Archive for the ‘Who,What,Where & When…?’ Category

(WFFB)

Despite being in the middle of built up Sydney, Warwick Farm had its bucolic elements…

And there is nothing more quintessentially country Australian than a windmill- here as a backdrop for Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott prior to the 1971 Tasman round on 14 February.

Frank Gardner’s Lola T192 Chev was victorious that weekend, Leo succumbing to ignition problems. The Lotus was kind to him though, he won the 1970 Gold Star in it with wins here and at Mallala- with the F5000’s about in the Tasman rounds the competition was a bit tougher though.

Geoghegan’s 59B in the Oran Park paddock during the September 1970 Gold Star weekend which he won from Garrie Cooper’s Elfin 600D Repco and Bob Muir’s Rennmax BN3 Waggott. Love the knock on wheels, radiator nostrils and distinctive air exit ducts. Bob Holden’s Ford Escort Twin-Cam behind (K Hyndman)

Dave Baldwin designed the spaceframe 59 as Lotus Components’ 1969 F3 and F2/B customer racing cars, there were a few Formula Fords too. Guys such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Mo Nunn, Roy Pike, Dave Walker, John Miles, Max Mosley, Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt raced the cars with success.

Shades of the 1961/2 F1 Ferrari 156 of course (P Townsend)

As pretty (and effective) as it is possible to get in its Castrol livery, WF 1970. Note the tail of Leo’s works Valiant Pacer Series Prod car behind (P Townsend)

In Australia the Tasman 2.5 litre Formula 1 (ANF1) was being phased out and F5000 phased in over 1970-71 so Leo Geoghegan saw an opportunity to replace his long lived, much loved, ex-Jim Clark Repco V8 engined Lotus 39 with a 59B.

Geoghegan’s Sporty Cars were Australia’s Lotus importer- it would also have made sense for Leo to race a Lotus 70 F5000 machine, not that it was one of their greatest designs mind you. Leo astutely chose the 59B and installed one of Merv Waggott’s new ‘TC-4V’ 275 bhp, fuel injected, DOHC, 4-valve 2 litre engines into the space usually occupied by a 1.6 litre Ford FVA F2 engine.

In a year of consistency he finally won the national title he had been chasing for years in the 39 Repco.

Leo’s car, chassis ’59-FB-14′ is still in Australia, in the Holmes family collection.

Hewland FT200 5 speed transaxle, big oil tank and hub mounted inboard discs (P Townsend)

Photo Credits…

(WFFB) Warwick Farm Facebook page, oldracephotos.com.au, Ken Hyndman, Peter Townsend

Tailpiece: Geoghegan and Lotus 59B Waggott on Warwick Farm’s Pit Straight in 1971…

(oldracephotos)

Finito…

(P Geard)

John Youl attacks Mountford Corner, Longford in his Porsche 356 during the late fifties…

John and his racer brother Gavin were scions of a prominent Tasmanian grazier family and very successful, competitive drivers until business pressures forced early retirement. Symmons Plains is a permanent legacy for the racing brothers built as it was on the family property.

(P Geard)

John proved his world level pace in several seasons aboard Cooper Climax T51 and T55 prepared by Geoff Smedley, whose just published book will be definitive on both drivers careers.

In the 1961 Longford shot below he is in the best of company (at right) aboard a Cooper T51 alongside #14 Brabham’s T53 with Austin Miller’s distinctive yellow T51 Climax behind.

(J Richardson)

Roy Salvadori won the South Pacific Trophy race that weekend from Bill Patterson and John with Austin fourth. Brabham was outed with a broken half-shaft on lap 16 of the 24 lap distance.

Here John’s appearance in the Porsche is a little earlier, the last photo below perhaps in 1957 and the others a little later- you can see the evolution from road car still fitted with hubcaps! to lowered rortier racer. I wonder what modifications were made to that 356 Super?

Credits…

Paul Geard, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Ellis French, Geoff Smedley, John Richardson

Tailpiece: Youl, White, Walkem on ‘The Flying Mile’, Longford circa 1957…

(HRCCT)

Youl in what looks like a motor-cycle racing helmet beside his Porker, the yellow machine is Graham White’s Vincent Spl and the obscured Cooper is Jock Walkem’s- the man in black. Delightful bucolic scene belies the high speeds and sound of straining engines which took place annually on this stretch of road over the March Labour Day long-weekend from 1953 to 1968…

Finito…

On the Port Adelaide wharf, January 1951. Type 35 Bugatti, GP Lago Talbot and 4CL Maserati (Bob King)

This whole online caper is interesting not least for the people you meet in the virtual world and as a consequence subsequently in the real one.

Greg Smith is one such fellow, he is a well known Melbourne racer/engineer/restorer who wrote an article for us a while back. We were discussing some arcane topic online the other week which led to an invitation to one of Smithy’s wonderful Wednesday night feasts in honour of the late Italian/Australian hotelier/racer/raconteur Lou Molina- who looks down on proceedings from the wall with approval at Greg’s execution of some of Lou’s Italian dishes.

