(unattributed)

One row of the 28 starters of the 35 lap, 150 mile, 1949 Australian Grand Prix at Leyburn, Queensland, await the drop of the flag on September 18.

The first two cars are MG TCs, Col Robinson in #32, #30 is unidentified (help please, away from my AGP book). #17 is the more focused TC Spl of Dick Cobden, then Peter Critchley’s fourth placed ex-Alf Najar MG TB Spl, and on the far side, Arthur Rizzo’s Riley Spl, who finished third on the RAAF airfield track.

A race day crowd estimated at 30,000 people saw John Crouch’s Delahaye 135S win from Ray Gordon’s TC Spl, the shot below shows Crouch on his winning run.

John Snow imported the 1936 3.6-litre, six-cylinder Delahaye (chassis # 47190) from France to Australia in time for the 1939 AGP at Lobethal, with the talented Crouch finally realising its potential.

(Wiki unattributed)
(Wiki unattributed)

For so long the fire-and-brimstone Frank Kleinig had been an AGP favourite. 1949 was really his last chance to do well as the quality of our fields improved and his oh-so-fast Kleinig Hudson Spl slipped down the grids, its development potential by then having pretty-much peaked.

Kleinig led Crouch for seven laps – they shared the fastest lap of the race 2’52 seconds/90mph – but then had the first of three pitstops which led to his retirement after completing only 21 laps.

Dick Cobden’s shapely, quick, Gordon Stewart built, Bob Baker bodied, 1946 MG TC (#3306) ‘Red Cigar’ single-seater was out early after only six laps with undisclosed dramas.

(Wiki-unattributed)

Thanks to Terry Sullivan for pointing out this interesting article about the machinations and difficulties associated with the staging of this race; The AGP When Any Airfield Would Do – The Race Torque

Credits…

Wikipedia

Finito…

(P Houston)

This Dr Who-esque shot was taken by Peter Houston at Hume Weir on the 1971 Boxing Day weekend.

It’s later F2 front runner Enno Buesselmann in his Formula Ford days, an Elfin 600. Click here for more on Australian FF formative days.

These couple of pages from a mid-1950s brochure about the Phillip Island circuit have me intrigued.

Is it a Claytons-prospectus touting for capital to build the place or part of a promotional document created after its completion? Dunno, but I’d like to know.

(P Mahon Collection)

The Repco Record is shown above at Port Wakefield circuit in South Australia in the late-1950s.

The Holden Hi-power six-cylinder engined R&D and display car was in Phil’s father’s care while away from its Repco Research home near Dandenong, Victoria.

The shot below is of the car in the family front-yard together with a Ford T-model they still own. Nice!

More on the Repco Record here; ‘Repco Record’ Car and Repco ‘Hi-Power’ Head… | primotipo…

(P Mahon Collection)
(Rewind media)

Max Stewart, Mildren Ford, winner of the 1972 Singapore Grand Prix, chases Albert Poon’s Brabham BT30 Ford.

They are clearing Peak Bend on the challenging Thompson Road circuit. Click here for more on this race; Singapore Sling with an Elfin Twist… | primotipo…

(LAT)

Brocky, brocky, brocky oi, oi, oi…

Mind you, it might be Brian Muir or Jean-Claude Aubriet, his co-drivers at the wheel. Doubtless the taxi-perves among you can set me straight on that particular helmet. Their Team Brock BMW 3.5 CSL, was out with gearbox failure after completing 156 laps, in the 19th hour, Le Mans in 1976.

The race was won by the Jacky Ickx/Gijs van Lennep Porsche 936, the Group 5 class-winner was the works Porsche 935 crewed by Rolf Stommelen/Manfred Schurti, Brock returned to Le Mans of course.

The most formidable combination in Australia immediately before, and after the war, Alf Barrett and his Alfa Romeo Monza

And the same shot, at Mount Panorama, below colourised by Nathan Tasca, the muted tones are much to my liking. See here for an epic on car and driver; Alf Barrett, ‘The Maestro’, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Monza… | primotipo…

Alan Jones, Lola THL2 Ford during the 1986 Canadian GP on the 2.74 mile Ile Notre-Dame track in Montreal, Quebec.

All the ingredients for success were in this mix but the ultimate pace of the car, in large part due to a lack of power from the Cosworth 1.5-litre, twin-turbo V6, meant it never achieved much despite the best efforts on The Jones Boy and Patrick Tambay. See here for a piece on the car; Lola THL2 Ford | primotipo…

Jones finished 10th, five laps adrift of Nigel Mansell’s winning Williams FW11 Honda.

(rewindmedia.com)

Perth’s Syd Anderson, Double Ford V8, and LC Chan’s Cooper 1100 at the start of the August 2, 1953 Johore Grand Prix in Malaya.

Anderson led for the first 19 laps of the race held on the Thomson Road course, but was out with engine and clutch problems. The incredible twin-Ford V8 engined beastie was as famous for its unreliability as its speed. Chan did the fastest lap at 63.25mph but he too failed to finish with engine problems.

I wonder if another Australian Special competed overseas before this? Stan Jones won the 1954 New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore aboard Maybach 1 of course. Click here for more on the Double Eight here; 1950 Australian Grand Prix: Nuriootpa, South Australia… | primotipo… and within this piece; Sellicks Beach, Adelaide… | primotipo…

(rewindmedia.com)
(K Wright Collection)

Bruce McLaren, winner of the 1965 Australian GP at Longford on his lap of honour.

McLaren won aboard one of his ‘first McLarens’, a Cooper T70 Climax. Jim Clark holds the Tasman Cup he has just won, he was victorious in four of the seven rounds in a works Lotus 32B Climax. See here for an article on this race; Longford 1965… | primotipo… and Cooper T70; ‘Levin International’ New Zealand 1965… | primotipo…

The Triumph Spitfire’s pilot is the Longford Motor Racing Association supremo, Ron MacKinnon.

(M Fistonic)

Max Stewart’s Lola T400 Chev ahead of Chris Amon’s Talon MR1 Chev at Pukekohe during the 1975 NZ GP.

They finished seventh and eighth with Chris in front. Amon was consistently quick throughout the ‘75 Tasman Series – won by Warwick Brown’s Lola T332 Chev – winning the Teretonga round. Stewart was held back by the Lola T400 which at that stage of its development was inferior to his old T330. Brown won the NZ GP. More on the McRae GM2/Talon MR1 here; Amon’s Talon, McRae’s GM2… | primotipo…

(B Williamson Collection)

Lex Davison, Cooper T62 Climax FPF 2.7 ahead of David McKay, Brabham BT4 Climax FPF 2.7 during the April 1963 Easter Bathurst Gold Star round.

Davison won the Bathurst 100 from pole with Kiwi, Tony Shelly second aboard Davison’s Cooper T53, and Charlie Smith’s Elfin Junior 1.5 Ford third. McKay was out after only 9 of the 26 laps with overheating.

Bib Stillwell won the Gold Star that year aboard a Brabham BT4 Climax from John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax and McKay. More on the Brabham BT4 here; For Sale, everything for sale… | primotipo… and Cooper T62 here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

(Cummins Family Collection)

Reg Hunt during the first test of his just arrived Maserati A6GCM at Fishermans Bend in December 1954.

This was the car – only just superseded by the 250F – which reset the competitive bar in Australia. To run at the front of scratch races, rather than the hitherto usual handicaps, elite level Formula Libre competitors had to have a modern, Italian! car.

