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


(Brier Thomas)

Jackie Stewart leads Jim Clark through Lakeside’s Eastern Loop during the 1967 Tasman round at the fast Queensland circuit on 12 February…

 You can just see that the lightly loaded right-front wheel of Jackie’s 2070cc BRM P261 V8 is off-the-deck. Jim is chasing him in Lotus 33 R14 powered by a 2-litre variant of Coventry Climax’s 1.5-litre FWMV V8 Climax built for Lotus to tide them over pending delivery of the BRM H16 engines they used in the 1966, the first 3-litre GP year. The Ford Cosworth DFV V8 arrived at the ’67 Dutch GP in the back of a Lotus 49 and changed the GP world of course.

Stewart was the reigning Tasman Champion, BRM cleaned up in 1966 winning seven of the eight races – Jackie won four, Graham Hill two and Dickie Attwood one.

It was a lot tougher in 1967.

Lotus put to one side the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder engines they had previously used in their Tasman cars and used the F1 33 powered by the Climax V8, creating a very competitive mount despite giving away 500cc to some of the competition.

Jim finished all eight rounds and won five races including three point-scoring events. Jack Brabham’s Brabham Repco 640 Series V8s driven by he and Denny Hulme were also fast but had poor reliability. Jackie took two wins in 1967 for second in the series but was well behind Jim.

The BRMs were still very competitive in 1967 but the final increase in capacity – and resulting power and torque proved a bit too much for the transmission. BRM suffered gearbox problems in ’67 with the 2070cc variant of the P56/60 V8, they had not experienced with the 1930cc version used the year before.



The photo above shows the pair again, this time with Clark in front of Stewart during the final 1966 Tasman round at Longford, Tasmania on 7 March.

There Jackie won from teammate Graham Hill, Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco third. It was the Brabham Repco V8 combination’s third race, by the early European Grands Prix the 1965 BT19 chassis and Repco 620 Series V8 was finding ultimate race and championship winning pace and reliability.

Clark’s 1966 Tasman Lotus was the 39 Coventry Climax FPF, he took one round win it at Warwick Farm.

I wrote an article a while back about the ’67 Tasman and the seasons of Clark, Stewart and Hulme, see here; This article on the P56 BRM V8 may also be of interest;


Brier Thomas, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania


(L Hemer)

Lynton Hemer’s great shot catches the Frank Matich McLaren M10A Chev in the braking area before Creek Corner during practice for the Warwick Farm 100 on February 15, 1970.

Love the ABC TV outside broadcast van and flaggies and other officials cars sprinkled amongst the trees.

The 1970 Tasman was an interesting one in that the 2.5 Tasman cars which were on the way out (sadly) ended up having, just, the pace and the reliability to lift the Tasman Cup one last time over F5000, which was on the way in. Graeme Lawrence took the title with one win in the Ferrari Dino 246T Chris Amon raced to victory the year before, Matich was second in the points score with two wins.

(R Thorncraft)

The Matich crew first raced their M10A in September 1969 and progressively modified the car in many respects to the new M10B specifications- Hewland DG300 gearbox instead of LG600 etcetera, see this epic on Matich here; Frank Matich: Matich F5000 Cars etcetera… | primotipo…

Frank’s car was the quickest of the series, he won the NZ GP at Pukekohe and at Wigram. Only a splash and dash stop for fuel at Surfers gifted Graham McRae that win and engine problems at the Sandown final round- having started from pole – spoiled his Tasman, Niel Allen’s new M10B won that day with Lawrence’ second place enough to give him the series win.

Jaime Gard susses, whilst FM sucks on the sponsors product

Matich started at Warwick Farm from grid two with Graeme Lawrence on pole, he had an early coming together with Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Waggott TC-4V, which Derek Kneller believes was the cause of the broken left-rear upright after 29 of the race’s 45 laps.

In a splendid drive, KB he won the race in the sweetest of racing cars, the Mildren Yellow Submarine, from Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott TC-4V, Graeme Lawrence Ferrari Dino 246T 2.4 V6 and then the first of the F5000s- Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev.

FM talks to Lugsy Adams looking particularly summer-posh in Rothmans Team Matich shorts ‘n long sox whilst Jaime Gard looks altogether more casual – not much they can do at this stage of proceedings.

