darby in action. I’m sure he made the connection two years ago when we were scanning away, this time the geriatric at fault is me not him…Still, we got there in the end, albeit I think Mr Soutar was a young fan rather than a competitor.

Finito…

In Australia at least, there has never been anything quite like the sphincter-puckering blend of excitement and fear as a 10,000bhp grid of 20 5-litre, fuel injected, thundering V8 missiles are launched by their intrepid pilots.

Many thanks to Michael Strudwick for his photographic artistry.

Warwick Brown, Racing Team VDS Lola T430 Chev gets the jump from pole here at the Surfers Paradise, Rothmans International Series round in February 1977. Quite where Peter Gethin and Vern Schuppan – second and third on the grid – are out of shot I’m intrigued to know. John Leffler is in the white Lola T400 Chev with the partially obscured Alfredo Costanzo’s red Lola T332 Chev behind him. The white helmeted dude behind Brown is Alan Jones aboard Kevin Bartlett’s T332. The Jones boy had crashed and written-off his newish Sid Taylor-Teddy Yip Lola T332C in practice so the pair did a lease-deal to allow AJ to race KB’s car. The blue machine to the right of Jones and back is John Goss’ Matich A51/A53 Repco-Holden.

Alan Jones blasts down Surfers main straight in Kevin Bartlett’s Lola T332 Chev HU22, fifth place (M Strudwick)
Goss’ fourth placed Matich A51/A53 Repco Holden. #005 is one of the two A51s FM took to the US in 1973, and later updated by Goss and Grant O’Neill to A53 side-radiator – and the rest – specifications. This is Goss’ ’76 AGP winning chassis (M Strudwick)
Duulling T332s; great Kiwi Graeme Lawrence HU28 in blue, tenth place, and great Italian/Australian Alfie Costanzo’s ex-Bob Evans HU36 in red, DNF engine. Lola perves will note the 332C factory engine cover come air intake on Alf’s car compared with the very neat one produced by Graeme and his crew in NZ – always distinctive on this car (M Strudwick)

Brown won the race from pole, Peter Gethin’s VDS Chevron B37 Chev was second – the budget required to maintain adequate spares for two different makes within the one team doesn’t bare thinking about – then Leffler, Goss and Jones.

It was a great Rothmans International Series, the three big international Aussies at the time were Jones, Brown and Vern Schuppan, who raced a works Elfin MR8C Chev. The strongest locals were Goss, reigning Australian GP winner, the Lolas of Bartlett, Leffler, Costanzo and Max Stewart, plus John McCormack’s fast but brittle ex-F1 McLaren M23 Leyland.

Brown won two races, Surfers and the AGP at Oran Park, the opening round on February 6. Jones – on the front row alongside poleman Brown – jumped the start at Oran Park by a fortnight, so was pinged a one-minute penalty which he could not make up, so the AGP went to Brown, from Gethin, Goss, Jones and Schuppan.

Karma ruled in that WB got the AGP win he should have had in 1974 at Oran Park, and Jones got his at Calder in 1980. That day he disappeared into the distance in the Formula Libre event aboard one of his works Williams FW07 Fords.

John McCormack tips his one-of-a-kind ex-F1 McLaren M23 #2 Repco-Irving-McCormack Leyland into the harry-flatters-in-top big-balls right hander under Dunlop Bridge Last man standing in an open-face helmet at this level. The integration of the Leyland P76 aluminium V8 into the space usually occupied by a Cosworth DFV was superbly done, without butchery to the chassis. No matter what they did to that motor, new heads and all, it was always a Hail Mary jobbie by the mechanics as they waved J-Mac onto the circuit. He was 12th and last at Surfers. Still, he won the 1977 Gold Star with it (M Strudwick)
The business end of Max Stewart’s Lola T400 Chev, HU3. DNF dropped valve. MS probably won more races than anyone else on the planet in a T400, including the 1975 AGP – at Surfers – in HU2. Max got better and better as he aged, but died in this car at Calder a month later, March 16. The saddest day I’ve ever had at a race track (M Strudwick)
John Leffler in the gorgeous Grace Bros (chain of NSW department stores) liveried Lola T400 Chev HU15, third place. Won the 1976 Gold Star in it (M Strudwick)

Surfers was the second round, the circus then travelled 1,750km south to Sandown Park in Melbourne’s southern suburbs from the Gold Coast. During that week Sid Taylor brought a replacement T332 to Australia for Jones, who put it third on the grid behind Gethin and Schuppan. Brown shoved the nose of his Lola under the Dandenong Road fence during the warm-up lap, so the man in grid-slot four couldn’t take the start.

