Archive for the ‘Sports Racers’ Category

(R Dumont)

Colin Chapman in thoughtful mode posed with a model of a Lotus Mk6, the shot is dated September 14, 1963.

I wonder what the purpose of the press visit was? For sure Ronald Dumont, the photographer and perhaps an accompanying motor-noter weren’t there to discuss the Mk6 or the Elite shown in the background.

Chapman’s primary programs that year were winning Lotus’ first F1 World Championship – Chapman’s part-credit for Vanwall’s 1958 Manufacturers Championship victory duly noted – together with Jim Clark and the Lotus 25 Climax, and winning the Indy 500 with Clark, FoMoCo and Lotus 29 Ford. He ticked the first box that year, but not the second, not yet anyway.

Design drawing of what became known as the Elan, by Ron Hickman dated November 1962 (R Hickman)

I know what the visit would have been about! The Elan was introduced in October 1962, that’s it. Ignoring the fact the car(s) in the shot are a 6 and Elite…

(unattributed but I’d love to know the artist if anyone can oblige)

It’s interesting how Ford sought to capitalise on the growing relationship with Lotus, something of a model for partnerships between a major automotive corporate and a more nimble performance specialist firm.

FoMoCo)
(Lotus Cars)
(Lotus Cars)
Elan production line at Hethel circa 1970 (Lotus Cars)

Where would motor racing have been, and historic racing now, without the giant-killing Lotus Ford twin-cam engine in all of its various guises; road, race and in the forests and hills?

(Lotus Cars)

Checkout the specifications of a Cosworth modifed twin-cam engine at the end of this piece; Allan Moffat, Single-Seater racer… | primotipo…

Credits…

Ronald Dumont, Getty Images, lotuscortinainfo.com, FoMoCo, Lotus Cars, Ron Hickman – see this piece on Hickman and the Elan; Ron Hickman and the Lotus Elan – The National Motor Museum Trust

Tailpiece…

Jim Clark with his new company car in June 1963. Love the Beetle and old-school parking meter behind, London?

Finito…

2022 McLaren MCL36 Mercedes (McLaren)

For the last few decades the aerodynamics of racing cars have been developed with the aid of complex computer modelling and sophisticated wind tunnel testing. Things were a bit different in 1964 as Bruce McLaren finalised the specifications of the first McLaren built from the ground up in his own factory – as against the Tasman Cooper T70s he and Wally Willmott built at Cooper in later 1963 – the McLaren M1.

The Kiwi’s head was full of ideas, he was up to his armpits doing countless laps of Goodwood helping to get the best from Ford Advanced Vehicles new Ford GT40. His nascent Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team was racing the Cooper Oldsmobile, a further mutation of the ex-Roger Penske Zerex Climax Special. Then their was his day-job with Cooper as leader of their F1 team.

Not to forget Cooper’s own Climax engined ‘Monaco’ sporty, or Lola’s Mk6 GT Ford, he had done plenty of laps in those too.

Bruce McLaren at right, and Eric Broadley – lead design engineer – in the brown shirt at left and Ford GT40. It’s the May 1964 Nurburgring 1000km, race debut of the car, DNF suspension. Note the radiator top-ducts (unattributed)

Never was a man better placed than Bruce right then to know exactly what a winning sports-racer’s attributes needed to be. After all, in June he’d just won the Players 200 at Mosport in front of some of the best in the world (Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, FJ Foy, Roger Penske and Ken Miles) aboard his just finished Cooper Olds aka Zerex Special. This very finely honed grandfather’s axe had just copped a new McLaren built centre cockpit section and 3.9-litre Traco modified Oldsmobile V8 to replace the lissom Coventry Climax FPF four. More on the Zerex Special here; Roger Penske’s Zerex Special… | primotipo…

While testing the Cooper Olds at Goodwood, McLarens mechanics, Wally Willmott and Tyler Alexander got tired of continually removing the front section of the Cooper Olds’ bodywork, just to check brake and clutch fluid levels. So they decided to cut a small access hatch above the master cylinders, it was hinged at the front and held shut with a Dzus fastener at the rear.

Cooper Oldsmobile and a busy Tyler Alexander in the Goodwood paddock, June-July 1964 – still with the Mosport ‘quickie’ stack exhausts and winning numerals attached (W Willmott)

On one of Bruce’s test runs the fastener came loose. McLaren noticed the flap lifting, showing negative pressure just where he thought it would be positive, and would therefore hold the flap shut.

Bruce, Wally and Tyler discussed the phenomena. They concluded that if it was a low-pressure area, they could exhaust hot air from the water and oil radiators through the top of the body to assist cooling. The method until then had been to exit the air around the front wheels.

They decided to change the radiator air exit, so Tyler set-to with tinsnips and cut a big square hole in the body behind the radiator. The flap of alloy wasn’t cut at the top but folded down behind the radiator to deflect the air upwards.

Tyler Alexander takes the tinsnips to form the Cooper Olds’ radiator exit duct. The smaller flap which popped open is clear, Goodwood (W Willmott)

After his test run with the changed nose, George Begg wrote, “Bruce reported that the front of the car now had better grip, this helped reduce high speed understeer. In turn this meant a larger rear spoiler could be employed so as to again balance the car’s handling at high speed.”

“This was a big breakthrough as it meant both better cooling and higher downforce from the body. Back at the factory an alloy panel was made and fitted to smooth the flow of air through the big square vent in the top of the bodywork.”

The Cooper Oldsmobile raced with the top-duct fitted for the balance of its life.

