Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

The Easter Rabbit bounced past me early this year.

‘Me mates Stephen Dalton and Bob King each gave me an Australian Motor Racing Annual; the first 1951 edition and the fourth 1954 edition – who needs more chocolate anyway? Easter reading sorted, thanks muchly blokes!

Like way too much Oz pre-1960 racing publications, these little gems passed me by until a couple of years back but I’d never seen the gizzards of one before, chockers with information as they are.

The first edition covers the history of racing in Australia, a summary of the leading clubs, one-pagers on 80 of our contemporary racing cars, quickies on personalities, beautiful drawings of circuits, a tuning guide by Dicer Doug Whiteford and an article on The Modern Racing Car.

By 1954 the format had evolved to include a summary of the year’s major events and their results, more features while continuing the summary of contemporary racing cars. Great stuff indeed.

By the time I came down the magazine purchasing pike in 1971, Motor Manual, publishers of this summary, produced almost annually from 1951 to 1967, were a distant third in my personal rankings of road car magazines, behind Modern Motor and Wheels.

Mind you, once I discovered Sports Car World I didn’t touch M-M or Wheels for a couple of decades – SCW was the roadie bible of cars which mattered.

When Motor Manual stopped producing their racing annuals, the Australian Motor Racing Annual published by the SCW/Wheels/KG Murray Publishing mob took up the cudgels, this evolved into their sensational Australian Competition Yearbook, an Oz touch of Autocourse. This 200-pager covered each F1 GP and had a season summary, the same format was used for each of the ‘major’ Oz racing categories; F5000, F2, F3, FF, sportscars, rallying, and taxis. Other motorsport copped a couple of pages or so each; hill-climbing, motorkhanas, karting and perhaps the drags.

I still refer to these publications all the time for research purposes, or just coz I always have – sad little unit that I am.

Stan The Man in Maybach 1, Jones suffering from uncharacteristic understeer. I can’t quite make out the artist’s name but would like to know who it is and credit appropriately
Stan Jones winning the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in 1954, Maybach 1
Jack Brabham, RedeX Special, Cooper T23 Bristol. The artist has the ‘Brabham Crouch’ nailed!

In the mid-2000s The Annual Australian Motorsport was fantastic. Perhaps publisher Grant Rowley should have had more steak ‘n chips maxi-taxis to have a sales smash – the 2005 edition devoted only 46 of 218 pages to the big swingin’ V8s while commendably giving all other categories a fair crack of the whip.

Since then no-one has been stupid enough to step up to the annual-summary plate, sadly.

Those Annual Australian Motorsport mags were $20 in 2007. I’d quite happily pay $40-50 for a 200-page annual now, even one with 100 pages of the big shit-fighters – there is the rub, it’s probably got to be that way to flog enough mags to hit break-even print numbers.

Auto Action are probably the only ones who could do it these days. Publisher/owner/editor/cook Bruce Williams is passionate enough, but whether he is that stupid is another thing.

Anyway, if you think an annual is a good idea email him on bruce@autoaction.com.au, he doesn’t believe a word I say. Don’t tell him I sent you, this is an un-sanctioned jolly of my own.

Maybe people-power can get us back something I still miss each January/February.

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(NAA)

Launceston artist, gallery owner and teacher, Mary Jolliffe, aboard her Gremlin Formula Vee in 1968.

The shot made me chuckle. I wish I had one of my grandmothers pose for a shot in my Venom Vee a decade later. My old man ‘useter say there were only two brands of the the new-fangled radial tyres to buy, Michelin X and Pirelli Cinturato- these are Cints.

Launceston boy, Pat Stride, ex-RAF pilot, by day an air-traffic controller, built a number of Gremlins during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, both single-seaters and sportscars.

Jolliffe, one of Tasmania’s best known water colourists, opened the Mary Jolliffe Art Gallery- a gallery, studio and art school, at 118 St John Street, Launceston in 1965. A decade later she was an immensely popular teacher at the Kalori Marist Brothers College in Burnie.

One of Pat’s former work colleagues wrote this brief piece about him when he died in 2014. ‘Pat Stride arrived in Australia on November 1st, 1963, along with 21 other hopeful  ATC recruits  who were destined to become short term course 22, the first of many  Australian ATC courses comprising personnel  recruited overseas, mainly in the UK.  Pat was accompanied by his wife, Wendy, and three children under 10 years of age, Trish, Jeremy and Andrew. Prior to his emigration Pat had been a pilot in the RAF, flying  Vampires, Meteors and Sabres, mainly in Germany.’

Kings Bridge, Longford during the final, 1968 meeting. The only Vee race held at Longford was won by Pat, here in the Gremlin ahead of Lynn Archer in Brian Roberts’ Elfin 500 and Mike Bessant’s Scarab. For we Longford nutters it’s an interesting and unusual shot as it gives us a great view of the approach to Kings- in the distance, well behind the final car is the Viaduct (Stride Family)

‘Having passed the theoretical ATC training he commenced field training in Melbourne and completed this in Launceston where he went on to be rated in both aerodrome and approach control. Being of an entrepreneurial nature, when an opportunity arose to establish a caravan park situated at the Tasmanian terminal of the catamaran service from Welshpool in Victoria he and Wendy embraced it with enthusiasm.  After 9 successful years they were shattered to learn the catamaran service was about to be withdrawn and chose this time to retire.