There were some fine car/racing identities there on the night including Perth boy Rod Quinn, and locals Ron McCallum, David Ogg and Bob King. Since then Bob and I have joined the Automotive Historians Australia Inc (many of you would be interested in this several years old group, a topic for another time) and the two day AHA conference gave me the chance to twist Bob’s arm into contributing an occasional article or two.

Bob King hustling the Anzani Bugatti around the Adelaide GP road circuit (Bob King)

He is a retired medical practitioner who has had a lifetime interest in vintage and racing cars and Bugattis- his particular passion. As well as racing and rallying these cars, he has maintained a deep interest in their history which culminated in the publication of three books on Australian (and New Zealand) Bugattis as well as one on the Brescia Bugatti. Bob has had historical articles published in many journals. He continues to enjoy restoring and driving his small collection of a Bebe Peugeot, Bugatti T35B and an AC Ace.

Bob is a wonderful, knowledgeable chap, its great to have him involved, his first ‘Words from Werrangourt’ piece is titled-

‘The Dale brothers, importers of important cars- Part 1’

Anyone who is fortunate enough to have old copies of Australian Motor Sport (January 1946 to April 1971) will be aware of wordy advertisements for exotic cars imported by the Dale brothers: Peter Durham Dale and Henry K H Dale. Their origins are something of a mystery, but it is thought they had some Egyptian ancestry mixed with more recent English blood – Henry may have been born in England.

Dale brothers on the 1936 AGP grid at Victor Harbor in December 1936, Bugatti T37A. Henry driving, Peter alongside- DNF after 9 laps in the race won by the Les Murphy MG P Type (Bob King)

 

Dale boys during the Victor Harbor race, I wonder if he caught it! (Morris Family)

They are recalled as two rather pompous single men who lived the life of gentlemen in a terrace house in Williams Road, Toorak in Melbourne. Well remembered is a large round ‘coffee’ table in the drawing room on which was displayed the latest copy of every motoring magazine. The garage on the side street was opened to reveal the latest, newly acquired exotica. Peter, known as ‘Durham’ had some mundane job with an insurance company as well as being a journalist on the ‘Truth’ newspaper; he wrote a three part history of the pre-war Australian Grand Prix in AMS, which piqued the interest of the writer in these races. Henry, christened Hylton, was usually engaged in the wool trade in Egypt.

The writer’s earliest memory of Peter was at Fisherman’s Bend car races in the late 1950’s. A friend and I were gazing in awe at Miles Ryan’s 100mph Low Chassis Invicta. I commented to said friend that the radiator badge was not straight. We were addressed in a stentorious tone by one whom were later told was Peter Dale: “That is how you know it is handmade” – a lesson well learnt. We do not have a chronology of cars imported by the Dales, but let us start with three on a wharf.

Peter Dale in ‘37160’ with its unusual ‘Touriste’ body by Jarvis of Wimbledon (Bob King)

The Bugatti 35A is not an ‘A’, but a 1925 Molsheim works racing Type 35, chassis no. 4575.

It was Jules Goux’s 2 litre car for the French and Spanish Grands Prix of that year. The French GP was a 1000km race held in torrential rain over 9 1/2 hours. The Bugatti team finished intact with Goux in fifth place. What endurance.

Henry spotted its radiator in the back of a garage in Neuilly-Sur-Seine in about 1950 and bought it for about $150. Although it had not been run since before the war, he had the oil changed and then undertook a delightful Autumnal drive to Marseille, from where the car was shipped to Adelaide.

Fisherman’s Bend Races – don’t be fooled by the blower blow off hole in the bonnet, Herb Ford had swapped bonnets with his supercharged Type 37A, ‘37332’. (Dino Lanzi)

Peter collected it, had it registered by Bob Burnett-Read who actually substituted a Ford Prefect from his used car lot for the Bugatti – the weigh bridge man seemed satisfied with this. The car was driven by Peter to Melbourne and from there to Bathurst for the Easter races where it performed creditably in the hands of Lyndon Duckett and Peter Dale.

They had driven there in a convoy of 4 Bugattis – the Type 35, the Anzani Bugatti, a Type 51A and a Type 57C – Dales ‘Ecurie Pur Sang’. The next owner of the 35 was Bugatti enthusiast Herb Ford who sold it on when it emitted expensive noises from its roller bearing crankshaft. In the words of Peter, it was ‘a mass of fatigued stresses’.

Some more photos of Bugatti Type 35 ‘4575’…

(P-Y Laugier)

This photograph above is thought to be M Poret in the car pre-war, he was a Parisian owner.

