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

Australian Champion Speedway Rider Vic Huxley astride his Rudge JAP before the off, Wimbledon, 1933…

The caption notes Huxley as one of ‘the greatest exponents of broad-sliding around the track’.

‘Victor Nelson (Vic) Huxley (1906-1982) was born on 23 September 1906 at Wooloowin, Brisbane and attended Fortitude Valley and Kelvin Grove state schools.

Employed as a battery mechanic, he had been riding motorcycles for three years when a major bike speedway competition was introduced at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground in October 1926- he won the first event on the program, the One-Mile Handicap, and soon became one of the `broadsiding’ stars of the inaugural night races. He also won events at the Toowoomba Showground and Brisbane’s Davies Park.’

22 year old Vic Huxley at Wayville Showgrounds, Adelaide in 1928 (SLSA)

‘It was in these early stages of his career that he was bequeathed the nickname`Broadside’ by his growing number of fans. After success in Australia, including a stint at Adelaide’s Wayville Showground, he left for England in 1928 with a group of other leading speedway riders, including Frank Arthur to introduce the new Australian sport of `dirt-track racing’.

‘Speedway was a huge success in England and at one stage it was the second most popular sport, after horse-racing in the country. For many years London was its heart, and Australians—especially Huxley—were nearly always winners.’

‘To celebrate his victories, the Ogden’s branch of the Imperial Tobacco Co. (of Great Britain & Ireland) Ltd issued a `Vic Huxley’ cigarette card in their 1929 set of `Famous Dirt-Track Riders’. On the card, he was portrayed in his characteristic `broad-siding’ manoeuvre on the track. That year he was the subject of one of a series of articles on `Daredevils of the Speedway’ published in the magazine Modern Boy’.

Billy Lamont and Vic Huxley, Wimbledon, date uncertain (J Chaplin)

‘In June 1930 Huxley led an Australian team to victory in the first official speedway Test match against England. Unbeaten at this meeting, he was to become the most successful rider in Tests in the early 1930s. Captain of the ‘Harringay’ and then the ‘Wimbledon’ speedway teams, he won the Star Championship (forerunner of the world championship) in 1930 and next year became the British open champion.’

’He was almost unbeatable: he broke speedway records all over England; won eight major championships and also set and broke lap records at speedway tracks in Australia and New Zealand. His earnings were over £5000 per year, making him then one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the world. Members of the royal family and T. E. Lawrence were among those who congregated around Huxley’s team at the speedway.’

The two captains- Australia’s Vic Huxley and England’s Harold ‘Tiger’ Stevenson before the First Test at Wembley in June 1933 (Getty)

‘On 23 October 1931 at the register office, St Marylebone, London, Huxley married Sheila Alice Katherine King. He featured in numerous speedway magazine articles and books on speedway riding in England and Australia. When the British Broadcasting Corporation interviewed him in 1934 for its `In Town Tonight’ program, he became the first speedway rider to broadcast on radio. In the same year he won the Australian solo championship after being placed first in every event he entered.’

‘In his eleven years as a speedway rider on a range of different manufacturers’ machines, Huxley had only one serious accident.’

‘He left speedway racing in 1937 and opened the British Motorcycle Co. in Brisbane. Mobilised in the Militia as a lieutenant on 5 August 1941 he trained motorcycle dispatch riders. He was de-mobbed on 5 February 1945 and returned to his motorcycle business, retiring in 1957.’

’He kept few trophies and never sought any publicity. Despite being `bigger than Bradman’ in his day, Huxley remained throughout his life a modest and simple man. Three months after the death of his wife, he died on 24 June 1982 at Kangaroo Point, he was survived by a son.’

Huxley was a major sports celebrity in the UK with plenty of interest from the general press. Here he is cycling with his pooch ‘Raggles’, a Sealeyham Terrier, near his home, Wimbledon, May 1935

Etcetera…

(Getty)

Bill Sharp, Vic Huxley and Gus Kuhn before the start of a practice lap at Wimbledon in March 1935. ‘Huxley was testing his foot was in good enough condition after fracturing it last season’ the photo caption advises.

