Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

CS Rolls passing a group of spectators during his winning drive of a Panhard 12HP during the  1000 Mile Trial, 23 April to 12 May 1900…

Charles Stewart Rolls was a pioneer English motorist, an aviator and founding partner of Rolls Royce together with Sir FH Royce in 1906. Prior to founding that iconic company Rolls’ business assembled and sold French cars, including Panhards.

rolls 2
Rolls, Panhard 12Hp (Getty)

Rolls entered a Panhard in the 1000 Mile Trial which was the first public demonstration of the potential of the car for long distance travel in the UK. 65 vehicles started, 23 finished the course which started in London, headed west to Bristol, then north to Edinburgh before returning to London.

Etcetera: ‘The Motor Car – One Thousand Mile Trial in England’…

From ‘The Brisbane Courier’ (Australia) Saturday 4 August 1900.

It’s very interesting to read this article, published in Australia but clearly written by a journalist on-the-spot in Britain – by whom I know not. Of historic interest are the observations about the evolution from horses and horse-drawn vehicles to motorcars.

‘…The principal object of the organisers was to prove what it was considered the people of this country need to be to be taught-that the motor car is, even in its present state of development, a serious and trustworthy means of locomotion; not a toy dangerous and troublesome alike to the public and its owner, but a vehicle under as perfect control as a Bath chair, capable of accompanying long journeys in all weathers and over every kind of road with ease and safety, destined to take its place with the train and bicycle as a common object of daily life, and as superior to them, in many respects, as they are superior to the horse and cart. In so far as any demonstration ever brings conviction to indifferent or hostile minds the tour must be considered amply to have achieved its object’.

‘The trial, in fact, from the point of view of those who have taken part in it, has been entirely satisfactory. It is a considerable achievement for fifty new-fangled vehicles to have travelled nearly 1100 miles in eleven days through a densely-populated country at a speed seldom, if ever, below the legal limit, with no incident more untoward than the deaths of one dog and one unmanageable horse, whose leg, coming in contact with a passing car, received such injuries that he had to be destroyed’.

‘The mechanical results of the trial have been very much what they were expected to be. That is to say, the established type of machine has proved itself entirely trustworthy, and between the Daimler, Napier, and Panhard motors there has been, in the matter of “staying power,” practically nothing to choose. Of the cars which entered, only four were driven by any other motive power than petroleum spirit.

Among the large machines the more prominent have been the Hon. C. S. Rolls’ racing 12 horse-power Panhard, the 12 horse-power Daimlers owned by the Hon. John Scott-Montagu, M.P., Mr. J. R. Hargreaves, and Mr. J. A. Holder, and Mr. E. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier. In the 6 horse-power class the Daimlers and Panhards have been well represented, and with regard to these it may be said that, apart from special racing machines, the English-built cars have shown themselves to be at least as good as the French, and most people admit that the English workmanship is the better of the two. But it is a regrettable fact that English manufacturers still have to go to France for some of the most essential parts. Our spring and axle builders do not yet appreciate the opening that lies before them.’

 

‘The results of the hill-climbing trials, when published, will prove a better means than any other for comparing the respective merits of the cars from the purchaser’s point of view. To speak generally, the best cars of each class climbed astonishingly well, though there were probably few drivers who had no moments of anxiety on the way from Kendal to Carlisle. The condition of the roads on three out of the four test hills was fortunately good. Indeed, the roads throughout, with the exception of that between Manchester and Preston, which was execrable, have been in a satisfactory state of repair, though often muddy and greasy. There can be no doubt that, if the road authorities were provided out of the rates with solid-tired motor cars instead of horses and traps, the immediate improvement in the roads would be so great as to be well worth the increased cost of the vehicle.’

‘Speed pure and simple is in this country a secondary consideration, but, by way of fully testing all the powers of the cars, an optional trial of speed was carried out on Friday in Welbeck Park. The following speeds were attained by the fastest cars:  Min. Sec. The Hon. C. S. Rolls’s 12 horse-power Panhard . 1 35 3-5 Mr. Ed. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier and Mr. Mark Mayhew’s 8 horse-power Panhard . 2 1 3-5 The Ariel Motor Company’s tricycle, with trailer . 2 2 1-5 Mr. T. A. Holder’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 17 1-5  The Hon. John Scott-Montagu’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 18. The distance was one mile, with flying start and the figures given are the mean of one run over the course in each direction. The road, which had slight gradients, was in good condition.’

‘If I were asked what had chiefly impressed me in the course of this journey of 1000 miles, I should say that it was the certainty that the next few years will see an enormous increase in the use of motor cars. The new method of locomotion has been taken seriously, and the friendly interest in it displayed by the thousands who have witnessed this trial will greatly facilitate its progress. At present good motor cars are somewhat expensive and difficult to procure at a moment’s notice. They also require for their maintenance in working order the services of a professional driver or of a mechanically-minded amateur. But these are difficulties which competition, the first place, and familiarity, in the second, will speedily overcome. There are in the country at this moment far more motor cars than might be supposed-the indifference to them of the horses in many districts, is already very remarkable and it is impossible to believe that, so soon as they become cheaper, their numbers will not largely increase.’

Indeed!

Credits…

Science and Society Picture Library, Getty Images, The Brisbane Courier

Tailpiece…

Unfortunately none of these shots Getty captions indicate the exact locale. A bumma.

