Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

Who would have thought our ‘Black Jack’ would be a street art star…

 But he is! Even if he looks a bit like his good mate Graham Hill, replete with moustache!

Brabham is depicted aboard his 1966 F1 World Championship winning chassis- the Repco ‘RB620 Series’ V8 powered Brabham BT19, click on the links for articles on this bolide at the end of the article.

The artist didn’t realise just how perfect the placement of this sizable work is. Its on a wall in Richmond only 1.5 Km or so from the Doonside Street, Richmond Repco factory where the first of the RB620 V8’s were built and burst into life prior to the shift of Repco Brabham Engines Pty Ltd to Maidstone, in Melbourne’s inner west, in early 1966.

I came upon the art by accident whilst on a walk, its funny the way sometimes these things happen in a serendipitous kinda way.

‘Dimmey’s was an iconic department store in Swan Street Richmond. Its been redeveloped in the last few years- thank the good lord above that the developer was forced to retain the buildings base structure and façade, with the usual, small dog-box apartments contained therein. The big mural is painted on the side of the Dimmeys building. Initially I thought the work was some sort of history of Richmond but its a timeline depiction of ‘Great Australians’ and Oz icons, of whom our Jack is definitely one.

Melburnians can check out the art and have some nice nosh closeby whilst you do so- see the work on the Green Street sidestreet wall, corner of Swan Street. It won’t last forever mind you, it ain’t guarded like the Mona Lisa, if you want a look do so soon before the ‘taggers’ attack it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gives me the pip that in popular listings of ‘Great Australian Sportsmen’ Brabham never pops up in the top 10 or 20.

He is a member of the Sport Australia ‘Hall Of Fame’. To me, hopelessly biased as I am, Brabham’s triumphs in 1966/67, lets put to one side his Drivers Championship wins for Cooper in 1959 and 1960, make him the greatest of any Australian sportsman/athlete.

Don Bradman the cricketer is usually rated at #1, big deal, most of you globally will have never seen a game of cricket. You are lucky, it’s a dull, shit-boring invention of the Brits. Often a ‘Test Match’, the elite form of the game, goes for 5 days without a result. Cricket even makes modern Petite Prix racing look exciting!

Brabham, Ron Tauranac and Repco made the ‘bat and ball’ and then they went and belted the best in the world with it. No-one else comes close to Brabham as our #1- not Ken Rosewall, (tennis) Mark Ella, (rugby) Betty Cuthbert, (sprinter) Rod Laver, (tennis) Herb Elliott, (distance runner) Dawn Fraser (swimmer) or Bradman, none of ‘em match his achievements in my book…

Footnote…

In 1966/1967 Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme won the World Drivers Championship aboard Brabham BT19 and BT19/20/24 respectively. Brabham/Motor Racing Developments were the Champion Constructor in both years powered by Repco RB620 and RB740 Series 3 litre V8 engines.

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

I’ve deliberately not captioned the mural shots- I don’t know all the names of the dudes depicted myself, so I’ve left it to Aussies to have some fun picking those people and events you can and wonder who/what the ones are you can’t identify! It’s great, do take the time to go and have a look.

Tailpiece…

 

 

 

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(Beasy/Repco)

The fast way to get around Repco’s Maidstone factory…

Repco Engine Development Co chief Malcolm Preston bought this Veggie Cart from Melbourne’s Victoria Market to shift shite around the plant. These enterprising lads have neatly set it up for this fun shot. Luvvit!

The dapper bearded ‘70’s dude wearing the tie is Don Halpin, I spoke to him not so long ago, he hasn’t changed too much at all. Rodway Wolfe says the guy left of Don is John McVeigh and moustachioed fella is Ken Symes, on the far right is Brian Slader.

When is it though?

I’m guessing the up and over exhausts are to fit Frank Matich’s McLaren M10B/C, Frank was the works Repco driver who did the development work long before the first customer engines were sold. That makes it 1970 or 1971, but there are a load of Australian F5000 nutbags who can probably provide the date and time of day. The Bowin P8 also had this style of exhausts to clear the rising rate suspension linkages which precluded a low exhaust, that would make it late 1971 or 1972.