Bruce McLaren was the class of the field in the August 1964 RAC TT at Goodwood until clutch failure ended the Cooper Olds run – complete with now more refined bonnet top radiator duct (Evening Standard)

This innovation – I’m not saying McLaren were the first to do it, check out the duct on the Ford GT40 shown above that May – was then deployed on all front-radiator McLarens. Right from the first M1 sportscar – with the exception, for some reason, of the 1967 single-seaters – until the 1971 side-radiator M16 Indycar headed in a new aerodynamic direction initiated by Lotus’ epochal types 56 and 72.

McLaren’s approach quickly became the global paradigm.

It really was a major advance, one borne of a dodgy Dzus fastener and the computer like brain of Bruce Leslie McLaren, with not a data-base or wind tunnel to be seen.

(GP Library)

Bruce McLaren aboard his brand new McLaren M1 Oldsmobile at Goodwood in mid-September 1964.

It’s his first run with bodywork – note the neat radiator duct – his first laps of the spaceframe machine were completed sans body, a practice followed for years with McLaren’s single seaters and sportscars.

The McLaren M1’s Engine at this stage was a Traco prepped circa 310bhp 3.9-litre aluminium V8, gearbox a Hewland four speed HD, wheels are Cooper magnesium. More on the McLaren M1 here; Lola Mk6 Ford, Bruce McLaren and his M1 Olds… | primotipo…

(Getty)

The finished product during the Bahamas Speed Week at Nassau in December 1964.

Bruce placed second to the Hap Sharp/Roger Penske driven Chaparral 2A Chev in the feature race, the Nassau Trophy, despite giving away a litre or so and several years of ongoing development to the Rattlesnake Raceway boys.

Wally and Tyler sending Bruce away after a pitstop during the 405km race – 56 laps of the 7.2km Oakes Field Course.

Apart from the two factory Chaparrals (Penske jumped into Sharp’s car after an off-course excursion), the classy field of outright contenders included Pedro Rodriguez in a NART Ferrari 330P, Walt Hansgen’s Scarab Mk4 Chev, Dan Gurney’s Lotus 19 Ford and Jerry Grant’s Chev engined 19.

It was a great start for McLaren, orders for the cars poured in, this led to the deal Teddy Mayer concluded with Elva cars to produce customer McLarens, an incredibly smart and lucrative way to deal with the punters…

(Getty – Bernard Cahier)

Reference and photo credits…

‘Bruce McLaren: Racing Car Constructor’ George Begg, Wally Willmott, GP Library, LAT Images, Getty Images – Bernard Cahier

Finito…

917 brands rodrig

There are drives which are spoken of in reverential terms down the decades, Pedro Rodriguez’ victory in the Brands Hatch 1000km in 1970 is one of those…

Here #10, the John Wyer entry is set to pounce on #11 Vic Elford out of Druids in another factory (Porsche Salzburg) Porsche 917K, the Brit was of course no slouch on slippery surfaces himself. He was European Rally Champion aboard a Porsche 911 in 1967 and Monte winner similarly mounted in 1968 before going circuit racing.

Acknowledged wet weather ace Jackie Ickx raced a factory Ferrari 512S in a Brands Hatch field full of F1 drivers who in those days also contested the sportscar endurance classics. But Pedro was in a class of his own on that sodden Kent afternoon finishing five laps ahead of the second placed 917K of Elford and Denny Hulme, and eight laps ahead of another 917K driven by soon to be 1970 Le Mans winners Hans Hermann and Richard Attwood, both in similar equipment to Pedro…

Photo Credit…Bruce Thomas

Finito…

moss db3s

Stirling Moss’ Aston Martin DB3S heads down Silverstone’s straight on the approach to Copse, Silverstone, 5 May 1956…

Another factory Aston DB3S of Roy Salvadori won the race, The Daily Express Trophy meeting sports car event, with Bob Berry third in a Jag D-Type from Moss, he is behind Stirling in this shot. Roy Salvadori had a good meeting also winning the under 1500cc sportscar event in a Cooper T39 Climax.

Moss won the feature F1 event, the BRDC International Trophy over 60 laps/175 miles in Vanwall VW2 from the Connaught B-Types of  Archie Scott-Brown and Desmond Titterington.

image

(unattributed)

Moss in Vanwall VW2 chases teammate Harry Schell in VW1 during the International Trophy, Moss won while Harry suffered a DNF with a broken fuel pipe.

I’m on tour at the moment in Italy and then England, back in Australia on July 5, my posts until then will be predominantly quickies.

Credit…

Klemantaski Collection

Finito…

(MotorSport)

The John Whitmore/Frank Gardner Ford GT40 Mk2 chases the GT40 crewed by Peter Sutcliffe/Brian Redman through the leafy Ardennes Forest on May 22, 1966.

Its not the leaves which trouble me, but rather the more substantial trees to which they are attached. The saplings (sic!) to the left are not too much of a worry but their big brothers to the right – like the big hombre at the corners exit point – look a tad more unyielding.

Still, the general idea is to stay on the tarmac, not go off-roading. The group of spectators have wisely chosen to locate themselves on the far side of the trees all the same. They must be Belgians, not young Italians.

(MotorSport)
(AMR)

Alan Mann (with tie) and GT40P/1012 before the off, and under-the-Armco Eau Rouge shot below.

(AMR)

Mike Parkes and Ludovico Scarfiotti won the ’66 Spa 1000 kms in four hours 43.24 seconds from the Whitmore/Gardner Alan Mann Ford, then the Essex Wire GT40 driven by Peter Revson and Skip Scott with Peter Sutcliffe’s car fourth.

