Archive for the ‘Icons & Iconoclasts’ Category

(J Frith)

‘All set, everything ship shape!’…

I’ve already written a couple of articles about Donald Campbell’s achievements against the odds of the weather gods at Lake Eyre, South Australia during the winters of 1963 and 1964.

He had a torrid time from the media, his sponsors- many of whom he lost during that first year, the public and some in the Australian Parliament.

Click below for a brilliant article, the best written, about Campbell’s ultimately successful record attempt by the late Evan Green, a superb Australian motoring and motor-racing journalist, very talented rally and race driver and the man appointed by Campbell’s major sponsor in 1964, Ampol, to manage the program from Muloorina Station and Lake Eyre- so it is very much a first-hand participants account.

It provides useful context for this small random selection of cartoons and photographs.

https://www.whichcar.com.au/features/classic-wheels/classic-wheels-donald-campbell-and-his-bluebird-car-world-speed-record

The first cartoon is by John E Frith, one of Australia’s great cartoonists who worked early in his career for the Sydney Morning Herald and later for the Melbourne Herald (as here I suspect) and is dated 26 April 1963.

It shows DC about to close the cockpit of Bluebird, with a dutiful salute being provided. ‘SS Bluebird’ is an amalgam of plane, ship and car carrying the colours of both Britain and Australia, the watching kangaroo and aboriginal are amusing, the latter totally politically incorrect these days!

Bluebird Proteus CN7 Lake Eyre 1964 (J Carter)

 

Jeff Carter’s photo was taken during the 1964 attempt.

His caption reads ‘Donald Campbell’s attempt on the world speed record in a vehicle driven through the wheels (not jet propelled) dragged on for almost two years during the winters of 1963 and 1964.

Fluctuating dampness of the dry saltpan that is Lake Eyre was a major problem, making it difficult to maintain a perfectly smooth, dry, hard surface for the many necessary practice runs and the final attempt.

Sponsors grew impatient with the endless delays and withdrew support. New sponsors had to be found.

Campbell’s unpredictable temperament was a factor in splitting the large group of sponsors, technicians, caterers, time-keepers etc- some 60 or more people in two camps.

Eventually in the late winter of 1964, the 4,500 horsepower jet-engined Bluebird attained a new Land Speed Record of 403.1miles per hour (an average) of its top speeds on two consecutive runs, north and south.

Craig Breedlove, driving a jet-propelled vehicle on a salt lake in the USA achieved a considerably higher speed in 1964. His vehicle was not driven through the wheels. In this photo, technicians, time keepers, photographers and photographers play football beteen practice runs’. (look carefully, you can see the ball)

(J Carter)

Jeff Carter was the official photographer for the attempt, representing the international photo agency ‘Black Star’.

‘When nothing much was happening in the Campbell/Bluebird camp, I and other members of the press would adjourn to Marree, (above) where nothing much was happening either!’

(LAT)

Of course everything did eventually get to a stage where Campbell drove the car in conditions which were still sub-optimal as related in Even Green’s article- but good enough to have a crack and placate those who had been more than patient with him for an inordinate amount of time. 17 July 1964.

The good citizens of Adelaide, a good proportion of the cities total population turned out to see the Bluebird parade on King William Street, and so they should.

It was a remarkable achievement.

(NAA)

Bluebird…

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/16/50-years-ago-today-17-july-1964-donald-campbell-broke-the-world-land-speed-record-in-bluebird-at-lake-eyre-south-australia-a-speed-of-403-10-mph/

Credits…

John Frith, Jeff Carter, Article by Evan Green in ‘Wheels’ magazine, National Archive of Australia, LAT

Tailpiece: Ground Control to Major Donald…

(J Frith)

John Frith has captured the adventure of the times with this cartoon dated 16 May 1963, the Apollo space program is in full swing- the space-race is underway. The astronaut returns to earth in sunny conditions but below him are dark clouds which have caused flooding on Lake Eyre, stranding Campbell and Bluebird with DC atop the troubled vehicle…

Finito…

JMF trying to stay warm at chilly Silverstone, 5 October 1970…

In this day and age of every Tom, Dick and Irving recording their every exploit from the bedroom to the mountain top it’s instructive to look at just how far we have come in camera packaging over four decades or so.

