Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Glyn Scott, Elfin 600B Waggott from Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco, Warwick Farm 11 July 1970 (L Hemer)

Sunday 26 July 2020 marks fifty years since the tragic death at Lakeside of one of Queensland’s favourite racing sons- Glyn Scott at the wheel of his new Elfin 600B Waggott TC-4V.

I attended the 1973 Glyn Scott Memorial Trophy at Surfers Paradise and learned a bit of racing history from the program that day then last year I was lucky enough to meet Glyn’s son Gary who had a stellar racing career himself in Europe and Australia, and got a chance to understand a little more about Glyn during the pub evening. It was amusing actually, he couldn’t believe anyone would be interested in his open-wheeler exploits rather than his considerable taxi credentials.

Glyn Scott was not just a competitor of international standard but also active in the administration of the sport as State President of CAMS, State Delegate to the National Council and President of the Queensland Racing Drivers Club- very much an experienced set of hands and senior citizen of the sport on and off the track.

Glyn at Lakeside during the ATT weekend in 1965, he raced the Ann Thompson owned Lotus 15 (R Bell)

 

John Ellacott ‘This was the first outing of the Lotus 20 in December 1961…which probably accounts for the car being green rather than the blue it was later…Taken from Homestead Corner’ (J Ellacott)

 

A couple of youngsters at Catalina Park in 1962- Glyn ahead of Leo Geoghegan in Lotus 20 Ford FJs (J Ellacott)

His first racing steps were aboard an Ariel powered home made open-wheeler he ran at Leyburn and Lowood as well as the hills, he was soon racing the Repco-Holden Special, a replica of Tom Hawkes Cooper T23 Holden with which he had so much success on the eastern seaboard over the following years.

Another big step of progression was the acquisition of Alec Mildren’s Cooper T43 Climax in 1958- ‘the first big-league machine to be domiciled in Queensland’ wrote Des White. With this car he worked his way into the ranks of Australia’s top drivers supported by a team of three- Norm Meller, Col Clarey and Jim Bertram.

Cars which followed included Lotus 18 and Lotus 20 FJs, Lotus 27 Ford twin-cam ANF 1 1/2 and Lotus 23B Ford.

Glyn in the Scott Special aka Repco Holden during its first test run at Lowood, circa August/September 1957 (I McDonald Collection)

 

Longford Trophy 1960. Glyn in his Cooper T43 Climax 1.7 with Jon Leighton’s T45 2 litre behind, sixth and fifth in the race won by Brabham’s Cooper T51- red car to the right is Ern Tadgell, Lotus 12 Climax FPF 1.5 aka Sabakat (J Barnes)

 

Scott during practice at Warwick Farm during 1969, Lotus 23B Ford (L Hemer)

Along the way he married Coral and had three children Gary, Susan and Anthony and ran his business Glyn Scott Motors.

He aided and abetted John Joyce’s creation of Bowin Cars upon his return from a stint as an engineer at Lotus by becoming John’s first customer- that car, the Bowin P3 Ford FVA F2  was a machine driven with great skill by Glyn inclusive of a memorable Gold Star round win at Sandown in September 1968 on a day the 2.5 litre Tasman machines wilted.

He also took the P3 to Japan for the JAF Japanese Grand Prix that year finishing fourth behind Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco 2.5.

Glyn drove others cars, a great drive was his co-drive of Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 in the 1967 Surfers Paradise. Photographer Peter Maslen wrote ‘One of the finest drives i ever saw. When Alan Hamilton dropped the Porsche into the ditch around the back of the circuit, he was encouraged to recover it-Glyn took over and they came third. This picture now holds pride of place on my study wall.’ It is a marvellous shot- he has managed to capture the determined set of Scott’s jaw (P Maslen)

 

Glyn and Leo Geoghegan were the very best of friends, Leo was on hand for the early tests of the P3 and here Scotty is attending to his needs before the off at Oran Park on 22 September 1968 (Bowin Cars)

 

Lakeside paddock October 1968- the blue Scott Bowin P3 Ford FVA and Lotus 23B Ford twin-cam with Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911 S/T (G Ruckert)

As 1970 approached he spoke of retirement but the lure of competition and a new Elfin 600 was too much, Glyn ordered a 2 litre Waggott engine for the Elfin and fitted the FVA into the Lotus 23B after selling the Bowin.

After taking delivery of the Elfin he raced it at Oran Park, Warwick Farm and the Lakeside Gold Star round in June where he was third behind Max Stewart and John Harvey, proving the pace of his new car which was by then was reasonably well sorted.

Glyn took the starters flag, as he had so many times before, for the 15 lap racing car feature, during the Australian Touring Car Championship meeting, on 26 July and ran second to close mate Ivan Tighe’s 600 twin-cam for four laps, and as the black-flag came out for Glyn, who had lost his goggles, ‘the two duelling open-wheelers swept into the straight.

‘Scott skipped to the left to go past under (2 litre) power; the Elfin had two wheels off, right opposite the tower, the car was back on again, then off, then jumped four feet sideways over the bitumen shoulder to lock together with Tighe’s Elfin.’

At that point, travelling at some 130 mph, the drivers were in the hands of physics and the gods- Glyn’s car stopped instantly under the single-rail Armco whilst Ivan’s hurtled over it into a six foot K-wire fence, receiving severe cuts and fractures in one hand.

The entire incident took only a fraction of a second, and right there ended the 20 year racing career of Queensland’s most respected driver’ Des White’s Racing Car News report ended.

Glyn in a spot of bother with his new Elfin in the Warwick Farm Esses during the 11/12 July meeting (M Pearce)

 

Last laps, great mates in a great tustle- Ivan Tighe and Glyn Scott, Lakeside 26 July 1970 (D Simpson)

To end this tribute to a driver who still comes up so often in conversation amongst enthusiasts- heartfelt words written by then CAMS Secretary-General Donald K Thomson who had worked closely with Scott and knew him well.

’An obituary is not a biography, designed to paint the definitive picture of a man, with his faults evaluated equally with his virtues.

The convention of such tributes often tends to invest those who have gone with a sort of aura of unalloyed goodness, which is at odds with all human experience; and hence obituaries sometimes must be read for what they omit as much as for what they include.

It is not so with Glyn Scott. He was that best of human beings, a gentle and considerate man. He was not the greatest racing driver in the world, or the wisest and most far-seeing administrator of his sport. He was more- he was patient, sincere, thorough, friendly and loyal. Without guile or arrogance, he was frank and open, available to all for help and advice, and both an ornament and a truly devoted servant to the sport, at great personal cost of time and effort.

There are, and will be, greater stars; but they gleam, many of them, like meteors. Glyn’s light will lend a continuing radiance for far longer. His memory is the best obituary; everything else is just words.’

(M Bisset Collection)

 

Etcetera…

(I McDonald Collection)

Tom Hawkes’ ex-Brabham Cooper T23 was garaged at Glyn Scott Motors Atlantic Oil Servo between the 1957 Lowood June and August meetings, in the intervening period Glyn, Norm Mellor and Bill Purcell, assisted by Les Gould and Harvey Robinson created a copy of the T23’s chassis and body.

The mechanicals including Repco Hi-power headed Holden ‘Grey Six’ and four speed Jaguar gearbox were donated by Glyns existing Holden Special which had started life as a taxi.

The shot above shows the car’s first run at Lowood, ‘It was originally entered as the “Scott Special”, i have the original bonnet badge. I guess somebody must have ribbed Glyny that he was a Nazi supporter, hence SS was put aside!’ quipped car restorer (in 1979) and custodian Ian McDonald. Nick McDonald races this car today as beautifully as father Ian did for so many years.

(D Willis)

Great, rare colour shot by Dick Willis of Glyn’s second racing car, the Repco Holden Special at Lowood in 1957, and below another shot from the McDonald Collection of Glyn’s third racer, the Scott Special aka Repco Holden upon its test debut at Lowood in August/September 1957.

(I McDonald Collection)

 

Glyn, Repco Holden, Mount Panorama circa 1957-1958 (I McDonald Collection)

 

(P Houston)

Peter Houston’s trailer shot shows the essential elements of the Bowin P3 #’P3-101-68′.

The Ford FVA 1.6 litre F2 engine was Piers Courage spare during the Etonian’s very successful assault on the 1968 Tasman Cup, Niel Allen bought the car at the end of the summer and Glyn the motor. The gearbox is the Hewland FT200, standard F2 and F Atlantic issue for a couple of decades, whilst the rear suspension is period typical- single top links, inverted lower wishbones, coil spring/damper units, two radius rods each side, the uprights were magnesium alloy and brakes Girling.

The Scott Lotus 23B Ford whistles down the hill from the Water Tower to The Viaduct at Longford- second in the Monday sportscar scratch in 1968.

Longford is 2,220 km trip including an overnight ferry from Port Melbourne to Devonport, Tasmania so the Brisbane-ite did not lack commitment to his sport! not to forget the drive home at the end of the weekend.

ANF 1.5 Catalina Park scrap between the Lotus-Ford twin-cam powered Mike Champion Brabham BT2, Glyn Scott Lotus 27 and Max Stewart Rennmax BN1- Stewart won the six round ANF 1.5 championship that year on his ascent to the very top of Australian motor racing.

Glyn was second on 18 points then Garrie Cooper third one point adrift of Glyn with Mike Champion fifth. Max scored 26 points- each of these fellas won a round each with David Sternberg and Phil West also race winners in an open six round, five state series.

(I Peters Collection)

The Bowin P3 is a beautiful racing car, it is a few years since i have seen custodian Ian Peters run it, the shot above shows it in its racing heyday at Symmons Plains in March 1969.

Glyn contested the first Gold Star round of the year and finished fourth behind Bartlett, Geoghegan and Allen.

(autopics.com)

The ever smiling Scotty- he loved what he did.

It’s a Lotus 23B, late in the piece- fitted with the FVA which came from the Bowin P3 making the old dear a very quick little car.

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

Glyn, or should I say Glen’s, as the Australian Motor Sport refers to him, Ariel Spl- number 20 closest to camera at Lowood in October 1950.

 

(T Sullivan Collection)

 

(oldracephotos.com)

Duelling Lotus Elan 26R’s at Surfers Paradise in 1969-1970.

John Fraser from Glyn aboard Ann Thompson’s car, above, in 1969 and below- John is still with us and active on social media so hopefully he will see the shots and assist us with timing.

By the time i saw him in 1973, still running with Shell support, he was racing a very quick Lotus 47.

(B Williamson Collection)

 

(T Sullivan Collection)

Credits…

Many thanks to Peter Houston for suggesting this piece

Lynton Hemer for selecting photographs from his archive and Ian McDonald from his, the McDonald’s have long been custodians of the marvellous Repco Holden Spl

Des White’s ‘Racing Car News’ race report and tribute to Glyn published in the September 1970 issue

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Dick Simpson, John Ellacott, Graham Ruckert, autopics.com, Ray Bell, Peter Maslen, oldracephotos.com, Mark Pearce, J Barnes, Ian Peters Collection, Bowin Cars, Stephen Dalton Collection, Bowin Cars, John Barnes, Terry Sullivan Collection, Bob Williamson Collection, Dick Willis

Tailpiece…

Glyn in the 600B Waggott, chassis # ‘7016’ during the 7 June 1970 Gold Star round, he was third on home turf behind Max Stewart, Mildren Waggott and John Harvey’s new Rennmax built Jane Repco V8.

Finito…

(S5000)

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

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

(R Bell Collection)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Whiteford trailer after restoration by Kerry Manolas (R Bailey)

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

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

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

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

(B Leech/COR via D Zeunert Collection)

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

(T Johns Collection)

Tony Johns well rugged up for the chills of Winton in 1965, Austin 7 Spl…

When I completed University my student earnings were all blown on a Venom Mk2 Formula Vee in March 1979, i entered the ‘real workforce’ and bought my first racer in the same week. Formula Vee was the way to go for the impecunious enthusiast with a hankering for single seater cars then, but a generation before in the late fifties/early sixties the path was a little more difficult without so many ‘factory’ cars about.

Tony Johns’ story of Austin 7 competition in the day is an interesting first-hand account of how it was for enthusiasts with a hankering for competition in those times- many Australian enthusiasts will be familiar with him as a racer, purveyor of fine motorbooks or co-author of ‘Vintage Bentleys in Australia’.

‘I was fortunate to grow up with very tolerant parents who accepted my love of old cars. Starting when I was a young boy with an Austin 7-owning great aunt which generated my passion for these wonderful cars. In my final years at school long before any of us were old enough to hold a driving license, two of my class mates already owned A7s, and soon after a third purchased a Chummy six months before me which he still owns to this day.’

John’s first Austin Chummy. ‘In the early 1960s the A7 Club held their annual beach run on the Mornington Peninsula at what was then a quiet peaceful beach at Shoreham, not far from Flinders. Never to waste an opportunity once the tide went out, the sticks were soon in place for a slalom event. If you look closely (very Tony!) under my armpit you can see Neil Johannesen’s Mooris 850 ex-1961 Armstrong 500’. Bugeye Sprite at right (David Lowe-T Johns Collection)

 

TJ and Chummy ascending Rob Roy in the early sixties (A Tracey)

‘As a teenager in the 1950’s I convinced my parents to take me to a race meeting at the Fisherman’s Bend airstrip circuit and the race meetings at Albert Park, mind you I had to wear my school uniform and cap!

Still months away from being old enough to have a driving license, I purchased my first Austin 7, a 1928 magneto-engined Chummy that was my entry card to join the Victorian Austin 7 Club in 1960.

In the beginning I competed in Gymkhanas and Navigation Trials but always wanted to build and compete in my own racing Austin 7. I started going to race meetings with Nigel Tait and got to know all the other drivers, observing what to do and what not to do. In those days everybody was very helpful and at race meeting, drivers would share spare parts if somebody needed help.’

Minimalism defined! ‘The gymkhana chassis, which, together with the body from Allan Tyrrell’s racing car which became my first racing Austin in 1965’ (T Johns)

 

Lakeland Hillclimb in the mid-sixties, still in short-sleeves but with secondhand Dunlop racing tyres and fifteen inch wheels (D Lowe)

 

‘John Fleming’s Merri Bridge Motors was the place to go for Austin 7 specials in the 1960s’ (T Johns Collection)

‘John Whitehouse and Dale Shaw were the front-runners when I had built my racing 7. My first race meeting as a driver was the Easter weekend in South Australia back in 1965, it comprised a hillclimb at Collingrove and races at Mallala. By then John Fleming and John Bowring had retired and sold their cars to new owners.

It took nearly a year to build with a lot of help from fellow Austin 7 club member Geoff Taylor, yet another A7 member who ended up as an engineer with General Motors. Geoff was still around when we built the two new Austins for the ‘1981 Raid’ to the UK- this time, as the Chief Brake Engineer for GMH. He used his contacts at PBR to supply all the new brake fittings, no going back to the wreckers!

Starting with a lowered chassis which had been modified to use in gymkhanas, I converted the original cable brakes to hydraulic operation using new alloy backing plates manufactured and sold by John Fleming (see advertisement) and Lockheed cylinders from a side valve Morris Minor obtained from the local wrecker.

Fortunately for me, Allan Tyrrell, due to both work commitments and a young family had decided to give up circuit racing and instead use his Austin to compete in an occasional hill climb. Having removed the alloy body to save weight he then agreed to sell it to me, however it took several years to get to own the inlet and exhaust manifolds but he loaned them to me for many years.

During these early years I had various manifold and SU carby setups hence the various power bulges and cutouts in the bonnet. Bill Sheehan came to my rescue on more than one occasion shaping the alloy transmission tunnel around my parents Hills Hoist.

The 1965 Easter weekend was the first of many all night sessions in order to get ready for a race meeting. Another Mallala story, one year at scrutineering the scrutineer eyes were focused on my front shock absorbers and nothing else. When I queried if there was a problem his reply was ‘Where did you get them?’- once again they were a gift from Geoff Taylor, my GMH friend, they were a pair of very special, fully adjustable Munro shocks used in the development of the Holden Torana and never available to the general public. Once that was all settled I sailed through scrutineering.’

Mallala 1965 shot which oozes atmosphere. TJ leads Trevor Cole’s ex-Fleming Austin through ‘Woodroffes Corner’ (T Johns Collection)

 

(T Johns Collection)

 

Easter Mallala 1967. Doug Jarvis on pole in the ex-Davison Alfa Romeo P3, #11 Ron Brownrigg Riley and #9 Peter Brady ex-Bira MG K3. On row 2 Bill Potts or son Douglas at left MG TA and an obscured Tony Johns #98 Austin 7. Johns observes ‘This is what it was like at the start of Vintage and Historic Racing in the sixties- no roll bars and short sleeved shirts and we are still here today’ (T Johns Collection)

 

Same event as above but the flag has dropped, ‘Ron Brownrigg making his usual fast getaway in the Riley Imp, in view behind the Austin is John Jarvis driving his father’s Alfa Romeo 8C2300. Digby Thomas at the rear in his SS100 #72. The same race had an embarrassing end for me. In practice I drove around the outside of the Smith Darracq-Talbot on what used to be called Castrol Corner, nowadays BP. During the race, with youthful experience, I attempted the same passing move, only this time he was going much faster and the end result was that I rolled over several times and was thrown out…a roll bar and seat belt were fitted to the Austin soon after!’ (T Johns Collection)

 

(T Johns)

‘Back in the 1960’s there were several books published in the UK on how to build an Austin 7 Special. In fact two of them were the first books published by authors Patrick Stephens and John Haynes who both became very successful publishers, anybody interested in reading about the subject was well catered for.

After a decade of racing in this form my good friend and special builder David Lowe decided my Austin needed a birthday, so it lived in his Toorak garage where he removed the pop rivets which held the body to the frame and then set about welding up a new steel tube frame complete with built-in roll bar using only the scuttle panel and top and bottom of the tail on the newly rebuilt car. A twin brake master cylinder conversion was added at this time.

The next major change to the car happened just in time for the 1978 AGP 50th Anniversary celebrations at Phillip Island when yet another Austin 7 Club member, Ross Stewart, offered to fit a supercharger to my car.

He designed, cast and machined all the alloy castings in the style used by the Austin factory back in the 1920s in order to comply with CAMS rules. Using a tooth belt to drive a supercharger was no longer allowed. Once again it was an all night session and Ross arrived with my car at the PI race circuit very late on Saturday afternoon with no time for practice. I continued to race this car for a further two years before building my Raid car to comply with UK VSCC rules- story coming soon on this adventure to the UK.

To quote Charles Dickens- ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’.

During my thirty plus years of racing an Austin 7 the scene has progressed from Austin 7 Formula racing in the 1960s when we raced with the air cooled 500cc cars competing in Division 3 or 4 races at country circuits such as Hume Weir and Winton.’

Sandown pits 1965 ‘My racing car arriving on the Saturday morning after being towed from Brighton behind Bill Morling’s homemade A7 Ute- there are no hills on the route so we thought it would be good to upset the Bugatti owners etc with their Rice Trailers and Ford Mainline Utes!’ (Bill Morling-T Johns Collection)

 

Winton dummy grid in late 1968. An interesting shot in the context of Johns’ comment about the evolution of A7 racers and competition rules. #92 Nigel Tait with Neil Johannsen partially obscured behind him, then Johns in upright A7, #95 John Whitehouse in the Whitmor referred to in the text below, #93 Trevor Cole, #89 Maggie Rowe (D Lowe)

 

A Boxing Day meeting at Hume Weir in the mid seventies, Maggie Lowe chasing TJ (T Johns Collection)

‘Not long after, new very fast wedge-shaped Austins started appearing led by John Whitehouse in his Whitmor and Nigel Tait in his new car. These cars incorporated Triumph Herald front uprights together with coil spring shock absorbers, rack and pinion steering and 13 inch alloy wheel centres with spun rims. There was not much of a chance of an upright Austin 7 fitted with a beam front axle to first to great the chequered flag.

Vintage car racing in Australia began to flourish and the opportunity to be a front runner was there again. Another change to the rules for the A7 Formula was that engines other than the side valve Austin 7 could be used- Renault 750 and Hillman Imp motors were popular choices.

It was this period which included races at Warwick Farm, Historic Amaroo, Oran Park, Sandown Park and Historic Winton that were certainly ‘the best of times’ and when my engine seized a piston on the second lap at Mallory Park in the UK in 1981 during the 750 Motor Club Intercontinental Challenge and I retired, that was ‘the worst of times’.

It is sad to report that Austin 7s are now rarely seen on Historic Meeting race grids, these days the later 1930s cars are so much faster and the Austins now compete in Regularity events, Hill Climbs or Sprints.’

Etcetera…

(T Johns Collection)

Equipe Johns in the Sandown paddock, September 1965.

The Chummy he acquired whilst still a student and the A7 racer he ran from 1965 to 1980.

 

(T Johns Collection)

Easter Mallala sandwich-the Johns’ A7 sandwiched between Gavin Sandford-Morgan’s Jaguar C Type with Gavin Sala’s Darracq closes in.

(T Johns Collection)

Austin 7 Club stand at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, Melbourne during one of the Racing Car Shows promoted by Jim Abbott and John Whitehouse in 1969 or 1970.

