Archive for the ‘Sports Racers’ Category

Pierre Levegh relaxed during the 1953 Le Mans weekend beside the Talbot Lago T26GS he drove to 8th place together with Charles Pozzi…

He famously came within an ace, an hour in fact, of winning the race solo in a similar car the year before.

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Levegh led the race from about 2am, during his long hours at the wheel the engine developed a vibration, which he felt he could nurse better than his co-pilot given he was in synch with the cars rhythm.

But an hour from the end of the classic the car coasted to a halt at Maison Blanche, about a mile from the pits. The Talbot was mortally wounded, either a conrod let go after a big over rev or a bolt holding the central crankshaft bearing came loose. What was never clear, Pierre was driving with a broken rev-counter, is whether the engine succumbed to the malady present for much of the race or whether in his exhausted state the driver missed a gear.

The Frenchman’s real name was Pierre Bouillin, his racing pseudonym Of Levegh was the surname of an uncle who was a pioneer driver who died in 1904. Alfred Levegh was a leading member of the Mors racing team at the turn of the century. Pierre assumed his uncle’s surname in 1938 but when he commenced racing in a Bugatti 57T in 1937 raced using his own name.

The wealthy Parisian brush company owner was a talented sportsman, being a world class tennis and ice hockey player in addition to his talents behind the wheel, a career he started pre-War in his early thirties but did not flourish until after the cessation of global hostilities.

Pierre, driving a factory Mercedes Benz 300SLR was an unwitting and innocent part of the tragic sequence of events which took his life, and those of 83 others at Le Mans in 1955. Not a subject I care to explore and an incredibly sad and inappropriate epitaph for a driver who was a journeyman in Grand Prix cars but good enough in Sports Cars to be invited into a team containing Moss and Fangio…

Levegh, Talbot Lago T26GS during his heroic but ultimately unsuccessful 1952 Le Mans drive (unattributed)

Credits…

Stanley Sherman, Klemantaski Collection, oldracingcars.com

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The Ludovico Scarfiotti/Peter Sutcliffe factory Ferrari P4 during the 1967 Brands Hatch 6 Hour held on 30 July…

Louis Klemantaski’s creative shot beautifully captures and ‘distresses’ the 5th placed car, Phil Hill and Mike Spence won the race in a Chaparral 2F Chev from the P4 of Chris Amon and Jackie Stewart.

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Sutcliffe dives the P4 inside the Enever/Polle MGB (Klemantsaki)

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P4 Ferrari cockpit at Brands ’67. Of the period ‘innit? Momo wheel, Veglia Borletti instruments, right-hand 5 speed change, car a spaceframe chassis with riveted on aluminium panels to add stiffness, beautifully trimmed for a racer-added to driver comfort over longer distances (Klemantaski)

I wrote articles about the Ferrari P4/CanAm 350, Chaparral 2F and 1967 Le Mans which may be of interest if you are into these cars and this great era of ‘unlimited’ endurance racing, check out;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/ and https://primotipo.com/2014/06/26/67-spa-1000km-chaparral-2f/ and https://primotipo.com/2015/09/24/le-mans-1967/

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Brands pits, 6 Hours ’67; the 3 factory P4’s in line astern with the Scarfiotti/Sutcliffe car ahead of the other two crewed by Amon/Stewart 2nd and Paul Hawkins/Jonathon Williams 6th. # 30 and 32 Lotus 47 Fords are Taylor/Preston 19th and Hine/Green DNF (Klemantaski)

Credit…

Klemantaski Collection

Tailpiece: Phil Hill in the winning Chaparral 2F Chev from the Scarfiotti/Sutcliffe Ferrari P4…

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(Klemantaski)

 

 

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George Follmer eases his oh-so-powerful Porsche 917/10 around the demanding swoops of Watkins Glen, New York State, 23 July 1972…

Follmer won the Can Am that year after taking over the drive vacated by Mark Donohue who had a disastrous second round practice crash at Road Atlanta, Georgia in July. Follmer was a wise choice by Roger Penske, the right mix of speed, engineering nouse and mechanical sympathy to deliver the goods at short notice. Watkins Glen was Follmer’s first race in the challenging 917/10, he was 5th, the hitherto dominant McLaren’s of Denny Hulme and Peter Revson were first and second- it was the last race win for the McLaren works team in the Can Am…

I must admit I have always been in two minds about these beasties. On the one hand they are very clever bits of engineering in adapting an existing race winning design made redundant into an altogether different and equally successful bit of kit. On the other, their dominance effectively, along with some silly SCCA rule decisions, destroyed the best ‘Formula Libre’ racing category on the planet. Make that the best racing category on the planet.

Porsche had of course competed in the Can Am before 1972, the decision to get serious was effectively made on its behalf by the FIA in making redundant the Group 5, 5 litre Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S cars which provided two of the best ever seasons of sportscar endurance racing in 1970 and 1971.

Zuffenhausen’s  existing 3 litre 908 was unlikely to be competitive with the Grand Prix engined designs of Ferrari and Matra, a completely new 3 litre engine would have been required under the new endurance racing rules.

So Porsche planned to spend its racing budget on winning the Can Am in its most important single market- using the existing 917 package of engineering goodies as rather a sound base.

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Follmers 917/10 Watkins Glen 23 July 1972. Donohue’s crash destroyed the only super lighweight titanium spaceframe chassis, this is the heavy! aluminium one. Two massive Eberspacher turbo’s, see the wastegate above the exhaust outlet pipes, new 4 speed transaxle developed for the 917/10 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Early Design and Development…

After the 1971 Le Mans classic was won by the Gijs Van Lennep/Helmut Marko Porsche Salzburg 917K a new open ‘Spyder’ designated the 917/10 was built based on the learnings of the open cars raced by Porsche in the Can Am in 1969 and 1970.

Jo Siffert raced the new car in four 1971 Can Am meetings before his untimely demise in his F1 BRM P160 in the Brands Hatch Victory Race.

Jo took two 2nds at Mid Ohio and Road America, 3rd at Watkins Glen and a 5th at Donnybrooke in the series won again by the dominant papaya McLarens, this time by Peter Revson in an M8F Chev.

Private owners of 917 Coupes were given the opportunity to convert their cars to Group 7 specification inclusive of a 5.4 litre version of the big Flat-12, a change achieved by increasing the bore to 90mm. The ultimate power increase was not as appreciable as the jump in torque as the valve sizes and timing were as per the original 4.5 litre lump.

Seppi leads Denny in turn 9 at Laguna Seca on 17 October 1971- Porsche 917/10 and McLaren M8F Chev. Jo died at Brands Hatch a week later. The earliest evolution of the 917/10 body clear in this shot. Revson won at Laguna with Hulme 3rd and Jo 5th (Manor)

At about this time the commercial arrangements between Porsche and Penske Racing were concluded for 1972 (see tailpiece) so most of the development efforts went into the turbo-charged 917/10 to be raced by Mark Donohue.

The ‘development efforts’ required were truly stunning to take the existing spaceframe design and evolve it to cope with circa 900bhp rather than the 450bhp 4.5 litre flat-12 engine first fitted to the chassis in 1969. Then there are the aerodynamics and the small matter of an engine with sufficiently good throttle response for road circuits, not something achieved before by a turbo engine.

After the contracts were signed Donohue, Penske and Senior Engineer Don Cox travelled to Germany to meet the Piechs, Helmut Flegl ‘who was to be our only contact with the Porsche factory. He and no-one else was to make decisions at their end’ Mark Donohue says in his ‘The Unfair Advantage’, the superb book written by him together with Paul Van Valkenburgh.

During that first visit the Americans were stunned by facilities which Donohue likened to Chevrolet R&D albeit on a much smaller scale ‘We were truly impressed. We reckoned all we had to do was put the operation in the proper gear, push it forward and we would have unlimited success’ said Mark. It was to be not quite that easy.

Donohue, Penske, Don Cox and Helmut Flegl at Weissach with the normally aspirated test 917/10 at Weissach on that first trip to Germany as related in the text. Note the ‘sissy’ rear wing compared to the big, butch muvva developed by Donohue and the Penske lads in the ‘States pictured elsewhere (Porsche)

An amusing anecdote of that first trip to Germany was Donohue being asked to do some laps in the test car which had about 1500 miles under its belt in the hands of Willy Kauhsen under Flegl’s supervision. Donohue had endured a couple of long boozy nights with his new colleagues and a big lunch but he figured the request for some action shots, in a car he had never sat in before, would be ok.

He did some laps ‘It was ‘hunting’ back and forth on the straight as though it had an inch of toe-out. I had to jamb my legs against the steering wheel to keep it in a straight line at 150mph. And I couldn’t shift it well because the gears were in odd locations and there weren’t any definite gates’.

When Donohue stopped Flegl told him he had done a time of 53 seconds against the lap record of 51.5…he was expected to better it!

Donohue played for time, asking for the pedals to be adjusted and went out again, improving a smidge. He stopped and Flegl asked him ‘What do you think of it now?’. Donohue asked the German (remember that Mark was a degree qualified engineer) about toe, camber, steering geometry, spring rates and wing angles- everything. ‘It was basically an understeering car, but it was oversteering in the high speed bends. And it had instability in the straights…I said I think it will be better if we stiffen the rear anti-roll bar, increase the wing angle and reduce the toe-in at the front. Flegl became very angry. He said ‘You tell the mechanics what to do, but you don’t tell me what the car does! What is my job? Obviously, you don’t need me’. I had made a political mistake already. His bosses were standing around watching while I appeared to be doing his job. They were all used to the concept of separating the driver, the engineer, and the mechanics. They weren’t prepared for a driver to have some engineering knowledge’.

Donohue then jumped into the car and got below the record; all were pleased except Flegl and Kauhsen who had put 1500 miles on it only to have Donohue go quicker having not sat in the car before, hung over, all in the space of about three hours! ‘Flegl figured I had gotten him fired. But because Cox and I had already done a good job (in the days earlier) convincing him of our combined forces approach, we were able to keep the relationship from falling apart’, said Mark.

