Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

repco

The Story of the Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine as conveyed in Repco Technical News Volume 12 No 2, November 1965…

This gem is from Michael Gasking’s Collection and is reproduced in all of its glory, this is the 1966 Tasman/F1 engine later more commonly referred to as ‘RB620’, its internal Repco Parts Co project code was ‘620’. It will be difficult to read on your ‘phone, a bit easier on a larger device!

We have covered this engine already in primotipo, click on the links at the end of the article for these stories. Just a couple of ‘editorial comments’ or observations.

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RB620 and F1…

No mention is made of the engines F1 application so late in the piece, the new 3 litre F1 began on 1 January 1966. Brabham and Repco were playing their cards, understandably, close to their chest. Remember the RB620 V8 first ran in a car at 3 litres not 2.5, at Goodwood before racing in the non-championship South African GP, at Kyalami on 1 January 1966.

Melbourne motoring journalist Chris de Fraga, well known and respected by generations of Victorian enthusiasts is credited with first reporting Repco’s F1 plans in the Melbourne ‘Age’ in early October 1965, a report denied by Repco at the time. This document dated November 1965 was presumably circulated in that month or the following one.

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Jack’s Lovechild…

Brabham’s parentage of the project is ignored in this largely technical treatise of the engine, Jack’s involvement not ‘front and centre’ in this public document given the need for F1 confidentiality.

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‘The Men’…

The duo credited with the engine in the brochure are Chief Engineer of the Repco Parts Group, Frank Hallam and Project Engineer Phil Irving, the only guy missing, as stated above is Brabham. Its worth musing for a bit about the roles these three men played in the championship winning RB620.

In simple terms Jack was the engines conceptual designer- he pitched the Repco board a simple engine using the F85 Olds block as a base whose completed dimensions were to fit the existing BT19 chassis. Phil designed it, inclusive of its drawings. Jack provided both conceptual design and practical feedback to Phil on regular visits to Irving who was based near Brabhams early in 1964 as he progressed the engines design. All of the ‘RB620’ drawings were done by Phil and signed by him according to ex-Repco engineer and Repco Historian, Nigel Tait who has seen and reviewed them all in the process of archiving them with RMIT University, Melbourne, in recent years. Hallam was Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. General Manager and Chief Engineer. His role was primarily a management one although he had engineering oversight, his direct design and engineering input into RB620 something Hallam has sought to grab a greater share of down the decades.

After Irving’s death, Hallam in his book ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ comprehensively dumps all over Irving and seeks to take more credit than he is due for the ‘RB620’ engine inclusive of positioning Irving as its ‘draftsman’ – ‘draftsman casual’ in the employee list in his books Appendix. In fact all of the ‘Drawing Office Personnel’ listed are described as ‘draftsman’ despite several being degree qualified engineers. Hallam, on the other hand, formally qualified as a motor mechanic, lists himself as General Manager/Chief Engineer. The positioning he inaccurately seeks to convey is clear. In that context its interesting to see Phil’s title as ‘Project Engineer’ in this Repco publication of the day.

The very well known F1 engine designer and manufacturer John Judd joined the Repco Brabham Engines Maidstone design team at Jack Brabham’s behest in 1966. He pretty much unwittingly walked into a storm in terms of the final breakdown in the progressively declining working relationship between Hallam and Irving. Judds arrival at Maidstone was unannounced by Frank to Phil, the design leader at the time, thereby lighting the fuse for a final confrontation which was becoming increasingly inevitable.

Judd got the ‘rounds of the kitchen’ from Phil when he joined RBE according to both Phil’s autobiography and Frank’s book but Judd has this to say about Irving’s contribution to ‘RB620’ in a recent ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine interview;

‘When Jack returned (to the UK) from the (1966) Tasman  series, he asked if I could go to Melbourne almost immediately, and work with Repco designing parts toward the next year’s engine. That lasted for about four months and I was back again for six months in 1967 working on the 1968 4-cam engine.’

‘The original 1966 engine had been designed almost 100% by Phil Irving of Velocette and HRD fame with input from Jack and Ron Tauranac, but Phil didn’t fit in well with the Repco corporate structure and fell out with his boss Frank Hallam. My insertion into an already fragile situation led to Phil leaving after I had been there two months or so, and to his replacement by Norm Wilson. Looking back at Jack’s 1966 World Championship winning engine, I believe it was largely the product of one man, Phil Irving, to an extent that is and will remain unique.’

Don’t get me wrong, Hallam played a vastly important role in marshalling Repco corporate resources to assemble the men and modern machines to build World Championship winning engines in 1966 and 1967. He was also a wonderful foil between the demanding requirements of the Repco Board and the daily dramas in Maidstone of building and servicing racing V8 engines so far from Brabham Racing Organisation’s Guildford base. But his contribution is more management than engineering detail of RB620 when objectively looked at in the context of all the published evidence and the views of those there at the time.

The antipathy between Irving and Hallam was and is well known, few Repco people want to go ‘on record’ about the topic, which is both understandable and frustrating at the same time. They, rightfully, recognise the contributions of both men. Irving’s book is respectful of Hallam, Hallam’s of Irving not so and was published well after Phil’s death- the shit-canning of Irving is grubby and un-Australian really. If you are going to ‘have a crack’ do so when the other dude can defend himself. Hallam’s book was contracted by him from Simon Pinder, the author. It is not objective as such (neither is Irving’s autobiography of course) but does add much to fill in the RBE story, the long interview with ’67 RB740 designer Norman Wilson is gold for example,  but the books quality varies from gold to ‘merde’ depending upon the chapter. One needs quite a lot of Repco knowledge to pick the chapters to treasure and those to treat with rather more circumspection.

Nigel Tait told me that Jack Brabham was very angry with a fair bit of the contents of the book- it would have been a good idea for the great man to have read its contents before writing the publications foreword! I will explore the relationship between Irving and Hallam, and Hallam’s claims, in detail, soon. In short, this Repco corporate piece puffs up Hallam’s racing background and downplays Irving’s, ‘twould be interesting to know who ‘signed off’ the content of this document before it’s publication.

Enjoy ‘The Story of The Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine’, its sensational. Wish I had it when Rodway Wolfe and I tackled the articles linked below 2 years ago!, having said that we have included a good bit of granular stuff not included in this official publication, so read together are not a bad crack at the ‘RB620’ subject…

Bibliography…

Repco, ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine, ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ Simon Pinder

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection

Tailpiece: Repco Brabham Boys, Longford, March 1966…

Phil Irving, with collar and tie chats to Brabham whilst Frank Hallam at right susses the Brabham BT19’s suspension. Not sure what Roy Billington is up to. Note the long inlet trumpets of the Tasman 2.5 RBE620 V8. Its the engines 3rd race, South African GP then Sandown Tasman the week before Longford. Jack was 3rd with overheating and low fuel, Jackie Stewart won in a BRM P261 from Graham Hill’s sister BRM. Its 6 or 7 March 1966. BT19 was Jack’s F1 championship winning 1966 car, still in Oz owned by Repco (oldracephotos.com/Harold Ellis)

 

 

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(Bert Hardy)

Stirling Moss sets off on his first test laps of an ‘orrible looking Mercedes Benz W196, Hockenheim 4 December 1954…

Stirling Moss started the 1954 Grand Prix season, the first year of the 2.5 litre formula with a customer Maserati 250F acquired with family resources and some trade support. By seasons end he was Officine Maserati’s ‘team leader’ albeit unsigned by them for 1955 which rather created an opportunity for others.

Mercedes re-entered Grand Prix racing from the ’54 French Grand Prix and quickly, again, became the dominant force. The idea for this article was finding some Bert Hardy ‘Picture Post’ images of Stirling Moss’ first test of the W196 at Hockenheim on 4 December 1954, the precursor to him joining the great marque for 1955.

Some quick research uncovered an article written by Mattijs Diepraam and Felix Muelas on 8w.forix.com, a great website if you haven’t tripped over it by the way.

It’s a ripper article the contents of which they sourced from Ken Gregory’s and Stirling Moss’ books. Rather than re-invent the wheel I have truncated their article a smidge without taking away their interesting, nitty-gritty of circumstances around Stirling and Alfred Moss, and Moss’ Manager, Ken Gregory’s deliberations and negotiations about ‘the boy’s 1955 contractual commitments.

‘The Hockenheimring, was still raced anti-clockwise like they do at Indianapolis when Stirling Moss flew in to test the car that was the class of the field from the word go at the 1954 French GP.

After a few laps he knew. And then there was that handsome offer made to Ken Gregory. Mercedes simply wanted Moss and the effort to get him was meticulously planned. It left Gregory gaping at the negotation table – as he readily admits in his highly entertaining 1960 book ‘Behind the scenes of Motor Racing.’

‘And still it almost went wrong – although knowing Neubauer cum suis a plan B and even plan C would have been rushed out of the Untertürkheim premises forthwith. The first thing Moss and Gregory noticed of Mercedes-Benz interest was a brief and factual telegram by Daimler-Benz AG enquiring about the availability of Stirling Moss for 1955.’

“CABLE WHETHER STIRLING MOSS BOUND FOR 1955 STOP. OUR INQUIRY WITHOUT COMMITMENT – DAIMLER-BENZ.”

‘Stirling’s gut reaction was no. He had a signed contract with Shell-Mex and BP for 1954 and 1955 and was sure of a sponsorship clash with Mercedes suppliers, Castrol. Beside that, the contract was a done deal and he would not think of dissolving it so shortly after he had given his word – of which, in Stirling’s view, the contract was merely a written confirmation. He didn’t have time to think about it anyway, as he was due to leave for the US, to race in the so-called Mountain Rally.’

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Moss relays to Rudy Uhlenhaut left and Karl Kling what its like out there, car far less forgiving than the 250F Moss raced in 1954. Stirling has done plenty of laps by the look of his face (Bert Hardy)

‘Gregory thought otherwise, and after consulting Alfred Moss, decided to go Stuttgart himself. On the advice of Stirling’s dad, Ken armed himself with monstrous demands, to act like a tough British cookie and see what happens. It was a total shock to Gregory to find that Herr Neubauer, the long-time Mercedes boss, was infinitely better prepared for the meeting. Not only did the overbearing team manager come up with the most remarkable details of Stirling’s career – he also came up with a figure that would amount to Moss’ salary, a number that froze Gregory to the ground and left him gasping for air until he got on the flight back to England.’

‘Before leaving he convinced Alfred Neubauer to pair Moss with Fangio in the new 300 SLR sportscar, and of giving Stirling a test before anything was signed. The rest of the deal was ironed out on the spot. The Shell and BP matter was conveniently postponed until after Stirling’s arrival.’

‘On his return Gregory phoned Stirling in the States, having tracked him down in the Rootes building in New York. Initially an irritated Stirling reiterated his view on the contract with Shell and BP but then Ken told him about the contract terms – the sportscar pairing with Fangio, the permission to race his 250F in non-championship events – and, of course, the money involved. An honourable human being he may be, Stirling is only human as well. This was too good to be true.’

