Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines, there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK by ship, it’s destiny and whereabouts unclear to this day.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…

Today we are so used to cast or forged alloy wheels on our cars that we don’t think about them, at least not until we hear that infuriating crunch when we brush a curb. Just when the modern alloy wheel first appeared is subject to some speculation. (See The Nostalgia Forum – https://forums.autosport.com, 12 November, 2009 et seq.) When discussing these wheels, aluminium, magnesium and Elektron (a magnesium alloy) are often confused. Regardless of what we call them, ‘Mag, Alloy or Ali’, there is no disputing that Ettore Bugatti pioneered the use of aluminium wheels on racing cars when he used them on his ground-breaking Type 35 that first appeared at the Grand Prix de l’ACF (French Grand Prix) at Lyon on 3 August, 1924.

Ignoring Bugattis pioneering wheel for the moment, it would seem that cast or forged alloy wheels started to appear in general use in the late 1930’s – perhaps initially in the aviation industry – by this time the USA was a hotbed of experimentation in aluminium casting and alloy development. In England Alex Issoginis used 6 spoke Elektron wheels on his fabulous ‘Lightweight Special’ which he developed in the latter half of the 1930’s. These wheels had integral brake drums, à la Bugatti, but the spokes were bolted to the rim as distinct from being cast in one piece; a technique also used with aircraft.

Bugatti’s aluminium wheel as seen at the French Grand Prix in 1924 (B King)
Alec Issigonis aboard his Lightweight Special with electron wheels in 1961 (unattributed)

In the early post-war years, the use alloy of wheels became commonplace, particularly with racing cars. Perhaps the first to use these wheels in this period was John Cooper on his Mark II. Doug Nye in his seminal COOPER CARS , states that Cooper discussed the increasing difficulty in obtaining suitable wheels with his cousin Colin Darby and they came up with the idea of casting wheels with an integral brake drum “like Bugatti pre-war”.

They patented their design and had them cast, claiming that the wheels were “lighter and stronger than the old Fiat type”. Arthur Owens, THE RACING COOPERS, states that their first production alloy wheels appeared in 1947 and were “cast in Elektron with 8-inch brake drums cast integrally”. Others state that it was in 1948 that the Cooper Mk. II, their first production model, appeared with these wheels. Again, claims were made for better brake cooling, more rigidity and better access to the brakes. Other small-time manufacturers such as Laurie Bond with his eponymous Bond ‘C’ type of 1948 used alloy wheels; in the case of Bond, they were to his own design.

Meanwhile across the pond, ex-Douglas aircraft engineer Ted Halibrand began experimenting with magnesium alloy wheels in 1946 which he first used on his own midget racing car. He tried them out on Indy cars in 1949, but had problems with cracking and the soon to become ubiquitous Halibrand cast wheel did not appear at the Indianapolis 500 until 1950. Subsequently, every Indy car between 1951 and 1967 wore Halibrand wheels and Halibrand’s influence still looms large in the wheel industry and hot rod community.

‘Sure, it looked a lot more aggressive than a steelie with poverty caps’. Ted Halibrand with magnesium alloy wheels and other castings (Internet Commons)
A ‘modern’ Messier Bugatti alloy Boeing nose wheel serves as a hose reel for the writers garden hose. Yes, the Bugatti name survives in the aero-spatial industry (B King)

Historically, it had been generally accepted that the cast aluminium wheel was solely the product of the inventive mind of Ettore Bugatti. However, in 1981 influential American automotive historian Griffith Borgeson (1918-1997) set the cat among the pigeons with his BUGATTI by BORGESON (Osprey). The sub-title of this book is ‘The dynamics of mythology’, and in it he tries, at times too hard, to discredit some of the pioneering work of Bugatti. In chapter 13, ‘Wheels within Wheels’, Borgeson claims priority for the invention of the aluminium wheel for Harry A Miller in a US Design patent of 4 May 1920,

Miller’s design for an ‘ornamental wheel’ (G Borgeson)

Recently, while researching the racing history of Diatto factory works driver Carlo Massola we were shown a book on the marque by Sergio Massaro titled simply: DIATTO. We were astonished to see that on the front cover there was depicted a car with what appeared to be cast wheels. In fact, in 1923 ‘Automobili Diatto’ produced a version of their racing Tipo 20S with aluminium wheels described by Massaro as “the fantastic ‘holey’ wheel” which was cast in light alloy.

It is important to understand that there had been a long-standing relationship between Bugatti and Diatto dating back to their membership of the Turin branch of Club Automobilisti d’Italia as early as 1899 or 1900. According to Steinhauser’s ETTORE BUGATTI, Pietro Diatto, who was nine years older than Ettore, ‘Took an interest in Bugatti’s prototype T8 in 1907. Their relationship was uninterrupted’.

The T8 refers to Bugattis eighth car design which was for the German industrial giant that was Deutz. It was in effect a prototype for future Bugattis with an overhead cam actuating vertical valves via ‘banana’ tappets – a design feature later glorified by his highly successful Brescia model.  In October 1915 Louis Panabel, the Diatto agent for France, obtained an option for Bugatti’s pioneering eight in-line steel-block aero engine in the name of Cavaliere Pietro Diatto. This was the aero-engine which had grown from Ettore’s concept for a luxury car engine of eight cylinders with which he had been experimenting since 1912.

The Diatto-Bugatti aero engine was successfully tested in September 1916, Diatto sending an enthusiastic telegram to Bugatti “I am happy to announce the excellent results for the engine … the testing resulted in a brilliant 210 HP”. This collaboration led to a 1919 agreement in which Bugatti was to supply Diatto with fifty 16 valve car chassis made in Molsheim; they were to be fitted with Diatto radiators. (Other than the radiator and the bonnet, these cars were identical to the Bugatti factory product – they are what today is referred to as the ‘Brescia Bugatti’).

Three of these Diatto-Bugattis were shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1919, all with a Diatto radiator with a Bugatti badge. Bugatti displayed two of his outdated 8-valve cars on another stand. Bugatti was a late entrant for the show, and it would appear that the industrial giant Diatto had stolen a march on the under-funded Molsheim factory. There is an unsubstantiated claim in Wikipedia that Diatto also manufactured chassis for Bugatti.

The fantastic holey wheel used on the Diatto 20S (Massaro)

Dane Claude Teisen-Simony has written of the relationship between Bugatti and Diatto. According to Claude, Diatto, which was the second largest Italian automobile manufacturer post-WWI, formed what was “an absolute dream team. Not only did he start with the collaboration of Bugatti, he also linked-up with the outstanding engineering capacity of Giuseppe Coda of FIAT and SCAT racing fame plus two of the Maserati brothers, Alfieri and Ernesto”.

Teisen-Simony claims that “Bugatti used the much larger Diatto factory and its capacities as a test facility for his new ideas, such as a hollow front axle in 1920 and racing cars with superchargers in 1921”. He states that the remarkable Bugatti hollow front axle was developed as a collaboration between Bugatti and Coda. He notes that Borgeson also referred to a partnership between Bugatti and Coda in the development of the Deutz Type 8.

Although the source of the information on the alliance between Bugatti and Coda is not given, there is sufficient grounds to accept that Diatto and Bugatti worked closely on a number of projects, including aero engines and the sixteen-valve car. Other tangible evidence of the close association between Bugatti and Diatto is indicated by the similarity between their radiator badges and by their adoption of the term ‘Thoroughbred’ translated as, ‘Pur Sang’ and ‘Puri Sangue’ respectively, to describe their cars. It is not clear to the writer when Ettore first used the ‘Pur Sang’ description; but it has been applied retrospectively to the first Bugatti, his Type 13 of 1909 – ‘Le Petit Pur Sang’. Diatto used ‘Puri Sangue’ to promote the company’s success with their Tipo 30 (Bugatti).

The Diatto radiator badge has an identical form to the Bugatti badge (Massaro)
Diatto’s thoroughbred (Internet Commons)

The Bugatti cast aluminium wheel.

Cast wheels were not a novelty in 1924, and therefore not patentable; nor would the change from iron to aluminium have had patentable merit. Bugattis first patent for his wheel (FR581308), filed on 5 May 1924, was titled Roue à disque à refroidissement ‘cooled disc wheel’, concerning itself with the increased brake cooling provided via skewed spokes. (In production the spokes were parallel).

The Bugatti wheel was distinguished by its integration of the brake drum into the wheel, but this arrangement was not unique as many automotive wire wheels prior to WWI had their spokes laced into the periphery of the brake drum. Malicet et Blin (MaB) were well known for their use of this design and as parts suppliers to the automotive industry this pattern of combined wheel and brake drum appeared on many, mostly French, cars in the early days. Closer to home, Bugatti used this pattern of wheel on his Type 16, the Bébé Peugeot, from 1912 – possibly this influenced his thinking when it came to making an aluminium wheel with an integral brake drum.

The rear wheel of the writers Bebe Peugeot, showing the integration of the brake drum into the wheel (B King)
The original Bugatti aluminium wheel as patented in 1926 in the USA. It shows two rows of six spokes, offset; significantly different to the final product (Ploeg)
Bugatti wheel (Salzman)

Wheel manufacture had played an important part in Diatto’s history; Guglielmo Diatto was a thirty-year-old wheelwright and coachbuilder when he established his eponymous company on the banks of the Po River in Turin in 1835. In 1838 he patented ‘a perfect wheel’. From what can be seen in a photograph of the wheel taken from the patent application, it appears to be a normal metal spoked cart wheel. Was it the use of metal spokes that made it patentable, or was it a pioneering cast wheel?

Guglielmo Diatto’s ‘perfect wheel’ of 1838 (Internet Commons)

Aluminium wheels, Bugatti, Miller or Diatto?

It seems unlikely that Bugatti was influenced by the 1919 Miller design for an aluminium wheel. Miller, strictly, did not patent the design – it was a Model Registration that concerned ‘the ornamental design of a wheel’. The wheel was intended to be used on an innovative racing car known as the T.N.T., but in its one or two track appearances it was fitted with conventional wire wheels.  (Mark Dees, THE MILLER DYNASTY) The model registration did not address any perceived mechanical advantage from a cast wheel. The wheel was six spoked, compared with Ettore’s eight spokes, and there is nothing in the model registration to suggest it used an integral brake drum. It appears that Borgeson, not for the first time, was ‘drawing a long bow’ when he suggested that Miller’s design was the inspiration for Bugatti’s cast aluminium wheel.

In regard to the association between Bugatti and Coda, we are prepared to believe that the Diatto and Bugatti aluminium wheels might have had common antecedents. In the absence of documentation, just who influenced who remains unclear. The presence of Giuseppe Coda in the allegedly contemporary drawing of a Diatto 20S with perforated aluminium wheels does imply his possible involvement in this novelty.

Bugattis original patent described the wheel “as consisting of one, two or several discs, pierced in a manner to give the desired form to the ‘arms’ or spokes”. This description better fits the Diatto wheel than the aluminium wheel as it first appeared on the Type 35 Bugatti at Lyon in 1924. Could this design have arisen from discussion between Coda and Bugatti, or was Bugatti inspired to make his own version having seen the cast wheel designed by Coda? Italian patents relating to the aluminium wheel might be revealing.

A representation of Coda at the wheel of a Diatto 20S with cast aluminium wheels (Massaro)

What is certain is that Ettore Bugatti was the first to produce a practical light alloy wheel for racing and passenger cars – wheels that are now standard on modern cars.

Etcetera…

Aerolite wheels detail construction

More on the Aerolite wheels from Stuart Ulph, owner of the Almack Austin.

