Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

Rodney Clarke’s Connaught J3 Coventry Climax FPE V8 2.5, as concepted in 1954…

In anticipation of Climax’s forthcoming 2.5 litre ‘Godiva’ or FPE F1 V8 the amazing Clarke laid down a concept which ‘would have featured a stressed-skin monocoque section built up a round a geodetic latticed internal frame similar to the Barnes-Wallis originated structure of the R-100 airship and Vickers Wellesley and Wellington bombers of the 1930’s’ Doug Nye wrote.

This J3 (sometimes referred to as J5 or D Type) ‘tub’ would have supported a separate subframe which would have carried the FPE V8 and a bespoke Connaught transaxle and de Dion rear suspension with inboard mounted disc brakes.

’The transaxle was to be an epicyclic affair with its actual gearbox section overhung beyond the back axle line. One of these transaxles was actually completed, plus parts for another five, and was used in Paul Emeryson’s Cooper-Connaught’ Doug wrote.

As is well known the Coventry Climax lads felt ’emasculated’ by the claimed power outputs published by the continentals and the FPE was unraced in period, only one of the cars concepted around the wonderful V8 was eventually built, the Kieft, click here to read about it; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/03/kieft-de-soto-v8/

Cars were also planned by Climax customers Cooper and HWM as well as Connaught and Kieft. All was not lost at Climax, the learnings from development of the V8 were applied rather effectively to the all conquering family of FPF fours

Imagine the J3 racing in 1955 with a development budget to sort it…

Geodetic Airframe…

First i’ve ever heard of it. ‘It makes use of a spaceframe formed from a spirally crossing basket-weave of load bearing members. The principle is that two geodesic arcs (a curve representing the shortest distance between two points) can be drawn to intersect on a curving surface (the fuselage) in a manner that the torsional load on each cancels out that on the other’ says Wikipedia.

Credits…

Getty Images, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Theo Page

Tailpiece: Kieft F1 Coventry Climax…

Finito…

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(Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Andrea de Adamich hustles his McLaren M14D Alfa through the Zandvoort sand dunes and flowers, Dutch GP practice June 1970…

This is yet another of my ‘nutso’ articles in terms of flow.

It started as a quickie around some of Rainer’s (Schlegelmilch is a favourite of mine as you may have guessed) shots of the McLaren Alfa. Then I got interested in Andrea’s career, so off I went that way.

Then I thought ‘the F1 program really started in Tasman Formula single-seaters here in Australia’- that is Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D and Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ with the engines Autodelta-Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8’s- but I didn’t want to go too far with that as I want to do the topics justice, with Kevin Bartlett’s intimate knowledge of both the program and cars. So that aspect of this article is no more than a teaser.

Anyway, here ’tis, a bit weird, and with the ‘full job’ on the Alfa engined Mildren Brabham and Sub still to come…

The McLaren/Alfa Romeo partnership started reasonably well at Montjuic Parc in Barcelona but the grid had ten places reserved for seeded drivers and only six for the other twelve competitive cars, Andrea’s thirteenth quickest was just 0.05 seconds too slow to make the cut.

Same problem at 1970 Monaco with the same system- again he was thirteenth fastest overall but this time he fell short by 0.1 seconds.

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Andrea, Dutch GP practice June 1970. M14D Alfa DNQ (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The team missed the Belgian Grand Prix on June 7, McLaren took the time to adapt the Alfa Romeo V8 to its latest M14 chassis, which they designated ‘M14D’, unfortunately again failing to qualify for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort by 0.01 seconds where most of these shots were taken.

Peter Gethin was the quickest of the Cosworth engined McLarens with Denny Hulme missing the meeting due to hands burned at Indianapolis. Gethin’s car qualified eleventh but retired on lap 18 after an accident, writing off Denny’s M14 in the process so the M14D was quickly converted back to Cosworth spec to give Denny a competitive car when his hands recovered.

Back in the older chassis, de Adamich qualified his M7D at Clermont-Ferrand sixteenth, a good effort but only completing 29 laps retiring after a water pipe came adrift and he lost 9 laps in the pits.

He qualified eighteenth at Brands Hatch, again in the M7D but was a non-starter with a leaking bag fuel tank.

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The bespectacled Italian lowers his lanky frame into the McLaren M14 monocoque, Dutch GP 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

 

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George Eaton’s BRM P153 passes the #21 de Adamich McLaren M14D Alfa and #20 Hulme McLaren M14A Ford, Zandvoort pitlane, Dutch GP practice June 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The 1970 German GP was held at the fast Hockenheim circuit which places an emphasis on power/top speed, the Alfa engine lacked sufficient punch, Andrea again failing to qualify, he had complained about handling and the engine not pulling properly.

The speed of the chassis was ‘thereabouts’ though, Hulme finished third in a Cosworth DFV powered M14.

