Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

The Ove Andersson/Arne Hertz Alpine Renault A110 1600S blasts through a village during the ’72 Rallye du Maroc…

The 24-30 April event was based in Rabat, Casablanca and comprised 1563 Km of competitive stages on asphalt and gravel. The Simo Lampinen/Andreasson Solve Lancia Fulvia HF 1.6 Coupe won the event, the Andersson car failed to finish with engine failure.

Photo Credit…

Jean Claude Deutsch

 

(K Hyndman)

Jody Scheckter’s works F2 McLaren M21 Ford BDF (left) at Trojan Racing’s workshops in Beddington Farm Road, Croydon on 1 October 1972…

Alongside it is the first Trojan T101 ‘101’ F5000 coming together, the cars are close relations.

Jody took one European F2 Championship win in chassis # M21-72-01 at Crystal Palace in May, the title was won that year by Mike Hailwood’s works Surtees TS10 Ford BDA.

The South African charger was competitive throughout the season, but like others running BDA’s stretched close to 2 litres struck engine dramas. The standard cast iron Ford Cortina 711M block just didn’t want to be bored that far, pistons came close to kissing each other which is rather sub-optimal. The bespoke alloy Ford Cosworth BDG block solved that from 1973. Hailwood ran Brian Hart prepped 1850cc BDA’s and took a hotly contested first 2 litre Euro F2 title from Jean-Pierre Jaussaud Brabham BT38 Ford and Patrick Depailler March 722 Ford.

Jody recalled his McLaren M21 F2 year in an article titled ‘McLaren and Me’ on mclaren.com…

It was Phil Kerr who approached me about driving for McLaren…I don’t think F2 was their major interest, and I think in a way they were playing on the side with it. Teddy Mayer preferred the big time stuff.

F2 obviously wasn’t F1 or CanAm, which had been their main thing, and I had the only M21. I can’t remember thinking at the time that they weren’t putting enough effort into it, however I would probably not have known at that stage. That was the first works drive after running my own car, so whatever it was was fantastic.

At the beginning we had an 1800cc motor, and the other guys were 2-litres, so it was underpowered. We would run less and less wing to try and do the same speed on the straights, and then we had no downforce.

The car wasn’t bad. But initially it had a broken shock absorber, which nobody discovered. We weren’t competitive at all, and with me being new in, obviously people thought I wasn’t competitive. If you’re on your own, when you go well it’s good, and if you don’t, you wish had others cars to compare against!

In one way it was nice because you’re the only driver they’re concentrating on. If there was another one could you have developed the car quicker? Possibly, but I didn’t really think about it.

After a few races we went down to Goodwood and Denny Hulme drove the car and played around with it a bit. They had found in the workshop that one of the shock absorbers was broken. So they changed that, and Denny went out and did 1m14.2s or something like that, and I went out and in three laps did a 1m13.8s. I think we were doing 1m15s before that.

London Trophy, Crystal Palace 29 May 1972. Scheckter won in his #60 McLaren M21 Ford BDF by 1.5 seconds after 50 laps from Mike Hailwood’s #46 Surtees TS10 Ford BDA and Carlos Reutemann’s Brabham BT38 Ford BDF (J Fausel)

And then we went to Crystal Palace. I’d raced there in F3 and Ford Escort Mexicos, and I quite liked that circuit. The car was going well, and we won. After that everyone was looking at the car, wondering why it was going so quickly. I remember at Rouen passing Carlos Reutemann on the outside of a bend going down the hill.

Crystal Palace was a real breakthrough in a way. In those days there were F1 drivers competing, and, if you did well in an F2 race, you immediately showed that you were good enough to go up to the next level. Which is what happened.

Later Lotus came and wanted me to drive for them. I told McLaren and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you a drive in the last Grand Prix, at Watkins Glen.’ I don’t think they’d thought about it, but when other teams start making offers, they knew they had to do something!

Watkins Glen (1972 US GP) was good because nobody recognised me, and I could walk around and not be bothered. I thought the M19 was fantastic. It was my first F1 car, and it just seemed to grip more and more, you could go faster and faster and nothing was happening, rather than sliding all over the place. It was nothing compared to the downforce of today’s cars, but in comparison to my F2 car the M19 had much more downforce, and bigger tyres as well’.

The story of Scheckter’s rather successful F1 career is one for another time.

McLaren pulled out of the production racing car market with effect the end of 1972. Trojan, acquired by Peter Agg in 1960 took over Elva Cars in 1962, Bruce McLaren worked with Elva to develop his McLaren-Elva Mk1A for the 1965 season, the Trojan built McLaren cars dated from 1969. The mutually fruitful partnership lasted until the end of 1972 at which point Agg continued building cars named Trojan- the T101 was the first.

