Archive for the ‘F1’ Category

(MotorSport)

Mark Webber at Knockhill, Fife, Scotland during the 1996 British Formula Ford Championship- works ‘Duckhams’ Van Diemen RF96.

It was a good season, he won four races, was second in the title race won by Kristian Kolby in another RF96 and won the important Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch at the seasons end. This victory secured a test with Alan Docking Racing’s top-notch F3 outfit.

This shot made me think about Webber’s progress from the more junior ranks, this short, mainly photographic piece tracks his ascent from the early nineties to 2002.

Before arriving in England he cut his racing teeth in Karts before contesting the Australian Formula Ford Championship in 1994 and 1995 (fourth) before racing in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands- his fourth place secured the Duckhams Van Diemen seat for 1996.

In Formula 3 with Alan Docking Racing in 1997 he was fourth in the British Championship, taking a win at Brands Hatch and three podiums, the title winner was Jonny Kane in a Dallara F397 Honda. In addition Webber was fourth in the important Macau GP and third in the F3 Masters at Zandvoort won by Tom Coronel- the top 37 cars on the grid were separated by less than one second, to provide an example of the competitiveness of F3!

It was a tough year though, only Australian rugby international David Campese’s loan of $100,000 kept Webber afloat and in the Dallara F397 Honda for the full season.

Lola B99/50 Zytec F3000 at Imola in April 2000, third place the first time he raced in the class (MotorSport)

 

‘Fuck me! Again!’, or thoughts along those lines. The second of Mark’s flips on the Hunaudieres at Le Mans in 1999, Mercedes CLR. Peter Dumbreck also took to the sky during the race

In 1998 he progressed to the FIA GT Championship with Mercedes Benz-AMG, how thrilled we all were to see him demonstrate the 6 litre V12 CLK GTR at Albert Park before the season in Europe began.

Paired with Bernd Schneider, they won five of the ten races but finished second overall to  teammates Klaus Ludwig and Ricardo Zonta who also won five but had better placings.

Webber’s aerobatics at Le Mans in 1999, in two sessions remember, showed just how tough he was but the season was a write-off when Mercedes cancelled their program after Webber and teammate Peter Dumbreck both took flight.

In 2000 and 2001 Webber mixed F1 testing roles with Arrows and then Benetton and the European F3000 Championship, finishing third (one win and three fastest laps) and second (three wins) respectively.

In 2002 he broke through into F1 with a Minardi PS02 Asiatech 3 litre V10 (née Peugeot F1), by then the Italian F1 stalwart was owned by Aussie aviation entrepreneur Paul Stoddart.

Webber’s fifth place at Albert Park was a great start to the season and indicative of the career towards the top of the pyramid to come- 9 wins, 42 podiums, 13 poles and 19 fastest laps throughout a stellar Grand Prix career.

Webber, Minardi PS02 Asiatech, Albert Park 2002 (MotorSport)

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

Mark started his karting career at Fairbairn Kart track in Canberra aged 14, winning his first title, the NSW karting championship in 1993.

He is shown above in that machine, what chassis and engine is it folks?

With Mum and Dad- Queanbeyan, early years (M Webber Collection)

 

(unattributed)

Mark ran a well funded Formula Ford campaign in 1995 aboard a Van Diemen RF95 after an exploratory year aboard Craig Lowndes 1993 championship winning RF93 in 1994.

This was the start of the business relationship with Ann Neale, who organised the Yellow Pages deal, helped him make it all the way to F1 and remains his partner in life.

He was fourth in the Australian FF Championship won by Jason Bright in another RF95, in a season of typical depth the class of ‘95 included later V8 Supercar greats Jason Bargwanna and Todd Kelly.

Above the Van Diemen RF95 is on the way to winning the Australian GP, Formula Ford support race at Adelaide in November 1995.

(unattributed)

In some useful ‘big car’, wings and slicks, experience Mark raced Malcolm Ramsay’s Birrana Engineering Reynard 90D Formula Holden at Mallala in June 1995.

He finished second behind his teammate and multiple Gold Star Champion Paul Stokell in the teams 91D.

Webber did one final meeting before heading to Europe in 1996, he contested the Formula Holden AGP support races at Albert Park in one of Graham Watson’s Ralt Australia Reynards, winning the Sunday race in a 91D.

(MotorSport)

The Bouchut/Heidfeld/Dumbreck AMG-Mercedes CLR leads the Tiemann/Webber/Gounon machine during practice at Le Mans 1999.

(MotorSport)

A before and after shot Le Mans 1999 shot.

The photograph above is of the Webber CLR after the first flip at Indianapolis on Thursday night.

Takeoff speed was about 185mph, the car was rebuilt overnight around a new chassis. All three team cars were fitted with front winglets in an attempts to keep them on terra firma.

On the short Saturday morning warmup, one can imagine the courage required to get back in the car, he again took flight whilst following a teammate closely on the hump on the Mulsanne. The car crewed by MW, Jean Marc Gounon and  Marcel Tiemann was withdrawn from the race.

The other two machines, with further tweaks took the start with Peter Dumbreck taking off on lap 75, about 5 hours in, on the bumpy section towards Indianapolis. This time the car flew off the side of the track amongst the trees- Mercedes, lucky not to lose another driver, but with another PR disaster on their hands in France, withdrew the other car- and from sportscar racing as it later transpired.

(MotorSport)

Martin Brundle in the pole winning Toyota GT-One with Pedro Lamy, Mercedes CLR- behind him his teammate Christophe Bouchut with the BMW V12 LMR alongside him, and the rest, Le Mans start 1999.

Testing duties for Benetton at Estoril in September 2000.

Car is the Benetton B200 Playlife 3 litre V10. ‘Playlife’ engines were rebranded Supertec motors which derived from 1998 Renault RS9 engines built by Mecachrome. Goddit?

Raced by Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz, the B200s were also-rans in 2000.

Super Nova Racing F3000 Lola B99/50 Zytec V8 at San Marino in April 2001, the Lola behind is driven by Darren Manning.

Mark had a great weekend, winning from pole and taking fastest lap. He won in Monaco and at Magny Cours as well, finishing second in the title chase behind Justin Wilson, his later teammate at Jaguar.

His run home was poor with collisions in all three final rounds.

(Getty)

The shots above are at Silverstone during the 2002 British GP weekend.

Minardi PS02 Asiatech, Q20 and DNF clutch in the race won by Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F2002 3 litre V10.

Webber during the Red Bull years, meeting and date unknown (unattributed)

Credits…

MotorSport, Frederic Le Foch, Wikipedia, Getty Images, Mark Webber Collection

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

After retiring from F1 at the end of 2013, Webber joined Porsche’s endurance racing program.

2014 was a building year, but Mark won the World Endurance Racing Championship along with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley in 2015, the same crew having not won a race the year before.

But not the elusive Le Mans win- here is his Porsche 919 Hybrid during the 2016 race- the same trio raced the car that year as in the two seasons before, they were classified thirteenth, the race won by the sister 919.

Finito…

Christian Lautenschlager descending the ‘le piege de la mort’ switchback, Mercedes 18/100 HP (4.48 litre straight-four), first in the July 1914 French Grand Prix run over a 752 km road course in a little over 7 hours 8 minutes.

Mark suggested I write something on ten of the more interesting cars I have had the privilege of driving. (Car 2 I have only been a passenger in, but it is included here because of its relevance to Car 1). This could be a challenge for others to produce their lists. Although I have had extensive experience of a few of the cars, the majority are more an exercise in name dropping. Here goes in approximate date of manufacture order:

1. 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes

Yes, I have driven Lautenschlager’s winning car (above).

In 1974 I went to Lyon for a memorable dual celebration of 60 years since Mercedes won the Grand Prix de l’ACF at this venue, coupled with 50 years since the debut of the Type 35 Grand Prix Bugatti on the same circuit. (Incidentally, the latter was the inspiration for my proposal that we similarly celebrate 50 years of the AGP at Phillip Island in 1978).

To cut to the chase; I had a Rosé infused lunch sitting opposite Phillip Mann, the then custodian of the 1914 winning Mercedes. He proposed I ride with him in the afternoon, and handed me the wheel for the last couple of hours.

What a car; a low first gear to cope with starting and the ‘fourche’ at Les Sept Chemin and then three close and high ratios to follow. Quick and light; two-wheel brakes did not seem to be a problem, and when Phillip said, “Bob, if you used third gear more, you would not use the brakes so much” (‘code for have a go’), the car came alive.

As we followed a road that swept beside the twists and turns of the Loire, there were ample opportunities to extend it in third and then into top, which was only a smidge higher ratio. Road holding and steering were what one would expect from a car that had won one of the greatest races of all time. The 750 km. race had taken just over 7hrs – heroes all, those Belle Epoque drivers.

A short piece on the 1914 French GP; https://primotipo.com/2017/05/01/1914-french-grand-prix/

 

Arthur Duray in the 4.44 litre straight-4 Delage Type S before the off. #9 is Paul Bablot (unattributed)

2.1914 Grand Prix Delage

I am also privileged to have had a couple of rides as passenger in the wonderful Murdoch family Delage, Type S, that raced with the Mercedes at Lyon.

Twin OHC, desmodromic valves, four valves per cylinder, four-wheel brakes, five speed gear box with direct drive on third (two overdrives), and all this in 1914. Usually known as the ‘Indianapolis Delage’, this is a much more sophisticated bit of kit than the Mercedes, but it was not to win that mythic race.

Like the Mercedes, it was designed for the circuit; again a lowish first gear and then a bunch of higher ratios, one for each piece of this track that varied from the aforementioned hairpin to  right angle bends through the town of Givors and then a long fourteen km. straight back to Sept Chemin, necessitating the high gearing of these cars.

The weight limit for this race was 1100 kg’s and with 4 1/2 litres of sophisticated racing engine to propel them, these cars, for their day, had super-car performance with a maximum speed of close to 170kph. Even today this 104-year-old car can hold its own with modern traffic.

Delage were out of luck; two of their three team cars were said to have had valve adjustment issues with their complicated desmodromic valve gear and the third car of veteran Arthur Duray was delayed after running near the front of the race and could only manage eighth place, over 40 minutes after the winning Mercedes.

Regardless of the result, of the two cars, I think the Delage would be my choice based on its sophistication, not to mention its booming exhaust.

 

The Sunbeam team cars lined up at Strasbourg before the start of the 1922 French GP- #9 Jean Chassagne, #16 Kenelm Lee Guinness and #21 Henry Segrave (Selou)

3.1922 Grand Prix Sunbeam

Four of these Ernst Henri designed cars were at Strasbourg for the 1922 Grand Prix de l’ACF.

The three racing cars broke down with valve trouble through over-revving attributed to low reading rev-counters and the practice car suffered an engine fire before the race. Not an auspicious debut.

This was another epic race over 803kms of public roads won by Felice Nazzaro at an average speed of close to 130kph – these 2 litre cars were not slow.

By December 1925 Jean Chassange’s car was competing at Maroubra in the hands of Hope Bartlett. The car is now in a restored condition in Queensland.

The Sunbeam I drove was imported to Australia in 1984 by Tim Hewison, and it was during his custodianship that I drove it. Having had some experience of the often-underrated vintage touring Sunbeams, I found that the GP car had all the same attributes of light and precise controls – a delight to drive.

Although of only two litres, its twin overhead camshaft engine, coupled with a light racing body, gave it a satisfyingly brisk performance. With direct but light steering, powerful brakes and a delightful gear-change, this would have been a wonderful road-car and an exciting racing car.

My drive was limited to a quick squirt up and down the Flinders-Mornington Road. Unfortunately, the car was only in Australia for a short time and I never had the opportunity to take it for a serious drive.

Hope Bartlett’s GP Sunbeam shortly after its arrival in Australia, Sydney 1925 (H Bartlett Collection)

 

Bugatti T32 ‘Tanks’during the 1923 French GP weekend at Tours. #18 Prince de Cystria, #16 Pierre Marco and #11 Pierre de Vizcaya. Segrave’s Sunbeam won, the best placed T32 was Ernest Friderich’s in third place (unattributed)

4.1923 Grand Prix Type 32 Bugatti Tank replica

After a satisfactory 1922 Strasbourg GP, with second, third and fifth placings, hopes must have been high at Molsheim for these innovative cars in the 1923 Grand Prix de l’ACF at Tours.

The triangular layout with three long straights had focused Bugattis mind on streamlining, and with only three corners per lap, he was happy to make do with a three-speed gear box, albeit in a trans-axle configuration.

Disappointingly, they could manage no better than third place in yet another marathon event; Henry Segrave’s winning Sunbeam averaged 123 kph for the 800kms. Of the team of five cars one was reconstructed around remaining parts and is now in Italy. Another unmolested example is in the Cité de l’Automobile (Schlumph) museum in France.

Noted Bugatti enthusiast Bob Sutherland was given unrestricted access to the Schlumph car which enabled him to construct a ‘tool-room’ copy, apart from a three main bearing crankshaft; the full roller bearing crankshaft of the team cars was only revealed in more recent times when the Italian car was restored.

Bob Sutherland entrusted me to race his car at three Australian historic meetings – Winton, Sandown and Phillip Island.

The Tank lost in the wide open spaces of Winton (B King Collection)

 

Tank office, the magneto is on the back of the engine, so the driver sits right amongst the machinery (B King)

Legend had it that these cars were evil handling because of their 3 metre wheel-base coupled with aerodynamic lift engendered by their ground-hugging, enveloping bodywork.  I can categorically say that the rumours were not true; the car was a delight to buzz through bends and there was no sign of lift at 100 mph.

On the flip side, the car was tricky to drive with the gear change to the trans-axle and the lever for the rear wheel brakes being operated by the left hand, while the right foot was busy being a human balance-bar operating the front wheel brakes as well as an almost inaccessible throttle pedal courtesy of the tight packaging of the straight eight engine which intruded into the cockpit. (Braking was not a priority at Tours with only three corners per 23 Km lap).

Once you got your head around the complicated controls, it was a delight to drive, just like any other Bugatti; and fast enough to pass an Alvis 4.3 litre racing car and a Gypsy Moth engined car down the main straight at Phillip Island. In the absence of a rev-counter and in deference to the three main bearing crankshaft fitted to this car, it was thought necessary to lift off well before turn one. Ettore Bugatti must have had sufficient confidence in his new 5 main bearing ball and roller crankshaft to deem a rev counter unnecessary.

A quickie; https://primotipo.com/?s=1923+french+grand+prix

Bugatti T39 #4607 at Stag Corner during the 1985 AGP meeting (B King Collection)

5.1925 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 39

Of Bugattis I have owned, I chose this one as the most delightful to drive.

The Type 39 was the 1 ½ litre variant of the straight eight GP Bugatti – more normally 2 or 2.3 litre. The Type 39 was designed for competition in the Voiturette races in 1925, but initially appeared in the Grand Prix de Tourisme with skimpy touring bodies which barely complied with the rules (and probably not the spirit of the competition).

After the 1000Km touring car race at Montlhery they were rebodied with the familiar GP bodywork and then sent to Italy for the 1925 Italian Grand Prix des Voiturettes. The five team cars were successful in both endeavours.

Remarkably two of the team cars were competing at Maroubra by June 1926, where they met with limited success, being too high geared for the track. However, my car, chassis No. 4607, won the 1931 Australian Grand Prix with Carl Junker at the wheel.

After several blow-ups, the engine was replaced with a Ford V8 in which form it went on to even more fame as the Day Special, driven by Jack Day and then Gelignite Jack Murray. Many years on I was able to restore it using the engine from its sister car.