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#20 de Adamich McLaren Alfa Hockenheim, German GP practice 2 August 1970 and Donatella de Adamich in the Zeltweg pits 18 August 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Zeltweg’s 6Km layout places a similar premium on power and high speed handling too, the car qualified well in fifteenth for the Austrian GP, finishing twelfth, the decision to change the engine before the race went awry when the replacement pulled 1000rpm short of the engine used in practice giving Andrea a long race labouring down the back.

Allen Brown wrote that a lot of work was done by Autodelta in the lead up to the team’s home race at Monza with emphasis on the sumps- which had been identified as the main problem. Andrea qualified twelfth and finished eighth having run well for the first few laps in the race won by Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B albeit seven laps in arrears. It was Regga’s first GP win. Nanni Galli, another Autodelta racer had a go in the M7D but did not qualify having experienced camshaft trouble.

In Canada Andrea again qualified twelfth of twenty, starting really well and ran as high as ninth, but he hadn’t started with full tanks knowing he had to stop for fuel but diddn’t get to that point, pitting with low oil pressure from eighth position after completing 69 laps.

At Watkins Glen he failed to qualify after big dramas gave him limited circuit time- first a fuel leak and then a behind dash fire, perhaps as a consequence the team didn’t take the Alfa powered chassis to the season ending race in Mexico City on 25 October.

McLaren had no incentive to continue with development of the Alfa engined car given the competitiveness of its Ford Cosworth DFV engined machines, a purpose built F1 engine- Alfa’s engine stated life as a more robust long distance unit, and was never, without the commitment of sufficient money and engineering resources going to approach or eclipse the dominant DFV.

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de Adamich at the wheel of his Alfa 33TT3 , Targa 1972. He was 3rd in the car shared with Toine Hezemans (velocetoday.com)

Andrea de Adamich…

Tall, scholastic and patrician, the bespectacled Italian began racing whilst still a law student, making his name driving a works Autodelta Alfa Romeo in the European Touring Car Championship, which he won in 1966 at the wheel of a GTA.

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Andrea de Adamich corners the Alfa Ti Super he shared with Carlo Scarambone in the Tour de France 20 September 1964 . Nouveau Monde Hairpin, Rouen (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

He attracted Ferrari’s attention with some promising runs in Alfa T33 sports cars (which he continued to race whilst pursuing a single-seater career) and was recruited to the Scuderia for the non-championship 1967 Spanish GP, at Jarama north of Madrid.

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Traga 1967 in the 2 litre Alfa T33. DNF suspension failure in the car shared with Jean Rolland. Race won by the Hawkins/Maglioli Porsche 910 (Getty)

In 1968 Andrea was scheduled to drive full-time for Ferrari alongside Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx, but he crashed during practice for the Brands Hatch ‘Race of Champions’ and suffered neck injuries which took a long time to heal fully.

He returned to racing, winning the Argentine Temporada series the following winter with the powerful F2, works Ferrari Dino 166. de Adamich’ Ferrari 166 F2 Season was covered in this article on that car; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/09/temporada-f2-series-argentina-san-juan-1968/

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de Adamich’s Ferrari 166 winning in front of F2 king Jochen Rindt’s Brabham BT23 Ford FVA, San Juan Argentina, Temporada Series 1968 (Andrew Marriott)

‘In 1970 McLaren was offered the opportunity of experimenting with an Alfa V8, a possibly tempting alternative to the then-ubiquitous Cosworth DFV, and one of the Italian engines was installed first in an M7D chassis and latterly an M14D for de Adamich to drive’, wrote McLaren.

‘To say this technical combo achieved modest results would be a dramatic understatement. The McLaren Alfa generally failed to qualify and when it did, could only muster twelfth in the Austrian GP followed by a distant eighth place in front of the Alfa top brass at Monza. McLaren, still reeling from Bruce’s death that summer, reckoned that the Anglo-Italian alliance was all a bit of a waste of effort and called time on the partnership at the end of the season’.

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de Adamich at the wheel of the T33/3 he shared with Gijs van Lennep in the 1971 Targa, 2nd to teammates Vaccarella/Hezemans (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

De Adamich took his Alfa engines off to March in 1971, with no significant improvement in their performance.

Andrea was thirteenth at Kyalami and eleventh at Watkins Glen whilst Nanni Galli was fifth in the non-championship Jochen Rindt Trophy at Hockenheim in July gaining the best ever F1 result for these engines.

Nanni was eleventh, twelfth and twelfth at Silverstone, the Nürburgring and the Osterreichring in a good run of finishes at least in July/August but then had three downers to end his season at Monza, Mosport and the Glen.

The engine was again unreliable with DNF’s for Andrea at Montjuic, Paul Ricard, the Nurburgring and Monza. He was unclassified at Silverstone.

