Archive for the ‘F1’ Category

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(Ken Devine)

Doug Green blasts his oh-so-famous ex-Ascari/Gaze/Davison Ferrari 500/625 chassis #5 down a suburban West Australian, Bunbury street on 26 December 1960, a far cry from the European circuits on which it won Alberto’s two World Championships in 1952 and 1953 …

Western Australia has a rich history of racing on street circuits; Albany, Collie, Katanning, Mandurah and Narrogin in addition to Bunbury all had street racing at one time or another.

Bunbury’s racing history is particularly long. The Indian Ocean port city services the farm, mining and timber industries of Western Australia’s South West 175 Km south of Perth and had car and motorbike racing ‘around the houses’ up until 1988.

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Ray Barfield’s ex-works/David McKay Aston Martin DB3S ‘9’, at Carey Park, Bunbury, December 1960 (Ken Devine)

Racing commenced there in 1938 with the running of the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ on a large circuit in the town itself, Allan Tomlinson the victor…

The first event, held over 25 laps of the roughly 2 mile course on 14 November 1938 was won by Allan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c in 63 minutes. The race, a handicap as was the case for much of Australian motor racing for decades, such was the relative paucity of racing cars let alone vehicles of equivalent performance, was a big success. Norm Kestel and Jack Nelson were 2nd and 3rd in MG TA and Ballot V8 respectively with Kestel, in a TA similar to Tomlinson’s pushing him hard all the way.

The 22 year old Tomlinson was a very fast, skilful and thoughtful driver, his performance in Bunbury, off a handicap of 40 seconds and setting the fastest race lap at 2:24.0 was indicative of his pace.

In fact he was a ‘child prodigy’ by the standards of the day having only started racing aged 18 at Lake Perkolilli in 1936. He drove a Ford V8 in the stock car handicap and scored an excellent win. Subsequently he raced a midget at Claremont Speedway and then bought the MG TA for regular racing and competition work.

He was employed in the family business, the Tomlinson & Co foundry and engineering shop and applied those resources and his own mechanical skills well. The TA arrived shortly before the premier race in WA, the Albany GP, in 1937 and was quickly fitted with a Marshall blower and stripped of all superfluous parts. Allan drove well but the cars brakes failed on lap 16, he sailed through the barriers of Salvation Army Corner, unharmed!

During 1937 he continued to perform strongly at track meetings at Dowerin, with a couple of wins and in the WA Car Clubs Hillclimb at Victoria Reservoir.

Tomlinson’s winning MG TA ahead of  Jack Nelson’s Ballot V8 2nd, Albany GP 18 April 1938. Note the difference in the body of the Tomlinson car here and as a monoposto below (Terry Walker)

His first major success was in the 1938 Albany GP, that Easter he won off a handicap of 3 minutes 30 seconds from Jack Nelson’s Ballot V8 and Kestel’s quick MG TA. The handicappers were onto him though, his Bunbury handicap was 40 seconds but the youngster and his team were further modifying the MG away from the gaze of authority. Tomlinson, Bill Smallwood and Clem Dwyer carefully rebuilt the engine and clad the racer in a light, pretty, aerodynamic monoposto body which was painted blue. Extensively tested, the car was running perfectly, the race win the reward for careful attention to detail.

Tomlinson and the teams fanatical attention to the preparation of the car was unusual and remarkable for the day. They were about to show the east coast ‘big boys’ just how to prepare for, and drive a motor race.

Allan Tomlinson winning the 14 November 1938 ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ in his light, powerful, highly developed, 1340cc supercharged MG TA Spl (Terry Walker)

In early-December the team loaded the little 10/6 Marshall Rootes supercharged, aluminium bodied MG onto a ship in Fremantle for the short voyage to Port Adelaide.

On 2 January 1939 Tomlinson won the Australian Grand Prix on the immensely demanding, 8.6 mile long Lobethal road course in the Adelaide Hills.

The team had a spare T Type for Tomlinson to explore and master the swoops, dives and blind corners of the place. He also walked the roads, studying the gradients and topography closely. Historians still debate the speed of the little MG on that day, with its trick axle ratio it was good for 130mph, with Tomlinson claiming later speeds close to 140! There were some much faster cars in the race, Jano straight-8 Alfa Romeos and others, but whilst many drivers were on the brakes or a trailing throttle Tomlinson used skill and circuit knowledge to go flat where others were not…

Allan returned triumphant to WA aboard the ‘Kanimbla’ and was given an informal reception at the Albany Council Chambers on 8 January. The team then returned to Perth and on to another big victory, this time the ‘Great Southern Classic’ at Pingelly over 25 miles- ‘his fourth successive motor racing win in twelve months’ The West Australian reported.

Disaster struck at the Tomlinson foundry in East Perth on 4 May 1939 when Allan, whilst fixing an oil blower to a piece of machinery, had it explode, badly damaging three fingers on his left hand; two were later amputated in Perth Hospital, the lacerated index finger recovered. A ‘rock star’ in Perth by this time, his progress was covered daily in the local press. Tomlinson recovered but did not race again in 1939, the winds of war were blowing by then of course.

Sadly the Lobethal course that gave him his greatest win bit him very badly during the New Years Day 1940 ‘South Australian Hundred’.

The young driver was lucky to escape a very high speed trip through the countryside; he accidentally tagged the back of a Morgan, left the road and went through the bush, down an embankment and ended up against a tree in a roadside camping area. He broke his ribs, received internal injuries, shock and a long stay in Royal Adelaide Hospital. Whilst the car was not badly damaged-the body was dented and the wheels buckled, but the engine and chassis were undamaged according to Bill Smallwood.

As to Tomlinson, a highly promising career was over. After 5 months in hospital Allan returned to Perth with intentions to race but with the outbreak of war, motor racing ceased. Post-war Tomlinson had a lifelong involvement in the WA Sports Car Club and VSCC. He died aged 95 having lived a full life.

Now, where was i?! Back to Bunbury!

The Bunbury town circuit layout was used again post-war in November 1946 albeit the cars raced in the opposite direction to 1938. In 1950 the Australian Motor Cycle TT was held on the same layout.

The relative isolation of Carey Park, a suburb 3.5Km south east of Bunbury allowed the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ to take place again in 1960. Competing vehicles were mainly production sports cars, the exceptions Green’s Ferrari 500 and Jack Ayres 1.5 litre, supercharged GP Alta. Ray Barfield’s ex-works Aston Martin DB3S was a sports car of considerable performance too.

The race was also called the ‘Carey Park Flying 50’, whatever it’s name results have been hard to find although photographer/historian Ken Devine believes the feature race, these photos are from that event, was won by Green’s Ferrari. If any of you have a race report I’d welcome you getting in touch.

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Jack Ayres, Alta ‘010’, starting the turn into Ecclestone Street from Forrest Avenue, pretty car, nicely proportioned lines, nose of the original car modified locally (Ken Devine)

Jack Ayres’ GP/F2 Alta s/c ‘010’…

Geoffrey Taylor’s first Alta sportscar was built in 1929.

He decided to build a 1.5 litre, supercharged GP car post-war, the  first of which appeared in 1948. The three cars built had ladder-frame chassis and wishbone suspension with rubber as the spring medium. The third of these cars, ‘GP3’, bought by Irish motor trader and wheeler-dealer Joe Kelly in 1950 was powered by a DOHC, 1496cc, SU fed, two stage Rootes type supercharged engine developing 202bhp at 6000 rpm. It contested non-championship F1 races and both the 1950 and 1951 British GP’s at Silverstone in Kelly’s hands finishing over 15 laps in arrears of the winners in both years.

Later ‘GP3’ was fitted with a Bristol engine by Kelly to contest F2 events, the sophisticated supercharged engine was then fitted to Alta ‘010’, a hitherto F2 chassis raced by Robert Cowell in 1949/50. The story of father and ex-Spitfire WW2 pilot Cowell is an interesting one as he became she; Roberta Cowell was the very first transgender Brit, the operation took place in 1951.

The car was bought and imported into Australia in 1956 by Gib Barrett of Armadale, Melbourne. Gib and Alf Barrett were formidable racers for decades both pre and post-War, Alf Barrett one of the all time greatest Oz drivers.

The car was fettled and finished 1oth in the post Olympic Games 1956 Melbourne GP at Albert Park in Gib’s hands, it was sold soon thereafter to Perth’s Syd Anderson in 1957. And so began an intensive period of racing for ‘010’ in WA. Syd raced it in the 1957 AGP at Caversham near Perth but retired, the race was won by Lex Davison and Bill Patterson in the Ferrari 500/625 also featured in this article.

Jack Eyres then bought ‘010’ racing extensively in the West in all kinds of events, he was 5th in the ‘WA Trophy’ Gold Star round in December 1960, that race won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati. By the following August, Caversham Gold Star round Ayres had moved on to a Cooper MkV powered by a 1.1 litre Ford engine, with the Alta raced by new owner, Jim Ward.

The old car had by the early sixties become uncompetitive and dilapidated, the cars restoration was commenced by Jim Harwood in WA in the later 1960’s and finished by Lotus doyen John Dawson-Damer in outer Sydney. Graham Lowe owned it before it passed to Peter Briggs museum at York in WA, which was fitting given the cars WA racing period. ‘010’ was fully restored and always looked a treat when it appeared at Australian Grands Prix and other special events. Sadly the car left Oz some time ago, it recently appeared at Retromobile, offered for sale.