The car had all the usual attributes of GP Bugatti, as one would expect, with razor sharp steering, a ‘knife through butter’ gear box and powerful brakes. All this was complemented by precise, delicate, handling on beaded edge tyres and an engine that loved to rev courtesy of its short stroke roller bearing crankshaft (60×66 mm). Carl Junker used 7,000 revs through the gears in winning the 200-mile AGP at Phillip Island; almost unheard-of engine speeds for those days. His average speed was 110kph on the rough and dusty roads of Phillip Island.

A bit about the ‘Day Special Ford V8’ aka this Type 39 is here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/08/the-spook-the-baron-and-the-1938-south-australian-gp-lobethal/

The Type 39 #4607 shortly after its arrival in Australia- here at Maroubra, Sydney note the elaborate scoreboard and banked track in the background (B King Collection)

 

Type 40 not long after restoration, outside David Mize’s barn in Vermont. The Indo-chine number plate was useful to fuzz the Fuzz (A Rheault)

6.1928 Type 40 Bugatti touring car

Why are Bugattis always so maligned? Is it envy or a dearth of experience of these cars, or is it easy to make fun of some of their antediluvian features?

Of all Bugattis, the Type 40 has suffered the most slings and arrows. Usually passed off as the ‘Molsheim Morris Cowley’, it is a humble car with its 1500cc engine usually burdened with a none-too-light four-seater body. However, it maintains all the usual characteristics that make Bugattis a pleasure to drive, and has a cruising speed half as much again as the maximum speed of the aforementioned Morris.

David Mize was employed by the State Department of the US Government in Vietnam and was able to liberate this original factory bodied Grand Sport Type 40 which he found in the killing fields.

Following light restoration, the Type 40 saw active service on numerous International Bugatti Rallies from the mid-nineties. He and the car visited Italy, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, England, Scotland, Corsica, Sardinia, Tunisia and Australia, including Tasmania. In Europe it was driven to and from events, usually with the writer at the wheel.

Although outpaced by its more sporting brethren in a straight line, it could usually keep pace with them on twisty roads; so long as the roads did not go up-hill. An epic cross USA adventure came to a premature end when the output shaft of the gear box fractured at a point where an unfortunate modification had been made.

In all, David and I did more than 40,000 kms in the car, but this was the first time that it did not get us home. My last drive was as memorable as my first, from Provence to Luxembourg in 2015; David sadly died in 2018, aged 90, but the car remains on active service with his close friends.

The author enters the car while David Mize makes space in the narrow (and svelte) body, Corsica, 2007 (B King)

 

Ron Reid in the Sulman Singer chases Colin Bond, Lynx Peugeot s/c at Oran Park 1967 (oldracephotos.com)

7.1935 Sulman Singer

This car might seem a little out of place in this exalted company, but it is included because of its unique place in Australian motoring history.

It was my fortunate lot to be invited to drive this remarkable car at Wakefield Park at an ‘All Historic’ meeting in 2013, through the generosity of Malcolm and David Reid.

This was a car with which I had had many memorable dices in my Anzani Bugatti when it was raced by its long-term custodian, Ron, the Reid boy’s father. Ron mostly had the upper-hand, particularly if he was using a hot motor; if he had a ‘cooking’ motor, then we had great dices.

Singer Le Mans power in a light weight chassis added up to a spritely performance – sufficient for me to pass the ex-Osborne 18 l Hispano-Delage at Wakefield, definitely a case of David and Goliath. Unfortunately, my drive was curtailed by rattles in the engine – the crankshaft had broken at only 4,000 revs. Not to worry said the Reid boys, ‘that was our $10 motor fitted 10 years ago which was about to be replaced anyway’.

Tom Sulman had built the car while living in England and had many successes with it in the pioneering days of speedway in England before repatriating himself and the car to Australia post-war. Tom achieved a memorable 5th place in the 1947 AGP at Bathurst. Raced by two generations of Reids, the Sulman has probably had more starts in Australian Historic Races than any other car.

See here for a feature on Tom Sulman and his cars; https://primotipo.com/?s=sulman+singer

Mal Reid in the Sulman Singer passes George Hetrel’s Bugatti Type 35C at Phillip Island (FB)

 

‘Nash in England is the car sitting outside the factory in Isleworth on the day the first owner took delivery (G Bain)

8.1934 Frazer Nash TT Replica

Interestingly, in the Australian context, the first owner of this car was mystery man AG Sinclair. However, Sinclair had nothing to do with this car’s arrival in New Zealand in 1936; he had already sold it.

In New Zealand this extensively raced car went through numerous incarnations as a special before being bought by Gavin Bain in 1976 in restored condition, now fitted with a 6 Cylinder 2 litre ohc AC motor in place of the original 4ED Meadows.

In 1984 Gavin invited me to drive it in Dunedin in a hill climb (Bethune’s Gully) and in road races. The road race was a true ‘round the houses’ affair on the historic Wharf Circuit made famous by Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze in their Ferraris. Tony later told me that part of the circuit was rough gravel in their day – fortunately it was all bitumen by 1984.

Characteristically, Frazer Nashs are defined by the way they ‘hang the tail out’ when cornering. No matter how hard I tried, this car tracked true, possibly because of the extra two cylinders ‘up-front’ altering the weight distribution. What-ever, it was great fun to drive with its rapid gear change courtesy off the chain drive transmission and its direct steering. And I was hooked on around the houses racing; just like the Ards TTs, except that the left-right flick past the butcher’s shop in Comber was replaced by a plumbing supply company in Dunedin.

The author lines up on the front row of the grid, Dunedin Wharf Circuit 1984. Definitely round the houses (G Bain)

 

The Ferrari 212 when owned by Nino Sacilotto (M Bunyan)

9.1951 Ferrari Type 212 Export Berlinetta Chassis ‘212 0112E’

This fabulous car competed in the Mille Miglia with its original owner, Count Guerino Gerini, having already been uprated to 2.7l, Type 225 specifications.

By 1956 it was in Sydney with Nino Sacilotto, a textile agent and the Italian Consul; he also had a smart Italian restaurant in Kings Cross, where I met zabaglione for the first time. Nino drove it to Melbourne for the 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy at Albert Park. By 1959 it was with Adelaide engineer Harold Clisby who undertook an extensive mechanical rebuild after the crankshaft broke on his delivery drive.

In the sixties it was owned by Ian Ferguson, and I had the opportunity to drive it for several laps at Winton on an early Australian Ferrari Register track day. Ian and I were both Bugatti owners, and I likened it to driving a Grand Prix Bugatti with a roof. Like the Bugatti, one’s left knee rested on the gear box (5 speed with dog engagement); also housed under the unlined aluminium roof was a howling 2.7 l, 12-cylinder engine. Motoring heaven.

One quickly appreciated Sacilotto’s description of the ordeal of driving it from Sydney to Melbourne: “I started out with a full bottle of scotch wedged between the seats; by the time I got to Melbourne, the bottle was empty”.

At a later date I had a number of rides in New Zealand in Phipps and Amanda Rinaldo’s Type 166 Inter Coupe (Chassis 007 – the earliest road registered Ferrari). The contrast was stark. This car with a 2l engine and the usual interior creature comforts was civilized; sure, you could enjoy the whirring 12 cylinders, but there was none of the cacophony of the later racing car – Sydney to Melbourne would have been a pleasure; even without the whisky.

 

The 375 MM back ‘home’ in Modena (G Bain)

10.1953 Ferrari 375 MM Chassis ‘MM 0370AM’

Again, through the good offices my friend Gavin Bain, I had the opportunity to drive this beast in practice at an All Historic Amaroo meeting – we swapped drives, he drove my Bugatti.

Gavin had replaced his Grand Prix Ferrari 375 F1 with this car which had won the Buenos Aires 1000km in 1954 when driven by Umberto Maglioli and Giuseppe Farina. The fabulous Pininfarina body on it was draped over a bellowing 4.5l, 12-cylinder engine, matched to a close ratio gear box.

Gavin warned me that it had a high first gear and that the clutch was ‘in or out’ and therefore you needed to give it a few revs to get moving. I did just that and went wheel spinning up Bitupave Hill. Wow, how good is this? Real power. I drove it for about 12 laps and cautiously sped up.

By the end of my stint I felt that if I could drive it for week, I just might be able to drive it at racing speeds, but I was well aware of my limitations and felt that I could never be drifting it through corners with only inches separating me from my competitors – I was never going to be a Maglioli or a Farina.

Somewhere in Italy (G Bain)

Epilogue.

Reg Nutt, who as a young fella was riding mechanic to Carl Junker in the winning Bugatti Type 39 in the 1931 AGP, told me that he had raced 27 cars, but had never owned a racing car – an enviable record. I guess I have been lucky to have had, mostly brief, acquaintance with some pretty remarkable cars.

Photo Credits…

Bob King/Collection, Gavin Bain/Collection, Merv Bunyan Collection, Lynton Hemer, A Rheault, Selou, Hope Bartlett Collection

Etcetera…

(G Bain)

Frazer Nash being worked on at Dunedin in 1984 an below in Gavin Bain’s New Zealand yard.

(G Bain)

Finito….

(R MacKenzie)

Pedro Rogriguez BRM P126 V12 howling its way around Surfers Paradise in the summer of 1968, behind is Dick Atwood’s sister car…

This shot is by Rod MacKenzie, loved his work, especially the more creative stuff of which there is heaps- he died last year sadly, see here for some of his work; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/27/oz-racing-books/ and here for the BRM P126; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/25/richard-attwood-brm-p126-longford-1968/

 

(oldracephotos.com.au/King)

Bob Jane from Allan Moffat in Lotus Cortinas at Mountford Corner, Longford in March 1965.

Didn’t these two characters go at with considerable ferocity for a couple of decades, who won the encounters on this weekend? Click here for the Lotus Cortina; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/16/jim-clark-lotus-cortina-sebring-1964/ and here for Moff’s more formative career years; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/06/moffats-shelby-brabham-elfin-and-trans-am/

 

(I Smith)

Feel the earth move under your feet- Formula 5000 at Sandown was what hooked me into the sport.

McRae, McRae GM3 Chev, Costanzo, Lola T332C Chev and Kevin Bartlett’s partially obscured Brabham BT43 Chev, another three T332s and the rest on the run down from The Rise down into Dandy Road- Sandown Park Cup, Rothmans International Series, February 1978.

Warwick Brown won from Garrie Cooper and John Cannon- Lola T333/T332C Chev, Elfin MR8-C Chev and March 73A/751 Chev, McRae, Costanzo and Bartlett were all DNFs.

Piece on Graham McRae here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/06/amons-talon-mcraes-gm2/

 

(S Jek)

Stan Jones, Maserati 250F during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix.

Taken from the spectator foot bridge on Pit Straight, Stan was fifth in the race won by Moss’ works 250F, see here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/16/james-linehams-1956-agp-albert-park/

 

(unattributed)

The Corkscrew, Laguna Seca Can-Am 15 October 1967.

Skip Scott, McLaren M1C Chev from Frank Matich, Matich SR3 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 and Chris Amon, Ferrari 350 Can-Am V12 with a Lola T70 up top.

Bruce McLaren won that day in his M6A Chev- the first of the long series of dominant orange Can-Am Big Macs.

For Matich, his 1967 tour was a toe in the water exercise, but he never did go back with a sportscar, the SR4 chassis and Repco 5 litre 760 engine were both hopelessly late, in the event he used a sledge hammer to crack a nut in torching the local opposition in the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship- see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

 

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

John Smith, Ralt RT21 Holden, Formula Holden, Phillip Island during the opening 1990 Gold Star round in March 1990.

Schmiddy put Dave Mawer’s immaculate car second on the grid but had a mother and father of a prang during the pre-race morning warm up comprehensively destroying the car after a high speed off at Lukey Heights.

I became a Smith devotee in his Bowin P4A Formula Ford days where his dazzling car control was Bartlett-esque, he carried that pace into the Galloway ANF2 and then the ex-Scuderia Veloce/Larry Perkins Ralt RT1 he raced with both pushrod Ford and BDA Ford engines in both ANF2 and Formula Pacific- nifty that, I always thought.

The thinking drivers of that F Pac period were Alf Costanzo and John Bowe- the ‘maddies’ perhaps Andrew Miedecke, Lucio Cesario and Smith- with the latter two probably or possibly the quickest of the five over a given lap and Costanzo and JB more often victorious. Alan Jones duly noted of course.

Alf should have gone to Europe in 1969 (or did he? and returned), Smith in 1979 and Bowe and Cesario in 1981- man there was talent aplenty amongst that lot.

John boofed a few cars mind you- the RT1 was retubbed at least once, ditto one of the RT4s, ditto this RT21 but he was always ‘on it’ in a very European kinda way as was Lucio, and let’s not forget the latter was a Lancia LC2 Ferrari Group C works driver for a season or so- I really must write that story.

John’s Ralt RT4 looking a tad second hand after a difference of opinion with the Adelaide International real estate before the first Gold Star round in 1982 (SLSA)

 

(T Parkinson)

Bunbury ‘Round The Houses’ down south as the Perthies refer to Margs (Margaret River) and its surrounds.

The real 100S Austin Healey deal ‘AHS3909’ which Tony Parkinson identifies as driven by Perth disc-jockey Mike O’Rourke during the 1963 New Year weekend.

See here for more about these West Australian town venues; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/

 

(Govt Singapore)

John Walker’s Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam leads winner Graeme Lawrence, Brabham BT29 Ford FVC through the tropical jungle alongside the Thompson Road track, Singapore GP 1971.

This piece is about the Singapore GP generally but with a focus on the 1972 event; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/24/singapore-sling-with-an-elfin-twist/

 

(J Ellacott)

Beautiful John Ellacott shot at Mount Druitt in July 1957.

The two Johns, Ellacott and Medley identify the entrants as the #81 George Websdale MG TC, #9 Howard Hunt MG TA/TC Spl s/c, Jim Johnson MG TC Spl, #20 Don Wright, Citroen Spl and Gordon Stewart in the mid-engined Wheeler MG Spl s/c, and on the second row Ray Walmsley, Alfa Romeo P3 Alvis, unknown, the George Pearse Cooper MG and maybe Ken Bennett’s Austin Healey 100-4, Medley notes in the background the red Jack Robinson Jaguar in the background.

A piece on Mount Druitt is here; https://primotipo.com/?s=mount+druitt

 

(A Doney)

Soap Box Derby in Bendigo.

Nineteen-forties d’yer reckon? All of us with a billy-cart or three in our past can relate to this wonderful shot. More on billy-carts; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/10/spitty/

 

Poignant.

The I’ll-fated Rocky Tresise Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax is pushed onto the grid at Longford in March 1965.

Warwick Cumming at the rear, Lou Russo up front- two of the AF Hollins crew who always looked after Lex Davison’s cars.

A rather sad story, a ‘Greek Tragedy’ as some have described it, here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

 

(Peter Weaver Motor Sport Photography)

Bap Romano, Kaditcha Ford Cosworth DFL, Winton, 1983.

Bap won both heats of the Australian Sportscar Championship that day- I was there and still remember the raucous, sharp exhaust note of Barry Lock’s marvellous car.

It needed a bit of work from ex-Alan Jones Williams mechanic, Wayne Eckersley to get the structure and aero right but it was a jet once they got the thing sorted.

I went to several meetings just to see and hear this car.

 

(I Nicholls)

Tiger In Your Tank indeed.

Ray Parsons and Jim Clark watched by a fascinated Sandown Park crowd during the 1966 Tasman meeting.

Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax was the least competitive of all of his Tasman mounts, the two BRM P261s were the class of the field that year with Jackie Stewart taking the title convincingly.

See here for an epic on this car which was driven so well for so long after acquired by Leo Geoghegan after the Longford round which followed this Sandown event; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

 

(N Macleod)

Aussie Abroad.

Warwick Brown in Jack McCormack’s Talon MR1A Chev at Mosport during the 1975 US F5000 Championship.