January 1973 Trojan T101 ‘101’ is the car shown ‘as advertised before Ron Tauranac arrived in the design department’ Ken Hyndman

Trojan went into 1973 with a new F5000 design which was in essence the marriage of  the Ralph Bellamy designed F2 M21 front end with an M18/22 McLaren F5000 rear attached to a new chassis. Bruce would have approved, very much in his ‘Whoosh-Bonk’ tradition this machine!

The new car, designated ‘T101’ was designed by Paul Rawlinson with Ron Tauranac- post-sale and exit of Brabham to Bernie Ecclestone, brought in by management at the seasons commencement to ‘make the car work’.

Work it did- Jody Scheckter won the US F5000 L&M Championship in 1973 with 3 wins in T101 chassis ‘103’ at Laguna Seca and Michigan in May and Mid Ohio in early June. He then decamped and raced a Lola T330 (HU20) owned by Bob Lazier winning in it at Watkins Glen in mid-June after boofing T101 ‘103’ during practice.

He was back aboard T101 ‘103’, the chassis repaired at Trojan, at Road America Elkhart Lake on 29 June and Road Atlanta in mid-August and then raced another T330 (HU24) said to have been bought with his winnings, at Pocono on 3 September before ending the season in his faithful T101 ‘103’ in the final of the nine round championship at Seattle on 30 September where he was 3rd.

Scheckter and Redman at Pocono in 1973 (J Knerr)

Brian Redman aboard a sinfully sexy Carl Haas Lola T330 Chev (HU14) at the Riverside first L&M series round in 1973, he won. Mechanics names anyone? (M Paden Hewitt)

The above puts a wonderful gloss on the Trojan season but does not tell the whole truth!

Brian Redman started his reign as the ‘King of F5000’ in 1973, although he was uncrowned that year. He won the US Championship from 1974-76, and aboard the works Carl Haas Lola T330 in ’73 won five rounds- Riverside, Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta, Pocono and Seattle.

The only thing which cost him the title were his factory Ferrari 312PB World Endurance Championship sportscar rides, he missed several rounds. The only L&M Championship race where Jody beat Brian ‘man on man’ was at Watkins Glen where T330 ‘HU20’ prevailed over Redman’s ‘HU8’.

The evolved for 1973 Lola T330 (from the late ’71-’72 T300) was a stunning production racing car which begat a whole series of dominant F5000 and single-seat Can Am cars- T332, 332C, 332CS and 333. Category destroyers in some ways, these cars!

But let’s not take anything away from the Scheckter/Trojan 1973 L&M wins- to finish first, first you have to finish and that they did that in spades! Jody won with 144 points from Redman’s 130 and Mark Donohue, Lola T330 AMC on 64 points.

Scheckter in the Trojan T101 ‘103’ Chev at Brands on 17 March 1973, first British F5000 championship round. DNF in the race won by Peter Gethin’s Chevron B24 Chev from Brett Lunger’s Lola T330 Chev and Tony Dean’s Chevron B24 Chev (R Bunyan)

The team did a couple of British early season F5000 Championship rounds to shake the car down before shipping it to the US, where they were ‘match fit’ from the start of the season.

Sid Taylor and Jerry Entin owned the car Scheckter raced and expected Tauranac would work on its development during the season but Ron was sucked into the 1974 Trojan F1 program, so Taylor/Entin received little help. What development the car lacked was more than made up for by Jody’s endeavour behind the wheel mind you!

Scheckter 1st from David Hobbs Lola T330 3rd, Peter Gethin Chevron B28 at left 2nd and Kevin Bartlett Lola T330 DNF behind Gethin. Laguna Seca 1973. Bartlett had a guest drive of Redman’s works/Haas machine whilst Brian was away on Ferrari sportscar duties- he was 3rd in his heat and DNF the final (unattributed)

Kiwi Ken Hyndman worked at Trojan Racing and took the colour factory shots on his first work day there on 1 October 1972…

Hyndman wrote on ‘The Roaring Season’- ‘The M21 F2 race car that Jody Scheckter had driven at Oulton Park a few weeks prior (on 16 September, DNF transmission in the race won by Peterson’s works March 722), was in the midst of being dismantled so as to form the basis of a new F5000 car. The main body/tub was a McLaren M22 and the suspension/steering was from the M21.’

In fact it seems clear that whatever Trojan did with ‘M21-72-01’ late in 1972 the car was sold to French hillclimber Yves Martin who used it in the following years.

In more recent decades the car is part of Scheckter’s collection of cars he raced.

Perhaps some components were used in the F5000 T101-1 build. Given the M21 was a one-off- only one chassis was built and raced by Jody in 1972, maybe the car was used in the workshop to help create the necessary drawings/patterns for components needed for the T101 batch build of six cars.

Shape of the T101 nose as raced different in profile compared with the original design as being constructed here in October 1972. M21/1 at right (K Hyndman)

The photo above shows ‘The Trojan F5000 T101X (T101 ‘101’) was first drawn up by a likeable young designer, Paul Rawlinson. He had also been a mechanic…Paul had the design that was M21 ahead of the engine and a M22 F5000 behind.’