“I was completely unaware that a commercial fleet had been equipped with Airlite wheels. My knowledge of these wheels (apart from owning some) was derived from the “Motor Sport” article, so to me they were ‘Aerolite’. They were made by Bramber with, I am pretty sure, Dunlop rims, the rims being steel of course. I had wondered if High Duty Alloys were involved in the supply of materials – just speculation.

Pete Almack refers to them as ‘my patented wheels’. I assumed he was the patent holder  – he held other patents – but a patent search has revealed nothing. Peter also acted in some sort of consulting capacity to the patents board. It has occurred to me that Bramber may have held the patent.

As far as Austin Sevens are concerned, I know that both 15″ and 16″ wheels were made. I had heard that a ‘Motor Show’ Vauxhall 14 was equipped with Pete’s wheels and I have a set of 16″ wheels which were fitted to a BMW 315. Unlike the Austin 7 wheels, these do not have integral brake drums. The BMW wheels have a patent pending number on them as I recall but even this proved of no use to the searcher.

You would think that more of these wheels might turn up, given that Bramber seem to have sold quite a few sets. I telephoned Bramber circa 1980, by which time they had moved to Wales and their major occupation was in producing trailers for Land Rovers. Though interested by the story, by then they had no records or knowledge of the alloy wheels.”

CZ Z13 1.5-litre two stroke (D Ploeg)

And this contribution from Dick Ploeg, “You may also wish to add that the Czechoslovakian firm of CZ (CESKOSLOVENSKA ZBROJOVKA), on their 1931 Z13 racing car they copied the Bugatti alloy wheels, with integral brake drums.

Furthermore there was a French make of aftermarket light alloy wheels available shortly before and after WW2. These were seen, I believe, on Amilcars and Peugeot Darlemats of the period. I have no name available at the moment, but it must be recorded somewhere.”

Credits…

Bob King and his collection, Tony Johns, Mike Costigan, Stuart Ulph, Dick Ploeg, Diatto’ Sergio Massaro, Brockbank and other references quoted in the text

Tailpiece…

Finito…

Frank Gardner takes the chequered flag after winning the December 3, 1967 Hordern Trophy, traditionally the season ending Gold Star round at Warwick Farm…

Frank’s habit was to finish his European racing season and then head back to his home city, Sydney, and contest the final Gold Star round as a warm up for the seven or eight round Tasman Series which followed in January/February.

He raced the event for Alec Mildren Racing from 1965 to 1968, winning two of the four events in the Brabham BT23D Alfa in 1968 and Brabham BT16 Climax FPF in 1966. He led the 1968 race in the Mildren Alfa Yellow Submarine but pulled out with fuel metering unit problems. His other start was in Alec’s Brabham BT2 Ford/Lotus twin-cam 1.5 in 1965, his 1965 Tasman mount, for the sake on completeness was a Brabham BT11A Climax which was not ready at the time of the Hordern.

Gardner in The Esses (oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

Bartlett cucking the BT11A around in the style which always made him a crowd pleaser- and quick. This car was at the end of its third full season of racing in late 1967- debut by Gardner in the 1965 Tasman (oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

The 1967 Hordern Trophy was disappointing in a way, that year Spencer Martin and Kevin Bartlett slugged out the Gold Star in identical Brabham BT11As; Spencer’s was owned by Bob Jane and KB’s by Alec Mildren. Click here for more; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/27/kbs-first-bathurst-100mph-lap/

Bartlett had to win the penultimate round at Symmons Plains the month before, November 12, to stay in the hunt at the Hordern, while he led in Tasmania, a broken oil line ruined his chances. Greg Cusack took the win in David McKay’s Brabham BT23A Repco from John McCormack – not really racing outside Tasmania at that stage – in his ex-Jack 1962 Caversham AGP mount, a Brabham BT4 Climax, and David Sternberg’s Alexis Mk6 Ford ANF1.5.

Martin won the Gold Star at Symmons despite failing to finish, observing a self-imposed 6800 rev limit, he had cam-follower failure. As already planned and announced, he retired. John Harvey took the seat from the Hordern Trophy, racing very successfully for Bob Jane for the next five or so years in a range of single-seaters, sportscars and tourers.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Martin above, and Bartlett below before the off at Symmons, Brabhams BT11A times two.

In the preliminary, KB led Spencer and Greg away with Cusack up to second before being clobbered by a rock in his visor, Martin retired with a duff plug, KB took the win.

In the main race Kevin led until lap 12, from Cusack and Martin before the oil line broke. After Glen Abbey fixed the problem KB gave the crowd a show by taking to the circuit and driving the last 34 laps flat-knacker, dropping the lap record to 56.4 seconds and being rewarded with a point.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

The Repco V8 engined Cusack car, Jack Brabham’s 1967 Tasman machine, Leo Geoghegan’s ex-Clark Lotus 39, or John Harvey’s Ron Phillips owned, converted F2 Brabham BT14, all powered by 640 or 740 series 2.5-litre V8’s coulda, shoulda taken the Gold Star from the Climaxes that year but unreliability prevented them doing so. And the sheer, raw pace of Martin and Bartlett.

Leo Geoghegan was so miffed with his Repco engine he fitted a Coventry Climax back into his Lotus for the Hordern Trophy, that didn’t work for him either, he was outed with overheating despite a good third grid position.

Greg Cusack sussed his tyres with the Firestone man during the Hordern Trophy weekend. Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco

Leo Geoghegan at Longford in March 1967- just before John Sheppard and Bob Britton converted the ex-Clark Lotus 39 from Coventry Climax FPF to Repco 640 V8 power (oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

(RCN)

This race summary draws heavily on Peter Wherrett’s January 1968 RCN coverage and that of Australian Autosportsman’s Ray Finnerman and Warwick Robbins. There were some amazing differences in the reports, where there were such the Wherrett view is my favoured one!

Gardner started the Hordern from pole having done a 1:29.6 seconds, the only man under 1:30.

KB jumped into an early lead but Gardner passed his teammate going into the Northern Crossing, and led for the balance of the 45 lap journey in an impressive display in what was a brand-spankers, new car.

Bartlett and a couple of other cars have just cleared the Western Crossing on the first lap- KB, Gerdner, Harvey, Stewart, Geoghegan, West, Gibson, Cooper out wide at left and the rest with Cusack well back (DBird/RCN)

KB ran very hard in second place leading Harvey and Geoghegan in Climax cars, Stewart’s ANF1.5 Rennmax BN1 Ford Twin-cam and the Repco engined Cusack Brabham who was making up ground hand over fist as a consequence of missing dry practice; he boofed the car at The Causeway which required workshop repair.

After Cusack came Phil West in Mike Champions’ ‘old chassis Brabham’ BT2 ANF1.5, Fred Gibson in Niel Allen’s ex-Gardner Brabham BT16 Climax, Glyn Scott, Lotus 27 Ford, Garrie Cooper, Elfin Mono Mk2D Ford, Alf Costanzo, Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford, Alex Lazich, Pirana Ford 1.1, Brian Page Elfin Mono Mk1 Lancia V4 and Milton Lambert, Elfin Mono Mk1 Ford.

“The spins came early with Costanzo who got the ball rolling with a big one on the second lap…Cary, Elfin FJ Ford 1.1 was having troubles of his own and was in the grass more than once early in the race and dropped back to last place” wrote PW.

Alf Costanzo, Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford gives Bartlett plenty of room into The Esses (oldracephotos.cm.au/Phillips)

Cusack took a win in the single-seater support during the AJC Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm in July 1967- beautifully on line here at Homestead Corner, Brabham BT23A Repco

So it was Gardner comfortably from Bartlett, he too not being hard pressed by Harvey and Geoghegan, Stewart, Cusack and Phil West.

Max comfortably led the ANF1.5’s and led that title chase. The ANF1.5 Championship was run concurrently with the Gold Star rounds to ensure adequate fields of both, especially the 2.5’s which were thin on the ground outside the Tasman Series.

Greg bagged Max on lap 3, “Cusack’s Repco V8 sounded great and he was noticeably faster than all but Gardner and Bartlett,” wrote Wherrett.

Stewart lost his clutch on the fifth lap from which point West was all over him.

By lap 9 FG led from KB by thirteen seconds in turn still well ahead of Harvey who ‘was very at ease with the old Martin car and was enjoying the renowned Climax reliability’. The latter comment probably a dig at the difficulties Harvey, Phillips and Peter Molloy had with the Brabham BT14 F2 car, converted earlier that year from 1760cc Ford Twin-Cam to 2.5-litre 640 Repco V8 form.

I know from comments made by (the late) Harves on social media in recent years that the team did get the BT14 going very quickly once the suspension was fully sorted- to the extent of a single-seater feature race ‘Diamond Trophy’ win at Oran Park and good race/qualifying pace in the Surfers, Sandown and Mallala Gold Star rounds. In fact I see his qualifying time at the first Gold Star round at Lakeside in June was just under 1.5 seconds away from Cusack’s pole time, so arguably the thing was thereabouts in pace, if not reliability pretty much from the start.

Quite why Bob Jane, who bought the BT14 Repco from Ron Phillips, then pulled the engine and ‘box from the then sorted, fast BT14 and plonked them into the back of the BT11A for the ’68 Tasman only for Harvey to go through the sorting process all over again makes no sense to me at all.

Back to the Farm.

Cusack passed Geoghegan who shortly after spun on some lose stuff in The Causeway. After another spin he gave up the battle with overheating and handling problems, when Leo departed the race after 11 laps he was piped-out by Creek Corner’s famous trumpeter who played the Last Post!

Gardner from the Elfin Mono (oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

John Harvey, Brabham BT11A Climax monstering Fred Gibson in Niel Allen’s ex-Gardner Brabham BT16 Climax. The Esses (oldracephotos.com.au)

Alfie spun on laps 14 and 16, Glyn Scott had a loop on lap 11 losing his spot to Elfin Chief GC Cooper Esq. Clearly there was a lot of muck on track- perhaps due to the rain the day before.

With plenty going on for the spectators, Fred Gibson pitted the Allen Brabham BT16 with braking problems on lap 14. The brake line had severed so the crew sent him out 5 laps later after the rear brakes were disconnected. Brave boy.

Cusack closed within four seconds of John Harvey, then spun at The Causeway without hitting anything this time, he didn’t lose a place in the process but had to do the hard work to bridge the gap to Harves all over again.

By now Phil West had passed Max Stewart but that was not a drama for The Big Fella from Orange, he had the points needed to bag the first of his many national titles.

With Gardner up front of Bartlett by about a half minute the Alfa Romeo V8 sung its song impressing all with its speed- FG tickled the thing into some delicate slides demonstrating the chuckability for which these Brabhams were famous.

‘Bartlett’s Brabham buried deeply in straw and Armco after its Causeway lose. Surprisingly the car was not badly damaged- nor was Bartlett. But he was sure annoyed! wrote Wherrett (D Bird/RCN)

Then KB lost it going into Polo on lap 27- the engine cut out and by the time he got going again he was back to fourth. “Then he did it again and it seemed the engine was going cold between gear changes” is Wherrett’s somewhat mysterious observation. Bartlett covered one more full lap without drama but then got onto some of the lose stuff and charged straight ahead through the straw bales and into the Armco.

So John Harvey was up to second place keeping a good eye on Cusack further back, the Canberra motor dealer narrowed the gap down to five’ish seconds but then had another spin, at Polo and this time put Harvey beyond his reach in the remaining laps to the finish. Wherrett reported that Harves had a half-lose in The Causeway too, but he caught it and drove to the finish behind Gardner.

West and Stewart diced hard for the balance of the race, Phil getting over the line only “with a lead of only one second” from Max- I notice the oldracingcars.com result credits West with 43 laps and Max 42- whatever the case it was a very fine showing by West who had stepped up from an FJ/F2 1100cc car to a Ford/Lotus Twin-Cam powered ANF1.5 for the very first time at this meeting.