Finito…

stan 2

Stan Jones wins the 1954 Victoria Trophy at Fishermans Bend in his shortlived, brand new Maybach 2, 21 March 1954…

Regular readers may recall the feature on Stan, Alan’s dad and a champion in his own right a while back. There are not many photos of Maybach 2 as it was only raced briefly before Stanley comprehensively destroyed it after a chassis weld failure, at the ’54 AGP at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

Jones raced Maybach 2 at Easter Bathurst, then Altona, Victoria on May 2 and at Fishermans Bend in October before that fateful November weekend. Still, he was lucky not to lose his life in the high speed trip backwards through the Southport scrub and trees.

The beauty of these online blogs is that you can continually update them as you find new shots, this set are so good I thought it worth a fresh post.

davo HWM Jag

Davison in his new HWM Jag (VHRR Archive)

Maybach wasn’t ready for the Victoria Trophy preliminary on Saturday, but contested the 64 mile feature event on the airfield circuit in Melbourne’s inner west.

He took the lead from Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar before the first corner. Davos’ original intention was to fit the HWM with the engine from his Alfa Romeo P3, the complexities of that undertaking with the straight-eight, supercharged engines central power take-off were immense! He therefore fitted the HWM with a Jaguar engine topped by a C-Type head, the car was victorious at Southport in November winning the first of Davison’s four AGPs.

It was Jones’ Victorian Trophy though, he lapped the field, leading Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol over the line by three miles.

jack brabham

Davison #3 HWM Jag, Ted Gray #8 Alta Ford V8 and Brabham’s obscured Cooper T23 Bristol. Fishermans Bend 1954 (VHRR Archive)

jb and art wylie

Arthur Wylie in the Wylie Javelin ahead of Brabham’s Cooper Bristol. Victorian Trophy 1954 (VHRR Archive)

sil massola HRG

Silvio Massola’s HRG, Fishermans Bend 1954 (unattributed)

Etcetera…

(The Age)

Stan won in 1953 too.

Here he is, two happy chaps Ern Seeliger at left, again at Fishos, on this occasion Ern had prepared Maybach. But he was also a racer as well as an engineer, famously adapting Maybach 3 to accept a Chev V8 creating, you guessed it, Maybach 4.

A very talented man, little has been written about him and the products of his Richmond workshop, a great future topic.

Photo Credits…

Victorian Historic Racing Register archive

Finito…

Alan Bruce poses in the UK on Leaping Lena : Brough Superior J.A.P 1000

Bob King looks at this record and the man who achieved it – Alan Bruce.

To this motor racing historian, motorcycle records were a peripheral issue, at least until I heard Alan Bruce’s story.

Let us start at the finish with an excerpt from the London Daily Mail May 4, 1932:

RECORD BREAKING IN HUNGARY, Alan Bruce, riding the J.A.P. 1000 c.c. machine on which he attained a speed of 200kmh on the Tat road near Budapest, April 30, 1932.

Alan Bruce is the first Australian to hold an officially recognized, WORLD LAND SPEED RECORD, the streamlining is noteworthy.   This reads as a photo caption.

 Another report, this time possibly from an Australian source, is headed:

AUSTRALIA “Knocks it for Six”, Alan Bruce on his now famous “Leaping Lena”, Sidecar outfit at Tat near Budapest, successfully attacked the Worlds (sic) Record for the two-way flying kilometre. His time, 17.88sec, is an average speed of 200.220 kmh, equal to 124.41 mph.

“The Motorcycle”, in another report noted that it improved on the “German figure by 6 mph”. The mention of ‘German Records’ hints at mounting tensions in Europe, which, to a certain extent, would be played out on race tracks and through record breaking.

Records like this do not happen by chance, but are usually preceded by months and possibly years of planning with the expectation that there will be set-backs.  The unusual venue indicates the seriousness of this attempt. At that time the Tát road was thought to be the only suitable stretch of road for record breaking in the whole of Europe. Google maps suggests that the likely venue is a straight stretch of road that runs with no crossroads for approximately 8 kms north-east from Tat to Nyergesüjfal; it borders wide stretches of the Danube and is now known as Route 10, or locally as Kossuth Lajos U.

The team: Keith Horton, Alan Bruce, Phil Irving and Arthur Simcock

Most of my information on ‘Leaping Lena’ comes from Phil Irving’s Autobiography, 1992 (Turton and Armstrong). Phil Irving and Alan Bruce, who were of a similar age, had met at Stillwell and Parry’s in Elizabeth St. Melbourne, where Alan had been tuning racing machines. They shared a passion for motorcycles, particularly AJS, and had a continued friendship for the rest of their lives. Between them they cobbled up an overhead camshaft for an AJS, which was not particularly successful.

It is said that Alan got the notion of setting a Land Speed Record when he saw Paul Anderson take local records on Sellicks Beach, South Australia, in 1925. By 1926 Alan had done a lot of record breaking including the sidecar record for 350 c.c. machines on Bakers Beach in Tasmania. He also set the sidecar record from Hobart to Launceston; his speed exceeded the existing solo record.

