Archive for the ‘Sports Racers’ Category

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

John Goss’ Tornado Ford leads a gaggle of sportscars on the drop between the Water Tower and The Viaduct, Longford, Saturday 2 March 1968…

I wrote this piece a while back and now seems a good time to post it given one of Tasmania’s finest, Gossy himself was awarded an Order of Australia for services to motor sports in last weekend-and-a-bit’s Queens Birthday Honours announcements. Off the back of that achievement Terry Sullivan started a The Nostalgia Forum thread which now contains some marvellous Goss photos, many from Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com.au archive which have never seen the light of day before- check TNF out;

https://forums.autosport.com/topic/209938-john-goss-on-queens-honours-list/

Back to Longford- it’s the Saturday race day, the Monday Labour Day holiday was Tasman Cup day, that year the feature race was won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A FVA F2 car in a notoriously wet, perilous day of motor-racing. Sadly it was the last in Longford’s relatively short but very sweet period as a road racing track. Click here for my article on the 1968 Longford Tasman;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Goss, future Bathurst and Australian Grand Prix winner is leading Kerry Cox’s Paramount Jaguar, three-times Australian Grand Prix winner Doug Whiteford’s works Datsun Fairlady, Bert Howard’s Lola Mk1 Climax, the partially obscured Lotus 23 Ford of Alan Ling and then Peter Mawdesley in a Lotus Super 7. Out front out of shot is the ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am driven by Chris Amon from Ian Cook’s Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400 Repco, Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev, Lionel Ayers MRC Ford and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23 Ford. The opening shot shown is the second group of cars.

I wrote an article a while back about John Goss including a bit on the Tornado, click on the link to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/03/john-goss-bathurst-1000-and-australian-grand-prix-winner/

The following shot is of Gossy losing Tornado on his turn-in to The Viaduct, I wonder if its the same lap! I think not, the track looks wet, which makes it the Monday. Let me know the results of this race folks, I will pop them into the article.

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

Credits…

David Keep/oldracephotos.com, Lindsay Ross Collection

Etcetera: Autosportsman article on the Tornado Ford, courtesy Lindsay Ross’ Collection…

Tailpiece: Amon’s 480bhp Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 monstering Gossy’s 200bhp Tornado Ford out of Newry, Longford 1968…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

Finito…

(TEN)

Dan Gurney’s Lola T70 Ford during the Stardust Grand Prix, Las Vegas Can Am round, 13 November 1966…

Gurney didn’t have a great weekend, the fuel injected Gurney Weslake aluminium headed Lola qualified eighth and failed to finish with a fuel tank breather problem. John Surtees won the race and the series in a Lola T70 Mk2 Chev. The photo got me thinkin’ about those cylinder heads…

AAR Lola T70 Gurney Weslake Ford V8, Las Vegas 1966 (D Friedman)

Dan from Phil Hill, Chaparral 2E Chev, Las Vegas 1966 (D Friedman)

As above, ditto Gurney below (D Friedman)

The Gurney-Weslake combination is best known for the Formula 1 60 degree, DOHC, four valve, Lucas injected V12 which was fitted into the gorgeous Eagle Mk1 created by Len Terry and Dan in 1966- initially fitted with a Coventry Climax 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ FPF four cylinder engine, the V12 finally raced at Monza in 1966 and won its only GP, at Spa in mid 1967. But the F1 project resulted from the relationship which arose from the development of special cylinder heads for the pushrod small-block Ford V8 a little earlier.

Gurney’s Belgian GP victory, Spa 1967. Surely one of the 5 best looking GP cars ever? Eagle Mk1 Weslake chassis ‘104’- path to the F1 relationship between Dan and the Weslake concern was via the Ford V8 program which preceded it (unattributed)

Len Terry designed Eagle Mk1 powered by Gurney-Weslake V12, 1966. Cutaway by Bill Bennett

Gurney was keen to better exploit the performance potential of the small-block 289 cid Ford V8 with which he was so familiar from his AC Shelby Cobra, Ford GT40 and Can Am experiences.

This engine family was the same as that which provided the first 255 cid pushrod engines used by Team Lotus at Indy in the rear of Lotus 29’s raced by Dan and Jim Clark in 1963. Whilst Dan’s plan was initially to get more competitive engines for the Sports Car Club of America’s burgeoning sportscar races, which would of course become the Can-Am Championship from 1966, the Gurney-Weslake V8 engines ultimately won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and races in Group 7 sportscars and Indycar single-seater categories and beyond.

Dan had seen what Keith Duckworth had done with pushrod Ford engines in the UK- 100 bhp per litre, and figured the same approach could be successfully applied to the Ford V8.

‘I heard that Duckworth had modified a four-cylinder Ford Anglia cylinder head by boring an inlet tract hole straight at the port, so it was a more direct shot and I believe that was the first time that a little four-cylinder 1000cc pushrod engine made 100 horsepower. It seemed to me to be a pretty neat thing to accomplish and, naturally, being inquisitive, I wondered if the same idea could be applied to a Ford V8, since it looked to me as though we could do something similar to the 289-302 style engine’.

‘Actually we began our inquest with an extensive rework of the existing 271 bhp heads. At the peak of our testing with the 271 hp cast iron heads on a 325 inch block, we were pulling as much as 448 hp on gasoline. It was about this time we figured a few improvements along the lines of a new head design might give us even more power, so we got after it’.

Dan sought out Weslake Engineering just outside Rye near the East Sussex coast of England and via Production Manager Michael Daniel engaged them to do some drawings after Gurney delivered some 289 heads to be inspected, analysed and sectioned.

Harry Weslake in his factory in April 1968 with a Read-Weslake 500cc GP motorcycle engine (S Sherman)

Patterns were made and these first ‘Mark 1’ Gurney-Weslake heads were cast at Alcoa Aluminium’s foundry in Pennysylvania.

They featured circular inlet ports that provided a direct path from manifold interface to valve seat in order to get as much fuel-air mixture as possible into the combustion chambers. The valves were inclined at 9 degrees to the cylinder centreline instead of the 20 degree angle of the stock Ford heads. The valve guides were fitted with Perfect Circle teflon valve seals. Classic Weslake combustion chamber shapes were deployed- heart shaped with precision machined valve seat inserts- steel for the inlets and bronze for the exhausts, both press-fits into the heads.

Early G-W Ford on 48 IDA Webers- ‘DG asked Weslake & Co to reate a cylinder head…that provided a direct pathway for the fuel mixture from carburettor to inlet valve, as can be seen from this head-on view…’ (AAR)

Front view shows the ‘standard’ Ford block and drives, oil filter, distributor, 48 IDA downdraft two-barrel Webers, ally heads (AAR)

An immediate improvement of 70-100 bhp was achieved over the standard 289-302 heads both through the mid to upper rpm ranges without losing smoothness down low. To cope with the increased loadings the bottom end also ‘had a birthday’ with bits and pieces provided by well known suppliers of US performance gear.

The Dearborn Crankshaft Corporation made a steel crank to AAR specifications which sat in bearings donated by the Ford DOHC Indy motor. Carrillo provided shot-peened conrods to which were attached Forged True pistons- compression ratios ranged from 10.5 to 11.6 to one. Jack Engle worked on cam grinds arriving at solutions which involved short lift and long duration with ‘rev springs’ fitted into the block’s oil galleries to assist the proper seating of the valves at high rpm. Ford’s stock high pressure oil pump was man enough for the job with stock oil pans baffled and main bearing girdles added to keep the whole lot stabile.

Times GP Riverside, McLaren Elva Mk1 Ford G-W, 1965 (TEN)

The Gurney-Weslake heads were first used by Dan during the 200 mile LA Times Grand Prix sportscar race at Riverside in late October 1965 fitted to his McLaren Elva Mk1

In an all-star cast which included Jim Clark, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Hap Sharp, John Cannon, Peter Revson, Chuck Parsons, Jerry Titus, David Hobbs, Bob Bondurant, Parnelli Jones, Richie Ginther, Graham Hill, Jerry Grant, Walt Hansgen, and Dan (wow!- was there ever a better ‘Can-Am’ field of depth)- that race was won by Sharp’s Chaparral 2A Chev from Clark’s Lotus 40 Ford and McLaren’s McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds. Dan’s AAR McLaren was out with brake troubles on lap 24. By that stage of G-W development Mark 2 heads were fitted which incorporated improvements including removable rocker arm studs.

Monterey GP weekend, Laguna Seca October.1966. DNF lap 4 with an undisclosed ailment, Lola T70 Ford with Mk 3 G-W heads- note still on 48 IDA Weber carbs (D Friedman)

 

Laguna 1966. By this meeting the G-W engine developed 520 bhp and 415 lb ft of torque @ 6300 rpm (D Friedman)

 

Hmmm, too short a race- Laguna 1966, Lola T70 Ford DNF after 4 laps from Q4- behind the 1st and 2nd placed Chaparral 2E Chevs of Phil Hill and Jim Hall and 3rd placed Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M1B Chev (D Friedman)

‘Mark 3’ Gurney Weslake heads were developed in 1966 with alterations to make assembly and maintenance easier.

With this configuration AAR took their first GW head win in the May 1966 United States Road Racing Championship round at Bridghampton- Jerry Grant won in the AAR Lola T70 Ford from Lothar Motschenbacher’s McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds and Mike Goth in a McLaren Chev.

The same chassis was used by Dan to win the Long Island, Bridghampton Can-Am round in September 1966- in a splendid weekend for All American Racers Dan popped the Lola T70 Mk2 on pole and won from the works McLaren M1B Chevs of McLaren and Amon. Sadly, it was the only Can-Am win for a Ford powered car. 495 bhp @ 7800 rpm was claimed at the time ‘The redline used to be 8000 rpm but I just found I could turn 8900’ Dan quipped after the race.