(B Burnett-Read)

This photograph was taken shortly after arrival in Australia. Bob Burnett-Read has just had the car registered prior to Peter Dale’s drive from Adelaide to Melbourne.

(Bob King)

Herb Ford only used the car once or twice, including a sprint on or near the Geelong Road (accounts vary). It is said he made the fastest 1/4 mile time- finishing at astronomical revs in third, maybe this is why the engine was making unpleasant noises.

He sold the tired car to John Martin who did not keep it long enough to dismantle the complicated built-up roller bearing crank before passing it on to John Thomson. Here it is with Martin- note the ill-fitting bonnet from the 37A- when adding a supercharger to an unblown GP Bug, the steering box is moved up and back, to make space. Hence the steering drop arm being in the wrong place.

(unattributed)

The next owner, John Thomson had the good fortune to be friendly with Bugatti expert Peter Menere, at his Brighton ‘Pier Prestige Garage’.

John was dead keen to have a GP Bug, and after prolonged and unsuccessful haggling with Ford, he eventually bought the dismantled car from Martin for an astromonical 870 pounds, the Brighton Buggattisti thought he was mad. After spending a further 700 pounds with Moore Hydraulics getting the crankshaft ground, and untold hours toiling over the rest of the car, he eventually had a going car- an original, unmolested factory racing car, no less. Not long after completing the car in the mid-sixties John moved to London, the car following him in 1972. In 1974 50 years of the Grand Prix Bugatti was celebrated in Lyon with an amazing turn-up of Grand Prix Bugattis. John is seen in the car on that occasion.

(unattributed)

On the starting line at Limonest Hillclimb, Lyon.

A great action shot of John on Prescott Hillclimb- the hillclimb owned and run by the Bugatti Owners Club (unattributed)

A well known photo of the Talbot-Lago ‘110007’ below but worth seeing again. Doug Whiteford AGP, Albert Park, 21 November 1953 – ‘Yes Doug, your tyre is missing’.

Lago Talbot GP chassis no. 110007 was the car with which Louis Chiron had won the 1949 French Grand Prix. Henry was contemplating purchasing Raymond Sommer’s Lago, but was advised by Chiron to speak to Paul Vallee, patron of Ecurie France, as he might sell Chiron’s car which was being prepared for the Barcelona Grand Prix. It was entrained to Marseille and thence to Adelaide.

Its first owner in Australia was Tom (Happy) Hawkes who only drove it once or twice. Its serious debut was at the 1951 Easter Bathurst meeting, 1951; Hawkes drove it to third in the Bathurst 100 and Whiteford was third in another scratch race, setting a new lap record of 3 minutes.

The ‘Maestro’ Whiteford won the 1952 GP at Bathurst and the 1953 race at Albert Park, in spite of the tyre issue.

Here the car is pictured below during the December 1956 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, by then the ‘6 plug’ chassis ‘110007’ was owned by Owen Bailey, whose race was shortlived with axle failure on the line.

(S Wills)

AGP Albert Park paddock with the ‘6 plug’ Bailey ‘110007’ in front of the car Doug Whitford replaced it with- an earlier car, chassis ‘110002’ but to more advanced specification inclusive of more powerful ’12 plug’ 4.5 litre motor. Stirling Moss won the feature race aboard a Maserati 250F.

(S Wills)

Beautiful shot of ‘Dicer Doug’ Whiteford with Peter Dale during the 1956 AGP carnival. Car is Talbot-Lago ‘110002’. It would be interesting to know how many AGP’s in total the various cars the Dales imported over the years contested.

(S Wills)

Cockpit below is ’12 plug’, ‘110002’, Spencer Wills photograph again taken in the Albert Park paddock. Quadrant for the pre-selector gearbox clear.

(S Wills)

Photo below of Owen Bailey at Albert Park, am intrigued to know which meeting. It appears he has spun into a gutter, or been rammed from behind.- the shape of the dent suggests the former.

(S Wills)

Shot below is of Whiteford in the ’12 plug’ ‘110002’ at Fishermans Bend on 12 February 1956.

(S Wills)

 

(unattributed)

‘The Maserati 4CL, chassis No. 1579 is first recognised as Raymond Sommer’s 1946 Marseilles Grand Prix winning car.

In the photo above Sommer is being led by Tazio Nuvolari in another 4CL during the second heat. Sommer won both this 15 lap heat and 35 lap final, the great Mantuan failed to finish the preliminary and therefore did not qualify for the final run on the Marseille Prado Street circuit on 13 May.

It was painted blue for its French owner. Again it was Louis Chiron who suggested Henry should buy it from Sommer’s widow – Sommer had been the owner of one of Europe’s largest carpet manufacturers.

Via an advertisement in Australian Motor Sport, the car was soon in the hands of Victorian Peter Vennermark. He soon had trouble with the highly supercharged 1.5 litre engine, which had developed an appetite for cylinder blocks. Unlike the other two cars featured which have returned to Europe, this car remains in the caring hands of the Victorian owners.’