Jones jumped Gethin and Schuppan at the drop of the flag – remember those? – but one-by-one, in turn, each of Alan, Peter and Vern retired with overheating, fuel pressure and engine failure respectively. Max Stewart took a popular win from Costanzo, Garrie Cooper in the Elfin chief’s MR8C Chev, Dave Powell in the very first Matich A50 Repco-Holden and McCormack’s McLaren, seven laps adrift.

Off to Adelaide for the final round on February 27, Jones finally won the round he had been threatening to do from the off. He was awesome to watch in these cars, thrilling.

Other than those who had last seen him compete at Sandown in the 3-Hour Production Touring Car race in 1968 (second in a Holden Monaro GTS327 shared with Clive Millis), it was the first time Australian fans had the chance to see him in action. He had been paying his dues in the UK and Europe climbing the greasy-pole in the interim. As a kid, Jones was a silver-spoon-special but by the time he embarked on his racing career, father Stan’s money was long- gone. Jones did it the hard way.

Jones was on pole at Adelaide International, from Brown’s repaired Lola T430 by a half-second, and won the hot race from Brown, Goss, Gethin and Stewart.

Brown won the 1977 Rothmans International Series with 24 points from his team-mate Peter Gethin’s 15, and Alan Jones, third on 14 points.

Peter Gethin in the VDS Chevron B37 Chev #37-76-01, second place. Some of you may have seen it raced by Gethin and Pilette in the US, some by Gethin in Australia and some by Bruce Allison in Australia and in the UK in the 1977 UK Group 8 Championship. Bruce did so well that year he won the premier Grovewood Award (M Strudwick)
The one-off Jaime Gard built Gardos OR2 Repco Holden was built for Perth entrepreneur Don O’Sullivan. Here, Chev powered, it’s being fettled for Adelaide driver Chris Milton (M Strudwick)
Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8C Chev #8761. Pretty much the equal of the best F5000s, the three MR8s were raced with success by Vern Schuppan, John Bowe, Larry Perkins and James Hunt (M Strudwick)

Formula 5000 was at a crossroads when it was shot in the head at the end of 1976 by the Americans. They wanted Can-Am type crowds, so they ditched F5000-Formula Lola and created…central-seat sportcar-Formula Lola. The Lola T332 had been the star of the show since 1974, and the T332 decked out in a less attractive frock remained the star of the show – as the T332CS/T333CS – into the late 1970’s.

Those other countries who had F5000 as a premier/key category therefore had decisions to make, car constructors would react accordingly and change their focus as the biggest market changed direction.

In our neck of the Tasman-woods the Kiwis jumped with Formula Atlantic as their national premier class, while Australia stuck with F5000 for waaaay too long. New Zealand got the very best of Formula Atlantic chassis diversity and young thruster drivers from the US and Europe, by the time Australia really committed to Formula Atlantic/Pacific, the chassis interest was gone, it had become Formula RT4 (Ralt).

Tasmanian racer David Powell aboard the very first F5000 Matich, A50 #001 Repco Holden. FM’s 1971 AGP and 1972 Gold Star winner (M Strudwick)
American racer Ed Polley’s Polley EP1 #76-13, Lola T332 copy. Polley had a background in big bore sports cars and sprint cars before graduating to F5000 in the US (M Strudwick)
Goss, A51/A53. Relatively light car, the flat plane crank Repco’s gave 520bhp without loss of their legendary flat-fat torque curve. Repco Engine Developments exited Australian motor racing in July 1974 so development of this engine, and then new Repco Leyland V8, stopped then. Phil Irving/John McCormack later evolution of the Leyland unit duly noted (M Strudwick)

Credits…

Michael Strudwick, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(M Strudwick)

Warwick Brown’s VDS Lola T430 Chev #HU2 in the Surfers Paradise pitlane.

VDS bought two new T430s for the 1976 US F5000 Championship. Brown raced this car twice in the US, then throughout the ’77 Rothmans before HU1 and HU2 were acquired by Australian Porsche importer/racer/team owner – and thoroughly great bloke – Alan Hamilton at the end of the series.

‘Hammo’ raced HU2 for the balance of 1977 and into 1978 – Derek Bell’s drive at Oran Park in the ’78 Rothmans round duly noted – until nearly killing himself in it in a high speed accident at Sandown’s Causeway during the ’78 AGP. While Hamilton survived, HU2 was broken in two.

