Archive for the ‘Sports Racers’ Category

Phillips-Parsons airborne on the Wirlinga road circuit (

The Jack Phillips – Ted Parsons 1934 Ford V8 was Australia’s fastest of the breed pre-war. Here the machine is aviating at Wirlinga – 10km northeast of Albury – on the Kings Birthday weekend in June 1940 “on the north-south straight heading towards what is now the Riverina Highway,” many thanks John Medley.

The car was one of the most successful of all Australian racing cars in the immediate lead up to the conflict, placing sixth and third in the 1938 and 1939 Australian Grands Prix at Bathurst and Lobethal respectively. “In Victoria for the 1937-38 season, the Phillips Ford was awarded ‘The Car Trophy’ for the most successful competitor,” John Medley wrote.

The duo also won the Interstate Grand Prix/Albury and Interstate Cup on the Albury-Wirlinga road course in 1938-39 and the South Australian 100 at Lobethal in January 1940. On the same day the pair finished second to Les Burrows’ Hudson Terraplane Special in the Lobethal 50.

Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men? Phillips/Parsons on the way to winning the South Australian 100 on New Years Day 1940 at Lobethal (unattributed)

As the lights were progressively turned down throughout 1940, the Phillips/Parsons pair were ninth in the Easter Bathurst 150 mile race won by Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza. The car’s final meeting before being put on display for much of the conflict in their Wangaratta Motors Ford dealership was the 75 mile Albury and Interstate Cup Race on June 17, 1940. It was the final meeting on this road course and Barrett set the all-time lap record at 2 minutes 52 seconds but broke an axle and retired from the race. Harry James’ Terraplane won in a steady performance from John Crouch’s Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans with Phillips/Parsons third.

A great shot but whereizzit? Note the Victorian rego-plate and ‘tuned-length’ exhaust which will have aided driver and passenger comfort in longer races by dispensing with fumes and noise well-aft of the conducteurs. Quality of the body and standard of presentation impressive (

Based on a fire-damaged ‘34 sedan with over 20,000 miles on the clock, the car was modified in the partner’s Wangaratta, Victoria Ford dealership by fitment of a special, swoopy, lighter body. Engine enhancements included twin Winfield carburettors, Scintilla magneto, modified heads and free-flowing exhausts.

Timed at 115mph in top gear, it did 80 in second – at a then heady 6000rpm – using the 3.5:1 rear axle ratio. It was a paragon of solid reliability too, not suffering the overheating afflictions of so many modified Ford flatties.

The masked avengers at Wirlinga in 1939 I think, on the way to a second win on the trot in the Albury and Interstate Gold Cup. Bob Lea-Wright, Singer was second and Les Burrows Hudson Terraplane third after losing a shot at the lead with two laps to run after being hit in the face with a stone thrown up by Phillips. Clearly Phillips/Parsons were well prepared for this possibility and here are using all of the available real estate (B King Collection)

John Medley observed the car’s strengths, “The Phillips Ford simply soldiered on in prewar races on dirt and gravel roads, built tough to last to the finish. It continued to race postwar particularly in Victoria and South Australia where it was raced by South Australian Granton Harrison, by which time the newer breed of generally smaller and lighter V8 Specials could out-pace it.”

“Still it had been the mould in which the later V8s were shaped. In the postwar period, with T-Series MGs, Ford V8 specials were the backbone of Australian road racing.”

The Phillips/Parsons Ford was destroyed when it was crashed into a bridge, the remains were scrapped. Ted Parsons Jnr and his son Rob recreated the car between 2008-2014, the car took its bow at Winton in 2014.

Likely lads, who is the chap at left and where was the shot taken? Bob’s Lobethal 1940 guess isn’t on the money (B King Collection)
Ted (Edwin) Parsons wearing Warren Safety Helmet, goggles, white overalls – the pocket of which had the Ford V8 symbol embroidered – wearing a leather kidney belt. “To look your best under the overalls it was common for Ted to wear a white shirt and tie,” Ted’s son Rob Parsons wrote. Wirlinga 1939 perhaps, chap behind unknown (Parsons Family Collection)

Etcetera: The Warren Safety Aviation Helmet…

WT Warren invented the Warren Safety Helmet in 1912. The spring-equipped pilot safety helmet, made of leather and cork with vented ear collars was padded with horse hair and designed to minimise head injuries, the major cause of aero accident deaths at the time. The helmet was part of RAF listed kit issue from 1920-24.

Later models incorporated an ear audio piece and a breathing mask. By the time Phillips and Parsons used them they had been pensioned off by the RAF. Curtis and Taut & Co made the helmets under licence, the inscription in Parsons’ helmet, retained by the family, reads ‘No 2 Tuatz & Co Patent 17855 Aviators Safety Helmet. Maker Tautz & Co, Hunting Military and Multifit Tailors, 12 Grafton St, New Bond St, London.’

Phillips and Parsons with their distinctive Warren helmets after winning at Wirlinga in 1938 (J Dallinger)

Rob Parsons explained further, “While the helmet was obsolete for aircraft, they were used by Phillips and Parsons from 1935-39. With a lack of sporting regulations, these cars lacked the safety features of safety belts which were not considered a benefit for car racing. Drivers had a steering wheel and the co-driver a grab handle to hold onto. It would be common in rollovers to duck-down and brace yourself, perhaps to be trapped or otherwise flung free of the car, all with grave consequences.”

“Ted Parsons first introduction to motor racing was at the Benalla Airstrip circuit, perhaps a likely place to find such a helmet. On the back page of his photo album, he list drivers who died racing during his involvement, a reminder of the sport’s dangers. He retired from racing after the war to pursue golf and film-making.”

“Jack and Ted wore leather face shields to protect themselves from their own flying stones and other track debris, an idea adapted from the oxygen flying mask. The leather was painted white to match the colour of the car, aviation goggles protected their eyes,” Parsons wrote.

(Der Spiegel)

WT Warren tests his new helmet – as one does – by headbutting the wall of William Ewen’s Hendon flying school, where Warren was a trainee, in 1912.

What follows is the German-English translation from an article in Der Spiegel.

“In a 1912 issue of Flight magazine, British inventor WT Warren’s invention, a protective flight helmet is demonstrated. The image is often erroneously reported to be a football helmet.”

‘The wall against which the helmet carrier ran belongs to the flying school of William Hugh Ewen. The owner (middle) and and his chief pilot LWF Turner (left) are behind. The Lord in the foreground is his student Mr WT Warren. And, no, he has not failed the flight test and is just reacting to his anger.” Clearly the German hilarity is lost in translation.

“Dated 1912, Mr Warren is a tinkerer. He introduced his latest invention to experienced pilots: a protective helmet ‘that will attract considerable attention’, Flight magazine wrote. Warren’s leather cap was padded with horsehair: A system of steel springs should intercept any impact, thus reducing the risk of injury. Head injuries were the leading cause of death in flight accidents.”


‘John Snow:Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, State Library of Western Australia,, Bob King Collection, ‘The Warren Safety Aviation Helmet’ by Rob Parsons in the July 2021 issue of ‘The Light Shaft’ – Austin 7 Club magazine, Parsons Family Collection via, John Dallinger, Der Spiegel



I’m cheating a bit, this 1934 Ford is a V8 ute rather than a sedan, but you get the jist of it.

The Phillips-Parsons racer was not too far removed from a roadie, rather than an out-and-out bespoke racer, reliant as it was on the standard chassis, axles wheel to wheel, differential and gearbox.

The ute is singing for its supper, doing a meat delivery in country Western Australia in 1937.



Brian Muir at Brands Hatch during the 1969 BOAC International 500, held over the April 13 weekend.