FM’s Matich SR3 Repco was owned then by Don O’Sullivan, I imagine Gard was over from Perth and in-situ at the Matich workshops looking after the prep of that car, and totally involved otherwise – he of ‘Gardos’ fame I wrote about a while ago;


Lynton Hemer, John Lindsay, Russell Thorncraft,

Thanks to Kris Matich and Derek Kneller for assistance with event and people detail


FM’s Matich is fitted with an injected Chevvy here having commenced the series in New Zealand with units fitted with Webers. By this stage Matich’ Repco sponsorship was being refocused away from the Matich SR4 sportscar powered by 4.8/5 litre Repco RB760 V8’s in favour of the Repco Holden F5000 engines which were in the early stages of development by Phil Irving, Brian Heard and the rest of the crew in Maidstone.

The early promise of that Repco Holden engine was realised with FM’s Australian Grand Prix win aboard his M10B Repco at the Farm ten months hence


CS Rolls passing a group of spectators during his winning drive of a Panhard 12HP during the  1000 Mile Trial, 23 April to 12 May 1900…

Charles Stewart Rolls was a pioneer English motorist, an aviator and founding partner of Rolls Royce together with Sir FH Royce in 1906. Prior to founding that iconic company Rolls’ business assembled and sold French cars, including Panhards.

rolls 2
Rolls, Panhard 12Hp (Getty)

Rolls entered a Panhard in the 1000 Mile Trial which was the first public demonstration of the potential of the car for long distance travel in the UK. 65 vehicles started, 23 finished the course which started in London, headed west to Bristol, then north to Edinburgh before returning to London.

Etcetera: ‘The Motor Car – One Thousand Mile Trial in England’…

From ‘The Brisbane Courier’ (Australia) Saturday 4 August 1900.

It’s very interesting to read this article, published in Australia but clearly written by a journalist on-the-spot in Britain – by whom I know not. Of historic interest are the observations about the evolution from horses and horse-drawn vehicles to motorcars.

‘…The principal object of the organisers was to prove what it was considered the people of this country need to be to be taught-that the motor car is, even in its present state of development, a serious and trustworthy means of locomotion; not a toy dangerous and troublesome alike to the public and its owner, but a vehicle under as perfect control as a Bath chair, capable of accompanying long journeys in all weathers and over every kind of road with ease and safety, destined to take its place with the train and bicycle as a common object of daily life, and as superior to them, in many respects, as they are superior to the horse and cart. In so far as any demonstration ever brings conviction to indifferent or hostile minds the tour must be considered amply to have achieved its object’.

‘The trial, in fact, from the point of view of those who have taken part in it, has been entirely satisfactory. It is a considerable achievement for fifty new-fangled vehicles to have travelled nearly 1100 miles in eleven days through a densely-populated country at a speed seldom, if ever, below the legal limit, with no incident more untoward than the deaths of one dog and one unmanageable horse, whose leg, coming in contact with a passing car, received such injuries that he had to be destroyed’.

‘The mechanical results of the trial have been very much what they were expected to be. That is to say, the established type of machine has proved itself entirely trustworthy, and between the Daimler, Napier, and Panhard motors there has been, in the matter of “staying power,” practically nothing to choose. Of the cars which entered, only four were driven by any other motive power than petroleum spirit.

Among the large machines the more prominent have been the Hon. C. S. Rolls’ racing 12 horse-power Panhard, the 12 horse-power Daimlers owned by the Hon. John Scott-Montagu, M.P., Mr. J. R. Hargreaves, and Mr. J. A. Holder, and Mr. E. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier. In the 6 horse-power class the Daimlers and Panhards have been well represented, and with regard to these it may be said that, apart from special racing machines, the English-built cars have shown themselves to be at least as good as the French, and most people admit that the English workmanship is the better of the two. But it is a regrettable fact that English manufacturers still have to go to France for some of the most essential parts. Our spring and axle builders do not yet appreciate the opening that lies before them.’


‘The results of the hill-climbing trials, when published, will prove a better means than any other for comparing the respective merits of the cars from the purchaser’s point of view. To speak generally, the best cars of each class climbed astonishingly well, though there were probably few drivers who had no moments of anxiety on the way from Kendal to Carlisle. The condition of the roads on three out of the four test hills was fortunately good. Indeed, the roads throughout, with the exception of that between Manchester and Preston, which was execrable, have been in a satisfactory state of repair, though often muddy and greasy. There can be no doubt that, if the road authorities were provided out of the rates with solid-tired motor cars instead of horses and traps, the immediate improvement in the roads would be so great as to be well worth the increased cost of the vehicle.’

