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

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Amazing panorama of a hot, happy Riverside crowd in 1959, no details of date or race meeting, race in progress for sportscars…

These days with so much competition for our leisure dollars promoters globally find it hard to get such crowds. In the ‘immediate’ post war years there was pent up demand and plenty of money in a booming post war economy to draw a crowd to just about anything.

By the look of some of the grandstands, it would have been more dangerous as a spectator than as a racer…

Credit…

JR Eyerman

 

 

(L Richards)

A motorsport event in Kew, Melbourne even in 1954 is a new one on me?!…

Its a rather nice, leafy, green suburb through which the Yarra River flows 5 Km from Melbourne’s CBD- ‘stockbroker belt’ stuff with some of Melbourne’s ‘better’ private schools contained therein. There is plenty of wealth in the area, then and now. So how come the good citizens of Kew allowed a motor sport event to take place on their turf prey tell?!

Stan Jones’ Cooper Mk4 JAP and a motor-cyclist are about to ‘blast off’ along the Kew Boulevard at Studley Park by the look of it.

It’s a stretch of road we have all done lap records upon before the long arm of the law toned things down somewhat. A ribbon of bitumen that commands respect as a fair proportion of it is open and high speed despite changes to slow things down.

I have it on good authority that the number of 911’s which go in backwards is not that much different now to the 1980’s when there were plenty of wallies with loads of money not reflected in commensurate levels of driving talent. Many an insurance tale of woe was born on this stretch of blacktop.

(L Richards)

In any event, what is going on here, some of you are Kew locals, we are all intrigued to know?

Stan has his ‘Maybach’ helmet on , it was a good year for him, he had just won the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in perhaps Australia’s most famous special, the Charlie Dean/Repco built and prepared Maybach on 9 January. No wonder he has a big smile upon his face.

For Jones it was an easy event logistically. He lived in Balwyn, an adjoining suburb and his ‘fettler’ Ern Seeliger’s garage was in Baker Street, Richmond, also a couple of kays from The Boulevard on the other side of the river.

I am intrigued. Do tell folks!?. Maybe its a promotion and i’m getting excited about absolutely nothing…

An idea of the Kew Boulevard in 1958- not much different now, leafy green and lots of curves. This is the finish of a ‘car trial’ treasure hunt social event (L Richards)

Photo Credits…

Laurie Richards, State Library of Victoria

Tailpiece: Stan and Cooper JAP, Templestowe Hillclimb circa 1952…

(SLV)

Templestowe Hillclimb was not too far from Kew, where the shots above are taken, so here is a snap of the man in action there. I’ve no idea of the date in the event that one of you were there to sort that point. Jones hustled a car along, he was a physical, press on kinda driver who pushed hard, not lacking finesse mind you, but you could always see him trying to get the best from his mount.

Just as he is here, using all of the available road…

Lionel Van Praag, Wembley, London 10 September 1936…

Its amazing what you don’t know, in fact I’m never surprised at my own ignorance. I reckon I know a bit about my interest and hobby, but really I’m only scratching the surface of motor racing history in Australia.

Australian topics are hard too, the research that is- pre-War there was little in the way of local magazines, post war it becomes a bit more straight forward from the time of the publication of ‘Australian Motor Sports’ magazine and the relatively large number of publications which followed it. What is fascinating in the research adventure is the stuff you find looking for something else.

In this case it was randomly coming upon this image of Lionel Maurice Van Praag (1908-1987) after winning the inaugural World Speedway Championship at Wembley on 10 September 1936.

An Australian World Motor Racing champion pre-war, wow! And not without some controversy too. And I had never heard of the Redfern lad despite his admission to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in recent times.