Patrice Pouget is just about to shoot some action footage from a precariously mounted camera atop the svelte tail of a Maserati 250F for a documentary on the great mans life. ‘Fangio’, directed by Hugh Hudson and narrated by the champ himself was released in 1971.

I must watch it.

Credit…

Terry Disney

Tailpiece…

 

(B Howard)

The Light Car Club of Australia achieved a major promotional coup by securing Juan Manuel Fangio’s attendance at the fiftieth anniversary of the first Australian Grand Prix held at Sandown, Melbourne on 10 September 1978…

Here (above) the great man ponders his car during practice. Fangio raced a Mercedes Benz W196 2.5 litre straight-eight engined Grand Prix car, the design with which he won his 1954 and 1955 World Championships- whilst noting the two wins he took in Maserati 250F’s in 1954 before joining Mercedes from the French Grand Prix.

JMF wanted to drive in a Polo-Shirt as he did in the day but the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport would have none of that, hence the overalls over his normal clothes.

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

Fangio W196 on display behind the Sandown grandstand- the ‘Interstate Betting’ is a function of the place’s prime function- donkey races (mouserat159)

(S Dalton Collection)

Fangio hooks the big Mercedes into Dandenong Road corner at Sandown (I Smith)

The Sandown event created huge interest far beyond the racing fraternity, including articles in such unlikely places as the ‘Australian Womens Weekly’, normally the province of the Royal Family, cooking recipes and similar – such was the mans immense global stature decades after his last championship win in 1957. He won five F1 titles of course- in 1951 in an Alfa 159, 1954/5 Benz W196, 1956 Lancia-Ferrari 801 and the final in 1957 aboard a Maserati 250F.

It was the Argentinian’s first visit to Australia, he had planned to race in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games GP at Albert Park, a race won by Stirling Moss in a Maser 250F, but in the end conflicting commitments scuttled the idea. He returned to Melbourne in 1981 and came to Adelaide twice I think, the sight of him blasting along Adelaide roads during the wonderful 1986 ‘Eagle On The Hill’ run from the city up through the Adelaide Hills to the top of Mount Lofty is not something any of the large number who saw it will readily forget either. He drove a Mercedes sports-racer, a 300SLR on that occasion. If memory serves he may have boofed an Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159 of the type he raced in 1951 at Adelaide doing a demo- by that stage he would have been well into his late seventies mind you.

Fangio contested a ‘Race of Champions’ at Sandown which included Jack Brabham aboard his 1966 championship winning Brabham BT19 Repco ‘620’, and former Australian Champions Bill Patterson in a Cooper T51 Climax and Bob Jane in a Maserati 300S. Both were cars they had raced in period and retained.

(mouserat159)

All eyes were on the Fangio, Brabham ‘battle’ over the three lap journey of course, the footage well known to most of you says it all in terms of the speed and spirit in which the cars were driven, note that JMF was 67 at the time and had suffered two heart attacks in the years before his visit.

(C Griffiths)

The sight and sound of Fangio driving the big, noisy W196 on the throttle, kicking it sideways in the manner for which he was famous lap after lap in practice around Sandown’s third-gear Shell Corner onto Pit Straight is forever etched in my memory. He could still boogie at that stage- well and truly.

As you all know, normally the paddock is a hive of activity with mechanics and engineers getting on with necessary preparation of their steed for the next session or race. Sandown’s then layout afforded those in the paddock a great view of the cars on circuit from or near the pit counter. On the occasions that Fangio was on circuit the tents in the cuddly-small Sandown paddock were empty as drivers and mechanics watched Fangio strut his stuff. It was simply not to be missed whatever the competitive needs of the moment were.

It’s always funny to re-live discussions of ‘that weekend’ with fellow enthusiasts as so many of us were there from all over this vast land, all having a different experience or highlight but equally excited recollections of it all despite the elapse of forty years. As a student at the time I was there from the meetings start to finish, it was sad when it was all over, I was very conscious of the fact that I had witnessed something special.