From left, beside the pole is Nigel Tait’s then new Formula Austin, then the Whitmor’s engine, the restored Ulster chassis owned by Doug Head and in the foreground is new spaceframe car designed to compete on Observed Section Trials. In the background is Alan Esmore’s 7 with a locally built Ace two-seater body and Johns’ racing 7 on the right.

(T Johns Collection)

Lakeland Hillclimb near Lilydale, Melbourne in the mid-sixties before installation of the first roll-bar.

 

(D Lowe-T Johns Collection)

Another shot above showing the evolution of racing A7s.

Lachie Sharp at Mallala during the Easter 1966 meeting aboard the John Whitehouse built ‘The Carrot’- the name a function of the car’s colour. It was built in 1961 with help from Dale Shaw and body builder Barry Hudson- the shark-nose was completed prior to its adoption by Carlo Chiti in Maranello for his 1961 World Championship winning 156 V6 machines.

The original setup included a split front axle and leaf spring, later on John Whitehouse made the conversion to fully independent suspension as the car is shown here.

Austin 7 Formula in Australia…

See this interesting article on the evolution of Austin 7 based racing cars which was published in the ‘Australian Motor Sports Review’ 1958-1959.

See ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ Austin 7 Racing in Australia thread…

This great thread has heaps of snippets, photographs and stories by Tony Johns and Stephen Dalton about the racing of Sevens since the 1930s- it is ever evolving and growing so keep an eye on it.

https://forums.autosport.com/topic/215085-austin-seven-racing-in-australia-from-1928/

Credits…

Tony Johns- many thanks for the article and pictures

David Lowe, Ashley Tracey, Bill Morling, Australian Motor Sports Review 1958-1959

Tailpiece…

(T Johns Collection)

Tony Johns in front of Nigel Tait at Winton in 1965- wonderful times, simpler times where it was about sport and fun.

Finito…

(J Langdon)

Appendix J tustle into Mountford Corner circa 1964- Alan Robertson’s Peugeot 203 dives under an FJ Holden, the finish line is only 500 metres away, perhaps this is a last lap lunge…

It’s a corker of a shot.

‘Longford 2’, who is he kidding, Longford 10 you may well reasonably say!

Everything in motor racing in moderation my friends, unless it comes to Lola, Lotus, Elfin, Rennmax, Bowin, Birrana or anything to do with Repco-Brabham, Alec Mildren Racing, Scuderia Veloce or Equipe Matich, Warwick Farm and most of all Longford where the rules of moderation simply don’t apply- just suck it up ok!?

Apart from my Longford fascination, Tasmania is one of my favourite states, on top of that I seem to be in a Covid 19 induced sixties nostalgia zone at present so I’ve mixed in some period Tassie snaps of interest- to me at least.

The wonderful racing photographs are by Lia Middleton’s mum, the ladies name would be great to know if someone can provide it, and Jim Langdon. Here we go with this Tasmanian assemblage.

(J Langdon)

Jack Brabham whistles into Mountford, Brabham BT7A Climax, South Pacific Trophy 1964…

Graham Hill won the race in the Scuderia Veloce BT4 from Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 and Frank Matich aboard another Brabham, this time a BT7A, all Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF powered.

Jack had differential failure during lap 22, all was not lost with his customer cars showing so well. Click here for a piece on the Intercontinental Brabhams; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

(Middleton Family)

Things must be going mighty goodly as Roy Billington even has time to laugh at one of Jack’s one-liners- Longford paddock with the Hewland HDS or is it HD5? and Coventry Climax FPF laid bare. This second in a series of three ‘Intercontinental Brabhams were very successful cars.

Brabham always had time for the punters didn’t he!? A smile rather than the death-ray stare of some others- a Pro our Jack.

(Middleton Family)

 

(C Raine)

I wonder if it was cheaper to travel by TAA Vickers Viscount or the Princess of Tasmania?

These days the plane is the ‘no brainer’ in terms of cost and convenience compared with the overnight ferry from Port Melbourne to Devonport but it may not always have been so, I wonder what the relative cost was.

The plane on the tarmac at Launceston.

(Middleton Family)

All the fun of the fair!

What a brilliant shot, doesn’t Mrs Middleton capture the mood of the meeting? Technically she has framed and cropped the shot beautifully. I wonder what year this Pit Straight bridge went in?
The shot below gives us a read in part on Don Gorringe’s business interests which funded his involvement and support of motor racing.

 

(Middleton Family)

1968 South Pacific Trophy field race in the dry, so it’s the preliminary ‘Examiner Scratch Race, contested over 12 laps, it rained cats and dogs on the Labour Day Monday public holiday.

The shot above is from towards the rear of the pack diving into the Viaduct- the two BRMs of Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood, I can’t differentiate between the two, then the yellow Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo of Frank Gardner on the outside, to FG’s left is his teammate Kevin Bartlett, Brabham BT11A Climax with the red/maroon car at the head of this pack, Piers Courage, winner of the very last Longford Tasman Cup event in his McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

In a short race of attrition, Graham Hill won from Jim Clark, both in Lotus 49 Ford DFWs and Frank Gardner’s Brabham Alfa- Clarkset a lap record of 2:14.7 during the race but this time was battered by Chris Amon in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari Can-Am 350 which did a 2:12.6- Chris’ best was 10 seconds a lap better than second place man Ian Cook in Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 Repco 4.4 V8- Amon’s Ferrari was famously timed at 182mph on ‘The Flying Mile’.

Longford 1968 is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/ and the Clark, Hill and Amon cars here; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/05/clark-hill-amon-longford-1968/

(R Macfie)

The truck is heading in race direction towards Mountford Gate, Viaduct, I wonder what year this shot was taken?

(Middleton Family)

Local Longford racing club chief and landowner Ron McKinnon gives Jack Brabham and the race winner, Bruce McLaren a lift after conclusion of the 1965 Australian Grand Prix- McLaren drove a Cooper T79 Climax whilst Jack was aboard a BT11A and Ron an MGA. 1965 AGP here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/

(D Febey)

No Australian kid’s summer holidays was complete without a holiday at the beach or in the local pool- you really were ‘posh’ if yer folks had a pool back then.

Just looking at this brings back so many memories, not the least of which was the difficulty of executing a ten outta ten dive whilst not landing on top of some schmo in the process- this is the pool at The Bluff in Devonport.

(Middleton Family)

Graham Hill looking a bit more earnest and focused than Jack in a similar car- a Repco Brabham BT4 Climax owned by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce.

That’s him in the cap on the right with Bob Atkin and another fella pushing- Hill’s focus was rewarded, he won the 1964 South Pacific Trophy as mentioned earlier. Brabham BT4 here; https://primotipo.com/2016/10/16/point-of-sale/

Kings Pier, Port of Hobart in the mid-sixties. Salamanca Place and the Port is these days a wonderful place to stroll around and dine whilst still a working port (R MacFie)

 

Scuderia Veloce again, this time the great Spencer Martin kicking the tail of the Ferrari 250LM about with gay abandon in 1965, it’s one of the machines very first meetings- the exit of Mountford Corner with a very appreciative crowd.

These cars, production sports-racing Ferrari won Le Mans in 1965 after the top gun Ford GT40, Mk2 and Ferrari P2s dropped by the wayside, Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory raced the winning NART entry.

The 3.3 litre 250LM V12s were notoriously driver friendly, forgiving machines which contested Le Mans as late as 1969, perhaps even 1970, I’m too lazy to check. Click here for a piece on the 250LM; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

(M Stephens)

 

(M Stephens)

I blew my tiny mind upon seeing these photographs of Minuet Stephens- they pinged ‘Queenstown’ in my mind but some of you Tassies can set me straight if I have that wrong, it’s only two years since the last time I swung through, it’s circa 1963 given other shots in this collection.

Isn’t ‘the rig’ amazing, what make and model is the home built caravan’s tow car or truck? The wow factor was succeeded by memories of long interstate trips Australian style before dual-lane highways became common in the eighties- Melbourne to Sydney then, about 500 miles now, was ‘a lot longer then’ on the Hume Highway as yer Dad’s 186cid HK Kingswood wagon was stuck behind outfits like this one and semi-trailers which did not gobble up the road as they do now. ‘How much further Dad?!’ every thirty minutes,  its a wonder he didn’t strangle the three of us really.

I imagine on the relatively quiet roads of the Apple Isle this kind of touring would have been very pleasant indeed.

(J Langdon)

 

(J Langdon)

Bib Stillwell turns in for Mountford with Pit Straight, the Control Tower and Water Tower in the distance- Brabham BT4 Climax in 1964.

By this stage the ‘late blooming’ Melbourne car and aviation businessman had been a front-runner for a halfa decade, in fact he won his third Gold Star on the trot in this chassis that year, having won it in ‘IC-3-62’ as well in 1963.

A quick glance suggested BT11A to me- the airbox led me there but tell tales of BT4 are the external radiator pipe- it looks like a pinstripe and the location of the top front wishbone rear pickup.

The Aston Martin DB5 is rather nice too.

(J Buddle)

Groometals scrap metal warehouse and lead smelting establishment on the corner of Harrington and Warwick Streets Hobart and looking very much in 1998 just before its demolition, as it did in 1965.

The nostalgic observation here is that so many of our inner urban main arteries looked like this until these streets filled with restaurants and retail outlets instead of small business ‘workshops’ as the inner suburbs became places many of us wanted to live.

I gave my Formula Vee a birthday at the end of 1979- amongst other things the suspension was nickel plated and chassis sand-blasted and then stove-enameled in two different ‘shops in Bridge Road, Richmond which these days is all restaurants and retail outlets- many with ‘to lease’ signs reflecting the decade old on-line retail revolution and of course forty-five thousand coffee shops. Still it was forty years ago, so some change should be anticipated I guess!

(Middleton Family)

Look at that crowd on Pit Straight.

Look very carefully to the left and you can just see a couple of jousting Scots- Jim Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax is just in front of South Pacific Trophy winner, Jackie Stewart in a BRM P261 1.9 litre V8.

Jackie won the race and the series in 1966- see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/19/jackies-66-longford/

In the shot below Arnold Glass has neatly popped the nose of his ANF1.5 Lotus 27 Ford twin-cam into the Mountford haybales during the 1964 meeting- hopefully no great damage has been done in ‘The Mercury’ 10 lapper for racing cars.

It was a small but classy entry of one and a halves- Frank Gardner, David Walker and Greg Cusack were in Brabham Fords whilst Mel McEwin was aboard an Elfin Catalina Ford. Jack Brabham won from Bib Stillwell and John Youl with Greg Cusack the best of the 1.5s. See articles on Arnold and ANF1.5 here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/13/anf-1-5-litre/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

(J Langdon)

Below is the business end of the monocoque Lotus 27 which very much apes the F1 Lotus 33 in basic specifications- chassis, suspension whilst noting the 1.5 litre FWMV V8 gave circa 210bhp whereas this 1.5 litre Cosworth built Lotus-Ford four cylinder engine gave circa 125bhp. Hewland gearbox of course, lovely Ron Lambert shot in the Longford paddock, the cockpit/nosepiece is off the car, perhaps being repaired…

(R Lambert)

 

The lighthouse supply ship SS Cape York off Maatsuyker Island on Tasmania’s southwest coast, mid-sixties (Nat Arc Oz)

 

(Middleton Family)

 

(Middleton Family)

A couple more shots on the approach and downhill plunge to The Viaduct.

The touring car experts can probably date the event- two EH Holdens chasing a trio of Morris Coopers- Barrett, Smith, Bromfield, Boot and Evan Thomas are the tips of racers Danny Newland and Barry Cassidy- as to the single seater race, who knows?

(M Stephens)

‘You muck around like a pack of old chooks at a Christening’ was one of my Dad’s sayings!

This group of ladies reminds me of my grandmother and her four sisters frocking up, hats and all for a family ceremonial occasion- like a Christening!

It reminds me how ‘white’ we all were too- Gough Whitlam finally repealed the ‘White Australia Policy’ in 1973 for chrissakes- Asian immigration was negligible until President Ford rang Malcolm Fraser and said ‘you pricks helped us create the mess in Vietnam so you malakas have to help mop it up’ or diplomatic weasel words to that effect anyway.

So now we have a wonderful, mainly harmonious multi-cultural mix rather than the mono-cultural Anglo society reflected in the scene of matrons above.

(Middleton Family)

Montford Corner again with a gorgeous Elfin Streamliner confronting a big special- wotizzit?

Huge crowd again, year uncertain.

( Middleton Family)

Ron McKinnon again this time aboard a Datsun Fairlady- his passengers appear to be Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill, so first and second in the 1964 Sou-Pac Trophy.

Never drove a Fairlady but did have a drive of its big-brother Datsun 2000 and couldn’t believe how much better a car it was than the MGBs i was looking at at the time.

(Libraries Tasmania)

 

(Libraries Tasmania)

I sorta missed the whole steam engined thing- Puffing Billy excepted, ten years older and it would have been front and centre for me in a way that it no doubt was for many of you.

These eight H Class locos are sitting aboard the ship ‘Belpareil’ at the Hobart docks, I cheated with the decade though, it’s October 1951. I wonder who the manufacturer was/is?, wonderfully five of these trains still exist.

(Middleton Family)

It’s rotating so hopefully the driver of the Humpy Holden missed the Mountford trees, the physics of it all is working in his favour I think. Who is it?

(Middleton Family)

The wonderful thing about Longford is that for every international who raced there the bulk of the weekends entertainment was provided by local/national drivers who got to play on one of the greatest, most challenging and dangerous road racing tracks in the world, as our Sprite friend, Chris Tapping is doing just here.

(C Broadfield Collection)

The gent in the hat does not seem phased at all by the sight of the yacht ‘Heemskerk’ being shifted by road from Sandy Bay, where it was built to the Hobart Port closeby where the owner Edney Medhurst launched the sleek hulled craft in 1953.

Credits…

Jim Langdon, Chris Raine Family, Lia Middleton Family, Rob MacFie, Daryn Febey, Minuet Stephens, Jeremy Buddle, National Archives of Australia, Libraries Tasmania, Craig Broadfield Collection, Ron Lambert

Tailpiece…

(M Stephens)

Another Queenstown shot i think, the most recent car is an EJ Holden so let’s date the queue of cars on the steam train as being circa 1963.

Finito…

‘Yerd reckon Matich would be able to blow it off wouldn’t you?…

A GTS sure, powered by the little ‘253’ V8 maybe, steel wheels with Belmont/Kingswood hubcaps, lordy. Not to forget the ultimate ‘woggerisation accessory’, without putting too fine a point on it- a black vinyl roof. Yuck, vomitous yuck in fact.

I threatened to leave the house when the old man advised the family over Joan’s finest casserole and ‘smashed spuds that he was getting a vinyl roof affixed to the turret of his metallic mauve/purple HQ Premier- it sounds a toxic colour, it was anything but- sadly, he proceeded as planned. Upon return to Chez Pete & Joan- to copious abuse from my brother and i, he then asked when I would be removing myself from the premises, at fifteen this was not a commitment i felt was legally binding upon my goodself let alone enforceable on his part. To add insult to injury the Ford Fairmont GXL which replaced the ‘haitch-queue’ was similarly equipped- the useless shit one remembers stimulated by a snap.

Matich had a great Lady Wigram Trophy weekend in 1970- he popped his McLaren M10A Chev on pole for the Tasman Cup feature, in front of his similarly mounted arch-rival Graham McRae, and won the race ahead of American Ron Grable in another M10A then Max Stewart’s speedy Mildren Waggott TC-4V.

FM won two 1970 rounds, he took the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe the week before Wigram. He was quick everywhere too- on pole at Pukekohe, Surfers Paradise and Sandown but did not have the consistency of Graeme Lawrence, who, whilst only winning one round took the series with the ‘clockwork reliability’ of the same Ferrari Dino 246T Chris Amon used to win in 1969.

This and the shot below are at Wigram 1970- alongside the hangars here and airborne at The Loop below (E Sarginson)

 

(E Sarginson)

Frank, perhaps fatally, elected to miss the final Kiwi round at Teretonga to get back to Australia to properly prepare for the Australian rounds- specifically to rebuild his (the reports say) only Chev engine which by then had done over 1000 race miles, given he fell five points short of the Kiwi’s total, 1970 could be considered the Matich Tasman which ‘got away’.

’Racing Car News’ reported that the spankers Repco-Holden V8 engine had run on the Maidstone dyno on 24 January and ‘If everything checks out satisfactorily the engine will go straight into the car for the Australian rounds’ That was fanciful or PR bullshit given a 5 litre Holden never been run then, engine ‘RM1’, the first wasn’t tested until February 1970, let alone be offered up to the M10A chassis at this point.

FM never did bag a Tasman Cup despite being one of the quickest guys on track in both his 2.5 litre and 5 litre Tasman sorties. Matich was shy of McRae by four points in 1971, the closest he ever came in a ‘fair fight’ with McRae, both were aboard well developed M10Bs- each racer had five point scoring finishes in the seven rounds that summer, it was a very close run thing.

Back to our vinyl roof, the fellow in the Munro is catching some footage on the Wigram Trophy warm up lap for the local evening teev broadcast, i love the shot, not so much the car’s roof ‘trimmings’ however.

Hey dad, look what I found- Kris and Frank Matich mit brand-spankers yellow painted McLaren M10A Chev at Warwick Farm on or about 13 August 1969. FM’s scooter is a Lambretta- weren’t they distributed by Trojan, manufacturers of McLaren customer racing cars in the UK- did FM bag the local distribution rights?

Frank was a bit shitty with Bruce McLaren after he ordered this car only to find the new M10B was just around the corner.

Derek Kneller packed the car, chassis M10A ‘300-10’  into the plane in the UK and then followed it out to Australia where he, Peter Mabey and Frank modified it to pretty much M10B spec. Derek had built Peter Gethin’s M10B, the first, at McLarens so he had a pretty good idea what the differences in specifications were, and then Frank did enough test laps around Warwick Farm and ‘demo laps’ elsewhere for him to be right on the Tasman Cup pace despite being out of single-seaters for four years.

In the best of company, Warwick Farm 100 grid 14 February 1965. Jim Clark, Lotus 32B, Graham Hill, Brabham BT11A and Matich in last years, but continually developed Brabham BT7A on pole, all 2.5 Climax FPF powered. Clark won from Brabham’s BT11A (on row 2) and Matich. Twelve months later the Matich ‘later sportscar period’ commenced with the Elfin 400 Oldsmobile aka ‘Traco Olds’ (D Williams)

 

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

Lynton Hemer was present at Warwick Farm- Hume Straight on the first weekend Rothmans Team Matich ran the M10A, 6 September 1969.

At team HQ in Castle Cove a Traco built Chevrolet engine using 48IDA Webers was fitted- the Repco Holden F5000 program was to come but it’s still a wee-while away, as we have already covered, the rear engine cover cum wing was fabricated by newbee Derek Kneller who would remain with Matich right to the very end of FM’s racing in mid-1974.

The eagle eyed will pick the Hewland LG600 gearbox is being run at this earliest of stages, the machine being raced outta the box, I dare say the job list after this weekend of racing was one of the lengthy ones for which Frank was famous.

Warwick Farm, September 1969- the white roundel has not yet been applied, the SR4 is aft of the McLaren. Beautifully strong ‘full monocoque’ aluminum chassis is very directly related to Bruce and Robin Herd’s 1968 F1 M7A Ford Cosworth GP winning design- it is an adaption thereof (J Bondini)

That big whoofin’ LG600 was deployed well however, after it was removed from the McLaren it was fitted into the back of the SR4 sportscar FM used to toast the competition during the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship- intended for the 1968 Can-Am both car and engine were hopelessly late so the car remained in Australia instead- the Hewland replaced the ZF transaxle fitted to the SR4, it’s limiting aspect was the degree of difficulty in changing gear ratios, not that the 4.8 litre Repco ‘760’ quad-cam, 32-valve V8 which powered the Sydney built beastie was lacking in torque.

Derek recalls driving, without an Oz drivers licence, the Matich truck to Melbourne together with Tony Williams, a couple of months after his arrival for a meeting at Calder at which both the SR4 and M10A ran- the sportscar was in the truck with the single-seater on a trailer, the next few shots are of that meeting.

(D Kneller)

 

(J Bondini)

Frank at left and Garrie Cooper on the right being interviewed by Ian Wells on that Calder weekend- love to know who the suited gent is on the left?

Derek is leaning on the roll bar, giving the young lass, as we say in polite society, all the attention appropriate, Tony Williams is the other mechanic.

Note that FM is still a Firestone man but his race tyre distribution business was soon to switch to Goodyear to better position himself for the future- that announcement was made just before the Hordern Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm in early December. The race and sporting tyre business was to operate from new premises in Military Road, Cremorne in addition to the existing garage/workshop in Eastern Valley Way, Castle Cove. Note too the McLaren’s wing has changed, more than likely it is a McLaren part and that the engine is still on Webers, not Lucas injection which will be installed before the car crossed the ditch for the first Tasman round at Levin on 3 January 1970.

Oh yes- the car is now two-tone blue, dark at the top an a bit lighter below, the nose of the car has been re-profiled too, it’s not as attractive as the original but doubtless the Heuers proved its on-track superiority.