Muir shared the car with Lotus engineer and soon to be GP driver, John Miles. The pair qualified the new car 16th, finishing 13th outright and first in the 2-litre Prototype class.

The race was a Porsche rout, with the Jo Siffert/Brian Redman, Vic Elford/Richard Atwood and Gerhard Mitter/Udo Schutz 908/02s taking the podium. The Chris Amon/PedroRodriguez Ferrari 312P was fourth, the JW Automotive Ford GT40 crewed by David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood fifth with the other Porsche works car – yes, it finished too – raced by Hans Hermann and Rolf Stommelen in sixth. The 908 was quite a machine, about as reliable a racer as the 911 was/is a roadie.


It’s all about the engine really, this car. It was to a large extent a development exercise for the Lotus Vauxhall 2-litre LV240 Type 904 engine which, with lots of development, replacement of the Vauxhall block with bespoke Lotus alloy unit, and a whole lot more, later powered a couple of generations of Lotuses for 25 years or so. More about the engines gestation and useage at the end of this piece.


The arguments within Lotus Components about the location of the dry-sump oil tank would have been interesting! It’s all Tecalemit Jackson fuel injection componentry isn’t it. The metering unit is sharing the distributor drive (below). See the oil filter, “The heavy oil tanks sits too high Martin!” you can feel Our Col saying to designer Martin Waide. “Yep, I know but this car has bodywork Colin, I can’t shove it wherever I like compared with the open-wheelers.

A ZF 5DS five speed manual gearbox sits where a Hewland FT200 transaxle really belongs. Doncha-reckon Chapman said “use one of those things” and pointed to one of the ZFs pensioned off when Lotus got with the strength and fitted Hewland DG300s to the Lotus 49Bs?


240bhp @ 8000rpm is claimed for the 1992cc, twin-cam, four-valve, oversquare (95.3mm x 69.9mm bore/stroke) cast iron block, aluminium head engine. See the nicely boxed reinforcements for the top-hats of the coil spring damper units and cable drive for the Smiths chronometric tach. Plenty of Aeroquip there too, it’s coming into vogue…


The Lotus Europa parentage is clear enough, but parentage is putting things crudely, there is nothing Europa about this car other than the body. Two of these purpose built Group 6 racers were built. The thing clearly didn’t want to turn-in given the aero experimentation shown in this series of shots.


Front end detail, spaceframe chassis and conventional for the day front suspension comprising upper and lower wishbones, alloy uprights, coil spring/damper units and roll bar. Disc brake rotors are 12-inch Girlings, who also provided the calipers, weight of the car is circa 1250 pounds.


On the hop through Bottom Bend. The other cars in the 2-litre prototype class at this meeting were Chevron B8 Ford, Ferrari Dino 206S, Nomad Mk1 BRM, Abarth 2000S and Ginetta G16A BRM. The Muir/Miles Lotus 62 won the class from the Beeson/DeCadenet Dino and Blades/Morley B8 Ford.

26 year old racing driver/mechanical engineer John Miles, and 38 year old racing driver/mechanic Brian Muir will surely have extracted all their new mount offered and added a sizeable dollop of mechanical sympathy to boot (MotorSport)

Lots of sheet aluminium to reinforce the tubular chassis. Lotus cockpits of this era, open and closed are the yummiest of workplaces. Attention to detail and finish of their racing cars is exceptional, while freely acknowledging the under-engineering on way too many occasions that also went into the package…


Hard to tell who is up? Mechanic’s names welcome. That’s one of the four Porsche System Engineering 908/02s behind, the numbers of which all started with a 5…I can see the short-arse driver but cannot pick him.

Lotus fitted development versions of their 900 engines to their Bedford CF van, Vauxhall VX4/90 and Viva GT in addition to the two Lotus 62s (B Wellings)

History of the 900 Series Lotus Engines by Tim Engel

The production 9XX engines are Lotus designs. To expedite development, early versions of the cylinder head was bolted onto a Vauxhall block. No non-Lotus blocks were used beyond the first prototype iteration (904) and certainly not in production. Whether the 907 is a blueblood or a bastard is one that periodically comes up.

16 Apr 1997, Erik Berg <> wrote: OK, does anyone know more about the history of the development of the 62 engine? My recollection is that it was *not* in fact a 900 series engine, but was a four-valve head adaptation of the existing Vauxhall 2-litre block.

The Mk 62’s 904 engine was a development mule for the 907, and was a composite of a Vauxhall 2-litre iron-block assembly, a Lotus-spec’d, longer stroke crank and a Lotus prototype cylinder head. Lotus recognised that the most development intensive part of the engine design was going to be the head. To expedite head development without waiting for the complete engine to be designed and prototyped, they ‘borrowed’ the cylinder block from the very similarly sized/ configured (slant four) Vauxhall Victor 2.0 and mated it to the prototype head.

Later, the Mk 62 received the 906 engine, which was a further development of the Lotus design with a prototype sand-cast aluminum block. The 906 eliminated the Vauxhall crutch that had allowed the development program to get a faster jump start and got the engine closer to it’s final, all-Lotus design.

The Mk 62 car was built as much as a development test bed for the new engine as a race car. It was felt that racing the engine would accelerate the learning curve.


The aluminum 907 block is very different from the iron Vauxhall block and not just an alloy adaptation of an existing design. However, it’s probably (I’m jumping to a conclusion) more than coincidence that the bore centers are the same. The head was first designed to fit the Vauxhall block. Once that was done, why incur the extra work of re-designing it to fit a different bore spacing? Just design your new block to fit the head that was developed in advance of the rest of the program.

  1. Iron block 2.0 race engine with T-J fuel injection, July ’68 (aka, LV220 = Lotus-Vauxhall, 220bhp)
  2. Iron block 2.0 road car engine (non-production, test only).
  3. 906 Sand-cast aluminum block 2.0 race engine (aka, LV240)
  4. Die-cast aluminum block 2.0 road car engine
  5. Aluminum block 4.0 V8 race engine
  6. Aluminum block 4.0 V8 road engine
  7. Die-cast aluminum block 2.2 Turbo road car engine
  8. Die-cast aluminum block 2.2 N/A Sunbeam-Talbot engine
  9. Die-cast aluminum block 2.2 N/A Lotus road car engine

The 904 had a 95.25mm (3.75 in) bore x 69.85mm (2.75 in) stroke for a 1995 cc displacement… just under the racing class limit. The similar Vauxhall Victor 2000 used the same 95.25 bore, but a shorter 69.25 stroke for a 1975 cc displacement. As installed, the 904 crank was a Lotus specific part; however, I don’t know if it was machined from a Vauxhall blank or made from scratch.

Later, the 907 used the same 95.25 (3.75) bore as the Vauxhall, but with a claimed 69.2 (2.72) stroke/ 1973 cc displacement. Just a weeee bit smaller than the Vauxhall engine. The Elite/Eclat/Esprit manuals give the bore dimension to 4 decimal places, but leave the stroke at 69.2 (2.72).

I wouldn’t doubt (but I don’t know) that the stroke and displacement numbers (.05mm / 2cc smaller than the Vauxhall) were more of a weak marketing attempt to give the 907 it’s own non-Vauxhall identity by simply rounding off the numbers.

The 907 was supposed to be an important step for Lotus in establishing itself as a stand-alone manufacturer. However, when Lotus fast-started it’s development program by basing the first prototypes on the Vauxhall block, the press grabbed onto the Lotus-Vauxhall identity with a death grip and Chapman couldn’t break it. After a while, hearing the press continually refer to his new engine as a Vauxhall or Lotus-Vauxhall started to SERIOUSLY rub Chapman the wrong way.