By 1930 Alan had found success on the English speedways with a Rudge to which he had added his own modifications to the frame and forks. That year Phil arrived in England as Victorian 350c.c. Sidecar Champion. In 1931 they got together and cooked up a plot to break existing solo and sidecar world records – an ambitious plan for a couple of under-funded Australian battlers. They were joined by Arthur Simcock who was able to bring some Shell sponsorship. He was to ride solo, with Alan on the outfit. Although it was not his core skill, Phil was inveigled into designing a streamlined shell for the bike. The design was an attractive and unusual example of form meets function achieved without access to a wind tunnel. The front of the rig was not faired to avoid the adverse effects of crosswinds; the engine and sidecar were enclosed and the tail of the bike was shaped so that the rider’s backside was encased in a bucket seat.  Eatons of Euston Road were tasked with beating up the shell; they formed the cowling over Arthur Simcock’s helmet. Phil’s involvement was confined to London; he did not go to Hungary.


The chosen machine was a Brough Superior SS100 with a J.A.P. V twin of 996 c.c., supercharged with a Powerplus blower. Alan assembled the power plant meticulously, but did not dyno-test it as its expected 100bhp exceeded the capacity of J.A.P.’s dynamometer. Phil already had a grasp of exhaust tuning; opting for short stubs finishing inside the fairing to avoid loss of charge down a long pipe. Theirs was a private venture with some trade support in the shape of parts as well as Shell fuel and lubricants; quite different from the Reichsmarks being spent elsewhere.

Their first visit to Hungary was in April 1931. Records were to be set on the average speed over the measured kilometre in two directions. After Arthur achieved a two-way average of 143 mph (229 kph) his attempt failed when a piston partially seized on a further run and the venture was abandoned until the following year. One can imagine their disappointment after traipsing all the way to Hungary.

Back in the UK, Phil and the team had other things to concern them, as they were also preparing a number of bikes for the forthcoming Isle of Man TT. In 1932 they trundled off to Hungary again with the bike on a truck. This time the record attempt went off without a hitch until Alan aviated the bike at near his maximum of 135 mph causing him to shut off. He then thumped a railway crossing, not realising he had passed the finish timing strip.

Not being across motorcycle records, this bit of Aussie fame had escaped my notice; at least until about 1983 when I had as a patient in my medical practice Alan Bruce’s middle-aged daughter. She told me of her record -breaking father whom she had not seen since before the war. He was shortly to come home for his eightieth birthday and she would like us to meet.

This culminated in a visit from Alan to see my cars and with me attending his birthday party which was also attended by Phil Irving and numerous elderly gentlemen, most of whom had pronounced limps. Alan entertained me with stories of his successful career on European tracks and was justifiably proud of is world land speed record. Seeing my Bugatti, he told me how he had been given a lift from Budapest to Tat for the record attempt with Swiss racing driver Armand Hug in his supercharged eight-cylinder Bugatti; Hug was also after some records. The whole journey was taken flat-out, including through villages, scattering chickens etc. in their wake. Among other achievements, Alan had designed a banking side-car for racing outfits on cinders which was a considerable improvement over Freddie Dixon’s pioneering eight-year-old design. The reason he had stayed overseas after the war was that he had joined the occupation forces in Germany, remaining there after marrying a German fräulein.

Alan’s final word on his record attempt: “Yes, it felt fast alright”.

Alan Bruce, his wife, Erwin Tragatsch, a German Bugatti authority, and Bruce’ son. East Germany in the mid 1980s (B King Collection)

Postscript…

The mention of Ernst Henne in regard to land speed records brought to mind an interesting anecdote told to me by my late, lamented friend Lucien Chabaud.

Lucien had spent his teen years in the Vaucluse, Provence. During the war he and his mates shared a racing Terrot motorcycle that they would start up from time to time, according to the availability of dope with which to fuel it.

One day they were playing with the Terrot in the main street of Orange; Avenue de l’Arc de Triomphr on Route National Sept. Their play was interrupted by the arrival of an imposing German staff car. A German officer stepped down, studied the bike, and asked if he could try it out. Moments later he was streaking up the highway, rounding the triumphal arch at an impressive speed: shortly after reappearing, still flat-strap.

Next day a German army truck arrived and a 200-litre drum of aviation fuel was unloaded, to which was attached a note reading: “Merci, Henne”. At that time Henne was the holder of the World Land Speed Record for a motorcycles at 279.5kph – set in 1937, the record was not broken for another 14 years.

Etcetera…

On location in Tat, Hungary, in Solo format, probably Arthur Simcock.

Sydney ‘Referee’ June 8, 1932
(B King Collection)

‘Fan-card’ shot shows the canted speedway sidecar.

Credits…

Bob King, The Vintagent, Moto Revue Jan-March 1933

Tailpiece…

(Hockenheim Museum Archive)

Stylised machine is a blend of 1930 OEC-Temple-Jap record breaker and the bodywork of Leaping Lena.

Finito…

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Sandown, 25km from Melbourne, in the south eastern suburb of Springvale was first used for horse racing in the late nineteenth century, but closed in the 1930s.

Resuscitation commenced post World War 2 when the Victorian Amateur Turf Club planned and built a facility for horse racing, the donkeys galloped for the first time in the modern era in 1965. The dish-lickers (greyhounds) were catered for within the complex too, happy days. You have not lived until yerv’ had a night at the doggies, once will do mind you.