Donohue intended to devote three days to chassis testing but stayed in Germany for three weeks!, working with Flegl on every variable, using the test track and two skid pads- one with a 100, and one with a 400 foot radius.

They started with the suspension and then worked on aerodynamics. The Germans were not convinced about Donohue’s tried and true technique of test pad before heading to the test track but Flegl stuck up for them ‘The two of us could discuss the situation in engineering terms and reach a stronger conclusion than either of us working alone. It was much easier on me as I could concentrate more on my driving. Flegl constantly kept elaborate records of precisely everything we did, and how it affected the car’.

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Where did I drop the bloody thing?! Mechanic at work on the #59 Brumos ‘customer’ 917/10, 4.5 litre, during the Watkins Glen Can Am 23 July 1972 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

‘We tested springs, bars, shocks, ride heights, wings and all possible variations in suspension alignment…It became obvious that all of their suspension geometry was wrong. I could tell by looking that the front was wrong, because it had such a short swing-arm radius. That’s why it was hunting so badly on the straightaway’.

‘At the rear the problem was apparent in tyre wear. The inside two inches of the tyre would wear out immediately…they agreed it was obviously wrong…As we got to the end of our tests, we started looking at the engineering drawings, and computer curves of the geometry. It became apparent that the rear roll centre was too low…When the original chassis was built (in 1969) they hadn’t anticipated all the aerodynamic downforce that could be generated. Now, in a turn, cornering forces were causing the rear suspension to fall, causing too much camber change and wearing the tyres out wrong. I couldn’t convince them of the seriousness of the problem (noting the 917 had just won its second Le Mans!), but i knew that once we had the car at our own shops (in the US) we could modify the geometry ourselves. We could run an A-B test, and let them know how it turned out. I also tried to convince them we needed a locked differential (a Donohue fetish used successfully on most of his cars!), and they fought that too. I figured the sooner we got the car to America, the better’.

‘We never went back to their test track until the last day I was there. After all that work the car was half a second faster. I was tremendously disappointed. I expected it to be two seconds better. It was a great victory for Flegl though. He stuck to our way of doing things, and he showed everyone that it was better. Without making any design changes to the vehicle, we had produced a new lap record…’

Follmer’s 917/10 at Watkins Glen on 23 July 1972. Note the beautifully triangulated aluminium spaceframe, steering rack above the drivers knees, big ventilated discs, beefy left foot brace and battery location on the cars floor. Decent view of the rear wing detail too at left (Schlegelmilch)

The cars chassis had to be slightly redesigned to accommodate the turbo installation and the wheelbase increased by 5/8 inch to allow the more rearward position of the driveshafts.

Very stiff titanium springs and roll bars were fitted with lateral accelerations of greater than 1.6g measured on the Weissach steering test pad.

917/10’s sold to private owners had aluminium frames, the weight only increased marginally to 60Kg with additional reinforcements made necessary by the engines colossal output. Amazing really. The magnesium development frame had done more than 3500Km practising and racing at Le Mans, a magnesium framed car was one of the two supplied to Penske for the ’72 season.

Paul Frere records that the magnesium frames were so difficult to weld that only two specialists at the factory could ‘fizz’ the things together. The mag frame saved 32lbs over the ‘ally ones, total weight of it circa 100lbs with all attachment brackets.

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Engine Development…

The pioneering work on turbo-charged racing engines was done in the ‘States in the mid-sixties to keep the venerable Offenhauser 4 cylinder engine competitive against the new, sophisticated DOHC Ford ‘Indy’ V8.

Stu Hilborn, the fuel injection expert, engineer Herb Porter and Bob DeBisschop of Garrett AirResearch, a manufacturer of turbo’s for Diesel engines most notably contributed.

With a standard Garrett TE06 diesel turbo unit running up to 100,000rpm, and capable of delivering 1.7 bar of pressure- the Offy gave 625bhp at 1.2 bar of pressure, any more than that and the modified 168cid blocks were in mortal danger. This was 150bhp more then the fuel injected 255cid Offy it replaced.

With development this grew to 800bhp by 1971, as power grew throttle response diminished and this of course was the big engineering challenge Porsche had to meet. It was one thing racing open-wheelers in top gear on long corners of constant radius, another thing entirely in road racing where instant throttle response was everything.

Further inspiration for Porsche came from BMW who won the European Touring Car Championship in 1968. Swiss engineer, Michael May, the same guy who pioneered wings on racing cars, developed a blown version of BMW’s 2 litre engine which gave 270bhp on 1.1 bar of boost. Despite detonation dramas the car won 4 races before turbo’s were banned in touring car racing.

At this point, 1970, Porsche started playing with a turbo-charged 2 litre 910 engine, then switched to a 4.5 litre 917 engine using Eberspacher turbos.

Fundamental reserves of Porsche engines are something easily understood once yerv had a chance to own one- I have in mind my over 225000Km ’85 Carrera 3.2, a 15 year old car when I bought it, and a daily driver for 7 years. The engineering of the things is superb and so it was for the 917 engine which was not significantly altered despite the 950bhp developed by the 5 litre turbo compared with the 580bhp claimed for the 4.5 litre normally aspirated motors, around which the original design work was done.

The compression ratio was lowered from 10.5:1 to 6.5:1 by changing the pistons. Inlet valve lift and valve overlap were reduced by substituting an exhaust camshaft for the inlet one and then making an inlet manifold to feed the exhaust gases to the turbine and another to take the compressed air to the intakes via a pressure balancing plenum chamber over each bank. Valentine Schaffer was in charge of  engine development.

There is a lot going on, have you ever seen so much complexity, not exactly an owner-drivers car! Note the spaceframe chassis, dry sump and oil system foreground centre, to its left fuel pumps above one tank, to the dry sumps right a duct for the rear brakes. See the distributor and throttle linkage centre, Bosch injection pump to its left and blow off valves on top of the inlet manifold. Donnybrooke, Minnesota 17 September 1972 (Upitis)

When Hans Mezger’s team did initial drawings for the 917 Turbo engine amongst key design tenets was the decision to use two turbo’s, one per bank of cylinders for the simple reason that two small turbo’s would ‘spool up’ quicker than a big single one offering better throttle response.

The chosen Eberspacher Turbo’s were adapted from industrial diesel units. They ran up to 90,000 rpm on ball bearings and delivered 0.55 of charge per second at a temperature of 150 degrees centigrade, the exhaust temperature went as high as 850 degrees. To withstand such heat the housing was aluminium but the turbine was made of steel.

The induction system was simple- log type manifolds were used for each bank of six cylinders with each turbo feeding one of the simple plenum chambers driven by the exhaust system. The two induction systems shared a common wastegate with a crossover pipe to equalise pressure on each side.

A Garrett wastegate was used and operated as it did in Indy racing. It had a diaphragm valve controlled by an adjustable-tension set spring which allowed the valve to open once the boost pressure was high enough to overcome the set tension. The idea was not to obtain maximum boost, but to obtain steady boost over a workable power band.

Early development problems included exhaust valves seizing in the guides, the heads were unmodified with the reduction in compression ratio and inlet cam profiles noted earlier. By mid 1971 Schaffer had improved durability such that a 4.5 litre engine survived an 8 hour full power run ‘something which reportedly could not be said for the dyno to which it was bolted’!!

The real dramas though were on the test track though where the drivability, read engine response was impossible, and even then after difficulties in just getting the engines to fire, to start. Part of the problem was an engine test cell fire which cost 3 months development time in mid 1971.

The first test ‘victim’ was Willy Kauhsen who tested chassis 917/10-001 at Weissach early in the summer of 1971, Ian Bamsey reports a ‘traumatic experience for the Porsche test driver…at first it took an hour or two to start! And when it eventually stated it went slowly , then suddenly exploded, there was nothing in the middle of the power band. And there was long, long turbo lag – ‘unacceptable’ he quotes Helmut Flegl as saying.

By the end of the year Kauhsen had his time on the Weissach test track to 49.1 seconds, two tenths quicker than Donohue in the same chassis but with a normally aspirated engine. Jo Siffert had the same difficulties driving the car at Weissach and Hockenheim.

The cooling fan size was retained although the speed was increased to 1.2 times engine speed. By now the engine timing had been fixed at 22 degrees B.T.D.C. To stop the engine running on, the injectors had been positioned lower down and close to new butterfly throttles- fuel had been spilling even after the pump supply had been cut. The fuel injection system was the usual Bosch unit used on the 917 throughout and required lots of  tweaking during early 1972 to get the engine race ready.

Back in the USA…

Penske were delivered a car which was identical to the chassis Flegl and Donouhue had optimised at Weissach.

Initial modifications centred around bigger and better rear wings. ‘We built two new wings, one the same shape as Porsche’s, only twice as big and one with a modern split flap design. I figured if the drag was too much with them, we could always level them out for the same downforce.’

Whilst waiting for a replacement engine, the team blew one having run it with insufficient oil ‘…Woody prepared an alternate front suspension, which incorporated the long swing-arm…It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was the best we could do within the structural limits of what we had. The rear roll centre was still too low…We could look to the rear after we got the front suspension working right’. At Atlanta the car was immediately one second a lap quicker with the new front suspension, Donouhe telexed Flegl, the changes were made to the chassis at Weissach, taking the approach even further and producing exactly what Donohue wanted.

Back again at Road Atlanta, with the changed suspension geometry, altered springs and bars and with the split-flap rear wing the car was five-tenths under the circuit record. At that stage Donohue writes he was not convinced the team needed the turbo engine, with Penske assuring him the twists of Atlanta were different to the demands of a power circuit like Riverside. A test at Riverside proved they had enough downforce at the rear, the difficulty was trimming it at the front, where the various profiles tried never achieved the downforce needed.

Donohue’s first introduction to turbo road racing was at Road Atlanta in late January 1972, the latest iteration of the engine was installed in the Penske team’s test spyder, 9117/10-003. Mark found the task impossible, after towing the car to start it, he had the same driving experience as Kauhsen and the late Jo.