Its interesting to look at the engine competition at the time. Pete Lyons in his bible ‘Can-Am’ writes ‘Chevrolet’s small block was the typical T70 engine of 1966, and those offered by well respected Traco Engineering in Los Angeles can be considered definitive. The bore remained standard at 4.0in but a stroker crank of 3.625in gave a displacement of 364.4 cid. Breathing thorough a quartet of two-barrel 58mm Weber side-draft carburettors…such a package was rated at about 490bhp at 6800 rpm and 465 lb ft of torque at 4500…it weighed about 540-560 lbs. Price was just under $US5000’.

Rindt’s Eagle Mk2 G-W Ford on the Indy weighbridge in May 1967, sex on wheels (D Friedman)

 

Len Terry’s Eagle Mk1 design was a bit of a pork chop in F1- designed as it was for both GP and USAC (Mk2 50 pounds heavier than its F1 brother) use. The design drew heavily on his previous Lotus work and is a beautiful, in every respect, expression of monocoque orthodoxy of the day in both chassis and suspension (D Friedman)

Towards the end of 1966 the engine was also fitted to the very first Eagle Indycar chassis- Mk2 ‘201’ which was raced by Dan in the ’66 Indy with a Ford 255cid DOHC motor- in fact Gurney didn’t complete a lap having been wiped out with eleven other cars in THAT famous collision. In the re-engined Ford G-W 305 cid powered car Jochen Rindt contested the 1967 Indy 500- he qualified 32nd and retired after completing 108 of the 200 laps with valve trouble- classified 24th. His was the only 305 cid ‘stock block’ powered car in the field, the race won by AJ Foyt Coyote Ford from Al Unser and Joe Leonard in Ford engined Lola and Coyote respectively.

‘chewin the fat- lots of downtime for drivers during the month of May at Indy- youthful Amon, Hulme and Rindt in 1967. Dude on the left folks? (D Friedman)

Eagle Mk2 ‘201’. Hilborn injected G-W V8, metering unit between body cowl and injection trumpets, quality of build and finish superb. Note beautiful body cowl and nerf bar (D Friedman)

Further development work resulted in the ‘Mark 4’ variant which was lighter in weight with narrower rocker covers and an intake manifold inclined towards the engines centreline.

Into 1967 AAR’s Can-Am engine was based on Ford’s new ‘mid-sized’ block stroked to 377cid- Dan’s Lola T70 was often the best of the ‘non-McLaren M6 Chev’ class in a year of dominance from the Kiwi’s with their beautiful papaya cars. Pole at Riverside was a standout.

Fitted with a Mark 4 engine, but 318 cid, gave Dan and the G-W engine’s first USAC win in the Rex Mays 300 at Riverside in November 1967. His Eagle Mk3 won from pole from the Bobby Unser Eagle Mk3 Ford ‘Indy’ V8 and Mario Andretti’s Brawner Ford on the challenging 2.6 mile California road course. Gurney achieved six more USAC Championship wins over the next two years and finished second twice on the trot at Indy in 1968 in a Mk3 and in 1969 in a Mk7 ‘Santa Ana’.

Changes to USAC rules for stock-block engines ultimately allowed the G-W motors to displace 318 cid- on methanol they were good for 560 bhp @ 7500 rpm in 1968 with circa 600 in 1969. On petrol a sprint 289 was good for as much as 506 bhp @ 7800 rpm and a good 305 520 hp.

DG testing his 1968 Tony Southgate designed USAC weapon, the Mk4 G-W V8 at Riverside, warm down lap without the goggles. Ho took 3 race wins and Bobby Unser 3 in a customer car including the Indy 500, Ford Indy DOHC V8 powered (AAR)

Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W front and rear- front and rear suspension utterly period typical- very successful Southgate design (AAR)

For the 1968 Can-Am AAR acquired a McLaren M6B and in a ‘lightness and dash policy’ took over 100 pounds out of the car by a cocktail of small-block 325 cid Ford G-W and the smaller, lighter Hewland DG300 gearbox. The track dimensions were narrower, the body lighter with a lower, longer nosepiece and suspension arms, exhaust system, gear linkage and bracketry were re-made out of titanium. The car was renamed McLeagle! It wasn’t enough of course, the Bruce and Denny M8A Chev 427 alloy blocked cars rolled over the top of the McLeagle, Lola T160, Ferrari 612P and all else in their path- Denny Can-Am champ that year.

In 1968 and 1969 the John Wyer entered, Gulf sponsored Ford GT40 chassis ‘1075’ won the Le Mans classic fitted with Gurney-Weslake Ford engines.

The honours were taken by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi in ’68 and Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver in ’69. In 1968/9 despite the Mk1 GT40 hardly being in the full flush of youth the gorgeous, somewhat heavy G-W engined machines won many endurance classics against more modern Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Matra and Ferrari’s (in 1969)- the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hour, Monza 1000 Km, Spa 1000 Km, Watkins Glen 6 Hour and 1969 Sebring 12 Hour and Spa 1000 Km.

In period the Le Mans winning engines gave circa 440 bhp @ 6800 rpm- that is 302 cid Ford V8, Gurney Weslake heads fed by four Weber 48IDA carbs.

Lucien Bianchi, Pedro and the boys after the ’68 Le Mans win- ‘1075’ one of the most famous of all Le Mans winners with two notches on its belt (unattributed)

John Wyer GT40 at the factory circa 1969. Note the Gurney Eagle’ rocker covers, FIA mandated luggage framework above the exhausts, engine and trasaxle radiar tors and Firestone tyres (unattributed)

In a busy 1968 for AAR, in a commercial approach to capitalise on the cylinder head designs Gurney started to make modified versions of the heads cast in LM8 aluminium by the Aeroplane and Motor Foundry in England for road cars.

The racers Hilborn fuel injection was replaced with a four-barrel carb. Anticipating a large order from Ford, the heads had detuned combustion chambers and were of a budget design. They could be machined with different sized ports and/or valve sizes to the specification of the full racing heads despite some of the internal passageways being of differing sizes to the race heads.

When no manufacturer (Ford or Lincoln/Mercury) chose to fit the heads Dan was left with an enormous stockpile of them. ‘It didn’t’ happen because no-one big enough got behind it. If someone like Henry (Ford II) would have said “Hey guys, why don’t you do this?”, that would have been all it would have taken’ offered Gurney. A trial assembly run was arranged by Gar Laux, head of Lincoln-Mercury but perhaps the idea fell foul of the ‘not invented here’ notion.

Many of the surplus heads were converted to as near as racing specifications as the Gurney factory could make them and were fitted to Indy cars. None of these heads were fitted ‘in period’ to GT40’s. All GT40 heads were made at the William Mills foundry and were a higher grade casting with the full race combustion chambers, porting and passageways. The Airplane and Motor cast heads were usually branded as Gurney Eagle although some will over time have been retro fitted with Gurney Weslake rocker covers.

This G-W Ford in Dan’s 1969 Eagle Mk7 ‘Santa Ana’ features Mk 4 heads with canted injectors. This close up shows the Hilborn slide injection, lots of ‘Aeroquip’ lines and AAR’s fine attention to engineering detail- checkout the fabrication of those extractors and rather critical throttle components (AAR)

 

Gurney, Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W 305 cid, Indy 1969 (D Friedman)

Into the 1969 Can-Am without the Ford factory support he hoped for Dan raced the same McLeagle with a very special, aluminium 344 cid small-block Ford G-W.

Some of the Can-Am rounds conflicted with his USAC commitments, back at AAR the team toiled with a three valve G-W variant to sit atop specially cast ally Ford blocks. After various development problems kept it off the tracks Dan bought a 7 litre Chev and popped in into the McLeagle, qualifying ninth at Michigan- but tasted a great Can-Am machine when he raced the spare McLaren M8B to third behind Bruce and Denny having started from the rear of the grid.

Pete Lyons wrote ‘…from the back…he passed twelve cars on the first lap…Each lap Dan passed fewer cars but he passed them relentlessly. He gave the impression of being careful, feeling out the car, not risking breaking it, yet the big orange gun shot his black helmet along like a cannonball. When he caught Brabham, he went by so fast the two could hardly exchange glances…’Jack knew exactly how Dan felt as Brabham tested the same car during qualifying- and did a time in a limited number of laps good enough for row two of the grid!

The dark side- 7 litre Chev engined McLaren/McLeagle M6B at Michigan in 1969 (unattributed)

In tragic circumstances, after Bruce’s death at Goodwood, Dan raced a works McLaren M8D Chev with great speed and success until sponsorship conflicts intervened and stopped his campaign short- a great pity as a Hulme/Gurney battle for the 1970 Can-Am title would have been a beauty. It was a fascinating season in the short history of the series inclusive of the Chaparral 2J Chev ‘Sucker’ machine, to have finally seen Dan in a car truly worthy of him would have been something, albeit not G-W Ford powered.

(AAR)

Into 1970 the AAR USAC machine, the ‘7000’ designed by Len Terry was both Offenhauser and Ford G-W powered- and achieved its final G-W stock-block win in Swede Savage’s hands at the season ending finale at Phoenix, the 1971 ‘7100’ was designed by Roman Slobodynski was built to suit the Drake Offy turbo-charged four cylinder engine only.