He gave Mario Andretti a surprise that weekend pushing him hard in the heat, in the final he was third behind Mario and Brian Redman’s Lola T332 Chevs.

A bit about Warwick here; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/09/wb-for-73/

 

(D Simpson)

The old and the new.

There are not too many shots of Bob Jane’s second and third Mustangs together on track together as here during the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship round at Mallala.

Bob in the 1968 Shelby built Trans-Am leads John Harvey in the GT390 with Terry Allen’s Chev Camaro in shot too.

Pete Geoghegan won the race in his Mustang from Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911, Bob retired mid-race, not sure about Harves and Terry Allan, I don’t have my ATCC book to hand- folks?

1969 ATCC article here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

 

(J Ellacott)

Stunning John Ellacott work- look closely, there is so much going on in this magnificent photograph taken during the 1962 Warwick Farm 100 weekend.

Moss practiced this Lotus 21 Climax but preferred Rob Walker’s Cooper T53 so won in that from Bruce McLaren and Bib Stillwell in similar cars.

Read about the Lotus 21 here; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

 

(M Terry)

Aspendale Park 1929.

James Crooke built a race track inside his horse racing course in 1905, the first race meeting was held on 29 January 1906 making it the ‘world’s first purpose built racing circuit.’

I am intrigued as to the cars and drivers above identification folks?

See here a great piece on this Melbourne bayside motorsport 1905 to 1951 race venue, Melburnians who want to check the location should pop Albany Crescent, Aspendale into Google Maps and drive along it- it once was the track’s back-straight.

See here; https://www.hyperracer.com/history

 

(R Lambert or D Mills)

Surely Garrie Cooper was the most multi-talented man in Australian motor racing apart from Jack Brabham?

Designer, engineer, constructor of production racing cars in some scale for a couple of decades and a bit, small business owner and employer and elite level racing driver- not at the  apex of the latter of course.

Nobody has a bad thing to see about the bloke either, he was a decent, honest man of his word in a sea filled with no shortage of white-pointers.

Here he is aboard his superb Elfin 600C Repco ‘830’ 2.5 V8 during the JAF Japanese Grand Prix weekend in 1969 in this race won by

Per head of population the Elfin 600 was one of the most successful production racing cars ever built- the only model missing from the Edwardstown concerns line up was a Formula Vee variant!

Craig Sparks, Elfin 792 VW inside Bob Prendergast’s Cheetah Mk7 , Winton March 1981

 

Winton ANF2 championship round in March 1981. John Bowe, Elfin GE225 VW from Ricahed Davison’s Hardman Ford, Russell Norden’s March ‘Aryben’ 793 VW and Peter Macrow, Cheetah Mk7 Toyota. JB wrote of this car ‘Loved that car, would have liked to run it for a bit longer but my sponsor wanted to go Atlantic racing straight away which meant Ralt. I’m sure Garrie could have built an awesome Atlantic car but the time frame was crucial’

I remember looking at John Bowe’s works Elfin 792 VW car at the Winton ANF2 championship round in 1979 and going simultaneously ‘woweee’ and ‘ya missed the boat Gazza’ when first glimpsing the gleaming Ansett sponsored car, it was the year ‘all’ the production racing car manufacturers had a crack at a ground-effect car, ‘black art’ that it was at the time.

The 792 wasn’t a GE car but the GE225 VW F2 which followed it was- and was a quick machine, John Bowe rated it and then Chris Leach, his sponsor, wanted to go Formula Pacific so the car was sold sooner than ideal, so too was the MR9 Chev F5000 but it’s developmental opportunities were not at an end when Garrie died suddenly in early 1982.

I’ve often wondered what he would have achieved had he continued on, for sure the historic restoration work he had commenced would have provided valuable cash-flow as the market for production racing cars got tougher especially as the carbon-fibre era began.

The cars designed and built by Don Elliot, Tony Edmondson and Jon Porter were the real Elfin deal mind you, god bless ‘em for taking the torch forward as they did.

R.IP. GC Cooper- see here for the 792; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/10/elfin-light-aircraft/

 

Bib Stillwell at Mount Panorama aboard his Cooper T51 Climax in October 1960.

Bib owned and raced more cars than you and I have had hot dinners- the Coopers he had in this period alone takes a bit of reckoning.

This one ‘F2-18-59’ is the car he leased to Lex Davison and in which, despite its 2.2 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine, compared to the oppositions 2.5s, Lex won the 1961 Australian Grand Prix at Mallala, click here for that story; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/29/the-naughty-corner-renta-gp-winner/

 

(HRCCTas)

Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 904 leads a gaggle of cars into the Viaduct at Longford during the 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy.

Behind him is Lionel Ayers, MRC Lotus 23B Ford, Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM- Frank Matich is up front in his new Elfin 400 Olds and took the win.

Here is a piece on Hamilton’s sportsracer Porsches of this period; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

 

(Brabham Automotive)

‘Orf with his head!’

Arise Sir Jack, Sir Zelman Cowen, Australia’s Governor General completes the Knighthood ritual in Canberra, 1979.

And rather well deserved too.

 

(unattributed)

Aussies Abroad, for quite a while the case of these blokes…

Brian Muir, BMW 3 litre CSL chases Frank Gardner, Chev Camaro ZL-1 7 litre at Brands Hatch during a British Saloon Car Championship round in 1973.

Frank left Australia as a sportscar pilot and forged a great career in those things as well as single-seaters and tourers whilst Brian left Sydney as a touring car driver and mixed that in Europe with sportscar drives.

Frank returned to Oz in late 1974 whilst Brian died suddenly in England on 11 September 1983.

 

(unattributed)

The raucous bellow of the XK Jaguar engine bellows and echoes off the surrounding gums as Ron Phillips’ Cooper T38 exits Kings Bridge during the 1959 Australian Grand Prix at Longford…

Phillips, son of Wangaratta between the wars top racer Jack Phillips didn’t win that day but he won the event at Lowood in 1959.

I’ve an article largely completed on that ex-Whitehead/Jones car and tangentially the driver, I really must get on with it Ian McDonald!

 

(Castrol)

Bathurst 1000, 2019: Lee Holdsworth, Tickford Racing Ford Mustang GT…

The Mustangs brought a great new shape to V8 Supercars in 2019 with the DJR Scott McLaughlin car taking the title from Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.

Holdsworth was ninth at Mount Panorama sharing with Thomas Randle and finished tenth in the overall seasons point score with a best placing for the year third at Sandown.

 

(P Cross)

Phil West at the wheel of the Scuderia Veloce ex-Gardner Ferrari 275GTB during the 1968 Surfers Paradise 12 Hours.

He finished ninth sharing the car with George Reynolds and – the race was won by the SV Ferrari 250LM driven by the Brothers Geoghegan.

Whilst the 275GTB are somewhat iconic Phil wasn’t impressed at all, his thoughts about it are here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/24/franks-fazz/

 

(R Watson)

Bob Jane at Calder aboard his Brabham BT23E Repco circa 1968.

Janey raced single-seaters regularly circa 1964-1966, he had an Elfin Mono Ford ANF1.5 and at that stage more or less switched to touring cars but not exclusively so, when he felt like it he had a whirl in his Elfin 400 Repco, and here aboard his ex-Jack 1968 Tasman machine usually piloted by John Harvey.

This car is covered in this piece here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

Bob Jane, Elfin Type 100 Ford twin-cam ANF 1.5, Warwick Farm Tasman meeting 1966 (autopics.com)

Photo and other Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie, Sharaz Jek, oldracephotos.com, Peter Weaver Motorsport Photography, Tony Parkinson, John Ellacott, Allan Doney, Ian Nicholls, Norm Macleod, Dick Simpson, Michael Terry, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Brabham Automotive, Castrol, Richard Watson, hyperracer.com, autopics.com, S5000 Facebook

Tailpiece: Surfs Up…

(S5000 FB)

Tim Macrow testing the prototype S5000 Ligier at Phillip Island on 19 September 2019.

Lovely shot by Peter Weaver, who said all modern circuits are ugly? Weaver is the master at the Island, his work there is exceptional.

This was one of several test days at the circuit before the new categories first race at Sandown several weeks hence, click here for a feature on the class; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

Finito…

(S5000)

Stan Jones in typical press-on style aboard his Maserati 250F #2520 during the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park on 30 November- Stan The Man often wore these super short shirts when he raced, his tensed muscles were always a good indication that the cars of this era had a physicality about them the nimble mid-engined cars which followed did not quite so much.
A couple of those nimble machines were up front of this race- the Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham 2 litre Cooper T45 Climaxes finished first and second, Stan was a DNF after loss of oil pressure having completed 19 of the 32 laps- 100 miles in total.
The ‘John Comber Collection’ piece aroused plenty of interest- in particular from enthusiasts who remembered it racing at Sandown that November 1963 sans bonnet.
A volley of emails followed including this one from David Zeunert, a Melbourne Maserati enthusiast and historian- here ’tis for all to enjoy- shortly thereafter Stephen Dalton, Rob Bailey and Bob King chipped in with comments/and/or photographs- it was all great stuff which should be shared as there is some gold amongst the silver and bronze- where ‘the bronze’ is defined as stuff which is pretty well known amongst older Australian enthusiasts at least.
‘I was very fortunate to buy the Stan Jones Maserati cylinder head in a Jeff Dutton auction many many years ago, from memory he had owned it for a long time, he held an auction in a large factory in Cremorne Street, Richmond- not his famous car store in Chapel Street, South Yarra, at the time he was closing this and moving to a new outlet in Cromwell Street, South Yarra, and was raising capital for that venture.’
‘There was spirited bidding and it got close to $1,000 but hey the money is forgotten later and it is a Very Special Maserati Memory of “Stan The Man”- I have seen other original 250F pieces around, once again I think when Stan sold out there were spares that Colin Crabbe, who bought the car, did not get hold of. When Bill Leech sold his Cisitalia and Maserati 300S to Steve Forristall (Texas Wheeler racing car dealer) in the late 1980s I am pretty sure he got a spare Maserati 3 litre engine as part of the deal. Forristall only had the Maserati 300S – chassis #3055/Behra’s car back in the USA a short time before he flogged it.

Stan Jones, 250F at Sandown, St Vincents Hospital charity historic meeting during practice- look carefully and you can see the bonnet does not appear to be seated properly on its leading edge- on Sunday raceday he ran sans bonnet as shown below where Melbourne’s cooler weather kicked in- note the natty v-neck jumper (J Comber)

(R Bell Collection)

‘The Maserati Team brought a heap of spares with them for the 1956 Australian Grand Prix and Tourist Trophy races “Down Under”. Being short of money, Team Manager Nello Ugolini sold the two 300S Maserati’s soon after the race. Chassis #3059 went to Reg Smith- the father of Gary and Warren Smith – Melbourne car traders and much later a Maserati Bi-Turbo agent’s in Oakleigh (I am still to confirm this). Chassis #3055 was sold to Doug Whiteford and then in the late 1950’s early 1960’s to Bill Leech.’
‘I still have fond memories of Bill Leech driving the road registered 300S- with Victorian Rego WL333 down at Pearcedale, Bill at this stage lived in Humphreys Road, Mt Eliza, I had the pleasure of visiting Bill and viewing his Bugatti, Cisitalia and Maserati 300S all together in his garage.’
‘Another piece of Maserati trivia- for years I believed the visiting Maserati Team (two mechanics – team manager – head mechanic plus Stirling Moss and Jean Behra) has stayed at the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda but around three months ago I found out this in incorrect. I speak regularly with Adolfo Orsi in Modena, Adolfo is the grandson of the owner of Maserati from 1939 – 1968, I exchanged some rare photographs with Adolfo of the team when they were in Melbourne and surprise-surprise, he told me he has receipts of their stay in Melbourne- at The Brighton Club Hotel, then owned by the Sierakowski family, now Dan Murphys in Brighton just 300 metres down from Reg Hunt’s garage where all the team’s racing cars- plus Hunt’s and Ken Wharton’s were fettled prior to be raced at Albert Park.’
Bob King, ‘Maserati Chief Mechanic and Test Driver, was, needless to say, Guerino Bertocchi, i think another was Ermanno Lotti, who later returned to Australia to look after Reg’s 300S and then worked for my mate Ron McCallum as a machinist- very good he was too. Ron, 96 today, re-metalled one big-end bearing on the Moss 250F, which involved pulling the engine down overnight.’
Zeunert, ‘As is well known Bertocchi and the mechanics drove the cars along Brighton Road and the Nepean Highway from Reg’s workshop to Albert Park, exactly as they often did in Europe. I believe BP UK stumped up the money to enable the Maserati team- six people, five cars and a whole heap of spares, to come to Australia, BP’s local subsidiary was the Commonwealth Oil Refinery.’
‘Ken Wharton was a close friend of Reg Hunt and was the driver who suggested to Reg that he approach Maserati to buy a racing car- he ended up buying two from the Orsis in the 1950s (2.5 litre A6GCM and 250F) and the rest is history…Ken was killed in early 1957 in New Zealand’ racing a Ferrari Monza in a support sportscar event immediately prior to the NZ GP at Ardmore.

Albert Hunt admires his son’s new 250F, chassis #2516  prior to rolling it off the trailer in Elsternwick (B King Collection)

Leech 300S at Pearcedale on a Maserati Owners Club run circa 1988/9 (D Zeunert/B King Collection)

Maseratis as far as the eye can see! Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick garage- from left, a box of spares, Moss’ 300S #3059, Behra’s 300S #3055, team spare short nose 250F, Behra 250F long-nose #2521, Moss long nose 250F #?, Hunt’s short nose 250F #2516 with Hunt’s Cooper T23 Bristol at far right. DZ ‘Probably a BP PR shot, there was a cocktail party @ Hunts to welcome the team to Melbourne and one @ ‘Killara’ the Davison family farm near Lilydale- a traditional Aussie BBQ’ (R Hunt via D Zeunert Collection)

Adolfo also has the 1956 Australian Grand Prix cup awarded to Stirling Moss for his win in the 250F, I have asked Adolfo to email me pics, the Maserati 250F head is as light as a feather, the Italians were masters of the dark art of light weight foundry production, this goes right back to 1926 when Isotta Fraschini did all the special casting for the Maserati brothers for their emerging racing cars.’

‘Reg Hunt and his wife and son Graeme arrived in Australia circa 1948, Reg’s grandparents had been involved in the motor industry around Manchester in the 1890’s- I believe his grandmother raced motor bikes even back then, Reg was introduced to the family business, a motorcycle shop in Salford Road, Manchester, almost from birth running errands for pocket money before the 1930s, his parents taught him very early the good habits of thrift and saving for a rainy day.’

‘Reg was also involved in racing motor bikes however the second world war put an end to that, Reg told me he worked on tanks in England during this time of war, afterwards Reg was married with a son and was looking for a better place than the danky cold Manchester where he grew up. He  considered going to Canada but saw some motoring magazines from Australia and decided to bring the three of them ‘Down Under, no he was not a “Ten Pound Pom” to the best of my knowledge.’

‘He brought with him the bare bones of a special in suitcases to form the Hunt Special or “Flying Bedstead”, he then honed his skills and basically went on from there, I believe his parents came out after Reg settled here in Melbourne- Bert and Edna, his brother also made the journey and became an employee of Reg Hunt Motors.’
‘Reg  then bought some better race cars and eventually the two Maserati racing cars in 1954 and 1955 to race the following seasons here and in NZ, there are a million stories with Reg and I am gradually working thru his photographs and digitising them for all to see.’

‘In terms of his business, Reg started selling used cars from his first home in Noble Park, then a friend advised him to move closer to the city so he bought in Elsternwick and again did very well, he then thought he needed more exposure to the moving traffic so he rented the car park of the Church of England on the corner of the Nepean Highway and Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick- it’s now a Zagame used car outlet.’
‘Reg being Reg, he decided, as time moved on to move further down the road and gradually bought up space to create the “Golden Mile of New and Used Cars” in the 1950s, Reg once told me he knocked down over 300 houses to create his various dealerships there.’