Fangio was the President of Mercedes Argentina and owner of two dealerships when he visited Oz and had to ‘sing for his supper’ over the week he was here. He did a range of promotional events, dinners and drives with motoring writers to promote, mainly, the ‘Benz 450 SEL 6.9 which was the range-topper at the time, a snip at $A68,500 in 1978.

(C Griffiths)

Postscript…

The 1978 AGP, held to F5000, was a race of attrition won by Graham McRae in his see-through perspex cockpit McRae GM3 Chev from John David Briggs and Peter Edwards in Matich A51 Repco and Lola T332 Chev respectively.

In fact it was an entirely forgettable AGP- very bad accidents hurt both Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8 Chev and Alan Hamilton, Lola T430 Chev. These very high speed shunts, together with a tangle that eliminated second placed Jon Davison’s T332 and Vern Schuppan’s Elfin MR8 Chev on lap 28- and a broken head-gasket for pole-sitter John McCormack’s unique ex-F1 McLaren M23 Leyland conspired to rob a race which had lots of potential.

An arcane end to this piece.

It’s a long story, but a decade or so ago, an Australian enthusiast ‘discovered’ in contemporary newspaper reports that a very short race named ‘Australian Grand Prix’, was contested on an oval layout at Goulburn’s racecourse, New South Wales on 15 January 1927.

This race was shortly thereafter recognised by many, but not all historians as ‘the first Australian Grand Prix’ thereby replacing the previous event which held that honour, the ‘100 Miles Road Race’ held at Phillip Island in 1928, later recognised as the first AGP.

So, Juan Manuel Fangio was here in 1978 to celebrate the fifty-first AGP not the fiftieth…

https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

Photo / Other Credits…

Bruce Howard, John Stoneham aka Stonie, Chris Griffiths, Stephen Dalton Collection

Tailpiece: I wonder which particular W196 chassis Fangio ran here in 1978?…

(mouserat159)

Big butt isn’t it? All fuel and oil tank, its an object lesson in Vittorio Jano’s design intent with the D50 Lancia to get the fuel between the wheelbase via his pannier-tanks. I’ve a vague recollection this particular chassis was fitted with a 3 litre SLR engine for demonstration purposes rather than the GeePee 2.5? Interesting the way the body comes together too.

Finito…

 

(Popperfoto)

John Cobb at Brooklands during the 17 May 1937 Gold Trophy Coronation Race, Napier Railton…

What an awesome 23.944 litre, 580 bhp machine this is- there is little point waxing lyrical about a superb racing car which is a well known national icon in the UK, so I will keep it short and hopefully sweet.

Cobb was a big man and clearly liked his racing cars on some scale, a passion his fur-broking business Anning Chadwick & Kiver allowed him to indulge. Reid Railton designed the car which was built by Thomson & Taylor with the specific brief of taking the Brooklands lap record, a feat it achieved for all time, at 143.33 mph on 7 October 1935. It was an exercise he likened to ‘trying to see how far you can lean out of a window without actually falling!’.

Brooklands, Cobb, Napier Railton, date unknown (B Museum)

John Cobb and the Napier at Brooklands on 31 March 1934 (Pinterest)

Railton specified a slow running Napier W-formation aviation engine in a suitably butch chassis with massive side members, twin cantilevered back springs and a finely muscular front axle. Typical of its time, the cockpit was capacious and it needed to be for record-breaking runs of up to 3000 miles or so.

Successful from the start, the car won its first race at the Brooklands Bank Holiday Meeting in 1933, the big beast recorded a standing lap of 120.59 mph and a flying lap of 123.28 mph. ‘When running for long spells, very large Dunlop special racing tyres were required, imposing a heavy task for the mechanics changing wheels at pitstops’. In addition to three times breaking the lap-record at ‘The Track’ the car broke world records at Montlhery and at Utah. The BRDC 500 Mile Race was won at 121.28 mph and the 500 Km version at 127.05 mph with the Napier Railton timed over the kilometre at 151.97 mph.

