Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

Terence James Trowell was an incredibly talented writer and graphic designer/illustrator.
‘Jet Black, Racing Driver’ was one of his many accomplishments, its excellence made easy for him as a lifetime car nut and race fan.
Google is such a tricky little minx, sometimes you can give her a tickle and get the result anticipated, on other occasions you nibble her ears much the same way you did a couple of days before and she surprises you with her secrets, this is one of those happy occasions.
I’d never heard of Terry Trowell until Tuesday night. His was a shortish but full, fascinating life. Many thanks to Kevin Patrick, this article is the GTAm ‘allegerita-modificato’ version of his Trowell profile in Comics Down Under of March 12, 2010.
Born in Katanning, in Western Australia’s south-west on September 4 1918, Trowell’s formative childhood years were in Malaya where his father was a mining engineer in Ipoh, Perak. He returned to Australia in 1926, boarding at Perth’s Guildford Grammar. At 20, after studying journalism at the UWA he returned to Malaya as a journalist on The Straits Times.

Having returned home in 1940, Trowell enlisted in the Australian Army in July 1942, where his unique skills as an artist with personal experience and knowledge of the Asia-Pacific region, earmarked him for military service with such specialised branches as Operational Intelligence, the Allied Intelligence Bureau and Z-Force, a special operations commando unit which undertook dangerous missions behind Japanese lines. Trowell’s duties included topography, map-making and interrogating prisoners of war in Malaya at the end of hostilities.

Discharged with the rank of corporal in July 1946, Terry travelled to England where he studied art before going to France where he worked as a freelance artist. He returned to Perth in 1948, via the United States. Back home he created a series of murals for several hospitals, hotels and commercial buildings and was then commissioned to illustrate a series of social studies books documenting Western Australian history, the first volume, Early Days of W.A. Towns, was published in 1949.

The following year, he moved to Melbourne with his wife, Patricia Powell, a school teacher studying music and training to be a concert pianist. This was the beginning of his involvement in Australia’s then-booming comic book industry. During 1950/1951 he was a freelance writer and illustrator for Atlas Publications, a Melbourne company which scored early commercial success with the superhero comic Captain Atom.

Trowell’s first series for them was The Grey Domino, a masked vigilante described as “the hooded nemesis of crime”, which debuted in 1951. His storylines were set in exotic locales and featured glamourous women and implacable rogues and were illustrated with great skill – a creative combination for success.

For his next series, Terry inherited a cowboy comic titled The Ghost Rider, a wandering cowboy who dons a black mask to become ‘The Ghost Rider’, whenever trouble looms. Trowell’s work on The Ghost Rider marked a significant advance in his ability as a comic book storyteller.

In 1952 Terry returned to Perth where he established an art studio, but he continued to work as a freelancer for Atlas Publications on The Grey Domino, The Ghost Rider and Rhino Beresford, released by Atlas in 1957. Accompanied by his loyal aide and ‘gun-boy’, M’Bolo, (in most politically incorrect fashion for this day and age), the phlegmatic British hunter, Major Beresford, is known and respected throughout French Equatorial Africa as ‘Bwana Kifaru’ (‘Master Rhino’), able to best any man or beast in the jungle.

Trowell was appointed Art Director of Modern Motor in 1956, published by Modern Magazines Pty. Ltd., a company which also produced Modern Boating and Australian Cricket. Capitalising on his new employers size, he re-entered the comic book market, creating Jet Black – Racing Driver (11 issues), which took its bow in 1958.

Jet Black was a former World War II fighter pilot, who is now the number one driver for the Cougar Racing Team, managed by his wartime colleague, George Faversham. Accompanied by Jet’s girlfriend, Rusty Redd, the trio became entangled in foreign intrigue wherever they went on the racing circuit.

Terry seems to have taken his inspiration from the real ‘JB’ who had not long before joined Cooper Racing, although Cougar Racing was in decline, which Cooper most certainly was not at that stage anyway!

‘Drama is maintained and racing interrupted with a steady stream of villains and beautiful female Interpol agents while a good pair of fists is as useful as a four-wheel drift’ observed ‘Repco 22’ on The Nostalgia Forum.

Modern Magazines was keen to align Jet Black with its racing publication. Trowell’s richly painted covers were adorned with the blurb, ‘Modern Motor presents Jet Black’, while the comic featured text stories and photos taken from Modern Motor, profiling contemporary racing drivers and their cars.

‘The inside back covers offered photos and news of current happenings in the real racing world and there were board games featuring famous circuits on the back page’ Repco 22 adds. It was ‘Altogether a delightful package. A pity it only ran to thirteen issues but American comics were being dumped cheaply on the Australian market and our (comics) industry drew to a sudden halt.’

 

In 1956/7, despite being in Sydney, Terry and his brother John were on the Western Australian Sporting Car Club organising committee of the 1957 AGP held at Caversham that March. His skill as a graphic designer is shown in the suite of material he created for the race which extended to signage, tickets, the program and promotional material.

Trowell also designed a series of full-colour ‘Famous Racers’ posters and ‘Race Games’, depicting well-known circuits which were printed on the comic’s back covers. Each issue of Jet Black was endorsed by the publisher as “an original story, based on authentically drawn scenes and cars, which is both entertaining and educational for readers of all ages.”

At this stage Terry also produced three issues of the True Western comic book series for Modern Magazines. These comics, titled Truth about Jesse James, Truth about Custer’s Last Stand and Killer Marshal – Truth about Wyatt Earp, were factual accounts of famous figures from America’s ‘Wild West’ era.
‘Trowell’s other major comic for Modern Magazines was the offbeat, one-shot title, Purple People Eater. Taking its name from the popular song recorded by Sheb Wooley in 1958, Purple People Eater was a freewheeling romp of a comic, full of space aliens, a hip-swivelling Elvis look-alike, beatniks and a spear-wielding witchdoctor that not only defied description, but mirrored some of the best satirical comic strips then appearing in America’s famous Mad Magazine.’

Lindsay Ross ‘Kerry Cox lights up the retreads on the Paramount Ford out of Newry Corner, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos.com)

Aha! A sidebar. So the nickname of the ‘Krazy Kerry’ Cox famous Paramount Jaguar Spl aka ‘Purple Petrol Eater’, was nicked from either the pop song or Terry’s comic!
Cox was an immensely popular driver amongst his peers and spectators alike, his sportscar was one of Tasmania’s most iconic sixties racing cars.
In 1960 Terry returned to Western Australia, to establish ‘Trowell Purdon Advertising’. He entered the television industry in 1960, working for the Australian Broadcasting Commission for whom he appeared in a children’s television program to use puppets for on-air drawing lessons. He joined J. Gibney & Sons Art Studio as chief illustrator and designer in 1962.
Sadly, his life was cut short on 23 October 1964, when he died from a war-related medical condition. ‘While the history of Australian comics is all the poorer for his untimely death, Terry Trowell nonetheless left behind a significant body of work which entertained countless readers and enriched the comic book medium.’