Hunt died at 99, not to far from the-ton, due to Covid related complications on August 22, 2022. Click here; Reg Hunt: Australian Ace of the 1950’s… | primotipo… and here on the A6GCM; Hunt’s GP Maser A6GCM ‘2038’… | primotipo…

Racer/engineer Otto Stone in the overalls (Cummins Family Collection)
(Porsche.com)

Alan Hamilton waves to the Calder Raceway crowd after the first round of the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship in March.

He finished third aboard his Porsche 911T/R behind the Ford Mustangs of Bob Jane and Pete Geoghegan. See here for a feature on that series; 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship… | primotipo… and on some of Alan’s cars; Alan Hamilton, Australian Champion: His Porsche 904/8 and two 906s… | primotipo…

Love the ATV Channel-O outside broadcast van on the inside of Tin Shed corner, do you think they covered the meeting with one camera?

(AGP Corp)

David Brabham on the East Terrace section of the Adelaide street circuit in 1990.

He qualified his Brabham BT59 Judd 25th but spun and couldn’t get going after 19 laps of the race won by Nelson Piquet’s Benetton B190 Ford. More about David here; Brabhams and Adelaide… | primotipo…

What a double header! The Australian Tourist Trophy and Australian Grand Prix were held at Albert Park a week apart on the weekends of November 26, and December 2, 1956.

Both events were works-Officine Alfieri Maserati/Stirling Moss benefits. He won the TT in a 300S sportscar and the GP aboard one of the greatest of all Grand Prix cars, the 250F. Click here; 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy, Albert Park… | primotipo… and here; Moss at Albert Park… | primotipo…

(J Cox)

Jack Hedley on the Milthorpe Special at Albert Park in 1956.

Built by Albury man, Charlie Milthorpe in 1947-48, the car was based on an ex-army 1941 Ford ute chassis and fitted with an amalgam of FoMoCo bits; ’39 gearbox, ’40 front axle, ’35 rear end and a ’51 side-valve V8 fitted with a Stromberg 97 carb, brakes were Customline.

(unattributed)

These days the attractive racer is an ugly hot rod which resides in Tasmania, but an attractive replica has also been built.

(J Cox)
Milthorpe Ford Replica at Winton in recent years. Meeting date and driver folks? (Jason Pratt)
(B Williamson Collection)

Spencer Martin from Bib Stillwell both aboard Brabham BT11A Climaxes during the Mallala Gold Star round in October 1965.

Stillwell won from Martin in a season where Bib won three of the six Gold Star rounds. It was his final of four on-the-trot Gold Stars before retiring to a stellar – or rather continuing – business career, not to forget his return to historic competition for the final decade or so of his life.

Martin won the 1966-67 Gold Stars in fantastic scraps with Kevin Bartlett, both aboard Brabham BT11As. Click here; Matich & Stillwell: Brabhams, Warwick Farm, Sydney December 1963… | primotipo… and here; Spencer Martin: Australian ‘Gold Star’ Champion 1966/7… | primotipo…

(MotorSport Images)

Tim Schenken in the Rondel Racing Brabham BT36 Ford during the Rothmans International Trophy meeting at Brands Hatch in August 1971.

Tim’s race was over early, he had fuel metering unit failure after only three laps. He did a full F2 Championship season, winning at Crystal Palace and placing second at Mantorp Park and Albi. He was fourth in the championship won by his mate, Ronnie Peterson’s March 712M Ford, Ronnie won at Brands that day too. More on Tim here; Tim Schenken… | primotipo…

(gnooblas)

Mary Seed, AC Ace Bristol at Gnoo Blas in June 1958.

The young British socialite had met and married HMAS Melbourne Venom Squadron Leader Lieutenant-Commander Peter Seed in the UK. He gave his bride (née Morton) the car as a wedding gift, before coming to Australia in 1956.

Seed had raced an Austin Healey in the UK in 1955 and raced the AC in Australia from 1956 to 1959, including setting an Australian Land Speed Record for women at 113.3mph at Carrathool in 1957.

When the couple returned to the UK, the car, chassis #BE167, stayed in Australia, and was then raced by Ray Hogwood and Rex Marshall until 1962. Restored by Geoff Dowdle in the early 1980s, hopefully it’s still in Australia.

Doug Blain road testing the ex-Seed AC Ace Bristol BE167 for SCW (B King Collection)

Credits…

Peter Houston, Phil Mahon Collection, LAT, Zeunert Motorsport Archive, rewindmedia.com, Getty Images, John Cox, Bob Williamson Collection, MotorSport Images, Cummins Family Collection, gnooblas.com, Ken Starkey, Bob King Collection, Jason Pratt

Tailpiece…

(K Starkey)

Norm Beechey, Chev Nova from Pete Geoghegan, Ford Mustang at Catalina Park in the Blue Mountains, perhaps, Neil Stratton thinks, during the January 1967 meeting. See here for a bit more; Norm, Jim and Pete… | primotipo…

Finito…

A BOAC Bristol Britannia ‘Whispering Giant’ (actually a Britannia based Canadair CL-44D4-1 – thanks Jon Farrelly!) awaits its precious cargo before departure from Heathrow to the fly-away, end of season United States and Mexican Grands Prix, October 1963…

The cars in the foreground are the factory Lotus 25 Climaxes of Jim Clark, victorious at Mexico City, and Trevor Taylor. #1 and 2 are the reigning World Champion BRM P57’s of Graham Hill and Richie Ginther, they finished first and second at Watkins Glen.

#16 is Jim Hall’s Lotus 24 BRM and #14 is Jo Siffert’s similar car. #11 and 12 are Jo Bonnier and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T66 Climaxes, note that Bruce raced carrying #3 in both events.

For the aircraft buffs amongst us here is a link to a period BOAC documentary about the Bristol Britannia

I love these two photographs of construction of Bristols in the mid-1950s.

The first shows Britannia 100s being completed in Bristol’s Assembly Hall at their Filton, South Gloucestershire aerodrome/manufacturing facility about four miles north of Bristol, in January 1956.

The second, dated a year earlier, may well have been the inspiration for Colin Chapman’s monocoque Lotus 25! (that was a joke). It’s such a powerful shot showing the conceptual simplicity and strength of such (highly sophisticated) structures.

In 1959 Bristol Aircraft merged with several other companies to form the British Aircraft Corporation, which in turn became a founding piece of British Aerospace, now BAE Systems. BAE Systems, Airbus, Rolls Royce, MBDA and GKN still have a presence on this Filton site. More Bristol Aircraft reading here; https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/filton–bristol

Tailpiece…

(Getty Images)

A Bristol Sycamore helicopter and 401 in 1950.

Finito…

(A Ramsay)

Malcom Ramsay and Tony Alcock built a swag of championship/race winning Formula Ford, F3, F2 and Formula Atlantic single-seaters from 1971 to 1978.

And this mid-engined, supercharged VW powered speedcar.

The project was funded by Bob and Marj Brown, a successful Adelaide business-couple who aided and abetted the careers of Birrana pilots Enno Buesselmann and Bob Muir from 1973-76.

Alcock’s revolutionary spaceframe design was tested by Ramsay on the dirt at Rowley Park, and at Adelaide International’s half-mile, banked, bitumen oval in 1974, it was immediately quick.

