Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

(M Bisset)

 

Motorclassica must be the top-gun car display and concours in Australia these days…

Held at Carlton’s Exhibition Buildings, it’s just outside the city grid so has great access, the punters have been out in droves given some magic Melbourne Spring weather.

Its not really my thing, the racing content is not what the event is all about but a freebie ticket from Bob King, one of the concours judges changed my mind and got me in the door early, well before parents and kidlets dominated as the day unfolded.

 

Stan Jones, Maybach 1 ahead of the Gib and Alf Barrett driven, BWA Frazer Nash Spl during the 1953 AGP at Albert Park (Dacre Stubbs Archive is my guess)

 

One of the beauties of the thing is that there is something for everyone- current road exotica, car club displays in the capacious grounds outside, ‘classics’ ranging from ‘art deco’ which was a theme this year, through to American muscle-cars of the sixties and seventies as well as racers.

From a racing perspective ‘we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Australian Grand Prix’- which was great as a swag of cars from the 1928 Phillip Island ‘100 Miles Road Race’, subsequently claimed as the first Australian Grand Prix, and adjacent Phillip Island GP events made a great display.

The faux pas, to say the least, is that most of us with an interest in Australian motor racing history now recognise the first AGP, in name and actuality, if not substance, as the January 1927 event of that very name held at Goulburn in New South Wales.

 

Aston DBR1- if it wasn’t on a tow truck you could see the whole car rather than this peek-a-boo (M Bisset)

 

Flouro in your face US homologation muscle cars a nice contrast to Euro subtlety! (M Bisset)

 

‘Morrie’ vans near the Nicholson Street Exhibitions Buildings entrance. I well remember the ‘Baker Boy’ bread man home delivering his wares with one of these vans in the, ahem, sixties (M Bisset)

 

It seems that some of the Victorian motoring establishment, and it is such conservative folks who own and are the organisers and officials of this event, are intent on ignoring ‘the majority’ including the Confederation of Australian Motorsport who recognise Goulburn and have moved on. Scratch the surface and state based rivalry is never too far away in our Commonwealth of Australia!

I took a million photos with my trusty iPhone, I think the best approach is to pop a few up today to give you the flavour of the gig as well as some favourites rather than carpet-bomb you with 300 happy snaps! Some of the AGP cars present lend themselves to juxtaposition of Bob King’s period race shots and the same cars now, so treat this as Motorclassica 1.

 

Tom Roberts’ Maserati 6CM (M Bisset)

 

If I had to pick one car of the show it’s the Tom Roberts owned ex-Johnny Wakefield Maserati 6CM-1500 Voiturette, chassis ‘1546’, just restored marvellously by David Rapley.

It gets the blend of originality and patination spot on, I love the fact we don’t do ‘chrome and shiny’ restos of cars which never appeared that way in period, in Oz. Tom Roberts has done great justice to a car which has not seen the light of day for decades.

 

(M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

 

Beautiful 6CM body hides a 1.5 litre, DOHC, 2 valve six-cylinder supercharged engine and 4 speed Fiat derived gearbox (M Bisset)

 

(D Rapley)

 

Since first writing this article the cars restorer David Rapley sent these two engine photographs of the 6CM, his comment ‘In the absence of the correct carburettor a two inch SU set down, twin bowl set up for alcohol was used. We received no help from anyone world-wide and had to work from pictures in books’- the result truly stunning.

 

(D Rapley)

 

One of the great things about the day was meeting up with so many online buddies- Facebook, The Nostalgia Forum and primotipo has been great that way, that internet thingy is such a connector of kindred spirits. Bob King, Pat and Conor Ryan, Nigel Tait and his wife, Nathan Tasca, Tony Lupton, Phil Zmood and James Lambert were all folks i caught up with, only Stephen Dalton and Mike Gasking were there but we missed the connects.

 

Alan Jones looking pretty fit, and ‘muttering rotter’ Mark Fogarty (M Bisset)

 

Whilst wandering with James and his impressive armoury of cameras and lenses we watched Alan Jones being interviewed by Mark Fogarty, a local racing journo, the interview had substance rather than being at the ‘whaddit that Eff-Wun car do Jonesy? dull-shit boring end of the spectrum.

The boy from Balwyn’s toughest opponents were Nelson Piquet and Gilles Villeneuve ‘who was mad and never going to die in bed’ with Jones talking at length about that horrible last day for the acrobatic Canadian at Zolder.

His two Ferrari misfires were amusingly told- the first offer to join the famous Scuderia the occasion when Gilles got the drive Alan thought was his when Andretti re-signed for Lotus- that one turned out rather well for Alan as he fell into the nascent Williams team of Frank and Patrick Head. The second was when AJ messed them around when they wanted the retired Aussie to replace the injured Pironi, a drive which went Mario’s way- he popped the Ferrari on pole at Monza in the first of those rides, much to Jones’ chagrin!

 

Paul Faulkner’s ex-Jones Williams FW07- directly in front the ex-Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39 Climax and alongside the Lotus a Brabham Climax Tasman car forgotten which (M Bisset)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the top- ex-Piquet 1981 AGP Ralt RT4 Ford F Pacific, ex-Jones 1980 Williams FW07B Ford, ex-Bowe/Hunt Elfin MR8C Chev F5000 and ex-Allen/Bartlett McLaren M10B Chev F5000 (M Bisset)

He candidly admitted he retired from F1, the first time, too early at the end of 1981 ‘the first Victorian winter at Glenburn 80 Km from Melbourne (where AJ bought the pub and a farm) convinced me to move to the Gold Coast’.

A question about current F1 elicited a long response about the aero rules in particular, and their impact on the lack of overtaking, he didn’t talk about the mechanical package but said the need to bring back passing, spectacle and glamour was paramount. The grid girls got a 3 minute burst- to bring them back, his final riposte, politically incorrect as ever, ‘but why bother, they will all be wearing burkhas in a couple of years anyway’!

 

The Trumpster would approve, no fake news or Ruskies here (M Bisset)

 

Wowee. Alfa Romeo 6C2300 Mille Miglia (M Bisset)

 

An absolute jaw-dropper is the Alfa 6C2300 Mille Miglia Spyder, it first broke cover for me at an Alfa Club Concours a few years ago, the local restoration completed about 5 years ago.

Amazing to see young kids totally unfamiliar with Alfa Romeo, Vittorio Jano and Zagato’s work drawn to it like bees to a honey-pot- it’s sensuous lines are just oh-so-visually arresting whatever your age or automotive knowledge base.

 

(M Bisset)

 

Singers have been on my mind for the last month or so, it was great to meet young Bendigo enthusiast Nathan Tasca who has helped with some recent articles.

He is in the process- with his father from whom he inherited his Singer passion, in restoration of a car which is now objectively assessed as being the Singer 9 Sports which Bob Lea-Wright won the 1934 AGP at Phillip Island. Lea-Wright’s family, and Bob King and his archive have assisted in both the identification process and details of the cars specification event to event.

 

Nathan Tasca’s 1934 AGP winning Singer 9 Sports is coming along nicely with a flurry of activity to get it to the show- engine and ‘box fitted (M Bisset)

 

John Lawson’s Delahaye D6/70S is a local ‘Figoni and Falaschi’ build on an imported chassis, but hey, what a car. Interested to learn more about it.

 

(M Bisset)

 

Of the racing stuff you can never see enough of the ex-Clark 1966 Tasman car- Lotus 39 Climax.

This machine’s entire racing history has been in Australasia, it’s reassuring it’s still here, James tells me Chas Kelly has given the car another ‘birthday’ in recent times inclusive of a new crank.

 

Chas Kelly Lotus 39 Climax- who can criticise John Dawson-Damer restoring it so well to its original plus one spec- that is not in Climax Flat 16 stillborn form but as raced by Clark in the 1966 Tasman 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF engined- Me?, i lusted after it in 1967/8 Repco ‘740’ engined spec as raced by Leo Geoghegan (M Bisset)

 

Earlier but more importantly in the Lotus pantheon, as Col’s first Grand Prix Lotus (whilst duly noting its primary purpose as an F2 machine), is Mike Bennett’s Lotus 12 Climax.

With seat removed is was great to get a squizz at the cars ‘Queerbox’ and driveline. Too perfect to race, it is used in demonstration type events occasionally, an impressive run in Adelaide’s Victoria Park event springs to mind a few years ago.

 

Lotus 12 Climax FPF 2 litre (M Bisset)

 

Secrets revealed- Lotus 12 ‘Queerbox’, delicate spaceframe and Chapman Strut rear suspension. Chassis ‘353’ ex-Hill (M Bisset)

 

By Harley Earl or one of his acolytes- the subtlety of the thing is what blows one away…and the size (M Bisset)

 

From a Repco Brabham perspective, two Art Valdez cars have come to Australia- Aaron Lewis has acquired Brabham BT23E Repco, Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount and Nigel Tait Brabham BT17, a sportscar ‘it’s fitted with a ‘740’ and I think has a 5 litre crank but we shall see when I pull it down’ said Nigel with a very big smile upon his face!

 

Nigel Tait’s just outta the container last week ex-Brabham BT17 Repco ‘740’ (M Bisset)

 

Aaron Lewis’ ex-Brabham/Harvey 1968 Tasman Brabham BT23E Repco (M Bisset)

 

There is and was, much, much more, but let’s save that for bite-size slices for other times…

 

Bob King and his latest in a long line of Bugatti restorations- the Ettore designed Peugeot ‘Bebe’. We must get him to write about this car (M Bisset)

 

Lotsa Lambos, Ferraris, Porkers and McLarens (M Bisset)

 

Tailpiece: Perky little minx- Lotus 12 Climax…

 

(M Bisset)

Three sixties single-seater cars seductively in the distance are Adam Berryman’s ex-McLaren/Mayer/Hill Cooper T70, a Brabham BT7A and the Clark Lotus 39.

Finito…

(B Young)

Stan Jones, Maser 250F and Bib Stillwell Cooper T43 Climax joust into Mountford Corner during the 1958 ‘Longford Trophy’ Gold Star round, 3 March…

It was the first time the great Tasmanian circuit hosted a round of the national drivers championship, the locals turned out in droves, including enthusiast/photographer Bob Young who took these remarkable, crisp oh-so-clear, evocative photographs.

Colour photos of this quality are so rare of Australian racing then. Each one in some ways deserves to be posted on its own but in the end I decided it was better to do a short article around them as a group. They are not the only shots he took on the day mind you- others have already been posted on the Historic Racing Car Club of Tassie Facebook page and filched by me! See the links at the articles end to view some of them.

