Archive for the ‘Touring Cars’ Category

(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)
(MotorSport)

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)
(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…

Credits…

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

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

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.

Finito…

(MotorSport)

Brian Muir in an Alpina BMW 3-litre CSL during the May 1973 Spa 1,000km.

He shared the car with Hans Stuck, the pair finished second in class, eighth outright, immediately behind the sister Alpina machine raced by Niki Lauda – and Hans Stuck! The race was won by the Mirage M6 Ford prototype crewed by Derek Bell and Mike Hailwood.

Muir is too often forgotten in conversations between enthusiasts in Australia about successful internationals. He was a much respected figure in touring cars and sportscars in the UK/Europe for the better part of 30 years after leaving Australia for the UK for the second time, as winner of the ‘Smiths Industries Driver to Europe Prize’ in late 1964.

Click here for a good summary of his life/career; Motorsport Memorial – Brian Muir

Brian Muir chasing David Hobbs at Silverstone during the July 1968 BSCC round, Falcon Super Sprints. They finished the Duckhams Q Trophy in this order, there was nothing in it, both were credited with the same fastest lap (LAT)
Brian Muir aboard the works Lotus 62 Vauxhall he shared with John Miles, chases the Helmut Kelleners/Reinhold Jost Ford GT40 during the April 1969 Brands Hatch 6 Hours. The Lotus pair were 13th outright and first in the 2-litre prototype class, the GT40 was 16th. Race won by the Jo Siffert/Brian Redman Porsche 908/02 (MotorSport)
Muir aboard the winning Ford GT40 during the April 1968 Barcelona 6 Hours at Montjuic Park. He was co-driven by Francisco Godia-Sales (J Vinals)

Brian had a terrific year in 1973, he raced Alpina tuned BMW CSLs in both the British Saloon Car Championship and the European Touring Car Championship.

In the UK the battle for outright honours was fought between Frank Gardner’s legendary SCA European Freight Services Chev Camaro Z28 and fellow Sydneysider, Muir.

Gardner won the title with wins in six of the eight rounds he contested, Muir won at Silverstone and Brands Hatch to finish fifth overall behind better performing smaller-capacity class cars.

Oopsie, two Sydneysiders at play at Silverstone. Frank Gardner’s Chev Camaro Z28 copping a bit of TLC from Muir’s BMW CSL during the April 1973 International Trophy BSCC round (A Cooper)
Brian Muir three-wheeling in his chase of Frank Gardner at Brands Hatch in August ’73. BMW’s homologation goodies for the year included a nice-fat 3.5-litre engine and aero pack including the iconic Batmobile wing. Gardner won the race while Brian DNF with oil pump failure in his 3303cc engine (MotorSport)
Muir aboard the Alpina 3-litre CSL he shared to victory with Niki Lauda at the ETCC season opener, Monza 4 Hours, March 1973 (Alpina Automobiles)

Things were better in Europe though.

Brian and Niki Lauda won the first ETCC round at Monza – the Monza 4 Hours – in March leaving four Ford Capril RS2600s in their wake.

Muir was second at the 4-Hour Austria Trophy at the Salzburgring sharing with Toine Hezemans, and again at the following round, the 500km of Mantorp Park, Sweden. Ford Capri RS2600s won both races crewed by Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick and Glemser/Jochen Mass respectively.

Paired with Alain Peitier, Muir’s car failed at the Nurburgring’s Grosser Preis der Tourenwagen with bearing trouble while running the just homologated 3.5-litre engine. It was the first of many bearing problems that year.

In a race – make that series – chock-full of GP drivers, Stuck and Chris Amon shared the winning 3303cc BMW 3.0 CSL from the similarly engined works car of Hezemans/Quester/Harald Menzel, then the 3498cc Alpina entry shared by Lauda/Hans-Peter Joisten.