Pat had one enduring passion, other than for his family, and that was for speed. He was an avid racing car driver, building and competing in his own cars with a significant degree of success. This continued well into his eighties and his last road car was a Mazda MX5 sports.’

The Australian Government’s Department of Immigration was after migrant success stories in sport, the arts and entertainment for PR purposes. It is in that context that Mary and Pat, both Brits, were sought, photographed and doubtless an article was written and published somewhere.

I quite randomly found other photographs of the same ilk of Bernie Haehnle; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/13/bernie-haehnle-rennmax-mk1-fv/ and Henk Woelders; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/30/henk-woelders/

How the connection between Mary and Pat was made, who knows, Launceston is a small place now let alone in the mid-sixties. Mary owned the car built and raced by Pat.

Credits…

National Archives of Australia, Stride Family, Stride tribute piece from Rob Tanner via Geoff Harris

Tailpiece…

(NAA)

Same locale as the opening shot, Pat’s home in suburban Lonny seems about it. Low res (bumma) shot of Pat at the wheel of ‘the Formula Vee Scarab Gremlin he designed, built and drove for Mary Jolliffe.’ I wonder what the correct name for the car is? Andrew and Jeremy Stride do the brmmm-brmmmmm thing with Dad.

Great stuff, a quintessential Oz outer-burbs sixties shot many of us can relate to!

In an earlier article I wrote ‘FV Historian John Fabiszewski notes that the first to race Vees (in Australia) were Pat Stride in his Scarab and George Geshopulous (later Geshos) in a Nota, in Formula Libre races in Tasmania (what circuit folks?) and Oran Park respectively on the same weekend in September 1965 (what date folks?).

Finito…

 

One of my favourite Facebook pages is the Repco-Brabham one Jay Bondini started for us Repco nutters yonks ago.

It’s chock full of good stuff, much of it contributed by the boys who produced the RBE V8 magic at Maidstone in the day- it has cred you might say!

This shot gave me a chuckle.

The works Repco billy-cart is poised on Bendigo’s View Street hill during the 1954’ish Easter Fair. The team’s #1 driver aboard the exotic machine is Les Holt. His old-man, Arthur Holt, worked at Repco Bendigo.

Then I thought, in the words of the great George Pell, bugger-me! that’s Mac’s machine. I’m sure I’ve seen it before somewhere!

Sure enough there is later Elfin/McLaren triple Gold Star champion John McCormack aboard the same missile at Burnie, Tasmania at roughly the same time. Dunno if he won but it seems a reasonable assumption.

You will all be pleased to know John is in great shape, sharp as a tack. I had a good chat to him at Baskerville a fortnight ago, all was good until I asked about the MR6, which was not his favourite car…

(M Preston)

 

McCormack’s MR6 Repco-Holden hooks into Sandown’s Shell Corner during the 1975 Sandown Park Cup- second behind John Goss’ Matich A53 Repco (I Smith)

It begs the question of course. Why?

The MR5 may have been getting a bit long in the tooth by the ‘74 Tasman but it was very successful in McCormacks hands – the 1973 Gold Star and 1973-4 NZ GPs at Pukekohe are the most notable of the combinations victories.

Ansett Team Elfin’s ‘unfair advantage’ was to have been the Repco-Leyland aluminium V8 fitted to a new, compact chassis designated MR6. This gave a lighter car than the opposition and handling balance those using cast-iron Chevs and Holdens could only dream of. That all turned to custard when Repco withdrew from racing in mid-1974, pretty much leaving Leyland Australia and Ansett Team Elfin high and dry.

The P76 V8 (P38 was the joke of the day ‘wannit- the P76 was only half a car) block was structurally weak, the standard nodular crank was junk for racing purposes and the ports were a poor shape which limited flow, and therefore power. Ignoring the fact the block probably couldn’t handle any extra mumbo anyway. Most of this would have been fixed had Repco applied their full engineering armoury to the problems but that was not the case. So the thing was slow and unreliable throughout the 1974 Gold Star.

On top of the engine issues Garrie Cooper repeated some of the MR5’s chassis shortcomings in his new MR6. The front bulkhead was weak, the car had bulk understeer as the front suspension geometry was sub-optimal and the critical engine to monocoque attachment wasn’t stiff enough so the whole package flexed- inspiring little confidence in its intrepid pilot.