Bob contacted the owner of the Maserati at this stage of his research to provide some additional information, he has provided this wonderful history of the Maserati 4CL generally, and of this particular chassis specifically, anomnity is preferred by this wonderful fellow. He relates as follows;

‘The four Maserati brothers (Alfieri, Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo) began producing racing machinery in their native Bologna, Italy in 1926 taking Neptune’s Trident (and the symbol of Bologna) as their now famous emblem. The racing Tipo 4CL Maserati, was first tested in January 1939 and produced in small numbers (est.24) by Officine Alfieri Maserati now relocated to Modena through 1939, 1946 and 1947.

‘1579’ during the 1948 Zandvoort GP weekend, Bob Ansell DNF, final won by Bira Maser 4CL (unattributed)

Primarily in response to increased competition from the powerful Alfa Romeo 158 (Alfetta) which would subsequently dominant post-war European racing, together with the successful experimentation of a 4-cylinder engined hybrid 6CM, Maserati produced a new supercharged 4-cylinder, 90 degree twin overhead camshaft, 16-valve supercharged 1500cc racing monoposto to lead its racing program through the immediate post-war period; the Tipo 4CL.

This new model featured dry-sump lubrication, fixed-head cylinder blocks, and a single-stage gear driven Rootes-type blower drawing its mixture through a large twin throat Weber carburettor. Power output was optimistically claimed at 220 HP at 8,000 rpm. A four-speed gearbox was used in conjunction with a dry multi-plate clutch to transmit power to an enclosed driveshaft rigid rear axle suspended with splayed quarter elliptic leaf-springs, radius arms, and friction-type shock absorbers. Independent front suspension was utilised with equal length wishbone arms and a long torsion bar each side.

The entire machine was beautifully (hand) crafted with extensive use of magnesium and electron castings. All major, and most minor componetry, was individually numbered and stamped with the Maserati trident and an identifying part/chassis number. The aluminium bodywork was suitably purposeful and streamlined, hand beaten by legendary Maserati coachbuilder Medardo Fantuzzi.

Raymond Sommer 1948 French GP, Reims. DNF oil pressure on lap 2. Jean-Pierre Wimille won aboard an Alfa Romeo 158 (unattributed)

This particular 4CL example (Chassis: 1579, constructed 28th of August, 1946) was raced as a ‘works’ Scuderia Milan car throughout the 1946 European racing season by Arialdo Ruggeri, Tazio Nuvolari, Franco Cortese and 2-times Le Mans 24-hr winner Raymond Sommer. (Since 1937 effective control and ownership of the Maserati operation had passed from the three remaning Maserati brothers (Ernesto, Bindo and Ettore) to industrialist Commendatore Adolfo Orsi.

The entire manufacturing and racing operation had subsequently moved from Bologna to Modena and the post-war factory racing program was managed by the Scuderia Milan.) Several good results were had in 1946, placing 4th (Ruggeri) at St. Cloud, Paris; winning the Maloja Pass Hillclimb (Ruggeri) in Switzerland; and winning and setting the fastest lap (Sommer) at the Grand Prix du Salon (Bois de Boulogne, Paris).

Tazio Nuvolari 1946 Coupe de la Resistance in practice. DNF gearbox, race won by Jean-Pierre Wimille Alfa Romeo 308 (unattributed)

After being acclaimed European Champion in 1946, Sommer subsequently purchased Chassis 1579 outright (10th of March,1947) for his personal use in selected events throughout the 1947 season. A patriotic Frenchman from the Ardennes region of France, Sommer was the owner of Europe’s largest carpet manufacturing firm and hailed from a family of pioneering aviators.

Now painted in nationalistic French racing blue and fettled by Sommer’s personal team of mechanics in Paris, Chassis 1579 (ID 1555) set fastest laps in Sweden (on a frozen lake), at Pau and then Perpignan in the south of France before the Scuderia Milan requested Sommer to drive a newly developed 2-stage supercharged 4CL at Jersey (Channel Islands) and at the Swiss Grand Prix.

Sommer was back in Chassis 1579 at the 14km long Belgian Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the 1947 European Grand Prix in June. Ominously, Alfa Corse had entered four Alfa 158’s and whilst Sommer maintained 3rd place ahead of Sanesi and Trossi in the Alfettas at 1/3rd distance he was forced to retired with a broken front chassis cross member.

Sommer further competed in this car in various mainly French events throughout 1947 and 1948, before passing 1579 ‘on loan’ to Birmingham brewing magnate R.E. (Bob) Ansell to compete in the 1st 1948 British Grand Prix at Silverstone (12th). Ansell continued to use the car through 1948 and 1949 (Goodwood, Jersey, Cork) before passing the car back to Sommer at ‘the end of a very expensive exercise’.