Muir pulls to a stop with Niki Lauda all set to jump aboard during their successful Monza run at left. Who is the driver near the BMW’s boot? (Automobilsport)
Lift off at the Thruxton BSCC round in May 1973. Muir, Gardner and Dave Matthews Ford Capri RS2600 on the front row, Gardner won from Muir and Matthews (MotorSport)
Brian Muir aboard the ill-fated 3.3-litre CSL he shared with Hans-Peter Joisten in the early stages of the July ’73 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (unattributed)

Then it was off to Belgium for the classic 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps.

There, Brian popped the car on the front row – sharing with German racer Joisten – between the works cars of Stuck/Amon and Hezemans/Quester.

Tragedy struck Joisten during the race when he passed two Alfa Romeo 2000 GTVs of Roger Dubos and Claude Ballot-Lena. Travelling too fast, Hans-Peter touched the barriers and was pinged back onto the track, where Dubos saw him and started to brake before being simultaneously rammed by Ballot-Lena, crashing into Joisten’s car. Both Joisten and Dubos were killed instantly in this freak accident.

Hezemans/Quester won from the factory Capri RS2600 of Mass/Fitzpatrick.

The next round was in the Dutch sand dunes at Zandvoort in mid-August. At the end of four hours the Zandvoort Trophy was held aloft by Hezemans and Quester who won from Muir and James Hunt in the Jagermeister Alpina entry. In third and fourth places were two RS2600 Capris led by the Fitzpatrick/Gerard Larrousse machine.

Brian Muir goes around the outside of Ivor Goodwin’s Hillman Imp at Silverstone during the July 1973 BSCC round, DNFs for both, with again, Gardner up front (MotorSport)
The other main 1973 ETCC protagonist, the fabulous 325bhp/970kg Ford Capri RS2600. This is the Fitzpatrick/Gerry Birrell car during the Monza 4 Hours in March, DNF (MotorSport)
Brian at Spa during the 1,000km meeting, ain’t she sweet? (MotorSport)

Three weeks later the ETCC circus raced at Le Castellet, contesting the 6 Hours of Paul Ricard.

With the RS2600 at the limit of homologated tricks – lookout for the 3.4-litre Cosworth GAA powered RS3100 in 1974 – the BMWs were again on the front row and finished in first to fourth places, a race of complete dominance.

Hezemans/Quester won from Ickx/Hunt, Stuck/Amon and Walter Brun/Cox Cocher. The best of the Capris – the Mass/Jackie Stewart machine – was fifth but 11 laps adrift of the winning car. Brian Muir and John Miles qualified eighth, but their 3.5-litre engine had head gasket failure after water loss.

The final round of the series was the RAC Tourist Trophy, it comprised two heats of two hours each at Silverstone on September 23.

The cat-among-the-pigeons was Gardner’s Camaro, although his speed was handicapped by tyre problems throughout. Harald Ertl’s Alpina CSL won the first heat from the Capris of Mass and Fitzpatrick with Muir a distant ninth having lost his front spoiler early in the race. Second place in the second heat behind Derek Bell’s Alpina machine was better; Brian was third overall behind Bell/Ertl and Mass’ Capri.

Toine Hezemans’ speed and consistency throughout the season paid off, he won the ETCC with 105 points from 42 years old Brian Muir on 77, and Dieter Quester on 75. BMW demolished Ford in the manufacturer’s title, 120 points to 97.

BMW E9 3.0 CSL – Coupe Sport Licht – Group 2 1973…

(B Betti)

A few summary points on salient technical features of this great road and track machine.

The unitary steel chassis had aluminium door, bonnet and boot panels, these and other mods reduced weight by about 200kg to a total of circa 1050kg.

BMW M30 cast iron, aluminium block SOHC, two-valve Bosch injected straight-six engine. 3003cc 324bhp @ 7000rpm, 3340cc 355bhp @ 7600 rpm, and 3498cc engine 370bhp @ 8000 rpm.

ZF worm and roller steering, ZF or Getrag five-speed, or Getrag four speed box. 10.7 inch disc brakes all around, 12.5 inches X 16 and 15.75 X 16 wheels

Credits…

MotorSport Images, LAT, touringcarracing.net, Jordi Vinals, Alan Cooper, Alpina Automobiles, Automobilsport, Bruno Betti

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Brian Muir aboard his Scuderia Veloce Holden EH S4 during the one-race Australian Touring Car Championship at Lakeside, Queensland on July 26, 1964.