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De Adamich, March 711 Alfa, German GP Nurburgring Q20 DNF  fuel injection lap 2. Stewart won in a Tyrrell 003 Ford (unattributed)

 

The business end of the De Adamich March 711 Alfa in the 1971 Nürburgring paddock

March team leader, and one of the fastest guys on the planet at the time, Ronnie Peterson used the Alfa engines in chassis ‘711-6’ at Hockenheim, Zandvoort and at Paul Ricard, where he raced that chassis from grid 12.

He only lasted 19 laps before engine failure, Andrea started from grid 20 which provides some measure of how much more improved the performance of the car/engine could have been with an ace behind the wheel- whilst putting reliability to one side

The Italian driver switched to Team Surtees in 1972 which got him back behind the wheel of a Cosworth-engined car, a step in the right direction.

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French GP, Clermont Ferrand July 1972. de Adamich Surtees TS9B Ford Q12 P14, ahead of Derek Bell who was a race non-starter in his Tecno PA123 V12. Jackie Stewart won the race in Tyrrell 003 Ford.  (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

For 1973 de Adamich switched to the Bernie Ecclestone owned Brabham team after driving for Surtees in the season opener at Kyalami. His Brabham BT42 fell victim to Jody Scheckter’s first lap McLaren M23 Ford multiple car shunt at the end of the opening lap of the British GP at Silverstone, Andrea suffered serious injuries which brought an end to his career.

In more recent times he has built an impressive business career.

In 1990 he bought the circuit at Varano and created a highly specialised  driving school for the owners of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Abarth cars. He also puts on special days for Philip Morris, a legacy of his longstanding relationship dating back to the days when he and Giacomo Agostini were the first Italian contracted Marlboro drivers/riders.

Kevin Bartlett setting off to test the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo just vacated by Frank Gardner after the 1968 Tasman Series at Oran Park before the Gold Star series- she grew wings as the year progressed. Bob Grange at right (P Garrad)

The 1960’s Alfa Romeo Engined Single Seater V8’s…

Alfa’s Tipo 33 V8 was first used in elite single seater racing by Australia’s Alec Mildren Racing Team.

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

Click on this link for an article about the Mildren Autodelta Alfa’s;

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

and on Alec Mildren; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Mildren’s 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined Tasman Brabhams were being given a very hard time by the Repco Brabham and BRM V8’s amongst others circa 1966, so he sought an appropriate response- a sprint variant of the Tipo 33 engine was the obvious choice given his Alfa connections.

Mildren ordered three 2.5 Tipo 33 V8’s which were initially fitted to a bespoke Brabham BT23D chassis, a variant of Ron Tauranac’s new for 1967 Ford FVA powered BT23 F2 car.

The machine was first raced in the 1967 Hordern Trophy Gold Star round at Warwick Farm, Frank Gardner won, which was a portent of the cars 1968 Tasman Series speed- he was fourth in the championship against stiff opposition including two works Lotus 49 Ford DFW’s in the hands of Messrs Clark and Hill, Chris Amons Ferrari Dino 246T, works BRM’s and the rest. The engines were then fitted to the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, a monocoque car built for the team by Alan Mann Racing, designed by Len Bailey, for the 1969 Tasman Series where again Frank was ‘best of the rest’ behind the Lotuses, Ferraris and Piers Courage in a Frank Williams Brabham BT24 Ford.

After both cars were raced by Frank Gardner in the Tasman they were ‘handed over’ to Kevin Bartlett for the Gold Star Championship when Gardner returned to the UK at the end of each Australasian summer.

Bartlett won the Gold Star in 1968 and 1969 with each chassis respectively, for the sake of completness, in 1969 the ‘Sub’ was also powered by Merv Waggotts’s TC-4V 2 litre DOHC 4 valve 275 bhp engine for part of the season and into 1970 and beyond.

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(Ian Peak/The Roaring Season)

The 2.5 litre, 2 valve, 4 cam Lucas fuel injected, twin-plug Alfa Tipo 33 V8 installed in Alec Mildren’s Gardner driven Brabham BT23D at Teretonga during the 1968 Tasman.

Gardner was equal fourth with Graham Hill in the series behind Clark, Amon and Courage in Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Ferrari Dino 246T and F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA respectively.

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(Dick Simpson)

What a beautifully integrated bit of kit the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa was?

Here just before it progressively grew wings. Kevin Bartlett drove the wheels off the thing, here at Hell Corner Bathurst during the 1968 Easter Gold Star round. KB was on pole by 9! seconds but DNF with a broken rear upright, Phil West took the win in David McKay’s ex-JB Brabham BT23A Repco.

Bartlett won the 1968 Gold Star in this car and was equal ninth in the 1969 Tasman in winged form.

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(Wirra)

Frank Gardner in the Mildren Alfa ‘Yellow Submarine’ in the Warwich Farm pitlane during the ’69 Tasman round on 9 February. The Aussie international was third behind Rindt’s Lotus 49 DFW and Derek Bell’s Ferrari Dino 246T. Gardner was sixth in the 1969 Tasman behind Amon, Rindt, Courage, Bell and Hill in Ferrari Dino 246, Lotus 49B DFW, Brabham BT24 DFW, Ferrari Dino 246 and Lotus 49B DFW respectively.