(HRCCT)

Cox built the Paramount Ford together with Norm Nott, the machines’ chassis was based on the tubular chassis of a Paramount Ford, a British low volume car of the early to mid fifties.
Rather than the puny Ford Consul 1508 cc four, power was provided by a Ford Customline V8 with ‘mechanical bits donated from more than a dozen makes’ wrote Ellis French. The body, which was constructed mainly of fibreglass was laid out and formed over chicken wire as shown in the photograph above.

(Reg Dalwood via HRCCT)

Great shot of Cox blasting the Paramount Ford away from Longford village, he is about to jump the railway line and then charge along Tannery Straight. The shot below is more like Kerry, a very fast driver of great exuberance and skill, Symmons Plains circa 1965.

(HRCCT)

Ellis French tells us once Kerry moved on to the Le Mans Jaguar the Petrol Eater was sold to Ralph Terry before ultimately ending up on the northwest coast of Tassie, perhaps East Devonport, with a replica appearing at Symmons Plains circa 2010.
Credits…
Tailpiece…
Finito…

(Jones Family)

Greg McEwin’s Mac Healey towards the top of Collingrove Hillclimb, Barossa Valley, South Australia in 1958…

I first became aware of historic racing in the mid-seventies attending of the Sandown 400 touring car endurance race, the support program at that stage included some events for ‘Historics’, this was before the defining first all historic meeting at Amaroo Park in 1976.

Various cars are etched into my brain from those times including Bob Jane’s Jaguar D Type and Maserati 300S raced by Jim Shepherd and Harry Firth, the Leech brothers Maserati 300S and Cisitalia. At many of the historic meetings which followed Roger Wells’ Mac Healey was very much front of house for what seemed like decades. I’ve not seen it for a while, the late Alex Reid was the last owner I recall.

(Jones Family)

The car started its life in South Australia, ignoring its country of birth. It was one of a batch of 1954 Healeys bound for Adelaide from Melbourne but caught fire enroute. Peter De Mac bought the remains with the intention of creating a Jaguar powered special, but his friend, Greg McEwin, swapped the Healey 100 he was racing for the bundle of bits.

He decided to create a single-seater removing the front and rear bulkheads and outriggers leaving the central box-section of the chassis plus the front suspension components and the rear spring brackets. He and De Mac created a body from aluminium and fibreglass. Initially the mechanicals were left in standard specification but the engine and gearbox were moved back eleven inches.

The car made its competition  debut at Collingrove in 1955 painted a nice hue of mid-blue, progressively the machine was modified to enhance its competitiveness. The engine’s capacity was increased to just under 3 litres, the cylinder head was modified, larger 2 inch SU carbs and extractors were part of the package, as was a more suitable gearbox. After trying an Austin Gypsy four wheel drive unit and a Morris LD5, a four speed Austin A90 box was adopted for a while before being replaced by a Austin Champ 4WD transmission.

McEwin’s Mac Healey alongside Austin Miller’s Cooper Climax at Port Wakefield, circa 1958 (K Drage)

 

Front suspension detail at Collingrove (Jones Family)

McEwin eventually sold it, the car ended up in Sydney where it ran as a ‘Division’ car modified further by fitment of a Holden Grey motor, front discs and a four-speed MG gearbox.

Sydney Healey enthusiast Roger Wells acquired it in 1971, he popped it into storage before running it once or twice around 1974 and then started the process of restoring it to original specifications as the historic scene gained momentum. He competed regularly until 1988 when he sold it, Melbourne Healey man, Alex Reid was the purchaser  via another owner who didn’t use it.

Once Reid had a good look he realised Mac Healey needed another rebuild around replacement chassis rails. All of the existing hardware was removed, refurbished and refitted to the new chassis inclusive of incorporating a central front crossmember as originally fitted. The body was retained and tidied up, an Healey100S type box was used with the machine making its debut in 1998 driven by Graeme Marks, i’ve lost touch of the current owner?

Collingrove 1958 (Jones Family)

 

Roger Wells at Winton in 1982.

Credits…

Robert Jones via Steve Jones ‘Jones Family Archive’, Kevin Drage, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Finito…

(ANU)

Jack Burton aboard his Vauxhall 30-98 in the Gambier Ranges during his 2,889 mile drive across Australia, from Fremantle to Sydney between December 8-14 1923…

He and Bill Bradley were hoping to do the transcontinental journey in five days but a crash in a deep hole in Meningie necessitated repairs which cost the pair twelve hours of valuable time. They still bagged a new record of six days, 15 hours and 57 minutes, 39 hours less than the previous record and in so doing they also set new marks for Fremantle to Adelaide and Fremantle to Melbourne.

The reputation of these mighty Vauxhalls as robust, beautifully built machines was polished yet again, this car had already done over 40,000 miles in previous attempts.

‘Daily Telegraph’ 15 December 1923

Burton was the husband of famous Australian equestrian, Emma Roach, whilst based in Sydney they travelled the continent to agricultural shows where Roach plied her trade whilst Burton worked in car sales and as a motoring writer. Along the way he was involved in a number of record breaking drives in the pioneering days of motoring in this earliest branch of motorsport in Oz. See here for a feature on this important aspect of Australian motoring history; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/21/city-to-city-record-breaking-and-car-trials/

 

Hi-ho Silver, giddy-up (ANU)

Credits…

Sydney Daily Telegraph 15 December 1923, The Mercury, Hobart 15 December 1923, Dunlop, Australian National University

Tailpiece…

(ANU)

Finito…

(P Vestey)

A cold, snowy and wet Ferrari 250LM sits out front of the Hotel des Alpes, Aosta, between Courmayeur and the Mont Blanc Tunnel in 1968, this establishment is now closed.

Paul Vestey’s car is on its way back to the United Kingdon, or perhaps heading direct to Le Mans from Piero Drogo’s Carozzeria Sports Cars in Modena, via Emilia Ovest  524, near the old Autodromo. The tow vehicle is a Mercedes 250SE, either belonging to Paul Vestey or his friend and motor trader Don Parker.

These shots popped up whilst doing a ‘Getty Images Le Mans 1968’ search. I’m certainly not the first to post them, the story goes something like this, with thanks to DC Nye, whilst noting that some of the conclusions drawn are mine and therefore, so too are any errors.

Paul Vestey acquired 250LM ‘6167’ from Maranello Concessionaires in September 1967, after a successful life in the hands of Richard Attwood and Mike Parkes earlier in the year, to run throughout the 1968 endurance season.

In the early laps of the Targa Florio, his co-driver, David Piper, lost the car, probably after a steering arm parted company with the balance of the front suspension assembly, whereupon said vehicle tripped over a stone roadside marker and ended up, tit over arse, in a field about 50 feet below. Nye’s MotorSport article relates an amusing tale of Piper being fed some wonderful tucker by the owners whose real estate he smote, whilst the balance of the race was completed!