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Touring Car action at the ‘Highway Corner’, Bunbury 1960 (Jodie Krikkie)

Ferrari 500/625 Chassis #5, 3 litre…

Ferrari 500 #5 is said to be the most successful Grand Prix car of all time; it won 6 of the 7 championship Grand Epreuves held in 1952 and 9 in 1953 to win Ascari’s two drivers titles.

I don’t plan to cover the detailed history of this car now, it seems appropriate to do so in an article about Lex Davison who achieved so much Australian success in it; the 1957 and 1958 AGP’s, the very first Australian Drivers Championship, the ‘Gold Star’ in 1957 to name a few.

Lex eventually sold his beloved car to West Australian Doug Green in 1960. It had finally become uncompetitive in the eastern states but still had a year or so of relevance in WA.

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Doug Green proudly displays his Ferrari 500/625. Caversham, WA (Terry Walkers)

Davison wasn’t done with front-engined GP cars though, he very narrowly lost by a cars length the 1960 AGP at Lowood, Queensland to Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati in a superb Aston Martin DBR4 before finally changing to ‘the mechanical mice’ as he described Coopers, winning his fourth and final AGP at Mallala, South Australia in a T51 Climax in 1961.

Davison bought the Ferrari off his friend, Tony Gaze, after the NZ summer races in 1956, Gaze had success with it in 1954 and 1955 having acquired it from the factory fitted with a 3 litre sportscar ‘750 Monza’ engine for the Formula Libre events common globally at the time.

The Fazz was eventually bought by Tom Wheatcroft in the late 1960’s, the first car for his famous Donington Collection, it’s  identity as Ascari’s chassis unknown at the time Tom acquired it. The car had chassis number ‘0480’ when bought by Gaze. During the restoration of the car the provenance of it was investigated by Doug Nye amongst others and confirmed after careful ‘forensic examination’ and in communications with Ferrari.

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Doug Green’s Ferrari 500/625, Carey Park, Bunbury 1960 (Ken Devine)

Doug Green bought ‘5’ in 1960, having graduated from an 1100cc Cooper. He got to grips with it, racing extensively in WA, soon improving upon Davo’s times in it at Caversham. He contested the Caversham Gold Star rounds in 1960 and 1961 finishing 4th and 2nd in thin fields, respectively. He sold the car in 1963 upon retirement from racing.

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Rare colour photo of the engine bay of Ferrari 500/625 #5 at Bunbury in 1960. I just about blew a head gasket when I saw the opening photo and this one, color shots of this car are rare, I’ve seen few of its engine bay let alone one with the ‘atmospherics’ Ken Devine has composed and captured here. 3 litre 750 Monza DOHC inline 4 cylinder engine produced circa 290 bhp. Local kids fascinated by the exotic, and still contemporary enough, racer (Ken Devine)

The Ferrari 500, designed by Aurelio Lampredi, used a ladder frame chassis typical of the period, suspension at the front was double wishbones and coil spring /dampers. A De Dion rear axle was used, the gearbox mounted to the diff and connected to the engine by a short propshaft.

The F1 2 litre engine was a 1985cc in line 4 cylinder engine with DOHC and 2 valves per cylinder. Magneto’s provided the spark and Weber 58DCOA3 carburettors the fuel, the engine gave around 185/190bhp@7500rpm. When acquired by Tony Gaze a 3 litre Monza engine was fitted, this gave circa 290bhp. Power is quoted from 245-290bhp depending upon the source.

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Doug Green, Ferrari 625/500, Caversham 1960, he eventually lapped faster in the car, having got the hang of it, than Lex some years before (Julian Cowan)

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Keith Rilstone’s Zephyr Spl having just passed! Greens Ferrari 500/625, the supercharged car very potent, it was a different thing under brakes, Murray Trenbath in the Alta Repco Holden further back. 1960 Caversham (Ken Devine)

Bunbury Circuits…

Bunbury probably won’t be known to most Aussies other than those who have visited the Margaret River region in which case you may have made a fuel ‘pitstop’ on its outskirts.

My brother lives in Perth and has a place at Gnarabup, Margaret River so I know the place a bit, but its motor racing history had passed me by until seeing these fabulous photos posted on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ by Ken Devine. On a future visit I’ll drive the circuit(s), which you can still do.

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The Carey Park track itself, for Perth readers and visitors who may want to drive it, used Clifton, Victoria, Arthur, Stirling, Wittenoon and Prinsep Streets, Upper Esplanade then Wellington, Wittenoon and Carey Streets. The map below will make more sense of it when you visit.

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In fact the Carey Park road circuit, 3.5Km from the centre of town was only one of many used down the decades in greater Bunbury.

Racing started on the ‘Bunbury Central Circuit’, which as the name suggests was in the centre of town. Car racing ceased between 1947 to 1960 but motorcycle racing continued on this circuit and then the ‘Bunbury Moorelands Little Circuit’, also known as the ‘Glen Iris Circuit’. This track was laid out on public roads next to the Preston River and was ideal as the area was rural and so caused little drama to the public. The Bunbury Motorcycle GP meeting was held annually there from December 1963 to Easter 1974.

‘TQ’ Speedway cars raced on the ‘Carey Park Short Circuit’ of .95 of a mile in late 1958 ‘The South Western Times’ in its article before the meeting helpfully advised spectators to ‘…take the greatest possible care while watching the (5) races…under no circumstances should they cross the road while races are in progress’. So ‘Carey Park’ was used by speedway cars in advance of road-racers two years later for the 1960 ‘Bunbury Flying 50’.

In March 1975 the Bunbury Motorcycle Club hosted heats for the WA Road Racing Series around the streets of Davenport, Bunbury’s industrial area, 6.5Km from the town centre. This layout was also confusingly called ‘The Ring Road Circuit’ as it incorporated the new Busselton By-Pass and North Boyanup Road, well known to Perthies visiting ‘down South’ as they call a visit to Margaret River and beyond.

Wayne Patterson thrilling the crowds in 1988; Yamaha TZ350, Bunbury Back Beach circuit (Patterson)

This fairly ugly locale was used in 1975/6/7 before the move to the altogether more visually attractive and challenging ‘Bunbury Back Beach Circuit’ in 1980. In Australian Beach Lingo a ‘Back Beach’ is a surf beach and a ‘Front Beach’ is calmer water, I’ve no idea from where this derives! This fairly wild looking circuit overlooking the Bunbury break was used from 1980 to 1988. Then there are the local drags and speedway venues- they like their motor racing down south!

Ray Barfield’s Aston Martin DB3S chassis #9 was a car of impeccable provenance and specification…

The car was one of two built for works use in 1956, chassis #10 the other, whilst the successor design, the 1959 Le Mans winning DBR1 was in development.

DB3S/9 was first raced in the GP of Rouen as a warm up to Le Mans on 8 July 1956. Peter Collins raced it to retirement with bearing problems but Moss was 2nd in DB3S/10 behind the winner, Eugenio Castellotti’s works Ferrari 860 Monza and ahead of the 3 litre Maser 300S of Jean Behra.

At Le Mans on 28/29 July, ‘9’ was driven by Moss/Collins, the lead factory car was ahead of the field but finished 2nd after gearbox problems slowed it. Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart won, a lap ahead of the Aston in an Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D Type. The AM ‘LM6’ 2922cc engine fitted for Le Mans developed 219bhp @6000rpm- good for 150mph at La Sarthe.

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Ray Barfield Aston Martin DB3S into the right hander into Ecclestone Street (Ken Devine)

Moss won in the car at Oulton Park in August, and at Goodwood on 18 Septenber Roy Salvadori was 2nd to Tony Brooks in another DB3S. The last appearance of DB3S’9′ as a works entry was at Goodwood on 22 April 1957 driven by Brooks, he was 3rd.

The car was rebuilt and offered for sale by Aston’s as they focussed their attention on the new DBR1 and was bought by David McKay, the Australian racer/journalist keen to acquire a works car having owned an earlier customer DB3S, chassis ‘102’ a car David raced as part of ‘The Kangaroo Stable’. This group of three DB3S Astons raced by Australians David McKay/Tony Gaze, Tom Sulman/Jack Brabham and Les Cosh/Dick Cobden in 1955 is a story in itself.

Australian oil company Ampol provided financial support for the purchase, the car immediately became the fastest sportscar in Australia, winning upon its debut at Bathurst in October 1957. David won 8 of 9 races in it finishing 2nd only once, to Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S in the Tasmanian TT at Longford. McKay’s last race in DB3S/9 was at Bathurst in October 1958 when he won the 100 mile Australian TT from Derek Jolly’s Lotus 15 Climax and Ron Phillips Cooper T33 Jaguar.

The car passed through Stan Jones hands in Melbourne, he only raced it once, before being bought by Barfield in mid-1959. The Mount Helena racer used it regularly in the West through to the Christmas Cup meeting at Caversham on 22 November 1963, fittingly, he won the 5 lap sportscar scratch race.