I wonder whether Stan is having a shot down the outside of Bib or is Bib plunging down the tiny- but just big enough gap Jones left for his fellow Melbourne motor dealer buddy/competitor. Whatever the case, i suspect Stan The Man- and he was very much one of them at the time, gathered Bib up on the long run out of the tight right-hander, gently rising and then steeper towards the Water Tower- 2.5 litres of Maser six having a bit more grunt than a 1.7 litre Climax FWA four.

 

Otto Stone steering, Stan and John Sawyer, 250F, Longford 1958. Racer/engineer Stone’s counsel and car preparation were key factors, with perhaps Jones growing maturity as a driver, in Stan’s well deserved success. Pirelli Stelvio tyres BTW- photo is that sharp! It’s early in the weekend, the team have not applied the real race number decals to the car yet (B Young)

 

Bib sold his ex-Hunt 250F to Arnold Glass and jumped into the first of many water-cooled Coopers with the T43 (F2/9/57 according to John Blanden) whereas Stan, who changed racing cars more often than he did his Jocks- and had a long history of Cooper air-cooled and T23 experience, hung onto the 250F (chassis ‘2520’) and profited from the decision rather than jump into a Cooper just then. He did of course buy T51’s in time, with which he was very fast.

Stan won the 1958 Gold Star with two victories at Fishermans Bend and Phillip Island- book-ending his season with wins and returned to Longford twelve months hence and finally won the AGP he so richly deserved aboard the 250F from Len Lukey.

By that stage Lukey had switched from the Cooper T23 Bristol shown below to an ex-Brabham Cooper T45 Climax Jack raced in Australasia in late 1958 and over the summer races of 1959 before heading back to the UK and a World Championship aboard factory Cooper T51’s.

 

Len jumped from Ford Customline Touring Cars into this Cooper Bristol and an evolved Lukey Bristol in a relatively too brief racing career, his ‘Lukey Mufflers’ business funded his racing efforts- he was a friend to motor racing via Phillip Island and other means for the rest of his life. Another mighty shot, Len has just started his turn-in to Mountford, car looks just superb, as indeed it was-well prepared and driven (B Young)

 

Lukey’s Cooper Bristol was the ex-Tom Cole-Reg Hunt-Kevin Neal machine, chassis ‘CBR/2/9/53’ with which he did so well in 1957-8, but the reality was the car wasn’t an outright winner, hence the upgrade to the then, very much latest available, Cooper T45. With this he pursued Gold Star 1959 success in a year of speed, consistency, good preparation and perseverance- at twelve rounds it was the longest ever Gold Star championship.

Late in its ‘in period’ Australian life the front engined T23 was fitted, as all of the Australian Cooper Bristols were, with a Holden ‘grey’-six or Chev small-block V8, in the case of this car a Holden engine. The racer eventually passed to the Donington Collection in the early seventies and later still back into private hands.

 

The Man in Red- Lukey nattily dressed with his wife holding a serious camera. Long chromed exhaust said to be unique to this ex-Cole-Gibson-Hunt-Neal-Lukey et al car (B Young)

 

There is little doubt a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered Cooper would have very comfortably won the 1959 AGP and Gold Star but them things were like hens teeth- 2.5 FPF’s were issued only to works and favoured teams in Grand Prix racing until the Climax lads could keep pace with global demand which in practical terms meant during 1960.

Ted Gray won the Longford Trophy on this clear but chilly Tasmanian weekend, to have heard the big, booming fuel-injected Chev V8 engined Tornado blasting its way around Longford would have been really something!  This car does sound just like an F5000, imagine that in 1958!

It’s showtime. Raceday. Just love this shot, atmosphere plus.

Len Lukey’s and Lou Abrahams’ boys push their steeds to the form-up area. That beautiful, clever beastie to the left is Tornado 2 Chev 283, the yellow Cooper in the background is Aussie Millers T41. Note the Repco service van- its chilly too, 3 March is still summer’ish but most of the chaps are well rugged up against Tasmanian cool.

 

(HRCCT)

 

Business end of the Tornado 2 Chev in the Longford paddock. GM Corvette ‘small block’ 283 CID V8 with lots of goodies from the US including Vertex magneto and home grown fuel injection using some Hilborn Travers components, circa 380bhp (B Young)

 

As you would have surmised from the foregoing descriptions of the cars, Australian National F1 at the time (until the end of 1963) was run to Formula Libre, hence the presence of Doug Whiteford’s ex-works Maserati 300S below.

I have bemoaned the fact that Doug bought a sportscar from the Officine Maserati team at the end of the 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park, rather than one of the three 250F’s they had with them.

Whilst Douggie was no spring-chookin’ by then- he started racing pre-War and won his first AGP aboard his Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’ back in 1950, he still would have given his contemporaries a serious run for their money in his always beautifully prepared and driven cars.

Doug sold this car in the early-sixties to Bill Leech, the racer and pillar of the Victorian Light Car Club who used the car both on the road- it was a familiar sight on Beach Road jaunts from Brighton, and at historic meetings in the early years of such racing in Australia. It was a sad day when this ‘mobile Monet’ left our shores.

 

Ooh-la-la. Sex on wheels and what a backdrop- the vivid red Maser 300S ‘3055’ contrasted against the dark shadows and green Mountford Pine- it’s still there by the way (B Young)

 

It was another batch of Bob Young’s photos which inspired an article I wrote a little while back on Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder, which on this weekend was driven by Melbourne Hillclimb ace Bruce Walton in the sportscar events.

 

(B Young)

The photo below is of the A Edison entered 1250cc MG TF Spl- I know nothing about the car or driver, who can fill us in?

 

(B Young)

 

Article Links…

Longford Trophy and Tornados; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Porsche 550 Speedster; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/28/hamiltons-porsche-550-spyder/

Longford in detail; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

Stan Jones; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

Doug Whiteford; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/05/doug-whiteford-black-bess-woodside-south-australia-1949/

Credits…

Bob Young on Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania Facebook page, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

 

(B Young)

 

Tailpiece: The ‘Tasmanian Tyre Service’ Handicap…

It’s a bit of a puzzling photo really- the handicap grid sort of makes sense but Doug Whiteford belongs up the back with Stan as ‘scratch- men’ rather than at front left. John Youl’s red Porsche 356 stands out, other drivers and cars folks?

By the way, they are in the original starting line area, on The Flying Mile, just a way back from Mountford Corner, clearly Bob Young stuck to this part of the track and the paddock- to the right of the racing cars.

 

Cropped version of the above photo, the focus Stanley, ‘2520’ and the lads (B Young)

John Sawyer is leaning on the tail, Otto Stone is on the right approaching, Stan readies himself in the cockpit, I wonder who the fella in the neato Maserati overalls is, oh, and in the MG TF up the road to the right?

Finito…

‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ race, Lobethal 1939 (SLSA)

The first official ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ was held at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales on 1 February 1960, the one race title was famously won by David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 3.4.

I wonder whether the first Australian Touring Car Championship is not that ‘Official’ as in CAMS sanctioned event at all- but rather the ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ race held during the January 2 1939 Australian Grand Prix meeting at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills won by Tom Bradey’s Singer Bantam?…

The racing of ‘run-what-you-brung’ production cars goes all the way back to the dawn of racing in Australia- to Intercontinental City to City record breaking, the ‘Car Trials’ run out of major towns and the speed events held within them, on dirt ‘speedways’ and ‘Around the Houses’ racing in Western Australia.

‘Stock Car’ or touring car racing at Applecross, Perth during the 1940 Patriotic GP meeting- the Bill Smith Humber chases a Chevrolet (K Devine)

 

Steamin’: More Applecross action, gas producers Stock Car race!, with one competitor boiling on the line, magic shot (K Devine)

The Monday 2 January Lobethal 1939 AGP event program comprised a 10.45am ‘curtain-raiser’- the 75 mile South Australian Grand Prix, and then ‘an innovation, the Australian Stock Car Road Championship, in which all manner of stock car models, from sedans to tourers, and small engine roadsters have been entered’ over 50 miles held at 1pm. Finally the blue riband Australian Grand Prix contested over 150 miles of the ultra challenging, dangerous, demanding Lobethal road circuit commenced at 2.30pm.

These races, consistent with Australian motor racing practice well into the sixties were run to handicaps- I’m not suggesting that all races into the sixties were handicaps, but some were. The last handicap AGP was the 1948 Point Cook, Melbourne race won by Frank Pratt’s BMW 328.

The entry for the Lobethal stock car title race was diverse and comprised, as suggested above both ‘touring cars’ and ‘sports cars’. This too was the case in Australia until well into the fifties, ‘Sportscars were still seen as a natural part of a production car field, although the arrival of the Jaguar XK120 tended to stretch the friendship’…’The combination of sports and sedan cars to make up production car fields plus the frequent resort to handicapping, meant there were very few predictable winners amongst the touring cars of the early 1950s…’according to HATCC (The Official History of The Australian Touring Car Championship).

John Snow in his Hudson 8, a roadie as well as a car he competed in- inclusive of hillclimbs and at Mt Panorama, Bathurst (N Howard)

The ‘Geoghegans, Brocks and Lowndes’ of that 1939 day were Frank Kleinig in Bill McIntyre’s Hudson 8 and the similarly equipped John Snow, with Jock McKinnon, J McGowan and Ted Parsons in Ford V8’s. In amongst the ‘heavy metal’ were cars such as the Austin 8 raced by local ace of that marque Ron Uffindell, K Brooks’ Wolseley, D Hutton in a Morris 8/40 and Tom Bradey in a Singer 9 Bantam.

The sportscars comprised MG T Types of Owen Dibbs and S Osborne, the MG ‘Tiger’ of Selwyn Haig and the fast Jaguar SS100 of G Brownsworth- he was off scratch as were Kleinig and Snow, the latter two blokes aces in the ‘Grand Prix’ machinery also racing that day. The winner of the AGP was Allan Tomlinson, the prodigiously quick and superbly prepared Perth ace aboard a supercharged MG TA, a wonderful story for another time. Soon actually, it’s completed.

G Brownsworth Jaguar SS100 (B King)

The Adelaide Advertiser’s reporter was not particularly impressed with the touring cars in practice. ‘The entrants in the Australian Stock Car Championship had trouble at almost all of the corners on the course, as the cars, not built for racing, swayed and threatened to overturn with the heavy loading imposed on the bodies imposed by the racing speeds’.

Despite that, Kleinig lapped in 7:32 min/secs, Snow 7:35 and Phillips in 7:45- by way of comparison the lap record was held by Lobethal-Meister Alf Barrett in a 2.3 litre supercharged straight-eight Alfa Romeo Monza in 5:41- so in relative terms they were not too shabby.