‘Speed pure and simple is in this country a secondary consideration, but, by way of fully testing all the powers of the cars, an optional trial of speed was carried out on Friday in Welbeck Park. The following speeds were attained by the fastest cars:  Min. Sec. The Hon. C. S. Rolls’s 12 horse-power Panhard . 1 35 3-5 Mr. Ed. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier and Mr. Mark Mayhew’s 8 horse-power Panhard . 2 1 3-5 The Ariel Motor Company’s tricycle, with trailer . 2 2 1-5 Mr. T. A. Holder’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 17 1-5  The Hon. John Scott-Montagu’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 18. The distance was one mile, with flying start and the figures given are the mean of one run over the course in each direction. The road, which had slight gradients, was in good condition.’

‘If I were asked what had chiefly impressed me in the course of this journey of 1000 miles, I should say that it was the certainty that the next few years will see an enormous increase in the use of motor cars. The new method of locomotion has been taken seriously, and the friendly interest in it displayed by the thousands who have witnessed this trial will greatly facilitate its progress. At present good motor cars are somewhat expensive and difficult to procure at a moment’s notice. They also require for their maintenance in working order the services of a professional driver or of a mechanically-minded amateur. But these are difficulties which competition, the first place, and familiarity, in the second, will speedily overcome. There are in the country at this moment far more motor cars than might be supposed-the indifference to them of the horses in many districts, is already very remarkable and it is impossible to believe that, so soon as they become cheaper, their numbers will not largely increase.’



Science and Society Picture Library, Getty Images, The Brisbane Courier


Unfortunately none of these shots Getty captions indicate the exact locale. A bumma.


stan 2

Stan Jones wins the 1954 Victoria Trophy at Fishermans Bend in his shortlived, brand new Maybach 2, 21 March 1954…

Regular readers may recall the feature on Stan, Alan’s dad and a champion in his own right a while back. There are not many photos of Maybach 2 as it was only raced briefly before Stanley comprehensively destroyed it after a chassis weld failure, at the ’54 AGP at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Jones raced Maybach 2 at Easter Bathurst, then Altona, Victoria on May 2 and at Fishermans Bend in October before that fateful November weekend. Still, he was lucky not to lose his life in the high speed trip backwards through the Southport scrub and trees.

The beauty of these online blogs is that you can continually update them as you find new shots, this set are so good I thought it worth a fresh post.

davo HWM Jag

Davison in his new HWM Jag (VHRR Archive)

Maybach wasn’t ready for the Victoria Trophy preliminary on Saturday, but contested the 64 mile feature event on the airfield circuit in Melbourne’s inner west.

He took the lead from Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar before the first corner. Davos’ original intention was to fit the HWM with the engine from his Alfa Romeo P3, the complexities of that undertaking with the straight-eight, supercharged engines central power take-off were immense! He therefore fitted the HWM with a Jaguar engine topped by a C-Type head, the car was victorious at Southport in November winning the first of Davison’s four AGPs.

It was Jones’ Victorian Trophy though, he lapped the field, leading Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol over the line by three miles.

jack brabham

Davison #3 HWM Jag, Ted Gray #8 Alta Ford V8 and Brabham’s obscured Cooper T23 Bristol. Fishermans Bend 1954 (VHRR Archive)

jb and art wylie

Arthur Wylie in the Wylie Javelin ahead of Brabham’s Cooper Bristol. Victorian Trophy 1954 (VHRR Archive)

sil massola HRG

Silvio Massola’s HRG, Fishermans Bend 1954 (unattributed)


(The Age)

Stan won in 1953 too.

Here he is, two happy chaps Ern Seeliger at left, again at Fishos, on this occasion Ern had prepared Maybach. But he was also a racer as well as an engineer, famously adapting Maybach 3 to accept a Chev V8 creating, you guessed it, Maybach 4.

A very talented man, little has been written about him and the products of his Richmond workshop, a great future topic.

Photo Credits…

Victorian Historic Racing Register archive


Alan Bruce poses in the UK on Leaping Lena : Brough Superior J.A.P 1000

Bob King looks at this record and the man who achieved it – Alan Bruce.