The race was held on the same weekend as the Monaco Grand Prix, so GP pilots were rather thin on the ground at Spa. Ford and Ferrari sent one works car each; the Parkes/Scarfiotti P3 was comfortably on pole from Whitmore/Gardner.

Parkes jumped away at the start, 4-litres of V12 led the Revson and Whitmore V8s then Lucien Bianchi, in Ecurie Francorchamps’ Ferrari 365P2. After 12 laps Parkes had lapped the field up to fifth place, by the mid-point it was Parkes/Scarfiotti, Whitmore/Gardner and Revson/Scott, the final race order.

The winning Parkes/Scarfiotti Ferrari P3 (MotorSport)
(AMR)

Down the field there was plenty of scrapping among the Porsche 906s who chased the very quick Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari Dino 206S crewed by Richard Attwood and Jean Guichet. The Dino finished sixth outright ahead of two 3.3-litre 250LM Ferraris and behind the fifth placed Chris Amon/Innes Ireland Ford GT40.

The Gijs and David Van Lennep Racing Team Holland Porsche 906 follows the similar works car of Hans Hermann and Dieter Glemser, 15th and DNF (MotorSport)

Etcetera…

Peter Sutcliffe’s GT40, chassis P/1009, was the same machine he raced with Frank Matich to second place in the 1966 Surfers Paradise 12-Hour, it was the last time he raced it before sale to Ed Nelson.

Credits…

MotorSport, AMR-Alan Mann Racing

Tailpiece…

(AMR)

Majestic is the word which springs to mind. The #48 Jaguar E-Type following ‘our GT40’ is crewed by Mike Merrick and John Harper, it finished 16th.

Finito…

(via Bonhams unattributed)

Jackie Stewart’s Carl Haas/works Lola T260 Chev all cocked up ahead of Denny Hulme’s McLaren M8F Chev at Laguna Seca on October 17, 1971…

Peter Revson won that day in the other works M8F from Stewart and Hulme, it was the second last Can-Am Cup round, the title won by Revson from Hulme and Stewart with five, three and two wins respectively.

I’ve given the Lola and the ’71 series a really good go here in a long epic; Jackie Stewart’s 1971 Can-Am Lola T260 Chev… | primotipo… but the discovery of some great MotorSport testing shots of the car at Silverstone in May and June that year were too good to ignore.

Lola’s 1971 challenger was developed off the back of its quick 1970 T220/T222 raced with great speed by Revvie. They upped the ante the following year with another new car, run by Haas, well funded by the L&M tobacco company and driven by no less an ace than John Young Stewart.

As you will see from the article above, the only things the Lola program lacked – both critical mind you – was sufficient testing and development prior to the championship’s commencement in mid June, and a tad more luck!

(MotorSport)
(MotorSport)

Frank Gardner shaking T260 HU1 down at Silverstone in May, doesn’t it look small in comparison to other Can-Am contenders of the day?

Gardner was Lola’s F5000 and development driver/engineer. He had a busy year extracting a little more pace from the (F5000) T192, and then, together with Bob Marston developed the smash-hit Lola T300 F5000 machine. A mountain of profits flowed into Eric Broadley’s coffers over the ensuing decade as Lola shifted dozens of T300/T330/T332/T333 machines.

Eric Broadley, Bob Marston? and who else folks, Silverstone test June 1971 (MotorSport)

Marston designed the T260 to a brief developed by Broadley. While the car had the same wheelbase as the dominant M8F, the car was narrower in both its front and rear track, and notably shorter in overall length. The car was very twitchy and difficult to drive at the limit, JYS later listed it as his least favourite racing car, by a nose from the 1966/7 BRM P83 H16. The T260 also had an understeer problem the team chased all year with all manner of different aero-treatments, most notably the cow-catcher additional front wing fitted in the final rounds.

(MotorSport)

The inboard mounted coil spring/Bilstein shock units were designed to allow huge, inboard disc brakes but Stewart vetoed that design approach given the failure of a front brake driveshaft fitted to a Lotus 72 Ford caused the death of his best friend, Jochen Rindt, at Monza in 1970.

Jackie later used inboard discs to good effect on the 1973 World F1 Championship winning Tyrrell 005/006s designed by Derek Gardner, but for the moment they were verboten.

(MotorSport)

Two T260s were built, the car shown is chassis HU1, Stewart’s racer all season, while HU2 was an unused spare in 1971.

(MotorSport)

Stewart shelters from the rain at Silverstone in June 1971, I wonder if he managed any dry laps before the car was shipped to North America for the first race at Mosport over the June 13 weekend?

(MotorSport)

The George Folz built, Lucas injected, circa 700bhp 8.1-litre alumium block Chev comes in for a bit of attention at Watkins Glen in late July. Jackie retired with gearbox problems after starting from pole. Revson won from Hulme and Jo Siffert’s Porsche 917/10.

(via Bonhams unattributed)

Credits…

MotorSport, Getty Images, Bonhams

Tailpiece…

Another angle on that radical, extended cow-catcher front wing in an attempt to get better grip at the front. LA Times Grand Prix, Riverside, the final Can-Am round on October 10, 1971. Hulme won from Revson and Howden Ganley, BRM P167 Chev, JYS DNF engine failure.

Finito…

The cockpits of fifties and sixties sportscars are about as good as it gets, the D-Type Jaguar is hard to toss in looks, feel and functionality.

Its XKD520 by the way. Bib Stillwell, Frank Gardner and David Finch were it’s owners in an illustrious Australian race history from early 1956 to 1961.

(G Molloy)

The prototype Jaguar D-Type, chassis XKC401, at Browns Lane in May 1954 before heading off for the Le Mans test weekend. There, in Tony Rolt’s hands, it broke the lap record by five seconds.