Perhaps modern comparisons are instructive. The F1 lap record at Albert Park is Schumacher’s 2004 Ferrari time of 1:24.125, the V8 Supercars record is Scott McLaughlin’s Ford FG X Falcon’s 1:54.6016. Kleinig’s time as a percentage of Barrett’s is 73%, McLaughlin’s of Schumacher’s is 80%- and so it should be, the V8 Supercar is a racer whilst the Hudson 8 was very much a production car. The point is that the relative production lap time of the Hudson relative to a Grand Prix car of the period is not too bad at all.

Lobethal crowd taking in the stock car race 1939 (SLSA)

The Advertiser reported the race as follows…

‘Chief interest in the Australian stock car championship centred on the possibility of J McKinnon Ford V8 (3 mins) catching the leader, TM Bradey who was off 11 minutes in the little four cylinder Singer. The speed of the race was very slow in comparison to the SA Grand Prix’ the Advertiser’s reporter ‘Differential’ observed.

Bradey went into the lead from the Uffindell Austin 8 on the third time around with Hutton, Morris 8/40 a long way back in third. Brook’s Wolseley, Mrs Jacques MG T (Owen Gibbs driver) and the Osborne MG T retired at Kayannie after about three laps each, and McKinnon and Parsons in Ford V8’s moved up into fourth and fifth places respectively’.

Jock McKinnon’s second placed Ford V8, his handicap was 3 minutes (unattributed)

 

Ron Uffindell’s Austin 8 placing is unclear but he had a good weekend winning the South Australian GP in his Austin 7 Spl (B King)

‘Brownsworth with his low-slung racing type car (Jaguar SS100) was the best of the scratch men, and he left them to chase the other five. Lapping consistently at more than 70 miles an hour he moved up several places in successive laps and was gradually overhauling the leaders.

Bradey, however maintained his lead to the finish’.

Tom Bradey was a motor mechanic from Barmera in South Australia’s Riverland, he and his mechanic, Charlie Sheppard, who owned the car, towed it the 200 Km to Lobethal.

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard on their way to a Lobethal Oz Stock Car Championship win’ locally bodied Singer Bantam (unattributed)

 

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard after their historic win, Singer 9 Bantam. It is fair to say that the (non-championship) Group A Touring Car race held as a support event at the first Adelaide F1 GP held just down the road in 1985 was a higher profile race than this one! (J Redwood)

In a weekend of surprises for the Bradey family, James Redwood, Tom’s grandson wrote that ‘Uncles Peter and Don Bradey say he may not have told his wife (my grandmother) the whole truth about about his intention to race at Lobethal’.

‘Tom had set off with the family under the assumption that he was part of the support crew. The race was broadcast on the radio and it wasn’t until mention of Bradey on the call that the family realised he was the driver’.

Bradey returned to Lobethal the following year and raced a Bugatti Brescia in the 1940 ‘South Australian 100′, but failed to finish the race won by Jack Phillips’ Ford V8 Spl. Years later, in 1958, he bought the ex-Bira/Colin Dunne MG K3 which won the Junior GP at Lobethal in Colin’s hands in 1938 and failed to start the ’39 AGP that weekend with engine troubles. Many Australian enthusiasts will recall the Bradeys ownership and use of the K3 for decades.

In a nice bit of symmetry, Tom Bradey was approached by a North Adelaide man with the offer of sale of a Singer 9 in similar specification to his winning 1939 title car, that car passed to James Redwood in 1972 and in restored condition is still used regularly- the Bradey family-Singer connection lives on.

D Hutton’s fifth place Morris 8/40 (B King)

Race Results

1st TM Bradey Singer 9 Bantam in an actual race time of 54:08 minutes. 2nd J McKinnon Ford V8 . 3rd Ted Parsons Ford V8. 4th G Brownsworth Jaguar SS. 5th DE Hutton Morris 8/40.

The placings below Hutton are unrecorded in both the Advertiser’s contemporary race report published on 3 January 1939 and in more modern reference sources. The fastest lap fell to Brownsworth- 7 min 27 sec at ‘just over 71 miles an hour’.

Most results listings of the race have Jack Phillips as the driver of the third placed Ford V8. Whilst entered by him the car was raced by Ted Parsons according to The Advertiser. Jack and Ted were partners in a Ford service and sales agency at Wangaratta in northern Victoria.

Phillips drove, and Parsons was riding mechanic in the Ford V8 Special the pair owned and raced so successfully in this period- inclusive of third place in the AGP held later in the day and wins at the Interstate Grand Prix at Wirlinga, Albury that March and in the 1940 South Australian 100 at Lobethal.

It was 101 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade that scorching hot South Australian day- perhaps Phillips made a late call early in the sweltering weekend to preserve his energies for the AGP which immediately followed the stock car race, and allowed his partner to race in the support event.

Phillips was one of the aces of the period, it does make you wonder what Jack could have done with the car had he been the driver- and also whether Parsons raced with Phillips’ handicap, which would have been tougher than that applied to him given his level of racing experience, or whether he was given a different handicap.

I wonder if the Ford V8 raced by Parsons was off the Phillips/Parsons dealership floor in Wangaratta or supplied to them by FoMoCo?!

Surely this isn’t the first factory racing Ford entered in an Australian Touring (Stock) Car Championship race?! Harry Firth where are you?

Jack Phillips and Ted Parsons, Ford V8 Spl during the ’39 AGP. No doubt Parsons was a tad weary when he climbed into the the Big Henry’s passenger seat after his 3rd place in the Stock Car Championship race which preceded this event (N Howard)

The interesting thing is why the Lobethal race isn’t regarded as the first Australian Touring Car Championship given both the race’s name- the ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’, the ‘national’ entry list (Victoria, NSW and SA?) and that the race was run in a manner consistent with common practice right through to the end of the late-fifties- that is, a mix of touring and sports cars in a handicap event…

The ‘HATCC’ devotes several paragraphs to the race in its introduction but the emphasis of that part of the book is more about the rules of the time, ‘the race (the 1939 Lobe race) the programme explained was “open to standard touring or sportscars fitted with standard equipment and operating on standard first-grade fuel. The only alterations allowed will be raised compression ratio and alterations to the suspension in the interests of safety. In some cases, alterations to the suspension will be insisted upon”.

Then the much respected authors of the book moved on to a discussion about racing after the war.

Selwyn Haig’s MG ‘Tiger’, placing uncertain (B King)

 

Tom Bradey’s Singer being rounded up by Frank Kleinig’s Kleinig 8 Spl during the 1939 Lobethal weekend. This is Kleinig’s outright Hudson 8 MG chassis special he raced in the AGP, not the road car in which he contested the stock car race (J Redwood)

 

Bradey and Sheppard again (J Redwood)

 

Surely you missed the point blokes?!

Which was or is a debate about the merits of Lobethal as the first Australian Touring Car Championship race rather than Gnoo Blas- which held the CAMS created ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ title race under the then new ‘Appendix J’ rules which commenced on 1 January 1960.

It is intriguing that HATCC authors Graham Howard, Stewart Wilson and David Greenhalgh didn’t debate the topic in their book’s introduction, in the early 2000’s Australian Motor Racing History was being re-written after all…

The honour of the first Australian Grand Prix was reallocated from the 31 March 1928 ‘100 Miles Road Race’, a race for cars of under 2 litres held on the original, rectangular, 6.5 mile gravel road course at Phillip Island, to the 15 January 1927 ‘Australian Grand Prix’, a six lap, 6 miles and a bit race between two cars around an oval, dirt, 1 mile 75 yards horse racing course at Goulburn, NSW’s second largest city.

To be clear, the Phillip Island event was two races, the cars split into classes based on engine capacity, consisting of a total of seventeen starters from several states, with the quickest time winning- Captain Arthur Waite in an Austin 7 s/c was famously the victor. The Goulburn contest was amongst seven competitors from New South Wales- two heats and then a final amongst the quickest pair over 6 laps- the victor was local racer, Geoff Meredith in a Bugatti T30.

My point is that if the attribution of ‘the first’ AGP can be reallocated on such debatable grounds- that the two-contestant Goulburn 6 minute 14.8 second race is an AGP in name only- then surely it is far from tenuous to assert that the first ATCC was the 2 January 1939 Lobethal race amongst competitors from two or three states won by Tom Bradey’s Singer 9 Bantam over 50 miles of the toughest ever race track in Australia, to rules or practices of the time which prevailed until the end of 1959?

Don’t get me wrong, I agree- just, depending upon the number of Coopers ‘Reds’ consumed on the night, that the first AGP is the 1927 Goulburn race, but it is very easy to argue the other way given the entire nature of the event other than its name.

1939 Lobethal program (S Dalton)

John Blanden in his 1981 ‘A History of The Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ writes in his introductory comments about the Lobethal meeting that ‘Immediately preceding the Australian Grand Prix were two other events, the 75 mile South Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Stock Car Championship which in later years would have had the title of Australian Touring Car Championship’.

Whilst on this jolly I rather suspect that had a Ford V8 won the Lobe race there would have been agitation from Ford/Ford fans/enthusiasts/historians to appropriate the 1939 championship as their first ATCC win but given the victor was a Singer- a long gone marque, there has been no such pressure applied.

Then of course there is my conspiracy theory, there always has to be one of those surely!?

The CAMS view of the world started with their existence in 1953, with all due respect to the serious historians spread across the CAMS Historic Commission, what happened in the past pre-1953 does not matter to the CAMS mainstream hierachy much.

‘The Official 50 Year History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ published in 2011 to celebrate 50 years of the ATCC from the 1960 Gnoo Blas race has CAMS fingerprints all over it.

A CAMS promo banner appears on the cover, a Foreword by V8 Supercars CEO Martin Whitaker tells how wonderful that mob are and there is a second Foreword from CAMS President Andrew Papadopoulos (don’t mention Formula 4 folks, I did once and I think I got away with it…) ole’ Papa points out in his homily that ‘The ATCC is the second longest running national touring car championship in the world…’, include the ’39 Lobethal event and you have the oldest in the world matey…

I can’t help but wonder that even if the HATCC authors thought their was merit in recognising the 1939 Lobethal race as the first such title, and I’m not saying that is what they think/thought- I rather suspect the CAMS view is that the ATCC started with ‘their’ title in 1960- the ‘Official’ one, whereas the Lobethal race wasn’t an ‘Official’ championship but rather a concoction of the Sporting Car Club of South Australia, the organisers of the Lobethal meeting and is therefore ‘Unofficial’ rather than ‘Official’.

So, there you go, it’s all a CAMS conspiracy not to recognise Lobethal 1939 as it suits their dialogue and view of the world not to- even if the recognition of ’39 would make ’em the big swingin’ dicks of the touring car world by instantly giving them the oldest such title on the planet.