Kevin Bartlett had this to say about the Alfa Romeo 2.5 litre Tasman V8 and Waggott DOHC 4 valve engines.

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

‘The driving difference was the main change, as the power to weight felt little different behind the wheel, mainly due i suppose to the fact full throttle was used much sooner with the 4 cyl 2000cc Waggott. The turn in changed to a marked degree with the lighter power plant (Waggott) having less moment of inertia allowing the car to be literally flung into a turn. As it happens i am the only driver to experience both configurations.’ (Gardner having raced only the Alfa variant)

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

Alfa Romeo claimed 315bhp at 8800 rpm for the 2.5 litre variant of the V8 engine. Click here for a short piece on the Sub; https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Bartlett doing his thing aboard the Mildren ‘Sub’ Alfa at Oran Park. Its an interesting photo in that this car was winged by the end of the 1969 Tasman- and KB is driving it after that- perhaps a day of back to back testing? The car, like all such machines globally, lost its big wings after the 1969 Monaco GP weekend where such aero was banned. Superb machine superbly driven by KB- Oz Gold Star and Macao GP winner in 1969 (D Simpson)

 

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Alfa Romeo 3 litre 4 valve F1 engine in a McLaren chassis in 1970 (unattributed)

A similar 3 litre 4 valve per cylinder, 32 valve engine- the Mildren V8’s were all chain driven 2 valvers, was developed for Cooper in F1 but wasn’t used before the teams demise.

Lucien Bianchi tested an Alfa Romeo engined T86C (T86C-F1-3-68) once but was unimpressed given its lack of power. Two further, more powerful motors were built but didn’t survive the bench tests, Alfa then withdrew their engines from that proposed program.

The 1970 variant of the engine was all aluminium with a bore/stroke of 86mm x 64.4mm for a total of 2998cc. Five main and camshaft bearings were used. The four valves were inclined at 30 degrees, the inlets were 32mm and exhausts 27mm in size, Alfa claimed an output of 400bhp @ 9000rpm in sportscar form.

With gear driven cams for F1 use Autodelta claimed 430bhp @ 10500 rpm at a time the Ford Cosworth DFV gave circa 440, the Matra V12 445-450 and Flat-12 Ferrari 460bhp @ 12000 rpm. It wasn’t enough really but Alfa had put their toes back into F1 water and would return soon with works Brabhams, as they had started with a Mildren Brabham a decade before…

Cutaway of the first 2 litre variant of the Tipo 33 V8 with detailed specifications as per text but chain driven DOHC, two valve, twin plug and Lucas fuel injected with engine a non-load bearing member of the car.

Etcetera…

The seven or eight race Tasman Cup was conducted over eight or nine weeks with a ‘hop across the ditch’- the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia, put great pressure on team logistics and repaid a mixture of speed and, critically, reliability and consistency.

Major chassis damage and engine unreliability were severely punished and it was the latter which meant that Mildren/Gardner’s campaigns in the Brabham BT23D and Mildren did not fare better, FG only finished half the races in each year.

Both cars were mighty fine machines but the Lotus 49 was the F1 car of the era and the F2 based Ferrari Dino 246 was far from shabby. In addition, Frank, whilst the equal of most on his best days, was not of the same level as Clark, Rindt, Hill, Amon, Brabham, McLaren or Rodriguez, to rattle off some of the competition in 1968 and 1969.

Was the Mildren Yellow Submarine a race winner in 1969?- yes, if the planets were aligned- and it were ‘winged’ from the start of the series. Quite how FG, having had a front row seat racing in Europe in ‘the year of the wing’ in 1968, arrived in Australia without said appendages on the Sub is an interesting question.

By Lakeside- at the halfway mark of the series the car was winged- they grew again at Warwick Farm as below where FG is leading Graeme Lawrence’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA but it was all a bit late. They were third and eighth in the sodden race won by the dominant Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49B Ford DFW. Derek Bell’s Dino 246 was second.

And in any event the reliability wasn’t there…

Would, say, Rindt have made the Sub sing? Absolutely- but he didn’t have Frank’s mechanical sympathy so he would rarely have finished I suspect.

So, perhaps the Alfa Romeo engined cars under-delivered in the Tasman Cup but Bartlett’s 1968 and 1969 Australian Gold Star wins were glorious and enhanced the Alfa Romeo brand for a generation of impressionable youth, me included…

(B McInerney)

Photo and other credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, velocetoday.com, mclaren.com, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’, Dick Simpson, Wirra, Kevin Bartlett, Peter Garrad, LAT, Brian McInerney

oldracingcars.com. See Allen Brown’s M7D and M14D detailed chassis records;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m7d/  and https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Tailpiece…

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de Adamich/Vaccarella  Targa 4 May 1969. DNF lap 6 with engine failure. Alfa T33 2.5 V8 Spider (Schlegelmilch)

Finito…

(L Richards)

David McKay, babe and Aston Martin DB3S, Chevron Hotel, St Kilda Road, Melbourne 1958…

The event is the ‘Smiths Motor Convention’ which by the look of it is a motor industry jolly aimed at the trade rather than retail punters. Those amongst you who were attendees can fill us in.