HU1 (below) was then built up by the Porsche Cars Australia crew led by Jim Hardman, and raced by Alf Costanzo to many race wins, and one Gold Star for Hamilton (1980) in a long relationship which also achieved much success with a McLaren M26 Chev and several Tiga Formula Pacific chassis.

The Hamilton/Costanzo T430 HU1 being tended to at Calder circa 1979-80 (M Strudwick)

Lola returned to the brew which started their F5000 run of success when they married an F2 T240 chassis with a 5-litre Chev V8 and Hewland DG300 transaxle to create the T300 raced by Frank Gardner in later 1971. Gardner, then Lola’s development driver/engineer and works driver, and Lola’s Bob Marston concepted the T242 prototype, and T300 production models.

The 1976 T430 – nicknamed The Flying Bracket by VDS mechanics – was a blend of T360 Formula Atlantic chassis, 520bhp’ish 5-litre Chev and DG300.

The Americans were very attached to their T332s, even moreso after the initial lack of speed of Lola’s 1975 variable rate suspension T400, so they stuck with, or bought new T332/T332Cs rather than the T430, only three of which were sold – to VDS and Carl Haas. Lola’s T400 update kit worked, the two VDS cars were quick in Europe, as were Max Stewart’s and John Leffler’s in Australia, but the Americans weren’t convinced.

All three T430s are extant in New Zealand, where HU2 was reconstructed around its chassis plate which for many years was on the pinboard in Hamiltons’ Church Street Richmond office!

More F5000 to keep you going for an hour or so; Which was the quicker, F5000 or F1? https://primotipo.com/2020/09/15/which-was-quicker-f1-or-f5000/ the ex-Revson/Charlton John McCormack McLaren M23 Leyland https://primotipo.com/2014/07/24/macs-mclaren-peter-revson-dave-charlton-and-john-mccormacks-mclaren-m232/ Frank Matich’ A50-A53 F5000 cars https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/ Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MR8s https://primotipo.com/2014/10/15/james-hunt-rose-city-10000-winton-raceway-australia1978-elfin-mr8-chev/ and Vern Schuppan’s Elfin MR8 Can-Am https://primotipo.com/2018/10/02/hit-with-the-fugly-stick/ not to forget the Lola T300 https://primotipo.com/2021/05/15/angus-and-cootes-lola-t300s/. Then there is Warwick Brown https://primotipo.com/2017/03/09/wb-for-73/ and a bit on Max Stewart https://primotipo.com/2017/10/24/maxwells-silver-hammer/

Finito…

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RAC Officials hold aloft Andrew Coombe, winner of the Junior Pedal Car GP at Crystal Palace in June 1967…

With specs like that the little fella probably didn’t have a successful racing career?! Are you out there Andrew, he would be about the right age to be reading about historic motorsport if he did get the bug?

image

Credit…

Peter Keegan

Tailpiece: Legend…

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Done well too, it looks like Andrew had the capability to bring a race-budget to a team. I wonder what goods or services ‘National’ provided?

Finito…

Allan Moffat tips his new car into Shell corner, Sandown Tasman meeting 1975, Ford Capri RS3100 on its Oz debut (B Keys)

Even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wool single seater and sportscar kinda guy, I’ve got my taxi favourites, Ford’s Cologne Capris are up-there on that list…

Michael Strudwick has been posting some marvellous stuff on Bob Williamson’s Old Motor Racing Photographs – Australia Facebook page in the last fortnight, including these uber-sharp under-the-bonnet shots of Marvin da Marvel’s – the great Allan Moffat – Ford Capri RS3100 vin/tag/chassis # GAECPY19999 circa 1976.

Raucous Cosworth Engineering built Ford Cosworth GAA 3.4-litre four-valve, quad-cam, fuel injected 420bhp @ 8500rpm V6. Cast iron block, ally heads 280 lb/ft of torque @ 7000rpm (M Strudwick)
(M Strudwick)

They are too good to waste, I’ve done the subject to death already, so no point going over ye olde terra-firma again; see here; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/04/long-neck-fosters/

Moffat again at Shell corner, Sandown Tasman 1975. Touring car sex-on-wheels (autopics.com)

Etcetera…

Surfers Paradise 1977 (M Strudwick)

Credits…

Michael Strudwick, Bruce Keys, autopics.com

(motorsportretro.com)

Tailpiece…

Moffat’s ex-works/Kar Kraft 1969 Mustang Boss 302 Trans-Am is, of course, on The List too. Here it is at Calder circa 1970, date welcome. See here; Moffat’s Lotus Cortina, Shelby, K-K and Trans-Am phases… | primotipo…

What else is on The List you might ask? Jaguar Mk2, Ford Lotus Cortina, Alfa Romeo GTA and GTAm, Norm Beechey’s Holden Monaro GTS350, any Ford Falcon GTHO, Bob Jane’s Holden Torana GTR XU1 Repco V8, Ford Falcon XA GT351 Coupe, Bryan Thompson’s Volksrolet Chev, John McCormack’s Chrysler Valiant Repco-Holden, Holden Torana A9X, BMW M3 and 625CSi, Ford Sierra RS500, Nissan Godzilla GT-R.