‘Once it started we couldn’t keep it running…I tried to drive it for a few laps and discovered that the throttle worked like an ignition switch-it was either wide open power, or off…After a banzai effort I got down to about the same lap time as the non-turbo engine with about 300 more horsepower…Towards the end of the test the blower failed, scattering parts into a cylinder and ruining the engine. We sent it back to Germany with a long dissertation on the problem and possible solutions they could try’.

After another test in March, again at Road Am, and this time with the press present after which Mark returned to Weissach with the Porsche engineers. ‘I decided it was foolish to spend any more time in the states…I told Flegl I’d go to Germany to work with their engine men personally’. With Penske watching he struggled to to do a lap of 49.7 seconds at Weissach. At that stage both men thought the early Can Am rounds should be missed until the engine was driveable.

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Follmer’s 917/10 from the rear showing the huge, carefully developed rear wing, Watkins Glen 1972 (Upitis)

Back to the dyno the turbo went, this time with its injection pump fitted with an additional control element dependent upon boost pressure. Flegl ‘…with a normally aspirated car the injection system had responded to revs and throttle position…now we had a third parameter we had to learn to work with. Right from the first moment the setting of the pump for high boost, intermediate boost, low boost had been incorrect. We had to run different settings on the dyno, then all the knowledge had to be put into the injection pump. It took two or three months to produce a completely new system, with the pump about right’.

Donohue then easily took ‘001’ around the test track in the record time of 48.9 seconds, other than the addition of  extra valving the engine was ready to race; one more butterfly valve on each manifold, linked to the throttle and designed to bleed air out when the throttle was closed and four suction operated valves were located on top of each manifold log to ensue there wasn’t a vacuum in the system while the turbos were spooling up.

The decision was taken to use 5 litre engines (4.5’s for Interserie) in the Can Am, the three engines provided to Penske in 1972 had power ranges of between 894-918 BHP dependent upon boost of between 1.3-1.4 bar. Maximum boost chipped in between 5000-5500rpm. The turbo-4.5 litre variant customer engines gave 850bhp.

Whilst the engine was butch enough to cope with the additional loads imposed upon it the transaxle was not…

Torque produced by the engines was in excess of 700lb/foot so a completely new gearbox was designed and built, 4 speeds being determined as sufficient given the big, fat band of torque. Lubricant was circulated within and pumped through a radiator located above the ‘box. Titanium half shafts were reinforced and splined joints deleted in favour of massive rubber ‘donuts’. Stub axles, uprights and brake disc bells were all titanium as they were for earlier 917’s.

Porsche also developed their own heavily ribbed aluminium brake calipers for the car.

Race Record 1972 and 1973…

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Follmer at Watkins Glen 1972 (Getty)

The rout of the Can Am by the Penske and customer Porsche 917/10 and ’73 917/30 is well known, this article is more about the engineering of the cars, but the race summary goes something like this.

Donohue popped the car on pole at the 1972 Mosport first round but Denny Hulme took the win for the McLaren M20 Chev.

In the Road Atlanta round Mark had a huge accident destroying the magnesium chassis when a rear bodywork locating pin was not secured properly, the departing body and loss of downforce caused the prang from which he was lucky to escape- but Mark did not return until the Edmonton round. George Follmer stepped in, no pressure!, and won from Q2.

At Watkins Glen he was 3rd behind Denny and Revvie- The Empire Strikes Back!

But that was it, George then dialled in to the car and won at Mid Ohio and Road America before Tyrrell F1 driver Francois Cevert, proving his versatility, won in an ex-works M8F Chev at Donnybrooke with George 4th.

 

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Porsche 917/10 cutaway drawing (Tony Matthews)

Donohue won at Edmonton proving he had not lost his mojo upon his return to racing with George winning in California at both Laguna Seca and Riverside and the drivers title, the manufacturers of course going to Porsche.

Hulme halved George’s points haul, the Kiwi on 65 with Milt Minter in a normally aspirated 917/10 3rd and Mark 4th despite missing 60% of the rounds.

In 1973 it took a couple of rounds to get the evolved 917/30 right with Charlie Kemp and George winning in customer 917/10’s at Mosport and Road Atlanta. From then on though Donohue took the lot, winning six rounds from pole, the drivers title and again the manufacturers championship for Zuffenhausen.

McLaren withdrew from the series at the end of ’72, Porsche in ’73- the Can Am, mortally wounded by rule changes which drove away Chaparral at the end of 1970, and now with the departure of McLaren and Porsche limped on but as a shadow, very sadly, of his former self. Shadows of 1974/5 duly noted. Nothing is forever of course, but what a show the Can Am was whilst it lasted…

Bibliography…

‘The Porsche 917’ by Paul Frere in ‘Cars In Profile’, ‘Porsche 917: The Ultimate Weapon’ Ian Bamsey, ‘Mark Donohue: The Unfair Advantage’ Paul Van Vandenburgh with Mark Donohue

Photo Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Alvis Upitis, Manor, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Roger Penske, 917/10 and fans…

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Donohue ‘Our program with Porsche began at Le Mans in 1971, while we were there with the Ferrari (512M)…Mrs Piech and her sons Michael and Ferdinand asked to see Roger Penske for lunch…At that meeting the Piechs expressed a desire to go racing in the Can Am…Roger followed it up by flying to Grrmany four or five times and eventually they began to hammer out a contract…because of the dollars involved we couldn’t work from a handshake’.

Porsche’s commercial arrangements with Penske were similar to those with John Wyer. The actual preparation and racing of the cars was Penske’s responsibility, with 5 litre engines were delivered straight from the Porsche Experimental and Racing Department and tended at race meetings by factory engineers. Engine development work was done by the Porsche based upon feedback from the drivers and team as well as the engineers in the field.

It worked rather well…

Finito…

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Lord Howe in the process of loading his Mercedes 38/250 SS onto ‘Southern Railways’ cross-channel steamer ‘Autocarrier’ cross channel ferry on 30 March 1931…

AF Rivers-Fletcher in a letter to MotorSport in February 1976 relates his experiences with this car which Howe acquired after Rudy Caracciola’s victory in the 1929 TT at Ards, Northern Ireland. The great German won the 30 lap race with a 5 lap handicap in a rain storm.

Fletcher wrote the letter in response to Bill Boddy’s article some months before comparing the Bentleys and Mercedes in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Fletcher ‘having been at different times, closely involved with both camps, Bentleys and Campbell/Howe Mercedes, found his allegiance torn’. His impressions and recollections make very interesting reading.

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1930 Irish GP/Eireann Cup start, 19 July 1930 #1 Campbell Merc SSK from #2 Howe Merc SSK, #6 Jean Chassagne Bentley Blower, #8 Birkin Bentley Blower, #9 ?, #10 Giulio Ramponi O.M. and the rest (Mercedes Benz)

I first drove some of the cars-Le Mans 6 1/2 litre Bentleys and Earl Howe Mercedes more than 40 years ago..’and in more recent times. ‘Even more revealing was being driven by Barnato, Birkin, Campbell and Howe in the very cars at the time of their racing success. Regretfully, however i never rode as a mechanic in the Mercedes or Bentleys…watching as an apprentice with pangs of enyy during practice for the Brooklands Double Twelve as Wally (Hassan) jumped down into Barnato’s Speed Six Bentley to ride with him as a mechanic’.

Fletcher; ‘After Caracciola’s epic victory with the 38/250 Mercedes SS in the 1929 TT, Lord Howe bought the car and raced it for several seasons. I drove it several times, once on quite a long run with Leslie Callingham of Shell…it must be remembered that Malcolm Campbell and Lord Howe ran their Mercedes in sprints and hillclimbs as well (as long distance races). They were very successful in spite of the brakes, the ‘achilles’ heel of the racing Mercedes.’.

‘…i always thought one of the best performances of Lord Howe’s Mercedes was its run in the 1933 Mille Miglia. Driven by Penn-Hughes and Percy Thomas (Lord Howe’s excellent mechanic) the Mercedes was in fact acting as the tender car to the ‘old mans’ successful MG Magnette team. It was loaded with MG spare parts under the tonneau’.

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1930 Irish GP/ Eireann Cup: Rudy Caracciola Merc SSK from the Howe SSK (Mercedes Benz)

Fletcher then compared the Benz with the Bentleys of the day; ‘The Bentleys particularly the 6 1/2, felt a good deal bigger than the Mercedes, perhaps because you sat so much higher in the Bentleys. Comparing the cars is very difficult because they felt so entirely different. Despite the record i still feel the Mercedes was pre-eminently a sprint machine with ‘bottom-end’ performance. The very light steering, terrific getaway aided by the unique blower installation and the compact feel of the car all made the Mercedes an ideal car for tight circuits and the hills-despite those brakes’.

‘The Bentley was a long distance car with ‘top-end’ performance. With its heavier steering it felt incredible sure footed. It needed more thought in deciding on a line through a corner, but was, i believe, quicker on the faster swerves than a Mercedes. The getaway from rest and from tight corners was slower than the Mercedes, but it made up for this by having tremendous torque in the middle and upper ranges. The ‘big 6 Bentley’ really accelerated between 70-100 where the Mercedes lagged a bit unless the supercharger was used all the time, which was seldom a proposition for long periods. The Bentley brakes were always excellent, with SO little fade, despite the considerable weight’.

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Malcolm Campbell and Earl Howe at Brooklands upon the unveiling of the new BRDC, and still thankfully current! logo, 9 September 1931. What are the cars tho? (Underwood)

Fletcher, in a fascinating letter, his impressions of driving the cars ‘in period’ of vastly greater relevance than any modern ‘comparative tests’ concluded the correspondence with a comment ‘As to the drivers-Campbell, Howe, Barnato and Birkin (one could write of any of the Bentley team, but Birkin and Barnato come to mind as they were most involved with ‘Mercedes baiting’)- it would need to be a complete article, or even a book, to compare them. All were thrilling to ride with, Barnato seemed the safest and Lord Howe the most frightening. Suffice it to say that in many ways Campbell, Howe and Barnato were rather like their cars and Birkin was more like a Mercedes! Don’t you think?’