Note the ‘Nomex’ Polo-Shirt. Brian led the event late in its 50 laps but a pit stop to replace a tyre ruined his day, he was seventh in the race won by Pete Geoghegan’s Ford Cortina GT.

Click on the link for an account of this race; Lakeside early days… | primotipo…

Finito…

Calder Raceway underway in 1961, Pat Hawthorn’s Holden and Jim Houlahan’s Chev on site (Hawthorn Family

Pat Hawthorn’s team turn the first sods of soil to create Calder Raceway, 30km west of Melbourne later in 1961…

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the place. On one hand it’s the first place I drove a racing car – an Elfin 620B Formula Ford at the Jane-Gardner Race Driving School in mid 1975 – but on the other I’ve always thought the flat, featureless hot n’ dusty or freezin’ and wet joint a bit of a shit-hole. Gimme Sandown, the Island, Winton, Eastern Creek, Wakefield or Mallala.

But it’s close to Melbourne, I’ve probably done more laps there than anywhere else despite it being closed forever. While the layout has always been simple (Thunderdome challenges duly noted) the challenge of doing a great time are there given ya have so few corners to work with.

I thought Keilor farmer Jim Pascoe built it, then Bob Jane bought it in the early seventies, several years after Pascoe died. The Jane Estate still owns it, how wrong about the early days I was though.

Pat Hawthorn aboard his ex-works/Davison Aston Martin DBR4/250 3-litre F1/F Libre car at his servo in Clayton, on the corner of Thomas and Centre Roads. While there wouldn’t have been another Aston Martin resident in that part of the world, for some time, new AMs were retailed from a showroom in Springvale Road, Springvale – right ‘on’ the railway line near Sandown. A most unlikely place as well, the good residents of Toorak struggle to go further east than Glenferrie Road let alone Burke Road (Hawthorn)
The Spanos sportscar is an Elfin Streamliner Coupe, a car George owned all of his life, and still retained by his family I think
1962 meeting at Calder, advice welcome on whom is whom (O Campion)

It turns out that racer/garage proprietor Pat Hawthorn is the man we should all thank for the original entrepreneurship.

For some years Pat had a servo in Clayton. One of his regular customers, Jim Houlahan had land on the Calder Highway, he wondered if Pat would be interested in helping develop it for use as a wreckers yard.

Pat thought the location was ideal for a race track, a dream he had for a while. Soon a company was incorporated with funds provided by Melbourne bookie (bookmaker) John Corry and Jim Pascoe. His business interests spanned several fields including Drive-In-Theatres (very much a sixties and seventies thing) and race-horse training.

A simple layout to Pat’s design provided the track layout, a fundamental element of which was that spectators be able to see most of the action.

Australia had a shortage of racetracks from the beginning of time. With a global economy that was booming, a strongly growing Australian population thanks to post-war immigration, and plenty of young men with money in their pockets resulted in an epidemic of circuit construction. Within a short space of time circuits popped up across the country; Lakeside, Warwick Farm, Catalina Park, Oran Park, Hume Weir, Winton, Sandown, Calder and Mallala were all built over a span of four or so years.

I don’t propose to write the history of Calder, but rather to put on-the-record some wonderful pages of the late Pat Hawthorn’s scrap-book posted on Bob Williamson’s Australian Motor Racing Photographs Facebook page.

While Pat Hawthorn died some years ago, we have his son Russell Hawthorn to thank for sharing these invaluable records for preservation. Click here for a piece on the Aston Martin DBR4 Grand Prix cars, including Pat Hawthorn’s; Lex’ Aston Martin DBR4/250s… | primotipo…

Back Straight, one turns right at the end  (Hawthorn)

As the newspaper articles tell us, the star of the first meeting held on Sunday 14 January, 1962 – the public were invited to the rehearsal on 6 January (a freebie I wonder?) – was Bib Stillwell who had wins in both his Cooper T53 Climax Formula Libre single-seater and Cooper Monaco sportscar.

