Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Jones at Ardmore during the 1954 NZ GP weekend (unattributed)

The Charlie Dean/Repco Research constructed Maybach series of three ‘1950s’ racing cars – Ern Seeliger’s Chev engined Maybach 4 evolution of Maybach 3 duly noted and venerated – are favourites.

Stan Jones raced them to many successes until 1956, see here for a long article about Stan and his Maybachs; Stan Jones: Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix and Gold Star Winner… | primotipo…

Links at the end of this piece provide more for those with the Maybach fetish.

Repco had no plan-grande in the 1950s to take on and beat the world in Grand Prix racing, as they did in 1966-67. But in hindsight, the Maybach race program was an important plank in a series of identifiable steps by Repco which commenced in the 1930s and ended in global racing triumph.

The catalyst for this piece is some material Tony Johns sent me this week, in addition to some other shots I’ve had for a while from two other mates, Bob King and David Zeunert. It seemed timely to have another crack at Maybach 1, Jones’ 1954 New Zealand Grand Prix winning machine, still extant in Bob Harborow’s hands.

(T Johns Collection)
(T Johns Collection)

We are diving into the minutiae here, but I’ve never heard of the Fesca Gear Co, clearly a key relationship in developing Maybach 1, and the other cars?

Chris De Fraga, the fella to whom the letter is addressed, was the longtime motoring editor of The Age, Melbourne, a daily aimed at those who could read and think. The competitor Sun and Herald were aimed at those without those capabilities, IG Mason, my English master useter tell us endlessly at Camberwell Grammar School. “Just read the front, back, and editorial pages of The Age if you’ve not got the time to read anything else.” I digress.

(KE Niven & Co)

Jones looking pretty happy with himself after the Ardmore victory. It had been a tough few days for all of the team dealing with major mechanical recalcitrance of the big Maybach six, note the company logo on Stan’s helmet.

And below leading Ken Wharton’s basso-profundo-shrieking, absolutely sensational V16 BRM P15, DNF brakes.

Credits…

Tony Johns, David Zeunert and Bob King Collections

Tailpiece…

‘Speed Man After 500 Pounds Racing Car Trophy’ said the heading of this The Age promo shot of Maybach in Stan’s backyard garage at Yongala Road, Balwyn, Melbourne in the days prior to the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

The technicians hard at it are Ern Seeliger, racer/engineer/Jones’ friend, Stocky Stan, Alan Jones’ head you can just see behind the wheel, Reg Robbins, longtime Jones’ employee, Charlie Dean and Lloyd Holyoak, Jones’ used car manager.

Dean lived in Kew, the adjoining suburb to Stan so it was an easy shot to set up when both men headed for home. Note the three bottles of Fosters Lager – we call these Long Necks or Depth Charges – to ease the pain of car preparation on the bench behind the car.

In essence Maybach 1 was built by Dean in 1946, continually modified and raced by him, including the 1948 AGP, then sold to Jones in 1951. Part of the deal was that Maybach was further developed and prepared by Repco Research, which Dean ran. In so doing a generation of the best mechanics and technicians from the rapidly growing Repco conglomerate were imbued with the racing ethos, another key plank in the long road to Brabham’s first championship win aboard a Repco Brabham Engines V8 powered BT19 chassis at Reims on July 3, 1966…

(B King Collection)

Jones sneaks a look at his pursuers a few days later during the race. Maybach DNF with various maladies, fastest lap was some consolation. Another local lad, Doug Whiteford prevailed in a Talbot Lago T26C, his third AGP win.

The Ecurie Australie (name under the number) was – and still is – the name under which the Davison family sometimes race. Lex Davison and Stan were competitors on-track, but owned a Holden dealership for a while and competed in the Monte Carlo Rally aboard a Holden 48-215, also crewed by Tony Gaze, in 1953.

The name on the side of the car should have been Repco, or Repco Research, but such vulgar commercialisation wasn’t kosher then. It would come of course…

Finito…

(F Pearse)

One of the amazing things about the internet is the manner in which information is shared, not least photographs from collections which would otherwise never have seen the light of day…

Fred Pearse is one such person who was “an insider enthusiast, a decent man who spannered cleverly for over two decades, here and overseas,” according to Australian racer/historian John Medley.

In the photo above Fred is fettling Dick Cobden’s ex-Peter Whitehead Ferrari 125 V12 s/c prior to the South Pacific Championship at Gnoo Blas, Orange in January 1955.

Peter Whitehead won on that particular weekend driving a Ferrari 500/625. See this feature article, largely containing Fred’s photographs, which should be treated as Fred Pearse Collection 1; 1955 South Pacific Championship, Gnoo Blas… | primotipo…

Peter Reynell was left Fred’s photo albums upon his death having looked after him for the last years of his life. “Fred told me quite a bit, it was all a long time ago, but I clearly recall his pride in Col James’ MG Special, he was involved in that,” Peter recalls.

“Don’t forget his involvement in motorsport administration too. He was Clerk of Course at Bathurst and Amaroo Park, was a member of both the Australian Racing Drivers Club and CAMS NSW Boards.”

Peter has posted photos from Fred’s albums progressively on Bob Williamson’s Australian Motor Racing Photos Facebook page which has become an amazing historic resource given the paucity of photographs on so many Australian racing topics. Thanks to Fred and Lee Pearse, and Peter Reynell.

(Reg Light’s 1934 Vauxhall)

While some of the scans aren’t flash, I don’t want rare photos to disappear without trace into the bowels of FB. In some cases I’m not sure of the car/driver/location but with some input from you lot we should be able to solve the puzzles. Please get in touch if you can assist!

The article is primarily snippets, and more substantively about the 1936 Australian Tourist Trophy at Phillip Island and the 1940 Bathurst GP. In the latter case I’ve drawn upon the race report from Medley’s seminal ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’. In addition to these two meetings there are photos on all manner of topics.

John Medley picks up the threads, “Fred Pearse directly or indirectly was involved with many of Australia’s significant racing cars, ask yourself for example about the Altoona Indian with Norton barrels pictures…probable links back to the original Chamberlain earlier with Altoona Indian power, later vertically opposed four-cylinder eight-piston, supercharged two-stroke (in a front wheel drive inboard-braked spaceframe chassis in 1932.” See here; Chamberlain 8: by John Medley and Mark Bisset… | primotipo…

  “WB Thompson’s (below) Midget car engine. Norton barrels and heads on a (1926-28) Indian Altoona crankcase.” (F Pearse)

Bill Thompson and Ted Poole at Wentworth Park, Sydney in 1935 (vintagespeedway.com)

“When speedway was starting in Australia with multiple AGP winner Bill Thomson involved, plus Bill Bargarnie (who did the superchargers on Jack Borretto’s weekes Ford V8 pre-war) and forward to Jack Brabham’s twin-cylinder and Ron Wards’s speedway cars.”

Bob King draws the connections too, “Bill Balgarnie was a Chamberlain employee who later set up the tractor factory in Western Australia for them. He was also Bill Thompson’s riding mechanic and a TT motorcyclist. It makes a lot of sense if the Chamberlain Special Altoona Indian motor found its way into Thompson’s speedway car.”

John Medley again, “Fred Pearse was involved with many of them, as a Reg Light employee and later Peco partner (with Bob Pritchett) and probably in the John Snow/Jack Saywell preparation business (Monza Service in East Sydney) prewar where imported expert ‘Jock’ Finlayson ruined the Saywell Alfa Tipo-B engine – so in time it was lost when war broke out.”

“To extend my previous observations re the Altoona Indian Norton; Jim McMahon was another Sydney-sider who probably looked at Bill Thompson’s/Bill Bargarnie’s work, did several cars himself on speedway and road, produced a Peoples Car postwar (ran the prototype at Bathurst) starred in a film or two and built a side-valve Ford V8 into an OHV motor using motorcycle heads on a Ford block, which, I suspect ended up in the USA in a Lincoln, Nebraska Museum.” wrote Medley.

There are some fragments here rather worthy of follow up with Mr Medley in due course!

(F Pearse)

1936 Australian Tourist Trophy, Phillip Island…

This 200-mile race was held on March 30 and won by Jack Fagan (#2) who also set the fastest time, 3 hours 6 min 15 seconds, or 64mph. Supercharged MG K3 Magnette.

HR Reeve was second in an MG P-Type, with all of the other 15 starters either non-classified or DNFs!

(F Pearse)
The caption reads ‘A diagram showing the new 3 1/2 mile circuit at Phillip Island which will be used for the 200 miles Australian Tourist Trophy on March 30’- the map also shows the original circuit since the 1928 100 Miles road race, aka the Australian Grand Prix.
Fagan MG K3 (F Pearse)

Fagan MG K3 (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

At a guess this is the accommodation for motorcars behind the Isle of Wight Hotel, site now vacant.

Bill Thompson Bugatti T37A (F Pearse) If the shot was taken during the ’36 TT weekend it was riven by Tom Peters

“Supercharged Bugatti, holder of New South Wales Light Car Clubs speed record at 112mph, Canberra 1935, driver WB Thompson,” wrote Fred in 1936.

Pit setup for K3 and Bugatti (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Riley Brooklands or TT Sprite. Article on the Sprite here; Riley Club, Bacchus Marsh Sprints 1937… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)
‘Blown’ Austin 7 (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Bathurst Easter 1940 : Bathurst Grand Prix…

The annual Easter meeting was the last until 1946 with the war now six months old, several of the entrants including John Snow, Delahaye , Charlie Whatmore and Arthur Wylie had joined the military with others to follow so the meeting for many at Applecross, Perth in November 1940 duly noted, was the last hurrah.

L-R: John Barraclough, MG NE Magnette, John Snow, Delahaye 135CS, perhaps Tom Lancey’s MG NE Magnette, and Alf Barrett’s winning Alfa Romeo Monza (F Pearse)
Paul Swedberg’s Offy (F Pearse)

The meeting attracted huge crowds despite one of the worst droughts in Australia’s history, petrol shortages and a war which continued to involve greater numbers of Australians.

There were 40 minutes between the backmarker, Alf Barrett, Alfa Monza and limit-man Jolley’s Singer 9 who led the first five laps. An MG T Series battle ensued between French and Nind. Barraclough’s MG NE had a slow opening lap so the faster black similar car of Lancey led the battle but he was ovetaken before the end.

Alf Barrett’s Alfa Monza at rest (F Pearse)

Finally the Barrett Alfa roared away with 150 miles in front of him. Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl was slowed all afternoon by carburettor trouble, Bill Reynolds did well early until his Ford V8 overheated, that engines common affliction.

Crowd interest was provided by Paul Swedberg’s Offy with only a two-speed gearbox and two-wheel (hand) braked who was outgunned on the straights and under brakes but was very quick uphill and under acceleration. Early in the race Swedberg and Snow passed and re-passed one-another but the red and blue Offy passed the Delahaye up Mountain Straight.

Barrett continued to close, “the Alfa Romeo markedly quicker than any other competitor sliding and shuddering on the corners and spraying gravel as Barrett hurled this classic car on those long smooth lines he was to become famous for.”

John Crouch in the Alfa 8C2300 imported by John Snow, not Bathurst 1940 though where he carried number 7 (F Pearse)
Snow, Delahaye 135CS (F Pearse)
Alta in Ford V8 trim “having been driven lightless and unregistered by Bill Reynolds from Melbourne” and “no doubt barely an eyelid was batted!” – Nathan Tasca and John Medley (F Pearse)

By mid-race, Harold Monday, Ford V8 and Crouch Alfa 8C2300, had lost time with pitstops, McMahon’s Willys was about to fail with engine trouble and Burrows Hudson dream run ended in timing sprocket failure. Lancey had dramas too and slipped down the field.

Whatmore led from Kleinig, Snow and Barrett with Swedberg heading for the pits with plug trouble.