What a marvellous run the Gurney-Weslake small-block Ford V8’s had…

Swede Savage in the 1970 Indy 150 at the Indianapolis Raceway Park all crossed up in the Eagle 7000 G-W Ford, classified 8th in the race won by Al Unser, Colt Ford Indy V8 (A Upitis)

Etcetera…

AAR Santa Ana workshops circa 1968/9 with 3 litre GW V12 in the foreground and FA/F5000 monocoques behind (unattributed)

 

Dan with gun AAR engine man John Miller ‘Mandrake The Magician’ with G-W Hilborn injected V8 (AAR)

Bibliography…

‘Dan Gurney’s Eagle Racing Cars’ John Zimmerman, ‘Can-Am’ Pete Lyons, gurney-weslake.co.uk, phystutor.tripod.com

Credits…

The Enthusiast Network, Dave Friedman Collection, AAR Archive

Tailpiece: Dan aboard his second placegetting Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W, Indy 1968…

(D Friedman)

Finito…

Panther GT clay model, at the October-November 1968 Turin Motor Show…

Scuderia Brescia Corse was founded by a group of racers disaffected by their local governments refusal to reignite the Mille Miglia. The outfit, named after the town where the Mille started, prepared cars of any type for privateers wealthy enough to use their services. The roll-call of their top drivers down the years is impressive and includes Carlo Facetti, Teodoro Zeccoli, Giampiero Moretti, Umberto Maglioli and Nino Vaccarella. The variety of cars raced is also mouth-watering- Porsche 906, Ford GT40, Ferrari 206S, 512M and Alfa T33’s included. By the late sixties the team had become quite successful in regional, national and international events.

At the Bertone stand in Turin Scuderia Brescia Corse showed a model of a car the team intended to build to contest the World Sportscar Championship- shortly thereafter at the Geneva Show the stunning prototype was unveiled.

The car had some quite original thinking including an alloy and titanium monocoque (also described as a spaceframe in some sources) chassis, hydraulically controlled rear spoiler and 24 volt electrics to allow the use of smaller, lighter conductors.

BRM were the intended engine provider- their 3 litre V12 was initially to be the cars motor but in the end the team courted Maserati instead. In time honoured fashion sufficient funding could not be secured so the car withered on the vine- a shame, it would have been a welcome addition to grids awash with variety in the immediate pre-1970 period.

 Credits…

 Getty Images, Petrolicious, Pinterest

 

(B Dunstan)

Derek Jolly racing past the Country Club Hotel, Longford on his way to winning the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy, 7 March 1960, Lotus 15 Climax FPF…

I wrote an article a while back about Derek and his career inclusive of a snippet about this win, but I had a swag of wonderful photos of the Longford meeting, too many for the earlier piece. So here they are courtesy of Kevin Drage, John Ellacott and Ellis French. Some of Ellis’ shots are his own, some from the Walkem Family Collection and Brian Dunstan, hopefully I have the attributions correct.

Sportscar racing has waxed and waned in this country, I guess everything other than touring car racing has really. Mind you, GT racing is a strong class at present, interesting too such is its variety.

The Australian Tourist Trophy has some great names inscribed upon it including Stirling Moss, who won the classic aboard a works Maserati 300S in 1956, Bib Stillwell in 1961/2, Cooper Monaco, Pete Geoghegan drove a Lotus 23 Ford in 1963/5 and in 1977 won with Laurie O’Neill’s much more brutal Porsche 935. Frank Matich had a mortgage on the race for a while, he won in 1964, Lotus 19B Climax, 1966 with an Elfin 400 Olds and in 1967 in his self constructed Matich SR3 Olds and then again the following year in an SR3 this time Repco ‘620’ V8 powered. I saw Paul Gibson’s Rennmax Repco ‘740’ 5 litre V8 win at Winton in 1979, that too a memorable machine. After a period in which the title was not contested the ATT was reinstated in 2007 and usually awarded to the winner of designated events rather than a one-off race as in its earliest days.

Doug Whiteford’s attention to preparation and presentation detail was legendary with all of his cars. Here his Maser 300S during the ATT weekend. Rice transporter of Austin Miller’s Cooper in the background, and a Morris Major- don’t road cars of a period provide wonderful context for a racer of the same era? (J Ellacott)

In the distant past sportscar racing was up there with single-seaters, indeed in the days when the Australian Grand Prix was held to Formula Libre prior to 1964, but especially in the AGP’s handicap days and then before 1960 it was common for sportscars to contest the AGP.

One of the 1960 ATT strongest contenders, Doug Whiteford fitted into that category. The former thrice winner of the AGP entered his ex-works Maserati 300S in the AGP at Longford in 1959- he knew the tricky, demanding place like the back of his hand. Doug was a formidable competitor of vast experience. Even though the Maser was not the latest bit of kit, with his driving skill and car preparation the combination could be expected to be there at the finish- at the front.

Matich D Type and Ampt, beside his Decca Mk2 Climax, #92 Finch D Type, light car to his right the Jack Cooper, dark coloured car nose of Jolly’s Lotus 15. Tall fella in blue driving suit with his back to us in silver helmet is Jolly. Darker red car the Wright Aston DB3S (K Drage)

Frank Matich and Derek Jolly were both coming-men.

Matich was aboard the Leaton Motors Jaguar XKD ‘526’ first owned by the Anderson Family in Brisbane and raced with much success by Bill Pitt. Matich had progressed thru Healey’s then the Leaton Motors C and D Type Jaguars, proving his pace in all of them. The Sydneysider’s career as a professional of elite world class would extend all the way to early 1974. Let’s not forget the race winning cars he and his team built either from 1966 to 1974 either.

Jolly, Lotus 15 in Longford’s pit straight (E French)

Derek’s Lotus speed was proven in his earlier Lotus 15 despite it toting only an FPF Coventry Climax engine of 1475cc- this car met its maker at Albert Park in late 1958, probably due to component attachment failure. Derek raced his replacement Series 3 15 as a works entry at Le Mans in 1959 with Graham Hill, the engine blew with Derek at the wheel when the infamous Lotus ‘Queerbox’ jumped out of gear. The revs went sky high, an errant rod then comprehensively carved the alloy block in half.

image

Jolly at left and Kevin Drage discuss the Lotus in the Longford paddock. Note the 1960cc Coventry Climax FPF fed by twin-throat SU carburettors (E French)

Jolly’s Lotus had only just arrived in Australia, equipped with a 1960cc Coventry Climax four-cylinder FPF engine was the latest bit of 15 kit. In fact it was the most modern car in the field. Derek took a debut win in its first Australian race meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales in early February winning the ‘South Pacific Sportscar Championship’ from David Finch in a Jaguar D Type.

Finch also entered the Jag at Longford. ‘XKD520’ was first owned by Melbourne car dealer/racer Bib Stillwell and was a car through which Frank Gardner progressed before his departure to Europe. When Frank decamped to the Old Dart Finch raced it with skill, mainly in New South Wales and Queensland. The car left Australia in 1967, the purchaser none other than Grand Prix driver and later Le Mans winner Richard Attwood.

These panoramic shots give a sense of perspective about this part of Tasmania and the exacting nature of the circuit. Here Alan Jack Cooper T39 Climax, David Finch D Type and Geoff McHugh Allard J2 are coming off Long Bridge. McHugh was not entered in the ATT so this is either practice or the Monday LCC Tas Trophy race (E French)

Tom Sulman, by then one of racings senior citizens, entered his Aston Martin DB3S, a car he had raced since its inclusion as a member of the three Aston ‘The Kangaroo Stable’ team in Europe in 1955. Sulman was a driver of vast experience in all kinds of cars and surfaces going back to his mid-twenties speedway days in both Australia and the United Kingdom. But his car was a winner only in the event of mechanical misfortune at the front of the field. Jim Wright entered another ex-Kangaroo Stable DB3S. He was stepping up from the Buchanan TR2 he had raced at Lowood in the ATT in mid 1959.

image

Ellis French Collection

The other outright contender was Wangaratta’s Ron Phillips in a Cooper T33 Jaguar. Reg Parnell raced the attractive beast in the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1955, the car was then acquired by Stan Jones who sold it on quite quickly having raced it at Fishermans Bend and Albert Park. John Aldis raced it without much success. Its return to competitiveness was as a result of the combination of Phillip’s driving skill and the racers preparation by Melbourne driver/engineer Ern Seeliger.

Seeliger had looked after Phillips Healey 100S and was the fellow who created Maybach 4- the final iteration of that great series of Charlie Dean designed and built, (Repco Research team duly acknowledged) Stan Jones driven cars. Maybach 3 was modified by Ern by the fitment of a Chev Corvette V8 where six-cylinder Maybach motors previously existed. And some other mods by that clever chap too.

image

Ron Phillips enters The Viaduct, Cooper T33 Jaguar (HRCCT)

The Cooper Jag was a real chance with a mix of handling and grunt well suited to Longford’s nature, Ron had raced it at Longford the year before so knew his way around the place. Phillips was also ‘in form’ having won the ATT at Lowood, Queensland in June 1959 from Bill Pitt’s Jag D and Bob Jane’s Maser 300S- the sister works car to Whiteford’s which came to Oz during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix carnival. Phillips and Jolly had jousted regularly when Derek raced his Decca Mk2 Climax FWA in 1956-58 with Ron then racing a very quick Austin Healey 100S. Both drivers had stepped up to more powerful ‘outright’ cars.

Ron Ward MGA from Tony Basile Porsche Carrera (oldracephotos.com.au)

The 22 car field was rounded out by smaller cars of which the John Ampt Decca Mk2 Climax, ex-Jolly, the Eddie Perkins (father of Larry) Porsche Super, Owen Basile Porsche Carrera and Alan Jack’s ex-Bill Patterson Cooper T39 Climax ‘Bobtail’ were the strongest.