‘He is an amazing man and still with us, my wife and i have dinner with he and his long term partner, Julia Hunt as often as we can- 97 years old this May just gone’ David concluded.

Who is the pretty boy then!? Reg Hunt looking very cool and dapper with sports jacket, flat-hat and Raybans, near the old army drill hall where the swim/basketball stadium is today, Albert Park. DZ suspects this is a pre-event AGP PR shot by ‘The Argus’ newspaper (D Zeunert Collection)

Moss’ works Maserati 250F, 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park with Guerino Bertocchi tending. Bob King thinks it may be Sil Massola by the car’s tail (B King)

 

Whiteford trailer after restoration by Kerry Manolas (R Bailey)

Stephen Dalton chips in, ‘Reg Smith was indeed Garry and Warren’s father. He originally had Smith’s Radios in Smith Street Fitzroy, but branched into the car trade as ‘Reno Auto Sales’, his race entries can be found with either of those business names as the entrant.’
‘Before the 300S he had a pair of air cooled Coopers and Jack Brabham’s 1955 AGP-winning Cooper Bristol T40 – the rear engine ‘Bobtail’ type car. He only had the 300S for about six months before trying to move it on. I’m (currently) aware of adverts in the July 1957 AMS and the June 1957 Rob Roy programme.  There was obviously no takers, until Bob Jane came along in late September/early October 1958. The sale is recorded in the 15 October 1958 Australian Motor News – a fortnightly late 1950s Auto Action type publication.’
‘Bob got the 300S after Reg had purchased a new Ford Thunderbird, then at the following weekend Jane ran the 300S at Fishermen’s Bend. Reg Smith was one of many to lose his life on Conrod Straight at Bathurst, driving a Porsche 356 during the October 1960 meeting. Graham Hoinville once stated to me that at Reg’s funeral there was talk of his generosity to the needy around his business area.’
‘My understanding is that the Leech brothers took over ownership of the Doug Whiteford 300S in or around August 1961- the car was run at the 27/8/61 Geelong Speed Trials by old and new owners. It’s recorded in the Nov 1961 AMS within the 10/9/61 Rob Roy report that Doug was having his second run in the 300S after the change of ownership.’
Now Rob Bailey, note that we all terribly biased Stan Jones fans here…
‘A long term family friend Don McDonald (Black Mac) who raced in the 1953 AGP at Albert Park always told me that Jones was the best racer of the period and would have made it overseas, Peter Brock even mentioned that Jones was one of the period drivers that “Straight lined” or “line drove”.
Regarding Rice trailers, Glenn Coad had in storage, up to a few years ago the Whiteford one all restored  sitting in a factory behind Izy Hertzog’s business in Port Melbourne, whilst the sister trailer was owned till his passing by that very fine gent John Best who would park it  around the corner from Barkers road Hawthorn East- his son Roy had it for sale several years ago.’
Derek Rice owned Rice trailers (no relation to the UK Rice trailers ) was a man of taste who acquired  from Bernard Down the Rolls Royce Phantom #lll 3AZ158 the Gurney Nutting 3 position sedanca. For many the most magnificent  Rolls-Royce or Bentley to have ever reached these shores. Rice hit hard times in the 1960s, as a child I can remember being with my father going to his home in the Murrumbeena area when he purchased the Phantom…’
‘Its interesting how Walter Baumer’s Maserati 300S book notes that the Moss/Jane car #3059 was raced in the 1956 Mille Miglia by Taruffi for second place and the same years Targa Florio (Taruffi) and also won the 1956 1,000 km Nurburgring- such a wonderful reference book…’

Bob Jane 300S- where/when folks? (unattributed)

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

Australian Motor Sports piece on the occasion of the arrival of Stan Jones’ 250F in Australia and spare 3 litre 300S engine.
Moss exits Jaguar Corner on the way to a most impressive demonstration of high speed car control during the AGP.
Credits…
Many thanks to David Zeunert, Stephen Dalton, Rob Bailey and Bob King
S5000 Facebook page, Rob Bailey, David Zeunert Collection, Reg Hunt, Bob King Collection, Ray Bell Collection, John Comber, Bill Leech Collection
Tailpiece…

(B Leech/COR via D Zeunert Collection)

Stunning shot of the visting Officine Maserati team to Australia for the Melbourne Olympic Albert Park race meetings, again at Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick garage.
From the left-Nello Ugolini, Team Manager, Emmore Manni, Mechanic usually associated with JM Fangio, Guerino Bertocchi, Chief Mechanic and Test Driver, Jean Behra, Beppe Console, Mechanic and Stirling Moss. Then Dennis Druitt, BP UK head, funds from BP allowed the Maserati entourage to Australia in full force, Ken Wharton and Reg Hunt on the far right. The 250F is Jean’s #2521.
Finito…

(Bonhams)

A couple of months ago, fifty years back Jack Brabham lost the Monaco Prix on the last corner of the last lap when he goofed his braking point for the Gasometer Hairpin- harried as he had been by Jochen Rindt who had been in ‘cruise and collect mode’ for a good percentage of the race until misfortune outted many of the dudes in front of him.

At that point, with a sniff of victory, he tigered in an amazing way- fastest bloke on the planet as he undoubtedly was at the time. Up front Jack’s comfortable cushion was whittled back by his former teammate aided and abetted by some unintended baulks by other drivers.

It is a well known story i have ventilated before, here; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/24/jochens-bt33-trumped-by-chunkys-72/ and here about Jack’s last season of racing; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

The two blokes alongside Jack in the shot above are his teammate Rolf Stommelen and on the outside the V12 Matra MS120 of Henri Pescarolo- Rolf did not qualify whilst Henri finished a splendid third, one of my most popular articles is a piece on the Matra here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/06/venetia-day-and-the-1970-matra-ms120/

Love those ‘knock on’ hubs- a carry over from BT25 perhaps? BT33 a sexy and very quick jigger which was still very competitive in Tim Schenken’s hands in 1971 (Official Brabham)

 

Nice look at Ron Taunanac’s second monocoque chassis, Jack aboard BT33 at Monaco, the first being the 1968-1969 BT25 Repco ‘760’ 4.2 V8 engined ‘Indycar’

I wouldn’t have bothered with another article on BT33 but a couple of these photographs popped up lately and are too good not to share. The other thing which intrigues me a bit are the ‘Jet Jackson’ United States Air Force fighter pilot type crash helmets Jack, Jackie Stewart and Piers Courage experimented with in the earlier months of 1970 during the Spanish, Monaco and Dutch Grand Prix weekends that year, and in other events the drivers contested.

We are only, at the start of the 1970 season, nearly three years down the path since David ‘Swede’ Savage first used the first ‘Bell Star’ in motor cycle competition in mid-1967. The design was a great step forward in driver safety, Jackie Stewart was a safely crusader as we all know, it’s interesting that he chose to trial these open style of helmets which on the face of it , pun intended, seems a retrograde step.

Jackie Stewart- who else could it be with his distinctively branded USAF helmet in early 1970. March 701 Ford (Getty)

 

Piers contemplating the next change to be made by Gianpaulo Dallara to his De Tomaso 505 during early 1970 (Getty)

Most sadly, Piers put his to the ultimate test, he was wearing it when he crashed to a most gruesome death at Zandvoort on 21 June 1970- in no sense am i suggesting a Bell Star would have saved his life I might add.

When he went off on the flat or nearly flat out curves at the back of the circuit and into the catch fencing his helmet was wrenched off with both Adam Cooper and Jackie Stewart writing that he was probably dead before the conflagration which susequently engulfed the De Tomaso 505 Ford.

After some basic research i cannot find who made these helmets, i am intrigued to know the answer to that question if any of you know it.

After Monaco Brabham and Stewart do not appear to have worn the helmets again in Grands Prix.

(B Cahier)

 

(unattributed)

Jack thinks about an inside run at Jackie during the March 1970 South African GP- Kyalami.

At this stage of the season, the first championship round of course, they are both Bell equipped- Stewart in a ‘Star’ and Brabham a ‘Magnum’- Jack won the race with the reigning World Champion back in third aboard a machine which was not one of his favourites but far from the worst GP car he ever drove.

Brabham used three helmet types that season, two Bells- a Magnum and Star plus the USAF fighter helmet.

He was a busy boy in 1970 running the full GP season, selected F2 races in a John Coombs owned Brabham BT30 Ford FVA and five or so endurance events with Matra, plus the odd one-offs, here he is jumping out of his MS650 during the 1000 Km of Brands Hatch in April still wearing the fighter helmet, but a slightly different one to that he used in Monte Carlo.

Car #3 is the Scueria Filipinetti Ferrari 512S raced to thirteenth place by Herbie Muller and Mike Parkes

 

Jack shared the car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise , the pair finished twelfth in the race won by the JW Automotive Porsche 917K raced by Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen, this being the race in which the Mexican Ace mesmerised the drenched crowd with his car control of the 450bhp machine as he flicked the big car frm lock to lock as though it was a nimble Formula Ford.

Wind the clock forward a month and Brabham had his last crack at Indianapolis in a Brabham BT32 Offy- this car was one of the BT25 Repco ‘760’ 4.2 V8 chassis modified by fitment of the turbo-charged four cylinder Offy motor- note the Bell Star in use at Indy.

This is during qualifying on 9 May, Jack was classified thirteenth from Q26, he retired with engine problems having completed 175 of the 200 laps, the race was won by Al Unser’s ‘Johnny Lightning Spl’ Colt Ford V8

Jack all ready to boogie with his Sunday best shoes on, no less. Same knock off hubs as the BT33 by the look of it

 

(Brabham Family)

 

(unattributed)

The Charade circuit just outside Clermont Ferrand was another French Grand Prix course which sorted the roosters from the feather dusters- I nearly made it there two years ago having first promised myself I would visit the place when falling for it with my nose buried in Automobile Year 18 in 1971. Drat.

Jack leads here from Jochen Rindt and Henri Pescarolo- Jochen won that day from Chris Amon and Jack with Henri fifth.

Brabham has his Bell Star on as does Henri but Jochen has swapped the full-race Star he used in 1970 more often than not for one of his old Magnums as the nature of the challenging course through the Auvergne-Rhone Alps countryside made him feel motion sickness which was solved with a change of helmet

Jochen was wearing a Bell Star on that fateful day at Monza in September but the crutch-straps of his Willans six-pointer were not items the great Austrian used- on that particular day in that particular accident he needed them badly, and divine intervention.

(Flickr)

‘It turns in ok but as I apply throttle…’ two great mates doing wonderful things together discussing the next chassis change at Zandvoort in 1970- Frank Williams and Piers Courage, note the helmet.

The car was not too flash at all in Kyalami but with each race Courage, the car’s designer Gianpaulo Dallara and Williams were improving it- expectations of both Williams and Courage were high for 1970 as the second-hand Brabham BT26 Ford they raced in 1969 had proved Piers’ place was right up front.

At Zandvoort Courage was running seventh from Q9 ahead of John Miles in a works Lotus 72 (below) when the accident occurred on lap 23- there was not enough of the wreck intact to determine whether the cause was cockpit/component/tyre.

(Twitter)

Pretty enough car which was progressively ‘getting there’, that oil cooler locale is sub-optimal, some revs lost perhaps in top speed. Dallara did get the hang of this racing car thing didn’t he?

In Australasia we had three visits from Piers and Sally Courage aka Lady Curzon, Earl Howe’s daughter, the couple and Piers pace and personality endearing them to all.

In 1967 the #1 BRM Tasman P261 2.1 V8 seat was occupied by Jackie Stewart (apart from Teretonga) with Richard Attwood, Courage and Chris Irwin sharing the second seat, the seasoned Attwood performing best.

In fact that year was a character building one for the Courage Brewing scion, it was said he was ‘over driving’ and despite John Coombs supposedly advising he get out before he killed himself the plucky Brit bought the McLaren M4A Ford FVA he had raced for Coombs that season and headed off south with a couple of FVAs funded by savings, some sponsorship from Courage, a loan from his father and a deal with Coombs which deferred payment for the car until the end of the series.

He had a brilliant 1968 summer with the Les Sheppard prepared 205 bhp car amongst the 2.5s, demonstrating all the speed which had been always apparent but with a much bigger dose of good judgement in the series of eight races over just as many weekends. He blotted his copybook at Pukekohe on the first day of practice but after Les ‘read the riot act’ his performances were very good to brilliant.

Teretonga 1967, BRM P261 2.1 V8, DNF engine after 53 laps- Clark won in his Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre from Attwood in the other BRM  (Ian Peak Collection)

 

Piers third and Chris Amon fourth with a deeply appreciative and enthusiastic Warwick Farm crowd at the end of the 1968 Warwick Farm 100- McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Ferrari 246T. Up front were the Team Lotus duo of Clark and Hill in Lotus 49 Ford DFWs (B Thomas)

 

Teretonga 1969- Derek Bell, Ferrari 246T from Graham Hill, Lotus 49B Ford DFW and Piers, Brabham BT24 Ford DFW. Piers took a splendid win that day from Hill and Amon (Steve Twist Collection)

Whilst fun in the sun is part of Tasman lore- and fact, there was plenty of pressure on a small equipe such as the Courage outfit to prepare the equipment and race it weekly, for the most part on unfamiliar circuits all of which were well known to his main competition- Clark, Hulme, Gardner, Hill to name a few.

His season ending win at Longford is still spoken about in reverential tones by those who were there- it literally pissed down with Piers legendary bravery coupled with a deftness of touch on one of the most daunting road circuits by then still in use in the world- whilst noting it was sadly the last time the circuit was used too.

In many ways the campaign ‘re-launched’ his career. Adam Cooper wrote ‘Thanks to the extensive press coverage his exploits received, Piers’ reputation was in better shape than he could have predicted. He was a failure (not entirely fair in that he was fourth in the 1967 European F2 Championship behind Ickx, Gardner and Beltoise despite pinging off too many bits of real estate) who had made himself into a hero. Those who had paid closer attention noted that his solo campaign also reflected an incredible determination and a hitherto unrecognised ability to organise. Even before Longford he’d been approached by Tim Parnell about renewing his relationship with BRM. Tim had seen the Courage revival at first hand, and was impressed.’

Back in at Slough Frank Williams was readying the Brabham BT23C FVA for the 1968 Euro F2 Championship, in addition he had his BRM ride and a personal retainer with Dunlop, he was away…

Rather than prattle on now about his Tasman exploits lets do ‘Piers in The Pacific’ soon- his Tasman Cup runs in 1967-1969 in BRM P261, McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Brabham BT24 Ford DFW respectively.

Bell Star…

Dan, Nurburgring 1968 as seen by (P-H Cahier)

 

There was no shortage of interest in Dan Gurney’s fancy-schmancy new Bell Star over the German Grand Prix weekend at the Nurburgring over the 4 August 1968 weekend, understandably so- mind you, he used the helmet at Indy that year too- May of course so it was already’out there’.

Dan was ninth in his Eagle Mk1 Weslake, doubtless his head was a bit more dry than the competition- up front it was Stewart from Hill and Rindt, Matra MS10 Ford, Lotus 49B Ford and Brabham BT26 Repco in a day of challenging rain.

But the first Bell Star use credit seems to go to David ‘Swede’ Savage in his motor cycle racing days, here is below at Santa Fe in 1967 so equipped- 9 June to be precise.

Perhaps the first life saved by the technology was that of Evel Knievel who came terribly unstuck upon landing when attempting a motorcycle jump over the Caesar’s Palace Casino Las Vegas fountains (43 metres) that 31 December, breaking and crushing countless of his bodies bones- but not his head!

If Swede’s 9 June use of the Bell Star is not ‘the first’ i am intrigued to know who has that honour and its date.

