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

Ian Mountain and his mates with his self-built, very clever IKM Peugeot Special on the AGP grid at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast, November 7, 1954.

Ian gives the photographer a big grin, it’s none other than champion racer Reg Hunt, who is sharing his previously unpublished shots with us via his friend and confidant, Melbourne enthusiast/historian David Zeunert.

The young Montclair Avenue, Gardenvale (now Brighton) engineer first came to prominence racing the MYF (Mountain Young Ford) Special he built together with fellow Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology civil engineering student, Bruce Young.

In the finest traditions of the day, this Ford 4.2 litre V8 two-seater provided day to day transport and a multi-purpose racer including a mount for the 1952 AGP at Mount Panorama. Up front Doug Whiteford won in his Talbot-Lago T26C, while Ian retired after 24 of the 38 laps.

Ian awaits the off in the MYF Ford Spl at Rob Roy circa 1952 (L Hatch)

 

IKM Spl. Chassis, engine and suspension detail as per text (AMS)

Despite his training, Ian was up to his armpits in all things automotive. He was employed as a Peugeot salesman by Canada Cycle and Motor Co in Latrobe Street, Melbourne. It was to them he turned for components for his next car, the IKM (Ian Keith Mountain) Peugeot Special.

The machine’s chassis was of typical ladder frame type, longerons were of 16 gauge 2 3/4 inches diameter steel tube with four cross members – one at the front, one behind the engine then two at the back, in front of and behind the final drive unit.

Front suspension used Peugeot 203 transverse front springs and stub axles with fabricated top wishbones and telescopic shocks. Steering was 203 rack and pinion, as was the steering wheel.

Rear suspension was de Dion. The bowed tube picked up the hub-carriers and a 1946 Ford V8 diff housing mounted on the frame. This had specially cast side-plates with Dodge pot-type universal joints at each end of the driveshafts. Semi-elliptic springs, radius rods and telescopic shocks completed the package.

The hydraulic brakes use MG TC backplates and shoes with Alfin drums. The wheels were Holden FJ ‘laced’ onto ‘TC hubs- 5 inches x15 in front and 5.5 x 15 at the back, whilst the heart of the matter was a modified 203 crossflow engine.

IKM engine and front suspension. Peugeot suspension and steering components with fabricated top wishbones, MG TC/Alfin brakes. Peugeot engine 1490cc- 80.5mm bore and 73mm stroke, big Wade blower and SU carb (AMS)

 

IKM ally fuel tank and rear suspension detail- de Dion tube, radius rod and shock mount (AMS)

The standard Peugeot four-cylinder OHV 1290cc unit was bored to 1490cc using custom made Rolloy pistons and sleeves. A big Wade R020 blower fed by a 55mm SU carb giving about 6 pounds of boost was mounted on a frame ahead of the front suspension and chain-driven from the front of the crank. Extractors were fabricated, a Scintilla Vertex magneto gave the sparks, Peugeot provided a competition fuel pump and exhaust valves. Inlets and valve springs were standard but the valve gear was lightened and polished as were the rods and crankshaft before balancing. The compression ratio was 6:1.

The engine was mounted to the left in the frame to allow a driveline left of centre and therefore a nice, low seating position. An MG TC gearbox mated to the bellhousing easily, 22 gallons of fuel were carried in a rear mounted tank.

Neil Coleman’s ‘shop in North Melbourne built the light aluminium body with the light, low purposeful car beautifully built and finished. IKM weighed 9cwt, had a wheelbase of 7′ 6″, front track of 4′ 2″ and a rear track of 4’, ‘so the car is not really a small one, belying its looks’ AMS reported.

After testing in the quiet(!) of the Geelong Road Ian ran the machine at the Beveridge and Templestowe Hillclimbs in chassis form, and then at Fisherman’s Bend with its body fitted. He finished two races despite fuel feed problems caused by shortcomings in the manifold design.

Ian married Laurel Duguid in the Scotch College Chapel at Hawthorn on November 2, 1954 then the couple set off for Southport and the 1954 AGP, what a honeymoon! Lex Davison won in his HWM Jaguar with the IKM retiring after 11 laps. Ian’s radiator drain tap was opened slightly by vibration of the body panels which allowed the water to escape, the travails of new cars.

Peugeot 203 and IKM Spl ready for the long Melbourne-Gold Coast November 1954 AGP trip, Gardenvale to Southport is 1,725km each way (L Hatch)

 

Ian looking around for his crew at Gnoo Blas, long, low lines of the innovative IKM Pug clear (K Devine)

After a relaxing Port Phillip Bay Christmas/New Year the newlyweds set off from Melbourne for the South Pacific Trophy at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales over the January 31, 1955 weekend.

Australia’s first FIA listed international meeting featured the Ferrari 500/625s of Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze, Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol, Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 and Bira’s Maserati 250F and Osca V12 amongst others.

Two cars in Connaghan’s Corner after the right-hand Mrs Mutton’s Corner and then the downhill The Dip. Ian has lost adhesion and left the circuit on the outside, his crashed car is visible with officials well away on the left as, perhaps, the South Pacific Trophy takes place. Superb, rare angle of this section of this road circuit whilst noting the sad scene Reg Hunt reveals

 

Sadly, oil which spewed from Bira’s Osca V12 probably led to the awful accident which cost 25 year old Ian and a young spectator in a prohibited area their lives on the fast, downhill run out of Connaghan’s Corner, see here for a feature on this meeting; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/09/1955-south-pacific-championship-gnoo-blas/

Reg Hunt’s Maserati A6GCM 2.5 litre was entered for the meeting but necessary spares were late arriving from Italy so he prowled the circuit with his camera instead.

Laurel remarried in 1960, the IKM remains passed to Ian’s brother Ken who later sold them to Harry Firth. Ian Tate, who admired the car in the day, later acquired it and is in the gradual process of restoration.

Path of the car clear through the fence from the previous shot from up the hill towards Connaghan’s Corner.

Whilst components off the crashed machine have been placed on the wreck and in the cockpit the barbed wire fence, wrapped around IKM Spl, which provided some of Ian’s fatal wounds is clear. When the worst happened on those tracks in those days, lady luck either was, or was not present. Unseen by Ian that day sadly

Stunning, most significant photographs, many thanks Reg, David.

Credits…

Australian Motor Sports, December 1954, ‘Ian Mountain: Potential Unfulfilled’ Paul Watson, Reg Hunt photographs via David Zeunert Archive, Ken Devine Collection, Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club

Finito…

(B Henderson)

Peter Macrow, McLaren M4A Ford FVA leads Kevin Bartlett, Mildren Alfa Romeo 1.6 four-valve, Glynn Scott, Bowin P3 Ford FVA and Brian Page, Brabham BT2 Ford twin-cam, across The Causeway at Warwick Farm on 8 September 1968.

24,000 people were at the ‘farm that Sunday, Pete Geoghegan delivered to expectations by winning the one race, 34 lap, 76 miles Australian Touring Car Championship from Darrel King’s Cooper S and Alan Hamilton’s just ‘orf the boat Porsche 911S/T. Peter Wherrett’s ‘Racing Car News’ race report reveals one of the best tussles of the day was the 15 lapper for racing cars.

The Four Valve Assemblage was not quite complete, the fourth member of the growing group of 1.6 litre Euro F2 cars in Australia, Niel Allen, didn’t race his ex-Piers Courage McLaren M4A FVA. A bumma, because that would have added to the show.