1930 Irish Grand Prix…

The Irish Grand Prix format from 1929-1932 comprised two handicap, 300 mile races each year with a formula determining the overall winner of the GP. The ‘Saorstat Cup’ was run for cars under 1500cc on the Friday of race weekend  and the ‘Eireann Cup’ for the over 1500cc ‘heavy metal’ on the Saturday. Phoenix Park, the venue is just west of Dublin’s City Centre, the circuit was first used for racing in 1903 and was 6.8 Km long at the time. The 1930 races were won by Victor Gillow’s Riley 9 Brooklands with Rudy Caracciola’s Benz SSK taking out the over 1500cc event and awarded the GP itself.

Of interest to Australian enthusiasts is Adelaide born, but British domiciled Arthur Waite’s 3rd place in the ‘Saorstat Cup’ aboard his Austin, Captain Waite was the winner of the second Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 1928. Caracciola’s margin was 8 minutes from Giuseppe Campari’s works Alfa 6C 1750 GS with Howe 3 minutes further back in his SSK- then Birkin’s Bentley Blower circa 35 seconds adrift of the SSK.

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Lord Howe togs up for the 1931 Irish GP/ Eireann Cup in which he was 5th and set fastest lap in his Mercedes Benz SS. The winner was Sir Henry Birkin’s Alfa Romeo 8C2300. An amusing sidebar is this snippet from the Adelaide Advertiser’s report of the race in its 9 June 1931 edition ‘…Birkin’s car, made in Italy, was turned out for the race only by the intervention of Mussolini, who said that, as an Englishman had honoured Italy by ordering an Italian car for an English race, the Alfa Romeo company should provide a double-shift to complete the job. These shifts were necessary because this company is making also the engines for the Italian Schneider Cup planes’, the report concludes. Alfa went to great lengths to get the car to the race in time, factory race mechanic Alessandro Gaboardi accompanying Clive Gallop, a member of Birkin’s team in driving Vittorio Jano’s brilliant 8C2300 from Portello to Phoenix Park and then sat alongside Birkin during the race.

Birkin, Gaboardi and Alfa 8C2300 after their 1931 Eireann Cup win, Phoenix Park, Dublin (Popperfoto)

Mercedes S, SS, SSKL 1926-33…

Click here for a link to the factory site and a summary of these magnificent cars;

https://mercedes-benz-publicarchive.com/marsPublic/en/instance/ko/S-SS-SSK-SSKL-1926—1933.xhtml?oid=4175

Credits…

WG Phillips, Rivers Fletcher letter to MotorSport February 1976, Mercedes Benz

Tailpiece: ‘Carach’ on the way to winning the 836.9 Km 1929 RAC TT at Ards in the works Mercedes Benz SS, on 17 August…

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(Mercedes Benz)

The RAC International Tourist Trophy, a race for ‘production sports cars’ was held from 1928 to 1936 on a 13.67 mile road course on the outskirts of Belfast at Ards, eight spectator fatalities after a car crashed into the crowd in 1936 caused the events demise.

 

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‘yer don’t tend to think of Rodriguez as a Can-Am driver but he contested many races over the years without ever doing a full season’s program. A pity, as his fearless, blinding speed aboard big hairy V8’s would have been worth travelling a mile or three to see…

Here Pedro is with the 7.4 litre BRM P154 Chev during the Monterey Grand Prix weekend at Laguna Seca on 18 October 1970.

BRM built the P154 Chev to contest the 1970 Can-Am with George Eaton as its driver, the car was one of two brand new cars by Bourne’s just joined designer, Tony Southgate.

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The immensely talented BRM Chief Engineer, team manager and designer Tony Rudd fettling his nemesis, the complicated, heavy and recalcitrant! BRM P83 ‘H16’, Monza, Italian GP practice in 1966 (GP Library)

BRM had two terrible years by their lofty standards in 1968 and into 1969. The BRM H16 engine was finally made reliable-ish in 1967 but it’s corpulence, it was well over 300 pounds in excess of it’s designed weight made the cars power to weight ratio poor whatever the chassis designers did to take weight out of the rest of the bolide.

The replacement P101 2 valve 3 litre V12, first raced by Bruce McLaren in his McLaren M5B at the Canadian GP  in late 1967 was concepted as a sports car engine. Whilst light it wasn’t a match for the Ford Cosworth DFV’s power, torque, fuel efficiency or reliability, the same problems being confronted by Ferrari and Matra with their own V12’s.  Into 1968 the DFV was being raced in numbers; by Lotus, McLaren, and Ken Tyrrell’s Matra International team.

As the Bourne engineers focussed on engines they lost their way with chassis direction, a strength prior to this. As a consequence Tony Rudd, who had masterminded BRM’s rise and consistency for over a decade left in mid-1969 to join Colin Chapman at Lotus.

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British GP practice, Silverstone 1969 with Surtees telling the boss just how shite things really are! Sir Alfred Owen, the immensely successful industrialist listens carefully and acts, with ‘generational change’ at Bourne. Allan Challis is the BRM mech in orange (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

’69 BRM driver, John Surtees was having a shocker of a season on both sides of the Atlantic, Jim Hall’s conceptually brilliant but flawed Chaparral 2H CanAm car was an even bigger ‘sheissen-box’ than his BRM F1 P139 BRM. Time was ticking in terms of his own driving career, he was 35 and had managed to land in the wrong team at the wrong time, twice in the same year when time was very much a precious commodity!

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Surtees in the BRM P138 in Monaco 1969 practice. The cars all raced raced sans wings due to a CSI  overnight safety decree severely limiting them. Surtees Q6 and DNF after Jack Brabham ran up his clacker when his gearbox failed, no injury to either driver (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

With BRM owner Sir Alfred Owen’s consent Surtees approached Tony Southgate, with whom he had worked at Lola on the T70 Can Am and T100 F2 cars and more recently designed competitive cars for Dan Gurneys ‘All American Racers’ in Santa Anna, California.

Southgate’s Eagle 210 Offy won the 500 in Bobby Unsers hands in 1968, he also designed a successful Formula A car and a stillborn ’68 F1 car design, elements of which were picked up in the Indy and ‘A Car’.

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George Eaton at Monaco in 1970 in Tony Southgate’s brand new, BRG BRM P153 V12. Compare the ‘old and new’ P138 Monaco ’69 with P153 Monaco ’70  (The GP Library)

Southgate’s brief when he joined BRM was twofold; ‘do what you can now to get the P139 competitive and design a new car for 1970’…

The Brit quickly decided their was little he could do with the P139 so pressed on with the design of the P153, it and the evolved for ’71 P160 were front running, GP winning (4 wins) cars.

Whilst in the middle of the P153 design the chaotic BRM ‘decision making process’ determined that a Can Am challenger for 1970 was a good idea. It was a good earn after all. In a way it was a good decision as Southgate had Can Am experience at Lola and AAR but at the time focus on the ‘main F1 game’ would have been the more prudent course, but racers to the core the BRM outfit were!

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Tony Southgate’s quarter-scale layout drawing of the BRM P154 (Tony Southgate)

Given the designation P154, the car was very much a wedge-shaped device, developed at quarter scale in the Imperial College wind tunnel, then in MIRA’s full-size tunnel when it was completed.

Southgate recalled testing the car at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association test facility); ‘MIRA has a large test track, with high banked corners to enable high average speeds to be maintained…the one and only Jaguar XJ13 was there for a filming run…an hour or two later whilst in the wind tunnel we heard a load bang. The XJ13 crashed violently at 125mph when a rear wheel collapsed, it rolled four times, I’m glad to say Norman Dewis, Jag’s legendary test driver was only bruised’.

‘By comparison with the 1965 prototype Le Mans car, certainly pretty but what then seemed like old technology, basically it looked like an E Type with an engine in the middle, very round in section with low drag the clear priority. By comparison the P154 was very aggressive looking, wedge-shaped with square sections and downforce was written all over it.’

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‘The P154 model in the Imperial College wind tunnel. There was no moving floor in those days so the wheels were fixed with a small 1mm gap between them and the floor. The model was covered in chalk and paraffin so that when it dried the chalk left a surface air flow pattern for studying.’ (Tony Southgate)

The P154 had a neat lightweight monocoque chassis, the front suspension was similar to the P153 with a single upper link, lower wishbones, coil spring/Koni shocks and an adjustable roll bar. But the rear suspension was quite different as Southgate sought to run the exhaust low down, locating the exhaust primaries below the rear suspension lower wishbones, the aim was to lower the CG. ‘The end result looked good’. The suspension itself was conventional, single upper link, lower wishbones, twin radius rods for forward and lateral location and coil spring/Koni shocks and adjustable roll bar.

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‘The prototype BRM P154/01 being assembled at Bourne. I am showing (TS left) the Castrol USA representative (sponsor) around whilst Tim Parnell (team manager at right) looks on. The monocoque was quite neat and full-length, finishing at the gearbox. The engine is a Chevy developed by BRM, the gearbox a Hewland LG500.’ (Tony Southgate)

Designed for super wide 19inch wide Firestones which never appeared, the car always looked ‘over bodied’ with the 17’s the car raced with. This contributed to the handling dramas attributed to the beast.

The engine was built in-house at BRM and seemed competitive; Chev ZL1 aluminium blocked 7.4 litre, Lucas injected, magneto ignited, dry sump V8 developing circa 650 BHP. The gearbox was one of Mike Hewland’s LG500’s.

The car had little testing, ‘it was thrown together and sent to America for the mechanics to sort out on the hoof” Southgate quipped in a MotorSport interview. The poor unfortunates sent to the US with the car were Roger Bailey and Mike Underwood!

The car sorely needed testing as BRM’s first Can Am machine and the cars driver, Canadian George Eaton didn’t have the experience of big sports cars of both other 1970 BRM F1 drivers, Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver. ‘It was a low budget operation and the results reflected that. For me, it was a distraction at the time from the real thing-Formula One’ said Southgate.