(Forever Savage)

 

(Forever Savage)

 

It was a pretty happy month of May for All American Racers when three Eagles filled the top four places of the Memorial Day classic, Bobby Unser won from Dan Gurney (above) with Denny Hulme fourth, the interloper was Mel Kenyon’s third placed Gebhardt Offy.

Of historic interest to we Eagle buffs is that the three Tony Southgate designed Eagle Mk4’s were powered by quite different engines- Unser’s used an Offy Turbo four, whilst Dan used a pushrod fuel injected Gurney-Weslake V8 whereas Denny in the other works car used the Ford DOHC ‘Indy’ V8- the options were certainly well covered, were it not for a rear tyre puncture minutes from the end of the race which befell Hulme, it would have been a clean sweep of ‘the podium’ placings.

Oh yes- Dan’s Bell Star, first use of the helmet in car racing.

Photo and Reference Credits…

Official Brabham/Brabham Family Collection , Automobilsport, MotorSport, LAT, ‘Piers Courage: Last of The Gentleman Racers’ Adam Cooper, ‘Forever Savage’ Facebook page, Ian Peak and Steve Twist Collections on The Roaring Season

Tailpiece…

(LAT)

Another one that got away.

Brabham exits Druids Hill with millimetre precision during the 1970 British Grand Prix- he had passed and was driving away from Jochen to what seemed a certain win but for a shortage of fuel hundreds of metres short of the chequered flag. Oh yes, Bell Star equipped.

Finito…

 

(L McGrath Collection)

The photographer, Mr McGrath, has composed and executed a brilliant oh-so-wide format shot of the battle for outright honours between Alec Mildren’s leading Cooper T51 Maserati and his pursuer, Lex Davison in his new but old-school, glorious front-engined Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre during the 1960 Australian Grand Prix.

The shot really has drama doesn’t it?

The action is framed by the crowd in both the foreground and background, half of them are sun-smart- love the ‘coolie-hats’ (am I allowed to say that these days?) but my favourite headgear is the ‘Cockie’ to the left in the worn Akubra. Checkout the two ‘thrill-seekers’ atop the Castrol sign filming the action- hopefully there was no involuntary swan-dive before the end of the race. Marvellous shot despite the flat as a tack ex-airfield terrain McGrath had to work with.

The other shots herald the death of Lotus 12 Lycoming ‘351’ aka ’Sabakat’ in a preliminary event after the fearless Ern Tadgell lost control of one of the biggest piles of merde ever allowed through a scrutiny bay in this country.

The inspecting fellas must have misplaced their guide dogs that day even if I try to apply the standards of the day which were far less risk averse than in the litigious lilly-white politically correct world in which we live today.

(L McGrath Collection)

 

(AAA)

Crop duster pilot/entrepreneur Tadgell had wedding tackle of porn-star proportions to drive the Lycoming aero-engined monster he created from the delicate little flower imported from England, but in the end the laws of physics got the better of him- either a rear hub broke or the car ran wide on a corner, it then rolled, throwing Ern clear whereupon the whole lot burned to death in a conflagration Guy Fawkes would have been happy with. Tadgell, thankfully and luckily, lived to fight another day in an exciting life lived to the absolute full.

(AAA)

 

(L McGrath Collection)

‘Far-canal, what are we going to do with it now!?’ seems to be the issue at hand.

Digger at right awaits instructions, which are just about to be provided by the ‘fog-horn’ wielding Queensland Racing Drivers Club official in blazer and tie (must have been hot in that). The lean fella at left in the white overalls appears to be a crew-member, he is holding a cast iron brake rotor which has survived as has the steel spaceframe chassis, or parts of it anyway.

You can see the rear of the chassis frame- it is upside down with the rear facing us. There are a couple of driveshafts and remains of wheels, a fuel tank at right, a coil spring and the remains of some of the torn fibreglass bodywork. The Lycoming 7.86 litre six cylinder engine was constructed mainly of light alloy, so it, and the Cheshunt made cast components melted in what was a decent old bonfire.

Whilst the wreck was deemed beyond economic repair back then many a modern ‘rebuild’ has started with far less than this, a nose badge or vinyl decal will do. As you will see from the Sabakat story attached Graham Howard would have been delighted to have had these discarded, very well heat-tempered chassis parts when he chased the remains of this car in the early seventies before building the faithful replica we all know and love today; https://primotipo.com/2019/08/22/just-add-lightness/

(L McGrath Collection)

 

(AAA)

Mildren and Davison race to the line- in the end the 2.5 litre Maserati four triumphed over the brawny 3 litre Aston Martin six in that final sprint, a well deserved win for Alec, this time Davo’s famous AGP luck did not not quite hold by half cars length, with the epitome of a sportsman gallant and generous in defeat. Click here for a full report of the race towards the end of this feature on Mildren’s Cooper; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Credits…

Lindy McGrath Collection, ‘AAA’- Aussie Automotive Archives

Race Footage (no sound)…

Tailpiece…

(L McGrath Collection)

It burned and burned, famously, the start of the AGP was delayed so much that Alec Mildren was able to repair his Cooper’s broken driveshaft in time to take the start- and subsequently win the race.

Ernie was a very lucky boy that day but that car…

Finito…

James Courtney’s Dallara F302 Toyota-Toms races to a good win in the first leg of the Fiftieth Macau Grand Prix on 16 November 2003…

He also led the second leg, and set the weekend’s fastest lap until a puncture eliminated him on the races eleventh lap, Nicholas Lapierre won, and having finished second in the contest’s earlier race won the GP overall- the field included later F1 drivers/test pilots Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nelson Piquet Jnr, Robert Kubica and Ryan Briscoe, a total of thirty contestants in all.

One of the British F3 Championships top runners in 2001 and 2002, James was rebuilding his career after a massive, very high speed shunt at Monza aboard an F1 Jaguar R3 Cosworth came close to ending his life.

That year he was mixing an F3 campaign in Jaguar’s team with Grand Prix car test duties- his F3 season started with a bang- he won the first round of the British F3 Championship.

Courtney, Jaguar R3 Cosworth at Silverstone in 2002 as is the shot below. Malcolm Oastler designed car was launched on 4 January that year

Race drivers for Jaguar in 2002 were Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa, the cars designated R3/R3B were powered by Cosworth CR-3 and CR-4 3 litre 72 degree V10s.

The team were testing at Monza on July 2- the circuit at which James made his F1 test debut the year before when he suffered a rear suspension failure at 10.14 am-  he was on the brakes at 330 kmh when a wishbone pulled away from its gearbox mounting, pitching him into the barriers at 306 kmh- the machine hit the fence so hard that it bounced away from the wall at 70 kmh- the impact was estimated to have a force of 67G, an incredible impact for the body to absorb.

Unconscious, his first sight was Michael Schumacher who was testing his Ferrari at the same time- James freaked out when he found he could not move the right side of his body and was bleeding from his eyes.

He later said ‘It took me a year to recover, i couldn’t walk without getting a migraine- which anything would set off.’ He also said that he could not see for weeks after the accident, and that he decided at that point never to be scared of having a crash again, stating ‘Its over if you are scared. Its all or nothing’ in an amazing exercise of mind over matter.

He did test again the following year but his F1 chance was gone.

The young Australian, born in Penrith between Sydney and the Blue Mountains on 29 June 1980 was amongst the brightest of young kids with the most prodigious of raw ability amongst his generation and the steepest of career trajectories.

In Karting he won locally before finishing second in the 1994 Australian National Kart Championship, at 15 he moved to Italy to pursue a racing career winning the World Junior Karting Championship and CIK International Championship in 1995 and was World Formula A champion in 1997.

Into 1999 he shifted from Italy to England to race cars becoming a member of the works Duckhams Van Diemen Team finishing fifth in the British FF Championship, in fourth was fellow Aussie Marcos Ambrose, the title won by Nicholas Kiesa’s Mygale. In addition he was second in the Formula Ford Festival- he went all the way in 2000  winning the championship aboard a works Van Diemen.

A veritable youth or kid- date and Kart spec welcome? (Aaron Noonan/an1images.com)

Courtney’s skills and Allan Gow’s management bagged him a place in the Jaguar Junior Team for 2001 contesting the British F3 Championship driving a Dallara 301 Mugen-Honda.

Whilst he won at the Silverstone season opener it was consistency which placed him fourth in the title chase won by Taka Sato from Anthony Davidson and Derek Hayes. In a year of dominance Sato won twelve of the twenty-six races- all three of the drivers raced Dallara 301 Mugen Hondas.

British F3 Championhip, last round- Silverstone, 29 September 2001, Dallara F301 Mugen-Honda. A pair of fourths that weekend, Taka Sato the winner of the race and championship (P Spinner-Getty)

Into 2002 Courtney again raced for Carlin Motorsport racing a Dallara 302 Mugen-Honda as did title winner Robbie Kerr- Courtney won four races whilst Kerr won nine and finished ahead of Courtney and Heikki Kovalainen.

The gruelling championship which has produced so many talented drivers down the decades comprised two races at each of thirteen venues, a format which tests prospective future F1 stars thoroughly.

Courtney circa 2002 (Getty)

2003 ended up being a rebuild year noting the physical aspects the Monza accident inflicted upon the young charger.

James chose to do the Japanese F3 Championship racing a Dallara F302 with punchy Toms Toyota 3S-GE engine- Mugen-Honda and various Toyota tuners engines were the most common in Japan with Three Bond Racing using Nissan SR20VE motors.

In another year of dominance James won thirteen races in the ten circuit tour finishing in front of Paolo Montin and Tatsuya Kataoka.

If there were any doubts about the loss of Courtney’s raw pace in ‘that shunt’ it was well and truly dispelled when all of the stars of the year met at Macau for the F3 ‘Grand Final.’

Macao GP 2003 Dallara F302 Toyota, #32 is Hiroki Yoshimoto

None of the 2002 F3 brigade got F1 seats in 2003- James Courtney, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nelson Piquet Jnr, Robert Kubica and Ryan Briscoe- all would get their chance of course and two of them did, and still do rather well!

Toyota continued to support his career in 2004 and 2005, he contested the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship for sixth and second places respectively aboard Toyota Team TOM’s Supras.

His first appearance ‘back home’ in quite a while was with the Holden Racing Team in 2005  he contested the endurance races partnered by Jim Richards who was perfectly placed to assist the Supercar ‘newbee’ with the nuances of these powerful, heavy, demanding cars.

Courtney aboard the Toyota-Toms Supra during the All Star 200 at Fontana in December 2004, he shared the car with Tatsuya Kataoka (L Miller-LAT)

 

Courtney at the 2010 Sydney 500- James won the title whilst Jonathon Webb and Lee Holdsworth took the round race wins. Ford FG V8 Supercar- 5 litre pushrod V8 circa 465Kw @ 7,000rpm, 6 speed manual sequential gearbox, 1355Kg (Getty)

Courtney raced for the Stone Brothers Ford operation from 2006 to 2008 taking his first round win at Queensland Raceway in 2008- he won the title aboard a Dick Johnson Racing Ford FG Falcon in 2010 taking five wins and finishing ahead of 2009 champ Jamie Whincup.

In recent Covid 19 times he has been in the news with a shift of team- probably the last spin of the Supercar Roulette Wheel for the soon to be forty year old.

Still, this article isn’t about V8 Supercars- i think its great that a young fella from out west has forged a career of his passion for the better part of thirty and a bit years- his lifestyle on the Gold Coast would be splendid but man what couldaa been but for that testing accident, at that speed, at that circuit- i always thought at the time he really was the goods and looked a good bet to go all the way towards the top of the pyramid…

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

James Courtney back to his roots at Queensland Raceway in 2015 aboard one of the Karts he had commenced to manufacture and market that year.

Photo Credits…

Aaron Noonan and an1images.com, Getty Images, P Spinner-LAT, Crash, L Miller-LAT, motorsport.com,

Tailpiece…

The broken rear wing element of the R3 with Courtney aboard earlier in the year is almost a portent of rear end of the car things to come soon after- Silverstone 2002.

Finito…

(M Bisset)

I got a chuckle when i came upon this harvester on Albert Park Lake last Tuesday morning, i thought my farmer brother in law had taken a wrong turn at San Remo and somehow ended up in the lake…

My run or walk is usually well before dawn, this craft and the waste truck into which it loads its haul of reeds and weeds has been moored near The Pavilion for a couple of weeks, it was the first time i’d seen it in action.

It moves along too, its not likely to set any speedboat course records mind you.

(Parks Victoria)

 

Yachts racing on the Albert Park Lagoon (The Illustrated Australian News 5 July 1879)

 

Les Maloney’s ‘How-Do’ skiff on the lake in 1954 (L Maloney)

 

‘Darren Muir Bad Influence Blown Lites Team’ Albert Park Lake 1970s at a guess (paranoid)

 

Jacques Villeneuve ’rounds up a few Bertrams’ in his Williams FW18 Renault during the first Albert Park AGP weekend in March 1996 (AGPC)

The Lake was home to yachts and speedboats long before racing cars were let loose for the first time in 1934, and then officially in 1953- click here for a brief history of early racing at Albert Park; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/01/1956-argus-trophy-albert-park-reg-hunt-and-lex-davison-maserati-250f-and-a6gcm-ferrari-tipo-500/

On my many laps of the place I’ve often thought an elite level boating event run over the GP weekend made sense, it seems plans were afoot to do just that in 1996 until the greedy eff-wun pericks stepped in the way.

Bob Carter wrote on OzBoatRacers that ‘The real story about the demise of Albert Park Lake (as a speed boating venue) has nothing to do with water depth.’

‘I promoted the Aussie F1 Series for five years and ran a round on Albert Park Lake and what is now Docklands. I was closely involved with Melbourne Major Events (the people who run the GP F1 race and bikes at Phillip Island) to run a round of the F1 powerboat series in Melbourne at either Albert Park Lake or Docklands.’

‘Docklands was really too small a venue so Albert Park Lake was the choice. The concept was to run at Albert Park in conjunction with the first F1 car race in Melbourne (in 1996).’

‘We brought Nicolo di San Germano (world UIM- Union Internationale Motonautique F1 promoter) to Melbourne to check the Albert Park venue and met the people from Major Events. We were on track from the Melbourne end but the deal fell over when the F1 car people sad no to the boats as a support event- i understood they felt a bit threatened by the spectacle of the F1 boats. Never before has there been a World F1 car GP and a World F1 boat GP staged at the same venue on the same weekend’ how good would that have been on an ongoing basis!? And yes, i know, the pedestrian pontoon across ‘The Neck’ could not have been put in place- big deal.

Carter finishes his piece in tapatalk.com by observing ‘The knockback ended any chance of ever running an F1 boat GP on Albert Park Lake. The Act of Parliament that underscores the GP at Albert Park specifies that there can only be one motorsport event in the Albert Park parkland precinct each year. This restriction was intended to prevent the venue becoming a motorsport track for cars and bikes and no doubt power boats.’

A current F1 boat (unattributed)

 

Adelaide Festival Centre launch of the 1985 AGP event by South Australian Premier John Bannon- he is aboard Jack Brabham’s 1966 World Championship winning Brabham BT19 Repco (unattributed)

 

Adelaide AGP 1985, the end of lap 1 with Patrick Tambay’s Renault RE60B chasing Marc Surer’s Brabham BT54 BMW, an Arrows A8 BMW, McLaren MP4/2C TAG-Porsche and Ferrari 156/85 (unattributed)

 

Longtime former Bob Jane racer John Harvey giving current Bob Jane racer Gerhard Berger some good old fashioned Aussie hospitality in one of the Group C support races in 1985. Kevin Bartlett in the Mitsubishi Starion ? and who else is back there in the Alfa  GTV6 with Charlie O’Brien in the other BMW 635 CSi? What happened there Harves? (unattributed)

 

Who could forget Niki’s last GP, McLaren MP4/2C TAG-Porsche- he did two AGP’s back to back, the 1984 F Pacific event in a Ralt RT4 Ford BDD, DNF after a prang with a back marker and DNF in the race won by Keke Rosberg’s Williams FW10 Honda (unattributed)

The signing of Albert Park as the host venue for the F1 Australian Grand Prix split both the motorsport community and Melburnians within a bulls-roar, or rather a Vee-Ten scream of Albert Park down the middle.