Mind you, thinking about it some more, the exhausts fitted may be just for the dyno. Its out that side door so the big V8 may be heading in the direction of the test-house. The long inlets look like those of one of the you-beaut, super trick, schmick, flat-plane crank engines too. These gave 525bhp, Repco’s horses were always stallions too, not geldings! So…that makes it 1973/4, the Repco boys ‘fashionable’ looks also define that era.

All opinions welcome and as you Repco F5000 experts can see I’ve covered the years 1970 to 1974, the whole period in which these superbly designed and made engines were built!…

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1974 Sandown Tasman round, John Walker Lola T330 Repco 3rd, Peter Gethin won is a VDS Chevron B24 Chev (unattributed)

Credit…

The Repco cart photo is sourced from Mark Beasy, he and Will Beasy have a great Repco connection having inherited the only Repco Holden F5000 powered Lola on the planet, the ex-John Walker T330 ‘HU23’.

It’s getting closer to completion, the project was started by Mark and Will’s dad, Brian many years ago. I remember seeing Brian on quite a few occasions at his Lilydale home, client work always got in the way of that particular restoration and the thankless CAMS Historic Commission eligibility work he did. A top bloke- talented motor-cycle racer, car racer and engineer.

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JW 1st in the 1973 Gold Star round at Phillip Island in November from McCormack and Cooper in Elfin MR5’s (Chris Parker)

 

 

 

 

(Joel Wakely)

Two of my favourite drivers are Lorenzo Bandini and Australian Gold Star champion, Spencer Martin but it was quite a surprise to see them in the same shot- Lorenzo in a Cooper and Spencer a Holden…

Joel Wakely’s Boomerang Service Station at Concord, inner-western Sydney was well known amongst Australian motor-racing aficionados by February 1962 as builders of one of the fastest ‘Appendix J’ Holden 48-215/FX sedans in the land peddled very hard by up-and comer Spencer Martin.

The young Sydneysider was soon to race Tasman cars like Bandini’s Cooper for Australian racer/journalist/patron David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, but that period was still a year or so away. Click here for Spencer’s own account of his racing career;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

Bandini himself was also on the rise, his racing in the southern summer sun of ’62 was part of Mimmo Dei’s grand plan to give the young Italian some racing miles aboard his Scuderia Centro Sud T53 Cooper in the European ‘off-season’, to get him razor sharp for the rigours of the coming season back home. The 2.8 litre Maserati engined Cooper was very much a ‘big-car’, F1 by then was a 1.5 litre formula, so the experience was valuable for him. It was a successful strategy back then and still is- the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series every summer is a place young racers look to keep themselves race fit and help thrust their careers forward. Click here for my article about Bandini;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/24/lorenzo-bandinicooper-t53-maserati-warwick-farm-sydney-1962/

The car in the middle of the shot is the gorgeous Clive Adams designed Prad Holden sportscar styled along the lines of a Maserati 300S. Jack Pryor built the chassis and Stan Brown it’s shapely body. Spencer Martin bought, developed and raced the car successfully after Adams sold it.

And so it came to pass that Bandini’s Cooper was operated from the Boomerang Servo at the behest of BP, who supported Centro Sud. It made good sense as the garage was only 25Km from Warwick Farm, near Liverpool on Sydney’s then western outskirts. Wakely recalls that ‘So many people heard about the car at the garage and came down to have a look we had to have crowd control!’

Centro Sud were not exactly renowned for the detail presentation of their cars but even so I thought Lorenzo’s car looked a bit tatty. Perhaps the reason is that it isn’t the car he raced!