(Getty)

Vic Martin presents a silver Belisha Beacon to Vic at West Ham Speedway in May 1935. He has just covered a lap at 45 mph beating Tommy Coombs and Tiger Stevenson to the trophy.

For we colonials, a Belisha Beacon is an amber-coloured lamp globe atop a tall black and white pole which marks pedestrian crossing in the UK. Goddit!

(Getty)

Looking quite the man about town- Huxley arrives at Croydon Airport in time for the opening of the 1933 speedway season that April. The caption records travel travails before the age of the Dreamliner- by the liner Otranto from Australia before flying from Toulon to London.

Reference…

All of this article, with the exception of the photographs/captions is sourced from an ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’ entry about Huxley written by Jonathon Richards and comprises either direct quotes or truncated elements of his prose.

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, John Chaplin Collection, State Library of South Australia

Tailpiece: Vic Huxley and Sprouts Elder, Speedway Royal, Wayville, Adelaide 1929…

(SLSA)

Finito…

David Sandelson sits happily in Ron Tauranac’s 1965 F3 contender, the Brabham BT15…

The venue is London Olympia, its the Sixth Annual Racing Car show which took place between 22-30 January 1965.

Whether David can stump up the 1400 pounds for the car I am not so sure. In addition he is up for a Cosworth MAE at circa 600 pounds or a Holbay R65 motor at 625 pounds. The specification sheet lists the car as having a wheelbase of 90 inches, a front track of 50 and a rear track of 51 inches. The tyres were 500 x 13 up front and 600 x 13 at the back, the weight of the machine 400 Kg.

The car was very similar to the 1965-1966 Formula Libre BT14 and 1966 F2 BT16. The exact number built- construction of the chassis were outsourced to the famous ‘Arch Motors’ concern, is estimated variously from 26 to 58 cars with oldracingcars Allen Brown writing that ’26 were built in 1965 but Brabham records say that another 32 were built in 1966. This may well be an error, with the 32 1966 BT18A F3 cars being double counted.’

The BT15, Brabham’s second F3 machine (after the 1964 BT9) made the companies name in F3- almost identical to the F2 BT16 it had a spaceframe chassis with conventional outboard suspension- when powered with Cosworth engines the car took a hatful of victories’ according to f3history.co.uk.

The little machine was a simple, chuckable, fast, easy to prepare and set-up car which won lots of friends and set the Brabham marque trend for the balance of the sixties.

In terms of the BT15 roll call of 1965 national European F3 championships, Tony Dean won the BRSCC British title in a BT15 and Roy Pike the BARC title in a BT16. Andrea de Adamich was victorious in Italy with a BT15, also using a Lola T53 whilst Picko Troberg won the Swedish, and Jorgen Elleker the Danish title gathering some points with a Lotus 22 early in the season.

Brabham BT15 ‘F3-3-65’ in build February 1965. Ford Holbay R65 engine, sans undertray but days away from completion perhaps- the car was pretty kind to Jim- it would have been interesting to see what he could have done in 1965 with a Cosworth engine- albeit that queue was a long one (J Sullivan)

‘Australian F3 Gypsy’, Jim Sullivan gets the feel of his brand-spankers Brabham BT15 Ford Holbay R65 ‘F3-3-65’ at Motor Racing Developments in February 1965…

He was the winner of the Australian Automobile Racing Club/Smiths Instruments Scholarship to Europe awarded for his performance in both an Austin Healey Sprite and a later Mk2A in 1963.

‘The scheme is in effect an opportunity to help rather than to provide all that is required for a complete and grandiose ‘Driver to Europe’ but it was essential for the selected driver to be a good ambassador for Australia with a pleasing personality, quite apart from being a skilful, enterprising and successful competitor in this country.’