Targa 1968, ‘6167’ before the off in Cerda (unattributed)

 

Cripes, what a mess, or words to that general effect. David Piper surveys his ‘walk on the wild side’ into a Sicilian field, the morning after the day before. Paul Vestey took the shot from the point at which Piper left the road (P Vestey/GP Library)

 

It doesn’t look any better up close (P Vestey/GP Library)

 

Franco Zucchi, British racer F3 ace and occasional F1 driver Tony Lanfranchi and Piper ponder pre-Le Mans repairs (P Vestey/GP Library)

The wreck was dragged up to road level by the teams transporter with a bit of additional assistance from British racer Tony Lanfranchi, who co-drove Mark Konig’s Nomad Mk1 Ford in the race, and looked quite a sad and sorry sight.

Shortly thereafter Vestey acquired George Drummond’s sister 250LM rolling chassis ‘6053’ into which ‘6167’s engine and gearbox were fitted at Piero Drogo’s workshop in time for him to co-drive with Roy Pike at Le Mans, where, Nye notes, the salvaged transaxle broke.

This is the repaired car ‘6053’ heading back in the direction of the UK in the care of Paul Vestey, who took the photographs, and Don Parker.

(P Vestey/GP Library)

Oh yes, what became of ‘6167’ you ask? The ‘Barchetta’ website records that the original chassis remains, left at Carozzeria Cars were sold to Stefano Sebastiani, a Roman in April 1969 with a new chassis and body built by Franco Ferrari in 1992.

Final exchange on price, extra unanticipated additional work and all that kind of stuff between Paul Vestey and Piero Drogo above before the off and lunch in The Alps- Modena to Courmayeur is 400 km, a four to five hour tow i guess.

This set of panels are fibreglass unlike the hand formed aluminium originals.

 

Tony Lanfranchi, BRM P261, Oulton Park Gold Cup, August 1968. He was fifth in the 2 litre V8 engined car behind four 3 litre machines, Jackie Stewart won in a Matra MS10 Ford

Etcetera: Tony Lanfranchi…

Gee, i really did a flashback when i saw the photograph of Tony Lanfranchi, the very first motor racing book i ever had was an X-Mas stocking filler from Santa, bless the old fella, circa 1967.

The wonderful book has a shot of Tony, his psychedelic helmet caught my eye and mind, so much so that my first Bell Star was subjected to the same treatment a decade later, so i always followed his career and must get a copy of his book.

Tony Lanfranchi, Mike Spence and Jack Brabham in the 1968 publication ‘Car Sports Book’,

 

Lanfranchi lifts the singer ‘Lulu’ into a Lotus 51 Formula Ford at Brands Hatch in February 1967, she had just failed her road licence test, no doubt Tony knocked her into shape

Of Swiss extraction but Yorkshire born, Lanfranchi was a ‘doyen’ of British national racing, all the way up to non-championship F1 mind you, he was no slouch behind the wheel at all, of anything; single-seaters, sports cars and taxis.

He died of cancer in 2004, i like this tribute from MotorSport ‘He was the archetypal racing driver of yesteryear- booze, birds and cars, though in which order of priority was always up for debate.’

Tony aboard a Lola T140 Chev at Brands Hatch early in 1969, must be a Libre race, it does not appear to be a Guards F5000 round (unattributed)

Credits…

Paul Vestey, GP Library, Alamy, ‘VIP Hospitality at the Targa Florio’ Doug Nye in MotorSport June 2009, Marcel Massini, Miki Paki, barchetta.cc, ‘Car Sports Book’ Young World Productions 1968, Getty Images

Tailpiece…

What a lovely bit of kit the Nomad Mk1 Lotus-Ford is. Here at Targa in 1968 at the start.

The car was designed by ex-Lotus man Bob Curl, it has a spaceframe chassis and a body built in aluminium by Williams and Pritchard, it was very quick in endurance events in the UK and Europe in 1969 and still exists.

Finito…

Garrie Cooper exported a couple of Elfin sportscars to South Africa in the mid-sixties, both of which were competitive cars. It would be interesting to know how many of the great Edwardstown outfits products left our shores?

The shot above shows the brand spankers Elfin Mallala Ford Cosworth having perhaps its first run at Roy Hesketh, in June 1964 M Lester having a good look at the Smiths tell-tale to ensure Henri le Roux hasn’t buzzed the fresh motor. G Goetzer looks on at left.

The Mallala was essentially a sports version of the Catalina single-seater, five cars were built and delivered between December 1962 and March 1964, Henri’s car, chassis ‘S6418’ was the last of these.

The car sang for its supper immediately, Le Roux entered it in the 1964 South African Sports Car Championship, his first event was the Republic Day Races at Kyalami on 6 June where he won his class and finished second outright. The race report observed ‘Henri le Roux’s Australian Elfin Mallala with Cosworth Ford engine was most impressive and will certainly be a car to watch, though the final drive ratio was wrong and he reached peak revs early in the straight instead of near the end’ a malady rather easy to fix with a Hewland gearbox of course.

Henri raced the car at Kyalami, Roy Hesketh, East London, Killarney and Lourenco Marques with his best results first in class at Kyalami in June, second outright at Laurenco in July and third in class at the Rand GP meeting at Kyalami in December. By 1967 the car was owned and raced by Joss Viljoen, Stephen Knox brought the car back to Australia in the eighties.

Henri le Roux, Elfin Mallala Ford, circuit unknown, assistance welcome. Beautiful shot (R Winslade)

 

McGillewie Elfin 300 Climax at Roy Hesketh 1968- first place in the 15 April SA SCC race

Perhaps the pace of the Mallala inspired Garth McGillewie to acquire the second of seven Elfin 300s built. Chassis ‘SS67-5’ was completed by Elfins in September 1967 and shipped to South Africa shortly thereafter.

Durban motor trader McGillewie, with a careful eye on the local and international class structure, fitted his machine with a 2-litre Coventry Climax FPF four-cylinder engine and five speed Hewland transaxle.

Barry Catford wrote ‘…this car was shipped to South Africa where it performed exceptionally well in the hands of Garth McGillewie, holding many records in its category for some years. In the Capetown 3 Hour race the Elfin finished fourth outright behind a Ferrari P4 and two 6-litre Lola GTs. During the Rand 9 Hour race, driver Tony Jeffries shadowed the Ford GT40s until he was forced to retire after colliding with Frank Gardner and Mike Spence. The Elfin went on to take out the 1968 South African Sports Car Championship.’ McGillewie bought at Chevron B8 to replace the Elfin.

‘The car was later restored for a subsequent owner, Ron Watt of Zimbabwe, by Ivan Glasby who was responsible for returning the car to Australia some years later’ Catford concludes.

(M Hall Collection)

Etcetera: Elfin Exports…

My inquisitive nature usually gets the better of me. Having posed the question as to Elfins exported, i think the number of Garrie Cooper Elfins sold overseas when built is 15 cars of 264 built, the first of which was the Le Roux Mallala.