To this motor racing historian, motorcycle records were a peripheral issue, at least until I heard Alan Bruce’s story.

Let us start at the finish with an excerpt from the London Daily Mail May 4, 1932:

RECORD BREAKING IN HUNGARY, Alan Bruce, riding the J.A.P. 1000 c.c. machine on which he attained a speed of 200kmh on the Tat road near Budapest, April 30, 1932.

Alan Bruce is the first Australian to hold an officially recognized, WORLD LAND SPEED RECORD, the streamlining is noteworthy.   This reads as a photo caption.

 Another report, this time possibly from an Australian source, is headed:

AUSTRALIA “Knocks it for Six”, Alan Bruce on his now famous “Leaping Lena”, Sidecar outfit at Tat near Budapest, successfully attacked the Worlds (sic) Record for the two-way flying kilometre. His time, 17.88sec, is an average speed of 200.220 kmh, equal to 124.41 mph.

“The Motorcycle”, in another report noted that it improved on the “German figure by 6 mph”. The mention of ‘German Records’ hints at mounting tensions in Europe, which, to a certain extent, would be played out on race tracks and through record breaking.

Records like this do not happen by chance, but are usually preceded by months and possibly years of planning with the expectation that there will be set-backs.  The unusual venue indicates the seriousness of this attempt. At that time the Tát road was thought to be the only suitable stretch of road for record breaking in the whole of Europe. Google maps suggests that the likely venue is a straight stretch of road that runs with no crossroads for approximately 8 kms north-east from Tat to Nyergesüjfal; it borders wide stretches of the Danube and is now known as Route 10, or locally as Kossuth Lajos U.

The team: Keith Horton, Alan Bruce, Phil Irving and Arthur Simcock

Most of my information on ‘Leaping Lena’ comes from Phil Irving’s Autobiography, 1992 (Turton and Armstrong). Phil Irving and Alan Bruce, who were of a similar age, had met at Stillwell and Parry’s in Elizabeth St. Melbourne, where Alan had been tuning racing machines. They shared a passion for motorcycles, particularly AJS, and had a continued friendship for the rest of their lives. Between them they cobbled up an overhead camshaft for an AJS, which was not particularly successful.

It is said that Alan got the notion of setting a Land Speed Record when he saw Paul Anderson take local records on Sellicks Beach, South Australia, in 1925. By 1926 Alan had done a lot of record breaking including the sidecar record for 350 c.c. machines on Bakers Beach in Tasmania. He also set the sidecar record from Hobart to Launceston; his speed exceeded the existing solo record.

By 1930 Alan had found success on the English speedways with a Rudge to which he had added his own modifications to the frame and forks. That year Phil arrived in England as Victorian 350c.c. Sidecar Champion. In 1931 they got together and cooked up a plot to break existing solo and sidecar world records – an ambitious plan for a couple of under-funded Australian battlers. They were joined by Arthur Simcock who was able to bring some Shell sponsorship. He was to ride solo, with Alan on the outfit. Although it was not his core skill, Phil was inveigled into designing a streamlined shell for the bike. The design was an attractive and unusual example of form meets function achieved without access to a wind tunnel. The front of the rig was not faired to avoid the adverse effects of crosswinds; the engine and sidecar were enclosed and the tail of the bike was shaped so that the rider’s backside was encased in a bucket seat.  Eatons of Euston Road were tasked with beating up the shell; they formed the cowling over Arthur Simcock’s helmet. Phil’s involvement was confined to London; he did not go to Hungary.

The chosen machine was a Brough Superior SS100 with a J.A.P. V twin of 996 c.c., supercharged with a Powerplus blower. Alan assembled the power plant meticulously, but did not dyno-test it as its expected 100bhp exceeded the capacity of J.A.P.’s dynamometer. Phil already had a grasp of exhaust tuning; opting for short stubs finishing inside the fairing to avoid loss of charge down a long pipe. Theirs was a private venture with some trade support in the shape of parts as well as Shell fuel and lubricants; quite different from the Reichsmarks being spent elsewhere.

Their first visit to Hungary was in April 1931. Records were to be set on the average speed over the measured kilometre in two directions. After Arthur achieved a two-way average of 143 mph (229 kph) his attempt failed when a piston partially seized on a further run and the venture was abandoned until the following year. One can imagine their disappointment after traipsing all the way to Hungary.