Whiteford and Jolly were generally considered favourites for the race, but the ‘Australian Motor Racing Review’ report of the event states that there was confusion over practice lap times and as a consequence that pair and others were placed well back on the grid.

The start: Phillips, away quickly from pole #87 Matich, to his left, partially  obscured is Ampt, arrowed is Jolly,  behind Derek in the Porsche is Eddie Perkins, #92 is Finch, #8 Jack, well back is #10 Whiteford, #16 is T Cleary Austin Healey 100S (K Thompson)

The Phillips Cooper Jag and the Matich D Type were on the front row. Behind them were Alan Jack’s Cooper Climax 1.5 and David Finch’s D Type, then John Ampt in Decca Mk2. Tom Sulman’s Aston DB3S was on the next row with Jolly, then Whiteford’s Maser and one of the Porsche’s- and the rest of the field.

Phillips, Cooper Jag, #32 Ampt Decca Climax, #92 Finch Jag D, #8 Jack Cooper Climax- with the two Aston DB3S of #99 Sulman and #126 Wright in line astern behind Jack. Tail of Jolly Lotus 15 is behind Finch, the red of Whiteford’s Maser back a bit centre, Porsche Carrera Coupe is Eddie Perkins and the rest (B Dunstan)

Race…

 The ‘Australian Motor Racing Review’ report of the event follows.

‘With terrific acceleration at the start Derek Jolly moved through the field to the front and soon showed that the other 22 cars in the field would have a hard job trying to catch him.

Moments after the start: Jack, Cooper and Finch D Type. Look closely to the right of Finch’s helmet and you can spot the silver Jolly helmet- he has jumped away at the start. You can see the red of Whiteford’s Maser further back. Porsche is #46 Porsche Eddie Perkins, #16 John Cleary Austin Healey 100S (oldracephotos.com.au)

Ron Phillips in second place, was fighting hard to keep ahead of Matich’s D Type and Whiteford was well behind in fourth place. On the sixth lap of the 24 lap race Whiteford began to increase his speed and on the seventh lap passed Matich to move into third place’.

Matich at speed in the Leaton D Type. He hit his straps and proved equal to the ‘Big Car Challenge’ as Frank Gardner called it during the Leaton phase of his career- Jag C, Jag D and the Lotus 15 to follow the D Type proved his sheer pace (oldracephotos.com.au)

‘On the ninth lap, Phillips, who was experiencing brake trouble, slowed and allowed Whiteford into second position 11 seconds behind Jolly. In the next lap Whiteford put in an amazing burst to reduce this lead by a further 2.5 seconds’.

Whiteford turns his Maser into Mountford Corner during practice. Sex on wheels- few fifties sporties prettier than this. 3 litres wasn’t enough to be an outright contender when they were first built in Europe, but plenty quick in Australia. Such a shame he didn’t buy a 250F when Maserati returned back to Europe at the end of the ’56 AGP carnival, rather than the 300S raced in that carnival by Jean Behra- to see him mixing it with Davison, Hunt, Jones and Gray in that 1956-58 period in a single-seater would have been mega (K Drage)

‘Jolly, having been notified of this by his pit crew, increased his speed. On the fifteenth lap Phillips retired from the race with smoke steaming from his car. By the seventeenth lap Whiteford had closed to within 5 seconds of Jolly but the speed of the Lotus was again increased until, on lap 26, Whiteford had dropped back to 13 seconds behind.’

Cruisin’ @ high speed through the Tasmanian countryside, perils of the formidable Longford circuit readily apparent. Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax ‘608/626’ (J Ellacott)

‘In the closing stages Whiteford seemed to have lost one or more of his lower gears and Jolly went on to win from him with Matich a long way behind in third place’. Another report has it that Whiteford’s problem was a slipping clutch. John Ampt was fourth in the 1100cc Climax FWA engined Decca Mk2- this little car had a wonderful track record in Australian Tourist Trophy races despite its modest capacity, it was 5th in 1958, 4th in 1959 as well as its 4th in March 1960. Tom Sulman was fifth in his Aston DB3S and then David Finch sixth in his Jaguar D Type.

An elated winner. Jolly, Series 3 Lotus 15 Climax FPF 1960cc. Works entered @ Le Mans 1959, it was a trick, schmick car. Jack Cooper T39 and the Matich D Type further back (Walkem)

Winners Are Grinners…

To the victor the spoils of success. Well warranted and well deserved.

Derek had completed his apprenticeship, having first started racing Austin 7’s in his native South Australia in 1948 and progressed through his Decca Climax FWA powered specials in the mid-fifties into the outright Lotus 15. The best if not the most powerful car in the field, and one he drove with great skill.

Lets not forget his winning Lotus 15 was a Team Lotus works entry at Le Mans in 1959, the drive shared with Graham Hill. He was no slouch. In many ways it is a shame business pressures forced Derek out of racing, he had not peaked, there was still more to come I think.

(Walkem)

A great mighta-been is how he would have fared aboard a single-seater Lotus 18 or 21 FPF engined ‘Tasman’ car in the early sixties- he was the Australian Lotus distributor after all. His battles with Frank Matich, seen below congratulating Jolly from the cockpit of the Leaton Motors Jag, would been great to behold. So too those with other top-liners of the period such as Lex Davison, Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell and David McKay.

(B Dunstan)

Etcetera: Other Longford ATT Photographs…

image

Doug Whiteford and Maserati yet again, on the grid for the Monday Light Car Club of Tas race- #120 is the very neat Zephyr Special of Jim Barrie (E French)

Kevin Drage doing a plug change on the Jolly Lotus 15 in the Longford paddock (K Drage)

image

Doug Whiteford again, the photographers are drawn to these wonderful red cars! Maser 300S near the start line

Pre start vista with the Ampt Decca Climax, Jolly Lotus and Finch D Type in view(oldracephotos.com.au)

Refuelling Whiteford’s Maser 300S and the Ern Tadgell owned Lotus 12 Climax FWB ‘351’ aka ‘Sabakat’. Ern, unclassified, contested the F Libre Longford Trophy won by Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax. Recreation of Sabakat still extant (K Drage)

Related Articles…

 Lotus 15

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

 Aston Martin DB3S

https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

 Jaguar XKD

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

 Maserati 300S

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

Longford 1960

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ G Howard and Ors, Australian Motor Racing Review 1959/1960, Ellis French Collection

Photo Credits…

 John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, Ellis French, Walkem Family, Brian Dunstan, Keverall Thompson, oldracephotos.com.au, Ken Devine Collection

(K Devine)

Arcane and Irrelevant: The Last Sportscar To Enter an Australian Grand Prix?…

I think it was Jeff Dunkerton’s Lotus Super 7 Ford 1.5 pushrod, above, which contested the ’62 AGP at Caversham- he was classified 9th having completed 46 of the 60 laps covered by the winner, Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7 FPF.

In the days when full 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF’s were as rare as hens teeth in Australia- they were in the hands of F1 teams, Frank Matich’s Lotus 15 Climax 2.5 FPF was the last ‘competitive’ sportscar AGP contender, i reckon. His ex-Team Lotus car was delivered with a 2.5 FPF, much to the annoyance of the locals running single-seater Cooper T51’s who couldn’t get their hands on one.

FM failed to finish the 1960 Lowood AGP only completing 9 laps. The race was won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati 2.5 by a ‘bees dick’ from Lex Davison’s glorious front engined 3 litre Aston Martin DBR4 GP car. I’m not saying Matich would have knocked off Alec and Lex but the 15 had the pace to finish 4th– in behind Bib Stillwell’s Cooper T51 Climax 2.2 FPF. He would have given Bib a run for his money too!

Anyway, its interesting how long sportscars were a part of our great race…

Tailpiece: Kevin Drage’s Longford paddock panorama in March 1960…

Kevin was Derek Jolly’s mechanic/crew, the Lotus 15 is centre stage with the Geoff Smedley built Kenley Vincent Special alongside (K Drage)

Finito…

(B Harmeyer)

Brian Redman’s Carl Haas Racing Lola T332CS Chev awaits the off at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada 12 June 1977…

That’s Jim Hall in the Texan hat and you can just see a glimpse of Brian’s driving suit to the far left of the photo. Randy Lewis’ Shadow in front of the Lola I think. Redman was the ‘King of 5 Litre Racing’ in the US having won the American F5000 championship from 1974 to 1976 aboard Lolas- T332, T332/400 and T332C respectively.

When I first spotted Bob Harmeyer’s photo, I thought, ‘what a beauty, I can do something with that pit scene’. Then I looked a bit closer at the date and venue and realised it was the weekend Brian came close to meeting his maker-it was not the only ‘biggie’ in his career either.

Its the very first race meeting of the single-seat 5 litre Can Am formula- Brian and his Lola are about to indulge in some involuntary aviation, the landing sub-optimal in comparison to takeoff.

Carl Haas in the blue shirt and Brian Redman (who is the other Shadow bloke?) in the Mid Ohio pits, August 1975. #1 is Brians T332 ‘HU45’, #48 Vern Schuppan’s Eagle 755 Chev- Brian won from Al Unser and David Hobbs aboard T332’s, Vern was 5th (unattributed)

With F5000 on the wane a bit, in part due to the dominance of the Lola T330/332, it was decided to spruce up the show by creating a single-seat Can Am series for 5 litre cars- in essence F5000 in drag.

Gordon Kirby wrote about that first single-seat Can Am season in the June 2010 issue of MotorSport- ‘The death of the old Can-Am left the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) with Formula 5000 as its primary series. For a few years the American F5000 championship was pretty healthy, attracting big fields and top drivers like Mario Andretti, Al Unser Sr, Jody Scheckter and Brian Redman, who won the title for three consecutive seasons in Carl Haas and Jim Hall’s Lola-Chevrolets. But the SCCA and its promoters longed for the return of full-bodied Can-Am cars.