Fortunately the VATC allowed the Light Car Club of Australia to build a race track as well. The feature race of the first open meeting was the Sandown International Cup in March 1962; fittingly, Jack Brabham won in his Cooper T55 Climax.

With the Sword of Damocles hovering near, if not over a track so dear to many of us, it makes me a bit misty eyed to see this early shot of two-thirds of the circuit, and the design schematic below.

It’s undated, but let’s guess 1960 as an approximation.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The original circuit map below – upside down deliberately, I’ve not imbibed any more giggle-juice than usual – allows an easy view of the differences between the draft above, and the track as used in the first phase of its long life until 1984; these are fundamentally a left-right kink on the way to Dandy Road, and the high speed right-left blast across the Causeway and under Dunlop Bridge.

At the height of the Tasman Cup there was an important bit of commerce to be conducted every year; the assemblage of a great field of cars and the fees to be paid to them by the seven or eight car clubs which owned or leased the tracks upon which the aces raced.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The negotiations were led by Geoff Sykes (Warwick Farm) and Motor Sport New Zealand’s Ron Frost, on behalf of the Kiwi circuits.

This July 1967 letter (above) from Frost to his buddies in Australia, in this case to the LCCA, is an update on how things were looking. Hopefully you can read his progress on BRM, Ferrari, Lotus and the rest.

Ultimately BRM brought a team comprising the new Len Terry designed and built V12 P126, and old favourite, the V8 engined P261. Drivers were Bruce McLaren (NZ only), Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood. Jim Clark triumphed in a 2.5-litre Cosworth DFW engined Lotus 49.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Winding back the clock four decades, checkout the table-card for the ‘Smoke Social’ to hand out the prizes for the 1929 200 Mile Road Race (aka the 1929 AGP) held at Phillip Island – which the Victorian Light Car Club organised and promoted – that March.

VLCC committee man, Arthur Terdich won the race aboard a Bugatti Type 37A, and is the subject of the caricature. A significant part of the VSCC Collection is the Terdich Archive, this is Arthur’s own card from a very special night.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

The Poms have their London-Brighton veteran car run each November, the LCCA had their own Melbourne to Brighton event in the 1930s. I wonder when it ceased to be held, or if once was enough?

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Credits…

Vintage Sports Car Club (Victoria) Collection

Tailpieces…

I’ve occasionally wondered what a Competition Licence looked like in ye olden days. Here is that of Forbes Tough for the 1939 calendar year.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

Finito…

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

I guess Bugatti were one of the first, if not the first to sell customer racing cars in large numbers to those lucky enough to afford them.

So you would expect their communication with clients to have been pretty good.

This January 13, 1931 letter, on the key operational specifications of a Grand Prix Bugatti Type 37, is from Bugatti’s UK agent, Sorel, to Australian customer, Harold Drake Richmond, a regular in the Phillip Island AGP years. His best placing was second in the subject car, in 1930 and 1933, and third in 1931- chassis 37164.

“I’ve seen a lot of these types of letters from Bugatti to their customers,” Bugatti racer/historian Bob King commented.

I love this type of period communication; both the content itself and the formality of the language of the day.

Harold Drake Richmond in his Bugatti Type 37 during a snowy Alpine Trial in the Victorian high country, perhaps November 1930 (VSCC Vic Collection)

This material comes from the Arthur Terdich Collection, part of the Vintage Sports Car Club of Victoria Collection. Terdich was the winner of the 1929 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, prominent local businessman and early Melbourne motoring leader.

Many thanks to me’ mates Bob King and Tony Johns for creating the opportunity to access material seen by few, and to Ashley Tracey, the VSCC librarian, for being so kind with his time to allow Bob and I to pick the eyes out of the content. Over time we will share the material.

All new Bugatti’s delivered to Australia passed through the hands of Sorel, Bugatti’s UK agents. Not necessarily physically – that is delivered to the UK before on-shipment to the colonies – but legally. Why this was so is still a mystery to King, but doubtless was a technique to avoid the worst ravages of the fiscal-fiend (tax office) in France and/or Australia.

Etcetera…

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Credits…

Bob King, Tony Johns, Ash Tracey and the VSCC Victoria

Finito…

(D Simpson)

There is no such thing as too much Alec Mildren Racing; the man himself, the cars and their colour, drivers – the lot…

So, here we go again! I got a chuckle out of the first three photos which were uploaded onto social media within a couple of days of each other a while ago.

The wry amusement was about the car, Mildren’s Frank Gardner and Kevin Bartlett driven Brabham BT23D-1 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8 – particularly its evolution from wingless beauty to appendaged warrior over the period of several months – between Easter and July 1968 to be precise.

The car arrived in Australia in late 1967, seven months before wings first appeared in F1. Ferrari and Brabham were arguably the first over the July 7, 1968 French GP weekend at Rouen. The performance dividend of wings cascaded across the single-seater world. Lets not forget Jim Hall ‘started it’ with his gorgeous Chaparral sports-racers, to give credit where it is due.

Dick Simpson’s ripper shot (above) is Kevin Bartlett traversing Hell Corner at Bathurst during the Easter ’68 Gold Star weekend, as is the one below at Forrests Elbow. The stationary shot is the car in its final 2.5-litre Tasman form during the Warwick Farm Tasman round in 1969 with KB at the wheel in the form-up area/dummy grid.