‘Pandora and The Flying Dutchman’ starred the Napier Railton in a fantasy romance with Ava Gardner and James Mason. Here ‘Dunlop Boys’ Freddie Hicks and Sidney West push the Napier towards a run on the Pendine Sands. Love the fags in mouths- photo used by Dunlop as a PR shot (unattributed)

 

Napier Railton on duty for GQ parachute testing circa 1951 (B Museum)

In 1949 Cobb hired the Napier Railton to the Romulus Film Company to make ‘Pandora and The Flying Dutchman’, a film about a racing driver. In 1951 John sold the car to the GQ Parachute Company who used it to test aircraft brake parachutes at Dunsfold Airfield- GQ modified the car and fitted it with test equipment to deploy parachutes at high speed and then retract them at about 30 knots.

Cobb, who served as an RAF pilot during the war, was killed trying to achieve the Water Speed Record in the jet-boat ‘Crusader’ at Loch Ness on 29 September 1952- the boat hit an unexplained wake.

The Napier Railton was in the best of hands when Patrick Lindsay acquired it-after a rebuild by Crosthwaite & Gardner he raced it in vintage events. It was then bought by Bob Roberts for his Midland Motor Museum, it was kept in running order after ‘being completely overhauled, except the engine’ by Hodec Engineering, Surrey in 1975. Aston Martin’s Victor Gauntlett was the next owner in 1989, and then at auction it passed to a German industrialist and finally, thankfully, became the Brooklands Museum’s car when offered to them in 1997 via a Swiss classic car dealer who ‘discovered it’ in the German’s collection. It is regularly demonstrated, many of you will have been fortunate enough to see it on circuit.

An awesome machine in the true sense of the word, goodness only knows how it felt on the limit for 500 miles on Brooklands famous concrete bumps…

 Etcetera: Technical Details of the Napier Railton as MotorSport reported them in 1933…

Credits…

Getty Images- Popperfoto, MotorSport August 1933 and July 1997, brooklandsmuseum.com

Tailpiece: Reid Railton designed Crusader being towed out into Loch Ness in 1952…

(unattributed)

Finito…

 

(Davey-Milne)

Albert Park, March 1955- ‘Albert Park Trophy’ with #10 Patterson, #9 Davison and #81 Jones on pole…

Rather a sign of the times, Cooper were on the march to world domination, their mid-engine, air-cooled  designs perfected over the early forties into the fifties.

Between these three fellows were six AGP victories, or perhaps five given Davo and Patto shared one of them- and three Gold Stars, one apiece. They were front-running Victorians for well over a decade and shared a passion for cars and business- all three Holden dealers at one point in time.

Bill Patterson’s green machine is a Mk5 JAP, Lex Davison’s a Mk4 Vincent and Stan Jones a Mk4 JAP. Patto took the Albert Park win in a race of attrition from Gib Barrett’s BWA and Otto Stone’s MG K3- Jones pitted with a misfire and Lex also retired.

Stan behind, and Reg Robbins leaning on the Cooper Mk4 at Rob Roy (L Sims)

Jones aboard the Cooper Mk4 at Rob Roy, date folks? (L Sims)

Jones chassis ’10/53/50′ was imported by Melbourne Cooper distributor Keith Martin in early 1951 and was claimed to be an intermediate version having a Mk5 chassis and Mk4 bodywork. Fitted with a 1098cc JAP race motor, the 95bhp machine sat in Martin’s showroom for a year before acquisition by Stanley who first raced it at Rob Roy in March 1952.

‘The car became one of the top under 1500cc cars for both circuits and hillclimbs- the battle for hillclimb records between Jones, Davison and Patterson was a highlight of motorsport in the early fifties’ John Blanden wrote.

Holder of many outright records the car was offered for sale in AMS in December 1953 and finally acquired by Earl Davey-Milne in December 1955, he raced it first at Albert Park in 1956 and still retains the car which is said to be the lowest mileage air-cooled Cooper of them all.