MR6 Repco-Holden, perhaps Surfers Paradise 1975 (autopics.com)

 

Bruce Allison, Lola T332 Chev, McCormack’s MR6 Repco-Holden to the left and Vern Schuppan, Elfin MR8 Chev to the right. Calder ‘Soccerpools’ F5000 race, March 14, 1976. Max Stewart won both heats. Significant shot as it’s Vern’s first race drive of the MR8, having tested it at Adelaide International in early March (unattributed)

Mac and his crew, Dale Koenneke and Simon Aram fixed the chassis problems step by step. The engine dramas were solved by removing the light, gutless, unreliable Leyland and bolting in the heavy, potent, reliable Holden. Putting the smart-arse line to one side, the Repco-Holden had by then five years of development under its rocker-covers, the best of them gave a good 520bhp. The Leyland unit was a babe in the woods in terms of comparative development.

So equipped, McCormack finished fourth in the 1975 Tasman Cup behind the very quick Lola T332s of Warwick Brown, Graeme Lawrence and John Walker. He was second at Wigram, Teretonga and Sandown finishing seven of the eight rounds. At home he won the Gold Star taking victories at Oran Park and Calder. John Walker was second and Max Stewart third, both in Lola’s, again the MR6 was reliable, finishing four of the five rounds.

McCormack contested both the 1976 NZ GP and Australian Rothmans Series that summer, but the combo was off the pace of the fast boys at the very pointy end.

Mac had fallen out of love with the MR6 and Elfin more generally. He acquired a 1973 F1 McLaren M23 sans 3-litre Ford Cosworth DFV V8 from Dave Charlton in South Africa. Into that engine bay John, Dale and Simon very skillfully fitted the Leyland V8 which McCormack had not given up on!

After much test and development work from McCormack and Phil Irving, including new cylinder heads, the circa-435bhp M23 Leyland won its first Gold Star round at Calder in October 1976. He was victorious in the 1977 championship from John Leffler’s Lola T400 Chev.

The MR6 became a display car before its sale while the M23 raced on in F5000 and had a trip to the US where McCormack ran in a couple of races as a central-seat Can-Am car. See here for a feature article on the MR6 and particularly the M23; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/24/macs-mclaren-peter-revson-dave-charlton-and-john-mccormacks-mclaren-m232/

McCormack’s McLaren M23 Leyland from Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8 Chev and Dave Powell, Matich A50/51 Repco at Dandenong Road, Sandown International Cup 1977. Max Stewart’s Lola T400 won, Cooper third, Powell fourth and Mac fifth (autopics.com)

Credits…

Gary Nichols and Robert Reid for the Bendigo information, ‘From Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, Ian Smith, autopics.com, oldracingcars.com, Repco

Tailpiece…

(Repco)

Repco publicity shot of their Repco-Leyland F5000 engine in its original form as fitted to the Elfin MR6 in 1975. See the McLaren M23 link above for engine specifications and the changes made as it evolved when fitted to the McLaren.

Finito…

(B King Collection)

Geoff Hine’s Bugatti T23 Brescia is shown above during a meeting held on November 27, 1954.

The Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club used a stretch of road at Collinsvale, 20km north-west of Hobart for ‘demonstrations of durability and speed’ as early as October 26, 1924, it is still in use.

On that day the fastest time was set by K Sutherland aboard a 2 3/4 horsepower BSA- the smallest bike entered. ‘A word of praise is due to this young rider, for he is only a beginner’ The News reported. ‘The races were over a distance of a mile, in which there were a number of nasty bends, but except for a few minor accidents, all the events were disposed of satisfactorily.’

Hine raced the Bugatti at various Tasmanian venues including the Brighton Showgrounds where ‘long straights and wide grassy corners were perfect for high speeds’ in November 1953. At Longford he did 23.22 seconds during a Light Car Club acceleration test in May 1954.

T23 chassis ‘2467’ was owned by Herbert Hine for many years. His grandson, Michael Dunbabin, recalls the car in his Darcy Street, South Hobart home garage along with ‘Some old Bentleys and a Rolls Royce. As kids we used to jump up into the Rolls and play with all of the levers and buttons- it was such fun in that dusty, dark garage full of old cars and loads of stuff he bought at the Burns Mart auctions.’

‘After Geoff had finished racing the car it was restored to perfection over many years by my grandfather. He was really skilled, he worked for the Hobart Marine Board as a fitter and turner. He eventually moved from Hobart back to Bacchus Marsh in Victoria where he was brought up. On his death the Brescia passed to his sons, Geoff and Warwick.’

See here for a feature on Brescias, more detail on the Hine car to come; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/27/country-spin/

‘The News’ Hobart 27 October 1924

Etcetera…

I’ve included this November 3, 1951 article published in the Launceston Examiner I found fishing for information on Collinsvale.

That the newspaper felt the need to explain the history of motor racing is perhaps indicative of the local populace’ knowledge of our sport at the time. The piece makes clear the need for a racetrack in the Apple Isle. The use of Longford from 1953 and construction of Baskerville in 1958 and Symmons Plains in 1961 would solve the problem of course.

I note the article records the first road race in Tasmania as taking place in May 1911 and won by JK Heritage, does anybody have more information on this event?

Valleyfield is covered tangentially in this piece on Quorn Hall; https://primotipo.com/2020/12/17/quorn-hall-tasmania/

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Michael Dunbabin, The News

Finito…

 

 

 

 

(B Young)

Fabulous photographs of Christmas at The Hunting Grounds, 15km west of Dysart, Tasmania in 1958.