In 1956 when built the DB3S was pretty much the state of the sportscar art in terms of specification, it was closely derived from a road car and could, fairly easily be driven on the road. By 1963 the long distance racing paradigm was perhaps best defined by the specialist racing, mid-engined Ferrari 250P- a 3 litre V12 engined car which was far from a ‘roadie’ however much Enzo Ferrari tried to position the 250P’s cousin, the 250LM as such. The point here is just how focussed sports-racing cars became and how much racing technology changed in a very short period of time.

Barfield then retired from racing, it was fitting that the wonderful ex-works Aston won its last race however insignificant a 5 lapper at Caversham in 1963 was relative to 24 hours at Le Mans in 1956!

Ray retained the car inside it’s Rice Trailer on his farm outside Perth, famously keeping the engine fully submerged in a container of oil, having discovered a crack in the crankshaft, for 25 years.

Many people knocked on his door to buy it over the years including David McKay on more than one occasion but all were aggressively turned away. Finally a big wad of cash allowed Sydney’s Kerry Manolas to buy it, sight unseen, and it was not a pretty sight when he did see all of its components in October 1987! The car was superbly restored by Gavin Bain’s ‘Auto Restorations’ in Auckland. I wonder where in the world it is now?

Oh to have seen the Ferrari, Alta and Aston race on the Carey Park streets in the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ all those years ago. Three amazingly interesting and diverse cars in the one race, and all so far from ‘home’!

Bibliography…

The Nostalgia Forum particularly the contributions of Terry Walker, Ray Bell and Ken Devine. 8Wforix.com, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

The Ken Devine Collection, Julian Cowan, Terry Walkers Place, Jodie Krikkie, Wayne Patterson Collection

Tailpiece: Vin Smith, Alpha Peugeot 1.5 s/c…

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Vin Smith at the Highway Hotel Hairpin, Bunbury 1960. This effective, pretty little special was one of several built and raced by Smith from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties. So much of Australiam motor racing was reliant on ‘specials’, usually very fast ones at that! for 50 years (Ken Devine)

 

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Phil Hill’s ATS 100 enters the Curva Parabolica during the 1963 Italian Grand Prix, Monza 8 September…

The expression on the great American’s face is probably indicative of the joy he is deriving from the car. He is on his way to 11th place, a finish at last in the third race meeting for Carlo Chiti’s little spaceframe 1.5 litre V8 engined racer.

ATS was born as a result of a confluence of events; Ferrari’s senior management ‘Maranello Palace Revolution’ of late 1961 and the eagerness of 24 year old Venetian Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata to part with a swag of his inheritance…

Doug Nye describes Laura Ferrari, as a ‘spitfire wife’, she was famous for her interfering ways in the family business which seems to have been rather well run by Enzo down the decades if in a somewhat imperious, autocratic manner.

The senior team at Ferrari eventually tired of Laura’s incessant interference, she had always been a Scuderia Ferrari shareholder but became a regular visitor to the factory and to the races in 1960. One not shy in providing direction to said chiefs where she felt it warranted.

Her intrusions and interference grew so bad that after Taffy Von Trips funeral in late 1961 a letter was written to Ferrari signed by various of his senior managers requesting she stay clear of the factory. During the following regular weekly meeting with the Commendatore he gave those miscreants as he saw them, their marching orders, eight ultimately departing.

Ferrari, in time honoured Italian fashion, was a bit of a scallywag with the signoritas and was always under a certain amount of pressure from the chief. A believer in the ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ dictum he gave the boys their parting cheques, keeping wifey on side was more important than them. He rated the depth of talent he had within the factory gates. What he lost and didn’t have he could hire, Ferrari was a place people wanted to work after all?

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The boys before the falling out, first test of the 120 degree V6 engined 156 at Modena in April 1961. Phil Hill leans against the bosses Ferrari 250GT with Ferrari to his right. Richie Ginther in the car, leaning forward over the front of the car is Luigi Bazzi, senior technician, the big guy to his left is Medardo Fantuzzi who built the car’s bodies. Chiti is in the suit jacket leaning over Richie and the fellow in the hat behind the car is Romulo Tavoni, team manager (Klemantaski)

In fact he survived rather well of course but trashed the 1962 season in the process.

Their simply was not the depth of engineering talent to turn the championship winning 156 of 1961 into something suitably evolved, a 156B if you will, in response to the much greater British threat of 1962. The Lotus 25 and 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FWMV and BRM P56 V8’s great examples of progress in big leaps over the winter of 1961/2 in the UK.

Volpi on the other hand was an adherent of another dictum; ‘The best way to make a bit of money in motor racing is to start with a lot of money…’ The Italian had just come into his inheritance and formed a racing team ‘Scuderia Serennisima di Venezia ‘Serenity of Venice’ team, to start churning through it. Mind you Volpi was not the big loser in the A.T.S. (ATS) mix as we shall see.

The Palace Revolution was good for quite a few who went on to bigger and better things; Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarini to name two, and it rather created a wonderful opportunity for Mauro Forghieri to step up into the engineering vacuum created at Maranello. It was one he took with open arms influencing in a very positive sense the engineering direction, design and speed of Ferrari racing cars for a couple of decades or thereabouts. For Chiti, Tavoni and Bizzarini though ATS was a thoroughly forgettable experience- their 1963 was worse than Ferrari’s 1962.

Scuderia Serenissima raced customer Porsche and Maserati sports and GP cars but the young Italian Count wanted to become a manufacturer in his own right…

He wasn’t silly though, in terms of funding, he had the support of both a Bolivian tin billionaire, Jaime Ortiz Patino and Italian businessman/industrialist Giorgio Billi. Volpi hired Ferrari departees Carlo Chiti, Giotto Bizzarini, Romolo Tavoni and Girolamo Gardini to design, build, develop and race a sports and F1 car. These staffing choices were all excellent, however much the Ferrari 156 bombed in 1962, Chiti’s design won the 1961 title in Phil Hill’s hands.

Both Chiti and Bizzarini were also no-nonsense kind of folk; they were quick, efficient and ‘mucked in’-important attributes in a nascent business devoid of significant engineering and construction resources.

The Serennissima partners soon fell out over the project though, so the enterprise took on the ‘Automobili Turismo e Sport’ or ATS name. The team was based at Sasso Marconi near Potecchio Marconi, a depressed area south of Bologna. A place which the Serennisima partners thought would attract some government funds, such grants not ultimately forthcoming.

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Hill, Spa 9 June 1963. What to change next? ATS 100. No point wanting a quick engine change, at this stage of the cars development the engine was impossible to remove without removal by hacksaw or torch of a chassis tube or three (Getty)

The Lotus 25 made its debut at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1962, many of the F1 paddock’s designers were in the process of knocking together their version of a monocoque chassis somewhat in the Chapman idiom.

There was plenty of life in the multi-tubular spaceframe yet though. Ron Tauranac’s Brabhams won two GP’s in 1969 so equipped, it was only the bag tank regs of 1970 which rained on Ron’s spaceframe parade. Carlo worked away on a spaceframe chassis, key elements of which were a relatively long wheelbase and extreme lowness partially made possible by the use of a new Colotti T34 six-speed gearbox which was to be ‘underslung’ between the main upper and lower chassis members at the rear.

The chassis, to Chiti’s design, was assembled in Palermo by Aeronautica Sicula. It had conventional upper rocker and lower wishbones and inboard coil spring/damper units at the front and multi-link rear suspension comprising upper and lower wishbones and a single lower radius rod providing lateral location. Again coil spring/dampers were fitted with adjustable roll bars front and rear.

Uprights were cast magnesium and disc brakes outboard at the front, and inboard beside the transaxle at rear. This approach was advanced, it helped get the masses low in the frame contributing greatly to a low centre of gravity. The ‘box ended up being a problem in terms of its reliability and difficulties in changing gear ratios ‘in the field’ but of itself the design made sense in search of Mark Donohue’s ‘Unfair Advantage’.

The body was styled by Alfonso Galvani in collaboration with Chiti, Alfonso was ex-Stanguellini. Nye recounts that the ’…F1 chassis was assembled in a farmhouse standing on the new factory building site (Pontecchio Marconi) which the company had just acquired. When the the car was completed a wall had to be demolished to get it out!’

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Rear view of one of Baghetti’s ATS, alighting the car, at Spa. Rear suspension as per text, you can also see the top rockers and lower wishbones at the front. Body beautifully faired at the rear to aid airflow over the low rear deck, but you can see the messy, last minute nature of the above engine section caused by the need for late body changes as a consequence of adding in various additional chassis members to the frame as designed to get required levels of torsional rigidity. The engine could not be removed without ‘Louis The Torch’ to perform necessary surgery to said chassis members…(Getty)

The first chassis was completed by late 1962 and was powered by a new all alloy, quad cam, 2 valve, 4 Weber carbed 1494cc 90 degree V8. 190 bhp was claimed for the engine upon debut, the optimism of Ferrari dyno’s seemed shared by those of ATS! The engine built upon Chiti’s learnings at Ferrari, he was convinced the V8 route was the way to go to keep the package compact but obtain greater piston area to squeeze more power than had been possible with the various incarnations of the Ferrari V6 he knew so well.