Davey-Milne resplendent in collar and tie racing the Cooper at Albert Park during the Australian Tourist Trophy meeting in November 1956- DNF in his ‘rapid little Cooper-JAP’ in the Argus Cup (Davey-Milne)

Credits…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Davey-Milne Family Collection, Leon Sims, Graham Noonan, ‘Glory Days’ Barry Green

Tailpiece: Jones aboard the Cooper Mk4, circa 1954…

(L Sims)

Finito…

 

 

 

 

The prototype Ferrari 250 GTB SWB on test at Modena Autodrome on 29 October 1959…

Carlo Chiti, Chief Engineer is behind the car, to his left in overalls is the legendary Enzo Ferrari Lieutenant Luigi Bazzi, by then I think ‘Technical Consultant’. You can just see the tip of Richie Ginther’s head over Bazzi’s shoulder.

I wonder if Richie had a steer of the 250 or whether he was focussed on the GP 246 Dino, the nose of which can be seen at left.

This session is in the huge gap between the Italian GP at Monza on 13 September in which Hill was second behind Moss’ Cooper T51 Climax, and the US event at Sebring in December. There Tony Brooks Dino was third behind the Cooper T51’s of both Bruce McLaren and Maurice Trintignant.

Ferrari got the hang of the mid-engined caper in 1961 with the Tipo 156 but 1960 was to be a year of slim pickings, the front-engined Dino was well past its useby date.

What a car the 250 SWB proved to be!?

Shorter in wheelbase than the 250 ‘cruisers’ to lower the cars weight and increase it’s agility. High power- between 237-276 BHP from the 3 litre V12 and well sorted suspension by the design and development team of Chiti, Giotto Bizzarini and the youthful Mauro Forghieri made it a winner. Around 176 were built in both steel and aluminium ‘Lusso’ and ‘Corsa’ forms.

The car below is chassis ‘3218GT’, imported to Australia by WH Lowe Automobiles Pty. Ltd. in 1962. Bill Lowe was the Australian importer of Lancia’s and Ferrari’s for decades.

(unattributed)

I was a Camberwell Grammar School prat nearby Lowe’s factory/showroom and regularly dribbled over the showroom window in Whitehorse Road, Balwyn, Melbourne from 1969-1974. I admired everything but particularly 246 Dinos. I was as infatuated with those almost as much as the perky, pert, teenage temptresses at Fintona Girls School just round the corner. Both were unattainable of course.

‘3218GT’ was Lowe’s daily drive until he sold to Jim Leech in 1964. Jim and his brother Bill Leech were ‘Light Car Club of Australia’ stalwarts, racers pre and post war and owners of some wonderful cars. From memory they had a Lombard AL3- this car was raced by Bill Lowe in the Australian GP at Phillip Island from 1929-33, Cisitalia D46, Maser 300S, Bug T37A and some great road stuff including this Ferrari- the 58th steel bodied car built, RHD too. It was a familiar beast at many Victorian events forever, inevitably it was sold overseas, cars such as this are global commodities after all.

Here ‘3218’ is participating in the Geelong Sprints along Ritchie Boulevard, on Geelong’s waterfront circa 1970 at a guess.

Not a bad bit of kit?!…

Credits…

Klemantaski Collection

At 8.10am on 17 July 1964 Donald Campbell aboard Bluebird CN7 Proteus set the World Land Speed Record on South Australia’s Lake Eyre salt pans…

I wrote about this achievement a while back, in fact it was my first longer article, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/16/50-years-ago-today-17-july-1964-donald-campbell-broke-the-world-land-speed-record-in-bluebird-at-lake-eyre-south-australia-a-speed-of-403-10-mph/

One of the wonderful things about the internet is the constant appearance of material on every topic, in this case a nice batch of photos popped onto it by ‘The Adelaide Advertiser’, here they are, too good not to share.

To celebrate Campbell’s achievement the people of Adelaide turned out in droves- about 200,000 flooded the streets of the small city on 25 July to see and hear Bluebird drive up King William Street to the Adelaide Town Hall. Mind you, ‘Beatle-Mania’ hit Adelaide five weeks before when 300,000 fans of the worlds greatest supergroup flooded into the capital.

Campbell also set the World Water Speed Record in 1964, achieving 276.3 mph at Lake Dumbleyung near Perth in Bluebird K7.

Photo Credits…

Adelaide Advertiser

Etcetera: Adelaide Excitement…

Tailpiece…