‘The T101X had a concave surface nose section like a Porsche 917/10 Can Am car for added downforce. It had a full width nose with NASA type ducts for cooling the front brakes. This was to be powered by an Alan Smith tuned 5 litre engine…and looked pretty neat…’

‘Note in the background is the inverted M10B tub for (then Australian F5000 coming-man) Warwick Brown’ Hyndman observed, adding in relation to the Brown tub ‘that does not seem to match the records of the car (M10B-19)’ which indeed it does not but the chassis at a glance does look like that car at that time Ken!

Etcetera…

McLaren M21 ‘M21-72-01’

Yves Martin in his ex-Scheckter McLaren at Saint-Germain-sur-Ille hillclimb in 1974.

(T Le Bras)

Trojan T101 ‘103’

Ron Bennett and Scheckter (below) ponder the setup of the T101 in the Elkhart Lake paddock in June 1973. Alan Smith brought over his slide-injected engine for this race, Jody didn’t like the feel of it though, so they went back to carbs for the rest of the season. Clearly from the Brands shot above Jody used the injection engine early in the season too.

Suspension of the T101 was period conventional- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, coil spring/dampers and adjustable roll bar at the rear with upper and lower wishbones at the front. The gearbox is the good ‘ole Hewland DG300, F5000 standard issue.

(J Entin)

Scheckter gridding up at Riverside. ‘Look’ of the car in terms of chassis and nose similar to its Chevron B24/8 and Elfin MR5 contemporaries (M Paden Hewitt)

 

References/Photo Credits…

 Ken Hyndman Collection, oldracingcars.com, Jutta Fausel, Jerry Entin, Joel Griffin, Richard Bunyan, Jim Knerr, Thierry Le Bras, Michael Paden Hewitt

Tailpiece: Scheckter in the mist, Trojan T101 Chev, Michigan 1973…

Jody won at Michigan on 20 May from Derek Bell guesting in the Haas/Redman T330 and Peter Gethin’s Chevron B24 Chev (unattributed)

Finito…

Arch Tuckett’s Henderson engined Midget out front of the workshop where it was probably built-off William Street, Woolloomooloo, inner Sydney in 1934…

The first race meeting in Australia for what became known as Midgets took place at Olympic Park, Melbourne in the summer of  1934, on 15th December. A motley crew of racers attacked the cinder track that evening, including Arch Tuckett.

Also on the grid were Bill Allen, who brought the sport to Australia, George Beavis, Barney Dentry, Charlie Spurgeon, Bill Thompson, Cec Warren, P Bouker, Lance Burgess, Fred Curtis, Arthur Higgs, Les Gough, Bruce Leckie, G Malone, J Farmley, A Shaw and Bob Finlay who was Australia’s first Midget champion.

Although there had been car racing on oval track venues around Melbourne such as the 1 mile Richmond Racecourse in Melbourne’s inner east and the bayside Aspendale track since about 1913- it was not Midget racing but events between larger dimensioned light cars ‘somewhat akin’ to American Championship Cars.

The ‘Big Cars’ at Wentworth Park in November 1933. L>R Fred Braitling 1924 Alvis s/c, Charlie Spurgeon Fronty Ford Spl and Don Shorten Rajo Ford Spl. This is the race meeting referred to below in the text (S Hood)

In Sydney an organisation known as the ‘Dirt Track Car Racing Club’ (DTCRC) ran speedway meetings at Granville Showgrounds from 1932 and made an impression on the Sydney oval track scene. These cars were bigger machines including Rajo and Fronty Fords, Overland Miller and Morris Specials. They were putting on a good show at Granville but were a dismal failure as a spectacle when tried on the shorter Wentworth Speedway quarter mile in November 1933.

A year later several of the leading drivers of the DTCRC including Bruce Leckie, Charlie Spurgeon and Arch Tuckett gathered in Melbourne with the rest of the pioneering members of ‘The Midget Car Drivers Association of Australia’ to commence the new sport at Olympic Park.

Wentworth Park, Glebe. Midget race during the 1935/6 season L>R Arthur Wylie, speedway racer, constructor, road racer and ‘Australian Motor Sports’ magazine founder/publisher, Archie Tuckett and Sam Aggett. No chassis/engine details sadly. I worked in Glebe for 12 months- is that big building still there? (VS)

The first race meeting for Midgets in New South Wales was at Wentworth Park in Wattle Street, Glebe on 5 October 1935.

Sixteen drivers contested scratch races for A and B grade drivers, triangular match races and 5 lap handicap events. The first race of the afternoon was the A Grade 5 lap scratch won by none other than Arch Tuckett who led home Bruce Leckie and four times Australian Grand Prix winner Bill Thompson in a time of 1 minute 52.5 seconds. So, ‘our’ Archie won the first Midget race in NSW.