Have a look yourself at the photo below, it isn’t the same car. The inlet and exhaust sides of the Maserati engine are on the opposite sides to the Cooper in shot, apart from the body differences. I think the car above is a spare T51 Cooper, one of two acquired by Dei from Coopers in 1959 and raced in both F1 in 1959/60 and the Intercontinental Formula in 1961. Still, that’s my theory it may not be right! So, the question for my Australian friends is which Cooper chassis is Bandini sitting aboard? A Centro Sud spare or another car based that weekend at Concord’s Temple of Speed?…

I love these mysteries, but I like the answers even more…

Lorenzo Bandini in the Centro Sud Cooper T53 Maserati during the ‘Warwick Farm 100’, 4 February 1962. Compare and contrast with the car in the opening shot (John Ellacott)

Bibliography/Photo Credits…

oldracingcars.com, sergent.com, Joel Wakely, John Ellacott

Other Reading…

My other article about Spencer Martin, and the iconic Ferrari 250LM he raced for David McKay

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

(Fistonic)

Frank Matich’s Brabham BT7A Climax leading Jim Palmer’s Cooper T53 Climax around the 2.897 Km Mount Maunganui road circuit, New Zealand, 28 December 1963…

Mount Maunganui is a beach town at the southern end of Tauranga Harbour in The Bay of Plenty in the north of New Zealands North Island. Only two ‘Bay of Plenty Premier Road Race’ meetings using public roads around the towns wharf area were held, in 1962 and 1963. The circuit was oblong in shape, the startline was in Totara Road and ran down Hewletts Road, onto Tasman Quay and then Hull Road. The creation of the permanent Bay Park circuit in the area supplanted the road course which was created by Joseph and Graham Pierce and Feo Stanton. To create the track they had to tar-seal a section over a railway line and then remove it after the weekends racing to allow the trains to operate the following morning!

Race winner Jim Palmer, Cooper T53 Climax, Mt Maunganui 1963 (Fistonic)

The 1963 event was won by Jim Palmer from John Youl’s Cooper T55 Climax and Tony Shelly’s Lotus 18/21 Climax. Both of the Australian’s John Youl and Frank Matich used the meeting as a ‘warm-up’ for the 1964 Tasman series which started at Levin, the following weekend, on 4 January 1964.

Grid positions for the 15 lap final were determined by the results of two heats; Matich comfortably led his until encountering timing problems with his Coventry Climax engine, Palmer took the win with John Youl victorious in the other heat.

In the championship race, Palmer started well and lead Shelly, Matich- off the back of the grid, quickly passing the smaller engined cars and Youl but Shelly soon led, and Matich grabbed 3rd as Youl spun. Matich set a lap record of 1:10.4 as he moved the very latest ‘Intercontinental’ Brabham BT7A into 2nd behind Shelly. He took the lead on the next lap whilst Youl closed on Palmer. Shelly was passed by Palmer with 3 laps to go with Matich left out on the circuit with an inoperative throttle, and John Youl also passing Shelly. Palmer won from Youl, Shelly then Rex Flowers Lotus 20B Ford, Roly Levis’ Lotus 22 Ford and Neil Whittaker’s Cooper T43 Climax.

John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax (Fistonic)

In fact the race was very much a portent of the Tasman Series (won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 Climax) with all four of Matich, Palmer, Shelly and Youl being competitive with Matich having a swag of mechanical problems only finishing one of the 5 rounds he started, at Longford, in 3rd place.

In the NZ Tasman races Palmer, Shelly and Youl all contested they drove extremely well, almost as a group in their outdated cars- Cooper T53, Lotus 18/21 and Cooper T55 behind the leading bunch of Australasian Internationals- Brabham, Hulme, McLaren and American Tim Mayer.

Youl was 4th in the first 3 NZ rounds and then travelled back to Australia before Teretonga to prepare for the first Australian round at Sandown where he finished 3rd. His beautifully prepared 1961 (ex-F1 and then Brabham’s car for the Australasian Internationals in 1962) Cooper T55 with its innovative Geoff Smedley designed and built twin-plug Coventry Climax FPF head had done 5 meetings with routine maintenance but no rebuild. His 3rd at the AGP was followed by a DNF at Warwick Farm with crown wheel and pinion problems. He then had a great 2nd at Lakeside and was 5th at Longford, his home race in a strong finish to the series.