The press release about the prize award notes that the ‘AARC has full reciprocal rights with the British Automobile Racing Club…He will be assured of full trade support from the Smiths Organisation in respect of Lodge and KLG, and had it not been for the untimely death of Reg Parnell, he too, would have been on hand to advise and guide him in his endeavours.’

It’s interesting that the judges chose a driver of a production sportscar rather than an open-wheeler pilot for this award but perhaps that is just my perception that the prize would be devoted to a practitioner of the purest form of the sport…

Fantastic photo provided by motoring journalist Paul Newby from the Muir Family Archive, Paul wrote ‘Brian Muir was the second recipient of the KLG/Smiths Industries Driver to Europe Scholarship awarded by the AARC in 1965, I don’t think there were any scholarships awarded after that date’ – Lets assume this photo is of Brian and Jim in 1966, no idea where, that year he drove a Brabham BT18 (Muir Family via Paul Newby)

Jim jumped into the deepest of pools and went very well in one of the most intensely competitive championships on the planet.

The British F3 fields in 1965 included the likes of Piers Courage, Roy Pike, Tony Lanfranchi, Harry Stiller, Derek Bell, Jonathon Williams, Peter Gethin, John Miles, Brian Hart, Alan Rollinson, Mo Nunn, Chris Irwin, Tony Dean and others.

These days the marvellous ‘F2 Index’ seems to have lost some of the results for the minor British race meetings but Jim contested at least twelve meetings in 1965. His bests were a win at a BRSCC Rufforth on 17 July and second places at BARC Silverstone on 19 June and at the AMOC Martini Meeting on 24 July behind Piers Courage and in front of Pike, Irwin, Gethin and Stiller.

Also noteworthy was a sixth at the Silverstone British GP meeting in July behind, amongst others, Pike, Gethin and Dean. In a year of consistency, seven of his twelve meetings were top six finishes with only one DNF at Silverstone in the second meeting he seems to have contested at Silverstone on 20 March- for the record his first event appears to be on 13 March at Goodwood for sixth.

Jim raced on into 1966 in a Team Promecom Brabham BT18, but again without the all important Cosworth MAE engine. He did eight meetings in April and May his best result a win in a Castle Combe clubby on 23 April. Three thirds at Brands, Goodwood and Snetterton from 24 April to 1 May was impressive- and with that it seems he returned home to Australia to a few Bathurst 500 appearances into the early seventies.

Of interest (maybe!?) is that Dave Walker had his first (?) steer in a car in the UK at the 19 June 1966 Les Leston round in a Team Promecom BT16- a DNF.

Another couple of Australians lobbed late in 1966 too- Wal Donnelly was immediately on the pace with a Team Promecom BT18 whilst Barry Collerson made do with a Cooper T76 Ford Holbay, not exactly the best bit of kit perhaps…but he was there. I must buy his book too.

Clearly Jim Sullivan did enough to attract some factory support but as we know F3 is and always was an intensely competitive class where the cream rises to the top but not necessarily the cream which most deserves to.

Jim Sullivan, Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Colin Chapman contest a Scalextric GP at a BRDC dinner at Grosvenor House London in 1965 (J Sullivan)

When Sullivan returned to Australia he worked in public relations, newspapers and magazines as a writer.

It appears that his final appearances in motor racing were as a co-driver during the annual Bathurst production car enduros in 1968, 1971 and 1974.

Whilst in 1968 Bathurst was the year of the Holden Monaro- GTS327’s were the first three cars home, Sullivan shared a much less exotic Holden Kingswood 186S with Sib Petralia, the duo finished in 28th place. The other car in the photo below is the Japanese crewed Datsun 1600 of Talahashi/Sunago which finished in 21st place.

(unattributed)

Whilst the Ford Cortina Mk1’s were at the front of the field at Bathurst from 1963 to 1965, Sullivan had the honour of co-driving the last Cortina (below) to compete in the Bathurst 500 sharing a TC Cortina L 2 litre with Geoff Westbury to 35th place in 1971.