All the Midget Drivers Association competitors were well known guys from the ranks of road racing (such as Dentry, Thompson, Warren) former motorcycle and sidecar riders from the old concrete saucer Maroubra days and dirt track speedway sidecar riders who would all be unfamiliar with Midget car racing.

(S Hood)

Tuckett’s car looks so immaculate I suspect its just completed, perhaps the workshop built the car in whole or in part. Little is known about the specification of it other than that it is powered by a Henderson four cylinder, air cooled motorcycle engine and is no-doubt based on established American practice of the day. Let me know if you can add details about the cars specifications.

I know that part of the world reasonably well, the design and branding consultancy I was a part of was located at 160 William Street for a few years, i’ve poked around many of the lanes between William Street and Woolloomooloo Bay. Using the evidence- part of a street name on the fence, and the number 252 in the other photo- I think the address may be 252 Dowling Street just off William Street. This fits with the caption together with Sam Hood’s photos on the State Library of New South Wales Flickr post of these amazingly clear, evocative shots. Wonderful aren’t they?

Arch Tuckett with the Midget he bought from Duane Carter after the 1937/8 Summer NZ Tour he contested. The chassis was built by the Technical Institute in Alameda California in 1935. Originally built with a Continental Star engine, here it is fitted with a modified A Model Ford unit (G McIsaac)

As to Tuckett himself, variously said to be from Queensland and Victoria, he built the car pictured himself and raced it to Queensland and Victorian State Championship wins.

He travelled to New Zealand to contest the first Midget races there, contesting events held at Western Springs Stadium in the summer of 1937/8 in Auckland.

At the end of that tour he bought the ‘Alemite Lubricant Special’, a professionally built, Continental Star engined racer from Duane Carter, one of five Americans on that tour. He raced that chassis very successfully in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales before emigrating to New Zealand in 1940, subsequently enlisting in the RNZAF.

The car featured in this article, his first Midget, was sold to Kiwi ‘Pee-Wee’ Anderson.

The Alemite car exists, restored in NZ, it would be interesting to know what became of the Woolloomooloo built car! Similarly what became of Arch?…

Wonderful cover of the Olympic Park, Midget racing meeting program, 14 March 1936 (D Zeunert Collection)

Etcetera: Motor Racing at Olympic Park, Melbourne…

The current site of ‘AAMI Park’, one of Victoria’s premier football and rugby Stadiums, is situated within the city’s leading sports precinct nestled between the Yarra River and Melbourne Park, the site has served a myriad of purposes including motorsport. This section of the article is of arcane interest to Victorians only I suspect. But it was interesting to me just how many iterations of motorsport there were in an area many of us know so well. The piece is a truncated version of the AAMI Park site history.

Bound by nature

‘Prior to European settlement of Melbourne in 1834, the Yarra River Valley was inhabited by the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. The area has always been idyllic for recreational pursuits. Surveyor-General Robert Hoddle surveyed Melbourne in 1837 and set the boundary for ‘Government Paddock’, an area that comprised the current Yarra and Melbourne & Olympic Parks. The lower reaches of the paddock near the Yarra (i.e. AAMI Park) were quite marshy, a chain of lagoons proving popular with duck shooters.

These riverside pastures of what was also called ‘Richmond Paddock’ became the first location for Melbourne’s Zoo. The Zoo area became the ‘Friendly Society’s Gardens’. The Combined Friendly Society used the land for athletic carnivals and social events. The Yarra constantly flooded until 1896 when the Board of Works realigned the river between the City and Richmond.

The League of Victorian Wheelmen completed a banked cycling track in 1897, which included a grandstand, bar and a range of amenities. Motocyclists also used the 32-35ft wide asphalt track which was enclosed by a picket fence. However, their machines became too fast and the track useless for racing purposes. As well as other cycling and running tracks (often flooded or swamp-like) the area was used for football, tennis, rugby union and women’s cricket either side of the century’s turn.

The ‘Amateur Sports Grounds’ basically consisted of two ovals – one rough and ready, the other encircled by the cycle track. On these fields were turf wickets for cricket, and two adjacent double tennis courts. Athletics was still a regular feature, the St Stephens Harriers using both ovals regularly.

In 1915 the Great War halted preliminary work on a private company’s £5000 motordrome, based on the popular yet extremely dangerous board tracks of the United States. Pioneered by Jack Prince, these banked tracks were capable of handling speeds up to 100mph, but overpowered motorbikes caused mayhem on a weekly basis.

Thrills ‘n spills at the ‘Drome

Melbourne Carnivals Pty Ltd developed and leased the site until the conclusion of World War II. Undeterred by carnage on similar tracks in America, dynamic and colourful local entrepreneur John Wren was a driving force (along with ace promoter Campbell) in reviving the previously shelved ‘Melbourne Motordrome’. Built over 18 months on the old cycle track, it opened on 13 December 1924 at a cost of around £30,000.