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‘The completed P154 outside the Bourne workshop in 1970. Note the paintwork was not complete when this photo was taken. In this shot you can see the undersized tyres front and rear, which proved a problem on the circuit (Tony Southgate)

Racing the P154: George Eaton 1970…

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George Eaton with the BRM P154 Chev, 11 June 1970 (Dick Darrell)

Eaton was far from devoid of ‘Big Car’ experience, however.

He raced a McLaren M10A Chev Formula A, 5 litre chassis successfully in North America in 1969 and had raced customer McLarens in the Can Am since 1967.

He was a very strong performer in his beautifully prepared McLaren M12 Chev in the 1969 Can Am consistently qualifying in the top 6 in a field with great depth of talent. His best results were in Texas 2nd, Edmonton 3rd, Watkins Glen 4th and Mid Ohio 6th. He was a bright young spark in these, big, demanding cars.

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‘An early race for the P154, George Eaton, Eatons distant 3rd at St Jovite Canada being a rare highlight’ (Tony Southgate)

So George knew what a good, sorted McLaren was all about and how to drive it figuring a bespoke BRM works car would be a very good thing. Which it was not! The lack of development miles told in the early part of the season.

He qualified 7th at Mosport and 3rd at St Jovite for a DNF with oil and transmission problems and a strong 3rd place. At Watkins Glen he had brake failure, Edmonton a wheel bearing failure and at Mid Ohio fuel pressure problems having qualified 13th, 6th and 25th. At Road Atlanta an engine blew having qualified 5th.

Pedro Rodriguez joined the series from Donnybrooke in September where he was 9th, ‘it didn’t go well in Eaton’s hands so we put Pedro in a car’ was Southgate’s quip, it rather implied the problem was George, which it was not.  The Mexican finished 5th at Laguna and 3rd at Riverside but was out qualified at each round by George. Frustrating for Eaton was Pedro’s results given the hard yards he had put in. He had rocker failure at Donnybrooke and crashes at both Laguna and Riverside, in the latter event a practice shunt which prevented him taking the start.

No way did Eaton have Pedro’s speed in a GP BRM but he was certainly mighty quick in a Can Am car. Southgate ‘Pedro wasn’t a technical driver , he’d just get in and drive his heart out’, clearly Eaton was quick, Pedro was Top 5 in the world at the time, Top 7 anyway! One rather suspects the P154 needed testing miles with a development driver to both stress componentry, the role Eaton played in races early in the season and to re-engineer or tweak the package to make it behave. Southgate says the suspension geometry, designed for 19inch wide tyres didn’t work well with 17’s.

Best results for the P154 in a season dominated again by the papaya McLarens, the M8D in 1970, were George’s qualifying performances at Road Atlanta and Donnybrooke, his 3rd place at St Jovite, Pedro’s 3rd at Riverside and 5th at Laguna.

In essence Eaton did a very good job with an under-developed, evil handling car, one of the best in the world also struggled with it…

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Eaton P154/01 Chev, Laguna Seca (The Enthusiast Network)

Development of the P154: Pedro raced the car later in the season and afterwards ‘came to see me in my office in Bourne to talk about the experience and told me in its present form the car was horrible to drive’ said Southgate.

‘I had great admiration for Pedro, so I knew it must be really bad. I was very embarrassed and immediately set about re-engineering it and fixing all the problems. The revised car, the P167 went on to be very good in 1971 but it was still a low budget operation’.

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This is an interesting drawing of mine because it shows the wind tunnel development shapes that were produced to arrive at the distinctive ‘shovel’ nose on both the P154 and P167. The heavy line indicates the final shape.’ (Tony Southgate)

Modifications to make the car competitive comprised a large rear wing, widening the front and rear tracks to get the outsides of the wheels out to the most extreme width which the proposed for 1970 19 inch wheels were supposed to achieve. The front to rear balance was achieved with a shovel-type concave nose section. ‘It was the same design theory I arrived at in the wind-tunnel for the nose of the P160 ’71 F1 car.’

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The 1971 BRM P167 was a P154 extensively modified.’…A new shovel nose section was added, new rear bodywork created and a rear wing fitted. The tracks, front and rear were widened.’ (Tony Southgate)

In fact when Howden Ganley, the talented Kiwi mechanic, engineer, racer and test driver drove the 1971 evolved car, the ‘P167’ at Goodwood the nose ‘grounded’ under brakes as so much downforce was being created. The fix was making the nose mounts more rigid.

Said Tony, ‘This was my first experience of very large aerodynamic loads deflecting the structure. The phenomenon was the visual interpretation to my understanding the sheer power of aerodynamics which could be produced on a modern car’.

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‘The BRM developed Chevy V8 performed well and was quite reliable, the trouble was we had no spare available. The car ran without bodywork between the wheels as shown here.’ 1971 P167 (Tony Southgate)

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‘The rear view of the P167 shows the exhaust system, which was unusual for a US V8 engined car. I liked it because of the lower CofG’ Note the rear suspension; single upper links, lower wishbones, coil spring/Koni alloy body dampers and roll bar. Inboard discs, LG500 Hewland ‘box with oil cooler above and magneto above it again. Note ‘stays’ to locate ‘mudguards’ above lower wishbones and monster wing compared with wingless P154 (Tony Southgate)

In a very limited Group 7 program by BRM in 1971 Pedro first raced the P167 in the European Interserie at Zolder in June, for Q7 and a DNF with a cylinder liner problem. He missed the next couple of rounds and then came the fateful Norisring round at which he lost his life, more of that below.

In September Brian Redman drove the P167 to a win at Imola and then in early October at Hockenheim against good fields, not Can Am quality mind you. The car was entered by Sid Taylor Racing, that year also running Brian in European F5000 events in a McLaren M18 Chev.

Buoyed by those results the Bourne hierarchy shipped the car to North America to contest the last two Can Am rounds in California. The car was raced again by Sid Taylor with his team providing the support. Jerry Entin and engine man George Bolthoff were with the team at both US races.

At Laguna Seca, Brian was Q6 and a strong 4th, and Howden Ganley raced the car at Riverside, Redman stayed in Europe to attend Jo Siffert’s funeral. The poor Swiss perished at the wheel of a BRM P160 at the end of season, 24 October, Brands Hatch ‘Victory Race’ after a tyre failure, the tyre moved on the rim and suddenly deflated, causing him to veer off the track and roll in the dip before Hawthorn Bend. He was almost uninjured but perished in a horrible fire. The plucky Swiss started the race from ‘equal pole’ with Peter Gethin, it demonstrated his competitiveness right to the very end of his career.

The talented Kiwi, Ganley a BRM F1 driver that season qualified 9th and finished 3rd behind the dominant McLaren M8F’s in the P167.

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Howden Ganley at The Times Grand Prix, Riverside, P167/01 in 1971 definitive form, 4th (The Enthusiast Network)

‘Alcan Team BRM’ ran the car as a works entry in the 1972 Interserie with Ganley scoring wins at the Nurburgring and Zeltweg amongst a swag of DNF’s for the P167. Mike Pilbeam engineered the car with Reg Richardson, principally an engine man, the cars mechanic. Once the Porsche 917/10 appeared in Europe the going got much tougher for the V8 brigade, Leo Kinnunen took the title, Porsche mounted in ’72.

In an unfortunate and bizarre sequence of events the P167 led to Pedro’s death, Southgate again; ‘During 1971 when the P167 was showing promise, Pedro decided he wanted to race it in Europe. So the car was entered for the big Interserie race on the Norisring street circuit in Nuremberg’

‘Part of the preparation was to re-run the engine on the Bourne dyno, hoping to find a few more horsepower. Tragically, as it transpired, the engine was damaged and we had no spare so we cancelled our entry’.

Pedro ‘phoned me that evening to see how the cars preparation was going, only to be told as far as we were concerned the race was off. I told him I was sorry for letting him down. ‘Never mind he said, I have been offered a drive in a Ferrari (512M) for good money-£1500′. I wished him luck in the race. Little did I know this would be the last time that I ever spoke to Pedro. He was killed driving that Ferrari’.

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Pedro and P167/01 in still evolving aero form, first race, Zolder, June 1971 (unattributed)

Tony Southgate has very fond memories of the great Mexican; ‘Pedro was extremely popular with everyone and I admired him both as a person and driver. He was a charismatic character with a particular aura about him, always appearing immaculate to the outside world, sleeking back his hair and wiping his brow after driving before he would talk to anyone. Actually he was a very private and quiet man…He never was a balls out qualifier; he preferred to save his efforts for the race. When his grid position was not as near the front as we would have liked, he would tell us that he would simply overtake a few cars on the first lap, which he often did. He was easy to work with, not a technical driver, but naturally talented and brave. Very brave…’

Bibliography…

‘Tony Southgate: From Drawing Board to Chequered Flag’ Tony Southgate, MotorSport interview by Simon Taylor, Jerry Entin on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, classiccars.com

Credits…

The Enthusiast Network, Southgate biography as above, Getty Images

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Pedro, P154/02 1970, Can Am circuit unknown (unattributed)

Build Numbers…

British racer and former twice national hillclimb champion David Hepworth bought all of the chassis’, patterns, drawings and moulds when BRM dropped the Can Am program, his best Interserie result was 5th at Silverstone in 1972.

It appears there were 5 chassis built: the two P154’s raced by Eaton and Rodriguez in 1970- P154/01 and P154/02. P154/02 was reduced, it’s parts donated to the P167 program, in recent years the car has been rebuilt/reassembled.

There was one P154/167 and two P167’s. The P154/167 ‘bastard car’ combined the P154 short wheelbase with P167 suspension geometry- this car does not appear to have been raced upon perusal of published records.

Rodriguez, Redman and Ganley raced the definitive P167/01 in 1971 in both the Interserie and Can Am.

Ganley raced P167/01 in the 1972 Interserie, Vern Schuppan practiced the same chassis but did not race it at the Nurburgring after engine failure in practice. Hepworth raced P154/01 in 1972 and in the 1973 Interserie, P167/01.

P167/02 was assembled later from spares acquired in the ‘job lot’ acquisition of cars and parts from BRM in 1972- it appears, entered for Hepworth, at the Nurburgring Interserie in 1974.