We all loved the Adelaide AGP. Full stop.

The Victoria Park venue, the road circuit created thereon using a mix of existing roads and bespoke bits, the carnival weekend with yer mates away from the little sabre-toothed tigress and the kiddy-wids, the fantastic variety of support events, the way ‘Big Country Town’ Adelaide embraced the F1 Circus- it was just sensational, no other word does it justice.

But the cost of the race, in a democracy at least, can be, and often is a political football.

South Australian Labour Government (our progressive party) Premier John Bannon achieved a political coup when he secured Bernard Charles Ecclestone’s signature on a contract to stage an F1 race in Adelaide from 1985- race fans were orgasmic with delight at finally having a world championship event here, the last truly F1’esque Tasman Series was run in 1969- it was a very long time since current F1 drivers and cars raced in Australia.

Bannon ran an expansionary, imaginative administration, but, like Labour’s Victorian Premier John Cain, the push to make their State Banks more entrepreneurial was to their, and taxpayers considerable cost when the lack of sufficient oversight and due diligence of the enterprises investments meant the banks had to be re-capitalised or bailed out after unbelievable clusterfucks of political and management incompetence.

By mid 1992 Bannon was well and truly in the political merde to such an extent that he had to resign as Premier that September. In Victoria similar problems impacted both John Cain and his successor, Joan Kirner, and so the unthinkable seemed possible, Liberal (our conservative party) leader, Jeff Kennett, who had already lost two Victorian elections and was pretty much regarded as a bit of a joke, seemed half a chance in the next state poll.

Ecclestone and Bannon, apart from their business relationship also had good personal rapport, but South Australia’s budget problems meant the future contract to retain the AGP had still not been finalised.

By the reaction of Judith Griggs, CEO of the Australian GP Corporation and Ron Walker, Jeffrey Kennett has just given the chequered flag to a Save Albert Park cyclist, June 1994. Kennett was and is a character, he ran a successful advertising agency in Burwood before entering politics, so he innately understood the needs of business unlike most of our ‘political elite’. Refreshingly he wasn’t the Australian politician stereotype either- that is a ‘St Fondles’ educated narcissistic ex-lawyer permanently physically aroused by their own ongoing pointless cunning linguistics which never deliver any policy substance or outcome. Kennett was the real deal, an absolute goer who marshalled a very effective Cabinet and got the state moving again with sound economic management and sensible investment in infrastructure which still serves the joint well a couple of decades on (J Lamb)

 

Grand Prix enthusiasts gather in support of Albert Park circa 1994…The biggest of these anti-Albert Park AGP rallies attracted over 20,000 people, the SAP were still generating a monthly newsletter twenty years after the first race- they may well still do so (unattributed)

 

AGP start 1996 with Jacques Villeneuve getting the jump over teammmate Damon Hill- Williams FW18 Renault and the two Ferrari F310s of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine (J Atley)

 

Hill, one of the Bennettons, a Ferrari wing, Rubens Barrichelo’s Jordan 196 Peugeot on the ground and the similar airborne car of Martin Brundle indulging in a spot of lap 1, turn 3 Jordan aerobatics which did not do the car much good but fortunately left the plucky, popular Brit unharmed. The other Bennetton on the outside, and the rest (Herald Sun)

Former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, partner in local builder/developer Hudson Conway, Federal Treasurer of the Liberal Party, head of Melbourne Major Events, friend and ally of Jeff Kennett- Ron Walker, sniffed an opportunity with Bannon marginalised in the sin-bin and renewed his regular onslaughts upon Bernie to shift the race from Adelaide to Melbourne, and so it was, over a period of months, a contract was negotiated and signed, and then kept secret for a year at Bernie’s request.

By that time (from October 1992) Kennett was Premier of Victoria- a job he did brilliantly for two three year terms, only bulk hubris cost him another one or two terms, and his Liberal Party buddy, Dean Brown headed a government in South Australia- Ron Walker’s terrible ‘kiss of death’ the day after Brown’s election win on 14 December 1993 was to inform him the Vics had knocked off Adelaide’s tourism jewel in the crown- his devastation and that of South Australians generally was complete. Poor ole Jeffrey was button-holed in the streets of Adelaide for decades by antsy South Australians, the fact that he was President of the Hawthorn Football Club didn’t help his cause of course!

Both South Australia’s and Victoria’s economies at the time were in dire trouble- the AGP was important economically but also symbolically to both states, whilst anger raged in South Australia about the loss of the Grand Prix even greater passion was being vented in Melbourne about its win.

Amongst the best places to live in Melbourne are parts of South Melbourne, Albert Park and Middle Park, the trouble for Jeffrey was that the good citizens of these suburbs all vote for the Liberal Party, they were Jeff’s own supporters many of whom were well connected and rather vocal using about it. The poor bastard couldn’t go to a Dribble Party gig- the most boring gatherings on the planet mind you, having done my share in the cause of commerce, without being bailed up by some well nourished chappie in tan trousers and blue blazer whinging about that ‘bloody race in my park ould boy’.

Even angrier of course were the self-righteous left wing, arty-farty, commo, poofter bastard, tree-hugging whale kissers (to use a Sir Les Patterson descriptor in part) living in St Kilda, Prahran, Windsor and Port Melbourne- Jeffrey didn’t give a rats about this mob mind you as these nasty folks voted Labour, or even worse were the flower pot mob living in Pixie Land at the bottom of the garden- they of course voted Green.

Reg Hunt, Maserati 250F leads Lex Davison, Ferrari 500/625 during the 48 lap 150 mile March 1956 ‘Argus Trophy’ at Albert Park won by Hunt from Davo and Kevin Neale in the Maserati A6GCM 2.5 litre Hunt raced throughout 1955- tickets available for this meeting as below (unattributed)

 

 

Stirling Moss winning the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix aboard a Rob Walker Cooper T45 Climax in the final weekend of racing before the modern era, in November 1958. Concerned citizens living closely to the park in the mid-nineties, other than old-timers, could quite reasonably argue they bought in the area to enjoy the peace and serenity of the park not the complete opposite…(unattributed)

And so it was that the ‘Save Albert Park’ group was formed by February 1994 of a very large unholy alliance of people with absolutely nothing in common and completely opposite political views but who united in their hatred of any change to their park including a race week which was going to impact upon the normal progress of their Mercedes four-wheel-drive or wheezy Peugeot 504 as the case may be, in and around their lovely bayside suburbs.

Some of the ‘SAP’ public rallies were anti-Vietnam War in size for chrissakes, the Save Albert Park nutbags endurance and commitment had to be admired though as they maintained a DAILY vigil with a couple of folks sitting at a table knitting Melbourne Footy Club scarves whilst sipping lots of Earl Grey tea surrounded by anti-GP posters near the corner of Queens Road and Albert Road for well over a decade after the race commenced.

The amazing thing is that despite the fairly dubious economic net benefits of the Gee Pee to the state, which even I struggle to justify, the race has bi-partisan support- every now and again some pollie gives it a bit of a slap but the race, thankfully is with us and as a Windsor dwelling tree-hugging nuffy I am very thankful for that!

The park is a wonderful communal resource made better by Jeff’s investment in many improvements as part of the quid pro quo with the locals including regular harvesting of the reeds which otherwise cause sclerosis of da lake, said harvester is about where I came in with this strange piece of boats, cars and politics.

The ever entertaining Glen Dix does his thing as Damon Hill crosses the line to win the first Albert Park F1 AGP in his Williams FW18 Renault 3 litre V10- the venue having hosted Formula Libre AGPs in 1953- won by Doug Whiteford’s Talbot-Lago T26C and 1956- the victor Stirling Moss, Maserati 250F (J South)

 

Damon Hill had the unique experience of winning the last AGP in Adelaide in November 1995- the last race of the season, and the first AGP at Albert Park in March 1996- the first race of the season, here he is in Dequetteville Terrace in Adelaide, Williams FW17B Renault V10 3 litre (unattributed)

 

(Gay Dutton poster art)

Due process and managing the punters expectations…

The politics and management of nudging public opinion back in the direction of racing in the park started in February 1993 with the ‘Back To The Lake’ public event in which 250-300 ‘classic cars’ did some laps of a circuit created by roads on the west side of the lake- not the full ‘old circuit’ using perimeter roads mind you.

I had an Elfin NG Formula Vee and ASP 340 Toyota Clubman at the time and ran the latter in this event about which I remember very little, other than that track time was minimal. It was a beautiful day which attracted lots of spectators and plenty of ‘wotizzit mister’ questions about ones car which was nice.

The public policy or political point is that the gig wasn’t about the competitors but was rather an important step in the process carefully constructed by Melbourne Major Events with ‘Field Marshall Walker’ and his small band of Lieutenants at the helm heading in the direction of a prize- racing in Albert Park which was made slightly easier to achieve thanks to a confluence of political events in North Terrace and Spring Street.

More practically in this process, in mid 1994, the new government commissioned a ‘Master Plan for Albert Park’ from The Hassell Group (town planners and architects) and Melbourne Parks and Waterways, who had administrative responsibility for Albert Park, as to it’s redevelopment in the future.

It would only be of interest to locals but shows the professionalism which was deployed to make the precinct a vastly superior community resource for all than it was before the hundred million dollars was spent.

Sydney. Where did you say? Really…

(unattributed)

Every now and again the Sydney Morning Herald runs a story about the Harbour City lifting the race from Melbourne, but I’m not so sure that will ever happen.

These pissant GPs which have popped up in the last decade or so in places nobody has heard of or wants to visit has kept the price of having a GP very high.

Perhaps in a post Covid 19 world some GPs will choose to not renew their contracts which may create, say again, may create some competitive tension in Australia, and let’s not forget the good ‘ole Melbourne/Sydney rivalry which is never too far below the surface.

The last bit of nonsense about a Sydney GP speculated in 2015 about a race using the bridge, the Cahill Expressway and Bridge Street before jumping onto York Street and back across the bridge – I thought it was completely bonkers taking as it would, a big chunk of the track away from spectators, the bridge that is.

But, ever constructive and helpful, here is the best GP track on the planet- walk it the next time you are in Sydney and tell me what you think, I lived in Millers Point for a decade from 2003 and this was my every other day early morning run route- it is a locals layout with backdrops which simply cannot be bettered.

The start of the race will on ‘The Hungry Mile’ on Hickson Road, a nice bit of local history as it is the place unemployed dock workers queued for a days work to load a ship during The Depression, hence ‘The Hungry Mile’ epithet.

We then have a straight run between the Barangaroo Parklands towards town on the right with the steep stone escarpment to the drivers left as they jostle for ‘Napoleons’- a medium sharp left hander into Napoleon Street which rises gently straight for 100 metres to a tight left-hander at ‘Kents’.

Kent Street continues to rise gently as the drivers have tall apartment and office buildings on the left and open space on the right as they head north back towards the harbour, the road flattens as they pass Stamford Apartments on the left and Observatory Tower on the right.

On the approach to Observatory Hill Park on the high escarpment to the right the cars pass The Rocks Fire Station on the right and my old apartment building ‘Highgate’ on the left before doing a sharp left- and then right into High Street before heading downhill gently and up the other side again- this stretch is open to the drivers left with Barangaroo below and has Harbour Trust housing on the right side of the street- this stretch is about 400 metres long before turning right into Argyle Street for a 1 km run past the Lord Nelson on the left and again Observatory Hill park on the right towards Circular Quay in the distance.

This section of the track is very open- there is heaps of space for spectators and stands to the left and natural vantage points from Observatory Hill down to the track- with the Hero of Waterloo an easy stroll for a quick ale- its one of Sydney’s oldest pubs.

Argyle Place is straight and flat for the first 500 metres and starts to drop gently downhill towards Circular Quay at Cumberland Street- the sound of the cars going through The Argyle Cut will be unbelievable- now we are in the heart of The Rocks, braking hard and going gently downhill to turn left into George Street- the drivers will have a glimpse of the blue-green Quay waters and a Manly Ferry perhaps- after the left the road is straight for 500 metres before jinking right onto Hickson Road and then what will be a very fast open right-hander parallel with Campbells Cove- there are heaps of ‘money shots’ along this stretch across to the Opera House, Bridge and North Sydney.

The road then sweeps open left fast past Dawes Point itself and then runs along close to and parallel with the Harbour before turning left at Pier One- there is a hotel on the right and heaps of open space to the left for spectators and high above on the escarpment from the bottom of Lower Fort Street looking down- plum, stunning viewing actually, my seat might be somewhere here.

The drivers are now onto the last third of the track, which comprises a 500 metre straight, opening to a flat gentle right past the Walsh Bay wharves on the right and the Hickson Road eateries and Sydney Theatre Company on the left before a medium fast left at the Towns Place intersection- we are still on Hickson Road and then a fast blast through the short tunnel with the Palisade Hotel high above us and then 500 metres before hitting the start finish line and commencing another lap.

Walk it folks and then let me know if that isn’t potentially the best city road circuit on the planet. Ok then second best after Monaco.

(reddit.com)

Mark Webber’s Williams FW26B BMW during its 2005 Sydney Harbour Bridge runs the week before the AGP. https://primotipo.com/2015/08/29/mark-webbers-sydney-harbour-bridge/

Etcetera…

Circa 1970’ish i guess with the Arts Centre spire in St Kilda Road in the background- the water never looks that blue to me.

 

One for you many aircraft nutters.

RAAF Westland Wapitis from Point Cook, site of the 1948 AGP BTW- formation flying over Albert Park Lake circa 1930- planes used for, amongst other things Forests Commission of Victoria, aerial bushfire reconnaissance.

 

Villeneuve from Hill in 1996- exit of Pit Straight and beyond- didn’t he take to GP racing from Indycars in a way i wished Michael Andretti had done so a few years before- the BAR era took him backwards didn’t it.

 

(The Age)

Janey in trouble trying to do a three point turn during the November 1958 meeting. Bob Jane, Maserati 300S.

That eye-talian coachwork is looking slightly the worse for wear, he did eventually get the hang of this motor racing caper- check out chummy to the right with the fag in his mouth, all ready to set the hay bales alight.

 

Some attractive young ladies if you like that sort of thing, in these politically correct times i should even the score with some blokes. hmmm, maybe not.

 

Bugger off and go home for gods sake- enough is enough like.

Labour’s John Thwaites addresses a sea of angry SAP ants, 1994.

 

Thank the big fella up above than Martin Brundle was hunky-dory after this lot, it really would not have been a good look to lose a driver first up, not that it was the last of Albert Park’s involuntary aerobatic performances.

 

(unattributed)

AGP start 1953, Albert Park’s first race meeting on the 21 November weekend.

Lex Davison, HWM Jaguar, Stan Jones in Maybach 1 and Doug Whiteford in his Talbot-Lago T26C on the right.

#11 is Ted Gray, Alta Ford V8, #7 Frank Kleinig’s Kleinig Hudson Spl, #20 back a bit is Jim Gullan in an MG K3 and #6 is the Peter Vennemark dariven Maserati 4CL.

Doug Whiteford won from Curley Brydon’s MG TC Spl and Andy Brown in an MG K3.

