Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

sev marchal

S.E.V Marchal Ad circa mid-sixties…

The famous French manufacturer of automotive electrical componentry started plying its trade in 1923. The rights to the name, depending upon country, passed to the Valeo Group in 2009. I gather looking at a few online forums the product ‘ain’t what it useter be’.

I just always liked the graphics!…


(Jean Tesseyre)

Competitors in the Formula Junior ‘IV Prix de Paris’ at Montlhery on May 3 1959…

I tripped over these shots researching another topic in the Getty Archive, which is generally superb visually but equally poor in terms of caption accuracy or usefulness. The cars were described as F2 rather than the Formula Junior cars they are, mainly DB Junior Panhard or DB Monomill Panhard, not monopostos familiar to me.


My usual FJ results resource, ‘The F2 Index’ lists first to fourth as Alain Dagan, Dominique Franck, Pierre Mulsant and Philippe Martel, the first three in DB Junior Panhards, the latter in a DB Monomill Panhard. This fantastic resource doesn’t provide race numbers on this occasion though, making the detective work difficult, so all help as to identifying the drivers and cars amongst you French FJ enthusiasts in this race welcome!














The meeting also featured an F2 race, Jack Lewis won it from only three other competitors in a Cooper T45 Climax.

The sports and GT race was better supported with Ferrari 250GT’s dominant; Olivier Gendebien won from Claude Bourillot and Wolfgang Seidel’s similar cars.

The FJ race was 20 laps of the 3.36 Km course, the DB’s achieving some success in 1959 in French races but the front engined chassis, French engined cars were well and truly swamped by Ford engined Coopers and Lotus 18’s in 1960, not to say other quicker front-engined Lolas and Stanguellini’s.





Jean Tesseyre

Tailpiece: FJ placegetters  Dagan, Franck and Mulsant collect their trophies…




Steve McQueen drives an Alfa Duetto as part of a series of track-tests at Riverside on 13 June 1966-published in ‘Sports Illustrated’ magazine’s 8 August 1966 issue…

Its an interesting read in terms of McQueen’s background in cars and motor racing before insurance issues- the studios for whom he worked wanted to protect their asset ended his racing, and his opinions on the eight cars tested.

The ‘roll of honour’ included the Duetto, E Type, Corvette, Ferrari 275GTS, Aston DB6, Benz 230SL, 911 and Cobra 427, a nice day at the Riverside office for Steve!

He rated the Alfa’s brakes, handling, 5 speed gearbox and engine albeit the little car lacked the power McQueen was used to in his daily rides, a Ferrari and Jag XKSS. ‘It is a very forgiving car, very pretty too, the Pininfarina body is swell’ Steve quipped.

Click on this link to read the article, well worth the effort, in full;


James Drake, Bettmann

Tailpiece: More serious 1966 work Steve?…


McQueen leaving the set of ‘Sand Pebbles’, Hong Kong. Is it a racer he is riding back to the hotel or a Cafe Racer, exhaust system looks pretty racey? (Bettmann)





Posted: March 5, 2017 in Fotos, Obscurities


My French speaking friend Jen Bergin tells me the photo depicts a race between a train and a car ‘two American reporters trying to nab a sensational story attempt to catch and overtake an express train in a powerful racing car. They want to arrive before detectives sent on the chase for an escaped gangster’.

There you go, i just like the image!…

L’Illustre was an ‘illustrated little paper, a big weekly for everyone’, the issue is dated 27 November 1922.


L’Illustre, Jennifer Bergin




Some of Ferrucio Lamborghini’s artisans completing the chassis of the prototype Lambo P400 Miura in Sant ‘Agata October 1965…

The car was famously shown as a chassis only, this very one, at the Turin Show in 1965 and was a ‘starlet’ even unclothed. It made its bow ‘dressed’ by Marcello Gandini at Geneva in 1966, only four months later.