(unattributed)

Sullivan’s final Bathurst outing was sharing a Klosters Ford, Newcastle, sponsored Ford Escort Mk1 Twin-Cam to 16th place with Ian White in 1974- they were fifth in the 1300-2000cc class.

Jim was also involved in rallying a Klosters sponsored Escort Twin-Cam in the 1970’s together with Murray Finley- an NBN newsreader colleague of Sullivan.

Sullivan was hired by NBN TV (Nine Network) Newcastle, New South Wales as a reporter in 1977 covering a range of stories and producing a number of documentaries including the Logie winning (Australian National annual TV awards) ‘A Day In Jail’ aimed at young offenders.

He was appointed News Director in 1985 and is credited with expanding NBN’s Hunter Valley news service into the Northern NSW market from the Hawkesbury to the Gold Coast and as far west as Lightning Ridge.

Whilst responsible for all aspects of the NBN News service his main personal focus was, unsurprisingly, on motoring journalism which was reflected in ‘Drive Alive’, a driver safety initiative and ‘Project Restart’ promoting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

He retired from NBN in 2007 and these days is an independent writing and editing professional living near Lake Macquarie

He has been in the news in recent years taking on a local issues- the pollution left by the former Pasminco lead and zinc smelting operation at Boolaroo which has caused soil contamination in northern Lake Macquarie.

Brabham BT15 F3-3-65…

Brabham racer/historian Denis Lupton’s notes have it that Jim Sullivan raced the car in 1965 and Dave Walker in 1966, it then passed to Geoff Oliver and Fred Opert and thence to Joe Bosworth in the US circa 1970.

Joe Bosworth wrote via Denis Lupton that ‘Sullivan ran under the umbrella of the Jim Balfour owned ‘Team Promecon’, the car’s build sheets show it was constructed from February 7 to 25 1965′, so it most definitely is not the car at the Racing Car Show!

‘Back in 1970 I bought ‘F3-3-65’…from Fred Opert, who….seemed to handle most of the Brabhams to enter the US in those days. I have a memory of asking Fred where the car came from and he said France.’

Bosworth converted the car to FF spec and ran it as such in FF’s early days in the US…’thereafter (with a Quicksilver professionally built rather than home built engine) the BT15 was as good as any FF in the US until the side-radiator cars started to come in…’

The car was sold by Bosworth to Graham Dell in Australia in 2011- who owns it now?

Click here to oldracingcars.com Allen Brown’s Brabham cars type number- click into the BT15 link for the mysteries of individual chassis histories; https://www.oldracingcars.com/brabham/

Credits…

Getty Images, Jim Sullivan Collection, F2 Index, Denis Lupton, Ten-Tenths Brabham BT15 thread, NBN TV

Tailpiece: Sullivan’s Brabham being assaulted at Castle Combe, date unknown…

(J Sullivan)

Am intrigued to know the name of the aviator, his craft and the date of the meeting.

Finito…

Matich A53 ‘007’ front suspension detail- upper and lower wishbones, coil springs and luvverly double-adjustable alloy bodied Koni’s- de-rigueur in F1 and F5000 at the time. Cast magnesium uprights, Melmag wheels, Lockheed calipers grabbing Repco disc rotors. Note the tubular steel subframe which mounts to the aluminium Matich designed but Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation fabricated monocoque chassis- they also cast the Matich steering rack. Pretty lady behind the car on Goodyear duty is unknown, sadly. Derek Kneller is working on the left front, guy with ‘builders cleavage’ is Grant O’Neill. Around the left-rear is Peter Hughes in the white T-Shirt with man in the yellow polo shirt still to be identified (T Glenn)

Bob Muir settles himself into the cockpit of the new Matich A53 Repco on Friday 1 February, prior to its debut race, the Oran Park Tasman round on 3 February 1974…

Frank and his team had finished the car before the Tasman but Matich was badly hurt in a boating accident the week before the meeting in which he was electrocuted and injured badly.

