Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

(F Pearse)

The Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 and John Snow Delahaye 135CS and friends at The Coorong, South Australia on January 5 and 6 1939…

The two intrepid Sydney racers contested the 1939 Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal on 2 January, the handicap race famously won by Allan Tomlinson in his MG TA Spl s/c. Saywell aboard ‘the fastest car in Australia’ was off scratch and finished sixth, slowed by tyre problems on the scorching hot South Australian summer day. Snow was off 4 minutes 15 seconds in the French sportscar and was fourth. Everybody that day was outfoxed, out-prepared and outraced by the three youngsters from Perth- Tomlinson and two fellow racer/fettlers Clem Dwyer and Bill Smallwood.

Whilst in South Australia they decided to attack some Australian speed records on the pipe-clay surface of The Coorong, at a little spot near Salt Creek, 210 km from Adelaide.

Huge amounts of preparation went into the attempts with the Sporting Car Club of South Australia playing an organisational role and in ensuring compliance with international rules.

Not the Coorong but the Lobethal paddock earlier in the week- John Snow’s gorgeous Delahaye 135CS- he used the Hudson behind in the Australian Stock Car Championship that weekend too (N Howard)

Whilst attempts were being made by Snow and Victorian racer Lyster Jackson over longer distances/times, both Snow and Saywell also wanted a crack at The Flying Mile (Class C for Snow and Outright for Saywell) which had to be timed to the nearest hundredth of a second rather than a tenth of a second- the best which could be achieved with a chronometer. The Adelaide University Physics Department were involved in creating some automatic photo-electric timing equipment which met the accuracy requirements of the international regulations.

Two existing speed records had been set in South Australia during February 1935 at Sellicks Beach by John H Dutton (Class C 92 mph Flying Mile) and CW Bonython MG (Class A 76.09 mph) but the Fleurieu Peninsula beach would not suffice in length for this endeavour which sought records between an hour and twenty-four hours.

A huge open area was needed with space for long, high speed corners to keep average speeds up. Whilst the opening photo may be at the Coorong, it could be at Sellicks- perhaps its a promotional shot taken prior to the record attempts or maybe a test run. Let me know if you have certainty about the locale.

Weather delayed the attempts by a few days but the SCCSA officials were out and about at 5 am on the morning of Thursday 5 January 1939 and prepared a surface as ‘smooth as glass’- the wind was up on the day and was said to be anything up to a 40 mph headwind.

The temperature was 96 degrees Fahrenheit, by the end of the week the temperature in Adelaide was 117 degrees! ‘Despite that a crowd of over 200 people ventured out into that desolate landscape and into those incredible temperatures, setting up a tent city’ wrote John Medley.

The chosen course had been professionally surveyed by an SCCSA club-member and measured 10 miles 318 yards- it was a huge oval comprising two straights of 5 miles and ‘wide circles at either end for turning’.

John Snow started the blue Delahaye 135CS at noon and was soon lapping consistently, the intent being to stick to a plan to coax the car through 24 hours- it wasn’t a sprint after all.

John covered the first 185 miles in just over two hours averaging 92 mph. The car was then refuelled in 4 minutes and Lyster Jackson jumped aboard- he maintained the average of 92 mph in his 10 lap stint and then made another refuelling stop and some ‘engine adjustments’ were made. The first tyre stop, which took 49 seconds, was made a little later and then Jackson was relieved by Snow after the speedy machine had completed 35 laps, or about 366 miles.

Snow had been going again for less than 3 miles when valve trouble ended further motoring at about 6.30 pm.

A perfect world would have been popping a spare engine into the car between the 150 mile Grand Prix and the record attempt but Snow didn’t have a spare despite his wealth. The car ‘was overhauled by the Englishman brought to Australia specially to prepare the car’- lets come back to that point.

The distance travelled in the first hour was 92 miles, for three hours about 275 miles. Jackson did the quickest lap at 6:26 with Snow’s 6:32. ‘No attempt was made to push the car’ but a mean speed of 130 mph was reached on the long straights.

 

 

The team claimed records to the Australian Automobile Association for 50, 100 and 200 miles- 50, 100, 200 and 500 kilometres- and 1 and 3 hours. Those recognised in the Australian record books are;

Standing 100 km 40 mins 45.5- 91.47 mph, Standing 200 km 1 hour 21.29.0- 91.51 mph, Standing 50 Miles 32.55.4- 91 mph, Standing 100 Miles 6:5.33.0- 91.51 mph.