Keystone, Klemantaski Collection

Tailpiece: The new Lamborghini factory near Bologna in 1963…













I wonder how much it was? ‘Gotham Ford’ does have a touch of the ‘Batmans’ about it doesn’t it…

Not too many of these GT40 ‘road cars’ were built, maybe one of you knows which chassis this is?




frank gardner

(John Ellacott)

Frank Gardner beside his Jaguar D Type ‘XKD 520’ at Mount Druitt on 23 May 1958, looking fairly relaxed, photographer John Ellacott recalls FG achieved a 14.57 standing quarter mile in the big, powerful car…

Its right at the end of Mount Druitt’s decade long life as a race circuit in Sydney’s western suburbs. FG took FTD in one of the sprint events after the circuit was ‘mortally wounded’ by circuit owner Belf Jones after a spat with its operator the ‘Australian Racing Drivers Club’ in 1958.

mt druitt 1


These wonderful Mount Druitt, 1955 Sydney, New South Wales colour shots (the one above and below) were posted on ‘the Nostalgia Forum’ which, for those of you who haven’t discovered it is something you should do, but be warned you will be lost in interesting motor racing ‘threads’ for years…

Ace researcher/historian and primotipo contributor Stephen Dalton dates the shots as probably the 4 September 1955 meeting with the Healeys’ driven by #93 C Kennedy and #98 K Bennett. In the background Stephen thinks the #53 tail is an important Australian MG Spl, the ex/Dick Cobden/David McKay/Curly Brydon car.

The red car surrounded by mechanics is perhaps the ex Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo P3 then Alvis powered and driven by Gordon Greig. The covered #4 single seater is Stan Coffey’s Cooper Bristol ‘Dowidat Spl’ and #14 Jack Robinson’s Jaguar Special.

mt druitt 2


All ‘The Fun of The Fair’ or ‘Mount Druitt Motor Racing’ as the case may be…

This article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 August 1954, it captures the atmosphere of the place and the day and ignorance of the public of motor racing;

THIRTY thousand picnicking spectators in 8,000 cars make a phenomenon in Australian sport and entertainment at Sydney’s monthly motor races at Mt. Druitt.

Cars park two to four deep the whole length of the two and a quarter miles racing track. Spectators drive between races from one vantage point to another over ‘horror stretches’ in the seemingly endless acres of paddocks around the track.

Vendors sell hot water, hot dogs, all the usual provendor of picnics. Children play rounders or football between races.

By the standards of Britain’s famous Brooklands, the informality is extreme for the spectators, but it is typically Australian; sunshine, open air, gum trees.

The Australian Racing Drivers’ Club, however, applies the strictest international rules of competition to its 12 or 14 race program.

Officials on motor cycles patrol the boundary fences. White uniformed officials with international motor racing flags signal the drivers safely through the races-a blue flag waved – ‘a competitor is trying to overtake you’; a yellow flag waved ‘great danger, be prepared to stop’; yellow, with vertical red stripes-‘take care, oil has been spilt on the track.’

A public address system links the whole of the two and a quarter miles of track with the finishing line.

A truck tows breakdowns off the course, often two at a time, ignominiously, like a defeated bull dragged from the ring.

At the end of the day 8,000 cars crowd the Great Western Highway in a colossal traffic jam, in which the ‘hot rodders,’ after a few imitative accelerations, lose their ardour for speed on frustrating miles of bumper-to bumper driving.

What attracts this crowd to a venue nearly 40 miles from the city is the excitement of speeds up to 140 miles an hour and skid turns on hairpin and right-angle bends. The straight of the bitumen track is a wartime airstrip.

The club conducts events for racing, sports, and stock cars and has 60 to 70 competitors at a meeting.

Most of the competitors are owner-drivers-fanatical seekers of perfection in the assembling and tuning of motors. They acquire a car, according to their means and choice. If it is a stock model they remachine and reassemble parts of the motor, and fit new parts, two carburettors, and a ‘blower’ (a supercharger), which gives the ultimate ‘kick.’