Within months he was offered the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco seat vacated by Greg Cusack after his high speed 1968 Longford Tasman shunt hospitalised him and hurt him badly.

Phil West, Brabham BT2 Ford 1100cc, at Oran Park during 1967 (D Simpson)

Phil West on the way to a Bathurst 100, Easter Bathurst Gold Star win in 1969- Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco (P Cross)

When Gardner passed Harvey on lap 42 he had lapped the field, at the end of the race there were only two he hadn’t lapped twice.

FG won by a lap and 1.8 seconds from John Harvey in a very strong first race for Jane, Brabham BT11A Climax, then came Cusack, Brabham BT23A Repco a minute behind Harvey, a lap ahead of West, Brabham BT2 Ford, Stewart, Rennmax BN1 Ford and Costanzo, Elfin Mono Mk2B Ford. Then came Garrie Cooper, Elfin Mono Mk2D Ford, Glyn Scott, Lotus 27 Ford, Brian Page Elfin Mono Mk1 Lancia and Fred Gibson, Brabham BT16 Climax to round out the top ten.

FG with the Hordern Trophy- grand isn’t it!?

And on the Ferrari lap of honour below with friend and long time Mildren engineer/mechanic Glenn Abbey alongside- is that the flat-capped Alec in the passenger seat perhaps. Ferrari 275 GTS maybe.

There were three future Gold Star Champions in this race- KB, Max and Alfie. That the 1.5’s were so well up is indicative of the paucity of 2.5 machines outside the Tasman.

Gardner was probably feeling pretty good about his 1968 Tasman chances that day, but the competition was tough that year; Clark and Hill in Lotus 49 Ford’s, Amon’s works Dino V6, two BRM’s both P261 V8 and P126 V12 driven by Rodriguez, Irwin, Attwood and others, lets not forget Piers Courage’ F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

I guess the Light Car Club’s annual Victorian Trophy which pre-dates the Gold Star, first held in 1957, and the Hordern Trophy awarded by the Australian Automobile Racing Club were the most prestigious and longest lived of the Gold Star awards?

Sydneysiders are well aware of the enormous wealth generated by the Hordern family who arrived as free-settlers in in the mid-1820’s and grew an enormous retail empire from their first Mrs Horderns drapery store at 12 King Street.

At its height the massive Anthony Hordern and Sons Ltd ‘The Palace Emporium’, built in 1905, occupied a whole Sydney block bounded by George, Liverpool, Pitt and Goulburn Streets. The company employed over 4,000 and dealt in ‘everything from a needle to an anchor’ which were either made in its Sydney factories or imported by its agents. The company was taken over by Waltons Ltd in January 1970.

Sir Sam Hordern (1876-1956) was an early member of the Royal Automobile Club of Australia and twice its President. The RACA Club Trophy was introduced by Sam Junior to coincide with the opening of Warwick Farm. It was contested throughout the sixties with ‘traditional events at Wallacia (hillclimb) and standing quarter mile tests at Castlereagh Airstrip’ whilst simultaneously the Sam Hordern Trophy, usually abbreviated to Hordern Trophy was provided to the winner of the AARC’s Warwick Farm Gold Star event.

Bib Stillwell in a year he didn’t win! 1964 Hordern Trophy, Brabham BT4 Climax DNF lap 15 with Coventry Climax engine failure. The ANF1.5’s of Leo Geoghegan and Greg Cusack, Elfin Catalina Ford led the field home (B Wells)

The other three-time Hodern Trophy winner, Kevin Bartlett, in Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo, he also won the Gold Star in this machine in 1968 (unattributed)

There were twelve Hordern Trophy events from 1961 to 1972, Bib Stillwell won the first in a Cooper T53 Climax F Libre and Frank Matich the last in his Matich A50 Repco F5000.

Stillwell and Bartlett won three times, Gardner and Leo Geoghegan twice, with singleton wins for John Youl and Matich. The winningest marque was Brabham with four chequered-flags, the engine with the most notches in its sump was the good ‘ole Coventry Climax four-cylinder, DOHC FPF with five victories.

Late lamented Warwick Farm’s last open meeting was the July 15, 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship meeting, and the very last an AARC Clubbie on the Farms short circuit, August 12, 1973.

Peter Brock, Holden Dealer Team Group C Holden Torana GTR-XU1 during the final WF open meeting- the final round of the 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship on 15 July which Brock won from the similar Torana of Bob Morris and Pete Geoghegan’s Valiant Charger RT E49 (unattributed)

Etcetera: Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo…

Brabham BT23D ‘1’ was a one-off car built on Ron Tauranac’s F2 BT23 jig to the specific requirements of Alec Mildren- specifically fitment of an Autodelta Tipo 33 2.5 litre engine.

Mildren was an Alfa dealer, the new motor allowed him to join the Tasman V8 brigade and get some promotional rub-off in terms of car sales.

The car was built in the Motor Racing Developments factory in Weybridge with the engine installation carried out the Mildren Racing ‘shop in Sydney by Glen Abbey and the team. The Brabham BT23 family of Tasman cars is covered in this article;

https://primotipo.com/2016/09/29/bathurst-1969-and-jacks-tasman-brabhams/

The car had a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis with conventional outboard suspension front and rear. Wishbones top and bottom at the front with coil spring damper units and an adjustable roll bar. At the rear was an inverted lower wishbone, single top link, two radius rods and again coil spring/dampers and an adjustable ‘bar. Suspension uprights were cast magnesium front and rear- the front Alford and Alder units were given the flick with the introduction of the BT23!

(M Feisst)

The engine was a beauty and came to Mildren via Autodelta’s long Tipo 33 sportscar program which ran well into the mid-seventies and yielded an F1 flat-12 engine along the way; not to forget 3-litre F1 versions of the T33 V8s.

Kevin Bartlett has said Mildren had three of the V8’s along the journey from late 1967 to late 1970, which were fitted to the Brabham BT23D and Len Bailey designed, Alan Mann Racing built Mildren Yellow Submarine, the monocoque jewel which succeeeded the Brabham (as in Gardner’s 1969 Tasman weapon and KB’s car for the 1969 Gold Star and beyond- and ultimately fitted with a Waggott TC-4V 2-litre moteur).

Engine number ‘AD001’ was variously quoted at 2,464 and 2,472cc and was a 90 degree, DOHC, chain-driven, two-valve, twin-plug, Lucas injected, Marelli sparked V8 giving around 285 bhp; about the same as was quoted for Amon’s Dino in three-valve spec in 1968 (yes he raced four-valvers in Australia in 1968 too).

The gearbox was the ubiquitous Hewland FT200 five-speeder.

Teretonga- BRM’s Tim Parnell (seated) grabs a Coke with the Mildren lads- wonder who the cutie is at left? Front and rear suspension as per specs in text below. A beautiful bit of kit which FG exploited to the full (Ian Peak)

Arguably the BT23D Alfa was the best car Gardner ever drove in a Tasman, the ‘Sub’ was a better car but was neutered in part by its sub-optimal wing package in 1969.

Frank’s problem was the depth of the 1968 field too. With Clark, Hill, Amon, Hulme (emasculated with an F2 Brabham BT23 that summer) Rodriguez and Brabham, albeit Jack only did some of the Oz rounds, his race record, in that context is strong.

Pukekohe (NZ GP) Q4 and second. Levin Q2 and DNF after running wide on the fast sweeping left-hander, boofing the car and damaging the suspension after hitting a bank. Wigram, Q3 on the airfield circuit and DNF head-gasket. Teretonga, Q4 on the world most southern track and third.

Off to Australia.

Surfers Q4 and DNF- not sure why. Warwick Farm Q8 and DNF camshaft. Sandown Q6 and fourth. Longford, his qualifying time is not clear in the shemozzle over starting the sodden race but third was a good race result.

Gardner flirted with Grand Prix racing, he was happier doing a mix of touring cars, sports prototypes, F2 in most years, some F1 and an annual Tasman summer. He did great against the greatest, lets not forget the Lotus 49 Ford is one of racing’s greatest GP cars, Amon’s Dino was a works machine too, run by Amon’s local Kiwi crew.

It would have been very interesting to see how FG would have gone in a decent GP car, circa 1966 to 1969 when he was in his peak.

As it was BT23D gave Bartlett his first of two Gold Stars, the Sub the other. Then it became ‘our first F5000’ car when Jim Abbott bought it from Mildren and gussied it up as such as a display car to promote the class he believed in.

Into hill-climbing the chassis was modified and used by Abbott. Later Chris Murphy died in it at One Tree Hill, Ararat. Eventually restored by Paul Moxham, beautifully so too, the car now lives in Tasmania owned by the sympathetic Chas Kelly. The full history of the car is a topic for another time.

More on Alfa’s race 2.5 V8’s here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/30/motori-porno-alfa-romeo-tipo-33-tasman-2-5-litre-v8/

Etcetera: Symmons Plains Gold Star 1967…

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Greg Cusack confers before the off. His only Gold Star win was that day at Symmons, in some ways Greg’s small-bore single seater promise was not fulfilled in BT23A results.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Cooper in the ‘ultimate spec’ Mono- his factory outboard suspension Mk2D. GC used this chassis and a 600 to jointly win the ANF1.5 title shared with Max Stewart in 1968.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Royal Automobile Club of Australia, oldracingcars.com, Australian Autosportsman, Dick Simpson, Mike Feisst and Ian Peak on The Roaring Season, Paul Cross, Racing Car News, D Bird

Tailpiece: All Australian boy and all round sportsman…

(unattributed)

(Fairfax)

The black and white version, almost, of the opening photo which is ripped off from the cover of FG’s ‘Castrol Racing Drivers Manual’!

Finito…

Jack Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm 1963 (J Ellacott)

The airwaves were abuzz last year with the news of Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari.

It seems only yesterday he was the ‘enfant terrible’ giving Mark Webber plenty of stick, a decade or so later, the worm turned for him in the form of Monsieur de Clerc.

Still Seb has been on a motza for a decade or so, resort islands are cheap in the post Covid 19 world, back in ‘the good ole’ days’ the commerce of motor racing was a tad tougher.

(New York Times)
Vettel and Leclerc after a territorial dispute in Brazil 2019

Jack Brabham worked all the angles; he built racing cars with Ron Tauranac, raced cars in F1 via his business Brabham Racing Organisation and raced Coopers for the works and via ‘Ecurie Vitesse’.

Not to forget modified cars via Jack Brabham conversions, columns in magazines which were ghosted for him and the sale of this years car to Australian racers at the end of each summer; the Cooper T40 Bristol in 1955, Cooper T39 Bobtail in 1956, Cooper T41 Climax FWB in 1957 and lordy knows how many T45/51/53s from 1958 onwards.

By the Australian summer of 1962/3, he and Tauranac had built and raced their first F1 Brabham, the BT3 Coventry Climax FWMV V8 from the middle ’62 season. They constructed a Coventry Climax FPF engined variant of that spaceframe design for ‘Intercontinental’ use designated the BT4.

Jack took the first of these machines to Australia for the 1962 AGP at Caversham, outside Perth. He was looking good for a win after a furious dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 when he tangled with Arnold Glass’ BRM P25 Buick V8, Bruce bagged a nice win.

Not to worry, the car made a good impression on the local hotshots, many of whom had bought Coopers from him, or via him. There were the NZ Internationals to contest and several races in Australia in those immediate pre-Tasman Cup years.

Jack started from the front row of the NZ GP at Pukekohe but cooked a head gasket after only 12 laps- John Surtees’ Lola T4A Climax won. He won at Levin from Tony Maggs and Innes Ireland who were Lola T4 Climax and Ferguson P99 Climax mounted. On the Wigram FNZAF Airfield Bruce McLaren won in the Cooper T62, at Teretonga Bruce won again, with Jack fourth albeit he took the lap record- Maggs and Ireland were again second and third.