A quick glance at the results shows many of the names-of-the-day supported the opening meeting including Stan Jones, Jon Leighton, Jack Hunnam, Brian Sampson, Ian McDonald, Harry Forde, Norm Beechey, Bill and Bob Jane, John Ampt, John Roxburgh and Bob Page.

Pat Hawthorn receiving a trophy at Calder from the then Victorian Government Minster for Sport. The man in the suit behind the microphone is Jim Pascoe- both part-owners and directors at the time, date uncertain (Hawthorn Family)

Before too long the ownership of the business changed from the syndicate of businessman to Jim Pascoe solo. While Warwick Farm and Sandown were the blue-blood Tasman Cup venues, shorter tracks like Oran Park and Calder also thrived. Calder held a round of the Australian Touring Car Championship for the first time in 1969, that was symbolic of the venue’s rise in the tracks-of-Oz pecking order.

Geoghegan, Moffat, Jane and Thomson (?) at Calder in late 1969

Peter Brock and 1970 Australian Rally Champion, Bob Watson during a 1970 Calder rallycross event. HDT LC Holden Torana GTR XU1 and works-Renault R10 Gordini (I Smith)

Look at that crowd! Bryan Thomson’s Chev Camaro SS outside Allan Moffat’s immortal Trans Am Mustang as they blast onto the main straight in 1970 (R Davies)

Kevin Bartlett’s Lola T300 Chev during one of the Repco Birthday meetings in 1972. ‘Grandstand dreaming’ as per text below (I Smith)

Later, when Bob Jane bought the place it was subjected to constant change, development and improvement.

I can remember going to a meeting as a teenager with my father in the early seventies. At one stage Bob was standing at the very top of the new, but not quite opened grandstand at the start of the main straight, he was staring into the distance, all alone and dreaming of what might be. Perhaps he had aspirations of the Thunderdome even then?

At various times the venue hosted many international rock concerts (I couldn’t think of a worse place to see a band) and became a wonderful rallycross track, you could see all of the action, such was the compact nature of the place.

For decades the place was the capital of drag racing in Victoria, if not Australia. To see a pair of Top-Fuel dragsters do five-second (or whatever it was) passes is indelibly etched in my mind, that evening is the only day of race spectating where I felt I ‘tasted’ the cars. It was such a visceral, tactile assault on all of ‘yer senses.

Alan Jones on the way to winning the 1980 AGP at Calder, Williams FW07 Ford (unattributed)
Niki Lauda, Ralt RT4 Ford BDA (and below) during the 1984 AGP won by Keke Rosberg in a similar car (C Jewell)

Recent drag racing action, advice as to chassis/drivers/date welcome (calderparkdragracing.com.au)

Whilst Calder never held an F1 AGP, as Bob hoped, the 1980 Formula Libre AGP at Calder, and the 1981 to 1984 Formula Pacific AGPs were important steps in the direction Adelaide eventually seized.

I always thought ‘If only Bob owned Phillip Island instead of Calder’ his great acts of promotion could have played out on a vastly more impressive stage, but hey let’s be thankful for a venue so close to home.

It must be fifteen years since I last had a gallop there, in the last VHRR’s Summer Test Days they ran annually. I’m a regular traveller up the Calder Highway, it’s sad to drive past that huge wasted resource and think of the clusterfuck of family and CAMS disputation dramas that stopped the joint dead in its tracks, pun intended.

Mind you, the tom-toms are rattling a little at the moment, it might not be all over, after-all…

‘Rockarena’ at Calder in November 1977. Fleetwood Mac headlined and were supported by Santana, Little River Band, Kevin Borich Express and Creation (jpjaudio.com.au)

Etcetera…

I love improvisation, it seems CAMS didn’t have a Track Licence form so they adapted a Competitor Licence and issued that to Pat and his partners – ‘Calder Motor Raceway Pty. Ltd’, that registered address is at Kew Junction, a drop kick from Bib Stillwells’ then Holden dealership.