Burdie Martin ran the SCCA’s professional racing department in those days and says the series wouldn’t have come together had it not been for Haas. “Carl had sponsorship for his team from First National City Bank,” says Martin. “But he also talked them into sponsoring the series and, of course, thanks to Eric Broadley and Lola he provided the cars to make it happen. I talked to Carl and said we could make these 5000s into closed-wheel cars and call it Can-Am. I said it wouldn’t cost a lot of money and the cars were out there. We could add the 2-litre cars because there’s a lot of them around and they’re not that much slower. That would fill out the field. So Carl and I got on the phone and called some people, and all of a sudden we were putting a programme together.’

Team VDS Lola T333CS ‘HU2’ with standard Lola bodywork- albeit with the front wing added by the team- see text below

‘The SCCA’s last-minute decision to replace F5000 with the closed-wheel, single-seat ‘new era’ Can-Am didn’t inspire much confidence, or interest, from the racing industry. All the uncertainty surrounding the new series meant few teams were ready for the start of the 1977 season. In fact, Haas/Hall was the only Can-Am team able to do any serious pre-season testing and it quickly learned that the new nose for the enclosed wheels didn’t produce enough downforce. The team designed and built its own replacement, which incorporated an F5000 nose in place of the flat, cow-catcher nose of Lola’s T333CS ‘conversion kit’. The result was a car that looked more like an F5000 car with fenders rather than a sports/racer’.

Redman aboard his T332CS- note comments above in relation to the cars body/aero compared with the standard Lola body kit on Peter Gethin’s car above (Harmeyer)

‘Most Lola customers had installed the conversion kit on their F5000s and were pretty upset when Haas/Hall rolled out its unique car in first practice for the opening Can-Am race at St Jovite in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. But it soon turned out that in some circumstances even the Haas/Hall aerodynamic package wasn’t up to the job.

In the middle of St Jovite’s backstraight was a humpbacked rise over which the Can-Am cars of Paul Hawkins and Hugh Dibley had taken flight in 1966. Ditto Jackie Oliver in 1970. In afternoon practice Elliott Forbes-Robinson became the first driver to fly a new-era Can-Am car through the air when his flipped as he tried to go over the hump on full throttle. Miraculously, the car cartwheeled through 360 degrees and landed upright on all four wheels. Forbes-Robinson jumped unscathed from the wreckage.

Later that day Brian Redman had a much more serious accident. Redman’s car did a violent backflip, landing upside-down and leaving him unconscious and in a critical condition with a broken left collarbone, a cracked sternum, two broken ribs and a fractured vertebra in his neck. Redman lay heavily sedated in hospital for a week while the swelling and contracting of his brain’s epidermis ran its course and his doctors assessed the damage to his brain and nervous system.’

Harmeyer’s shot of Redman’s car back in the paddock. The Lola aluminium monocoque has stood up to the impact remarkably well, look closely tho- the roll over hoop is gone, torn off/flattened in the huge physics upon landing. Redman a very lucky boy (B Harmeyer)

‘Deeply shaken by Redman’s accident, the Haas/Hall team withdrew from the race and headed home. With the three-time F5000 champion in hospital, a makeshift chicane was installed before the backstraight hump.’

Redman recalled that ‘…the roll bar broke and my head went down on the road. My helmet was worn away on each side. But as the car rolled off the track onto the surrounding land, it landed on its wheels, which was a good job. Because my heart had stopped and the track doctor was a heart specialist- he got that going again. And then on the way to the hospital the ambulance blew a tyre!’

Tom Klausler in the Schkee DB1 Chev at Road America in August. Truly wild coupe like so many cars in this series Lola T332 based (oldracingcars.com)

The Mont Tremblant race was run in half wet, half dry conditions and was won Formula Atlantic standout Tom Klausler driving the unique Schkee coupé, a quite sensational looking Lola-based car built by veteran Can-Am builder Bob McKee. Unfortunately the little team didn’t have the money to race or develop the car and ceased to exist by the seasons end.

Haas/Hall missed the next race at Laguna Seca whilst they looked after Brian’s needs and sought another driver to replace their pilot of the previous near half-decade.

Brian in the Mont Tremblant pitlane, not sure of the chassis number of his T332CS. Randy Lewis Shadow DN4B Dodge # 00 alongside. The car behind the Shadow looks like a T332CS with ‘standard Lola body’ but am not sure which car (B Harmeyer)

During practice in California there were more problems with ‘Cessna 180’s as Aussie F5000 ace, Warwick Brown’s VDS Lola T333CS took off going over the fast brow beyond the pits.

Brown- already a ‘Lola Limper Club’ member by virtue of a T300 F5000 accident at Surfers Paradise in early 1973 broke both legs in the big accident. Teammate Peter Gethin, a vastly experienced driver with an Italian Grand Prix victory amongst his many credits withdrew from the race until a proper solution could be found. Clearly the aero treatment was ‘unresolved’, as the lawyers would put it.

Tambay in the Haas Lola T333CS Chev ‘HU6’ on the way to a win at Mosport on 21 August 1977 (B Cahier)

Kirby- ‘Haas signed up-and-coming French driver Patrick Tambay to replace Redman. A smooth, fluid driver and a gentleman too, Tambay won six of the seven Can-Am races he started in 1977, all from pole, and easily claimed the championship. “I was also doing my rookie F1 season with Ensign, so I had a lot of miles under my belt that year, not only aeroplane miles but driving miles,” he recalls. “The Can-Am car had a lot of power, gave good grip and was a good tool to do mileage to make me sharp for my F1 ride. My Can-Am successes helped me build a strong confidence.”

Back to Brian. As we all know Redman was a racers-racer with several successful comebacks- that he did in 1981 driving a Lola T600 Chev. The Cooke-Woods run car won the IMSA GTP championship on top of the 24 Hours of Daytona, a classic Brian won at the seasons outset together with Bobby Rahal and Bob Garretson in a Porsche 935 K3.

The Redman/Sam Posey Lola T600 Chev during the Road America 500 miles in 1981, 2nd (M Windecker)

Credits…

Bob Harmeyer, Bernard Cahier, Getty Images, oldracingcars.com, Mark Windecker, MotorSport magazine article by Gordon Kirby 2010

Tailpiece: Calm before the storm, Mont Tremblant…

Finito…

What a couple of pert, perky, taut little tooches!? I do like a finely formed little rump, the Lotus Elan and Jag E Lwt, two of the tightest…

Its Leo Geoghegan chasing Bob Jane through Hell Corner for the blast up Bathurst’s Mountain Straight, I’ve my money on the punch of the Jag’s mid-range torque not to forget its beefy top end over the delicate little Elan. Timeless, twin-cam designs both.

I’ve written about these blokes often enough for international readers to know they were both prominent Australian champions- Bob best known for exploits in touring cars and Leo in open-wheelers. Here they are on ‘neutral ground’, sportscars, during the Easter meeting in April 1965.

Jane got the better of Leo in both the 5 lap preliminary and 13 lap NSW Production Sportscar Championship, winning both races from the Sydneysider, top speeds of the cars were 147.05 and 142.85 mph (Elan) on Conrod Straight.

I notice Bob’s Jag has a Victorian number plate. The successful businessman lived just off Kew Boulevard in Melbourne’s leafy inner east, no doubt it got some exercise on that marvellous stretch of road from time to time. I’ll get around to an article on Jano’s E Type one day, for now enjoy these shots of a couple of great sixties sporties.

Credits…

autopics.com.au, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

Tailpiece: Leaning into Hell Corner…

 

 

(oldracephotos/King)

Bob Jane, Elfin 400 Repco, during the Longford Tasman round in 1967. Sweet Repco V8 music @ 7000 rpm flat out in fifth gear…

Idle moments in front of the Teev provide a male multi-tasking opportunity, looking for ‘that shot’ which inspires an article. Breathing, lookin’ at the telly and searching for photographic inspiration simultaneously- three things at once, my girlfriend can scarcely believe it.

There are some cars which are more prolific in terms of the number of photos in circulation though, usually for the same reasons. That is, they are sensational to look at, were race winners and in Australia raced nationally over a number of years and therefore every ‘snapper in the country, both professional and amateur has had a crack at them- and, kindly, circulated said photos on that internet thingy for us all to enjoy!

So…

In the decade from 1960 to 1970’ish there are several cars which are prevalent as defined above- Pete Geoghegan’s second Mustang, Allan Moffat’s Mustang Trans Am, Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco, Frank Gardner/Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, Frank Matich Matich SR3’s and Bob’s Elfin 400.

Delivery of the new 400 to the Bob Jane team, Elfins Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown factory, Adelaide in late 1966. The factory was not flash but the sense of history and those who had been there before was palpable when I inspected my humble Crusader Elfin Vee mid-build in the early nineties. From a modest place did some amazing cars originate (B Mills)

I’ve already done the Elfin 400 to death really…

But there are just too many wonderful photos of Bob’s car not to do this article which I originally intended to be pictorial.

One long previous article was specifically about Frank Matich’s Elfin 400 Olds aka the Traco Olds, the first completed. That piece also covered at somewhat laborious length the design and development of the car, here ‘tis;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/

The other was another lengthy tome, mainly about Hume Weir circuit but it also included a piece within it on Bob’s car, the third 400 built, click here;

https://primotipo.com/2016/05/06/hume-weir/

Bob Jane in one of his first runs, the first race meeting?, Warwick Farm Tasman round in 1967. Top gun that weekend Niel Allen in his Elfin 400 Chev (J Ellacott)

Elfin 400 Repco ‘BB67-3’ was raced by some mighty fine drivers whilst owned by Bob, here is the man himself during the Warwick Farm Tasman round in February 1967…

Jane raced it, so too did 1966/7 Australian Gold Star Champion Spencer Martin. Lets not forget Melbourne up and comer Ian Cook had some drives in 1968, he sadly lost his life at Sandown in 1973 in an ex-Bob Jane Racing machine too. And another young charger, Bevan Gibson took the wheel in 1969, and soon lost his life in it at Bathurst during the 1969 Easter Meeting.