It was a step way too far for the conservative controlling body who suggested that “You circuit racing wally-woofdas can take your changes elsewhere!” Or as Ann-Maree Ramsay put it more delicately, the car “was banned due to perceived different handling characteristics compared with the front-engined Sesco and Offy cars of the time.”

The VW engine was a supercharged 1.6-litre flat-four mated to a Holinger modified VW transaxle.

By 1975 the Browns were in England chasing Formula Atlantic fame together with Muir and a pair of modified Birrana 273s.

Ramsay advertised the car in Auto Action, outlining that the S74 was the only car of its type “permitted to race for 18-months on a bitumen-oval, in this very restricted form of the sport.”

Yes, I know it’s a shit-photo, but it seems to be the only one there is, let’s record our history anyway. If you have a better one, please send it to me. The shot is out front of the Ramsay home in Adelaide. If memory serves, it now resides in the Holmes Collection in Brisbane.

Leo Geoghegan and Enno Buesselmann in Birrana 273 Hart-Fords during the 1973 ANF2 Adelaide International round

Credits…

Ann-Maree Ramsay

Finito…

harves red

(autopics.com.au-R Austin)

John Harvey’s 2.5-litre Repco V8 powered Brabham BT11A shrieks it’s way around Warwick Farm on 18 February 1968…

Looks a treat doesn’t it? Nose up out of Leger Corner onto Pit Straight, it was first meeting for the car with its Repco engine.

By 1968 IC-4-64 was an old-girl, albeit a very successful one. It was raced by Graham Hill in the 1965 Tasman Series for David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, winning the 1965 NZ GP at Pukekohe on its race debut.

hill Hill won the ’65 NZGP at Pukekohe on 9 January 1965 from Frank Gardner’s similar BT11A and Jim Palmer’s earlier model BT7A, all 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF powered (sergent.com)

It then passed into the capable hands of Spencer Martin, initially driving for McKay, and then Bob Jane for whom Spencer won two Gold Stars in 1966 and 1967. Click here for an article on Martin and his exploits in this car; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

The 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder engine was struggling against the V8’s by then, so Bob bought a 740 Series Repco 2.5-litre V8 to plonk in the back of the BT11A.

John Harvey, Martin’s successor at Bob Jane Racing, contested the Australian rounds of the 1968 Tasman Series so powered. Jim Clark’s works Lotus 49 Ford DFW won the Tasman that year, it was the final championship he won before his untimely death at Hockenheim that April.

harves engine 740 Series Repco 2.5 Tasman V8 engine. 700 Series Repco block and 40 Series ‘between the Vee’ heads’, the ’67 World Championship winning SOHC, two-valve engine in 2.5-litre Tasman spec as against its 3-litre F1 capacity.  Repco claimed 275bhp @ 8,500rpm for the 2.5, and 330bhp @ 8,400 rpm for the 3-litre variant. Lucas injection trumpets, Bosch distributor and plenty of chrome and cadminium plating in shot (P Houston)
image Harvey in the BT11A Repco at Longford, 1968. The attention Bob Jane placed on the presentation of his cars is clear. Note the seatbelt, six-point? (oldracephotos.com-H Ellis)

Harves’ did three Australian rounds, only finishing the wet, final Longford event. By the start of the Gold Star series he slipped into Jane’s new Brabham BT23E which had been Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount.

Harvey raced the final round of the 1967 Gold Star Series in IC-4-64 after Martin announced his retirement. He was already well familiar with Repco power, the 740 Series Repco had been shoe-horned into his Ron Phillips owned BT14 F2 Brabham.

Third place at Sandown was his only finish in the car. John commented in a Facebook exchange about this car “…On handling, Peter Molloy and I were still developing the chassis setup, however in the Diamond Trophy race in 1967 (pictured below) at Oran Park I set a new outright record on the last lap”, so they were improving the car.

The engine and Hewland ‘box was removed from the BT14 which Jane acquired, and popped into the BT11A which it was figured would better cope with the power than the BT14 F2 frame and related hardware.

IC-4-64 is still alive and well, as part of the Bob Jane Estate, in FPF engined form.

harves wf pitlane Harvey in the WF pitlane, Tasman meeting ’68. The BT11A has a vestigial spoiler and a few ducts the it didn’t have when CC FPF powered. Jewels of things these ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams, very successful ones at that (B Williamson)
harves wf from inside At the Warwick Farm Tasman meeting again (J Stanley)
harvey repco Competitor view of the BT11A and its luvverly Repco RB 740 2.5-litre 275 bhp V8 (P Houston)

Credits…

autopics.com.au-Richard Austin, John Stanley, Peter Houston, sergent.com, Bob Williamson, oldracephotos.com-Dick Simpson, Harold Ellis and Harrisson, oldracingcars.com, Stephen Dalton Collection

harvey repco (P Houston)

Brabham BT14 FL-1-65 Repco, Angus & Coote Diamond Trophy, 27 September 1967…

The shot of Harvey in the Ron Phillips owned Brabham referred to above, on the way to victory in the Diamond Trophy at Oran Park.

John made his name in speedway and transitioned into road racing in an Austin/Morris Cooper S, and then into open-wheelers in this ex-Bib Stillwell car. The Brabham received progressively bigger Lotus-Ford twin-cams, with Harvey going quicker and quicker, before the machine copped its Repco V8 Birthday between the 1967 Tasman and Gold Star Series. Rennmax’ Bob Britton performed the surgery to pop the Repco into the BT14 frame, creating a BT14 jig in the process.

It wasn’t that successful in Repco form; DNF/DNS at Lakeside, Surfers, Mallala and Symmons Plains, third place in the Sandown Gold Star round in September was the car’s best, behind Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco and Spencer Martin aboard BT11A IC-4-64.

Harvey during the Diamond Trophy meeting at Oran Park (oldracephotos.com-Dick Simpson)

Harvey’s Bob Jane drive commenced aboard IC-4-64 in the final Gold Star round, the Hordern Trophy, at Warwick Farm in December 1967.

So…Harvey in 12 or 14 months drove quite a few different Brabham/engine combinations! BT 14 Ford, BT14 Repco, BT11A Climax, BT11A Repco, and then BT23E Repco for the ’68 Gold Star Series. Mind you he missed the ’68 Gold Star.

The ‘noice new Brabham crashed after a rear suspension upright failed in practice for the opening Bathurst round. Harvey’s big accident and subsequent recovery kept him away from racing for the rest of the year.

Harvey aboard the Jane Racing Brabham BT23E Repco 830, during the Symmons Plains Gold Star round in March 1970, at the end of its competitive life. He won the race from Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco and Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Waggott (oldracephotos.com-Harrisson)

Tailpiece…

(S Dalton Collection)

The July 1965 Oran Park meeting program shows Harvey’s Austin Cooper S ahead of George Garth’s Ford Cortina GT during the OP May 1965 meeting.

Finito…

JYS loads up into the Chaparral 2J at Watkins Glen in July 1970 (LAT)

Apart from the Chaparral 2J Chev, name another car raced in 1970 that looks as edgy now as it did way back then?

I still remember flicking through Automobile Year 18 in Camberwell Grammar’s library in 1971 and flipping-my-14-year-old-lid at the sight of the 2J. My oldest mate remembers me saying, “Look at George Jetson’s car!” The only things missing were Jane, Judy, Elroy, and of course ‘rAstro!