‘According to Gregory his stance immediately made an about-turn. And this is where Stirling’s own account of things takes off in his 1957 book In Track of Speed… “I was to receive the sensational and most encouraging news that the German Mercedes firm was ready and anxious to sign me as one of their official Grand Prix team for 1955. It is not easy, now, properly to analyse my feelings when the news reached America. I had gone over there to compete in the Mountain Rally, and had driven a Sunbeam in a trio of cars which won the team prize. When I heard of the Mercedes offer, I was a little awed, a little bewildered, and very pleased. With all my experience, I had not done a lot of real racing in the Grand Prix series on cars which stood a real chance. True, I had led the Maserati team for the latter half of the year, but to have a place in that all-conquering team – and I felt in my bones that it would all-conquering – was to give me a unique personal opportunity.”

And this is the November 22 entry for Stirling’s diary: “Up early, called on Jaguars, then to Rootes, where Ken called and told me of the fantastic Merc offer. Wow!”

Enough said.

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Neubauer projects and Moss listens and talks to Uhlenhaut (Bert Hardy)

Hockenheim Test and Build-up…

‘Between November 22 and December 3 lay a couple of weeks that became a string of field days for the press. The latter date would be the day of Moss’ return flight to London where he would meet up with his father and manager, the three of them flying straight through to Frankfurt for the planned test on December 4. In the meantime, Jerry Ames of Downtons, the British publicity agent for Mercedes-Benz did everything to alert his Fleet Street colleagues on the arrival of the important test, and this caused a flurry of reports on the Moss-Mercedes case. Did he have a verbal agreement with Maserati? What about the Shell/BP deal? How much would Neubauer be willing to fork out? And where were the principles of a man that had stated that he wanted to win the World Championship in a British car?’

‘All of it was fairly benign, though. From the US, Stirling had already released a carefully worded statement about his ambition to win the Championship in a British car but that there was very little hope in doing so the following year, and that as a professional racer he really had no other option than to accept the offer. These words were generally accepted as sincere. On the day of the test, however, the press were dealt a red herring by a wicked Neubauer. Although the news of the test was carefully leaked by Ames, leading to Picture Post magazine sending their feature writer Trevor Philpots and star photographer Bert Hardy on a plane to Frankfurt the very same day, the two Brits were picked up by a Mercedes-Benz driver pretending to have no knowledge of English and driven off in the wrong direction. It left Neubauer in the safe knowledge that Moss would say yes to them first before the British press could get hold of a possible no. The Picture Post duo were only allowed onto the Hockenheim grounds by the time the serious business was long underway.’

‘And so Stirling arrived at Hockenheim undisturbed to find everything thoroughly prepared for his test. And that’s understating things- to Moss and his party thoroughness was redefined. Mercedes chief engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut had seen to it that the car had every aspect modified to Stirling’s build and style. So that was one excuse out of the way. Then there was Mercedes regular Karl Kling to set a yardstick – one that was set at 200kph just days before by the same Kling. But there had been a recent rainstorm, so that when Stirling did his reconnaissance laps on a 220A saloon, then switching to the 300SL gullwing sportscar, the track was still wet. These first laps soon created a dry-ish line on which Moss got his first hand on the W196.’

‘He thought it (the W196) was uncompromising, as any Mercedes driver would reveal. He admitted as such to a watchful Ken Gregory. “Stirling was not immediately at home with the Merc, and while Kling was circulating he told me he thought it was a very difficult car to drive; it was ‘fighty’, inclined to oversteer, and much more sensitive to handle than the Maserati, though the power, he said, was ‘fantastic’.” Despite being confused by the peculiar transmission at first he felt confident that he could master the car. He got down to a 2.15 – comparing to an average of 201kph – a time that was later equalled by Kling on a track still drier. A previously nervous Uhlenhaut was by now beaming with pleasure. A short discussion followed with Alfred Moss and Gregory, after which Stirling concluded that he should take Mercedes up on their offer, assuming that the sponsorship clash between the oil companies could be solved – and indeed it was solved in a most gracious way, with Bryan Turdle, competitions manager of Shell-Mex and BP, not hesitating to release Stirling from his 1955 Shell commitments.’

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Neubauer and a thoughtful Moss, the most recent of so many stars the German worked with (Bert Hardy)

Maserati Intervention…

Then came another thing to be solved. During the test a telegram arrived for Neubauer. It came from Commendatore Orsi of Maserati, claiming he had a contract with Moss and that Mercedes should back off. The claim was understandable as Moss had quickly become the lead Maserati driver since his display at the 1954 Italian GP and Orsi wasn’t particularly keen to see the second best driver of the world go off and team up with Fangio, doubling Maserati’s task. But Moss Sr and Gregory were able to convince the Germans that Stirling had in fact not agreed to anything, not even verbally. And so Stirling Moss was announced as the number two Mercedes-Benz driver for 1955 shortly after.’

‘For Moss the choice of Mercedes was obvious…The British manufacturers were a long way from threatening the establishment, and the new Climax engine was still not ready. Mercedes-Benz by all means were. And they showed it at that December 4 test. It had been a test with a thoroughness previously unseen by British drivers. But also one with immaculate attention for the human being inside the driver. That was Mercedes-Benz too. This is Stirling’s own recollection of the comfort he was supplied with as soon as he got back to the pits: “What really impressed me was that as I clambered out of the car, rummaging in my pockets for a handkerchief or rag to wipe my face, a mechanic suddenly appeared, bearing hot water, soap, a flannel and a towel! Out there in the middle of the desolate Hockenheimring this was forethought I could hardly credit. I thought then that to be associated with such an organization could not be bad…”

 Checkout my article on the Mercedes W196…

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/09/mercedes-benz-w196-french-gp-1954/

Photo Credits…

Bert Hardy

Bibliography…

8w.forix.com article ‘How Stirling Got His Mercedes Breakthrough’ by Mattijs Diepraam and Felix Muelas

Tailpiece…

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Neubauer, Alfred and Stirling Moss toast 1955 success, a year of bitter sweet for the great marque, Le Mans not in their wildest, worst dreams (Bert Hardy)

 

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(Ken Devine)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, where was i?! Back to Bunbury!

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

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

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

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

Jack Ayres’ GP/F2 Alta s/c ‘010’…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferrari 500/625 Chassis #5, 3 litre…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunbury Circuits…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography…

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

Photo Credits…

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

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

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

 

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Warwick Brown, Lola T332 Chev, Riverside 1974 (TEN)

‘WB for 73’ was the T-Shirt catch phrase of Warwick Brown’s team during the 1973 Tasman Series…

The good looking, well heeled young bloke from Wahroonga on Sydney’s North Shore had graduated from the relatively forgiving McLaren M10B Chev in which he cut his F5000 teeth in 1972 Australian Gold Star competition to an altogether more demanding mistress for the Tasman  Series, a Lola T300 Chev.

His ex-Niel Allen/Bob Muir car, chassis ‘HU4’ was a very good one, but the T300 was a fast, albeit flexy, twitchy little bugger. With guidance from mentor and engineer Peter Molloy, Warwick quickly adapted well to his new mount.

He didn’t finish the first Tasman round at Pukekohe, the Lola out of fuel but was third behind Graham McRae and Frank Matich in their own designed and built cars, two very hardened professionals at Levin. He was second the following round at Wigram behind McRae. Warwick then went to Australia feeling great despite a poor 7th at Teretonga with undisclosed car dramas.

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WB, Team Target (retail stores) Lola T300 Chev, New Zealand, Tasman 1973

At Surfers Paradise though he became a ‘Lola Limper’ bigtime…

His car got away from him on the fast, demanding circuit spreading bits of aluminium and fibreglass over the undulations of the Nerang countryside and broke both of  Warwick’s legs. He got wide onto the marbles on the entry to the flat out in fifth right-hander under Dunlop Bridge and bounced across the grass into the dirt embankment surrounding the circuit. The light aluminium tub folded back, in the process doing horrible things to Warwick’s feet and lower limbs. He had a very long recovery, made somewhat easier by the promise of a new car from his near neighbour patron, mining millionaire Pat Burke.

That September 2nd in 1973 i attended the ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’, the F5000 Surfers Paradise Gold Star round in 1973, and hobbling around on crutches was Warwick talking to his fellow F5000 competitors and the fans…

He really was struggling just to get about and obviously in pain. Unbelievably, I couldn’t believe it when I saw the race report, he contested the next Gold Star round on October 7, one month later in Adelaide. No way could he get in and out of the car unaided.

To me it was madness, given his state, but to Warwick it was everything. He withdrew his old M10B after 8 laps and spent the following months getting properly fit for the ’74 Tasman but he had put down a marker as one determined, tough hombre!

Pat Burke bought him a new Lola T332 Chev, chassis ‘HU27’, the first production T332 and WB had a very consistent Tasman series in it…

He never finished worse than 7th, only failing to complete the NZ GP at Wigram, and won the final round, the Adelaide International. The ’74 Tasman had depth, the field included Teddy Pilette, Graeme Lawrence, John Walker, Max Stewart, Kevin Bartlett, John McCormack and Graham McRae- Peter Gethin won it in a VDS Chevron B24 Chev.

Warwick, Pat and Peter Molloy had plans to take on the best in the US by taking their Lola to the ‘States, ‘match fit’ as it was after the rigours of the eight race Tasman program.

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WB in ’73 (John Lemm)

In 1974 the SCCA/USAC F5000 field included Mario Andretti, Brian Redman, Jackie Oliver, Sam Posey, Graham McRae, Brett Lunger, David Hobbs, Al Unser, Lella Lombardi, Vern Schuppan, James Hunt, John Cannon and others.

By the time Warwick and his crew got to the Ontario round on 1 September it was ‘Formula T332’- Mario Andretti had won two rounds, Brian Redman a couple and David Hobbs one, all in Lola T332’s, the greatest F5000 car ever.

Brown was 11th at Ontario and then 5th at Monterey in mid-October behind Redman, James Hunt in an Eagle 755, Andretti, and Eppie Wietzes in another T332. In the series final round, the Riverside GP, he was third behind Andretti and Redman.

As a WB fan reading about these performances in Australian weekly ‘Auto Action’ I remember being blown away by his speed in such august company viewed through the prism of just how badly hurt he was- and would be again, he had three ‘Big Ones’ in his pro career. I could see his pain getting around at Surfers.

It takes extraordinary guts to get back into these things after big accidents in which you are hurt. The mind management and sheer courage involved has always intrigued me. Not that he was the only ‘Lola Limper’ in Australasia, Graeme Lawrence and Kevin Bartlett spring readily to mind.

But those three US races in ’74 made him really, he proved to himself he could do it. The crew came back to Oz later in 1974 and Warwick was running away with the AGP at Oran Park until mechanical problems intervened. He then won the ’75 Tasman in a close fought battle with fellow T332 drivers Graeme Lawrence and John Walker and set up a US pro-career for the next few years with Jack McCormack’s Talon nee McRae cars in 1975 and then Team VDS.