But let’s move on from CAMS, it’s always best to move on from CAMS. Quickly and with plenty of distance.

(S Dalton)

It’s just as easy to come up with reasons why the Lobethal meeting isn’t and wasn’t the first ATCC of course.

Just like a good lawyer, I can argue the case either way depending upon who is paying me the most. And no, I am not a lawyer, I’m not cursed by the misplaced sense of superiority which afflicts those poor souls.

So here are the arguments against Lobe ’39 first ATCC recognition, and rebuttals in relation thereto.

1.The race wasn’t called ‘The Australian Touring Car Championship’, if it wasn’t literally called just that, it doesn’t count as that.

Rebuttal.

Well yep, ya got me sunshine.

However, in Australia we happily call the 1928 ‘100 Miles Road Race’ at Phillip Island the 1928 AGP and the 26 December 1936 ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’ the 1937 AGP (WTF, LOL, go figure etc) so calling the ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ the ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ is consistent with our flexibility in flicking around titles as and when it suits us.

2.A 50 mile race isn’t championship distance.

Rebuttal.

Bugger off! The ’61 and ’63 ATCC’s at Lowood and Mallala were both 50 miles and they were tracks for ‘girl guides’ compared with the rigours and perils of Lobethal.

3.Thirteen starters isn’t championship numbers.

Rebuttal.

Nah not really. Longford in ’62 only had only 14 cars and Sandown in ’65 only had 18- far fewer per head of population than Lobethal managed in ’39.

4. It wasn’t a touring car race with all those lid-less cars?!

Rebuttal.

Well, sorta, maybe but not really. Since 1960 the ATCC has been held to numerous sets of rules- Appendix J, Group C, Group A, V8 Supercars etc. In 1939 touring cars included those with lids, what we now call a convertible and sportscars. ATCC rules have evolved over time, what happened in 1939 is consistent with changes along the journey made by CAMS.

CAMS get confused every now and then too, about individual cars- for example, the Porsche 911, which most of us call a GT Coupe was ATCC eligible for a couple of years, then became a Sports Sedan and another two or so years later a Production Sportscar. Dimensionally during that period the car didn’t change but CAMS view of it did. Go figure. Don’t actually, because you will never figure it.

5.But Lobe was a handicap race, come on, surely not?!

Rebuttal.

Yeah, well maybe. But what is the difference between the class structure used for 20 years or so to give everybody a fair go and handicaps? Don’t even talk about CAMS rule changes here and there in every other year as their tummies were tickled by the politically powerful to create ‘equalisation’ or ‘parity’ between cars. Good try but that argument doesn’t knock us out of the ring either.

6. You are just trying to knock off the ‘first’ ATCC from New South Wales and give it to those undeserving South Australians.

Rebuttal.

I’m no more thieving a race from you mob than theft of the first AGP from the poor, smug, self righteous Victorians! My motives are as pure as any Canberra politicians.

Here endeth the diatribe.

And so my friends, I put it to you that the one race, 50 mile 1939 Lobethal ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ contested by thirteen or so cars and won by Tom Bradey’s Singer Bantam are indeed the first ATCC champion driver and car- official or otherwise.

As many of you know I am not in the slightest bit interested in touring car racing of any sort so my impartiality in relation to all of this is absolute.

Let’s hear your views!

In the meantime i look forward to a reprint of the ‘History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ and a letter from CAMS in confirmation forthwith…

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard, Singer 9 Bantam, Lobethal 1939 (B King)

 

Bob Lea-Wright and Jack Kennedy on lap 30, on the way to a 1934 AGP win, they had their difficulties as the car was jammed in top gear for much of the race (S Aspinall)

Etcetera: Singer in Australia…

The marque is largely unknown in Australia today but had plenty of competition success in period, Bob Lea-Wright and Jack Kennedy won the 1934 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island in a Singer 9 Le Mans, as below. This car is currently being restored by Nathan Tasca and his father in Victoria and may break cover at Motorclassica shortly.

(S Aspinall)

Sue Asinall, Bob Lea-Wright’s daughter recalls; ‘Dad and Jack Kennedy are outside the Singer dealership he managed in Melbourne after winning the ’34 AGP.

It was an incredible achievement given during practice the engine blew up. Dad and Jack took the car back to Melbourne and worked all night to instal a new one. They wearily drove back to the ‘Island where they had to “run the engine in” over 8 hours around the track on the Sunday and then race on the Monday!

My father also brought back other engine parts needed by fellow competitors! A true gentleman and genuine sportsman/competitor’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets not forget Noel Campbell’s win at Lobethal the year before, below.

The Adelaide youngster won the 1938 South Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal in the circuit’s first car racing meeting that January driving his self built and modified Singer Bantam Special.

Not too long after the win he moved to Sydney where the car provided daily transport after conversion back to more standard form, it too, most of it, is in Nathan Tasca’s hands.

There is much, much more to the marque’s history in Australia but these two wins are just a couple of snippets to remember.

(N Howard)

Photo Credits…

Norman Howard, State Library of South Australia, Nathan Tasca Collection, Bob King Collection, James Redwood Collection, Sue Aspinall, Stephen Dalton Collection

Special Thanks…

To Singer enthusiasts and owners Nathan Tasca and James Redwood for research material, photographs and anecdotes

Bibliography…

Various Adelaide Advertiser newspaper articles, ‘The Official History of The Australlian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard, Stewart Wilson, David Greenhalgh, ‘A History of The Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ John Blanden

Tailpiece: No Lightweight in Performance: Singer Bantam, winner of the first Australian Touring Car Chanpionship…

(N Tasca)

 

Finito…

 

 

The only ugly Elfin body ever built wasn’t constructed in Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown in Adelaide but by Vern Schuppan’s crew in the US, or was it?…

Here Vern is on the way to ninth place in his Elfin MR8A-C Chev during the Road Atlanta Can-Am round on 14 May 1978, the race won by Alan Jones far effective Lola T333CS Chev.

There were some fairly vestigial conversions of F5000’s to single-seat Can-Am cars in that post 1976 period but Schuppan’s must be one of the most thinly disguised of them all?!

By way of comparison, below, is Elfin MR8B-C Chev ‘8783’ F5000 at Sandown Park in Februay 1978, a far prettier, ‘more resolved’ design in terms of its body. In a mixed weekend Vern put his Ansett Team Elfin car on pole but then blew an engine after 5 laps of the Sandown Park Cup, the race won by Warwick Brown’s Team VDS Lola T333CS Can-Am car converted to T332C F5000 specs. Amusing that, a Can-Am Lola reverting to F5000 spec rather than the other way around.

(Ian Smith)

Schuppan first tested an Elfin MR8 at Adelaide International raceway several days after winning the 1976 Australian Rothmans International Series in Teddy Yip’s Theodore Racing Lola T332 Chev. Together with Garrie Cooper they sorted the car which Vern raced in Australia throughout 1976 as his international commitments allowed.

Despite not being a fan of the SCCA’s decision to cease F5000 at the end of 1976 in favour of a single-seat 5 litre Can-Am class- in search of the unlimited Can-Am’s spectator appeal as the sanctioning body and the circuit promoters were, Vern decided to compete in 1977.

Schuppan at Riverside with ‘8772’ dressed in its original aluminium John Webb bodywork, the shape of which will be somewhat familiar to Elfin MS7 Repco enthusiasts (L Roberts)

 

Garrie Cooper races the John Webb bodied Elfin MS7 Repco Holden F5000 engined sportscar for the first time at Adelaide International in August 1974. Likeness to the Can-Am MR8 clear (R Davies)

Rather than buy a Lola T333 or the T332CS conversion kit to turn a T332 F5000 into a T332 Can-Am machine he decided to take an Elfin MR8 to the ‘states.

Elfin’s renowned sheet metal worker and body builder John Webb, together with Garrie Cooper built an all enveloping aluminium body based on that Garrie had used in his one-off MS7 Repco Holden sportscar which first raced in 1974.

The body was fitted to Elfin MR8A-C chassis ‘8772’ which Vern first raced as part of Ansett Team Elfin in the 1977 Australian Rothmans Series. He was 5th with an overheating engine, 7th after a tyre deflation and change, DNF pushrod, DNF oil leak at Oran Park, Surfers Paradise, Sandown and Adelaide International respectively.

That car Elfin MR8 ‘8772’ was despatched by sea to the US with the Can-Am body built in Edwardstown, using Garrie’s MR8 as the ‘slave’ upon which it was formed. When completed it was shipped across the Pacific and fitted and fettled to suit Vern’s car, slightly different in shape to GC’s.

Due to Vern’s Surtees F1 commitments and loss of his Can-Am sponsor he delayed the debut of the Elfin until the October 1977 end of season Riverside round.

The Adelaide driver qualified the new machine a good ninth- the team having only the three practice days to do all their sorting. He finished 22nd, 5 laps short of race and series winner Patrick Tambay’s Lola T333CS Chev after sustaining body damage.

Love the Brian Byrt Ford sponsorship- he shared Dick Johnson’s Falcon GT at Bathurst so supported didn’t he. MR8A-C Riverside 1977

 

Heading into 1978 the team planned a full assault on the title won by Alan Jones in the Carl Haas Lola T333CS Chev.

Perhaps the nearly two second gap between Vern and pole-man Jones at the opening round at Road Atlanta was indicative of the year to come. Schuppan was 5th and finished 9th with Jones first- the first five cars were Lolas.

At Charlotte in May he was 5th but Vern thought the car ‘wasn’t strong or light enough. We broke the rear suspension at Charlotte and had K&A Engineering in Adelaide design a new suspension and I had a lighter fibreglass body built. Still we were not as fast as the Lola’.

The ‘Elfin bible’ says that ‘Vern commissioned John Webb to fabricate lightweight bodywork…He despatched the panels to the USA where they were added to the basic MR8-C open wheeler body…’ I wonder if the (other) Webb bodywork is the ‘cycle-guard configuration’ or the more substantial final Can-Am body the car used in 1979? Or both.

The team missed Mid Ohio, Mont Tremblant and Watkins Glen before reappearing at Road America in late July- Vern was sixth having qualified ninth. Jones again won from Warwick Brown and Al Unser, both in Lola T333CS.

Schuppan, Road America 1978 (D Hutson)

The interim bodywork (interim in the sense it was the second of three bodies used on the Can-Am configuration of the car) of the car was developed by Boxx and his team in the US- whilst it was undeniably light it gave away much in both drag and downforce as other teams evolved their Lolas.

Off to Canada later in August Vern qualified and finished sixth at Mosport, this time with roughly 2.5 seconds between Vern and Jones on pole. Alan won from fellow Aussie Warwick Brown’s Team VDS Lola T333CS and similarly mounted Al Holbert.