John Surtees, Chaparral 2H Chev at Riverside in October 1969
2H butt at Riverside in October 1969. Of note is the world’s biggest fabricated aluminium De Dion rear axle and one of the worlds biggest radius rods. ZL1 Chev has a crossover inlet manifold to get the fuel injection trumpets out of the airstream, ditto routing of extractors. Enormous wing fitted in this shot – you can see the vertical support – which is not installed in the shot above, remember too that this car was originally designed and built with the driver fully enclosed inside, something John Surtees pushed strongly against

Jim Hall has gonads the size of pineapples.

His outrageous 1969 offering, the wedgy, door-stop, knee high, De Dion rear-ended 2H was a complete flop. It’s driver, John Surtees, thought Hall had been smoking wacky baccy at Woodstock rather than working with clean-cut Nixon supporters at GM’s Skunkworks to design a new car.

Ever the poker player, Hall doubled his bets and concepted a machine so advanced and fast it was banned after only four races.

The Phil Hill/Mike Spence winged Chaparral 2F Chev looking lonely on the Daytona banking in 1967, DNF (Getty)

Chaparral had been giving the rest of the racing world aerodynamics and aero-technology lessons for five years or so to that point.

By 1970 the aluminium monocoque chassis was passe, so too was the aluminium block 650bhp’ish Chev ZL1 V8, even Chaparral/GM’s semi-automatic three-speed transaxle was a bit ho-hum.

Legend has it the inspiration for the 2J was a child’s fan-mail drawing to Hall of a sports racer being sucked down to the road by giant fans extracting the air underneath.

Whether it was ‘Elroy Jetsons’ sketch, an extension of previous Chapparral/GM R&D work, or divine providence, GM’s Paul Von Valkenburgh and Charlie Simmons, and Chaparral’s Don Gates started modelling the possibilities on Chevy R&D’s Suspension Test Vehicle.

More of a test-rig than a car, it enabled them to play with roll-centres and stiffness, ride height, pitch axis, anti-dive/squat and lots of other stuff; this rig became the 2J test mule.

“Gates worked out a fan and skirt infill defence system while Don Cox, Ernie DeFusco and Joe Marasco engineered a chassis to match,” Doug Nye wrote.

(sportscardigest.com)
(sportscardigest.com)

The resulting tricky bits were the slab-sided, fully-fenced bodywork and Rockwell JLO 247cc two-stroke 45bhp snowmobile engine which powered two rear fans nicked from an M-109 Howitzer Tank. That combination could move 9,650 cubic feet of air a minute @ 6,000rpm, creating negative pressure equal to 2,200 pounds of downforce. Unlike other racing cars, the downforce was independent of the speed of the car.

For three-quarters of its footprint the car was ‘attached’ to the ground via skirts made of General Electric’s new, trick, Lexan polycarbonate. The skirts moved up and down with the movement of the car via a system of cables, pulleys and machined arms that bolted to the suspension. On the smoother Can-Am venues the seal was good, with the fans on the car hunkered-down by two inches.

The net effect of all of this was that the car sucked itself to the road, thereby creating immense cornering power and traction.

Stewart on the Watkins Glen grid, Chris Ecomomaki in front looking for a mike (J Meredith Collection)
Vic Elford togs-up at Riverside. The car in front is Peter Revson’s Carl Haas entered Lola T220 Chev, Revson is sitting on the pit wall to the right of the Lola’s rear. His performances in that car propelled him into a works-McLaren M8F Chev with which he won the 1971 Can-Am Cup – F1 followed (B Cahier-Getty)

During the 2J’s build Jim Hall was smart enough to give SCCA officialdom a look at the car to ensure it was kosher in the almost-anything-goes Group 7/Can-Am world. The crew-cut mob deemed it hunky-dory to race.

While the car was first tested at Rattlesnake Raceway in November 1969, the complex machine missed the June 14, 1970 Mosport season opener and the following Canadian round at St Jovite. But 2J-001 finally arrived aboard a modest ute (pick-up) at Watkins Glen in mid July.

It’s driver was reigning World Champion Jackie Stewart in a one-race deal supported by GM (weird given the Ford sponsored Cosworth engine which powered his F1 cars). JYS had plenty of sportscar experience, including Can-Am cars, but nothing prepared him for the 2J.

“The car’s traction, its ability to brake and go deeply into corners is something I’ve never experienced before in a car of this size and bulk,” he wrote in Faster! “Its adhesion is such that it seems able to take unorthodox lines through turns, and this, of course, is intriguing.”

Jackie Stewart during practice at Watkins Glen, and below, a wonderful race day panorama (LAT)
(LAT)

Stewart, and Vic Elford, retained by Hall to drive the car for the balance of the series, experienced the same other worldly, steep learning curve – retraining the brain about what was possible – as Mario Andretti encountered with Peter Wright and Colin Chapman’s Lotus 78-79 ground-effect cars in 1977-1978.

In a practical sense, half the problem was keeping the auxiliary engine alive – remember it wasn’t designed for this application – in its new harsh environment with all the trackside detritus the fans sucked up from the bottom of the car and regurgitated out the back at speed. Not to forget the skirts and their support mechanisms. The engineering challenge of this lot was mega.

Stewart qualified the brave-new-world 2J third behind the dominant orthodoxy, Denny Hulme and Dan Gurney’s new Batmobile-Beautiful McLaren M8D Chevs. Jackie closed on Dan during the race before being forced to pit, then went out for another seven laps – 22 in all – he bagged fastest lap before braking problems ended his race.

2J-001 at rest in the Watkins Glen pitlane. Sole sponsor decal is for GE-Lexan. Porsche Salzburg 917 of either Vic Elford or Dickie Attwood behind (LAT)
Stewart blasts past Attwood’s third placed Porsche 917. While Hulme’s McLaren M8D Chev won at Watkins Glen, the next six placings were taken by Group 5 enduro cars, not the Group 7 cars for which the race was run. Said Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S’ had already done the Watkins Glen 6-Hours the day before, most without an engine change between the two races. The JW 917 of Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen won (unattributed)

Context is everything. The Glen’s Can-Am round was always topped up by Group 5-6 World Endurance Championship cars which were also in town for the Watkins Glen 6-Hour.

The dominant 1970-71 endurance racer was the swoopy-rounded, spaceframe, 4.5-4.9-litre flat-12 engined Porsche 917. Alongside the 917 the 2J looked like a Sci-Fi film prop!

The Texans missed the next three rounds at Edmonton, Mid Ohio and Road America to further develop the car before rejoining the circus at Road Atlanta in mid-September.

Elford recalled his impressions of the car to MotorSport, “Drving the car was just out of this world. The start-up procedure was a bit like an aeroplane I suppose, you didn’t just jump into first gear and drive away.”

“I put my left foot hard on the brake to make sure it didn’t go anywhere, then fire-up the little engine which immediately started to drive the two monster fans at the back, sucking up the air underneath. When I did this the car would literally go: ‘Shhhp!’ and lower itself down to the ground by about two and a half inches.”

Such was the suction of the turbines, the 2J could tootle off on its own at up to 30mph if the brakes weren’t applied.

At Road Atlanta Vic popped it on pole and finished sixth after ignition problems with the snowmobile engine.

“You get to the stage of thinking it’s just not possible to go around any corner at that speed, and adapting to it mentally is the most difficult approach because no other car has ever gone around a corner as fast as this one,” Elford recalled.