In fact Youl was very much the ‘form driver’ of this group having finished 2nd and then taking 2 wins in the final three rounds of the Australian Gold Star series in the later months of 1963, at Sandown, Mallala and Warwick Farm. Noteworthy is that these performances were against Lex Davison, Bib Stillwell and David McKay all of whom were aboard much more modern equipment than Youl. He was second in the Gold Star to Stillwell’s Brabham BT4 Climax in 1963 as he was in 1962.

Palmer, later multiple NZ Gold Star winner and ex-F1 driver Shelly had virtually identical results in the four NZ Tasman races, and finished all of them which is admirable at a time the 2.5 FPF’s were notoriously brittle being pushed to the limits as they were.

Without doubt Frank Matich had the pace of the Internationals in the ’64 Tasman but he had no chance of success without better preparation/luck/greater mechanical sympathy- Geoff Smedley joined him not so long after Youl’s unfortunate retirement from the sport at the end of 1964. Grazier Youl was one very fine driver who deserved a ‘factory’ drive such was his pace in the ex-Brabham Cooper T55 to fully realise his potential. I don’t know enough about the man to place him in the pantheon of Australian single-seater pilots but for sure he was very handy behind the wheel…

Matich chasing Colin Ngan, Cooper Bobtail in the sportscar race won by FM- love these industrial background shots (Fistonic)

Matich in his Lotus 19B Climax…

Frank Matich above blasting his very highly developed Lotus around the Mounts working wharves, such a distinctive background!

Frank’s Lotus was far and away the quickest sportscar that weekend, he won the race from the Lotus 15 Climax of Barry Porter and the Lola Climax driven by J Riley. The Matich 19B was destroyed at Lakeside in 1965, hospitalising the Sydneysider in the process. Out of those ashes was born the Elfin 400 Olds or Traco Olds as FM called it, and Matich SR3 and SR4 programs, all great cars.

In the same way that the Lotus 18, Chapman’s first mid-engined design (F1/FJ) redefined the sophistication of the path the Coopers had blazed so well, so too did the 19 amongst sportscar grids. The car used much of the 18 hardware albeit adapted to comply with sportscar rules- FIA Group C. Chapman detailed the car with Len Terry also playing a role in its design.

The cars spaceframe chassis was made of 1 inch and ¾ inch steel tube of 16 and 18 guage, there was a scuttle hoop of perforated sheet steel to provide further cross-sectional bracing. The first car, chassis ‘950’, was initially fitted with an aluminium body with subsequent cars using bodies made of fibreglass. The front and rear body sections were hinged for ease of access with two horizontal doors for driver and passenger! access and egress. Wheels were Lotus 15 inch ‘wobbly-webs’, disc brakes were 10.5 inch and 9.5 inches in diameter front / rear.

Dimensions; 141 inch long, 65” wide, a height of 31/32 “, the wheelbase was 7’ 6”, front track 49” and rear track 47.5 “. The cars weight was quoted at 1232-1250 pounds less driver but with 8 gallons of fuel. Said girth was dependent upon the engine fitted, over time this included the FPF’s around which the car was designed and also various American small-block V8’s. Similarly, whilst the Lotus sequential, 5 speed ‘Queerbox’ was specified the cars were also fitted with Colotti and Hewland gearboxes ‘in period’.

Lotus 19 Climax cutaway, technical specifications as per text (Thatcher)

When completed chassis ‘#950’ was tested by both Moss and Chapman, Moss had been racing Cooper Monaco’s amongst the swag of cars he competed in at the time, his opinion of the 19 relative to the Monaco, a design several years older would be interesting. Its said that the 19 was the first car Stirling drove after recovery from his 1960 Spa Lotus 18 accident.

Only 16 or 17 of the cars were built, the limiting factor for build numbers was the supply of Coventry Climax FPF engines which were of course the engine de jour for the British F1 ‘garagistes’ at the time.

The seminal research over the last decade or so on the fate of the various Lotus 19 chassis was carried out by enthusiasts/experts/journalists/engineers/drivers on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ (TNF). What follows is based upon the contents of that highly interactive forum, with the ability of so many knowledgeable people to test evidence, the summary of ownership and changes in specification over time. The contributions of Ray Bell and Bryan Miller are specifically acknowledged.