In a previous life I was CEO and a partner in one of Australia’s best graphic design and branding firm. I saw plenty of corporate identity standards manuals along the way but never one where the client felt the need to define the plural of the entity, as Chairman Chapman or his PR apparatchiks felt the need to do.

I don’t think anybody took any notice either, ‘Lotuses’ seems to have been in common use since Jim Clark was in shorts. I used Loti until someone observed that I had a touch of the Setrights. So I stopped.

Clearly the name of ‘our car’ is officially the Lotus 62 Europa albeit I follow the racing car nomenclature practice started by DC Nye and some of his buddies during the 1960s, viz; make-model-engine maker, that is Lotus 62 Vauxhall. Mind you, a more accurate description is perhaps Lotus 62 Lotus-Vauxhall given the mix of Lotus and Vauxhall mechanicals, mind you that sounds shit. How bout Lotus 62 Vauxhall-Lotus. Nah, that’s not too flash either. I think Lotus 62 Vauxhall will do the trick, application of the KISS Principle is always the way to go.



MotorSport Images, Tim Engel 900 engine article on,, Bruce Wellings



I wonder who took out the rest of the BOAC sign? An expensive accident no doubt.


Benzina Magazine…

Posted: February 21, 2023 in Fotos, Sports Racers
Arthurs Seat. Port Phillip Bay at right, Bass Straight in the distance, next stop King Island then Tasmania (N French)

I’ve taken a step sideways from my motor racing core and have started contributing to Benzina Magazine, a quarterly classic-car mag.

It’s the brainchild of Australian classic motoring and historic motorsport entrepreneur Jack Quinn. We have just put away issue #6, it’s published in Australia and the UK, so you Pommies should be able to find a copy too.

What was it Frank Gardner and Jim Hardman taught me at Calder in 1975? Very comfy in here all day, steering heavy, ‘box devine (N French)
Test of the toupee near Flinders, the exhaust note at speed is six-cylinder sonorous. Victorian B-roads at present are shit, they must have Covid, but the independent suspension front and rear is well up the challenge though. Hang on Dr King, purple will not catch on by the way (N French)

My feature in this issue (#6) is an historic treatise and driving impressions on the AC Ace Bristol, the first and best of the breed. I co-wrote a piece on the late Australian racer/businessman Reg Hunt too. #5 on back-issue was an article on the Lou Abrahams and Ted Gray Tornado V8s.

Check the mag out, we’re still locking down the ‘standard mix of articles’ so do give me your impressions on the good, the bad and the ugly.

Nico French is the photographer, a talented, fun guy to work with, a Lotus driver so say no more. The venues in-shot are Arthurs Seat, Shoreham and Flinders on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. The car is Bob King’s 1960 Ace, a machine delivered to its original Australian military-man owner in Europe but otherwise always resident here.

(N French)

The 2-litre BMW derived, two-OHV, Bristol triple-Solex fed straight-six is good for circa 135bhp in this tune, more than enough for the 1960 light, spaceframe chassis car. These magnificent machines have racing-roots, it shows in every aspect of their performance.

Photo Credits…

Nico French

Shoreham looking at Point Leo (N French)

Nothing beats a pert, perky, two-handful rump. No fat, no frills and no baubles. Perfetto…


John Snow, Delahaye 135S Competition during the 1939 AGP at Lobethal (B King Collection)

Sydney rich-boy-racer, John Snow was on a mission from god to spend plenty of the family company – Sydney Snow Ltd was a retail softgoods company – money to race some of the best pre-war cars and to change the face of Australian motor racing by importing – for his mates and others – decent European racing exotica.

Three of the cars which arrived in one of his final pre-war shipments were an Alfa Romeo Tipo-B/P3 for Jack Saywell, an Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans which shortly after arrival was sold to John Crouch, and a Delahaye 135SC for his own use. To look after these machines and other customer cars, Saywell and Snow bought the Monza Service business located at 393 Riley Street, Surry Hills (later 217 Bourke Street, East Sydney). Together with the cars, they also enticed the impeccably-credentialled British mechanic, Jock Finlayson, who arrived with Snow on the Monterey and the cars at Number 1 Wharf, Darling Harbour, Sydney on Monday September 5, 1938.

The catalyst for this piece was yet another photo-share from Bob King to me (god bless his cotton-socks), including shots of the three cars mentioned, taken during the 1939 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Lobethal, and discovery of the article below. It all reminded me of an apocryphal story about poor Finlayson during his short time in The Colonies…

This photograph appeared in The Sun, Sydney on Sunday March 5,1939. The caption, with spelling corrected reads “Racing cars, two of them capable of speeds up to 150mph, being prepared for the Grand Prix meeting at Bathurst on Easter Monday. Left foreground, Paul Swedberg’s Offenhauser; right front towards rear, Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo, John Snow’s Delahaye, R Curlewis’ MG. O Debbs’ MG, J Crouch’s Alfa Romeo. The Monza Service garage in which the cars are being prepared, is owned by Snow and Saywell, and is in the charge of the English racing mechanic JD Finlayson.”
Newspaper ad in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Monday April 3, 1939. Like all motor traders, everything is always for sale, including the Delahaye 135SC (or is it CS?) which Snow had barely used in Australia. The Bugatti, see photo below, and Mercedes are both Snow imports. The Alvis Hudson is the engine-less ex-Phil Garlick machine traded by John Crouch in the deal that bagged him the Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans. The Hudson engine was fitted to the Alvis by Frank Kleinig in a quid-pro-quo deal with Snow, who lent Kleinig the cash to travel back to Sydney after the Lobethal January 1939 meeting, fitment of the engine represented payment. There are hundreds of little gems like this in Medley’s John Snow book!
The Bugatti referred to in the ad above Bob King identifies as Type 46 #46577 ex-Giles Brothers in the UK. The 1950s shot shows Mrs Pengilley in the (long) time she and husband Eric Pengilley owned the 5.3-litre unsupercharged straight-eight. Pengilley’s Cammeray, Sydney home was a well known Bugatti ‘nursing home’ from which many fine cars arose from the dead after Pengilley sold said remains (B King Collection)

At Lobethal, Finlayson’s new charges all finished the race, Snow in fourth place, Saywell in sixth and Crouch seventh, all of them were well behind the extraordinarily fast Alan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c. The bigger cars suffered from tyre problems during the very hot 150 mile race on January 2. In truth, none of the Monza Service equipe racers was intimately familiar with his new car, other than Snow, who had raced the 3.5-litre Delahaye to fourth place in the 1938 Antwerp Grand Prix and in the 24 Hours of Spa (not that I can see any proof of the latter). See here for the 1939 AGP report;

“JD ‘Jock’ Finlayson had been a mechanic for the Bentley boys, particularly Tim Birkin and Australian Bernard Rubin,” John Medley wrote in his superb ‘John Snow:Classic Motor Racer’. “When Birkin died in 1933, Finlayson found himself swept up in the remarkable motor racing campaign of 21-year-old Cambridge undergraduate the wealthy American Whitney Straight.”

“Finlayson spent two years with Straight, spending much of his time with the Italy end of the organisation, strongly influenced by the same Lofty England who became legendary post-war as the Racing Manager of the even more successful Jaguar Racing Team. He was no less strongly influenced by Giulio Ramponi, who took him with him when Whitney Straight had achieved his goals and moved on from motor racing.”