George Bainbridge, 1948 British GP, Silverstone. 12th in the race won by Gigi Villoresi Maser 4CLT/48 (G Griffiths)

 

Bob Ansell during the 1949 Jersey Road Race, 9th in the race won by Bob Gerards’ ERA B Type (G Griffiths)

Enter some enterprising Melbourne brothers, Henry and Peter Dale, and a colonial appetite for used, somewhat obsolete, European thoroughbred racing machinery.

Sommer had tragically been killed at Cadours in September, 1950 racing a 500cc Cooper, and through the great Monagasque driver Louis Chiron Henry Dale negotiated the purchase and importation of this Maserati, arriving in Adelaide- and then on to Melbourne on the 26th of January 1951, together with a Bugatti Type 35A and a Talbot Lago 26C monoposto racer.

Prior to importation the Maserati had been comprehensively rebuilt and subsequently landed in Australia with many later 4CLT/48 modifications including larger twin leading shoe brakes and an engine capable of 2-stage supercharging. After suitable spruiking by the Dales’ of the Maseratis availability in Australia, ex-MG Q-type racer Peter Vennermark purchased the car.

The cars first Australian outing was at the January 1951 Rob Roy hillclimb, followed by the Easter Mt Tarrengower meeting where it finished 2nd in class. Over the next 2 years Vennermark raced regularly in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia but only with mixed success.

‘1579’ in the Padstow Autoport, Jesse Griffiths, Sydney (D Giffiths)

The car was advertised in Australian Motor Sports (AMS) in mid-1953 and was purchased by speedway champion and 30’s Phillip Island racer Cec Warren from Melbourne. Again only mixed success followed, retiring whilst in 3rd place at Fisherman’s Bend in October and crashing to avoid Wal Gillespie (HRG) in the 1st Albert Park Australian Grand Prix meeting in November, 1953. Soon after in March, 1954, in practice for the Fisherman’s Bend meeting, Cec brought the Maserati into the pits for adjustments and on stepping out of the car immediately collapsed with a heart attack – he died within minutes.

The car subsequently moved to New South Wales being purchased by Sydney car dealer Arnold Glass in 1954. Both Glass and fellow NSW owners Peter Lovett and Jesse Griffiths campaigned the car spasmodically. Little is known of its race history during this 1954-1965 period, however, it is known to have competed at Mt.Druitt, Bathurst, Warwick Farm and the Orange (Gnoo Blas) circuits at some point.

With the then recent introduction of ‘Historic’ racing in Australia the car was re-imported into Victoria in the mid-60’s by Stuart Anderson of Bendigo, then passed to Ron Brownrigg (exhibiting the car at the 1970 Melbourne Racing Car Show) and Terry Valmorbida in Melbourne. It has been owned for the past 30 years by a Victorian based family’.

Stuart Anderson in the 4CL, Mallala, South Australia late sixties (S Anderson)

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand, 1920 to 2012’ Bob King and Peter McGann

Photo Credits…

Bob King Collection, Herald-Sun, G Griffiths, S Anderson, Morris Family, Spencer Wills, Bob Burnett-Read, Pierre-Yves Laugier

Tailpiece: Jesse Griffiths, ‘1579’ Gnoo Blas or perhaps Mount Druitt, NSW, fifties…

Finito…

(B Howard)

The Light Car Club of Australia achieved a major promotional coup by securing Juan Manuel Fangio’s attendance at the fiftieth anniversary of the first Australian Grand Prix held at Sandown, Melbourne on 10 September 1978…

Here (above) the great man ponders his car during practice. Fangio raced a Mercedes Benz W196 2.5 litre straight-eight engined Grand Prix car, the design with which he won his 1954 and 1955 World Championships- whilst noting the two wins he took in Maserati 250F’s in 1954 before joining Mercedes from the French Grand Prix.

JMF wanted to drive in a Polo-Shirt as he did in the day but the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport would have none of that, hence the overalls over his normal clothes.

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/09/mercedes-benz-w196-french-gp-1954/

Fangio W196 on display behind the Sandown grandstand- the ‘Interstate Betting’ is a function of the place’s prime function- donkey races (mouserat159)

(S Dalton Collection)

Fangio hooks the big Mercedes into Dandenong Road corner at Sandown (I Smith)

The Sandown event created huge interest far beyond the racing fraternity, including articles in such unlikely places as the ‘Australian Womens Weekly’, normally the province of the Royal Family, cooking recipes and similar – such was the mans immense global stature decades after his last championship win in 1957. He won five F1 titles of course- in 1951 in an Alfa 159, 1954/5 Benz W196, 1956 Lancia-Ferrari 801 and the final in 1957 aboard a Maserati 250F.