KB settles himself into the Mildren Alfa, note spoilers, ‘new.uw’ is local 2UW radio station (B Henderson)

 

Lovely portrait of Glynn Scott, Niel Allen is telling Glynn how much more expensive the FVA is to maintain compared with the 5 litre Chev in his Elfin 400…(B Henderson)

Macrow was the ‘newbie’ to the front rank having shown great form in Tony Osborne’s Argo Chev sportscar since taking over its wheel early in the year after Ian Cook accepted Bob Jane’s offer to drive his Elfin 400 Repco and crossed town from Brunswick to East Malvern.

Osborne realised that the limits of the Cooper T53 based Argo had been reached, and acquired Kiwi, Jim Palmer’s McLaren M4A after Allen beat him to the punch to buy Courage’s quick 1968 Tasman mount. Palmer’s car was Bruce McLaren’s own machine, chassis ‘M4A-1’, the first of the breed raced by the chief throughout the 1967 European F2 Championship. Piers was ‘well represented’ on this grid, Glynn Scott’s motor was Courage’ Tasman Cup spare.

Kevin Bartlett was the ace present, but the Mildren Alfa, built on Bob Britton/Rennmax Engineering’s Brabham BT23 jig, was ‘spankers and unsorted. Mildrens dynoed the Alfa Romeo 1.6 litre, four-valve, Spica/Lucas injected engine at 197 bhp @ 8,500 rpm, whereas about 210/215 bhp was claimed for a decent FVA, so it promised to be a good race with Bartlett on pole from Macrow and Scott.

Mildren Alfa, KB. Copy Brabham BT23 spaceframe, Hewland FT200 5-speed transaxle. Alfa Romeo 1598 cc four-valve, alloy block, injected Euro F2 engine. At 280 pounds the Italian engine is lighter than a Lotus-Ford twin-cam? It sits taller in the frame? (B Henderson)

 

Bartlett at the end of Pit Straight turning into Paddock (B Henderson)

 

(B Henderson)

Peter got the jump, which was impressive in Bartlett’s backyard, from KB and Glynn and then a gap to to the 1.5 litre cars led by Brian Page, Brabham BT2 Ford, Clive Millis, Elfin Mono Ford, Maurie Quincey, Elfin 600B Ford, Ray Cary, Elfin Ford and the rest.

On lap 2 KB had a crack at Macrow going into Creek but spun on oil on the inside of the track, KB recovered and chased Peter and Glynn in the spectacular tail-out style which was his hallmark. By lap 8 he was up Glynn’s clacker and passed him but further progress was impeded by the chassis undertray coming loose, Scott took back second place.

Scott chased Macrow hard but the Victorian held on to take the biggest win of his career to that point from Scott and Bartlett, Tony Osbornes’s Argo Racing Equipe delighted with a well earned victory.

Credits…

Bryan Henderson took all the wonderful photographs. ‘Racing Car News’ October 1968

Tailpiece…

(B Henderson)

Nice portrait of 28 years old Kevin Bartlett getting his head sorted on the Warwick Farm dummy grid before the off. It was a great year for the Sydneysider, he won his first Gold Star at the wheel of Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 V8.

This chassis did not use the Alfa engine for long, Max Stewart raced it from 1969 fitted with Waggott TC-4V 1600 cc, 1760 cc and 2 litre motors with great success.

Finito…

I’ve been lovin’ these S5000 retro F5000 digital imaging of the Ligier JS-F3 S5000 Ford chassis, its been a great way to keep S5000 in the public eye whilst we package up the Covid 19 Dim Sims and send them back to those Wet Market pricks in Choina so we get back to normality.

Finally, they’ve got to Bruce Allison, and what do they dish up? Not the worlds best rip-off of JPS black, but the poofhouse baby-blue hue applied to his Bill Patterson supported Chevron B37 Chev in the summer of ’78. W.T.F. dudes!?

Allison, Chevron B37 Chev, Surfers Paradise 1978, started from the front row but out after 40 laps with lost oil pressure. Brown won in a Lola T333/332 (S5000)

 

Satanic, sinfully sexy black ‘n gold pin-striped Lola T332 Chev @ ‘Torana’ Sandown circa 1976 (I Smith)

My tongue practically stuck to the grass, sick unit that i am, when i spotted Bruce’s favourite (sic) car, the ANF2 Bowin P6 Ford-Hart in the Surfers Paradise paddock so equipped in September 1973. His subsequent Birrana 274, Lola T332 and Ralt RT4 all got a squirt from the same paint can, gold stripes and all, and didn’t they look grouse! Maybe its comin’…

Anyway, its been a while since i had a Brucie Google and some good stuff popped up, shots of the 1978 Aurora British F1 Championship, he initially ran a RAM Racing March 751 Ford but copped a much better March 781 chassis mid-season and achieved some good results including a win at Mallory Park in July, holding out eventual champion, Tony Trimmer, in the process.

This one is rare as rocking horse shite, Allison in Mario Deliotti’s Ensign N175 Ford in practice, he didn’t start the Evening News Trophy at Brands on 27 March which is a pity as he qualified third behind Trimmer and Lees.

Tony Trimmer’s McLaren M23 won from Geoff Lees, Ensign N175 and Emilio Villota’s McLaren M25 Ford.

 

Oulton Park F1 Trophy, held on June 24, March 751 Ford, he qualified fourth and finished second behind Guy Edwards’ March 781 Ford.

 

These two are at Donington during the May 21 ‘Formula 1 Trophy’.

Practice shots, DNF without completing a lap, March 751 Ford, Giancarlo Martini won in a Ensign N175 Ford from Edwards’ March 781 and Bob Evans’ Surtees TS19 Ford.

 

At Mallory on 30 July Bruce put his new March to good use with Trimmer’s McLaren up his chuff for much of the 75 lap race, he finished ahead of Tony and teammate Guy Edwards in the other RAM 781.

Looks like the photographers all share a beer together at the hairpin, Allison from Trimmer.

 

The Brands Hatch Trophy was on August 28, the tenth round, Stephen South stirred things up by popping his March 782 Ford on pole, five cars failed to finish the first lap- South, Teddy Pilette’s BRM P207 (poor bastard), Adrian Russell’s March 762 Ford, Brett Riley’s similar car and Bruce, what happened folks?

The shot below is Bruce and Edwards’ 781s in practice.

 

The Budweiser Trophy at Snetterton on September 24 was the last round of the season, Emilio de Villota McLaren M23 was on pole from Bruce, David Kennedy won in the Theodore Racing Wolf WR3 Ford we saw him race in Australia, from Trimmer and Allison.

The shot below is Allison from Trimmer and one of the Hesketh 308Es.

The title was Trimmers, 50 points ahead of Bob Evans, De Villota, Edwards, Lees and Allison.

Etcetera…

(J Payne)

The first and last of the Allison black beauties.

At Amaroo Park in August 1973 in the ANF2 Bowin P6 Ford-Hart, the rising-rate suspension beauty was not his favourite car, out of the points that weekend, Bruce did far better with a Birrana 274 in 1974.

Having retired too young Allison did a Nellie Melba and contested the first season of Formula Pacific in this Ralt RT4 Ford BDA, winning the 1981 National Panasonic Series, this shot is at Calder in August, he was second and fifth in the two races.

(P Weaver)

Credits…

S5000, autopassion.net, MotorSport, Rich Harman, Ian Smith, Scuderia57, J Payne, Peter Weaver

Tailpiece…

(I Smith)

Love this shot, Bruce tipping the B37 into Shell at Sandown during the 1978 Rothmans round. Grid 5 but DNS with timing chain failure, Warwick Brown’s Lola T333/332 took both the round and the series.

The car did look great in this livery but nowhere near as good as it would have in Allison/JPS black ‘n gold!