Dick Seaman and Jock Finlayson, Coppa Acerbo August 15, 1935. Seaman won the Coppa Acerbo Junior voiturette race in his ERA B-Type (R1B) by a minute. Here they are, before the off, with the car sitting on pole (LAT-Robert Fellowes)
Giulio Ramponi being pushed by Jock Finlayson in Dick Seaman’s Delage 1.5LS into the Donington Park paddock during the Junior Car Club 200 meeting on August 29, 1936. The pair had enhanced the performance of the ‘old beast’ by lightening it, fitment of hydraulic brakes, improving the gearbox and coaxed over 185bhp @ 8000rpm from its 1.5-litre supercharged straight-eight. Dick Seaman won the race, which was a mixed GP and Voiturette grid. It was his third win in as many weeks; the Coppa Acerbo Junior, Prix De Berne and JCC 200 (L Klemantaski)

“Richard Seaman had raced the former Whitney Straight MG K3, so when he decided to adopt a more professional approach to his racing, used an ERA, and ended up with the cleverly rebuilt 1927 Delage in 1936, he like Straight before him with Birkin’s men, chose to chase the very professional mechanics from the Straight operation. Giulio Ramponi was his first choice and it was Ramponi that both suggested the purchase of the Delage and modified it to be the best voiturette racer of 1936. Before that it had been Seaman’s employing of Ramponi that had changed Seaman’s success rate in 1935. And Ramponi had taken Finlayson with him, directly from the Straight team to the Seaman team. Seaman had the highest opinion of his new mechanics, Jock Finlayson apparently no less than Giulio Ramponi. It was Richard Seaman who recommended Jock Finlayson to John Snow.” John Medley wrote.

After the heat of Lobethal and Adelaide, poor Finlayson looked after the Saywell and Snow cars during speed record breaking attempts they had organised on a 10-mile-loop course on the dry, dusty Coorong pipeclay surface under merciless sun and temperatures of 96-106 degrees Fahrenheit on January 5 and 6, 1939.

On the first day, Snow set nine national records before the Delahaye was slowed by valve trouble. Saywell took the wheel of the 2.9-litre Tipo-B/P3 the next day, attacking both the standing start, and flying mile records. Using a four mile run-in, Saywell averaged 134.7mph in the big, booming Grand Prix Alfa, over the flying-mile, and 89.2mph in the standing start, both were new Australian records. See here;

Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo Tipo-B #5002, during early practice at Lobethal. The #1 allocated to him for the race has not yet been applied to the machine (B King Collection)
Jock Finlayson beside Jack Saywell’s Alfa Tipo-B (is the stout guy behind the wheel him?) and Delahaye 135SC at the Coorong, South Australia in January 1939. Fred Pearse Collection shot, perhaps taken for Castrol, undoubtedly a sponsor. Mind you, if you were a sponsor you wouldn’t want all the nuffies in shot! although perhaps they are the SCC South Australia timing officials. Check out the bloke – fifth from the left – with a pistol down-his-strides, if the gun goes off his wedding-tackle will end up in Glenelg. Perhaps he was on snake-patrol (F Pearse Collection)

The two cars next ran in the New South Wales Grand Prix at Bathurst on Easter Monday, April 10, 1939. There, cars imported by John Snow dominated the results. John Sherwood’s MG NE Magnette won from visiting American midget-ace, Paul Swedberg in Snow’s Delahaye (he was overseas), John Barraclough MG NE Magnette, John Crouch, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 LM, Bob Lea-Wright’s Hudson Six Spl, and Jack Saywell – well in the lead of the handicap race off scratch until terminal brake problems – Alfa Romeo Tipo-B. Only the Lea-Wright Hudson hadn’t been imported to Australia by John Snow. NSW GP report here;

Saywell’s Alfa had broken the lap record during its fantastic run at Bathurst, but the fateful decision was made to rebuild the engine and the brakes. The challenges posed by Vittorio Jano’s superb 2.9-litre twin-cam, two-valve, supercharged engine were considerable but should not have been difficult for a mechanic of Finlayson’s experience.

“Legend has it that all was well until the rebuilt engine was restored to its rightful place in the car,” Medley wrote. “It wouldn’t start. Despite protests from onlookers Jock Finlayson then chose to tow it behind another vehicle to try to clutch-start the Alfa Romeo, not realising that he had the timing wrong. Bent valves were apparently the least significant damage. The main damage was to Finlayson’s reputation: Saywell and Snow fired him, and he caught a ship back to England.”

John Crouch, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans #2311202 8C, Lobethal 1939 (B King Collection)

No longer trusting anyone other than the Alfa Romeo factory, Saywell had the engine packed onto the ‘S.S.Minnow’ for a rebuild in Milan by July 1939. It wasn’t a good time to be on the high-seas though, Germany invaded Poland on September 1 1939, as a consequence Great Britain and Australia declared war on Germany on September 3.

With the Kriegsmarine’s U-Boot wolfpacks marauding the seas, the ‘Minnow’ was easy pickings. Saywell’s engine, the Skipper and the Professor, Gilligan, Thurston Howell (the third) and his wife, Ginger, not to forget poor Mary-Ann of course – I always fancied her more than Ginger or Mrs Howell – gurgled to the bottom of the sea, never to be seen again.

The Alfa Tipo-B raced again post-war, but that is another story…

Eyes on the prize Gilligan. These days American cultural imperialism gives me the shits but I couldn’t get enough of it as a kid!


As is so often the case, after finishing this piece I then had a proper Google – yep, I know, it would be better to do it first, but I get excited sometimes about a topic and this is one of ’em – finding the Coorong shot in a long forgotten article of my own, the Donington shot and this marvellous piece by Doug Nye in MotorSport, which I’ve paraphrased a bit.

“Its amazing just how much detailed history has come down to us not necessarily recorded in any history book, but instead scribbled on scraps of paper, on the back of photographs, or as a fleeting caption in a scrap book.”

“One of the best respected of all racing mechanics in the 1930s was Jock Finlayson. I recently unearthed a couple of the late Jock’s photographs, the first showing the Bentley pit at Phoenix Park, Dublin, after the 1929 Irish Grand Prix there for sportscars. In the 300 mile Eireann Cup handicap, an Alfa Romeo 1750 led home the work’s two Speed Six Bentleys driven by Glenn Kidston (second) and Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin (third).”

(Jock Finlayson-GP Library)

“In the Finlayson photo, taken just after the finish, urbane ex-naval officer Kidston is relaxing on the pit counter, inevitable cigarette in his right hand, while immediately behind him, marked with an-inked ‘X’ is Jock, minus spectacles, but with goggles slung around his neck – and with Tiger Tim to the right. Jock’s caption is simple enough, reading just, ‘My second ride with Birkin.'”

“Another hugely significant photo he preserved – given the shortage of such nutsy-boltsy shots of the engine of the nine-year-old Delage 1.5LS Grand Prix car in 1936 when he won almost everything in sight – as written by Jock, ‘1936 Berne Delage motor 1st Seaman 1 1/2-litre class.’ Here it is taken on the day on which Mercedes Benz team manager Alfred Neubauer sat up and took notice of a young British racing driver, named Dick Seaman and began to consider him seriously for a Mercedes test-drive…”

(Jock Finlayson-GP Library)


Bob King Collection, ‘John Snow : Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, ‘Bathurst:Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, LAT-Robert Fellowes, Louis Klemantaski, Fred Pearse Collection, Doug Nye in MotorSport, GP Library, The Golden Era


(B King Collection)

Yet another of the John Snow top-end racing cars (probably) imported to Australia was Melbourne man, Tim Joshua’s Fraser Nash monoposto. Here he is at Bathurst during the 1938 AGP won by another blueblood, the ERA B-Type raced by Peter Whitehead.

This machine had a very long competitive life in Australian racing – including fitment of the inevitable Ford Flatty V8 during its mid-life crisis – is getting close to being restored to correct specifications in a small Murray River village.