A campaign led by defunct newspaper, The Argus, condemned the appropriation of public space for commercial activities, however authorities maintained the land was still open to the community. From the venue’s inception official complaints about the noise levels arose – the ‘peace and tranquility’ of the nearby MCG test match disturbed, along with local residents. Criticism subsided as people attended all manner of entertainments such as wrestling. Few were keen to make an enemy of the powerful Wren in any case- he was one of those chaps who played right on the envelope of legal and bent activity in many areas.

The treacherous 629 yard concrete drome’s primary attraction was two lap ‘professional wheel racing’ events. Recruited by ace promoter Campbell, American star motorcyclists Jim Davis, Ralph Hepburn and Paul Anderson regularly thrilled crowds whilst Ron Hipwell was the local favourite. Crowds nearing 30,000 also thrilled to eclectic programs that featured sidecars, cycling, athletics and wrestling bouts. Some novelty events bordered on the farcical; racing ostriches were imported from South Australia in December 1926, but in what The Argus labelled ‘a complete fiasco’, the confused and terrified beasts (with cardboard cutout ‘jockeys’) wandered aimlessly, scampered in all directions, or simply stood stupefied. ‘Motor Push Ball’ was another bizarre affair, as were children being pulled by billy goats in two wheeler carts.

Tearing around at over 80 miles an hour with no brakes on the steep banks, it was little surprise that five riders lose their lives, the track earning the nicknames ‘Suicide Track’ and the ‘Murderdrome’. Due to instances of flying debris and that the vertical wall at the top was only half the height recommended by Jack Prince, the Motordrome’s innovative ‘saucer’ track featured ‘Danger – don’t lean over’ signs and additional strategically placed fencing. A red danger line half way up the daunting 48 degree bank acted as a guide for riders, however serious trouble often ensued when oil spilt on the track, riders ‘wobbled’, skid on the painted red line or tried to ride more than three abreast.

In one spectacular crash, Hipwell suffered concussion and assorted injuries (including his hip!) and never regained the form that saw him once defeat Davis in front of a full house. More tragic accidents saw Alec Staig, Allan Bunning, Charles Grigg, Reg Moloney and two teenage spectators lose their lives. Riders even contended with foolish attempts at sabotage; such as double sided tacks, or on one occasion, a five foot length of barbed wire that officials thankfully spotted. The final tragedy, local star Jimmy Wassell on 2 January 1932, appeared to be the last straw. Crowds declined and racing was restricted to slower side-cars in the final season.

Jumping aboard dirt track’s motorcycling’s wave of popularity in Britain, a new 494 yard track was added by 1928, enclosed by the ‘drome. Huxley and Van Praag were stars of these meetings. Cycling also became popular as the Great Depression took hold. The nature of this unique ‘velodrome’ lent itself to motor-paced feats such as Legendary cyclist Sir Hubert Opperman covering 100 miles in 90 minutes in 1930 and in a world famous performance, 1000 miles in 28hrs 55 mins. He also broke the world record for the dangerous five mile motor paced event. The Motordrome also hosted the historically significant Austral Wheelrace five times between 1923 and 1929.

The world’s richest professional footrace, ‘The Melbourne Thousand’ was established by Wren in 1928. The inaugural £500 winner’s prize went to South Melbourne star footballer Austin Robertson, the sprint last run in 1932. Other much hyped events such as the ‘World’s Championship’ sprint appeared on ‘sensationally historic’ athletic programs.

On 4 June 1932 the Motordrome became part of VFL/AFL history when Melbourne played the first of three VFL home games owing to the MCG undergoing resurfacing works. Melbourne lost all three games at the Motordrome.

Page of competitors, Midget events march 1936 (D Zeunert Collection)

Olympic Park Speedway

An untenable safety record, and declining financial viability, saw 20 charges of dynamite reduce the ‘Drome to rubble in 1932. The venue was reconstructed as the ‘Olympic Park’ sporting arena in 1933. Interestingly, this reference predated the ’56 Games. Said to better reflect the usage of the site than ‘Amateur Sports Grounds’, the name was prophetic, if not lacking in logic. Promoted successfully by Dick Lean Snr, popular midget speedcars debuted and were pioneered in Australia here in 1934 on a newly constructed dirt track around the sporting field.

Football returned on 30 March 1935 when a floodlit game between 1934 Grand Finalists Richmond and South Melbourne remarkably drew 25,000 spectators (causing Jack Dyer to walk to the ground, unable to get on the packed trams). The practice match was interspersed with midget car races in the breaks. Amid some controversy, around this timeWren almost closed a deal for Richmond to relocate to Olympic Park.

The Australian Imperial Force assumed control of Olympic Park in 1940, although with the permission of the Fuel Board one last speedway meeting was held on 1 April 1946 in aid of St Vincent’s Hospital.

Continued petrol rationing spelled the death knell for the speedway in the aftermath of WW2. The venue met with the wrecking ball in 1946 but few local residents lamented the demise of the noisy motorsports. Further deconstruction occurred inadvertently when a fire destroyed a large wooden grandstand in 1951.