Bob Jane in his period of ownership tried plenty of great ideas as a promoter, but a race between Pat Hawthorn’s Aston and a trotter is very much on the innovative side!

Credits…

Pat Hawthorn Collection via Russell Hawthorn, Chris Jewell, Ian Smith, Ollie Campion, Robert Davies, jpjaudio.com.au, calderparkdragracing.com.au

Tailpiece…

Finito…

image

(B Hardy)

Sales promotion of the Mini Cooper early-sixties style…

The shot above is by Bert Hardy, the extraordinary photographer of the UK’s Picture Post by then plying his trade in advertising. See here for more about Hardy; 1947 JCC Jersey Road Race… | primotipo… The photos below are via other agencies working on the BMC account.

It’s a decade before my time but are very much of the time aren’t they?

The caption for the opening shot, ‘Mini Rally at Brands Hatch’ is dated January 6, 1965. Touring car racing was never quite the same again when the Minis joined in on the fun, the magic little cars punched above their weight, as often as not being outright contenders in addition to inevitable class wins.

Click here for my Cooper S articles; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/29/monte-carlo-rally-1967-morris-cooper-s/ and here; Cooper S… | primotipo…

image

Bruce McLaren is at left in the shot above, taken at Goodwood in 1961, and again at far left in the one below..

image

Partially hidden behind the attractive babes (I don’t spose I’m allowed to make that kind of factual, complimentary observation these days) is, my friend and Cooper Historian Stephen Dalton tells me Jack Brabham’s 1961 Indy 500 spare car, a Cooper T53 Climax 2.7 FPF. See here for a feature on Coper’s Indy adventure; Jack’s Indy Cooper T54 Climax… | primotipo…

It is it a real-test day, John Cooper is tending to the engine in the similar shot above, “they tested a Cooper T55 that day too.”

Stephen comments further, “KEL 236 is a numberplate borrowed from a motorbike and fitted to the 997 Cooper prototype. The brochure cover image has the grille and bonnet badge touched in by a graphic artist.”

“It’s totally different to the colour shots, as they were still developing stuff for the car when these April 1961 photos were taken. No production 997s existed until July 1961.”

“They also did Austin Healey Sprite Mk2 press photos in similar scenes to this on the same day, neither BMC car was officially released at the time.”

Credits…

Bert Hardy, Getty Images, Stephen Dalton

Finito…

Ford were in diabolical financial trouble almost from the day the Australian subsidiary commenced building the Falcon in Australia…

A late call was made by local management to build the US Falcon rather than the UK Mark 3 Zephyr. It was the right decision, but as a consequence, and blind optimism on the part of the blue-oval-boys, the Falcon was the first and only car built in Australia which was not designed for our rather harsh range of conditions.

Shortly after the launch of the XK Falcon the queue of customers with their sexy new Falcons into service departments with front ball joint, suspension and gearbox dramas began. Warranty claims soared as demand for the cars tanked.

The Falcon soon became the Foulcan. Despite running production line changes, and the XL and XM updates introducing a raft of minor and major changes, private and fleet buyers stayed away in droves. Ford Australia was at risk of being chopped off at the knees by HQ in Dearborn.

Ford Canada’s US born marketing guru, Bill Bourke (later appointed CEO of Ford Australia) was sent to the Australian outpost to assist in ‘saving the company’. His plan, without any regard for the difficulties of the idea was a 70,000 mile endurance test to be completed over nine days of Ford’s You Yangs Proving Ground to demonstrate the toughness and longevity of the cars.

(FoMoCo)

(FoMoCo)

(FoMoCo)

It is hard to imagine a more unsuitable course for such an adventure, in full glare of the media despite its country location, and so it was that Ford’s CEO flagged off the five cars (and one spare which was regularly pressed into service) which achieved the feat despite a totally unsuitable track, totally unsuitable Dunlop SP41 tyres and totally terrible organisation…

I could rehash what others have published in recent times but when a Wheels article written by one of Australia’s greatest motoring journalists/authors in Bill Tuckey is out there why not just go with that, an article written in the day in the context of the time and the pickle Ford were in. The piece was originally published in the July 1965 issue, it is still arguably Australia’s best road car magazine.