Finito…

 

 

 

(Jones Family)

Greg McEwin’s Mac Healey towards the top of Collingrove Hillclimb, Barossa Valley, South Australia in 1958…

I first became aware of historic racing in the mid-seventies attending of the Sandown 400 touring car endurance race, the support program at that stage included some events for ‘Historics’, this was before the defining first all historic meeting at Amaroo Park in 1976.

Various cars are etched into my brain from those times including Bob Jane’s Jaguar D Type and Maserati 300S raced by Jim Shepherd and Harry Firth, the Leech brothers Maserati 300S and Cisitalia. At many of the historic meetings which followed Roger Wells’ Mac Healey was very much front of house for what seemed like decades. I’ve not seen it for a while, the late Alex Reid was the last owner I recall.

(Jones Family)

The car started its life in South Australia, ignoring its country of birth. It was one of a batch of 1954 Healeys bound for Adelaide from Melbourne but caught fire enroute. Peter De Mac bought the remains with the intention of creating a Jaguar powered special, but his friend, Greg McEwin, swapped the Healey 100 he was racing for the bundle of bits.

He decided to create a single-seater removing the front and rear bulkheads and outriggers leaving the central box-section of the chassis plus the front suspension components and the rear spring brackets. He and De Mac created a body from aluminium and fibreglass. Initially the mechanicals were left in standard specification but the engine and gearbox were moved back eleven inches.

The car made its competition  debut at Collingrove in 1955 painted a nice hue of mid-blue, progressively the machine was modified to enhance its competitiveness. The engine’s capacity was increased to just under 3 litres, the cylinder head was modified, larger 2 inch SU carbs and extractors were part of the package, as was a more suitable gearbox. After trying an Austin Gypsy four wheel drive unit and a Morris LD5, a four speed Austin A90 box was adopted for a while before being replaced by a Austin Champ 4WD transmission.

McEwin’s Mac Healey alongside Austin Miller’s Cooper Climax at Port Wakefield, circa 1958 (K Drage)

 

Front suspension detail at Collingrove (Jones Family)

McEwin eventually sold it, the car ended up in Sydney where it ran as a ‘Division’ car modified further by fitment of a Holden Grey motor, front discs and a four-speed MG gearbox.

Sydney Healey enthusiast Roger Wells acquired it in 1971, he popped it into storage before running it once or twice around 1974 and then started the process of restoring it to original specifications as the historic scene gained momentum. He competed regularly until 1988 when he sold it, Melbourne Healey man, Alex Reid was the purchaser  via another owner who didn’t use it.

Once Reid had a good look he realised Mac Healey needed another rebuild around replacement chassis rails. All of the existing hardware was removed, refurbished and refitted to the new chassis inclusive of incorporating a central front crossmember as originally fitted. The body was retained and tidied up, an Healey100S type box was used with the machine making its debut in 1998 driven by Graeme Marks, i’ve lost touch of the current owner?

Collingrove 1958 (Jones Family)

 

Roger Wells at Winton in 1982.

Credits…

Robert Jones via Steve Jones ‘Jones Family Archive’, Kevin Drage, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Finito…

(ANU)

Jack Burton aboard his Vauxhall 30-98 in the Gambier Ranges during his 2,889 mile drive across Australia, from Fremantle to Sydney between December 8-14 1923…

He and Bill Bradley were hoping to do the transcontinental journey in five days but a crash in a deep hole in Meningie necessitated repairs which cost the pair twelve hours of valuable time. They still bagged a new record of six days, 15 hours and 57 minutes, 39 hours less than the previous record and in so doing they also set new marks for Fremantle to Adelaide and Fremantle to Melbourne.

The reputation of these mighty Vauxhalls as robust, beautifully built machines was polished yet again, this car had already done over 40,000 miles in previous attempts.

‘Daily Telegraph’ 15 December 1923

Burton was the husband of famous Australian equestrian, Emma Roach, whilst based in Sydney they travelled the continent to agricultural shows where Roach plied her trade whilst Burton worked in car sales and as a motoring writer. Along the way he was involved in a number of record breaking drives in the pioneering days of motoring in this earliest branch of motorsport in Oz. See here for a feature on this important aspect of Australian motoring history; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/21/city-to-city-record-breaking-and-car-trials/

 

Hi-ho Silver, giddy-up (ANU)

Credits…

Sydney Daily Telegraph 15 December 1923, The Mercury, Hobart 15 December 1923, Dunlop, Australian National University

Tailpiece…

(ANU)

Finito…

Max Stewart awaits the start of the Gold Star race aboard his Mildren Waggott.

In the distance is the Harry-Flatters-In-Top-Gear entry to the right-hander under Dunlop Bridge- one of the most daunting corners in Oz motor racing, alongside (below) are John Harvey, Brabham BT23E Repco on the outside, and Niel Allen, McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

Kevin Bartlett was the race favourite but had problems in practice and as a consequence started from the back of the grid- his ex-Gardner Mildren Alfa 2.5 V8 was the class of the field in 1969 as the similarly engined Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT23D had been the year before.

Love these John Stanley shots, they have a sort of moody quality about them?

Glen Abbey is behind KB down in grid slot 10. Bartlett won the race from Max by 1.5 seconds, then Leo Geoghegan’s venerable Lotus 39 Repco, Allen’s McLaren, Glynn Scott in a Bowin P3 Ford FVA and Ian Fergusson in a Bowin P3A Lotus-Ford twin-cam.

KB won the Gold Sar comfortably from Leo and Max, taking three of the six rounds- Symmons Plains at the seasons outset, Surfers and the final round at Warwick Farm in early December.

The latter event was significant in the history of this chassis as at the Farm the Sub was fitted with the very first of Merv Waggott’s 2 litre TC-4V engines, winning upon debut. From that point the Sub was so equipped until its ANF2 phase with Ray Winter.

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

John Harvey on the hop in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco 830 V8, he was out with cam-follower failure after completing 38 laps.

Credits…

John Stanley

Tailpiece…

Finito…

Brands Hatch 27 Sept 1970 F5000 C’ship round. Gardner, Lola T190 Chev, Mike Walker, McLaren M10B Chev, Trevor Taylor, Lola T190 Chev, Graham McRae, McLaren M10B Chev. McRae won from Howden Ganley M10B and Mike Hailwood T190 (Autosport)

The answer is F1 of course, maybe the more interesting question is by how much. A warning this piece is strictly for the F5000 anoraks.

Some recent chatter amongst enthusiasts on the The Nostalgia Forum’s Ontario Raceway thread got me thinking about the relative speed of F1 and F5000 cars. The builder/promoters of the new Ontario facility ran an F1/F5000 race won by Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 312B in early 1971, see here; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/30/questor-grand-prix-ontario-speedway-1971/

In those far away days the ‘Race of Champions’ at Brands Hatch pitted the two categories together, the only occasion on which an F5000 car beat the Effwun jobbies ‘fair and square’ was in 1973 when Peter Gethin triumphed in a Chevron B24 Chev. The 1971 Italian GP winner was running third when Mike Hailwood’s leading Surtees TS14A Ford and Denny Hulme’s following McLaren M23 Ford F1 cars had mechanical troubles gifting Gethin the win. Peter had only qualified eighth though.

Its ‘raw speed’ i am more interested in.

 

Peter Gethin exits Druids on the way to his Brands Hatch ‘Race of Champions’ win in 1973, Chevron B24 Chev (MotorSport)

 

Peter awaits a new sparkbox, ROC weekend 1973 (MotorSport)

 

Brands first round of the 1974 Euro F5000 C’ship 16 March 1974. Peter Gethin on pole, Chevron B28 Chev alongside Brian Redman, Lola T332 Chev, then Guy Edwards in another T332 with Ian Ashley alongside in the yellow T330. Schuppan’s Trojan T101 and Steve Thompson’s Chevron B24 on the row behind. Gethin won from Mike Wilds’ March 74A Chev and Redman (Autosport)

During the peak years of the European and US F5000 championships both categories raced on some of the same tracks, viz; Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Zandvoort, Zolder, Monza, Mosport and Watkins Glen.