Barrett took the lead from Whatmore on lap 31 with Snow passing Whatmore a lap later for second. Jack Phillips withdrew with back trouble (having crashed the car earlier in the week and spending several days in hospital) and climbed out of the car collapsing in agony with Parsons taking over, dropping three places but finishing ninth.

Barrett crossed the line in the fastest time to win from Snow and Whatmore – then George Reed Ford V8 Spl, the John Crouch Alfa, Frank Kleinig, Paul Swedberg, John Barraclough, and Jack Phillips/Parsons Ford V8 Spl. Barrett set a lap record during the race at 3 minutes 4 seconds. Click here for a lengthy feature on Barrett and his Alfa; Alf Barrett, ‘The Maestro’, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Monza… | primotipo…

Exhaust side of Swedberg’s Offy Midget (F Pearse)
Swedberg’s Offy over the line (F Pearse)
Jim McMahaon’s Willys Special (F Pearse)

Bathurst Etcetera…

(F Pearse)

Peter Whitehead in ERA R10B during his successful 1938 Australian Grand Prix weekend. Click here for a feature on Whitehead and the ’38 AGP; Peter Whitehead in Australia: ERA R10B: 1938… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

John Sherwood, MG NE Magnette during his victorious Bathurst 100 drive at Easter in 1939. Piece on Sherwood here; ‘History of Motor Racing in Australia’ by John Sherwood in 1953… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)

Jack Saywell, Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 at Bathurst in 1939

Etcetera…

Jim Brace, Frontenac Ford (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Victor Harbor paddock, December 26, 1936, South Australian Centenary Grand Prix/1936 AGP.

Jim Fagan’s #1 MG K3 and Tom Peters Bugatti T37A- both failed to finish as did Frank Kleinig in Bill McIntyre’s Hudson Spl. Les Murphy’s MG P Type took the win that weekend.

Frank Kleinig’s famous and still existing Kleinig Hudson Spl, an amazing and constantly developed concoction of MG chassis, straight-eight Hudson engine and many other components. Click here for a feature on this car; Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Special… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)

Its fuzzy but has to be Bob Lea-Wright’s Singer Nine with silverware after the 1934 Australian Grand Prix won in splendid fashion from Bill Thompson’s MG K3 Magnette.

(F Pearse)

Absolutely no idea with this one, but the background appears to be the same for this photograph and the several which follow. Car above front and centre is a Terraplane Special.

(F Pearse)

Mrs JAS Jones’ Alfa Romeo 6C1750 Zagato SS. See here; Mrs JAS Jones Alfa 6C 1750 SS Zagato… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)

MG K3??

(F Pearse)
(F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Peter Whitehead at Parramatta Park, Sydney in November 1938.

He is aboard ERA R10B during his successful 1938 Australian Tour, not that this event was a successful one for anybody involved, aborted as it was on the evening before the race due to NSW Police concerns about spectator safety. See here; Parramatta Park Circuit… | primotipo…

(unattributed)

Bill Clark’s (?) HRG at Mount Druitt (?) in the mid-1950’s.

Chassis W179 was imported by Tony Gaze and fitted locally with this ‘Bathurst’ monoposto body. It was later purchased by Jack Pryer and Clive Adam: Pryer and Adams – PRAD – and formed the basis of the car below.

(F Pearse)

This group of photos (the two above and the three below) are of Prad 4 being converted from open-wheeler spec to Prad 5 sportscar configuration, engine is a Holden Grey- six fed by three SU carbs. Car for many years owned and raced by Shane Bowden.

(F Pearse)

The photos were taken outside Clive Adams, Lane Cove, Sydney workshop.

(F Pearse)

Photo Credits…

Fred Pearse Collection courtesy of Peter Reynell, vintagespeedway.com

Photo Identification and Comments…

John Medley, Bob King, Nahan Tasca, Shane Bowden

Tailpiece…

(F Pearse)

Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 being pushed through the Gnoo Blas paddock during the January 1955 South Pacific Trophy weekend. The youthful driver behind with the Persil whiter-than-white overalls is JA Brabham in search of his Cooper T23 Bristol.

Finito…

Derek Bell, Tecno PA123/3, Canadian GP 1972 (LAT)

Only one of hundreds of Kart manufacturers made it to F1. Tecno had won Kart, F3 and F2 championships before they leapt into Grand Prix racing in 1972 but the venture failed dismally after only 10 grand prix starts thanks to Ferrari-esque levels of intrigue and infighting.

Bolognese engineers Luciano and Gianfranco Pederzani ran a successful truck hydraulics business named Oleodinamica Pederzani & Zini which was inspired by the technology in American trucks they saw post-war. Another American idea they rather liked was Karts!

Ronnie Peterson and Susanna Raganelli, Tecno Barilla in Denmark during the 1966 Kart World Championship weekend, she won

Tecno Kart operated from premises in Via Bufalini, Borgo Panigale, Bologna from 1962. Tecno were the first to volume produce ‘sidewinder’ chassis to take advantage of the newly developed Parilla air-cooled, rotary-valve motors.

These Parilla GP15L powered Tecno Kaimono’s (the caiman is a small alligator, the reptile featured on the Tecno logo) won the World Kart championship three times on the trot from 1964-66. Ex-Italian GP motorcyclist Guido Sala was victorious in 1964-65, then Susanna Raganelli won in 1966 after a furious battle with a couple of Swedes, Leif Engstrom and Ronnie Peterson.

Tecno put a toe in the water with Formula 250 cars in 1964, then Formula 850 machines in 1966, before building their first F3 car in 1966.

Tecno Automobili’s kart inspired, wide-track, short wheelbase TF66 debuted with Carlo Facetti at the wheel at the Circuito del Mugello on July 17. Two laps of a challenging 66km road course through the Tuscan countryside was a good test for the new chassis! In a good start for the marque, he finished fourth, Jonathan Williams was up front in a De Sanctis Ford.

Other early Tecno F3 pilots included Grand Prix winner, Giancarlo Baghetti, Chris Craft, Mauro Nesti and Tino Brambilla. Tecno’s breakthrough win came when Brambilla’s TF67 Ford won the Luigi Musso Trophy at Vallelunga in October 1967. Clay Regazzoni’s TF67 Ford Novamotor took the honours in the more prestigious GP Espana, Jarama, a month later.

After a modest start in 1967, Tecno sold 40 cars in 1968, commencing a great run of F3 success. They won the Italian championship from 1968-71, three French titles from 1968-1970 (Francois Cevert in 1968), not to forget Swedish titles for Reine Wisell and Ronnie Peterson in 1968-69.

Tecnos were quick at Monaco too, with wins for Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Ronnie Peterson in 1968-69, and in Switzerland where they won championships in 1969 and 1972.

Francois Cevert, Tecno 68 Ford, winner of the Circuit de Vitesse at Nogaro in August 1968 (unattributed)
Ronnie Peterson on the way to winning the Monaco F3 GP in 1969, Tecno 69 Ford-Novamotor (unattributed)

Luciano Pederzani adapted his Tecno 68 design to F2 specifications by adding bigger brakes, a five-speed Hewland FT200 transaxle and 210bhp Ford FVA 1.6-litre engine. 1968 works cars were raced by Regazzoni, Jaussaud and Facetti. Regga’s sixth place in the European championship was the best of the Tecnos which included Ron Harris entered cars for such notables as Pedro Rodriguez, Richard Attwood and Jonathan Williams.

Cevert and Nanni Galli raced the works F2s in 1969, with Francois taking Tecno’s maiden F2 victory in the GP de Reims in June. Cevert was third in the championship and Galli seventh in a year the Bologna boys built 60 F2 and F3 spaceframe chassis.

The bring-home-the-bacon (pancetta actually) year was in 1970 when Clay Regazzoni won the Euro F2 title with victories in four of the eight rounds, with Cevert sixth. That year both Tecno men made their F1 debuts, Regazzoni with Ferrari and Cevert with Team Tyrrell.

For 1971 the Pederzani’s secured Elf sponsorship but Equipe Tecno Elf had a lean time despite the best efforts of Cevert, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Patrick Depailler, all of them rather handy Grand Prix pilots of the future.

Francois Cevert, Tecno 68 Ford FVA aviating during the 1969 German GP, DNF CWP. Henri Pescarolo won aboard a Matra MS7 Ford (MotorSport)
Drivers angle into the cockpit of Cevert’s Tecno 68 Ford FVA at Thruxton in 1969. Eighth in the race won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 59B Ford (picfair.com)
Clay Regazzoni, Tecno 69 Ford FVA. Second in the London Trophy at Crystal Palace May 1970. Jackie Stewart won in John Coombs’ Brabham BT30 Ford (LAT)

For 1972 the Pederzanis, confident in their own abilities, decided to take the giant leap into Grand Prix racing.

Not for them the garagista path either, purchase of a Ford Cosworth DFV 3-litre V8 would have been too easy, after all, they had been fitting Ford Cosworth FVAs into their F2 cars for three years!

They decided to build the chassis and engine, both of which had more than a nod to Ferrari practice.

Luciano Pederzani, Renato Armoroli – recruited from Ducati just down the road in 1968 – and other technicians commenced work on Project 123 (12-cylinders, 3-litres) a twin-cam, four valve, fuel injected a 180 degree 3-litre flat-12 in early 1971.

To shorten development time the team adopted the familiar bore and stroke ratio of Ford/Cosworth’s 1-litre F3 engines – 80.98x48mm – which resulted in a displacement of 2960cc, later tickled up to 2995cc by a small increase in stroke.

By early 1972 the first way-too-heavy (205kg, 40 more than a Cosworth DFV) engines were on the dyno, the best result after early fettling was a claimed 402bhp @ 11,000rpm.

Tecno hired Parma born engineer Giuseppe Bocchi from Ferrari, where he had been working on engine structural stiffness and vibrations. Bocchi redesigned the Tecno engine to incorporate four main bearings, rather than its original seven – just like Ferrari’s flat-12 – making the structure lighter and stiff enough to be used as a structural chassis member.

Tecno PA123-72 (B Betti)
Tecno flat-12 on the test bed in 1971 (researchracing)
Tecno PA123/1 public unveiling in Milan, December 24, 1971

While progressing the engine, the team also turned their attention to a narrow track, short wheelbase chassis based on existing F2 practice; at 2270mm it was 120mm shorter than the Ferrari 312B.

Tecno’s first monocoque chassis was designated PA123 (Pederzani Automobili- 12 cylinders-3-litres) and followed Ferrari Aero practice. It comprised aluminium sheets rivetted and glued to a light-gauge tubular frame. While side radiators were planned, the engines voracious appetite for coolant resulted in a large front radiator, and bluff-nose of the type Tyrrell popularised in 1971.

Martini and Rossi’s spectacular livery had adorned Porsche Salzburg 908s and 917’s in 1971, but with the end of the fabulous 5-litre sportscar era their sponsorship was destined for Tecno’s GP racing adventure.

Upon John Wyer’s suggestion, Count Gregorio Rossi engaged the now out of work, very well credentialled JW Automotive Team Manager, David Yorke, as motor racing consultant for Martini & Rossi International to replace Hans-Dieter Dechent.

Vic Elford aboard the winning Martini Porsche 908/3 he shared with Gerard Larrousse at the Nurburgring 1000km in 1971 (MotorSport)

Initially it appeared the M&R money was destined for Brabham, a home it found in 1975. Derek Bell had been offered a Brabham drive, but ultimately Tecno got the lire, their nominated team were drivers Nanni Galli and Bell with Yorke as team manager.

Predictably, despite track tests in December 1971, the complexity of building the car’s core components in-house ensured the Tecno PA123 ran late. Derek Bell expressed his admiration for Tecno about that first test to MotorSport all the same.

“Finally, we (Bell and Yorke) got the call to fly to Italy. We arrived at Pirelli’s test track to find a delegation from the Rossi family but no car. First, I was hoping it wouldn’t show and, when it did, that it wouldn’t start. I’m convinced that if Tecno had had a disaster that day, I would have been off to Brabham. It was an icy cold day and the team poured hot water in the engine, fired it up and it ran and ran. We couldn’t believe it. David had to concede that it was a remarkable showing for a first test.”