The element i have not picked up on yet is the ‘pitched battle’ being waged by warring parties about the new Australian National F1 to commence from 1 January 1970.

The choices were to continue with ANF2.5 (highly unlikely) change to 2 litre ‘racing engines’ or go Formula A/5000- this article covers all of these issues- and the design and development of the Repco Holden F5000 engine exhaustively and exhaustingly; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

Matich had a big set of balls in ordering the McLaren when he did as F5000 was not the ANF1 choice at that time- nor was it necessarily the likely outcome when his bank he telegraphically-transferred plenty of ‘Oxford Scholars’ to Trojan Industries- in fact, as the article linked above relates the CAMS announced 2 litre as the future path before doing a back-flip two months later when they then announced a ‘Maccas burger with the lot’ solution of 2 litre/2.5 ‘Tasman’/F5000 with 1970 a ‘phase-in and out period’.

The ever forceful FM played his part in applying pressure to the regulators by backing up his words with actions- to wit, one Formula 5000 racing car in Australia. Note that i have not forgotten Jim Abbott’s Brabham BT23D Oldsmobile ‘F5000 demo car’, a chassis which had been Alec Mildren’s Gold Star winning machine in Kevin Bartlett’s hands, Alfa Romeo 2.5 V8 powered in 1968. Whilst this machine was arguably Australia’s first F5000, lets not forget the Geoff Smedley/Austin Miller Cooper T51 Chev of 1961, without doubt Matich’ was the first ‘real one’ if ‘real one’ is defined as factory bespoke for the class.

My ‘Racing Car News’ collection is incomplete for 1969, but what i think is/was going on in the Calder photos above is that FM did some demo laps during this race meeting (the car is sans number) to demonstrate to the Victorian punters the speed and ‘blood and thunder’ of these big cars.

Ian Wells then ‘interviewed’ drivers Matich and driver/constructor Cooper about their views as to which category they thought was the way to go- as many of you know at that time Elfin had a great, newish race winning design- the 600 which was mighty quick fitted with a Repco Brabham 2.5 V8 or Lotus-Ford twin-cam (or anything else for that matter) so Garrie’s answer to the question is intriguing to ponder!- anybody hear them speak?

(D Kneller)

Amaroo, October 1969, Derek again fettling the demanding temptress.

The rear wing appears the same as that fitted at Calder but the guys are trying to get more front bite- note the very F1 1968’ish chin-wing/winglet and aluminium strips fitted to the leading edge of the front radiator vented outlet- I wonder if that DG300 is fitted yet- she is still on Webers too.

Matich took the car to Sandown on 9 November and easily won a ten lap Formula Libre event from Maurie Quincey’s Elfin 600B Ford F2 car wowing the crowds with the noise and impact of the car and times in the 1:8 second bracket but Frank predicted fours and fives during the Tasman round in the New Year- his estimations proved correct.

(L Hemer)

Roll forward to the Warwick Farm Tasman round over the February 1970 weekend- and who should be back in one of his favourite spots on the approach to Creek Corner but none other than our friend Lynton Hemer.

Note the ABC TV outside broadcast van and marshalls cars in the background- the Peugeot 404 was then a most worthy new car and long before their status as the most worthy ‘Tree-Huggers’ vehicle of choice in the eighties and beyond.

This shot is indicative of ‘300-10’ chassis’ 1970 Tasman mode- note the injected Chev fitted. Kevin Bartlett took a great win that weekend in Alec Mildren’s 2 litre Waggott TC-4V engined Mildren Yellow submarine- the competition for the most ever laps around the Farm would be a toss of the coin between Matich (DNF rear upright), Bartlett and Leo Geoghegan?

Things moved pretty quickly, as ever for Matich from this point.

He and Niel Allen could not race their McLarens in the 1970 Gold Star as F5000s were ineligible that year, the title was for 2 litre and 2.5 litre cars.

Frank already had support from Repco for his SR4 program in terms of provision of a 5 litre for 1970 ‘760’ series engine- John Mepstead built the most powerful of all Repco V8s over the summer of 1969-1970- this ‘big bertha’ gave 558bhp @ 7500rpm in Repco’s Maidstone test-cells.

The SR4 sadly had only a short race life as Matich’ primary Repco program from 1970 was that of works tester/driver of their new Holden-Repco F5000 V8 designed by Phil Irving, assisted by Brian Heard. As part of the reorganisation of priorities Repco acquired the SR4 from Matich, the car became a museum exhibit despite having the pace to win the next several Australian Sportscar Championships!

Frank shipped the M10A to Singapore in March 1970 but slipped off the daunting Thomson Road circuit during a Singapore GP support race, so was unable to contest the GP which was won by Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

A new M10B was soon on its way to Australia, chassis ‘400-10’ was the first of many cars to be fitted with Repco Holden engines. The M10A was repaired around a replacement tub, fitted with a Repco Holden engine then sold and raced by Don O’Sullivan as a second Rothmans Team Matich entry in the 1971 Tasman Series. Don crashed the car badly at Teretonga, twisting the chassis badly, surviving parts were later used in the Jaime Gard designed O’Sullivan financed ‘Gardos Repco’ F5000 car- see here for that story inclusive of photographs not in this piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/30/dons-party-f5000-party/

Matich and M10A Chev in the Thomson Road paddock during the 1970 Singapore GP weekend (E Solomon)

 

Matich and Allen post prang- Niel’s M10B Chev does not look so flash whereas Matich’ car at right looks perfect from this angle at least! Warwick Farm July 1970 (K Matich)

The McLaren M10B arrived in Australia and was soon fitted with its new Repco Holden engine- the story of this motors design and development is told in the first article linked above.

After many practice laps at Warwick Farm the M10B Holden made its race debut at Warwick Farm on the 12 July weekend but the original chassis’ life was very short as it was smote a savage blow in a close encounter with Niel Allen’s similar car in a somewhat bizarre accident during that Australian Touring Car Championship meeting, the race won by Jim McKeown’s Porsche 911S.

The 15 lap F Libre/ racing car event had a great entry including the Mildren duo of Bartlett and Stewart aboard 2 litre Waggott TC-4V powered Mildrens, KB was in sparkling form having raced in USAC events in the US for several months, John Harvey was in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco and Leo Geoghegan in his soon to be 1970 Gold Star winner, Lotus 59B Waggott.

The race commenced with five fantastic laps, Bartlett, Allen, Matich, Harvey and Geoghegan raced nose to tail this was ruined when Bartlett and Garry Rush (Bowin P4A) collided- it was a racing accident but the stupidity of including Formula Fords within a grid of far quicker cars was not lost on the organisers…

So Allen led, after KB was eliminated he but was soon passed by Matich- as Niel made a run at FM into Creek Corner the harmonic balancer on his Peter Molloy Chevy engine broke, shearing a rear brake line, unable to haul the heavy Big Mac up Allen ran into the side of the other M10B creasing the aluminium monocoque badly.

A replacement tub was soon on the way from the UK to ensure not too much time was lost in the important process of developing car and engine prior to the AGP and Tasman Series beyond.

M10A Goodies for sale- the fact that two Chevs are being offered for sale rather suggests that FM had a 1970 Tasman Cup spare motor as one would have expected of a well funded front runner- that being the case why did he not contest Teretonga i wonder?

 

(R Wolfe)

Amaroo Park test of the just rebuilt McLaren M10B fitted with a very early Repco Holden V8.

All hands were on deck this particular day, perhaps before the 13 September 1970 meeting, Ian Messner recalls- Kneller, Peter Mabey walking past the car with that great talent and character Graeme ‘Lugsy’ Adams working on it- Lugs was soon to be a Holden Torana XU1 racer before progressing to the build and driving of his own F5000 ‘Adams’ five or so years hence.

In what racer/journalist and later broadcaster Peter Wherrett described as a ‘Demo Run’ Matich demolished two 1.5 twin-cam engined Rennmax’ raced by Ray Winter and Erol Richardson in a 10 lapper- all important race preparation prior to the AGP at Warwick Farm.

The team travelled to Melbourne in the interim, bolting the latest Repco Holden engine into the car and demolished another F Libre field during the 18 October meeting, on this occasion Bob Jane was second in his McLaren M6B Repco sporty with Ken Hasting’s third in the ex-Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400B, Ford V8 engined i think.

The happy Matich and Repco (blatant bias again hereby declared) ending to this story is that despite not being able to compete in the Gold Star series in 1970 Matich scored a great 22 November AGP win from Niel Allen’s M10B Chev and Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

I’ve now strayed from the M10A intent of this piece, make sure you suss the Gardos link above for more on the M10A- to pick up the McLaren/Matich story to mid-1974 from this point click on this link to an article which covers all of the Matich F5000 years 1969 to 1974; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Matich slices thru the Warwick Farm Esses during his victorious 1970 AGP run- McLaren M10B Repco (R McDonald)

Etcetera…

David Atkinson, Matich M10A Chev ‘Racing Car News’ post Tasman Cup March 1970 cover

 

Trick Goodyear slicks displayed in advance of the 1971 season in this Matich Xmas ad placed in the December 1970 RCN issue

(L Hemer)

After I uploaded the article Lynton got in touch with some more photos of the July 1970 Warwick Farm meeting- the Repco-Holden engine’s race debut and Niel Allen’s involuntary assault on Frank race.

The Esses shot above shows KB leading in the Mildren Yellow Submarine from Allen who has clearly given KB or something or someone else a tap- his right front wing is damaged enough, to make him easier prey to the pursuing Matich. The shot below shoes the two M10Bs- same place with Repco-Holden in front of Peter Molloy-Chev!

(L Hemer)

The shot below is a bit more poignant- it’s Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco 2.5 from a very smokey Glynn Scott, Elfin 600B Waggott TC-4V, the popular Queenslander is not too far from a pit stop or a DNF- sadly he died a fortnight later at Lakeside, 26 July 1970.

(L Hemer)

The photograph below shows one of the Bowin P4A Formula Fords- not sure if it is Garry Rush, staying wide in The Esses as the big boys come through. Max Stewart is ahead of Frank Matich- 2 litre Mildren Waggott and M10B Repco-Holden.

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

This Esses joust is between two new cars- John Harvey’s Bob Britton/Rennmax built, Bob Jane owned Jane Repco V8 and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott TC-4V 2 litre.

Credits…

Bill Pottinger Collection, Euan Sarginson, Getty Images, Lynton Hemer, Derek Kneller, Jay Bondini, Dennis Williams, Rodway Wolfe, Kim Matich, Eli Solomon, Rory McDonald Collection, oldracingcars.com, Racing Car News

Tailpiece…

(J Bondini Collection)

Matich and the M10A Chev on the 1970 Warwick Farm, Tasman Cup meeting promotional poster.

Finito…

 

(unattributed)

Stunning shot of a group of cars charging down Conrod Straight at Mount Panorama during Bathurst’s race in October 1939…

John Snow leads in his Delahaye 135CS from the John Crouch, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 and Bob Appleton in the MacKellar Ford V8 Spl- Snow won the race from Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl and Bob Lea Wright.

There would be one more pre-war Bathurst meeting during the Easter of 1940 until the lights went out until 1946, that pre-war race was won by Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza from the Snow Delahaye and Charlie Whatmore’s Ford V8 Spl.

(L Hemer)

Let’s just jump four decades from the erotic pre-war Delahaye’s curves to the hard but seventies edgy-wedgy Lola T300 Chev F5000 of Bob Muir

Lynton Hemer has captured one of my favourite cars on the run down Hume Straight towards Creek Corner at Warwick Farm. As he notes, ‘he raced T300 ‘HU4′ in four L&M Series races in the US in 1972, here he is during wet practice for the 1972 Tasman race at Warwick Farm.’

My ode to the seminal defining ‘smaller F5000’ and ‘underpinner’ of Lola profits for the better part of a decade is here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/ oh, yes, and ode to Bob here; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/09/bob-muir/

 

(T Johns)

Derek Jolly, Austin 7 Special, Templetowe 1953

Tony Johns’ notes record that the photo above was taken at the Fifth Templestowe Hillclimb on 9 March 1953. The results and report in the March Australian Motor Sports record Derek with a time of 70.6 seconds in second place to Otto Stone driving Stan Jones MG Q type to 67.41 seconds, a new class record.

The shot below shows it in later form with the bodywork removed and it was then a sprint chassis, to save weight the radiator was mounted up above the gearbox- also a two piece alloy head and hydraulic brakes are fitted.

‘I ended up owning the very close ratio gearbox from the Jolly Austin and it is still in my first racing car which is now owned by peter Mathews. When Peter Holinger built our special four speeds in a three speed gearbox for the 1981 (UK) Raid cars we used the very same ratios. Max Foster was the last owner of the Jolly Austin before it was sold to the UK.’

Click here for a feature on Derek Jolly and the various cars he built and raced; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

(T Johns)

 

Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss swap notes during their abortive 1976 Bathurst assault 

‘In 1976 the Formula One world champion again made his way to Bathurst (having won there most recently in 1960- and during Easter 1969) with English legend Stirling Moss, whipping the sleeping country town and international press into a frenzy’ wrote the Western Advocate’ of the great duo’s assault on The Great Race.

‘Most of you will recall their Holden Torana SLR5000/L34 Torana V8 being hit up the clacker on the start line (from Q10) when Jack had a jammed gearbox- Brabham was so busy trying to find a gear his arm was not out the window, not that that would necessarily have saved the day…They eventually got underway to keep faith the fans and commercial supporters but the engine cried enough with Moss at the wheel after they had completed only 37 laps. The deserving Bob Morris partnered by John Fitzpatrick won in another L34- wasn’t Ron Hodgson a wonderful long time supporter of motor racing in general and Morris in particular.

Team matching tops (up above) but different ‘sponsors’ for Jack and Stirling above, the big tall lanky blonde at right rear is longtime much respected ‘The Australian’ motoring writer Mike Kable.

(Brabham Family)

 

The shot above is of Jack doing some pre-race practice and press footage at Oran Park, any idea of the date folks?

 

(TR0003)

Lovely colour photograph of a group of cars at Mount Druitt, perhaps Jack Carter in the lead coming out Tyresoles Corner

This one dates back to a ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ post in May 2017- so can we crack the nut- who is it, what car and what date are the questions folks. See this piece on Mount Druitt here; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/01/mount-druitt-1955-brabham-gardner-and-others/

 

(unattributed)

Little known circuits department

A Jaguar XK150 (?) and Allard (?) at Wangaratta Airfield in the mid-fifties- drivers and a date anyone?

More often than not I’ve stayed in Wangaratta when I have raced at Winton, I’ve been there many times over the years but didn’t realise Wang Airfield was a shortlived race venue until tripping over the photograph above by accident.

 

(T Stevens)

A rather famous Australian racing car- the ex-JAS Jones/Ted Gray Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato

Or 8C really, fitted as it was with a flathead Ford V8 engine by previous owner Ted Gray.

The shot is of Ian Virgo ahead of Tom Stevens MG during the period when Rob Jervies owned the Alfa, which makes it circa , oh Port Wakefield, South Australia by the way.

Click here for a detailed feature on this car; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/15/mrs-jas-jones-alfa-6c-1750-ss-zagato/

and here for stories about a car with an amazing continuous racing history since its birth; https://primotipo.com/2020/05/04/ted-gray-alfa-romeo-ford-v8-wangaratta-to-melbourne-record/

 

(Denis Lupton)

Into the Templestowe shadows…

‘My beautiful picture’ as Denis Lupton wrote, as indeed it is- Walton-Cooper JAP.

The mighty shirt-sleeved Bruce Walton at Melbourne’s Templestowe Hillclimb in the late fifties- there is a bit about the multiple Australian Hillclimb Championship here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/28/hamiltons-porsche-550-spyder/

And a club ‘Gunter-Wagen’ at the same venue below- these wonderful ‘PBR Brake-Drum components’ which formed the startline were eventually moved from Templestowe just up the road 15km or so to the Christmas Hills matching the sad occasion of the final demise of Templestowe with the happy occasion of the reopening of Rob Roy.

(unattributed)

 

(Peter Weaver Motorports Photography)

Aussies Abroad

Bruce Allison’s mighty Chevron B37 Chev F5000 ahead of Brian McGuire’s McGuire BM1 Ford aka Williams FW04 Ford F1 car at Brands Hatch during the 26 June 1977 Shellsport International season.

Bruce had a fantastic season, his performances resulted in him being awarded the top Grovewood Award at the seasons end although he didn’t have a great weekend at Brands- his pole position was followed by a loose wheel-nut induced DNF come raceday.

Poor Brian, close friend of Alan Jones- they made money together buying and selling camper-vans and running F3 cars together, died at the wheel of this car at Brands during the 29 August weekend having fallen short in qualifying for the British GP at Silverstone in July.

 

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

Ooopsie bigtime

Wayne Negus/Bob Forbes Holden Torana SLR5000 L34 resting neatly in one of Sandown Parks dams on the evening after the September 1975 Sandown 250 Manchamps enduro.

Ron Simmonds recalls ‘I was first on the scene, Wayne was in the dam soaking wet. When the Torana went through the railing it opened up like a piece of tin, he hit it so hard, arriving at the corner with no brakes, the Toranas were having trouble with their brakes at this meeting. It made page 2 in The Age the next day, with photos and the story’. Negus jumped into the water to wash off battery acid he thought had spilled on him.

The mishap occurred on lap 69 of the 130 lap race won by Peter Brock in a Holden Dealer L34- the first seven cars were L34s!

 

(P D’Abbs)

Formula Ford grid butt-shot at Sandown in 1977

The shot is interesting and different in its own right but is chosen to show the drivers eye view Wayne Negus had as he charged towards Torana Corner in third (of four) gear in his high powered but brakeless and rather weighty L34 Holden.

Peters or Torana corner has never changed, but of course the approach now is slower and therefore safer.

I well recall Formula Ford racer Stephen Finn, who I knew a bit, ploughing his just rebuilt and updated by Garrie Cooper Elfin 620B Formula Ford into the fence there and badly breaking both his legs in a career ending prang- the cause was a big hole in the bottom of his right foot racing boot- which became stuck on the slender throttle at a most critical moment.

Worse was much loved and respected Melbourne Alfista Bob Gardiner’s fatal accident when the brakes of his Alfa Romeo 1600GTV failed in, I think the early eighties. For some years the MSCA promoted Victorian State Round was named the Bob Gardiner Memorial meeting in his honour.

Simple corner in some ways but it required respect given the lack of runoff.

 

(unattributed)

Brabham’s Phillip Island win, 1960, Cooper T51 Climax.

Look at the narrow track and modest ‘Control Tower’, reading Phil Irving’s autobiography at the moment reinforced just how much a hands-on club-member maintained circuit the Island was- Phillip Island Auto Racing Club the club of course.

Jack’s weekend is covered in this short piece; https://primotipo.com/2018/08/12/jacks-donut/

(B Simpson)

Brian Simpson’s shot captures Jack on the same day, the Cooper has just exited MG and is on the short rise, and short shift into third before the succeeding left hander.

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

Lovely shot taken in 1976 showing the circuit as it then was and still is albeit Repco/Honda is a tad shorter than now.

 

(unattributed)

‘No worries, a turret and a ‘couple of spot’ around the body and she’ll be jake matey’…

Was probably the response Gold Star winner Len Lukey got from his panel beater after this high speed Ford Customline rollover at Phillip Island in late 1957- a lucky escape, I wonder if he goofed or something broke? It is a one photograph justification for the need for roll bars, mind you it was still some wee-while until they were mandated.

I’ve written about Len at length before, here; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/26/len-lukey-australian-gold-star-champion/

Many of you know he was the Knight In Shining Armour who bought the track in its hour of need. He simultaneously farmed there and allowed PIARC to continue racing saving one of Australia’s best ever race tracks in the process.

 

(R&S Abrahall)

 

(R&S Abrahall)

 

(R&S Abrahall)

Love this sequence of shots of Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Climax sans wheel on Hume Straight towards the Creek Corner braking area

Its the first official practice session for the February 1967 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round, it was the first time the great Sydneysider had this errant wheel problem with this Lotus but it wasn’t the last, he lost a wheel in practice at Longford a couple of years later.

Leo had a great weekend though, no harm was done to the car, he qualified fourth and finished fifth- first resident Australian home in the race won by Jackie Stewart in a BRM P261 from Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax V8 and Gardner’s Brabham BT16 Climax FPF.

 

Catalina Park, at Katoomba in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains June 1961

How close was Catalina to downtown Katoomba!?

#111 is John Martin’s Lotus 11 BMC, Austin Healey of Messrs Holland or Miller, Buchanan MG, G Dummer, MG TC of Lance Hill and to the far right the Swallow Doretti of Lorraine Hill- competitor IDs thanks to Bob Williamson and Chris Cole.

 

Two other Catalina pit scenes, happy to take advice on whom is whom and what is what in the one immediately above whilst the one above shows a very youthful Norm Beechey sits atop the bonnet of his Humpy Holden- date folks?