While the racing was going on so too was the commerce. David McKay purchased Jack’s BT4 after Teretonga, Bib Stillwell ordered one too which was entered at Warwick Farm. A replacement car was air-freighted to Jack for the Australian races, which in time honoured Brabham fashion he would sell to Lex Davison at the end of the summer.

The Australian Grand Prix was held at Warwick Farm that year on February 10. Brabham BT4s dominated the results sheet; Jack won in his new ‘IC-2-62’, David McKay was fourth in Jack’s ‘old’ ‘IC-1-61’ and Bib Stillwell was fifth in his new ‘IC-3-’62’. Interlopers were Surtees and McLaren – second and third in Lola Mk4A and Cooper T62 respectively.

It wasn’t an easy win for Jack mind you, the ship carrying the new car arrived late so it had to be flown from Melbourne to Sydney, finally arriving late on the Friday night.

As Jack recalled in Doug Nye’s book, instead of Tim Wall having days to prepare the car, he had ten hours. The car was at the Farm early, but lost the first of the early sessions with an electrical short. During second practice, Jack scrubbed in tyres and got the engine running properly, by the end of the day he was happy with the car despite starting from the rear of the grid.

In the race Brabham ‘sliced clean through the field’, then Surtees spun out of the lead on lap 31 of 45, allowing Jack to close right in and slipstream past on Hume Straight into Creek Corner. The resident bugler did his thing and crowd went nuts! (two shots below)

From Sydney, the circus headed north to Brisbane’s Lakeside where Surtees won from Hill, Stillwell and Chris Amon in David McKay’s old Cooper T53. It was one of a series of great performances that summer which saw him scooped up by the Parnell team and taken to Europe.

The teams then had a two week break to prepare the cars and transport them to Melbourne and across Bass Straight for the South Pacific Championship held over the Labour Day long weekend in early March.

Bruce McLaren won from pole, equally impressive was Bib’s second place only a second adrift of the Kiwi international and then local boy John Youl third in his Cooper T55- both the guys in front of him ran 2.7 FPFs, Youl’s was a 2.5.

Then it was back across Bass Straight for the opening Sandown meeting (above). There Bruce was again on pole from Jack, and won from Maggs and McKay with Jack a DNF engine a lap before the finish.

While Jack did a roaring trade in Brabham BT4s there is little doubt that had there been a Tasman Cup in 1963 Bruce would have won it, a feat he managed in ‘the first McLaren’ – a Cooper T70 – Climax the following year.

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, autopics.com, Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece…

img_5785

(K Devine)

Brabham’s brand new BT4 Climax during the 1962 AGP weekend at Caversham, ain’t she sweet.

Finito…

(Tony Johns-SLV)

Former Austin 7 racer and Bentley historian Tony Johns is a regular visitor to the Victorian State Library, there, he browses newspapers and magazines for Austin 7 and Bentley history. If he comes upon things of interest in the writer’s realm, which is mostly to do with Bugattis, he kindly forwards them.

We are aware that pioneering Bugatti motorist and racer Jack Day made superchargers, but have not previously seen an image of one, let alone the object itself. This despite having owned two of the cars that were one-time fitted with JADAY blowers. We knew that they were of a Roots pattern, but little more, other than that Jack made them in his Ajax Pump factory in South Melbourne.

The cover of The Car magazine for October, 1932 above shows the JADAY supercharger in all its glory, as well as its side-draft Solex carburettor, bolted directly to the blower.

Just call M 2425 and ask for Jack and you can have one for 22 pounds, 10 shillings (Tony Johns-SLV)

John Albert Day of Melbourne was a well-known racing car driver in the twenties, thirties and forties.

Like so many others of the period, he had success on push bikes before taking to four wheels. His first job had been delivering hats on a bicycle when he was 10 years old – suggesting an early entrepreneurial bent. It is not known whether he was related to Syd Day, a pioneering motorist who competed in the Sydney to Melbourne Dunlop Reliability trial of 1905.

Our first record of him in a motoring event is in 1923 when he drove a 2.3-litre SCAT in a Hill Driving Contest at Greensborough. In 1924 he drove a 1100cc Salmson at Malpas Hill, 17 miles North of Melbourne. This event famously crossed the Hume Highway; traffic being stopped for each run.

At a later Malpas hill climb he drove an Alvis which was also driven in the ladies contest by L. Day. Mrs Day took part in the 1927 Alpine trial in a Riley ‘9’.

Jack Day at the wheel of his Type 37, 37145 (Bob King Collection)

His first appearance in a Bugatti was in May 1927 when he ran at rural, and nor urban Melbourne, Wheelers Hill.

His 11/2 litre unsupercharged Type 37, chassis number 37145, had been delivered new to Melbourne less than a year before, having been sold via the Bugatti agent Sporting Cars to one of its directors T.E. Barnett for his son Dudley. Later that year the car was owned by Lyster Jackson who, plagued by misfiring, was all too ready to on-sell it. According to Jack in a recorded interview, he bought it when Lyster and he were contesting a hill climb at Lorne as part of the Victorian Light Car Club’s Dependability Trial in October, 1926.

Jack: “Lyster revved and revved and revved, on only about 11/2 cylinders, and I said to him: ‘That will never get up the hill’ and he said, ‘I’ll beat you up.’ So, I had a big-port Alvis, and of course I took the hillclimb away from him”. Lyster said he would sell it and Jack “bought it on the spot.” Jack cured the misfiring by making “special KLG’s” in which he removed the negative electrode, substituting it with platinum “only the thickness of a pin.”

37145 when owned by Dudley Barnett as a new car (Bob King Collection)

Jack entered his now reliable Bugatti in the 1928 100 mile AGP at Phillip Island. He was one of the favourites for the race having won a half mile speed trial in lieu of the rain-postponed race at 84mph.

Unfortunately, early in the race he lost his way in the dust, shooting through a fence and taking considerable time to regain the track. Although noted to be travelling at great speed, he would have been disappointed to finish in sixth place, some 10 minutes behind the winning Austin ‘7’ of Arthur Waite.

A clear demonstration of the dust encountered during the 1928 AGP at Phillip Island – was this the moment Jack ‘lost his way’ (Bob King Collection)

Seeking improved performance, in late 1931, Jack supercharged it with a JADAY supercharger driven from the nose of the crankshaft by a shaft that protruded through the lower part of the radiator.

We have not seen a photograph of this installation, but the blower must have been supported between the dumb irons; the radiator having a piece cut out of the bottom of the core through which the drive-shaft passed.

This radiator with a patch over the blower drive-shaft hole, subsequently found its way on to its sister Type 37,37146, subsequently leading to misidentification of these consecutively numbered cars.

Post-war sister car 37146 was campaigned vigorously by Herb Ford. In this shot taken at Rob Roy, the blower drive cut-out in the radiator can be seen – the radiator had been swapped from 37145 (Bob King Collection)

Jack’s second foray into Bugatti supercharging was with the 1931 Australian Grand Prix winning Type 39, 4607 which he bought in 1933.

The Type 39 was a 1 1/2 litre, normally aspirated straight-eight. He again drove the supercharger from the nose of the crankshaft by means of a long, tapered extension. This shaft remains in the care of the writer – it is his favourite large punch. Jack was not known for his finesse, and this is corroborated by the finish of said shaft, the forward end of which is crudely hack-sawed most of the way through, the last part being snapped-off, leaving a ragged end.

We are unaware of what modifications may have been made to the radiator as this item disappeared after many years fitted to a Brescia Bugatti in lieu of its normal pear-shaped radiator. As the JADAY blown Type 37 and 39 seemed to see very little service, it might be concluded that the modifications were not entirely satisfactory. Could Jack have miscalculated the volume of the necessarily long inlet tract, leading to an unsatisfactory performance?

Day at Phillip Island for the Jubilee Handicap, May 6, 1935 in the Type 39 (Bob King Collection)

As to other JADAY supercharger installations, we have little knowledge. It is possible that one of Jack’s superchargers was fitted to his AL3 Lombard, and it is rumoured that he was involved with the Cozette supercharging of another Lombard AL3 then owned by W.H. Lowe who was the importer of these delightful, petite, 1100cc twin-cam cars.

The patterns for the beautiful finned inlet manifold of this car were certainly of local manufacture – they survived until relatively recent times. Lowe later made his name as the first licenced Ferrari agent outside Italy.

Bill Lowe in his Lombard at Rob Roy just one week after the Black Friday Bushfires, January 30, 1939 (Spencer Wills)

One last twist in the tail of JADAY superchargers brings us to the early post-war WWII years. Jack Day and Norman Hamilton, also a racing driver and a subsequent Porsche importer, investigated the possibility of adapting their turbine technology for one of the worlds great engineering projects, the nascent Snowy Mountain scheme.

With this in mind, Norman and Jack visited Switzerland to study hydro-electric schemes in 1951. During the course of this visit, Norman’s rented Oldsmobile was rounded up by a low slung, silver missile on the Grossglockner Pass. They came upon car and driver; racing driver and motoring journalist Richard von Frankenberg and his car, a prototype Porsche further up the road at an Inn.

After discussion and inspection of the car, the entrepreneurial Hamilton followed Von Frankenberg back through the Alps to the factory. After a tour of the facilities and a meeting with Ferry Porsche, Hamilton walked away with a hand-shake deal for the Porsche commercial rights in Australia and New Zealand. This led to Hamilton’s being only the second foreign Porsche agents outside Germany (Max Hoffman in the US was the first), somewhat in synchrony with the history of Lowe’s Ferrari dealership.

Ken Harper and Norman Hamilton, Porsche 356 Coupe, prior to the 1953 Redex Trial (PCA)

This was not, however, the end of the Jack Day story. His next modification to the Type 39 Bugatti was much more radical – he removed the fragile Bugatti engine, substituting it with a Ford V8, the first of many Australian specials thus powered.

The success of this car pioneered the ‘quick-fix’ for tired European racing cars – take out the sophisticated aluminium and steel machinery and substitute American black iron.

Jack and his collaborator Reg Nutt had many successes with the car in this form, including ftd at Mitcham and Rob Roy hill climbs (Day). Post-war the car went on many more successes in the hands of the legendary Jack ‘Gelignite’ Murray.

Meanwhile Day reverted to his passion for complicated European machines, importing one of the 1927 Grand Prix Talbot Darracq (a 1500cc straight eight supercharged jewel) in which he shared driving duties with Reg Nutt.

(Bob King Collection)

The Day Special mocked up during the construction phase.

(Bob King Collection)

The ‘Day’ was often driven by Reg Nutt. Here he is seen in action at Lobethal during 1938 South Australian Grand Prix.

(unattributed )

Jack Murray is seen here, on the inside, battling it out with Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol in the Day Special at Mount Druitt.

(Bob King Collection)

Reg Nutt aboard the Talbot Darracq TD700 at Fishermans Bend.

(unattributed)

Jack , in his later years in his Jaguar XK120. He was a founding member of the Victorian Light Car Club (later LCCA), and a life member of the RACV. He died in 1975, aged 86.

Credits…

Bob King and his archive, Tony Johns and his archive, Spencer Wills, Porsche Cars Australia

Finito…

(De Lespinay Collection)

Jack Brabham and John Cooper’s attack on the 1961 Indianapolis 500 took place on May 30, 1961. Lordy, that’s 60 years ago this weekend.