My methodology was to add the production numbers in the Catford/Blanden book then list those which were exported viz;

1964: Mallala ‘S6418’ Henri le Roux, South Africa

1967: 400 ‘BB67-4’ Andy Buchanan, New Zealand, 300 ‘SS67-4’ Chuck Krueger USA, 300 ‘SS67-5’ Garth McGillewie South Africa

1969: 600C ‘6910’ Hengkie Iriawan Indonesia, Ford FVA engined

1970: 600B ‘7015’ Teddy Yip Macau, 600FF ‘70005’ David Oxton New Zealand, 600FF ‘70009’ Frohlich Golding & Co South Africa

1973: 620FF ‘73421’ Dante Silverio, Toyota engine fitted Philippines, 622 ‘73422’ Dante Silverio Toyota engine Philippines

1974: 620/BFF ‘73430’ Mike Hall USA, ‘73432’, ‘73433’ and ‘73434’ all USA, seemingly Chuck Jones Racing

1977: MR8A-C ‘8783’ Vern Schuppan USA (i appreciate he isn’t American but he was an Oz International then so i am treating the car as such- it bombed in the Can-Am and was also raced in F5000 guise in Oz

So, fifteen cars, as always, happy for input.

(M Hall Collection)

Mike Hall was Elfin’s man on the ground in the US for a bit and i really must give him a call. Elfin 620FF American style, the Americans were running on the same Goodyear slicks we were at the time so the suspension should have worked nicely.

Interesting for FF buffs is that Larry Perkins debuted the 620 in the UK Formula Ford Festival in late 1972 doing well enough at Snetterton to launch his international career- that chassis returned to Oz.

(M Hall Collection)

Bibliography…

‘Australia’s Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ Barry Catford and John Blanden, ‘Hieronymus’ on The Nostalgia Forum

Credits…

Roy Hesketh Circuit Heritage, Richard Winslade, Michael Hall Collection

Tailpiece…

(Roy Hesketh Circuit Heritage)

Jos Viljoen’s Elfin Mallala Ford alongside Ray Emond’s Lola Mk1 Ford on the Roy Hesketh grid during the Easter 1967 long weekend.

Finito…

When I think of the pioneers of mid-engined racing cars, it’s always the Auto Unions of the thirties which pop most readily into my mind, but that does the 1923 Benz Tropfenwagen a huge disservice.

Dr Edmund Rumpler’s ‘Tropfenwagen’ (teardrop vehicle) was the hit of the 1921 Berlin Motor Show, it was said to resemble a Zeppelin Airship. Rumpler’s aeronautical design in particular and automotive experience went back to 1903, click here for more and Rumpler and the significance of this design; http://8w.forix.com/rear-engines-prewar.html

Rumpler 10-50 PS 1925

 

Mice have well and truly attacked those chassis longerons, making something which would have never been stiff positively flaccid- fuel tank forward and engine and gearbox aft must have given the pit pundits of the day something to ponder- the opposite of existing orthodoxy (GP Library)

The car had low drag coefficient of 0.28, a rear engined layout and independent suspension. Benz’ Berlin representative and future Auto Union Team Manager Willy Walb could see the potential of the design concepts when applied to a racing car. ‘Benz obtained the reproduction rights for this car immediately’ according to Mercedes Benz. In 1922 Chief Engineer Hans Nibel led a team which designed and developed the Benz ‘Type RH’.

The chassis was of the period typical ladder frame type, it was ‘underslung’ resulting in the racers low build.  Nibel specified a six-cylinder, two litre, DOHC, 12 valve motor of 1991cc, fed by two Zenith carburetors the unsupercharged motor gave about 90 bhp @ 5,000 rpm. The Benz had a three speed gearbox behind the engine with a diff which was attached to the frame, short halfshafts with universal joints provided the drive to the rear wheels. Leonard Setright accords the car the honour of having the first independent rear suspension of any racing car. Brakes were inboard at the rear, outboard at the front with supreme streamlining of course- the machine had a rounded nose, a tapering tail and a radiator which sat proud of the rear bodywork, aft of the driver mimicking some early seventies F1 airboxes.

Franz Horner, Benz Tropfenwagen, Monza- cars said to handle very well but lacked power sans supercharger

 

(GP Library)

Whilst four cars were commenced in 1922 they were not completed until the following year ‘due to the economical situation at the time’ Mercedes wrote. Finally ready, the design only contested one major race, the 9 September 1923 Grand Prix of Europe at Monza, attended by the most enormous crowd.

Drivers were Willy Walb, Franz Horner and Fernando Minoia. The pace up front was set by the Fiats and Millers but the unconventional cars finished fourth and fifth- Minoia from Horner but both were 4 laps adrift of the winners. Walb’s machine had engine troubles.

The race was won by Carlo Salamano from Felice Nazzaro in Fiat 805s powered by Tipo 405 eight cylinder, supercharged, DOHC, two-valve, 2 litre motors- the winner covered the 80 laps of the 6.214 mile course in 5 hours 27 minutes 38.4 seconds. Jimmy Murphy was third in a Miller 122, over 5 minutes adrift of the victor, then came Minoia, Horner and Martin de Alsaga in another Miller.

It was an important race for the supercharged 146 bhp Fiat 405s given their French GP failures at Tours earlier in the year- the cars placed first and second establishing the dominance of supercharged engines in the sport until Ferrari challenged the orthodoxy with their 4.5 litre V12 normally aspirated 375 in 1951.

The five hour race was not an exciting one. The 120 bhp Miller straight eight, normally aspirated, DOHC, two-valve 122s were nowhere near as quick as the Fiats and the Benz’s were further back again, nonetheless to have two of the three new cars entered finish the long race was a portent of greater performance in the future with development.

The three Benz RH lined up at Monza- Franz Horner at left #13 Willy Walb and #1 Fernando Minoia (Mercedes Benz)

 

The front two cars of Minoia and Bordino are not shown- the light coloured car is the Avions Voisin of Eugenio Silvani and on this side the #4 Rolland Polain of Albert Guyot, then Franz Horner ina Tropfenwagen on this side and  alongside perhaps Felice Nazzaro, Fiat 805- the strange looking car on the outside left of row two is one of the Voisins (Popperfoto)

 

Minoia at Monza in 1923, Tropfenwagen (Agence de presse Meurisse)

The cars were evolved, but not in the most critical manner. The rear brake drums changed from inboard into a more conventional location within the wheel hubs, the cars were also fitted ‘with a new dropped rigid steering stub axle instead of the straight front axle’- the translation from German to English seems to have suffered here!- i’ve no idea what that means. Most importantly, a supercharger was not fitted…

From 1923 a sports version was built which also competed in races and trials as well as the GP machines, but as dly, post Monza 1923 the cars were deployed in minor events only.

Horner was fifth in a hillclimb at Solitude in 1924, Walb won others at Konigstuhl and Freiberg in 1925. Future Mercedes works driver Rosenberger was quickest at Herkules. The car also did well in races held to open Opel’s new test track, Tigler won a ten lap event.