 

(autopics.com.au)

Geoff Brabham, Elfin 620 Formula Ford at Warwick Farm in 1973

I recall him testing the Jack Brabham Ford Bowin P4X FF before very successfully racing John Leffler’s 1973 Driver To Europe winning Bowin P6F in the 1974 TAA Australian FF ‘Driver to Europe Series’ but I don’t recall his stint in the Elfin at all.

Which chassis and how’d he do folks? This series of cars-620 and 620B were successful little jiggers winning lots of races and two Australian Formula Ford Championships (Driver to Europe Series) for Terry Perkins in 1973 and Geoff Summers in 1982, way after the 620Bs build date mind you, it was a mighty fine effort for a driver who got quicker as he got older and he was no youth when he started in FF!

This piece is not a bad summary of Geoff’s career; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/31/geoff-and-jack-brabham-monza-1966/

 

(T McGrath)

Parramatta Park action, I wonder it it all ended in tears, what year folks!?

It’s Bill MacLachlan in the MacKellar Bugatti Ford V8 from the ex-Saywell Alfa Romeo P3 Alvis driven by Bill Murray rounding Rotunda Hairpin-see here for Parramatta Park; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/27/parramatta-park-circuit/

Me mate Bob King’s book tells me the MacKellar started life as an ex-Bill Thompson Bugatti T37A, the equally aristocratic ex- Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 was restored and sadly left our shores forever ago- when i get home i will cycle back and pop in some chassis numbers, no access to books right now.

 

(D Williams)

Sir Gawaine Baillie, Ford Galaxie, Warwick Farm pitlane in early 1965

Dennis Williams related that ‘He used to stay in a hotel opposite the Warwick Farm circuit. After the meeting he drove onto the Hume Highway with the car in race trim. He got busted by the cops for being unregistered and uninsured.’

Naughty British nobleman. Racing these things really would have been like trying to race yer lounge-room, they are such large lumps of real estate in relative and absolute terms.

There is a connection between this big lump and the L34 Torana which ended up in one of Sandown’s dams ten or so shots ago.

The Galaxie first came to Australia in 1964 to contest the first Sandown enduro, the 1964 Six Hour at the behest of Lex Davison who organised the entry and financial aspects and co-drovethe car with Baillie.

During the race Lex, having run at the front and smitten the armco one almighty but non-fatal blow with the Galaxie’s more than ample hind-quarters already, had brake failure and he punched a big hole in Sandown’s Peters orner armco although he didn’t ‘dive as deep’ as Wayne Negus- no scuba gear was required although Lex, very much a gentleman of the old school, uttered the lines which have become immortal ‘The big bitch tried to kill me’.

(G Edney)

The big Ford was repaired and then raced by Baillie (and John Raeburn later) in the 1965 Australian Tasman rounds touring car support races, doubtless he was sorry he made that trip given the Ecurie Australie deaths of Davo and Rocky Tresise in successive weekends at Sandown and Longford.

I’ve a feature on the Australian Galaxies, i must do the final 5% and pop it up.

 

Didn’t David Mckay create the dream and live it!

Look at all them SV cars- Cooper T51, Lola Mk1 and 2, Ferrari 250GT, Fiat 1800 not to forget he Morgan, Ford Zephyr or Consul and the Rice Trailer which these days is probably worth more than one or two of the cars- gotta be 1961 or 1962 on Warwick Farm’s Pit Straight.

See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/12/bert-and-davids-lola-mk1-climax/ and maybe here too; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

 

(B Thomas)

Lionel Ayers in his MRC Lotus 23 Ford from Frank Demuth (or John Harvey in Frank’s car) Lotus 23 Ford at Lakeside in July 1966

Lionel was another ‘racer to the core’ who competed all of his life and then did us all a favour before he died by restoring, beautifully the ex-Mildren Racing/Gardner/Bartlett Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott.

I only ever saw him race his big, lovely Rennmax Repco sportscar, which after thirty years in hibernation has just been acquired by Bruce Ayers- in time it will be a marvellous addition to the historic ranks, click here; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/21/sportscar-stalwarts/

 

(G Bull)

Ash Marshall launches Chrysler powered ‘The Vandal’ off the line at Castlereagh in April 1966

He did a 166 mph pass during the day- 12,000 people attended the meeting during which American racer Bobby Mayer achieved 187.88 mph.

I did a piece on Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type a short time back which had a bit in it about Ash, who at one time owned the D Type amongst the many cars he owned or traded- see here; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

 

Whilst Jim Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax initially caught my eye in this ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ cover- he won the February 1966 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round the day before

My personal flashback was being a school kid, 9 years of age at the time and remembering the advertising jingle for the change of Australian currency from pounds, shillings and pence to dollars and cents- those of a certain age will remember this, it was such a big deal at the time, here is the jingle i remember! https://youtu.be/5ZTeWLA1LAs

More interestingly, here is the Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

 

(Nissan)

Sticking with the mid-sixties for a bit, the local motor industry change in process was the rise and rise of Japanese cars in our local market.

Machines like the Mazda 1500, Datsun 1600 and Toyota Corolla were revelations compared with their equivalents made here or in The Old Dart.

These two photographs show the class winning Datsun 1300 at Bathurst in 1966- the car was driven by Moto Kitano and Kunimitsu Takahashi, a la further back was the Australian duo of John Roxburgh and Doug Whiteford. The cars were 22nd and 23rd outright but first and second in Class A, up front nine! Morris Cooper S’ led the field, Rauno Aaltonen and Bob Holden the victors.

The rise and rise of the Japanese Motor Industry was well underway, that is tangentially covered in this piece on the Nissan R380 sports-racer; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/08/prince-datsun-make-that-nissan-r380/

(Nissan)

 

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

Despite the modern cars the photograph has a delightful period feel given the lack of signage and bucolic backdrop given by the trees- Phillip Island, September 2015

Peter Weaver’s artistry.

He commented that ‘Tim Macrow rejoined the Formula 3 field with another guest appearance and showed his class with three apparently easy wins despite driving an older car (Dallara F307 Mercedes Benz). Here he leads championship contenders Jon Collins, Dallara F311 Mercedes Benz and Ricky Capo, Dallara F311 Mugen-Honda early in Sunday morning’s race’ on the rise out of MG into the succeeding left-hander.

The championship was won that year by Collins, only a point clear of Capo after seven rounds and then Trent Shirvington  well back in third aboard a Mygale M11 Mercedes Benz.

 

(B Errington)

Nui Dat Go-Kart Grand Prix, Vietnam, 21 August 1968

Not a race any of you are likely to have heard of unless your ‘number came up’ and you were an Australian Army Vietnam War conscript!

I got a chuckle out of seeing these photographs of young fellas a decade older than me then who were (mainly) forced into an involvement in a war we never should have been a part of- as usual if our American buddies think its a good idea we blindly follow. There is nothing an Australian Prime Minister loves more than to be a ‘Wartime PM’, so many photo ops with battle fatigues on and nice fast planes etc…

Anyway.

No doubt this was one of many activities to take the minds of the troops off the perils in the jungle, that’s Sapper Brian McMahon from Newcastle sitting aboard the 21st Engineer Support Troop’s kart- no technical specifications  of the karts ‘made from spare parts and salvaged military equipment’ to hand sadly!

Credits…

Tony Johns Collection, Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography, Peter D’Abbs, Denis Lupton, Tom Stevens Collection via Tony Parkinson, Robyn & Steve Abrahall, Viv Ireland, Brian Simpson, autopics.com.au, Terry McGrath, Dennis Williams, Brier Thomas, Geoff Bull, Nissan, Bill Errington, Sydney Morning Herald

Tailpiece…

Don Fraser’s Vincent Special about to be addressed by its crew in time honoured practical fashion…

Mallala, date folks?

Finito…

(C Watt)

Captain Arthur Waite raced his supercharged Austin 7 to victory in the 1928 Australian Grand Prix on Victoria’s Phillip Island…

Here ‘The Skipper’ as his boys in the UK called him, on the far side of the car, and his Australian mechanic, Guy Barringer are preparing the racer behind the Isle of Wight Hotel in Cowes during the race weekend, 31 March 1928.

Billed at the time by the promoter, Victoria’s ‘Light Car Club’ as the ‘100 Miles Road Race’, ‘The First In Australia’ the event was run on a dirt-circuit laid out on the Islands roads, it later became recognised as the first Australian Grand Prix- the Victorian Light Car Club named subsequent events held at ‘Island from 1929-1935 as ‘The Australian Grand Prix’.

In more recent times the first AGP has been acknowledged by many as that held on 15 January 1927. It was a knockout speedway event held at the Goulburn, New South Wales horse racing track. The cars didn’t race ‘en masse’ but rather six competitors ran, two at a time in three heats, knockout fashion over 4 laps of a 1 mile and a bit oval track with the final  decided by the fastest two competitors from the heats facing off over 6 laps- Geoff Meredith was the winner in his Bugatti T30. The circumstances around the discovery and recognition of the First Australian Grand Prix are briefly ventilated in this article; https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

The 1928 ‘Island event was a road race held on a 6.5 mile dirt, rectangular course for cars of less than 2 litres spread across four engine capacity based classes- in two races, each race having two of the classes in it of 100 miles distance.

Twenty six ‘light car’ competitors entered with thirteen classified as finishers. The winner was the fastest overall- as in the competitor with the quickest race time from the two events of 100 miles, Captain Arthur Waite in his ‘works’ Austin 7 s/c won from JO McCutcheon aboard a Morris Cowley and CR Dickason in an Austin 12.

Phillip Island 1928: Les Jennings, Morris Cowley at rear with the Morrie Shmith Fiat 509 in front. The Fiat was a special works racing version of the 509 fitted with a very attractive body, the mechanics seat was set back from the driver us was the case with Fiat’s GP cars of the period. The car was not an exceptional performer ‘limited by poorly chosen gear ratios’ Blanden wrote (C Watt)

 

Phillip Island 1928. Competitors prepare their cars in the garage area of the Isle of Wight Hotel- winner Arthur Waite’s Austin 7 is the machine ‘top right’ (C Watt)

Historic European Context…

It is timely to look at motorsport in Australia in the context of what was happening globally at the time.

Motor racing commenced in France, the first ‘motoring contest’ took place on July 22, 1894, organised by a Paris newspaper, the Paris-Rouen Rally was 126 km from Paris to Rouen.

Count Jules Albert de Dion was first into Rouen after 6 hours 48 minutes, an average speed of 19 km/h (12 mph). The official winners were Peugeot and Panhard as cars were judged on their speed, handling and safety characteristics- De Dion’s steam car needed a stoker which the judges deemed to be outside their objectives…

And so commenced a period of racing unregulated cars on open roads between cities, this evolved after many deaths, from racing on open to closed road circuits.  During the Paris-Madrid road race of 1903 a number of people, both drivers and pedestrians – including Marcel Renault were killed, as a result the race was stopped by French authorities at Bordeaux- further road based events were banned.

In the US the Gordon Bennett Races for the ‘Gordon Bennett Cup’ funded by American newspaper magnate James Gordon Bennett in commenced in 1900. Its formula was based around similar vehicles competing on closed roads but representation was limited to three teams per country, this disadvantaged France as the largest European motor manufacturer at the time.

When the French proposal to change representation in the 1905 Gordon Bennett failed they used the chance to host the 1906 event, a privilege to the previous years winner, to hold the alternative ‘Grand Prix de l’ACF’. The French Grand Prix was held on 26 June 1906 over a 103 Km roughly triangular road circuit near Sarthe, the winner of the 1238 Km, event, held over 6 laps of the 103 Km course on two days was Hungarian Ferenc Szisz in a Renault.

In the US, William Vanderbilt launched the Vanderbilt Cup at Long Island, New York in 1904.

Races at the time were heavily nationalistic, with a few countries setting up races of their own, but there was no formal championship tying them together. Rules varied from country to country and race to race, and typically centred on maximum (not minimum) weights in an effort to limit power by limiting engine size indirectly. 10–15 litre engines were common, usually with no more than four cylinders and producing less than 50 hp. The cars all had mechanics onboard as well as the driver and no one was allowed to work on the cars during the race except this pair.

In 1904 many national motor clubs combined to form the AIACR ‘Association Interntionale des Automobiles Clubs Reconnus’ to regulate racing, amongst other things.

The American Grand Prix , ‘American Grand Prize’ was first held on a public road course at Savannah, Georgia in 1908. Italy’s first Grand Prix was held on a road course at Brescia in 1921. The first Spanish Grand Prix on 1913 on a road circuit near Madrid, majestic Spa-Francorchamps hosted the first Belgian GP in 1925. Road racing was banned in the UK but the ‘Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix’ was held on the combined Brooklands road/banked circuit in 1926. Some of these events aren’t all continuous mind you, nor were they originally called ‘Grand Prix’ in some cases but you get the drift.

Clearly it is not a big deal to call the 1928 Phillip Island ‘100 Miles Road Race’ the AGP given the first American and British Grand’s Prix weren’t strictly called ‘American or British Grand Prix’ either.

By 1927 and 1928 the period of the AGP i am writing about the essence of International GP rules was as follows;

1927; 1.5 litres supercharged capacity, cars had a minimum weight of 700 Kg, two seater bodies were mandated or monopostos allowed as long as the cockpit was a minimum of 80 cm wide. The events themselves were a minimum of 600 Km in length.

1928; No engine capacity restrictions but a minimum weight of 550 and a maximum of 750 Kg, minimum race distance still 600 Km. This 750 Kg Formula gave birth to the phenomenal ‘Silver’ Arrows’ of the pre-war period of course.

The relevance of these rules in far away Australia with its nascent motor industry, small national ‘car park’ and tiny number of competitors was moot, irrelevant in fact, arguably it was not until the 1955 South Pacific Trophy meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales that we had our first ‘truly International race’, run as it was to Formula Libre.

Phillip Island 1929. Happy chappy, the John Goodall owned Aston Martin- driven by Ed Huon with Bob Horne as mechanic carried #18 in 1928. One of Lionel Martin’s 1923 products with 1.5 litre side-valve Coventry Simplex engine, 4 speed gearbox and big 4 wheel brakes- very expensive but never particularly fast’ wrote John Blanden (C Watt)

Historic Australian Context…

None of our events at the time resembled those in Europe, we had no specialist motorsport governing body- the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (very recently re-named Motorsport Australia) was formed in the mid-fifties. Racing decisions prior to the CAMS existence were made by the Competitions Committee of the Australian Automobile Association, an organisation of each states automobile peak body or club, each of which were naturally primarily concerned with everyday motoring/motorists needs.

The level of car ownership in Australia was low, the number of ‘racing cars’ small and so it naturally followed that our events suited our needs, inclusive of our premier race.

Graham Howard observes in ‘The Fifty Year History of the Australian Grand Prix ‘that intercity records-amazing feats, and of dubious legality as well-were the most consistent form of competitive motoring in Australia until the late 1920s, and produced our first household name drivers and some of our first marque rivalries’.

At 100 miles the 1928 Phillip Island event is ‘pissant’ compared to contemporary European GPs of 600 Km. A 6 mile, 6 lap AGP held on a short oval track between two competitors is outrageous but comparisons cannot really be fairly made with events in Europe and the US at the time.

Jack Day, Bugatti T37 on the start-finish straight. His late race charge was one of the events highlights (B King Collection)

The 1928 100 Miles Road Race aka 1928 Australian Grand Prix, Phillip Island, Victoria…

The difficulties of holding a road race in Australia at the time were great, in most states road races were illegal including Victoria- under the provisions of the ‘Highways and Vehicles Act’ racing on other than enclosed circuits, which at the time consisted only of speedways, was illegal.

The local council, the ‘Phillip Island and Woolamai Shire’ voted to sever the Island’s government from Victoria’s in 1927 thus making racing on the Island a possibility. After a hard fought campaign the ‘Shire of Phillip Island ‘ was created in 1928, the creation of ‘The Peoples Republic of Phillip Island’ really does give me a chuckle, why don’t we secede?- sounds like the sand-gropers (West Australians) today.

A delegation was despatched by the Victorian Motor Cycle Union in Melbourne to Cowes, the Islands ‘capital’ with a view to running ‘bike events.

It was quite a trip in those days involving a drive from Melbourne and sea ferry from Stony Point to Cowes, the bridge allowing road traffic from San Remo on the mainland to Newhaven on the Island wasn’t opened until 1940. The Motor Cycle Union were later joined by a group from the Light Car Club of Victoria, proposing racing events on the island in March 1928.

Ex Sydney Harbour ferry SS Killara between Stony Point and Cowes circa 1931- it moved 7,000 people in a day during a 1937 race meeting (unattributed)

 

Spectators cars left at Sony Point for the trip on the ferry from the mainland to Phillip Island during the 1928 race meeting weekend (C Watt)

 

Crowds at Cowes Pier, date unknown (Valentine)

The Phillip Island Shire saw the economic benefits racing would bring to their small rural community so they voted in support of defying the existing Victorian state law and announced a 100 Mile Race for cars to be held on March 26 1928.

Amongst the delegation included Jack Day (and his T37 Bugatti) Bill Scott, and LCCA president and later 1929 AGP winner, Arthur Terdich. After several ‘reccies’, the group retired to the Isle of Wight Hotel which is still keeping competitors refreshed nearly a century later to discuss the event, which seemed impossible given the time available for its preparation given the state of the roads and other logistics.

Jim Scaysbrook in a MotorSport article wrote that ‘Scott suggested the names for the corners; he said that the luncheon gathering reminded him of ‘Young and Jackson’s’, the famous pub opposite Flinders Street Railway Station in Melbourne. ‘Gentle Ann’ was named after a country maid of British folklore, the following narrow cutting christened ‘Needle’s Eye’- ‘Devil’s Slide’ was likened to falling into ‘Hell’, which then became the name for the third corner. Scott admitted to heaving a huge sigh of relief at negotiating the narrow bridge halfway along the next straight, so this became the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ and the final bend, reminding him of peace after torment, became ‘Heaven Corner’.

Terdich’s Bugatti T40 enroute to Phillip Island 1928. The car was a standard T40 fitted with a pointed tail 4-seater body built by the Terdich Bros bodyworks (The Bugatti Trust)

 

Dick and Roy Anderson in Rolvoy at San Remo circa 1930, Couta boats (Edgar Family)

 

(C Watt)

Scott measured the circuit, borrowing a horse and cart. He nailed a strip of rubber to the inside of the wheel and counted the number of times it flicked his boot, multiplying this by the wheel circumference produced the figure of 6.569 miles per lap.

The circuit itself presented a real challenge in that the road was very narrow with a high crown and was extremely dusty- whilst the surface was partially consolidated by blue metal rolled into the gravel it was entirely unsealed.

An inspection of the circuit by 130 Light Car Club members on 4 March revealed a surface in very poor repair. The LCC Committee therefore advised the local council that Commonwealth Oil Refinery and Castrol would provide 5,000 gallons of sump oil to be spread over the track to reduce dust levels. This work was overseen by the COR’s Charlie Watt who found the time to take some of the wonderful photographs spread throughout this article.

Whilst the feature event in 1928 was ‘The 100 Miles Road Race’, when it was discovered that the rights to stage the ‘Australian Grand Prix’, held at Goulburn in 1927, had not been taken up for 1929 the LCC began to apply the AGP term to Phillip Island.

The event was very much an adventure for competitors almost none of whom had road racing experience- their ‘racing’ was variously trials, hillclimbs and in some cases speedway.

Entries closed on 24 February- thirty were received with twenty-six accepted which in the end converted to seventeen starters due to accidents and mechanical mayhem- thirteen cars were manufactured in the UK, eight in France, two in Germany with one apiece from Belgium and Italy.

‘With the exception of one or two entries, the field comprised either standard touring or sports chassis stripped of road equipment and in some instances fitted with narrower and more efficient bodywork…not many modifications were indulged in, other than careful assembly and the polishing of heads and ports and in some instances a slight increase in compression, the use of stronger or double valve springs and the employment of a larger or outside exhaust system’ wrote John Blanden.

Let’s not forget at the time ‘top whack’ of a garden variety Ford, Morris or Citroen was 50-55mph together with a few ‘Hail Marys’ whilst clutching yer St Christopher medallion from father at the wheel.

Plenty of newspaper interest was generated in the ‘big smoke’ (Melbourne) in the lead up to the event with police from later in March turning a blind eye to stripped cars devoid of silencers blasting along the narrow, relatively deserted roads of Melbourne-Frankston-Hastings.

Racing was totally different to today when even production cars are trailered to events. There were no trucks or trailers to take the racers to the meeting, the racing cars were driven by their owners or drivers with spares, consumables and tools loaded into the car- or what wifey, friend or sponsor could carry in a separate vehicle which was then driven to Stony Point and loaded onto the Westernport Shipping Company ferry for the short trip across Westernport.

postponement

‘The Melbourne Argus’ Monday 26 March 1928

 

Shell lap board near the start-finish line, just feel the relaxed vibe- wonderful shot (C Watt)

 

Four scallywags up to no good- Farmer Brown’s post not too far from the circuit (B King Collection)

 

(C Watt)

Phillip Island was then a sleepy rural and fishing hamlet with a nascent tourism industry, accommodation was provided by two hotels- The Isle of Wight and Phillip Island Hotel and a swag a boarding houses which filled up very quickly with the influx of thousands of people the likes of which the Island had never experienced before.