Back in the UK, Phil and the team had other things to concern them, as they were also preparing a number of bikes for the forthcoming Isle of Man TT. In 1932 they trundled off to Hungary again with the bike on a truck. This time the record attempt went off without a hitch until Alan aviated the bike at near his maximum of 135 mph causing him to shut off. He then thumped a railway crossing, not realising he had passed the finish timing strip.

Not being across motorcycle records, this bit of Aussie fame had escaped my notice; at least until about 1983 when I had as a patient in my medical practice Alan Bruce’s middle-aged daughter. She told me of her record -breaking father whom she had not seen since before the war. He was shortly to come home for his eightieth birthday and she would like us to meet.

This culminated in a visit from Alan to see my cars and with me attending his birthday party which was also attended by Phil Irving and numerous elderly gentlemen, most of whom had pronounced limps. Alan entertained me with stories of his successful career on European tracks and was justifiably proud of is world land speed record. Seeing my Bugatti, he told me how he had been given a lift from Budapest to Tat for the record attempt with Swiss racing driver Armand Hug in his supercharged eight-cylinder Bugatti; Hug was also after some records. The whole journey was taken flat-out, including through villages, scattering chickens etc. in their wake. Among other achievements, Alan had designed a banking side-car for racing outfits on cinders which was a considerable improvement over Freddie Dixon’s pioneering eight-year-old design. The reason he had stayed overseas after the war was that he had joined the occupation forces in Germany, remaining there after marrying a German fräulein.

Alan’s final word on his record attempt: “Yes, it felt fast alright”.

Alan Bruce, his wife, Erwin Tragatsch, a German Bugatti authority, and Bruce’ son. East Germany in the mid 1980s (B King Collection)


The mention of Ernst Henne in regard to land speed records brought to mind an interesting anecdote told to me by my late, lamented friend Lucien Chabaud.

Lucien had spent his teen years in the Vaucluse, Provence. During the war he and his mates shared a racing Terrot motorcycle that they would start up from time to time, according to the availability of dope with which to fuel it.

One day they were playing with the Terrot in the main street of Orange; Avenue de l’Arc de Triomphr on Route National Sept. Their play was interrupted by the arrival of an imposing German staff car. A German officer stepped down, studied the bike, and asked if he could try it out. Moments later he was streaking up the highway, rounding the triumphal arch at an impressive speed: shortly after reappearing, still flat-strap.

Next day a German army truck arrived and a 200-litre drum of aviation fuel was unloaded, to which was attached a note reading: “Merci, Henne”. At that time Henne was the holder of the World Land Speed Record for a motorcycles at 279.5kph – set in 1937, the record was not broken for another 14 years.


On location in Tat, Hungary, in Solo format, probably Arthur Simcock.

Sydney ‘Referee’ June 8, 1932
(B King Collection)

‘Fan-card’ shot shows the canted speedway sidecar.


Bob King, The Vintagent, Moto Revue Jan-March 1933


(Hockenheim Museum Archive)

Stylised machine is a blend of 1930 OEC-Temple-Jap record breaker and the bodywork of Leaping Lena.


Stunning Baskerville shot of James Golding late January during one of several demos done by the two GRM cars that weekend (Daniel Kalisz)

The announcement of the Tasman Cup being resurrected awarded to the winner of seven S5000 races at Bathurst and Surfers Paradise this November-December is fantastic news for Australian single seater fans.

The plan is a true Tasman, with races for the Ligier JS3-S5000 Ford chassis’ on both sides of The Ditch (Tasman Sea) next year, creating a series of races in New Zealand and Australia eagerly contested and watched in the sixties and seventies.

5.2-litre, 560bhp Ford Coyote DOHC, four-valve, injected V8 – chassis Ligier JS3-S5000 (S5000)
Cooper Webster at Phillip Island, won one of the three races there in mid March (S5000)

The new S5000, one make cars made their race debut at Sandown Park in late 2019, with the first Gold Star plans in 2020 scuttled by the dreaded Covid 19. This year Joey Mawson won the much coveted award in a closely contested series comprising 12 races at four circuits between January-April; Phillip Island, Symmons Plains, Sandown Park and Sydney Motorsport Park.

The Tasman plans build on that great start.