(MotorSport)

The car took its public bow during the Belgian GP weekend at Nivelles (above), the fifth round of the 1972 championship ultimately won by Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus 72D Ford.

Galli about to spin, and be hit hard enough to write off PA123/1, by Clay Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B2 (MotorSport)
PA123/1 certainly had a touch of the prototypes about it. Luciano Pederzani has gone to all that effort to have a nice low engine – in part to aid the flow of the airstream onto the rear wing – and then we go and plonk the oil tank and related up high in the air costing rpm and upsetting airflow onto the all-important wing (MotorSport)

PA123/1 impressed the masses with its sound if not its speed. Galli qualified second last but ran reliably until spinning and taking out Tecno compatriot, Clay Regazzoni’s Ferrari. The Tecno was written off in the process.

The team next contested the non-championship Gran Premio della Republica Italiana at Vallelunga in mid-June. Galli finished third aboard a new car, PA123-2, in a performance which cheered the team despite the machine being way off the pace in a small, but reasonably classy eight car grid.

Bell at Clermont Ferrand in PA123/2
Nanni Galli on the Brands Hatch pit counter, PA123/2
PA123/2, Brands Hatch

Bell had his first race drive in that car at Clermont Ferrand but got no further than practice. Four of the nine bolts attaching the engine to the rear chassis bulkhead had cracked from the engine’s massive vibrations, somewhat impairing the car’s handling. Good Vibrations they were not.

Galli was entered at Brands Hatch where PA123-2 appeared with a new rear suspension cross-member which mounted the coil spring/dampers more conventionally (mounted less vertically) on the advice of Ron Tauranac.

Tauranac was freelancing having sold Motor Racing Developments, and later left them, he was marginalised and short-paid by Bernard Charles Ecclestone.

Nanni qualified the car 18th on the 27-car grid, not bad at all given its shortage of power and surfeit of weight on this technically demanding circuit.

The Tecno 123 never gave more than 420/430bhp, 20 and 60 less than the contemporary DFV and Ferrari, while the car weighed 640kg, far more than the 550kg Ferrari 312B2, 540kg Tyrrell 003 Ford and 575kg McLaren M23 Ford.

The relative practice performance was ruined by an accident on lap 10 of the race.

Bell in PA123/2 at the Nurburgring (LAT)
Engine change for Bell in Germany (LAT)
Galli in the Osterreichring pits, PA123/2 (MotorSport)

Bell was the more experienced Ring racer and took the wheel of PA123-2 in Germany. The car was further modified with wider front track and revisions to the oil tank. Derek was Q25 of 27 but out after only four laps with valve failure. Up front, the other flat-12 car, a 312B2 driven by Ickx won from pole.

Back in Bologna, Pederzani and his team wrestled with engine vibrations and lubrication issues in the same way Mauro Forghieri struggled to stop his flat-12 breaking its crankshafts early in its late 1969 life; seemingly insurmountable problems which resulted in Chris Amon leaving Ferrari…

Off to Austria, Galli qualified Q23 of 36 but 3.5 seconds adrift of winner/poleman Fittipaldi’s fastest Lotus 72 practice time. This time the Tecno finished the race with invaluable race mileage, albeit an unclassified 17th nine laps adrift of Emerson. Tecno had such a climb to make!

There was plenty of pressure too, with unhappy drivers, sponsors and Bologna technicians. The team’s home event at Monza was next. Armaroli left in frustration, believing the engine unreliability was due to inexperienced engine fitters at base and among the race team members.

Derek Bell aboard PA123/2 waving Carlos Pace and John Surtees through at Monza; March 711 Ford and Surtees TS14 Ford (LAT)
Galli in PA123/5 at Monza in 1972 (MotorSport)
Tecno PA123/5 drawn in 1972 Monza spec (G Piola)

Two cars were entered in Italy. A new machine, chassis PA123-5 (sic-what happened to chassis 3 and 4?) with neater front suspension and Matra-like nose for Galli, alongside PA123-2 for Bell.

With Fittipaldi again up front, Galli was Q23, while poor Derek didn’t make the cut. Worse still, in front of their home crowd – Galli’s, the Pederzani’s and Rossi’s – the car only completed 6-laps before, you guessed it, the engine failed.

The Martini Racing Team took the new car to North America for Bell to race, but it wasn’t a happy trip with Derek crashing on the warm up lap at Mosport from Q25, last on the grid.

On the fast, technically challenging Watkins Glen track in upstate New York, Derek was Q30 of 32, seven seconds adrift of Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell 005 Ford pole. Again, the Tecno’s engine went pop, this time after 8 laps.

At best the year was a character building one, in reality it was a clusterfuck of some scale which got a whole lot worse in 1973.

Bell, Mosport 1972 in PA123/5. Note the Melmag wheels, popular at the time. Oil tank smaller but still not optimally placed (MotorSport)
Get me outta here…Bell in PA123/5 at Watkins Glen 1972 (MotorSport)
Derek Bell trying to forget about the task at hand, Disneyland 1972 (unattributed)

In a perfect world the plan for 1973 should have been obvious. Race one DFV powered Tecno while continuing to develop the flat-12 until it was competitive. That way the team would have gained valuable miles to develop the chassis while getting the engine to required levels of power and endurance.

Of course, sound decisions are only possible if all parties in a business cooperate and communicate; the Pederzanis, Rossis and Yorke. Clearly, they were not, despite that, to their credit, Martini & Rossi saddled up for another year.

Instead of commonsense – the chain of events differs depending upon your source – Yorke convinced the Rossi’s to back a plan involving him constructing a car in the UK.

For reasons Yorke never disclosed, he engaged his friend, Gordon Fowell’s Goral Engineering to design a car which was fabricated by John Thompson’s respected Northhampton firm. Professor Tim Boyce, also working with McLaren at the time, provided advice on aerodynamics.

Fowell’s design credentials then were entirely outside racing. His involvement in motorsport was as an amateur driver and partner to journalist Alan Phillips in a company which produced audio tapes of race engines. Goral was their latest venture.

David Yorke lost in thought at Le Mans in 1969, a good weekend for JW Automotive, the Pedro Rodriguez/ Jackie Oliver Ford GT40 won

David Christopher Yorke was a war-hero. He became an RAF Flying Officer (#37059) in 1937 and was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Order for bravery during the Battle of France. The first was for carrying out low-level reconnaissance on German positions in a Gloster despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, the second was a similar act which involved dropping supplies to beleaguered troops in Calais. The award of Flight Lieutenant Yorke’s Distinguished Flying Cross was recorded in The London Gazette on July 23, 1940.

He then flew Hurricanes in The Battle of Britain before being posted to India as a Squadron Leader in 1941. By the end of the David Yorke was serving as a Group Captain in the Far East.

He remained with the RAF post-war but in 1949 accompanied another former RAF officer, Peter Whitehead to the Czech Grand Prix. Whitehead won the race in his Ferrari 125 and offered Yorke the role of team manager, he commenced in 1950. Success with Whitehead, Vanwall, Aston Martin and JW Automotive followed in the succeeding two decades.

This extraordinary man was described in one of his medal recommendations as a “commander and organiser of exceptional merit.” In this case, however, he was most cavalier with Martini & Rossi’s money, his choice of Goral Engineering to design the save-our-bacon Tecno was a remarkably low percentage play.

The Pederzani’s – successful industrialists before they commenced racing, and even more so after they did, had no shortage of lire – thought stuff-this! They engaged Alan McCall’s Tui Engineering to design a new state of the art contemporary chassis, or a PA123-B, depending on your source.

“Luciano was offended because Yorke had suggested Italians couldn’t do monocoques,” McCall told MotorSport. “My car was intended as nothing other than an exercise to show that he could build his own tub.”

McCall was one of a small number of very talented Kiwi engineer/mechanics who had huge influence on elite level motor racing in the sixties, seventies and beyond. His CV included stints at Team Lotus and McLaren before venturing out on his own with the construction of Tui F2 cars.

His team commenced work on New Year’s Eve 1972 and completed the car, retaining only the original design’s rear end, an amazing 10 weeks later.

So, what could possibly go wrong?

Two opposing camps, one based in England, the other in Italy, within a team with poor communication and levels of trust, developing a chassis each powered by a limited supply of engines which struggled to string more than 10 race laps together. Oh yes, loss of driver continuity too, both Galli and Bell’s services weren’t required in 1973, or more likely they ran for the Dolomiti…

Chris Amon, Matra MS120B from an obscured Tim Schenken, Brabham BT33 Ford during the 1971 French GP at Paul Ricard (MotorSport)
‘Joisus David, my 250F was quicker than this!’ Amon and Yorke during a difficult 1973

Meanwhile, back home in New Zealand, Chris Amon was enjoying a long, languid summer. His Matra drive ended at the conclusion of 1972 when the French aerospace giant ceased their one-car F1 program.

Amon agreed terms to rejoin March, with whom he had a tempestuous 1970. Somehow, again the reports differ, the deal went awry and collapsed, so Chris signed with Martini & Rossi after an approach from Yorke.

Chris was still one of F1’s quickest drivers. The young veteran (29), schooled by Bruce McLaren, was also a gifted development driver. Amon was great for Tecno, albeit the Bologna boys were way below Chris’ status in life, but beggars couldn’t be choosers in the late summer of ‘73…

Amon told MotorSport “When I agreed to drive, I had no idea what car I’d be driving. “Then Yorke filled me in, explaining that the McCall chassis was nearly ready, and that Fowell’s would be for later.”

Chris tested the McCall/Tui chassis, PA123-6, at Misano in March, Vittorio Brambilla had a steer that day too, he happened to be there testing his F2 March.

“When Pederzani saw the thing, he suddenly got excited about racing it,” remembers McCall, who corroborates press reports of the time that the car could have raced as a Tecno Tui.

In a crazy situation, McCall claims that Yorke “rode roughshod over the Pederzanis” with the result that Luciano “felt insulted”. McCall’s right-hand man, Eddie Wies, recalls “the British turning up one day, covering our car in Martini stickers and claiming it as theirs.”

This scenario is entirely possible given the Goral/Fowell machine was still nowhere near complete, Tecno needed a race-ready car.

At this point the relationship between the parties was trashed, the marriage was over with only the final act to be played out in a truncated 1973 F1 season.

“After that (the takeover of the McCall car) Luciano said he was only going to fulfil his obligations and no more,” recalled McCall, who departed Tecno straight after the Misano test.

“His contract was to supply engines, transport, and the mechanics. He’d built something like 12 engines, but no development was undertaken. He didn’t even put them on the dyno.”

Amon in PA123/6 at Zolder in 1973. Sixth in a rousing if uncompetitive performance (LAT)
Amon with plenty of rear wing at Zolder (unattributed)
(LAT)

When the Tecno transporter rumbled into the Zolder paddock for the Belgian Grand Prix in mid-May the team had already missed the Argentine, Brazilian, South African and Spanish Grands Prix.

Emerson Fittipaldi had won three of them for Lotus, while Jackie Stewart took one for Tyrrell. JYS was about to start a serious run for the title aided and abetted by Fittipaldi, and his new Lotus teammate, Ronnie Peterson taking driver’s championship points off each other.

At Zolder, Amon qualified 15th of 26 cars and finished a rousing, point-scoring sixth, totally exhausted due to high temperatures inside the cramped cockpit. He was three laps adrift of Stewart, but it was a typically gritty drive.

At Monaco things seemed even better. Amon started a fantastic 12th and was running as high as seventh before he stopped with braking problems on lap 15, then retired on lap 19 with the same drama.

“It wasn’t a bad chassis at all. It was a little bit too heavy, but in handling terms was probably a match for anything around. On the tighter tracks it went well, but once we got to somewhere like Silverstone we were in trouble.”