Obviously the Delahaye was in no fit state to attack the Flying Mile, whilst one newspaper report has it that Saywell’s Vittorio Jano designed masterpiece did 132 mph for the Flying Mile and 88 mph for the Standing Mile.

‘On the following day , it was Jack Saywell’s turn…the task was perhaps simpler, the red car attacking only two records, the standing start and flying start mile- but the blistering temperature, sandy surface and blustery 45 mph sidewind across his path were going to be a hindrance…in accordance with AAA rules, a run in each direction was required, and the Alfa used its Lobethal rear axle ratio, the second highest of four available’ John Medley wrote.

‘Using a four mile run in against the breeze, Saywell averaged 128 mph for the first officially timed run. In the opposite direction he used a shorter run in and averaged 140 mph for the flying mile. The average of the two runs was 134.7 mph, the fastest officially recorded speed in Australian history breaking the previous record by over 35 mph’.

‘The Alfa was then prepared for its attempt on the standing start one mile record. Spewing dirt off its spinning back wheels for the first 400 yards, the booming Alfa then got into its stride and crossed the line at 142 mph, wind assisted. Into the wind Saywell crossed the finishing line at 125 mph. When the times were totalled and the speed averaged, the mean speed was 89.2 mph, another new Australian record’ John Medley wrote.

Some Australian enthusiasts will be aware that John Snow, scion of the wealthy Sydney ‘Snows Department Stores’ family made annual trips to the UK both to purchase merchandise for the family business and to race and purchase some top-end cars either to order or for re-sale back in Oz.

The 1939 AGP grid, for example, comprised at least four cars (John Crouch Alfa 8C2300 Le Mans, Colin Dunne MG K3 Magnette, Saywell’s Tipo B and Snows Delahaye 135CS) imported to Australia by the front-rank Sydney racer.

John Snow during the 1939 AGP weekend at Lobethal, Delahaye 135CS (N Howard)

The Delahaye was a remarkably astute purchase by Snow for Australian handicap racing- it was not an outright winner other than on the ‘right day’ but with enough speed and reliability built into it by virtue of its sports-racer intent would always be ‘thereabouts’ in the handicaps which predominated in Australia. And so it was, mainly. The car probably coulda-shoulda won several AGP’s, but in the end it only took the one, in John Crouch’s hands at Leyburn, Queensland in 1949.

The 6 cylinder, 3557cc, OHV 160 bhp car, chassis ‘47190’ was turned into a ‘corn-chip’ as a consequence of a disastrous trailer fire due to an errant cigarette butt flicked out of the car window upon the trip back to Sydney after the 1951 AGP at Narrogin, Western Australia. Enough of the car existed to reconstruct in the seventies/eighties.

The English mechanic referred to earlier was ‘Jock’ Finlayson, he was brought to Australia by Snow and Saywell who by that time were operating ‘Monza Service’, at 217 Bourke Street, East Sydney looking after various racing and top-end road cars.

The very well credentialled (ex-Bentley, Birkin, Straight, Seaman) poor chap totally stuffed up the timing of Saywell’s 2.9 litre, DOHC, supercharged Tipo B engine when he rebuilt it and rooted the engine as a consequence.

With no confidence in anyone else locally to address the engine and having plenty of moolah Jack popped the engine onto a boat back to Milan, but the ship is thought to have been sunk in the immediate months of the War- Saywell never saw that engine again!

Chassis ‘5002’ was not reunited with a motor of kosher original specification until it was restored in Australia in the early sixties. It had an active, long, eventful racing career mind you, albeit fitted with GMC and Alvis motors…

Credits…

Fred Pearse Collection, ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, Norman Howard from the Bob King Collection

Tailpiece: Jack Saywell, Alfa Romeo Tipo B, AGP Lobethal 1939…

(N Howard)

Finito…

frank

(Rod MacKenzie)

Frank Gardner using all of his Mildren Alfa’s 310bhp chasing Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 ‘Warwick Farm International’ pole time, 8 February 1969…

Alfa’s Tipo 33 V8 sportscar engine was first used in elite single seater racing by Australia’s Alec Mildren Racing- a step on its way to F1 competition by the Arese marque.