Rosenberger’s winning run in the Rund um die Solitude on May 16 1925 was the cars last run ‘in period’, at which point the company returned to building conventional cars. It’s worth noting that Benz & Cie and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft formally merged after two years of cooperation into Daimler-Benz on 28 June 1926, their joint automotive products called Mercedes-Benz.

Ferdinand Porsche was appointed Technical Director of Daimler in 1923, there is little doubt he took a long hard look at the Tropfenwagen design and used some of its concepts in his later Auto Unions.

Etcetera…

 

(Mercedes Benz)

What an enormous crowd.

That is a Miller 122 amongst the masses in the foreground- three of them were entered and driven by Murphy, Martin de Alsaga and Louis Zborowski.

Benz up the road a bit surrounded by another big crowd.

Such a distinctive shape for the time- it is a shame that the machines were not supercharged which would have gone most of the way to bridging the gap to the dominant Fiats of the day- click here for a piece on those epochal Fiats; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/22/fiat-806-gp-1927/

Overhead shot shows the location of major components, the 130 litre fuel tank up front must have given the crews pause for thought.

Inline six, three speed gearbox and differential behind it and swing axle rear suspension, 4.53 metres long, 1.58 metres wide, wheelbase 2.78 metres and a quoted weight of 750 kg.

(Mercedes Benz)

 

That is the radiator mounted forward and above the rear wheels.

Ignore that though and take in the ‘pure tear-drop’ shape as it tapers from front to rear.

Great rear suspension detail- swing axles, notice the inner pivots alongside the diff and leaf springs which are performing locational duties and are inwardly inclined where they bolt at their inner ends to the engine. Note too the curvy radiator overhead.

The originality of the thing takes your breath away really.

(Mercedes Benz)

 

Carefully posed shot at Monza with probably the three drivers and two of the technicians- perhaps Franz Horner at left then Fernando Minoia on the other side of the car and in front Willy Walb.

Induction side of the engine with the two Zenith carbs prominent- note the inner spring mount under the carb closest to us.

The six cylinder, gear driven DOHC, two valve Type ‘Bz 6516’ engine is of built up construction- steel cylinders with welded on steel water jackets, the cylinder head is fixed, welded to the cylinders.The crankshaft is Hirth type and has seven main, roller bearings. Notice how the front section of the crankcase spans the chassis longitudinal members.

The bore and stroke are 65 x 100 mm, 1997 cc, one spark plug per cylinder, Bosch magneto ignition, compression ratio 5.8:1. Maximum power 90 bhp @ 5000 rpm with a maximum rev limit of 5,400 rpm.

(Mercedes Benz)

 

 

Exhaust side of the engine.

 

(Mercedes Benz)

Minoia on the inside of two Fiat 805 on the first lap of the Monza race.

And below in the pits, note the additional small radiator alongside the driver, which is shown more clearly in the final photograph in this piece below.

(Mercedes Benz)

 

Steering is worm and nut, front suspension by rigid axle, leaf springs and friction shock absorbers. Wire wheels of course, 105 cm in diameter with mechanically operated drum brakes all around, initially inboard at the rear.

Bibliography…

‘The GP Benz Tropfenwagen’ Bill Boddy in September 1986 MotorSport, ‘Benz Tropfenwagen’ in grandprixhistory.org, Mercedes Benz public archive, ‘The Grand Prix Car’ Leonard Setright

Credits…

Brian Hatton, Popperfoto, GP Library, Mercedes Benz AG, Agence de presse Meurisse

Tailpiece: Fernando Minoia, Monza 1923…

Finito…

(T Marshall)

Bryan Faloon, Rorstan Mk1a Porsche during the 1971 New Zealand Grand Prix weekend, at Pukekohe, it’s practice, he didn’t race with gear selector problems, twelve months hence he died in this car…

Its strange the stuff buried in the back of your head, this racer and car are a couple of fragments of my earliest racing memories. By the summer of 1972 I was a motor racing fan even though I’d never been to a race meeting, my heroes were Kevin Bartlett and his Mildren Yellow Submarine and Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T- these attachments came via magazines.

Finally, i attended the Sandown Tasman meeting, the Australian Grand Prix that year. In anticipation of the big day I was keeping a close eye on my heroes Tasman progress via press reports with Sandown the second last of the eight rounds.

KB was going well in an ageing McLaren M10B Chev, the ex-Niel Allen 1971 NZ GP winning car was doing its third Tasman but Bartlett picked up points in three of the four rounds including a splendid wet weather win at Teretonga before heading back across the Tasman to Surfers Paradise for the first Australian round.

Things were not so hot at Team Lawrence however.

Graeme had a new Lola T300 Chev- arguably THE F5000 car of 1972 (McRae GM1 duly noted) so he looked a good bet to take on Hailwood, Gardner, Matich, McRae and the rest of the hotshots in the best cars. The machine was assembled in NZ with an initial sortie at  Baypark yielding a first race win and a DNF later in the day with fuel feed problems.

At the Pukekohe NZ GP Tasman Cup opener he started sixth on the grid about a second aft of McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev on pole but went right to the back of the field on the first lap when his feet and pedals in the tight Huntingdon tub got tangled, and ran on at the Lion Hairpin or he copped a tap up the chuff, depending upon the race account- he let the field go and then started a long climb back through the field.

Up front Frank Gardner in the works T300 took a lead he didn’t relinquish. By lap 52 Graeme and John McCormack, Elfin MR5 Repco had been in a torrid dice for 20 laps in a battle for eighth, and it was then that an awful racing accident occurred involving poor Bryan Falloon and Graeme, shown below.

(T Marshall)

Bruce Sergent described the accident thus ‘…Coming up the back straight on lap 52 Lawrence was slipstreamimg McCormack while Falloon, seeing the red Elfin bearing down on him, pulled to the left at the kink to let him through. At the same split second Lawrence pulled out of the slipstream to pass McCormack and ran into the back of the Stanton-Porsche at 155mph. The Stanton was launched headlong into an earth safety barrier, taking to the air before crashing down onto its wheels again. The Lola was cartwheeled down the track, totally disintegrating on the way. The Stanton looked intact while the Lola was totally wrecked. The head injuries Falloon sustained in the impact proved fatal. Lawrence suffered broken legs, wrists and concussion.’

Back in Australia I read about the high speed accident which befell the Graeme and Bryan. Whilst relieved Lawrence would survive it was the first time I realised this racing caper sometimes goes horribly wrong.

So that incident and Bryan Falloon’s name have been in the back of my brain for decades, this batch of photos took me straight there- whilst I’ve seen a couple of photos of the T300 but I’d never seen a photo of the Rorstan aka Stanton Porsche before- what an interesting car it was too.

Rorstan Racing was a partnership of quarry and truck fleet owner Ian Rorison and Tauranga car dealer Feo Stanton, they had run a number of older cars for a variety of drivers for years, Bryan took the ride prior to the 1970 Tasman.