Credits…

Fisken, Sotheby’s, G Molloy in Australian Motor Sports

Tailpiece…

Finito…

Colin Chapman sitting on the left front, any takers on the other dudes? (MotorSport)

The Team Lotus crew prepare the Graham Hill/Derek Jolly Lotus 15 Coventry Climax 2-litre FPF at Le Mans during the 1959 24-Hour classic.

Chassis 608/626 ran as high as seventh in Hill’s hands before the Lotus Queerbox jumped out of gear while driven by Jolly. The resulting over-rev broke a rod, their race was over after 119 laps in the tenth hour.

Stirling Moss is Aston Martin’s hare, he jumps away in the lead in his DBR1/300 from Innes Ireland’s Ecosse D-Type, then Ecosse #8 Tojeiro Jag, Ivor Bueb, #1 Lister LM Jag, car #6 is Maurice Trintignant’s Aston DBR1/300. The Roy Salvadori/Carroll Shelby Aston Martin DBR1 were victorious (MotorSport)
Hill out, where is our Derek? (MotorSport)
Derek Jolly at Le Mans in 1959 (ABC)

The Australian driver’s works-ride came about as a result of a quid pro quo settlement of a workmanship claim Jolly made on Chapman. Derek’s earlier 15 (#608) was destroyed in an accident at Albert Park in late 1958 when a rear radius rod mounting failed, Derek clobbered a tree hard as a consequence, chassis #608 was mortally wounded.

The story of Derek, his Decca cars, including the Austin connection by which he met Colin Chapman, as well as the two Fifteens is told here; Derek’s Deccas and Lotus 15’s… | primotipo… while this one tells the story of 608/626′ victory in the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy; 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy… | primotipo…

Credits…

MotorSport, Australian Broadcasting Commission, F2 Index

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

Our Lotus 15 in the foreground, #53 is the Team Lotus Alan Stacey/Keith Greene driven Mk 17 Climax FWC. The 742cc machine was out with head gasket failure after 156 laps in the 16th hour.

#54 is another FWC engined 17 crewed by Mike Taylor/Jonathan Sieff, it didn’t finish either, this time ignition troubles sidelined it after only 23 laps.

Finito…

Jules Goux, works Ballot 2LS awaits his turn to set off, Targa 1922 (BNF)

I knew little about E. Ballot et Cie two years ago. Then I tripped over a photograph of Ballot 5/8LC #1004 competing at Safety Beach on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula in 1928, my thirst for all things Ballot remains unquenched.

The purchase of that factory 4.8-litre straight-eight 1919 Indy 500 racer – #1004 was raced at The Brickyard by Louis Wagner – and a 2-litre, four-cylinder 2LS – #15 was raced by Jules Goux in the 1921 French Grand Prix – by Alan Cooper, and his Patron, Stephen Brown, is an amazing story.

Harold (Hal) Cooper, and to a much lesser extent Alan, raced the cars with great success in Victoria and New South Wales in the mid-late 1920s. I wrote about their exploits in The Automobile, why don’t you buy a copy, that would make me look good with that nice Editor chappy, Mr Rishton; Back Issue – May 2021 – The Automobile

Ernest Ballot with two of the four 5/8LC 1919 Indy 500 racers out front of his extravagant art deco factory. Albert Guyot at the wheel on the left, Rene Thomas at right (Ballot)
Jules Goux’ Italian GP winning 3/8LC surrounded by 2LS’ in various guises. October 1921 Paris Motor Show held at the Grand Palais, Champs Elysees (Ballot)

Ballot commenced business at 103-105 Boulevard Brune, Paris in 1904 producing a range of simple, side-valve, stationary marine and automotive engines.

A profitable war building Hispano-Suiza aero engines provided Ernest Ballot with the loot to build his own cars. As the conflict wound down, he engaged pioneer aviator and 1914 Indy winner, Rene Thomas and Ernest Henry, to build four cars to contest the 1919 Indy 500, to promote his brand.

Together with The Charlatans – racer/mechanics Paolo Zuccarelli, Georges Boillot and Jules Goux – Henry built the revolutionary twin-cam, four-valve, Grand Prix engines for Peugeot from 1912-1914, from which all GP engines to this day are derived.

With an engine design up-his-sleeve, four 5/8LC, 4816cc, twin-cam, four-valve 125bhp, straight-eight racers, using ladder frame chassis and a four-speed gearbox were built and shipped to the US. The Ballots were quick, but plagued by tyre and magneto troubles, Albert Guyot’s fourth place was the marques’ best result.

Jules Goux and riding mechanic during the 1921 French GP, Circuit de la Sarthe-Le Mans. This 2LS is chassis/engine number 15, the car was purchased by Stephen Brown and Alan Cooper from the factory while in Paris in 1922, then raced in Australia (BNF)
The Goux 2LS is fettled before a crowd of admirers, superb atmospheric shot. The fascination of the public with fast automobiles – French ones at that – leaps off the image (MotorSport)
Joe Boyer’s Duesenberg 183 (DNF conrod) #16 dices with the Goux 2LS in France, 1921 (MotorSport)

Ballot’s Rue Cormeilles design team next attacked work on the 2LS and another Indy/Grand Prix car, the 3-litre 3/8LC.

Henry’s 3/8LC, a 2973cc, 107bhp scaled down 5/8LC was a masterpiece, surely one of the sexiest racing cars ever, four were made. Jules Goux won the 1921 Italian GP aboard one on the Circuito della Fascia d’Oro, at Montchiari, Brescia that September.