Bob was chosen by Frank to race the car after he tested it- against doctors orders and satisfied himself that the rigours of a full race weekend, inclusive of the 90 lap race in summer heat were beyond him at that early stage stage of his recovery.

As things transpired Muir raced the A53 only the once at Oran Park before Frank returned to the cockpit at Surfers Paradise a week later- FM did the last three Tasman rounds and soon after retired from racing for good.

Frank Matich tests the A53 early on that Friday before OP- I wonder how many laps he did and how long the task list was after his first test laps?! (D Harvey)

The 1974 Tasman was a beauty.

By the time of the fifth round at Oran Park, there had been four different winners in New Zealand.

John Walker took the opener at Levin on 5 January in his one-of-a-kind Lola T330 Repco Holden, Peter Gethin won at Pukekohe the following weekend in his VDS Chevron B24 Chev- then John McCormack was victorious in the somewhat geriatric, but continually developed Elfin MR5 Repco at Wigram- that year the New Zealand Grand Prix. Max Stewart won the Teretonga round in his mighty fast Lola T330 Chev ‘HU-1’ the very first of the breed, Frank Gardner’s development or prototype car in fact.

Muir aboard at OP. Repco Holden F5000 engine- car fitted with the ‘ultimate spec’ flat-plane crank unit giving circa 520bhp and not losing the mountain of torque for which these units were known in the quest for more power. Note the ‘Varley’ battery behind the Lucas injection unit and coil- no doubt now very well insulated from the ‘good vibrations’ of the engine which ‘shook the shitter’ out of the battery and cost the one race only A52 victory of the Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, Gold Star race at Surfers Paradise on 2 September 1973 (T Glenn)

I wrote at length about Frank and his Formula 5000 designs a while back, click on this link for a comprehensive story and analysis of these wonderful machines, with A53 ‘007’ the last and best; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

This article is about the development of the Repco-Holden F5000 V8; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

(D Kneller)

The photo above is of Matich Chief Mechanic Derek Kneller and Bob Muir consulting during practice at Oran Park, the one below is a fortnight later at Sandown- its FM exiting Peters/Torana Corner and blasting up the back straight in a new ‘small-window’ Bell Star.

Bell together with Goodyear were two of the racing brands for which Matich held the local commercial rights. The helmet is a “Bell 120 (Degree) Full Face Helmet- they retailed at $79.90 at the time…”, quipped Matich employee Rob McDonald.

So, by Oran Park the Matich lads were up against it with their new car- the opposition were race ready off the back of the first four intensely Tasman fought rounds. Mind you, it is fair to say that the A53 was a slightly tidied up and evolved version of the short-lived A52 which met its maker when Muir had a testing shunt in it at Warwick Farm in late September 1973.

(unattributed)

Generally the designers original intent is its most pure, don’t you think?

If i’m critical of the look of the car, a machine which to me was a real honey of a thing, maybe the only element which is not aesthetically pleasing is the way the A50-52 cockpit surround doesn’t integrate well with the nosecone.

The thing was a jet right outta the box mind you- so who gives a shit what I think!

Repco’s Ken Symes and Derek Kneller push FM’s A53 from the Sandown fork up area or dummy grid into pitlane, Shell Corner or more boringly ‘Turn One’ behind. Note the engine oil sump on near side aft of the radiator. Note brake air-scoops since OP (P Weaver)

The A53’s was first completed and wheel-aligned on the ground on 11 January 1974- ‘by that stage the Tasman was already underway but we could have had the car finished easily in time for Pukekohe. Repco didn’t want us to go given the fuel shortage dramas they expected in New Zealand’ recalled Derek Kneller. The first OPEC Oil Embargo or crisis began in October 1973 with New Zealand particularly impacted given 80% of their crude oil needs were provided by Middle Eastern countries.