The story of their initial testing sortie in October 1960 in a GP T53, and Brabham’s problem-plagued ninth place in the race has been well told, not least in my piece in this week’s Auto Action #1811 https://autoaction.com.au/issues/auto-action-1811

Noddy Grohman giving the car a birthday after its qualifying run. Note the Dunlop wheels and tyres, more substantial roll-bar than the F1 equivalent, and big fuel tank on the left side (De Lespinay Collection)

David Friedman’s rare body-off shot shows the T54’s offset secrets- suspension, engine and gearbox, fuel tanks and driver. Transaxle is Cooper Knight C5S but with three, rather than the five speeds of the F1 spec ‘box (D Friedman)
Cooper receiving some Bear service before qualifying in May (De Lespinay Collection)

After the race, the star of the show was shipped back to the UK for a demonstration run at Silverstone, and then back to the car-owner, Jim Kimberly in the US. The Kleenex heir funded Cooper’s 500 attack.

The T54 at an SCCA Divisional meeting, Hillsborough, US in June 11, 1962. “Just after Kjell Qvale purchased the car…the Kimberly Cooper Spl lettering has been removed…at tis point the car had no engine, gearbox or driveshafts…(R Spencer)

Kimberley ordered two cars from Mickey Thompson for his ’63 Indy campaign, Kimberley sold 61-S-01, which had been on display in the Indy Museum for a little while, to Kjell Qvale, operator of British Motors in San Francisco.

Joe Huffaker, prominent engineer, suggested fitment of an Offy 4.2-litre DOHC, four-cylinder engine to the T54, this combination was potentially a race winning one.

Qvale sold Aston Martin amongst the suite of marques his British Motor Cars Ltd sold in San Francisco. He substituted the big, long, heavy – and as it turned out reliable but not powerful enough – Aston DOHC-six for the far more compact and suitable Offy four.

Joe Huffaker and Kjell Qvale with Cooper T54 Aston Martin in 1963, it looks pretty sleek from this angle (De Lespinay Collection)
Joe Huffaker contemplates the Aston Martin six, bulk, length and height. Chassis lengthened to accommodate it (De Lespinay Collection)
Rodriguez, T54 and crew for the obligatory Indy portrait shot (IMS)

Initial test laps at Indy by Ralph Liguori showed the Dunlop wheel/Firestone tyres combination was too weak, so cast Halibrands fitted with Firestones were substituted.

Later despite the best efforts of fizzy, fast Pedro Rodriguez at the wheel, the ungainly-looking car failed to make the qualifying cut.

The Cooper was the fastest thing through the corners, besting even the Clark and Gurney (Dunlop wheels and tyres) Lotus 29 Fords. The AM engine simply lacked the puff the company had promoted, Rodriguez’ qualifying speed was only 2mph than Brabham’s two years before despite better tyres.

The engine was returned to Newport-Pagnell, while the T54 was sold to a San Jose, California club-racer.

The photograph below shows the largely unmodified chassis, albeit fitted with a beefy roll-cage and nerf-bars for sprintcar use on the paved tracks of the northwest.

(De Lespinay Collection)

By 1966 T54 had changed hands a number of times. It was raced with a Maserati engine at Trenton and Phoenix, then Buick, Ford and Chev V8s in quick succession.

By 1976 the Cooper had morphed into a bizarre Chev-powered mid-engined sprintcar raced by Darryl Lopeman.

Cooper T54 Chev (De Lespinay Collection)

Under that mountain of sinful-ugliness (ya gotta admire the guys’s innovation however), “are the original chassis and suspension, brakes, shock absorbers, pedal-cluster, radiator, oil tank, dashboard, seat and plenty of other bits” wrote Phillippe de Lespinay, saviour and restorer of the car.

The car was crashed through a wooden wall at Spanaway Raceway, Washington due to a stuck throttle. While Lopeman was ok, the nose and both rear, magnesium uprights were damaged.

(De Lespinay Collection)
(De Lespinay Collection)

The T54 “reappeared in 1990 as a bad wreck” in Tacoma Washington, its main components were the basis of the rear-engined sprint car.

The remains of both (the wreck and sprint car) were bought by De Lespinay in partnership with Robert Arnold. The car was then rebuilt, including the original 2.7 Climax FPF, by De Lespinay, Thomas Beauchamp and Gene Crowe aided by detailed photographs taken in period, and provided by David Friedman, some of which are included within this article.

T54 parts acquired by De Lespinay (De Lespinay)
Brabham with T54 chassis in 1991, ample hole in 2.7 FPF block clear (De Lespinay)

The chassis survived “inside another car”, the engine parts were tracked down in Texas and in Colarado. The block was welded by renowned Indy engineer Quincy Epperly, then rebuilt by Gene Crowe at Steve Jennings Race Engines in California.

As much as possible of the original car was used. An indication of this is shown by the shot of the machine during its rebuild in California during March 1991 – with Jack Brabham inspecting progress – it was ready for Brabham to drive at the Monterey Historics six-months later.

After the best part of a quarter-century of ownership Lespinay sold the car five years ago, many of you will have seen it demonstrated in the US, the UK or the Gold Coast.

Brabham and Cooper reunited at the Monterey Historics (De Lespinay)

Etcetera…

(De Lespinay Collection)

Smiles, and relief all round. Jack has made the cut, Cooper and Rodger Ward – who had cajoled and bullied, in a caring kinda way, Cooper and Brabham into doing the initial Indy test in October 1960 – all looking happy with a hard won time. Look at that crowd.

Front suspension detail, upper and lower wishbones each side – but offset to the left. Adjustable Armstrong shock and coil springs. Oil tank aft of radiator, Alford and Alder upright just visible, so too the Cooper steering rack and roll bar.

Note fuel filler cap, fuel tank above the drivers knees and big soft crash-pad attached to steering wheel hub.

Just don’t think too hard about a very high speed frontal collision…

(B Tronolone)

Charlie and John Cooper taking in the Indy vibe.

A decade before they were knocking out Cooper Type 15 and 16s as fast as they could build them. Ten years later they had a couple of World Championships in their pockets, and the rest.

Who knows, if the planets had been aligned, shod with Firestone tyres and a trouble-free run they may have bagged Indy in ’61 too.

Fortune favours the brave. That, they most certainly were.

Jim Kimberley leaning in at left, Cooper up. Pit stop practice

(S Dalton Collection)

Beautiful portrait of Brabham and his F1 Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 FPF during the October 5-6 1960 initial test session at Indy.

Credits…

Phillippe de Lespinay’s tsrfcars.com website and Cooper T54 Facebook page

Time-Life, David Friedman, Roy Spencer, Bob Tronolone, Car and Driver, Stephen Dalton Collection, Grid

Tailpiece…

(Life)

What it was all about really.

Beating a great big car with a little itty-bitty-one. John Cooper in the T54 being pushed away from Rodger Ward’s Watson-Offy roadster after practicing some pitstops

Finito…

Lance Reventlow front and centre with foot on the tyre. Scarab, Monaco 1960

Timing is everything in life, innit-like?

Love the Aston Martin DBR4 and Scarab as I do, they both missed the boat as new front-engined racing cars in the brave-new mid-engined GP world.

Lance Reventlow’s Scarabs really were crazy brave, but I guess you can be so, when money is no object. The Scarabs were beautifully designed, built and finished.

What is not to like about the slinky body, spaceframe chassis, bespoke four-cylinder 2.5-litre, desmodromic-valved, fuel-injected engine and four-wheel discs? The Corvette four-speed gearbox was a bit butch and last-minute in a GP car. See here for a piece on Scarab; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/27/chucks-t-bird/ This article is pictorial, making use of some great shots which have lobbed on the internet thingy recently.

Reventlow, and Daigh behind during Monaco practice. Cooper T51 Climax is Roy Salvadori in Tommy Atkins’ car, DNF
Reventlow about to be swallowed by Innes Ireland’s Walker-Lotus 18 Climax. The sheer economy of the Lotus says it all in terms of the front-engined-packaging-challenge. Arguably the Lotus 16 did this best albeit its results don’t suggest that…
Scarab 2.5-litre, DOHC, desmo two-valve fuel-injected four. Note canting to keep the bonnet line low

Had Reventlow and team-driver Chuck Daigh lobbed on the Monaco GP grid in May 1958, rather than 1960, things may have been a bit different. Still, the team were there adding welcome variety.

The degree of difficulty couldn’t be higher. New car, new team, two drivers who had not raced at Monaco before – or contested a championship GP for that matter.

Colin Chapman, late to the mid-engined party himself, had upped the ante with his new Lotus 18, taking the Coopers-concept and running with it.

The 18 was the car of 1960, only it’s ‘Queerbox’ transaxle let it down. John Cooper’s/Owen Maddock’s/Jack Brabham’s ‘Lowline’ Cooper T53 wasn’t too shabby either. It was a much more reliable device than the Lotus, not the least of its improvements was the Cooper-Knight C5S transaxle. Wouldn’t ole-Chappers have liked to have gotten his hands on a couple of those!

Reventlow with a bit of push, as the Americans like to call understeer. A bit of Phil Hill’s Ferrari Dino 246 following
The boss gets his hands dirty, Reventlow attacks the front suspension. Photos show plenty of understeer, perhaps that is the focus. Upper and lower front wishbones
Moss readies himself for a run in Reventlow’s chassis. Note Goodyear tyre and Halibrand wheel. IRS by upper and lower wishbones. Lance watches with paternal interest from alongside Daigh’s car. Quality of workmanship and finish clear

It was no surprise that the Scarabs were slugs.

“Just to see if it was the cars or drivers, Reventlow let Moss try one. He did 1min 45sec, which equalled Jimmy Clark’s time with the Lotus 18 FJunior, so the answer to the Scarab trouble was cars and drivers. However, there were other factors, such as first time out, first attempt at anything so exacting as Monaco, and the simple fact that their Goodyear tyres are not as good as the Dunlops tyres”, Denis Jenkinson wrote in his Monaco GP race-report.

Moss’ pole in the Rob Walker Lotus 18 was 1min 36.3sec.

Jenkinson mused about what may have been possible, “A set of Dunlops would certainly have given Moss 1min 43sec. If it had been his own car and fitted him properly he would have done 1min 42sec, and if he had been trying he would have got down to 1min 41sec, and if starting money had been involved he would have got down to 1min 40sec, which would have been a reasonable time for a new car to new conditions.”

Moss won the 100 lap, 314km race in 2:53.45 in his Lotus 18 from the similarly 2.5-Climax FPF powered Cooper T53 of Bruce McLaren with the best of the front-engines, Phil Hill’s Ferrari 246. The Scarabs didn’t make the qualifying cut, together with six others.

Reventlow from the Brian Naylor’s JBW-Maserati 250S during practice, both DNQ

Etcetera…

Reventlow, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at Monaco 1960. Man, didn’t he give it – sportscars and single-seaters – a red-hot go!

After Monaco, Scarab entered the Dutch GP in the Zandvoort dunes but didn’t race after a start-money dispute.

A pity as the fast flowing course would have given the team a better chance to optimise the car’s suspension before the flat-out challenges of Spa where lack of punch was always going to be problematic.

Chuck Daigh gives Jo Bonnier a lift back to the Spa pits
Daigh pushing hard thru Eau Rouge, hiking the inside-right

Reventlow qualified sixteenth and Daigh eighteenth (of 19) but both were out with engine problems after one lap and 16 laps respectively. Brabham’s Cooper T53 won the most-gruesome of GPs.

The final appearance of the Scarab in 1960 was at home in California, the US Grand Prix at Riverside in November.

There, finally, Chuck Daigh finished in tenth place, albeit five laps adrift of the winning Moss Lotus 18.

The last Scarab European hurrah were races at Silverstone, and here in a Goodwood Intercontinental Formula race in April 1961.