(P Maslen) 
(K Bartlett)

Treat this piece as a pictorial of BT23D-1’s short life as a front line tool. It was sold after the ’69 Tasman sans engine to Melbourne publisher/motor show promoter Jim Abbott to become his display F5000/hill-climb car. In this form it was fitted with an ex-Frank Matich Oldsmobile V8 and ZF five speed transaxle. Abbott was part of the push to adopt F5000 as the replacement for the Tasman 2.5 ANF1, the modified Brabham was a tool to advance that cause.

Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm, December 1967…

Frank Gardner took a great win upon the cars debut at the December 3 Hordern Trophy Gold Star final round at Warwick Farm, from John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A Climax.

The car didn’t have the ultimate pace during the Tasman Cup of the works Lotus 49s or Chris Amon’s Ferrari 246T.

(AutoSportsman)

Warwick Farm 1968…

When Gardner headed back to Europe, Bartlett stepped into the car having raced Mildren’s Brabham BT11A Climax throughout 1966 and 1967.

In close hand-to-hand-combat with Spencer Martin’s Bob Jane Racing BT11A, KB ran Spencer close, but Martin took the Gold Star honours in those two years.

The shot above is at the Farm after The Esses exit during the July 14, 1968 weekend, BT23D’s last wingless meeting.

“Frank (Gardner) sent us a drawing of a rear-wing from Europe. Alan Stanfield fabricated it for us together with Glenn Abbey. We took the car out to Oran Park to test, it was so such more stabile and quick” Kevin Bartlett recalls.

“That was just before the Gold Star round at Lakeside in July. We raced the car there with the wing fitted and became the first local team to win a race with a rear wing fitted.” KB shared pole with Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco, and comfortably won from Phil West’s Brabham BT23A Repco and Peter Macrow’s McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

Things Go Better With Coke! It seems.

KB’s own shot of his car with its new wing in the Lakeside paddock that July 4 weekend. Lets focus on the wing, not the engine, which is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/30/motori-porno-alfa-romeo-tipo-33-tasman-2-5-litre-v8/

The shape of the wing – via Frank Gardner as noted above – was based on contemporary European practice. The vertical mounts locate on the chassis inner spring mounts. The triangular horizontal stays are simple bits of engineering Lotus chief, Colin Chapman should have had a gander at. Note the pivot atop the roll bar, and simple means of altering the wings angle of attack, or incidence.

Surfers Paradise, Gold Star, August 1968…

(P Maslen)

A month after Lakeside, the circus returned to (or stayed in) Queensland.

Bartlett won the race by over 20 seconds from Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco- it too was the was subject of much aero experimentation by John Sheppard and Geoghegan – and Glyn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA.

(Rod MacKenzie)
(Rod MacKenzie)

Mallala, October 1968…

(Alexis Scott)

Leo has wings too – but not Phil West in the SV Brabham BT23A Repco – behind Geoghegan’s evergreen Lotus 39 Repco.

Leo out-qualified KB by a second and won from the Brabham and Glyn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA. The car alongside West (fifth) is John Walker, a Gold Star and AGP winner a decade and a bit later, in an Elfin Mono Ford, DNF. Glyn Scott is behind Bartlett at the off, he finished third.

Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm, December 1968…

(Rod MacKenzie)

Bartlett won the Hordern Trophy and the Gold Star by 20 seconds from West and Fred Gibson in Niel Allen’s F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

(D Harvey)

Warwick Farm Tasman February 1969…

(R Thorncraft)

Look closely and you can see that KB can’t- see that is. He has put aside, or more precisely pulled down his goggles away from his eyes in an endeavour too see where he is going.

Jochen Rindt won the race in famous fashion- it’s a drive remembered by all who attended that race weekend.

Sandown Park Cup, Tasman Series, February 1969…

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Bartlett’s last race in BT23D-1 was in the final round of the 1969 Tasman, with exhaust problems he was out after five laps in the race won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

Frank Gardner was fourth in the Mildren Alfa Romeo ‘Yellow Submarine’, a car KB would take over after Gardner returned to Europe. The aerodynamic experimentation continued in a car which KB raced to his second Gold Star, and the Macau Grand Prix, a story for another time.

Two hands are for beginners on the exit of Peters Corner, Sandown.

Credits…

Dick Simpson, Kevin Bartlett, Peter Maslen, Alexis Scott, Russell Thorncraft

Finito…

Carlo Massola and riding mechanic aboard his works Diatto Type 20 during the April 1922 Targa Florio weekend. DNF after one of four 67 mile laps. #18 is the nose of Giulio Foresti’s Ballot 2LS – a Maroubra visitor in 1925 (BNF)

Formed by 30-year old Guglielmo Diatto in Turin in 1835 as a coach-builder, Fratelli Diatto later morphed to railway engineering in 1864 before (Vittorio and Pietro Diatto, grandsons of Guglielmo) focusing on new-fangled motor automobiles in collaboration with Adolphe Clément in 1905. Its first cars were licensed Clément-Bayard designs, known as Diatto-Cléments.

After Clement’s 1909 departure, Diatto (Societa Anonima Autoscostruzioni Diatto), a major concern of over 500 employees, made its own cars, the 12/15hp Tipo Unico was its most popular pre-War.