Olympic Park lives up to its name

The welcome 1956 Olympic Games transformation began in 1951. A new sports arena at the southern end of the AAMI Park site hosted the field hockey preliminary rounds, subsequently known as the Eastern Sportsground or the No. 2 Oval. A 4400 seat, 333 metre long velodrome was also constructed, situated on the northern/Swan Street side at a cost of around £120,000. One of the fastest tracks in the world, it was made of reinforced concrete over a New Zealand pine base. Our cyclists won a gold and a bronze at the ’56 Games.

A couple of unidentified cyclists during the 1956 Olympics Velodrome, Olympic Park 3 December ’56

Entertaining the masses

The Victorian Amateur Football Association took up residence at the Eastern Sportsground in 1957, using the venue as its administration base and a weekly marquee game.

The Victorian Rugby Union competition used the Eastern sportsground, as did three Victorian Soccer Federation teams and even the Australian Equestrian Federation held twice yearly championships here. In one of Olympic Park’s more controversial moments, hundreds of protesters against the 1971 Springbok rugby tour clashed with mounted police armed with batons on 3 July. The demonstration was a forerunner to other protests around Australia and preceded Australia pulling out of its upcoming cricket tour of South Africa. Several court cases ensued with accusations of assault levelled towards, and against police. The game itself saw South Africa thrash Victoria 50-0.

A £50,000 investment by the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association saw their relocation from Arden St. North Melbourne to a redeveloped Eastern Sportsground in 1962. On 20 August 6000 punters braved the cold for the first meeting. The velodrome was demolished in 1972, becoming a 800 space carpark, and the following year saw a new $6m 2200 seat grandstand built for greyhounds, soccer and rugby. The facilities pre-empted the dishlicker’s halcyon days which lasted until the 1980’s. Regular crowds of 5000 were also entertained by athletic races during the Monday night program, as well as promotions tied to Moomba, glamorous models and various celebrities.

A changing landscape

TThe Eastern Sportsground was upgraded with a synthetic pitch, practice running track and throwing area to coincide with the 1985 World Veterans Athletic Championship. As well as facilitating commercially viable sport and entertainment, Olympic Park Management’s other primary objective to increase the variety of sports. Consequently, hockey and American football utilised this field during winter, the latter playing their Victorian Championship on the ground in 1985-1993.

In November 1991, billowing smoke permeated through the greyhound track grandstand causing the evacuation of 2000 enthusiasts, moments after the last race. Forty firemen were dispatched to the blaze that began in a storeroom. The last race was run in February 1996 as 3000 punters sadly bid farewell, the club relocating to Broadmeadows.

The old Eastern Sportsground was reborn as Edwin Flack Field whereupon Collingwood used it as their training ground from 2004-06 – some irony given their legendary patron John Wren had built the Motordrome on the same patch of turf.

City of Melbourne folks- the area we are referring to is the modern white stadium and Olympic Park to its left beside the River Yarra- one can readily see that motor racing 1 km from a modern metropolis even in the 1940’s was a bit of a stretch! MCG right middle of shot as you cricket lovers, god help you, would know

State of the Art Stadium

Plans for the new stadium were originally conceived when Melbourne bid for a new Super 12 franchise. Upon being beaten by Perth, it didn’t take long for the plans to re-emerge. In April 2006, the Victorian Government announced a new 20,000-seat stadium would be built at Olympic Park to host Rugby League and Football. Melbourne Victory.

Construction commenced in late 2007 on the site of Edwin Flack Field- AAMI Park officially opened its doors on 7th May 2010, hosting the Rugby League ANZAC Test Match between Australia and New Zealand. The game attracted a near sell-out crowd of 29,442. As well as the Victory, Storm and Rebels; the Melbourne Demons Football Club (AFL) also have their training and administrative base at the venue, training on the adjacent sporting field.’

Built at a cost of $267.5 million, AAMI Stadium features a distinctive cutting-edge Bioframe design with a geodesic dome roof which substantially covers the seating area and is a great visual reference point when heading into town from the inner-East through South Yarra…

Bibliography…

australianspeedway.com, vintagespeedway.com, article by Ken Wylie, David Zeunert Collection

Photo Credits…

Sam Hood, State Library of New South Wales, Gordon McIsaac

Finito…

 

Jackie Stewart and a very tidy little unit, Dunlop PR shoot, London 1969…

The model is not bad either. This kinda stuff is a drivers stock in trade but the car organised is a bit low rent? Its Piers Courage’s Frank Willams Racing Brabham BT30 Ford FVA F2 car, BT30-5 i suspect. ‘Yerd reckon they could have rustled up one of those nice little F1 jobbies for the occasion? Jackie’s Championship winning Matra MS80 Ford or Piers’ Brabham BT26 Ford. Both must have been getting fettled for their next event.