The ATS people sought to ‘serve it up to Ferrari’ and on the face of it the car was a sensible mix of engineering choices, with a dash of innovation and was acclaimed upon its launch.

The first testing of the car was done on the roads near Pontecchio Marconi, with Teodoro Zeccoli ‘ starting from Pila St along straight stretches and muddy paths and on a straight stretch for 300 metres on the Porrettana under the curious gaze of passers by…’ only in Italy, bless em!

Roberto Businello and Mario Cabral, also like Zeccoli, Serenissima drivers, also drove the car in these sessions with alterations to spring/shocks early tweaks

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ATS 100, race debut Belgian GP, Spa 9 June 1963. Starting fron the rear is the dry sump tank, rear suspension as per text, note the inboard discs and calipers beside the Colotti transaxle. Note its ‘underslung’ between the main chassis members location; good for weight distribution but problematic in terms of ratio changes. Remember they did not have computer simulations to get the ratios right before arrival at the circuit, with a brand spankers new car ratio changes were a dead cert. Engine; Weber carbs, DOHC, 2 valve, twin plug, see the distributors driven off the end of each inlet camshaft (Getty)

Whilst Romulo Tavoni worked upon securing the services of 1961 World Champion Phil Hill, he did so on 8 January 1963 and that of 1961 prodigy, Giancarlo Baghetti, late of Ferrari, the new car was further tested before its unveiling at the Baglioni Hotel, Bologna on 15 December 1962.

Before the ATS 100 launch, by mid November 1962, the partners in the project had fallen out however…

Volpi was ‘rattled’ by the death of his good friend Ricardo Rodriguez in a Lotus 24 Climax during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend and was questioning whether the firm should be involved in racing. Volpi made these pronouncements to the press and whilst he made it clear he had partners whose views he had to consider, fissures between the parties were opening.

Billi expressed the view that the nearly completed ATS 100 F1 car was important to promote the 2500 GT car. Others have observed that both Volpi and Billi wanted to be President but in the end Billi bought both Volpi and Patino out.

Billi’s woes were added to in buying out his business partner in a machinery manufacturing business which was the primary source of his wealth and then the failure of government financing or a grant to help establish Pontecchio Marconi facility.

At the cars launch in December Billi announced the name of the project as ‘Automobili Turismo e Sport’ (ATS) and at the same time, 30 November 1962 in fact, the return of the rights to the name and mark ‘Serenissima’ to Volpi.

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The Baghetti/Frescobaldi ATS 2500 GTS before the start of Targa 1964. ATS 2500 GT/GTS. A mid-engined road car was being designed by Chiti before he left Ferrari to be powered by a V8. Ferrari built the V12 powered 250LM if you call it a road car! The 2500GT was Chiti’s concept finalised and launched at the 1963 Geneva Show. Engineering by Giotto Bizzarini and Carlo Chiti, styled by Bertone’s Franco Scaglione and built by Turin’s Serafino Allemano the cars had a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, all independent suspension by wishbones and coil springs, disc brakes all round and a 2500cc all alloy 90 degree V8, the GTS a Colotti ‘box, weighed 750Kg and developed around 250bhp. 12 chassis were built but only 8 cars completed

Rather than focus exclusively on F1 the company was also developing a sports car, a project pushed by one of ‘The Maranello Eight’ Girolamo Gardini. Along the way Giotto Bizzarini left the company, ending up very soon thereafter at Iso, as he felt his views were not being listened to by Chiti.

This GT car was unveiled at the March 1963 Geneva Motor Show. The car was fitted with a 2467cc alloy 90 degree V8 giving circa 220/250bhp @ 7500rpm for the GT/GTS variants. As a consequence of the mixed priorities of the engineering team the F1 car lacked development and missed the early races in 1963, despite Billi announcing the planned debut of the ATS 100 at the Syracuse GP in April..

Testing progressed at Modena and Monza in April with Baghetti and Jack Fairmanwho had been recommended to ATS by Dunlop’s Dick Jeffrey. Issues included ignition, gearbox and rear suspension, although the wonderful if unusually translated Lazzari  ATS book does not make clear the precise nature of the issues. In the weeks before Monaco Phil Hill returned to the factory to test the car but the Monaco date was also missed.

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ATS 100 upon its debut on 15 December 1962. As initially raced the car looked quite different as a result of testing changes, cohesive nature of the design was received to optimistic critical acclaim, especially in Italy! (unattributed)

Belgian GP 1963, ATS 100 debut, June 1963…

Whilst the cars were not race ready Billi insisted, it was his money after all, that the cars contest the Belgian GP at Spa.

The majestic Ardennes circuit is one of the toughest on both engines and of high speed handling so it was a supreme test of an under-developed new car. During that weekend Tony Settember’s Scirocco-BRM was also making its debut.

The ATS boys missed first Friday practice, with Tavoni reporting to Denis Jenkinson that the team transporter was delayed on the road.

As the second session neared its end with Brabham setting the pace in his Brabham BT7 Climax, the ATS team arrived on the other side of the pits and unloaded the cars in time for two exploratory laps for both Hill and Baghetti.

Denis Jenkinson’s Belgian GP report says after Saturday practice that ‘Phil Hill (was) being delighted, if not surprised by, the handling and roadholding but feeling he needed more bhp as the rpm would fall off peak all too easily’.There were whole seconds of difference in performance between the front runners let alone Baghetti and poor Phil, whose best lap was 11.6 seconds slower than pole, he was 17th and Baghetti 20th on the grid.

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ATS Spa 1963. You can see the ‘tack on’ additional auxiliary fuel tank referred to in the text which allowed the car to complete a race of GP distance, the messy front bodywork is the result of this late change. Note the steering rack, messy quality of fabrication and finish, and sheet aluminium riveted to the chassis tubes to help stiffen the chassis (Getty)

During the race Phil could sense a problem early, due to lack of heat in his cars cockpit, which indicated to him the cooling water was not circulating forwards to the radiator, he stopped to have a vapour lock diagnosed and rectified. But he was still not happy as the single throttle return spring was broken and the pedal was not returning rapidly. Then the car coasted to a halt, the gearbox had silently broken. The race was won by Clark’s Lotus 25 with Hill retiring on lap 17 and Baghetti who also had gearbox problems on lap 7. Lack of proper testing miles was already indicating the new gearbox was an ongoing weakness.

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ATS 100 1963, cutaway drawing and profile shot, specifications as per text (unattributed)

Whilst Jenkinson’s report didn’t comment on the engineering of the cars Nye writes ‘ The two cars presented…were a disgrace, with ill-fitting unfinished body panels, looking as if they had been sprayed from a spud gun, while the hastily installed engines were actually imprisoned by welded on additional chassis stiffening tubes which would have to be sawed through to permit engine removal…’ The Colotti designed inboard mounted gearboxes and carburetion were weak points as identified by Hill.

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Hill, ATS 100, Spa 1963 (Getty)

These sort of problems should not have been present given the six months between unveiling of the well finished prototype and the Belgian GP. There seems little doubt that the distraction of the GT car and management problems caused in part by the departure of two of the projects original partners resulted in the company/team not being well run on a day to day basis. Billi’s other equipment manufacturing business occupied most of his time.

The differences in appearance of the car between its launch and appearance at Spa are due, according to Lazzari’s book ‘to a hump between the driver, built to cover a new part of the chassis. This comprises tubular members to increase the rigidity of the crib of the motor. The additional tube had been settled on the existing chassis, so that it resulted (in being) impossible to remove the propeller (engine) without resorting to the oxy-hydrogen flame, whilst waiting to prepare a definitive version (of the chassis) endowed with a system of bolts’! I’m sure the Italian text is eloquent but the translation is amusing, to say the least. ‘The bodywork has been shortened and strengthened just before the steering wheel; in that zone an additional (fuel) tank has been inserted’.

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Top; Hill at the top of Raidillon, botton pitlane, body as per text, note Dunlop knock on magnesium wheels, Spa 1963 (Getty)

The team attended the Dutch GP  two weeks later on 23 June…

It was at Zandvoort in 1962 that Colin Chapman produced his ‘monocoque’ bombshell into Grand Prix racing. Clark lead the race until clutch trouble intervened, he proceeded to dominate the event in 1963, winning from pole, the Lotus 25 had none of the reliability issues in 1963 which prevented Colin Chapman and his merry men winning the title the previous year.

Denis Jenkinson reported on the progress made at Bologna ‘The A.T.S. team had tidied up the bodywork of their cars since Spa, but they were still not very elegant, and the tubular structure over the engines had been cut and jointed with threaded muff-joints that would have done credit to a plumber! Similar joints had been incorporated in one of the cross-members above the gearbox/axle assembly. Phil Hill’s car had the four exhaust pipes on each bank fed into single tail pipes and Baghetti’s car had separate pipes from each cylinder, ending in small megaphones’.

As practice got underway on the Friday  the ATS team were soon in strife with Jenkinson reporting that Baghetti’s car broke a distributor and developed a fault in the brake master-cylinder and ‘Phil Hill was not in the running’.