L>R- Charlie Spinks, Arthur Atkinson and Lionel Van Praag, First Test England/Australia at Belle Vue in 1938 (defunctspeedway.co.uk)

Graham Howard wrote that ‘Van Praag was a speedway rider and aviator, born on 17 December 1908 at Redfern, Sydney. The only child of Sydney-born Louis Van Praag, tram conductor, and Mozelle May. A bright student and an all-round athlete, he was educated at Cleveland Street Intermediate High and Redfern Junior Technical schools, both in inner Sydney. He was apprenticed as a typewriter mechanic, he had a natural feel for machinery that was useful all his life’.

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LVP, middle of shot at Speedway Royal, Wayville, Adelaide in 1928. Bike is an Ariel ‘3 and a half’ (M Gray)

Lionel began riding motorcycles at 15. After a number of novice races at the Olympia Speedway at Maroubra he concentrated on the Speedway Royal in Sydney from July 1926, almost instantly he became a senior competitor. He then had an outstanding 1926-27 season in Brisbane. He was successful in the eastern mainland Australian States and in New Zealand. In 1931 after years of rejecting offers, he followed other Australian riders who competed in England and joined the Wembley Team, riding in both the UK and Europe during the Australian off season.

Lionel Van Praag aboard a Harley Davidson ‘Pea Shooter’ in 1927, 19 years old. Factory 1926  racer designed for US AMA races- devoid of brakes, clutch and transmission. Frame shortened, weight 215 pounds, 350cc OHV, circa 100mph (unattributed)

The first World Speedway Championship, at Wembley, London 1936…

The event was a strange one as riders carried into the meeting a score of bonus points amassed in the qualifying rounds. It was possible that the rider who scored best on the night would still not be world champion because of his qualifying record- and such was the case.

‘Bluey’ Wilkinson scored a maximum but Langton had more bonus points than Van Praag. In a night of excitement and controversy, Eric Langton and Van Praag lined up for a match race but Eric broke the tapes. Van Praag declared he would not be champion by default and sportingly demanded a re-run! Langton gated ahead and led until the final bend when leaving the smallest of gaps and he was unable to hold the dashing Australian, the Hall of Fame entry says.

LVP on a mini-bike at Wembley in 1932 (Getty)

Further ‘Langton’s near miss …assumed a degree of controversy in later years. The deciding match race with ‘Praagy’ was ‘fixed’ between the pair according to sources close to the action. It was alleged that Eric and Lionel agreed that whoever got to the first corner in front would go on to win and they would split the prizemoney between them. It almost worked out, Langton was ahead until the final corner when he left a small gap which Van Praag couldn’t resist going for. The first ever world final was won by about a wheel width and the Australian took the title’.

Van Praag also qualified for the finals in 1937-7th, 1938-4th and 1939. In 1931-39, and again in 1947, he represented Australia in Tests against England.

He learned to fly in the UK at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire in 1931, it was a capability he put to good use throughout the rest of his life.

Graham Howard wrote that ‘Van Praag was a non-drinker and a heavy smoker, and he had a short temper if provoked. At around 5 ft 9 ins (175 cm) he was taller than most of his rivals; he was dashingly handsome, with dark curly hair and notable physical strength. He had a minor role in the British film Money for Speed (1933), but an envisaged cinema career did not materialise’.

LVP on a 1930’s JAP, date and place unknown (defunctspeedway.co.uk)

On 11 August 1941 Van Praag enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force and was appointed to No.2 Wireless Air Gunners School, Parkes, New South Wales with the rank of acting sergeant.

Engaged on flying duties, he was promoted to probationary pilot officer in October 1942 and flight lieutenant in October 1944.

In January 1942 the transport plane of which he was a co-pilot, an RAAF Douglas DC-2 A30-8, was shot down by a Japanese aircraft over the Sumba Strait, off Indonesia whilst on a flight from Surabaya, Java to Koepang/Kupang Timor. For thirty hours, whilst subject to shark attacks, he and his Captain, Flying Officer Noel Webster, supported the two crew-members, both non-swimmers and secured their survival, acts of bravery for which they were awarded the George Medal.

A full account of the incident appears in the book ‘And Far From Home’, written by John Balfe who flew with Lionel.