The car was one of eleven chassis built by Bob Britton on the Brabham BT23 jig he created when asked to prepare the ex-Denny Hulme Brabham BT23-5 Ford FVA  F2 car destroyed in another awful Pukekohe crash in 1968- Denny collided with local racer Lawrence Brownlie, destroying Brownlie’s Brabham, causing him grievous injuries and ending his career prematurely but not instantly in a prang many regard as not exactly Hulme’s finest moment.

The Rorstan Partners bought the wreck sans engine and sent it to Sydney for repair and received back a new BT23 copy they called Rorstan Mk1, chassis number ‘RMR1’ to which they initially fitted a Coventry Climax FPF 2.5 four cylinder engine.

Britton’s own copies were called ‘Rennmax BN3’, Alec Mildren’s ‘Mildren’, whatever the name the cars were built by Britton at Rennmax Engineering using the ‘BT23-5’ jig.

Australian enthusiast/historian Terry Sullivan has written an interesting story on the Rorstan Partners cars and drivers on ‘The Roaring Season’, click here; http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?1824-RORSTAN-TASMAN-SERIES-RACER

For 1969 Rorstan engaged Jim Palmer to drive the machine on the basis that it was to be powered by a 2.5 litre Repco V8 but he exited stage left when it became apparent the car was to be Climax FPF powered- its days were long since past as a competitive Tasman engine.

Dennis Marwood then took the drive, with prior Cooper T66 Climax experience in 1966-1967, he was well aware of the challenge and achieved little in the way of results retiring from the Levin and Wigram rounds. Marwood too decamped, out of the fat and into the flames one might say, in the shape of a fairly agricultural old F5000 Eisert JE67 Chev owned by Ian Rorison.

Bryan Faloon was then approached to drive the Rorstan Climax, he had experience of the demanding 2.5 litre cars aboard an old ex-Stillwell Brabham BT4 Climax in some 1968 and 1969 NZ Tasman rounds. Bryan struggled against a 1970 field of good depth and breadth- a fast mix of 2 litre, 2.5 litre and 5 litre cars.

He was seventh and tenth at Wigram and Teretonga with DNFs in the other two rounds, both due to engine problems at Levin and Pukekohe.

Graeme Lawrence, Ferrari 246T, Max Stewart, Mildren Waggott, Kevin Bartlett, Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott and then Bryan Faloon, Rorstan Mk1 Climax at the Levin hairpin 1970- Lawrence won from Stewart and Frank Matich, McLaren M10A Chev (T Marshall)

Without funds to buy a new car the Rorstan partners parted ways. Feo Stanton then looked at alternative more competitive engines and decided upon a Porsche flat-six from Alan Hamilton, racer and head of Porsche Cars Australia- from that point the car was known as the Stanton 1 Porsche.

Alan picks up the story ‘We assisted Feo Stanton in the purchase of the Type 771 8 cylinder engine from our Porsche 906 along with a large amount of spare parts.’

‘The type 771 engine was developed from Porsche’s attempt at Formula 1 participation. They first modified an
RSK sports car to be a central seater for the then new Formula 2 still using the 1.5 litre 4 cylinder quad cam engine. This car then developed into an open wheel F2 car with the cooling system modified to a horizontal fan on the air-cooled 4 cylinder engine.’

‘In the meantime, Porsche were working on a completely new 1.5 litre, 8 cylinder engine to use in the new F1. Dan Gurney won the French GP and the GP of the Solitude circuit (a non championship race) with this car/engine combination, known as the Porsche Type 804.’

‘Whilst the 1.5 litre version of the engine was retired into history, it spawned the development of its bigger sisters in 2 litre and 2.2 litre capacities. These engines were very successful winning in both under 2 litres, over 2 litres and prototype categories.’

‘My original ‘Bergspyder’ 906-007, ran at the Targa Florio as a 2 litre, 8 cylinder prototype, finishing second overall.’

‘These engines in both 2 and 2.2 litre capacities were used in the Type 907. It should be remembered that in those days, our premier formula was for F5000 cars but the regulations also provided for racing cars with pure race engines of a maximum capacity of 2 litres.’

(T Marshall)

Bobby Britton did all the chassis modifications necessary to fit the engine. The engines were quite complex being the
ultimate development of the original 4 cylinder, quad cam Carrera engine. Just the setting up of the bevel gear drive camshafts took a long time. The factory used to allow about 240 hours to assemble an engine from scratch.’

‘I’m sure that the first race for the car was at Sandown and some of my staff and I joined Feo’s team to watch practice. Bryan Faloon was Feo’s accomplished driver and we all watched as Bryan commenced his first laps. At the start of the second or third lap, a great plume of oil smoke belched from the car as it went past the old pit area between Shell Corner and the start of the back straight. We all kept thinking that Bryan would see the smoke and stop but the trail continued up the back straight, around Dandenong Road corner and onto the main straight, continuing into the paddock area.’

‘My specialist mechanic, Eddy Hackel, quickly removed the oil filter and found it full of bearing material. There was a quick conference with confirmation that we had spare bearings etc, and the decision was made that Eddy and I would try to rebuild the engine in time for the race.’

‘Porsche racing engines were not only air cooled but also oil cooled. They circulate a vast amount of oil compared to conventional race engines. Not only were the oil pipes between the engine and the cooler too small, they had also not been swaged. These restrictions had caused the oil hoses to dislodge from the steel tubes. Never having had any experience with this type of engine, Eddy and I managed to totally dismantle and reassemble the engine overnight and get it back to Sandown in time to be put in the car for the race. I have no recollection of what happened in the race or even if the car raced at the meeting.’

The car missed the first 1971 Tasman round at Levin, had gear selector problems prior to the NZ Grand Prix and failed to start- and also missed the last two rounds at Wigram and Teretonga, that is, entered but did not start.

Hamilton, ‘Subsequently, in the 1972 NZ Grand Prix, Bryan, driving the Stanton Porsche and Graeme Lawrence, driving an F5000, collided, with Graeme sustaining critical injuries. Bryan’s car finished up in the in-field, somewhat out of sight over a rise. When rescuers approached, it was clear that Bryan was dead, probably from the first impact with Graeme’s Lola, the engine was still running and the nose of the car was buried into a bank and a tree.’

‘I obtained the damaged car from Feo Stanton as I wanted the engine and transmission. The chassis went to a friend of mine who wanted to rebuild the car to it’s original condition, before the Porsche installation. The damaged body was given to ‘Women For Wheels’ for fire-fighting practice.’

‘And finally, what happened to the engine? In the rebuilding of the engine after the Sandown incident, Eddy and I discovered that it was really a 2.2 litre unit with around 285 hp. This engine complete with the type 907 transmission was sold to Pat Burke who had purchased the ‘Bingham Cobra’, my original 906-007 1965 Targa Florio factory Porsche.’

‘Pat had also purchased from me, a new 771 engine but without the air cooling ducting, the whole of the fuel injection system, exhaust system, generator and distributor. Pat had sent the Bingham Cobra to Bill Bradley Racing to restore 906-007 back to its Targa condition and now there were original engines available to complete the restoration. Pat had the restored car at one of the Adelaide F1 meetings before it was sold overseas.’