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Giancarlo Baghetti’s ATS 100, Zandvoort 1963, shot shows pretty lines of the car and evolution of the bodywork since Spa. Note rear brake duct to inboard disc (Schlegelmilch)

‘The opening lap ended with Clark leading Graham Hill and McLaren, but the Cooper driver was waving Brabham by into third place, as his gearbox had gone wrong again and he had only 5th and 6th gears available. Sure enough he pulled into the pits at the end of the second lap and his mechanics took the gearbox selector mechanism apart. On lap 3 there was a semblance of order, Clark always in front, hotly pursued by Graham Hill and Brabham, but the BRM engine was running a high water temperature. In fourth place was Maggs in the second Cooper and after a short pause came a truly impressive crowd of cars getting involved in some pretty serious motor racing in the best tradition. This included Ginther (BRM), Surtees (Ferrari), Bonnier (Cooper), Amon (Lola), Phil Hill (ATS), Ireland (BRP), Taylor (Lotus), Scarfiotti (Ferrari), and Gurney (Brabham), the rest of the runners being spaced out behind’.

Baghetti retired with ignition trouble on his ATS on lap 16 the other car went out in a cloud of sand as Phil Hill spun off the road due to the left-hand rear axle stub breaking off.

Jenkinson concluded his race report thus ‘As at Spa, Clark had led from the first corner to the chequered flag, the Lotus Climax V8 performing perfectly in the sort of race that must soon label Jimmy Clark as a second Stirling Moss. Not as fast, but equally praiseworthy was the performance of Dan Gurney, who started last, had a pit-stop and yet finished second.’

ATS then sensibly missed the French and British GP’s won by Clark to get some sort of resolved specification and levels of base line preparation and reliability to the two cars prior to their home event, the Italian GP at Monza on September 8th.

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Hill Dutch GP 1963, ATS 100 (Getty)

Looked at objectively the choice of the drivers to join ATS makes complete sense.

The engineering team were ex-Ferrari and won a title in 1961, financial backing was solid. It made sense to jojn a team comprised of senior people Phil and Giancarlo knew well, and had won races with in ’61. Phil’s Ferrari history of course went way back to his days driving Ferrari customer sportscars for team owners in the ‘States.

By the Nurburgring in 1963 they must have wondered what the hell they had gotten themselves into! The team truck did not make it to the Eifel Mountains mind you, it crashed en-route, so the cars did not start, nothing was going right! Next the Italian GP.

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Car quite beautiful in profile with its all enveloping, evolved bodywork and discs over the Dunlop alloys to eke out a few more rpm on Monza’s long straights. Phil Hill, Italian GP ’63 (Getty)

Off to Monza it was important for all the obvious reasons they do well; the cars did finish with Hill 11th and Baghetti 15th. The little red single-seaters were also looking like GP cars rather than lash-ups, better finished with neat enveloping bodywork and drag reducing wheel fairing discs fitted for the usual high speed Monza slipstreaming.

Jenkinson observed ‘The Bolognese cars were looking a lot tidier and clearly the design is becoming settled and parts are being made in a more permanent manner. Carburettors are still used although experiments have been carried out with Lucas fuel injection, and the rubber-ring universals in the drive shafts were replaced by normal Hardy Spicer joints.

During practice Phil was going better, at one point matching Brabham’s times, with Denis noting he was amongst the preofessional teams such as B.R.P. and Parnell. Baghetti only made the cut after Cabral, in front of him on times, withdrew after some pursuasion was applied!

Hill raced in company with Siffert and Jim Hall but began to lose ground, then pitted for fuel, the difficulty of topping up clear in the photo earlier in the article. Fuel was slopped into the cockpit in the process adding to Phil’s woes. Baghetti had pitted with electrical dramas but both were still in the race and running getting valuable race miles.

Clark won the race and the titles for he and Lotus with wins at Zandvoort, Spa, Reims, Silverstone and Monza. Progress was being made at ATS, it seemed.

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Phil Hill looking hopefully over his shoulder at the experimental Lucas injected variant of the little ATS V8, Watkins Glen 1963 (Lyons)

No doubt it was with some trepidation that the little team from Bologna loaded its car up for the ‘away races’ at Watkins Glen and Mexico City on 6 October and 27 October respectively…

As Jenkinson looked at the cars in the upstate New York paddock he observed that whilst Baghetti’s car was of  the same specifications as at Monza Hills had been quite heavily modified, ‘…the gearbox (was) now behind the axle. This had been done by turning the whole gearbox axle unit around and putting a spacer between the engine and axle to keep the wheelbase the same without moving the engine back. Both cars had a short radius arm from the top link to the chassis halfway along the engine. This radius rod was approximately half the length of the lower one, and was as used at Monza’.

Hill, Clark and Surtees were soon down to quick times with plenty of drams in the ATS pits, the meeting had started badly when an oil plug blew out of a scavenge pump coating the circuit with oil. ‘What was wrong at ATS was not easily definable as the mechanics were tearing both cars to pieces. In Hill’s car they rather foolishy fitted the experimental injection engine for the next day…The injection ATS engine was losing a lot of oil and Hill said he had no power at the top end, which was disappointing after the way he went the day before with the carburettor engine’, said Jenkinson.

Hill’s car started the race, as did Baghetti’s with the carburettor engine, the two BRM”s initially led from Surtees and Gurney. Baghetti’s ATS completed half a lap and retired with a broken oil pump. As Brabham moved into second place behind G Hill’s BRM his namesake retired from the race, again with a broken oil pump. Hill and Surtees diced for the lead at the 30 lap mark, with Surtees seemingly in command of the race, then his engine started to lose power leaving the win to Graham Hill’s BRM P578.

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ATS 100 cockpit shot, Spa 1963, Baghetti up. Rough as guts body clear, as is radiator pipe to engine and Veglia Borletti instruments (GP Library)

Mexican Grand Prix…

Jim Clark ran away from pole and hid, his Lotus 25 won the race by a minute and a half from Brabham’s BT7 Climax and the BRM twins Hill G and Ginther in BRM P578’s.

It was the first championship GP in Mexico, a non-championship event was run the prior year. The high altitude of Mexico City, 7400 feet above sea level, always played havoc with the fuel systems/mixture of the cars back then, another variable for the poor over-worked ATS technicians to deal with! Jenkinson observed ‘Last year when all the entries were on carburettors (the ’62 non-championship GP) it was fairly simple to change jets until by a ‘suck it and see’ method a correct mixture was determined. This year, most cars were using fuel injection and to weaken the mixture it was necessary to reshape the metering cam…’

Between the ‘Glen and Mexico ‘The two engines had been sent back to Italy and arrived on the eve of practice, necessitating a night session before practice for the whole team. The engine fitting was made more difficult by the fact that a tremendous thunderstorm had cut off the electricity and the whole job had to be performed by torch and headlights’, MotorSport reported. ‘All a great pity as the race report starts by complimenting the organisers on the 600 acre sports arena in which the circuit is located, particularly the pits facilities and lockable pit garages themselves. Not a lot of use without power mind you! The two chassis were as at Watkins Glen.

The weekend went from bad to worse for ATS. In the first session Hill’s car was not revving very well but changing the jets improved things albeit when the engine did rev it sprayed Phil with hot oil from the breather. After few laps for which no times were given, Hills car was moved away to be worked on, soonish Baghetti’s car also followed with oil circulation troubles. Clark was setting the pace, just for something different!

The ATS boys did another all-nighter ‘…tearing the cars to pieces. They found that in the few laps Hill had done the bearings were beginning to break up. The same trouble was found on Giancarlo’s ATS. After Monza two extra scavenge pumps were fitted because excess oil in the sump was losing power. The sump was also dropped 8mm. Since this modification was done there had been consistent trouble with bearings and oil pressure pumps. Overnight the two extra pumps were removed in the hope that the cars would keep going’.

The ATS was sounding crisper on the Saturday morning but Hill was now having gear selection problems, having to jiggle the lever between 3rd and 2nd…

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Phil Hill’s car in the Mexican GP pits 1963, dramas as per text (Friedman)

The ATS’ both took the start but as Clark lead Baghetti’s car was misfiring visiting the pits on lap 3 and again on lap 8 when it was pushed into the paddock for attention. He retired on lap 11 having been told he could not return to the race after going to the paddock.

In the meantime Phil’s car popped and banged its way around the track, the poor ATS mechanics had been dealing with much more fundamental engineering issues and had simply run out of time to get the mixtures right for Mexico’s altitude challenges. He didn’t appear for the 41st lap, a lower rear wishbone mount broke away from the chassis, a similar problem to the one which outed him at Zandvoort.

The end to a weekend from hell for the team- the oil circulation problem seemed solved though given the large number of laps completed by Hill. Jim Clark won the race from Jack’s Brabham BT7, Ginther’s BRM P578 and Hill G’s similar BRM.

South African Grand Prix…

Two months after the Mexican round, the final event of the 1963 World Championship was held at East London, on the south-east coast of the countries Eastern Cape province on 28 December. Jim Clark won the race in his Lotus 25 Climax, of course he and Lotus had wrapped up the drivers and manufacturers titles at Monza some months before.

The ATS team were amongst a group of cars not invited to the event. With the high cost of transporting drivers, cars and mechanics to South Africa, the R.A.C. of S.A. invited two cars from each of the main teams, with one European private entry, the rest all being local boys.