Amon on the hunt at Monaco, seventh was stunning while it lasted. The drive says plenty about Amon’s skill but also the quality of the chassis, and , perhaps, the torque of the Tecno flat-12
Kiwis both. Amon in front of Denny Hulme’s McLaren M23 Ford at Monaco in 1973 (MotorSport)

The team skipped the Swedish GP in mid-June but entered the French GP, held at Paul Ricard on July 1. Amon and Yorke arrived from England, but the truck from Italy was nowhere to be found.

By then the Goral chassis, the Tecno E731 had run for the first time. Bruce McIntosh, an Italian speaker after seven years with Serenissma, was employed by Yorke to put the car together. “We built the monocoque over here at John Thompson’s place, but we never had a dummy engine,” McIntosh recalled. “So, I had to take the tub to Italy and work out all the systems at the rear end.”

Doubtless the sheer stupidity of this duplication of effort with limited resources isn’t lost on you. There wasn’t a lot of love either. In one meeting Luciano Pederzani floored Yorke, in another Amon’s frustration boiled over in Tecno’s offices. He picked up an ashtray and chucked it across the room, a journalist standing outside throughout duly reported the shenanigans in the following morning’s Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Goral Tecno first ran down a back alley behind Tecno’s workshops on Via Ducati before being transported back to England and tested at Santa Pod. On both occasions there it spewed out oil.

Amon with two toys to play with at Silverstone in 1973; The McCall/Tui PA123/6 in the lower shot, and Fowell/McCall E731 in the upper shot (MotorSport)

Amon had no recollection of driving this car until the British Grand Prix weekend when Chris practiced both Tecnos.

Ultimately, he qualified 29th, and last for the race in the Tui/McCall car. The result was hardly surprising on this power circuit, Amon felt the car had no more than 400bhp. In the (restarted) race he retired after only six laps with failing fuel pressure.

A fortnight later the Goral/Fowell E731 was taken to Zandvoort, and again, after driving both cars, Amon practiced and raced the PA123-73. He qualified 19th of 24 cars in the tragic race which cost Roger Williamson his life aboard Tom Wheatcroft’s March 731 Ford. Chris was out with a fuel system problem after 22 laps.

Amon heading out to practice the Tecno E731 at Zandvoort (MotorSport)

Tecno missed the German GP but rejoined the circus at the Osterreichring for what proved to be their final race, an act of the complete farce.

Pit pundits were amused to see the Tui Tecno arrive in the Tecno transporter and the Goral Tecno on a trailer behind Fowell’s Road car; one-for-all and all-for-one.

Amon qualified the PA123-73 second last on the grid but didn’t take the start. There simply wasn’t a suitable race-engine to install, he departed in disgust and contempt.

And that, sadly, was that.

Chris, PA123/6 Osterreichring 1973 (MotorSport)
Tecno E731 Osterreichring 1973. Note the neat location of the big oil tank and radiator, Hewland FG400 gearbox and challenging exhaust pipe runs (MotorSport)

The Pederzani’s withdrew from racing but continued with their other enterprises. Amon finished the season with a couple of guest drives for Team Tyrrell, albeit his drive at Watkins Glen evaporated after Francois Cevert’s tragic death during practice in a sister car.

Looking back decades later, Amon claimed that Tui Tecno PA123-73 was the better car, but conceded the Goral Tecno didn’t get a fair crack of the whip. “It was a beautiful looking car, but it lacked development” Indeed, given its late arrival the E731’s potential was never unlocked according to those involved.

“Fowell was a clever guy,” says McIntosh, who remained with the designer to work on Amon’s own F1 car the following year; another catastrophic piece of Amon decision making.

Thompson recalls the final Tecno incorporating a host of “different ideas”. It was the first F1 chassis, he claims, to run a fibreglass rear wing.

McCall and McIntosh, from opposite camps, agreed that Luciano Pederzani was a talented engineer. McCall describes the Italian as “a hands-on mechanic and a real smart man”. McIntosh remembers him as “an intuitive engineer”.

MotorSport wrote that “The end appears to have come at Silverstone, and explains why the team ran out of engines two races later. The story below was told to Wies by a Tecno mechanic years later…”

“He told me that a very long top gear was put in our chassis. The idea was to try to make the British (Goral Tecno) car look better than it was.” That might explain why the Tecno did not qualify that weekend.

This makes no sense to me…The Tecnos wouldn’t have had the torque/power to pull a super tall top gear. A short top would have popped engines due to over revs, a tall one? Not so.

“As soon as Luciano found out he went home and said that he would never be seen at a racetrack again.” Work on a flat-eight F1 engine was immediately stopped.”

Luciano Pederzani kept his word right up to his death in his Bologna workshop in January 1987, he never did return to racing. It was very much motor racing’s loss.

Any assessment of Tecno’s considerable achievements should be viewed over a decade, not the much narrower F1 prism of 1972-73.

Chris Amon, PA123/6, Monaco 1973 (unattributed)

Etcetera: Tecno PA123/6...

(MotorSport)

Beautiful fabrication wherever you look. Tubular rocker operating coil-spring Koni damper and lower wishbone. Bodywork is aluminium.

(MotorSport)

Amon’s car having an engine change at Monaco. Just how low these flat-12s sit in the car – a stressed component as you can see – is shown from this shot. Rear of the 123-73 is the same as 123-72; a design mandatory requested of Alan McCall.

(G Piola)
(unattributed)

The overhead shot from a Monaco apartment shows the shape of PA123/6 and it’s width. Deformable structures were mandated by the FIA that season, some teams did a better job of integrating them than others.

(MotorSport)

Note fuel rail and Lucas fuel injection and forward facing roll bar. There is no need to knock the chassis, Amon said it was good.

(MotorSport)

Flat-12 engine output somewhere north of 420bhp while noting Amon’s view that it felt more like 400, inboard rear discs, Hewland FG400 gearbox,

(MotorSport)
(MotorSport)

The far more resolved location of ancillaries of the 1973 PA123 is clear. Note fuel metering unit, electronic ignition box and brake ducts.

Reference and photo credits…

MotorSport Images, Tecno Register, Italiaonroad.it, oldracingcars.com, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, MotorSport, Automobile Year 21

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

Let’s finish where we started with the F1 cars; PA123/1 at Nivelles on debut in 1972. Rainer Schlegelmilch’s typically wonderful arty-farty shot of Nanni Galli during the Belgian GP weekend.

Finito…

Bruce McLaren won the first Tasman Cup/Series in 1964 aboard the first ‘real McLaren’, a 2.5-litre Cooper T70 Climax FPF.

Two of these machines were designed and built by McLaren and his friend/confidant/mechanic and fellow Kiwi, Wally Willmott, at Coopers in late 1963.

The nascent Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team cars were raced by the boss and young, very talented American thruster, Tim Mayer. That years Tasman was a triumph for McLaren, he won three of the seven rounds, but it was also disastrous as Mayer lost his life in the final round at Longford.

This brochure was produced by BP as a handout during the ’65 Tasman, and is wonderful, I just-gotta share it with you.

Ex-Repco Brabham Engines senior technician Michael Gasking has become a good friend. He’s been in Melbourne (from Adelaide) this weekend to catch up with family and take in Motorclassica. He is also helping me with a new project, amongst all of his mega-collection of memorabilia and photographs was this little brochure I’ve never seen before.

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection

Tailpiece…

Jim Clark won the ’65 Tasman aboard a works Lotus 32B Climax, winning four of the seven rounds. Bruce won the Australian Grand Prix at Longford and was second overall aboard a Cooper T79, a new car akin to Cooper’s contemporary T77 and T75 F1/F2 designs.

Jack Brabham was third racing a new BT11A, with Phil Hill equal fourth in the surviving T70, together with Jim Palmer and Frank Gardner in Brabhams BT7A and BT11A respectively.

Finito…

(P Houston)

This Dr Who-esque shot was taken by Peter Houston at Hume Weir on the 1971 Boxing Day weekend.

It’s later F2 front runner Enno Buesselmann in his Formula Ford days, an Elfin 600. Click here for more on Australian FF formative days.

These couple of pages from a mid-1950s brochure about the Phillip Island circuit have me intrigued.

Is it a Claytons-prospectus touting for capital to build the place or part of a promotional document created after its completion? Dunno, but I’d like to know.

(P Mahon Collection)

The Repco Record is shown above at Port Wakefield circuit in South Australia in the late-1950s.

The Holden Hi-power six-cylinder engined R&D and display car was in Phil’s father’s care while away from its Repco Research home near Dandenong, Victoria.

The shot below is of the car in the family front-yard together with a Ford T-model they still own. Nice!

More on the Repco Record here; ‘Repco Record’ Car and Repco ‘Hi-Power’ Head… | primotipo…

(P Mahon Collection)
(Rewind media)

Max Stewart, Mildren Ford, winner of the 1972 Singapore Grand Prix, chases Albert Poon’s Brabham BT30 Ford.

They are clearing Peak Bend on the challenging Thompson Road circuit. Click here for more on this race; Singapore Sling with an Elfin Twist… | primotipo…

(LAT)

Brocky, brocky, brocky oi, oi, oi…

Mind you, it might be Brian Muir or Jean-Claude Aubriet, his co-drivers at the wheel. Doubtless the taxi-perves among you can set me straight on that particular helmet. Their Team Brock BMW 3.5 CSL, was out with gearbox failure after completing 156 laps, in the 19th hour, Le Mans in 1976.

The race was won by the Jacky Ickx/Gijs van Lennep Porsche 936, the Group 5 class-winner was the works Porsche 935 crewed by Rolf Stommelen/Manfred Schurti, Brock returned to Le Mans of course.

The most formidable combination in Australia immediately before, and after the war, Alf Barrett and his Alfa Romeo Monza

And the same shot, at Mount Panorama, below colourised by Nathan Tasca, the muted tones are much to my liking. See here for an epic on car and driver; Alf Barrett, ‘The Maestro’, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Monza… | primotipo…

Alan Jones, Lola THL2 Ford during the 1986 Canadian GP on the 2.74 mile Ile Notre-Dame track in Montreal, Quebec.

All the ingredients for success were in this mix but the ultimate pace of the car, in large part due to a lack of power from the Cosworth 1.5-litre, twin-turbo V6, meant it never achieved much despite the best efforts on The Jones Boy and Patrick Tambay. See here for a piece on the car; Lola THL2 Ford | primotipo…

Jones finished 10th, five laps adrift of Nigel Mansell’s winning Williams FW11 Honda.

(rewindmedia.com)

Perth’s Syd Anderson, Double Ford V8, and LC Chan’s Cooper 1100 at the start of the August 2, 1953 Johore Grand Prix in Malaya.

Anderson led for the first 19 laps of the race held on the Thomson Road course, but was out with engine and clutch problems. The incredible twin-Ford V8 engined beastie was as famous for its unreliability as its speed. Chan did the fastest lap at 63.25mph but he too failed to finish with engine problems.

I wonder if another Australian Special competed overseas before this? Stan Jones won the 1954 New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore aboard Maybach 1 of course. Click here for more on the Double Eight here; 1950 Australian Grand Prix: Nuriootpa, South Australia… | primotipo… and within this piece; Sellicks Beach, Adelaide… | primotipo…

(rewindmedia.com)
(K Wright Collection)

Bruce McLaren, winner of the 1965 Australian GP at Longford on his lap of honour.

McLaren won aboard one of his ‘first McLarens’, a Cooper T70 Climax. Jim Clark holds the Tasman Cup he has just won, he was victorious in four of the seven rounds in a works Lotus 32B Climax. See here for an article on this race; Longford 1965… | primotipo… and Cooper T70; ‘Levin International’ New Zealand 1965… | primotipo…

The Triumph Spitfire’s pilot is the Longford Motor Racing Association supremo, Ron MacKinnon.