A little earlier in July, the French Grand Prix was held, it was the first major European race post-war. Ballot entered three 3/8LCs and a 2-litre 2LS against the mighty eight-cylinder Duesenberg 183s. Over 30 laps of a 17.26km course, 517km, at Le Mans, Jimmy Murphy’s Duesenberg just beat De Palma’s 3/8LC with Jules Goux’ 2LS a staggering third ahead of many nominally faster 3-litre cars.

These Deux Litres Sport were racers for the road, no more than 50, and perhaps as few as 20 were made. The 1986cc (69.9x130mm) 72bhp @ 3800rpm (safe to 4300rpm) engined cars were the first twin-cam 16-valve production road cars ever built.

This poster celebrates the win by Rene de Buck and Pierre Decroze aboard a 2LS in the September 1925 Gran Premio de Guipuzcoa (more usually known as the Spanish Touring Car GP). The pair completed the 1180.5km at an average speed of 98.4kmh. The race was part of the annual San Sebastian festival, the race, on the Lasarte road circuit, was held between the European and Spanish GPs

Other elements of an expensive cocktail included a channel section chassis, half elliptic springs front and rear located solid axles with one (two on some of the racers) Andre Hartford friction shock absorbers per wheel. Four-wheel drum brakes and a close-ratio gearbox completed an advanced package. There was also a catalogued modele de course with minimal doorless, wingless bodywork, a different bonnet and modified exhaust.

The more prosaic Ballots were the SOHC, 2-litre 2LT and 2LTS. The extensive competition activity was to build brand awareness of the marque generally, and specifically sell these normal road models aimed at a broader, albeit discerning market.

The 2LS first competed in the hands of Fernand Renard. He won his class and finished sixth outright at the Course de Cote a Gaillon (Gaillon hillclimb), near Rouen in October 1920.

Poor Renard – foreman of Ballot’s test department – died instantly when his 3/8LC collided with a truck which swerved into his path at Montrouge, Paris in February 1921. Testing Zenith carburettors, the experienced driver/riding mechanic was slated for a ’21 French Grand Prix drive, but it was sadly not to be.

Jules Goux, 2LS, French GP , Strasbourg, 1922 (BNF)
1922 French GP. Giulio Foresti, Ballot 2LS at left, and Pierre de Vizcaya, Bugatti T30 at right (BNF)
Foresti, 2LS French GP 1922 (BNF)
Foresti and his mechanic refuel their 2LS. Look carefully at this rare butt-shot, the attention to air-flow under the car is as considered as the rest of the body (MotorSport)

Etablissements Ballot entered two 2LS for Goux and Giulio Foresti in the April 1922 Targa Florio, the pair finished one-two in the 2-litre class. The outright winner was another works-Ballot driver, Count Giulio Masetti aboard a 1918 GP Mercedes 18/100.

In July, Ballot entered three 2LS in the Grand Prix De L’Automobile Club De France. From 1922-1925 major Grands Prix were run to a 2-litre formula. The race, centred on Strasbourg, comprised 60 laps of a 13.38km course, 803km in total.

Ballot and Bugatti (Type 30 straight-eight) competed for the Fugly Cup! Both companies presented aerodynamic, visually challenging machines with amazing cigar shaped bodies.

Felice Nazzaro won in a Fiat 804 2-litre straight-six. All three Ballots uncharacteristically failed with mechanical problems; Foresti after a piston broke on lap 44, Goux crashed on lap 33 and Masetti broke a rod on lap 18. The mechanical problems were thought to be a function of insufficient air getting to the radiator to cool the engine. The Bugatti T30s of Pierre de Vizcaya and Pierre Marco were second and third.

1922 French GP. 2LS streamliner radiator and front suspension detail. Note the sheet aluminium bulkhead supporting the radiator – its grille – and the ally body (BNF)
The Foresti 2LS, Targa 1922 (BNF)
Giulio Foresti at rest during the Targa Florio weekend, note the slab-tank on his ‘22 Targa 2LS. Foresti, a racer and Itala/Ballot dealer, came to Australia to deliver the Cooper brothers’ 5/8LC in 1925. He tested the car at Maroubra in the process of schooling the Coopers in its ways. Alan Cooper came close to killing himself and his mechanic in it days later in a monumental high-speed Maroubra rollover (BNF)
Jules Goux and mechanic at Targa, compare and contrast the bodies of the works-2LS in the various GPs contested in 1921-1922 (BNF)

Two Ballot 2LS were entered in the ’22 Italian GP at Monza but didn’t appear, into 1923 Ballot withdrew from more serious competition.

Dr Jean Haimovicci, a Romanian living in Paris, raced a 2LS at San Sebastian. “Very likely this entry received works support”, wrote Hans Etzrodt, the car appears to be one of the barrel-tank ’22 Targa cars. The doctor was third in the race taking five hours 19 minutes to complete the 445km on roads at Lasarte, south of magnificent San-Seb. Up-front was a pair of 2-litre Rolland-Pilain straight-eights driven by Albert Guyot and Gaston Delalande.

On the other side of The Channel, Malcolm Campbell won a race aboard a 2LS at Brooklands during the Whitsun or April meetings.

Malcolm Campbell, 2LS, at Brooklands during the BARC Easter meeting in 1923 (LAT)

Ballot spent a fortune on his race 5/8LC and 3/8LC GP/Indy 500 cars and the production 2LS. Despite an eye-watering price, these epochal 2-litre cars never came close to covering their development costs. Ernest went banzai! He created a marque instantly with his competition program, but his coffers were groaning as a consequence. So were his shareholders and bankers.