It’s not an article about the entirety of WB’s career rather a reflection on mind over matter, toughness, passion, resilience and the fierce desire to compete and win that separates elite drivers like Brown, Lawrence and Bartlett from we mere mortals…

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, Bob Harmeyer, The Enthusiast Network, John Lemm

Tailpiece: Brown winning in the Lola T333CS Chev, Watkins Glen 1978…

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Warwick Brown’s VDS Racing Lola T333CS Chev enroute to a single-seat Can Am win at Watkins Glen on 9 July 1978, he won from Al Holbert and Rocky Moran both also Lola T333CS mounted. The car following WB is George Follmer’s Prophet Chev. Brown was 2nd in the championship that year but the class of the field was his countryman, the 3 years older Alan Jones who took 5 victories and the title in the ‘works’ Carl Haas T333CS. Jones was ‘moonlighting’ in 5 litre cars having gained a toehold in F1 (Bob Harmeyer)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belgian GP 1963, ATS 100 debut, June 1963…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hill, ATS 100, Spa 1963 (Getty)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hill Dutch GP 1963, ATS 100 (Getty)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mexican Grand Prix…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South African Grand Prix…

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

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

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

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

The End of The Beginning…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serenissima Wheel Turns…

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

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

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

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

ATS Postscript…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enzo and Laura Ferrari certainly had the last laugh!?

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

ATS 100 Build…

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

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

Bibliography…

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

Photo Credits…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1970 BRM P154 Can Am Season…

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

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

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

Donnybrooke; Pedro Q7 P9 George Q5, DNF rocker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits…

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

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

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

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Iso Grifo A3/C Chevrolet at rest. Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Cars, Modena, Italy December 1964…

Renzo Rivolta was an ingenious Italian entrepreneur in postwar Italy.

He owned the Isothermos heater and refrigeration company and postwar decided to build cars, his passion. He started with motorcycles and then introduced the Isetta, an incredibly successful economy car he subsequently and very profitably  licensed to BMW and others.

Into the early sixties he formed Iso Automobili and introduced the Iso Rivolta GT to rave reviews at the 1962 Turin Auto Salon.

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The Iso Rivolta GT being driven the way it’s creators intended on the roads outside LA in August 1966 during this road test (Darryl Norenberg)

One of Rivolta’s key players in his nascent enterprise was Giotto Bizzarrini, the gifted engineer who played a key role in the development of the Ferrari Testa Rossa and 250 GTO. After the so-called ‘Palace Revolution’ of 1962, Bizzarrini left Maranello with Carlo Chiti and others and soon found work as a freelance engineer, then with Iso. There, Bizzarrini worked with Iso’s chief technician Pierluigi Raggi to develop the sophisticated platform type chassis which formed the basis of the 2+2 Iso Rivolta GT.

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Berney/Noblet Iso Grifo A3/C on its way to 14th place at Le Mans 22 June 1964. Car behind the Dumay/von Ophem Ferrari 250LM 16th (Getty)

Bizzarrini, Bertone and others encouraged Rivolta to build a sports car to enhance sales of the Rivolta, which were flagging, partly due, its said, to the failure of the US importer to meet its contractual obligations. The result was the Iso Grifo two seater GT built on a shortened Rivolta chassis.

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Grifo Lusso on Bertone’s stand at the 1963 Turin Salon, and doesn’t it look just so sweet in a brutal kinda way. The alloy wheels are Borrani’s (GP Library)

The chassis had a fabricated sheet steel platform as a base with tubular ‘space frame’ upper sections clearly shown in the photographs below. Two Iso Grifo versions were built and shown at the Turin show in November 1963. The luxury touring ‘Stradale’ A3/L (Lusso) was displayed on coachbuilder Bertone’s stand, while Bizzarrini’s race-prepped A3/C (Corsa) was long, low and lean on Iso’s stand.

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Chassis as per text; platform type lower sections and cockpit bulkhead with tubular steel spaceframe otherwise, December 1964 (Klemantaski)

 

Wearing lightweight aluminum coachwork penned by Bertone’s great and immaculately credentialled Giorgietto Giugiaro, and built by Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena, the A3/C ‘was a spectacular vision with aerodynamic flair. The result was an impossibly low and wide car that was exotically curved from every angle’. Some regard the car as one of the most beautiful shapes Giugiaro ever created.

In an effort to avoid the cost, time and complications of engine construction, Iso specified a 5.3 litre Chev V8 engine which was highly tuned for racing in the A3/C. Depending upon specification the famous Chevy 90 degree, cast iron, push-rod OHV ‘small block’ V8 produced between 350 and 420 bhp. The latter spec involved steel internals, roller-rocker valve gear, 4 Webers and the rest, the car good for circa 180mph down the Mulsanne. In addition the engine was placed far behind the front axle, giving the car a very racey front but mid-engined layout that plonked all the masses right where they needed to be. The engine was mounted so far back in the chassis that the Chevy’s distributor, famously, had to be accessed through a removable panel in the top of the dashboard!

The gearbox was a 4 speed Borg Warner T4.

According to some historians, Bizzarrini described the A3/C as the second coming of his GTO, a more refined one at that.

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Carozzeria Sports Cars May 1965, note the full race Chevy topped by four side draft 58mm Webers on crossover manifold (Klemantaski)

Suspension of the car was conventional upper and lower wishbones up front with coil spring/damper units and an adjustable roll bar. At the rear a de Dion rear axle was located by twin radius rods and a Watts linkage,  again with coil spring/dampers.

Burmann recirculating ball steering, 4 wheel disc brakes and lightweight magnesium alloy wheels (7X15inch/9X15inch wheels) completed a beautifully specified and integrated package.

The car was 4369mm long, 1730mm wide, 1135mm high, had a wheelbase of 2451mm, a track of 1410/1435mm front/rear and weighed circa 1000Kg

Bizzarrini provided full build execution for the AC/3 at his Autostar Works factory in Livorno, for 18 months Giotto built the car under agreement with Iso. Iso and Bertone produced the Grifo A3/L road car.

To Rivolta the Grifo was a tool to promote his GT car, but Bizzarrini was a racer to the core so fissures developed in the relationship between the two men as to where the primary focus should be. After about 20 examples of the Drogo-bodied A3/C’s were made, in the summer of 1965, Bizzarrini left Iso and produced the model under his own name, in both Strada and Corsa forms. As few as 115 examples of the cars were made under both names.

Most of the cars pictured in this article are some of the 20 A3/C coupes built using very lightweight, riveted (over 7000 of them were utilised in each body) aluminium bodies fabricated by Piero Drogo’s Carozzeria Sports Auto, the photos were taken in Drogo’s workshop in Modena in December 1964 and early 1965.

Part of the A3/C’s transition from an Iso to a Bizzarrini involved a change of coachbuilders from Drogo to Salvatore Diomante and his Carbondio concern, which was eventually reborn as Autocostruzione SD of Torino.

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The Pierre Noblet/Edgar Berney Grifo ahead of the #5 Dan Gurney/Bob Bondurant Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe 4th with the nose of the #24 Lucien Bianchi/Jean Blaton Ferrari 250GTO 5th during Le Mans 1964 (Getty)

From a racing perspective amongst the cars best international results are 14th outright and 4th in class at Le Mans in 1964, 5th in the Monza 1000Km and 19th at the Nurburgring 1000Km in 1965 a season which started badly with one car destroyed at Sebring and then another at Daytona.

Given the cars low build numbers it raced as a prototype against outright class mid-engined sports-prototypes rather than amongst the GT cars more akin to the Grifo in specification.

Credits…

Bonhams, Sotheby’s, Getty Images, Klemantaski Collection. Darryl Norenberg/The Enthusiast Network, The GP Library, F2 Register

Etcetera…

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The Getty caption describes this car as a Lusso, outside Drogo’s workshop in December 1964, same chassis as the opening photo (Klemantaski)

Tailpiece: A car fit for a King. John Lennon susses the interior of his new Iso Fidia S4 at Earls Court in October 1967…

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Bill Patterson getting all he can from the 1000cc JAP engine in his little, lithe, light and nimble Cooper MkV. He is on his way to Australian Hillclimb Championship glory on 19 April 1954 at Collingrove, Angaston in South Australia’s Barossa Valley…

Patterson was an immensely fast driver, look closely and you can see his left hand proud of the wheel as he gently corrects the powerful little cars slide on the testing, wonderful Collingrove Hill.

I wrote a short article about this Cooper, chassis # MkV/41/51 a while ago, that article was inspired by a photo, as is this one which covers the history of the car and of Bill Patterson, an Australian champion driver. Click here for the earlier article which provides information about air-cooled Coopers generally, and the MkV specifically.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/08/cooper-mk-v-jap-penguin-hillclimb-tasmania-australia-1958/

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(500race.org)

The car was bought by Melbourne’s Bill Patterson and Geelong’s Tom Hawkes in the UK and raced by them in 1951 before they brought it back to Australia…

The wealthy Victorians arrived in mid 1951 with the intention of having a racing holiday. Tom was to buy and prepare the car and Bill was to drive it. John Crouch, the Australian Cooper Distributor arranged for delivery of a newly released Cooper MkV to the duo but it was fitted with a JAP 500cc engine rather than the more reliable Norton ‘double knocker’ which was simply unobtainable. The car was specced with long range tanks with longer races in Australia in mind.

The 500 Club 500race.org has this to say about Patto’s performances in it ‘Patterson travelled to England in 1951 and bought a Cooper MkV JAP which he raced in England and Europe. Given the competitiveness of the British scene, and the dominance of the Manx Norton engine, Patterson achieved some creditable results including a 2nd in the Commander Yorke Trophy in August…In September he took a trip to Grenzlandring, Germany, 3rd to the Ecurie Richmond cars of Brown and Brandon…he managed a 2nd and 4th in heats at Brands but failed in the final.’

He arrived razor-sharp back in Australia after the intense competition of F3 in the UK and Europe first racing in Australia at Parramatta Park, Sydney in January 1952. Stan Jones then bought the Cooper in a deal in which Tom Hawkes acquired Stan’s Allard J2. But Patterson shared the racing with Stan before eventually buying the car in 1954.

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Bill Patterson’s Cooper MkV chasing the big ex-Bill Wilcox Phil Harrison Metallurgique/Dodge Special at Port Wakefield, South Australia’s opening meeting, in January 1953. Classic battle of big and small/old and modern technology, the chassis of the Metallurgique/Dodge dating back to the 1920’s. Harrison won the race, the car based on a chassis found in a wreckers yard with a body built by Bob Baker in Melbourne. Patto retired with a broken throttle cable on lap 4 (State Library of SA)

A JAP 998cc engine was fitted, the car  first raced in this form at Rob Roy Hillclimb in outer Melbourne on 28 February 1954, Patto won the 1954 AHCC in it as detailed earlier, as well as the 1955 South Australian Hillclimb Championship, also at Collingrove.

The little car contested the 1955 AGP at Port Wakefield with Patterson at the wheel with a JAP 500 fitted, he retired. In fact the mates Jones (Maybach), Hawkes (Cooper T23 Bristol) and Patterson all retired from the AGP, won by Jack Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol, Jack having made his F1 Championship GP debut in that car at Aintree several months before.