In my book, Australian touring car racing was homogenised, pasteurised and sodomised (poor Georgie Pell) with the advent of V8 Supercars. The shit-boring sameness of maxi-taxis is not for me, gimme grids of vast variety any day, the speed of said silhouette tourers is duly noted. Happy to be in the minority, as always.

(motorsportretro.com)

This US shot was in the motorsportretro.com bunch of Moffat Mustang shots. The inference is that Allan is behind the wheel, can any of you touring car specialists date and place this shot of a car in Bud Moore warpaint?

Finito…

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Google translate is pretty good but it choked on the German-English translation of this unusual scene…

Published in 1937, it’s probably a Benz magazine advertorial piece of some sort. I wonder what model it is – the car? Explanatory input welcome, I don’t think Mercedes were building ML’s back then.

Credit…

Wolfgang Weber

Finito…

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Poster for the 1934 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring…

It’s famously the race in which Auto Union took their first GP win. Hans Stuck triumphed in the 4.4-litre V16 AU Type A from Luigi Fagioli, Mercedes W25A and Louis Chiron in a Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3.

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(SSPL)

Grid before the off. #6 is the Rudy Caracciola MB W25A, #20 Goffredo Zehender Maserati 8CM, #1 Hans Stuck AU Type A. Alongside him is the Ulrich Maag Alfa Monza, #9 Luigi Fagioli MB W25A and beside him Laszlo Hartmann’s Bugatti T51, the AU on the row behind Fagioli is August Mombergers, #3 is the Ernst-Gunther Burgaller AU Type A, Hans Ruesch in the middle, Maserati 8CM, and #15 is the Luigi Soffietti Alfa Monza.

fag paddock

(SSPL)

All the fun of the fair. The Nurburgring paddock with only Louis Chiron’s Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Tipo B/P3 in the Eifel Mountains breeze

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(Imagno)

Pitstop for Stuck’s winning Auto Union Type A, vents and ducts all over, note the torsion bar IFS, swing-axle at rear.

The race was important to the German teams, keen to avenge their defeat at the French Grand Prix, Montlhery on 1 July, where Louis Chiron won in a reliable Alfa Tipo B. The Silver Cars dominated at the Nurburgring where the Alfas and Maseratis were also-rans.

The race was also important for Caracciola’s return to form after his Monaco accident the previous year, and subsequent death of his wife in a skiing accident. His form was confirmed with a forceful drive which ended in retirement. Quick at Montlhery on 1 July – Rudy’s comeback drive after 14 months out of the seat – he showed he was on-it at the Nurburgring.

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(Imagno)

Rudy Caracciola and Alfred Neubauer before the off, Caratch was back with a vengeance despite needing help getting in and out of the car. Once ensconced he was mighty fast

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(SSPL)

#22 Battilana Alfa Monza, #20 Zehender Maserati 8CM, #6 Caracciola MB W25A, #12 Maag Alfa Monza, #1 Stuck AU Type A, #11 Hartmann Bugatti T51, #9 Fagioli MB W25A then the Momberger and Burgaller AU Type A’s.

fag

(SSPL)

Fagioli’s Benz W25A, #2 Momberger’s AU and #15 Soffietti’s Alfa before the off. Fagioli was drafted into the team in the event Caracciola was not up to snuff after his convalescence. Luigi knew he had a fight on his hands within the team as Rudy was quick from his Montlhery return.

Stuck’s Auto Union lead early from Caratch’s Mercedes W25A and raced hard, breaking the lap record several times ahead of Fagioli Mercedes, Chiron Alfa P3, Moll Alfa P3 and Nuvolari Maserati 8CM. Rudy snuck past Stuck at the Karussell on lap 13 but the Benz’ eight-cylinder engine failed and he soon retired. Stuck regained the lead, the order was as above except that Momberger replaced Moll in the gaggle.