Balfe had this to say about Van Praag as a man ‘…in flying with Van I had perceived in his slight wiry form, a man of particular capacity and directness. He cared nothing for false values in anything or anyone and did not hide from the fact. I found him only a week out of hospital after the ditching (of the DC-2) but already back in a comprehensive engineering workshop he had behind his unpretentious home on Botany Bay’s (Sydney) north shore. He had plant and equipment there to wet the appetite of any metal engineer. One of the real Australians, Van had led a hard life racing motorcycles from early manhood and lived to standards he had not relaxed. He was moderate in thought and habit and held in quiet contempt those who were not. He valued his friendships above human faults, but chose his friends carefully and for the most part made them for life. His mind and memory remained sharp and retained an accuracy in detail that I had noted flying with him in 1943’.

After recuperating from the ditching, Lionel returned to flying C-47’s with No 36 Squadron out of Townsville, Far North Queensland. His RAAF appointment ended on 27 July 1945.

LVP aboard a Penny Farthing in 1951, interesting to know the occasion, and place! (Fairfax)

Post war Lionel resumed motorcycle racing and soon developed a career in aviation…

Van Praag headed a riders’ consortium that promoted speedway at the Sydney Sports Ground in 1945-48. He rode for the English team New Cross in 1947. After 1948 he effectively retired from racing, although in the early 1950s he briefly raced self-built small speedboats off Manly on Sydney Harbour.

In his new career as a commercial pilot in 1952 he combined his aviation and speedway interests by contracting with Empire Speedways to carry the Great Britain and Australian competitors, along with their bikes and equipment between the various Australian speedway venues in a Lockheed Lodestar.

He flew charter, and freight planes, did aerial top-dressing or crop-dusting in a Bristol Freighter, this plane was lost in December 1961 when it crashed at Wollongong after an engine failure on a freight flight. Lionel and the rest of the crew escaped injury. He later flew for an airline in Pakistan for a year before returning to Australia.

LVP in his later aviation years (adastron.com)

He joined Adastra Aerial Surveys, a company originally formed as a flying school in 1930 at Mascot, Sydney circa 1962 as a pilot and later became chief pilot. Although he had two well-publicised crashes, including the one described above, people who flew with him valued his informality and his resourceful flying ability.

In adult life, Van, as he was known, turned away from his Jewish upbringing. In 1929 at the district registrar’s office, Redfern, he married Elizabeth Margaret Pearl Cosgrove, a machinist, they divorced in April 1937. On 1 October that year at the register office, Hendon, England, he married Gwendoline Iris Hipkin, a dressmaker.

In 1968 he retired to his own Island, Temple Island, south of Mackay. In 1973, aged 65, he ferried a Hudson VH-AGJ from Sydney to Strathallan Museum in Scotland. Hudson’s were the primary survey aircraft used by Adastra.

He died on 19 May 1987 from emphysema, at Royal Brisbane Hospital. His wife, their daughter and two sons and the daughter of his first marriage survived him.

Post death recognition includes being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1990. In addition, in 2000, the Government of the Australian Capital Territory decided to honour several Australian sportsmen with the naming of streets, including ‘Van Praag Place’ in the Canberra suburb of Gordon.

Three of my fathers uncles served in World War 2. As I became a teenager and understood, to an extent, what they endured in the Middle East and New Guinea I held these wonderful, private, kind, gentle but strong men in considerable awe. I always called them my ‘Boys Own Heros’ when I saw them at family events. Certainly Lionel Van Praag was a Boys Own Hero- in spades. Truly an amazing, full life of achievement.