So. If we look at the fastest race laps in each event by the cars on the track in the same year, eg; the Italian GP and Euro F5000 round at Monza, we can calculate the difference in lap times. Originally i thought qualifying times would be the go but F1 had greater use qualifying tyres than F5000 so race times are a fairer representation.

The obvious flaw in the logic above is that absolute comparisons can only be made by looking at performances on the same day with each class racing in identical climatic conditions but such races did not occur. So we will not arrive at absolute answers but indicative ones.

What year do we use? To get the greatest spread of meetings lets use 1974. By that stage the greatest F5000 car of all, the Lola T330-332 was in its second year of development. I suspect (but can’t be bothered doing the comparison) that the difference in times between F1 cars and F5000 in 1970-1971 would have much more as the only ‘great F5000’ then was the McLaren M10B. Mind you it’s father is McLaren’s 1968 F1 machine, Robin Herd and Bruce’s McLaren M7. By 1974 there were plenty of very competitive bespoke F5000s- Lola, McRae, Chevron, Matich et al.

In 1975 there were circuit changes (chicanes added) at Silverstone and Watkins Glen between the F5000 and F1 races which make comparisons impossible. After a shitfight over dollars (what else) the Canadian GP at Mosport wasn’t held, and Monza held an F5000 race, in 1975 they didn’t. Further, in Europe from 1975 the Championship admitted the Ford 3.4 litre quad cam, four valve V6 engine with which Alan Jones and David Purley were very fast.

The comparison i am after is ‘one of purity’ between 3 litre F1 cars and 5 litre F5000s as originally concepted, so for all those good reasons 1974 it is.

Remember, it’s fastest lap of the race I have recorded, not pole.

Mosport 15 June 1975. Heat 1, turn 9, lap 1. Warwick Brown, Talon MR-1A Chev thinks about an inside run on Mario Andretti’s Lola T332, David Hobbs’ T332 #10 at left. Jon Woodner’s Interscope T400 behind Brown. Andretti won from Brown and Woodner (Norm Macleod)

 

Main men in the US- Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti and Lola T332 Chev at Elkhart Lake in 1974 (Getty)

 

Ryan Falconer prepared Chev in Andretti’s T332. Circa 525 bhp in period (J Morris)

Brands Hatch

F5000 16/03/74  1:25.90  Peter Gethin Chevron B28 Chev

F1       20/06/74  1:21.10  Niki Lauda Ferrari 312B3-74

Zandvoort

F5000  03/06/74 1:23.30  Peter Gethin Chevron B28 Chev

F1       23/06/74  1:21.44  Ronnie Peterson Lotus 72E Ford

Monza

F5000 30/06/74  1:37.40  Peter Gethin Chevron B28 Chev

F1       08/09/74  1.34.20  Carlos Reutemann Brabham BT44 Ford

Mosport

F5000 15/06/74  1:16.200  Brian Redman Lola T332 Chev

F1       22/09/74  1:13.659  Niki Lauda Ferrari 312B3-74

Watkins Glen

F5000 14/07/74  1:41.406  Mario Andretti Lola T332 Chev

F1       06/10/74  1:40.608  Carlos Pace Brabham BT44 Ford

 

Teddy Pilette, Lola T400 Chev playing in the snow at Oulton Park during Easter 1975. Gordon Spice and Guy Edwards were up front in their T332 Chevs with David Purley third in his Chevron B30 Ford Cosworth GAA-3.4 V6. Whilst the T400 had plenty of success in Europe and Australia the prominent American teams never set aside their trusty, fast, winning T332s (A Cox)

 

Zolder 28 April 1974, unusual, great from the grid shot. Look at that crowd. Heat 1 grid- the two VDS Chevron B28 Chevs of Pilette and Gethin on the front row. Bob Evans yellow winged T332, Chris Craft’ Chevron B24/28 in the foreground and a wheel of Mike Wilds’ March 74A at left. Gethin won the 25 lapper from Pilette and Evans (Zolder Museum)

 

Lella Lombardi, March 751 Ford and Vern Schuppan, Lola T332 Chev scrap during the 16 March 1975 Brands Race Of Champions- DNF both. Race won by Tom Pryce’ Shadow DN5A Ford. No F5000 was classified in a race run in cold, damp conditions

In making the assessment I’ve not considered the weather.

The biggest gap between the two classes is about 4 seconds at Brands, the smallest 1 second at Watkins Glen.

Brands in March can be awfully chilly and glorious in June, ambient temperature impacts on the heat and grip of the tyres of course. Denis Jenkinson’s race report of the Brands F5000 race weekend (actually the Race of Champions weekend in which the F5000 championship race was on Saturday, the ROC on Sunday) does not help me as to weather conditions, but he makes no mention of rain. Similarly, the British GP was run in the dry. If you can help with ‘mitigating weather or circumstances’ do get in touch.

Interestingly, Mario Andretti is on record in a number of publications as saying Vels Parnelli never approached the F5000 times set by the teams Lola T332 at Riverside and Watkins Glen in their F1 Parnelli VPJ4 Ford in testing, but then again that was not a great GP car.

The fastest F5000 cars on the planet in that period were the Haas-Hall and VPJ T332s raced by Brian Redman, Mario Andretti and Al Unser- what an awesome road-racer he was!

Bang for buck there has never been a greater single-seater class. It seems incredible today that, having killed the Can-Am Series, the SCCA also slaughtered their F5000 Championship in the forlorn hope of recapturing Can-Am spectator interest and numbers.

In 1975-6 US5000 had Redman, Andretti, Unser, Jones, Gethin, Oliver, Brown, Schuppan, Pilette, Ongais, McRae, Lunger and others. The Dodge powered Shadows added much needed variety to Formula Lola, mind you Jones won a couple of races in 1976 with a March 76A Chev, it really was a brilliant blood and thunder spectacle even if the cars were not quite as fast as F1…

Oulton Park’s prestigious Gold Cup gets away on 9 September 1973. Ian Ashley’s Lola T330 sandwiched between the blue Chevron B24 Chev of Tony Dean and yellow striped one of Peter Gethin. #25 is Keith Holland, Trojan T101 Chev with Graham McRae’s McRae GM1 well back inside left in red with Guy Edwards’ light blue T330 behind him. Gethin won from Pilette- who is well back here and Tony Dean (S Jones)

 

US Watkins Glen round, final, 2 11 July 1976. Teddy Pilette’s Lola T430 Chev leads a bunch of cars, DNF engine. Lola’s final F5000 design could not coax the Americans from their T332s either. Best place third at Mosport, Q2 at Road America. Successful in Australia in Warwick Brown (1977 AGP & Rothmans Series) and Alf Costanzo’s (Gold Star) hands (T Pilette Collection)

Credits…

Wikipedia, MotorSport, Autosport, Getty Images, Alan Cox, Jonesy Morris, Zolder Museum, Norm Macleod, Larry Roberts, Mike Hayward Collection, Steve Jones, Teddy Pilette Collection

Tailpiece…

(L Roberts)

The great Brian Redman’s Lola T332 Chev looking as good as a racing car ever gets.

Turn 9 at Laguna Seca in 1975, Brian was third that day behind the VPJ duo of Andretti and Unser- T332 Chevs.