After the conflict Diatto built the Giuseppe Coda designed Tipo 20. Powered by a 2-litre SOHC four, it produced 40bhp and was exported globally. With assistance from the Maserati brothers – Alfieri Maserati split his time between his Bologna factory and Diatto in Turin – Diatto produced the short-wheelbase 2-litre, DOHC, 75bhp Tipo 20S Grand Prix car for the 2-litre formula which commenced that year.

Carlo Massola was a FIAT mechanic and test driver before joining Diatto to fill a similar role. He contested the 1922 Targa Florio in a Tipo 20 (or 20S, accounts vary) but failed to finish, as did Domenico Gamboni in the other works car which started; Giulio Masetti won in a 1918 Mercedes GP 18/100.

At the end of the year Massola emigrated to Australia to join the Ongarello brothers’ Diatto Australian agency, based in Melbourne.

He successfully raced his Targa Diatto, and other marques, at Aspendale amongst other venues from 1923, later still he took Australian citizenship. His son Silvo was a noted racer/engineer post-war; HRG, Bugatti and the M.M. Holden are amongst his race/construction credits.

The Ongarellos sold Diatto Tipo 20A’s in rolling chassis form, the most infamous of which was owned by Melbourne’s Roaring Twenties gangster, Joseph ‘Squizzy’ Taylor who was gunned down in a 1927 Carlton shootout (in a Barkly Street terrace, not the Diatto!).

After a succession of financial reconstructions, Diatto ceased car production in 1927 to manufacture other products. In 2007 the Carrozzeria Zagato revived the brand for a concept car displayed at the 2007 Geneva Motor, the Diatto Ottovù Zagato.

I am in the process of researching an article about Carlo inspired by Bob King with the assistance of the Massola family. Carlo’s race record in Australia is pretty clear, his career in Europe is not.

I am keen to hear from any readers, particularly Italians who may have access to race-records in the decade before 1923, to fill in the gaps. Gimme a yell at mark@bisset.com.au if you can assist, many thanks!

Alfieri Maserati and mechanic, Diatto GP305/20S 3-litre four, DNF oil-tank, during the November 1922 268 mile Coppa Florio. Boillot won on Peugeot 174S. Wonderful action, whites of the eyes shot (Wiki-unattributed)

Credits…

Bibliotheque Nationale de France, ‘Diatto’ Sergio Massaro via Bob King Collection, Wikipedia

Tailpiece…

(S Massaro)

Beautiful drawing from the Massaro book showing a race Diatto 20S long-tail. The light-alloy, holey wheels date from 1923.

Finito…

(NAA)

A burly Aussie bloke prepares his model car for a race at the Victorian Model Race Car Club (VMRCC) meeting, Como Park, South Yarra, 1945.

I can find no record of the 1945 meeting, but in 1951 Lee Marget’s 10cc model did better than 100mph over a quarter-mile. Not so sure how my near neighbours in South Yarra would feel about motor racing in their twee-suburb now, olde bean…

The VMRCC had classes for cars, the length of which varied from 10 to 18 inches. Proto were the biggest and fastest, then Proto-Spur, Spur and Might. Proto’s did better than 100mph, the tiny-Might about 70mph.

All were powered by 10cc two-stroke engines fed by a methanol/castor oil brew. Fitted with torch-batteries “The batteries are charged on high-speed rollers, and the cars are then attached to a cable, which revolves around a pole in the centre of the track, and are started by pushing them with a pole for a quarter lap or so.”

“The cars quickly gather speed…when maximum speed is attained…the operator signals the timekeeper to start timing…A midget is timed over 6-laps, 440 yards, and is then stopped by the operator tripping a lever,”

In November 1950 the lap record was held by ‘Juan-Manuel’ Bailem of Maribynong at 116mph.

Clubs then were operating in South Yarra, Maribynong, Geelong and Cowra NSW, as well as clubs in South Australia and Queensland. Some club members imported their racers but most were home-built.

I’ll bet it was fun until CAMS got involved…

Credits…

National Archives of Australia-Sketching naval life: the war art of Rex Julius, Trove,

Tailpiece…

(NAA-R Julius)

W.R.A.N (Womens Royal Austraian Navy) driver standing by her ute (brand folks?) at HMAS Rushcutter, April 2, 1944. Why this? Just coz…

Able Seaman Rex Julius enlisted in 1940, he trained in submarine detection, but when the higher-ups became aware of his pre-war career as a commercial artist, he was appointed an official war artist for the Royal Australian Navy in 1944.

He died of a throat abscess and gangrene in New Guinea the same year – great shame, he was a talented man.

The sketch above is one he made of activity around the naval base, HMAS Rushcutter, Sydney Harbour.

(NAA-R Julius)

This one has a particular resonance. While the blokes have a swim off the side of HMAS Lithgow, on the way to Milne Bay, New Guinea in 1944, “One rating sits under the motor boat with a Tommie Gun in case of sharks.” Only ‘in’ Australia!

Finito…

(Tony Johns-SLV)

Former Austin 7 racer and Bentley historian Tony Johns is a regular visitor to the Victorian State Library, there, he browses newspapers and magazines for Austin 7 and Bentley history. If he comes upon things of interest in the writer’s realm, which is mostly to do with Bugattis, he kindly forwards them.