This shot begs a caption competition, surely?

The thoroughly delightful Eunice Fidock is shown beside an Austin 7 Special at Dowerin, Western Australia circa 1935.

Dowerin is a wheatbelt community 160km north-east of Perth. It had two pre-war racing venues, the Lake Koombekine one mile, dirt, circular speedway, and the Dowerin Showgrounds speedway in town. I’m not sure which of the two this is, but I’m happy to take advice.

My friend Tony Johns, Austin racer/historian is on the job as to chassis type and number, albeit he suspects a Perth built body on a standard or Super Sports chassis.

Eunice hails from Cottesloe, an inner Perth beachside suburb. Looking like that she would have cut quite a dash at Cotts’ Indiana Teahouse. Resplendent in leopard-skin shorts, she is showing lots of bumpy-curvy bits for the times and is therefore well armed to keep the more amorous of Dowerin suitors at bay. I’ll leave the make of weapon to you NRA members.


Lake Perkolilli Revival Facebook page, State Library of Western Australia



A slightly later model Austin – an Austin Junior Forty – shown in a Perth dealership circa 1951.


JPJ ponders the challenges of the day, the not long retired Gerard Larrousse by the left-front. ID’s of others folks?

Jean-Pierre Jabouille (JPJ) gathers his thoughts at the wheel of the Renault Alpine A500 Formula 1 test car during a two day session at Paul Ricard/Le Castellet, June 6, 1976. It’s a year before JPJ raced a Renault RS01 at Silverstone during the British GP weekend, the return of the great Regie to Grand Prix racing.

I tripped over this shot during my Patrick Tambay obituary research, it made me chuckle as Jabouille was a very busy boy that year, at the epicentre of three Renault race programmes; the European F2 and World Sportscar Championships and F1 test program.

The JPJ (up) Jean Guichet, Alpine A220 3-litre V8 at Le Mans in 1968, DNF electrics in the 16th hour. Rodriguez/Biancho won aboard a JW Ford GT40, 3-litre class by the 2.2-litre Rico Steinemann/Dieter Spoerry Porsche 907 (Twitter)
Happy chappy. JPJ after a win in the AGACI Cup, Montlhery April 28, 1968. Matra MS5 Ford, in front of Depailler’s works Alpine A330 Renault and Bernard Baur Brabham BT21B Ford

By then he was already a driver with vast experience, having started racing in the Coupe Renault 8 Gordini in 1966, then progressing through Formula 3 and Formula 2. He placed second in the French F3 championship, behind Francois Cevert in 1968, and Patrick Depailler in 1971, racing Matra MS5 Ford and Alpine A360 Renault respectively.

In 1968 JPJ made both his Le Mans and F2 debuts, and from 1970 mixed F2 racing and sportscar competition for a best of third at Le Mans aboard Matra MS670Bs in 1973-74. Despite an education in the humanities he developed a gift for the engineering of racing cars and their development, a role he performed for Alpine throughout.

JPJ aboard the Matra MS670B he shared with Francois Migault at Le Mans in 1974. They were third in the race won by the sister MS670C of Henri Pescarolo and Gerard Larousse (LAT)
JPJ, Alpine A440 Renault-Gordini 2-litre V6, Magny Cours 1973. The poor performance of the cars in 1973 led to the winter developments which made the cars utterly dominant in 1974 (unattributed)
Tyrrell 007 Ford during the 1975 French GP at Dijon. JPJ was Q21 and 12th in the race won by Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T. Scheckter was Q2 and ninth, Depailler Q13 and sixth in the other two 007s

After a couple of failed attempts to qualify for a Grand Prix he made the cut for Tyrrell in the 1975 French GP, qualifying 21st and finishing 12th in a Tyrrell 007 Ford. Importantly this gave him an appreciation of a competitive F1car, albeit a normally aspirated one, as he and his colleagues toiled to get the turbo-charged Renault-Gordini CHS V6 engine competitive in terms of power, throttle response and longevity…quite a challenge, despite the wealth of engineering nous the French giant possessed.

JPJ Elf 2J Renault-Gordini from Patrick Tambay, Martini Mk19 Renault-Gordini at Nogaro in 1976 – perhaps Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Opert Chvron B35 Hart behind (MotorSport)
Renault-Gordini 2-litre CH1B V6 in the back of an Elf 2J at Thruxton in April 1976, both cars DNF. Maurizio Flammini won in a works March 762 BMW (MotorSport)

The jewel of a 2-litre, quad-cam, four valve, fuel injected V6 – the design of which was credited to a team led by Francois Castaing – was blooded in 2-litre sports-prototype competition. After a shaky start in 1973 the revised Renault Alpine A441 won all seven races of the 1974 2-litre Championship. The 300bhp CH1B engine was then handed to Jabouille and Tico Martini to mount a two team, four car, Elf supported attack on the 1976 European F2 Championship.

An Elf 2J spaceframe takes shape in Jabouille’s workshop, where folks? (G Gamand Collection)
JPJ with the bi-winged Elf 2J, Rome GP 1976. Jabouille perhaps inspired by Frank Matich’s success in a similarly endowed Matich A50 Repco-Holden F5000 machine in 1972-73 (unattributed)

In 1975 JPJ and his collaborator, engineer and ex-motorcycle/F3/sportscar racer Jean-Claude Guenard had built a spaceframe Elf 2J BMW F2 car which won the Salzburgring round of the F2 championship. They built two, or perhaps three new machines that winter for a a torrid All French F2 Battle in 1976.

The Equipe Elf Switzerland Elf 2J (aka Jabouille 2J) team – sponsored by the Swiss Gruyere and Emmental Cheese Foundation – took first Renault-Gordini blood over the Ecurie Elf Martinis at Vallelunga in early May. JPJ won the GP di Roma from Patrick Tambay, while Michel Leclere was fourth in the other Elf 2J, and Rene Arnoux retired the other Martini Mk 19 with engine failure.

Spaceframes weren’t so common in 1976 – they are still about today of course – so Ron Tauranac must have had a chuckle at Porsche’s ongoing success and the Elf 2J triumphs in endurance racing and F2 that year (G Gamand Collection)
JPJ, Michel Leclere and Giancarlo Martini, March 762 BMW at Vallelunga during the 1976 Rome GP weekend (MotorSport)

It was a timely win. JPJ and Patrick Depailler managed to run into one another from the front row of the Nurburgring 300K enduro aboard Renault Alpine A442 prototypes in front of Renault’s top-brass the month before. “Patrick was on pole, I was third but made a good start and took an immediate lead, imperative because it was raining and if you weren’t at the front it would be impossible to see anything,” JPJ recalled to Simon Taylor in a MotorSport interview.

Jabouille and Cevert had of course been scrapping with one another for years in France and the circuits of Europe. “I braked fairly late for a downhill left-hander, but Patrick tried to follow me and slid off hard into the barriers. We hadn’t touched, but I hit a drainage cover, got sideways and crashed. All the Renault managers were there and after about one kilometre both cars were out. They were absolutely livid, not so much with me, but suspended (the by then very well established Tyrrell GP driver) Patrick for the next three races. I think that was something of a first in the sport…”

Jabouille at Le Mans in 1976. He shared his Renault Alpine A442 with Patrick Tambay and Jose Dolhem, DNF with piston failure in the 11th hour. Race won by the Jacky Ickx/Gijs Van Lennep Porsche 936 (MotorSport)
The unseen long, hard slog of racing, JPJ testing an A442 Renault Alpine at Paul Ricard in February 1975

That season Renault-Alpine finished a distant second to Porsche in the World Sportscar Championship, with 47 points to the Zuffenhausen outfits 100 achieved with the Porsche 936 turbo. Renault would of course eventually win at Le Mans in 1978 when Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud triumphed aboard a A442 . In 1976 JPJ’s best result was third place sharing his A442 with Jean-Pierre Jarier at Dijon.