Bibliography…

‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’ entry by Graham Howard, Australian Sports Hall of Fame, adastron.com

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Fox Photos, PA Images, , Malcolm F Gray, State Library of South Australia, Fairfax, defunctspeedwaysuk.com

Tailpiece: LVP and friends at the Sydney Sportsground on 4 September 1945, first post-war meeting I wonder?…

 

 

(Jack Inwood)

Three-time Kiwi Gold Star champion Jim Palmer leads John Riley during the 1964 running of the ‘Renwick 50’ held each November in the township of Renwick…

Palmer’s car is the ex-Jack Brabham works 1964 Tasman Series  Brabham BT7A Climax FPF ‘IC-2-63’, Riley’s the ex-Tony Shelly Lotus 18/21 Climax FPF.

When I initially saw this shot I imagined the cars were returning to the paddock but in fact they are entering what was in effect a single car at a time part of the track, a right-hander, the course was essentially rectangular in layout through the roads of Renwick.

The Marlborough region is a stunning part of New Zealand, its the countries largest wine growing area, in the far north of the South Island and famous the world over for some marvellous Sauvignon Blanc whites.

Palmer’s ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax during the January 1966 Levin Tasman round, he was 5th in the race won by Richard Attwood’s BRM P261. Jim Clark won the ’65 Tasman in this car, chassis ’32-FL-8′ with 4 wins and then sold it to the Palmer family. Superbly prepared and driven, Palmer won the 1965/6 NZ Gold Star in it and then finished 4th in the ’66 Tasman with a mix of speed and reliability- only Stewart, Hill and Clark were in front of the plucky Kiwi. The car then raced in Oz in the hands of Greg Cusack and Mel McEwin. Ultimately restored by John Dawson-Damer in Sydney and sold/part exchanged for a Lotus 79 to Classic Team Lotus 20 years ago. 2.5 CC FPF and ZF 5 speed box clear in shot as is very beefy rear chassis diaphragm (TRS)

Click here for an article about the Lotus 32B and the Levin International won by Jim Clark in 1965;

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

The Renwick event was run from 1961 to 1967 with Palmer having a bit of a mortgage on it- he won in 1964, 1965 and 1966 in Cooper T53, Brabham BT7A and Lotus 32B, the latter the car Jim Clark won the Tasman Series with in 1965. All of these cars were powered by the venerable 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF 4 cylinder engine- the World Championship winning engine of 1959-60. Palmer won the New Zealand Gold Star, the NZ drivers championship in 1964/5, 1965/6 and 1967/8 in the Brabham, Lotus and a McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 respectively.

Jim Palmer aboard the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Climax, not so long before vacated by Spencer Martin, at Bathurst, Easter 1966. The shot is taken near the crest at Reid Park Gate. Palmer drove well, albeit against no other 2.5 litre competition, to win the racing car feature ‘Mt Panorama Gold Cup’. It was about this time he failed his CAMS licence due to some vision issues, a great shame as the speedy Kiwi would have been a welcome addition to our Gold Star grids, skinny as they were (John Ellacott)

A top driver he retired too early in my book, partially due to being unable to get an Australian CAMS racing licence, he was ‘long sighted’ in one eye. He also married and decided to focus on his business interests in the retail motor trade and commercial property, which centred on Hamilton where he still lives.

Jim Palmer in the ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax on the way to 6th place in the 1966 Warwick Farm 100 on 13 February. Clark won from Hill and Gardner (Bruce Wells)

The 1964 Renwick 50 was run over 20 laps of the 2.414 km course (three variants of Renwick roads were used over the years) on 14 November, a smidge under 50 km in total. Palmer won and took the lap record at 1: 17.0 with Morrie Stanton, Stanton Corvette 2nd and Red Dawson in a Cooper T53 Climax 3rd.

Check out this YouTube footage which shows the undulating, narrow nature of the circuit. Whilst the caption says 1965, the footage is from several of the Renwick meetings including 1964.