With hindsight Repco over-reacted, but the net effect of their decision (despite well before renewing Matich’s annual August to August sponsorship agreement through to the end of August 1974) was that Team Matich didn’t race in New Zealand- so the final build of the car was done in relatively relaxed fashion rather than with the pressure of the 5 January first round in mind.

‘Mind you, Frank sent me to the Pukekohe first round race weekend to scout around and report back on the Tasman field on latest developments and what everybody was up’ Derek recalled. No doubt the new Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence Lola T332’s were of particular interest.

When back in Sydney the crew completed the car- the team at that stage comprised FM, DK, Peter Hughes, Grant O’Neill and Leon Jarvis.

A53 was first tested at Oran Park on 24 January, the driving chores shared by Matich and Enno Buesselmann.

Enno had come out of FV and FF and had a strong 1973 driving the Bob and Marj Brown owned ANF2 Birrana 273 Ford-Hart- he was third in the championship that year behind Leo Geoghegan’s dominant, similar, works car. Matich decided to give him some laps in the car.

‘Enno did two stints of 10 laps apiece’ recalls Derek. ‘We didn’t time the first ten given it was his first time in a big car but he got down to a best of 47 seconds dead in the second of his two sessions. With the same setup as Enno FM did a 44.6- and then later in the day a best of 43.6 seconds after some changes were made to the car’.

The team then left the circuit with a decent job list before the Oran Park Tasman round.

‘Frank had a visitor from Repco in Sydney- one of the senior guys, he planned to take him out in his boat, Frank had a home and boat slipway at Clareville. The boat wouldn’t start- the battery was flat. He grabbed a Honda generator and the leads for a battery charger and mistakenly pushed the lead into the 24 volt, rather than 12 volt plug- he then got a big shock from the alligator clip which attached itself to the fleshy part of his hand, burning it badly. Simultaneously he fell forward downwards and over the battery, burning his chest and losing consciousness’.

‘Kris saw some of this from the wharf and jumped into a skiff to help his Dad- who motioned not to come near the live boat- the generator stalled ending the ordeal. Frank had burns to the fleshy piece of his right hand between the thumb and forefinger and chest.’ In addition there was the mental shock related to the whole incident. Most of you are aware the gearshift in a racing car is usually on the right so FM had a considerable challenge in managing 100 miles at Oran Park a few days hence.

Despite the accident Matich had not lost his sense of humour, team machinist/fabricator Peter Hughes recalls Frank saying to him ‘that when he lost consciousness and came around again “I could hear the generator running and thought I’ve died and gone to hell and they have Honda generators here!”, He also told me that he couldn’t grasp the round knob to turn it off and pushed the choke lever up to stall it. Sense of humour and thinking all the time’ concluded Peter.

Despite that setback Matich, heavily bandaged, and no doubt against his medical advice did ten laps of Oran Park on the Friday before the meeting getting down to a best of 42.4 seconds.

The team had dramas in practice at OP, typical teething problems, including  the engine, which meant that Bob started off the back of the grid, his best according to Team Matich records was a 42.8- the result in the race was a DNF after fuel-pump failure.

Max Stewart’s T330 won the ‘Oran Park 100’ race that day, but Peter Gethin again finished- its was his fifth in a row finish, this time in fifth place, ultimately he would win the title with an eight out of eight 1974 Tasman finishing record.

Team Matich then trucked the car up to the Gold Coast where Matich was so fast in the A52 not so many months before during the September 1973 Gold Star round at Surfers.

His time was good enough for fourth on the grid, despite it being his first real go in the car and coping with a broken throttle cable and too much oversteer- he finished third behind the Teddy Pillette and Gethin VDS Chevron B24’s despite knocking off a front wing on lap 15.

FM’s was a mighty fine display of speed amongst all those highly developed cars- not to say personal grit and determination in all the circumstances.