(M Fistonic)

Max Stewart’s Lola T400 Chev ahead of Chris Amon’s Talon MR1 Chev at Pukekohe during the 1975 NZ GP.

They finished seventh and eighth with Chris in front. Amon was consistently quick throughout the ‘75 Tasman Series – won by Warwick Brown’s Lola T332 Chev – winning the Teretonga round. Stewart was held back by the Lola T400 which at that stage of its development was inferior to his old T330. Brown won the NZ GP. More on the McRae GM2/Talon MR1 here; Amon’s Talon, McRae’s GM2… | primotipo…

(B Williamson Collection)

Lex Davison, Cooper T62 Climax FPF 2.7 ahead of David McKay, Brabham BT4 Climax FPF 2.7 during the April 1963 Easter Bathurst Gold Star round.

Davison won the Bathurst 100 from pole with Kiwi, Tony Shelly second aboard Davison’s Cooper T53, and Charlie Smith’s Elfin Junior 1.5 Ford third. McKay was out after only 9 of the 26 laps with overheating.

Bib Stillwell won the Gold Star that year aboard a Brabham BT4 Climax from John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax and McKay. More on the Brabham BT4 here; For Sale, everything for sale… | primotipo… and Cooper T62 here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

(Cummins Family Collection)

Reg Hunt during the first test of his just arrived Maserati A6GCM at Fishermans Bend in December 1954.

This was the car – only just superseded by the 250F – which reset the competitive bar in Australia. To run at the front of scratch races, rather than the hitherto usual handicaps, elite level Formula Libre competitors had to have a modern, Italian! car.

Hunt died at 99, not to far from the-ton, due to Covid related complications on August 22, 2022. Click here; Reg Hunt: Australian Ace of the 1950’s… | primotipo… and here on the A6GCM; Hunt’s GP Maser A6GCM ‘2038’… | primotipo…

Racer/engineer Otto Stone in the overalls (Cummins Family Collection)
(Porsche.com)

Alan Hamilton waves to the Calder Raceway crowd after the first round of the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship in March.

He finished third aboard his Porsche 911T/R behind the Ford Mustangs of Bob Jane and Pete Geoghegan. See here for a feature on that series; 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship… | primotipo… and on some of Alan’s cars; Alan Hamilton, Australian Champion: His Porsche 904/8 and two 906s… | primotipo…

Love the ATV Channel-O outside broadcast van on the inside of Tin Shed corner, do you think they covered the meeting with one camera?

(AGP Corp)

David Brabham on the East Terrace section of the Adelaide street circuit in 1990.

He qualified his Brabham BT59 Judd 25th but spun and couldn’t get going after 19 laps of the race won by Nelson Piquet’s Benetton B190 Ford. More about David here; Brabhams and Adelaide… | primotipo…

What a double header! The Australian Tourist Trophy and Australian Grand Prix were held at Albert Park a week apart on the weekends of November 26, and December 2, 1956.

Both events were works-Officine Alfieri Maserati/Stirling Moss benefits. He won the TT in a 300S sportscar and the GP aboard one of the greatest of all Grand Prix cars, the 250F. Click here; 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy, Albert Park… | primotipo… and here; Moss at Albert Park… | primotipo…

(J Cox)

Jack Hedley on the Milthorpe Special at Albert Park in 1956.

Built by Albury man, Charlie Milthorpe in 1947-48, the car was based on an ex-army 1941 Ford ute chassis and fitted with an amalgam of FoMoCo bits; ’39 gearbox, ’40 front axle, ’35 rear end and a ’51 side-valve V8 fitted with a Stromberg 97 carb, brakes were Customline.

(unattributed)

These days the attractive racer is an ugly hot rod which resides in Tasmania, but an attractive replica has also been built.

(J Cox)
Milthorpe Ford Replica at Winton in recent years. Meeting date and driver folks? (Jason Pratt)
(B Williamson Collection)

Spencer Martin from Bib Stillwell both aboard Brabham BT11A Climaxes during the Mallala Gold Star round in October 1965.

Stillwell won from Martin in a season where Bib won three of the six Gold Star rounds. It was his final of four on-the-trot Gold Stars before retiring to a stellar – or rather continuing – business career, not to forget his return to historic competition for the final decade or so of his life.

Martin won the 1966-67 Gold Stars in fantastic scraps with Kevin Bartlett, both aboard Brabham BT11As. Click here; Matich & Stillwell: Brabhams, Warwick Farm, Sydney December 1963… | primotipo… and here; Spencer Martin: Australian ‘Gold Star’ Champion 1966/7… | primotipo…

(MotorSport Images)

Tim Schenken in the Rondel Racing Brabham BT36 Ford during the Rothmans International Trophy meeting at Brands Hatch in August 1971.

Tim’s race was over early, he had fuel metering unit failure after only three laps. He did a full F2 Championship season, winning at Crystal Palace and placing second at Mantorp Park and Albi. He was fourth in the championship won by his mate, Ronnie Peterson’s March 712M Ford, Ronnie won at Brands that day too. More on Tim here; Tim Schenken… | primotipo…

(gnooblas)

Mary Seed, AC Ace Bristol at Gnoo Blas in June 1958.

The young British socialite had met and married HMAS Melbourne Venom Squadron Leader Lieutenant-Commander Peter Seed in the UK. He gave his bride (née Morton) the car as a wedding gift, before coming to Australia in 1956.

Seed had raced an Austin Healey in the UK in 1955 and raced the AC in Australia from 1956 to 1959, including setting an Australian Land Speed Record for women at 113.3mph at Carrathool in 1957.

When the couple returned to the UK, the car, chassis #BE167, stayed in Australia, and was then raced by Ray Hogwood and Rex Marshall until 1962. Restored by Geoff Dowdle in the early 1980s, hopefully it’s still in Australia.

Doug Blain road testing the ex-Seed AC Ace Bristol BE167 for SCW (B King Collection)

Credits…

Peter Houston, Phil Mahon Collection, LAT, Zeunert Motorsport Archive, rewindmedia.com, Getty Images, John Cox, Bob Williamson Collection, MotorSport Images, Cummins Family Collection, gnooblas.com, Ken Starkey, Bob King Collection, Jason Pratt

Tailpiece…

(K Starkey)

Norm Beechey, Chev Nova from Pete Geoghegan, Ford Mustang at Catalina Park in the Blue Mountains, perhaps, Neil Stratton thinks, during the January 1967 meeting. See here for a bit more; Norm, Jim and Pete… | primotipo…

Finito…

JYS loads up into the Chaparral 2J at Watkins Glen in July 1970 (LAT)

Apart from the Chaparral 2J Chev, name another car raced in 1970 that looks as edgy now as it did way back then?

I still remember flicking through Automobile Year 18 in Camberwell Grammar’s library in 1971 and flipping-my-14-year-old-lid at the sight of the 2J. My oldest mate remembers me saying, “Look at George Jetson’s car!” The only things missing were Jane, Judy, Elroy, and of course ‘rAstro!

John Surtees, Chaparral 2H Chev at Riverside in October 1969
2H butt at Riverside in October 1969. Of note is the world’s biggest fabricated aluminium De Dion rear axle and one of the worlds biggest radius rods. ZL1 Chev has a crossover inlet manifold to get the fuel injection trumpets out of the airstream, ditto routing of extractors. Enormous wing fitted in this shot – you can see the vertical support – which is not installed in the shot above, remember too that this car was originally designed and built with the driver fully enclosed inside, something John Surtees pushed strongly against

Jim Hall has gonads the size of pineapples.

His outrageous 1969 offering, the wedgy, door-stop, knee high, De Dion rear-ended 2H was a complete flop. It’s driver, John Surtees, thought Hall had been smoking wacky baccy at Woodstock rather than working with clean-cut Nixon supporters at GM’s Skunkworks to design a new car.

Ever the poker player, Hall doubled his bets and concepted a machine so advanced and fast it was banned after only four races.

The Phil Hill/Mike Spence winged Chaparral 2F Chev looking lonely on the Daytona banking in 1967, DNF (Getty)

Chaparral had been giving the rest of the racing world aerodynamics and aero-technology lessons for five years or so to that point.

By 1970 the aluminium monocoque chassis was passe, so too was the aluminium block 650bhp’ish Chev ZL1 V8, even Chaparral/GM’s semi-automatic three-speed transaxle was a bit ho-hum.

Legend has it the inspiration for the 2J was a child’s fan-mail drawing to Hall of a sports racer being sucked down to the road by giant fans extracting the air underneath.

Whether it was ‘Elroy Jetsons’ sketch, an extension of previous Chapparral/GM R&D work, or divine providence, GM’s Paul Von Valkenburgh and Charlie Simmons, and Chaparral’s Don Gates started modelling the possibilities on Chevy R&D’s Suspension Test Vehicle.

More of a test-rig than a car, it enabled them to play with roll-centres and stiffness, ride height, pitch axis, anti-dive/squat and lots of other stuff; this rig became the 2J test mule.

“Gates worked out a fan and skirt infill defence system while Don Cox, Ernie DeFusco and Joe Marasco engineered a chassis to match,” Doug Nye wrote.

(sportscardigest.com)
(sportscardigest.com)

The resulting tricky bits were the slab-sided, fully-fenced bodywork and Rockwell JLO 247cc two-stroke 45bhp snowmobile engine which powered two rear fans nicked from an M-109 Howitzer Tank. That combination could move 9,650 cubic feet of air a minute @ 6,000rpm, creating negative pressure equal to 2,200 pounds of downforce. Unlike other racing cars, the downforce was independent of the speed of the car.

For three-quarters of its footprint the car was ‘attached’ to the ground via skirts made of General Electric’s new, trick, Lexan polycarbonate. The skirts moved up and down with the movement of the car via a system of cables, pulleys and machined arms that bolted to the suspension. On the smoother Can-Am venues the seal was good, with the fans on the car hunkered-down by two inches.

The net effect of all of this was that the car sucked itself to the road, thereby creating immense cornering power and traction.

Stewart on the Watkins Glen grid, Chris Ecomomaki in front looking for a mike (J Meredith Collection)
Vic Elford togs-up at Riverside. The car in front is Peter Revson’s Carl Haas entered Lola T220 Chev, Revson is sitting on the pit wall to the right of the Lola’s rear. His performances in that car propelled him into a works-McLaren M8F Chev with which he won the 1971 Can-Am Cup – F1 followed (B Cahier-Getty)

During the 2J’s build Jim Hall was smart enough to give SCCA officialdom a look at the car to ensure it was kosher in the almost-anything-goes Group 7/Can-Am world. The crew-cut mob deemed it hunky-dory to race.

While the car was first tested at Rattlesnake Raceway in November 1969, the complex machine missed the June 14, 1970 Mosport season opener and the following Canadian round at St Jovite. But 2J-001 finally arrived aboard a modest ute (pick-up) at Watkins Glen in mid July.

It’s driver was reigning World Champion Jackie Stewart in a one-race deal supported by GM (weird given the Ford sponsored Cosworth engine which powered his F1 cars). JYS had plenty of sportscar experience, including Can-Am cars, but nothing prepared him for the 2J.

“The car’s traction, its ability to brake and go deeply into corners is something I’ve never experienced before in a car of this size and bulk,” he wrote in Faster! “Its adhesion is such that it seems able to take unorthodox lines through turns, and this, of course, is intriguing.”

Jackie Stewart during practice at Watkins Glen, and below, a wonderful race day panorama (LAT)
(LAT)

Stewart, and Vic Elford, retained by Hall to drive the car for the balance of the series, experienced the same other worldly, steep learning curve – retraining the brain about what was possible – as Mario Andretti encountered with Peter Wright and Colin Chapman’s Lotus 78-79 ground-effect cars in 1977-1978.