At that stage – the first WSC win for Renault-Alpine was at Mugello when Gerard Larrousse and JPJ triumphed in 1975 – Renault’s primary competition goal was to win at Le Mans. But as they made the 1997cc, Garrett turbo-charged circa 490bhp semi-monocoque, Hewland TL-200 equipped sports-racer consistently competitive there was cross pollination to the 1.5-litre F1 engine development program in which JPJ was totally immersed.

There was no such reliability problems for the circa 300bhp @ 10500rpm CH1B F2 V6 variant mind you. JPJ and Rene Arnoux went at it hammer-and-tongs all of that 1976 season with Arnoux winning four rounds of the ’76 Euro F2 title, JPJ three, and Leclere one. In the wash-up JPJ scraped home by a point, 53 to 52. There was karma in this, Jabouille had had a long F2 apprenticeship and of course designed and built his weapon of war, both would enter Grand Prix competition soon enough.


Engineer Bernard Dudot was instrumental in the development of the team which developed the turbo-charged engine. He outlined to Doug Nye that the 1976 F1 project team comprised four people, engineer, Jean-Pierre Boudy and two or three mechanics with Dudot splitting some of his time to it among his endurance commitments.

By then Castaing was General Manger of Renault Sport – formed in 1976 – and it was he who designed the F1 Alpine A500 laboratoire monoplace test car (photos above), Dudot having told Renault Chief Executive that it was possible to make a competitive F1 engine out of the cast iron block V6.

Initially Jabouille tested 2.1-litre CHS type Le Mans, and EF1 1.5-litre engines back-to-back in A442 sportscars at Paul Ricard. Initially Jabouille found the 1.5-litre undriveable, “The compression ratio was so low that we couldn’t get sufficient fuel pressure to start the engine,” JPJ recalled.

“Every morning one of the mechanics would get up before the others and put a camp-stove beneath the engine to warm it up, at the time it was the only way we could get it started. It seemed a long road from there to an engine capable of winning GPs…”

The huge problem of throttle response was addressed, in part by running a little less boost, “while Mahle and Goetze, their piston, liner and ring suppliers learned with them, as did Garrett, whose production turbochargers were made to inadequate tolerances for F1. Compressor wheels, turbines and axle wheels all failed, at this time they were running 130000rpm on plain bearings.” Doug Nye wrote.

These brief paragraphs do nothing more than skim the surface of the engineering and manufacturing challenges presented and overcome. A more thorough exploration of the evolution of the V6 from victorious 2-litre endurance and F2 engine to fire-breathing 1.5-turbo is for another time.

Three photographs during the 1977 British GP weekend at Silverstone. JPJ, Renault RS01 Q21 and DNF lap 17 with turbo failure. Race won by James Hunt’s McLaren M26 Ford from Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2 and Gunnar Nilsson, Lotus 78 Ford (MotorSport)
Renault Gordini EF1 1492cc single Garrett-turbocharged 510bhp @ 11000rpm engine (MotorSport)

JPJ made the Renault RS01’s race debut at Silverstone in 1977, where the Yellow Teapot retired from the race but not before making a big impression with what would become the new engine paradigm.

At the 1978 US GP Jabouille bagged the first points for Renault and turbo-engines. Critically, by this stage, Renault had their Le Mans Cup in the boardroom display case so all of Renault Sport’s resources were applied to F1. Jabouille took pole in South Africa in 1979 and that first fabulous home win at Dijon the same year.


Motorsport, Gerard Gamand Collection, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Getty Images, LAT Photographic



JPJ on the way to that win at Dijon on July 1, 1979 aboard his Renault RE10. The first championship Grand Prix victory for a forced-induction engine since Juan Manuel Fangio’s Spanish GP win at Pedralbes on an Alfa Romeo 159 on October 28,1951.

During the final laps most eyes were focussed on the titanic wheel to wheel battle 15-seconds back between two-magnificent-maddies, Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux, Ferrari 312T4 and Renault RE10, a nail-biter resolved in the French-Canadian’s favour.


(R Schlegelmilch)

The Herbie Muller/Claude Haldi/Nick McGranger Porsche 935 during practice at Le Mans in June 1978…

It’s such a wonderful image evocative of a fun weekend in rural France. They failed to finish with a broken gearbox casing after 140 laps, during the 14th hour.

The Group 5 class was won by the Kremer Porsche 935 crewed by Jim Busby/Chris Cord/Rick Knoop, while the outright winner was the Alpine Renault A442B of Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. The 2-litre turbo-charged V6 prototype prevailed over the 2.1-litre flat-six turbo-charged Porsche 936/78 of Bob Wollek, Jurgen Barth and Jacky Ickx by five laps in an historic win for the French team.


Photo Credit…

Rainer Schlegelmilch


porsche (Louis Klemantaski)

Battle for the test drive between Belgian Journalist/Le Mans winner Paul Frere and one of the Porsche drivers, any idea who?…

Frere (below) finished fourth in a Jaguar D-Type he shared with Freddy Rouselle. ’57 was a D-Type rout, the Ecurie Ecosse cars of Ron Flockhart/Ivor Bueb and Ninian Sanderson/John Lawrence were first and second from the Equipe Los Amigos French entry crewed by Jean Lucas/Jean-Marie Brussin, then Frere’s machine in fourth.


Ferry Porsche is in the suit and racing manager Huschke von Hanstein is on the pit counter.

The cars are the #32 718RSK of Umberto Maglioli/Edgar Barth, the #33 550A of Hans Hermann/Richard von Frankenberg and #34, the 550A of Claude Storez/Ed Crawford; DNF, DNF and non-classified respectively. The best placed Porsche that year was the privately entered 550A of Ed Hugus and Carel de Beaufort in eighth place.

The car in the distance is the #55 Lotus Engineering Lotus 11 Climax which finished ninth, and first in the sports 750cc class, in the hands of Herbert Mackay-Fraser and Jay Chamberlain (below).



The Umberto Maglioli/Edgar Barth 718 RSK during the race, DNF accident after completing 129 laps in the 12th hour.



The toss-pots of the concours world would be well advised to have a good look at shots like this which show the finish of racing cars as prepared for battle, ex-factory. Still, the last thing most of these dudes seek is originality, may the Oily Rag concept prevail. Here, the Maglioli/Barth 718 RSK before the off.


Louis Klemantaski, LAT Photographic



The eighth-placed Ed Hugus/Carel Godin de Beaufort Porsche 550A chases the Jack Brabham/Ian Raby Cooper T39 Climax, 15th, during Le Mans in 1957.


JYS loads up into the Chaparral 2J at Watkins Glen in July 1970 (LAT)

Apart from the Chaparral 2J Chev, name another car raced in 1970 that looks as edgy now as it did way back then?

I still remember flicking through Automobile Year 18 in Camberwell Grammar’s library in 1971 and flipping-my-14-year-old-lid at the sight of the 2J. My oldest mate remembers me saying, “Look at George Jetson’s car!” The only things missing were Jane, Judy, Elroy, and of course ‘rAstro!

John Surtees, Chaparral 2H Chev at Riverside in October 1969
2H butt at Riverside in October 1969. Of note is the world’s biggest fabricated aluminium De Dion rear axle and one of the worlds biggest radius rods. ZL1 Chev has a crossover inlet manifold to get the fuel injection trumpets out of the airstream, ditto routing of extractors. Enormous wing fitted in this shot – you can see the vertical support – which is not installed in the shot above, remember too that this car was originally designed and built with the driver fully enclosed inside, something John Surtees pushed strongly against

Jim Hall has gonads the size of pineapples.