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Stan Jones, Collingrove, Cooper MkV, Easter 1955  (State Library of SA)

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Stan Jones, Cooper MkV in the Collingrove paddock, probably Easter Monday 1955. He set a new outright record of 38.02 seconds during this meeting (State Library of SA)

The car passed into Ken Wylie’s hands who raced it with both Norton 500 and JAP 1000 engines before crossing Bass Straight to Jock Walkem in Tasmania, he fitted a JAP 1000. The car came back to the mainland, Victorian John Hartnett raced it with both JAP 500 and 1000cc lumps. It then went back to Tassie, raced by both Dave Powell senior and junior powered by JAP 500, 1000 and 1100 motors as well as a BSA 500 engine. The car was then sold to Peter Dobson and passed to Brian ‘Brique’ Reed who restored it in the 1970’s. After many years of ownership it was bought by Peter Harburg.

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#12 D Harvey MG TC s/c from #8 Bill Patterson or is it Stan Jones? Cooper MkV, #11 D Tillett MG TC, Port Wakefield, Easter 1955 perhaps (State Library of SA)

Bill Patterson…

Patterson, was born on 30 August 1923 into a family of considerable wealth. He was the son of Wimbledon tennis champ Gerald Patterson and a nephew of famous Australian opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba.

Gerald Patterson was the Wimbledon singles champion in 1919 and 1922. He represented Australia in the Davis Cup from 1919-1928 and in 1927 won the first Australian singles title at Kooyong until the modern era, the home of Australian tennis. Patterson fought in the Great War and was decorated for his bravery, being awarded the Military Cross as a member of the Royal Field Artillery at Messines in 1917.

By the time his tennis career was over he had embarked on a very successful business career initially with sporting goods manufacturer AG Spalding Bros, by 1935 he was its CEO and went on to become a director of some other well known companies of the time.

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France’s Suzanne Lenglen and Gerald Patterson, mixed doubles champions at Wimbledon in 1920 (Bob Thomas)

Bill was born into a life of privilege, initially growing up at 15 Barry Street in Kew, the scene of many society parties and events including tennis matches on the home’s grass court. The family soon moved to nearby Toorak, Melbourne’s suburb of the ‘great and the good’.

He attended Scotch College in nearby Hawthorn, leaving in 1934 to attend Geelong Grammar, his sporting intent and prowess apparent as a member of the school’s rowing First VIII in 1938. Born into such circumstances is a double-edged sword of course, being the son of an elite sportsman-and businessman is seldom an easy thing given the expectations foisted upon the child.

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Bill Patterson is his stripped MG TC, approaching The Spillway, at the 16th Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 May 1948 (George Thomas)

I am intrigued to know what Bill did when he initially left school, he first came to motor racing prominence driving one of the first MG TC’s delivered to Melbourne post-war. His first event appears to be the 11th Rob Roy Hillclimb on 24 November 1946. This car was soon replaced by a second TC which was stripped and tuned.

He contested the 1948 Australian Grand Prix at Point Cook in outer Melbourne in this TC, which was fettled by Reg Nutt. The race is famous for the intense heat of the meeting which forced many of the top runners to retire from the impacts of the heat on either their mount or themselves. By lap 13 Patterson led the race, aided by a pretty good handicap. The car retired from the race, boiled dry on lap 24. The event was won by Frank Pratt’s BMW 328, which like Patterson, was aided and abetted by a good handicap.

Soon after the AGP Patterson and later Australian Grand Prix three times winner Doug Whiteford built a stripped, lightweight, two seater TC Special which had a curvaceous aluminium body made by Bob Baker in Melbourne. The engine was fitted with all the trick bits of the day and was supercharged, a Marshall blower was fed by a 1 3/8 inch SU carburettor at a boost of 10psi. The car was powerful, finned drum brakes were fitted as well as adjustable shock absorbers.

This famous little car, which still exists, first appeared at Rob Roy in January 1949, it’s first race was at Fishermans Bend in March. The car was fast from the start but Patto’s nemesis in under 1500cc events was Ken Wylie’s Austin A40 Spl. The MG first won at Nuriootpa in April 1949.

Back in the Barossa Valley, Patterson contested the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa in South Australia and was on hand to see his friend Whiteford win in ‘Black Bess’ Doug’s Ford V8 Ute based, amazing, special. Patto’s TC blew a head gasket on lap 6 having had a torrid dice with Stan Jones HRG in a preliminary race, Stan did not start the race.

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Patterson and his MG TC Spl at Hell Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1950. Pretty, fast, well driven car (George Reed)

At Bathurst in Easter 1950 he did a lap of  3:17 seconds, the fastest a 1500cc car had been around the demanding mountain circuit. John Medley observed in his ‘Bathurst Bible’ ‘The lightweight green car had an impressive collection of wins to its credit and was probably then Australias fastest MG…the driver was to become one of Australia’s fastest’.

Of great interest to Patterson was the appearance at Bathurst of the first two Coopers in Australia. The cars, MkIV’s, were raced by Keith Martin/Arthur Wylie and Jack Saywell. These ‘very light, 600lbs dry and with 82bhp 995cc JAP motors, all independently sprung MkIV Coopers, were, for their competitors, a taste of tomorrow’ said Medley.

Patterson had a very successful meeting with the TC at Balcombe on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in June 1950 with two wins and two seconds. Not long thereafter the car was sold to Sydney’s Curly Brydon who also did well with the car, developing it further.

For Bill Patterson though, the path was clear, he was off to the UK to race a Cooper in British 500cc F3, the toughest training ground of all at the time. Patto contested the Round Australia Trial in a Holden and a Peugeot, and other than a brief Ferrari flirtation which fell into his lap, he was pretty much a Cooper Man for the rest of his racing career.

After his 1951 season and the continuation of his career with the MkV in Australia covered above, he finally sold the little air-cooled bolide and bought his first Coventry Climax engined Cooper. This mid-fifties period coincided with the commencement of his Holden dealership, let’s spend a moment on that before picking up Patterson’s next Cooper.

The Australian economy boomed in the 1950’s buoyed by the pent up demand of wartime austerity, global demand for our products, wool, wheat and goods produced behind high tariff walls, high levels of migration from war-torn Europe and greater availability of consumer credit. The ‘great Australian dream’ of owning a home and a car were now within reach of larger numbers of people than ever before.

It was in this environment that Bill Patterson and his father (Gerald’s biographical notes make it clear he was a director of Bill Patterson Holden) chose Holden as the marque they would sell and Ringwood as the centre of their ‘Prime Market Area’ they secured from General Motors Holdens. It was an astute choice of location. No doubt Holden were well pleased to have Patterson as a dealer given his and his families profile. Fellow elite Melbourne racers Reg Hunt, Lex Davison, Stan Jones and Bib Stillwell also had, or would have Holden franchises

In 1955 (Bill Patterson Motors Ltd was incorporated on 3 October 1955) Ringwood was very much on the eastern urban fringe of Melbourne (30Km) as the city marched, for the reasons outlined above rapidly in every direction other than into Port Phillip Bay! Surrounding suburbs of Mitcham, Heathmont, Vermont and Croydon were served by better roads into Melbourne and train lines. The middle class were Holdens target market, Bill chose his location wisely. As the local populace and their incomes grew so too did Holdens range of cars, Patterson added BMW to the mix in the 1970’s, another great choice of a marque not well known in Oz, and on the rise.

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Patterson’s dealership at 55 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood in 1959. Holdens are ‘FC’ models, Cooper is the T43 Climax. It might not look so special now but the architect designed showroom was schmick at the time (Wolfgang Seivers)

Patterson’s Ringwood premises were initially modest but by 1959 he had built a state of the art dealership at 55 Maroondah Highway, just at the bottom of the downhill drop below Heatherdale Road, designed by Hassell McConnell Architects, Hassells are still one of Australia’s best architectural outfits, a global one at that. I can well remember as a kid visiting my aunt in Mitcham ‘out in the sticks’ as my father described it, and the impact of Patterson’s big site whenever we were in the area.

The point here is that Patterson, did things well and thoroughly. It helped that he had access to, probably, family working capital but he invested wisely and ran a very strong operation for decades.

In a previous life I worked as a consulting accounting/financial advisor to motor dealers for 7 years or so and worked with over 20 dealers across many franchises, not Patto I hasten to add. They are complex businesses; effectively 5 enterprises under one roof-new cars, used cars, service, parts, plus finance and insurance. Add to that the property aspects.

Lots of people think dealerships are ‘money for jam’. They are not, the space is incredibly competitive and the profit margins thin. The investment in infrastructure is significant. They need to be very well run with great, ongoing vigilance around daily detail to make good money. Patterson was one of Holden’s best dealers for decades, consistently in their Top 15 nationally and the figures were distributed monthly by GM, the peer pressure relentless and ongoing! At the top of the GMH tree, by the way, was often fellow Victorian, former champion racer Reg Hunt, his huge site on the Nepean Highway in Elsternwick well known to many Australian race fans.

Back to the racing. In 1956 Patterson imported a Cooper T39 Climax, #CS/12/56 a sportscar powered by a Coventry Climax SOHC 1500cc engine. The car first raced at the Albert Park Olympic AGP Meeting in November 1956, he managed to roll it at the end of the straight during the Australian Tourist Trophy won by Moss’ works Maserati 300S! Damage was superficial. Quickly repaired the pretty little car won its class and was 3rd outright in the Argus Trophy in the second weekend of the two part meeting.

The car was pretty much unbeatable in its class, Bill took it to Caversham for the 1957 Australian Grand Prix held in WA, Caversham is 16 kilometres from Perth. He stripped a gear in the first heat and, unable to race the car, became relief driver for Lex Davison’s ex-Ascari/Gaze Ferrari 500/625  winning the race with Davo in searing heat. Bill did some laps whilst Davison was treated for the effects of heat before returning to the event.

The win was in somewhat controversial lap scoring circumstances from Stan Jones, who raced solo in his Maser 250F. Patterson was 10th in the 1957 Gold Star Championship, the first year in which this for many years prestigious championship was run. Davison won the award in his Ferrari.

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Patterson in his Cooper T53 Climax, Longford 2 March 1964. The car is painted in his usual subtle but distinctive livery of white with a light blue stripe. He only completed 13 laps of the race won by Graham Hill’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT4 Climax (oldracephotos.com)

Patterson raced a succession of Cooper single-seaters and was always regarded as one of the fastest local drivers…

The Cooper T39 sports was sold when Bill bought the ex-works Jack Brabham Cooper T43 Climax #F2/9/57 which Jack brought to Australia to race at Gnoo Blas, Orange in January 1958. Jack sold the car to Bib Stillwell, the first of many cars Jack sold to Bib! Bib sold the car shortly thereafter to fellow Melbourne motor trader Patterson after Stillwell repaired it; he rolled the car at its second meeting in his hands at Bathurst, Easter 1958.