This is the first of McKay’s two Aston DB3S’, the story of which is told here, rather than repeat myself; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

David McKay was noted throughout his long career as a racer, entrant and journalist for his dapper appearance- one can only assume therefore that the ‘bombay bloomer’ trouser suit was the de-rigueur clobber for the man-about-town of the day.

A good time was had by all by the look- and yes, the bones of the ‘Chevvy’, a favourite night spot of Melbourne revellers for generations are still in St Kilda Road albeit, inevitably, the building is essentially an apartment complex these days.

(L Richards)

A Zephyr, an old beast an interviewer and a couple of lovelies, must be the prize giving part of proceedings I guess…

Photo Credits…

Laurie Richards Studio

Finito…

 

(B King)

Yes, there is such a place, and a good deal of carnage seems to have befallen this Nar Nar Goon race competitor…

It is a small hamlet of a little over one thousand people 65km east of Melbourne in Gippsland- the name is an Aboriginal expression meaning ‘native bear’ or ‘water rat’ the degree of certainty implied is hardly reassuring on a government website!

The Light Car Club ‘ran a surprisingly successful race meeting on a nine furlong grass track at Nar Nar Goon, 40 miles from Melbourne on Sunday 23 November 1947’ MotorSport reported in its February 1948 issue. It covered both this meeting and the 1947 Australian Hillclimb Championship won by Arthur Wylie’s Ford A Model Special ‘Wyliecar’ at Rob Roy, 75km from Nar Nar Goon on 2 November.

Arthur Wylie in his Ford A Spl, ‘Wyliecar’ at Rob Roy, whether these two shots are during the 1947 Oz Title meeting I’m not sure (L Sims)

 

(L Sims)

Owing to doubtful weather, practically no publicity was given to the Nar Nar Goon meeting, but about 3000 spectators turned up to see thirty competitors. At that time, the local population would have been tiny in an area focussed on timber growing, felling and milling. Ideal for motor racing really- out of harms way and the scrutiny of officialdom!

I’m not suggesting the LCCA were ‘hackers’ in any way at all- they were for decades, lets say 70 or so years, one of the continuously premier motor racing clubs in Australia. At one time or other they owned or operated venues such as Rob Roy, Albert Park, Sandown, Balcombe, Ballarat Airfield and others, including the little known Nar Nar Goon.

It isn’t clear to me how many meetings were run at the villages racecourse but cursory research shows LCCA/Junior Car Club/Light Junior Car Club competitions dated back to at least April 1932 when it appears the owner of the course, a Mr Coombes, first gave consent for cars to use his horse racing facility. By November 1933 a range of cars from the pedestrian to Brescia Bugatti’s were being put to the test.

On the wet grass many of the 1947 entrants had incidents during the time trials which preceded the races, ‘spinning with great abandon on one corner in particular’. No damage occurred and by race-time the track had dried out.

Arthur Wylie, racer and founder of Australian Motor Sports magazine at Nar Nar Goon in a Bugatti T37 ‘#37145’. Easter 1934 meeting (A Wylie via L Sims)

‘It was decided to run (love the organisation on the fly, can you imagine that today?) four handicaps, each of two or three heats and a final. At first four competitors were on track at a time, but it was found six was safe, so some events were run with six starters. Finishes were close and spectators were treated to eighteen 5 lap events.

‘The LCCA prides itself on organisation, at this meeting the average period between finishing one race and starting the next was less than five minutes’. Happy days indeed.

The LCCA should rightly be proud of its history of race organisation, I can attest to it as a competitor and spectator during the ‘glory years’ which all came crashing down as a consequence of the financially crippling burden of the two World Endurance Championship events the club ran very unsuccessfully in 1984 and 1985.

Sandown lived on of course thanks to the tenacity and entrepreneurship of racer Jon Davison but the LCCA sadly, was no more. A story for another time, not one I really want to tell when I think about it!

‘Racing Ron’ Edgerton in his ex-Charlie East/Advanx Tyres Bugatti T37 ‘#37104’ at Nar Nar Goon (B King)

Etcetera…

(JO Sherwood)

The car above is Les Jenning’s MG Magna L-Type contesting a handicap during the Easter Monday meeting in 1934- 1087cc six, four speed non-synchro box, less than 600 built in 1933 and 1934.

He achieved some great results with this car in the Australian GP- finishing third outright and setting fastest time behind Bill Thompson’s Riley and Harold Drake-Richmond’s Bugatti in the 1933 AGP at Phillip Island. The following year he was fourth outright and set second fastest time behind Thompson’s MG K3 and in 1935 he was third outright and again set second fastest time to Thompson’s MG K3.