In a practical sense, half the problem was keeping the auxiliary engine alive – remember it wasn’t designed for this application – in its new harsh environment with all the trackside detritus the fans sucked up from the bottom of the car and regurgitated out the back at speed. Not to forget the skirts and their support mechanisms. The engineering challenge of this lot was mega.

Stewart qualified the brave-new-world 2J third behind the dominant orthodoxy, Denny Hulme and Dan Gurney’s new Batmobile-Beautiful McLaren M8D Chevs. Jackie closed on Dan during the race before being forced to pit, then went out for another seven laps – 22 in all – he bagged fastest lap before braking problems ended his race.

2J-001 at rest in the Watkins Glen pitlane. Sole sponsor decal is for GE-Lexan. Porsche Salzburg 917 of either Vic Elford or Dickie Attwood behind (LAT)
Stewart blasts past Attwood’s third placed Porsche 917. While Hulme’s McLaren M8D Chev won at Watkins Glen, the next six placings were taken by Group 5 enduro cars, not the Group 7 cars for which the race was run. Said Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S’ had already done the Watkins Glen 6-Hours the day before, most without an engine change between the two races. The JW 917 of Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen won (unattributed)

Context is everything. The Glen’s Can-Am round was always topped up by Group 5-6 World Endurance Championship cars which were also in town for the Watkins Glen 6-Hour.

The dominant 1970-71 endurance racer was the swoopy-rounded, spaceframe, 4.5-4.9-litre flat-12 engined Porsche 917. Alongside the 917 the 2J looked like a Sci-Fi film prop!

The Texans missed the next three rounds at Edmonton, Mid Ohio and Road America to further develop the car before rejoining the circus at Road Atlanta in mid-September.

Elford recalled his impressions of the car to MotorSport, “Drving the car was just out of this world. The start-up procedure was a bit like an aeroplane I suppose, you didn’t just jump into first gear and drive away.”

“I put my left foot hard on the brake to make sure it didn’t go anywhere, then fire-up the little engine which immediately started to drive the two monster fans at the back, sucking up the air underneath. When I did this the car would literally go: ‘Shhhp!’ and lower itself down to the ground by about two and a half inches.”

Such was the suction of the turbines, the 2J could tootle off on its own at up to 30mph if the brakes weren’t applied.

At Road Atlanta Vic popped it on pole and finished sixth after ignition problems with the snowmobile engine.

“You get to the stage of thinking it’s just not possible to go around any corner at that speed, and adapting to it mentally is the most difficult approach because no other car has ever gone around a corner as fast as this one,” Elford recalled.

“Another great thing about the suction is that it doesn’t allow the cars’s handling characteristics to change as you go through a corner. Whichever way it’s set it remains that way at all times, whether its a fast corner or a slow swerve – it remains absolutely constant.”

Come race day Elford was always impacted by the three speed semi-auto transaxle, rather than the four of the LG600 Hewland equipped competition, that wasn’t the problem at Road Atlanta though, it was the subsidiary engine.

Laguna Seca followed a month later. There, Elford was the only car to go under a minute, a smidge less than two seconds quicker than Denny Hulme, despite never seeing the place before…

“I went around Laguna in 59 seconds and it was about five years before the next car managed to go under a minute, and that was an Indycar!”

He didn’t get to start from pole as the Chevy popped a-leg-out-of-bed in the warm-up early in the day, and there simply wasn’t the time for the Midland boys to pop in a new engine. The complexity of an engine change involved pulling much of the car apart and reassembly, a days work. It was an immense bummer for the Californian crowd.

Beautiful Laguna Seca profile shot of Vic Elford shows the unmistakable slab-sided lines of the car and operation of the skirts which appear to be riding the bitumen pretty well (unattributed)
Imagine being showered by fast moving trackside shrapnel at 170mph, Dyson have nothing on this vacuum-cleaner! Elford in the Road Atlanta pitlane

The final Can-Am round was at Riverside a fortnight later. There, Elford was again well clear of Hulme in qualifying, this time the gap was a little over two seconds, these are huge margins folks.

“At one point we came into Turn 9 with Denny Hulme just in front of me. I was right up against the wall and I probably didn’t even change gear. I drove all the way around the outside of Denny in third gear. He went straight off, went into the pits and took his helmet off, sat on the pit wall and sulked for the next half hour!”

This time the Rockwell engine didn’t play ball, breaking its crank. The team managed to patch it up and take the start but it inevitably failed on lap two.

And that was it, the howls of protest were loud and long.

Not that there was any way known the 2J didn’t bristle with illegal ‘moveable aerodynamic devices’! No way can the SCCA officials who saw the car pre-season could have thought it otherwise, but – bless-em – they probably thought “Let ‘em run, the crowds will be huge and we’ll see what happens from there.”

In the process of banning it, the SCCA ripped the soul out of Can-Am in that Hall and his boys walked away.

Can-Am’s attraction was its anything goes nature which invited innovation. Anything goes was great, unless, it seems, it threatened the dominant orthodoxy. To me there was Chaparral-Can-Am and Post-Chaparral-Can-Am and the former was vastly better than the latter, with all due respect to Porsche and Shadow.

Elford in front of one of the Papaya-M8D-Terrors at Laguna Seca. Hay bales still very much around in 1970 (H Thomas/Getty)
Brian Redman, Jim Hall, the Chaparral crew and their Lola T330/332 Chevs were the dominant US F5000 force from 1974-76. Here the duo are in the Elkhart Lake pits in 1974, Lola T332C Chev

Still, Hall kept his core team together running Lolas in the US F5000 and single-seat Can-Am championships, then had the joy of watching Lotus carry the ground effect torch forward, not that Chapman ever gave any credit his way, our Col never did that to anyone.

Hall then returned with the John Barnard designed ground effect Chaparral 2K Cosworth which won the CART championship and the Indy 500 in 1980 with Johnny Rutherford at the wheel.

Lone Star JR on the way to a win at Indy in 1980, Chaparral 2K Cosworth (IMS)

That Automobile Year 18 I prattled on about at the start of this masterpiece was hugely influential in stimulating my interest in cars and racing. Six of my Top Ten cars I first saw in that tome; Ferrari 312B, Lotus 72 Ford, Ferrari 512S, McLaren M8D Chev, Ferrari Dino 246GT and of course the Chaparral 2J. The Ferraris and McLaren are all about sex-on-wheels, the 72 and 2J are a tad more cerebral.

This article made me consider what the most influential racing car in my lifetime is? Its ‘gotta be a toss-up between the Lotus 25 Climax and 2J.

All monocoque racing cars are related to the 25, the first modern monocoque. The aerodynamics of racing cars since the Lotus 78 are related to the 2J. Let’s toss the coin as to which is the more influential, let the debate begin!

PS…

I ‘spose you think I’ve forgotten John and Charlie Cooper, but they were doing their mid-engined thing way before I was born, so, I’ve dodged that debate at least. In any event, Auto Union’s mid-engined missiles won GPs pre-war.

May 1967
Thinkin, always thinkin. Jim Hall at Riverside in 1966 (B D’Olivo-Getty)

Credits…

MotorSport Images, sportscardigest.com, Indy Motor Speedway, Getty Images, J Meredith Collection, Harry Hurst, Sports Illustrated, Sportscar Digest, MotorSport November 2020 article by James Elson

Tailpieces…

“Aw come on Jim, it’s years since you raced in F1, time to return and give things a bit of a shake up.”

Jim Hall and Jackie Stewart pre-race at Watkins Glen. “Just make sure you have your left foot on the brake when we fire it up or you’ll mow down half the paddock!”

Note the fan-covers missing at Watkins Glen but present in subsequent races.

Jim Hall’s British Racing Partnership Lotus 24 BRM during the 1963 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, eighth in the race won by Jim Clark’s epochal Lotus 25 Climax. Carel de Beaufort’s ninth placed Porsche 718 in the distance (MotorSport)

Finito…

(J Culp)

I love these nudie-rudie shots, so many of a car’s secrets are revealed by photographs like this.

Jim Culp caught one of the Ferrari 312Bs raced by Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni at Hockenheim over the August 2, 1970 German Grand Prix weekend coming off its transporter.

Key elements of Mauro Forghieri’s design on display are the low, wide 3-litre, fuel injected flat-12 (180 degree V12 if you prefer) engine and far-back weight distribution; the two oil tanks and related dry sump pump drives, battery, and twin, beautifully ducted oil coolers/radiators.

Ickx started the race from pole, with Regga third but Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford prevailed over Ickx by a little less than a second, after a great long dice, with Regazzoni out with engine failure.

In a year of great sadness (deaths of Bruce McLaren at Goodwood and Piers Courage at Zandvoort) it was Jochen Rindt’s last win, and the start of a great run home for Ferrari.

Sheer economy of the design shown in this Hockenheim refuelling shot of Regga’s car (R Schlegelmilch)
Regazzoni from Rindt and Ickx early in the German GP (MotorSport)

Ickx won at the Osterreichring a fortnight later, and Regazzoni at Monza after Rindt’s tragic practice accident. Ickx won again at Mosport and Mexico City but Emerson Fittipaldi’s first GP win for Lotus at Watkins Glen helped ensure Rindt won the drivers title, and Lotus the manufacturers championship. Karma prevailed in an unusual year in which race wins were spread among drivers; Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Pedro Rodriguez, Regazzoni, Ickx, Fittipaldi and Rindt.

Ferrari had a torrid time throughout 1968-69. The Ford Cosworth DFV was dominant and used by many of the front-runners. Team-leader, Chris Amon was in winning positions at least four times over this period only to be continually let down – Ickx’ ’68 French GP win duly noted.

Ickx at Monaco in May. Note the radiator exit duct and inboard rocker front suspension (MotorSport)
The Lotus 72 made everything with a front radiator – the rest of the grid – look old, but the 312B was a very effective cohesive marriage of bespoke engine and chassis. Fast and reliable too (G Piola)
Chris Amon testing at Modena in late 1969. This shot shows the chassis ‘pontoon’ to which the engine mounts behind the top radius rod. Wonderfully neat and structurally rigid is the way the high roll bar braces to the rear of the pontoon, and forms the wing mount, and fire extinguisher mount!

Forghieri placed a new, clean sheet of drafting paper on his drawing board in 1969, the first such F1 occasion since he led the design of gorgeous, but never fully developed 1964-65 1.5-litre 1512 flat-12.

He again chose a flat-12 given its potential power output, low centre of gravity and lesser weight than the V12 it replaced. He made the engine a stressed member of the chassis, as was the engine on the 1512 – following the lead provided by Vittorio Jano’s Lancia D50 design – but this time the engine attached both to the rear bulkhead behind the driver, and underneath a ‘boom or pontoon’ chassis extension rearwards behind the drivers shoulders. The 1512 bolted to the rear bulkhead.

The Tipo 015 flat-12 – designed by Forghieri, Franco Rocchi and Giancarlo Bussi – was a great engine which powered the Scuderia’s Grand Prix cars from 1970 to 1980 (two drivers titles for Niki Lauda, and one for Jody Scheckter), and won them a World Endurance Championship when fitted in suitably detuned form to 312PB chassis in 1972.

There were a few teething problems early on however. To minimise friction losses and release a few more horses, the engine had only four main bearings, two plain shell bearings in the middle, and ball-bearing races at each end of the crank. With minimal support, crankshaft breakages were so much of a problem that Chris Amon cried “Enough!” and left the team, not even completing the 1969 GP season.

Ignazio Giunti at Spa during his first championship GP. He was fourth in the Belgian GP won by Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P153 after an epic race-long dice with Amon’s March 701 Ford (R Schlegelmilch)
Ickx at Watkins Glen, he started from pole but pitted with a broken fuel line. In a tiger of a drive he went from 12th to fourth, Fittipaldi took his maiden GP win aboard a Lotus 72 Ford. Doesn’t the 312B look long from this angle? You can see the rearward weight bias and relatively clean air in which the rear wing operates thanks to the low engine (MotorSport)

A tilting dyno bed at Maranello enabled cornering oil surge to be monitored, the crank torsional vibration problem was fixed by adding a Pirelli cushion-coupling between the crankshaft and the flywheel.