“Another great thing about the suction is that it doesn’t allow the cars’s handling characteristics to change as you go through a corner. Whichever way it’s set it remains that way at all times, whether its a fast corner or a slow swerve – it remains absolutely constant.”

Come race day Elford was always impacted by the three speed semi-auto transaxle, rather than the four of the LG600 Hewland equipped competition, that wasn’t the problem at Road Atlanta though, it was the subsidiary engine.

Laguna Seca followed a month later. There, Elford was the only car to go under a minute, a smidge less than two seconds quicker than Denny Hulme, despite never seeing the place before…

“I went around Laguna in 59 seconds and it was about five years before the next car managed to go under a minute, and that was an Indycar!”

He didn’t get to start from pole as the Chevy popped a-leg-out-of-bed in the warm-up early in the day, and there simply wasn’t the time for the Midland boys to pop in a new engine. The complexity of an engine change involved pulling much of the car apart and reassembly, a days work. It was an immense bummer for the Californian crowd.

Beautiful Laguna Seca profile shot of Vic Elford shows the unmistakable slab-sided lines of the car and operation of the skirts which appear to be riding the bitumen pretty well (unattributed)
Imagine being showered by fast moving trackside shrapnel at 170mph, Dyson have nothing on this vacuum-cleaner! Elford in the Road Atlanta pitlane

The final Can-Am round was at Riverside a fortnight later. There, Elford was again well clear of Hulme in qualifying, this time the gap was a little over two seconds, these are huge margins folks.

“At one point we came into Turn 9 with Denny Hulme just in front of me. I was right up against the wall and I probably didn’t even change gear. I drove all the way around the outside of Denny in third gear. He went straight off, went into the pits and took his helmet off, sat on the pit wall and sulked for the next half hour!”

This time the Rockwell engine didn’t play ball, breaking its crank. The team managed to patch it up and take the start but it inevitably failed on lap two.

And that was it, the howls of protest were loud and long.

Not that there was any way known the 2J didn’t bristle with illegal ‘moveable aerodynamic devices’! No way can the SCCA officials who saw the car pre-season could have thought it otherwise, but – bless-em – they probably thought “Let ‘em run, the crowds will be huge and we’ll see what happens from there.”

In the process of banning it, the SCCA ripped the soul out of Can-Am in that Hall and his boys walked away.

Can-Am’s attraction was its anything goes nature which invited innovation. Anything goes was great, unless, it seems, it threatened the dominant orthodoxy. To me there was Chaparral-Can-Am and Post-Chaparral-Can-Am and the former was vastly better than the latter, with all due respect to Porsche and Shadow.

Elford in front of one of the Papaya-M8D-Terrors at Laguna Seca. Hay bales still very much around in 1970 (H Thomas/Getty)
Brian Redman, Jim Hall, the Chaparral crew and their Lola T330/332 Chevs were the dominant US F5000 force from 1974-76. Here the duo are in the Elkhart Lake pits in 1974, Lola T332C Chev

Still, Hall kept his core team together running Lolas in the US F5000 and single-seat Can-Am championships, then had the joy of watching Lotus carry the ground effect torch forward, not that Chapman ever gave any credit his way, our Col never did that to anyone.

Hall then returned with the John Barnard designed ground effect Chaparral 2K Cosworth which won the CART championship and the Indy 500 in 1980 with Johnny Rutherford at the wheel.

Lone Star JR on the way to a win at Indy in 1980, Chaparral 2K Cosworth (IMS)

That Automobile Year 18 I prattled on about at the start of this masterpiece was hugely influential in stimulating my interest in cars and racing. Six of my Top Ten cars I first saw in that tome; Ferrari 312B, Lotus 72 Ford, Ferrari 512S, McLaren M8D Chev, Ferrari Dino 246GT and of course the Chaparral 2J. The Ferraris and McLaren are all about sex-on-wheels, the 72 and 2J are a tad more cerebral.

This article made me consider what the most influential racing car in my lifetime is? Its ‘gotta be a toss-up between the Lotus 25 Climax and 2J.

All monocoque racing cars are related to the 25, the first modern monocoque. The aerodynamics of racing cars since the Lotus 78 are related to the 2J. Let’s toss the coin as to which is the more influential, let the debate begin!

PS…

I ‘spose you think I’ve forgotten John and Charlie Cooper, but they were doing their mid-engined thing way before I was born, so, I’ve dodged that debate at least. In any event, Auto Union’s mid-engined missiles won GPs pre-war.

May 1967
Thinkin, always thinkin. Jim Hall at Riverside in 1966 (B D’Olivo-Getty)

Credits…

MotorSport Images, sportscardigest.com, Indy Motor Speedway, Getty Images, J Meredith Collection, Harry Hurst, Sports Illustrated, Sportscar Digest, MotorSport November 2020 article by James Elson

Tailpieces…

“Aw come on Jim, it’s years since you raced in F1, time to return and give things a bit of a shake up.”

Jim Hall and Jackie Stewart pre-race at Watkins Glen. “Just make sure you have your left foot on the brake when we fire it up or you’ll mow down half the paddock!”

Note the fan-covers missing at Watkins Glen but present in subsequent races.

Jim Hall’s British Racing Partnership Lotus 24 BRM during the 1963 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, eighth in the race won by Jim Clark’s epochal Lotus 25 Climax. Carel de Beaufort’s ninth placed Porsche 718 in the distance (MotorSport)

Finito…

(MotorSport)

Hans-Dieter Dechent wasn’t quite in on the start of Martini & Rossi’s (M&R) support of motor racing, but his Lufthansa Racing Porsche 910 was the first racer to carry the famous livery substantively, when non-trade advertising was permitted on racing cars in 1968.

Here he is enroute to a DNF with engine failure in the 910 he shared with Robert Huhn in the 1968 Nurburgring 1000km.

M&R sponsored two Alfa Co US entered Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ’s raced by Charlie Kolb and Paul Richards at the 1962 Daytona 3 Hours. The machines were devoid of the corporate branding with which we are all so familiar, instead they had Martini & Rossi Racing Team discretely sign-written atop the front quarter-panels.

Paul Richards’ Alfa Giulietta SZ in the Daytona 3 Hours paddock in 1962 (N Cerutti)
(MotorSport)

Martini’s German head of PR, Paul Goppert, and his friend, Dechent, took things up a gear with M&R’s support of the Scuderia Lufthansa Porsche 910 (above) owned and driven by Robert Huhn, a Lufthansa executive, together with Dechent.

Among strong results Dechent won his class racing a Porsche 906 in the 1967 Nurburgring 1000Km and was third outright in a 907 at the 1969 Monza 1000Km behind the works 908/2s of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman and Hans Hermann/Kurt Ahrens.

In 1970 the Martini & Rossi International racing team – later Martini Racing – was formed.

Gijs Van Lennep in the Porsche 917K he shared with Helmut Marko to victory at Le Mans in 1971 (DPPI)
(DPPI)

With the assistance of Hans-Dieter the Martini & Rossi relationship with Porsche became enduring. He hung up his helmet to take on the role of Team Manager of Porsche Salzburg in 1970, and in addition had responsibility for the M&R sponsorship. The first M&R Le Mans win followed in 1971, the victorious Porsche 917K was crewed by Gijs Van Lennep and Helmut Marko.