Jackie looks happy enough, as he should, its my kind of a days work.

1969 was Piers Courage breakthrough year- he jumped out of the box in the Tasman Series, 3rd in the Series with a win at Teretonga, and was right up Rindt, Amons and Hill’s clacker in an FW Brabham BT24 Ford DFW.

Then he absolutely brained ‘em in FW’s year old ex-works Brabham BT26, the Repco Brabham 860 V8 replaced by a good ole DFV. He was a front runner all year- 8th in the title with seconds at Monaco and Watkins Glen his best results.

1969 Tasman Series Levin. Hi-winged Frank Williams Brabham BT24 Ford DFW is chasing Graham Hill’s works Lotus 49B Ford DFW and Derek Bell’s works Ferrari 246T. Chris Amon’s Dino won from Piers and Frank Gardner’s Mildren Alfa (S Twist/TRS)

In F2 he was a ‘graded driver’, so was not eligible for championship points. He was a front five racer from the start of the year in a Williams BT23C through to its end racing this car (shots with model) BT30-5, his best a win at Enna- the GP del Mediterraneo in late August. His last F2 drive of the year was in Andrea de Tomaso’s de Tomaso 103 FVA in the GP Roma in October, that was a portent of the disastrous year to follow in 1970…

Piers and Sally Courage talking gob-shite with the Victorian Governor Sir Rohan Delacombe and his missus, Sandown Tasman 1969. Piers DNF with half-shaft failure on lap 2, the race won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari 246T (J Stanley)

Credits…

Getty Images, John Stanley, Steve Twist/The Roaring Season, F2 Index, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: Rare beast those GT40 Roadies- the Mk3, chassis number folks?…

 

Train commuters watch an unidentified MG TC, then Les Wheeler, MG TC chasing A Griffiths, MG TC Spl s/c at the June 1952 Parramatta Park meeting  (CRPP)

‘A two mile motor racing circuit with ground accommodation for 100,000 people is being built at Parramatta Park’ Parramatta, Sydney The Sunday Heralds headlines proclaimed on 21 October 1951…

 Parramatta is a large city within greater Sydney, 25 Km from the CBD, the huge park occupies an area of 245 acres and straddles the Parramatta River on the western edge of the town.

The 8,000 pound investment in the park facility was funded by ten local businessmen and used to clear and widen existing roads to a minimum of 28 to 30 feet. The projected average circuit speed of the circuit, designed and to be run by the Australian Sporting Car Club Ltd (ASSC), was 55 mph.

Barrie Garner, Frazer Nash in June 1955. Later an ace hillclimber in a Bowin P3 Holden. Track surface needs a sweep! Carnival atmosphere, big picnic crowd so close to the centre of Sydney (CRPP)

Motor racing in Parramatta Park had been mused about for decades. An article about the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ mentioned the possibility of events in either Centennial Park, Sydney or Parramatta Park with the writer just as rapidly despatching the idea as one which would be scuttled by the authorities. Indeed, officialdom caused plenty of grief in relation to racing at Parramatta when it was finally becoming a reality.

The proposed event on 28 January 1952 was not the first planned at the venue, a meeting was scheduled to be held on 5 November 1938- the star Peter Whitehead.

The wealthy wool merchant/racer was to compete in his 1938 Australian Grand Prix winning ERA R10B. Officialdom intervened in the form of the New South Wales Chief Commissioner of Police who decided to ban the race on Friday, the day before the meeting, due to concerns about competitor and spectator safety. Click here for my article on the 1938 AGP including details and pictures of the ’38 abortive, aborted Parramatta Grand Prix. https://primotipo.com/2015/04/16/peter-whitehead-in-australia-era-r10b-1938/

In a reprise of the 1938 dramas the Chief Commissioner of Police again stepped in and refused permission for the January 1952 race. The ASCC appealed his decision before the Parramatta Court of Petty Sessions with the Magistrate upholding the appeal. The event was allowed to take place on the basis that spectators were permitted no closer than 40 feet from the circuits edge.

Over 40,000 paying punters turned up on raceday causing massive traffic jams throughout the area and its surrounds.

John Crouch Cooper MkV JAP from Curley Brydon’s MG TC Spl in a handicap event during the January 1952 meeting. One of the ultimate TC specials in Australia shaded by the new generation of cars. Check out the crowd (CRPP)

Star of the show that weekend was Sydney driver John Crouch driving a new-fangled, mid-engined Cooper JAP MkV to three wins of the seven events.

One of victories was perhaps the ‘main event’ of the day, a six lap invitation scratch race for the quickest guys of the weekend- he won it in his 1097cc Cooper. Stan Jones was second in the 4.3 litre Maybach 1 then came Reg Hunt’s mid-engined Hunt ‘500’ fitted that weekend with a Vincent 998cc engine Then was Jack Saywell’s Cooper 1000, Doug Whiteford’s 4.375 litre Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’  and Alec  Mildren’s 1750cc Dixon Riley. The results are indicative of the rise of the small, efficient, mid-engine Coopers in Australia as was the case everywhere else in the world! Crouch set the lap record with a time of 1 minute 59 seconds.