 

St Kilda Swamp aka Albert Park Lake in 1876 (St Kilda History)

Arcane, barely relevant but just because its down the road from me…

The aboriginal Kulin tribe who first inhabited the area 40,000 years ago were the first users of an enormous salt lagoon which formed a part of the delta where the Yarra met the sea- hunting and fishing, they caught eels and fish in conical shaped nets watched by over 130 different species of water birds including ducks, swans, grebe, coot, cormorants as well as possums, bats and reptiles.

The area to the south of what became known as the Yarra River, its low sides skirted with marshes covered with luxuriant reeds, wild grass and herbage comprised a series of brackish lagoons and low lying marsh formed by the flow of the Yarra to the Bay near St Kilda- early settlers reported on the areas beauty and abundance of wildlife.

Emerald Hill ‘a gum and wattle tree forest’ was the name given to the high point of the land in South Melbourne. Some early geographers queried whether the Yarra was really a river and characterised it as a tract of marsh or swamp drawing a parallel with the fens of Lincolnshire which were drained, a model that ‘the Yarra and other Melbourne wetlands were doomed to follow.’

What was known as the South Melbourne Swamp was low lying land around Emerald Hill which was formed into Albert Park Lake during the 1930s Great Depression years- in so doing the marsh was drained and built over for domestic housing- the only reminder of the area as it was before European settlement is Albert Park Lake.

The Park originally extended to St Kilda Road, but the land was sold in 1874, the St Kilda Cricket Club was the first of many sporting clubs to be given permission to use the land, the Junction Oval is well known to Melburnians.

The Lake itself is about two kilometres long north to south and about one kilometre wide, the site was permanently reserved as a park of 230 hectares in honour of Queen Victoria’s Prince Consort in 1876

Bibliography…

Bob Carter on tapatalk.com, ‘Lost and Found Wetlands of Melbourne’ Rod Giblett

Illustration and Photo Credits…

The Illustrated Australian News July 1879, Les Maloney Photo Collection, Australian Grand Prix Corporation, John Lamb, Jack Atley, Herald Sun, Parks Victoria, Jason South

Tailpiece: Albert Park Lake, 1893…

(unattributed)

Finito…

(P D’Abbs)

Beautiful Peter D’Abbs photograph of Lex Davison’s Aston Martin DBR4/250, chassis number ‘1’ 3 litre with Austin Miller, Cooper T51 Climax in the background, Phillip Island, 23 October 1960…

Lex became famous for his retirements from racing and then his Dame Nellie Melba type returns to the grid, his 1958 AGP win at Bathurst was the last time he raced the marvellous ex-Ascari/Gaze Ferrari 500/625 and then he took a break, but heading into 1960 he planned to take a holiday in Europe with his wife Diana and to acquire a new racer.

He watched the increased ‘Cooperisation’ of Australian racing from the sidelines and decided that a modern incarnation of his HWM Jaguar would be competitive with the growing number of mid-engined cars. He initially pitched the idea of a DB4 3.7 litre engine in a DBR4 Grand Prix chassis but Aston Martin Racing Manager John Wyer assured him the motor would not readily fit and that the David Brown five-speed transaxle, already marginal, would be pushed beyond its design limits.

After plenty of argy-bargy about price a compromise was settled upon which involved DBR4 chassis 1 fitted with a 3 litre DBR1 sportscar engine, and the purchase of a DB4GT road car- rather a nice combination of roadie and racer!

The car was completed by late March 1960 and after testing by works test driver Jack Fairman and Roy Salvadori over two days at Goodwood the car was shipped to Australia. Davison drove the car on the second, and wetter of the days to within a fraction of a second of Fairman’s best.

It appears Lex raced the car, the first of the DBR4s built- raced by Roy Salvadori during the factories abortive 1959 Grand Prix season, four times in 1960.

An initial test session with Allan Ashton and the AF Hollins crew at Phillip Island after arrival at Port Melbourne was followed by THAT ‘missed a win by a bees dick’ Australian Grand Prix at Lowood on 12 June where Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati led Davo home by an official margin of one half of a second after a little over an hour of Grand Prix motor racing of the first order- click here for a feature on Mildren inclusive of a full race report on the AGP; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Davison in his new car, Aston DBR4/250 ‘1’ during the 1960 AGP at Lowood, Queensland (B Thomas)

 

Davison and Mildren hard at it at Lowood during the AGP- flaggies absorbed in the battle, not sure if it is Glynn Scott or Jon Leighton’s Cooper Climax behind (B Thomas)

Lex and the boys made the long trip back to Queensland in September and ran it again at Lowood in another Gold Star round for third place behind Alec and Bib Stillwell, both T51 mounted, then at the non-championship meeting at Phillip Island in October and finally the soggy Warwick Farm opening meeting on 18 December where he was fourth behind the T51s of Stillwell, John Youl and Austin Miller having started from the front row.

Famously these Aston Martins were at least two years too late to be competitive in Grand Prix racing- the honour of the last successful front-engined GP car goes to the Ferrari Dino 246 and that of the most sophisticated to the Lotus 16 Climax, if not the most reliable.

Two of the magnificent shapely machines came to Australia in 1960, Davo’s ‘DBR4/250 (1)’ and Bib’s ‘DBR4/250 (3)’- Stillwell had an each way bet, he had a Cooper or three as well as the Feltham beastie whereas all of Lex’ eggs were in one basket- until he borrowed one of Stillwell’s Cooper T51s and ‘nicked’ the 1961 Mallala AGP from under the noses of the established ‘water-cooled’ Cooper aces. I say that as Lex had been winning races and hillclimbs in two Phil Irving fettled Vincent engined Coopers for years- he was hardly unfamiliar with the handling characteristics of these little mid-engined missiles.

Ain’t she sweet our friend is thinking. Ballarat 1961 (P Skelton)

 

Davison’s DBR4 ‘1’ in the Ballarat paddock with Warwick Cumming at the wheel and perhaps Allan Ashton doing the pressures. I am not sure whether #4 or 14 is correct but both shots are Ballarat (P Coleby)

Into 1961 Lex raced the Aston in the late January Warwick Farm 100- Q11 and DNF oil leak,  the race was won by the Walker/Moss Lotus 18 Climax, Davison then contested the Victorian Trophy at Ballarat Airfield on 12 February- the colour photo taken above by Phillip Skelton at that meeting could almost be a BP PR shot!

This time the car was out after completing 9 laps with gearbox dramas- the hot and dusty race was won by Dan Gurney from Graham Hill in BRM P48s- it was the only international win for these cars.

Three weeks later Davison and Stillwell took the cars to Longford- whilst Bib practiced the Aston he raced his Cooper whereas Davo raced to the finish of the 24 lap 100 miler albeit in fifth place behind Roy Salvadori, Bill Patterson, John Youl and Austin Miller in 2.2 litre and 2.5 litre Coventry Climax engined Cooper T51s.

Davison howls off Kings Bridge, Longford during the 1961 ‘Longford Trophy’, Aston DBR4/250 ‘1’ (oldracephotos.com.au/JSaward)

 

Dunlop HQ at Longford in 1961 with Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and Bib Stillwell’s Aston Martin DBR4/250 ‘3’ in attendance. This car was built to a later spec than Davo’s DBR4/250 ‘1’- in fact it was of the same specs of his new in 1961 chassis ‘4’ inclusive of Maser transaxle and ‘80 degree’ engine (R Lambert)

 

Davison, practice at Longford in 1961, DBR4 ‘1’ (G Smedley)

After Longford Lex shipped the car back to the UK, it needed a major rebuild as ‘the chassis was breaking up’ wrote Graham Howard- the AF Hollins crew had repaired chassis tubes and added strengthening gussets to the machine in their Armadale, Melbourne workshop between the Ballarat and Longford meetings.

Lex’ plan was to race an Aston Martin at Le Mans and contest a number of Intercontinental Formula races that ‘61 season. In the event, after ongoing discussions with John Wyer Aston Martin provided Davison a later chassis, ‘the sister car to Stillwell’s later model DBR4’, chassis ‘4’ which was built but unraced in 1959, for Lex to use at Silverstone in July and Brands Hatch in August.

It was equipped, as was chassis ‘1’ with a five speed Maserati transaxle instead of the heavy, recalcitrant David Brown unit, the latest cylinder head design which had the valves arranged at an included angle of 80 degrees rather than the earlier variants 95 degrees- in 3 litre form it was good for circa 296bhp @ 6700rpm, a good deal more mumbo than the 230 or so BHP of an FPF 2.5 but of course the chassis was no svelte nymph.

This article tells a bit of Bib and Lex’ 1961 European Adventures here; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/22/aston-martin-db4gt-zagato-2vev-lex-davison-and-bib-stillwell/

(TC March)

Davo above having his first race in the second Aston DBR4/250 3 litre at Silverstone during the July 8 1961 British Empire Trophy Intercontinental Formula race- DNF gearbox quill-shaft after 17 laps, up front after 245 km were Moss and Surtees in Cooper T53 Climaxes.

Davison had a busy weekend as he contested the GT race in John Ogier’s Aston Martin DB4GT, ‘a bit of an old nail’ and finished third behind the Ferrari 250GTs of Stirling Moss and Graham Whitehead.

The Australian’s DBR4 drive received good press coverage but, Graham Howard wrote that it added to confusion for later historians as to which car Davo raced. The Motor described the machine as an ex-works DBR4 Grand Prix car fitted with a much modified 3 litre sportscar engine, whilst Autosport added to the confusion by noting that ‘a new chassis was fitted.’

Aston Martin themselves didn’t help either, in a letter to Lex about a variety of things including shipment of the car to Australia in late 1961 Wyer advised ‘the Aston had now been shipped, although there had been a mix-up with chassis numbers and it had been stamped DBR4/1 rather than DBR4/4′.

To be clear on this point, Graham Howard makes no comment about the chassis number of Lex’ first Aston, nor does Doug Nye whilst Anthony Pritchard, his book published later, says that the car is generally accepted to be DBR4 ‘1’. John Blanden in the second edition of his book simply lists one car and applies two chassis numbers to the ‘one entity’.

The correct position seems to be that the two cars were quite separate- Lex raced DBR4 ‘1’ in Australia, returned it to Feltham in early 1961 then raced DBR4 ‘4’- the unused 1959 built chassis in the UK and then later in Australia. The chassis, body and engine were different, built to a later spec- whether the Maserati gearbox and other componentry fitted to chassis ‘1’, which was interchangeable, was carried over to ‘4’- who knows.

What is clear is that Lex was not happy with his new car after Silverstone, Autosport quoted Lex as saying its ‘handling was nothing like the original car.’

A month later Davison contested his second and last Intercontinental race, the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch on 7 August.

This time, in dry, sunny conditions he brought the ‘new dinosaur’ home in sixth place, ‘bruising’ the nose of the car- up front, 4 laps up the road in fact, Jack Brabham headed Jim Clark in Cooper T53 Climax and Lotus 18 Climax respectively.

The relative size of the Aston Martin is put into context by Lorenzo Bandini’s Centro Sud Cooper T51 Maserati going underneath Davison into Surtees at Brands- the Italian was seventh and last of the finishers and several months later was a popular contestant in our 1962 summer internationals.(Getty)

 

Davison cruising through the Silverstone paddock during the July 1961 International Trophy meeting- first race in DBR4/250 ‘4’ (unattributed)

A week or so after Brands the family headed home to Australia with the Aston Martin left behind at the factory for further work including repair of the panel damage sustained at the Kent circuit and to fit 12.5:1 pistons to suit the alcohol based fuel Lex used in Australia.

Howard reports that Davison was still unhappy with the handling of the car, he quotes from a letter written by Lex to Brian Josceleyne of the Aston Martin Owners Club thus, ‘My Grand Prix car is still at the works, where they are endeavouring to sort out some of the handling bugs, for the new chassis proved rather twitchy, unlike my earlier one which was a superb handling car and could be thrown about in a rather flippant way.’

Davo returned home, as stated above, via America including Hawaii, in time to win the AGP in South Australia on 9 October in one of Stillwell’s Cooper T51s, a car he rented from Bib after it became clear the DBR4 would not arrive in Australia on time for the race, that story is here; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/29/the-naughty-corner-renta-gp-winner/

Pat Hawthorn in the second of the Davison DBR4/250 Astons, chassis ‘4’. The eagle eyed will note that the induction and exhaust ports of this car/engine are the reverse of the earlier machine (P Hawthorn)

There was still life in the old design though- Davison raced the Aston Martin to second place in the Victorian Trophy at Calder behind Stillwell’s Cooper T53 Climax in late February 1962 and then, again not too far from home, the Sandown opening meeting ‘Sandown Park International’ on 12 March where he was eighth behind a swag of Climax engined Coopers and Lotuses as well as the Chuck Daigh driven Scarab RE Buick 3.8 litre V8- it too was a mid-engined machine.

By that stage he had ‘got with the strength’ and was racing a Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’ which famously met its maker in a huge accident at Longford on March 4 caused by a gust of wind catching the car whilst airborne on the hump in the road before the Longford pub- it was a very lucky escape. The Yeoman Credit Cooper was geared for 170mph @ 6700rpm that weekend, Davison described the accident, raconteur that he was, to John Wyer in one of the many letters they exchanged.

‘I was managing to lap at 110 to 112 mph, some three seconds faster than Brabham’s lap record of the year before, when I became airborne over a hump some 200 yards prior to a 90-degree corner in the middle of a little town. A gust of wind caught me and I landed in a drain beside the road. I motored along this at some 140 mph causing some uneasiness to the police, radio announcers, officials, television cameramen and various others cluttering up the entrance to the escape road. I regained the road again but the heavy rear-engined end slid in the gravel and I shot down the road sideways. I hit a tree with the nose, which plucked everything forward of the soles of my feet off the car and spun the car around in the process. It then shot along a hotel wall at window height, demolishing the floral display, pot plants etc, then a 360 degree spin around the entrance porch of the hotel and back up the wall again. The car then fell off the hotel wall and back into the road and shot across the road backwards into a grain mill. I shook what was left from me and went back into the pub and ordered a brandy. They even made me pay for it, which was the cruellest blow of all.’

After the international visitors returned home Lex ran the Aston at Sandown in May 1962 winning a race for front engined racing cars but did not run it again until February 1963 when he gave it a gallop at Calder in part to demonstrate it to potential purchasers- in the process he provided 5 thrilling laps for spectators in a three car match race with Bryan Thomson’s supercharged Cooper T51 Climax and Frank Matich’s new, works Elfin Catalina Ford pushrod 1.5.

The Aston Martin was advertised for sale in Australian Motor Sports during 1962 and was soon acquired by garage proprietor and Calder Raceway part owner Pat Hawthorn who is photographed above proudly showing off his new acquisition at his ‘Clayleigh Service Station’ in Clayton, not too far at all from Sandown where, by March 1963, he was mixing it with the heavies in the ‘Sandown Park International’…

Pat Hawthorn on the way to fourth place in the Advertiser Trophy 1963 Mallala Gold Star round- and kids just want to have fun below! Circuit uncertain. Aston Martin DBR4/250 ‘4’ (P Hawthorn)

 

(P Hawthorn)

Hawthorn raced the car through until 1966 in both Victoria and South Australia, perhaps the last championship points the car scored were in the 14 October 1963 Advertiser Trophy, Mallala Gold Star round where he was fourth amongst the mid-engined hordes, behind the Cooper T55 of John Youl, Bib Stillwell’s Brabham BT4 and Wally Mitchell’s MRD (aka Brabham BT1) Ford Formula Junior.

Pat sold the car to UK historic racer Neil Corner in 1966- there he was a consistent race winner, the ‘Calder Raceway’ signed Rice Trailer cut quite a dash on UK Motorways! DBR4 ‘4’ of course still exists.