Dechent moved on from Martini Racing to other motor racing team management roles (see here; Motorsport Memorial – Hans-Dieter Dechent) he was replaced by David Yorke at the end of 1971. Lets not forget the critical role Dechent played in ‘commencing’ an iconic team/brand/livery.

The 2014 Williams FW36 Mercedes with Felipe Massa up. Best results for the year were third places for Valtteri Bottas in Austria, Hungary, Russia and Abu Dhabi, and Felipe Massa in Italy and Brazil (Autosport)

The amazing thing about the Martini & Rossi house-style – as the brand consultants call it – is that it makes every car to which it’s applied look better, faster…

Credits…

Motorsport Memorial, MotorSport Images, Norberto Cerutti, DPPI, Autosport

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

Surely one of the most iconic racing car liveries of all is the car Hans-Dieter Dechent turned over to Porsche designer Anatole Lapine for special treatment in 1970.

The Gerard Larousse/Willy Kauhsen Porsche 917 Langheck, chassis 917/21, first raced at Le Mans in June.

The Martini & Rossi sponsored, swirling psychedelic, green and purple Hippie-Car – second behind the winning 917K of Dick Attwood and Hans Hermann – has a cult following which transcends race-fans.

Finito…

(J Culp)

I love these nudie-rudie shots, so many of a car’s secrets are revealed by photographs like this.

Jim Culp caught one of the Ferrari 312Bs raced by Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni at Hockenheim over the August 2, 1970 German Grand Prix weekend coming off its transporter.

Key elements of Mauro Forghieri’s design on display are the low, wide 3-litre, fuel injected flat-12 (180 degree V12 if you prefer) engine and far-back weight distribution; the two oil tanks and related dry sump pump drives, battery, and twin, beautifully ducted oil coolers/radiators.

Ickx started the race from pole, with Regga third but Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford prevailed over Ickx by a little less than a second, after a great long dice, with Regazzoni out with engine failure.

In a year of great sadness (deaths of Bruce McLaren at Goodwood and Piers Courage at Zandvoort) it was Jochen Rindt’s last win, and the start of a great run home for Ferrari.

Sheer economy of the design shown in this Hockenheim refuelling shot of Regga’s car (R Schlegelmilch)
Regazzoni from Rindt and Ickx early in the German GP (MotorSport)

Ickx won at the Osterreichring a fortnight later, and Regazzoni at Monza after Rindt’s tragic practice accident. Ickx won again at Mosport and Mexico City but Emerson Fittipaldi’s first GP win for Lotus at Watkins Glen helped ensure Rindt won the drivers title, and Lotus the manufacturers championship. Karma prevailed in an unusual year in which race wins were spread among drivers; Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Pedro Rodriguez, Regazzoni, Ickx, Fittipaldi and Rindt.

Ferrari had a torrid time throughout 1968-69. The Ford Cosworth DFV was dominant and used by many of the front-runners. Team-leader, Chris Amon was in winning positions at least four times over this period only to be continually let down – Ickx’ ’68 French GP win duly noted.

Ickx at Monaco in May. Note the radiator exit duct and inboard rocker front suspension (MotorSport)
The Lotus 72 made everything with a front radiator – the rest of the grid – look old, but the 312B was a very effective cohesive marriage of bespoke engine and chassis. Fast and reliable too (G Piola)
Chris Amon testing at Modena in late 1969. This shot shows the chassis ‘pontoon’ to which the engine mounts behind the top radius rod. Wonderfully neat and structurally rigid is the way the high roll bar braces to the rear of the pontoon, and forms the wing mount, and fire extinguisher mount!

Forghieri placed a new, clean sheet of drafting paper on his drawing board in 1969, the first such F1 occasion since he led the design of gorgeous, but never fully developed 1964-65 1.5-litre 1512 flat-12.

He again chose a flat-12 given its potential power output, low centre of gravity and lesser weight than the V12 it replaced. He made the engine a stressed member of the chassis, as was the engine on the 1512 – following the lead provided by Vittorio Jano’s Lancia D50 design – but this time the engine attached both to the rear bulkhead behind the driver, and underneath a ‘boom or pontoon’ chassis extension rearwards behind the drivers shoulders. The 1512 bolted to the rear bulkhead.

The Tipo 015 flat-12 – designed by Forghieri, Franco Rocchi and Giancarlo Bussi – was a great engine which powered the Scuderia’s Grand Prix cars from 1970 to 1980 (two drivers titles for Niki Lauda, and one for Jody Scheckter), and won them a World Endurance Championship when fitted in suitably detuned form to 312PB chassis in 1972.

There were a few teething problems early on however. To minimise friction losses and release a few more horses, the engine had only four main bearings, two plain shell bearings in the middle, and ball-bearing races at each end of the crank. With minimal support, crankshaft breakages were so much of a problem that Chris Amon cried “Enough!” and left the team, not even completing the 1969 GP season.

Ignazio Giunti at Spa during his first championship GP. He was fourth in the Belgian GP won by Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P153 after an epic race-long dice with Amon’s March 701 Ford (R Schlegelmilch)
Ickx at Watkins Glen, he started from pole but pitted with a broken fuel line. In a tiger of a drive he went from 12th to fourth, Fittipaldi took his maiden GP win aboard a Lotus 72 Ford. Doesn’t the 312B look long from this angle? You can see the rearward weight bias and relatively clean air in which the rear wing operates thanks to the low engine (MotorSport)

A tilting dyno bed at Maranello enabled cornering oil surge to be monitored, the crank torsional vibration problem was fixed by adding a Pirelli cushion-coupling between the crankshaft and the flywheel.

Before too long the gear driven, twin-cam, four valve, Lucas injected engine produced a reliable 460bhp @ 11,500rpm, which rose over time to about 510bhp @ 12,000rpm.

While Chris made the works March 701 Ford sing in 1970, his solo Silverstone International Trophy win was no compensation for the four wins Ferrari produced with a car he put his heart and soul into at Modena in early testing…

Regazzoni is wedged between one of the BRMs and Stewart’s wingless March 701 Ford early in the Italian GP (R Schlegelmilch)
Tifosi Monza 1970, Things Go Better With…(R Schlegelmilch)

While the Italian Grand Prix that year (above) was a terrible weekend, Ferrari had a home win, the tifosi went berserk and Mr Ferrari attended practice as he traditionally did.

Ickx started from pole, Regga was Q3 and Giunti Q5. Regazzoni was the only one of the three to finish, in the right spot too. Ignazio was out with fuel system woes after completing 14 laps, and Jacky with clutch troubles after 25 laps.

Regga won from Jackie Stewart’s March 701 Ford and Jean-Pierre Beltoise’ Matra MS120. Points of GP trivia are that it was the last time a GP was won by a driver wearing an open face helmet, and the last time the first three finishers used different tyre brands; Firestone, Dunlop and Goodyear in first to third respectively.

“The race is in the bag Commendatore”. “Yeah-yeah you told me that last year Mauro” (R Schlegelmilch)
Ickx heads out to set pole at Monza (R Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Jim Culp, MotorSport Images, Rainer Schlegelmilch, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Giorgio Piola

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

Clay Regazzoni, 312B from Jackie Stewart’s March 701 Ford and Jean-Pierre Beltoise’ Matra MS120 at Druids Hill early in the 1970 British Grand Prix.