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The supercharged 3.4-litre straight-eight of Caracciola’s Mercedes W25A being fettled, plug change perhaps, before the off (SSPL)

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Stuck on the left getting plenty of attention in the pits, Caracciola on the right (SSPL)

With four laps to go Stuck was concerned about his engine water temperature and signalled as such to his team, who waved him on, only to be told after the race that the team had changed the gauges. What he was reading was oil not water temperature!

Stuck and Auto Union took a great win, Auto Union’s first GP victory from Fagioli, Mercedes Chiron’s Alfa and Nuvolari in a Maserati 8CM but Caracciola was the star of the show and back with a vengeance!

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(Imagno)

Hans Stuck is a very happy chappy, after 4 hours and 38 minutes of hard work he won the race. Plenty of uniforms around in these shots even in 1934.

Credits…

Kolumbus.f1, Imagno, Science and Society Picture Library, Tony Turner

Etcetera…

(T Turner)

After this article was first posted, my friend Tony Turner sent me these two marvellous photographs and this note.

“Back in 2016 I went for a holiday in Germany. It was only when I went for a stroll around our temporary base in Remagen that I realised that I was in the birthplace of Caratch – the street sign was a definite clue, the sculpture in a little park nearby definite confirmation. I suspect it features the later W125 rather than the 1934 W25. It seems his grandfather (?) founded a big hotel there, which was taken over by successive generations, so the name’s still quite well respected in the town.”

(T Turner)

Tailpiece…

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(SSPL)

Momberger and Burgaller shared this Auto Union Type A, DNF after completing 20 laps. Auguste Momberger is alongside the cockpit.

Finito…

(N Sparks)

Great shot of Dave Walker in front of a gaggle of cars in the Mondello Park pitlane over the May 11 1969 weekend.

His works-Jim Russell Lotus 61 Formula Ford is in front of Emerson Fittipaldi’s Merlyn Mk11A with another future Grand Prix driver, Tony Trimmer in the black Titan fourth in the group.

Walker went backwards to go forwards with FF. He had been quick in his poorly funded F3 exploits in Europe since arriving from Australia in the mid-1960s but revitalised his career in works Lotus FFs. He won the 1969 Les Leston Formula Ford Championship aboard the Lotus 61 in 1969, dominant seasons in F3 aboard Gold Leaf Team Lotus 59 and 69s followed in 1970-71, then F1.

Walker during the 1964 Australian Grand Prix at Sandown Park in February 1964. He was ninth aboard his Brabham BT2 Ford 1.5, the race was won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT7A Climax FPF 2.5 (autopics.com.au)

Trimmer was second in the title aboard his Frank Williams racing Titan Mk4. Other drivers of note competing that year included Colin Vandervell, fifth using Lotus 61 and Merlyn Mk11A chassis, Ian Ashley, sixth in an Alexis, not to forget Tom Walkinshaw who was equal 14th in a Hawle DL2 – years before his switch to touring cars – with a youngster named James Hunt 21st in another Merlyn Mk11A.

Emerson was eighth but spent a good part of the year focused on F3, winning the BRSCC/MDC Lombank British F3 Championship aboard a works-Jim Russell Lotus 59 Ford. Walker was 11th in a Lotus Components 59, and Hunt 15th using Brabham, Lotus and March chassis.

Lotus Components built about 250 Lotus 61/61Ms from 1969-71, they were huge sellers, successful too with the wedge styling taking its cues from the 1968 Indy Lotus 56 Pratt & Whitney.

Credits…

Nick Sparks photo via Hans Hulsebos, autopics.com.au, Getty Images

Tailpiece…

Nice portrait of 29 year old Dave Walker at Crystal Palace in October 1970. Lotus 59A Ford F3.

That weekend, Mike Beuttler, Brabham BT28 Ford, won his heat, Walker his, and the final from Beuttler, Trimmer and Gerry Birrell.

Walker won the 1970 MCD Lombank F3 Championship, Carlos Pace (Jim Russell Lotus 59/59A) the BARC Forward Trust F3 title, and Tony Trimmer the BRSCC/MotorSport/Shell Super British F3 Championship, Brabham BT28 Ford.

Finito…

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

Click here for an interesting article on this very talented driver; http://500race.org/people/eric-brandon/

image (GP Library)

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

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

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

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

Credit…

Walter Bellamy, GP Library

Finito…

This shot begs a caption competition, surely?

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

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

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

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

Credits…

Lake Perkolilli Revival Facebook page, State Library of Western Australia

Tailpiece…

(SLWA)

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

Finito…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(unattributed)
(unattributed)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits…

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

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

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

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

Finito…