Santa’s Elf is a Mr Cussin, a confused MG Car Club member driving a Triumph TR2.

The very best of seasonal salutations whatever brand of religion you consume- no doubt a faith has given enormous succour to many in this most challenging of years. Time I found one.

In Melbourne, Victoria we had six months of mild and then wild lockdown in the process of getting the Covid Beast ‘under control’. We are all, of course, impacted.

Best wishes to each and every one of you. Lets put 2020 to one side and approach 2021 with optimism. And hope.

Thankyou for your ongoing primotipo support.

Mark

(B Young)

Credits…

Bob Young Collection via the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…

Australian Auto Action…

Posted: December 7, 2020 in Obscurities
Tags:

Make sure you buy Auto Action this week as it has a piece by yours truly, a six page feature on the Tornados. It has some ripper shots not published before. Keep buying it too, if I can help drag in a few extra readers the historic content will grow.

AA boss-cocky Bruce Williams is expanding his historic coverage to help broaden the appeal of a magazine which has been with us since 1971. Time flies. When i got hooked on cars in 1972 my magazine diet was Racing Car News, Sports Car World and Auto Action, only the latter endures sadly.

AA has more V8-taxis than you can poke a stick at of course. The F1 coverage is great, ditto Indycars, sports-prototypes, off-road and a halfway decent national event summary – and the rest. You might be surprised at the historic content already, about eight pages and above. My loose brief is to waffle on about older single-seaters, sportscars and people.

Anyway, give us a go, revisit the magazine if you’ve not bought it for a while.

primotipo and the like are free, I suppose as a group the ‘primotipos’ of the world have knocked around the sales of traditional publications. But it’s important we keep the magazines we have. Of course said publications must have punter appeal. My current favourites are MotorSport, The Automobile, Australian Musclecar and Auto Action– a diverse selection. All are privately owned which I rather like as an SME owner for most of my business career.

I’m pluggin’ away on some other commissions as well. The Auto Action piece is the first to be published. Many thanks to Geoff Harris, Bruce Williams, Heath McAlpine and the Auto Action crew.

primotipo.com rolls on unchanged, it’s a fix I can’t do without!

 

 

 

(B Pottinger)

The only things missing are the chief and three screaming kiddy-wids in the back seat.

Love this fantastic shot of John Colvin’s Haitch-Arrr Holden Station Wagon X2 during a club meeting at Teretonga, New Zealand in 1967.

The HR X2 option on the new ‘186’ three-litre OHV six gave only 145bhp, 5bhp more then the similar twin-Stromberg carb equipped ‘179’ X2 of the fugly predecessor HD.

Me dad had turd brown HD and blinding white HR wagons but ole’ Pete never developed slip-angles like this on the Great Ocean Road.

(gallery.oldholden.com)

Credits…

Bill Pottinger, gallery.oldholden.com

Tailpiece…

Finito…

 

Ian Mountain and his mates with his self-built, very clever IKM Peugeot Special on the AGP grid at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast, November 7, 1954.

Ian gives the photographer a big grin, it’s none other than champion racer Reg Hunt, who is sharing his previously unpublished shots with us via his friend and confidant, Melbourne enthusiast/historian David Zeunert.

The young Montclair Avenue, Gardenvale (now Brighton) engineer first came to prominence racing the MYF (Mountain Young Ford) Special he built together with fellow Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology civil engineering student, Bruce Young.

In the finest traditions of the day, this Ford 4.2 litre V8 two-seater provided day to day transport and a multi-purpose racer including a mount for the 1952 AGP at Mount Panorama. Up front Doug Whiteford won in his Talbot-Lago T26C, while Ian retired after 24 of the 38 laps.

Ian awaits the off in the MYF Ford Spl at Rob Roy circa 1952 (L Hatch)

 

IKM Spl. Chassis, engine and suspension detail as per text (AMS)

Despite his training, Ian was up to his armpits in all things automotive. He was employed as a Peugeot salesman by Canada Cycle and Motor Co in Latrobe Street, Melbourne. It was to them he turned for components for his next car, the IKM (Ian Keith Mountain) Peugeot Special.

The machine’s chassis was of typical ladder frame type, longerons were of 16 gauge 2 3/4 inches diameter steel tube with four cross members – one at the front, one behind the engine then two at the back, in front of and behind the final drive unit.

Front suspension used Peugeot 203 transverse front springs and stub axles with fabricated top wishbones and telescopic shocks. Steering was 203 rack and pinion, as was the steering wheel.

Rear suspension was de Dion. The bowed tube picked up the hub-carriers and a 1946 Ford V8 diff housing mounted on the frame. This had specially cast side-plates with Dodge pot-type universal joints at each end of the driveshafts. Semi-elliptic springs, radius rods and telescopic shocks completed the package.