Frank Matich raced two Lotus 19’s; the ex-UDT Laystall 19 chassis ‘950’ raced by Stirling Moss which was destroyed in a testing accident at Warwick Farm in 1963 and a replacement 19B which was delivered by Lotus Components sans chassis number. It was also destroyed, again in a testing, or more specifically an accident during a practice/qualifying session at Lakeside on 24 July 1965.

I have written tangentially about these cars in an article about FM’s rivalry with Bib Stillwell’s Cooper Monaco and other articles on Frank Matich, and very specifically about the 19B, Matich’s accident in it at Lakeside and its role in relation to the design/conception of Garrie Coopers Elfin 400, the first delivered of which was raced by Matich. I don’t propose to cover that all again, click on the links at this articles conclusion to read what I’ve already been written.

The first Matich Lotus 19 Climax, chassis  ‘950’ shot at Homestead Corner Warwick Farm in 1962, compare the photo with the similar one of the 19B at the same corner below (Ellacott)

Caveat Emptor…

When Frank Matich was looking for a replacement for his oh-so-successful Lotus 15 Climax it was immediately obvious to him that the car to have was a 19 given the success of Moss, Ireland, Gurney and others in the cars on both sides of the Atlantic.

His ex-Leaton Motors mechanic Bruce Richardson, working in the UK for Reg Parnell Racing at the time, contacted UDT Laystall in England on FM’s behalf to determine if they were interested in selling one of their 3 19’s. Frank knew Moss having met him on the great Brits previous trips to Australia. Shortly after Richardson’s contact Matich ‘…discussed with Stirling buying the (UDT Laystall) car (#950) Stirling was racing in the USA…who advised Frank, who wished to have the car shipped directly from the States to Australia that the car was pretty tired and it would be best for the car to return to the UK for a full rebuild and then be sent out from the UK. The car duly arrived in late 1961 and Frank was not happy with the state of preparation and he called Stirling to intervene’ Bryan Miller wrote.

Matich had been shafted by UDT Laystall, far from the first time we poor Colonials had been short-sheeted by less than honest operators who relied upon 12000 miles of Ocean to get away with sins of omission or commission! Moss, not involved in the commercial aspects of the deal at all, righted the wrongs with a financial adjustment in favour of the Sydneysider. The story goes something like this.

Rather than rebuild the car the UDT folks used the opportunity to bolt some of the shit bits they had lying around the workshop they didn’t want from their three cars to good ‘ole ‘950’ and shove it on a ship at Southhampton for Sydney!

Matich ordered the car with the Colotti box fitted to ‘950’, they sent him a ‘Queerbox’, very much not the better alternative although Matich said later to Bell ‘they weren’t a bad box as long as you set them up well’. Frank specified a regular windscreen, they sent a high one, ‘The crankshaft was obviously carrying a very old crack, it was very unlikely that it hadn’t been previously detected’ according to Frank, Ray Bell wrote. ‘There was a lot of that sort of thing about the car, so its clear Moss went into bat for Frank’. Moss drove the car whilst in Australia for the International series of races that summer (he raced Rob Walker owned Cooper T53 Climax and Lotus 21 Climax in NZ and Australia in January/February 1962) and was able to see for himself the state of the car as delivered from the UK. ‘Onya Stirling!

Having overcome those obstacles the 19 very rapidly became the fastest sportscar in the country, indeed, one of the fastest cars in the Australia- his dices with Bib Stillwell’s older but very well prepared, sorted and driven Cooper Monaco wonderful spectator drawcards across the continent.

Lotus 19 Climax ‘950’ in the Lakeside paddock probably during the International meeting in early 1963. Coventry Cliamx FPF engine and Lotus ‘Queerbox’ clear as is copious ducting for brake cooling (Mellor)

#950’s demise occurred during a test session at Warwick Farm…

Matich’s backyard was Warwick Farm from the time the circuit opened  at the wonderful Liverpool horseracing facility. He did all of his serious testing there, it was close to his various bases on Sydney’s North Shore, and he was always developing his cars with tweaks major and minor. This process of continuous development of bits for all of his cars, factory built or otherwise, was sustained right to the end of his career in early 1974. By then he was building world-beating Formula 5000 cars, indeed no-one did more miles around the Western Sydney outskirts circuit than FM.