It was the Argentinian’s first visit to Australia, he had planned to race in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games GP at Albert Park, a race won by Stirling Moss in a Maser 250F, but in the end conflicting commitments scuttled the idea. He returned to Melbourne in 1981 and came to Adelaide twice I think, the sight of him blasting along Adelaide roads during the wonderful 1986 ‘Eagle On The Hill’ run from the city up through the Adelaide Hills to the top of Mount Lofty is not something any of the large number who saw it will readily forget either. He drove a Mercedes sports-racer, a 300SLR on that occasion. If memory serves he may have boofed an Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159 of the type he raced in 1951 at Adelaide doing a demo- by that stage he would have been well into his late seventies mind you.

Fangio contested a ‘Race of Champions’ at Sandown which included Jack Brabham aboard his 1966 championship winning Brabham BT19 Repco ‘620’, and former Australian Champions Bill Patterson in a Cooper T51 Climax and Bob Jane in a Maserati 300S. Both were cars they had raced in period and retained.

(mouserat159)

All eyes were on the Fangio, Brabham ‘battle’ over the three lap journey of course, the footage well known to most of you says it all in terms of the speed and spirit in which the cars were driven, note that JMF was 67 at the time and had suffered two heart attacks in the years before his visit.

(C Griffiths)

The sight and sound of Fangio driving the big, noisy W196 on the throttle, kicking it sideways in the manner for which he was famous lap after lap in practice around Sandown’s third-gear Shell Corner onto Pit Straight is forever etched in my memory. He could still boogie at that stage- well and truly.

As you all know, normally the paddock is a hive of activity with mechanics and engineers getting on with necessary preparation of their steed for the next session or race. Sandown’s then layout afforded those in the paddock a great view of the cars on circuit from or near the pit counter. On the occasions that Fangio was on circuit the tents in the cuddly-small Sandown paddock were empty as drivers and mechanics watched Fangio strut his stuff. It was simply not to be missed whatever the competitive needs of the moment were.

It’s always funny to re-live discussions of ‘that weekend’ with fellow enthusiasts as so many of us were there from all over this vast land, all having a different experience or highlight but equally excited recollections of it all despite the elapse of forty years. As a student at the time I was there from the meetings start to finish, it was sad when it was all over, I was very conscious of the fact that I had witnessed something special.

Fangio was the President of Mercedes Argentina and owner of two dealerships when he visited Oz and had to ‘sing for his supper’ over the week he was here. He did a range of promotional events, dinners and drives with motoring writers to promote, mainly, the ‘Benz 450 SEL 6.9 which was the range-topper at the time, a snip at $A68,500 in 1978.

(C Griffiths)

Postscript…

The 1978 AGP, held to F5000, was a race of attrition won by Graham McRae in his see-through perspex cockpit McRae GM3 Chev from John David Briggs and Peter Edwards in Matich A51 Repco and Lola T332 Chev respectively.

In fact it was an entirely forgettable AGP- very bad accidents hurt both Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8 Chev and Alan Hamilton, Lola T430 Chev. These very high speed shunts, together with a tangle that eliminated second placed Jon Davison’s T332 and Vern Schuppan’s Elfin MR8 Chev on lap 28- and a broken head-gasket for pole-sitter John McCormack’s unique ex-F1 McLaren M23 Leyland conspired to rob a race which had lots of potential.

An arcane end to this piece.

It’s a long story, but a decade or so ago, an Australian enthusiast ‘discovered’ in contemporary newspaper reports that a very short race named ‘Australian Grand Prix’, was contested on an oval layout at Goulburn’s racecourse, New South Wales on 15 January 1927.

This race was shortly thereafter recognised by many, but not all historians as ‘the first Australian Grand Prix’ thereby replacing the previous event which held that honour, the ‘100 Miles Road Race’ held at Phillip Island in 1928, later recognised as the first AGP.

So, Juan Manuel Fangio was here in 1978 to celebrate the fifty-first AGP not the fiftieth…

https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

Photo / Other Credits…

Bruce Howard, John Stoneham aka Stonie, Chris Griffiths, Stephen Dalton Collection

Tailpiece: I wonder which particular W196 chassis Fangio ran here in 1978?…

(mouserat159)

Big butt isn’t it? All fuel and oil tank, its an object lesson in Vittorio Jano’s design intent with the D50 Lancia to get the fuel between the wheelbase via his pannier-tanks. I’ve a vague recollection this particular chassis was fitted with a 3 litre SLR engine for demonstration purposes rather than the GeePee 2.5? Interesting the way the body comes together too.

Finito…

 

(I McCleave)

Jack Brabham playing with the kids in the Phillip Island paddock, Cooper T51 Climax, 14 March 1960…

Jack won the ‘Repco Trophy’ over 16 laps in a T51 rout from Bill Patterson, Bib Stillwell and Austin Miller in similar cars albeit none shared the latest 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF fitted to Jack’s ‘F2-4-59’- said to be ‘Brabham’s main car during the early part of 1959’. Austin’s motor was 2.2 litres with Bib and Bill having 2 litre units.