Before he raced the MG he ran a Morris Cowley in the 1928 race supported by his employers, Lanes Motors (who were still Morris dealers in the sixties, my Dads Morris 1100 was supplied by them) but he failed to finish as he did also in 1930 and 1931 in Morrises.

‘The Car’ 16 April 1934 issue covered the meeting above and brings the flavour of the times to life, ‘Houdaille’ wrote that ‘The track was in excellent condition for cornering, albeit exceedingly dusty. The great rolling clouds must have been a nightmare to following drivers, but it thrilled the spectators tremendously.

The sight of the leader hurling his car into a corner and tearing up a walloping cloud of multi-coloured dust brought acclamation from the men and shrieks from the ladies. These gurgles and shrieks grew or decreased in intensity according to the ferocity with which other begrimed and determined pilots flung their machines at the leader.’

‘ How those racing behind managed to see the corners through the soupy pall astonished everyone. Their guiding sense must be naturally developed, for surely their eyes could have been of little use. Their were no accidents, which proves the ability of the drivers, to fly blind.’

‘It is not the intention of the article to detail events but rather give some impression of an enjoyable programme. The test trials were pursued with remarkable vigour, for it be known that no man shall exceed his test time by more than ten-percent lest he incur the displeasure of the organising committee which could mean disqualification should he win a race.’

‘Competitors drove all manner of makes, powers and vintages of cars. Posh MG’s sang around. Bugattis, some quite venerable in years, boomed along at high speeds. George Pocket, of course, brought the deceptive Ford A of his. That very long, very snaky and most odouriferous Ballot of Fred Bray’s did the fifteenth-shall act many times…’

And so the report went on- a good time was had by all. The article pronounced the end of Victorian Junior Car Club meetings at the venue but clearly satisfactory arrangements were entered into by them or other club(s) later.

 

(The Car 16 April 1934)

 

 

 

Bibliography…

MotorSport magazine February 1948, Trove, Leon Sims Collection, Bob King Collection, Arthur Wylie Collection, ‘Half a Century of Speed’ Barry Lake, John O Sherwood Collection, ‘The Car’ 16 April 1934 via Bob King

Tailpiece…

Competitor names and cars folks? The leading car is the one which come to grief in the opening shot.

Finito…

 

(D Simpson)

Ken Cox’ Cooper T53 Ford at Hume Weir’s ‘New Year’ meeting on 29 December 1968…

The wise owls of ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ have determined this Cooper ‘Lowline’ as either ‘F1-4-61’, the ex Yeoman Credit/Reg Parnell Racing 1961 Intercontinental Formula car raced by John Surtees and then Roy Salvadori in Australasia, or ‘F1-7-61’ the ex-Rob Walker car raced by Stirling Moss in F1 and the Australasian Internationals in 1962. Perhaps the latter is more likely Allen Brown surmises on his excellent oldracingcars.com- see the link at the end of this piece. The car still exists in the hands of the Banister Family in Sydney.

Whatever the case isn’t it a fantastic looking car? Dick Simpson has captured it and Ken’s style marvellously!

I can feel and hear the rumble of the 289 Ford small-block bent-eight. Its not Australia’s ‘first F5000’ mind you, that honour goes to Austin Miller’s Geoff Smedley built Cooper T51 Chev which set an Australian Land Speed Record at Bakers Beach in Tasmania in 1961 at 163.94mph or thereabouts.

Cox from Bob Minogue, Elfin Mono Ford, Hume Weir circa 1969 (C Baron)

 

And again out of Scrub- who and what is the third car I wonder (C Baron)

The essentials of the Cox Cooper are as follows, sourced from a ‘Motor Racing Australia’ story written by Ray Bell in September 2001.

Cox raced anything and everything- speedway, dirt tracks and bitumen from the forties onwards. One of his main supporters was a timber-cutter named John Cierpicki, he acquired the Cooper in a sale of Stan Jones’ assets after Stan got into terrible strife off the back of the 1961 Australian recession- the car was extricated from an old chook-shed in Camberwell, Melbourne circa 1966. As a former long time Camberwell resident I am fascinated to know the whereabouts of said chook-shed…

Norm Beechey’s engine man, Claude Morton with assistance from Kerry Luckins at Paul England Engineering in Moonee Ponds soon had a 179 Holden six-cylinder ‘Red Motor’ race-prepped and inserted into the rear of the T53- its said only one frame tube had to be removed in this process, the tube was returned when the Ford engine went in.

The car raced with the Holden engine for a few years, the Colotti gearbox was rebuilt by Claude Morton and adapted to the Holden-six with a bell-housing made by someone long since forgotten.