Charlie Watt took many photographs at a hotel which appear to be The Isle of Wight, it burned own the 1925 and was rebuilt in the ‘Tudor’ style one can see in many of the shots- my guess is that the garage shots are at the same establishment- the Phillip Island Hotel appears far more modest in comparison.

The challenges of communication back then were so different to today- the local populace knew when the event was taking place via newspapers but the timing of practice was a different thing without a local radio station even if the punters possessed a ‘wireless’ in any event.

It was hoped that word of mouth and notices on public buildings and shops would do the trick but the possibility of wandering sheep or cattle or Farmer Brown aboard his horse-drawn rig ‘on track’ was not beyond the realms of possibility- a job for the solitary local police constable whose number was bolstered by another couple of souls when police HQ in Russell Street realised the scale of the public event being staged in the Peoples Republic of Phillip Island a couple of hours away from Melbourne.

All was set for first practice on Wednesday 21 March, the first casualty was the SC Cox Bugatti T39 which crashed on the home turn onto the straight- Waite lapped at 57 mph ‘his Austin seemingly on rails’. Official practice took place on the Saturday with Cox’ repaired Bug providing more excitement when it shed a tyre at 90 mph and ‘made a sensational skid at the Bridge of Sighs’. Jack Day did 61 mph in his Bugatti T37. Ed Hussey and Phyllis Passmore’s Frazer Nash took off over a hill, as an escape road after brake failure on the approach to Young and Jacksons- the rear axle had moved forward its springs making the cable operated brakes inoperative…

Bill Williamson, Riley 9, twelfth in the Class B/D race after transmission dramas and pit repairs before rejoining the contest (B King Collection)

Bill Williamson’s Riley found a road roller working on the two-mile stretch, skidded and overturned chucking the driver and his passenger out fortunately without injury- the car landed upside down in the bush with radiator, scuttle, tail and steering wheel smashed- by Monday she was ready again to ‘rock and roll’ and looking good as the photograph above shows.

Edward Huon aboard John Goodall’s Aston Martin added to the excitement after shedding a wheel- he too rolled but again the pilot and mechanic, Bob Horne were ok. WH ‘Bill’ Lowe, later importer of Ferrari and Lancia into Australia broke a wheel of his Metallurgique at Heaven Corner whilst Wagner skidded at the same spot after a tyre burst on his Wanderer.

‘Finally Maurice Shmith’s narrow, scarlet Fiat tried to take Young and Jacksons corner too fast, jumped a gutter and plunged through a hedge and a wire fence surrounding a house on the corner. The car was almost immediately shot back onto the roadway by the catapulting effect of the wire fence, fortunately without too much damage to the car and with the passengers only stunned by the suddenness of it all’ John Blanden wrote.

No times from practice are available but doubtless by the end of practice the crews were well aware of the challenges of this simple in some ways, but dangerous and demanding road course.

Unseasonally, the weather gods turned on the Sunday night- raceday was Monday 26 March- the heavens opened completely swamping the course- given the lack of the TV, internet, iPhones, Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram the Light Car Club decided to hold some flying half mile sprints on the highest, driest straight between Heaven and Young and Jacksons to entertain the crowd who poured in from the mainland on the SS Alvina and Killara. Jack Day’s Bugatti was timed at 84 mph which was the quickest, later in the day the sandy soil dried sufficiently to run and some 3 lap races were organised with Cox scoring a win.

The first weekend really was wet on raceday- Arthur Terdich and Bugatti T40 is amongst all of that water (B King Collection)

 

Les Jennings, Morris Cowley. ‘A specially tuned and bodied version…his car’s beautifully turned out…and intelligently driven’ wrote Blanden. He worked for Lanes Motors, Morris Distributors till the very end of the marque and therefore had access to the workshop facilities and technical knowledge of the company (unattributed)

 

agp

‘The Australasian’ 7 April 1928 photomontage of the 1928 AGP. Stan King’s Austin 7- not Waite as described at top left three wheeling, Terdich’s Bugatti T40 centre, #25 Dickason’s Austin 12 and bottom right Williamson’s Riley

 

Barney Dentry, Senechal, winner of Class B and race 1. The Senechal was thought to be the quickest car in its class being exceptionally light and very well prepared by its racer/tuner driver (C Watt)

 

Barney and Bess Dentry pit stop- same Senechal but 1929 when the husband and wife combo were sixth (B King Collection)

 

Jack Day, Bugatti T37, Bill Terdich DFP and at right Bill Williamson, Riley Nine (B King Collection)

When the field finally assembled on March 31, 1928, the event didn’t attract the number of spectators who attended on The Eight Hours Day long weekend.

‘Nevertheless, the attendance was regarded as highly satisfactory and the racing, although never close enough to be exciting or fast enough to be really thrilling, attracted so much interest that it is likely that the club will make the race an annual event. It is claimed to be the first 100 mile motor race in Australia, ‘The Argus’ newspaper reported .

Of the 26 cars entered 17 started- the Class A capacity limit was 750cc, Class B to 1100cc, Class C to 1500cc and Class D to 2 litres- competitors had to race on Australian made tyres.

Fancied combinations included Ed H Cooper’s Frazer Nash which burst into flames whilst parked in the main street of Cowes and was utterly destroyed despite attempts to extinguish the blaze. The three Bugattis of Jack Day (Type 37A), Sid Cox (Type 39) and Arthur Terdich (T40)- although Arthur Waite’s supercharged Austin 7 was also seen to be an outside chance.

The morning’s race, for Classes B and D, got under way at 11am, with a maximum of two hours 30 minutes allowed to complete the 16 laps.

Barney Dentry’s Senechal was delayed early with a broken gear lever, Williamson’s Riley 9 led for 5 laps then he had mechanical problems giving Bill Terdich’s DFP the lead.

He stayed in front until valve troubles caused his retirement so Barney Dentry, with his gear lever repaired, won Class B from Williamson’s Riley and Pounds DFP.

In Class D John McCutcheon led from start to finish in his Morris Cowley from Cyril Dickason’s Austin 12 in a time of 1hr 50min 10sec – the mark that the afternoon cars would need to beat to win the contest.

The second heat, for Classes A and C, left the line at 3pm and ‘provided the most thrilling driving of the day’, with Waite making the early running, he had a lead of 100 metres at the first turn only a mile from the start.

‘The turning of the small cars on the corners provided many thrills for the spectators. There were spectacular skids, but the cars were always handled with so much skill that the drivers recovered control without apparent difficulty’ The Argus reported, whilst noting that Waite was not in doubt to win Class A.

For the first 7 laps Waite’s Austin led the field,  gradually the Bugattis of Day and Terdich got into their stride, with the latter taking the lead on lap 8 and was led by nine minutes as it entered the fifteenth lap, only for the French exotic to stop on course seemingly out of fuel.

Terdich hitched a ride to the pits, returning to the track soon after with tins of fuel only to find that his mechanics had retrieved the Bug and coaxed it back into the pits!

Finally Terdich and his car were reunited and refuelled and sped off in pursuit of Waite who had stopped to refuel, having lost 3 minutes. Day was fast after an excursion early in the race had put him through a hedge, but time ran out for the Bugatti despite a series of laps late in the race of over 70mph.

Waite took the flag in 1hr 46min 40sec and was chaired from his ‘Baby Austin’ as ‘The Argus’ described it, to the victory dais by jubilant supporters.

Waite post victory- mechanic Guy Barringer (Waite’s spelling) at right? (B King Collection)

 

Arthur Terdich, Bugatti T40 (B King Collection)

 

Les Jennings, Morris Cowley DNF (C Watt)

 

Jack Day togs up before the off, Bugatti T37 (C Watt)

 

Arthur Waite and Guy Barringer winning the 1928 100 Miles Road Race in the tiny ‘works’ Austin 7 s/c (B King Collection)

Class A was won by Waite from C May, T Davey and S King all in Austin 7’s, only Waite’s machine was supercharged. In Class B Barney Dentry in his Senechal won from Williamson’s Riley 9 and Les Pound’s DFP. Class C was taken by Terdich’s Bugatti T40 from Day’s Bugatti T37A and the J Hutton Alvis 12/50.

John McCutcheon’s Morris Cowley won Class D despite having more than 21,000 road miles on its odometer! ‘Such performances as these, and that of Mr Hinkler in his British-built light aeroplane, should remove any doubt as to the return of Britain to world leadership in the automotive field’ ‘The Argus’ reported, breathlessly and patriotically- we were a British Dominion then after all!, the Federation of Australia duly noted in 1901. Second in Class D was Cyril Dickason’s Austin 12 and Bill Lowe’s Metallurgique.

‘Probably Waite’s win was due chiefly to his remarkably cool driving throughout and his deliberate stop half way through the race for a methodical refilling  of his tiny supercharged Austin with water, oil and petrol. A similar stop would probably have won the race for Arthur Terdich (Bugatti), who seemingly had the race in hand two laps before the finish. Petrol troubles then stopped his car, and Waite won before Terdich got going again…recorded the Geelong Advertiser. ‘Waite won using Shell spirit and oil and Australian made Perdriau tyres’- it was usually the case that the ‘paper reports of the day recorded this information- early advertorial perhaps.

John McCutcheon, Morris Cowley second overall and winner of the morning race, first in Class D (B King Collection)

 

Stan King, Austin 7- eleventh (B King Collection)

In a word from the sponsor, the Managing Director and owner of Austin Distributors Pty. Ltd. SA Cheney said that ‘…it is pleasing that our confidence in (the Morris and Austin cars the company distributed) their quality and stamina is being so constantly rewarded in successive reliability trials and road contests.’

‘A notable feature of the race was that every Austin which started finished the race. SV King’s car being one of the only three cars to run non-stop, an honour also gained by McCutcheon’s Morris and Dickason’s Austin 12’ the ‘Tiser concluded.

Five thousand spectators went home covered in dust but happy – the largest influx of people in the island’s history, the Shire’s brave decision to back the race was vindicated, the race became a fixture at the ‘Island until 1935 when the intrinsic nature of the gravel track- without change to a sealed surface had run its course.

The winners of the AGP in the Phillip Island era were Bill Thompson in 1930 and 1932 in a Bugatti Type 37 and 1933 aboard a Riley Brooklands. Arthur Terdich won in 1929 in a Bugatti T37A, Carl Junker in 1931 in another Bugatti, a T39, Bob Lea-Wright in a Singer 9 Le Mans in 1934 and finally Les Murphy in an MG P type in 1935. Thompson was second in 1934 and 1935 off scratch and was well and truly the driver of the era, and regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever. Click here for a piece on Thompson; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/26/gerringong-beach-races-1930-bill-thompson/

Jack Day, Bugatti Type 37 sixth (C Watts)

 

dickason

Dickason’s Austin 12 ‘was in effect the good old family tourer, which, apart from being stripped and mildly tuned, had the entire section of the four seater body removed…It must have called for a good deal of determination and skill to not only finish second in D Class but also to record third fastest time’ John Blanden wrote (The Australasian)

 

Les Pound’s DFP being attended to- note the Light Car Club badge on the radiator. The car was a later version of the model with which WO Bentley was successful at Brooklands and the Isle of Man before setting up his own enterprise. JC Hutton’s Alvis 12/50- eighth place is in the background (C Watt)

 

The Pound DFP during the race- thirteenth and final classified finisher (B King Collection)

 

The following piece from the fifty year anniversary meeting program of the then first Australian Grand Prix in 1978, was written by John Williams, a journalist who attended and covered the 1928 race.

Do read it, he paints the most marvellous picture of the times and the meeting.

The end of the Phillip Island AGP Era…

Phillip Island’s eighth and final Australian Grand Prix took place in March 1935, it had been decided to rotate the race amongst the states, the 1936 event moved to Victor Harbour, South Australia- the South Australian Centenary Grand Prix held on 26 December 1936, was later erroneously and incorrectly appropriated as the 1937 Australian Grand Prix.

The loss of ‘their’ event was seen as a crushing blow by the Light Car Club, but it was not entirely unexpected, racing on potholed unsealed roads may have been acceptable in the 1920s, but by 1936 it was out of the question, so was the prospect of sealing the Phillip Island track, the economics simply did not stack up.

A new promoter, the ‘Australian Racing Drivers Club’, conducted racing on a shorter 3.3-mile Phillip Island circuit which used only the original start/finish straight (on Berry’s Beach Road) but by 1938 the cars were gone, although motorcycles ran their annual Tourist Trophy on that layout until 1940.

It would be December 1956 before the island saw motor racing action again, this time at a new purpose-built circuit south west of Cowes.

dunlop

‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ ‘The Argus’ Dunlop ad Monday 2 April 1928- Australian made tyres mandated for the event

 

Perhaps the Jack Day Bugatti T37 (C Watt)

 

Jack Day and mechanic showing the physicality involved in racing of the day! Bugatti T37- sixth (B King Collection)

 

map

The roads of the Phillip Island road circuit are still intact…

They were clearly marked after the 50 year anniversary of the AGP held in 1978- what an event that was, one for another time.

Its well worth a visit and a few gentle laps amongst the PI tourist traffic, the place is a popular destination for surfers, holiday makers and tourists seeking koalas and the fairy penguin nightly scuttle from the water to their nests in the sand dunes-and of course bike and car enthusiasts visiting the circuit and its museum.

The start/finish area is located on Berry’s Beach Road, the pits used to be located in a large paddock, which today is still a large paddock.

From the start, the road rises slightly to Heaven Corner, the first of the four right-hand, right-angle bends. From here it’s a flat-out blast along the still-narrow undulating high crowned road, past a small monument which has a map of the original track inset into the stone, to Young and Jackson’s Corner, almost two miles away. On your left, a timber plaque displays the corner name, although the original bend is now a large roundabout. Once this is negotiated, another straight (the main road from Cowes back to Melbourne) takes you to within 400 metres of Gentle Annie Corner.

The highway now swings left, so the approach to Gentle Annie is not the original straightforward 90-degree corner, but is clearly signposted and easily found. From here it’s another two-mile roller-coaster ride over the hillocks and humps, encountering The Needle’s Eye at the halfway point, which is no longer a needle, nor an eye.

Hell Corner has recently been obliterated by a roundabout- once you’re through the maze the road stretches out ahead over more gentle rises, with the former Bridge of Sighs at about half distance and the old pits on the left- and that’s it.

In the 1930s the landscape was more barren, caused by the penchant to denude the landscape of trees to allow the maximum number of sheep per acre, and, of course, the road is fully sealed, unlike the days when vast quantities of black sump oil was laid to ‘kill’ the dust

‘Frankston Hillclimb’ at Moondah Estate Mount Eliza circa 1929-1930 with three Austin 7s lined up before the off. Daryl Burkett at left and Cyril Dickason on the right. Clarrie May is aboard the car in the middle which is the ex-Waite AGP winner by then fitted with headlights- ‘the clues are the standard front axle beam, extension on the top of the radiator cap, the short radiator and the flat exhaust manifold as opposed to the upswept manifold on the Dickason car’ Tony Johns coomented (T Johns)

Captain Arthur Waite and his Austin 7…

As we have just see, the 1928 victor was a ‘Baby Austin’, a prototype of the supercharged ‘Super Sports’ package released that year.

Waite was born in Adelaide on 9 April 1984, he lived and attended school in Norwood before attending the Adelaide School of Mines and was then apprenticed to JH Southcott until the outbreak of the Great War.

He joined up and soon achieved the rank of Second-Lieutenant in the Australian Field Artillery, he then took a reduction in rank to ensure his qualification for overseas service- after training in Egypt he landed in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 also serving in North Africa and France where in 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross

His wife was Irene Austin – daughter of Lord Herbert Austin, founder of Britain’s Austin Motor Company. The pair met during Waite’s War service, he was injured in France and met Irene, a volunteer nurse, during his recovery, they married in 1918 and Waite, an engineer, was introduced into the Austin family business on his twenty-fifth birthday- 9 April 1919.

Waite thought that racing would improve vehicle development and enhance sales, with Herbert Austin’s support he began to develop, build and test racing and sportscars amongst his other responsibilities.

In 1923, together with Alf Depper, foreman of the Experimental and Racing Department the pair drove a 7 to Monza, won the first International Italian Grand Prix for Light Cars on 20 April and then drove home again- success at Brooklands quickly followed when Waite broke all existing 750cc class records.

In 1925 ‘The Skipper’ set up racing ‘shops at Longbridge where work started on the first supercharged 7, this was not initially successful so Austin designed a Roots type blower with three impellers. The blower was mounted on a cradle atop the timing cover utilising magneto drive gear revolving at a quicker engine ratio of 1.25:1- 36 bhp @ 5000 rpm was the result.

Fitted into a 7 foot 3 inch wheelbase chassis with a fabric covered body the car made 92 mph and 86 mph for the two-way flying kilometre. Later that year Waite, with the car bored to 775 cc ran it in the 1100cc class of the 200 Mile Race at Brooklands- along with five other 7s. ‘By the end of 1928 Waite held all the class H (750cc) records’ Bryan Purves wrote

Herbert Austin was keen to broaden his son-in-law’s management experience and shipped him off to Australia to do so, SA Cheney, the owner of Austin Distributors was glad to have him aboard ‘to try and double sales’.

When Waite became aware of the 1928 ‘Island race he requested that his old car be sent to the colonies but unknown to him his supercharged racer, less engine had been sold to Johnny Pares, a Longbridge employee (or dealer depending upon your source), suitably re-engined it raced successfully obtaining the nickname ‘Slippery Anne’ along the way.

Arthur and Irene Waite with Lord and Lady Austin (Making Cars at Longbridge)

 

Arthur Waite and Alf Depper after winning the 750cc class of the Italian Cyclecar GP, April 1923 (T Johns Collection)

 

The ex-Waite ‘Slippery Anne’, notes self explanatory (‘Austin Racing History’ via T Johns)

Waite was therefore sent a car which was basically a prototype of the ‘Supercharged Sports’ which was going into production to qualify for the Ulster Tourist Trophy.

The chassis of the car (number unknown) was standard as were the springs but they were cord bound- a straight front axle was also standard along with production friction dampers- the steering column was lowered to suit the longer bonnet Waite had made by a coach-builder in Melbourne.

The engine was supercharged, fitted with a Laystall steel crankshaft and pressure lubricated. The Cozette Number 4 blower created a boost of 5psi drawing air from a Cozette carburettor. All of the alloy castings of the engine were prefixed with the letters ‘SP’- the crankcase had the casting number ‘SP767.’

The inlet manifold was designed to slide over long studs and the exhaust was taken out of the nearside bonnet panel via a three-port exhaust manifold which continued along the side of the body. Its output was 33-35 bhp at 5000 rpm which converted to a top speed on the long Phillip Island straights of about 75 mph.

The gearbox was trick too- it was four rather than three speeds but reverse was omitted to find the requisite space inside the standard case.

Austin Works engineer, team manager and driver Charles Goodacre described the completed Waite car ‘As the most dreadful thing you ever saw, for it looked like an enormous egg and when the driver sat in it his head stuck out of the top. Anyway, the whole thing was put together and tested locally instead of being sent to Brooklands. There was a straight stretch of road from Rubery to Bromsgrove over which a local motorcycle company used to test their TT machines at over 100 mph early in the morning…They went there early in the morning when it was safe…I drove it to carry out the road testing and the car had quite a good performance. It would do 90 mph easily and the engine would tun at about 5500 rpm. It was quite smooth, and it was reliable.’

‘Sir Herbert saw the car in the works on his return from South Africa and asked what it was. When told it was the car that was going to Waite in Australia he asked how they proposed sending it and was told they were making a crate for it. “We’re not wasting, time, wood and money on a crate. It looks like a bath, it will float so let the boat tow it to Australia” Austin quipped!

The bathtub which won the Australian Grand Prix it seems!

Two other similar cars were produced by Longridge which were raced by Sidney Holbrook and Gunnar Poppe- entered at Shelsey Walsh, the pair were knocked off by George Coldicutt in ‘Slippery Anne’.

‘Col Waite as well as his other titles was a Freeman of the City of London and a Life member of the British Racing Drivers Club’ Tony Johns added, Johns suggested the inclusion of Waite’s Foreword from John Blanden’s ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ which is below.