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Patterson’s Cooper T43 Climax chasing Arnold Glass’ Maserati 250F through the Longford Viaduct during the first heat of the 1959 AGP carnival. Whiteford’s Maser 300S won from Glass and Patto. Stan Jones won the GP in his 250F, Glass 3rd and Patto DNS the GP itself having lost a tooth off third gear in this heat (oldracingcars.com)

Bill first raced it at Lowood, Queensland in 1958, and later in the year at Bathurst in the Australian Grand Prix, a great race won by Davison’s evergreen Ferrari 500/625. Bill qualified the 1760cc Climax engined car well, on row 4 amongst much more powerful machinery. But he was out of luck again, this time not taking the start with a blown head gasket.

He retired again at the Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park in November 1958 and did not take the start of the Longford 1959 Australian Grand Prix, that race won by Stan Jones’ Maser 250F. Bill was 3rd in his heat but knocked a tooth off 3rd gear preventing a start in the GP itself. Again.

Bill put the car to one side and kept it as a spare which was occasionally raced by Doug Whiteford when he bought a T51 GP Cooper, #F2/15/59, a car supplied less engine in mid-1959. The car was built up in Patterson’s Ringwood dealership by his mechanic, Trevor Hill and made its debut at Port Wakefield in October 1959.

He was 4th in the 1959 Gold Star, using the T43 and new T51 which was fitted with a 2 litre Coventry Climax FPF DOHC engine winning 2 rounds at Port Wakefield and Phillip Island, both in the T51.

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Patterson leads Austin Miller’s Cooper T51 Climax during the 11 December 1960 ‘Lukey Trophy’ at Phillip Island, in his first T51 ‘F2-15-59’. Bill is diving into MG Corner during his winning run (AMS)

He went one better, 3rd in the 1960 Gold Star in the Cooper T51 Climax, the car at one stage won 9 times in a row, not at championship level mind you. The FPF’s capacity was increased to 2.4 litres by Doug Whiteford by the time of the October 1960 Bathurst International meeting. Despite greater consistency Patto won only the Lukey Trophy at Phillip Island in December. He took seconds at the Island in March, Bathurst in October and thirds at Fishermans Bend and Easter Bathurst.

The second place at Bathurst was behind Brabham’s current 2.5 litre T51, Patto was racing his earlier 2.4 litre engined, leaf sprung T51; the drive was talked about for years for its fighting brilliance on this most demanding of road circuits.

Into 1961 the car was fitted with a full, factory 2.5 litre FPF Patto acquired on a trip to the UK, in this spec he set lap records at all of his Gold Star races.

At Lakeside on 16 July 1961 Bill had a huge accident on this very fast circuit, rolling the car, having taken 4 seconds off the lap record earlier in the day and dicing with Stan Jones at the time of the crash. He was badly hurt, the car rooted, albeit the bits which were usable were retained as spares for the replacement, new, T51 Bill bought from Coopers. By then he was well and truly a long-standing ultra-loyal customer!

The replacement car, chassis #F2/5/57 (probably the plate of an old car attached to what was certainly a T51 of current specification) won the national title in 1961…

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A bit less BP and a bit more Cooper would have enhanced this shot! Patto and his victorious 1961 Cooper T51 Climax at Caversham in 1961, a successful weekend with a win in the WA Road Racing Championship (unattributed)

Early in the season Patto was 3rd at Longford in March, a week later going one better with a 2nd to Jack Brabham in a T53 Cooper ‘Lowline’ at Hume Weir circuit at Albury/Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian border. At the following round at the Bathurst Easter meeting Patterson took a great win from Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Arnold Glass, Alec Mildren, David McKay and Noel Hall all in Cooper T51’s. The only other finisher, Queenslander Glynn Scott was 8th in a Cooper T43!

Patterson won again at Lowood in June, winning the Queensland Centenary Road Race Championship from Mildren and Jones.

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Aren’t these Cooper T51’s the prettiest of things. The F1 champion of 1959 is such a contrast with the champion car of 1958, the Ferrari Dino 246! Here Patterson is practising his car at Caversham in August 1959, he practised carrying his usual #9 and raced as #19 (Ken Devine)

Patterson’s boys towed the new Cooper across the continent to Caversham, Western Australia, the effort rewarded with a win in the 1961 WA Road Racing Championship on August 12. The victory also gave him the ’61 Gold Star.

Another long tow to South Australia for the October Australian Grand Prix, at the Mallala airfield circuit, 60Km from Adelaide.

Bib Stillwell had imported a T53 Lowline providing Bill with strong competition. Patterson won his heat in a good start to the weekend and started the race from pole, there was a good deal of ill-feeling amongst the drivers as to time-keeping. McKay got the jump at the start-too much so according to the officials! By the end of lap 1 Patto was in the lead from McKay, Davison, Youl and Stillwell.

Patto pulled away at a rate of 1.5 seconds per lap, McKay was penalised a minute on lap 20, 5 laps later Pattersons Cooper was misfiring. Patterson stopped twice, but returned after the problem, vapour lock, was solved. McKay led Davison on the road but was effectively 3rd with his penalty.

Patto rejoined the race a lap behind, finished 4th and set fastest lap…

Davison again took a contentious AGP win, in a Cooper T51 borrowed from Stillwell, this time the controversy over an alleged jump start by McKay, the resultant penalty cost him the race. The shame though was Bill’s retirement, it was a race which was ‘his’, by that stage Patto was also very much a master of his craft, a driver of great experience, speed, and ‘tiger’. He was a man who was ‘high born’ but boy he drove with hunger!

With his two wins at Bathurst and Lowood, Patto won the Gold Star title by 36 points from Lex Davison’s Cooper T51 and Bib Stillwell’s T51 and T53.

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Patterson and his boys after winning the WA Road Racing Championship at Caversham in August 1961, Cooper T51 ‘F2-2-57’ or ‘F2-5-57′(Ken Devine)

Into 1962 he raced on but the T51’s raced by Patto and others were becoming less competitive as chassis design rapidly advanced, the Brabham BT4 probably the pick of the ‘Intercontinental’ cars at the time. 3rd was therefore a good result in the Gold Star in a season in which he raced sporadically.

He was first Australian resident in the Sandown International, the circuits opening meeting in March 1962, was 3rd in the Bathurst 100 at Easter not racing again until the Victorian Road Race Championship, at Sandown his home circuit in September where he was 3rd behind Davison and Stillwell’s later Cooper T53’s.

Patterson contested the AGP at Caversham in November, 4th a good result behind the latest equipment but the T51 was three laps behind McLaren’s winning Cooper T62, the car Bruce used to good effect in the 1963 NZ and Australian Internationals.

Patterson was 6th in the Gold Star in 1963 but only raced his ‘Lowline’ Cooper T53 Climax sporadically. He bought this car from Bib Stillwell, #F1/5/61, the car probably a chassis used by Brabham and Surtees in Intercontinental events in the UK in mid 1961. Bib raced it in 1962, a win in the Mallala Gold Star round in October his best result.

Bill’s first race in the T53 was the Sandown International in March where he was a DNF with gearbox failure. He raced it again at Sandown in September, very close to home for Bill, the circuit was only 10 km from his Ringwood Holden Dealership, and retired again from the Victorian Road Racing Championships. The speed was still there though, he was 3rd in the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in December.

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Patterson in the Cooper T51 Climaxes, the double rear wishbone chassis. He is in the Caversham form up area in the August 1961 WA Road racing Championship weekend, a race he won. Syd Negus Cooper Repco Holden and Plymouth Spl in the background (Ken Devine)

Patterson raced on into 1964, he was 41 and dealing with a growing business and it’s attendant pressures. There was a credit squeeze in 1961 caused by the federal governments responses to the growth of inflation at the time; it knocked the socks out of the economy and many highly geared motor traders, not least his friend Stan Jones, so perhaps that was a factor. Mind you, the Patterson family wealth meant that Bill’s access to working capital would have been greater than most.

In any event, he contested the Sandown and Longford rounds of the inaugural Tasman Series in 1964, in fact Longford was his last championship drive. For one who had raced so long, his was a relatively quiet retirement.

I well remember one drive when Bill raced/demonstrated one of his Coopers in the ‘Tribute To Fangio’ meeting at Sandown in 1978, the YouTube footage of that ‘race’ between Brabham’s Brabham BT19, his 1966 championship winning chassis and Fangio in a Benz W196 well worth a look.

Longford was the end of a long career which commenced way back in ’46 at 23 years of age.

Patterson focused on his growing business starting a long period as the sponsor or supporter of other drivers by acquiring the ex-McLaren/Mayer Cooper T70 Climax which was raced by John McDonald for a couple of seasons before its sale to Don O’Sullivan in 1967. This is the car now owned by Adam Berryman in Melbourne, it’s history chronicled not so long ago in my article about Tim Mayer.

Cooper historian Stephen Dalton observes that Bill Patterson ‘had the longest run of anyone using Cooper chassis, starting in 1951 in England/Europe through to 1966 when he was running McDonald’. Patterson’s business interests centred around his large Ringwood, outer eastern Melbourne, car and truck dealerships ‘Patterson Holden’ / ‘Patterson Cheney’ and later ‘Bill Patterson BMW’, as covered earlier in this article.

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Henk Woelders in the first of two Elfin 600 Ford F2 cars he raced with Patterson’s support. This is the first, a 600B at Calder in 1969 not too long before the ban which outlawed clever wings like this. Very much a movable aerodynamic device, the wing could be feathered on the straights to minimise unwanted drag (Bob Mills Collection)

Drivers Patterson supported included Henk Woelders who won an Australian F2 Championship in an Elfin 600E Ford and Peter Brock’s Holden and BMW Le Mans Touring Car campaigns. He also sponsored Alan Jones 1977 Rothmans F5000 Series assault in Teddy Yip’s Lola T332 Chev. Patterson was a mainstay of support for the Holden Dealer Team in its various incarnations, the performance of that team in production or production based touring car races important brand positioning for The General over the years.

Many elite drivers have also been motor traders across the globe, in Australia there are quite a few who put more back into the sport than they took out, Patto was one of those. Bob Jane, Alec Mildren, David McKay and Ron Hodgson are others who spring to mind, not the only ones mind you.

Even though his businesses had been highly profitable down the decades, in his later years his fortunes changed. He sold out of his dealerships and invested in an air transport business which serviced the islands in Bass Strait between the Victorian mainland and Tasmania. Unfortunately the business was unprofitable and sustained considerable losses.

Bill lived comfortably with his wife albeit on a different level than that to which he was accustomed, he died on 10 January 2010 at Karinya Grove aged care facility, in the well to do Melbourne bayside suburb of Sandringham aged 86.

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Where Does Bill Patterson Fit in The Pantheon of Australian Champion Drivers?…

‘Australian Motor Racing Annual 1964’ rated the Top 20 as Frank Matich, Bib Stilwell, John Martin and Leo Geoghegan and then in no particular order Lex Davison, Bill Patterson, Bob Jane, Ian Geoghegan, John Youl, Greg Cusack, John French, Brian Muir, Norm Beechey, Peter Manton, Brian Foley, Harry Firth, Bruce McPhee, Keith Rilstone, Jack Hunnam and Glynn Scott. Depressing is that about 70% of this lot are Taxi Drivers, that is Touring Car racers.