I have exercised editorial and creative direction when it comes to the photographs however. I’ve used none of their shots as there is now a much better range of snaps whizzing around the internet inclusive of the opening shot which inspired my interest in the whole amazing exercise of corporate balls, and success despite some pretty skinny organisation other than in the build/preparation of the cars themselves by Harry Firth’s Emporium of Speed in Queens Avenue, Auburn…

‘1965 Ford XP: 70,000 Mile Marathon’

‘In which the equivalent of 140 Armstrong (Bathurst) 500s goes a very long way to demonstrating that there’s a Falcon in Ford’s future.’

‘Ford took a giant step forward in its Australian future when five battered and travel-stained Falcons smashed through a banner at 1.42 am on a rocky Victorian hillside after covering 70,000 miles in nine days. It may be too soon in history to judge the effect of this considerable feat, but it is plain that it had the effect of making just about everybody in the country conscious of Falcons, if only for nine days. Poorly organised and managed as it was, the endurance run came to mean a lot more than normal “record bids” simply because the company stood up beforehand and announced its intention of doing it. This one simply could not be swept under a rug.’

‘The industry and motor sport authorities saw Ford’s announced intention as a little amusing, particularly its intention of averaging 72 mph on a circuit which makes Lakeside look like a roller skating rink. But the equivalent of 140 Armstrong 500s, or nearly four times around the world, or 60 return trips from Melbourne to Sydney later, they had to eat their words. The cars had more endurance than the drivers; extra pilots were hauled unsuspecting from their warm beds at midnight to be rocketed out to the bleak and chill proving ground in the You Yangs to sit over a fire and wonder how they had come to be there, anyway.’

‘The bid, as the “Financial Review” commented acidly, succeeded in spite of the organisation, not because of it. The selection of drivers was very much on the old buddy system, and did not represent the best available in the country, oil company jealousies notwithstanding. One driver had never raced before, let alone held a CAMS Licence and there were some strange faces in the cars that the old motor sport hands could not recognise. Then both Ford and Dunlop grossly underestimated the tyre wear factor for the new SP41, the Ford mechanics initially had too few tools, the tyres were originally fitted without tubes, spectator control was non-existent, and there were not enough crash and fire units around the circuit.’

‘But despite this, and despite the average being lowered in the first few days to ease the rate of tyre wear, the cars came through – with enormous prestige. The 2.25 mile circuit is dreadfully difficult, mainly because it was built to incorporate high vertical and side loadings on wheels and suspensions. New drivers going out for the first time came back in assorted stages of twitching, but after spending time learning it found that one could save half a second here and there by thinking ahead. Nevertheless, they still had to point the cars every foot of the way; for instance, if one came over the top of ·the 4 in 1 hill and started the downhill approach to the esses a foot or so off line, then you ended up 20 ft or so offline at the bottom amid low shrubs and immovable objects called boulders.’

‘The worst time of the day was just before dawn, when fog settled into the dips, windscreens frosted over, and heavy dew made corners quite greasy. The 32 drivers generally worked on the basis of two hours on and four off, but many “iron men”, like Tom Quill, insisted on doing double duty. There was a 24-hour meals service, and the drivers slept either in the 12 caravans available or went 15 miles back to hotels and motels in Geelong (Victoria). The mechanics worked 12-hour shifts and sometimes ate their meals sitting on straw bales lining the pit road. The drivers got quite intense about the car they were crewing, regarding it as “their” car and threatening each crew member with instant disgrace if he bent it. Car 3, the four-door sedan that eventually covered the most miles and was the only one not involved in a shunt, was team senior ”Wild Bill” McLachlan’s pride and joy. Somebody stuffed the red No 1 two-door hardtop, Harry Firth’s baby, into a boulder, and that caused strained relations. Victorian comingman Brian (“Brique”) Reed had a tyre slit on him and bounced into a gully, while various people rolled various cars.’