Aston Martin DBR4/250 cutaway drawing, 95 degree engine spec (conceptbunny.com)

Chassis Numbers and Development of the GP cars in summary…

My ‘standard reference’ for all things chassis numbers is Allen Brown’s great site oldracingcars.com (ORC)- i say great in the sense that most of the ‘standard texts’ were written in the pre-internet days before it was possible to debate the merits of ‘what is what’ and ‘which is which’ amongst knowledgeable enthusiasts to land on generally agreed positions based on facts which have been often vigorously debated.

Using ‘Howard’ (see bibliography) published in 2004, ‘Nye’ in 1993, ‘Blanden’ in 2004, ‘Pritchard’ in 2006 and ‘ORC’ as my source material the Aston Martin Grand Prix cars built are as follows and their destiny, i think and hope…

Reg Parnell does all the work as Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze share a joke- Aston Martin DP155/1 at the Dunedin Wharf rail head, New Zealand, January 1956 (T Selfe)

1. DP155

Aston’s first ‘toe in the water’ GP exercise was the DB3S based ‘DP155’ i wrote about at length six months ago, its most significant racing was with Reg Parnell at the wheel during the 1956 New Zealand Internationals, click here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/05/the-gp-aston-martin-dp155/

‘Its bones’ were converted back into a DB3S albeit there is a car doing the rounds in the UK ‘sorta in the style’ of DP155 which has none of the original car’s core componentry.

Getting more serious, in the summer of 1956, Aston Martin’s engineers designed and built a spaceframe chassis to which they fitted a short-stroke version of their 3 litre sportscar ‘RB6’ engine- this 2493cc DOHC, two valve, 50DCO Weber fed engine produced 250bhp @ 7800rpm on the Avgas which was mandatory from 1958.

The design was period typical in having upper and lower wishbone suspension at the front, with torsion bars and co-axial shock absorbers and de Dion rear suspension with torsion bars the springing medium, the axle located by a Watts linkage, radius rods with Armstrong providing the shocks front and rear.

A transaxale was used at the rear- the unpopular with drivers David Brown ‘CG537’ five speeder, Girling provided the brakes, Borrani the wire wheels and initially rack and pinion steering from the Morris Minor was used- later the DB4 rack and pinion was adopted.

Roy Salvadori in practice aboard DBR4 ‘1’ during practice at Zandvoort, 1959 Dutch GP weekend, DNF overheating after 13 laps- Jo Bonnier won in a BRM P25, BRM’s first championship GP win (Getty)

2. DBR4/250 chassis number ‘1’

‘This prototype’ was built in time for testing by Reg Parnell and Roy Salvadori at MIRA in December 1957 and then further testing there into February 1958 before being put to one side as sportscar racing was prioritised.

Stirling Moss as you all know, won the Argentinian GP in a Rob Walker Cooper T45 Climax in early 1958- time was of the essence with the DBR4/250- oh so sexy a beast, it was in effect  obsolete by the time of its public launch in April 1959.

By then the car was fitted with modified DB4GT coil and wishbone front suspension which was more practical than the torsion bar arrangement but was 15 pounds heavier- in a car which was already a pork-chop.

Salvadori’s second in the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone flattered to deceive- initial problems were an engine at the wrong end of the car (cheap shot), too heavy and most critically engine bearing lubrication issues meant revs had to be kept down to an uncompetitive level.

Aston Martin won Le Mans in 1959- Salvadori and Carroll Shelby took a splendid win in the DBR1 and were poised to win the World Sportscar Championship so the F1 program, rightfully, took second place in the allocation of scarce corporate resources.

In the winter of 1959/1960 chassis ‘1’ and ‘2’ were modified, after surgery they were two inches slimmer and some 55 lb lighter. ‘Merely replacing Brown’s own heavy and baulky ‘CG537′ transaxle with one from Maserati (the Type 5M-60) saved 50 lb. The Aston gearchange, reliable, but heavy and slow- tolerable in a sportscar, was out of place in Formula 1’ Doug Nye wrote.

After negotiations between Davison and Wyer DBR4 ‘1’ was fitted with engine number ‘RB6/300/1’ from sportscar chassis ‘DBR1/1’ and shipped to Australia, John Blanden wrote.

DBR4 ‘1’ was returned to the UK by Davison in early 1961 and was eventually bought by Neil Corner, to use as a spare for his DBR4 ‘4’ he ran in historic racing with chassis ‘1’ built into a complete car by Geoffrey Marsh in the early eighties.

Front and rear suspension of Trintignant’s DBR5 ‘1’, British GP weekend, Silverstone 1960. Upper and lower front wishbones, torsion bar, roll bar, Armstrong shock, Girling solid disc brakes- the major difference to the DBR4 is the use of a torsion bar instead of a coil spring. De Dion rear suspension, Armstrong shock and radius rods- same as DBR4 (Getty)

 

Carroll Shelby during the 1959 Portuguese GP at Monsanto Park, eighth in DBR4 ‘2’, Moss the winner in a Cooper T51 Climax (LAT)

3. DBR4/250 ‘2’

Was Carroll Shelby’s chassis in 1959, and like ‘1’ contested only the Dutch, British and Portuguese GPs that year.

1959/1960 winter modifications as above.

DBR4 ‘2’ was scrapped.

Bib Stillwell susses the equipment, DBR4 ‘3’ in the Ardmore paddock, NZ 1962 (E Stevens)

4. DBR4/250 ‘3’

This car was lighter than the first two cars built by virtue of a stressed skin body centre section, one piece de Dion tube and lighter Maserati gearbox- its race debut was at Monza in September 1959.

Salvadori retired it whilst running sixth- Moss won in a Walker Cooper T51 Climax. Front engined Ferrari 246 and BRM P25s filled six of the top eight places so a good front-engined machine could still do well- on fast circuits at least!

Stillwell bought the car on a bit of a whim, frustrated as he was by not being able to buy a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine for his Cooper T51 at the time- the motors were in short supply, allocation preference was to the ‘works favoured or contracted’ Cooper, Walker and Lotus teams.

In the event, no sooner had Bib committed to the Aston Martin, he was able to buy the Cooper T51 Jack Brabham had raced in Australia that year, fitted with a 2.5 litre FPF.

In fact the Kew, Melbourne Holden Dealer had possibly fallen out of love with the Aston before its arrival to Australia- Bib raced his new 2.5 litre T51 to first at Port Wakefield in October, then second at Caversham and third at Phillip Island on consecutive December weekends and finally topped his late season form by winning the (non Gold Star) Warwick Farm Trophy on 18 December, whilst back in fourth place was Lex’ DBR4 surrounded by a sea of Cooper T45/51s…

Fitted with 3 litre ‘RB6/300/7’ sportscar engine, DBR4/250 ‘3’ arrived in Australia late in 1960 and was almost immediately shipped to New Zealand to contest the NZ GP at Ardmore, Auckland in early January 1961- he placed fifth in a heat and was classified twelfth in the GP- Jack Brabham won in a Cooper T53 Climax.

Bib Stillwell’s Aston DBR4 ‘3’ in the Ardmore paddock during the January 1961 NZ GP weekend. Jo Bonnier’s Cooper T51 Climax right rear, David McKay’s Stan Jones owned Maserati 250F #12 and the #38 Cooper is uncertain- Denny Hulme drove a car with that number in this race but the car shown is not the dark coloured Yeoman Credit T51 Denny raced (TRS)

 

A nice compare and contrast shot- Stan Jones’ Cooper T51 Climax alongside Stillwell’s DBR4 ‘3’ before practice at Longford in March 1961

Back In Australia, he practiced the car for the Warwick Farm 100 in late January but did not race, running the T51 he finished third behind the Moss and Innes Ireland Lotus 18 Climaxes. The crew then took the car across Bass Straight to Longford in early March and practiced it, but the engine burned a piston, he raced his Cooper T51, retiring with plug problems in the Longford Trophy won by Roy Salvadori’s Ecurie Vitesse (Jack Brabham) Cooper T51 Climax.

Bib continued to race his T51 but returned with the Aston Martin to Warwick Farm in May, winning the (non Gold Star) 10 lap Racing Car Scratch from Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati 2.9 and Noel Hall’s Cooper T51 Climax 2.2- was this the only race win of a DBR4 ‘in period’ anywhere?

And that was it, Bib displayed the car at Jim Abbott’s Melbourne Racing Car show in August before racing it again in the 1962 NZ GP, doubtless, given his flotilla of Coopers, with a view to selling the car in New Zealand. He was tenth in the sopping wet race won by Stirling Moss having qualified seventh inclusive of a plug-change mid-race.

Bay of Islands driver Lionel Bulcraig acquired the car after the race, running it in NZ through to 1965, his time in the car is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/02/waimates-aston-martin-dbr4-250/

Bulcraig advertised the car in ‘Car and Driver, the American international magazine, in late 1965, it was acquired by Peter Brewer who dominated Historic Racing in the UK in the late sixties with it. It was bought by Tom Wheatcroft’s Donington Collection in 1970 as ‘a collection of horrible bits’, as Doug Nye described it, for restoration to original 1959 specifications.

Stillwell, DBR4 ‘3’ during the 1962 NZ GP, site of a Stirling Moss Lotus 21 Climax wet weather master-class. Stillwell was tenth, 6 laps in arrears (Ardmore)

 

DBR4 ‘3’ chassis in recent times in the Hall & Hall workshop. Rare chassis photograph (H&H)

 

Plug change for Salvadori’s IRS ‘diabolical handling’ DBR5 ‘2’ during the 1960 British GP weekend, nice cockpit shot. Trintignant’s de Dion DBR5 ‘1’ in front (Getty)

5. DBR4/250 ‘4’

Chassis built at the same time as ‘3’ but was unraced in F1 in 1959 and 1960.

After DBR4 ‘1’ was returned by Davison to Feltham in early 1961, DBR4 ‘4’ was built to ‘ultimate spec’- de Dion rear, Maserati gearbox, 80 degree head magnesium alloy block RB6/300 engine specification for use in the Intercontinental Formula in the UK, and thence limited use in Australia before sale to Pat Hawthorn in early 1963.

Later to Neil Corner in 1966, who also acquired DBR4 ‘1’ which was eventually built up as an historic car.

Trintignant’s DBR5/250 ‘1’ being unloaded from Aston Martin’s AEC transporter at Silverstone during the July 1960 British GP weekend at Silverstone- a poor eleventh the result (LAT)

Cars 6. and 7. DBR5/250 ‘1’ and ‘2’- also sometimes referred to as ‘DP201’

For 1960 Aston Martin designed a new car, still front engined mind you, the DBR5/250 was 3 inches shorter than the DBR4- the wheelbase was 7 ft 3 inches- it used torsion bar independent front suspension. Two cars were laid down, DBR5/250 ‘1’ which was built with a de Dion rear and chassis ‘2’ which was fitted with independent rear suspension by torsion bars.

Both DBR5s were scrapped- after unsuccessful performances in the International Trophy, at Zandvoort and in the British GP.

Doug Nye wrote that ‘The new rear end merely made the cars handle worse, so following the British GP, David Brown wisely withdrew his team from the dying Formula’- the 2.5 litre F1 ended on 31 December 1960.

In summary, Aston Martin built seven Grand Prix cars- one DP155, four DBR4s and two DBR5’s with three extant- DBR4 ‘1’, ‘3’ and ‘4’.

Zandvoort 1960- two cars for Roy Salvadori- DBR4 ‘3’ at left was brought along as the practice hack and DBR5 ‘1’ at right, the racer. DNS along with the Scarabs when the Dutch GP organisers reneged on the start money deal- the cars were rumbling back towards the Channel by the time the race commenced- nice side by side shot, the only obvious difference is the 95 degree engine in the DBR4 and 80 degree ‘exhaust on the left’ motor in the DBR5 (D Friedman)

 

DBR5 ‘1’ with Lucas fed 80 degree twin-plug 2.5 litre six- 245bhp @ 7500rpm, Zandvoort 1960 (D Friedman)

Anthony Pritchard wrote that ‘By this time (Zandvoort) Aston Martin realised the hopelessness of their position.’

Team Manager Reg Parnell asked Stirling Moss to try the car and the best that he could manage was a 1:40 compared to 1:33.2 in his Lotus 18 Climax- trying his very hardest, Salvadori achieved 1:37 seconds.

Zandvoort, (D Friedman)

 

British GP July 1960. Nice compare and contrast of the Weber DCO and Lucas injected engines. Independent rear suspension shot is Salvadori’s DBR5 ‘2’ which handled atrociously- upper and lower wishbones, roll bar, Armstrong shock and two radius rods, torsion bar (Getty)

Etcetera…

(Michael Oliver Collection)

After publication Lotus historian and author Michael Oliver got in touch and sent these two marvellous shots of Lex during the Brands Hatch Guards Trophy meeting taken by his father, and his dad’s mate, below.

Whilst Lex damaged the nose of the car during practice he also knocked off the right-front corner of the Aston- the shot captures the damage, a rare colour image of the suspension.

(Michael Oliver Collection)

 

(K Harley)

Ecurie Australia at Longford in 1961.


Photo Credits…

Peter D’Abbs via Mark Ellery Collection, Pat Hawthorn Collection via Russell Hawthorn, Phillip Skelton via the Tony Johns Collection, Getty Images, Ron Lambert, oldracephotos.com.au/JSaward, Peter Coleby Collection, Tony Selfe, David Friedman Collection, LAT, E Stevens, Brier Thomas, Hall & Hall, TC March, conceptbunny.com, Michael Oliver Collection, Kim Harley

Bibliography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car 1945-65’ Doug Nye, ‘Aston Martin: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, oldracingcars.com

Tailpieces…

(P D’Abbs)

The opening shot of Lex again but cropped a tad tighter to focus that little bit more on the car- DBR4/250 ‘1’, and below the same car eighteen months before in the Dutch sand dunes rather than the Australian ones, Roy Salvadori at Zandvoort during the 29-31 May weekend in 1959.

(LAT)

Finito…

(autopics.com.au)

Bruce McLaren, Cooper T70 Climax, Australian Grand Prix, Sandown Park 1964…

Its an unusual angle, Bruce is thinking about brakes as he passes the end of the pit counter and heads towards the tight ‘Peters’ left-hander before the blast up the back straight- unusual in that the shot is taken from outside the circuit, between the Armco fence and access road, a prohibited area for spectators and ‘snappers for most of the tracks life.

Click here for the ‘first McLaren’ Cooper T70 story; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

(J Lay)

This one is also at Sandown but a year later, 1965, as the drivers listen intently to the Clerk of The Course before the off.

Roy Billington is on the rear wheel of Jack’s Brabham BT11A Climax- the winning car, then the tall Tyler Alexander, Bruce is in the ‘Persil’ white Firestone overalls, Bib Stillwell behind him, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and David McKay playing with his iPhone. Jack won from Jim and Phil Hill’s Cooper T70.

Jack posing patiently for Paul Stephenson in his victorious BT11A- Sandown pitlane.

(P Stephenson)

 

(unattributed)

Back to the 1964 Sandown Australian Grand Prix.

Bruce takes a glimpse in his Cooper T70 mirror before lining up for the Shell Corner left hander, Jack Brabham in close attendance- Brabham BT7A Climax. Over to the right alongside the fence Jim Palmer is giving them plenty of room in his Cooper T53 Climax, he was sixth. Jack won whilst Bruce was out with engine problems.

Credits…

autopics.com.au, Jeffrey Lay, Paul Stephenson, Graham Rhodes in Australian Autosportsman

Tailpiece…

(Graham Rhodes photographer)

I chuckled when randomly coming across this photo because it is taken within 20 metres or so of the first one but is taken from under the Armco on the outside of Peters rather than the opening shot from outside Pit Straight towards the braking area into Peters.

Just to add to the date confusion, this one is the year before mind you- Bruce is in the Cooper T62 he raced that 1963 summer inclusive of the 1962 AGP at Caversham in November, Lex Davison acquired it at the end of that summer- lengthy piece on that car here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Finito…