What changed the direction of the article was re-discovery of my copy of ‘Gentleman John Harvey’, the biography on Harves which has some great first-hand material about Bevan by both Bob Jane and John Harvey. I couldn’t find the book when I wrote the Matich Elfin 400 piece, which would have been the right place for its contents, but given the limited print run of Tony McGirr’s book I thought getting these perspectives out there and more readily accessible worthwhile.

In researching Ian Cook i made contact with Grant Twining who owns the Devione Ford, a car raced by Ian. Grant was able to provide some much needed detail to flesh out his story- many thanks to him.

This 400 is significant in Repco Brabham Engines history too as it was fitted with the first customer, as against works engines provided to Jack Brabham. It was a 4.4 litre ‘RB620 Series’ V8.

Ken Hastings aboard the rebuilt ‘BB67-3’ at Sandown on the fast left drop to Dandenong Road circa 1970. Note the change to the bodywork at front and addition of a rear wing. Unguarded horse racing fencing an ever present danger back then. It’s practice by the look, the Pat Crea VW Beetle and ‘Chocolates’ David Robertson Ford Capri V8 sports sedans in the distance (L Hemer)

After the Gibson Bathurst tragedy the car was acquired by Melbourne racer Ken Hastings who rebuilt it. The car passed through several hands over the years before being bought by Elfin enthusiast/racer Bill Hemming, well known to Australians for the Elfin Heritage Centre which houses his collection of cars including ‘BB67-3′.

http://www.elfinheritage.com.au/

The car was rebuilt around a new chassis some years back albeit the very much shagged original frame remains ‘part of the package’- that is the CAMS ‘Certificate Of Description’ recognises the existence of the second chassis precluding the possibility of a ‘B Car’ being built. A neat solution I thought- history and safety are recognised.

Bob Jane leads Spencer Martin and the Elfin 400 Repco at Hume Weir, Queens Birthday meeting in June 1967. John Sawyer in the blue shirt behind, blue car is ex-Jones/Phillips et al Cooper Jaguar  (M Leirsch)

Elfin 400 Technical Specifications…

Lets cover the cars technical specs in brief as it’s covered in detail in the first of the articles referenced above.

The 400 was the third series of sports cars Garrie Cooper and his band of merry men in Edwardstown built. The first were the front engined ‘Streamliners’, the very first Elfins, then came the Clubman and later the mid-engined small-bore Mallala.

The 400 Series sporties were the first ‘big bangers’ he had built, a trip to the UK before he progressed the design too far got him up to speed with what was happening in Europe. The Group 5 Ford GT40 and Group 7 Lola T70, McLaren Elvas and Chaparral’s were the standout cars at the time for different reasons.

Rare colour shot of the Jane 400 in the paddock, date uncertain. Suspension as per text, note the wide based upper wishbone, magnesium uprights and solid Girling brake rotors. See the shot below, car now has a more substantial, but unbraced roll bar (S Lambert)

Whilst Garrie was building his first monocoque chassis car, the single-seater F3/F2/ANF 1.5 Type 100 very successful ‘Mono’ he decided an appropriately stressed multi-tubular spaceframe chassis would do the trick for the sportscar. After all, Ferrari were still winning plenty of races so equipped and the Australian market was conservative, a spaceframe was easier to maintain and to repair ‘in the field’ than a monocoque. Such a design could accommodate different engines he knew customers would want to fit to the cars. The frame was of square, round and oval section tubes, the aluminium undertray was stressed as were subsidiary bulkhead panels

Four chassis were built- first completed was the Matich ‘BB66-2’ which used a Traco Olds V8, then came the Globe Engineering ‘BB66-1’ a pushrod and later DOHC small-block Ford powered car,  Jane’s ‘BB67-3’ received a Repco ‘RBE620’ 4.4 litre V8 and ‘BB67-4’, originally owned by Andy Buchanan a big block Chev.

Bolted to these engines were various Hewland transaxles; HD4 for the Matich car LG500 for the Globe and Buchanan cars and DG300 for Jane’s.

Superb early 1967 shot of the Jane car. Engine is the first customer Repco engine delivered. Repco ‘RB620 Series’ 4.4 litre SOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected V8, circa 400 bhp @ 7000 rpm. ‘620’ is the Olds F85 modified block and first series crossflow heads- this design was the 1966 F1 championship winning design in 3 litres capacity. Note the tubes to the chassis, oil dry sump to the right. Fuel tank capacity 28 gallons- with the option of more. Array of Smiths and Stewart Warner instruments, see chassis plate on dash left and vestigial roll bar- soon altered to a higher and full width hoop albeit unbraced. Simply superb bit of kit (S Lambert)

Suspension was period typical. At the front by upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/Armstrong shocks. Uprights were cast magnesium, adjustable roll bars were fitted with rack and pinion steering.

At the rear, beautiful cast magnesium uprights were used, inverted lower wishbone, single top link and two radius rods, again with coil springs and Armstrong shocks. Roll bars were again adjustable.

Wheels, cast magnesium Elfin jobbies, were 15 inches diameter, 10 inches wide at the front and 12 inches at the back. Owners progressively increased the amount of rubber on the road appreciably over the coming years in accordance with the incredible advances in tyre technology at the time.

Brakes were Girling alloy ‘BR’ calipers with the rotors 12 inches  in diameter at the front and 11 inches at the rear. The bodywork was designed in house, as you will see in the various articles the ‘aero’ of the car was far from ‘fully resolved’ when completed.

Bob Jane aboard his 400 in 1968 (T Parkinson)

And they say Enzo Ferrari kept his drivers on their toes! So too it seems did RF Jane…

It was only in gathering the photos of the 400 that I realised how many fellas drove the 400 in a short period of time.

Bobs race team plans were changed suddenly when Spencer Martin decided to retire having won the second of his Gold Stars with Bob in 1967- they won two on the trot in 1966-7 using Bob’s Brabham BT11A Coventry Climax.

Spencer Martin had this to say about the 400 ‘What caused the accident (to Gibson) was an aerodynamic design fault with the car. I had driven the car in ’67. It was the quickest thing around at that stage. It had a 4.4 litre Repco V8 in it, and was very, very quick. But the aerodynamics on the car were not right. Unfortunately, Bevan paid for it with his life.’

Martin then commented about seeing the sportscars on circuit at Longford in 1967 when Bob Jane raced the 400. Spencer ran the Brabham BT11A and was therefore on hand to watch the sportscars practice.

Noel Hurd in the Globe Products owned Elfin 400 Ford became airborne at high speed during practice, mowing down a row of fence posts after spinning several times but leaving the driver unhurt. ‘It was an Elfin 400, and I saw them coming down the long straight at Longford, in Tasmania. I wasn’t at all happy with the aerodynamics of the car. Looking back I think I was very fortunate. If I hadn’t retired I would probably have been in that car’ (at Bathurst Easter 1969)

Whilst testing the Elfin at Calder early in 1967 Martin was circulating in 44.2 secs, nearly a second under Niel Allen’s lap record in his 400.

Shell boys at Warwick Farm in 1966: Jane, Kiwi Jim Palmer, Harvey and Jackie Stewart- quite an array of talent, champions all (WF)

John Harvey had shown what he was made of in the RRC Phillips owned Brabham BT14 Repco- so Bob hired Harvey, (born 1938) bought the BT14 and popped the Repco engine from it into the back of the BT11A and off they went to contest the ’68 Tasman Australian rounds.

The logic was that the F2 BT14 chassis wasn’t man enough for the Repco, whereas the older ‘Intercontinental’ BT11A was. Harvey did the Hordern Trophy late ’67 in the car, Climax engined before the Repco for Coventry Climax engine swap was performed. Harvey’s ‘compare and contrast’ of engines in that chassis would be interesting. As Australians know Harves was Bobs ‘main man’, his contracted driver from then right through until Frank Gardner returned to Australia in 1974- joining Jane for 1975.

John Harvey on Warwick Farm’s pit straight during the 1968 Warwick Farm 100 meeting. DNF gearbox in Janes BT11A ‘IC-4-64’ Repco. Clark won in a Lotus 49 DFW. The Brabham was and is a famous car- first owned by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce and raced in the ’64 Tasman successfully by Graham Hill it was then raced by Martin to two Gold Star wins. Still owned by Jane and restored to CC engined form (autopics.com.au)

Early in his time with Bob John had a bad accident at Easter Bathurst 1968 when an upright in the near new Brabham BT23E broke hospitalizing him for some while with a recuperation period even longer. His first meeting post accident was at Warwick Farm later in 1968. It was a meeting John was glad to get behind him as his eyesight, fine early in the day, had a bit of double-vision later as the day wore on.

Naturally on Jane’s part, if not Harvey’s, there may have been a question about him racing again after an accident Jane said could have been fatal. He needed another driver until Harves was fit.

Jane in the Longford pits in 1967, nice rear view of the 400 Repco (E French)

Ignoring the touring cars/sports sedans to focus on the cars which matter, Harvey raced the BT11A, then the ex-Brabham ’68 2.5 Tasman BT23E Repco, the Rennmax built Jane Repco 2.5, Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre and finally the Bowin P8 Repco Holden F5000. He raced the McLaren M6B Repco sportscar from 1969, with Bob. He drove the Elfin 400 only once and had this to say about it.