Brabham had a successful fortnight during his short summer of 1960 Australian racing tour, three races from three winning the Longford Trophy and Light Car Club of Tasmania Trophy on 5 and 7 March at Longford the week before.

Ian McCleave took the opening photo of ‘A youthful Jack Brabham showering my younger brother in dust…I seem to recall Dad charged with adrenalin winding the Austin A95 up to 90 mph on the way back to Melbourne!’

Lukey Heights is well familiar to ‘Island regulars in the background, its a top shot and another enthusiast that day, Robert Jones caught the start of the race, below.

Credits…

Ian McLeave, Robert Jones, Gordon Dobie Collection

Tailpiece: The Off- Brabham, Stillwell, Miller with Patterson on row 2…

(R Jones)

 

(G Dobie)

Finito…

 

(P Ansell)

It does all get a bit serious these days doesn’t it!?

Here Jim McGuire and Alan Tatham are enjoying their Cooper Mk4 Norton at Gnoo Blas, circa 1957…

Aren’t these an amazing group of colour photographs of a race meeting at the popular, relatively shortlived Orange, NSW circuit. Such vivid images of race meetings in Oz at the time are not exactly plentiful.

These shots were posted on Bob Williamson’s Old Motor Racing Photographs – Australia Facebook page by Paul Ansell and immediately provoked a response from a swag of enthusiasts contributing information about the car and that day.

McGuire works, Tatham poses for the babes, as drivers do (P Ansell)

Australian Ace Kevin Bartlett recognised his ‘blue Morris Minor Series 2 fitted with a fibreglass top…’, that’s KB in blue standing beside the door of the car in the background. In fact Jim McGuire and his wife Carmen aided and abetted the careers of several drivers including KB, who raced the Elfin Imp for them in the mid-sixties and Peter Wherrett- the latter raced this very Cooper Mk4 with a Hillman Minx four-cylinder engine installed in the early sixties.

Here the Cooper is fitted with a Norton Manx engine. The red car over the back in the first photo is the Profilio MG Spl which still exists in historic racing as indeed does the Cooper Minx- restored by David Kerr a couple of decades ago.

By the time McGuire acquired the car, chassis # ’10/54/50′ was already a veteran of the 1954 Australian Grand Prix, Charlie Swinburne raced it, Manx Norton powered, to tenth place. Its thought when first imported to Australia the car was originally supplied to Les Taylor in Queensland fitted with a JAP 1100 motor.

Later raced by Queensland’s Ray Lewis as the ‘LPS Cooper Norton’ (Lewis/Bill Pitt/Charlie Swinburne) during 1953, Jim McGuire bought it from Tony Crick of Wellington, NSW, initially racing the machine with Tatham at the wheel.

Barry Collerson in the Cooper Minx leads an Elfin Catalina at Oran Park circa 1961 (Alan Stewart)

Later, in 1959 or early 1960, Jim mated a Hillman Minx 1500 engine and VW gearbox to the frame, the car in this form contested the 1960 Australian Grand Prix at Lowood.

The photo below shows Tatham aboard the Cooper Mk4 Hillman together with the #37 D Russell MG TD, #49 N Barnes MG TC s/c. I’m mystified by a couple of the cars but it appears to be the great Tornado 2 Chev down the back, by that stage driven and owned by Mel McEwin.

(F Pearse)

Up front a thriller of an AGP was won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati by a whisker from Lex Davison’s Aston Martin DBR4/250, the little Cooper retired with an undisclosed ailment. Not so long after Lowood Tatham ceased to drive the car but it raced on, still owned by Jim at Strathpine, Tarrawingee, Hume Weir, Oran Park and Warwick Farm driven by Peter Wherrett and Barry Collerson.

Peter Wherrett, Cooper Minx, Warwick Farm May 1961 (P Wherrett)

Both Sydneysiders were talented coming-men of the day with Collerson racing an ex-Doug Whiteford GP Talbot-Lago in Australia before chasing the  FJ circuit in Europe for a couple of years. He has written a book too- i must buy ‘Mount Druitt to Monza’, been meaning to for ages.

Wherrett is incredibly prominent in the memories of several generations of us for his racing, his ‘Racing Car News’, for many years THE Australian motor racing monthly bible- race reports, ‘Peter Wherrett Advanced Driving’ school and ‘Torque’ the seminal, defining, brilliant ABC television motoring program of the mid-seventies. The genre popularised by Jeremy Clarkson much later started with Wherrett and a team at the ABC. Remember PW’s track test of Warwick Brown’s Lola T332 Chev?, it just blew my tiny, teenaged mind!

The Cooper Minx later fell into the tender, loving hands of David Kerr who restored and raced it extensively in historic racing with John Herman the last reported owner.