Daigh started his Offy powered chassis, 01, last on a grid of nine, finishing the 20-lap Lavant Cup eighth. Moss won in a Walker Cooper T53 Climax.

Daigh, Scarab- Offy 3-litre, Goodwood, April 1961

Wonderful colour butt-shot of the two Scarabs in the Spa paddock – #30 is Daigh – during the 1960 Ardennes Forest carnival of speed.

Note the offset to allow the driveshaft to pass alongside the driver’s left to keep his bulk nice and low.

Rear mounted fuel tank, big-comfy cockpit and beefy roll-bar for the period. The Scarab pilots wore a seat-belt.

Credits…

Don Orosco Collection, Denis Jenkinson in MotorSport

Tailpiece…

Daigh, Spa 1960

Chuck Daigh, Spa 1960. He did enough to be given some opportunities in a more current car.

In Australia he raced the mid-engined Scarab RE Oldsmobile in the 1962 Sandown International, impressing all who watched his professionalism amongst the Reventlow/Jill St John sideshow with which the local press were fixated.

Finito…

(L Hemer)

Kevin Bartlett, Lola T300 leads the ‘Angus & Coote Trophy’ from John McCormack, Elfin MR5 Repco, Oran Park 1972…

Allan Horsley, the promoter of Oran Park Raceway in Sydney’s outer west, was an energetic, creative guy. Even though this event wasn’t a Gold Star Championship round he attracted a good field of F5000’s to drag in the punters. The Angus & Coote Trophy was provided by a retail chain of jewellers.

The 500bhp V8 roller-skates were spectacular at the (then) short circuit, with Lynton Hemer there to capture the action, his wonderful photos are the inspiration for this article.

Interesting bunch of three Elfin MR5 Repco shots, this one of John Walker with the just visible Max Stewart up his clacker and Garrie Cooper’s works MR5 at rear. Four MR5’s were built, the Ansett Team Elfin cars of Cooper and McCormack and customer cars for Walker and Stewart, all were built to identical specifications fitted with Repco Holden F5000 engines. Walker’s car has the aero as the cars were first built, the Cooper and McCormack (shot below) cars have the ‘Tyrrell nose’ first fitted from the ’72 Warwick Farm Tasman round. Garrie has an airbox fitted, Mac does not. JW, an Elfin man through and through didn’t race the MR5 for long though, he jumped into an A50 Matich which complied with the American regss – the Elfin did not- John did some L&M rounds in the A50. Walker, Matich, Muir, Stewart and Bartlett all competed in the US in 1973 (L Hemer)

McCormack from Muir’s T300. J Mac got quicker and quicker didn’t he? Of the four MR5s, this chassis 5711 was the most successful- ’73 Gold Star and NZ GP win etc. It was a triumph of driving and Mac and Dale Koenneke’s development of what was not the most advanced F5000 design. Mac was further up the Repco queue once Matich retired (L Hemer)

Walkers MR5 5724  note aero comments above. Blade front wing, Walker developed into a very fast F5000 pilot- ’79 AGP and Gold Star winner, the difference in him pre ’73 L&M and post was significant. Confidence is such a big thing! (L Hemer)

With the exception of Frank Matich and his Matich A50 Repco, Lynton has many fine, close-up shots of the ‘Australian F5000 Class of 1972’- I wonder why FM wasn’t present, he was a Sydney boy after all? The answer is probably that he didn’t bother with this non-championship event on May 21, given the Belle Magazine Trophy Gold Star round was only a month hence, here in June.

By then he was on the way to comprehensively belting the Gold Star opposition- he won at Sandown, Oran Park, Surfers Paradise and Warwick Farm with Kevin Bartlett winning at Adelaide International in his Lola T300, and John McCormack at Symmons Plains aboard his MR5. FM won the Gold Star with 36 points from Bartlett and McCormack on 24 and 20 points respectively.

This lengthy article on Matich and his cars focuses a lot on 1971/2 so is useful context to the Australasian F5000 scene of the time, so have a look rather than repeat myself here; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

McCormack from Bartlett (L Hemer)

John McCormack (above) led from the start of the 25-lap event from Kevin Bartlett and Gary Campbell in Lola T300 Chevs. KB’s was a new chassis (HU16) acquired after the Tasman Series, in which he raced his venerable ex-Niel Allen McLaren M10B.

Gary Campbell, ex-Gardner first production T300 HU1 (L Hemer)

Gary Campbell (above) stepped up from the Waggott 2-litre engined ANF2 Elfin 600B/E he raced in the Australian 1972 Tasman rounds into the T300 (HU1) Frank Gardner raced in the Tasman, Campbell took delivery from the final, Adelaide round.

Gardner had notionally retired from single-seater racing but did an event or two in the UK later in 1972 as he track tested the very first Lola T330 HU1, a car purchased by Max Stewart and oh-so-successful in his hands.

Interesting side profile shot of Bob Muir’s T300 accentuates the relative ride height of the T300 with the T330/2 which followed. The presentation of this car had to be seen to be believed. The T300s were always set up with plenty of ride height, as you can see here, Kevin Bartlett observed “It was to do with the wishbone angles, roll centre, etc. The cars were usually set up very soft as the old F2 tub flexed a lot into the bargain. You could feel the strain when the grip was at its best, which wasn’t too often” (L Hemer)

Bartlett passed McCormack for the lead on lap three, with Muir passing Campbell on the same lap.

Muir became a very fast exponent of F5000, perhaps his best work was in the ’73 L&M rather than at home. Bob’s Reg Papps & Sons prepared T300, chassis HU4- ex-Niel Allen after a practice crash ended Allen’s planned racing comeback, was easily one of the most beautifully presented and prepared racing cars in Australia, visually stunning- I waxed lyrical about it here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/

Muir and KB sluggin it out (L Hemer)

Muir passed Bartlett (above) and ran out the winner from Kevin, John Walker’s Elfin MR5 Repco and Gary Campbell with KB setting a new lap record of 40.2 seconds.

In many ways the story of Australian 1972 F5000 racing- the championship Gold Star Series and non-championship Calder based ‘Repco Birthday Series’ (fiftieth birthday by the way) was FM’s absolute preparedness for the season.

His Matich A50, so named in honour of sponsor, Repco’s fiftieth birthday had won on debut at Warwick Farm’s November 1971 AGP, but then had a disappointing Tasman Series, which he lost to arch-rival Graham McRae’s Leda LT27/GM1 Chev, Graham took four wins to FM’s one.

Frank Matich, Matich A50 Repco from John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco at Surfers Paradise during the 1972 Tasman round, 3rd and DNF in the race won by McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev. Matich won the ’72 Gold Star in the same chassis- A50 ‘001’ (unattributed)

However, Matich was well and truly ready-to-rock at the domestic seasons outset with a very well developed car. Bartlett and Muir were more than capable of giving their fellow Sydneysider a run for his money, but neither had their T300’s early enough to have them honed to the fine pitch Matich had A50 ‘001’.

I suspect Matich did more test miles at Warwick Farm, paid for by Goodyear – he was both a contracted driver and their agent in Australia – than the rest of his fellow F5000 competitors added together. His 1972 results reflected just that.

( L Hemer)

I wonder why Max Stewart (above) raced ye-olde-faithful Mildren Waggott, his ’71 Gold Star winner rather than the Elfin MR5 Repco he had run since the ’72 Tasman?

Maybe the distinctive yellow MR5 wasn’t ready or ‘praps he wanted to give the Mildren Waggott a gallop to showcase its potential to would-be purchasers, Allan Grice bought it shortly thereafter. Maybe he was inspired to do so by Max’s performance at this meeting? In any event this amazing, popular machine was finally outpaced by the post-McLaren M10B series of smaller, lighter F5000’s despite the efforts of its oh-so-talented, lanky pilot.

There are so many shots of the utterly-luvverly Lola T300 in this article it seems smart to expand a bit upon this seminal F5000 machine…

The Lola T190 F5000 wasn’t Lola’s best design but Frank Gardner evolved it into the longer wheelbase, and modified in many other areas T192- and won plenty of races in it in Europe and Australasia.

The car was far from uncompetitive into 1971 too- FG won at Warwick Farm during the Tasman Series, and European F5000 championship races at Silverstone, Mondello Park and Castle Combe. The old racer ran with and beat youngsters such as Brian Redman, Mike Hailwood, McRae and Allan Rollinson.

Gardner on the way to Warwick Farm 100 Tasman victory on 14 February 1971. Lola T192 Chev ‘190/F1/6’ or ‘HU14’- note the winglets aside the cars chassis. WF Esses, car following probably the Matich M10B Repco, brave ‘snapper is Lance Ruting. Car stayed in Oz- sold to Colin Hyams, then to US in 1972  (J Ellacott)

But the laconic racer/engineer wanted something smaller and lighter to stay ahead of the chasing pack, including the new McLaren M18/22, Surtees TS8 and coming Leda GM1.

In a moment of wham-bam-thankyou-maam pragmatic inspiration, he and Lola Engineer, Bob Marston, married the existing Lola T240 F2/Atlanic chassis with a 5-litre Chev and DG300 Hewland transaxle.

The production variant of the prototype became the T300 we F5000 nut-bags know and love. After some testing, the prototype ‘T242’ made its race debut at Thruxton on August 1, 1971.

FG plonked it on pole and finished third behind McRae’s highly developed McLaren M10B, and Hailwood’s works Surtees TS8. It was a statement of intent, the cars performance and looks were the subject of all he paddock chatter that weekend. The queue at Huntingdon started the morning after.

T242 was renamed T300 from the following Silverstone round on August 14, Gardner was again behind Hailwood, this time in second position.

(J Ballantyne)

The photos above show the car in the Snetterton paddock on August 30, 1971.

The chassis was destroyed in an argument over real-estate that very weekend between Gardner, and Redman’s M18 McLaren on lap eight. The T242/300 was badly damaged, rooted in fact – sad as that particular Lola was a very significant one for the company and F5000 as a class.

The key elements of the design- its overall size and packaging, hip-mounted radiators, wedge shape and aerodynamics are all clear.

Lola T300 drawing, poor in quality but useful all the same. Gardner’s prototype machine (Pinterest

Autosport proclaims Gardner/Lola’s ’71 Euro F5000 victory

Gardner raced his replacement car, the first production T300, chassis HU1 (the car he brought to Australia later that year, boofed in practice for the Warwick Farm AGP, was repaired and then contested the ’72 Tasman before sale to Gary Campbell as above) to its first win at Hockenheim on 12 September, in front of Emerson Fittipaldi’s F1 Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney turbine, and Teddy Pilette’s McLaren M10B Chev.

I hope Eric Broadley paid those two fellas, Gardner and Marston a bonus in 1971 because they created, arguably, the first of the most successful and profitable family of production racing cars ever.

Lola built ‘a million’ T300/330/332/332C/332CS/333 cars and spares, those machines won countless F5000 and single-seat Can-Am races in the hands of just as many champions, journeymen and amateur drivers for well over a decade.

(G Ruckert)

The photo above is the business end of Bartlett’s T300 HU16 at Surfers Paradise in 1972, that’s Bartlett’s red driving suit and John Harvey’s purple crutch alongside!

Key elements of the machine are the injected 5-litre 500bhp Chevy V8, note the magneto and fuel metering unit. The rear of the aluminium monocoque chassis is to the right- the car was designed as an F2, it was a bit floppy.

Torsional rigidity was improved with the T330/332 which followed, but these were not machines in which to have a front-in shunt, as Bartlett experienced at Pukekohe aboard his T330 in early 1974. He was an early member of the Lola Limpers Club joining fellow Australasians Graeme Lawrence and Warwick Brown- all three came to grief in T300’s.