By 1928 Ballot’s range included the SOHC, 2.9-litre eight-cylinder RH, by 1931 the company had been acquired by Hispano-Suiza. Game over, but it was awfully sweet while it lasted.

The nautical theme of the Ballot logo dates back to Ernest Ballot’s beginnings in the French Navy, where he trained as an engineer. The Masetti 2LS with Ernest Ballot in the foreground, French GP 1922 (BNF)

Postscript…

What intrigues me, is what the chassis numbers of the works 2LS’ were/are? Was the car raced by Campbell in the UK a works racer, or a production modele de course?

It seems to me there were three (at least) works prepared and raced 2LS’. Sure, there were changes of bodywork from one event to the next, but my thesis is that the chassis’ used were probably the same throughout.

Those of you who have the voluminous, sumptuous and extravagant ‘Ballot’ by Daniel Cabart and Gautem Sen have a head start.

Do get in touch if you can assist; mark@bisset.com.au

The rear, most of it, of the Goux 2LS during the 1921 French GP weekend. The spare – look closely – is mounted vertically within the rear bodywork 3/8LC style (BNF)

Credits…

Hans Etzrodt and Kolumbus.fi, the libraries of Alistair McArthur, David Rapley, Bob King and Brian Lear. BNF-Bibliotheque Nationale de France, LAT, MotorSport, ‘Ballot’ Daniel Cabart and Gautam Sen, and the late David McKinney on The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece…

(BNF)

Let’s finish as we started, with the majesty of the 1922 Targa Florio, again it’s Jules Goux, 2LS.

Finito…

From the front, Types 30, 37A, 23 and 44 by two (G Murdoch)

Castlemaine, a Victorian Gold Rush town 120km to Melbourne’s north-west was home to the Victorian members of the Bugatti Owners Club of Australia, Spring Rally.

Event El Supremo Roger Cameron made a great choice of event base, there are some superb roads in the area. The town itself has some wonderful, majestic buildings as befits its status one of the boom-towns within the Golden Triangle, the area bounded by Avoca-Castlemaine-Wedderburn. 1,898,391kg of gold was mined in Victoria between 1851-1896, a few bucks-worth in today’s values.

More than a few examples of early Australian automotive exotica was acquired with gold-wealth, not least Bugattis.

Inglewood. Jim Thompson’s ex-Molina Brescia in the foreground, over the road, Type 44, 3/5-litre Bentley and T35B Pursang at right (M Bisset)
Likely Lads: Messrs, Stanley, Thompson, Berryman at rear, and Montgomery, at Inglewood (M Bisset)
Roger Cameron aboard his Type 44 on Saturday morning, by mid-afternoon the look of delight had changed to one of concern with maladies which transpired to be a broken brake-shoe spring (M Bisset)

Given the People’s Republic of Victoria’s title as the most Covid 19 locked-up-joint-on-the-planet, it was no surprise to see plenty of Victorian clubbies celebrate freedoms recently returned to us by the talented ruling duumvirate of Scotty-Bro and The Allstars, and Dan The Dastardly. Victoria’s weather can be capricious, but sunny, blue skies prevailed for most of the three days. In short, the planets were aligned for a wonderful weekend of motoring on great roads, albeit many of them are sadly in need of decent maintenance.

The line-up included three Brescia Type 23s, two Grand Prix cars – Types 37A and 35B Pursang – and an interesting mix of two and three-litre eight-cylinder un-supercharged tourers; Types 30 and 44. John Shellard’s Type 57 two-seater Corsica replica body machine is impressive – straight-eight 3-litre DOHC non-supercharged – a car I don’t recall seeing before. Co-stars comprised an interesting mix including two 5-litre’ised 3-litre Bentleys, a Lancia Fulvia 1.3S Zagato, MGA, Porsche 992/911 and my buddy, Bob King’s AC Ace-Bristol.

Avoca Hotel vista with the Shellard T57, and Murdoch and Thompson Brescias up front (M Bisset)
Saffs in Castlemaine, very good too (M Bisset)
Inglewood. Anderson T44, Montgomery Bentley and Schudmak T35B (M Bisset)

Starting point was the Woodlands Historic Park at Oaklands Junction (adjoining Melbourne Airport at Tullamarine) and then to Lancefield via Romsey.

The post-lunch session was some magnificent roads from Lancefield to Castlemaine. Immediately after clearing Lancefield we headed north west on the Burke and Wills Track, which is great but gets rutted and shitful towards Mia Mia. Then a respectful stop at Spring Plains, the site of the first flight – seven metres – by John Duigan aboard an Australian designed and built aeroplane on July 16,1910. Click here for more; John and Reginald Duigan, Australian aviation pioneers (monash.edu.au)

Electrical and motor engineer, John Duigan mid-flight on the family farm, Spring Plains, Mia Mia circa 1910. Self constructed – of wood, metal and Dunlop rubber coated cotton fabric – pusher type single-seat biplane with a moving foreplane elevator and light undercarriage. Power by a JE Tilley (Melbourne) 25hp vertical four stroke, four cylinder OHV engine, with drive to the four-blade 2.6-metre prop by chain. 9.27-metres long, wingspan 7.47-metres, weight including pilot 280kg, maximum speed 40mph in sustained flights at heights of 30-metres (Museums Victoria)
Cameron T44 detail. Nice (M Bisset)
The only one owner early Bugatti in the world? The late Dr Noel Murdoch famously did his 1920s rounds at his country, Yarra Junction practice in a Fiat 501 and this T44 – which is still a treasured family member nearly a century later. That’s the Anderson T44 opposite (M Bisset)

Then on to Redesdale, Sutton Grange, Faraday and into Castlemaine via Chewton on its eastern outskirts.