Mildren, a Sydney Alfa Dealer, former Australian Gold Star Champion and Australian Grand Prix winner had one of the most professional teams in Australia. He had impeccable Alfa Romeo/Autodelta connections having acquired and raced two GTA’s and a TZ2 in the early to mid sixties, and in the process ‘polished’ Alfa’s Australian brand, one of the greatest of the ‘Grand Marques’ which was then relatively new to the ‘Oz market.

Click on these links to articles about Alec Mildren and the Mildren Racing Autodelta Alfa’s;

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

Mildren’s 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined Tasman Brabham BT11A/BT16 being raced by Gardner on his annual trips home from Europe was being ‘flogged’ by the Repco Brabham, BRM and Coventry Climax V8’s in 1966/7, so he sought an appropriate response- a sprint variant of the Tipo 33 engine was the obvious choice given his Alfa connections and local marketing needs.

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What a beautifully integrated bit of kit the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa was? Here just before it progressively grew wings. Kevin Bartlett drove the wheels off the thing, here at Hell Corner Bathurst during the ’68 Easter Gold Star round. KB was on pole by 9! seconds but DNF with a broken rear upright, Phil West took the win in the Brabham BT23A Repco. Bartlett won the ’68 Gold Star in this car and was equal 9th in the ’69 Tasman (Dick Simpson)

Mildren ordered eventaully three 2.5 litre Tipo 33 V8 engines which were initially fitted to a bespoke Brabham BT23D…

The car arrived in Australia in time for the final round of the domestic Gold Star Championship- the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in 1967- FG won upon the cars race debut. He then contested the 1968 Tasman.

The motors were then installed 12 months later into the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, a monocoque car designed by Len Bailey and built for the team by Alan Mann Racing for the 1969 Tasman Series.

Both cars were raced by Frank Gardner in the Tasman Series and then ‘handed over’ to Kevin Bartlett for the Gold Star Championship, when Gardner returned to the UK at the end of each Australasian summer.

Bartlett won the Gold Star  in 1968 and 1969 with each chassis respectively- BT23D and ‘The Sub’ respectively.

In 1969 the ‘Sub’ was also powered by Merv Waggotts’s 2 litre ‘TC4V’ 4-cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve, Lucas injected 275 bhp engine for part of the season.

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(Ian Peak/The Roaring Season)

Above is a beautiful photograph of the 2.5 litre, 2 valve, 4 cam, fuel injected, 2 plug Alfa Tipo 33 V8 installed in Alec Mildren’s Gardner driven Brabham BT23D at Teretonga during the 1968 Tasman.

Gardner was equal fourth with Graham Hill in the series behind Jim Clark, Chris Amon and Piers Courage in Lotus 49, Ferrari Dino 246T and McLaren M4A Ford FVA respectively.

Kevin Bartlett had this to say about the Alfa Romeo 2.5 litre Tasman V8 and Waggott DOHC 4 valve engine, both of which powered the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’…

‘My memory tells me the Alfa had around 350lbs (of torque) and the Waggott about 230lbs. The useable power range was quite different with the Alfa workable between 4500-8800 rpm and the Waggott 6800-8750rpm. Not perfectly accurate as i work from  memory but around that kind of difference’.

‘The driving difference was the main change, as the power to weight felt little different behind the wheel, mainly due i suppose to the fact full throttle was used much sooner with the 4 cyl 2000cc Waggott.’

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Kevin Bartlett won the Macau Grand Prix in 1969 in the Mildren Alfa ‘Sub’, here in the paddock. What a handsome bit of kit the car was and still is- restored by Lionel Ayers a decade ago to Waggott engined spec and retained by his family (Natalino Couto)

‘The turn in changed to a marked degree with the lighter power plant (Waggott) having less moment of inertia allowing the car to be literally flung into a turn. As it happens i am the only driver to experience both configurations. Frank Gardner having raced only the Alfa Romeo engined variant of each car’.

‘Len Bailey was the (Mildren’s) designer of the tub which flexed a little at the rear with the Alfa’s torque, less so when the Waggott went in, with suspension being a (Brabham designer) Ron Tauranac adaption’.