Bob drives and Harves carries the booty. McLaren M6B Repco, they have just won the final round of the 1972 Australian Sportscar Championship at Symmons Plains on 12 November- Harvey won 5 of the 6 rounds that year. Sex on wheels (oldracephotos.com)

‘I drove that Elfin only once and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all. It was the sort of car that probably I could have been persevered with, and make it work properly. Or, at least to suit me. Maybe other drivers, including Bevan, were quite happy with it. But I certainly wasn’t. And that was the result of only driving it one time. I didn’t like it so I never drove it again’.

So, the 400 seems to be the car which Jane, who also raced it a lot, shared around a bit.

Ian Cook, Elfin Mono Ford, Calder 1967 (autopics.com.au)

 Ian Cook was a Melbourne boy (born 1941) who made a name for himself in single-seaters winning the Victorian Lucas Davison Series in 1.5 litre Elfin Monos in 1966 and 1967…

He drove an ex-Granton Harrison Mk1 in ’66 and in Garrie Cooper’s prototype Mk2 in 1967. This chassis was the car which Alf Costanzo drove the wheels off and shot to prominence after sold to him by Cook.

Ian, in addition to his Elfin raced Melbourne car owner Tony Osborne’s Argo Chev sportscar in 1967, no doubt his skill behind the wheel of this Cooper derived sporty, a far less sophisticated machine than the 400, was instrumental in him joining the Jane organisation in late 1967.

Ian Cook, Elfin 400 Repco on the Longford dummy grid in 1968. Car now has seat belts. Notice the different injection trumpets on the engine from the earliest 1967 shots

His first drive of the Elfin 400 was at Calder in January 1968, taking 2 wins. The Jane team then took the car to the Bathurst Easter meeting in 1968, together with the BT23E crashed by Harvey in practice.

Bob and Ian were both down to drive the 400 but must have had problems with it in practice as it failed to start any of the events, certainly Cook drove it in practice. Or perhaps John’s serious accident was enough to ‘up sticks’ for the weekend. Their experiences in the 400 that weekend would have been interesting given the sad events which were to transpire 12 months hence.

(R MacKenzie)

Grant Twining reports that Ian Cook was the quickest of all the Elfin 400 drivers who raced the cars at Longford- Matich (noting the advance in tyres between 1966 and 1968) Jane and Noel Hurd. The photo above is of the front row of the ’68 Longford Tasman sportscar support race- #5 Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev vacated by Cook, Ian in the 400 and Chris Amon on pole in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/CanAm 350. Amon took the win, am keen to know the placings.

Four months later Jane won the Victorian Sportscar title at Winton in the 400 after Niel Allen retired his Elfin 400 Chev with a split gearbox housing.

After the Tasman BT23E was repaired Cook raced the car at the Lakeside, Gold Star round in July for 4th place. He doesn’t appear to have had another steer of the car, which is unfortunate.

Allan Moffat then raced the BT23E at the Sandown Gold Star round, bending it. More of that shortly.

The first race after repair of the BT23E was in John Harvey’s hands, at Warwick Farm in a support race late in 1968. His first championship steer was at the Sandown Tasman round in February 1969. John had engine dramas and failed to finish the race won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T. Amon also took the Tasman title that year.

Cook aboard the 400 at Hume Weir in 1968 (unattributed)

Ian Cook and Footscray Service Station proprietor, racer, ace machinist and later Brabham expert Denis Lupton were old friends.

Lupton ‘spannered’ Cook’s two Elfin Monos with great success. When the Jane drive came to an end they were keen to buy a Brabham BT23 to run in ANF2 but could not afford to do so. So the pair built the ‘Devione’, a car which took the BT23 track and wheelbase dimensions but was otherwise Lupton’s own design and build.

Ian was a skilled sheet-metal fabricator, between the two mates they had all the skills and experience to build a beautiful car. The spaceframe chassis used F2 Matra MS5 front and rear cast magnesium uprights. A Lotus/Ford twin-cam engine and Hewland 5 speed transaxle completed the cars major specifications.

The car was raced by both men, Cook doing the more ‘senior events’ inclusive of some Gold Star rounds whilst Lupton did club events. The car was built and then raced in the 1968-72 period.

Around 1970 Cook, a talented development engineer moved to Adelaide to join Chrysler, to assist Leo Geoghegan with the road and race development of the Valiant ‘VF’ Pacer, a four door sedan which was proposed to contest the showroom stock, ‘Group E Series Production’ racing which was booming at the time.

Cook was involved in establishing the Pacers road going specification, ensuring a nice balance of engine and braking performance and sorting ride heights, shock absorber settings and roll bars to get the right blend of handling, safety and performance. The first test of these cars was at Sandown in June 1969 during a 12 Hour record setting day.

Niel Allen’s Chev engine 400 ahead of Cook in Jane’s Repco engine variant during the 1968 Warwick Farm Tasman round. They are attacking The Esses. Results folks? Note the different noses on the cars (oldracephotos.com)

Into 1969 the Elfin 400 drive was Bevan Gibson’s, with John Harvey racing the Brabham BT23E and McLaren M6B, the latter with Bob.

Janes Brabham BT36 (BT30-27 was a late build BT30 to BT36 specifications) was raced only sporadically by John Harvey. 2 litre Waggott powered, it was a jewel of a machine but arrived in amongst the F5000’s and too late for the 1971 Gold Star series in which he could have given Max Stewart and Kevin Bartlett a ‘good shake’ at the title Max won.

Bob Jane Racing sold the car less engine to Lupton and Cook who owned it in partnership. They converted it to ANF2 form by the simple fitment of a Lotus/Ford 1.6 litre circa 200bhp engine. The car was to be shared by the friends as before with the Devione.

Lupton withdrew from the arrangement with Ian when he needed to raise some cash to care for one of his young children who needed hole-in-the-heart surgery.

On a cold, wet, foggy Sandown practice day Ian was being looked after by some ‘stand ins’ rather than his usual crew including Lupton- who was dealing with family matters.

Grant Twining, the owner of the Devione and a confidant of Lupton says their theory is that the Brabham’s tyre pressures were probably incorrectly set too low. During practice for the June 1973 meeting the car lost a tyre from a rim, slid into one of the Shell, over the circuit sign, concrete supports, killing him instantly.

A Melbourne driver, his is a story which deserves to be told in full. Suffice it to say, a fine engineer, competitor and man died way too young in very unfortunate circumstances.

Ian Cook accepting the plaudits of the unruly but respectful! Warwick Farm crowd, February 1968. Elfin 400 Repco (D Harney)

Most of us think of Allan Moffat (born 1939) and Janey as arch rivals which they undoubtedly were.

The droll, deadpan, Canadian ‘Marvin’ played the ‘Baddie Role’ so well, it was easy as a kid to dislike him as much as you liked his car! The Trans Am Mustang that is.

But not long after he returned from his successful sojurn of several years in the US, in 1968 he had a couple of drives for Bob- ‘Stuffing the nose of the 400 into the fence and hay-bales at The Causeway at Warwick Farm, and at the following Sandown he had a more comprehensive issue with the Brabham’ (BT23E) wrote journalist Ray Bell. The meeting Bell referred to was the September 1968 Gold Star round, the car, crashed in practice, did not start the race.

400 in the Longford paddock Tasman round, February 1968. Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina Mk2 alongside (D Cooper)

I’ve never seen any photos of Moffat aboard either car. Please share them if you have any Instamatic happy-snaps or better!

Moffat didn’t cover himself with glory it seems, not that it impacted his career trajectory! Factory Ford Series Production rides and the Trans Am were both happy 1969 events for both Moffat and we fans. What a ride he gave us all!?

Hume Weir front row of the sportscar feature, Queens Birthday weekend June 1967. Alan Hamilton’s white Porsche 906 Spyder, Spencer Martin in the Jane Elfin 400 Repco and nearside Bevan Gibson Lotus 15 Climax (M Leirsch)

Bevan Gibson (born 1946) I wrote about not so long ago in the article about the ex-Derek Jolly Lotus 15 which Bevan drove to within an inch of its life, bringing himself to the attention of Jane and others. Click here for a link to my article about the Lotus 15.

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

Gibson really was an interesting prospect- considerably younger than all of the other drivers. At 22 he was aboard one of the fastest cars in the country- also a tricky one. I’m not suggesting Bevan was in over his head. He had plenty of experience in the 200 plus bhp Lotus 15 and had done some laps in the BT11A Repco during 1968 ‘with a strict rev limit’ to be observed whilst driving the circa 280bhp single-seater.

Pre driving deal. The Shell contracted Bob Jane Elfin Mono Ford alongside the Shell contracted Gibson family owned Lotus 15 Climax, perhaps at Calder, date unknown (unattributed)

Whilst racing the family Lotus 15 Climax Bevan worked in the workshop of Jane’s Chrysler Valiant Dealership in Sydney Road, Brunswick. The racing department was in the same premises.

Spencer Martin had been staying with Bob at his place in Kew, just off the Kew boulevard, a well known and challenging ‘racetrack’ then. Bob suggested he move out into a place of his own- sharing with Bevan, the pair ‘shacked up’ in a unit at Princes Park (Carlton) organised by Bob, the arrangement ran from 1966-7, at which point Spencer retired from racing and returned to his Sydney hometown.

Bevan Gibson having a steer of Bob Jane’s Brabham BT11A Climax in August 1968 (unattributed)

Its interesting looking at the history, the connection to the Gibson family via Hoot Gibson, Bevan’s employment by the Jane Organisation, and ‘batching’ with Martin that Cook got the 400 drive in early 1968 rather than Bevan.