The 289 had modified heads and a cam, it was fed by a four-barrel carb with ‘the exhausts made by Alan King’s Panel Shop over a dozen VB’s’. Later a 302 bottom end went in and a mismatched installation of 351 heads.

The car first raced in V8 engined form at Hume Weir on the 30 November- 1 December 1968 weekend which makes this meeting surely its second outing? The machine raced at the Weir, Winton, Calder and Phillip Island and ‘took on some minor kind of prominence at a time when the argument was raging about whether or not Australia should adopt F5000’ Bell observes.

Bryan Thomson raced the car at Winton in 1970, Bob Minogue owned it for a bit than Des Lascelles with the car even contesting an F5000 race- the Motor Show Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm in September 1972- it no doubt looked a bit out of place in amongst the T300 Lolas, Elfin MR5’s and McLaren M10’s…

Click here for Allen Browns piece on Cooper T53’s- all you wanted to know but were afraid to ask;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/cooper/t53/

(C Baron)

 

(C Baron)

Doesn’t it look like a great, race long dice between the nimble, light Elfin and big, booming Cooper- Minogue was that impressed, or needing the challenge he bought the car.

Credits…

Dick Simpson, oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum, Ray Bell, Charles Baron

Finito…

(CAN)

Nup.

But Leslie Marr’s Connaught B Type Jaguar at the Dunedin Wharves, New Zealand during the ‘Fourth Dunedin Road Race’ meeting on 28 January 1956…

Marr is now 97 years old, (born 14 August 1922), I wonder if this image could make its way to his door the artist would paint this scene? Perfect world is an impressionist work without the fellas in front of the car and with the cranes at full height.

Isn’t it an extraordinary image? Drink it all in.

You just cannot compare the race photography of today with, say, pre-1970. The topography in which we race and therefore the environment in which the ‘snappers have to work is just so different- a statement of the obvious, one of my strengths.

I wrote about this meeting in the context of an article on Aston Martin DP155 and the growth of Kiwi racing post-war not so long ago, so lets not go over old ground; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/05/the-gp-aston-martin-dp155/

The car alongside is Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 500/750S, his buddy Tony Gaze won in his identical car from Reg Parnell, Aston Martin DP155 and Syd Jensen’s Cooper Mk9 Norton. Lesley ‘cracked the shits’ over the nature of the course, especially the 100 metres or so gravel section, so he did a lap to collect his start money and retired thereafter- a pity as he performed so well on that tour.

Love the ‘hatted’ gent aft of the Connaught. The bloke at far right looks like a driver but I have no idea who, the dude in black with his back to us could be Leslie?, just guessing. Do get in touch if you can fill us in a bit more Kiwis.

Unbelievable.

Connaught B Type…

(GP Library)

Leslie enters the Goodwood paddock in ‘B3’ during 1955, I can’t see a race entry for him at Goodwood so perhaps he is testing prior to the July British GP meeting, Q19 and DNF brakes in the race won by Stirling Moss, Mercedes W196. This chassis is in normal Alta engined specification at this stage.

Connaught B Type cockpit during 1955 British GP weekend- looks like Ken McAlpine’s car fitted with ‘slipper’ or ‘Syracuse’ body.

The standard of presentation and finish of these cars is outstanding, ‘tool room’ quality in the vernacular of the day. Big array of instruments, pre-selector change quadrant and natty tartan seat cushion grab the eye.

 

B Type Connaught laid bare (John Ross)

Rodney Clarke and one of his mechanics prove both the bulk and light weight of the aluminium Streamliner body. I wonder what the difference in top speed of the cars so equipped was relative to the normal open-wheel configuration?

This amazing body was the result of studies in Connaught’s own wind tunnel- this Ford V8 powered facility was the very first owned by an F1 Team. Visually, light-weight Dunlop wheels set off a very attractive, edgy looking machine.

The Alta DOHC, twin-cam, two-valve 2470cc engine was good for about 240bhp @ 6400rpm as prepared by Mike Oliver at Connaughts Send HQ, but not reliably so. The engine variously used SU and Connaught fuel injection, both were problematic, in the end Webers were the solution.

The chassis of the B Type was a simple twin-tube arrangement with twin wishbones and coil springs up front and de Dion rear located by a radius rod on each side, a compound lateral linkage with torsion bars provided the spring mechanism. A Wilson type five speed pre-selector box, also used in the A Type was fitted.

’B1’ made its debut at Goodwood on Easter Monday 1955 with Tony Rolt at the wheel- this chassis’ most famous victory was in young Tony Brooks hands, he won the Syracuse GP in front of the works Maserati 250F’s of Musso, Schell and Villoresi, on home turf in October 1955. It was the first all British GP win since Segrave’s San Sebastián Sunbeam win in 1924.

Seven Type B’s were built, what a lovely thing to own.

Alta engine as per text (John Ross)

Etcetera…

(G Talbot)

A couple of photographs of Marr during the Lady Wigram Trophy weekend on the airfield circuit, the colour photograph truly is Rocking Horse Shit in terms of rarity whereas the Godfrey Paape shot is the best action shot of the car I’ve seen.