What an amazing career in single-seaters and sportscars, whilst Brian dipped in and out of F1 from the mid sixties to the mid seventies he must be up there in any list of ‘greatest driver of the period outside Grand Prix racing’.

Finito…

 

 

Doug Whiteford, Ford V8 Spl leads Lex Davison, Alfa Romeo P3 early in the Vintage Festival Championship, Nuriootpa April 1949 (SLSA)

South Australia’s Barossa Valley, 75 km north of Adelaide is one of the states great wine producing areas.

32 km long and 8 km wide it includes the towns of Lyndoch, Tanunda, Greenock, Seppeltsfield, Angaston and just to its north-west, Nuriootpa.

Somewhat unique in Australia, large numbers of Germans settled in the Adelaide Hills and surrounding areas from the 1840s planting some of the earliest grapevines in the country.

By 1949 the Barossa had 22,000 acres of vines producing 60% of the total South Australian Vintage. Keen to maintain some of the cultural traditions of the old world, in 1947 community leaders organised a festival similar to those held in the Rhine Valley at vintage time, to foster a greater sense of community, raise funds for charitable causes and have fun!

The climax of the two day 22-23 April 1949 celebration was a carnival at Tanunda with dancing sideshows, a draught-horse derby and barbeques of three 600 pound bullocks! Not to forget motor racing…

1949 Festival program

 

Greenock float heading past the Nuriootpa Community Hotel during the 1948 Festival (Advertiser)

 

Nuriootpa circuit map. In terms of the narrative below, the start/finish is in the top right corner

South Australia hosted Australian Grands Prix at coastal Victor Harbor (correct spelling) in December 1936 and on the daunting Adelaide Hills, Lobethal roller-coaster road course in January 1939, Nuriootpa was chosen as the 1950 venue.

In that sense the Vintage Festival race meeting was a ‘warm up’ for the organisers and racers alike- the Nuri road course was only used on those two occasions seven months apart.

Some maps make the track appear a simple square layout around the town but the more detailed drawing above shows the flat 3.1 mile/4.98 km course to be not quite so easy, whilst not on the same planet of difficulty as Lobethal.

The start line was on the Penrice Road/Research Road corner with cars heading clockwise- the top right corner of the map above, the paddock was on parkland on the outside of this corner.

Racers headed down the straight for a fast run into the double-right hand ‘Atze’s Corner’ and then onto Railway Terrace- gently to the right, then a short straight, then a quick left before another hard application of brakes for ‘Tolleys Corner’- the intersection of Railway Terrace and Nuriootpa’s main drag- Tanunda Road/Murray Street.

There the cars kicked away with parklands on the left, gently left over a wooden bridge to clear the North Para River before heading straight- going past the shops then more hard braking for another right-hander at the Penrice Road intersection.

Exiting, the cars gently curved left and gently right before another straight section past the finish line just before the Penrice Road/Research Road intersection and then another lap…

Bill Patterson, MG TC Spl s/c. Plod on this side, St Johns Ambos on the inside. Probably, as many of these shots are, the intersection of Murray Street and Penrice Road- Bill is entering Penrice for the run to the finish line (HTSA)

 

Harry Neale’s Ford V8 Spl at left and Jim Gullan, Ballot Oldsmobile on the right (HTSA)

34 cars and 46 motorcycles entered the meeting, no doubt the poor entry of cars was a function of the traditional Easter fixture at Mount Panorama which took place the weekend before.

Top guns at Bathurst were Lex Davison’s 1934 GP Alfa Romeo P3, Frank Kleinig’s legendary Kleinig Hudson Spl, Bill McLachlan’s Mackellar Spl (Bugatti T37A Ford V8) and Jack Murray’s Day Special (Bugatti T39 Ford V8). The feature event, the 25 lap All Powers Handicap, was won by Arthur Rizzo’s Riley Spl from Curley Brydon, MG TC and Kleinig.

Bathurst contestants who made the trip to South Australia included Davison, Tony Gaze, HRG and Bill Patterson, MG TC Spl s/c.

The Davison and Patterson crews had barely 24 hours to give their cars a tickle in Melbourne before loading up again for the 750 km trip on the Western Highway to the Barossa.

Tony Gaze had an amazing couple of weeks- he drove the HRG from Melbourne to Bathurst, raced it to fifth in the All Powers Handicap feature race won by Rizzo, then drove to Nuriootpa, raced it again for a couple of third places and finally drove it back to Melbourne!

Lex’ machine had misbehaved at Bathurst- he had braking problems, nor would the exotic 2.9 litre twin-cam straight-eight reach maximum revs. Patterson didn’t start his events at Mount Panorama so his boys in Ringwood no doubt had a busy night as well.

Other entries included plenty of MGs- John Nind’s TB Spl, plus four South Australians in TC’s of varying specification- David Harvey, Ron Kennedy, Steve Tillet and Harold Clisby- the prodigiously talented, intuitive, eccentric engineer of 1.5 litre Clisby V6 F1 race engine fame, and much, much more who was making his race debut.

John Crouch raced another HRG, Ken Wylie his clever, fast Austin A40 Spl s/c, Eldred Norman ran his Ford Double-8 Spl- which as the name suggests was powered by two Ford V8’s. Later driver of that car, Harry Neale entered his Ford V8 Spl and Les Robinson the ex-Segrave/Hope Bartlett 1922 GP Sunbeam Ford V8 Spl.

Jim Gullan brought from Melbourne his quick Ballot Oldsmobile Spl with close mate Doug Whiteford there to race his legendary Ford V8 Ute based special ‘Black Bess’- a combination which would win the AGP at Nuri seven months hence.

Lex’ Alfa landed in Australia in February 1948, he was still getting the hang of the car without too many circuits upon which to race it at the time. Theoretically it was the fastest car in the country- in reality Alf Barrett’s older Alfa Monza was the quicker combination but the Armadale blue-blood was at the end of his career at 38, ‘retiring’ in 1948 whereas the 26 year old Lilydale blue-blood was just at the start of his long, distinguished career.

Interestingly, Davo’s car was being looked after by later four-time Gold Star champion Bib Stillwell who, at 22, had commenced his first retail and repair automotive business in partnership with respected, experienced, ten years older than Bib, Derry George in January 1949.

‘Magnette Motors’, or more commonly ‘Stillwell & George’ operated from 121 Cotham Road, Kew, a building owned by Bib’s mother- it was the start of Stillwell’s motor businesses which occupied this and adjoining sites into the 2000s. George learned his craft with Reg Nutt and before that legendary outfit A.F Hollins in Armadale, who would ultimately prepare Lex’s cars with great success upon the recommendation of Tony Gaze.

Australian racing events were mainly run to handicaps at this stage. Bill Patterson’s marvellous Reg Nutt/Doug Whiteford built, Bob Baker bodied MG TC Spl s/c was half a chance. Whiteford’s ‘Black Bess’, continually developed by the talented and driven racer/engineer since it first appeared in 1939 was a well known combination to the handicappers, his challenge would be greater.

Jim Gullan commented about how little time there was to practice and had the opposite braking problem to Davison- his anchors were too good!

With the assistance of Jack Pearce at Paton Brake Replacements (P.B.R. later the Repco Brake Company) Jim and Doug Whiteford had been supplied with a new braking package which comprised light commercial drums, aluminium brake shoe castings copied from Jim’s Ballot, aluminium backing plates and large wire air-scoops which looked great and were no doubt a wonderful psyche!

Gullan found his new brakes so powerful that ‘they were bending the chassis, making the car almost unsteerable on the rough Nuriootpa roads. The only thing to do was to apply them gently.’

Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds in front of a group shortly after the start of the over 1500cc Vintage Festival Championship scratch- #2 Bill Wilcox, Dodge Spl, #11 Harry Neale, Ford V8 Spl then #2 folks and in the dust behind, Robinson’s GP Sunbeam Spl (J Gullan Collection)

 

Davison now in front of Whiteford in their Vintage Festival Championship tussle- from Murray Street and into Penrice Road (HTSA)

A crowd estimated at 30,000 people attended Sunday raceday, the final day of the carnival to see a six event program- it was fine and warm, good conditions for racing.

The lack of practice Gullan commented on was because practice was scheduled to start on raceday at 6 am but there were still revellers from the night before in Murray Street, so the circuit didn’t open until 6.40 am and was then made over to the bikies at 8 am.

The only incidents were spinners John Crouch and John Nind- who bent his front axle in the process.

Whilst the 48 mile, 8 lap Barossa Valley Handicap was nominally the feature event, the Vintage Festival Championship scratch race for the over 1500cc cars was probably the thriller of the day with a wonderful scrap between Davison and Whiteford.

Contrary to modern practice, the fastest cars started from the back of the grid. Whiteford’s Black Bess made the best start, then came Gullan, Ballot Olds, Davison’s P3 and Harry Neale in his Ford V8 Spl.

He was followed by Melburnian Bill Wilcox in the Gullan designed Dodge Special- a Dodge six-cylinder engine and Lancia gearbox clad in a sexy Bob Baker built body of Mercedes Benz GP style, and then Mount Gambier’s Les Robinson in the GP Sunbeam Ford V8.

During lap 2 Davo passed Gullan and ranged up behind Whiteford, Wilcox was close to Neale but behind Robinson.

It took Davison 3 laps to get past the hard driven Bess, which was not as quick in a straight line as the Alfa (Davo did 144 mph on Conrod aboard the P3 in 1949 whilst Doug did 121 mph in Bess in 1950) but stopped better and had Doug’s cornering brio- and then stay ahead of Whiteford. Positions then remained the same to the end of the race, Davison won from Whiteford, Gullan, Neale and Robinson.

Graham Howard wrote that Davison’s win was an important milestone, it was his first victory after only two and a half years racing, discounting a ‘club level’ win on the grass at Nar-Nar-Goon in Victoria.

Davison in front of Whiteford in Nuriootpa village- Murray Street into Penrice Road corner (HTSA)

 

Ken Wylie, Austin A40 Special s/c (1250cc) on the Murray/Penrice corner- note the ever present, cast iron/concrete ‘Stobie’ poles distinctive to South Australia. Lex Davison famously bent one of these whilst destroying wife Diana’s MG TC Spl at Lobethal in January 1948- and lived, a bit bruised, to tell the tale! (HTSA)

The car racing program opened with the Motors Ltd Championship under 1500cc scratch event over 8 laps, 24 miles.

Crouch’s HRG led for the first lap- Patterson spun with the Tillet and Harvey TCs, Gaze’ HRG and Ken Wylie, Austin A40 Spl coming through in a bunch.

Patterson worked through to the front, overcoming his spin and led from Crouch and Wylie- then Wylie passed Crouch and set the fastest lap of the race, and came to within 12 seconds of Patterson but the Wylies and Gaze cars faded with overheating, the latter having lost its fanbelt.

Patterson won from Crouch, Gaze, Wylie- then Tillett, Kennedy and Harvey having a ball in their TCs then R Head, Riley Spl and I Jackson, GN.

John Crouch had a good year, he won the 1949 Australian Grand Prix that September in his ex-John Snow Delahaye 135CS on the Leyburn ex-RAAF base runways in Queensland- he was 5 minutes ahead of the pursuers led by Ray Gordon’s MG TC Spl.

Tony Gaze would soon return to the UK, having had a distinguished flying career during the war, to say the least, for the ‘serious’ part of his racing career in Europe. Jim Gullan and his wife Christine joined Tony and Kaye Gaze for the early part of that trip, 1951- an interesting story for another time.

In the Barossa Valley Handicap 16 lap feature, Bill Patterson won off 4 minutes 25 seconds.

The cars initially ran in handicap order with Head, Clisby and Ravdell Ford A Model Spl s/c early retirements. After 8 laps Keith Rilstone led in a Morris Minor from the Howard Austin Ulster then the MGs of Tillett, Kennedy and Ohlmeyer (TA).

Patterson was past Crouch, Harvey and Wilcox whilst Davison passed the Ford Double-Eight driven by Eldred Norman- ‘…while Norman was out on the dirt passing Harvey, Davison was dancing from one side of the road to the other, behind them, shaking his fist in search of an opening, Nuvolari style’ AMS reported.

Jim Gullan passed Tony Gaze whose car was boiling, with Patterson taking the lead on lap 14- at this point Rilstone was second from Tillett, Kennedy and Howard.

With 2 of the 16 laps to run Patto had consolidated his lead whilst Tillett was within striking distance of the Rilstone Morris then Wilcox, Dodge and Howard, Austin.

Doug Whiteford only gets a mention towards the end of the AMS report but consistent laps in the 2 minute 30 second mark saw him finish fourth behind the top three- Patterson, Tillett and Wilcox. Kennedy’s TC was fifth, then Gullan, the Crouch HRG, Rilstone, Ohlmeyer’s TA, R Howard’s Austin Ulster, the Harvey TC, Harry Neale’s Ford V8 Spl and the Nind TB Spl.

Bill Patterson first raced a modified MG TC before switching to his new racer (below) which was built in late 1948- he first competed in it at Rob Roy in January 1949, so the Sports Car Club of South Australia handicappers did not have much to work with in the way of results, always handy!

25 year old Bill Patterson in the Nuriootpa paddock after his first big win- the Barossa Valley Handicap in the ‘Patterson’ MG TC Spl s/c’. His ascent as a driver was commensurate with better cars, itself a function of the growing success of his outer eastern Melbourne, Ringwood Holden/truck dealership. Won the Gold Star in a Cooper T51 Climax in 1961, his pace was apparent from the start of his career (R Townley Collection)

 

Stobie pole growing from the cockpit of the Patterson TC- fine lines, driven and developed further by Curley Brydon after its sale by Patto in 1950 (HTSA)

To qualify for the last event of the day, the Consolation Handicap 6 lapper, entrants had to have not won more than forty pounds in any of the previous races!

For the first 4 laps the lead was swapped between Rilstone and later Australian Tourist Trophy winner, Derek Jolly’s Austin 7 Spl with the race won by  Ron Kennedy from Steve Tillett both in MG TC’s and then John Crouch’s HRG which had a very consistent weekend, then came Gaze, Gullan, Wilcox and Davison who set the fastest race time and a lap record of 75 mph.

Then was Ohlmeyer, TA, Jolly, Austin 7 Spl, the Nind TB Spl, Harry Neale, Ford V8 Spl and the N Jackson GN.

Harold Clisby made the local papers after losing control of his MG TC and backing it into a fence. The Clisby family account is that ‘…he was leading the race until another car cut him off on a corner sending him careering over a bridge with only the fencing wires preventing him ending up at the bottom of a creek.’

Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds, the chassis rails of which have been copiously drilled for lightness, no doubt at the cost of torsional rigidity which probably was not great before he started. Which corner? Dunno. Stobie pole marks the apex (unattributed)

Etcetera…

Jim Gullan and Doug Whiteford were close friends, as noted above, in the best traditions of the day, after the 1950 Nuriootpa AGP ‘…we drove each others car around Albert Park one evening, both previously having driven the other’s car a short distance’ wrote Gullan.

‘My impression of the Ford was it had more power and torque than the Ballot, with a rougher engine. The brakes had a very hard pedal and poor retardation, the steering was light and spongy. The car was tail light, tending to wander at speed, difficult to drive at racing speeds.’