Follow this link for an article about Alan Hamilton and his Porsche sports-racers; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

The story/summary of all of the Rennmax BN3s, inclusive of the Rorstan is told here on Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com; https://www.oldracingcars.com/rennmax/bn3/

Bryan during the 1972 NZ GP weekend, Pukekohe (T Marshall)

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

Donn Anderson’s tribute to Bryan Faloon from the February 1972 issue of ‘Motorman’.

Photo and Other Credits…

Terry Marshall, Rorstan Racing thread piece by Terry Sullivan on ‘The Roaring Season’, oldracingcars.com, Classic Auto News, Stephen Dalton Collection

Special thanks to Alan Hamilton for his recollections

Tailpiece: Rorstan Climax…

(T Marshall)

Terry Marshall captures Bryan in a nice Rorstan Mk 1 Climax slide during the 3 January 1970 Levin Tasman round- DNF engine after 25 of the 63 laps, Graeme Lawrence won in his Ferrari 246T.

Bryan was a talented driver, with the Stanton Porsche better sorted it would have been fantastic to see what he could have achieved in New Zealand that summer of 1972, very sadly, at 28 years young the planets and gods were not aligned in his favour on 8 January.

Finito…

(JJ Dallinger)

I’ve long been of the view that one needs to see a racing car in the context of its time to be able to appreciate just how much it sat at the apex of engineering achievement of its time…

So that’s where I am going here. Trying to anyway.

Stuff is sometimes meant to be ‘doncha reckon?

I was looking for racers in a favourite hidey hole and came upon this magnificent photograph of an S Class, Art Deco styled ‘Spirit of Progress’ near Albury on the Victoria/New South Wales border in the early 1950’s.

Then Paul Cummins sent some magic Talbot-Lago T26C shots taken at Southport in 1955- Ken Richardson in Rex Taylor’s car, I popped the shot up a month or so ago.

(Cummins Archive)

 

(L Hemer)

On the same day, in response to seeing the S Class shot I sent him, our photographer buddy, Lynton Hemer sent his shot taken of ‘a couple of NSWGR Garratts north of Gosford dragging coal to Newcastle’ in 1967.

I was really surprised to see steam locos in Australia then, I thought we were all-electric close to town and diesel otherwise by that stage. At the same time I was fiddling about with the image of Jack below aboard one of his Tasman 2.5 mounts- BT22 Repco in front of the Wigram Hangars in, you guessed it, 1967.

How modern do both cars, roughly twenty years apart in conception, look in the context of, or in camparison with the trains?

Steam was at the end of a two hundred or so year reign, not a bad effort really, whilst the internal combustion engine, in its most edgy, racey form, was in the middle years of its era which will surely be at an end in ten years or so.

Then again, maybe I just have my hand on it and am merely seeking an excuse to use a couple of great non-racing car shots…

Context is everything my friends.

(Brabham Family)

Mind you, if i’m a smart-arse and some of those with strong knowledge of my inclinations may well agree with such a characterisation, the technology deployed in Jack’s 1967 Brabham is about the same or better than that used in Australia for our interstate train services NOW- none of yer ‘very high speed’ trains here that we have all travelled on in France, Italy, Japan and China.

Even the Brits with their high population densities managed better than 100 mph on my short commuter trip from Bourne End to London last year, ditto the Spaniards from San Sebastian to Barcelona, don’t even think about 100 mph plus here folks, we are well and truly rooted in train technology that Stephenson fella could relate to…

The NSW Trainlink diesel-electric ‘XPT’ entered service in 1982, the design was based on a Brit Rail High Speed Train- the current Paxman Valenta VP185 12 cylinder six-turbo engines develop 2001 horsepower. The things can theoretically do 125 mph but the tracks don’t allow it, the most recent accident in February 2020 cost the train’s driver and pilot their lives (NSW TrainLink)

I’m a big cheat really.

In 1967 that whilst Jack was sitting aboard BT23A and the Garratts were plying their trade in New South Wales the Royal Australian Air Force Dassault Mirage III’s were flying in the skies above- all of a sudden Jack and Ron’s machine does not look so edgy at all, and doubtless some of the ‘American Aviation Heavy Metal’ of the time made the Mirage look like an ‘F2’ machine.

Again, context is everything my friends.

(HARS)

Etcetera…

The S Class were the first ‘Pacific Class’ locos on the Victorian Railways, renowned for their power and speed they did the ‘broad gauge’ Melbourne-Albury run of 190 miles where passengers changed to a New South Wales train running on ‘standard gauge’- adoption of ‘standard gauge’ between Melbourne and Sydney took place in April 1962.

For international readers, Australia was comprised of separate independent colonies until Federation as a country in 1901 so lots of crazy stuff happened, different railway lines/locos/trains across the great brown land being far from the most stupid of decisions.

Only four of these three-cylinder locos were built- fitted with long-range tenders they did the trip non-stop and ran up annual mileages double that of other loco classes used by the VR. Their size and axle load made them unsuitable for regular service other than the Spencer Street-Albury North Eastern line run so within six months of the introduction of new B Class Diesel loos in April 1954 the S Class were withdrawn and scrapped.

Such a shame!- the silver lining in the cloud was the lobbying of the Victorian Government to preserve remaining examples of VR steam locos- all of us Victorian kids have had a trip or two to the Railway Society Museum at Williamstown- ‘Heavy Harry-H220’ is forever etched in my childhood mind, opened in 1962.

The ‘Garratts’ are an AD60 Class Beyer-Garratt patent articulated four-cylinder heavy goods, steam train locos built by Beyer, Peacock and Co in Openshaw, Manchester for the NSW Government Railways.

The final NSW railways steam service was operated by one of these monsters on 22 February 1973- four of them were preserved, well done!

And the Mirage.

A3-42 is a Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation built (CAC built CA-29) IIIO(F) interceptor delivered on 1 August 1966 and served at Butterworth, Malaysia, then Williamtown, NSW before retirement from service in October 1987 with 4,015 hours on the airframe, it was then used for apprentice training at RAAF Wagga Wagga. All Mirages were retired in 1988 and replaced by the General Dynamics F/A-18 Hornet.

‘HARS’- Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Museum at Shellharbour Airport, Albion Park bought the aircraft in March 2015.

Credits…

John J Dallinger, Lynton Hemer, Brabham Family, Wikipedia, HARS, oldracingcars.com, Bob King, NSW TrainLink

Tailpiece…

(B King)

A couple of Bugatti T35B replicas at the Williamstown, Victoria Railway Museum in recent times- the blue Des Dillon and black Bob King machines.

Finito…

Whaddya do starved of media buzz when the lights go off simultaneously around the globe? Think of a great cost effective promotional idea like this.