We are aware that pioneering Bugatti motorist and racer Jack Day made superchargers, but have not previously seen an image of one, let alone the object itself. This despite having owned two of the cars that were one-time fitted with JADAY blowers. We knew that they were of a Roots pattern, but little more, other than that Jack made them in his Ajax Pump factory in South Melbourne.

The cover of The Car magazine for October, 1932 above shows the JADAY supercharger in all its glory, as well as its side-draft Solex carburettor, bolted directly to the blower.

Just call M 2425 and ask for Jack and you can have one for 22 pounds, 10 shillings (Tony Johns-SLV)

John Albert Day of Melbourne was a well-known racing car driver in the twenties, thirties and forties.

Like so many others of the period, he had success on push bikes before taking to four wheels. His first job had been delivering hats on a bicycle when he was 10 years old – suggesting an early entrepreneurial bent. It is not known whether he was related to Syd Day, a pioneering motorist who competed in the Sydney to Melbourne Dunlop Reliability trial of 1905.

Our first record of him in a motoring event is in 1923 when he drove a 2.3-litre SCAT in a Hill Driving Contest at Greensborough. In 1924 he drove a 1100cc Salmson at Malpas Hill, 17 miles North of Melbourne. This event famously crossed the Hume Highway; traffic being stopped for each run.

At a later Malpas hill climb he drove an Alvis which was also driven in the ladies contest by L. Day. Mrs Day took part in the 1927 Alpine trial in a Riley ‘9’.

Jack Day at the wheel of his Type 37, 37145 (Bob King Collection)

His first appearance in a Bugatti was in May 1927 when he ran at rural, and nor urban Melbourne, Wheelers Hill.

His 11/2 litre unsupercharged Type 37, chassis number 37145, had been delivered new to Melbourne less than a year before, having been sold via the Bugatti agent Sporting Cars to one of its directors T.E. Barnett for his son Dudley. Later that year the car was owned by Lyster Jackson who, plagued by misfiring, was all too ready to on-sell it. According to Jack in a recorded interview, he bought it when Lyster and he were contesting a hill climb at Lorne as part of the Victorian Light Car Club’s Dependability Trial in October, 1926.

Jack: “Lyster revved and revved and revved, on only about 11/2 cylinders, and I said to him: ‘That will never get up the hill’ and he said, ‘I’ll beat you up.’ So, I had a big-port Alvis, and of course I took the hillclimb away from him”. Lyster said he would sell it and Jack “bought it on the spot.” Jack cured the misfiring by making “special KLG’s” in which he removed the negative electrode, substituting it with platinum “only the thickness of a pin.”

37145 when owned by Dudley Barnett as a new car (Bob King Collection)

Jack entered his now reliable Bugatti in the 1928 100 mile AGP at Phillip Island. He was one of the favourites for the race having won a half mile speed trial in lieu of the rain-postponed race at 84mph.

Unfortunately, early in the race he lost his way in the dust, shooting through a fence and taking considerable time to regain the track. Although noted to be travelling at great speed, he would have been disappointed to finish in sixth place, some 10 minutes behind the winning Austin ‘7’ of Arthur Waite.

A clear demonstration of the dust encountered during the 1928 AGP at Phillip Island – was this the moment Jack ‘lost his way’ (Bob King Collection)

Seeking improved performance, in late 1931, Jack supercharged it with a JADAY supercharger driven from the nose of the crankshaft by a shaft that protruded through the lower part of the radiator.

We have not seen a photograph of this installation, but the blower must have been supported between the dumb irons; the radiator having a piece cut out of the bottom of the core through which the drive-shaft passed.

This radiator with a patch over the blower drive-shaft hole, subsequently found its way on to its sister Type 37,37146, subsequently leading to misidentification of these consecutively numbered cars.

Post-war sister car 37146 was campaigned vigorously by Herb Ford. In this shot taken at Rob Roy, the blower drive cut-out in the radiator can be seen – the radiator had been swapped from 37145 (Bob King Collection)

Jack’s second foray into Bugatti supercharging was with the 1931 Australian Grand Prix winning Type 39, 4607 which he bought in 1933.

The Type 39 was a 1 1/2 litre, normally aspirated straight-eight. He again drove the supercharger from the nose of the crankshaft by means of a long, tapered extension. This shaft remains in the care of the writer – it is his favourite large punch. Jack was not known for his finesse, and this is corroborated by the finish of said shaft, the forward end of which is crudely hack-sawed most of the way through, the last part being snapped-off, leaving a ragged end.

We are unaware of what modifications may have been made to the radiator as this item disappeared after many years fitted to a Brescia Bugatti in lieu of its normal pear-shaped radiator. As the JADAY blown Type 37 and 39 seemed to see very little service, it might be concluded that the modifications were not entirely satisfactory. Could Jack have miscalculated the volume of the necessarily long inlet tract, leading to an unsatisfactory performance?

Day at Phillip Island for the Jubilee Handicap, May 6, 1935 in the Type 39 (Bob King Collection)

As to other JADAY supercharger installations, we have little knowledge. It is possible that one of Jack’s superchargers was fitted to his AL3 Lombard, and it is rumoured that he was involved with the Cozette supercharging of another Lombard AL3 then owned by W.H. Lowe who was the importer of these delightful, petite, 1100cc twin-cam cars.