For many years the Hepworth family owned four of the five cars. I’m not sure of the present status of said racers but wouldn’t P167/01 be a nice thing to have?- ex-Rodriguez, Redman, Ganley, Schuppan and Hepworth…

Tailpiece: Racers Racer…

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Pedro, Laguna Seca and P154/02 1970 (The Enthusiast Network)

 

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Brian Redman looking pretty relaxed  prior to the start of the Monza 1000 Km on 25 April 1972…

It was a happy weekend (and year) for Ferrari, the Ickx/ Regazzoni 312PB won from the Jost/Schuler Porsche 908/3 with the sister SEFAC Fazz of the two great mates Petersen/Schenken third. Brian’s car was out on lap 32, the car was co-driven by Arturo Merzario.

Redman had a good year though, he won at Spa, a supreme test of high speed finesse, with ‘Little Art’ and at the Zeltweg 1000 Km paired with Ickx. Merzario took another win as well, Targa a big challenge, this time of speed and accuracy on the unforgiving, difficult to learn ‘Little Madonie’, in the singleton Ferrari entry he shared with rally ace Sandro Munari.

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Ickx, Peterson and Redman lead away, Ferrari 312PB’s, gloomy Monza 1000Km 1972 (unattributed)

The only race of significance they didn’t win, didn’t enter for that matter was the one which mattered most, Le Mans. Ferrari chose not to enter due to the difficulty the team had in making its 3 litre F1 adapted flat-12 last 24 hours, a problem Matra didn’t have with its far less successful in F1, V12! Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo won Le Mans in a Matra MS670, Matra breaking through for a long awaited French win at Le Mans. The fact that arch rivals Ferrari were absent made the win no less satisfying…

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece…

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Look at the detail; magneto, injection trumpets, rocker cover, throttle linkage, Moto-Lita steering wheel, Smiths chronometric tach, just so period. Top shot, the open garage door gives the photo another dimension to it (Denniston)

Peter Revson and McLaren’s Teddy Mayer looking frustrated and wistfull, respectively, at Peter’s Lola T220 Chev during the ‘Klondike 200’ Can Am round at Edmonton, Canada on 25 July 1970…

Revvie drove Carl Haas’ factory Lola T220 Chev with great speed if little reliability in 1970, switching to McLaren for 1971 and mopping up the championship in the M8F.

He then vaulted back into F1 to complete the ‘unfinished business’ he had first started in Europe a decade or so before. Peter’s platform to do so were his performances in McLaren Indy and Can Am cars in 1971/2.

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Revson during the ‘Klondike 200’, Edmonton, Canada 1970, Lola T220 Chev (Denniston)

McLaren had a good weekend in Edmonton, a one/two for Denny and Peter Gethin. Revson qualified his twitchy, challenging Lola 9th and retired from the race on lap 31 with an oil leak. His best results for the year were Q2’s at Mid Ohio and Road America, he finished 2nd at Mid Ohio. He achieved two Q3’s at Riverside and Laguna Seca, finishing 3rd at the latter.

Revvie may have only finished eighth in the 1970 Can Am Drivers Pointscore but his speed and potential was blindingly obvious to Teddy Mayer…

Credits…John Denniston

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(Denniston)

 

 

Doncha lerv Can Am cars in the nuddy?!…

Eric Broadley’s Lola T220 Chev laid bare for the world to see in the Edmonton paddock. Aluminium monocoque, ally ZL1 Chev, the sheer scale of these engines somewhat camouflaged with bodywork in situ. Just how high they sit in the chassis, and the consequent driving challenges which flow from the physics in relation thereto very clear!

Click on the links attached for more of my Can Am articles, the Lola T260 one has more technical details about the T220.

Tailpiece: Revson aboard his McLaren M8F Chev during the Molson 200 weekend, 26 September 1971…

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Twelve months later in the middle of a great season for Revson. Works M8F, Denny won with Peter 12th after problems from pole (Denniston)

 

 

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Gino Valenzano’s Lancia D24 passes Reg Parnell’s Aston Martin DB3S in the early morning Brescia fog, the action captured by Louis Klemantaski aboard the Aston as both navigator and ‘snapper. Mille Miglia 2 May 1954…

It wasn’t to be a happy event for either car, they both failed to finish as a result of accidents. The competitiveness of Vittorio Jano’s newish D24 design was underlined by Alberto Ascari’s win in another of the cars in a time of 11 hours 26 minutes and 10 seconds. Vittorio Marzotto’s 2nd placed Ferrari 500 Mondial was 34 minutes in arrears.

Piero Taruffi’s Lancia led the race early from Brescia, that year fog replaced the more usual rain, he was first into Ravenna with a lead of 1.5 minutes. Castellotti retired his Lancia by Rome, soon Piero’s car developed an oil leak so he too retired. Ascari then assumed the lead but on the home leg north his throttle return spring failed, a rubber band provided a temporary repair. By Florence he was ready to retire but was prevailed upon to continue, then by Bologna all of the quick Ferrari’s had retired so the final 200Km into Brescia was a ‘cruise’ if the final hours of a race lasting 11 plus hours can be so described!

Gianni Lancia and Vittorio Jano created some stunning sports and racing cars in the early 1950’s, at least the Lancia heir could look back on them as a legacy when he was forced to cede management of the company such was its parlous financial state into 1955.

The new D24 ended 1953 with a stunning 1-3 in the November Carrera Panamericana in Mexico; Fangio won from cars driven by Piero Taruffi and Eugenio Castellotti. Felice Bonetto’s death in a D24 during the event somewhat muted the joy the team felt in victory, to say the least.

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Brescia 1 May 1954: Lancia D24’s are islands in a sea of people. #541 Valenzano DNF distributor, #602 Ascari’s winning car and  #540 Castellotti DNF accident (unattributed)

The D24 evolved from the D23 Spyder, itself begat by the D20 Coupe design. Jano’s development times were short, the D23 made its race debut at the Monza GP on 28 June (2nd Bonetto) and the D24 at the Nurbugring 1000Km on 30 August (Taruffi/Manzon and Fangio/Bonetto both DNF). The wheelbase of the D24’s tubular steel spaceframe chassis was marginally reduced. The quad-cam, chain driven, 2 valve, triple Weber 46DCF3 fed, 60 degree V6 engines capacity was increased from the D23’s 3102cc to 3284cc with power in the range 240 to 270bhp @ 6500rpm for each of the two engines.

The cars late 1953 speed carried through into 1954 with the Taruffi/Manzon D24 leading the Sebring 12 Hour until an engine failure about an hour before the end. Despite that the car completed 161 laps compared with the 168 of Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd in the winning OSCA MT4.

Wins at the Targa by Taruffi, not a championship round in 1954, and 4th & 6th in the Tourist Trophy gave Lancia 2nd place in the Manufacturers Championship with 20 points to Ferrari’s 38 despite not entering Le Mans.

Lancia did get plenty of promotional rub-off for their considerable investment in Italy with the cars winning a swag of races and hillclimbs in ’54. Castellotti won the Treponti-Castelnuovo, Coppa Firenze-Siena, Bolzano-Passo Mendola and the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo. Taruffi took the Giro di Sicilia, Catania-Etna and Coppa d’Oro di Sicilia and Villoresi the Oporto GP.

Lancia’s F1 program absorbed plenty of resources, the D50’s first race  was the final ’54 championship round on 24 October, the Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes, Barcelona. Alberto Ascari’s jewel of a Lancia D50 started from pole and led until clutch problems caused him to retire on lap 9.

Lancia D24 cutaway: essential elements of Vittorio Jano’s car. Multi-tubular steel spaceframe chassis, Pininfarina designed and built aluminium body, 60 degree DOHC, 3284cc 270bhp V6, independent front suspension, de Dion rear suspension, leaf springs and tubular shocks. Gearbox 4 speed mounted at rear. Inboard drum brakes front and rear. Weight 740-760Kg (Betti)

Despite the competing GP car program Jano evolved the D24 design later in the year by increasing the capacity of the V6 to 3550cc for which 300-305bhp @ 6500 rpm was claimed. Two of these cars dubbed D25 were entered for Ascari/Villoresi and Fangio/Castellotti  at the Tourist Trophy, Dundrod in September but both retired with diff and engine failure respectively. Taruffi/Fangio and Manzon/Castellotti were 4th and 6th in D24’s.

The timing of the GP debut was unfortunate as the D24 was a mighty fine, fast car which deserved to have been the primary competition focus of Lancia that year.

The D50 changed the course of GP history in terms of its brilliant design, it’s contribution to Lancia’s fiscal disaster and of course giving Ferrari a car which won the world drivers championship for JM Fangio in 1956. But the D24 could conceivably have won Lancia a sportscar manufacturers championship in 1954 had the necessary, exclusive effort been applied to that campaign.

Wonderful hindsight of course, one of my strengths!…

Credits…

Louis Klemantaski, STF, Bruno Betti

Tailpiece: Alberto Ascari’s Lancia D24 chassis ‘006’ of nine cars built, in Rome and ‘heading for home’ 2 May 1954…

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(STF)

 

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(Ken Devine)

Doug Green blasts his oh-so-famous ex-Ascari/Gaze/Davison Ferrari 500/625 chassis #5 down a suburban West Australian, Bunbury street on 26 December 1960, a far cry from the European circuits on which it won Alberto’s two World Championships in 1952 and 1953 …

Western Australia has a rich history of racing on street circuits; Albany, Collie, Katanning, Mandurah and Narrogin in addition to Bunbury all had street racing at one time or another.

Bunbury’s racing history is particularly long. The Indian Ocean port city services the farm, mining and timber industries of Western Australia’s South West 175 Km south of Perth and had car and motorbike racing ‘around the houses’ up until 1988.