‘Doug’s impression of the Ballot, very smooth high revving (6000 rpm) engine, steering and brakes too sensitive, difficult to drive!’

Gullan, mused over the changes to ‘the scene’ in 1950 with drivers getting faster imported cars and ‘nearly half the field in the 1950 Grand Prix had been made up of MG’s, which made for interesting under 1500cc Scratch Races.’

He concluded that the Ballot had reached the limit of its development without a new chassis fitted with independent suspension.

By the time he returned to Australia after twelve months in Europe, in early 1952, air-cooled Coopers were plentiful, Stan Jones was racing Maybach 1, Doug Whiteford had his first Talbot-Lago T26C and much, much more- the times were changing with much of the evolution due to the growth of scratch racing, to win one needed the equipment to do so.

 

Yet one more shot of the Davison/Whiteford dice, Doug almost wholly obscured by Davo and the Stobie (HTSA)

 

(State Records SA)

 

(SLSA)

This is the only clear motorcycle shot I can find, John Medley identified the rider as South Australian, Les Diener, his machine is a Velocette 350 MkVIII KTT.

He had a great weekend, winning the 5 lap Barossa Junior TT and finished third in the Senior event despite giving away capacity to most other entrants.

Diener and Lloyd Hirst had a good go in the Junior event, Hirst leading for the first 2 laps, in the Senior TT Laurie Boulter’s Norton and Hirst’s Vincent-HRD finshed in front of Diener.

Check out this fascinating article about Les Diener- what a talented rider and engineer he was; https://www.shannons.com.au/club/bike-news/old-bikes-australasia-the-eldee-velocettes/

After the final race the crowd swarmed into Nuriootpa’s main street- Murray Street for the start of a procession of sixty decorated floats. At the end of the day 25,000 people converged on Tanunda Oval above, ‘to see the most lavish spectacle ever staged in a South Australian country town.’

The Barossa Vintage Festival is now held biannually with a week long calendar of events including wine workshops, heritage events and church services- the Barossa’s Lutheran leanings reflect its German heritage, which is about where we came in…

Otto Stone’s copy of the race program, programme I should say! from Stephen Dalton

Bibliography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan, ‘Harold William Clisby: The Life of a Restless Engineer’ on clisby.com, Australian Motor Sports 16 May 1949 via the Bob King Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection

Photo Credits…

‘HTSA’ History Trust of South Australia, State Records of South Australia, Adelaide Advertiser, State Library of South Australia, Richard Townley Collection

Tailpiece…

(State Records SA)

Grape pickers during the 1949 Festival- its seventy years ago my friends. Lots of happiness and optimism in those pretty smiling faces.

Finito…

(N Henderson Collection)

MG on Mount Tarrengower, Maldon, Victoria circa 1946-1947…

Its funny what ya find sometimes, this was a random catch found sitting in front of the tello whilst searching for something else.

The photograph, from artblat.com, is part of the Nicholas Henderson Collection and thought to be Tarrengower given the preponderance of Maldon shots in the collection- further evidence cited the surrounding box-ironbark trees.

We had a country drive to Castlemaine, Kyneton and Maldon inclusive of a cruise up the mountain again six months ago-Tarrengower it is i suspect.

I am no pre-war expert but the stance of the machine and its grille reek of MG, perhaps not a supercharged one mind you, so that narrows the model choice somewhat- but it’s no more than a guess, perhaps it’s Peter Vennermark’s Maserati 4CL?

Below are two more cars, one sporting and the other not- love to know what they are, bonus points for the drivers and the date of the meeting.

(N Henderson Collection)

For some of you the dress of the spectators may help give us a fix on the date, as perhaps will the model year of the most recent car built- perhaps the sedan below.

Another car (not shown) in the same batch of photos had a registration expiry date of February 1947 and was therefore indicative of the approximate timing of the photographs to the curator of artblat.com, Dr Marcus Bunyan.

(N Henderson Collection)

 

1947 postcard of the meeting that year shows the spectator car park at the bottom of Mount Tarrengower- horse and cart is a nice touch!

 

A little bit more research shows there was an event in 1947, not sure about 1946, the climb has been pretty much in continuous use since the dawn of motoring in Australia, the ninetieth anniversary of the first event was held last year- 2019.

The climb had not been used for a couple of decades until the Vintage Sports Car Club ran an event on 29 February 1964, FTD that day went to Bill Leach in an E Type Jaguar. The club returned that October when FTD was set by no less than Lex Davison’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.5 Tasman car in 50.34 seconds, Davo was a very experienced hill climber with an Australian Championship amongst his many racing achievements, see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/05/mount-tarrengower-hillclimb/

I’ve never raced there competitively but I did run my Elfin Crusader Formula Vee up the hill during an Elfin Owners Club run from Bendigo to Mount Tarrengower and back in November 1993- about 40 cars did that event from Peter Brennan’s MR8C Chev F5000 ‘down’ to one or two Vees- a Gendarme up front in a fast pursuit car ensured speeds were civil but quick on 80km of public highways. What fun it was.

Jim Hawker and George Wightman aboard the awesome Chamberlain 8, Tarrengower April 1947 (The Chamberlain)

 

Later 1960’s shot of a Geneer Outlaw VW, I think, gives perspective on the open nature of the tourist road and surrounding terrain (Ken Bolitho)

 

Peter Vennermark, Maserati 4CL 1.5 at Tarrengower, 4 March 1951 (Maldon Museum)

 

Lex Davison, Cooper T62 Climax, Tarrengower October 1964- Davo in collar and tie (M Williams Collection)

The climb is about 1500 metres long, the bitumen is narrow, patchy and rough at the edges- the shot above of Lex in 1964 is not that much different to now, it is a tourist road with a lookout at the top. It’s a very fast open climb, a big challenge, I notice that a chicane half way up was used last year which is a bummer in some ways but probably makes good sense.

My first visit to Mount Tarrengower was as an official with a mate in 1978. We camped overnight and took up our post about two thirds of the way up the hill on Sunday, a beautiful clear, hot day. What impressed was the speed of the more powerful cars but the dangers were great given the unguarded edges and unforgiving trees awaiting those who goofed.

During the afternoon we heard the unmistakable wail of a Porsche flat-six off the start line- it was the very impressive Dr Will Darvall’s 2.7 RS mounting another assault. The rise and fall of the engine note indicated his commitment and rapid progress until about 100 metres or so below us the throttle closed rapidly, then followed a sickening series of dull-thuds as the gorgeous car pinged from eucalypt to sheoak. I will never forget that sound.

We looked at one another and said in unison ‘He’s fucked!’ It seemed and sounded that bad. But the good doctor recovered, I know this as he was ‘me mate Big Bad Brucie’s GP in Heidelberg, but he was a sick boy for a long while. The car was rooted, but it too lived to fight another day after bulk dollars were spent on its resurrection around a new shell.

The point to be taken here is that there is no ‘good place’ to leave the road on this challenging mountain.

Maldon High Street 1934 (Maldon Museum)

 

Maldon High Street circa 1975 (Ellen Hansa-Stanyer)

 

Maldon High Street 2019, refreshingly little change over the last eighty years or so (Maldon FB)

The Central Goldfields area of Victoria is quite beautiful and so named as a consequence of the 1850’s Gold Rush which attracted massive numbers of fortune seekers from around the world.

The ‘Golden Triangle’ area marked by the towns of Ballarat, Maryborough and Bendigo yielded massive amounts of the precious commodity, Mount Tarrengower is a couple of kilometres from the tiny village of Maldon at the Triangle’s northern end- short walks around and from the village allow this wonderful history to be seen and experienced- the steam train ride is a beauty for ‘big kids’ too.