(C Watt)

(austinharris.co.uk)

(austinharris.co.uk)

The three photographs above are the Waite car at the Island- that is the the prototype of the 1928 ‘Super Sports’ albeit fitted with a locally modified bonnet, then below it a standard ‘SS’ in order that you may compere the differences between the cars for yourselves- and a Super Sports engine.
At this point thanks are in order to racer/restorer/historian/authors Tony Johns and Bob King who have contributed all of the photographs in this article from their vast archives, and in Tony’s case an enormous amount of Austin 7 material and race experience.
Of the latter engine photograph Johns observes, ‘The ‘Y-shaped’ inlet manifold is the same as mine (see a bit later on) designed to fit on long studs- look between the centre exhaust pipes and rear pipe. The photo illustrates the longer than standard valve springs to accommodate the 3/8 inch lift camshaft, as well as the location of the Pilgrim pump on the rear of the supercharger to lubricate the vanes- Vane type superchargers such as Shorrock need more lubrication than Roots type where their is no contact between revolving parts. The carburettor is a Cozette- this is a slightly later engine than Waite’s as it has the later inlet manifold designed for shorter studs to make for easier assembly.’
By the 1929 AGP Waite was back in the UK where he was appointed to the Austin Board of Directors.
Amongst his new responsibilities Arthur took over the Austin racing team in 1930, competing along with ‘Freddie’ March and ‘Sammy’ Davis. In the Ards TT Waite was thrown from his Austin into the path of oncoming cars suffering a broken jaw and concussion- engine failures to all but one 7s in this race resulted in the crankcase being extended to below the level of the chassis- the end result was a ten-stud head which was a part of the ‘Ulster’ model specifications. Waite gave up his racing career after the Ards accident.
Back in Australia the driving chores of the 1928 winner were handed to Clarrie May who had a run in the car in the lead up to the AGP at Aspendale Speedway in bayside Melbourne  that January but the car failed to impress the ‘Sporting Globe’ writer, ‘Truto’ who commented that the Clarrie May driven car was one of the most disappointing of the meeting ‘It showed no ginger and is probably a temperamental piece of mechanism’- rather a harsh description of the AGP winner!
Entered in Waite’s name for the 1929 AGP, decades later correspondence between Waite and John Blanden confirmed the car was owned by Austin Distributors Pty. Ltd. not Arthur individually.
The car ran very well as part of the lead bunch until suffering supercharger failure on lap 20 of the 31 lap race won by Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti T37A- he bagged the win in 1929 he in many ways deserved the year before.

Clarrie May, and we think, Joan Richmond in the A7 Ulster May raced in 1930 (B King Collection)

In the 1930 AGP May again raced an, Austin, on this occasion an Ulster to a DNF after rolling the car- Bill Thompson won that year in a Bugatti T37A.
1931 saw two supercharged Austin 7s entered driven by CR Dickason and CR May, again Clarrie reputedly racing the ex-Waite car, this year completing 18 of the 30 laps and retired, the best placed Austin 7 was Cyril Dickason’s superbly driven car which finished second outright in the handicap race.
Bill Thomson won again in 1932 with T37A, Clarrie May again ran an Austin 7 but it was a different machine to the year before and not as fast’, Blanden wrote that ‘Clarrie May was also in an Austin as usual. However it was being tipped that this car was not going to be as fast as the one he had driven the previous year’- in the event he was eighth, with Dickason again the best placed Austin 7 in third behind Thompson and the G Disher Salmson.
In his 1931 race piece in ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ Blanden ponders as to whether the car May raced in 1931 was the Waite car- Tony Johns confirms it was not and ‘all efforts to trace to whom the car was sold and its subsequent movements have been in vain’. John published his book in 1981, in 2020 the picture is clearer but still to an extent publicly untold.
The Austin 7 community in Australia are a tight-knit bunch, one of their ‘doyen’ is Tony Johns who will be known to many enthusiasts as an A7 racer, restorer, purveyor of fine books for many years and more recently an author- he and Phillip Schudmak together with Clare Hay and Bob Watson wrote and published ‘Vintage Bentleys in Australia’ about twelve months ago, do get a copy, its a great book, which i promised to review now i think of it…
Tony Johns picks up his Austin story and history, ‘Great Aunt in Brisbane owned an Austin 7 from new, and I would sit in the back seat whenever we were in Queensland for family holidays which usually involved a seaside holiday at Southport on the Gold Coast, quiet as it was in those days. As an aside Bill Pitt (the driver of the Geordie Anderson owned D Type Jaguar i have written about ), the service manager at Anderson Motors looked after both my Grandmother and Aunts motor cars.’
‘This Austin was a 1931 tourer and as it was not Vintage, ie built before December 1930 I rejected the offer to inherit it when my Aunt passed away. However I did claim the original tool kit and still have the screw driver, pliers and grease gun that have n ever been used.’
‘In 1960 I purchased a 1928 Chummy six months before I was eligible to get a driving licence and joined the Austin 7 Club. Not long after, I met Nigel Tait and we were both young and were soon elected to the committee. Nigel started racing a few years before me and I would act as his pit crew at Templestowe, Tarrawingee and in 1964 the South Australian Easter Collingrove Hillclimb and Mallala Races. By 1964 I had collected a modified chassis, and the body from Allan Tyrrell’s racing car- by Easter 1965 my first racing car was ready for the trip to Adelaide with the rest of the Victorian Austin 7 racers.’
‘In 1973 and 1974 i lived in London and used some of that time to locate an Austin 7 Ulster- there were no complete running cars for sale so I ended up buying a restored rolling chassis and a new body. I shipped four of these Stuart Rolt built bodies back to Melbourne. Also in 1974 I was loaned Martin Eyre’s spare Austin to race in UK VSCC events in exchange for building engines, it was then that the challenge was made to prove that our Australian Austins were quicker than their cars- plans for the ‘1981 Raid’ of Australian Austin 7s in the UK were soon underway’ that story we will pick up in the next couple of months.

Equipe Johns at Sandown 26 September 1965- Tony Johns’ Chummy A7 and the A7 Spl he raced from 1965-1980 (T Johns)

‘I was as well connected as anyone in the Austin 7 world and knew the story that the Waite car remained stored at the back of the Austin Distributors building in South Melbourne for some years before it was sold- by then the later Ulster sportscars were faster machines.’

By the seventies the consensus was that the race winning car had been broken up so Victorian A7 man Bill Sheehan built a replica using the correct type of chassis and running gear with the body built with the assistance of Barry Papps.

Whilst Johns was happily racing his 7 in 500 Car Club/A7 events and divisional racing then later still historic racing he was always on the lookout for A7 bits- especially competition parts.

‘My longtime Meteor bodied Austin 7 friend from Sydney, Col Masterton, told me about the supercharged Waite crankcase. He approached the owner in the hope that i may be able to buy it for my unblown Ulster i purchased in pieces and shipped from the UK in 1974.’

‘It was not for sale but the owner also had a 1930s Nippy sports Austin that was missing its crankcase and if i could find one he would do a swap- it was all stops out to locate a suitable crankcase from my UK contacts so that i could complete the deal.’

‘When the crankcase arrived from England and on my next racing weekend in Sydney…i arranged with Colin to complete the swap. That Saturday morning, under a house not sure where in Sydney i saw the Ulster crankcase for the first time. Imagine my surprise and the look on face trying to stay calm when i realised it was a complete engine including the cast alloy inlet manifold and timing chest at the front of the crankcase. Even the steel gear that drives the supercharger was a special Works part that had one less tooth than the standard part in order to increase the supercharger revs- not just the crankcase that was to be the swap. Racing the Austin in Sydney that weekend became less important, i already had achieved the win of a lifetime.’

‘The Waite motor was reunited with the replica Bill Sheehan constructed replica when it was owned by my friend, Graeme Steinfort- i had sold the eight stud Waite crankcase to Graeme in exchange for legal advice.’

‘At the time Graeme was driving an un-supercharged Ulster he had purchased in the UK from former Lotus F1 driver John Miles. The four speed Waite gearbox was purchased by Graeme from another Melbourne Austin 7 enthusiast, Neil Johannesen’ so the replica at that stage had two of the critical original parts from the 1928 AGP winner.

(T Johns)

‘Sydney 1970s when i acquired the Waite engine, unfortunately the spare Blown crankcase was not part of the deal. Note the four bolts on the side face of the crankcase are there to mount the Cozette supercharger. Sydney A7 enthusiast Col Masterton is holding the very rare cast inlet manifold, this differed from later Ulster manifolds as it was designed for the long studs that were used at the time. Note the special 9C numbers that were cast into the non-standard competition parts.’

(T Johns)

‘Above is the Waite crankcase after I stripped and cleaned it- the special inlet manifold is clearly visible as well as the original supercharger driveshaft and coupling.’

‘As to the casting numbers you can see, Mike Costigan checked with all the UK experts in relation to casting numbers on the side of the crankcase. The reply was that they were there for the factory to be able to check which foundry had made the castings in case of faults and are of no importance to us regarding Ulster or Super Sports part numbering.’

‘The shot below shows the same inlet manifold, Cozette carburettor and supercharger fitted to my Ulster as above- the crankcase is now, again, as noted above, fitted to the Waite Replica.’

(T Johns)

At this point a happy confluence of events occurred, Bob King (remember his ‘Werrangourt Archive’ articles on primotipo) had a next door neighbour at Blairgowrie on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula named Reg Sweet who just happened to have owned the Waite car in the late thirties.

‘He was a great bloke, he made a mean home-brew and ensured the whole Blairgowrie experience was bearable. Fascinating too, he had flown as a pilot in Lancasters during the War including sorties over places like Cologne.’

King introduced Sweet to Graeme Steinfort on a Victorian Vintage and Sportscar Club run to Blairgowrie circa 1980, Graeme made typed notes after the meeting- i would scan them and pop them up but they will be too difficult to read hence this transcription in full.

‘Apparently the car had remained in the hands of Austin Distributors in Melbourne for many years after the event (1928 AGP) and was gradually pushed into a corner of their workshop. Reg Sweet at that time was engaged in the motor trade mainly buying and selling Austin 7s, and thus had a lot to do with the people at Austin Distributors. He was onto them for a number of years to sell the car to him, but in those “pre-depreciation” days they said that it was on the books for 200 pounds!’

‘He was called in to Austin Distributors one day in about 1934 and was told that they were clearing out all the old stock and was invited to make an offer on the Waite car if he wished. To this, he requested their suggestion as to what he should offer, and was told “60 pounds”, he offered that amount and acquired the car.’

‘He recalls a lot about the car, the most significant feature which to him, apart from the number 4 Cozette supercharger, was the fact that it would rev quite easily to 7000 rpm in competition. It had the straight front axle and the body on it was quite similar to that constructed by Bill Sheehan (that Graeme owns).

‘Reg proceeded to race the car at Aspendale Speedway (in bayside Melbourne) without success because the days of the Austin 7 in competition were really over, having been overshadowed by the MG P Types and Singer Le Mans which were then the current favourite for light car competition.’

‘However he did have a success in his class at Rob Roy and until recently had a cup to prove it.  That cup he donated to Bob King to give as a trophy for Brescia Bugattis at the Bi-Annual Bugatti Rally. Reg tells me he registered the car during this period and ran it without lights or mudguards, the registration authorities in those days being less stringent than they are today.’

‘Basically, however, he used the car purely for competition disposing of it in about 1938 when the responsibilities of family and the like put an end to his sports motoring at the time. Reg managed to break the crankshaft and replaced it with one purchased from England for 13 pounds. The replacement crank came complete with new pistons, rings, gudgeon pins and rods- all fully prepared to go straight into the motor. He tells me the crankshaft was not an exact fit and he had to do some work on the case, grinding a proportion away to get the crankshaft to fit. Tony Johns reports that these grinding marks are present on the crankcase that he has on his engine.’

Graeme Steinfort concludes an amazing document with the observation that ‘Naturally, Reg remembers the car with some affection and would like to have it back today! I think we join with him in that, and it would be nice to see the complete car in existence.’

Tony did some quick Rob Roy research and indeed Reginald Sweet won class 1, under 750cc, supercharged at Rob Roy Number 5, Cup Day November 1938 with a time of 41.66 seconds- he returned on 30 January 1939 and finished second in class to Derry George, MG J4 who did a 38.74 seconds.

If any of you can fill in the gaps between Reg Sweet’s sale of the Waite car circa 1938 and the acquisition of the car’s engine and gearbox by Messrs Johns and Steinfort in the seventies that would be wonderful, do get in touch.

Austin A7 Waite Replica (G Steinfort)

 

Graeme Steinfort in the Austin 7 Waite Replica at ‘Speed on Tweed’ September 2007 (G Steinfort)

 

(T Johns)

Arthur Waite provides his best wishes to the Austin 7 ‘Raid’ racers prior to their trip to the UK in 1981.

Prominent Australian historian/racing journalist Ray Bell provided this shot below which his brother took in the UK in 1987- Ray wrote the 1928 chapter, and others, of ‘The 50 Year History of The Australian Grand Prix’, Bell’s copy of which Arthur is holding.

Ray dispatched his brother to meet with the old racer to sign the 1928 title page of his HAGP copy, when brother Brian knocked on the door and sought an audience, or arrived at the agreed time, the lady who answered the door enquired as to the reason for calling to which Brian responded ‘He won a car race in Australia a long time ago’ at which point the lady interrupted him by saying ‘Yes! And haven’t we all heard enough about that?’

(R Bell Collection)

 

Etcetera…

 

 

(B King Collection)

Stan King Austin 7- unusual angle shows the tight packaging of mechanic and driver in the smaller cars- the pair completed the second race for Class A/C cars without a stop, one of few to do 100 miles without pitting.

Good deed of the day award went to this crew who gave Arthur Terdich a lift on the rear of the car as the hapless Melburnian tried to find his Bugatti which had been coaxed back to life by the side of the road and driven back to the pits by his mechanic.

 

(B King Collection)

John McCutcheon and friends before the off- the second placed and very quick Morris Cowley was never headed once into the lead of the morning’s Class B and D race.

 

 

(B King Collection)

The Pound DFP in profile- Les was third in Class B despite a number of tyre blowouts in the morning race, Bill Terdich in the other DFP was a DNF with a broken valve or piston.

 

(C Watt)

Light Car Club committee members at the Isle of Wight during the 1928 meeting. The fellow on the car side closest to the umbrella pole is Arthur Terdich, Tony believes- any clues on the other characters folks?

 

(B King Collection)

Arthur Terdich was in many ways the ‘man of the meeting’ having been up to his armpits in the organisation of the event as a LCC Committe member and one of the front runners in the race- he was stiff not to win it.

He returned to the Island many times of course and won in 1929 with a Grand Prix Type 37A Bugatti rather than the modified touring T40 machine he drove so well in 1928.

Terdich was a critical force in Victorian racing for many years, I will circle back to him and have a crack at a profile about him with Bob and Tony’s assistance.

In the sensational photograph below Terdich (left) is plotting the path of the 1926 Alpine Trial, the car is his 3 litre Bentley chassis ‘602’, which was also the official course car during the event, somewhere in the Victorian high country.

(E Adamson)

 

B King Collection)

Bill Williamson, aboard the Riley 9 owned by Mrs Jack Day.

It was a weekend of drama with a rollover in practice and a class B/D race of perseverance after transmission problems caused a pitstop- during which the problem was fixed, twelfth the result.

 

 

(B King Collection)

Barney Dentry does look like a lean, mean fighting machine, despite the fag.

So many of these early racers were middle-aged given the readies required to compete, Barney is a veritable youth in comparison- car is a Senechal.

 

A Valentine postcard of the Isle of Wight over a race weekend- not much to go on but cars and a date folks?

 

Gee-whizz, the Phillip Island Hotel looks decidedly low rent, I doubt any of the Light Car Club types stayed there.

 

(B King Collection)

Les Jennings, Morris Cowley DNF after completing 6 laps- the car blew a cylinder head gasket.

His Lanes Motors supported machines were very well prepared with support from Lanes- and very well driven.

 

‘Dunlop Grand Prix this way’- Terdich in the drivers seat of a road roller (B King Collection)

‘Dunlop Grand Prix this way’- by this stage of the journey to Cowes the spectators would have been at fever pitch with excitement at the prospect of a spectacle few would have seen before- Terdich behind the wheel of the road roller?

 

(B King Collection)

Ron Gardner with a touch of the opposites, Alvis 12/50- DNF after completing 8 laps- big end bearing failure.

 

(B King Collection)

The John Goodall Aston Martin 1.5- Ed Huon the driver and Bob Horne the mechanic- Goodall retired the car with stripped gears having only completed a lap of the afternoon race.

 

(T Johns Collection)

 

(T Johns Collection)

Not too many racing cars and drivers have been honoured with an Australian postage stamp- but the Waite Austin 7 s/c is one of them.

The Australia Post researchers got it right too- the other car featured is the ‘if only’ Bugatti T40 of Arthur Terdich.

(S Dalton Collection)

 

(S Dalton Collection)

 

(S Dalton Collection)

 

As reported in period by ‘The Car’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(A Waite Collection via D Howe)

The Austin Distributors Pty. Ltd. Melbourne dealership with all staff on deck by the look of it out front of 460 Bourke Street just before the race.

We are not sure if this shot was taken in 1928 or 1929 but it’s not so much the date as the vibe.

Bibliography…

‘The Austin Seven Source Book’ Bryan Purves, Bill Sheehan, Austin 7 Club Australia website, Jim Scaysbrook article in MotorSport magazine February 2008, speedwayandroadracinghistory.com, The Nostalgia Forum, The ‘Goulburn Evening Penny Post’ 17 January 1927, ‘The Sydney Sportsman’ 22 November 1927, ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ John Blanden, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, Tony Johns recollections, ‘The Advertiser’ Geelong 3 April 1928, article by Philip Turner about Charles Goodacre in Motor- 17 February 1973 issue, ‘Vintage Bentleys in Australia’ P Schudmak, T Johns and others, ‘The Car’ article via T Johns Collection, Arthur Waite Collection via David Howe

(C Watt)

Photo Credits and notes…

Tony Johns, Tony Johns Collection, Bob King Collection, Graeme Steinfort, MotorSport, Edwin Adamson, ‘Austin Racing History’ Roland Harrison, Edgar Family, The Bugatti Trust, Stephen Dalton Collection, Ray Bell Collection, ‘Making Cars at Longbridge’ Bardsley and Corke

Charlie Watt provided many of the photographs in this article via Tony Johns who comments as follows, ‘In the early sixties i met Charles ‘Charlie’ Watt of Brighton, Melbourne who had a lathe in his garage and helped with some machining on my Austin.’

’He worked for COR and was very pleased to pass his photos on to a young enthusiast, several of the photos (in this piece) have been published under others names- it would make me feel better if Charlie finally received some acknowledgment for his work.’

‘Charlie was also responsible for the COR scoreboard above. He damaged his hand with its construction and still had issues with it in 1960. His son Bruce built a special, named after his girlfriend and later raced a Valiant or Falcon on gas in a Sandown endurance race- the Bruce Watt of Benalla Auto Club fame?’

Many thanks to the late Charlie Watt for his photos and to Tony for sharing them.

It was amusing sitting down with Bob King at his place in Brighton earlier in the week and learning that Ray Bell, a mate who wrote the 1928 AGP chapter in HAGP, sat beside Bob in the same study circa 1984 whilst Ray made his choice of photographs from Bob’s Collection which was largely accumulated in the long research process of writing various Bugatti books- i can imagine Ray sitting there twisting from buttock to buttock, frustrated trying to work out which of the over forty shots to use with a page count limit to work to- as you have probably worked out i have no such restrictions!

The end I think.

Tailpiece…

(C Watts)

The Castrol depot at the Island in 1928- car folks?

Finito…

 

(W Giles)

Barrie Garner settles himself before unleashing 3 litres of triple-carbed Holden power to the Lakeland tarmac, Bowin P3 Holden 1972…

Lakeland Hillclimb was operated by the Light Car Club of Australia, it was one of several ‘climbs in Melbourne’s outer suburbs or inner countryside depending upon your perspective- the others were Templestowe and Rob Roy, the latter is still operational after some decades of non-use.

Whilst the LCCA ran the meetings the land was owned by Jim Abbott, a motor racing entrepreneur whose interests included AutoSportsman magazine, the Melbourne Racing Car Show held at the Exhibition Buildings, Lakeland and other businesses.

Upon his death the Marque Sports Car Association ran some meetings for a couple of years before the required levels of upkeep became beyond them- ultimately Abbot’s widow sold the land which went to a developer who carved it into smaller rural allotments.

(silhouet.com)

 

Many of us recall the place well as spectators and/or competitors, it was a fun, challenging climb and great for club motorsport given its proximity to Melbourne. Ron Simmonds remembers competing there in his Cooper S in 1963’ish, I ran there in my road Alfa Sprint in either an Alfa Club or MSCA event in 1982/3 albeit by then open-meetings were long finished- i wonder when the last ever meeting was?

There was a time when hill-climbing was huge, attracting big crowds to see the circuit racing stars of the day testing their skills against the hillclimb specialists, perhaps the sport’s zenith was reached around the dawn of the sixties.

Despite that I can recall as a younger kid watching Lakeland on the teev in the early seventies – no doubt the touring car aces such as Peter Brock pulled good ratings.

Most of these photographs were taken by Wayne Giles who posted them on Bob Williamson’s Old Motor Racing Photographs Australia Facebook page well over a year ago. Whilst many of the shots are static, the cars are interesting and Wayne captures the mood, vibe and flavour of the times well.

Jim Abbot’s ex-Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT23D’ then Oldsmobile powered (W Giles)

It seems apt to start with a photograph of ‘Squire’ Abbott’s Brabham BT23D Oldsmobile.