Schuppan, Mosport 1978 (zoompics.com)

At the celebrated Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in Quebec Vern qualified fourth and finished seventh. Elliot Forbes-Robinson won for a change in the Spyder NF-10 Chev.

Mosport 1978 (unattributed)

In the two end of season October California races Vern was Q7 and DNF at Laguna Seca- a week later he qualified fifth but failed to finish after popping an engine at Riverside.

Riverside 1978

Jones won the championship taking five wins from the nine races he contested- all from pole. Warwick Brown was second and Al Holbert third, all of the guys aboard Lola T333CS.

The 1979 season started at Road Atlanta in May, with Vern missing that event, Charlotte, Mosport and Mid Ohio before making the race debut of the car with its new, all-enveloping, fibreglass bodywork at Watkins Glen in early July.

Schuppan, Elfin MR8A-C Chev, Watkins Glen 1979

He was six seconds shy of Keke Rosberg’s Spyder NF-11 Chev on pole but in a race of attrition finished a gritty third behind Keke and Geoff Lees VDS Lola T333CS Chev.

Road America 1979 (G Snyder)

Road America, Wisconsin, 22 July 1979, Vern was 5th in the race won by Jacky Ickx in the Haas-Hall Lola T333CS Chev from Geoff Lees T333 and Al Holbert’s Hogan HR-001 Chev.

At Brainerd Vern qualified tenth but popped an engine after completing 19 laps, Ickx won.

Vern chases Bobby Rahal’s Prophet Chev in the MR8A-C Riverside 1979 (C Nally)

Schuppan missed Trois-Rivieres but raced both the California season-enders.

He was Q9 and seventh at Laguna Seca with Bobby Rahal taking the win in his Prophet Chev. For the season ending Riverside meeting on 23 October- his last Can-Am race in the Elfin, Vern finished where he started in terms of the outright speed of the car, he was about two seconds off pole- Keke Rosberg’s Spyder NF-11 Chev on this occasion. He finished five laps down with mechanical problems, Jacky Ickx’ Lola T333 was the victor of both the race, and with five wins, the series.

‘8772’ in the Riverside paddock. Aluminium monocoque chassis and 525bhp AAR 5 litre, injected Chevy clear. Schuppan rated the MR8 F5000 a better car than a T332 Lola- not that the Can-Am variant was quicker! (G LaRue)

In an effort to become more competitive in the 1980 Can-Am Vern acquired two F1 McLaren M26’s with a view to having Howden Ganley’s Tiga Cars convert them into Can-Am machines, but then changed tack buying a bespoke Tiga CA80 instead.

The car, based on Tigas’s F2, ‘F280’ appeared in the last two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca and at Riverside (below) with the plucky Aussie unable to qualify the cars in the top-ten. He was classified sixteenth at Laguna after a water leak, completing only 37 laps and fourteenth after an engine failure on lap 41 at Riverside- after that the car was not raced again.

Vern, Tiga CA-80 Chev, Budweiser GP, Riverside 1980 (unattributed)

The McLaren’s were on-sold to Porsche Cars Australia chief Alan Hamilton.

In Alf Costanzo’s hands one of the Tiga converted ‘ground effect’ M26 Chevs became the ‘jet of the field’ in the dying days of F5000 in Australia.

Vern leaving Turn 6 during the very smoggy 1979 Riverside meeting (G LaRue)

But the Elfin Can-Am adventure was over, perhaps the results of the under-funded and resourced little team were unsurprising against the bigger teams at the head of the field.

‘8772’ survived the ravages of its ‘in period’ racing fairly well, and was ultimately converted back to F5000 specifications. It’s owned by Bill Hemming and can usually be seen on display at his Elfin Heritage Centre in Melbourne.

Schuppan, Riverside 1979 (K Oblinger)

Credits…

Larry Roberts, Glenn Snyder, David Hutson, Gerry LaRue, Ian Smith, Robert Davies, Wayne Ellwood, John McCollister, Chris Nally, Lynn Haddock, oldracingcars.com, ‘Australia’s Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ John Blanden and Barry Catford, Kurt Oblinger

Tailpiece: Schuppan, Riverside 1979…

Finito…

‘My signature shot, Jim Clark Lotus 49 Ford DFW and Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T. Two of the best drivers of their time. Taken early in my photography journey. Not only is it a record of the 1968 Surfers Tasman race, the pic is pretty well balanced and shows the scenic aspect of the old Surfers Paradise track. I describe in the Tasman book, the trauma experienced in getting to and from the race’ (R MacKenzie)

 

I finally bought the Tasman Cup bible at Sandown a while back, what a ripper book it is!…

 

There are some heavy dudes involved in it. Publisher Tony Loxley has assembled a swag of ‘in period’ talent- journalists, photographers and drivers to contribute, forty in all. I blew my tiny mind when I got it home and penetrated the thick plastic, protective cover to unveil content rich words and images. That Sunday afternoon was completely shot.

At $A95 it’s a snip, nearly 500 pages of beautifully printed and bound hardcover with about ninety percent of the (900’ish) images unfamiliar to me. Mucking around with primotipo I’ve seen plenty of shots in the last four years or so- it was awesome to view a vast array of unseen images, some from the archives of ‘snappers ‘I have met online’ who have kindly allowed me to use their work on my ‘masterpiece’.

Which brings me to Rod MacKenzie’s work.

I’ve used his images before but the material in the Tasman tome is sensational for its compositional artistry. So I gave him a yell and said you choose two photos (Clark and Muir) and I’ll choose two (Gardner and Walker) to showcase the work and support this article. The photo captions are Rod’s, his ‘artists notes’ if you will. We plan some occasional articles going forward, many thanks to Rod.

 

‘Frank Gardner, Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo negotiates Newry Corner at Longford, Tasmania 1968. Perhaps one of the wettest races i have attended. At least i was taking photos, not driving! This pic has its own appeal, i just pressed the button. Frank’s skills were tested and you can see the race was on public roads with spectataors in the most unsafe areas. Fences were barbed wire, no run-off and badly cambered roadway.’ (R MacKenzie)

 

Rod writes about his work…

‘We all have favourites.

In over fifty years of motor racing photography some of my earlier photos remain dear to me.

However, the photos were not quite as important as the spectacle of close racing between highly skilled ‘pilotes’ in competition with their cotemporaries.

They at the time were the source of income to attend the many race circuits and were sold to magazines in Australia and overseas.

Now the photos have become most important.

These photos are now historical records of these men and some women whose exploits have been written about and add reality to reports and clarity to memories.

I also endeavoured to photograph many of the competitors ensuring not only ‘the stars’ were captured.

Without the photos, memories become clouded and distorted. Not by intent, but by the passage of years.

My photos of several Tasman Series spent some time in the proverbial shoebox during a period of having a new family to bring up.

They were revisted to be included in two books (so far) from Tony Loxley of ‘Full Throttle Publishing’ about Formula 5000 and The Tasman Cup and have been included in many other books now. I have released some of the photos on social media and they are still appreciated judging from some of the comments received.

I take pride in my photos as i try to add ‘something’ above and beyond a picture ‘of a car on asphalt somewhere’. A good black and white photo in my view is more difficult to produce than a colour photo and just suits the history of races.

My photos should convey the ‘atmosphere’ of motor sport- the drama, the commitment, the excitement, the humour, the unusual, and the extraordinary when that is possible.

Consequently my shots can be moody and dark, bright and clear, or show incidents capturing moments of drama.

They generally also have content to ensure recognition of the location of the subjects. The content may be from background, the cars, the weather or the occasion.

Together, Mark Bisset and i plan a small series of ‘favourites’ chosen between us from my vast collection.

These random photos will continue to appear as time and subject allow, and i also invite you to sample a few more from my http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/ website and Facebook Group.

Until the next offering, enjoy the photos here’.

Rod MacKenzie

 

‘One of those shots that work even when most things are not right for composition. The car is too far away, the foreground is irrelevant, the background does not relate to much. BUT John Walker, Matich A50 Repco, in a 1973 wet Tasman race came undone at the Warwick Farm Causeway, and used the short circuit to recover. The pic shows how lost he seemed to be!’ (R MacKenzie)

 

This weighty addition to my shelves got me tangentially thinking about what ‘The Essential Library of Books on Australian Motor Racing History’ comprises. I reckon its these works, in no particular order…

.‘The Official 50 Race History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard (and others)

.‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

.‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard

.‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay

.‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley

.‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan

.‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’

.‘Jack Brabham Story’ Brabham and Doug Nye

.‘Tasman Cup 1964-1975’ Tony Loxley (and others)

.‘History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard and Stewart Wilson

.’Historic Racing Cars In Australia’ John Blanden

The above books don’t cover the Repco Racing story in anything remotely approaching full. Two that sorta do are Malcolm Preston’s ‘Maybach to Holden‘ and Frank Hallam’s ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ but both have warts. Malcolm’s is good, mind you, my Repco Brabham Engines buddies say it has quite a few errors. Hallam’s book is 70% insight and 30% arrant bullshit, but you need a fair bit of Repco knowledge to separate, page by page, the gold from the crap. I’ve stayed clear of marque specific books- Catford on Elfin and King on Bugatti for example, as I’m trying to get spread of topics from a small number of books not a long list of works…

I’m really interested to hear from you all on additions or deletions to the list.

The debate isn’t ‘my favourite books on Australian motor racing’ but rather the minimum number of books which most thoroughly tells the history of Australian motor racing. What books should a young enthusiast with limited funds buy is perhaps the filter to apply to your thinking?

Whilst the biographies listed may seem specific- they are, but they also cover heaps of related racing stuff over the period of the subjects life, so have great breadth.

Pre-war Oz racing books are thin on the ground, few were written- in that sense Medley’s and Gullan’s books are gold. So too are the relevant chapters of the ‘History of The AGP’ which provide lots of context in addition to the race reports themselves.

Howard, McKay and Medley were/are enthusiasts/racers who have wonderful historic perspective and deep insight that only masters of subject matter have. Bringing all of the threads about a topic together and drawing conclusions is hard, all have that ability.

All of the books listed are out of print except ‘John Snow’ (Medley still has copies) ‘History of the AGP’ and ‘Tasman Cup’, but all can be obtained with patience on eBay. The only one which is a bit on the exy side is Phil Irving’s book, the prices of which are high given huge global Vincent enthusiast demand in addition to us car guys.