In 1963 he raced the Lotus and works Elfins- a Clubman, Formula Junior and an ANF 1.5 variant of the FJ with which he contested the AGP, at, you guessed it, Warwick Farm. He was 8th in the race won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT4 Climax. On one of these test days Bell records that ‘The very reason for its (950’s) demise…was the fitting of new uprights (from Lotus)…Matich had come in from testing saying it felt funny and asked Bruce (Richardson, by then back from the UK and FM’s chief mechanic) to go out and drive the 19 while he followed him in the Elfin openwheeler. The upright broke and he went into the fence’. The fence was the very solid and unyielding WF Pit Straight fence which comprised 2 inch thick planks of wood bolted to railway sleepers. The chassis was rooted, it was too badly damaged to be repaired so a replacement was ordered from Lotus Components.

‘The original 19 chassis (950) went to Ray Hopwood, a friend of Franks. I think it was he who buried it under his house after deciding he wasn’t able to use it, which had been his intention’ wrote Bell.

Bell then speculates about the commercial arrangements between Lotus and Matich about the new 19 frame given the demise of ‘950’ was as a result of the failure of a new Lotus upright which was too thin. What is clear, whether Chapman gave him a special price or otherwise is that wealthy Sydney businessman Laurie O’Neill paid for the chassis either in whole or in part. Bruce Richardson confirms the chassis was acquired from Lotus, and therefore is not one of the unaccounted for Lotus 19 chassis- there are about four of these chassis on the TNF list. For sure some components from ‘950’, all possible, would have been retained to bolt to the new frame which Miller reports ‘Frank did not think his car (19B) ever carried a chassis plate, he held no memory of ever seeing one on the car but at that time it was of no importance’.

In late 1963 Matich imported a brand new Brabham BT7A to contest the annual Australasian International Series (from 1964 The Tasman Championship) and local Gold Star, Australian Drivers Championship events.

Almost immediately he became the quickest local openwheeler driver- and one who gave nothing away to the visiting Internationals either. Given the weakness of the Lotus sequential ‘box, Bell ‘…Frank regarded the crownwheel and pinion as marginal…referring to easy starts to protect it…and he often lost the start to Stillwell in their 19 to Monaco clashes…’ Matich fitted the 19B with a Hewland HD5 ‘box given the experience others had of it in cars like it in the BT7A and being well aware of the shortcomings of the Queerbox. By then he had both the support of O’Neill and Total so had an adequate budget to do things properly. The cars chassis was adapted to suit the ‘box at the rear. During the short period the 19B raced it was evolved, beside the BT7A, with various Brabham bits. There appears to be no definitive list of the modifications but brakes, wheels, some suspension parts and other Brabham ‘bits and pieces’ are cited as modifications from standard Lotus 19 spec. Equally there is no neat list of bits which were transferred from the first Matich 19 ‘950’ to the 19B, albeit the ex-Moss chassis was definitely buried under a house, this fact attested by several sources including Richardson, Bell and Miller- none of whom have a vested interest in the opinion they proffer.

Not the Australian Tourist Trophy but the 19B late in its life in early 1965 after a change of Total livery, from light blue to white, here, again at Homestead Corner, Warwick Farm (Ellacott)

Australian Tourist Trophy 1965…

Frank Matich was a professional racing driver, the family Weeties were provided by race and related commercial success, to win the 1965 ATT was therefore important to him. He won the race the year before at Longford in the 19B but for 1965 the field had greater depth.

Ken Miles was coming from the US to race a factory Shelby AC Cobra, Frank Gardner was returning home to race Alec Mildren’s Mildren Maserati, a Birdcage Maserati engine fitted to a chassis built by Bob Britton- a Lotus 19 clone!, the Lotus 23 lookalike built on Britton’s Lotus 19 jig. There were also some pesky Lotus/Ford Twin-Cam engined Lotus 23’s which were quick enough to win should the big guys run into trouble. In fact the latter is what occurred, Pete Geoghegan won the race in a Lotus 23 after the retirement of others.