Lets Get Physical! Little Barry Collerson trying to stay aboard the Cooper Minx at Warwick Farm in August 1962. Note the different, later fibreglass nosecone in this shot (P Wherrett)

Credits…

Paul Ansell- photos. Dick Willis, Kevin Bartlett, Greg Smith, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Fred Pearse Collection, Alan Stewart Collection and Peter Wherrett Collection on aussieroadracing.homestead.com

Etcetera: Cooper Minx, circa 1961, perhaps at the McGuire’s home in Sydney- Peter Wherrett Collection photos…

Water radiator neatly integrated given air-cooled engines originally fitted

Front transverse leaf suspension as standard Cooper Mk4

Rear suspension and wheels appear as standard Cooper Mk4

Hillman Minx 1500 four fed by a couple of downdraft Strombergs, transaxle is modified 4 speed VW

Tailpiece: Gnoo Blas officialdom, Cooper Mk4 unwell…

Never seen so many crisply laundered white overalls! Tatham in Cooper Mk4 Norton. Bucolic Gnoo Blas (P Ansell)

Finito…

(Popperfoto)

John Cobb at Brooklands during the 17 May 1937 Gold Trophy Coronation Race, Napier Railton…

What an awesome 23.944 litre, 580 bhp machine this is- there is little point waxing lyrical about a superb racing car which is a well known national icon in the UK, so I will keep it short and hopefully sweet.

Cobb was a big man and clearly liked his racing cars on some scale, a passion his fur-broking business Anning Chadwick & Kiver allowed him to indulge. Reid Railton designed the car which was built by Thomson & Taylor with the specific brief of taking the Brooklands lap record, a feat it achieved for all time, at 143.33 mph on 7 October 1935. It was an exercise he likened to ‘trying to see how far you can lean out of a window without actually falling!’.

Brooklands, Cobb, Napier Railton, date unknown (B Museum)

John Cobb and the Napier at Brooklands on 31 March 1934 (Pinterest)

Railton specified a slow running Napier W-formation aviation engine in a suitably butch chassis with massive side members, twin cantilevered back springs and a finely muscular front axle. Typical of its time, the cockpit was capacious and it needed to be for record-breaking runs of up to 3000 miles or so.

Successful from the start, the car won its first race at the Brooklands Bank Holiday Meeting in 1933, the big beast recorded a standing lap of 120.59 mph and a flying lap of 123.28 mph. ‘When running for long spells, very large Dunlop special racing tyres were required, imposing a heavy task for the mechanics changing wheels at pitstops’. In addition to three times breaking the lap-record at ‘The Track’ the car broke world records at Montlhery and at Utah. The BRDC 500 Mile Race was won at 121.28 mph and the 500 Km version at 127.05 mph with the Napier Railton timed over the kilometre at 151.97 mph.

‘Pandora and The Flying Dutchman’ starred the Napier Railton in a fantasy romance with Ava Gardner and James Mason. Here ‘Dunlop Boys’ Freddie Hicks and Sidney West push the Napier towards a run on the Pendine Sands. Love the fags in mouths- photo used by Dunlop as a PR shot (unattributed)

 

Napier Railton on duty for GQ parachute testing circa 1951 (B Museum)

In 1949 Cobb hired the Napier Railton to the Romulus Film Company to make ‘Pandora and The Flying Dutchman’, a film about a racing driver. In 1951 John sold the car to the GQ Parachute Company who used it to test aircraft brake parachutes at Dunsfold Airfield- GQ modified the car and fitted it with test equipment to deploy parachutes at high speed and then retract them at about 30 knots.

Cobb, who served as an RAF pilot during the war, was killed trying to achieve the Water Speed Record in the jet-boat ‘Crusader’ at Loch Ness on 29 September 1952- the boat hit an unexplained wake.

The Napier Railton was in the best of hands when Patrick Lindsay acquired it-after a rebuild by Crosthwaite & Gardner he raced it in vintage events. It was then bought by Bob Roberts for his Midland Motor Museum, it was kept in running order after ‘being completely overhauled, except the engine’ by Hodec Engineering, Surrey in 1975. Aston Martin’s Victor Gauntlett was the next owner in 1989, and then at auction it passed to a German industrialist and finally, thankfully, became the Brooklands Museum’s car when offered to them in 1997 via a Swiss classic car dealer who ‘discovered it’ in the German’s collection. It is regularly demonstrated, many of you will have been fortunate enough to see it on circuit.

An awesome machine in the true sense of the word, goodness only knows how it felt on the limit for 500 miles on Brooklands famous concrete bumps…

 Etcetera: Technical Details of the Napier Railton as MotorSport reported them in 1933…

Credits…

Getty Images- Popperfoto, MotorSport August 1933 and July 1997, brooklandsmuseum.com

Tailpiece: Reid Railton designed Crusader being towed out into Loch Ness in 1952…

(unattributed)

Finito…