The Australian S5000 guys, SS Media have come up with the notion of applying retro liveries to the silhouette of their new 5 litre Ligier JS F3-S5000 Ford V8 rockets- and doesn’t this late 1971 early 1972 Matich A50 Repco scheme look sensational- remove the halo and its perfect! My S5000 piece is here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

The photograph is Frank Matich on the way to winning the November 1971 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm in his just finished, very first race Matich A50 Repco F5000- but for the VHT and Hoosier branding the livery is period kosher. Matich’s F5000 career in terms of cars and competition results is here at length; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Not to forget Ansett Team Elfin circa 1977, Alec Mildren Racing circa 1970 or Equipe Graham McRae circa 1972.

Luvvit.

Credits…

SS Media, autopics.com.au

Tailpiece…

Finito…

 

(SLNSW)

Its amazing the interesting stuff ya trip over sometimes…

I’ve written abut the racing career of Wangaratta’s Ted Gray favourably but tangentially in two pieces- in one about his Alfa Romeo Ford V8 and the other about the Lou Abrahams owned Tornado V8s- they are here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/15/mrs-jas-jones-alfa-6c-1750-ss-zagato/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

The shot above shows him in his ex-Mrs JAS Jones Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato Ford V8 in front of Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Special during the handicap 1946 New South Wales Grand Prix at Bathurst. Ted was fourth and Kleinig DNF in the race won by Alf Najar MG TB Monoposto- article here; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/15/1946-new-south-wales-grand-prix/

I was researching another Wangaratta driver, Ron Phillips when I came upon this gem about Ted’s legendary Wangaratta to Melbourne record breaking run in his race Alfa in a blog by KB Hill…

‘What about the celebrated record attempt, undertaken in the late forties by two Wangaratta personalities, Ted Gray and North Eastern Car Club President, Jack Cox. Here’s a condensed version of the story that Jeff Whitten recounts in one of his publications:

A group of men had been chatting in a local hotel when the conversation turned to how fast a car could travel from Wangaratta to Melbourne (145 miles). Ted Gray drained the last drop of ale from his glass, planted it on the bar and told the small group in a confident tone: “I’ll do it in less than two hours.”

A boast became a bet, and hundreds of pounds changed hands during the next few days. Speculation raged around town. On the day (in April 1946 according to Tony Parkinson) of the attempt Wangaratta’s taxi fleet did a roaring trade, shuttling people to the ‘S’ Bend just south of Glenrowan, for 2 shillings a time. Many spectators thought the Alfa Romeo may fail to negotiate the sharp turn over the railway line. Visions of a wrecked car, hurtling over and over, were probably foremost in the minds of those who were waiting there.

That evening, more than 1,000 people lined Murphy Street as Gray, the Australian Land Speed Record Holder, and his passenger Jack Cox, a Faithfull Street engineer, sat waiting in the Alfa Romeo. The moment the Post Office clock struck 5.30 the Alfa’s engine roared and the pair took off, accompanied by the cheering of the crowd. All along the route, thousands stood in the darkness, shuddering with cold, and expectation.

Telephones ran hot, as people sought updates. In many places the Alfa, with Gray at the wheel, exceeded 110 miles per hour, while Cox hung on for dear life. The car clipped the railing on the sharp bridge over the river at Seymour, but sped on and recorded 112mph over Pretty Sally (Hill).

The railway-gate keeper at Tallarook had been bribed, to make sure that he kept the gates open at a certain time.

With misty rain falling, Gray spent much of the trip peering over the top of the windscreen, ensuring he wouldn’t tangle with cars and transports that hadn’t yet turned on their tail-lights. It enabled him to reach Bell Street, Coburg, in record time.

The trip from Bell Street to the Melbourne GPO took six and a quarter minutes. The pair pulled up in front of the Post Office exactly one hour and 59 minutes after leaving Wangaratta.

Jack Cox climbed out of the car, knees still shaking, while Ted Gray acknowledged the cheers of the crowd…’

Ian Virgo in the Alfa Romeo V8 from Tom Stevens MG TC Spl at Port Wakefield in the mid-fifties , date folks?- the Ford V8 engines Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zaato was by this stage was owned by Broken Hill’s Bob Jervies (T Stevens)

 

(J Cox Family)

Postcript…

The power of the internet.

Racer/restorer/historian Tony Parkinson got in touch with the fabulous material below, he wrote ‘I found references to the Alfa Romeo sent to me by John Cox, son of Jack Cox, riding mechanic on the infamous Wangaratta to Melboune run, also shots at Fishermans Bend pus Jack Cox (with blindfold) and Pat O’Keefe, the Alfa front on in Murphy Street Wangaratta, a glorious shot of the Cox & Gray garage and a very young John Cox on a trike in Roy Street Wangaratta with the 6C1750 V8 up the drive.’

Just wonderful stuff, in addition there are various newspaper reports, if anyone can help with the date of the run in April 1946 that would be the candle atop the cake!

(J Cox Family)

Jack Cox and Pat O’Keefe aboard the Alfa Romeo and hamming it up for the local press.

 

(J Cox Family)

The old beast still looked pretty good in 1946 despite a very active competition life from the time it arrived in Australia- here in Murphy Street, Wangaratta with road equipment- well lights anyway!

Late 1950’s report or retrospective on the run probably from the Melbourne ‘Herald’ at a guess (J Cox Family)

 

Big sister looks after John Cox whilst his Dad, Jack Cox and Ted Gray’s big V8 engined racer is at rest up the drive.

Imagine the drives possible from there- Wang to Corryong, Wang to Mansfield via the King Valley, Wang to Echuca and so on…apart from the car’s racing of course.

 

(J Cox Family)

There was obviously plenty of consternation after the veracity of the elapsed time given plenty of money wagered on the outcome- a close run thing it seems!

 

(J Cox Family)

 

(J Cox Family)

The two shots of the Alfa at Fishermans Bend- be great to know the date and have the identities of other cars and drivers.

(J Cox Family)

Credits…

Excerpt of an article by KB Hill ‘A Lifetime Passion for Motor Sport’, December 2019 in kbonreflection.wordpress.com, State Library of New South Wales, Australian Motor Sports Tom Stevens Collection via Tony Parkinson, Jack Cox Family Collection via John Cox and Tony Parkinson

Tailpiece…

(J Cox Family)

Jack Cox and Ted Gray’s ‘Hume Garage’ in Wangaratta.

His pre and post war speedway and road racing career across the country was conducted using Wang as a base- was his move to Melbourne from the time he started to race Tornado 1 Ford with Lou Abrahams circa 1954?

You need luck in motor racing of course, Lex Davison made his own with great preparation of his cars by AF Hollins (and others early on), Ted Gray was keeping Lex’ Ferrari 500/625 and Stan Jones Maserati 250F at bay at Bathurst in October 1958, he really, coulda-shoulda-woulda won the Australian Grand Prix that year, cracked suspension mountings caused his retirement.

An under-rated driver i reckon…

Jones, Gray and Davison, Hell Corner, Mount Panorama during the 1958 AGP (AMS)

Finito…