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Mildren’s Glenn Abbey fettling the ‘Sub’ in the Singapore GP paddock , 1970 (Eli Solomon)

Alfa Romeo claimed 315bhp at 8800 rpm for the 2.5 litre variant of the engine. A similar 3 litre, four valve per cylinder, 32 valve engine (the Mildren V8’s were all chain driven two-valvers) was developed for Cooper in F1 but wasn’t used before the teams demise.

The F1 Alfa Romeo 3 litre V8…

Was an all aluminium unit with a bore/stroke of 86mm X 64.4mm for a total of 2998cc. Five main and camshaft bearings were used, the four camshafts driven by chains.

 

mac engine

Andrea de Adamich, McLaren M14D Alfa Romeo during 1970 (unattributed)

The valves were inclined at 30 degrees, the inlets were 32mm and exhausts 27mm in size, Alfa Romeo/Autodelta claimed an output of 400bhp @ 9000rpm in sportscar form. Modified with gear driven camshafts for F1 use, Autodelta claimed 430bhp @ 10,500 rpm at a time the 3 litre F1 competition- Ford Cosworth DFV gave circa 440, the Matra V12 445-450 and Flat-12 Ferrari 460bhp @ 12,000 rpm.

It was not enough really, not without impeccable reliability, but Alfa had put their toes back in F1 waters with McLaren in 1970 and then March in 1971- and would return with Brabham in the mid-seventies, as they had started with Mildren’s Brabham BT23D a decade before.

Etcetera: BT23D’1′, New Zealand 1968…

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Another photo of the Tipo 33 V8 in the spaceframe BT23D- FT200 gearbox clear as are the four coils and two distributors for all those plugs- 2 per cylinder. Car had a chequered history but still exists happily in restored form in Australia (Ian Peak)

 

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Just to show the ‘Sub’ was yellow! Bartlett the cover boy of this terrific seasonal publication of the 1969 Australian Racing Season. Here the car is in 2 litre Waggott spec

Bibliography…

Kevin Bartlett, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, Rod MacKenzie, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, Eli Solomon, Natalino Couto

Tailpiece: Rod’s initial Frank Gardner ‘Yellow Sub’ photo at the articles outset, uncropped…

image

 

Finito…

 

(P Greenfield)

Niel Allen blasts 5 litres of fuel-injected Chevy off the line at Bathurst, Easter 1970- McLaren M10B Chev F5000…

Peter Greenfield has beautifully captured Niel at the start of the historic three lap ‘Captain Cook Trophy’ in which Allen set a lap record at Bathurst with a time of 2:9.7 seconds which stood for 32 years until it was taken by John Bowe in a Ford V8 AU Supercar with 2:8.3873 to take provisional pole in 2002. Brad Jones did a race lap of 2:9.5705 in the same AU Falcon.

Whilst the track changed in the interim period as to a much better surface it was slowed by the high speed ‘The Chase’ on Conrod. Not to mention the fact that the last Easter Meeting with outright open-wheelers took place in 1973- the track had simply become too dangerous for cars of that performance envelope as it then was.

The feature event on the program that Easter 1970 weekend was the second round of the Australian Touring Car Championship which was won by Norm Beechey’s Holden Monaro GTS350, click here to read about that race;

https://primotipo.com/2018/04/01/variety-is-the-spice/

Start of the lap record race with an obscured Niel Allen over against the Pit Counter. On this side is John Harvey, Brabham BT23E Repco and in white, Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 39 Repco- there was life in the old dog though, in beating Harves in the racing car 13 lapper Leo did a 2:12.1, the fastest ever time by a Tasman 2.5 car at Bathurst. This meeting must have been just about the last race for each of those cars before John and Leo jumped into the Bob Britton built Jane Repco V8 and Lotus 59B Waggott respectively for the balance of their 1970 Gold Star campaigns- a title won by Geoghegan (Rod MacKenzie)

 

Niel Allen collects one of his trophies for the weekend from Chris Davison (C Williams)

Allen did a qualifying lap of 2:11.2 with a trick flat-plane crank Chev engine fitted to one of the fastest F5000’s on the planet at the time. The 1970 NZ GP winner flew around the treacherous for ultra fast single-seaters, circuit to do his amazing time- 171.7 miles per hour down Conrod in the process, a much narrower strip of bitumen than it is now.