The hydraulic brakes use MG TC backplates and shoes with Alfin drums. The wheels were Holden FJ ‘laced’ onto ‘TC hubs- 5 inches x15 in front and 5.5 x 15 at the back, whilst the heart of the matter was a modified 203 crossflow engine.

IKM engine and front suspension. Peugeot suspension and steering components with fabricated top wishbones, MG TC/Alfin brakes. Peugeot engine 1490cc- 80.5mm bore and 73mm stroke, big Wade blower and SU carb (AMS)

 

IKM ally fuel tank and rear suspension detail- de Dion tube, radius rod and shock mount (AMS)

The standard Peugeot four-cylinder OHV 1290cc unit was bored to 1490cc using custom made Rolloy pistons and sleeves. A big Wade R020 blower fed by a 55mm SU carb giving about 6 pounds of boost was mounted on a frame ahead of the front suspension and chain-driven from the front of the crank. Extractors were fabricated, a Scintilla Vertex magneto gave the sparks, Peugeot provided a competition fuel pump and exhaust valves. Inlets and valve springs were standard but the valve gear was lightened and polished as were the rods and crankshaft before balancing. The compression ratio was 6:1.

The engine was mounted to the left in the frame to allow a driveline left of centre and therefore a nice, low seating position. An MG TC gearbox mated to the bellhousing easily, 22 gallons of fuel were carried in a rear mounted tank.

Neil Coleman’s ‘shop in North Melbourne built the light aluminium body with the light, low purposeful car beautifully built and finished. IKM weighed 9cwt, had a wheelbase of 7′ 6″, front track of 4′ 2″ and a rear track of 4’, ‘so the car is not really a small one, belying its looks’ AMS reported.

After testing in the quiet(!) of the Geelong Road Ian ran the machine at the Beveridge and Templestowe Hillclimbs in chassis form, and then at Fisherman’s Bend with its body fitted. He finished two races despite fuel feed problems caused by shortcomings in the manifold design.

Ian married Laurel Duguid in the Scotch College Chapel at Hawthorn on November 2, 1954 then the couple set off for Southport and the 1954 AGP, what a honeymoon! Lex Davison won in his HWM Jaguar with the IKM retiring after 11 laps. Ian’s radiator drain tap was opened slightly by vibration of the body panels which allowed the water to escape, the travails of new cars.

Peugeot 203 and IKM Spl ready for the long Melbourne-Gold Coast November 1954 AGP trip, Gardenvale to Southport is 1,725km each way (L Hatch)

 

Ian looking around for his crew at Gnoo Blas, long, low lines of the innovative IKM Pug clear (K Devine)

After a relaxing Port Phillip Bay Christmas/New Year the newlyweds set off from Melbourne for the South Pacific Trophy at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales over the January 31, 1955 weekend.

Australia’s first FIA listed international meeting featured the Ferrari 500/625s of Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze, Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol, Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 and Bira’s Maserati 250F and Osca V12 amongst others.

Two cars in Connaghan’s Corner after the right-hand Mrs Mutton’s Corner and then the downhill The Dip. Ian has lost adhesion and left the circuit on the outside, his crashed car is visible with officials well away on the left as, perhaps, the South Pacific Trophy takes place. Superb, rare angle of this section of this road circuit whilst noting the sad scene Reg Hunt reveals

 

Sadly, oil which spewed from Bira’s Osca V12 probably led to the awful accident which cost 25 year old Ian and a young spectator in a prohibited area their lives on the fast, downhill run out of Connaghan’s Corner, see here for a feature on this meeting; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/09/1955-south-pacific-championship-gnoo-blas/

Reg Hunt’s Maserati A6GCM 2.5 litre was entered for the meeting but necessary spares were late arriving from Italy so he prowled the circuit with his camera instead.

Laurel remarried in 1960, the IKM remains passed to Ian’s brother Ken who later sold them to Harry Firth. Ian Tate, who admired the car in the day, later acquired it and is in the gradual process of restoration.

Path of the car clear through the fence from the previous shot from up the hill towards Connaghan’s Corner.

Whilst components off the crashed machine have been placed on the wreck and in the cockpit the barbed wire fence, wrapped around IKM Spl, which provided some of Ian’s fatal wounds is clear. When the worst happened on those tracks in those days, lady luck either was, or was not present. Unseen by Ian that day sadly

Stunning, most significant photographs, many thanks Reg, David.

Credits…

Australian Motor Sports, December 1954, ‘Ian Mountain: Potential Unfulfilled’ Paul Watson, Reg Hunt photographs via David Zeunert Archive, Ken Devine Collection, Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club

Tailpiece…

Finito…

DB, Brabham BT59 Judd EV V8, AGP 1990 (BA)

It was great to see David Brabham race a Brabham in Adelaide during the 1990 Australian Grand Prix, whilst the BT59 Judd looked the goods it was not a great car, and Brabham was hardly the marque it was during the Brabham/Tauranac and Ecclestone eras.

David qualified 25th and failed to finished after spinning off on lap 19, we saw him again in 1994, when he raced a Simtec S941 Ford HB V8 but that simple car, still fitted with a semi-manual gearbox, remember them, was well and truly under-cooked in amongst the Top-Guns.