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Ray Barfield’s ex-works/David McKay Aston Martin DB3S ‘9’, at Carey Park, Bunbury, December 1960 (Ken Devine)

Racing commenced there in 1938 with the running of the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ on a large circuit in the town itself, Allan Tomlinson the victor…

The first event, held over 25 laps of the roughly 2 mile course on 14 November 1938 was won by Allan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c in 63 minutes. The race, a handicap as was the case for much of Australian motor racing for decades, such was the relative paucity of racing cars let alone vehicles of equivalent performance, was a big success. Norm Kestel and Jack Nelson were 2nd and 3rd in MG TA and Ballot V8 respectively with Kestel, in a TA similar to Tomlinson’s pushing him hard all the way.

The 22 year old Tomlinson was a very fast, skilful and thoughtful driver, his performance in Bunbury, off a handicap of 40 seconds and setting the fastest race lap at 2:24.0 was indicative of his pace.

In fact he was a ‘child prodigy’ by the standards of the day having only started racing aged 18 at Lake Perkolilli in 1936. He drove a Ford V8 in the stock car handicap and scored an excellent win. Subsequently he raced a midget at Claremont Speedway and then bought the MG TA for regular racing and competition work.

He was employed in the family business, the Tomlinson & Co foundry and engineering shop and applied those resources and his own mechanical skills well. The TA arrived shortly before the premier race in WA, the Albany GP, in 1937 and was quickly fitted with a Marshall blower and stripped of all superfluous parts. Allan drove well but the cars brakes failed on lap 16, he sailed through the barriers of Salvation Army Corner, unharmed!

During 1937 he continued to perform strongly at track meetings at Dowerin, with a couple of wins and in the WA Car Clubs Hillclimb at Victoria Reservoir.

Tomlinson’s winning MG TA ahead of  Jack Nelson’s Ballot V8 2nd, Albany GP 18 April 1938. Note the difference in the body of the Tomlinson car here and as a monoposto below (Terry Walker)

His first major success was in the 1938 Albany GP, that Easter he won off a handicap of 3 minutes 30 seconds from Jack Nelson’s Ballot V8 and Kestel’s quick MG TA. The handicappers were onto him though, his Bunbury handicap was 40 seconds but the youngster and his team were further modifying the MG away from the gaze of authority. Tomlinson, Bill Smallwood and Clem Dwyer carefully rebuilt the engine and clad the racer in a light, pretty, aerodynamic monoposto body which was painted blue. Extensively tested, the car was running perfectly, the race win the reward for careful attention to detail.

Tomlinson and the teams fanatical attention to the preparation of the car was unusual and remarkable for the day. They were about to show the east coast ‘big boys’ just how to prepare for, and drive a motor race.

Allan Tomlinson winning the 14 November 1938 ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ in his light, powerful, highly developed, 1340cc supercharged MG TA Spl (Terry Walker)

In early-December the team loaded the little 10/6 Marshall Rootes supercharged, aluminium bodied MG onto a ship in Fremantle for the short voyage to Port Adelaide.

On 2 January 1939 Tomlinson won the Australian Grand Prix on the immensely demanding, 8.6 mile long Lobethal road course in the Adelaide Hills.

The team had a spare T Type for Tomlinson to explore and master the swoops, dives and blind corners of the place. He also walked the roads, studying the gradients and topography closely. Historians still debate the speed of the little MG on that day, with its trick axle ratio it was good for 130mph, with Tomlinson claiming later speeds close to 140! There were some much faster cars in the race, Jano straight-8 Alfa Romeos and others, but whilst many drivers were on the brakes or a trailing throttle Tomlinson used skill and circuit knowledge to go flat where others were not…

Allan returned triumphant to WA aboard the ‘Kanimbla’ and was given an informal reception at the Albany Council Chambers on 8 January. The team then returned to Perth and on to another big victory, this time the ‘Great Southern Classic’ at Pingelly over 25 miles- ‘his fourth successive motor racing win in twelve months’ The West Australian reported.

Disaster struck at the Tomlinson foundry in East Perth on 4 May 1939 when Allan, whilst fixing an oil blower to a piece of machinery, had it explode, badly damaging three fingers on his left hand; two were later amputated in Perth Hospital, the lacerated index finger recovered. A ‘rock star’ in Perth by this time, his progress was covered daily in the local press. Tomlinson recovered but did not race again in 1939, the winds of war were blowing by then of course.

Sadly the Lobethal course that gave him his greatest win bit him very badly during the New Years Day 1940 ‘South Australian Hundred’.

The young driver was lucky to escape a very high speed trip through the countryside; he accidentally tagged the back of a Morgan, left the road and went through the bush, down an embankment and ended up against a tree in a roadside camping area. He broke his ribs, received internal injuries, shock and a long stay in Royal Adelaide Hospital. Whilst the car was not badly damaged-the body was dented and the wheels buckled, but the engine and chassis were undamaged according to Bill Smallwood.

As to Tomlinson, a highly promising career was over. After 5 months in hospital Allan returned to Perth with intentions to race but with the outbreak of war, motor racing ceased. Post-war Tomlinson had a lifelong involvement in the WA Sports Car Club and VSCC. He died aged 95 having lived a full life.

Now, where was i?! Back to Bunbury!

The Bunbury town circuit layout was used again post-war in November 1946 albeit the cars raced in the opposite direction to 1938. In 1950 the Australian Motor Cycle TT was held on the same layout.

The relative isolation of Carey Park, a suburb 3.5Km south east of Bunbury allowed the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ to take place again in 1960. Competing vehicles were mainly production sports cars, the exceptions Green’s Ferrari 500 and Jack Ayres 1.5 litre, supercharged GP Alta. Ray Barfield’s ex-works Aston Martin DB3S was a sports car of considerable performance too.

The race was also called the ‘Carey Park Flying 50’, whatever it’s name results have been hard to find although photographer/historian Ken Devine believes the feature race, these photos are from that event, was won by Green’s Ferrari. If any of you have a race report I’d welcome you getting in touch.

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Jack Ayres, Alta ‘010’, starting the turn into Ecclestone Street from Forrest Avenue, pretty car, nicely proportioned lines, nose of the original car modified locally (Ken Devine)

Jack Ayres’ GP/F2 Alta s/c ‘010’…

Geoffrey Taylor’s first Alta sportscar was built in 1929.

He decided to build a 1.5 litre, supercharged GP car post-war, the  first of which appeared in 1948. The three cars built had ladder-frame chassis and wishbone suspension with rubber as the spring medium. The third of these cars, ‘GP3’, bought by Irish motor trader and wheeler-dealer Joe Kelly in 1950 was powered by a DOHC, 1496cc, SU fed, two stage Rootes type supercharged engine developing 202bhp at 6000 rpm. It contested non-championship F1 races and both the 1950 and 1951 British GP’s at Silverstone in Kelly’s hands finishing over 15 laps in arrears of the winners in both years.

Later ‘GP3’ was fitted with a Bristol engine by Kelly to contest F2 events, the sophisticated supercharged engine was then fitted to Alta ‘010’, a hitherto F2 chassis raced by Robert Cowell in 1949/50. The story of father and ex-Spitfire WW2 pilot Cowell is an interesting one as he became she; Roberta Cowell was the very first transgender Brit, the operation took place in 1951.

The car was bought and imported into Australia in 1956 by Gib Barrett of Armadale, Melbourne. Gib and Alf Barrett were formidable racers for decades both pre and post-War, Alf Barrett one of the all time greatest Oz drivers.

The car was fettled and finished 1oth in the post Olympic Games 1956 Melbourne GP at Albert Park in Gib’s hands, it was sold soon thereafter to Perth’s Syd Anderson in 1957. And so began an intensive period of racing for ‘010’ in WA. Syd raced it in the 1957 AGP at Caversham near Perth but retired, the race was won by Lex Davison and Bill Patterson in the Ferrari 500/625 also featured in this article.

Jack Eyres then bought ‘010’ racing extensively in the West in all kinds of events, he was 5th in the ‘WA Trophy’ Gold Star round in December 1960, that race won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati. By the following August, Caversham Gold Star round Ayres had moved on to a Cooper MkV powered by a 1.1 litre Ford engine, with the Alta raced by new owner, Jim Ward.

The old car had by the early sixties become uncompetitive and dilapidated, the cars restoration was commenced by Jim Harwood in WA in the later 1960’s and finished by Lotus doyen John Dawson-Damer in outer Sydney. Graham Lowe owned it before it passed to Peter Briggs museum at York in WA, which was fitting given the cars WA racing period. ‘010’ was fully restored and always looked a treat when it appeared at Australian Grands Prix and other special events. Sadly the car left Oz some time ago, it recently appeared at Retromobile, offered for sale.

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Touring Car action at the ‘Highway Corner’, Bunbury 1960 (Jodie Krikkie)

Ferrari 500/625 Chassis #5, 3 litre…

Ferrari 500 #5 is said to be the most successful Grand Prix car of all time; it won 6 of the 7 championship Grand Epreuves held in 1952 and 9 in 1953 to win Ascari’s two drivers titles.

I don’t plan to cover the detailed history of this car now, it seems appropriate to do so in an article about Lex Davison who achieved so much Australian success in it; the 1957 and 1958 AGP’s, the very first Australian Drivers Championship, the ‘Gold Star’ in 1957 to name a few.

Lex eventually sold his beloved car to West Australian Doug Green in 1960. It had finally become uncompetitive in the eastern states but still had a year or so of relevance in WA.

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Doug Green proudly displays his Ferrari 500/625. Caversham, WA (Terry Walkers)

Davison wasn’t done with front-engined GP cars though, he very narrowly lost by a cars length the 1960 AGP at Lowood, Queensland to Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati in a superb Aston Martin DBR4 before finally changing to ‘the mechanical mice’ as he described Coopers, winning his fourth and final AGP at Mallala, South Australia in a T51 Climax in 1961.

Davison bought the Ferrari off his friend, Tony Gaze, after the NZ summer races in 1956, Gaze had success with it in 1954 and 1955 having acquired it from the factory fitted with a 3 litre sportscar ‘750 Monza’ engine for the Formula Libre events common globally at the time.