Before too long the gear driven, twin-cam, four valve, Lucas injected engine produced a reliable 460bhp @ 11,500rpm, which rose over time to about 510bhp @ 12,000rpm.

While Chris made the works March 701 Ford sing in 1970, his solo Silverstone International Trophy win was no compensation for the four wins Ferrari produced with a car he put his heart and soul into at Modena in early testing…

Regazzoni is wedged between one of the BRMs and Stewart’s wingless March 701 Ford early in the Italian GP (R Schlegelmilch)
Tifosi Monza 1970, Things Go Better With…(R Schlegelmilch)

While the Italian Grand Prix that year (above) was a terrible weekend, Ferrari had a home win, the tifosi went berserk and Mr Ferrari attended practice as he traditionally did.

Ickx started from pole, Regga was Q3 and Giunti Q5. Regazzoni was the only one of the three to finish, in the right spot too. Ignazio was out with fuel system woes after completing 14 laps, and Jacky with clutch troubles after 25 laps.

Regga won from Jackie Stewart’s March 701 Ford and Jean-Pierre Beltoise’ Matra MS120. Points of GP trivia are that it was the last time a GP was won by a driver wearing an open face helmet, and the last time the first three finishers used different tyre brands; Firestone, Dunlop and Goodyear in first to third respectively.

“The race is in the bag Commendatore”. “Yeah-yeah you told me that last year Mauro” (R Schlegelmilch)
Ickx heads out to set pole at Monza (R Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Jim Culp, MotorSport Images, Rainer Schlegelmilch, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Giorgio Piola

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

Clay Regazzoni, 312B from Jackie Stewart’s March 701 Ford and Jean-Pierre Beltoise’ Matra MS120 at Druids Hill early in the 1970 British Grand Prix.

Jochen Rindt was well beaten by Jack Brabham that afternoon but a crewman’s fuel mixture switch mistake gifted Jochen the win in an amazing last lap change of fortune. Last lap drama happened at Monaco too, but that day the mistake was Jack’s due to the pressure Jochen applied.

Finito…

image
(Getty Images)

The sight of an unlimited Top Fuel dragster doing a fast pass is not a sound, sight or sensation ever forgotten. It’s truly one of the most awe inspiring of motor racing experiences.

The shot above is at Dallas International Speedway on October 27, 1969, happy to take advice on the who/chassis/engine?

image
(Getty Images)

I was flicking through Getty Images’ drag racing collection and who should be smiling at me (top row in the middle) at Indianapolis on September 3, 1969 but 27 year-old Exekiel ‘Danny’ Ongais.

Danny On-the-Gas caught my eye in the day with his exceptional brio, perhaps he had a dash too much of it?

Ongais became a rather handy, versatile racer on speedways and the circuits, right up to Grand Prix racing after leaving the ‘strips behind. In addition, the Flying Hawaiian starred in sportscars and started at Indy 11 times from 1977 to 1996, his best finish was fourth place aboard an Interscope Racing Parnelli VP6B Cosworth in 1979.

Kahului (Maui) born Ongais started racing BSA’s as a teenager, returning from a three year stint as a paratrooper with the US Army to win the Hawaiian state motorcycle championship in 1960.

With limited racing opportunities in Hawaii, he shifted to the mainland and started working for Dragmaster, a successful builder of drag-car chassis and cars in Carlsbad, California.

Soon he was racing cars owned by others; Jim Nelson (Dragmaster), the Beaver brothers and Mickey Thompson. He then branched out on his own, winning American Hot Rod Association Gas titles in 1963-64, then the National Hot Rod Association AA Dragster championship in 1965.

A switch to Funny Cars yielded two wins in a Mickey Thompson owned, Pat Foster built Mustang powered by an SOHC Ford V8 in 1969. In addition, the Ongais/Thompson duo set 295 national and international records on the Bonneville Salt Flats that year in Mustang Mach 1’s; one 302 and two NASCAR style 427 V8 machines.

After leaving Thompson he raced the ‘Big John’ Mazmanian/Vels Parnelli Mustang Funny Car and ‘Flying Doorstop’ Top Fueller, setting the sport’s first over 240mph pass in the latter at Ontario in 1972 at 243.24mph.

All those years before, his European stint in the Army stimulated his interest in road racing, he attracted the attention of entertainment mogul Ted Field (Interscope) at the end of 1974.

Ongais contested the 1975 US F5000 championship, finishing fifth in the title chase the following year aboard an Interscope Lola T332C Chev behind Brian Redman, Al Unser Snr, Jackie Oliver and Alan Jones, but in front of seasoned road racers and F5000 champions Vern Schuppan, Warwick Brown, Teddy Pilette and Peter Gethin.

Interscope put a toe in the USAC championship that year too, with Ongais taking his first win at Michigan in 1977 aboard a Parnelli VPJ-6B Cosworth. Five more victories followed aboard his Parnelli VPJ-6B in 1978 but mechanical dramas and inconsistency left him eighth in the points standings. If his speed was ever in doubt – it wasn’t – he put his Parnelli VPJ-6C Cosworth in between the Penske PC6 Cosworth DFX’s of Tom Sneva and Rick Mears on the Indy front row.

Ongais contested the two North American GP races aboard a Penske PC4 Ford in 1977 placing seventh from Q22 in the Canadian GP at Mosport, at Watkins Glen he retired from Q26.

In 1978 he raced a Team Tissot Ensign N177 Ford in Argentina and Brazil, retiring in both races from Q21 and Q23. Later in the season he lined up in a Shadow DN9A Ford at Long Beach and Zandvoort but failed to pre-qualify in both events.

Ongais raced plenty of sportscars including Porsche 934, 935 and 962, Lola T600 and March 88S. In addition to many national victories, together with Field and Hurley Haywood, he won the 1979 Daytona 24 Hours racing a Porsche 935.

At Brands Hatch for the Indy Trophy in October 1978. Ninth in the Parnelli VPJ-6B Cosworth, Rick Mears won in a Penske PC6 Cosworth

Ongais raced in CART from 1979. “His debut at Phoenix, where he qualified fourth and led the race before being derailed by an engine failure set the tone for the next couple of years: a story of blazing speed, but bad luck or other circumstances conspiring against him fully capitalizing on it.” Vintage MotorSport wrote.

“But all that took a back seat when he suffered a massive accident in the 1981 Indy 500. He’d pitted as the leader on lap 63, only to lose more than 40s to a catastrophically slow pitstop. Upon rejoining, he made a late pass on a slower car at Turn 3, lost the rear, overcorrected and pounded the barriers nearly head on. He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition, and spent the rest of the season on the sidelines recovering from factures to both legs, a broken arm, and a six-inch tear to his diaphragm.”

“Indeed, while he continued to produce decent results upon his return in 1983, his later years were defined almost as much by a handful of significant accidents – not all of which he was directly involved with.”

“He was very much at the center of the big one in 1985, when he was launched into a massive barrel roll down the backstretch at Michigan after running into the rear of Phil Krueger. Two years later, he crashed during practice for the Indianapolis 500 and sustained a concussion that forced him to miss the race.”

“Ongais’ final appearance at the 500 had its roots in far more tragic circumstances in 1996 when polesitter Scott Brayton was killed in a practice crash and team owner John Menard tapped Ongais as his replacement. Ongais, then 54 and making his first start at the Speedway in a decade, lined up at the rear of the field and finished a remarkable seventh. He made one final attempt to qualify with Team Pelfrey two years later, but was bumped.”

The publicity-shy Ongais spent his later years surrounded by family in southern California. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2000 and remains the only driver to score professional wins in drag racing, Indycars and sportscars.

He died, aged 79 on February 26, 2022.

Credits…

Getty Images, Vintage Motorsport, nhra.com, Paul Kooyman, MotorSport Images

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Letting rip in the Shadow DN9A Ford on the streets of Long Beach in 1978.

Danny failed to pre-qualify but it was not for want of trying, here he seems keen to win the Patrick Depailler Most-Sideways-Longbeach-Cup!

The race was won by Carlos Reutemann’s Ferrari 312T3. Clay Regazzoni’s Shadow was the only one of three to finish, in 10th place from Q20. Hans Stuck’s car was Q23/DNS and Ongais Q29.

Finito…

Calder Raceway underway in 1961, Pat Hawthorn’s Holden and Jim Houlahan’s Chev on site (Hawthorn Family

Pat Hawthorn’s team turn the first sods of soil to create Calder Raceway, 30km west of Melbourne later in 1961…

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the place. On one hand it’s the first place I drove a racing car – an Elfin 620B Formula Ford at the Jane-Gardner Race Driving School in mid 1975 – but on the other I’ve always thought the flat, featureless hot n’ dusty or freezin’ and wet joint a bit of a shit-hole. Gimme Sandown, the Island, Winton, Eastern Creek, Wakefield or Mallala.

But it’s close to Melbourne, I’ve probably done more laps there than anywhere else despite it being closed forever. While the layout has always been simple (Thunderdome challenges duly noted) the challenge of doing a great time are there given ya have so few corners to work with.

I thought Keilor farmer Jim Pascoe built it, then Bob Jane bought it in the early seventies, several years after Pascoe died. The Jane Estate still owns it, how wrong about the early days I was though.

Pat Hawthorn aboard his ex-works/Davison Aston Martin DBR4/250 3-litre F1/F Libre car at his servo in Clayton, on the corner of Thomas and Centre Roads. While there wouldn’t have been another Aston Martin resident in that part of the world, for some time, new AMs were retailed from a showroom in Springvale Road, Springvale – right ‘on’ the railway line near Sandown. A most unlikely place as well, the good residents of Toorak struggle to go further east than Glenferrie Road let alone Burke Road (Hawthorn)
The Spanos sportscar is an Elfin Streamliner Coupe, a car George owned all of his life, and still retained by his family I think
1962 meeting at Calder, advice welcome on whom is whom (O Campion)

It turns out that racer/garage proprietor Pat Hawthorn is the man we should all thank for the original entrepreneurship.

For some years Pat had a servo in Clayton. One of his regular customers, Jim Houlahan had land on the Calder Highway, he wondered if Pat would be interested in helping develop it for use as a wreckers yard.

Pat thought the location was ideal for a race track, a dream he had for a while. Soon a company was incorporated with funds provided by Melbourne bookie (bookmaker) John Corry and Jim Pascoe. His business interests spanned several fields including Drive-In-Theatres (very much a sixties and seventies thing) and race-horse training.

A simple layout to Pat’s design provided the track layout, a fundamental element of which was that spectators be able to see most of the action.

Australia had a shortage of racetracks from the beginning of time. With a global economy that was booming, a strongly growing Australian population thanks to post-war immigration, and plenty of young men with money in their pockets resulted in an epidemic of circuit construction. Within a short space of time circuits popped up across the country; Lakeside, Warwick Farm, Catalina Park, Oran Park, Hume Weir, Winton, Sandown, Calder and Mallala were all built over a span of four or so years.

I don’t propose to write the history of Calder, but rather to put on-the-record some wonderful pages of the late Pat Hawthorn’s scrap-book posted on Bob Williamson’s Australian Motor Racing Photographs Facebook page.

While Pat Hawthorn died some years ago, we have his son Russell Hawthorn to thank for sharing these invaluable records for preservation. Click here for a piece on the Aston Martin DBR4 Grand Prix cars, including Pat Hawthorn’s; Lex’ Aston Martin DBR4/250s… | primotipo…

Back Straight, one turns right at the end  (Hawthorn)

As the newspaper articles tell us, the star of the first meeting held on Sunday 14 January, 1962 – the public were invited to the rehearsal on 6 January (a freebie I wonder?) – was Bib Stillwell who had wins in both his Cooper T53 Climax Formula Libre single-seater and Cooper Monaco sportscar.