Bibliography…

sergent.com, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

Jack Inwood/The Roaring Season, John Ellacott, Bruce Wells, Marlborough Car Club

Tailpiece: Chris Amon, Maser 250F, Renwick 50 November 1962…

Chris Amon, Maser 250F just ahead of Bob Eade’s similar car with John Histed’s Lola Mk2 Ford behind. Angus Hyslop Cooper T53 Climax won from Amon and Barry Cottle, Lola Mk1 Climax. This race on 10 November 1962 was Chris’ last race in the Maser (Marlborough Car Club)

Postscript: Next stage of Chris Amon’s career…

Click here for an article on the next critical months in Amon’s career after the Maserati was put to one side and Chris drove David McKay’s Cooper T53 Climax in the 1963 Australasian Internationals; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/06/chris-amon-cooper-t53-and-the-australian-grand-prix-1963/

Finito…

Gary Knutson and Jerry Mallett with their Lotus 11 Climax at the ‘Garden of The Gods’, Colorado Springs, Colorado circa 1959…

Knutson went on to become one of the ’main men’ during the McLaren ‘Papaya Period’ after doing stints with Traco and Chaparral, but here he is posing with his later business partner and their new car just acquired from Jim Hall.

Its amazing how you find stuff such as this wonderful photograph. I was trying to find the correct spelling of Gary’s surname which I always get wrong- off to Google. Click away. Bingo! The trouble is the photo is on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, the most content rich motorsport website on the planet. I can never deal with a new thread on TNF in less than an hour.

Tyler Alexander and Gary Knutson tend to their charge in the Bridghampton paddock, 1968. Bruce waits patiently. Both M8A’s had engine dramas this race- Bruce ran a bearing and Denny’s chucked a rod. Mark Donohue won in Roger Penske’s M6B Chev (P Lyons)

Contributions to this thread of TNF include bits by Wally Willmott, Howden Ganley, Jerry Entin and others. Here are some snippets, its not a comprehensive article about Knutson but a pot-pourri of bits and bobs plus a link to a fantastic, detailed article in Hot Rod magazine on development of the Big Block Chev ZL1 V8- Knutson was up to his armpits in that project of course.

The connection to Jim Hall was via Jims brother Chuck who was going to the University of Colorado, at Boulder, as was Knutson. Gary prepared Chuck’s Corvette with which he was third in class at Pikes Peak in 1958.

Knutson and Mallett shortly thereafter saw a sportscar race in Phoenix and were hooked- they then approached Jim via Chuck to buy the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax powered Lotus 11 Le Mans Series 2.

Bruce McLaren and Robin Herd’s superb, simple monocoque M6A Chev- the ’67 Can Am Champ. ’67 engines developed on Al Bartz’ dyno in Van Nuys, Cal by Knutson as McLaren then did not have a dyno- look closely on the rocker cover and you can see the Bartz tag in addition to the McLaren Flower Power one! Cast iron Chev 350, four-bolt main bearing caps, 2.02 /1.60 inch intake/exhaust valves with 4 Weber 48IDA carbs 525 bhp @ 7600 rpm. An additional 25 bhp was gained with the adoption of Lucas fuel injection- Knutson used Traco throttle bodies on a Mickey Thomson cross-ram intake manifold intended for Webers. Also used was a Corvette Rochester fuel injection distributor to drive the metering unit and a Vertex magneto instead of a distributor. McLaren was reported disappointed with the power gain but the improved throttle response and driveability was significant with the M6A’s winning 5 of the 6 rounds and Bruce the championship from Denny (unattributed)

Knutson, born in 1937 lived in Colorado Springs where his mother was a teacher and father a photographer. His mechanical interest started with Soapbox Derby devices, a Maytag washing machine motor powered trike and Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engines, then ‘Whizzer’ ‘bike engines and soon an Ardun flat-head Ford V8 engine which went into a 1932 ‘5 window’ Ford which was ‘dragged’ and hill-climbed. Gary won a dirt hillclimb event in the car aged 16 at Georgetown.

Mallett recalls ‘When we ran the Lotus 11, both of us worked two jobs each to pay for the thing, but we would roll out of Colorado Springs on Friday night at about 7 pm and drive all night to Salt Lake City, Utah, New Mexico or Texas. The first race was in Dallas, Texas and after the all night drive, a shower and a cup of coffee, we really thought we were in the big leagues. Around 8 am a trailer showed up with four Ferraris. It was a long day’.