And with that, or more precisely the two cars that raced in Mexico City, the short life of ATS was effectively over.

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15 December 1962, the ATS presentation at the Hotel Baglioni, Bologna. Romolo Tavoni shakes Giancarlo Baghetti’s hand in the drivers seat, ATS owner Giorgio Billi kneeling right. Twelve months later it was all over (unattributed)

The End of The Beginning…

Chiti had progressed design of a new car for 1964 which featured an overhung gearbox instead of the inboard Colotti type used in 1963.

At the end of 1963 the ATS project got into financial difficulties, Billi had over extended himself as outlined earlier. Patino and Billi opted for closure, but Volpi decided to pick up some of the assets. The GP project was shelved, several 2.5 litre mid-engined GT Coupes were built, two of which raced at the 1964 Targa Florio (ATS 2500 GTS Coupe-Baghetti/Frescobaldi DNF 3 laps ignition and Zeccoli/Gardi DNF 1 lap ignition) with the car building factory facilities split into three; a foundry doing contract work, a machine shop similarly contracting out and finally ATS Racing comprising the GP cars, components and spares.

Alf Francis and Vic Derrington formed a partnership to continue racing the two ATS cars.

One chassis ‘100-02’ was refashioned in the ilk of a Lotus 24 or Brabham BT3 with the wheelbase shortened by 6.5 inches, the Colotti box attached directly to the engine in conventional style. Componentry of the original chassis used comprised the front cross member, upper front wishbones and inboard springs, uprights, wheels and brakes. At the rear bits of the original car used included the uprights, wheels, brakes and Colotti box. Water was shifted between engine and front mounted radiator via the top left side frame tube, returning via an external pipe. The nose cowl was tidied up and the V8 engine developed over the winter, the focus its lubrication system and adaption of Lucas fuel injection. 200bhp @ 11000rpm was claimed.

The Derrington Francis ATS raced on into 1964 driven initially by Portuguese driver Mario Cabral. The plan was to run one car in GP racing and to develop the engine for sale to interested constructors, to build engines for future racing with a 3 litre version of the Grand Turismo engine already underway’ MotorSport reported in October 1964.

The car was reviewed very favourably but the development of ATS 100 chassis ‘02’ raced only once at Monza in 1964 where Cabral diced at the back of the field with Peter Revson and Maurice Trintignant before retiring on lap 24 with ignition problems.

John Surtees won the race in a Ferrari 158, on his way to the 1964 World Title. Resilient chap, that Ferrari…

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Italian GP 1964. The #50 Derrington-Francis ATS with driver Mario Cabral in black and Alf Francis looking across the car from the nearside in short sleeved shirt, DNF lap 24 Q19. The other car is Maurice Trintignat’s BRM P578 DNF fuel injection. John Surtees won in a Ferrari 158 (unattributed)

The Serenissima Wheel Turns…

Volpi established his short lived Serenissima marque, with some of the assets acquired above, in the small town of Formigine, half way between Modena and Marnello.

The CEO and team manager was Nello Ugolini with Alf Francis as technical head and Bruce MacIntosh as chief mechanic. They decided to build a mid-engined, spaceframe chassis sportscar. The Jungla GT or 308V was first tested at Modena on December 20 1964. It was powered by a 3 litre 90 degree V8 designed by former Maserati engineer Alberto Massimino, he also designed the chassis.

It was this engine, which contrary to some views has no resemblance to the ATS V8 it was a clean sheet road car design according to Volpi, which McLaren used in F1 races in 1966. The ‘Tipo M166’ was a 2996cc all alloy 90 degree, DOHC, 2 valve, Weber carbed, 305 bhp @ 8500rpm engine which was fitted, personally by Bruce to his F1 McLaren M2B.  Bruce McLaren used it three times in his , click on the link at the end of this article to read about that episode, one of several engines Bruce used in 1966. Finally click here for an interesting article by racer Jonathon Williams who raced for Serenissima in the late 1960’s , its fascinating and fleshes out the end of this story in the nicest possible way; http://www.motorsportsmarketingresources.com/short-stories/jonathan-williams/serenissima.html

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Jonathon Williams and Alf Francis at Modena, Serenissima 3 litre V8 Coupe, circa 1968 (unattributed)

ATS Postscript…

The old adage, speaking again of such things, ‘If ‘Yer Aunty Had Balls She’d Be Yer Uncle’ springs to mind in relation to this venture. I think this saying is attributed to Frank Gardner but it’s a part of Australian vernacular, witty and pithy as Francis G was I don’t think he ‘owns’ that one.

Had ATS focussed on the GP car exclusively from December 1962 until when it should have first raced, pick a non-championship F1 event prior to the Monaco GP, rather than also building the very tasty 2500 GT/GTS, the problems with the ATS 100 engine and gearbox should have been sorted away from the harsh glaze of race weekends.

Maybe Chiti’s ATS first design should have been more conservative? Perhaps he should have foreseen the difficulties just getting a new engine right, the Colotti box however much it made conceptual sense was one step too far and these things always took time to get raceworthy, read competitive and reliable.

IF Volpi, and Billi and Patino stayed together as partners the venture would probably have continued, the combination of pockets and egos was deep.

IF Billi had not over extended himself buying out the other fellas- and his partner in his primary business he probably would have continued.

IF the government funds the venture sought to defray their capital costs were forthcoming the financial equation would have been stronger.

The ATS boys did not cover themselves in glory during 1963 but they are far from ‘the biggest F1 debut clusterfucks’ of all time. BAR springs to mind and all they did was build a chassis.  How bout Toyota too, how could so much money be wasted so fast by a company who knew a thing or three about motor-racing?

The scale of the ATS venture was heroic in terms of ‘taking on Ferrari’, how stupid it was to do that kind of posturing though? By building engines as well as chassis the ATS lads were not seeking to be mere garagistes but rather create something of enduring scale- a marque which produced wonderful road cars as well as racers. They were lofty but noble aims.

But of course none of that happened, so the design Chiti laid down for 1964 never saw the light of day and the whole venture went out with a whimper in the form of the Derrington-Francis ATS in the 1964 Italian Grand Prix.

Enzo and Laura Ferrari certainly had the last laugh!?

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Phil Hill aboard his ATS 100 and simultaneously wondering what to change and what will go wrong next! Circuit unknown. Inboard front suspension as per text (unattributed)

ATS 100 Build…

The prototype car, ‘100-01’ was Phil Hill’s 1963 race chassis, it was sold to Tom Wheatcroft in 1970 and formed part of his Donington Collection until sold to Philip Walker in 1999.

Chassis ‘100-02’ was Baghetti’s race chassis in 1963 and built into the Derrington Francis ATS as described above, Walker also acquired this car in 1998/9. The MotorSport November 2000 article on which this paragraph is based states that ‘Philip has acquired a second chassis…’, which rather suggests, three, at least, chassis were built.

Bibliography…

‘The History of The Grand Prix’ Car Doug Nye, The GP Encyclopaedia, 8w.forix.com, ‘A.T.S. – The Team That Challenged Ferrari’ Michael Lazzari

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, The Cahier Archive, Pete Lyons, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Dave Friedman Archive

Tailpiece: Giancarlo Baghetti, ATS 100, Dutch GP, Zandvoort 23 June 1963…

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(Allan Fearnley)

Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins looking confident with the speed of their Ferrari Dinos prior to the Silverstone start…

Into 1958 the relationship between Enzo Ferrari and Peter Collins had soured a bit as the chief felt the Brit was not as competitive as he had been, he was dropped to the F2 team at the French GP. Mike Hawthorn’s intervention and Luigi Musso’s death at Reims made his position more secure. Nevertheless he was feeling plenty of pressure at the time…

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Peter Collins takes his last win, Silverstone 1958, Ferrari Dino 246 (unattributed)

Collins started the British GP from 6th on the grid, with Moss’ Vanwall on pole, but Collins blasted through from the second row to lead Moss, Hawthorn, Schell’s BRM P25, Brooks Vanwall VW57 and Salvadori, Cooper T45 Climax.

Collins increased the lead steadily with Moss and Hawthorn comprising the lead group. Stirling’s engine blew on lap 26 leaving Peter leading from Hawthorn. Stuart Lewis-Evans was 3rd but was soon passed by Salvadori. Collins won from Hawthorn, Salvadori and Lewis-Evans’ Vanwall VW57, four Brits!

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Peter Collins being congratulated aboard his Dino after the event. Its July 19, he was dead 3 weeks later, Nurburgring on 3 August (Hutton)

Credit…

Allan Fearnley, Hutton Deutsch

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Jack Brabham willingly takes his go-faster pill from the lovely Goodyear fräulein…

It’s just before the 1966 German Grand Prix, Jack won the race in his Brabham BT19 Repco on 7 August from John Surtees and Jochen Rindt aboard Cooper T81 Masers.

Jack was right in the middle of the mid-season purple patch which gave him the title; from 3 July to 7 August he won the French, British, Dutch and German GP’s on the trot.

Goodyear were a very important part of Brabham Repco’s win that year. Jack was in F1 with them from their start in F1, 1965, and was still winning races with them in 1971.