A quick glance at the results shows many of the names-of-the-day supported the opening meeting including Stan Jones, Jon Leighton, Jack Hunnam, Brian Sampson, Ian McDonald, Harry Forde, Norm Beechey, Bill and Bob Jane, John Ampt, John Roxburgh and Bob Page.

Pat Hawthorn receiving a trophy at Calder from the then Victorian Government Minster for Sport. The man in the suit behind the microphone is Jim Pascoe- both part-owners and directors at the time, date uncertain (Hawthorn Family)

Before too long the ownership of the business changed from the syndicate of businessman to Jim Pascoe solo. While Warwick Farm and Sandown were the blue-blood Tasman Cup venues, shorter tracks like Oran Park and Calder also thrived. Calder held a round of the Australian Touring Car Championship for the first time in 1969, that was symbolic of the venue’s rise in the tracks-of-Oz pecking order.

Geoghegan, Moffat, Jane and Thomson (?) at Calder in late 1969

Peter Brock and 1970 Australian Rally Champion, Bob Watson during a 1970 Calder rallycross event. HDT LC Holden Torana GTR XU1 and works-Renault R10 Gordini (I Smith)

Look at that crowd! Bryan Thomson’s Chev Camaro SS outside Allan Moffat’s immortal Trans Am Mustang as they blast onto the main straight in 1970 (R Davies)

Kevin Bartlett’s Lola T300 Chev during one of the Repco Birthday meetings in 1972. ‘Grandstand dreaming’ as per text below (I Smith)

Later, when Bob Jane bought the place it was subjected to constant change, development and improvement.

I can remember going to a meeting as a teenager with my father in the early seventies. At one stage Bob was standing at the very top of the new, but not quite opened grandstand at the start of the main straight, he was staring into the distance, all alone and dreaming of what might be. Perhaps he had aspirations of the Thunderdome even then?

At various times the venue hosted many international rock concerts (I couldn’t think of a worse place to see a band) and became a wonderful rallycross track, you could see all of the action, such was the compact nature of the place.

For decades the place was the capital of drag racing in Victoria, if not Australia. To see a pair of Top-Fuel dragsters do five-second (or whatever it was) passes is indelibly etched in my mind, that evening is the only day of race spectating where I felt I ‘tasted’ the cars. It was such a visceral, tactile assault on all of ‘yer senses.

Alan Jones on the way to winning the 1980 AGP at Calder, Williams FW07 Ford (unattributed)
Niki Lauda, Ralt RT4 Ford BDA (and below) during the 1984 AGP won by Keke Rosberg in a similar car (C Jewell)

Recent drag racing action, advice as to chassis/drivers/date welcome (calderparkdragracing.com.au)

Whilst Calder never held an F1 AGP, as Bob hoped, the 1980 Formula Libre AGP at Calder, and the 1981 to 1984 Formula Pacific AGPs were important steps in the direction Adelaide eventually seized.

I always thought ‘If only Bob owned Phillip Island instead of Calder’ his great acts of promotion could have played out on a vastly more impressive stage, but hey let’s be thankful for a venue so close to home.

It must be fifteen years since I last had a gallop there, in the last VHRR’s Summer Test Days they ran annually. I’m a regular traveller up the Calder Highway, it’s sad to drive past that huge wasted resource and think of the clusterfuck of family and CAMS disputation dramas that stopped the joint dead in its tracks, pun intended.

Mind you, the tom-toms are rattling a little at the moment, it might not be all over, after-all…

‘Rockarena’ at Calder in November 1977. Fleetwood Mac headlined and were supported by Santana, Little River Band, Kevin Borich Express and Creation (jpjaudio.com.au)

Etcetera…

I love improvisation, it seems CAMS didn’t have a Track Licence form so they adapted a Competitor Licence and issued that to Pat and his partners – ‘Calder Motor Raceway Pty. Ltd’, that registered address is at Kew Junction, a drop kick from Bib Stillwells’ then Holden dealership.

Bob Jane in his period of ownership tried plenty of great ideas as a promoter, but a race between Pat Hawthorn’s Aston and a trotter is very much on the innovative side!

Credits…

Pat Hawthorn Collection via Russell Hawthorn, Chris Jewell, Ian Smith, Ollie Campion, Robert Davies, jpjaudio.com.au, calderparkdragracing.com.au

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(LAT)

What a magic Pau Grand Prix vista on April 5, 1964.

Jim Clark’s one-litre Formula 2 Lotus 32 Cosworth SCA leads Peter Arundell’s F3 Lotus 27 Ford Cosworth MAE during the 80 lap, 220km race held around the streets of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques city in France’s southwest.

The yellow nose car in third is Richard Attwood’s Lola T54 SCA. Clark won from Attwood and Arundell in a stellar field which included Paul Hawkins, Tony Maggs, Frank Gardner, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Maurice Trintignant and Denny Hulme.

Jim Clark right up Paul Hawkins’ clacker during the 1964 GP. Hawkeye was seventh aboard John Willment’s F3 Alexis Mk4 Ford Cosworth MAE. There were nine or ten Ford Cosworth MAE, and Renault Gordini engined F3 cars in the F2 race, doubtless to keep numbers up in the first year of the new 1-litre F3 and F2 (LAT)
Dickie Attwood during the ’64 F2 race, Midland Racing Partnership Lola T54 Cosworth SCA. Past Saint Martin Church perhaps, help please Frenchies? (LAT)

It amused me, flicking through some Pau GP photographs that numbers two and four also loomed large the year before, in 1963, when the F1 Lotus 25 Climax V8s of Clark and #4 Trevor Taylor (below) finished one-two from Heinz Schiller’s Porsche 718.

(LAT)

The 1930 French Grand Prix was held on a triangular 15.8km road circuit at Pau. It was won by Philippe Etancelin’s Bugatti T35C, this toe-in-the-water for the town led to the Pau GP’s inauguration as an annual event in 1933.

Marcel Lehoux’ Bugatti T51 won that snowy February race from Guy Moll’s similar car.

The 1930 grid including #10 Lehoux Bug T35B, #44 the winning Etancelin Bug T35C, the #28 or 38 Bugatti of De Maleplane or De L’espee, while towards the top is the #42 Daniel T35B. 25 cars started this race (unattributed)

Happily, the race is still held around the 2.769km Circuit de Pau de Ville.

The Pau GP is up-there in a list of global continuous events. Down the decades it’s been held for GP cars until 1963. It then morphed thru F2 (1964-1984), F3000 (1985-1998), F3 (1999-2006), World Touring Car Championship cars – an unfortunate aberration – (2007-2009) then back to F3 (2012-2012), Formula Renault (2013), then F3 again (2014-2019) until this year (2022) when Vladislav Lomko, a Russian (oh dear, how very passé and politically incorrect) won the May race aboard a Dallara 320 Euroformula (F3 variant) machine.

Far-canal I HATE all the global one-make shit, it’s so fuggin boring. I don’t want to sound like a silly old tugger, but it is boring isn’t it, the lack of variety? And don’t give me the economics lesson, I just don’t give a shit…

Tazio Nuvolari on the way to victory at Pau in February 1935, he is closely followed by Rene Dreyfus, both driving Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo P3s (unattributed)
Alberto Ascari in the fabulous Ferrari 375 during the ‘51 Pau GP, DNF transmission from Q2. His teammate, Gigi Villoresi, won from pole in another 375. Ascari won in 1952-53 aboard Ferrari 500s (unattributed)

The list of drivers who have won around the demanding track includes many of the gods; Tazio Nuvolari, Jackie Stewart and Lewis Hamilton won once, while JM Fangio, Alberto Ascari and Jack Brabham were victorious twice, Jochen Rindt won thrice during his King of F2 reign, with Jim Clark a four-time winner.

This wonderful poster for the 1963 event shows 1962 first lap action. Jo Bonnier’s Porsche 718 leads Ricardo Rodriguez’ Ferrari 156 and Jim Clark’s Lotus 24 Climax, #8 is Lorenzo Bandini’s 156. Maurice Trintignant’s Lotus 18/21 Climax won from Rodriguez, and Jack Lewis’ BRM P48/57

Throughout motor racing history France has held god knows how many car races on road circuits. It would be a great idea to tour France and tick a few off, for me Pau and Clermont Ferrand are top of the list. Doubtless that’s a function of my age, ten years older perhaps the top-two would be Reims and Rouen…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille aboard his self constructed Elf 2J (nee Jabouille 2J) Renault 2-litre F2 car, from Jacques Laffitte, Chevron B35 BMW during the height of the F2 era in 1976. First to fourth were Frenchmen; Rene Arnoux, Martini Mk19 Renault, Laffitte, Jabouille and Jean-Pierre Jarier, Chevron B35 BMW (DPPI)

The 2-litre F2 and F3000 period of incredibly quick, spectacular racing cars stretched from 1972-1998, any of you who saw the race during that period had a special treat.

Every winner of the Pau classic in that period raced in F1 with the exception of Jorg Muller, who was a test driver for Arrows, Sauber and Williams but never quite got a race-steer.

Mike Thackwell’s Ralt RH6/81 Honda during the June 1981 race won by his teammate, Geoff Lees, Thackwell was sixth (MotorSport)

Red Bull Supremo, Christian Horner raced at elite level including F3000. He is shown below at Pau in 1997 aboard his Lola T96/50 Zyrtec-Judd leading Marcus Friesacher.

It was after following Juan Pablo Montoya for a few laps the following year that Horner realised his future was better devoted to racing outside the cockpit! Still, his management capabilities are enhanced by the knowledge of exactly what his drivers are dealing with.

(MotorSport)
Pau modern era F3 race (unattributed)

Etcetera: 1952 Pau GP…

A couple of days after publication, Australian enthusiast/restorer/vintagent Chester McKaige got in touch and provided these wonderful colour images taken during the 1952 race by his father, George McKaige.

George was doing what we Colonials have always done, the Grand European Tour enroute to the UK. There he worked for the de Havilland Aircraft Company for a couple of years, on his weekends and holidays he attended many British and European racing events taking along his trusty camera.

Twenty years ago Chester printed two volumes of George’s photography in Europe and Australia, my copies of ‘Beyond The Lens’ are among my favourites of that golden-age.

Alberto Ascari in typical race attire, and Ferrari 500 in 1952. Note the stub exhausts fitted at this stage (G McKaige)
Toulo de Graffenried, Plate Maserati 4CLT-48, sixth and final car classified, Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

The XIII Grand Prix de Pau – also the first round of the Grands Prix de France F2 Championship – was won convincingly from pole by Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari 500, chassis #0003 it seems, not #0005, the car in which he won so many races in 1952-53 before passing into the hands of Australians Tony Gaze and Lex Davison.

Sharing the front row with him were Gigi Villoresi’s similar works car, and Lance Macklin’s HWM Alta. Second and third placings in the three hour, 280km race were Louis Rosier’s Ferrari 500 and Jean Behra Simca Gordini T11.

Johnny Claes’ Simca Gordini T15, DNF transmission. Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

By that early stage of the season Ascari had also won the GP di Siracusa. In a year of complete dominance he was also victorious in the GP de Marseille, a heat of the GP di Monza, the GP de Comminges, the GP de la Baule plus the championship Grands’ Prix of Belgium, France, Britain, Germany, Holland and Italy; not to forget the drivers World Championship!

Lance Macklin, HWM Alta, running at the end but unclassified, Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

Credits…

MotorSport Images, LAT, Jean Philippe Gionnet, DPPI, F2 Index, George and Chester McKaige

Tailpiece…

(JP Gionnet)

Lewis Hamilton pinging his F3 Dallara F305 Mercedes through the Esses in May 2005.

He had the perfect weekend, two poles, wins and fastest laps early in the season on the way to winning the F3 Euro Series with victories in 15 of the 20 races – and F1 beyond.

Finito…