Jochen Rindt was well beaten by Jack Brabham that afternoon but a crewman’s fuel mixture switch mistake gifted Jochen the win in an amazing last lap change of fortune. Last lap drama happened at Monaco too, but that day the mistake was Jack’s due to the pressure Jochen applied.

Finito…

(MotorSport)

Brian Muir in an Alpina BMW 3-litre CSL during the May 1973 Spa 1,000km.

He shared the car with Hans Stuck, the pair finished second in class, eighth outright, immediately behind the sister Alpina machine raced by Niki Lauda – and Hans Stuck! The race was won by the Mirage M6 Ford prototype crewed by Derek Bell and Mike Hailwood.

Muir is too often forgotten in conversations between enthusiasts in Australia about successful internationals. He was a much respected figure in touring cars and sportscars in the UK/Europe for the better part of 30 years after leaving Australia for the UK for the second time, as winner of the ‘Smiths Industries Driver to Europe Prize’ in late 1964.

Click here for a good summary of his life/career; Motorsport Memorial – Brian Muir

Brian Muir chasing David Hobbs at Silverstone during the July 1968 BSCC round, Falcon Super Sprints. They finished the Duckhams Q Trophy in this order, there was nothing in it, both were credited with the same fastest lap (LAT)
Brian Muir aboard the works Lotus 62 Vauxhall he shared with John Miles, chases the Helmut Kelleners/Reinhold Jost Ford GT40 during the April 1969 Brands Hatch 6 Hours. The Lotus pair were 13th outright and first in the 2-litre prototype class, the GT40 was 16th. Race won by the Jo Siffert/Brian Redman Porsche 908/02 (MotorSport)
Muir aboard the winning Ford GT40 during the April 1968 Barcelona 6 Hours at Montjuic Park. He was co-driven by Francisco Godia-Sales (J Vinals)

Brian had a terrific year in 1973, he raced Alpina tuned BMW CSLs in both the British Saloon Car Championship and the European Touring Car Championship.

In the UK the battle for outright honours was fought between Frank Gardner’s legendary SCA European Freight Services Chev Camaro Z28 and fellow Sydneysider, Muir.

Gardner won the title with wins in six of the eight rounds he contested, Muir won at Silverstone and Brands Hatch to finish fifth overall behind better performing smaller-capacity class cars.

Oopsie, two Sydneysiders at play at Silverstone. Frank Gardner’s Chev Camaro Z28 copping a bit of TLC from Muir’s BMW CSL during the April 1973 International Trophy BSCC round (A Cooper)
Brian Muir three-wheeling in his chase of Frank Gardner at Brands Hatch in August ’73. BMW’s homologation goodies for the year included a nice-fat 3.5-litre engine and aero pack including the iconic Batmobile wing. Gardner won the race while Brian DNF with oil pump failure in his 3303cc engine (MotorSport)
Muir aboard the Alpina 3-litre CSL he shared to victory with Niki Lauda at the ETCC season opener, Monza 4 Hours, March 1973 (Alpina Automobiles)

Things were better in Europe though.

Brian and Niki Lauda won the first ETCC round at Monza – the Monza 4 Hours – in March leaving four Ford Capril RS2600s in their wake.

Muir was second at the 4-Hour Austria Trophy at the Salzburgring sharing with Toine Hezemans, and again at the following round, the 500km of Mantorp Park, Sweden. Ford Capri RS2600s won both races crewed by Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick and Glemser/Jochen Mass respectively.

Paired with Alain Peitier, Muir’s car failed at the Nurburgring’s Grosser Preis der Tourenwagen with bearing trouble while running the just homologated 3.5-litre engine. It was the first of many bearing problems that year.

In a race – make that series – chock-full of GP drivers, Stuck and Chris Amon shared the winning 3303cc BMW 3.0 CSL from the similarly engined works car of Hezemans/Quester/Harald Menzel, then the 3498cc Alpina entry shared by Lauda/Hans-Peter Joisten.

Muir pulls to a stop with Niki Lauda all set to jump aboard during their successful Monza run at left. Who is the driver near the BMW’s boot? (Automobilsport)
Lift off at the Thruxton BSCC round in May 1973. Muir, Gardner and Dave Matthews Ford Capri RS2600 on the front row, Gardner won from Muir and Matthews (MotorSport)
Brian Muir aboard the ill-fated 3.3-litre CSL he shared with Hans-Peter Joisten in the early stages of the July ’73 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (unattributed)

Then it was off to Belgium for the classic 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps.

There, Brian popped the car on the front row – sharing with German racer Joisten – between the works cars of Stuck/Amon and Hezemans/Quester.

Tragedy struck Joisten during the race when he passed two Alfa Romeo 2000 GTVs of Roger Dubos and Claude Ballot-Lena. Travelling too fast, Hans-Peter touched the barriers and was pinged back onto the track, where Dubos saw him and started to brake before being simultaneously rammed by Ballot-Lena, crashing into Joisten’s car. Both Joisten and Dubos were killed instantly in this freak accident.

Hezemans/Quester won from the factory Capri RS2600 of Mass/Fitzpatrick.

The next round was in the Dutch sand dunes at Zandvoort in mid-August. At the end of four hours the Zandvoort Trophy was held aloft by Hezemans and Quester who won from Muir and James Hunt in the Jagermeister Alpina entry. In third and fourth places were two RS2600 Capris led by the Fitzpatrick/Gerard Larrousse machine.

Brian Muir goes around the outside of Ivor Goodwin’s Hillman Imp at Silverstone during the July 1973 BSCC round, DNFs for both, with again, Gardner up front (MotorSport)
The other main 1973 ETCC protagonist, the fabulous 325bhp/970kg Ford Capri RS2600. This is the Fitzpatrick/Gerry Birrell car during the Monza 4 Hours in March, DNF (MotorSport)
Brian at Spa during the 1,000km meeting, ain’t she sweet? (MotorSport)

Three weeks later the ETCC circus raced at Le Castellet, contesting the 6 Hours of Paul Ricard.

With the RS2600 at the limit of homologated tricks – lookout for the 3.4-litre Cosworth GAA powered RS3100 in 1974 – the BMWs were again on the front row and finished in first to fourth places, a race of complete dominance.

Hezemans/Quester won from Ickx/Hunt, Stuck/Amon and Walter Brun/Cox Cocher. The best of the Capris – the Mass/Jackie Stewart machine – was fifth but 11 laps adrift of the winning car. Brian Muir and John Miles qualified eighth, but their 3.5-litre engine had head gasket failure after water loss.

The final round of the series was the RAC Tourist Trophy, it comprised two heats of two hours each at Silverstone on September 23.

The cat-among-the-pigeons was Gardner’s Camaro, although his speed was handicapped by tyre problems throughout. Harald Ertl’s Alpina CSL won the first heat from the Capris of Mass and Fitzpatrick with Muir a distant ninth having lost his front spoiler early in the race. Second place in the second heat behind Derek Bell’s Alpina machine was better; Brian was third overall behind Bell/Ertl and Mass’ Capri.

Toine Hezemans’ speed and consistency throughout the season paid off, he won the ETCC with 105 points from 42 years old Brian Muir on 77, and Dieter Quester on 75. BMW demolished Ford in the manufacturer’s title, 120 points to 97.

BMW E9 3.0 CSL – Coupe Sport Licht – Group 2 1973…

(B Betti)

A few summary points on salient technical features of this great road and track machine.