Leslie was out of grid slot 2 and finished third behind the Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze Ferrari 500/625 3 litre machines, 21 January 1956.

Credits…

Classic Auto News, LC Cresswell, Theo Page, John Ross Archive, Godfrey Paape

Tailpiece…

B Type cutaway, car shown fitted with ‘slipper’ body (T Page)

Finito…

Catchy name for a martini?

The cutaway is a conceptual illustration of the 1958 Russian Kharkov Type 6…

The car was positioned as a potential F1 competitor, in the specification above it would have been an evolution of the Type 6 record-breaker shown below.

As depicted the machine is of ‘advanced paradigm specification’ for the day- powered by a DOHC, twin plug, fuel injected six with rear mounted transaxle in unit with de Dion, coil spring/shock rear suspension and twin wishbones up the front. The body is a nod at the Mercedes W196 Streamliner, the chassis is advanced too- two solid lower longitudinal members but multi-tubular spaceframe in design. Drum brakes were to be used by the look of it.

The car broke cover as shown in the article and photograph below published in ‘Sports Illustrated’ and other newspapers in early 1958.

The ‘1956 Type 6 Monoposto Record Car’ was driven in land speed record attempts by the cars designer/builder Vladimir Nikitin, also variously first-named Konstantin and Vassili.

The cars specification incorporated a Pobeda Agregate (a large Russian car of the forties to seventies) four cylinder, two-valve, single and later two-stage ‘Popieda M20’ supercharged 1970cc (79x100mm bore/stroke) engine which produced circa 200bhp @ 6000rpm. Fitted with a three speed gearbox, all up weight was about 1000kg.

The potent little package achieved a two-way average top speed of 280.156 km/h on 10 December 1953 using the Simpheropol-Djankoy public road in Crimea.

Sports Illustrated February 1958

 

Nikitin centre-stage on this page of the Khadi34 website

Vladimir Konstantinovich Nikitin (1911-1992) was an engineer who developed the successful Kharkov 3 record breaker, the ‘6’ was a development of the earlier car- these were only two of an amazing man’s many creations.

In 1953 Nikitin was one of the founders of the Laboratory of High Speed Automobiles (LSA KhADI), its purpose was to ‘create the fastest cars in the world’. It appears the Kharkov 6 was developed outside this enterprise which begs the question of where it was built- probably the Kharkov Road Engineering Institute. Click here for the achievements of LSA KhADI; http://khadi34.blogspot.com/search?q=nikitin

There was some talk of an F1 car in 1958 but whether that was Russian hype or newspaper ‘puff’ is unclear- nonetheless ‘The Daily Express’ brought the President of the Moscow Automobile Club to the 1958 Silverstone International Trophy meeting- i wonder what the man thought of the racing?

Nikitin’s take on an F1 car would have been interesting, and to a large extent his perspective was a very informed one.

The story of thirteen of Auto Union’s racers making their way from Zwickau to Russia during the autumn of 1945 is reasonably well known. They ended up at the ‘NAMI’ Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute, with most then ‘spread to the winds’ to factories and institutions for further research.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s when Russian Americans Paul and Barbara Karassik were pursuing the missing AU’s in Russia- they were ultimately successful in acquiring the remains of several cars, who should they meet via a chain of coincidences (or brilliant patient detective work) but Nikitin.

He explained that two or three of the Auto Unions had been through his hands at a Technical Institute in Kharkov. Eventually, having won Nikitin’s trust over a number of visits the engineer told them about the two or three Auto Unions he had become familiar with at the Kharkov Institute. Several visits later he admitted he knew where there was another car- in the corner of an old brickworks was an unsalvageable body but a complete chassis, engine, gearbox and many suspension parts all of which the Karassiks acquired via a convoluted process.

Nikitin featured in a Russian film about ‘young people captured by speed and Russia’s oldest racing driver’. Check it out here, my Russian is not too flash but I still enjoyed it..https://www.net-film.eu/film-7575/

One might have thought that Nikitin, with his public success may have been lauded in mother Russia but what the Karassic’s came upon was a man much decorated for his achievements but living in penury…

 

Kharkov Type 6

Etcetera…

Nikitin, khADI 7 in 1967 (Getty)

 

Credits…

The Nostalgia Forum especially contributors Tom West, ‘Flicker’, Marc Ceulemans, Mike Lawrence

Tailpieces…

(Khadi34)

Nikitin and colleagues around KhADI 7, a helicopter engined machine which exceeded 400km/h in an airport close to Kharkiv in 1968- his next project upped the ante by the use of an aircraft engine from a MIG 19, the only limiting factor was the lack of tyres and a track in the USSR long enough, invitations from the US to run there were unsuccessful…

I have no idea at all but it does have a touch of the Auto Unions about it does it not?!

Finito…