Maldon is a must visit for any Victorian international tourists list, the town was classified by the National Trust way back around 1970 so the streetscape now is little different to the way it was during that 1947 hillclimb weekend.

Peter Holinger on the line aboard the very fast Holinger Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 circa 1978, the dimensions of which were provided by Jack Brabham’s 1969 Tasman contender- Brabham BT31 Repco (John Bowring)

Etcetera…

 

(M Bisset)

A couple of happy-snaps of the Elfin ‘Tour To Tarrengower’ in November 1993 I mentioned.

The five red cars are Catalina, Mono, Mallala sports, Mono and Catalina, then a white and blue pair of 620s- this is in Bendigo.

Below is Pete Brennan’s MR8 F5000 and the arse of his 400 Chev at right, the big white monster is the ex-Schuppan MR8 in Can-Am dress, now owned by Bill Hemming, it is in F5000 guise. The other white sporty is a 360, a personal favourite.

(M Bisset)

Peter Brennan on the way to FTD circa 1982 in his Elva Mk8S BMW 2 litre.

(P Brennan Collection)

 

(A Tracey)

Another crop of Peter Vennermark’s Maserati and a report on that meeting below, Easter Saturday 24 March 1951- where he had an off.

Chassis #1555 was later sold to long time racer Cec Warren who alighted the machine during the March 1954 Fishermans Bend meeting for adjustments, collapsed with a heart attack and died.

 

(A Tracey)

 

(D Zeunert)

Lovely photo of the vibe in the ‘modern era’, crowd and carpark in the background, 1982 with Stuart Anderson on the line, Maserati 4CM 1100, above and below.

(D Zeunert)

 

(G Thomas in L Sims Collection)

Bob King has his money on our opening car being the Lindsay Head driven Riley Austin Spl, here being driven over Skyline at Rob Roy in 1946- without its lights, it is a possibility’

Photo and other credits…

Nicholas Henderson Collection on artblat.com, Maldon Museum, Maldon Facebook, Ellen Hansa-Stanyer, Max Williams Collection, The Chamberlain, Tony Johns Collection, ‘Bentley Specials and Special Bentleys’ Ray Roberts, John Bowring, Ken Bolitho, Peter Brennan Collection, Ashley Tracey Collection via Tony Johns, George Thomas in the Leon Sims Collection, David Zeunert/Collection

Tailpiece…

Bentley in High Street, Maldon circa 2018, Tony Johns tells me it’s a 1950 Mk6 rebodied coupe. The Mount Tarrengower road and car park is well worth a visit on race weekend and a tootle up from Melbourne for the day anytime.

The many closed shops in town at the moment are a bit of a worry, I have not seen the place so depressed in all the years of regular visits since 1978.

Back to the Bentley, with a bit of assistance from John’s copy of ‘Bentley Specials and Special Bentleys’.

The car was designed by Queensland graphic designer Ian Shaw who was considerably influence by the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic.

The chassis (#B4JO) ‘was reclaimed from an earlier touring body conversion’, seven inches were taken from the frame, the engine moved aft twelve inches and lowered- whilst the ‘X brace’ part of the chassis was removed other cross members were added to restore and enhance torsional rigidity.

Mechanical upgrades include dual boosted hydraulic brakes, Koni shocks, sixteen inch wires and a smaller than standard MkVI steering wheel.

The steel body was built to Ian’s full scale drawings by Venkat, Bodrog and Evans around one inch by one inch steel tubing and incorporates highly modified MkVI front wings, a shortened radiator shell and bonnet.

Initially a 4.25 litre Bentley motor was used, this was later replaced with an ‘S type’ 4.887 litre straight six which was blueprinted and modified by the incorporation of a higher lift cam with the head ported and fitted with larger valves.

This beautiful looking 2+2 motor car is a credit to the fine eye of its creator, it first ‘broke cover’ over the 1998 Bay to Birdwood weekend in Adelaide and is now good for 125mph which would make it a fine interstate express.

Finito…

I love watching busy test sessions such as this.

It’s the Thursday or Friday before the second round of the Australian Formula 2 Championship at Oran Park, New South Wales on August 5 1973.

The Birrana Cars onslaught is underway, Malcolm Ramsay and Tony Alcock’s 272 impressed all in 1972 including Leo Geoghegan who drove the car late in the year and was happily seduced back into single-seaters with a works Birrana 273 Ford-Hart 416-B 1.6 for 1973.

Leo mopped up that year winning six of the seven Australian Formula 2 Championship rounds despite opposition from Tony Stewart and Enno Buesselmann in 273s, Bob Skelton’s Bowin P6 and Ray Winter in the old darlin’- the ex-Gardner/Bartlett Mildren Yellow Submarine. Of these Skelton was quick everywhere and led Leo at Amaroo and Symmons, missed the last two rounds and ultimately could not convert the potential of the variable-rate suspension Bowin.

But all of that is in the future, the flurry of activity centres on Leo’s car and a back to back test between Goodyear and Bridgestone tyres- who is the the Goodyear tech looking closely at the right front- i am being assertive with my identification of people but in some cases ‘i think’ should be used- just letting you know rather than write it ten times.

Check-shirt man is Bruce Cary, the driver at left is Ray Winter, to his right in the short sleeved shirt is Bruce Richardson- the car in front of Leo’s is Tony Stewarts, the guy in the Singapore Airlines T-shirt is Malcolm Ramsay and the car at the end of the pitlane is one of the black Bowin P6s- either Skelton’s or Bruce Allison- Bob liked the car more than Bruce!

Goodyears in the first shot, Bridgies here.

All of the Birranas are superb racing cars- FF, ANF3, ANF2, F Pac and the mid-engined Speedway machine, Adelaide strikes again! Those who have driven both cars either say the 273 was a better car than the tidied up in the body and bracketry 274, or its equal- Bob Muir gave Leo ‘absolute buggery’ in the 274 bodied 273 owned by Bob and Marj Brown in 1974 didn’t he?

Note the mounts on the nose to accept another small wing- in search of more front bite.

Business end with Varley battery and oil catch tank- forward of them is a Hewland FT200 five speed transaxle and the Brian Hart Ltd, Harlow, Essex built ‘416-B’ Lotus-Ford DOHC, two valve, Lucas injected four cylinder motor.

This engine was aimed at the large American Formula B market, where all of the British tuners fought a pitched battle and in much smaller numbers Australian F2.

The ‘ducks guts’ variant was alloy blocked, the late Peter Nightingale, who looked after Leo’s and Geoff Brabham’s Harts amongst others quoted 200bhp @ 8500rpm and 130lb/ft of torque @ 7500rpm for the 1973 iron block variant and a ‘minimum’ of 200bhp @ 8500rpm and 125lb/ft of torque @ 8500rpm for the 1974 alloy block.

Line ball call but the alloy block was lighter and in the very best of hands every liddl’ bit counts.

No idea who blondie is but the vertically challenged fella looking at the engine in front is ex-Repco immensely talented engineer and multiple Australian hillclimb champion Paul England looking at Tony Stewart’s Jack Godbehear built engine.

Oh yes, come raceday Leo won from Peter Brock’s 273 and Bob Skelton, i am intrigued to know what tyres the works 273 raced…

Credits…

Brian Caldersmith, Peter Nightingale on The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece…

Leo is ready to boogie- fuel check and off. Bearded Ramsay, tall isn’t he, wandering past.

I’ve often wondered what Tony Alcock could have achieved in his second European stint, as most of you know he was in that plane, on that day, and in those circumstances with Graham Hill in 1975.

Finito…