French mistresses are notoriously fickle, high maintenance critters so it was no surprise that one or two of the breed required the care of tender, loving, expert hands before dinner.

Grant Cowie’s Up The Creek (ya gotta hand it to a Kiwi with a sense of humour) enterprise – one of Australia’s acknowledged fettlers of fine pre-war marques, Bugatti included – is in Castlemaine and was called upon once or twice to assist in keeping Ettore’s finest behaving to the manor born.

A quirk of automotive history is that the hot-rod capital of Victoria (Australia?) is Castlemaine and its surrounds. As restoration of fine cars grew exponentially in the 1970s, many specialist body and engine builders, woodworkers and others located in the area to draw upon the technical skills, foundries and jobbing shops which had progressively grown earlier.

While being a treacle-beak at Grant Cowie’s, Bob King spotted David Reidie, formerly proprietor of the Harley City, and a recently minted Bugatti owner (King’s 35B Rep). He showed us through his amazing museum of 125 or so historic, mainly competition Harley Davidsons. Reidie is still working out how often to open to the punters, but it’s complete, ready to rock-and-roll, and will be a must-see even for those not particularly interested in ‘bikes.

Min Innes-Irons T23 Brescia in Clunes (M Bisset)
Schudmak T35B and Shellard T57, Clunes (M Bisset)

Proceedings started at 10am Saturday morning, with plenty of rumbling straight-eights being gently warmed up in the cool but sunny Spring breeze, and Adam Berryman getting good oil-pressure sans spark-plugs, by nine. The run was to Avoca, to the south-west, the Avoca Pub to be precise.

There were some dirt sections thrown into the mix early in the day, reminding me again that these folks like to use their cars, they aren’t Pebble Beach poseurs. What was it the late, great Lou Molina useter say? “We are goers, not showers”.

The route went through Muckleford South, the fringe of Maldon, Lockwood, Woodstock, Newbridge and into Inglewood for the first coffee pitstop for the day. Needless to say, the cars are a hit with local folks, it’s not every day of the week automotive splendour of a bygone era comes to town.

Cameron T44, Dillon Bentley, and King AC in Inglewood (M Bisset)
King AC Ace at Mia Mia (M Bisset)

The roads are a great test of chassis, my mount was Bob King’s 1960 AC Ace Bristol, what a great car it proved to be.

The 2-litre Bristol straight-six (thanks muchly BMW) is at its lusty best from 3000-4000 rpm, the thing has a gear for every occasion too, with Laycock de Normanville overdrive fitted. Suspension is independent front and rear – with leaf springs nicely controlled by Koni reds – soaks up all the bumps Victoria’s roads throw at it, brakes (disc/drum) are good, the driving position is great as are the seats – which are fantastic. My only grumble is the heavy steering at low speeds, but maybe I’m just turning into a soft-old-codger.

After an hour we set sail south for Avoca via Rheola, Bealiba, Riversdale, and thence the Avoca Hotel, it’s an easy relaxed pace, there was no competitive component to the proceedings and the route instructions are good, clear.

Berryman T37A at left, Shellard T57 in shot, Avoca (M Bisset)

Amazing what you can get at Mitre 10 these days. Berryman’s T37A #37327 in Inglewood (M Bisset)

The lunch at the Avoca Hotel was great, but I was preoccupied. Adam Berryman suggested it was time to drive his Type 37A on the return leg to Castlemaine, about 100km.

I’m very familiar with right-hand-shift Hewland ‘dog-boxes but it was still with some trepidation I jumped alongside Adam for the return voyage. The buffeting in the passenger seat sans small-aero screen on the short trip to clear town was incredible, but there was no such problem in the right-hand seat.

You drop your bum into a tight seat, wedged between the gearbox and passenger on your left, and chassis frame to the right. Don’t even think about a drive without your race-boots on and even then, there is no dead-pedal to the left. Your right foot (conventional pedal set-up in this car thankfully) looks after the throttle and brakes, with the left either dabbing the (easy) clutch or sitting as lightly as you can manage above it.

“First is towards you and back, second is straight forward, third is back-across-and away from you and back. Fourth is directly forward again,” Adam shouts. “Yep, goddit.” Without even a feel of the ‘box away we go.

The supercharged three-valve, SOHC, 1.5-litre 110bhp four is hard edged. It’s rappy and revvy with a very light flywheel and is not too many hours back from a Tula Engineering (UK) rebuild. Its magnificent, your whole-body fizzes for hours afterwards, the solidly mounted engine buzzes you good-vibrations. Adam uses ear-plugs, ya need ‘em too.

The whole experience is heightened by being on public roads, nuts of course. Glorious nuts. The thing is deceptively fast, Adam shouts that we are doing 85mph, well over the Victorian maximum, the roads are so poor the chassis is easily affected by the road corrugations, it’s sprung race stiff of course.

I wouldn’t say I covered myself in complete glory with the gearbox, second was my boogie gear on the way down early on, but if you are used to a right-hand shift it’s not too dramatic a change.

Berryman’s rump framed via an Ace bonnet in the wilds of Arnold. Only the muffler underneath ruins the visage – but is appreciated while at the wheel! (M Bisset)
Business end of T37A #37327. 1496cc (69x100mm) SOHC, 3-valve, Roots supercharged four cylinder engine giving circa 110bhp @ 5000rpm (M Bisset)

The engine never copped the big rev, rather the trip was about savouring the experience, the view down the road through the aero screen and tall, narrow tyres wobbling away, big wooden rim wheel oh-so-close to your chest, moving constantly – don’t keep correcting it, just let it move gently in your hands – almost sits in your crutch. Its counter intuitive if your long-armed, 10-inch Momo orientation is a Van Diemen Formula Ford or Ralt RT4 phenomena, but the size of the thing makes sense as you negotiate tight corners where the big wheel provides the required leverage!