He positioned it as ‘Australia First F5000 Car’ when he acquired the 1968 Gold Star winning machine from Alec Mildren. It was first raced by Frank Gardner in the 1968 Tasman Series before Kevin Bartlett took it over to win the Gold Star, I’ve written about it before;

https://primotipo.com/2018/11/30/motori-porno-alfa-romeo-tipo-33-tasman-2-5-litre-v8/

Later iteration of the Abbott BT23D again at Lakeland in 1972- Paul King’s Malmark Elfin Vee alongside (P Robinson)

Chris Murphy bought it and modified it further for hillclimb use and died in it, sadly, at One Tree Hill, Ararat.

Restored by Paul Moxham in the nineties the car is now owned by Chas Kelly in Tasmania along with the ex-Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39 Climax and one or two other nice things.

Frank Gardner in the Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo 2.5 V8 at Longford in 1968- the last Longford (R MacKenzie)

 

Murray Bingham’s Bingham Cobra aka Porsche Cobra aka Porsche 904-8 ( W Giles)

Another car which passed through Abbott’s hillclimbing hands was the ex-works/Alan Hamilton Porsche 904-8.

In Abbott’s time it was Ford V8 powered and named ‘Porsche Cobra’- below its seen in wilder configuration, still Ford powered in Murray Bingham’s hands. Its ultimate spec was in ex-Bob Muir injected Chev F5000 form, a transplant which took place about a year after this 1972 photograph, Bingham was a talented driver who won the three round Australian Hillclimb Championship in 1972.

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

Murray at Huntley Hillclimb in May 1973- Bingham the reigning AHC champion at the time, the car by then powered by an injected 5 litre Chev (G Logg)

 

(W Giles)

Another talented driver/engineer was Paul England.

The ex-Repco Research apprentice built the fabulous Ausca Holden sportscar with assistance from his buddies in Sydney Road, Brunswick and after a Cooper racing adventure in Europe he settled back into Melbourne establishing Paul England Engineering in Moonee Ponds. Click here for a bit about Paul;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/20/aussie-miller-cooper-t41-climax-trevallyn-hillclimb-launceston-tasmania-1959/

Kerry Power keeping an eye on Paul’s takeoff at King Edward Park, Newcastle (D Wilson)

Amongst engine building, and providing support to many young thrusters- Tony Stewart, Larry Perkins and Peter Larner amongst others, England pursued his racing and engineering passions by building his Ausca VW series of supercharged and twin-engine cars- how many did he build?

He was quick too- taking the AHCC in 1970 at Mount Cotton Queensland and again over a four-round series in 1973 and 1974.

Rallycross was big at Catalina Park, in Sydney’s Blue Mountains and Calder to Melbourne’s north-west for a couple of years with the LCCA very kindly creating a hillclimb category to give the pensioned off beasts somewhere to run.

(P Shea)

The Holden Dealer Team Holden Torana LC GTR XU1 supercharged sports sedan/rallycross car is above with Peter Brock at the wheel.

Bob Watson’s 1970 rallycross Renault 8 Gordini below giving the sponsor a run for their money.

Didn’t they make some magic cars at the time? i couldn’t believe how good a 16TS was until I drove a mates ‘students car’ which was hardly in the full flush of youth at the time.

(W Giles)

In similar rally vein the 1972 Dulux Rally, which commenced in Queensland and finished in Melbourne, passed through Lakeland, inclusive of a timed run.

The car featured is David McKay’s Ford Capri RS2600, I wrote a feature about it a while back; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

(W Giles)

 

(W Giles)

The former Australian Sportscar Champion, single-seater front runner, journalist and Scuderia Veloce owner had not lost his touch and drove his works Ford very well.

It was a winning car in his hands with more luck, the ‘small car big engine’ approach has been such an effective touring car formula down the decades hasn’t it?

David Wilson took this shot of the RS2600 in the Silverdale Hillclimb paddock during the Dulux. Soft plugs out, used driving between events, hot ones in? (D Wilson)

Also from Germany was Paul Older’s BMW 2002Ti- he was quite prominent especially on the circuits helping build the BMW brand in Australia- what became of him I wonder?

It is amazing how quickly BMW took a big slice of the market as they got the dealer network and product right from about circa 1970 and a bit.

(W Giles)

The sedans were ‘quirky’ things until the first 3 Series- the 6 cylinder variants were great cars- to me BMW ‘exploded’ here from about then- say 1979’ish.

And the very happy BMW customer I have been on three occasions. (325is, a sensational little car and now as rare as hens teeth, 325i Coupe manual and X5 tow-car and kiddy-shifter. The X5 was the most car like of trucks and did serious Melbourne to Wye River times being good fun on the Great Ocean Road, a stretch i got to know well in my Wye days)

(W Giles)

Heavy metal racing at Lakeland included two five litre Elfins- the 400 Ford sportscar of Terry Southall and MR5 Ford F5000 of Adelaide’s Stan Keen.

The Elfin 400 has had serious attention by me in two articles, one on Frank Matich’s first delivered car here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/

the other on the Southall chassis which was first owned and raced by Bob Jane and a lengthy roll call of drivers before being sold to Ken Hastings and then Southall- here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

(W Giles)

Stan’s MR5 was first raced, not for terribly long though, by John Walker- chassis ‘5724’ was sold before the 1972 Surfers Paradise Gold Star round to Stan when JW acquired a Matich A50 to which he fitted the Repco Holden engine and DG300 Hewland out of the MR5.

The A50 complied with the US L&M F5000 regs (in relation to bag fuel tanks i think) whereas the MR5 did not, Walker raced A50 ‘004’ in the US in 1973.

John Walker Elfin MR5 Repco fourth from Warwick Brown McLaren M10B Chev DNF and Max Stewart’s MR5 Repco DNF during the 1972 Adelaide International Tasman round won by David Hobb’s McLaren M22 Chev (I Smith)

Keen fitted a 5 litre Ford ‘Boss’ engine fed by four 48IDA Webers and raced the car extensively on both the circuits and hillclimbs all over Australia- he made his Gold Star debut in it during the October 1972 Adelaide International Gold Star round finishing sixth.

Did his later ‘Boral Ford’ sporty use many of the running bits of the Elfin or is that my memory playing tricks again?

Nice Lilydale and Dandenong Ranges vista, the Noel Devine LC XU1 exiting The Carousel (W Giles)

I’ve said before surely one of the greatest all-rounder touring cars in the world at the time was Holden’s six cylinder 3 and 3.3 litre Torana GTR XU1?

They won on the circuits, in sprint and endurance events, inclusive of the Bathurst 500, on the dirt- in both rallies and rallycross- Colin Bond won the Australian Rally Championship three times and Peter Lang once, and in the hills where they were the weapon of choice for many club racers.

The LC XU1 below, sponsored by Booran Motors, then a Caulfield Holden dealer in Melbourne was I think driven by Brique Reed- he of Elfin, Farrell and Asp Clubman racing and Elfin Owners Club fame.

(W Giles)

Sundries…

I’ve no idea who the drivers and in some cases what the cars are shown below, but am intrigued to find out if any of you can assist.

(W Giles)

Of ‘first generation’ Formula Vees in Australia the Elfin 500 and Rennmax Mk1 were probably, note the use of that word probably, the best chassis- both cars here are Elfin 500s, the blue one was raced by Jim Hutton and chassis ‘V669’ still owned by his family, whilst the other is in the colours of Ray Kelly- thanks to Sean O’Hagan for the FV identification work.

(W Giles)

Tried to buy a Honda S800 as a fifth or sixth form student, probably lucky I didn’t I suspect!

Way beyond my non-existent practical mechanical, as against theoretical mechanical skills at the time. Owner/driver folks?

(W Giles)

The Ford Escort Twin-Cam has to one of the ultimate road/club cars of the era too, always loved them but never quite got to buy one- 105 Series Alfa’s got in the way. Article here; https://primotipo.com/2017/06/30/twinc/

(W Giles)

No idea what these Clubman beasties are.

‘Blanchards’ (on the rear of the chubbie at left) were a Holden Dealer not far from Sandown, on the corner of Springvale and Dandenong Roads, Springvale. Graeme Blanchard was a punter of touring cars of some repute in the sixties and seventies- don’t know that he raced a Clubman, more likely he sponsored this fellow.

Etcetera…

(Beasy)

Some photographs of Brian Beasy’s self constructed Formula Ford which evolved into a very fast little car as the Kent engines specifications grew wilder and wheels and tyres wider.

Brian, both a racer and engineer of great talent was Lilydale local so no doubt knew Lakeland very well, see some of the LCCA hierarchy in the start shot below- names please- Doug Hicks at left?

(Beasy)

 

(Beasy)

Credits…

Wayne Giles, Richard Rodgers, Peter Shea, David Wilson, Grahame Logg, Rod MacKenzie, Ian Smith, Paul Robinson, Beasy Family Collection, Sean O’Hagan

(R Rodgers)

Tailpieces: Barrie Garner, Bowin P3 Holden…

Having started with Barrie’s immaculate, quick, unique ‘Holden Red’ six-cylinder powered Bowin, lets finish the same way.

The New South Welshman was not a regular visitor to the Victorian Hills so one can assume he was here for a championship event, perhaps a Victorian Hillclimb Championship round in 1972 or 1973.

Garner, Huntley May 1973 (G Logg)

Look out! Coming through kids!

(G Logg)

Again Huntley in May 1973, magic shot from Grahame Logg to finish the article?! The truth of the matter is that Barrie’s goggles are down so his run is over, but let’s not let that get in the way of a good line.

The sheer beauty and preparation of the Barrie Garner owned and prepared, John Joyce designed and built aluminium monocoque P3 is shown to good effect as well as the casual club feel of hill climbing.

Finito…

(autopics.com/DBlanch)

The field on the first of 85 laps- the ‘Angus and Coote Diamond Trophy’, Gold Star Championship second round, Oran Park 26 June 1971…

Kevin Bartlett, McLaren M10B Chev from Max Stewart, Mildren Waggott TC-4V, Graeme Lawrence, Brabham BT30 Ford FVC 1.9 and then the dark helmeted Henk Woelders in his Elfin 600E Ford twin-cam- the first of the 1.6 litre ANF2 cars.

The 1971 Gold Star was an interesting one in that both 2 litre ‘race engines’ and F5000’s contested the championship- whilst F5000 cars were eligible for the Tasman Cup in 1970 and 1971- that year was the categories first in the domestic championship.

On the face of it perhaps the favourites at the seasons outset were Frank Matich and Kevin Bartlett in ‘match fit’ McLaren M10B’s. FM’s Repco Holden powered car was the ‘same car’ he and his team had continually evolved for eighteen months whereas KB’s chassis was the machine Niel Allen had raced in the 1970 and 1971 Tasman Series- beautifully prepared by Peter Molloy it was ready to boogie. Other F5000’s were Alan Hamilton’s brand new M10B- Allen’s spare chassis built up and sold when Allen retired from racing, and John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco which appeared for the first time mid-season, at Sandown in September.

The quickest of the Waggott 2 litre TC-4V powered cars were Max Stewart’s Mildren and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B but Leo’s car was for sale so the reigning Gold Star champion contested few 1971 meetings.

Kevin Bartlett leads Max Stewart and Graeme Lawrence early in the race- KB appears to be running plenty of wing (L Hemer)

 

Gary Campbell and Tony Stewart in Elfin 600B/E Ford twin-cams inside Doug Heasman, Rennmax BN3 Ford (R Thorncraft)

It had taken until 1971 for the Tasman Cup to fall to an F5000- Graham McRae won it in an M10B whereas in 1970 Graeme Lawrence’s 2.4 litre Ferrari Dino 246 took the title, other Tasman 2.5 and 2 litre cars had been competitive amongst the 5 litre V8’s- the expectation was that an F5000 would win the Gold Star but Max Stewart’s fast, reliable Mildren Waggott won it with a win at this meeting- Oran Park and strong placings elsewhere to score 23 points to Bartlett and Hamilton’s 22 points each.

Bartlett was fast everywhere- he won the Governors Trophy Lakeside opening round- was on pole with Max at Oran Park, won the non-championship (that year) Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm, and the Victorian Trophy at Sandown a week later but had the wrong tyres, that is, no wets at Symmons Plains where they were rather necessary, and blew an engine whilst leading at Mallala giving the new Elfin MR5 Repco its first title win in the hands of John McCormack. Mac would do very well with this car in the next two years on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

Max niggling away at KB- the big V8 blasted away on OP’s long straight but otherwise the little Mildren- Max’ car for 2 years by then was mighty quick elsewhere on the circuit (L Hemer)

 

(Peter Houston)

 

And again albeit by now MS has lost his right-front wing- did he ping one of KB’s Goodyears to do the damage? (L Hemer)

Matich’s campaign fizzled away too. The team missed the opening round at Lakeside as they were successfully campaigning the McLaren in the US- the team raced at the first two US F5000 Championship rounds in California, winning at Riverside with a pair of seconds in the two heats and were second at Laguna with another pair of seconds in the heats behind David Hobb’s M10B Chev.

Back home at Oran Park FM ran foul of another car earlier in the week doing enough damage for the team to build a new chassis- they did this rather than buy one from Trojan to give them valuable experience in advance of construction of FM’s new monocoque chassis Matich A50 Repco which would win the AGP later in the season upon its debut race from pole.

Matich leading a couple of cars through Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew on the 2 May 1971 weekend, McLaren M10B Repco (D Kneller)

The Matich McLaren was ready for the third round at Surfers in late August winning from pole. He started the Victorian Trophy at Sandown from pole but retired with blocked fuel-injection slides- KB won. With no chance of winning the title the team missed the final two rounds at Symmons and Mallala to focus on completion of the A50.

Alan Hamilton was impressive in his first year racing these demanding cars, whilst he came back to the machines in the late seventies it is a pity he didn’t persevere then whilst in ‘his youth’ and when the class could have done with another well prepared frontish of the field car- Warwick Brown or rather Pat Burke bought this car giving Warwick’s career a big kick-along in 1972 of course, the machine prepared by Peter Molloy.

Another big guy being monstered by a little one- Alan Hamilton, McLaren M10B Chev and John Walker, Elfin 600B Ford (L Hemer)

 

A couple of dicing Elfin 600s trying to stay clear of the Bartlett-Stewart express right up their clackers onto the OP main straight- Clive Millis from Tony Stewart (T Coles)

 

Graeme Lawrence’s nimble Brabham attacks Col Hyam’s Lola T192 Chev- note the sidepods fitted to the car by Gardner (L Hemer)

At Oran Park Max won from Graeme Lawrence’s visiting Brabham BT30 Ford FVC and Hamilton’s McLaren, Bartlett retired with his differential pinion stripped- the good ‘ole Hewland DG300 transmission was always marginal for F5000 use unless its maintenance was entirely up to snuff. The gearbox was originally built for F1 in 1966- for Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham when both the 3 litre Repco V8 and Eagle-Weslake V12 had far less than 500 pounds foot of torque tearing away at its gizzards…

F2 honours went to Henk Woelders who was fourth in an Elfin 600E- the dominance of this car in ANF2 at the time indicated by the fifth to ninth placed cars being Elfin 600B’s raced by Tony Stewart, Jack Bono, John Walker (soon to jump into an Elfin MR5), Vern Hamilton and Don Uebergang.

Henk Woelders’ Elfin 600E chasing Vern Hamilton’s 600B (L Hemer)

Etcetera…

(P Houston)

Melbourne racer Colin Hyams jumped into the big league with the acquisition of the works Lola T192 Chev Frank Gardner campaigned in the Tasman Cup that summer- FG did well in it too, taking a win at Warwick Farm and finishing fourth in the overall pointscore. Colin retired at Oran Park with gearbox dramas.

(L Hemer)

Gary Campbell’s Elfin 600B/E Ford, chassis ‘7122’ worked hard that year raced by both the Sydney ‘Provincial Motors’ motor dealer and Larry Perkins to whom he lent the car for a successful attack on the Australian Formula 2 Championship.

(L Hemer)

Alan Hamilton’s McLaren M10B ‘400-19’ despite ostensibly a 1970 model F5000 was brand new given its very late build into a complete car by Peter Molloy and sale to Hammo. As many Australian historic enthusiasts know, all these years later AH owns both his old car and the Allen/Bartlett chassis ‘400-02’- the wheels of which have been twiddled by Alfredo Costanzo until recent times.

(L Hemer)

John Walker in his 600B chassis ‘7018’, by this time the following year he was racing the fourth and last built Elfin MR5 Repco ‘5724’ in which he made his race debut in the last, Adelaide International round of the 1972 Tasman Cup in February 1972- the start of a mighty fine F5000 career in Australasia and the US inclusive of an Australian Gold Star and Grand Prix win in 1979. He was seventh at Oran Park 6 laps adrift of the front-runners with undisclosed dramas.

(P Houston)

Bartlett always raced with passion, lots of fire and brimstone and bucket-loads of natural brio. Lucky bastard.

KB pedalled the car through the 1972 Tasman inclusive of a Teretonga round win amongst much more modern metal and then did a US L&M round or two in it before racing Lola T300’s in both Australia and the US that year.

Credits…

Special thanks to Lynton Hemer, whose great photos inspired this piece

autopics.com- D Blanch, Russel Thorncraft, Tony Coles, Derek Kneller Collection, Peter Houston, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(L Hemer)

Max Stewart accepts the plaudits of the crowd on the warm-down lap- by June 1971 Alec Mildren Racing was well and truly disbanded but such are the bonds between driver and entrant that Max still carries Alec Mildren Racing signage and Seiko continued to provide financial support to Max into his first F5000 foray with an Elfin MR5 Repco in 1972.

Finito…

‘XKD520’ was the seventh production D-type, it was ordered through the ‘Brysons’ Bridge Road, Richmond, Melbourne Jaguar dealership- the two storey glass sided showrooms housed lots of lovely curvaceous Jags and was well known to several generations of Melbourne enthusiasts…

The building is still there but houses ‘Dan Murphy’s’, a national booze outfit these days. The order for the racer was placed in June 1955 by Kew driver/dealer Bib Stillwell, who later recalled: ‘I purchased the car new from Jaguar and it arrived in Melbourne, Australia in January 1956. I competed with the car for two seasons and had numerous successes with it. Click here for a short but fascinating bio on Jack Bryson, the man who brought Jaguar to Australia; ‘http://www.johnbryson.net/memoirs/jack-bryson-an-uneducated-man

In the later stages of his racing career Stillwell developed into a driver of world class who was competitive with the generation of internationals who raced in Australasia during the immediate pre-Tasman and Tasman Cup (commenced 1964) years- he was the winner of Australia’s Gold Star, the national drivers championship for four years on the trot from 1962 to 1965 in Coopers and Brabhams. After retiring from racing his local and global business career in car retailing and aviation was even more successful, click here for a bit on the amazing Bib; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

Citizens of Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs will easily pick the location of the ‘Sports Cars and Specials’ (good magazine by the way, haven’t got many of ‘em but wish I had more) shot of Bib and his new car as on Kew Boulevard not too far from the Chandler Highway intersection- that’s Willsmere ‘nut house’ as my Dad useter delicately call the local mental health facility, in the distance. That stretch of road does not look that much different sixty-five years later.

Sir William Lyons and Jack Bryson, date and place unknown, mid fifties perhaps (J Bryson)

 

Stillwell slices into Longford’s Viaduct on the way to second place in the 1963 South Pacific Championship race- Brabham BT4 Climax 2.7 FPF, the winner was Bruce McLaren, Cooper T62 Climax (K Devine)

 

Bib Stillwell and Australian Jaguar concessionaire, Jack Bryson during XKD520’s debut weekend, Albert Park Moomba meeting March 1956 (unattributed)

The car was signed off for delivery by Jaguar’s famous test driver Norman Dewis as ok for delivery on 15 November 1955, it’s build was completed in September.

Australia’s ‘wharfies’ or waterside workers, were renowned for their militance, when the car arrived from the UK it was during one of their infamous occasional strikes, only a great deal of sweet talking by Bib ensured the precious cargo was unloaded and processed to make its planned local debut at Albert Park during the March Labour Day, Moomba long weekend, Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F was on the same ship, perhaps they put together a fund to appease the burly toilers to do the right thing…

There, he did very well, finishing second to Tony Gaze’ HWM Jaguar in the Moomba Tourist Trophy and on the second weekend of the carnival, gearbox dramas sorted, took the machine to victory in the Argus Cup in front of Stan Jones’ Cooper T38 Jaguar in a classy field- over 100,000 spectators are quoted as attending on each of the two days of this meeting.

(T Scott)

 

Jones, Cooper Jaguar, Stillwell, Jaguar D Type and Tony Gaze at right in his HWM Jaguar, Albert Park Moomba meeting, March 1956- beautiful atmo shot, note the man with the king-sized Oz flag(unattributed)

 

Jones driving with all the brio for which he was famous, Cooper T38 Jaguar only 12 months old itself, pushing Bib’s ‘spankers’ D Type hard at the Park, March 1956 (Ed Steet)

At the Easter Bathurst meeting the three recently acquired ‘outright cars’ new to the daunting circuit were the Hunt and Stillwell machines plus Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 he had acquired from good mate Tony Gaze after the end of the New Zealand internationals that summer- and so it was that the feature race, the Bathurst 100, was won by Davison from Hunt and Stillwell- Bib stopped the timing clocks on Conrod at 148.6mph.