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Bill Patterson, Cooper T39 Climax, Fishermans Bend, Victoria probably in February 1958. Car is registered and would have made a quick road car! (Bradbury West)

Of Patterson the annual said ‘Ah Patterson. Still the most spectacularly fast of all Australians, Bill Patterson races when he feels like it and always uses all the road and part of the verge. In the past he has been renowned for some fiery displays on the grid and past it; in a competitive car  he is on his day, always the man to beat’.

Lex Davison in his Australian Motorsports magazine column wrote of Patto in relation to the 1963 Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm ‘…meanwhile our fastest driver, Bill Patterson, lacking recent activity, was rough and unpolished’.

David McKay, racer, team owner and journalist always described Bill in his columns as ‘The Hare’ to indicate his outright pace.

Patterson proved he could ‘cut it’ in his brief F3 stint in UK/Europe in 1951, in many ways it’s a pity, given his growing wealth that he didn’t acquire an outright contending car when he returned to Oz then. To have seen Patto go toe to toe in the mid-fifties in equivalent machinery to Davison, Jones, Hunt, Stillwell, Mildren, Whiteford, Gray, McKay and others would have been really something.

Whatever the considerations Patterson always got more than the best from his cars and without doubt was ‘Top 3’ in Australia for a season or three in an era, late fifties to early sixties, when there was increasing depth amongst the front rank drivers and greater equipment parity than had been the case in the decades before. And ran a very successful business whilst doing it…

Etcetera: London to Moscow tow…

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(Ken Devine)

I chucled when i saw this fine shot by Ken Devine of Bill’s Cooper T51 and its ‘Rice’ Trailer in the Caversham paddock, Western Australia in August 1961.

From Patterson’s Ringwood base to Caversham trip is about 3440 Km, from Australia’s East to West Coast, London to Moscow is only 2870Km. The road then was a shocker too, the Eyre Highway was not much more than a track in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the West Australian section was sealed in 1969 but the South Aussies didn’t do their bit until 1976.

It would have been a long, painful, difficult drive for the mechanics, the driver of course flew by Vickers Viscount or some such…

Bibliography…

Rob Saward The Nostalgia Forum, oldracephotos.com, State Library of South Australia, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, John Medley ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’, Graham Howard and Ors ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’

Special thanks to ace researcher and Cooper historian Stephen Dalton for his assistance in identifying or confirming venues, dates of race meetings and which Cooper is which! Any errors are mine.

Photo Credits…

State Library of South Australia, Bob Thomas, George Thomas, Ken Devine, George Reed, oldracephotos.com, Bradbury West, Wolfgang Seivers, Bob Mills Collection, Australian Motorsports magazine

Tailpiece: Patterson’s Cooper T51 6th leads Bib Stillwell T53 3rd and Angus Hyslop T53 4th into Longford Corner during the South Pacific Championship at Longford won by John Surtees T53 in 1962…

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(oldracephotos.com)

 

 

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The spare Lotus 48 Ford FVA, chassis 48-2 during the Eifelrennen Euro F2 round in the Nurburgring pitlane on 24 April…

Oliver’s Lotus Components entered Lotus 41B was the most successful of the Lotus works entries, he finished 11th. The Team Lotus duo of Graham Hill were 15th with Clark retiring with fuel metering unit failure. The latter two drove Lotus 48 Ford FVA’s, Oliver’s car was an update of Lotus’ 1966 contender. Jochen Rindt won the race in a Brabham BT23 FVA.

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Oliver on his way to 4th place and first F2 home during the Oulton Park Spring Trophy. His Lotus 41B was behind the Brabham Repco’s of Jack and Denny Hulme, and the Honda RA273 of John Surtees. 15 April 1967 (Brian Watson)

Oliver raced for the Charles Lucas factory Lotus F3 team in the second half of 1966, driving a Brabham BT18 Ford and Lotus 41 Ford finishing third in the Les Leston British F3 Championship, Harry Stiller won it from Chris Lambert.

For 1967 Oliver contested the British F2 Championship, finishing 5th, as well as many Euro F2 rounds, for 1968 he was a member of the ‘works’ F2 team racing Lotus 48’s together with Jim Clark and Graham Hill.

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Lotus Team compound during the 25 June 1967 Reims GP weekend. The white car is Ollies Lotus 41B 7th. Jim Clark is talking to Jackie beside his car #8 Lotus 48 DNF, the car under the cover is the spare carrying #8. Hill is talking to the mechanics next to his chassis, 2nd. The race was won by ‘F2 King’, Rindt in a Brabham BT23 FVA (unattributed)

Then, in the worst of circumstances he ascended to the F1 team upon Jim Clark’s death at Hockenheim on 7 April during the second round of the 1968 Euro F2 Championship.

Oliver was 5th in the championship won that year by Henri Pescarolo’s Matra MS5 Ford, Rindt the dominant driver, as ever, in the category but ineligible for the title as a graded driver.

Olivers first Gold Leaf Team Lotus F1 race was the Monaco Grand Prix in which he qualified his Lotus 49B Ford 13th but was out on the first lap after colliding with Bruce McLaren.

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Oliver Q10 in the Dutch dunes where the Lotus 49B made its victorious debut in Clark’s hands the year before. He was non-classified having done insufficient laps. Jackie Stewart won in a Matra MS10 Ford (unattributed)

In a character building year, he had a monster accident at during French GP practice when the cars rear wing support failed-pinging the fence of a chateau on an amazing 125mph trip thru the Rouen countryside. He was able to walk away but the car was hors ‘d combat, so that was his meeting.

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Oliver reflecting on life after a wild, wild, wingless ride thru rural France. Whilst his mechanic reflects on the long night ahead (sic) Jackie is sussing out his DG300 box and rear suspension which is 50 metres back up the road from whence he came (unattributed)

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The chateau gates Oliver hit are to the right past the Lotus 49’s rear end (unattributed)

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Chapman, Hill and Oliver during the tough 1968 season (unattributed)

His best result from a year in which Graham Hills tour de force of leadership gave him and the team world titles was Q2 in his home race at Brands Hatch, the race won by Jo Sifferts Rob Walker Lotus 49B, and 3rd in the season ending Mexican GP, Hill was the winner of that race.

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Oliver DNF gearbox after qualifying 2nd, ahead of Jo Siffert 1st both in Lotus 49B’s, Chris Amon 2nd, Ferrari 312, the last car in the group Surtees Honda RA301 5th (Getty)

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Oliver leads Pedro Rodriguez BRM P133, 3rd and 4th in the 1968 Mexican GP, 3 November. Hill won from Bruce McLaren (unattributed)

For 1969 Jackie was off to BRM, Jochen Rindt took his Lotus seat for 1969 in an ‘all star’ team with Hill. It was a tough year in  1969 as BRM had  ‘lost their way’ in a design sense, the P133/138/139 uncompetitive, better was to come  in 1970 with the Tony Southgate designed P153.

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Oliver, BRM P133 Monaco GP 1969 , Q13 and DNF with an accident of lap 1. Hill won in a Lotus 49B Ford (Schlegelmilch)

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Jack Oliver giving his brand new BRM P153 V12 plenty during the season opening South African GP weeeknd at Kyalami in March 1970. Car looks gorgeous without its Yardley branding! Brabham won in a Brabham BT33 Ford, Oliver DNF with gearbox dramas (unattributed)

Chapman waxed and waned between monocoques and space frame chassis for his ‘small bore’, production single-seaters throughout the 1960’s…

Whilst the marketing advantage of a you-beaut monocoque ‘just like Jim Clark’s Lotus 25’ was clear, equally the relative cost of repair of a spaceframe, especially in the field, a long way from the Norfolk was something which wasn’t lost on a lot of customers. Local garagiste ‘Louis the Torch’ may have been able to fix bent RF corner tubes, but he was less likely to be able to assist with curved sheet metal/aluminium complexities…

Statistically the most successful FJ/F3/F2/FB cars of the 1960’s were Ron Tauranac’s spaceframe Brabhams which were built to a consistent design philosophy throughout.

The cars were simple, strong, fast and forgiving straight outta the box. The latter because Jacks ‘finely tuned arse’ in testing contributed the ex-factory suspension settings which could be relied upon as a competitive, starting position by customers. Plenty of championships were won by not straying too far from them.

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Jim Clark, Pau GP, 25 April 1965, victorious in his Lotus 35 Cosworth Ford SCA from Richard Attwood’s Lola T60 and Jochen Rindt’s Brabham BT16, both also SCA powered (unattributed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pau GP, ’65 JC ponders setup changes on his monocoque Lotus 25 inspired 35 (unattributed)

 

 

 

 

Lotus Components 1965 F2/3 car was the monocoque 35, a modified version of the 1964 32, with Clark winning plenty of races in the car including the  Trophee de France, the Scot won 3 of the 4 rounds.

Aussie John Joyce (later the designer of magnificent Bowin racing cars when he returned to Australia) with assistance from Dave Baldwin were briefed to build a spaceframe F3/F2 frame for 1966 designated the 41. The Lotus brains trust were having second thoughts about monocoque chassis suitability in the junior classes. Issues were cost, weight and utility and expense of repair. The 41 was raced from 1966 to 1968 and whilst a good car didn’t have the factory support needed to further develop it, the exception the Lotus Components 41 raced by Oliver. The chassis was also raced in the US FB class.

The works Lotus F2 car for 1967, the first year of the 1.6 litre F2, the Lotus 48 was a monocoque, the car Oliver raced was the customer 41B, a spaceframe.

Both cars were comprehensively blown off by Tauranac’s Brabham BT23 which had some mighty fine pilots; aces like Rindt, but also coming drivers who extracted all the performance the car had to offer. The Matra F2’s, the MS5 and MS7 were also fairly tidy, fast (monocoque) devices…

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Leo Geoghegan, Australian Gold Star Champion in a Lotus 59 Waggott 2 litre in 1970. Here at Oran Park, Sydney that year (oldracephotos.com)

Chapman’s 1969 F3/F2 car, the Dave Baldwin designed 59 was a spaceframe. Its successor, the final Lotus production racing cars produced in volumes, the 1970 69 was a spaceframe for FF/F3 (spaceframe chassis are mandated in FF) and a monocoque for F2. Go figure!? Mind you, the 59 and 69 were very effective, successful tools whatever the variant.

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Jochen Rindt doing his thing in his Lotus 69 FVA during the Crystal Palace Euro F2 round, the ‘London Trophy’ on 25 May 1970. Jochen’s car DNF battery lead, Jackie Stewart’s John Coombs Brabham BT30 FVA won the race. The 69, a monocoque, was a mighty fine car in the hands of the works and customers, competitive into 1971 (unattributed)

These Lotus chassis changes are only of arcane interest over the decade I guess. Perhaps the reasons for the choices were simply the opinions and preferences of the individual designer who worked on each cars design or layout, not that I am suggesting Chapman ever lacked clarity about direction or objectives in terms of giving design direction!