The current Bathurst lap records are held by McLarens.

Shane van Gisbergen did a 2:1.5670 in his McLaren 650S GT3 during the February 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race. Jenson Button did a 1:48.88 in his F1 McLaren MP4-23 Mercedes in the pre-event Vodaphone publicity session he did with Craig Lowndes and his V8 Supercar prior to the 2011 AGP at Albert Park- I do like the symmetry of ‘another’ McLaren single-seater holding the ‘lap record’ even though the time was not set in a race.

I wish.

(zimbio.com)

Credits…

Peter Greenfield, motorsport.com, Road & Track, Wikipedia, Rod MacKenzie, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Craig Williams

Tailpiece: Shane Van Gisbergen, McLaren 650S 2016…

(Road and Track)

Finito…

Racing Abstract Art…

Posted: November 25, 2018 in Fotos, Obscurities
Tags:

Still life of Indian juggling clubs, Bell helmet and a bowling pin…

The image was featured in a ‘Design for Sport’ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in February 1962.

Quite what the connection between the items in this ‘installation’ as we call it in the art world is, I am ferked if I know! All creative interpretations welcome.

My partner is into art, in fact she has an art business ‘on the side’ including a website of which I am the star, read the only, writer despite knowing five-eighths of four-fifths of bugger all about the subject. Nothing a little bit of research can’t fix mind you. Click here for one of my masterpieces on the Venice Biennale; http://www.moha.com.au/australian-pavilion-venice-biennale-who-gets-go/

We spend a lot of time in galleries of all types, the things we do for love I guess. I enjoy looking at art even though most of the time I have absolutely no idea what it is I am looking at.

Just like this still life really…

Credit…

Mark Kauffman

Hector Jenkins, Fronty Ford, Penrith Speedway, New South Wales, practice in December 1927/January 1928…

Ronald Taylor took these wonderful, evocative photographs of a much more relaxed time and place, getting on for a century ago. Above is quite possibly Peter White testing the Fronty before winning the Unlimited Scratch Race on 2 January 1928.

The car above is the Alert Special, whilst it had an Alvis radiator it was a modified Ford. It appears more of a road-racer in specification than a dirt-track machine but the racers of the day often used the same car to do road trials, dirt events and race on the concrete saucer at Maroubra. The times of specialisation are still a way off in Australia.

Jenkins, Fronty Ford

Penrith is 60 Km west of Sydney, a long way then but now a soda, depending upon traffic traversing the Western Motorway to the Blue Mountains and beyond, I wrote an article about the place a while back which provides plenty of background; https://primotipo.com/2017/06/08/penriths-world-championship-race-1930/

David Manson has researched the photographs in this piece and wrote that ‘Bridget Wynne (photo further below in the article) claimed to be an experienced racing driver in England but she never drove in or raced in this country as far as can be established’ despite that he suspects it may be her at the wheel. I am intrigued to learn more about this lady.

Alert Special and Flint driven by T Poole- or is it being tested before the meeting by Peter White who was ‘timed to cover laps at a speed of about 70 mph’ the SMH reported on 22 December 1927

It’s all happening above- capped mechanics fuelling the cars and plenty of envious onlookers, amidst the Friday practice perhaps?

T Poole contested the Unlimited Car Scratch Race run over 3 miles on 2 January 1928 in the Flint and won by Peter White’s Fronty Ford, his average speed 67 mph.

The Thomas Special, Fronty Ford and the Flint ran at Penrith Speedway at a meeting which was split between 26 December 1927 and 2 January 1928- New Years Day was on a Sunday which partially explains the odd dates.

Thomas, Thomas Ford Special

Hector Jenkins was the New South Wales agent for Frontenac hotting-up parts for Fords, operating out of the Saunders Chambers premises at 247 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, he and his family used to camp at the Penrith  Speedway for race meetings. There are hints in the photos that not much racing was going on, so maybe they were taken on practice days before the Christmas/New Year meeting.

And we have ‘lift off’ below- a practice race start for Ms Wynne.

Miss Wynne aboard the Alert Special

Etcetera…

(mfca.com)

Here is the Hector Jenkins team/family campsite, come workshop at Penrith with banner proclaiming the Australian Track Record and Dirt Track Championship of NSW held by Fronty Fords. Hector is second from the right.