1967 Chev 350 McLaren engine detail at Road America. Note the Traco throttle bodies and Mickey Thomson magnesium manifold referred to above. Below is the Vertex maggy and roller-rocker valve gear- by whom I wonder? (D Friedman)

Knutson worked for Chaparral in the early days when the Chap 2 was first built and the team comprised Jim Hall and Hap Sharp, chief mechanic Franz Weis, ace fabricator Troy Rogers, with Gary as the engine man. At Traco Engineering before commencing McLaren’s in-house Chevy engine program, he worked on a ‘Who’s Who of all branches of motor racing engines doing 14 hour days with Wally Willmott, with Gary having oversight of the Ford Quad Cam Indy to McLaren F1 engine project.

The in-house CanAm project started with the ’67 McLaren Chev 350 cid engines which produced about 525 bhp @ 7600 rpm on Webers, before Knutson adapted Lucas fuel injection…

At this point, click on this link to a wonderful article in ‘Hot Rod’ magazine about the development of the McLaren Chev aluminium, big block ‘Rat Motors’ in which Knutson was the major player, it’s a beauty;

http://www.hotrod.com/articles/unlimited-rat-motor-racing/

1968 7 litre Chev ally LT1 ‘Rat Motor’. Development work initially done with cast iron block and the new L88 ally heads till the blocks became available. 4.25 inch standard bore and 3.76 inch stroke with Moldex steel crank, Cloyes roller timing chains, cam by Vince Piggins group at Chev R&D. Production solid lifters, Forgedtrue pistons and Carillo rods. Dry sump pumps by Weaver and magnesium dry sump pans by Chev R&D. The L88 heads had 2.19/1.84 inch intake/exhaust valves with the ports enlarged and re-shaped. Crane aluminium roller-rockers. Magnesium intake manifolds had a 2.9 inch bore for each cylinder with a fuel injector into each of the curved and tuned length steel velocity stacks. Intakes were modified Crower with MacKay making the intakes, Lucas metering unit, Vetex magneto and tach drives from magnesium. That lot generated  a real 650 bhp @ 7600 rpm with McLaren quoting 620 in-period . In ’68 the M8A won 4 of the 6 rounds and Denny the title. McLarens won every round of the series (HotRod)

Bibliography…

The Nostalgia Forum, classicscars.com

Photo Credits…

Gary Knutson Collection, Pete Lyons, Dave Friedman Archive, hotrod.com

Tailpiece: Moss, Hulme and Knutson astride another McLaren mechanic, McLaren M6A Chev, Road America 1967…

Stirling Moss is interviewing the winner Denny Hulme whilst Knutson looks pleased that his engine has won first time out. Road Am the first ’67 Can Am round on 3 September. Donohue and Surtees were 2nd/3rd in Lola T70 Mk3B’s with Bruce #4 below out with an oil leak on lap 6 (D Friedman)

Finito…

 

Christmas 2017…

Posted: December 24, 2017 in Who,What,Where & When...?
Tags:

(Pinterest)

Seasonal salutations to you all, I know we don’t all celebrate Christmas, but even for those of us who are not religious its a good time to pause, reflect and be thankful for what we have.

In this case to thankyou all for your ongoing support of this magazine.

In this nutty world ruled by Froot-Loops like Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un we need to just pursue our lives and passions in the knowledge that the ‘ruling class’ to a large extent, fortunately, have limited control over what goes on.

Modern ‘narrow-casting’ and the ability to selectively consume the media you want effectively allows one to filter out the fuckwits. They are there, ever present, but one can largely ignore them.

primotipo is an example of a niche site of the type I refer to, somewhere to lose yourself for a while away from the madness. There you go, a motorsport site with medicinal qualities- and free! How good is that?