The patterns for the beautiful finned inlet manifold of this car were certainly of local manufacture – they survived until relatively recent times. Lowe later made his name as the first licenced Ferrari agent outside Italy.

Bill Lowe in his Lombard at Rob Roy just one week after the Black Friday Bushfires, January 30, 1939 (Spencer Wills)

One last twist in the tail of JADAY superchargers brings us to the early post-war WWII years. Jack Day and Norman Hamilton, also a racing driver and a subsequent Porsche importer, investigated the possibility of adapting their turbine technology for one of the worlds great engineering projects, the nascent Snowy Mountain scheme.

With this in mind, Norman and Jack visited Switzerland to study hydro-electric schemes in 1951. During the course of this visit, Norman’s rented Oldsmobile was rounded up by a low slung, silver missile on the Grossglockner Pass. They came upon car and driver; racing driver and motoring journalist Richard von Frankenberg and his car, a prototype Porsche further up the road at an Inn.

After discussion and inspection of the car, the entrepreneurial Hamilton followed Von Frankenberg back through the Alps to the factory. After a tour of the facilities and a meeting with Ferry Porsche, Hamilton walked away with a hand-shake deal for the Porsche commercial rights in Australia and New Zealand. This led to Hamilton’s being only the second foreign Porsche agents outside Germany (Max Hoffman in the US was the first), somewhat in synchrony with the history of Lowe’s Ferrari dealership.

Ken Harper and Norman Hamilton, Porsche 356 Coupe, prior to the 1953 Redex Trial (PCA)

This was not, however, the end of the Jack Day story. His next modification to the Type 39 Bugatti was much more radical – he removed the fragile Bugatti engine, substituting it with a Ford V8, the first of many Australian specials thus powered.

The success of this car pioneered the ‘quick-fix’ for tired European racing cars – take out the sophisticated aluminium and steel machinery and substitute American black iron.

Jack and his collaborator Reg Nutt had many successes with the car in this form, including ftd at Mitcham and Rob Roy hill climbs (Day). Post-war the car went on many more successes in the hands of the legendary Jack ‘Gelignite’ Murray.

Meanwhile Day reverted to his passion for complicated European machines, importing one of the 1927 Grand Prix Talbot Darracq (a 1500cc straight eight supercharged jewel) in which he shared driving duties with Reg Nutt.

(Bob King Collection)

The Day Special mocked up during the construction phase.

(Bob King Collection)

The ‘Day’ was often driven by Reg Nutt. Here he is seen in action at Lobethal during 1938 South Australian Grand Prix.

(unattributed )

Jack Murray is seen here, on the inside, battling it out with Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol in the Day Special at Mount Druitt.

(Bob King Collection)

Reg Nutt aboard the Talbot Darracq TD700 at Fishermans Bend.

(unattributed)

Jack , in his later years in his Jaguar XK120. He was a founding member of the Victorian Light Car Club (later LCCA), and a life member of the RACV. He died in 1975, aged 86.

Credits…

Bob King and his archive, Tony Johns and his archive, Spencer Wills, Porsche Cars Australia

Finito…

Bryan Falloon’s Rorstan Mk1a Porsche at rest in the Pukekohe paddock during the 1972 New Zealand Grand Prix weekend.

I’ve written about this rare car, built by Bob Britton at Rennmax Engineering in Sydney on his Brabham BT23 jig in early 1968. The story of the car is here, including poor Bryan’s demise on this Pukekohe weekend; https://primotipo.com/2020/08/17/rorstan-mk1a-porsche/

The rare colour photograph was too good to simply add to the existing piece.

By 1972 this 1967 spaceframe design – a modified F2 car was an old-clunker among the latest F5000s which made up the bulk of the field. But the impecunious Ian Rorstan / Bryan Falloon combination were having-a-crack.

The car was powered by a Porsche Type 771 twin-cam, two-valve, flat-eight. The design started as a 1962 1.5-litre F1 engine fitted to the Type 804. Engines grew to 2-litres – and here 2.2-litres, as measured by Alan Hamilton – for Porsche 907 sports-prototype use later in the sixties.

Incredibly complex in terms of bevel-drive operation of the camshafts and auxiliaries – Hamilton advises that the factory allowed 240 hours for the assembly of each engine – Rorstan bought the engine off Porsche Cars Australia when looking for a replacement for the geriatric Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF which powered the machine before.

The engine looks bulky and heavy, it is not – of magnesium and aluminium construction, it’s light. The disposition of horizontally opposed cylinders pops the weight nice and low too. The vertically mounted Bosch high-pressure fuel injection pump – driven off the inlet cam – and fuel metering unit add to the impression of size. Inboard of that, hidden, are eight-inlet trumpets.

Note the throttle linkage and small wing – given its shallow shape and chord, you wonder how much downforce was generated.

I’m intrigued to know exactly how Britton mated the engine and chassis, critical of course. Clearly, from the way he has strengthened the roll bar area, by bracing it down into the cockpit, the top horizontal mount heading aft is important.

More questions than answers of course, my curiosity about this car is at least partially stated!

Porsche 771 cutaway, yes it’s wonky, best I could find. Note, inter alia, the bevel-drive to the cams

Credits

Bill Mason

Finito