Peter White’s personal Fronty Ford had the Maroubra record at 101.3 mph whilst Hector’s DO Fronty had the dirt track record at Penrith. The cars above are the R, DO and SR Fronty.

Credits…

Ronald Vernon Taylor- all but one photo, David Manson, mfca.com, various newspaper articles via Trove

Tailpiece: Yep! He is the guy we have to beat: The Jenkins Fronty Ford crew watching the action…

 

Finito…

Bernie Haehnle aboard his Rennmax Mk1 Formula Vee on the front row of the grid at Warwick Farm in 1971…

Nice find of a batch of interesting photos- this one of Bernie on the front of the grid, where he typically resided, and the other two which triggered this article are Australian Department of Immigration ‘success stories of migrants in sport’ of whom Bernie was one- he hails from Stuttgart, Germany.

(DIA)

 

(DIA)

 

At the time of the article ( I wonder where it was published?) he had his own automotive business in Lane Cove, Sydney. Haehnle progressed from FV- these Bob Britton built Rennmax Mk1’s were the ‘ducks-guts’ to have, especially in New South Wales, to Formula Ford, racing a Bowin P6F with much elan. As was the case for top open-wheeler racers he usually saddled up in a Series Production car for the annual enduros at Bathurst, Sandown and Surfers. I wonder what he is up to these days?

Bernie, Rennmax Mk1 in the Warwick Farm Esses, November 1971 (L Hemer)

Credits…

Industrial Photography, Department of Immigration Australia, Lynton Hemer

What a great way for a young driver to have his profile lifted. As a sponsored driver, these Shell ads were placed in the mainstream motoring magazines of the day, not just niche ones like ‘Australian Hot Rod’.

Tailpiece: Just a smidge more, five more minutes…

Bernie was clearly determined and clever!

His disagreement with local real estate occurred at XL (Griffins) Bend during the running of the 1969 Bathurst 500 classic when he ran out of road heading up the mountain.

With his trusty fence post, leverage, push-and-shove and the fall of the land Bernie was able to get the little GH Whitehead entered Mazda R100 back onto its wheels and into the fray after an hour of toil. He drove down the mountain and through a farm before rejoining the blacktop.

It is one of those feats of never-say-die which has gone down in Bathurst folklore- and garnered far more TV coverage than a mid-field class car could have ever dreamed of!

Co-driver Peter Wherrett shared the car with him, the pair retired on lap 31 with PW not getting a drive but watching the drama unfold on the telly in the pits. The car was driveable, a tad second hand, but without a windscreen officialdom stepped in.

(autopics.com.au)

In an historic sidebar it was the first time a rotary engined car raced at the Mountain- in fact it was one of the R100’s first race appearances anywhere in the world.

Whilst the 982cc, twin-rotor, 100bhp cars were very quick in a straight line thanks to a combination of power and light weight.

Haehnle, R100 early in the race (autopics.com.au)

With only 805 kg to cart along, the little coupe did the standing quarter in sub 18 seconds with a top whack of 175 km/h. It wasn’t as flash through the corners though- the R100 was very narrow and tall relative to its length, resulting in lots of body roll and fearful roll oversteer at high speed caused by toe-out on the outside rear wheels due to deflection in the leaf springs. Ask Bernie.

Three R100’s started at Mount Panorama, the quickest of the two remaining finished fifth (Garry Cooke/Geoff Spence) in Class C behind the winning Cooper S, two Fiat 125s and a lone Valiant Pacer. The second R100 was seventh- the Mazdas finished two laps behind the winning Coopers with their superior handling, fuel economy and long track record of motor racing success.

What was impressive was that two standard, off the production line examples of Mazda’s new mass-produced rotary survived 500 miles flat-knacker on one of the world’s most challenging circuits without a drama. Mazda became an important force in Australian touring car racing over the ensuing decade, all of which started with the R100 and test-pilots like Bernie!

Finito…

(J Frith)

‘All set, everything ship shape!’…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bluebird Proteus CN7 Lake Eyre 1964 (J Carter)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(J Carter)

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

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

(LAT)

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

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

It was a remarkable achievement.

(NAA)

Bluebird…

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

Credits…

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

Tailpiece: Ground Control to Major Donald…

(J Frith)

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

Finito…