In any event, all debate on the topic is invited, and yes, lets hear of your favourite books as well…

Credits…

Rod MacKenzie Collection

Tailpiece: Bob Muir, Lola T300 Chev, Warwick Farm 1972…

 

(R MacKenzie)

‘Action! Getting close to Bob Muir’s Lola T300 in the Esses at Warwick Farm in 1972. This remains my favourite Warwick Farm location although getting it right was really difficult. There were only a few places that were close enough to warrant an uninteresting background.

So we have the best location, best looking Lola, and a great photo that shows Muir’s speed and commitment at the most difficult section of the ‘Farm’.

Finito…

(M Bishop)

Geoff Brabham gets the jump from Grace Bros Racing team-mate Andrew Miedecke and Alfie Costanzo at the Hume Weir, Australian National F2 round on 15 June 1975…

Birrana 274 Ford Hart, Rennmax BN7 Ford Hart and Birrana 274 again- Costanzo won that day but Geoff won the series.

In the black helmet at far right on the second row is Ray Winter in the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ still a winner seven years after it first raced in Frank Gardner’s hands in the summer of ’69 Tasman Series.

The high water mark of Australian National Formula 2 racing (1.6 litre, DOHC, 2 valve- which effectively mandated the Lotus Ford twin-cam engine- the ducks guts version was the Hart 416B circa 205bhp injected variants) was in 1974 when an infusion of sponsorship dollars from shirt manufacturer Van Heusen resulted in an influx of drivers stepping up into the class and/or acquiring new cars.

Geoff Brabham during wet Oran Park practice in 1975. Birrana 274 Ford/Hart. No F2 championship round that year held at OP (oldracephotos.com.au)

Guys like Leo Geoghegan, Enno Buesselmann, Bruce Allison, Ken Shirvington, John Leffler, Chas Talbot, Wolfgang Prejawa with Sonny Rajah jetting in from Malaysia and Graeme Lawrence did a round or two from NZ. In some cases drivers ‘stepped down’ from F5000- Bob Muir, John Walker, Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart to name a swag. For the sake of clarity Leo was an established ace- having finally won the Gold Star, the national drivers championship he deserved in 1970, he retired and then did a ‘Nellie Melba’ and returned to drive Malcolm Ramsay and Tony Alcock’s new Birrana 272 in mid-1972.

An absolute corker of a 1974 series was won by Leo in the ‘works’ Grace Bros sponsored Birrana 274 Ford-Hart in a closely fought battle with the Bob and Marj Brown owned Birrana 273 raced by Bob Muir and Leffler’s ‘tricky-dicky’, superb, variable rate suspension Bowin P8.

Sex on Wheels. John Leffler’s John Joyce designed Bowin P8 Ford-Hart at Sandown’s Dandy Road during the 1975 Tasman meeting, DNF suspension (B Keys)

Predictably in some ways the Van Heusen money ended up supporting ‘taxis’ in 1975 despite the great show put on by the F2’s in 1974. All the same, the 1975 championship was a good one given all the newish cars about.

Into late 1974 or early 1975 Costanzo bought Leo’s championship winning car- and in that ’75 season gave his career the shot in the arm it needed after running around in an old Elfin 100 Mono F2 for way too long. I think Alfie did travel to Italy seeking a drive in the late sixties, without success- imagine if he had popped his bum into the right car back then rather than a decade later at the end of the seventies when Alan Hamilton’s Porsche Cars Australia finally gave him the drive he deserved- the ex-VDS/Brown Lola T430 Chev F5000 and subsequently the McLaren M26 Chev and Tiga Formula Pacifics into the early eighties.

Miedecke, Rennmax BN7 Ford/Hart in the Calder paddock 1975. It was a small, neat bit of kit- conventional but for the chassis as per text. Uncertain if this is the first or second of the two Calder rounds won by Miedecke and Costanzo respectively (oldracephotos.com.au)

Brabham and Miedecke stepped up from Formula Ford- a Bowin P6F and Birrana F73 respectively, retaining their Grace Bros support which helped fund far more sophisticated and expensive cars than their FF’s. Geoff took the obvious choice in acquiring a Birrana 274- a low mileage, late build car from Neil Rear in WA whilst Andrew sought the ‘unfair advantage’ with a new Rennmax- the BN7 from Bob Brittan’s Sydney workshop.

In fact it wasn’t that edgy a choice really as his car was a refinement of Doug Heasman’s BN6 which hit the track about 12 months before- the speed of which was proven by Bob Muir in one or two races in the car before he got the Brown’s Birrana ride at Enno Buesselmann’s expense.

This photograph shows clearly the middle monocoque and front spaceframe sections of the ex-Miedecke BN7 recently (via R Bell)

 

Apropos the above- chassis front section (via R Bell)

The BN7 design was different to the paradigm of the era in having a monocoque centre-cockpit section and spaceframes both front and rear- the more usual approach was an ally mono from the front ending in a bulkhead aft of the drivers shoulders with an ‘A-frame’ at the rear to carry the engine and suspension.

Both the P8 Bowin and Rennmax were wedge nosed designs with side radiators whereas the Birranas and Elfins (works 622 as raced by Walker and 630) followed the ‘Tyrrell’ bluff nosed approach with a front radiator.

Amaroo Park 1975. Brabham Birrana 274, Winter Mildren Sub, Miedecke Rennmax BN7 and Hong Kong’s John McDonald Brabham BT40. Brabham won from McDonald and Winter (unattributed)

 

Paul King in the foreground beside his Birrana 374 Toyota F3, whilst Ray Winter strides across the track. His car is the famous Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Ford-Hart ex-Gardner/Bartlett/Muir. The guys had a territorial dispute after Paul got a blinder of a start and Ray attempted to assert F2 superiority into the first corner. Hume Weir 1975 (M Bishop)

In a year of strong competition between Brabham, Costanzo and Miedecke Geoff took the title with three wins at Amaroo, Symmons and Phillip Island from Alfie with two wins- Hume Weir and Calder and Andrew, who won the first Calder round in May. Arguably the quickest of the trio was Costanzo but reliability was a little lacking on both his and Miedecke’s part.

With my new drivers licence I no longer had to rely on my reluctant dad to cart me around to race meetings- I saw the Calder, Sandown and Phillip Island rounds that season and well recall a chat with Geoff and Peter Nightingale, his mechanic/engine builder, after the final ‘Island round in late November which Brabs won in fine style.

He had his ‘tail up’ in his modest way and was looking forward to taking on the world in Europe.

Doug Heasman, Rennmax BN6 Ford from Peter Macrow, Cheetah Mk6 Toyota, Hume Weir, date uncertain (M Bishop)

Interest was added to the series with lady racer Sue Ransom doing some events in Leffo’s Bowin P8 Ford/Hart- I pissed myself with laughter watching him pop her Willans six-pointer on at Calder, he was far more judicious with the crutch straps than he would have been with a fella. In those days the two lady-quicks were Ransom and Christine Cole/Gibson, I always thought it a shame Sue didn’t race the Bowin for longer than she did. Leffler himself did a round or two in Paul England’s Brabham BT36/Dolphin in amongst his Bowin P8 Chev F5000 commitments- the Brabham/Dolphin was also raced a couple of times by Tony Stewart- a talent lost.

Other drivers who added colour were Ken Shirvington, Chris Farrell, Enno Buesselmann, Doug MacArthur in the Lola T360 Bartlett and Lawrence had ‘guested in’ the year before when it was imported and owned by Glenn Abbey- and Ray Winter still pluggin’ away in The Yellow Sub, albeit substantially modified by Mawer Engineering.

Brian Shead, Cheetah Mk5 Toyota ANF3- Mk5 the prettiest and one of the most successful Cheetahs of all- amazing what Shead produced from that little ‘shop in Mordialloc (M Bishop)

The quicker of the 135bhp ANF3 cars (1.3 litre, SOHC or pushrod engines on carbs) could always give an average driven 205bhp F2 a run for its money, dudes like the two Brians- Shead and Sampson, Paul King, Peter Macrow and Dean Hosking to name several who extracted all these little cars had to give.

(M Bishop)

I’ve no idea who the ace felling a ‘pine plantation’ at Hume Weir is, I’m intrigued to know? Ditto the car.

(M Bishop)

What about the career trajectory of the 1975 F2 protagonists you ask?

Miedecke did another F2 year in the BN7 in 1976, Costanzo acquired a Lola T332 F5000 and was immediately quick in it against the established 5 litre aces whilst Brabham headed off to Europe for a couple of Ralt RT1 Toyota F3 seasons before launching his pro-career in the US.

Etcetera…

Geoff Brabham Birrana 274 leads a group of cars up the Calder return to the paddock road- remember that setup? Peter Macrow’s Mk5 Cheetah and Paul King’s Birrana 374 behind. Geoff’s chassis, ex-Neil Rear was ‘274-018’, it was then bought by Ray Winter to replace the Sub but if memory serves he had a huge accident in it, Lakeside maybe? Now in the Holmes family collection (oldracephotos.com.au)

 

Ray Winter in the Mildren Ford Hart ‘Yellow Submarine’ at Oran Park circa 1975 (B Williamson)

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits…

Mark Bishop, oldracephotos.com.au, Bruce Keys, Ray Bell on The Nostalgia Forum, Bob Williamson

Tailpiece: Graeme Crawford, Birrana 273 Ford F2- he won the national title in this car in 1976- from Brian Shead’s self built Cheetah Mk5 Toyota F3, Hume Weir 1975…

(M Bishop)

Finito…

 

 

Arthur Wylie, Javelin Spl/Wylie Javelin, Rob Roy, date uncertain, possibly 1952 (L Sims)

Bruce Polain, a prominent Australian historic-racer, historian and restorer wrote this tongue in cheek piece about how Arthur Wylie’s radical Javelin Special/Wylie Javelin could have changed the face of motor racing history. Bruce’s full ‘bio’ is later in this article…

‘In addition to my personal motor sport participation, I had for some years been a contributor to the motorsport media and one of the monthly contributions I made actually took over from an old acquaintance, Mike Kable who had moved to a full-time position with the Murdoch Press.  My new task was to assemble ‘Spotlight’ for the first magazine of its type in the country – ‘Australian Motor Sports’. Initially edited and published by Arthur Wylie, a well known driver and enthusiast, it is a collector’s item these days.

I also took photographs such as this cover shot of Ray Kenny driving Barry Collerson’s Lago Talbot T26C at Castlereagh Airstrip.

 

 Spotlight was fun as I made it my business to collate about forty snippets of information for each monthly edition of the magazine.  This meant my phone was often busy as I chased up the same number of informants.