In a reminder that ‘Motor Racing is Dangerous’, a wheel came off Doug Whiteford’s 1950 Australian Grand Prix winner, ‘Black Bess’ whilst travelling at circa 80 mph and landed in the backyard of a Victorian cottage adjoining the course. Fortunately the lady of the house was not hanging out the washing at the time the errant wheel landed atop her prize petunias.

Peter Lowe, Bugatti Holden from Laurie Oxenford, Alvis Mercury, January 1952 (CRPP)

Many meetings were held at the venue until 1957, regularly attracting over 10,000 spectators when the demands and difficulties of holding the races became too much. The circuits closure left the New South Wales circuits at the time as Mount Panorama at Bathurst, Gnoo Blas, Orange and Mount Druitt in Western Sydney.

I have long wanted to write an article about Parramatta Park but a paucity of photographs was the barrier. Not so now- the convenor and members of the Facebook group ‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ have uploaded some pearlers of shots- I’ve chosen some at random to give you a flavour of the place. For you FB folks just find and like the page in the usual way.

Stan Jones with a touch of the opposites in Maybach 1 chasing ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray’s Allard Cadillac in the opening January 1952 meeting. Jones was so impressed by the speed of the Coopers in relation to his GP car he promptly placed an order for one, a MkIV was soon in his Balwyn, Melbourne driveway (CRPP)

Both the aces of the day and coming-men raced at the ‘Park including drivers such as Doug Whiteford, Frank Kleinig, Stan Jones, David McKay, Bib Stillwell, Dick Cobden, Bill Patterson, Lex Davison, Tom Hawkes, Alec Mildren, Tom Sulman, Ted Gray, Ron Tauranac, Jack Brabham and many others. RT ran the very first of his Australian Ralts in the opening meeting, as against the Pommie built ones, and his later partner Brabham raced his Dirt Midget!

Jones big Maybach ‘monstering’ Ron Tauranac’s Ralt Norton ES2 500, January 1952 (CRPP)

The program described Jack thus- ‘A familiar winner at the speedway, and this years Australian Hillclimb Champion, Jack should find the circuit well suited to his style. His car is very light, has four wheel hydraulic brakes and is powered by a home made engine using J.A.P bits’.

By the June meeting Jack had jumped into a Cooper Mk5 500, the wry description in the program observed; ‘Australian Hillclimb Champion of 1951, Jack, one of our best midget drivers, is a new recruit to road racing, his Cooper…was an 1100, now has an engine designed and built by the new owner, a foremost expert at getting quarts out of pint pots’ ! A sage description of Jack’s ability to conjure something out of not very much throughout his career as both constructor and driver.

Dick Cobden from Bill Patterson in Stan Jones car and Bill Shipway- Coopers galore, all MkV’s I think June 1955 meeting (CRPP)

Bibliography…

Sydney Sunday Herald 21 October 1951, ‘Fast and Furious: The 1938 Parramatta Grand Prix’ article by Peter Arfanis

Photo Credits…

‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ Facebook Group (CRPP)

Tailpiece: Parramatta Park opening meeting, January 1952…

 

 

 

Roman Polanski stepping aboard a Motor Racing Stables Lotus 51 Formula Ford in 1968…

One of the great film directors of our time has had an extraordinary life full of controversy, see this link for a concise bio and filmography for you movie buffs; http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000591/

That year he moved to Hollywood to make the psychological thriller ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and then had the horrific experience of wife Sharon Tate’s murder by the Manson Family in 1969.

Quite how John Webb bagged him for the day who knows, no doubt it was a promotional coup for the category in its fledgling phase- 1967 to 2018 and still going strong! Long may it continue.

Photo Credit…

Bill Ray

Tailpiece: I wonder how good his times were?…

 

 

image

Mrs Montgomerie-Charrington prepares her Cooper for the Ladies 500 Race at Brands Hatch, 14 October 1950 …

‘Monty’ was unplaced in the race won by Miss E Store in a JBS Norton from the Miss O Kevelos driven Kieft Norton and the Mrs J Gerard, Bob’s missus I guess, Cooper Norton. Funny the social practice of the times in terms of citing the matrimonial status of the chicks.

There were five 500 races on the program- Don Parker won the Open Challenge race, and JN Cooper, using his product to good effect was second in the Brands Hatch Championship and third in the Championship of The Meeting event.

Click here for a short article about ‘Monty’ and her husband Robin, the cars usual driver;

http://www.500race.org/web/Men/MontgomerieCharrington.htm

And on Cooper 500’s;

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/08/cooper-mk-v-jap-penguin-hillclimb-tasmania-australia-1958/

Credits…

Bill Price for the photo and Stephen Dalton for providing the race results from his vast archive