(FoMoCo)

‘Each time this happened the reserve car – unprepared for the event – was called in and the mechanics jumped in to repair the badly damaged bodies with whatever tools were handy. And they did a remarkable job. Red No 1 set four new records as soon as it got back on the track after being rolled. And the only serious mechanical failures were those caused by the cars going off the road.’

‘But the drivers, by Wednesday, the fifth day, were starting to enjoy the wearying project immensely. Jon Leighton, head of the Birchwood School of Motor Racing, spent his time on the track in experimenting with various lines and techniques, discovering the circuit all over again every few laps. Bruce McPhee concentrated on being as neat and tidy as possible, yet still managed to go extraordinarily quickly. The drivers were signalled every few laps with the lap time which pit managers Les Powell and Max Ward wanted them to maintain, and this was generally around 1:51 or 1:52. Some of the top men were allowed to lap around 1:48 and 1:49.’

‘One or two ran out of fuel on the circuit, but orders were that when the fuel gauge needle covered the “E” sign the driver was to do five more laps, giving the pits progressively five, four, three, two and one toots on his horn as he came past each time. Changing drivers, wheels, fuelling, cleaning windscreens and checking oil levels took around the two minutes, although the pit stops speeded up toward the end. They were refuelling the cars from drums for two days before some bright lad discovered that there were two 1000-gallon drums of Mobil not 100 ft away.’

‘Dunlop’s radial-ply SP41 tyres came in for as much – if not more – torture as the quintet of Ford Falcons. Estimates of wear were way off the mark and on the first day of the nine-day event about 100 covers were used. There was a twofold cause for this, first the surface of the track was highly abrasive, second, the lap speed of well above 70 mph was chewing out tyres quicker than expected.’

‘The nature of the track layout and the ‘green’ top dressing shredded tyres to such an extent that drivers were signalled to ease up. When this was done tyre life was appreciably greater, although 70-plus mph lapping was still being put in. The Dunlops were worked hard all the time, and on occasions grossly overworked. But throughout all the tyre incidents, not once did a cover part company with the rim, even when one driver returned at 60 mph to the pits with its deflated cover on fire. On the third day of the run, at the drivers’ request, tubes were fitted to the SP41s. As the twisting 21-mile circuit became bedded-in, the tyre wear factor improved and a set lasted roughly six hours. By the second last night only one of the five cars needed a tyre change. And this was to the front offside which had suffered punishment for hours.’

‘It also must be pointed out that the Falcons were being driven at racing speeds on tyres never designed for track work. After the run ended layers of shredded rubber could be found on most corners. This had been chewed off by the scrubbing motion of the wheels under 90 mph cornering. An inspection of the track afterwards showed that the bitumen topping had been worn away ‘by the pounding of the cars leaving a hard, quartz surface. About 600 tyres were used in the event. The tyre bill was roughly £6000.’

(unattributed)

(FoMoCo)

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

The driver roll call includes Bob Jane, Allan Moffat, Ern Abbott, Fred Sutherland, Alan Caelli, Barry Arentz, Barry Seton, Harry Firth, Jon Leighton, Bruce Corstorphan, Tom Quill, John Raeburn, bill Mc Lachlan, Brique Reed, Gil Davis, Kevin Bartlett, Bruce McPhee, Geoff Russell and Max Stahl – and more. Do let me know others in order to complete this list.

Credits…

Wheels magazine, practicalmotoring.com.au, Ford Australia

Tailpiece…

The Australian Wheels magazine ‘Car of The Year’ was and still is a highly prestigious award and no doubt was mightily appreciated by the boys in Broady and Norlane when the gong was announced.

Finito…

(oldracephotos.com)

Barry Cassidy’s Ford Falcon XR GT ahead of Bill Brown’s Ferrari 350 Can-Am, Newry Corner, Longford 1968…

Series Production or showroom stock racing was hugely popular in Australia during a golden period to the end of 1972 when the Supercar Scare forced the rule-makers to change tack – a story in itself! Actually there is about it in the middle of this Holden Torana XU-1 V8 epic here; Holden Torana GTR XU1 V8… | primotipo…

Here, local lad and long time racer Cassidy is practicing for his event during the Tasman weekend in his brand new, straight off the showroom floor, 289cid V8 powered Australian pony-car. It was the first in an amazing series of road legal and oh-so-fast Fords built from the late sixties to the late seventies. Most of them won the Bathurst 500/1000 classic including the XR GT which triumphed at Mount Panorama in the hands of Harry Firth and Fred Gibson in 1967.