 

My association with both Jowetts and Arthur Wylie was the catalyst that created an interest by me to purchase a racing car built by Arthur some fourteen years prior with support from the importers of Jowett. It used a Jowett Javelin engine that was supercharged but it was far more innovative than that, as the construction placed the engine behind the driver.  This was in the period when the only other post war race cars with a rear engine, used motor cycle engines. However, while the Wylie project was quite different to local thoughts, it was not in contravention to that permitted within Grand Prix car rules.  Furthermore, the rules at the time allowed engines up to 4500cc normally aspirated.  Or if supercharged, the engine capacity was limited to 1500cc – this latter was the concept that Wylie used. As it eventuated I purchased the supercharged Wylie Javelin in March 1963 and retained ownership until September 1997 and during that period it was actively used with many successes.

Bruce Polain with Arthur Wylie in his creation at Amaroo Park in 1976 (Polain)

 

However, it was at the 1988 Australian Bi-Centennial Meeting at Oran Park where the s/c 1500cc Wylie Javelin, built in 1950, had its first encounter with a Grand Prix Ferrari with an engine capacity of 4500cc. The latter being the actual car that won the British GP in 1951 when driven by the Argentinian driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez and it was still coloured in French Blue, as it was when raced by Louis Rosier in 1952.

 

It brings to mind the ‘wotif’ or ‘if only’ situation.

 

 

For instance, in Australia, during 1950 we had Wylie, an experienced race driver/engineer building a most innovative rear engined car that would likely fit the specifications for the Grand Prix Cars of the period but the car did not leave Australia as neither the thought nor the finance was considered.

 

Therefore, while the ‘if only’ situation of an Aussie Special contesting the 1951 British GP was never an issue, the possibility of such a contest could now be staged at Oran Park some 37 years later as both the subject cars were entered. On one hand we had the GP winning Ferrari in the capable hands of its current owner, Gavin Bain of N.Z. who expended huge effort creating a beautiful restoration which included repurchasing back from Australia the original V12 engine where it served time in Ernie Nunn’s record breaking speedboat – after Frank Wallbank of Auburn had remanufactured a new crankshaft and 12 con-rods. On the other hand the Wylie Javelin had also been well prepared for this event.

 

What an opportunity to revisit the past?

 

On the day, and in in a series of races for quite a number of historic cars, there was also ‘a race within the race’ – that of the Ferrari and the Wylie Javelin.  In short, a re-run of the ‘wotif’ British GP of 1951.

The day was incredibly hot – so I drained the radiator water and replaced it with 100% coolant.  Plus, each time we returned to our pit, my sons-in-law crew (Mark Woolven and Craig Middleton) had buckets of water to pour over the radiator to obviate after boiling – and it worked.  Despite the conditions the WJ ran like a clock. The two cars met on four occasions and in the first instance the Ferrari was in the lead – however then the Wylie Javelin increased its pace and for all starts the W.J finished narrowly ahead of the Ferrari. Such a result begs conjecture as to what would have been the case if, in 1951, Arthur and the Wylie Javelin had somehow made it to the British GP – would the rear engined revolution have started earlier?

 

Actually, because of limited funds the Javelin was not raced in the early years, but was hill-climbed successfully.  However, it did appear in the 1953 AGP at Albert Park and ran in sixth position until a spin resulted in the loss of three places, which position it held to the end.

Polain from Bain at Oran Park in 1988 (Polain)

 

We know that years later, Jack Brabham driving a rear engine Cooper finished sixth in the 1957 Monaco which signified a change, later confirmed by Stirling Moss in a similar car winning the 1958 Grand Prix in Argentina.   Clearly, Arthur Wylie was well ahead of his time. Sadly, neither the Wylie nor the Ferrari are likely to meet again as both cars have been sold – The Ferrari to England and the Wylie to South Australia where it sees little active use – its current role is as a display feature at a winery.

 

There was another car at this meeting that I had previously owned – the Maybach 3 (or 4 dependent upon who you talk to), photo below.  It was also a dominant car being powered with a 400 hp Chevrolet V8 and had achieved many successes in days gone by and had come from West Australia to compete.  Lucky for us the circuit did not suit the Maybach’s gearing and once again the W.J. prevailed…

 

(Max Stahl)

 

Bruce Polain…

 

Bruce Polain was a month old when his father carried him across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on opening day. His first involvement with motor sport was visiting Foleys Hill aged 16years 10months while on his ‘L’s, he first raced at Mount Druitt in his MGTC – when racing was only up and down the strip. After Mount Druitt was extended, he was part of the Daniel/Spring/Polain entry in the 1954 24 hour race where they won the open (sports) category.

 

Immediately thereafter he left for the UK season as spanner for Mike Anthony in Mk6 Lotus – Mike was number three and Colin Chapman drove the leading team car.  This was in the days when Chapman had a day job and Lotus was operating out of a single car garage at the back of his father’s pub. He attended the UK meetings with the Lotus and all the F1 meetings, plus the Le Mans 24 hour and Rheims 12 hour on a Harley Davidson.

 

After arrival back in Australia in 1955 he joined Manly Warringah Sports Car Club holding numerous committee positions and promoted regular Foley’s Hill events, 24 hour trials plus probably the most successful Schofields Race Meeting.  He inaugurated the Mona Vale Sprint and represented the club at CAMS State Council. He was appointed CAMS Noise Panel Chairman and awarded life membership by MWSCC.

He raced a Jowett Javelin at Bathurst 1957 plus innumerable club events which generated his interest in the Jowett based Wylie Javelin, which he purchased in 1963 in very sad condition. After being rebuilt over the years much work resulted in many successes- example Geelong 13.2  Silverdale 39.16. He eventually sold the unique car in 1997.

 

Into the eighties Bruce created and then ran on multiple occasions the ‘Seaforth GP’ which took racing cars to the streets of Seaforth (on Sydney’s North Shore) for three 2.35 km laps. It was an amazing promotion with free entry for driver’s and spectators and always plenty of media coverage on all four local TV networks.

 

As Stephen Dalton observed in contributing this – ‘appropriate to combine AMS and the Wylie Javelin as one’. Indeed! Photograph is of Arthur lined up for the 18 July 1953 Fishermans Bend quarter-mile sprints (S Dalton)

 

Apart from salvaging the Wylie Javelin from destruction Bruce purchased the ex-Paul England Ausca chassis/body then sourced wheels, Repco Grey engine/gearbox and diff to bring the car back to life, winning at Amaroo in its first appearance. He purchased the ex-Barry Garner Rennmax in bits and again rebuilt it, as well as a Ginetta GT4, began the process for the Thompson Ford and also campaigned a very early Mallock U2. In 1983 he purchased one of Australia’s great racing cars, the Repco Research built Maybach 3 from Lance Dixon. The car was substantially reconfigured by Ern Seeliger after Stan Jones and Repco put it to one side with Stan’s purchase of a Maserati 250F- Ern replaced the Maybach six with a Chevrolet small-block V8, De Dion rear suspension and other changes. In Bruce’s ownership  its handling problems were solved with the intention of racing it in the UK in partnership with Arnold Glass where Arnold then living – however the Poms would not accept Maybach’s heritage so the car was sold.

 

In addition to the ‘Spotlight’ snippets in Australian Motor Sport he has contributed race and vehicle reports to Sports Car World, Racing Car News and other magazines – and with the knowledge gained from this pursuit plus the time spent on CAMS State Council has expended much effort on bringing to to CAMS attention many of its deficiencies.  In the interim he was the major contributor to the concept of (non-CAMS) ‘GEAR’ and awarded a life membership. GEAR has now been successfully extended to Queensland.

 

When CAMS closed Catalina Park, Bruce was somewhat disenchanted so formed ‘Friends of Historic Catalina’ $40 entry. John Large, then President of  CAMS was one of the early members) and spent funds on fence repairs, trimming undergrowth and patching tar- then (courtesy of the Navy, another story) painted the Armco battleship grey, the DSR were so impressed they renewed the licence without consulting CAMS (another story). The circuit was then used for lap dashes for another ten years. When the period for review came, CAMS (although invited, another story) did not officially turn up and that is why the circuit was closed. These days the circuit’s closure is said to be due to indigenous or noise reasons but Bruce claims that is incorrect, as at the time it was just the normal 10-year reassessment, as required under the Local Government Act, that applies to many council operations. That years later, council assigned the area to an Aboriginal Group was not the issue at the time- that latter decision was merely to devolve themselves of the responsibility of maintenance which automatically occurred whilst there was income from motorsport.

 

Professionally he has served decades as a shipping traffic manager, property developer, grazier and executive accommodation operator.  Married since 1960 to Tilli – one son and three daughters – Currently writing his memoirs which may put a new slant on CAMS History given that the current CEO rejects consultation.

 

Javelin Special Technical Specifications…

As reported in-period in MotorSport

 

 

Changes to the cars specifications from the above include a Marshall M200 supercharger, replacement of the Norton gearbox with a close ratio Jowett box which drove through a Ford differential with open driveshafts,. Early in the cars life the swing axles were replaced by a De Dion rear end and torsion bars donated by a Javelin.

 

(ACCM)

Bruce with plenty of interest (above) at a race meeting in the mid-nineties. Inherent design brilliance clear- mid-engine, Jowett low flat-four aluminium crankcase, cast iron head 1486cc, OHV, two-valve engine, its only the supercharger which makes the motor look ‘big’. Ron Reid’s Sulman Singer trailer in the background an ever-present member of the Oz historic scene for decades (still is, the car is now in his sons hands)

(ACCM)

Grainy photograph above shows SU carb at top-left, supercharger and inlet manifold. Standard Javelin heads were modified to allow the exhausts to exit to the rear.

(ACCM)

Photo above included to show the cars wonderful lines- and a great overhead shot of the suspension. You can see the De Dion tube, exposed axles and twin radius rods. At the front you can see the transverse leaf spring. Twin-fuel tanks, one each side of the driver, whopping big steering wheel and left hand change for the four speed Javelin close-ratio gearbox.

(ACCM)

Three little shots above.

To the left shows the chain drive from the crank to blower. In the middle a clearer one of the front suspension which comprises top transverse leaf spring, lower wishbones and co-axial shocks. Front radiator is clear as is the ‘semi’-spaceframe chassis. The far right shot is rear suspension detail- to the right the De Dion tube and to the left the open driveshafts/axles from the Ford differential.

In terms of the rear suspension, Bruce comments; ‘The torsion bar rear end was very clever- the two torsion bars (one either side) run alongside the chassis tubes with the ride height adjustment at the end- all of it was ex-Javelin and standard. As built it would have been fine on those rough circuits but for the later hot-mix variety I softened the suspension with positive results. I took a couple of leaves out of the front transverse spring and ground about thirty thou off the two rear torsion bars- it worked fine’.

The two two photos below ‘bring it all together’.