 

Bib chasing the Brabham Cooper T39 Bobtail Climax during the 1956 ATT at Albert Park- heading through Jaguar Corner. Moss won the race- Bib was second behind Pitt in the ‘resident Australians’ classification and Jack was first in the under 1500cc class (unattributed)

 

Stillwell’s Jag being fuelled at Albert Park during the November/December 1956 AGP meeting (B Hickson)

 

Stillwell’s D Type at Bathurst on its first appearance at Mount Panorama, Easter 1956- lapping the J Martin MG Spl during the Bathurst 100 in which he was third (unattributed)

 

Bib, Bathurst Easter 1956, who is that alongside? (unattributed)

 

Shortly after Bathurst, on April 29, Bib set a new open class record at outer Melbourne’s Rob Roy Hillclimb ‘with his Jaguar D Type which can hardly be classed as an ideal hill-climb machine. His time of 27.48 seconds was exceptionally fast’ AMS reported.

Stillwell and his crew took the car to Port Wakefield, north of Adelaide and had an easier time of it than his closest competitors in the Formula Libre 30 lap South Australian Trophy- the race was held in wet conditions and as such his mudguards made it easier to see!, he won from Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F and Eldred Norman’s stunning Zephyr Special s/c.

AMS in its August issue noted that ‘Bib Stillwell should find the D Jaguar a better behaved car on its next outing, as the factory, impressed with his many wins, have sent him out the latest type rear-end assembly. He will be closer now than ever to the GP machinery!’

Stillwell raced the car at Port Wakefield again in early October and had success- third in an A Grade Scratch race which was won by Ted Gray’s Tornado 2 Chev, a win in the 20 lap Sportscar feature- the main event on the card, and fourth in the Racing Car Handicap.

Then it was back to the team’s longtime Kew headquarters in Cotham Road to prepare for the Fishermans Bend meeting in mid-October. This short trip yielded a win in the Sports and Saloon 8 lap event from Paul England’s Ausca Holden and Doug Whiteford in an Austin Healey 100S.

Travelling much further afield near Toowoomba, north of Brisbane, Stillwell took on Bill Pitt’s D Type on home ground at Lowood in the Queensland Tourist Trophy held over 1 hour on November 4. Pitt won the 76 mile race from Bib who had expected the Geordie Anderson owned car to retire after it experienced gearbox problems earlier in the day, this was only rectified moments before the race commenced.

 

Port Wakefield, October 1956- Bib, another car and white Austin Healey 100S of Ron Phillips (unattributed)

 

Stillwell on the front row at Phillip Island in December 1956 alongside the G Baillieu Triumph, Derek Jolly, Decca Mk2 Climax and Paul England, Ausca Holden

 

Australian Tourist Trophy 1956, Albert Park- a row back from the leading Maserati 300S of Moss and Behra are the Stillwell, at left and Bill Pitt D Type Jaguars, with part of Brabham’s Cooper Bobtail at far left, then the Phillips AH 100S and Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S (unattributed)

 

Back at Albert Park in November for the 1956 AGP ‘Olympic Meetings’ he was fifth in the Australian Tourist Trophy behind the factory Maserati 300S’ of Stirling Moss and Jean Behra, then came Ken Wharton aboard the Ferrari 750 Monza he would roll to his death in New Zealand a couple of months hence, and Pitt’s D Type.

Bib determined that his next logical racing step was into an outright Formula Libre single-seater and at the end of the meeting it was reported he had agreed to buy Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo. Reg raced the car in Australia and then the New Zealand internationals throughout the summer of 1957 before heading back to England and a new job, having retired from the cockpit, as Aston Martin’s Team Manager.

The deal fell over, but Bibs path was set, the near new Jaguar was advertised for sale in AMS, and before too long Bib bought Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F when that mighty fine driver retired way too early to focus on his Melbourne motor dealerships through which he amassed a fortune- he is still with us too.

Stillwell raced the Maserati for the first time in New Zealand- DNF in the NZ GP after 50 laps, the race was won by the very car Bib was purported to be buying- Parnell’s Super Squalo- his racing of the 250F is a tangent I will leave for another time.

Bib’s last run in the D Type was at the Phillip Island opening meeting on 15 December 1956, he was second in the Bill Thompson Memorial Trophy 12 lap feature, thirty seconds adrift of Jack Brabham- home for some summer Australasian racing in a Cooper T41 Climax, and fourth in the Formula Libre race also won by Jack.

 

AMS January 1957

At the end of the year ‘XKD 520’ was sold via dealer and former AGP winner John Crouch to the Ampol Oil Company for Jack Davey, a colourful and immensely popular radio personality for over thirty years.

John Andrew Davey was a Kiwi, after education at Kings College, Auckland he came to Sydney in 1931 and performed as a crooner with two radio stations- he was soon employed as an announcer on another network, possessed of a quick wit and a mellifluous voice Davey was away; click here for a summary of a marvellous life; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/davey-john-andrew-jack-9905

He was a lifelong car enthusiast who contested the first Redex Reliability Trial around Australia in 1953 in a Ford Customline with co-driver Lou Moss, finishing 91st.

Jack’s health was in decline, despite family and friends not wanting him to compete he again ran in 1954, but it was too much for him, he collapsed and was admitted to St Lukes Hospital not long after the event. Whilst his doctors, no doubt supported by friends and his commercial associates, ‘banned him’ from the 1955 event he did run in 1956 in another Customline and in 1957 and 1958 in Chryslers- in ’58 he achieved his best result, eighth in the Ampol Trial sharing the Chrysler Royal AP1 V8 with Eric Nelson and Bill Murison.

When Davey took delivery of XKD520 he had it repainted red, using it as a roadie and for promotional purposes, a passenger windscreen was also fitted. The D-type was left in the care of Bill Murray, whilst he was driving the car back to Sydney probably for use as part of the 1957 Ampol Round Australia Trial pre-promotion, the 1947 AGP winner lost control at high speed not too far from the Harwood Ferry which crossed (until 1966) the Clarence River on the Pacific Highway 650km from Sydney, and smashed into the back of a timber laden semi-trailer- both the D-type and Murray were badly hurt, this was in June 1957. The car was written off for insurance purposes, Murray, even after a long recovery process had ongoing health problems.

Jack Davey’s radio career went all the way to his untimely death from cancer at St Vincents Hospital in Darlinghurst, Sydney in October 1959. Such was his following that somewhere between 100,000-150,000 people stood in pouring rain outside St Andrews Cathedral to pay their respects.

 

Jack Davey with his D Type out front of his Gold Coast Ampol Servo- Davey had diverse business interests, this dovetailed nicely with Ampol support of various of his radio shows. Address folks?

 

Jack Davey and team at the Sydney Showgrounds start of the 1954 Redex Round Australia Trial DNF (unattributed)

 

Jack Davey applying suntan lotion to the lovely Sabrina’s chassis, doin the mutual celebrity thing in 1958. That teeny-weeny striped bikini seems to have no ‘rear suspension’, the wonders of photoshop in those days. Those 42 inch titties were insured against shrinkage for 100,000 pounds apparently- a drop to a petite 38 inches, if maintained for two months secured the businesswoman a payout of 5000 pounds, every inch lost after that paid another 2500 pounds.  The process of assessment in relation thereto would have been an interesting and enjoyable task. She was in Australia in 1958-9, Davey organised digs for her in Point Piper. Where else but primotipo could you learn useless shit like this? (nylon.net)

 

Frank Gardner across the top of the mountain, Bathurst, Easter 1956, 6 lap sportscar scratch. ‘On new disc pads, the Jaguar was at times almost brakeless and finished second (behind David McKay’s Aston DB3S). Frank obviously hadn’t read his 1970s book of advice to budding racing drivers!’ wrote John Medley. He won the last race of the weekend- the 6 lap sedan and sports handicap (unattributed)

 

Gardner and XKD520 looking all very nice, Mount Druitt, Sydney 23 May 1958. John Ellacott recalls FG did a 14.57 standing quarter in this sprint event (J Ellacott)

 

In the Bathurst paddock, Easter 1958 with FG looking across to David McKay, helmet on just about to jump aboard his Aston Martin DB3S- who is the slim driver in between? (unattributed)

 

FG is of that professional generation of drivers who started with an MG T Type, a TA his Uncle Hope Bartlett lent him at 17 to run at Marsden Park, NSW in 1949 and finished in ‘serious stuff’ with Lolas in the early seventies- a couple of races in the T330 in 1972 were his last events in single-seaters. What a vast ‘progression of technology’ he was a part of, noting his touring car career went for a number of years after that in Australia. He is aboard an F5000 Lola T300 here (unattributed)

 

Following the theme above, FG testing the Lola T260 Chev Can-Am car raced by Jackie Stewart as a Carl Haas works entry in 1971- no doubt the 7 litre Chev engined beastie felt somewhat different to XKD520 but it was part of what he called his ‘Big Cars’ progression. JYS would have preferred far more testing of this car before it jetted to the US BTW, an M8F McLaren it wasn’t…(D Phipps)

 

Lynton Hemer has captured FG beautifully on The Causeway during the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round in 1972. This is Frank and Lola’s Bob Marston’s whoosh-bonk F5000- take a T240 F2 tub- give the FVA and FT200 the arse, then bolt in a Chev and DG300 where they were, pop the radiators where they will fit, put some swoopy bodywork over the top, hey-presto T300- and instantaneously create a successful car- and one of the sexiest of the decade. It wasn’t quite that simple but you get the drift (L Hemer)

In mid-1957 ‘XKD 520’ was sold to the up and coming Frank Gardner via his friend Bill Graber who was in the insurance industry- there will be a ring to this to some of you as FG’s C Type Jaguar had also been involved in a bad (fatal) accident, and was then written off before rescue by Gardner and resurrection as a very competitive mount.

The D Type was restored to sparkling good health at the Sydneysider’s Whale Beach Service Station at Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches- several of Frank’s mates were involved in the process including Jack Myers who worked on the chassis, Clive Adams the body, and Alan Standfield who built a new bonnet to the latest D Type long-nose style. Click here for a link to an article about FG’s C Type; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/

Gardner raced the car continuously from his first meeting at at Schofields, NSW in March 1958 where he won- the car was painted white, just like the C Type and had its engine sleeved to 3.8 litres.

Frank added further laurels to ‘XKD 520’s history including a second at Easter Bathurst, first at Mt. Druitt, and third in both heats at Gnoo Blas, Orange, NSW- in a MotorSport interview with Simon Taylor FG claimed 25 wins out of 26 starts for his two Jags.

He sold the car to David Finch after deciding to leave Australia to race in Europe, selling a five year lease on the Avalon garage- that was his time frame to make it or not in search of fame and fortune- which he very much achieved until returning home to race for several more years in late 1974.

Finch is a Sydney fellow who had cut his racing teeth in an MG TF throughout 1955 and then progressed to an Austin Healey 100-4 he ran at Mt Druitt and Bathurst in 1956-1958, before taking the big step up from a production sportscar to one of the fastest racing cars of the day- handling the more demanding machine with considerable skill.

 

This group of three photographs are of David Finch in ‘XKD520’ during the Gnoo Blas, February 1960 meeting. Lovely family scene, it could almost be a BP advertising shot! (Kelsey)

 

Huge grid for the sportscar feature. Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax, Frank Matich in the ex-Gardner Leaton Motors Jaguar C Type, Finch in ‘XKD520’, on row two the ex-Kangaroo Stable Aston martin DB3S of Warren Blomfield #122 and Tom Sulman and the rest (D Finch)

 

Gnoo Blas as above (Kelsey)

 

Beautiful shot of David Finch on the way to a win in the 1961 Queensland Tourist Trophy at Lowood (unattributed)

Finch raced the D Type for the next three years, eventually fitting a factory-supplied 3.8-litre block after the original 3.4-litre ‘added its expiration to the fitting name of Bathurst’s engine-testing Con Rod Straight’ wrote the Fisken copywriter- in fact a piston collapsed and a rod punched two nice holes in the block.

He won the 1961 Queensland Tourist Trophy at Lowood with the new engine, ‘an encounter with a fence at Warwick Farm (September 1961) exceeded the ductility’ of the original bonnet and local aluminium ace Alan Standfield, again stepped in, and created a distinctively-shaped version of Jaguar’s long nose bonnet.

Australian drag racing pioneer and purveyor of ‘luxury’ American sedans, Ash Marshall was the next owner of ‘XKD 520’ from May 1962.

‘Flash Ash’ had come through speedway sedans, a sprintcar, rallying and raced on the circuits for a bit before a business trip to the US exposed him to Drag Racing for the first time- his key contact, Bob Fuerhelm took him along to a meeting and organised a ride in a super stocker which went 11.7 seconds over the quarter mile, he went for it hook, line and sinker.

Marshall imported two Plymouth super-stockers (’63 Plymouth Savoy Max and ’64 Plymouth Belvedere), first racing these at Castlereagh in November 1964, he then ‘doubled up’ by bringing in an outdated Rail called ‘The Vandal’- a short 137 inch wheelbase, full-length body, dropped l-beam front axle with transverse spring  American dragster.

Marshall was immediately a ‘headliner’ and very quickly applied his commercial skills to the business of motor racing, doing very well on and off the track for the balance of the decade, other cars- ‘The Scorcher’ and rear-engined ‘Soapy Sales’ followed Vandal.

Marshall was the first to break 200mph in Australia in February 1969 at Castlereagh and the first to go into the 6 second bracket- he did 6.98 seconds in 1972 at Castlereagh but the run was disputed and eventually disallowed.

Ash was involved in Pyramid Selling Schemes in Australia and the UK before moving to the US- in each country being one step in front of the authorities as such practices were made illegal, he settled in the US and ‘returned to his roots’ as a motor trader buying and selling exotics for high-flyers. He became involved again in the sport as the nostalgia scene developed in the nineties and died in January 2019.

Back to the D Type, when Ash and his team turned their attention to the Jaguar, they embarked upon a plush restoration complete with chromed accessories, XKSS style side exhaust and heat shield, plenty of polished aluminum, a carpeted interior and ‘a glass-like finish’ as described in Sports Car World‘, the car carried NSW registration ‘ASH 222’- Stan Brown worked on the body and Clive Adams painted it.

(T Scott)

 

Marshall loads up in front of a fascinated crowd at Riverside, during the first Nationals in October 1965. Vandal was the only USA ‘Top Fuel’ dragster in Australia at the time- troubles with the Chrysler Hemi intervened that weekend (D Cook)

 

Eddie Thomas’ Chrysler powered rail alongside Vandal in the fire-up road at Riverside during the ‘first’ nationals- there are claims by two events at Riverside in 1964, in October 1965. This pair never raced when Ash’ problems occurred (Street Machine)

 

Ash Marshall in the Vandal, this side and Jack ‘Fizzball’ Collins ‘Road Runner’ at Riverside, Fishermans Bend, October 1965 (moondog.net.au)

 

Later owners of XKD520 in Australia include Peter Bradley and Richard Parkinson who advertised it for sale in the September 1966 issue of Racing Car News magazine. Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins contemplated purchase during their visit to Australia to race in the Surfers Paradise 12 Hour but decided against it when they became aware that Richard Attwood wanted to buy it.

In 1967 ‘XKD 520’ moved to the UK, bought by the former Jaguar apprentice, Grand Prix driver and future 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours winner. He had it worked on by Jaguar’s Brown’s Lane facility and then displayed it in his Wolverhampton Mercedes-Benz showroom for many years before selling it in 1977- since then it has had numerous owners.

There was considerable passionate discussion between the Author and Art Director as to the layout of this piece- whether to mix and match the new photographs of XKD520 with the old or separate them. So heated was the exchange that The Editor intervened to avoid a most unpleasant fracas- such are the pressures of a small office in Covid 19 times like these- photo credits for the modern ‘XKD520’ material are to Fisken and Sotheby’s unless otherwise attributed.

 

David Finch closest, and Jack Murray. D Types by two at Mount Panorama in October 1960 (unattributed)

 

Etcetera…

 

 

Jaguar D Type cutaway published in AMS (HG Molloy)

 

(D Finch)

David Finch testing on Mount Druitt airstrip in 1958- a good reason to smile!

 

 

 

(unattributed)

Stillwell jumps aboard ‘XKD520’ at Lowood, alongside is Bill Pitt’s D Type, ‘XKD526’ which won this 1956 Queensland Tourist Trophy event, complete with Le Mans start.

 

 

(D Finch)

Jack Murray in the silver Jack Parker owned D Type ahead of David Finch heading through Murrays Corner at Mount Panorama in October 1960- the NSW Sports Car Championship race won by Frank Matich in the Leaton Motors Lotus 15 Climax. Murray was fifth, Finch unplaced.

By Easter 1961 David had the rhythm of the car, he was on the front row of the Bathurst sportscar grids alongside Frank Matich’ Lotus 15 and John Ampt in the ex-everybody Cooper T38 Jaguar finishing fourth in the 3 lapper and third in the 10 lap main sportscar race- progress indeed.

 

(unattributed)

Stillwell heading up Mount Panorama during the 1956 Easter meeting.

 

 

(HG Molloy)

 

David Finch at Lowood, on the weekend in which he won the Queensland Tourist Trophy in 1961.

 

 

Bib at the Phillip Island opening meeting on 15 December 1956- only Jack Brabham’s presence ruined his party. Touch of the opposites, not sure exactly where he is on a circuit I know rather well.

 

 

(unattributed)

Bib at Bathurst in October 1956.

He contested the 13 lap NSW Road Racing Championship for sportscars, a handicap event in the manner of the day, finishing sixth but did the fastest race time. He was unplaced in the sedan and sportscar handicap at the end of the weekend’s proceedings but again did the fastest race time.

Bathurst had a great tradition of a parade lap of competitors sans helmet at slow speeds- below are Stillwell and Bill Pitt leading this group in their beautiful D Types- other cars and drivers folks?

(unattributed)

 

 

Arcane with no semblance of relevance…

Hot rodding started in Australia just as it did in the US, in the depression years, when young men without any money created ‘specials’ from the amalgamation of parts of different makes- more often than not cast off bits and pieces. Sometimes V8s provided the power, into the 1940s American Hot Rod magazines started to jump the Pacific, this had an impact on hotting-up Holdens- doubtless the Repco Hi-Power cylinder head for the Holden Grey was a commercial response to that demand.

Street racing was a reality of course in Australia as elsewhere with ‘The Brickies’ on the present site of the Olympic sports precinct at Homebush Bay, the Mad Mile at Deadman’s Creek outside Liverpool and in Melbourne, Newlands Road, Coburg and Doherty’s Road, Altona North well known spots for ‘da boys’ in the day- each state had their favourite spots too- it was far from just an East Coast thing.

Getting these activities off the public roads was important of course, the Penrith Emergency Airstrip (west of Sydney, Penrith Speedway was a hallowed racing site between the wars) had been used for sprint racing pre-war and it was there during the 1959 NSW Sprint Championships that Ray Walmsley, of, amongst other things Alfa Romeo P3 GMC fame, first ran a Dragster in Australia- his Corvette powered ‘rail’ did a 14.04 second quarter mile pass.

Ash Marshall in his ’64 Plymouth Belvedere against a hot-rod at Castlereagh in July 1965, ‘known locally as Ramchargers, this and his ’63 Plymouth were way ahead of anything else with doors when they landed at the end of 1964’ (Street Machine)

 

Vandal at Surfers Paradise in 1966, note the commercialism disallowed on the circuits at the time (D Hill)

 

Marshall, crew, Miss Valvoline and Vandal at Riverside in 1965- see chassis and front suspension detail (Street Machine)

In Victoria the use of Pakenham Airstrip made things a tad more kosher from 1958 but the big step forward, with Victoria Police support, was the use of another former racing venue- Fishermans Bend, for drag racing from 1962, very quickly ‘Riverside Dragway’ became the first home for the sport in Australia with Eddie Thomas setting a local record of 10.07 seconds.

Riverside hosted the first nationals on October 2 and 3 1965, Ash Marshall’s Vandal made its first public appearance that day but ended up a fizzer when engine maladies intervened, ‘Top Eliminator’ was Jack ‘Fireball’ Collins ‘Road Runner’ over Eddie Thomas’ machine- the speed shop impresario a story himself.

Penrith, taken over by the NSW Hot Rod Association in 1965 and re-named Castlereagh International Dragway soon replaced Riverside as the home of drag racing in Australia, with Calder its ‘Victorian base’.

‘Eddie Thomas deploys the laundry in his first Greg Goddard built car at Riverside in 1965- Australia’s first parachute’ wrote Street Machine. Its interesting to look at Riverside, Lorimer Street Fishermans Bend and reflect upon its close proximity to the Melbourne’s CBD, and the houses closeby in Garden City for that matter- not something yerd see these days! (Street Machine)

Bibliography…

Sports Cars and Specials August 1956, various issues of Australian Motor Sports magazine from 1956-1960, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Street Machine article on Ash Marshall

Photo Credits…

Kelsey Collection, Barry Hickson, The David Finch Collection, John Ellacott, Fisken, Sotheby’s, Tony Scott, Street Machine, moondog.com.au, D Cook, nylon.net, Lynton Hemer

Technical drawings/cutaway by HG Molloy in AMS June 1956