Brabham’s last race win was aboard a Goodyear RR12 shod Bowin P4X Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ victory at Calder, Australia…

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Bob Jane was always a clever promoter, the champion racer/entrepreneur and Calder circuit owner decided upon a ‘Race of Champions’ amongst the Australian aces of the day to get a few more bums on seats at his 15 August 1971, cold and chilly winter meeting. Look at the crowd!

The just retired, for a while anyway, Jack Brabham was happy to accept the invitation to compete. It just so happened his Ford Dealership in Sydney sponsored Bob Beasley in a Bowin P4 in that years ‘TAA Driver to Europe Series’, the national Formula Ford championship.

The field included Kevin Bartlett, Alan Hamilton, Allan Moffat. Pictured here is Bib Stillwell in the car in which Larry Perkins won the 1971 Driver to Europe title, then Jack and Frank Matich in Elfin 600, Bowin P4X and Aztec FF respectively.

Whether or not Jack did a few laps in the Bowin at Warwick Farm in Sydney before the car was popped onto the trailer for Melbourne is unclear, ditto Bib, the owner of the Perkins Elfin 600! It was a fun race but their were plenty of guys keen to win, Jack prevailed in the short scrap, Goodyear shod of course…

Credits…

ullstein Bild, Classic FF FB page

Ps: ‘Drink it Freddy!’…

Was the catchy slogan or tagline of a popular sweet drink called ‘Quik’, the notion being that the additive made cows milk more drinkable at a time such milk was a good thing. I think it still is, but who knows? Anyway, the line was stuck in the back of my head, which is full of useless shite and popped out when i saw Jack and his Goodyear friend…

Pps: Love the neato Repco Brabham sticker on the cockpit screen of Jack’s car!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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George Eaton, BRM P153 in gorgeous pre-Yardley, traditional livery. Monaco 1970 (GP Library)

George Eaton navigates the tricky Monaco circuit in an unsuccessful attempt to qualify his new BRM P153 at the principality in 1970…

Tony Southgate’s new design was a very competitive machine, after the teams disastrous 1969.  Pedro Rodriguez won a classic Spa duel in the P153 with Chris Amon in 1970 but Eaton, the Canadian racer struggled to get the best from it in his only fullish F1 year.

Looking objectively at his results in Grand Prix racing, the wealthy young heir to the Eatons Department Stores empire didn’t appear to have what it takes at the absolute elite level, but comparing his and Pedro’s performances in the Can Am BRM P154 Chev later in 1970 perhaps puts things in a slightly different perspective.

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Eaton’s BRM P153 DNF oil tank, buzzes past the works McLaren M14D Alfa and M14A Ford of Andrea de Adamich DNQ and Peter Gethin DNF prang, respectively in the Zandvoort pitlane, 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton started racing in a Shelby Cobra in 1966. He raced a Chev Camaro at Daytona in 1967 and soon bought a McLaren Elva Mk3 Chev Can Am car in which he contested the USRRC and the Can Am Series in 1967. In 1968 he bought a McLaren M1C Chev, his best result was a 3rd place at Laguna Seca, in the wet, in 1968.

In 1969 he took a big step up contesting both the Can Am with a McLaren M12 Chev and the US Formula A, nee F5000 Championship in a McLaren M10A Chev, the ‘ducks guts’ chassis to have that year.

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Eaton, McLaren M10A Chev, Mosport 1969, DNF transmission in the race won  by John Cannon’s Eagle Mk5 Chev (ORC)

His best Can Am races in the M12 were a 2nd at Texas and 3rd at Edmonton but he was quick, consistently qualifying in the top six all year. In FA, in fields of some depth he raced in most of the US rounds, 6th at the Shaefer GP his best. He contested only four of the Canadian rounds taking a good win at Mont Tremblant in May.

Off the back of these results he was offered drives in the F1 BRM P138, a ‘roughy’ of a car, in the US and Mexican GP’s in late 1969, retiring from both after qualifying last in both. Hardly the basis upon which to extend a contract for the following season, but that’s exactly what Lou Stanley offered George for 1970- a drive alongside the quick, unlucky Jackie Oliver and the blindingly fast Pedro Rodriguez.

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Dutch GP, BRM P153, Q18, DNF. Rindt won in a Lotus 72 Ford (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton had a terrible F1 season, Pedro made the P153 sing. Oliver was quick but seemed to have all the engine unreliability, whilst George, probably not getting the best of equipment, was slow on the circuits which were unfamiliar to him and the car unreliable.

He qualified best in his home, Mosport event, 9th, outpacing Oliver and finished 10th. He qualified 14th at Watkins Glen and again retired but otherwise didn’t qualify higher than 14th with DNQ’s in Spain and Monaco.

His speed in the Can Am series was a bit different though…

1970 BRM P154 Can Am Season…

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George Eaton with the BRM P154 Chev, 11 June 1970 (Dick Darrell)

Eaton’s pace was put into better perspective when compared with Pedro Rodriguez, his team leader and undoubtedly one of the fastest five blokes on the planet at the time, in Can Am cars.

Rodriguez contested the Donnybrooke, Laguna Seca and Riverside events, the last three of the series races from late September to 1 November. The ‘head to head’ comparison in identical P154 chassis on circuits upon which both had competed before is as follows;

Donnybrooke; Pedro Q7 P9 George Q5, DNF rocker

Laguna Seca; Pedro Q9 P5 George Q8 crash on lap 11

Riverside; Pedro Q7 P3 George Q 1.5 secs quicker than Pedro in practice but boofed the car and DNS

So, George appears to have had Pedro’s speed if not consistency in Can Am cars noting there was a veritable gulf between the pair in F1. Nobody ever suggested these 700bhp Can Am roller-skates were easy-peasey to drive, interesting innit?! Maybe Eaton should be given a little more credit for outright pace than he is usually accorded. He was not just a rich pretty-boy.

Before Pedro arrived to drive the other P154 chassis Eaton started the season at Mosport with Q7 and DNF with oil leak and transmission problems.

At St Jovite he was 3rd having  qualified 9th. To Watkins Glen Q13 and brake failure, Edmonton Q6 with a wheel bearing failure. The car had little pre-season testing some of these problems are indicative of that. At Mid Ohio he had fuel pressure problems which outed him, the dramas resulted in Q25. His results for the last three races are listed above in the comparison with Pedro.

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Eaton P154 Laguna Seca 1970, Q8 and crashed (The Enthusiast Network)

Further perspective on Eaton’s performance is provided by Pedro’s opinion of the car, the Mexican had been ‘around the block’ in terms of experience of big cars since his ‘teens and driven some horrid ones, the Ferrari’s he raced in 1968 and the BRM’s in 1969 prime examples.

Pedro visited Tony Southgate after racing the P154, Southgate recorded in his book ‘Pedro raced the car later in the season and afterwards came to see me in my office at Bourne to talk about the experience and told me in its present form the car was horrible to drive.

I had great admiration for Pedro, so I knew it must be really bad. I was very embarrassed and immediately set about re-engineering it and fixing all the problems. The revised car, the P167 went on to be very good in 1971 but it was still a low budget operation’.

The BRM Can Am program was minimal in 1971, two events plus Interserie races for Pedro at Zolder and wins for Brian Redman at Imola and Hockemheim, after Pedro’s death at the Norisring in a Herbert Muller owned Ferrari 512M.

In terrible irony Pedro took the Muller ride only after a testing engine failure in the P167 meant he could not race the BRM and therefore took the Ferrari drive.

Brian Redman raced the P167 at Laguna to 4th, and Howden Ganley the same chassis at Riverside to 3rd, proof positive that progress had been made.

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George Eaton in the BRM P154 Chev, Q6 DNF wheel bearing in front of Gary Wilson’s Lola T163 Chev 6th, at Edmonton on 26 July 1970. Denny Hulme won in a McLaren M8D Chev. Lots of available wheel arch a function of the P154 being designed for 19 inch wide wheels but only 17’s available- unsuitable suspension geometry one of the cars many issues (John Denniston)

But Bourne were not in a budgetary position to offer George another Can Am season in 1971, one he deserved.

Another season in F1 was a different thing, he had not done enough to keep that seat. As it was BRM were very competitive in F1 in 1971, Siffert and Rodriguez both taking a win apiece before their untimely deaths. Peter Gethin took another at Monza in the drive of his life in one of THE great GP finishes.

Into 1971 and 1972 George raced in endurance events although he was invited to guest drive a P160 BRM in the ’71 Canadian Grand Prix, qualifying 21st, slowest of the four BRM’s entered, he finished 15th.