Readers of primotipo will be familiar with the Tasman Cup. Bruce McLaren won the first in 1964 racing a 2.5-litre Cooper T70 Climax, the last was taken by Warwick Brown in 1975 – his mount was a Lola T332 Chev F5000.

Phillip Island (S5000)
Phillip Island; Tim Macrow from Nathan Hearne and James Golding (S5000)

In 1976 we went our separate ways with F5000 series, if it was in any doubt the fate of the great championship was settled in 1977 when the NZers went Formula Pacific, while Australia remained the last bastion of Formula 5000 until the early eighties.

History suggests the Kiwis got it right.

Time to plan a trip to the Goldie, hmm, think I’ll stay in Byron and drive up each day…Hop to it folks, let’s get behind these fantastic home-grown racing cars.

Braydan Willmington during his solo Mount Panorama data gathering laps in April. The earth will move with a grid full of these missiles soon. Maxi-taxis lookout (S5000)
Nathan Hearne with a unique Bass Straight backdrop. Phillip Island (S5000)
(M Bisset)

And yep, I know the cars have been named Rogers AF1s recently but I am not fussed. They are Ligier JS3-S5000s according to the chassis plates and were called that for the first 3 years of their lives. The Rogers name ignores the IP in the cars which is primarily that of Chris Lambden, Mike Borland and Onroak-Ligier. Bless the Rogers’ money and commitment but the name horse well and truly bolted years ago.

See here for a piece on the cars; Progress… | primotipo…

Symmons I think, with Tim Macrow front and centre. He finished second in the Gold Star in Chris Lambden’s Ligier JS3-S5000 chassis #1. Done heaps of kays this baby, not that it affects its pace! (S5000)


Daniel Kalisz, S5000 website and Facebook page


Braydan Willmington at Bathurst in April (S5000)


Rupert Steele explores the limits of his Bentley in the ample confines of Fishermans Bend (JP Read/VSCC Vic Collection)

Sir Rupert Steele was a pillar of the Melbourne sporting and business establishment throughout the 1960-1980s.

With a period typical sense of duty he served in World War 2, including a year as a POW in the Stalag Luft III camp, in Sagan, Lower Silesia (now Poland) after the Lancaster in which he was a bomb-aimer was shot down over Germany.

Before he discovered thoroughbred racing, he was a racing driver of some ability despite few competition miles.

He took over his father’s 1937 Bentley and was soon competing in the heavy, 4.25-litre six-cylinder, pushrod, twin-SU 120bhp sedan; he was timed at 90.8mph in a 1940 Cowes Speed Trial.

Post-war – still with the cars Martin & King body fitted – he won the Light Car Club’s Peninsula Trial in 1947 overall, and the Boneo Hillclimb within that event. In 1948 he contested the Light Car Club’s Mountain Trial and a Rob Roy Hillclimb.

Rupert Steele after battle at Fishermans Bend (JP Read/VSCC Vic Collection)
Fishermans Bend is the name these days! (Motor Manual Annual)

His serious intent was made clear when he had the Bentley body removed during a Rob Roy Hillclimb weekend in 1949. He competed body-on during the Saturday runs, and raced without it on the Tuesday Melbourne Cup Day! This work was performed by Allan Ashton at one of the most prominent race-preparation ‘shops of the day; AF Hollins in High Street, Armadale, Melbourne.

He raced the Bentley only once, on the occasion shown at Fishermans Bend, in Melbourne’s inner-west, in 1949. It was then game on; he purchased the Alfa Romeo Monza chassis # 2211134 previously raced by great Aussie Ace, Alf Barrett, who was retiring, this car was also prepared by Ashton and his crew.

“Everything was less serious in those days of course. Rupert Steele recalled that despite the lack of racing opportunities he put in quite a bit of practice driving in the Monza on outer Melbourne public roads, for example, driving from Dandenong to Beaconsfield and back at five in the morning.” he told great Australian race-historian Graham Howard.

Super rare shot of Steele in the Alfa Romeo Monza at Rob Roy, Melbourne Cup Day meeting, November 1949. His first three runs got better and better but the fourth was a bit more exciting for he and spectators after a lose up from the Spillway (Tony Johns Collection)
Steele in the Alfa Romeo Monza at Nuriootpa during the 1950 AGP, a most impressive performance from a novice in a demanding GP machine. A pity he retired so early (John Blanden Collection)

Despite his inexperience, he gave Doug Whiteford and his Ford V8 Special, Black Bess, a serious run for their money in the 1950 Australian Grand Prix run on the Nuriootpa roads in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. This event is covered here; 1950 Australian Grand Prix: Nuriootpa, South Australia… | primotipo…

The Bentley lived to fight another day, after the meeting shown its standard body was refitted, so equipped Rupert went into battle with the similarly equipped matrons on the Toorak, South Yarra and Armadale roads.