I started it whilst working in Adelaide with plenty of time on my hands, on 15 May 2014, have a giggle at my first effort!

https://primotipo.com/2014/05/15/when-im-in-a-car-i/

Several years later there are now over 600 articles, long and short. Some I have enjoyed re-reading, others make me cringe.

I know its getting cold in the Northern Hemisphere just looking at my site stats- when you guys go inside out of the winter chill it makes a difference of anywhere up to 10,000 additional hits a month. Its nice to think I am giving some of you something to do!

Our little community is the same in terms of  the structure of readership as last year.

The ‘Top Ten’ countries are the same as in 2016; Australia, France, United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Holland, Brazil and Spain. 35% of the articles are Australian but only 22% of the readership are ‘Aussies- 78% of you are from other countries. Which is so wonderful! I never figured I would have global readership.

51% of you are from countries where English is not the native tongue either- that amazes me. Other than our large migrant population the average Aussie isn’t bilingual, we all struggle with the Queens English if truth be known- but look at you lot, clever sods that you are!

I don’t think I have had a guest writer this calendar year, which is a pain as i’ve done it all. Freelance contributions on just about any topic are welcome- mind you I owe a few of you big-time to pop up manuscripts you have generously provided.

I continue to get great support from Australian photographers in particular, these blokes are gold- Dick Simpson, John Ellacott, Lynton Hemer, Kevin Drage, Lindsay Ross, Rod MacKenzie, David Blanch, Dale Harvey and Terry Marshall ‘over the ditch’ in New Zealand. Similarly Steve Holmes of ‘The Roaring Season’ tolerates me raiding his wonderful sites photographic archives from time to time.

‘The Nostalgia Forum’ is content rich with a whole swag of Australian enthusiasts adding vast depth to all sorts of arcane topics which has added bigtime to the depth of articles beyond that possible from my own library or experience. There are lots of them but those fellas off the top of my head include John Medley, Ray Bell, Stephen Dalton, Lynton Hemer, Terry Sullivan, David Seldon, Ken Devine (who I met in Perth a month ago- expect some great West Australian content next year folks) Lee Nicholle, Greg Mackie, Bruce Moxon, Spencer Lambert, Wirra and others- apologies to those I forgot.

What can you expect next year? More of the same I think- still pretty random, discovery of a photo inspires the articles- I don’t have a list of topics as such. In recent times various of the State Library Archive’s in Australia have yielded some gold, some of these articles, features, are in the ‘back end’ of the site awaiting up-loading. The Getty Images, staggering global archive is often a source of inspiration too.

My (real) job workload has increased quite a lot this year with regular travel from home in Melbourne to Sydney and Perth so the regime has been three posts a week- a Thursday or Friday feature (anything over 1500 words) an odd or amusing snippet on a Sunday or Monday and another shorter article mid-week is the loose regime I work to.

My favourite articles this year are all about relative obscurities- the ATS 100 GP car, Aussie single-seater ace Bill Patterson, Derek Jolly and his sportscars and the ‘Penrith World Championship’. It is nice to do stuff not every other Tom, Dick, ‘n Harry has written- the hard part is coming up with them and the necessary research material.

Speaking of which- thanks to Martin Stubbs, Stephen Dalton, Rob Bartholomaeus, Patrick Ryan, Nigel Tait, Michael Gasking and Rod Wolfe for ongoing access to their archive or other information and corrections provided. I have no sub-editor so occasionally boo-boos are made- usually when I rely on memory which is dangerous given that particular resource is ageing rapidly.

Thinking of Rodway Wolfe reminds me I have been light on in terms of our Repco articles this year- I’ve done a few but only one of substance. I need to re-focus on that aim of documenting, as best we can, the insiders view of the Repco Sixties Glory Years.

Enough. Thanks for being there, it remains fun- I get a lot of satisfaction knowing I have regular readers in places such as Namibia, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Albania and Greenland- not exactly global centres of motor racing!