The gearbox is of course the ubiquitous Hewland DG300. Originally designed for ‘effete’ F1 engines, the prodigious torque of 5-litre motors made the ‘box marginal. Sticking to maintenance and lifing cycles of gears, dog rings, crown wheel and pinions was critical to avoid DNFs. The Hewland in yer little namby-pamby Formula Ford (Mk9/LD200) or Formula Pacific (FT200) was ‘set and forget’ to an extent, not so in one of these big, heavy muvvers.

The uprights are magnesium, disc brakes inboard at the rear and suspension period typical- single upper links and inverted lower wishbones, two radius rods- you can see one on the right threading the exhaust system. The adjustable rear roll bar is clear as is the engine oil tank to the right of the left exhaust outlet.

A superb, fast, race winning bit of kit in every respect but nowhere near as forgiving, if that is ever a word to be used in the same sentence as F5000- as a McLaren M10B KB notes…

Bartlett, Harvey and T300 from the front. Not sure if this is the ’72 Glynn Scott or ’73 Tasman weekend (G Ruckert)

Etcetera: The T300 and it’s father before the 1971 AGP @ Warwick Farm…

This is a pre-race publicity shot by Fairfax media.

The only trouble was Frank Gardner boofed HU1 in practice so did not start the race- he would have given Frank Matich a run for his money that day given the speed of the T300 in Europe. But ‘ya gotta be in it to win it’, and FG was not that weekend, despite a stellar record of prior success at The Farm.

The car was rebuilt in Oz around a new tub freighted in from Huntingdon, and raced to an NZGP win at Pukekohe, and three second places during the 1972 Tasman before being sold to Campbell, as related earlier, after the Sandown round.

(R Davies)

Speaking of chassis Robert Davies has superbly captured this rare photo of a nude T300 Chev- its the Allen/Muir/Brown ‘HU4’ in the Sandown paddock during 1972.

I won’t repeat the technical summary from above- devoid of bodywork the small light aluminium monocoque and minimal front impact protection is abundantly clear. The only deformable part of a racing car of this period was the body of the driver…

(unattributed)

Far-canal, that really is a mess. Its the same chassis HU4 shown above.

If you thought about the physics involved in a Formula Ford shunt you probably wouldn’t do it, but Jesus the big single-seaters of this period- F1 and F5000 really were lethal devices.

Balls of steel to race them springs to mind.

I don’t usually publish shots of rooted racers but this one had a happy ending- and adds some color and reality to the glib ‘Lola Limper’ line used earlier on.

Young Australian thruster Warwick Brown graduated from the McLaren M10B Chev with which he cut his F5000 racing teeth in 1972, to the ex-Allen/Muir Lola T300 prior to the 1973 Tasman- third at Levin and second at Wigram showed his mettle and immediate pace in a competitive car. It all came undone at Surfers, the first of the Australian Tasman rounds.

His car got away from him on the fast, demanding, circuit spreading bits of aluminium and fibreglass over the grassy undulations of the Nerang countryside and broke both Warwick’s legs. He got wide onto the marbles on the entry to the flat 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. In that T332 HU27 he won the 1975 Tasman Series, the only Australian ever to do so.

It’s a story for another time but WB had another two Lola ‘big ones’ in the US in a T332C and T333. If there was a President for Life of the Lola Limpers Club I suspect it was Mr Brown.

Balls of steel, and mind over matter…

Click here for a piece on WB; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/09/wb-for-73/

(T Marshall)

The photo above is of WB at Levin only a couple of weeks prior to its Surfers demise.

Terry Marshall has captured the Sydneysider nipping a right-front during the 13 January Levin International. Warwick was third behind McRae’s GM1 and Matich’s A50- two of the toughest of F5000 nuts.

(unattributed)

Calder in 1972- Bob Jane had no Gold Star round that year but did promote the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ for F5000 and ANF2.

By the look of the clothes of the hardy Victorians it is winter’ish- Calder in the Winter is not a particularly pleasant place usually, i’m figuring the October 15 round with the assistance of oldracingcars.com though.

It looks as though Gary Campbell #4, has made a corker of a start and is seeking a way past KB #5 but then again maybe KB got off like a rocket and and Gary is giving him room as KB jinks right for a way past John McCormack’s Ansett Elfin MR5 Repco.

Over by the aptly placed Repco sign is the Repco-Holden F5000 engined Matich A50 #25 of John Walker- perhaps some of you American readers saw JW race this car in several L&M rounds in 1973 so well?

Bartlett won this 30 lapper in a smidge under 21-minutes from Walker and McCormack, then came Stewart, Elfin MR5 Repco and Campbell.

Bartlett won this five round series from Matich and Muir.

L Hemer)

Who would have throughout the T300 as a rally car?

KB negotiates the Warwick Farm paddock during the famously wet 1973 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round, Steve Thompson Chevron B24 Chev won that day.

(unattributed)

The angle on the dangle.

And they are all angles, just the wildest looking thing at the time – even the Lotus 72 looked conservative alongside one of these babies.

Bartlett on the Calder grid alongside Mc Cormack during the 15 Ocober meeting referred to above.

Photo Credits…

Lynton Hemer, John Ballantyne, oldracephotos.com.au, Graham Ruckert, Terry Marshall, Pinterest, John Ellacott, Fairfax Media

References…

oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece: Double T300 Trouble- Muir from Bartlett, Oran Park 1972…

(oldracephotos.com.au/DSimpson))

Finito…

Glyn Scott supervises Leo Geoghegan who is about to have a guest steer of Glyn’s P3 at Oran Park in 1968 (Bowin Cars)

When Bowin founder, John Joyce returned to Australia after a four year stint working for Lotus Components, he built this Bowin – P3-101-68 for Glyn Scott.

Scott raced the 1.6-litre Ford FVA engined car from July 1968 until May 1970, he then ran an Elfin 600 until his untimely, sad death. See here for a story on Glyn; https://primotipo.com/2020/07/24/glyn-scott/

This article is intended to be read in conjunction with my feature about Joyce’s early Bowin years including construction of three P3s published in this fortnight’s Auto Action #1810, published May 6-19, 2021. Click here to buy it; https://autoaction.com.au/issues/auto-action-1810

Editor Bruce Williams will pickle my testicles if I cut-his-lunch. This piece uses extra material relating to Bowin #1 we couldn’t fit in the more general 2,000 word AA piece. Much of the information was provided by Adelaide’s Ian Peters who has owned this marvellous car since 1983.

Merv Waggott engines were very successful in 1969. Glyn Scott had seen first-hand just how potent and reliable they were chasing Max Stewart’s 1.6-litre powered Mildren Waggott, so he ordered a 2-litre TC-4V for his new Elfin 600.

He and Norm Mellor removed the ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA #7044 and FT200 Hewland transaxle from the Bowin and installed them in Glyn’s Lotus 23B. The extra 30bhp or so over and above that of the Lotus-Ford twin-cam fitted to the 23B gave that old beast a useful performance kicker.

P3-101-68 was sold as a roller to Edward Scauster of Annerley, Queensland a fortnight before Glyn’s death – and from him to Wayne Newton in Sydney’s Pennant Hills that October 1970.

Rebuilt as an ANF3 car, he raced it for three years before selling to Taren Points John Crouchley, he raced it for a further two years before moving it on to Burwood Auto Electrics – still in Sydney.

They only hung onto it for a couple of months before P3 became a South Australian in October 1975 – it has resided there ever since. D Manfield of Brooklyn Park raced it for a couple of years, then Home Autotune Services in Prospect from March 1978.

When Ian Peters acquired it the car was fitted with one of Brian Sampson’s Motor Improvements prepared Toyota Corolla F3 engines – one of the top-gun choices during the 1.3-litre F3 days.

P3-101-68 in Burwood Auto Electrics ANF guise (I Peters)
P3-101-68 in Adelaide as purchased by Peters at auction in 1983 (I Peters)

The car wasn’t butchered too much along the way albeit the bodywork was modernised and a rear wing added in the quest for speed.

The nose looks a bit Cheetah Mk6 but is not, the rear wing in its final yellow livery is Birrana 274.

By then the distinctive four-spoke Bowin mag-alloys were gone but “the quality of the car shone through just looking at the beautifully made aluminium tub” recalls Peters after first spotting it amongst the road cars in Kearns Auctions, Prospect, showrooms.

“There was no interest, it needed a lot of work, I bought it well. I didn’t have much money at the time so it was a great project where I could add some value and learn along the way. I’d been club racing a Lotus Elan and a Seven and wanted to get into a racing car.”

“I pulled it down and worked out what I had. The plan was to restore it as an historic Group O car. CAMS were a bit more accommodating then, I was allowed to build it with a Lotus-Ford twin-cam even though P3-101-68 hadn’t raced as such, but Ian Fergusson’s P3 had.”

“It had a four-speed VW box, the wrong wheels and body. The driveshafts with donuts had been replaced by whoofing-big Hooke-type joints. The suspension was original but brutalised, the rear cast uprights were good – the oil tanks were gone and tough to recreate.”

“I got in touch with John Joyce at Bowins, he was delighted the first Bowin was being made-good. I soon had drawings on the way and a body being made by GS Motor Bodies in Brookvale, who had made them in the day. Magnesium technologies cast some new wheels”

“After Glyn’s death, the Lotus 23B, still with Ford FVA fitted, was sold to Alan Ling and Bruce Gowans in Tasmania for Bruce to drive. They later fitted a Waggott engine, in that deal the FVA was traded to Paul England Engineering in Melbourne. My research ended when I discovered the engine had been fitted in a speedboat which sank, the engine was not recovered!”

“The FT200 gearbox was sold at the same time as the engine – it ended up in one of Peter Turnham’s Turnham sporties in Tasmania.”

“I wanted to fit an FVA but they were hugely expensive, so I gradually began buying bits from about 2007, whenever I saw them advertised or had a lead. I sold the MI Corolla motor and bought the Lotus twin-cam from Bob Holden in Sydney. He claimed it was one of his ex-Bathurst engines and had also been fitted in Peter Hopwood’s race-Elan. The head had Waggott stamped on it, so at some stage Merv ministered to it – it was a good engine. I initially fitted Webers and then mechanical fuel-injection later on.”

“The FT200 box was expensive, there was no easy way out there! By early 1984 I had the car ready to test, first racing it at the Sporting Car Club of South Australia’s Historic meeting at Mallala that Easter.”

P3-101-68 as it is now in Peters’ Adelaide workshop with dummy FVA fitted (I Peters)

“The more I got to know the car and Joyce the more absorbed in all things Bowin I became. Ashley Joyce and I put together the (excellent) Bowin Cars website. Included in the detailed specs of each car section, I added ‘ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA #7044’ in the list. You can imagine my surprise when Perth’s Graham Brown contacted me to say he had the motor! After about twelve months of negotiations I bought the engine.”

“I last raced the P3 in an historic support race during the 1989 Adelaide AGP carnival. I hit the wall when a front upright broke doing enough damage to get Chas Talbot in Melbourne to rebuild the tub.”

“By then I’d decided to progress to an ex-Alan Jones Ralt RT4 Ford BDA Formula Pacific car and then a Reynard 91D Holden Formula Holden. That ex-Birrana Racing machine won me two CAMS Silver Stars in 2003 and 2004. I put it to one side forever ago, but have it for sale at the moment.”

“After that is off my plate I’ll complete the rebuild of the P3 to FVA engined spec. It’s currently fitted with a dummy FVA, but all of the hard work is done so it shouldn’t be too long before it’s all done.”

There was only a tiny number of resident 1.6-litre F2 cars which raced in Australia in period. The only one which was victorious in a Gold Star round was P3-101-68, Glyn triumphed at Sandown in September 1968 on a day the 2.5s fell foul of technical dramas.