In terms of the general specifications of F2 cars of the early 1.6 litre Formula, those and that of the engine de jour, the Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 litre unit are well covered in my article on the Lotus 48, click here to read it, there is no point repeating it all;

https://primotipo.com/?s=lotus+48

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Lynn Oliver, Monaco 1968. Husband Jackie and Bruce McLaren collided on the first lap, both DNF. Car is Lotus 49B Ford, Graham Hill’s sister car won (Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Brian Watson, oldracephotos.com, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Ollie’s Lotus 48 aerobatics at Klostertal during the ’67 German GP weekend, he was the F2 category winner…

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In a great performance Jackie was 5th in a Lotus 48, the race won by Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT24 Repco (Schlegelmilch)

 

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(Wolfe)

Looking at Jack in this shot i wondered who the most recent of the F1 driver/engineers was?

Brabham is helping the boys prepare his BT23E Repco before the Sandown Tasman round, the Australian Grand Prix, in early 1968. Jack, ever the practical, hands-on engineer.

Larrikins, Larry Perkins perhaps? He raced and prepared an Ensign, nee Boro in 1976. Was he, perhaps, the last or most recent of the genre? The guys I am referring to are the blokes who could both drive the things and could and would put ‘em together themselves.

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Nice overhead shot of Perkins Ensign ‘Boro’ N175 Ford at Monaco in 1976. He didn’t make the cut in the principality but raced the car in the Belgian, Spanish and Swedish Grands Prix for 8th, 13th and DNF in an operation which was very much smell of an oily rag and DIY…And did well enough to pick up a Brabham drive later in the season, one, sadly, he was not to keep. These cars of Mo Nunns were beautifully designed, quick jiggers. Chris Amon made ‘em fly too, tho their mechanical breakages sapped his confidence and bruised his body, ending his GP career (Schlegelmilch)

Qualifiers?…

Mercedes mechanic come driver ace Hermann Lang is the first who pops into my head but he can’t have been the only one pre-war? I wonder if the Renault brothers were ‘hands on’ maybe they qualify as the first way back in the Edwardian era? Vincenzo Lancia maybe?

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Hermann Lang at Donington Park 1937. Apprenticed as a motor-cycle mechanic at 14, Lang was an ace on bikes by the time he joined Benz as a mechanic in 1934, by ’39 he was European (read World) Champion. He fettled Fagioli’s W25 initially. Aided and abetted by team manager Alfred Neubauer, and against the wishes of some of the drivers, he test drove the cars in 1935 and 1936 before being made a works driver for 1937 with the 5.6-litre W125. By 1939 he was the grids yardstick, winning 5 of the 8 major GP’s in the 3 litre W154. Having the momentum as the ace of the day was lost by the War years, after a few unsuccessful attempts in post-war GP’s, he won the ‘52 Le Mans in a 300SL Benz (Fox)

Fangio certainly built some of the ‘rockets’ he raced in Argentina early on in his career, whether he wielded a torch once he got to Europe is perhaps another thing.

The dudes i think of most readily are the fifties/sixties fellows; Jack and Bruce of course, Chapman qualifies altho he didn’t race in a GP, he did practice for the French GP in 1956 for Vanwall though.  He qualified 5th but boofed the car so did not race.

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Here’s a few practical chaps, and all pretty handy steerers including Brabham designer Ron Tauranac (far right leaning) who was quick in his Ralts in Oz before he was enticed to the UK by Jack. From left Howden Ganley a picture of 70’s sartorial elegance in the flares, and a mechanic at McLarens in the early days as he progressed thru the junior formulae ranks in the UK. Tim Schenken, (these two later partners in Tiga Cars) Graham Hill waxing lyrical and RT at right. Car is the one of a kind ‘Lobster Claw’ Brabham BT34 Ford, driven by Hill, its British GP practice @ Silverstone in 1971. Tim drove last years BT33 and was consistently quicker than GH in his first full F1 season (Blackman)

Graham Hill, Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Bob Anderson, Frank Gardner, Denny Hulme, Howden Ganley and Graham McRae all qualify. The Kiwi F5000 ace did a Gee Pee or two in ‘73ish and his cars were great bits of kit.

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In 1970-3 Graham McRae was one of the worlds best F5000 pilots at a time the category globally was mega-competitive, winning races and championships in Australasia, Europe and the US. His Len Terry designed Leda LT27/ McRae GM1 Chev’s were the ‘ducks guts’ as well, until the Lola T300 rained on his, and everybody else’s parades. Formula Lola from then on. Here he is in one of Frank Williams Iso IR Fords during ’73 British GP practice at Silverstone. He didn’t complete the first lap with throttle slide dramas at the start of the lap which ended with Jody Scheckter’s big Woodcote, McLaren M23 shunt which took out half the field (unattributed)

Thinking slightly more broadly Chevron’s Derek Bennett wasn’t an F1 driver but otherwise is absolutely of the driver/engineer fix it yerself mould. Make that design, build and drive it. And in Australia Garrie Cooper (Elfin) and Frank Matich spring to mind, Frank was ‘elite level’ as a driver and his sports and F5000’s cars were all winners. Both were not F1 drivers to be clear. ANF1 drivers, but not F1 drivers…

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Larry at the press launch of the BRM P201 in early 1977. Mike Pilbeam’s chassis was good, if they had popped a DFV into it they would have had a good car? By then the BRM V12 was well past it’s use-by date and hadn’t had any development to speak of for years (Keystone)

Larry was later than all that lot so I reckon its him as ‘the last’? Unless some of you guys can think of someone more recent, and you may well do, the above is outta my head which does not fit into the category of thorough, diligent research.

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Perkins had several drives of the Holden Dealer Team supercharged, Holden LC Torana GTR XU1 during 1972, here at Catalina Park in Sydney’s Blue Mountains (Rod MacKenzie)

Perkins spannered the very first Ralt RT1 Tauranac built to his ’75 Euro F3 Championship win then lent his talents to Chris Amon on his Amon and, as I say largely self prepared the Ensign/Boro Ford well enough to be plucked by BC Ecclestone into Brabham for a while. Until Carlos Pace rained on his parade. By the time Larry got to BRM they were shit-heaps, that episode a total wasta time. Mike Pilbeam’s chassis was in search of a good engine.

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Here Larry is  trying to qualify the Amon AF101 Ford during German GP practice after Chris fell ill, Nurburgring 1974, DNQ. Clay Regazzoni won in a Ferrari 312B3 (Sutton)

Larry prepared all of his cars in the junior formulae in Australia before taking the same talents into European F3. I well remember seeing Larry rectifying his practice mishap transferring all the good bits of Robert Handfirds Ralt RT4 into a new chassis having had a territorial dispute with a slower car in practice, and rooted the cars tub, during the 1981 AGP weekend at Calder. Despite a lack of practice time the car was 4th on raceday, Roberto Moreno victorious in another RT4.

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Teo Fabi and Perkins (near side) in March 782 and 77B during the 1979 F Pac NZ GP at Pukekohe.The 1979 NZ F Pac championship was won by Teo Fabi in a factory March 782. The 5 circuit, 5 weekend, 10 50-mile race series was tough. He dominated, the March 782 the best 1978 Euro F2 chassis, was fitted with the latest March 79B bodywork incorporating sliding skirts. Perkins was his toughest opponent driving the ex-works March 77B chassis raced by Danny Sullivan in NZ the year before. Perkins raced a Ralt Australia/Scuderia Veloce Ralt RT1 in the 1978 series finishing runner-up to Keke Rosberg. Larry was 29 then, it was still not too late to resuscitate his single-seater career, the result may well have been different had Perkins raced a car as quick as Fabi’s. Having said that, in early 1979 Fabi was an F3 graduate, Larry an ex-F1 driver so Larry should have been quicker. Perkins mixed single seaters and touring cars in the early eighties. He raced F Pac and F5000, winning the 1979 Rothmans International Series in an Elfin MR8 Chev. He then became a touring car specialist, winning the Bathurst 1000 6 times and a car constructor. He led the team which built the race cars at the Holden Dealer Team when it was owned by Peter Brock and formed Perkins Engineering to build and race Holdens from early 1986 to 2013.

Bob Janes All Australian, if you can call such an attempt in a German car!, attack on Le Mans in 1984 in a John Fitzpatrick Porsche 956 is a story in itself with the drive shared by Larry and Aussie Touring Car Legend, Pter Brock. The preparation of the car in Australia and France was in Larry’s tender, loving hands, the great run ended during the night whilst Larry was at the wheel.

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Perkins at the wheel of the Porsche 956 he shared with Peter Brock in 1984. The car ran as high as 8th before crashing during the night (unattributed)

Larry was pushing hard and ran out of road passing two cars seeking to make up time, the car had slipped down to about 35th after losing 28 minutes repairing a front hub damaged when the car lost a front wheel whilst Brock was driving. He was sanguine about it saying later fatigue wasn’t the issue, the choice of passing a split second one of course, with hindsight backing off was the right one. Henri Pescarolo and Klaus Ludwig won in a 956B, Larry and Brock were out in the 18th hour having covered 145 laps

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Perkins at the wheel of the Jguar XJR9-LM he co-drove to 4th place at Le Mans in 1988 (unattributed)

Jaguar and Holden Special Vehicles…

Tom Walkinshaw was well aware of both Larry’s speed and car construction skills. The Brit owned Holden Special Vehicles in the post-Brock era but was making the same climb up the UK motor racing greasy pole as a driver, as Perkins in the early 1970’s.

Amusing was being a guest of HSV at Bathurst for the 1000Km event in 1988-the design and branding business of which I was a partner designed/created the HSV Logo and brand look and feel, and seeing the ‘in team competition’ between the two Holden VL Commodore HSV racers.

One was built by the Poms at TWR and one built by Larrikins and the lads in Melbourne! Larry’s qualified in the top 10 but neither finished, Walkinshaw’s car doing only 5 laps and Perkins 137. HSV was a very do it yerself operation then, MD John Crennan himself drove the courtesy vehicle to ferry we guests from the circuit to the airport after the race, a far cry of later years as the business of building heavily re-engineered performance Holdens grew.

Walkinshaw invited Larry to join his TWR Jaguar squad at Le Mans in 1988. The Aussie tested the car at Silverstone in preparation for the race, the car was very quick even compared to the Porsche 956, also a ground-effect car, of 4 years earlier. He finished 4th in the French classic co-driving a Jag XJR-9LM together with fellow ex-F1 driver Derek Daly and Kevin Cogan. The big 7 litre V12 was 11 laps behind the winning Jag of teammates Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace.

Perkins touring car exploits in Oz as both builder and driver are well known. Suffice it to say that the Perkins Engineering workshop at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne’s southern suburbs built amongst the best Holden Group A and V8 Supercars for a couple of decades both for his own team and customers.

This made him a prosperous businessman, in so doing he applied the self taught engineering, business skills and resilience which made him such a formidable driver. Make that driver/engineer, to pick up where we started!