The first shows the chassis devoid of bodywork and the two side fuel tanks. It shows the two main chassis tubes and additional structural elements, can we call it a ‘semi-spaceframe’?

(SCW)

 

(SCW)

The other shot above reveals the key mechanical components and their justaposition- Jowett engine and four speed gearbox with the shortest of prop-shafts joining a Ford differential. Open axles and De Dion tube with two forward radius rods each side. Neat, clever, simple.

 

Arthur Wylie and his (and brother Ken’s) Javelin Special, with Wylie looking suitably nautical- I wonder what yacht club it is, in the 1953 AGP Albert Park paddock. Note attention to detail of the new car with its neat little grille and bonnet badge.

 

‘In Period’ Race Record of the Wylie Javelin…

 

The ‘Javelin Special’ appeared on Jowett agent ‘Liberty Motors’ stand at the 1951 Melbourne Motor Show.

Motor Manual reported that ‘One of the most interesting exhibits at the show…was the first pubic appearance of the Javelin racing car designed by leading driver Arthur Wylie. The little rear-engine car took pride of place on the stand and was painted vivid yellow’.

Wylie was dealing with a few health issues as the car was completed, as a consequence the Javelin’s competition debut was delayed- Stephen Dalton’s research shows he entered three races at the October ’51 Bathurst meeting, listing two different engine capacities, 1499cc and 1501cc to get under and over 1500cc, but did not appear, the reason given was ‘driver with a ricked back’.

The car finally appeared at the Rob Roy Hillclimb, Melbourne Cup Day meeting on 6 November 1951.

He set a time of 27.42 seconds in the first of three runs throughout the day, on one of his runs AMS notes he spun at ‘Tin Shed’ and went across the Spillway backwards whilst feeling the limits of his new car. I wonder if his concerns about the suitability of the swing-axle rear suspension started then?!

During that notable meeting Jack Brabham won his first road-racing Australian title- the 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship driving his ‘Twin Special Speedcar’ dirt track midget, which, with the addition of front brakes satisfied the scrutineers of its eligibility.

Jack Brabham at Rob Roy during his November 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship winning meeting ‘Twin Special Speedcar’ (L Sims)

In November 1951 Arthur contested the Victoria Trophy at the LCCA’s Ballarat Airfield meeting, he struggled during the 17 lap handicap race as ‘all his gears had left him except for top’.

He took a class win at Rob Roy in March 1952 and on the  Templestowe Hill that June.

In November 1953, by then with the De Dion tube rear suspension fitted, he took the Under 1500cc record at Rob Roy in the Australian Hillclimb Championship- and was third outright.

Arthur Wylie, Javelin Spl, Rob Roy 1954 (Polain)

That same month Arthur and his brother Ken entered the revolutionary little car in the first Australian Grand Prix held at Albert Park on 21 November. It was the circuit’s first meeting, and notable as the first AGP held in a major population centre or city.

Graham Howard’s ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ records that the ‘Most opportunistic start of the field had been made by Wylie’s yellow Javelin, a very accelerative little car, and he strung together a series of openings to be sixth (momentarily fifth) as the field swept through the very fast corners on the opposite side of the lake- and then on the quick left hand kink outside the football ground he lost it and had to wait for most of the field to go past before he could rejoin’.

Lex Davison’s new HWM Jaguar passes the spinning Arthur Wylie on lap 1 of the 1953 AGP, Albert Park (SCW)

Both Wylies drove the car, they managed to finish ninth overall despite a slipping clutch. Bruce observes that the car then had no baffle behind the radiator and in such a long race both brothers suffered from heat exhaustion as a consequence.

The sophisticated nature of the car (below) and it’s unusual appearance drew crowds of people eager to have a look at the Javelin’s secrets, developed as it was by a talented young local.

Sensational 1953 AGP Albert Park paddock shot from the Dacre Stubbs archive. Stunning engine detail inclusive of SU carb, Marshall blower, water header tank, clutch linkage atop Javelin gearbox- and bottom right, one of the two main chassis longerons. Workmanship and attention to detail clear (Dacre Stubbs)

 

Ken Wylie, Javelin Spl ahead of Jack Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, Victoria Trophy, Fishermans Bend 1954 (SLV)

Stan Jones ran the car when offered it by the Wylies when his own Cooper failed at Templestowe, Jones took the car to a class record of 61.51 seconds.

At Fishermans Bend in March 1954 (photo above) Ken Wylie contested the Victoria Trophy finishing third behind Stan’s Maybach and Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol. In a strong performance Wylie was in second from lap 23 and appeared set to finish in that slot until slowed by tyre wear allowing Jack ahead.

Wheels have it that Arthur drove the car to 3rd in the 1954 Victoria Trophy but it was brother Ken Wylie at the wheel that day

The following week Rob Roy succumbed to the little cars speed, Wylie set a class record with a race report recording that ‘this car is a very consistent performer and shows a clean pair of wheels to many of the larger racing machines in the longer road events’.

The brothers took the car to Orange at Easter 1954 contesting a series of races at Gnoo Blas- second in a 22 mile handicap and victory in the Redex 45 mile scratch race at an average speed of 95mph a good yield for the weekend. The Javelin was recorded at 132mph using a 3.3:1 rear axle.

Arthur Wylie and his steed at Gnoo Blas in 1954 (aussiehomesteadracing)

Wylie advertised the car in his Australian Motor Sports magazine in August 1954 and after listing its successes his ad said ‘contrary to what the armchair experts may say, the car has never blown a head-gasket, run bearings or broken piston rings etc. The car has the original motor’.

The little racer was bought by Arthur Griffiths of Toowoomba who air-freighted the car and trailer from Essendon Airport in outer Melbourne to Brisbane- the trailer was cut in half to fit into the aircraft and then welded back together again upon arrival in Queensland!

Leyburn was close by to Griffiths, success in September 1954 was achieved with a scratch race victory ahead of Rex Taylor’s ex-Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C. Later in the day Griffiths won in front of Ken Richardson’s Cooper JAP.

Like practically every other racing car in Queensland, Griffiths entered the Javelin in the 1954 Australian Grand Prix held at Southport on the Gold Coast.

Motor Manual reported that ‘Arthur Griffiths…was one of Queensland’s main hopes in the race. For the first two thirds of the race he fought a continuous duel with Doug Whiteford (Black Bess Ford V8 Spl) but within a lap of Whiteford’s withdrawal the Javelin blew a cylinder head gasket forcing him out of the race’, he was in third place at the time. Lex Davison won this dramatic race in an HWM Jaguar.

I wrote about the 1954 AGP at Southport a while back, click here to read about it;

https://primotipo.com/2018/03/01/1954-australian-grand-prix-southport-qld/

Arthur Griffiths, Javelin Spl during the 1954 AGP (Polain)

 

Flat out during the AGP (E Hayes)

It was about this time the car obtained the name ‘Wylie Javelin’, which was thought to more appropriate after the car moved from Wylie ownership although its nickname amongst the racing fraternity was ‘The Goanna’ given the similarities in physical appearance of the reptile and car!

In March Griffiths raised the flying quarter class record at Leyburn from 112.7mph to 117mph but during the June meeting a rear axle failure caused a considerable rebuild- he was leading Geordie Anderson’s  Jag XK120 at the time. The car then passed back to Arthur Wylie in Melbourne before he sold it to Don Gorringe who was the Jowett agent in The Apple Isle, Tasmania.

Gorringe’s first meeting in the little machine was under the Wylie’s supervision- he contested the support events at the 25 November 1956 Tourist Trophy meeting at Albert Park, the wonderful photo below shows the car in the capacious park’s paddock.

(G McKaige)

 

Don Gorringe, Baskerville 1958 (Gorringe Family)

Gorringe had much success with the car and as a notable businessman about Hobart it was not uncommon for Don to drive the racer on the road, it was a quiet place after all!

(Gorringe Family)

I have written about the Tasmanian Youl brothers previously. The young graziers were making their way in motor racing, John was looking for the next step up from his Porsche 356 and in April 1958 acquired the Wylie Javelin racing it at all of the local venues.

He won races inclusive of setting a lap record at Baskerville, won a state hillclimb championship, took the Penguin Hill record- perhaps during the March 1959 meeting which he won, and finished third in the Australian Hillclimb Championship held at the Queens Domain, Hobart in November 1959- Bruce Walton in the Walton Cooper took the win that day, the second of six ‘on the trot’ championships Bruce won.

Youl completely rebuilt the car and commented at the time that it was the best handling machine he had ever driven. After he bought a Cooper T51 Climax to step into national competition the car lay idle for a while but was eventually taken to Victoria by John Sheppard on John Youl’s behalf- and was then sold to Victorian, Bob Punch.

When Punch offered it for sale, frustrated with its reliability, he was considering fitment of a Peugeot engine, it was at this point Bruce Polain came in- the little car was lucky Jowett enthusiast Polain came onto the scene then. The car was never cut and shut or butchered with other mechanicals in an effort to keep it competitive with more modern machines.

The racer continued to live an active life with Bruce a much loved member of the historic scene. It appeared at the first ‘All-Historic’ meeting at Amaroo Park in 1976 with John Youl as guest-driver in the Grand Parade.

In 1984 the Wylie Javelin toured New Zealand and continued to race all over Australia upon its return. In 1997 Bruce sold it, since then, sadly, the car has seen more sedentary use, somehow not right for such a significant and always raced machine…

Don Gorringe at the end of a race at Baskerville ahead of Stan Allen Fiat 1400 Spl with John Youl in the distance aboard the red Porsche 356 (oldracephotos)

Etcetera…

Stephen Dalton very kindly sent through this article on the new car from the June 1951 issue of Australian Motor Sports- before the car had first raced.

 

 

 

There is more- Sports Car World article…

Bruce has found an article about his car way back in 1966, it may be a bit challenging in parts to read but is included for completeness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur Wylie and AMS Snippets…

‘The pages relate to the 27-28 January 1979 Amaroo Historics meeting, with the Wylies guests for the meeting. A nice insight into Arthur and AMS’ wrote Stephen Dalton.

(S Dalton)

 

(S Dalton)

 

‘A tribute to Arthur Wylie’ 1990 Amaroo Historics Program cover in the style of AMS…

 

(S Dalton)

Credits/Bibliography

Bruce Polain, Australian Motor Sports, (ACCM) Australian Classic Car Monthly October 1996, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Eric Hayes, George McKaige, oldracephotos.com.au, Max Stahl, Leon Sims Collection, Gorringe Family Collection, Martin Stubbs and Dacre Stubbs Archive, Stephen Dalton and his collection, Sports Car World

 

Tailpiece: John Youl, Wylie Javelin, Queens Domain, Tasmania, November 1959…

(oldracephotos)

Finito…