His outrageous 1969 offering, the wedgy, door-stop, knee high, De Dion rear-ended 2H was a complete flop. It’s driver, John Surtees, thought Hall had been smoking wacky baccy at Woodstock rather than working with clean-cut Nixon supporters at GM’s Skunkworks to design a new car.

Ever the poker player, Hall doubled his bets and concepted a machine so advanced and fast it was banned after only four races.

The Phil Hill/Mike Spence winged Chaparral 2F Chev looking lonely on the Daytona banking in 1967, DNF (Getty)

Chaparral had been giving the rest of the racing world aerodynamics and aero-technology lessons for five years or so to that point.

By 1970 the aluminium monocoque chassis was passe, so too was the aluminium block 650bhp’ish Chev ZL1 V8, even Chaparral/GM’s semi-automatic three-speed transaxle was a bit ho-hum.

Legend has it the inspiration for the 2J was a child’s fan-mail drawing to Hall of a sports racer being sucked down to the road by giant fans extracting the air underneath.

Whether it was ‘Elroy Jetsons’ sketch, an extension of previous Chapparral/GM R&D work, or divine providence, GM’s Paul Von Valkenburgh and Charlie Simmons, and Chaparral’s Don Gates started modelling the possibilities on Chevy R&D’s Suspension Test Vehicle.

More of a test-rig than a car, it enabled them to play with roll-centres and stiffness, ride height, pitch axis, anti-dive/squat and lots of other stuff; this rig became the 2J test mule.

“Gates worked out a fan and skirt infill defence system while Don Cox, Ernie DeFusco and Joe Marasco engineered a chassis to match,” Doug Nye wrote.


The resulting tricky bits were the slab-sided, fully-fenced bodywork and Rockwell JLO 247cc two-stroke 45bhp snowmobile engine which powered two rear fans nicked from an M-109 Howitzer Tank. That combination could move 9,650 cubic feet of air a minute @ 6,000rpm, creating negative pressure equal to 2,200 pounds of downforce. Unlike other racing cars, the downforce was independent of the speed of the car.

For three-quarters of its footprint the car was ‘attached’ to the ground via skirts made of General Electric’s new, trick, Lexan polycarbonate. The skirts moved up and down with the movement of the car via a system of cables, pulleys and machined arms that bolted to the suspension. On the smoother Can-Am venues the seal was good, with the fans on the car hunkered-down by two inches.

The net effect of all of this was that the car sucked itself to the road, thereby creating immense cornering power and traction.

Stewart on the Watkins Glen grid, Chris Ecomomaki in front looking for a mike (J Meredith Collection)
Vic Elford togs-up at Riverside. The car in front is Peter Revson’s Carl Haas entered Lola T220 Chev, Revson is sitting on the pit wall to the right of the Lola’s rear. His performances in that car propelled him into a works-McLaren M8F Chev with which he won the 1971 Can-Am Cup – F1 followed (B Cahier-Getty)

During the 2J’s build Jim Hall was smart enough to give SCCA officialdom a look at the car to ensure it was kosher in the almost-anything-goes Group 7/Can-Am world. The crew-cut mob deemed it hunky-dory to race.

While the car was first tested at Rattlesnake Raceway in November 1969, the complex machine missed the June 14, 1970 Mosport season opener and the following Canadian round at St Jovite. But 2J-001 finally arrived aboard a modest ute (pick-up) at Watkins Glen in mid July.

It’s driver was reigning World Champion Jackie Stewart in a one-race deal supported by GM (weird given the Ford sponsored Cosworth engine which powered his F1 cars). JYS had plenty of sportscar experience, including Can-Am cars, but nothing prepared him for the 2J.

“The car’s traction, its ability to brake and go deeply into corners is something I’ve never experienced before in a car of this size and bulk,” he wrote in Faster! “Its adhesion is such that it seems able to take unorthodox lines through turns, and this, of course, is intriguing.”

Jackie Stewart during practice at Watkins Glen, and below, a wonderful race day panorama (LAT)

Stewart, and Vic Elford, retained by Hall to drive the car for the balance of the series, experienced the same other worldly, steep learning curve – retraining the brain about what was possible – as Mario Andretti encountered with Peter Wright and Colin Chapman’s Lotus 78-79 ground-effect cars in 1977-1978.

In a practical sense, half the problem was keeping the auxiliary engine alive – remember it wasn’t designed for this application – in its new harsh environment with all the trackside detritus the fans sucked up from the bottom of the car and regurgitated out the back at speed. Not to forget the skirts and their support mechanisms. The engineering challenge of this lot was mega.

Stewart qualified the brave-new-world 2J third behind the dominant orthodoxy, Denny Hulme and Dan Gurney’s new Batmobile-Beautiful McLaren M8D Chevs. Jackie closed on Dan during the race before being forced to pit, then went out for another seven laps – 22 in all – he bagged fastest lap before braking problems ended his race.

2J-001 at rest in the Watkins Glen pitlane. Sole sponsor decal is for GE-Lexan. Porsche Salzburg 917 of either Vic Elford or Dickie Attwood behind (LAT)
Stewart blasts past Attwood’s third placed Porsche 917. While Hulme’s McLaren M8D Chev won at Watkins Glen, the next six placings were taken by Group 5 enduro cars, not the Group 7 cars for which the race was run. Said Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S’ had already done the Watkins Glen 6-Hours the day before, most without an engine change between the two races. The JW 917 of Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen won (unattributed)

Context is everything. The Glen’s Can-Am round was always topped up by Group 5-6 World Endurance Championship cars which were also in town for the Watkins Glen 6-Hour.

The dominant 1970-71 endurance racer was the swoopy-rounded, spaceframe, 4.5-4.9-litre flat-12 engined Porsche 917. Alongside the 917 the 2J looked like a Sci-Fi film prop!

The Texans missed the next three rounds at Edmonton, Mid Ohio and Road America to further develop the car before rejoining the circus at Road Atlanta in mid-September.

Elford recalled his impressions of the car to MotorSport, “Drving the car was just out of this world. The start-up procedure was a bit like an aeroplane I suppose, you didn’t just jump into first gear and drive away.”

“I put my left foot hard on the brake to make sure it didn’t go anywhere, then fire-up the little engine which immediately started to drive the two monster fans at the back, sucking up the air underneath. When I did this the car would literally go: ‘Shhhp!’ and lower itself down to the ground by about two and a half inches.”

Such was the suction of the turbines, the 2J could tootle off on its own at up to 30mph if the brakes weren’t applied.

At Road Atlanta Vic popped it on pole and finished sixth after ignition problems with the snowmobile engine.

“You get to the stage of thinking it’s just not possible to go around any corner at that speed, and adapting to it mentally is the most difficult approach because no other car has ever gone around a corner as fast as this one,” Elford recalled.

“Another great thing about the suction is that it doesn’t allow the cars’s handling characteristics to change as you go through a corner. Whichever way it’s set it remains that way at all times, whether its a fast corner or a slow swerve – it remains absolutely constant.”

Come race day Elford was always impacted by the three speed semi-auto transaxle, rather than the four of the LG600 Hewland equipped competition, that wasn’t the problem at Road Atlanta though, it was the subsidiary engine.

Laguna Seca followed a month later. There, Elford was the only car to go under a minute, a smidge less than two seconds quicker than Denny Hulme, despite never seeing the place before…

“I went around Laguna in 59 seconds and it was about five years before the next car managed to go under a minute, and that was an Indycar!”