Matich took the 19B to the Gold Star round at Lakeside in July, his primary focus that weekend was racing his Brabham. Spencer Martin won the Gold Star round in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A. But the Lotus shared the Matich transporter with the Brabham on the journey north to fettle the car in preparation for the ATT in November. It was during practice that FM lost the car in the fast right hander behind the pits at over 120mph when the throttle jammed, destroying the car and hospitalising him with burns to his hands and back. Damage to the car was to its front, especially the left front. Various sources suggest (not Bell or Miller) that the car may have been damaged further after the accident for insurance purposes.

The accident was catalyst for Total to end the relationship with Matich. Boral Ltd acquired Total’s business in Australia and they did not want to be involved in motor-racing. The remains of the 19B, owned by O’Neill remember, were then used as a point of dimensional reference during the build of the Elfin 400 Traco Olsmobile at Elfin’s Conmurra Road, Edwardstown, South Australia factory in late 1965. The 19B donated its gearbox and some other minor components to the Elfin build. Even though the remains of the 19B were seen by various people at Elfins over the years the remains of the chassis have never seen the light of day and were probably, at some clearout, disposed of. The future value of these cars was not foreseen then of course!

Despite all of the foregoing, that is, the total destruction of both cars as racing entities, the ex-Moss/Matich Lotus 19 #’950 races on, reconstructed around a replacement chassis built in the 1980’s. So far, surprisingly, the 19B has not been rebuilt/reconstructed/resurrected despite Peter Brennan noticing, whilst looking at a Lotus 18 very recently and concluding that the pedals in his Elfin 400 are probably from the 19B…go for it PB, cars worth $750K have commenced reconstruction with far less of the original car than that!…

Bibliography…

‘The Nostalgia Forum’ Lotus 19 thread particularly the contributions of Michael Oliver, Ray Bell and Bryan Miller, Graham Vercoe, sergent.com, Bob Homewood, Glenn Ducey

Photo Credits…

Milan Fistonic and Peter Mellor- The Roaring Season, John Ellacott, Bob Thatcher

Lovely frontal shot of Frank Matich, Lotus 19B Climax, this car probably the most highly developed of its type in the world-V8 variants excepted. Car developed by FM and his team in Sydney, building upon his first 19 which was written off  in a Warwick Farm testing accident. Plenty of Brabham bits inclusive of wheels fitted to this car (Fistonic)

Finito…

 

hawt hill

I don’t think of Mike Hawthorn as a Lotus driver but here he is with Graham Hill, rather similar in age, they were both born in 1929…

Amazing really, grafter Hill worked hard to get into motor racing, his GP career started not long before Hawthorn’s finished and went well into the 1970’s, not to forget Graham’s Le Mans and Indy wins of course. Mike’s racing entree was smoothed by his fathers wealth, it’s intriguing to guess what he may have achieved had he raced on into the 1960’s and applied his considerable skills to Chapman’s works of Lotus art.

Both Hill and Hawthorn are English to the core albeit completely different charcters. And personalities they certainly were. It’s a wonderful shot.

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Hawthorn, Lotus 11 Climax, Oulton Park, Cheshire April 1955 (Popperfoto)

The event or reason for the Hill/Hawthorn shot is unrecorded but dated 12 April 1956 as is the photo of Hawthorn with Stirling Moss below. Its dated 11 May 1953, i am interested if anybody can assist with the places and occasions…

hawt moss

Credits…

Getty/Manchester Daily Express, Popperfoto

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Denny Hulme stands with ‘his’ two Chev ZL1 aluminium-blocked cars at the Riverside Times Grand Prix in 1968…

Both mighty fine cars, an M8A McLaren would be far rarer than an ‘ally-block Corvette but i bet the factory didn’t sell too many of them. You could option the engine in a Camaro for a while as well, here in Australia Bob Jane won an Australian Touring Car Championship with one so equipped in 1971.