And that, sadly, turned out to be the end of David Brabham’s time in Formula 1, mind you, he had a great professional race career inclusive of a 2009 Le Mans win aboard a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP in amongst heaps of sportscar and other victories.

In more recent times, after a legal battle of about a decade, he has gained control of the Brabham name and intellectual property and built the awesome Anglo-Australian Brabham BT62 Ford Hypercar, the first of what will hopefully be a long line of racing and road cars. If ever there was a time for ‘Team Australia’ to climb aboard it is now?

DB, BT62 during the Adelaide Motorsport Festival 2019 (InSydeMedia)

Here is the car during the 2019 Adelaide Motorsport Festival, love the circa 1990 Brabham era livery!

When I think of David Brabham in Adelaide it is the 1987 F1 carnival weekend which sticks in my mind. DB won the 15 lap, ANF2 (1.6 litre, SOHC, two-valve, carbs) one-race Gold Star  Championship event from the back of the grid, finishing ahead of a classy 28 car field including most of the top ten placegetters of the six round Formula 2 Championship which concluded a couple of months before.

In more recent times David has made public his motivation for that great drive. In one of those ‘shit happens’ moments of youth, he had ‘potted’ his girlfriend, and as an expectant father, Jack had given DB the ‘that’s the end of your F1 aspirations’ brush off. #3 son’s drive in Adelaide was an ‘I’ll faaarkin show you mate moment’, and man it was really impressive to watch!

I was rooting for Mark McLaughlin’s Elfin 852 VW as an enthusiast of the marque, and watched with amazement from the East Terrace section of the track as he caught and passed the competition hand over fist. It wasn’t his first race on one of the more technical road courses, Brabham was second in the Formula Ford Championship race the year before, and his Ralt RT30 VW was the right bit of kit, but it was an impressive drive all the same. A portent of what was to come.

DB, Ralt RT30 VW, Adelaide 1987 (driving.co.uk)

 

DB Adelaide 1987 (BA)

 

BT62 launch at the Australian High Commision, London (BA)

Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac would chuckle with delight at the pragmatism of the BT62.  The car bristles with the latest in technology in some ways but beneath the sinfully edgy and sexy aerodynamically efficient carbon fibre and kevlar body delivering 1,600 kg of downforce, lurks a good old fashioned multi-tubular spaceframe chassis and a wonderful 5.4 litre modular Ford V8 modified to Brabham Automotive specifications.

Brabham and Tauranac won a couple of world titles in 1966-1967 with engines of relatively modest technical specifications and were still winning Grands Prix with spaceframes in 1969 when a change to regulations requiring ‘bag’ fuel tanks effectively mandated monocoques in F1.

The poverty pack BT62 is priced at US $975K plus taxes, whereas the ducks guts BT62 ‘Ultimate Track Car’ hits the road at a giddy US $1.3M, only proprietors of Chinese Wet Markets should apply. Seventy cars only will be built at Brabham’s new 15,000 square metre facility, at Edinburgh Parks, within parent company Fusion Capital’s complex.

(BA)

 

(BA)

The Ford ‘Voodoo’ based, Brabham DOHC, four-valve, fuel injected, flat-plane crank 5.4 litre V8 has a bore/stroke of 94 x 97 mm for a capacity of 5,387 cc giving 700 bhp @ 7,400 rpm and 492 lb/ft of torque. This lot hits the road via a six-speed sequential Holinger transaxle. Suspension front and rear is by way of push-rod actuated upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/dampers with adjustable roll bars at both ends. Brakes are carbon/carbon and carbon/ceramic for race/road.

BT62 has enormous, menacing presence, it is 4,460 mm long, 1,950 mm wide, 1,200 mm high and weighs 972 kg with a weight distribution of 41/59% front/rear.

Brabham delivered its first competition BT62 to Horsepower Racing in the UK in May 2019 to contest the Britcar Endurance Championship, in a wonderful start for the machine it won its first race from pole driven by David Brabham and Will Powell at Brands Hatch last November 9. Great stuff!

(BA)

 

(BA)

There is something wonderful about Brabhams being built in Adelaide’s Edinburgh Parks, only a kilometre or so from Holden’s closed Elizabeth factory. The city has a long history of automotive engineering and manufacturing excellence with such famous/prominent companies as Elfin Sports Cars, Clisby Engineering, Birrana Cars, Globe Products, ASP and many others building racing cars and components since the earliest days of motoring in Australia.

Without drawing too long a bow in making an historic connection between Brabham and Adelaide, Clisby Engineering in Prospect manufactured the 1967-1970 30, 40, 50, and 60 series cylinder heads for the range of Repco-Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. racing V8s, including those used on the ‘740’ engines which won the 1967 world F1 championships.

Ooops, forgot! Jack’s first national championship speedway win was at Kilburn Speedway on 25 February 1949, 9 km from Adelaide’s GPO, so lets take the Adelaide/Brabham connection as a given.