Finally, out of interest, the three most consistently popular articles are all ‘oldies’ on mainstream global topics- ‘Porsche 917: 1969 The First Season’, ‘RB620’ V8: Building the 1966 World Champion Engine’ (written with Rod Wolfe) and the piece about the Works/Chris Amon/Scuderia Veloce ‘Ferrari P4/Can Am 350 ‘0858’.

There is a lesson there of course, if you want the numbers write on mainstream topics.

For those that have one, enjoy the break!

 

 

WJ Phipps and J Seery drove this 7 hp Citroen Type C from Fremantle, Western Australia to Adelaide, South Australia, Melbourne, Victoria in May 1923, and on to Sydney New South Wales, a  journey of about 3,180 miles…

The West Australian pair left Freo in the 856cc, 4 cylinder, 3 speed small car on 1 May. Phipps originally intended to make the trip on a motor cycle and sidecar but received an offer from the Citroen agents to use the small car instead, he then invited Seery to accompany him. In various reports described as a planned as an attempt on the Fremantle-Sydney transcontinental record, or to prove a small light car could make the challenging journey, the trip became a ‘more leisurely touring drive’ after the loss of four days due to hub damage.

Phipps quipped that ‘When we left Perth we were the laughing stock of all motorists because no-one dreamed we would be able to get through’. Even the cars agents were somewhat dubious about their prospects. The intrepid adventurers travelled all day and night, one sleeping whilst the other drove.

The route chosen took them from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie (WA) Port Augusta to Adelaide (SA) Melbourne and then on to Sydney (Victoria and NSW respectively).

The Perth ‘Daily News’ reported that ‘Despite the fact the whole outfit with luggage weighed 18 cwt, (including 23 gallons of petroleum benzine and 8 gallons of water) the little car had no difficulty in negotiating this heavy route’. For hundreds of miles, the pair followed the transcontinental railway line as much as possible, there was no track at all, with large limestone boulders having to be moved before they could proceed.

The car was delayed by four days near Naretha, 180 miles from Kalgoorlie on the transcontinental railway line, ‘owing to one of the wheels crashing into an obscured stump’ the Citroens hub was broken necessitating a spare to be delivered by rail from Perth. Apart from that mishap they ‘never had a spanner on the car’.

The most challenging part of the trip were the Yardu Sandhills in central WA where the Citroen got through unaided, taking five hours to go 12 miles. Other heavier cars on previous trips having to be hauled through by bullock teams.

Adelaide was reached in 157 driving hours on 11 May, this section of the trip was 1,769 miles. Behrens and Marshall (another report says Maugham-Thiem Motor Works) were the Citroen agents in Adelaide, the photograph of the car is out front of their Flinders Street showrooms.

The car then set off for the 571 miles to Melbourne at 2pm that afternoon 11 May. The other most difficult leg of the trip was the section near Kurow Lake, there, instead of being axle deep in sand, they were axle deep in mud. They arrived in Melbourne at 8 am on 14 May.

After a days rest Phipps and Seery then set of for the 594 mile Sydney leg at 10.45 pm on 16 May via the Hume Highway route. They stopped for a night in Gundagai, wet and cold from exposure and set off again on Saturday arriving that evening, 19 May ‘…in Martin Place with West Australian air’ a quip referring to the fact that the tyres had not been pumped up at any time on the journey. The car was shod with Dunlop ‘Railroad’ tyres, averaged 38-44 miles per gallon, used 1.5 gallons of lubricant with the average speed for the entire trip 16.5 mph.

In a parting shot Phipps said ‘We are on a holiday trip…we will return in the car…we intend on the way back to the West to have some dingo shooting on the Nullarbor Plain’.

I wonder if this significant Citroen survived?

Credits…

WS Smith/State Library of South Australia. ‘The Daily News Perth’ 2 June 1923, ‘Perth Sunday Times’ 20 May 1923, ‘The Express’ Adelaide 11 May 1923