Rupert Steele was born circa 1921 and died in August 2000. His life of achievement included directorships of some large corporates including Carlton and United Breweries, he was Chairman of the Victorian Racing Club from 1978-1983 and knighted in 1980.


(Darren Overend Collection)

Bentley chassis B 28 GA “Brand new in Toorak, immediately after importation by Cyril Steele, Rupert’s dad, before being bodied by Martin and King in High Street, Armadale for the 1937 Melbourne Motor Show,” current owner Darren Overend writes.

“The driver is the Steele chaffeur, Arthur Jackson, who was drowned with Cyril in a boating accident (believed the boat capsized in stormy weather) on Port Phillip Bay near the Heads” (the treacherous, narrow entrance of the Bay and Bass Strait – the ocean).

‘Bentley Specials & Special Bentleys’ Ray Roberts (Johns Collection)
(Darren Overend)

Sir Rupert Steele with his old Bentley, looking a little different than it did in his days with it as a racer, Toorak 1995.


JP Read photographer-VSCC Victoria Collection, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, John Blanden Collection, 1950-51 Motor Manual Australian Motor Racing Yearbook, Tony Johns Collection, Darren Overend Collection


(JP Read/VSCC Vic Collection)

That imposing radiator ranging up behind would have scared the lesser ranks into submission, surely! Bentley sedan looks mighty fine as a sports-racer. While it looks the part, mechanicals were standard. Fishermans Bend 1949.


(Motor Manual Annual)


(VSCC Vic Collection)

Sandown, 25km from Melbourne, in the south eastern suburb of Springvale was first used for horse racing in the late nineteenth century, but closed in the 1930s.

Resuscitation commenced post World War 2 when the Victorian Amateur Turf Club planned and built a facility for horse racing, the donkeys galloped for the first time in the modern era in 1965. The dish-lickers (greyhounds) were catered for within the complex too, happy days. You have not lived until yerv’ had a night at the doggies, once will do mind you.

Fortunately the VATC allowed the Light Car Club of Australia to build a race track as well. The feature race of the first open meeting was the Sandown International Cup in March 1962; fittingly, Jack Brabham won in his Cooper T55 Climax.

With the Sword of Damocles hovering near, if not over a track so dear to many of us, it makes me a bit misty eyed to see this early shot of two-thirds of the circuit, and the design schematic below.

It’s undated, but let’s guess 1960 as an approximation.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The original circuit map below – upside down deliberately, I’ve not imbibed any more giggle-juice than usual – allows an easy view of the differences between the draft above, and the track as used in the first phase of its long life until 1984; these are fundamentally a left-right kink on the way to Dandy Road, and the high speed right-left blast across the Causeway and under Dunlop Bridge.

At the height of the Tasman Cup there was an important bit of commerce to be conducted every year; the assemblage of a great field of cars and the fees to be paid to them by the seven or eight car clubs which owned or leased the tracks upon which the aces raced.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The negotiations were led by Geoff Sykes (Warwick Farm) and Motor Sport New Zealand’s Ron Frost, on behalf of the Kiwi circuits.

This July 1967 letter (above) from Frost to his buddies in Australia, in this case to the LCCA, is an update on how things were looking. Hopefully you can read his progress on BRM, Ferrari, Lotus and the rest.

Ultimately BRM brought a team comprising the new Len Terry designed and built V12 P126, and old favourite, the V8 engined P261. Drivers were Bruce McLaren (NZ only), Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood. Jim Clark triumphed in a 2.5-litre Cosworth DFW engined Lotus 49.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Winding back the clock four decades, checkout the table-card for the ‘Smoke Social’ to hand out the prizes for the 1929 200 Mile Road Race (aka the 1929 AGP) held at Phillip Island – which the Victorian Light Car Club organised and promoted – that March.