Fusion Capital, the Brabham Automotive parent company, is based in Waymouth Street, Adelaide, they position themselves as ‘a partner of investors and small business’ and operate in three business sectors; advanced manufacturing and renewables, property and private equity.

Brabham Automotive’s brothers in the advanced manufacturing and renewables division are Precision Buses, Precision Components, a manufacturer of pressed metal and fabricated components, and Heliostat, a business which makes heliostats, mirrors which turn to reflect light in solar energy applications.

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Hopefully Fusion Capital has a balance sheet of sufficient strength to allow Brabham to complete the construction of the seventy BT62s in their business plan as the first step of a process which will establish the company as a manufacturer of road and racing cars with a return to F1 at some point.

It is amusing to hear of ScoMo’s mob’s recent interest in the manufacturing sector given the final act of automotive sodomy which destroyed the motor industry was performed by Tony Abbott, a knuckle-dragging, towering monument to intellectual and leadership bankruptcy. In truth the seeds of the industries ultimate failure were established at birth, that is, a total lack of Australian ownership and therefore control. Generational management failure, union and head office greed, governments of both stripes applying economic rationalism since 1972 (and I’ll fess up to supporting such policies) without any ‘societal good’ over-ride and our high dollar did the rest.

The ongoing success of Bolwell in Mordialloc, who have navigated the travails of manufacturing in Australia with nimble skill since the sixties, 35 year old (yes!) Borland Racing Developments closeby, Geelong’s ‘Carbon Revolution’ wheel maker, and now Adelaide’s Brabham Automotive give great cause for optimism in the weird world in which we live, long may these enterprises prosper.

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Etcetera…

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Credits…

Fairfax, Adelaide GP FB page, driving.co.uk, InSydeMedia, Getty Images, BA-Brabham Automotive, Fusion Capital

Tailpiece…

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Match race between David Brabham’s BT62 and Matt Hall in a Zivco Edge 540 V3 aircraft, during the Adelaide Motorsports Festival in 2019.

Finito…

Terence James Trowell was an incredibly talented writer and graphic designer/illustrator.
‘Jet Black, Racing Driver’ was one of his many accomplishments, its excellence made easy for him as a lifetime car nut and race fan.
Google is such a tricky little minx, sometimes you can give her a tickle and get the result anticipated, on other occasions you nibble her ears much the same way you did a couple of days before and she surprises you with her secrets, this is one of those happy occasions.
I’d never heard of Terry Trowell until Tuesday night. His was a shortish but full, fascinating life. Many thanks to Kevin Patrick, this article is the GTAm ‘allegerita-modificato’ version of his Trowell profile in Comics Down Under of March 12, 2010.
Born in Katanning, in Western Australia’s south-west on September 4 1918, Trowell’s formative childhood years were in Malaya where his father was a mining engineer in Ipoh, Perak. He returned to Australia in 1926, boarding at Perth’s Guildford Grammar. At 20, after studying journalism at the UWA he returned to Malaya as a journalist on The Straits Times.

Having returned home in 1940, Trowell enlisted in the Australian Army in July 1942, where his unique skills as an artist with personal experience and knowledge of the Asia-Pacific region, earmarked him for military service with such specialised branches as Operational Intelligence, the Allied Intelligence Bureau and Z-Force, a special operations commando unit which undertook dangerous missions behind Japanese lines. Trowell’s duties included topography, map-making and interrogating prisoners of war in Malaya at the end of hostilities.

Discharged with the rank of corporal in July 1946, Terry travelled to England where he studied art before going to France where he worked as a freelance artist. He returned to Perth in 1948, via the United States. Back home he created a series of murals for several hospitals, hotels and commercial buildings and was then commissioned to illustrate a series of social studies books documenting Western Australian history, the first volume, Early Days of W.A. Towns, was published in 1949.

The following year, he moved to Melbourne with his wife, Patricia Powell, a school teacher studying music and training to be a concert pianist. This was the beginning of his involvement in Australia’s then-booming comic book industry. During 1950/1951 he was a freelance writer and illustrator for Atlas Publications, a Melbourne company which scored early commercial success with the superhero comic Captain Atom.

Trowell’s first series for them was The Grey Domino, a masked vigilante described as “the hooded nemesis of crime”, which debuted in 1951. His storylines were set in exotic locales and featured glamourous women and implacable rogues and were illustrated with great skill – a creative combination for success.

For his next series, Terry inherited a cowboy comic titled The Ghost Rider, a wandering cowboy who dons a black mask to become ‘The Ghost Rider’, whenever trouble looms. Trowell’s work on The Ghost Rider marked a significant advance in his ability as a comic book storyteller.

In 1952 Terry returned to Perth where he established an art studio, but he continued to work as a freelancer for Atlas Publications on The Grey Domino, The Ghost Rider and Rhino Beresford, released by Atlas in 1957. Accompanied by his loyal aide and ‘gun-boy’, M’Bolo, (in most politically incorrect fashion for this day and age), the phlegmatic British hunter, Major Beresford, is known and respected throughout French Equatorial Africa as ‘Bwana Kifaru’ (‘Master Rhino’), able to best any man or beast in the jungle.