George Eaton was a very fine driver and quicker than he is given credit for in Can Am cars at least. He extracted more from the very ordinary BRM P154, in qualifying in three consecutive events than an ace like Pedro Rodriguez could produce from the same chassis, a pretty ordinary one at that…

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George in the ‘Klondike 200’, Edmonton pits awaiting chassis changes in 1970. BRM P154 Chev, Q6 and DNF, wheel bearing. Fundamental issues with the car were the late decision on doing the program, one forced upon designer Tony Southgate- and lack of testing miles and development before it left the UK for the US. George did the development miles in the races, lots of stuff breaking as a consequence. Article on the P154 and P167 coming soon (Denniston)

Credits…

GP Library, The Enthusiast Network, classiccars.com, John Denniston, Dick Darrell

Tailpiece: Monaco 1970, this time from above. The BRM P153/P160 are wonderful cars, in reality the great Bourne marques last really consistently competitive hurrahs…

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Such beautiful and fast cars, one of the surprises of 1970, Tony Southgate’s BRM P153, Eaton at Monaco, DNQ (Schlegelmilch)

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Rubens Barrichello guides his Stewart around the difficult, wet confines of Monaco in 1997…

In a race shortened by very difficult conditions, Rubens Barrichelo demonstrated his undoubted speed and finesse. 30 minutes before the race started rain began to fall, causing the teams a conundrum as to tyre choice and car setup. Schumi led from the start in his Ferrari F310B, the Jordans were very quick having a rain setup and great Bridgestone wets, better than the Goodyears on the day.

Damon Hill’s Arrows was out early after a collision with Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren, Frenzen’s Williams hit a barrier, and then Villeneuve too hit some of the local topography in the other Williams. Schumacher continued to lead by 30 seconds from Rubens who took a great 2nd and the first podium for Stewart, the SF01 Ford in only its 5th race. It was a great, early result for Jackie and Paul Stewart’s Ford supported team, the Alan Jenkins designed car powered by Ford’s VJ Zetec-R 3 litre V10, a Cosworth Engineering design of course. Eddie Irvine was 3rd in the other Ferrari F310B.

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In some ways the Stewart result flattered to deceive; results were predictably hard to come by, 1998 was very tough but the Gary Anderson designed 1999 SF03 powered by a new CR-1 Ford V10 took a win at the European Grand Prix, Johnny Herbert was victorious that day at the Nurburgring.

Ford then acquired the team from the Stewart’s in full renaming it Jaguar Racing for 2000 before its 2005 sale and morph into the rather successful Red Bull Racing…

Credit…

Empics Sport

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Smile for the camera boys! The presence of local lads Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti at Watkins Glen in 1968 must have added 25,000 punters to the gate?…

A good deal of interest was added to the end of season 1968 races by the participation of American aces Mario Andretti and Bobby Unser at the Italian and US Grands’ Prix on 8 September and 6 October.

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Andretti checking out his nice, new Simpson Team Lotus overalls, Hill convinced the Hinchman product the better Nomex choice! Monza 1968 (Peter Darley)

Mario raced a third works Lotus 49B and Unser a factory BRM P138 vacated by Richard Attwood. Both did quick times at Monza before returning to the US to race in the ‘Hoosier 100′ at Indy but were precluded by racing back at Monza due to a rule which forbade drivers competing in another event within 24 hours of a GP.

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Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti enjoying each other’s company prior to the ‘Michigan 250’, at Brooklyn, Michigan International Raceway on 13 October 1968. Ronnie Bucknum won in an Eagle Offy with Mario 2nd in a Brawner Offy. Its clearly not the chassis Mario is sitting in here which is Ford engined. Unser DNF in another Eagle Offy  (Upitis)

Unser was primarily a USAC racer whilst Mario mixed road racing with a diet of speedway events on dirt and champcars as well as the occasional NASCAR event. I wrote an article about the greatest all-rounder a while back, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/24/the-most-versatile-ever-magic-mario-andretti/

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Unser during the USGP at Watkins Glen 1968, its a pity he didn’t seek other F1 opportunities, his speed and ‘tiger’ potent down the decades, BRM P138. DNF engine (Upitis)

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Mario put the ‘cat amongst the pigeons’ by plonking the Lotus 49B Ford on pole ahead of all the aces of the day. Unser’s weekend didn’t start so well, boofing the P138 in the first session of practice, he qualified 19th. His cars engine failed in the race on lap 35.

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Andretti jumped away from the start well but was headed by Jackie Stewart by the end of the first lap, on lap 14 his Lotus was losing its bodywork causing a pitstop which dropped him to the back of the field. The Lotus’ clutch failed on lap 32. Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 Ford won from Hill’s Lotus 49B and John Surtees’ Honda RA301.

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Graham Hill at the pit counter whilst Colin and Mario arrive at a pole winning setup, Watkins Glen 1968 (Upitis)

Andretti impressed Colin Chapman bigtime with his speed, mechanical feel and sympathy. It wasn’t until 1976 that the ‘planets aligned’ and eventually the two great men worked together again. The Lotus 77 and 78/9 wing/ground effect cars the result, not to forget the 1978 World Championship of course!

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Osterreichring 12 August 1979, DNF clutch failure without completing a lap in the race won by Alan Jones’ Williams FW07 Ford (Schlegelmilch)

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Lotus 79 Ford, British GP, Brands Hatch 1978. Checking the tyre temps, Andretti famously brought ‘stagger’ to F1, DNF here with engine dramas, Carlos Reutemann took a Ferrari 312T3 win (Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Alvis Upitis, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Peter Darley

Tailpiece: Hi-winged Lotus 49B Ford, Watkins Glen 1968, Andretti…

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There has to be an interesting article in evolution of the GeePee cockpit and controls over time, does there not? Here its the tiller of the Johnny Herbert’s Stewart SR3 Ford on the grid of the 1999 Spanish GP at Barcelona on 30 May…

He retired from the race with transmission failure on lap 40 of the 65 laps, the event won by Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren MP4/14 Mercedes. Rubens Barrichelo was generally the quicker of the two Stewart drivers that season but Johnny broke through for the teams first and last Grand Prix win at the Nurburgring on 26 September.

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(Adoc/Corbis)

Fifty years before, the state of the art is demonstrated by one of the Talbot Lago T26C’s, being fuelled on the Albi GP grid on 10 July 1949, quadrant for the pre-selector ‘box and chassis plate clear below the wheel in shot. Wonderful image isn’t it!?

Credits…

Tobias Heyer, Adoc/Corbis

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(Schlegelmilch)

One of the BRM mechanics shows his mates some naughty pictures on his iPhone 6S, Zandvoort, Dutch Grand Prix July 1965…

The shot says everything about the regard the BRM team had for their old driver. By that stage Richie was driving for Honda, famously the American won the very last race of the 1.5 litre F1 for Honda in Mexico City that year.

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Stewart #12 and Hill #10 BRM P261’s in the 1965 Zandvoort paddock (Schlegelmilch)

At Zandvoort the growing competitiveness of the RA272 was again on display, Richie qualified the car 3rd and finished 6th, the race won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax.

The BRM’s finished 2nd and 4th, Stewart in front of Hill, both in P261’s. Dan Gurney was 3rd in a Brabham BT3 Climax.

Checkout my article on the early Honda GP cars;

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/12/honda-ra271272-1-5-litre-v12-19645-gp-cars/

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Richie Ginther’s Honda RA272 during the Dutch GP , 18 July 1965, Rainer has captured such an unusual view of the North Sea circuit…

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(Schlegelmilch)

 

 

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Tony Rudd and one of the BRM crew either sorting a problem or firing up Harry Schell’s P25 so the Bourne engineering chief can get back to his hotel, Monaco 1959…

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Behra’s Ferrari Dino 246 you can just see on the left then Moss and Brabham, both Cooper T51, #48 Phil Hill Fazz Dino, #22 McLaren and #32 Trintignant Coopers T51. #16 and #18 Schell and Bonnier in BRM P25’s outside Brooks Dino. #20 Flockhart P25 BRM and behind him Graham Hill’s Lotus 16 Climax (unattributed)

In a sign of the times Jack Brabham won the race from Tony Brook’s front engined Ferrari Dino 246, Jack and third placed Maurice Trintignant in mid-engined Cooper T51 Climaxes. Jack of course took the first of his drivers titles that year and Cooper the constructors.

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Jack on his own on the Monaco quayside in 1959, on his way to his first championship GP win, Cooper T51 Climax. His last the 1970 South African GP at Kyalami (Cahier)

It wasn’t a great weekend for the BRM boys; all three cars retired, Ron Flockhart, Jo Bonnier and Harry with a spin, brake’s and an accident and a split fuel tank the causes respectively.

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Stunning shot of Tony Brooks’ Dino chasing Harry Schell’s BRM into casino Square, Monaco 1959 (Heritage)

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BRM P25; spaceframe chassis, 2491cc DOHC, 2 valve, Weber fed 4 cylinder engine developing circa 275bhp@8000rpm, 4 speed ‘box. Suspension; upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/dampers and De Dion and coil spring/dampers at the rear. Front disc brakes, single disc on the transmission at the rear (C La Tourette)

The team broke through for its well deserved first win in 1959, Bonnier took the next race, the Dutch GP on 31 May, beating Jack and Masten Gregory in Cooper T51’s.

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BRM babes; hard for the mechanics to focus surrounded by this lot. The photo has done the rounds but i’ve never read the identity of said poppets if anyone can advise, BRM P25, Monaco 1959 (unattributed)

Credits…

Klemantaski Collection, Cahier Archive, Heritage Images, C La Tourette

Tailpiece: Harry Schell’s BRM P25 clips the inside of the kerb on entry to a corner in his pursuit of Cliff Allison’s Ferrari Dino 246 at Zandvoort in 1959, JoBo’s P25 took a famous win, Harry DNF, Allison 9th…

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