The M8A’s were dominant in Bruce and Denny’s hands in 1968…

Credit…

The Enthusiast Network

Tailpiece…

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Max Stephens powers his 2 litre Cooper T40 Bristol up the Domain Hillclimb, Hobart, Tasmania probably late 1959…

Its not just a T40, it’s THE T40, Jack Brabham’s 1955 Australian Grand Prix winning car, Jack took a somewhat lucky win when the more powerful cars of Stan Jones and Reg Hunt fell by the wayside or were mortally wounded.

Colour isn’t so common in Australia in the period given its cost and the fact that professionals mainly shot in monochrome given printing constraints of the day ensured good ole black and white in magazines prevailed. This is a fantastic colour photograph from Lindsay Ross’, oldracephotos.com archive, I’m not sure who the ‘snapper is in this particular case but his/her composition took my eye.

The ’59 Australian Hillclimb Championship was held at the Queens Domain on Saturday 14 November 1959, in fact the weekend was a ‘double-banger’ with competitors over from the mainland able to compete at Baskerville on the Sunday. Perhaps this photo is of Max during the championship meeting, i’m intrigued to know.

The journalist Rob Saward, writing on The Nostalgia Forum had this to say about T40 ‘CB/1/55’ and Stephens: ‘The gearbox was always this cars weakness. …It was the usual Citroen based (ERSA modified) box Cooper were using in the early Bobtails and F2 cars, which worked ok with the FWA or FWB Climax, but 2 litres of Bristol power meant it had to be treated very gingerly. Longford was always hard on transmissions, even more so before the railway crossing was rebuilt prior to the 1960 meeting’.

‘Max Stephens never really had the chance to demonstrate his true potential in the car- he was a gifted motorcycle racer, Tasmania’s best in the 1950’s and there is no reason why he could not be good in a car also. I don’t know whether it was his (Max Stephens Motors in Moonah, a car sales, later accessories and motorcycles) business that stopped him getting more involved in car racing or whether money was the issue…he died a few years ago’. ‘The car was sold in about 1962/3 to Alan Robertson of Hobart who converted it from central seat to sportscar format and raced a few times before Bristol engine problems intervened…the car was purchased by Frank Cengia, who restored it in the original Brabham 1955 colours, but in the 1990’s it was unfortunately sold overseas…’when Pat Burke who owned the car fell upon hard times.

Cooper T40 ‘CB/1/55’ whilst in Stephen’s ownership at Longford in 1959 or 1960. It is the car that Jack built, literally, days before his championship F1 debut at Aintree in the 1955 British GP. The car was constructed on the T39 Bobtail sports jig, with modifications. Note the curved Cooper spaceframe chassis, Bristol 2 litre engine sitting tall in the chassis, alloy wheels…such a clever car (oldracephotos.com)

Talented engineer Geoff Smedley added that ‘the car was prepared (in Tasmania) by the late Eric O’Heaney, one of the old school motorcycle mechanics who gave Max a lot of success in his bike days…Eric himself was an avid bike racer until a serious accident…In my mind Eric was an earlier version of the great Phil Irving, both with the same demeanour in their thinking and dedication to the development of the sport…’

Scott Stephens describes his father Max‘…as a respected car and motorcycle racer. He was the only Australian, whilst riding a Manx Norton 500, who successfully passed Geoff Duke for the race lead whilst Geoff held the mantle of current World Champion, this was achieved during the Australian Grand Prix held at Longford…Observed motorcycle trials was his last competitive stance. He was the Kawasaki and Maserati distributor in Tasmania…In his Hobart store he was the approved reseller of Norton, BSA, Velocette, Triumph, Laverda, Maico, Cotton, AJS, CZ, Montesa, Bultaco, Ossa, Hodaka, Italjet and Suzuki’ makes down the decades. Scott himself was a successful professional racer who rode for Kawasaki Australia, Matich Pirelli Racing and Suzuki quips that Max ‘Loved and was amazed by anything driven by fuel!

Bibliography…

The Nostalgia Forum- contributions by Rob Saward and Geoff Smedley, scottstephens.com.au

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com