Trowell was appointed Art Director of Modern Motor in 1956, published by Modern Magazines Pty. Ltd., a company which also produced Modern Boating and Australian Cricket. Capitalising on his new employers size, he re-entered the comic book market, creating Jet Black – Racing Driver (11 issues), which took its bow in 1958.

Jet Black was a former World War II fighter pilot, who is now the number one driver for the Cougar Racing Team, managed by his wartime colleague, George Faversham. Accompanied by Jet’s girlfriend, Rusty Redd, the trio became entangled in foreign intrigue wherever they went on the racing circuit.

Terry seems to have taken his inspiration from the real ‘JB’ who had not long before joined Cooper Racing, although Cougar Racing was in decline, which Cooper most certainly was not at that stage anyway!

‘Drama is maintained and racing interrupted with a steady stream of villains and beautiful female Interpol agents while a good pair of fists is as useful as a four-wheel drift’ observed ‘Repco 22’ on The Nostalgia Forum.

Modern Magazines was keen to align Jet Black with its racing publication. Trowell’s richly painted covers were adorned with the blurb, ‘Modern Motor presents Jet Black’, while the comic featured text stories and photos taken from Modern Motor, profiling contemporary racing drivers and their cars.

‘The inside back covers offered photos and news of current happenings in the real racing world and there were board games featuring famous circuits on the back page’ Repco 22 adds. It was ‘Altogether a delightful package. A pity it only ran to thirteen issues but American comics were being dumped cheaply on the Australian market and our (comics) industry drew to a sudden halt.’

 

In 1956/7, despite being in Sydney, Terry and his brother John were on the Western Australian Sporting Car Club organising committee of the 1957 AGP held at Caversham that March. His skill as a graphic designer is shown in the suite of material he created for the race which extended to signage, tickets, the program and promotional material.

Trowell also designed a series of full-colour ‘Famous Racers’ posters and ‘Race Games’, depicting well-known circuits which were printed on the comic’s back covers. Each issue of Jet Black was endorsed by the publisher as “an original story, based on authentically drawn scenes and cars, which is both entertaining and educational for readers of all ages.”

At this stage Terry also produced three issues of the True Western comic book series for Modern Magazines. These comics, titled Truth about Jesse James, Truth about Custer’s Last Stand and Killer Marshal – Truth about Wyatt Earp, were factual accounts of famous figures from America’s ‘Wild West’ era.
‘Trowell’s other major comic for Modern Magazines was the offbeat, one-shot title, Purple People Eater. Taking its name from the popular song recorded by Sheb Wooley in 1958, Purple People Eater was a freewheeling romp of a comic, full of space aliens, a hip-swivelling Elvis look-alike, beatniks and a spear-wielding witchdoctor that not only defied description, but mirrored some of the best satirical comic strips then appearing in America’s famous Mad Magazine.’

Lindsay Ross ‘Kerry Cox lights up the retreads on the Paramount Ford out of Newry Corner, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos.com)

Aha! A sidebar. So the nickname of the ‘Krazy Kerry’ Cox famous Paramount Jaguar Spl aka ‘Purple Petrol Eater’, was nicked from either the pop song or Terry’s comic!
Cox was an immensely popular driver amongst his peers and spectators alike, his sportscar was one of Tasmania’s most iconic sixties racing cars.
In 1960 Terry returned to Western Australia, to establish ‘Trowell Purdon Advertising’. He entered the television industry in 1960, working for the Australian Broadcasting Commission for whom he appeared in a children’s television program to use puppets for on-air drawing lessons. He joined J. Gibney & Sons Art Studio as chief illustrator and designer in 1962.
Sadly, his life was cut short on 23 October 1964, when he died from a war-related medical condition. ‘While the history of Australian comics is all the poorer for his untimely death, Terry Trowell nonetheless left behind a significant body of work which entertained countless readers and enriched the comic book medium.’

(HRCCT)

Cox built the Paramount Ford together with Norm Nott, the machines’ chassis was based on the tubular chassis of a Paramount Ford, a British low volume car of the early to mid fifties.
Rather than the puny Ford Consul 1508 cc four, power was provided by a Ford Customline V8 with ‘mechanical bits donated from more than a dozen makes’ wrote Ellis French. The body, which was constructed mainly of fibreglass was laid out and formed over chicken wire as shown in the photograph above.

(Reg Dalwood via HRCCT)

Great shot of Cox blasting the Paramount Ford away from Longford village, he is about to jump the railway line and then charge along Tannery Straight. The shot below is more like Kerry, a very fast driver of great exuberance and skill, Symmons Plains circa 1965.

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Ellis French tells us once Kerry moved on to the Le Mans Jaguar the Petrol Eater was sold to Ralph Terry before ultimately ending up on the northwest coast of Tassie, perhaps East Devonport, with a replica appearing at Symmons Plains circa 2010.
Credits…
Tailpiece…
Finito…