Perhaps it was simply that they (Bob and Spencer) didn’t think Bevan was quite ready for it at that time? There is no doubt that they saw plenty of each others races, photos of various of the Jane cars with the Gibson 15 in shot show them sharing the Shell facilities at race meetings. I’m not suggesting Cook wasn’t worthy of the Jane drive- most certainly he was, I am merely musing over the reasons/timing of the decision to give the drive to Ian rather than Bevan in 1968.

400 in the Calder paddock in May 1967- I wonder if its Bevan’s Lotus 15, which was painted red for a while, alongside. No roll bar in this shot (T Thompson)

At the 1969 Sandown Tasman meeting, the race and championship won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dini 246T, Gibson took the fifth of five in a row wins in Jane’s Elfin 400.

Barry Catford, somewhat prophetically, wrote the following note as a reporter covering the meeting for ‘Australian Motoring News’. ‘During the sportscar race I noticed on each lap the nose of the Jane Elfin lifted markedly after hitting a bump on the main straight before the start/finish line. The bump would affect the other cars, but not as noticeably as it did the Elfin. It seemed as though the Jane car needed less ride height at the front and maybe more at the rear which then may have resulted in less air getting under the front of the Elfin as it lifted over the bumps’.

The accident at Bathurst happened that Easter, on 7 April, three months later

Bevan Gibson ahead of Niel Allen at Calder in March 1969, 400 Repco from 400 Chev (oldracephotos.com)

In ‘Gentleman John Harvey’ Peter Molloy recounts how John Harvey was completely shattered by what had happened to Bevan. ‘I really think that John wanted to give it away then and there’. But, ever the complete professional, he saddled up in the Brabham BT23E and contested the Gold Star race- won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT31 Repco after the Gibson accident with the remnants of the fire fighting foam still on the track and debris off to its side. On a track which bit him badly due to component failure only 12 months before.

Bob Jane had this to say about Bevan- ‘Hoot Gibson (father of Bevan)…were a family devoted to motor racing. ‘Hoot’ went back to the rallies from years before. Along with a lot of my mates like Lou Molina and all those sort of people. Young Bevan was a very promising driver. He was very aggressive. When I say aggressive I mean very brave. Unfortunately, that element of bravery brought him undone’.

‘The car he was racing, my car, was an Elfin. Obviously with the knowledge we have today about aerodynamics, things would be different. The car had a flat bottom, and Mount Panorama was a very fast track. It had two bumps and the end of the straight which brought a lot of people undone. The car took off, went upside down, and caught on fire. It was just a terrible, terrible tragedy’.

Gibson pictured with the Jane Elfin Mono, at Calder, date unknown (unattributed)

It wasn’t my intention to spend time dealing with the accident which befell Bevan at Bathurst.

As I mentioned at this articles outset, what started as a pictorial has ended up a feature. There are quite a lot of ‘I reckons’ about the accident online, my article includes these too. What is persuasive or a least informative are the views of those from within the Bob Jane Team, and Harvey details with Bevan sensitively and the accident in full, on that basis I include the following lengthy view of a friend and insider.

‘Bevan was a very bright young bloke. He had extremely good car control, and was very fast. He was a bit like a lot of us in our younger days, he was a bit wild at times. But he was able to harness that wildness, that energy, and put it into his driving. He was very good in competition and making excellent progress’.

‘Also some drivers may have a ‘devil may care’ sort of attitude. This can lead to some ‘spirited’ driving. I never felt this would bring Bevan into harm, but I did sometimes think he was a bit on the wild side. I felt that at times he threw caution to the wind. I have no hard core evidence for this…but I just remember feeling that at times’.

‘Quite apart from what I thought, he was certainly a good young driver. He had a lot of talent. Had he survived he would certainly have been good at his craft, and would have won lots of races…’

Lap 1 of the fateful Easter Bathurst Sportscar race 1969. The event was not an ASCC round- but was an important race with all the ‘top guns’ present. Niel Allen ahead in his ex-Matich Elfin 400 Chev, Frank Matich, suffering fuel feed dramas is 2nd, Matich SR4 Repco then Bevan Gibson, Elfin 400 Repco. Note the winglets on the front of the Allen car, big rear wing and front tabs on the SR4, Jane car devoid of these aero appendages (oldracephotos/Dick Simpson)

Bathurst Easter 1969…

John Harvey continues ‘On the Saturday night Bevan discussed with us the fact that the Elfin was lifting off the road coming over the last hump. I said to him”You can’t have it lifting off the road. If it lifts off the road it will go upside down”. We suggested that maybe the car was getting a bit ‘light’ going over the hump. I really didn’t know what technical things he could do to alleviate the situation’.

‘We expended the conversation to include Bob Jane and John Sawyer (Bob Jane Racing Team Manager/Chief Mechanic). Bevan suggested we may put some air ‘flippers’ on the front of the car, or some little winglets. This was late on the Saturday night, and hardly the right time to initiate things like that. The conclusuion was that we didn’t know if it would work. These are the sorts of things you have to test under controlled conditions. Raceday, particularly at Bathurst, is not the place to test.’

‘The only comment I made was “In all the years I have been coming to this place in whatever cars, if the car does not feel stable over the last hump- or even the second last hump- or if its a windy day- always lift off the throttle”. To do this may only drop your speed only a few miles per hour, but what it does is drop the nose of the car. Drop the nose of the car, and reduce the amount of air under the car. The car will therefore feel that little bit safer, and that much more stabile’.

‘So, that was that. there were a number of drivers who were aware of the problem and did just as I said. All we could do was pass this advice on to Bevan- all I can recall is that Bevan was running third. He then passed Niel Allen (ex-Matich Elfin 400) or Niel had some problem and Bevan was in second place’.

Bob Jane team and Elfin 400 at Calder, date uncertain. John Sawyer in blue suit behind the car. No roll bar fitted in this shot (unattributed)

‘Bevan then started to catch the race leader, Frank Matich  (Matich SR4 Repco ‘760 Series’ quad-cam 4 valve Repco 5 litre V8- a normally vastly faster car than the Jane Elfin 400).  Franks car had gone onto  seven cylinder for some reason, but he still had a good lead. Bevan was starting to catch Frank. Maybe Frank’s car now went onto six cylinders. I don’t know. All we knew was that Bevan started to catch Frank fairly rapidly, Bevan went across the top of the mountain behind Frank, and down through the Esses. From there it was on to Conrod Straight’.

‘It appeared to us that if he caught Frank he would bide his time and pass where it was safe to do so. At this stage no one was thinking about aerodynamics. Plus, i’m not at all sure what role that may or may not have played. It appeared that Bevan ‘drafted’ Frank down the straight. He caught right up on Frank and surely knew he had him. I think by this time there were a couple of laps left to go in the race.’

‘Naturally I have no way to know what is going on in Bevan’s mind. But I can easily imagine him thinking “I’ve caught up to Frank Matich. I can pass him and win this big race at Mount Panorama”. Which, of course would be a big win to have’.

‘So Bevan drafted Frank down the straight. He seemed to me to pull out just before the last hump. He pulled out to get the run down the inside of Murray’s Corner, and beat Frank under brakes. I suppose they were travelling at 160-170mph, and Bevan had pulled out just before the last hump. When Bevan hit the fresh air the car seemed to accelerate. The Elfin lifted, went up in the air, and came to earth upside down. The car almost instantly caught flames, and that was that’.

‘There was no doubt in my mind that Bevan died in that first upside down impact. The rest of the destruction and the fire, didn’t really matter’.

John then sensitively deals with the hours and days which follows, and points out that despite over 25,000 miles of testing, and the advance of aerodynamic understanding in the decades which followed the accidents which befell Mercedes Benz at Le Mans not so few years ago. Two flips to Mark Webber.

Bevan Gibson, Elfin 400 Repco, Bathurst Easter 1969. An outstanding young talent taken too soon. RIP Bevan Gibson (oldracephotos.com)

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Gentleman John Harvey’ Tony McGirr, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘Elfin’ Barry Catford and John Blanden

Special thanks to Grant Twining for insights and information about Ian Cook

Photo Credits…

Ellis French, Dennis Cooper Collection, Dale Harvey, J Ellacott, oldracephotos.com, Dick Simpson, M Leirsch, S Lambert, Bob Mills Collection, GTRX, Tony Parkinson Collection, Wayne Wooton Collection, T Thompson, Tim Watts

Etcetera: Niel Allen from Noel Hurd and Bob Jane, Elfin 400’s all …

 

Mixed sportscar bag in country NSW. Jane at Hume Weir in early 1968 from a Lotus 11, Meyers Manx VW beach buggy! and Geneer Outlaw VW (oldracephotos.com)

 

Bob Jane off the line at a Calder Raceway drag meeting in, I think 1968. He took out ‘Competition Eliminator’ with an 11.78 second/117.80 mph pass for the standing quarter (W Wooton)

 

Ken Hastings at Sandown circa 1971, note the changes to the 400 body and addition of the rear wing (T Parkinson)

 

Bill Hemming in his beautifully restored ex-Jane 400 Repco at Phillip Island in recent years (G Russell)

Tailpiece: Butt shot for the tailpiece seems apt. Niel Allen Elfin 400 Chev, bodywork by Frank Matich, compare and contrast with the standard rear of Bob Janes 400 Repco. They are heading over Sandown’s old Causeway and about to swing left into the approach of the very quick Dunlop Bridge in 1968…

Tailpiece 2: End where we started with Bob Jane- at Longford in 1967, alongside is Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906. We have liftoff…

(T Watts)

Finito…