The unitary steel chassis had aluminium door, bonnet and boot panels, these and other mods reduced weight by about 200kg to a total of circa 1050kg.

BMW M30 cast iron, aluminium block SOHC, two-valve Bosch injected straight-six engine. 3003cc 324bhp @ 7000rpm, 3340cc 355bhp @ 7600 rpm, and 3498cc engine 370bhp @ 8000 rpm.

ZF worm and roller steering, ZF or Getrag five-speed, or Getrag four speed box. 10.7 inch disc brakes all around, 12.5 inches X 16 and 15.75 X 16 wheels

Credits…

MotorSport Images, LAT, touringcarracing.net, Jordi Vinals, Alan Cooper, Alpina Automobiles, Automobilsport, Bruno Betti

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Brian Muir aboard his Scuderia Veloce Holden EH S4 during the one-race Australian Touring Car Championship at Lakeside, Queensland on July 26, 1964.

Note the ‘Nomex’ Polo-Shirt. Brian led the event late in its 50 laps but a pit stop to replace a tyre ruined his day, he was seventh in the race won by Pete Geoghegan’s Ford Cortina GT.

Click on the link for an account of this race; Lakeside early days… | primotipo…

Finito…

image
(Getty Images)

The sight of an unlimited Top Fuel dragster doing a fast pass is not a sound, sight or sensation ever forgotten. It’s truly one of the most awe inspiring of motor racing experiences.

The shot above is at Dallas International Speedway on October 27, 1969, happy to take advice on the who/chassis/engine?

image
(Getty Images)

I was flicking through Getty Images’ drag racing collection and who should be smiling at me (top row in the middle) at Indianapolis on September 3, 1969 but 27 year-old Exekiel ‘Danny’ Ongais.

Danny On-the-Gas caught my eye in the day with his exceptional brio, perhaps he had a dash too much of it?

Ongais became a rather handy, versatile racer on speedways and the circuits, right up to Grand Prix racing after leaving the ‘strips behind. In addition, the Flying Hawaiian starred in sportscars and started at Indy 11 times from 1977 to 1996, his best finish was fourth place aboard an Interscope Racing Parnelli VP6B Cosworth in 1979.

Kahului (Maui) born Ongais started racing BSA’s as a teenager, returning from a three year stint as a paratrooper with the US Army to win the Hawaiian state motorcycle championship in 1960.

With limited racing opportunities in Hawaii, he shifted to the mainland and started working for Dragmaster, a successful builder of drag-car chassis and cars in Carlsbad, California.

Soon he was racing cars owned by others; Jim Nelson (Dragmaster), the Beaver brothers and Mickey Thompson. He then branched out on his own, winning American Hot Rod Association Gas titles in 1963-64, then the National Hot Rod Association AA Dragster championship in 1965.

A switch to Funny Cars yielded two wins in a Mickey Thompson owned, Pat Foster built Mustang powered by an SOHC Ford V8 in 1969. In addition, the Ongais/Thompson duo set 295 national and international records on the Bonneville Salt Flats that year in Mustang Mach 1’s; one 302 and two NASCAR style 427 V8 machines.

After leaving Thompson he raced the ‘Big John’ Mazmanian/Vels Parnelli Mustang Funny Car and ‘Flying Doorstop’ Top Fueller, setting the sport’s first over 240mph pass in the latter at Ontario in 1972 at 243.24mph.

All those years before, his European stint in the Army stimulated his interest in road racing, he attracted the attention of entertainment mogul Ted Field (Interscope) at the end of 1974.

Ongais contested the 1975 US F5000 championship, finishing fifth in the title chase the following year aboard an Interscope Lola T332C Chev behind Brian Redman, Al Unser Snr, Jackie Oliver and Alan Jones, but in front of seasoned road racers and F5000 champions Vern Schuppan, Warwick Brown, Teddy Pilette and Peter Gethin.

Interscope put a toe in the USAC championship that year too, with Ongais taking his first win at Michigan in 1977 aboard a Parnelli VPJ-6B Cosworth. Five more victories followed aboard his Parnelli VPJ-6B in 1978 but mechanical dramas and inconsistency left him eighth in the points standings. If his speed was ever in doubt – it wasn’t – he put his Parnelli VPJ-6C Cosworth in between the Penske PC6 Cosworth DFX’s of Tom Sneva and Rick Mears on the Indy front row.

Ongais contested the two North American GP races aboard a Penske PC4 Ford in 1977 placing seventh from Q22 in the Canadian GP at Mosport, at Watkins Glen he retired from Q26.

In 1978 he raced a Team Tissot Ensign N177 Ford in Argentina and Brazil, retiring in both races from Q21 and Q23. Later in the season he lined up in a Shadow DN9A Ford at Long Beach and Zandvoort but failed to pre-qualify in both events.

Ongais raced plenty of sportscars including Porsche 934, 935 and 962, Lola T600 and March 88S. In addition to many national victories, together with Field and Hurley Haywood, he won the 1979 Daytona 24 Hours racing a Porsche 935.

At Brands Hatch for the Indy Trophy in October 1978. Ninth in the Parnelli VPJ-6B Cosworth, Rick Mears won in a Penske PC6 Cosworth

Ongais raced in CART from 1979. “His debut at Phoenix, where he qualified fourth and led the race before being derailed by an engine failure set the tone for the next couple of years: a story of blazing speed, but bad luck or other circumstances conspiring against him fully capitalizing on it.” Vintage MotorSport wrote.

“But all that took a back seat when he suffered a massive accident in the 1981 Indy 500. He’d pitted as the leader on lap 63, only to lose more than 40s to a catastrophically slow pitstop. Upon rejoining, he made a late pass on a slower car at Turn 3, lost the rear, overcorrected and pounded the barriers nearly head on. He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition, and spent the rest of the season on the sidelines recovering from factures to both legs, a broken arm, and a six-inch tear to his diaphragm.”

“Indeed, while he continued to produce decent results upon his return in 1983, his later years were defined almost as much by a handful of significant accidents – not all of which he was directly involved with.”

“He was very much at the center of the big one in 1985, when he was launched into a massive barrel roll down the backstretch at Michigan after running into the rear of Phil Krueger. Two years later, he crashed during practice for the Indianapolis 500 and sustained a concussion that forced him to miss the race.”

“Ongais’ final appearance at the 500 had its roots in far more tragic circumstances in 1996 when polesitter Scott Brayton was killed in a practice crash and team owner John Menard tapped Ongais as his replacement. Ongais, then 54 and making his first start at the Speedway in a decade, lined up at the rear of the field and finished a remarkable seventh. He made one final attempt to qualify with Team Pelfrey two years later, but was bumped.”

The publicity-shy Ongais spent his later years surrounded by family in southern California. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2000 and remains the only driver to score professional wins in drag racing, Indycars and sportscars.

He died, aged 79 on February 26, 2022.

Credits…

Getty Images, Vintage Motorsport, nhra.com, Paul Kooyman, MotorSport Images

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Letting rip in the Shadow DN9A Ford on the streets of Long Beach in 1978.

Danny failed to pre-qualify but it was not for want of trying, here he seems keen to win the Patrick Depailler Most-Sideways-Longbeach-Cup!

The race was won by Carlos Reutemann’s Ferrari 312T3. Clay Regazzoni’s Shadow was the only one of three to finish, in 10th place from Q20. Hans Stuck’s car was Q23/DNS and Ongais Q29.

Finito…