In all types of cars running and maintenance costs are high. A set of tyres is good for only 500 racing miles. A car may run half a mile and burn the top out of a piston. An owner may spend £250 on a new cylinder head and find it does not fit satisfactorily.


Jack Brabham in the Cooper ‘Redex Spl’ Bristol referred to in the text. On the outside is Bill Hudson, Hudson Spl at Mount Druitt in 1955. Jack was later to say he should have taken this highly self developed car to the UK rather than purchase the Cooper Alta he bought in the UK…still it didn’t hold him back in the end! (unattributed)

THE glamour driver of the moment is a 26-year-old motor engineer, Jack Brabham, with his British £4,000 six cylinder Cooper (frame)-Bristol (motor).

He is a former Australian midget car champion, whom some club officials put in ‘world class.’

In the lingo of the fans, he ‘lashes the loud pedal-(accelerator) down to the boards’ and scorns the ‘anchors’ (brakes).

His driving is, indeed, a spectacle as he relentlessly mows down a field, flashes past car after car, and changes gears at 85 to 90 miles an hour.

But the fans are watching a £7,000 Italian Ferrari, with a 12-cylinder two litre engine having a power output of 250 b.h.p. and a top speed around 150 m.p.h. Owner Dick Cobden, a fine driver, has had the car only a few months and is still familiarising himself with its tuning and driving.

The Ferrari is a Grand Prix car, which famous English driver, Peter Whitehead, drove in the Lady Wigram trophy at Christchurch, New Zealand, early this year’.


Dick Cobden’s ex-Whitehead Ferrari 125 at Mount Druitt, date uncertain. (G & L Liebrand Collection)

Circuit Map…

druitt circuit


Mount Druitt Aerodrome, 45 Km west of Sydney was built for the Royal Australian Air Force during World War 2. The facility comprised 2 hangars, workshops and a runway 1,524 metres long and 48 metres wide, perfect as the basis of a racetrack postwar.

The first race meeting was held on October 4 1948 on a short track based on the runway established by the Australian Sporting Car Club.

In 1952 Belf Jones built a full circuit, 2.25 miles long using some adjoining land owned by a Mr McMahon, a Sydney businessman. The circuits’ first meeting was on 30 November 1952 organised by the Australian Racing Drivers Club, the main event, a 50 Mile Handicap won by future Australian champion, David McKay’s MG Spl. (one of the cars obscured in the first photo above).

Over the following 5 years over 25 meetings were run with crowd attendances often over 15,000, given the circuits proximity to Sydney. Mt Druitt’s last meeting was on 10 November 1957.

Commercial agreement for the circuits future use could not be reached between the ARDC and Jones, who did irreparable damage to the circuit; Jones cut a trench around the circuit with a digger!

gardner 2

Another shot of Frank Gardner’s D Type at Mount Druitt on 23 May 1958. (John Ellacott)

The last hurrah for the venue was a number of sprint meetings run in 1958. Victories resulted for Gardner’s D Type Jag, Arnold Glass’ HWM Jaguar and Len Lukey’s Cooper Bristol.

The ‘NSW Speedway Act’ in 1959 and consequent required investment in the facility to meet new safety standards was the final death-knell for this fondly remembered circuit.

The parts of the track added in 1952 remain but the airstrip section is long gone, the area is now known as the Whalan Reserve, it comprises the Mount Druitt industrial estate and Madong Avenue Primary School.

druitt circuit 2

Current google earth aerial shot of the circuit area. (


The Nostalgia Forum Mount Druitt thread, particularly the contributions of Stephen Dalton and ‘wirra’. Sydney Morning Herald 14 August 1954,


John Ellacott, TR0003, G & L Liebrand Collection


Seasonal Salutations 2016…

Posted: December 24, 2016 in Obscurities

Down to the local scout-hall in your 250 SWB to pick up a tree (unattributed)

Seasonal Saluations to you all wherever you may live…

This world of ours is as nutty as ever. It’s nice to be able to lose yourself in motor racing I figure!