This car is a magnificent machine, we Bowin-nutters look forward to its return to the circuits soon.

Look carefully, a Bowin racing car is listed! (I Peters)

Credits...

Many thanks to Ian Peters, Bowin Cars

Tailpiece…

Ian Peters, Reynard 91D #028 Holden circa 2002, circuit unknown (I Peters)

Finito…

James Golding during practice at the Phillip Island Gold Star round, Ligier JS F3-S5000 Ford, March 2021.

How sweet it is to see these marvellous bellowing beasties – islands in a sea of maxi-taxis. With one round to go at Eastern Creek, Joey Mawson leads Tim Macrow and Thomas Randle.

It’s great to see dual-Gold Star champ Macrow doing so well in Chris Lambden’s car, JS F3 S5000-001, the prototype developed by Borland Engineering, Macrow and Lambden before handover to Garry Rogers Motosport for assembly of subsequent cars.

Officialdom, the Australian Racing Group, the largest shareholder of which is Rogers Motorsport Events Pty Ltd, released a new name for the chassis’ which contest the championship in the last few days, they are Rogers AF01/V8s now apparently. What a load of fuckin’ crap. 

The chassis plates in the cars, affixed by their manufacturer, Onroak-Ligier, read Ligier JS F3-S5000, they are Ford engined. Correctly described, using the time honoured single-seater/sportscar naming convention of make/model/engine manufacturer they are Ligier JS F3-S5000 Fords.

All the mainstream media dickheads cut and polished (perhaps) their press-release and spat it out, without challenge, as usual. One pack of clowns, sydneynewstoday.com, couldn’t even manage to cut and paste the thing accurately, Chris Lambden has become Chris Ramden, perhaps he has become a citizen of Wuhan, tourist hot-spot that it is.

GRM are ‘garagiste’ as ole-man Enzo would have said. They assemble the cars using components made by others overseas and locally. Still they own the category, they can do what they like.

Ignore the GRM chassis plates in the wonderful car’s cockpits I say. See here for my piece on the machine’s development, ‘97.5%’ of which was substantively completed before GRM were selected/won the pitch to assemble the things two years ago; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

Three or thereabouts of the $A350,000 machines have been sold, the rest are owned by a Rogers entity.

I wonder what those owners (Messrs Lambden, Callegher and Wilmington) think of the name change? Perhaps they don’t give a rats, the main-game is commercial success after all. Maybe it’s only toss-pots like me who find the ego-trip offensive, and not reflective of the efforts of Lambden, Borland and his colleagues at Borland Engineering, and Macrow long before GRM sniffed a dollar in the breeze.

Don’t get me wrong, bless GRM for getting involved, no-one is a bigger fan of the Ligier JS F3-S5000 Fords than me…

David Finch’s Jaguar D Type, XKD520, circa 1960 anybody know the locale of the ex-Stillwell/Gardner car.

See here for a comprehensive piece on this car; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

Sensational car Jack! John Surtees gives Jack Brabham his perspective on the BT19 Repco Brabham drove to the F1 World Championship in 1966.

Big John is in the Sandown pitlane in 1982, the Honda V12 he was supposed to be driving misbehaved so Repco gave him a steer of BT19. Feature on this marvellous car here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

This time Jack aboard BT19 in-period at Longford in March 1966. Reg Thompson is at the ready with helmet.

It was the third race for the Repco RBE620 V8- the South African GP with 3-litre engine fitted was the first, and the Sandown Tasman round the weekend before, where a 2.5-litre engine was used preceded Longford.

At Kyalami the fuel injection metering unit drive failed, and at Sandown an oil pump. The car finished Longford but adrift of the BRM P261s of Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill.

Importantly, this valuable testing meant the engine was ready to boogie by the time the first championship F1 race of the year took place at Monaco in May.

Alf Barrett’s Alfa Monza in the Mount Panorama pits during the 1947 weekend.

In the Bathurst 100 feature race, he was the scratch-marker and was outted with valve-insert troubles.

The shot is all about people. Alf Barrett is sitting behind his car in the bright, white open shirt. Checkout the white-suited car salesman with natty shoes at right, and interested spectators. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/20/alf-barrett-the-maestro-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

The grid before the start of the November 1983 AGP at Calder.

Alf Costanzo’s Tiga FA81 is an island in a sea of Formula Pacific Ralt RT4 Ford BDAs. #19 is race-winner Roberto Moreno, John Smith and obscured Alan Jones are on row two and Paul Radisich and Jacques Laffitte in the read car on row three. And the rest.

It was a heart-breaker of a race for Alfie and the crowd, he was leading, and looked to have the race under control when the diff in his Hewland Mk 9 gearbox failed after completing 25 laps. Moreno won from Smith, Laffitte and Geoff Brabham, all aboard Ralt RT4s.

David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 3.4-litre completes another lap at Gnoo Blas in 1960.

He won the lap race from Bill Pitt’s Mk1 3.4 and Ron Hodgson’s Mk1 3.8 it was the second Australian Touring Car Championship, the first was won by Tom Brady’s Singer Bantam at Lobethal way back in January 1939. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/

Wally Willmott sets to work on a pair of 58DCO Webers during the 1965 Tasman Cup.

They belong to a Coventry Climax 2.5-litre FPF engine fitted to Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T79. See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/

Holdens pretty much as far as the eye can see – what was it? ‘football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars’. The Paris end, as we Mexicans call it, of Collins Street, Melbourne in 1959.

That particular vista is much the same now, inclusive of parking dramas albeit the cars of course are more likely a mix of Asian buzz-boxes and top-end Europeans.

Le Mans start for the touring car feature race at Longford in 1965.

There was a twist on it in that the mechanics were doing the sprint and handing the keys to the driver. The smart boys, all of them no doubt, had spare keys…

Sir Gawaine Baillie up front in his 7-litre Ford Galaxie with Allan Moffat’s ex-works Lotus Cortina alongside. Who won folks?

Les Pound in a DFP pounding (sorry) up Wheelers Hill, at Mulgrave in Melbourne’s outer east circa 1928. He contested the 1928 AGP in this car at Phillip Island, finishing thirteenth and last.

Its funny how stuff happens sometimes.

Bob King and I were returning from a car club run on Sunday 22, March. Bob commented to me as we went up this road – or rather now dual lane 80kmh carriageway, that in the days of yore there was a hill-climb straight up this very hill. I’d heard of a climb at Mitcham, close-by but not Wheelers Hill. Then, bugger-me-ded if another of our mates, Tony Johns, circulated this photo on Monday 23, March!

Niel Allen’s E-Type in Warwick Farm’s Esses during Saturday practice over the June 6, 1964 weekend.

“First time out for Niel in the E at Warwick Farm. In practice he was second fastest with a lap of 1:57.7. On Sunday raceday in the wet he was sixth (last)! As the rain started to stop and the rack dried out he went from the first lap of 2:37.0 to a best time, and fastest race lap with 2:06.3 in the five lapper. He ran the E four more times at Warwick Farm in 1964/5 finishing third, three times, and second once with a best lap of 1:51.6” wrote Paul Cummins.

Frank Matich lines up Big Bertha before pulverising the opposition one more time in 1969.

His 4.8-litre SR4 V8 was designed for, and missed the 1968 Can-Am Cup, instead he used this sledgehammer to crush the nut which was the local sportscar scene at the time. See here for a feature on the car; https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

“Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble”, the three supernatural witches in Macbeth chanted.

More Merlin the Magician, Merv Waggott at right, pours molten aluminium alloy into patterns for a batch of Waggott TC-4V 2-litre DOHC fuel injected engines circa 1970.

Pretty much all of these engines were made on-site in his little Greenacre, Sydney workshop. The small foundry was out the back. Do any of you have recollections of the build or racing of these championship winning engines? A bit about Merv here; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

I was snooping around the bowels of Duttons after a lunch a few weeks ago and came upon George Nakas’ car.

This Ligier JS P320 Nissan LMP3 is absolutely brand spankers, having completed only six delivery laps at Magny Cours before shipping to Port Melbourne.

The chassis and body are HP Composites carbon built. It’s 4605mm long, 1900mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2860mm, weight is 950Kg.

Suspension is double-wishbones front and rear with pushrods actuating coil spring/Ohlins TTX40 shocks, adjustable roll-bars are of course part of the mix.

Gearbox is a six-speed Xtrac 1152, it uses a Megaline semi-automatic pneumatic steering wheel paddle-shift.

The engine is a Nissan VK56 5.6-litre, limited to 460bhp V8, gearbox and engine control units are Magneti-Marelli. Brakes are Brembo six-piston calipers clamping 14-inch steel rotors.

I bumped into George Nakas at Duttons yesterday (Friday April 23), he and his team are testing the car for the first time at Tailem Bend over the next few days.

Brand new cars of a different sort.

Holden EJ sedans on the Dandenong, Melbourne production line having final quality checks in 1962.

Back when we had an industry before a troika of fuckwits destroyed it; politicians, management (sic) and organised (sic) labour.

Beautiful drawing of the Lobethal circuit, by Oscar ‘Ozpata’ who frequents a Nostalgia Forum thread.

See here for the lowdown on Lobe; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/08/the-spook-the-baron-and-the-1938-south-australian-gp-lobethal/

Here’s hoping for a win from Daniel Ricciardo this year.

Testing his new McLaren MCL35M Mercedes, a modified version of the 2020 car, at the season’s outset. Since drafting this, Lando Norris has been going very well…

img_4787

Love these two arty-farty shots from Lynton Hemer at Warwick Farm in 1971.

Alan Hamilton in his Porsche 906 Spyder during the Ninth RAC Trophy May 2, weekend, the race won by John Harvey in Bob Jane’s McLaren M6B Repco V8.

Click here for a feature on Hamilton’s racing Porsches; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

The fantastic aspect spectators have at Baskerville, Tasmania is shown from this panoramic shot taken at the circuit’s first meeting on the February 9, 1958 meeting.

The shot below is Jim Lamont sitting aboard his 1949 Ford Anglia soft-top, with Greg and Harold Ellis in attendance.

img_4812
(S Lamont)

John Joyce’s Bowin Designs are best known for the fifty-six FF, F2 and F5000 open-wheelers built in Brookvale, Sydney between 1968 and 1975.

Such was the reputation of the outfit that Pete Geoghegan, Brian Foley and others sought Bowin’s design and fabrication capabilities to make their touring-cars go quicker.

Pete Geoghegan had extracted all on offer from his elderly Ford Mustang 302 by the end of 1971.

He then turned to his FoMoCo built GTHO 351 Super Falcon but knew it needed work to have any hope of giving chase during the final improved-tourer 1972 Australian Touring Car Championship.

img_4903
(Bowin)
img_4905

The car was lightened, stiffened by seam welding and addition of an integral roll-cage, and the suspension geometry improved front and rear. Bowin Design Project #7 design-drawings, on the Bowin Cars website, show you drawings of all of the work performed.

The car was good enough to win the ‘greatest ever Oz touring-car race’ at Mount Panorama over the Easter 1972 long-weekend when Pete triumphed over Allan Moffat’s Mustang Trans Am in a race-long duel. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/15/greatest-ever-australian-touring-car-championship-race-bathurst-easter-1972/

Celebration of construction of the 500,000th Holden, delivered to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 1958.

Credits…

s5000.com, Troy Davey-Milne, John Smith, National Archives of Australia, The Tasmanian Motorist, Tony Johns Collection, Lance Ruting, ozpata, McLaren, Ray Simpson-Cummins Archive, Nat French, Slim Lamont, Kelsey Collection

Tailpiece…

Missed by that much!

Thanks goodness the 911S was spared, and the paper-boy I guess. It’s all happening in Greville Street, Prahran, Melbourne, circa 1980.

Finito…