Cassidy showing delicacy of touch exiting Mountford, Longford 1968 (oldracephotos.com)

Cassidy had a top speed of 120mph or thereabouts, Brown about 170, and is about to swallow him on the uphill run to the right, then to the left onto the Flying Mile. He recalls that Brown was “probably not too impressed about being passed under brakes by the XR GT and signalled his thoughts about it as he blasted past on the Flying Mile!”

Cassidy raced the car for a bit, and was later at the vanguard of ‘Formula’ HQ Racing, a series for lightly modified Holden HQ Kingswood/Belmont of the early seventies, a hugely popular cost effective way to get into, and stay in motor racing. He is still racing too.

Cassidy chasing Graham Parsons’ Cortina GT and Darryl Wilcox’ Humpy Holden through Newry Corner. Barry was off a low grid position after being pinged by scrutineers for having a spare tyre not of identical section width as the four on the car! (HRCCT)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines – there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK. John Willment bought it, the Australian connection continued as Brian Muir was the driver. Those brakes, always the weak link caused him a big accident at Oulton Park, beyond economic repair, the car was scrapped.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…

(D Cooper)

What a cracker of a shot, Symmons Plains Sweeper…

Peter Brock’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1 from Bob Jane’s similar car and Allan Moffat’s Ford Falcon GT351 Hardtop at Symmons Plains during the first 1974 Australian Touring Car Championship round on March 4.

Brock won from Moffat with Tim Smith third in another XU1- Bob was fifth.

Credits…

Dennis Cooper

Tailpiece…

(D Cooper)

Brock won five of the eight ATCC rounds and the title that year with Bob Morris second in an XU1 and Moffat third. It appears Brocks’ door has been given the short back ‘n sides by somebody.

Finito…

(K Buckley)

Don Holland’s Cooper S from Robbie Francevic’s monstering Ford Fairlane at Bay Park, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand in April 1968.

Imagine looking at that ‘block of flats’ baring down on you at some speed in ‘yer mirrors!?

Were these things ‘sports-racing closed’, or perhaps ‘sports-sedans’ by then. The Kiwis will have called theirs something else of course- what? In any event, these highly-modified tourers have always been my favourite taxi-variants.

Alan Boyle picks up the story, ‘Don Holland came other with two other Mini-racers, light-weight and extremely quick cars – John Leffler and Lynn Brown, three nice guys, I’ve visited them in Sydney since.

Relaxing in the Pukekohe paddock after the racing, ‘John Leffler, Don Holland Lynn Brown. Margaret and Violet Mini.’ I wonder if this visit was during the Tasman rounds, it would be  interesting to know the results? How did Violet go in her car? See this piece on the Francevic Ford; https://themotorhood.com/themotorhood/2017/11/24/special-feature-robbie-francevics-fairlane

More questions than answers this time…

(A Boyle)

Credits…

Ken Buckley photo via Milan Fistonic, Alan Boyle

Finito…

 

(B Pottinger)

The only things missing are the chief and three screaming kiddy-wids in the back seat.

Love this fantastic shot of John Colvin’s Haitch-Arrr Holden Station Wagon X2 during a club meeting at Teretonga, New Zealand in 1967.

The HR X2 option on the new ‘186’ three-litre OHV six gave only 145bhp, 5bhp more then the similar twin-Stromberg carb equipped ‘179’ X2 of the fugly predecessor HD.

Me dad had turd brown HD and blinding white HR wagons but ole’ Pete never developed slip-angles like this on the Great Ocean Road.

(gallery.oldholden.com)

Credits…

Bill Pottinger, gallery.oldholden.com

Tailpiece…

Finito…