The Fazz was eventually bought by Tom Wheatcroft in the late 1960’s, the first car for his famous Donington Collection, it’s  identity as Ascari’s chassis unknown at the time Tom acquired it. The car had chassis number ‘0480’ when bought by Gaze. During the restoration of the car the provenance of it was investigated by Doug Nye amongst others and confirmed after careful ‘forensic examination’ and in communications with Ferrari.

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Doug Green’s Ferrari 500/625, Carey Park, Bunbury 1960 (Ken Devine)

Doug Green bought ‘5’ in 1960, having graduated from an 1100cc Cooper. He got to grips with it, racing extensively in WA, soon improving upon Davo’s times in it at Caversham. He contested the Caversham Gold Star rounds in 1960 and 1961 finishing 4th and 2nd in thin fields, respectively. He sold the car in 1963 upon retirement from racing.

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Rare colour photo of the engine bay of Ferrari 500/625 #5 at Bunbury in 1960. I just about blew a head gasket when I saw the opening photo and this one, color shots of this car are rare, I’ve seen few of its engine bay let alone one with the ‘atmospherics’ Ken Devine has composed and captured here. 3 litre 750 Monza DOHC inline 4 cylinder engine produced circa 290 bhp. Local kids fascinated by the exotic, and still contemporary enough, racer (Ken Devine)

The Ferrari 500, designed by Aurelio Lampredi, used a ladder frame chassis typical of the period, suspension at the front was double wishbones and coil spring /dampers. A De Dion rear axle was used, the gearbox mounted to the diff and connected to the engine by a short propshaft.

The F1 2 litre engine was a 1985cc in line 4 cylinder engine with DOHC and 2 valves per cylinder. Magneto’s provided the spark and Weber 58DCOA3 carburettors the fuel, the engine gave around 185/190bhp@7500rpm. When acquired by Tony Gaze a 3 litre Monza engine was fitted, this gave circa 290bhp. Power is quoted from 245-290bhp depending upon the source.

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Doug Green, Ferrari 625/500, Caversham 1960, he eventually lapped faster in the car, having got the hang of it, than Lex some years before (Julian Cowan)

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Keith Rilstone’s Zephyr Spl having just passed! Greens Ferrari 500/625, the supercharged car very potent, it was a different thing under brakes, Murray Trenbath in the Alta Repco Holden further back. 1960 Caversham (Ken Devine)

Bunbury Circuits…

Bunbury probably won’t be known to most Aussies other than those who have visited the Margaret River region in which case you may have made a fuel ‘pitstop’ on its outskirts.

My brother lives in Perth and has a place at Gnarabup, Margaret River so I know the place a bit, but its motor racing history had passed me by until seeing these fabulous photos posted on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ by Ken Devine. On a future visit I’ll drive the circuit(s), which you can still do.

map

The Carey Park track itself, for Perth readers and visitors who may want to drive it, used Clifton, Victoria, Arthur, Stirling, Wittenoon and Prinsep Streets, Upper Esplanade then Wellington, Wittenoon and Carey Streets. The map below will make more sense of it when you visit.

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In fact the Carey Park road circuit, 3.5Km from the centre of town was only one of many used down the decades in greater Bunbury.

Racing started on the ‘Bunbury Central Circuit’, which as the name suggests was in the centre of town. Car racing ceased between 1947 to 1960 but motorcycle racing continued on this circuit and then the ‘Bunbury Moorelands Little Circuit’, also known as the ‘Glen Iris Circuit’. This track was laid out on public roads next to the Preston River and was ideal as the area was rural and so caused little drama to the public. The Bunbury Motorcycle GP meeting was held annually there from December 1963 to Easter 1974.

‘TQ’ Speedway cars raced on the ‘Carey Park Short Circuit’ of .95 of a mile in late 1958 ‘The South Western Times’ in its article before the meeting helpfully advised spectators to ‘…take the greatest possible care while watching the (5) races…under no circumstances should they cross the road while races are in progress’. So ‘Carey Park’ was used by speedway cars in advance of road-racers two years later for the 1960 ‘Bunbury Flying 50’.

In March 1975 the Bunbury Motorcycle Club hosted heats for the WA Road Racing Series around the streets of Davenport, Bunbury’s industrial area, 6.5Km from the town centre. This layout was also confusingly called ‘The Ring Road Circuit’ as it incorporated the new Busselton By-Pass and North Boyanup Road, well known to Perthies visiting ‘down South’ as they call a visit to Margaret River and beyond.

Wayne Patterson thrilling the crowds in 1988; Yamaha TZ350, Bunbury Back Beach circuit (Patterson)

This fairly ugly locale was used in 1975/6/7 before the move to the altogether more visually attractive and challenging ‘Bunbury Back Beach Circuit’ in 1980. In Australian Beach Lingo a ‘Back Beach’ is a surf beach and a ‘Front Beach’ is calmer water, I’ve no idea from where this derives! This fairly wild looking circuit overlooking the Bunbury break was used from 1980 to 1988. Then there are the local drags and speedway venues- they like their motor racing down south!

Ray Barfield’s Aston Martin DB3S chassis #9 was a car of impeccable provenance and specification…

The car was one of two built for works use in 1956, chassis #10 the other, whilst the successor design, the 1959 Le Mans winning DBR1 was in development.

DB3S/9 was first raced in the GP of Rouen as a warm up to Le Mans on 8 July 1956. Peter Collins raced it to retirement with bearing problems but Moss was 2nd in DB3S/10 behind the winner, Eugenio Castellotti’s works Ferrari 860 Monza and ahead of the 3 litre Maser 300S of Jean Behra.

At Le Mans on 28/29 July, ‘9’ was driven by Moss/Collins, the lead factory car was ahead of the field but finished 2nd after gearbox problems slowed it. Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart won, a lap ahead of the Aston in an Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D Type. The AM ‘LM6’ 2922cc engine fitted for Le Mans developed 219bhp @6000rpm- good for 150mph at La Sarthe.

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Ray Barfield Aston Martin DB3S into the right hander into Ecclestone Street (Ken Devine)

Moss won in the car at Oulton Park in August, and at Goodwood on 18 Septenber Roy Salvadori was 2nd to Tony Brooks in another DB3S. The last appearance of DB3S’9′ as a works entry was at Goodwood on 22 April 1957 driven by Brooks, he was 3rd.

The car was rebuilt and offered for sale by Aston’s as they focussed their attention on the new DBR1 and was bought by David McKay, the Australian racer/journalist keen to acquire a works car having owned an earlier customer DB3S, chassis ‘102’ a car David raced as part of ‘The Kangaroo Stable’. This group of three DB3S Astons raced by Australians David McKay/Tony Gaze, Tom Sulman/Jack Brabham and Les Cosh/Dick Cobden in 1955 is a story in itself.

Australian oil company Ampol provided financial support for the purchase, the car immediately became the fastest sportscar in Australia, winning upon its debut at Bathurst in October 1957. David won 8 of 9 races in it finishing 2nd only once, to Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S in the Tasmanian TT at Longford. McKay’s last race in DB3S/9 was at Bathurst in October 1958 when he won the 100 mile Australian TT from Derek Jolly’s Lotus 15 Climax and Ron Phillips Cooper T33 Jaguar.

The car passed through Stan Jones hands in Melbourne, he only raced it once, before being bought by Barfield in mid-1959. The Mount Helena racer used it regularly in the West through to the Christmas Cup meeting at Caversham on 22 November 1963, fittingly, he won the 5 lap sportscar scratch race.

In 1956 when built the DB3S was pretty much the state of the sportscar art in terms of specification, it was closely derived from a road car and could, fairly easily be driven on the road. By 1963 the long distance racing paradigm was perhaps best defined by the specialist racing, mid-engined Ferrari 250P- a 3 litre V12 engined car which was far from a ‘roadie’ however much Enzo Ferrari tried to position the 250P’s cousin, the 250LM as such. The point here is just how focussed sports-racing cars became and how much racing technology changed in a very short period of time.

Barfield then retired from racing, it was fitting that the wonderful ex-works Aston won its last race however insignificant a 5 lapper at Caversham in 1963 was relative to 24 hours at Le Mans in 1956!

Ray retained the car inside it’s Rice Trailer on his farm outside Perth, famously keeping the engine fully submerged in a container of oil, having discovered a crack in the crankshaft, for 25 years.

Many people knocked on his door to buy it over the years including David McKay on more than one occasion but all were aggressively turned away. Finally a big wad of cash allowed Sydney’s Kerry Manolas to buy it, sight unseen, and it was not a pretty sight when he did see all of its components in October 1987! The car was superbly restored by Gavin Bain’s ‘Auto Restorations’ in Auckland. I wonder where in the world it is now?

Oh to have seen the Ferrari, Alta and Aston race on the Carey Park streets in the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ all those years ago. Three amazingly interesting and diverse cars in the one race, and all so far from ‘home’!

Bibliography…

The Nostalgia Forum particularly the contributions of Terry Walker, Ray Bell and Ken Devine. 8Wforix.com, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

The Ken Devine Collection, Julian Cowan, Terry Walkers Place, Jodie Krikkie, Wayne Patterson Collection

Tailpiece: Vin Smith, Alpha Peugeot 1.5 s/c…

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Vin Smith at the Highway Hotel Hairpin, Bunbury 1960. This effective, pretty little special was one of several built and raced by Smith from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties. So much of Australiam motor racing was reliant on ‘specials’, usually very fast ones at that! for 50 years (Ken Devine)

 

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(Richard Meek)

The Ballinger/Stewart Arnolt Bristol Bolide at Sebring in March 1956 at dusk, such an evocative shot…

They were 13th outright and 2nd in the 2 litre sports class, the Fangio/Castellotti Ferrari 860 Monza won.

The photo below, of another time and age is the Miller/Maassen/Rast Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, DNF, in 2011. The race was won that year by the Lapierre/Duval/Panis Peugeot 908 5.5 litre turbo-V12 diesel.

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(Rick Dole)

Credits…

Richard Meek, Rick Dole, Racing One

Tailpiece: The ’69 Sebring field awaits the start with the Amon/Andretti Ferrari 312P on pole, the race won by the Ickx/Oliver Ford GT40…

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(Racing One)