Sounds assault you, not the exhaust so much, gasses and associated music exits via a long pipe under the car and a minimalist hot-dog muffler at the very rear of that seductive derriere to the lucky schmo following you. Gears assail you in a very raucous mechanical orchestral kinda-way. The gearbox is beside you, the diff immediately behind, while the camshaft and engine ancillaries are mainly gear driven, not to forget the supercharger meshing and doing its thing.

The reaction of the good citizens of Maryborough was so funny. The French racing blue rocket (chassis 37327), looks exactly as it did when raced by ‘Sabipa’ (Louis Marie Paul Charavel) in the ’27 Targa, and later by Frenchmen Jean-Claude D’Ahetze, Vincent Tersen and Andre Vagniez throughout Europe and North Africa from 1928 to 1931.

The look on little kids faces on the footpath, or their front-yards is the five-year-old equivalent of WTF?!, it’s just so out of place. Not behind the wheel mind you, albeit my left leg is tiring of trying to stay clear of the clutch pedal at about the 80km mark, the oil and water temps are good (thermatic fan fitted), the clutch is easily modulated and light and gearbox now more familiar. I could have gone for hours…

All too soon we are in the Castlemaine ‘burbs, one final blat away from the lights, then a U-Turn into the BP servo in Barker Street, and it’s all over.

Some days are forever etched in ‘yer brain as experiences to treasure, a drive of a GP Bugatti is one of them. Sick little unit that I am, I’ve been buzzing with afterglow for days, hopefully my state of arousal will subside soon, it’s quite uncomfortable really. Grazia Adam, bigtime.

Orf-piste @ Targa. Louis Charavel in, perhaps, #37327 during the 1927 Targa Florio. The Dieppe born, sometimes works-Bugatti driver – winner of the 1926 Italian GP aboard a T39 – ‘left the road on the first lap near Polizzi when his Bugatti fell 15 meters down a ravine tumbling over (doesn’t look like it to me) Luckily he suffered no injuries,’ according to kolumbus.fi (unattributed)
Murdoch T30, and distant T44 roadside at Arnold West. Fuel delivery dramas being sorted by Geoff Murdoch (M Bisset)

The Murdoch family Bugatti Type 30 (above) always draws me.

Its allure is its beauty and history, powered as it is by the very same 2-litre, three-valve, twin-carb straight eight #89 (below) fitted to Geoff Meredith’s Type 30 chassis #4087 when he won the very first Australian Grand Prix at Goulburn in 1927.

This T30, (chassis #4480 pictured), has an in-period Australian competition record of its own. There is a good chance the remaining parts of Meredith’s ex-AV Turner, and later Jack Clements “possibly most famous of Australian Bugattis” #4087 will be reunited by the Murdochs one day.

Bugatti 2-litre straight-eight #89 fitted to T30 #4480 (M Bisset)
Murdoch family T30, and T23 Brescia behind, in Clunes (M Bisset)

The evening functions at the Castlemaine Railway Hotel and Wild Food and Wine, within the space of Castlemaine’s old fire station were great, add them to your list.

Doyens, and founding members of the club, and the Bugatti world globally, are Stuart Murdoch, Stuart Anderson and Bob King. Anderson’s 90th birthday was recognised with Murdoch’s only a short time away, Bob is a veritable youth in this company.

They are interested, and interesting, having been into Bugattis when they were old-bangers, and restored many of them. Anderson’s cv includes restoration and racing a GP Talbot Darracq 700 and a couple of Maseratis, Murdoch’s a couple of Delages and lordy knows what else, Bob’s restoration and race tastes are mainly, but not exclusively French.

These events have a rhythm a bit like a race meeting, albeit without the pressure. Soon we were up-and-attem on Sunday morning, warming the cars up, but this time, after a pitstop in Clunes, then lunch in Trentham – all god’s own rolling hills country – it was time to go home.

Etcetera…

(M Bisset)

A couple of scallywags in Inglewood. Bodybuilder (car) extraordinaire Richard Stanley, and Jim Thompson about to jump into his much cherished ex-Molina Brescia.

(M Bisset)

Des Dillon’s Bentley bullies Bob King’s AC Ace in Inglewood, ‘the world’s fastest lorries’ really do have on-road presence and menace the likes of few!

(M Bisset)

Ecurie Schudmak – Phil and Susan – in Avoca, about to hit the road. These guys and their trusty Pursang T35B have done Bugatti rallies on most continents of the globe in this much loved and used car.

(M Bisset)

The Latreille Lancia Fulvia 1.3S Zagato, very tasty too, and Quinn MGA.

(M Bisset)

Michael Anderson and Bui Khoi before the off in Inglewood, Anderson family Type 44, another cherished car which has been in family hands for decades.

Shellard T57, great in profile, in Lancefield.

(M Bisset)

Clan Murdoch, or part thereof, in Inglewood.

(M Bisset)

Chewton crew. Bob King, then the masked avenger, Trevor Montgomery, Des Dillon and his lady – and Bentley 3-litre.

(M Bisset)

Credits…

Mark Bisset, Geoff Meredith

Tailpiece…

Berryman T37A, Castlemaine (M Bisset)

Le derriere incredible…

Finito…