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Drivers meeting during the 1979 NZ F Pacific series. Larry is talking to Teo Fabi, who won the title that year, Jeff Wood is the tall dude and the blondie, Oz F Pac Ace John Smith (Cammick)

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Jack Brabham explaining why front stiffness is critical to performance, Tasman Series, Australia 1968 (unattributed)

Back to the Brabham BT23E race-prep picture at this articles outset…

Whenever you see pictures of Jack he is always fiddling with something, he is rarely looking on at the mechanics doing stuff or checkin’ out the babes.

This (opening article) shot was in a general interest magazine in Rodway Wolfe’s suitcase of Repco Goodies which is in my care. I was certain ‘twas Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount, his BT23E, to which is being fitted an RB740 275bhp Repco V8.

Rodway believes the place is probably a workshop on the South side of the Princes Highway near the Warrigal Road corner close to Sandown in Melbourne. Jack’s Australian manager, Reg Thompson (ex-Redex) used to organise these locales close to the circuit, rather than the team operate from Repco Brabham Engines HQ in Maidstone, which in those pre-Westgate Bridge days was a ‘cut lunch and camel ride’ from Sandown in Springvale.

Jack is at left of course, hidden behind him is Graeme Bartels to the right is Norman Wilson, RBE’s Senior Design Engineer post Phil Irving. He is fettling the Lucas metering unit which is beneath the exhausts, I wonder if he is cursing his packaging as he works! Bevan Weston is facing the camera in the middle, all these fellas are RBE Maidstone crew. The other blokes are BRO. (Brabham Racing Organisation)

One of the many hints its Oz rather than Europe are the cans of Australian oil company ‘Ampol’ fuel and lubricant on the floor of the workshop. In F1 Jack was sponsored by Esso then Gulf from 1968. Ampol didn’t make competition fuel or lubricants, Nigel Tait says that RBE used Shell Super M lubricants at Maidstone whilst assembling and testing the engines, I wonder if its Shell oil and fuel in those Ampol cans!

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Front rows of the ’68 Australian GP grid, Sandown Park, Melbourne. Clark #6 then Amon and Jack on the front row-Lotus 49 DFW, Ferrari Dino 246T and Brabham BT23E Repco. On row 2 Hill in the other 49 and Leo Geoghegan Lotus 39 Repco, well up in this 1965 chassis. You can just see Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa on the inside of the circuit (Howard)

Sandown 1968 Tasman Race: The Australian GP…

This account is a truncated version of that found on the excellent sergent.com website.

The conditions that weekend at Sandown Park were absolutely scorching, Melbourne had been in drought for the previous months. I can still remember water restrictions at the time, the race was held over 55 laps of the 3 and a bit Km, very fast circuit laid out around a horse racing course.

‘The first official practice was held in temperatures of up to 106 degrees, Brabham was quickest in the Brabham-Repco V8 fitted with the older 630 type heads which brought the exhausts up from the lower part of the engine. It was obviously a powerful arrangement, as Brabham had little effort getting down to 1:6.7 secs during his 10 laps’.

Its interesting but not quite right, in fact the engine was a brand new ‘830 Series’ Tasman V8, a combination of the ‘short’ 800 block to be used in the 1968 RB860 F1 engine, and crossflow 30 Series heads. These were more powerful than the 40 Series used in F1 in ’67 and more widely on various Repco engines of capacities from 2.5 to 5 litres.

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The brand new, prototype or first RB830 V8 nestled in the back of Jack’s Brabham BT23E chassis at Sandown during the AGP weekend in 1968. That it was developmental is indicated by the tack on oil cooler and weird aluminium ‘fuel pot’ as Rod Wolfe describes it (Rod MacKenzie)

Clearly though the engine being popped into the chassis in the opening shot is a 740 not an 830, so exactly when this engine is being put in-or pulled out is an interesting, if arcane one!

Jack only did the Warwick Farm and Sandown Tasman rounds in 1968, the car clearly raced a 740 that weekend in Sydney their is plenty of photographic evidence to support that. Equally, if you look closely at the grid at the start of the Sandown race the engine fitted to Jack’s car is not a 740 ‘between the Vee’ exhaust engine but a ‘crossflow’ 830 engine.

Perhaps the car practiced initially at Sandown with a 740, the 830 fitted later in the meeting or perhaps the photo at the articles outset is in a Sydney workshop prior to WF, for sure it isn’t RB HQ at Maidstone in Victoria.

To add to the confusion there is a photo in the report of the AGP in the bible (History of The Australian Grand Prix by Graham Howard and others) which shows the car at Sandown fitted with a 740, but the photo caption I don’t think is right, I suspect it’s at WF not Sandown, they are both circuits built around horse racing  tracks and the car carried #2 at both meetings. All contributions welcome on this arcane Repco topic of what engine where!

Clearly the 830 developed plenty of mumbo as Jack popped it on pole from Amon in the four valve Ferrari and Clark on the outside. Then came a brilliant Leo Geoghegan in his ex-Clark 1966 Tasman Series Lotus 39 but fitted with a Repco ‘740’ rather than the Coventry Climax FPF four which the car was built.

In fact it was built for the still-born Coventry Climax V16, but modified to suit the CC FPF. In any event Leo had the old car ‘dancin amongst this compoany in the latest and greatest from Europe and Graham Hill on the second row respectively.

Then was Gardner (Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 V8) and Cusack (Brabham BT23A Repco 740) Rodriguez (BRM P126 V12) then Piers Courage in the little 1.6 McLaren M4A Ford FVA, John Harvey’s old Brabham BT11 Repco V8 740 Attwood (BRM), Hulme and Bartlett (Brabham completed the grid with no ANF2 1.5’s allowed.

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Jack in BT23E in the Warwick Farm pits the week before the Sandown AGP, car clearly fitted with a 740 Series ‘exhaust between the Vee’ engine. Car in front is one of the P261 BRM’s, behind is Piers Courage McLaren M4A FVA F2 car (Brian McInerney)

Race day was still scorching, the drivers avoided the usual pre-race sports car ride. Jim Clark led from Amon, with Jack making a poor start and getting away in 5th place as the field lined up Shell corner.

Coming under Dunlop Bridge for the first time the order was Clark, Amon, Hill, Gardner, Brabham, Geoghegan (already sounding off tune), Rodriguez, Cusack, Courage, Bartlett, Attwood, Hulme and Harvey.

Brabham took Gardner on lap 3 while Cusack slipped under Rodriguez. Hill fell to Brabham on lap 5. Cusack again poured it on to get by Geoghegan (only running on seven cylinders with a broken plug insulator) and Courage got by Rodriguez on the following lap.

The race was an absolute beauty by lap eight, the order was Clark and Amon with Brabham closing fast. Then came Hill, Gardner, a gap to Courage, Cusack, Geoghegan, Rodriguez, Attwood and Bartlett.

On lap 10 Rodriguez blew the V12 BRM. Brabham, by then was catching Amon and Clark at the rate of 0.5 sec a lap, the chase was sending the crowd wild. Three laps later Brabham had closed right up on Amon.

The three leaders lapped Hulme on BP Straight as they flashed past on lap 19, while Gardner got past Hill again and Bartlett somehow blew off Cusack in the Coventry Climax engined old Brabham BT11A. Next time round, Brabham had again lost ground to Amon and Gardner was one second ahead of Hill. Then, as the leaders came from under Dunlop Bridge onto the main straight, there were only two. Brabham came into view a little later coasting towards the pits with a seized engine.

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Clark and Amon during their epic dice into turn 1 or Shell Corner for the quick blast past the old pits on the left, Sandown 1968 (Rod MacKenzie)

With Brabham out of the race, the crowd focused on the furious dice between Clark and Amon, and then back further to Graham Hill and Frank Gardner.

‘Amon desperately needed the win to make up points on Clark and he was driving superbly to hang on to the tail of the more powerful Lotus-Ford. He started a series of maneuvres which were to last throughout the race of slipstreaming the Lotus, then switching to the side and trying to forge past on the straights. However, Clark had enough steam to just hold the Ferrari leaving his braking slightly later than Amon on Shell and Lukey corners’.

Amon lost some ground lapping slower cars but by lap 43 he was looking into Clark’s ZF ‘box. Temperatures had tumbled during the race to a moderate 90 degrees (!) which made things a shade easier all round’.

‘With seven laps left in the 33rd Australian Grand Prix, Frank Gardner got the GO signal from the Mildren crew and roared after Hill. Amon had his nose over the finish line twice in the closing laps in a massive bid to snatch the lead from Clark, but he was out-braked each time into Shell. Gardner took Hill briefly at Lukey corner on lap 52 but Hill was in front again as they came under Dunlop Bridge.

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Clark under brakes in the winning Lotus 49 DFW, AGP Sandown 1968 (Rod MacKenzie)

And that’s how they finished. It was probably the most exciting GP since the 1960 event at Lowood when Alec Mildren won by a mere one 26th second from Lex Davison. Clark credited Amon with a wonderful drive, and it was obvious both men were as near to the limit as anyone for the whole 55 laps. Courage came home a lap down in fifth place while Attwood, Geoghegan and Bartlett all completed 53 laps in that order. Geoghegan received the honour of first Australian home for the second time and Bartlett was fuming because he had received no pit signal as to how close he was to Geoghegan’.

F1 ‘830 Series’ Repco V8?…

An interesting historic sidebar is this engines prospects as an F1 engine, had it been raced in 1968.

The 860 Series, DOHC, 4 valve circa 390bhp engine bombed bigtime in F1 in 1968. Jack and Jochen Rindt had a torrid time, the engine was way behind with its build and testing compared to the simpler, championship winning 620 and 740 Series 1966 and 1967 engines-a story for another time.

Jack was later to reflect, including in a conversation with Repco’s Rodway Wolfe that another F1 title could have been won by Repco  in 1968. His theory was that had they taken the simple SOHC, 2 valve approach which yielded championships in 1966 and 1967 by using the 830 V8 in ’68 another title beckoned. In 2.5 litre Tasman form the 830 gave circa 295 bhp, even if it gave 350 bhp in 3 litre form, which is 20bhp more than the 740 F1 engine gave in 1967, Jack was drawing a long bow about its ’68 prospects, i think.

By 1968 the Ford Cosworth DFV, which first raced in the ’67 Dutch GP was giving a reliable 405bhp and was in the hands of Lotus, McLaren and Matra; 5 or 6 cars raced the engine in every GP depending upon whether Ken Tyrrell’s Matra International fielded one or two cars. Every 1968 GP bar the French (won by Ickx, Ferrari) was won by the DFV…Yep, an 830 engined Brabham BT26 would have finished in the points had it been reliable, Rindt was pedalling it remember. But a title? I really don’t think so Jack, the game had moved on.

The great tantalising Repco ‘what if’ is how the 860 quad cam would have gone in 1969 with its bugs sorted and having a reliable, torquey Repco (real horses, not ponies) 400bhp. A title in 1969?! Maybe…

Credits…

Rodway Wolfe Collection, Rod MacKenzie Collection, Fox Photos, Keystone, Ross Cammick, The Roaring Season, Getty Images, Brian McInerney, Victor Blackman

Tailpiece: Larry on his way to 13th in the Ensign N175 Ford during the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, Hunt won in a McLaren M23 Ford…

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