VLCC committee man, Arthur Terdich won the race aboard a Bugatti Type 37A, and is the subject of the caricature. A significant part of the VSCC Collection is the Terdich Archive, this is Arthur’s own card from a very special night.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

The Poms have their London-Brighton veteran car run each November, the LCCA had their own Melbourne to Brighton event in the 1930s. I wonder when it ceased to be held, or if once was enough?

(VSCC Vic Collection)


Vintage Sports Car Club (Victoria) Collection


I’ve occasionally wondered what a Competition Licence looked like in ye olden days. Here is that of Forbes Tough for the 1939 calendar year.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)


(B Thomas)

Kevin Bartlett delicately slides his way around Lakeside’s Eastern Loop during the 13 February 1967 ‘Lakeside 99’ Tasman round, Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5 FPF…

KB posted it on his Facebook page and unsurprisingly cites it as one of his favourite photos of the Alec Mildren owned car which was particularly kind to him. You might say it was the chassis in which he made his name at the top level, if not the car which won him titles.

That weekend he was fifth, second of the Climax engined cars home, and first Australian resident behind his teammate Frank Gardner who raced an F2 based Brabham BT16 FPF to third. Jim Clark won from Jack Brabham in Lotus 33 Climax FWMV V8 2 litre and Brabham BT23A Repco V8 ‘640’ 2.5, with Denny Hulme fourth in another Repco engined Brabham, a BT22.

Clark and Stewart tussled early but both P261 BRM’s driven by the Scot, and Piers Courage were outted by transmission failures, the bete-noire of the BRMs that Tasman squeezed to 2.1-litres as the little V8’s were.

In part the beauty of the shot is the bucolic background, devoid as it is of signage and spectators or their cars- it’s practice no doubt.

I’ve waxed lyrical about Bartlett’s skills here in the Mildren Alfa’s,, here in the McLaren M10B, and perhaps most relevantly here about the Brabham BT11A,


Brier Thomas perhaps, none of us are sure. Bruce Wells, Warwick Farm Facebook page


(B Wells)

In similar fashion to the shot above but a week later at Warwick Farm’s Esses during the AGP weekend. Sixth in that  race was a great result for the Sydneysider with a broken front roll bar and a gear-lever sans knob. Stewart’s BRM P261 won from Clark and Gardner.

Postscript: The Maestro didn’t always geddit right…


Warwick Farm 1967 Tasman round practice- magic car and driver.


Bryan Falloon’s Rorstan Mk1a Porsche at rest in the Pukekohe paddock during the 1972 New Zealand Grand Prix weekend.

I’ve written about this rare car, built by Bob Britton at Rennmax Engineering in Sydney on his Brabham BT23 jig in early 1968. The story of the car is here, including poor Bryan’s demise on this Pukekohe weekend;

The rare colour photograph was too good to simply add to the existing piece.

By 1972 this 1967 spaceframe design – a modified F2 car was an old-clunker among the latest F5000s which made up the bulk of the field. But the impecunious Ian Rorstan / Bryan Falloon combination were having-a-crack.

The car was powered by a Porsche Type 771 twin-cam, two-valve, flat-eight. The design started as a 1962 1.5-litre F1 engine fitted to the Type 804. Engines grew to 2-litres – and here 2.2-litres, as measured by Alan Hamilton – for Porsche 907 sports-prototype use later in the sixties.

Incredibly complex in terms of bevel-drive operation of the camshafts and auxiliaries – Hamilton advises that the factory allowed 240 hours for the assembly of each engine – Rorstan bought the engine off Porsche Cars Australia when looking for a replacement for the geriatric Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF which powered the machine before.

The engine looks bulky and heavy, it is not – of magnesium and aluminium construction, it’s light. The disposition of horizontally opposed cylinders pops the weight nice and low too. The vertically mounted Bosch high-pressure fuel injection pump – driven off the inlet cam – and fuel metering unit add to the impression of size. Inboard of that, hidden, are eight-inlet trumpets.

Note the throttle linkage and small wing – given its shallow shape and chord, you wonder how much downforce was generated.

I’m intrigued to know exactly how Britton mated the engine and chassis, critical of course. Clearly, from the way he has strengthened the roll bar area, by bracing it down into the cockpit, the top horizontal mount heading aft is important.

More questions than answers of course, my curiosity about this car is at least partially stated!

Porsche 771 cutaway, yes it’s wonky, best I could find. Note, inter alia, the bevel-drive to the cams


Bill Mason