It’s my third Christmas Primotipo greeting, I started this online magazine in mid-2014 when I had lots of time on my hands working in Adelaide. I’ve now a role based in Melbourne but involves regular travel to Sydney and Perth. It makes writing the longer stuff a lot harder, so contributions from anyone who want to write about their passion are invited! You can see how eclectic the content is, so go for it! My email address is

In that regard many thanks to Stephen Dalton, Nigel Tait and Greg Smith for their articles this year. Similarly Peter Brennan and Rodway Wolfe both provide ongoing sources of material for articles, in Rodway’s case we are bit by bit writing the ‘Repco Racing Story’ with Nigel Tait and Michael Gasking’s Collections providing, rich, never published before Repco visual promotional material.

An army of Australian photographers continue to assist by allowing me to use their wonderful work; John Ellacott, Dick Simpson, Rod MacKenzie, Lindsay Ross, Dale Harvey and David Blanch all spring to mind.


My own Van Diemen RF86 Formula Ford ‘freshen’ is nearly complete, i will rejoin the historic FF grids in Oz in 2017. Interesting car, its one of two chassis used by Peter Verheyen to win the Australian FF Championship in 1987

It continues to boggle my mind that although the content is about 40% Australian that 80% of the readership is global, the top 10 countries in order of size Australia, France, US, Germany, UK, Italy, Japan, Holland, Brazil and Spain. An interesting mix!

Most of all, thanks for reading primotipo!

I’ll mainly be posting shorter stuff over the next few weeks, it’s our summer holidays in this part of the world so me ‘an the sabre-toothed-tigress are off to Seminyak, Bali for a couple of weeks.

Stay well, stay safe, may you all enjoy good health and all the luck you deserve in 2017.

Mark Bisset, 24 December 2016


Lane in Fitzroy, Melbourne, not too far from home





(David Van Dal)

Morry Maurice competing in the the ‘Goomalling Speed Classic’ 7 June 1954, HRG 1500. Goomalling, Western Australia…

The two wonderful color photographs in this article are by David Van Dal of Morry Maurice’ HRG 1500 at Goomalling and Narrogin. Both are towns in Western Australia’s wheatbelt around 200km southeast of Perth. The  shot above is quintessential Australian country town, even today. The beautiful blue racing car and upright, stylish driver a contrast to the drab coloured background buildings and gum trees.

‘Round The Houses’ Racing in Western Australia…

WA has a rich history of ‘Round the Houses’ racing, such events were held on street circuits in many country towns there in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. The first of these was held at Albany in 1936 and planned to emulate the style of racing common in Europe at the time.

The towns of Pingelly, Bunbury, Dowerin, Northam, Goomalling and Narrogin all held meetings with Narrogin hosting the Australian Grand Prix in March 1951. That event held in very hot conditions was watched by 35,000 people a long way from Perth, and won by Warwick Pratley in the Ford V8 powered ‘George Reed Special’.


Maurice at Northam, WA in 1954, HRG 1500. ‘Northam Flying 50’ 19 April 1954 (Ken Devine)

Maurice’ HRG was originally bought to Australia in 1949, it was one of an initial shipment of three chassis imported by Brown and Dureau, the Melbourne based distributors of the marque. The bodies for the cars were built locally. Like so many cars in Australia it was constantly modified in an effort to keep it competitive throughout the 1950’s as technology rapidly advanced. Click on this link for a good summary of the life and times of the 1948 HRG 1500 chassis #174 aka 1958 HRG Buchanan Holden ‘Godfrey Spl’;


Racing at Goomalling took place between 1949 and 1961. It was a prominent motorsport venue in the postwar years, taking over from Dowerin as one of the WA wheatbelt’s motorsport hubs. Motor racing was a reason for creation of the circuit but so was fundraising to pay for a new swimming pool in the town. Its scorching during the long, hot, dry summer months there!