He didn’t get to start from pole as the Chevy popped a-leg-out-of-bed in the warm-up early in the day, and there simply wasn’t the time for the Midland boys to pop in a new engine. The complexity of an engine change involved pulling much of the car apart and reassembly, a days work. It was an immense bummer for the Californian crowd.

Beautiful Laguna Seca profile shot of Vic Elford shows the unmistakable slab-sided lines of the car and operation of the skirts which appear to be riding the bitumen pretty well (unattributed)
Imagine being showered by fast moving trackside shrapnel at 170mph, Dyson have nothing on this vacuum-cleaner! Elford in the Road Atlanta pitlane

The final Can-Am round was at Riverside a fortnight later. There, Elford was again well clear of Hulme in qualifying, this time the gap was a little over two seconds, these are huge margins folks.

“At one point we came into Turn 9 with Denny Hulme just in front of me. I was right up against the wall and I probably didn’t even change gear. I drove all the way around the outside of Denny in third gear. He went straight off, went into the pits and took his helmet off, sat on the pit wall and sulked for the next half hour!”

This time the Rockwell engine didn’t play ball, breaking its crank. The team managed to patch it up and take the start but it inevitably failed on lap two.

And that was it, the howls of protest were loud and long.

Not that there was any way known the 2J didn’t bristle with illegal ‘moveable aerodynamic devices’! No way can the SCCA officials who saw the car pre-season could have thought it otherwise, but – bless-em – they probably thought “Let ‘em run, the crowds will be huge and we’ll see what happens from there.”

In the process of banning it, the SCCA ripped the soul out of Can-Am in that Hall and his boys walked away.

Can-Am’s attraction was its anything goes nature which invited innovation. Anything goes was great, unless, it seems, it threatened the dominant orthodoxy. To me there was Chaparral-Can-Am and Post-Chaparral-Can-Am and the former was vastly better than the latter, with all due respect to Porsche and Shadow.

Elford in front of one of the Papaya-M8D-Terrors at Laguna Seca. Hay bales still very much around in 1970 (H Thomas/Getty)
Brian Redman, Jim Hall, the Chaparral crew and their Lola T330/332 Chevs were the dominant US F5000 force from 1974-76. Here the duo are in the Elkhart Lake pits in 1974, Lola T332C Chev

Still, Hall kept his core team together running Lolas in the US F5000 and single-seat Can-Am championships, then had the joy of watching Lotus carry the ground effect torch forward, not that Chapman ever gave any credit his way, our Col never did that to anyone.

Hall then returned with the John Barnard designed ground effect Chaparral 2K Cosworth which won the CART championship and the Indy 500 in 1980 with Johnny Rutherford at the wheel.

Lone Star JR on the way to a win at Indy in 1980, Chaparral 2K Cosworth (IMS)

That Automobile Year 18 I prattled on about at the start of this masterpiece was hugely influential in stimulating my interest in cars and racing. Six of my Top Ten cars I first saw in that tome; Ferrari 312B, Lotus 72 Ford, Ferrari 512S, McLaren M8D Chev, Ferrari Dino 246GT and of course the Chaparral 2J. The Ferraris and McLaren are all about sex-on-wheels, the 72 and 2J are a tad more cerebral.

This article made me consider what the most influential racing car in my lifetime is? Its ‘gotta be a toss-up between the Lotus 25 Climax and 2J.

All monocoque racing cars are related to the 25, the first modern monocoque. The aerodynamics of racing cars since the Lotus 78 are related to the 2J. Let’s toss the coin as to which is the more influential, let the debate begin!


I ‘spose you think I’ve forgotten John and Charlie Cooper, but they were doing their mid-engined thing way before I was born, so, I’ve dodged that debate at least. In any event, Auto Union’s mid-engined missiles won GPs pre-war.

May 1967
Thinkin, always thinkin. Jim Hall at Riverside in 1966 (B D’Olivo-Getty)


MotorSport Images,, Indy Motor Speedway, Getty Images, J Meredith Collection, Harry Hurst, Sports Illustrated, Sportscar Digest, MotorSport November 2020 article by James Elson


“Aw come on Jim, it’s years since you raced in F1, time to return and give things a bit of a shake up.”

Jim Hall and Jackie Stewart pre-race at Watkins Glen. “Just make sure you have your left foot on the brake when we fire it up or you’ll mow down half the paddock!”

Note the fan-covers missing at Watkins Glen but present in subsequent races.

Jim Hall’s British Racing Partnership Lotus 24 BRM during the 1963 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, eighth in the race won by Jim Clark’s epochal Lotus 25 Climax. Carel de Beaufort’s ninth placed Porsche 718 in the distance (MotorSport)



Hans-Dieter Dechent wasn’t quite in on the start of Martini & Rossi’s (M&R) support of motor racing, but his Lufthansa Racing Porsche 910 was the first racer to carry the famous livery substantively, when non-trade advertising was permitted on racing cars in 1968.

Here he is enroute to a DNF with engine failure in the 910 he shared with Robert Huhn in the 1968 Nurburgring 1000km.

M&R sponsored two Alfa Co US entered Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ’s raced by Charlie Kolb and Paul Richards at the 1962 Daytona 3 Hours. The machines were devoid of the corporate branding with which we are all so familiar, instead they had Martini & Rossi Racing Team discretely sign-written atop the front quarter-panels.

Paul Richards’ Alfa Giulietta SZ in the Daytona 3 Hours paddock in 1962 (N Cerutti)

Martini’s German head of PR, Paul Goppert, and his friend, Dechent, took things up a gear with M&R’s support of the Scuderia Lufthansa Porsche 910 (above) owned and driven by Robert Huhn, a Lufthansa executive, together with Dechent.

Among strong results Dechent won his class racing a Porsche 906 in the 1967 Nurburgring 1000Km and was third outright in a 907 at the 1969 Monza 1000Km behind the works 908/2s of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman and Hans Hermann/Kurt Ahrens.

In 1970 the Martini & Rossi International racing team – later Martini Racing – was formed.

Gijs Van Lennep in the Porsche 917K he shared with Helmut Marko to victory at Le Mans in 1971 (DPPI)

With the assistance of Hans-Dieter the Martini & Rossi relationship with Porsche became enduring. He hung up his helmet to take on the role of Team Manager of Porsche Salzburg in 1970, and in addition had responsibility for the M&R sponsorship. The first M&R Le Mans win followed in 1971, the victorious Porsche 917K was crewed by Gijs Van Lennep and Helmut Marko.

Dechent moved on from Martini Racing to other motor racing team management roles (see here; Motorsport Memorial – Hans-Dieter Dechent) he was replaced by David Yorke at the end of 1971. Lets not forget the critical role Dechent played in ‘commencing’ an iconic team/brand/livery.

The 2014 Williams FW36 Mercedes with Felipe Massa up. Best results for the year were third places for Valtteri Bottas in Austria, Hungary, Russia and Abu Dhabi, and Felipe Massa in Italy and Brazil (Autosport)

The amazing thing about the Martini & Rossi house-style – as the brand consultants call it – is that it makes every car to which it’s applied look better, faster…


Motorsport Memorial, MotorSport Images, Norberto Cerutti, DPPI, Autosport



Surely one of the most iconic racing car liveries of all is the car Hans-Dieter Dechent turned over to Porsche designer Anatole Lapine for special treatment in 1970.

The Gerard Larousse/Willy Kauhsen Porsche 917 Langheck, chassis 917/21, first raced at Le Mans in June.

The Martini & Rossi sponsored, swirling psychedelic, green and purple Hippie-Car – second behind the winning 917K of Dick Attwood and Hans Hermann – has a cult following which transcends race-fans.