Three racing mad returned servicemen; Milton Royal, Ted Nicholson and Charlie Dent were behind the track, the trio originally formed the Goomalling Sporting Car Club in 1939. That year the club held a small event at the abandoned Goomalling horse racing track before its three founders were called away to fight for their country over the skies of Europe, all were Air Force Officers. It wasn’t until 1949 that motorsport returned to Goomalling, the last ‘in period’ meeting the 1961 ‘Flying Fifty’.


(David van Dal)

Maurice’ HRG 1500 again, this time at Narrogin in ‘The Great Southern Fifty’ meeting on 2 March 1953…

My brother lives in Perth, WA, I spend a lot of time there and in the Margaret River region down south, this topography and soil is so WA. The parched earth, brown grass and green eucalypts are so Oz and WA in particular. I can feel the summer heat just looking at this shot! It looks like an outer suburban street scene, love the ‘International’? truck in the background and cream brick house.


‘Goomalling Classic Racers’ by Graeme Cocks, Ken Devine and Ray Bell on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, site for all things WA motor racing history, ‘Around The Houses’ by Terry Walker


David van Dal via Ken Devine and ‘Repco 22’ on The Nostalgia Forum for the photos. David Van Dal was a West Australian racer, who between events in his Morgan took some amazing photographs, many in color, so rare for the period and therefore to be savoured for the lifelike time capsules they are.

Tailpiece: Goomalling Speed Classic summary and circuit…


(‘Around The Houses’ Terry Walkers )






Achille Varzi’s Auto Union Type B pitstop during the 26 May Avus-Rennen, Berlin, 1935…

Note the onboard air-jacks, pretty schmick for 1935, I didn’t realise the technology went back that far, I wonder when they were first used in racing? It’s a nice shot also of the swing axle rear suspension, sprung by torsion bars in 1935 rather than the transverse leaf spring of the 1934 Type A.

Varzi was 3rd in his 4.9 litre V16 beastie, the race won by Luigi Fagioli’s Mercedes Benz W25. The race was a Formula Libre event so the German teams turned up with some streamliners including a Mercedes W25 for Hanns Geier, the cockpit cover of which could only be opened from the outside. No doubt Alfred Neubauer was happy to oblige at each pitstop.

rose race

Avus 1935 heat 1 start; #1 Stuck AU Type B 1st from #4 Rosemeyer AU Type A Streamliner DNF, the Mercedes is Fagioli’s W25 2nd, #9 is Nuvolari’s Alfa Bimotore 6th, #20 Farina’s Maserati 4C 5th, #16 Siena’s Maserati 8C DNF (unattributed)

Continuing the themes of commonsense and bravery!, the meeting was also notable for the first ever car race of German ‘bike ace Bernd Rosemeyer. He ‘blagged his way’ into the Auto Union team for whom he raced from then until his untimely death in early 1938 during a brave land speed record Auto Union run. Read anything about this fella and the word brave will be peppered throughout the article.

The car racer novice plonked the notoriously twitchy 375bhp mid-engined Type B on the front row for his heat on the fastest circuit in the world, the AU’s were seeing 326kmh along Avus’ long straights. He punctured a tyre during his 7 lap heat so didn’t make the final which comprised the first 4 placegetters in each of the heats, but he had well and truly ‘arrived’…

Check out Kolumbus F1’s ’35 Avus race report, this being my favourite Pre-War race results site, have a good poke around if you haven’t visited it before;


Kolumbus F1, Ullstein Bild, Zoltan Glass


Auto Union Type A engine and rear suspension (Zoltan Glass)

Tailpiece: Varzi’s Auto Union Type B 4.9 V16 and Rosemeyer’s AU Type A 4.3 V16 in the 1935 Avus paddock…

rose pits