Sandown is a power circuit, Matich put his flat-plane crank 520bhp Repco engine to good use qualifying second on the grid behind Gethin. A crowd of over 20,000 people saw Matich lead for 15 laps before water pump problems- apparent from lap 5, the resultant cooked motor ended his day.

Gethin took the win from Graham McRae’s McRae GM2 Chev- the disappointment of the series in terms of results if not in absolute pace and Walker’s T330 Repco.

A53 at rest in the Adelaide International paddock (C Bond)

 

Matich during his final race appearance- the ‘Adelaide 100’ at Adelaide International on 24 February 1974. FM fourth behind Warwick Brown, Peter Gethin and Graeme Lawrence- Lola T332, Chevron B24 and Lola T332, all Chev powered (D Mellonie)

And so to the final Tasman round, Adelaide International, and as it turned out FM’s final race.

Frank again popped the car second on the grid, the car was fitted with a fresh engine, a tenth shy of Stewart’s T330.

In the race he was running second before spinning on some oil and again worked his way up to second- and challenging Brown hard in the final stages, before he spun four laps from the end when his engine momentarily cut out. He finished fourth, 27 seconds behind winner Warwick Brown.

WB had the honour of taking the very first win for the Lola T332- the first of hundreds of victories for the T332/T332C/T332CS/T333 F5000/Single-Seat Can-Am family of cars! Warwick’s car, or his patron, Pat Burke’s to be more precise, chassis ‘HU-27′, was the very first of the T332’s.

The A53 was a great bit of kit- it won the the 1976 Australian Grand Prix in John Goss’ hands (in chassis A51/3 ‘005’) a couple of years after it’s birth.

If only FM had gone to the US in 1974. It would have been fascinating to see how a 520 bhp, flat-plane-crank Repco V8 powered A53 would have fared amongst a plethora of Lola T332 Chevs. With the lessons learned during the unsuccessful 1973 L&M Series campaign for sure they would have put up quite a fight…

Derek Kneller and Ken Symes fettle the A53 in the Sandown Park paddock (A Radley)

Lets come back to Frank’s retirement, Derek Kneller again picks up the story.

‘We were set up beautifully for 1974.

Repco had renewed the sponsorship arrangement in August 1973, they had allocated us four engines which were powerful, as displayed during the Tasman races we did- and the new car was quick.

Consulting with the Matich Red Books (FM used a series of red hard cover foolscap books as data logs), when he got out of the car at Adelaide he dictated a long job list for the car, all to be done before the next race. Car too low/too much brake on the rear/too much wing?/steering vibration/more roll stiffness at rear/stay with banana wing (Matich at the time had the ‘original Matich wing’ and an ‘American banana’ style)/check bump steer and shocks/rear springs harder/new brake ducts/tyre pressures too high.

When he got out of the car and we left Adelaide he planned to race on.’

Frank and Joan Matich in the Warwick Farm form up area poor to the 1973 Tasman round- Matich A50 Repco ‘001’. Note the neck brace Joan is wearing

‘In Adelaide he spun twice, once on oil and the second time he couldn’t work out why. He had constant ringing in the ears as a result of the boating incident and just felt at 39 he could not concentrate as he had always been able to before so he felt it was perhaps time. At the same time FM’s wife Joan was having severe ongoing problems with her neck including surgery. So it was a combination of factors as a consequence of the accident and the need to focus on Joan and the rest of the family that led to the decision to retire, sell the racing cars but otherwise remain in business including the racing franchises such as Goodyear and Bell’ Kneller said.

No doubt Matich indicating he wanted to retire made the decision for Repco to withdraw from racing easier given the global competitive pressures upon them in the increasingly difficult economic situation of the time- oil shocks, the progressive lowering of Australian Tariffs and global ‘stagflation’.

Derek Kneller returned to the UK (there are some great stories there to be told when his book is finished!, c’mon Derek lots of us are waiting for that little baby!) with Peter Hughes the last of the race team to leave, he ‘worked with Tony Simmons for a while then when John Goss finally bought the A53 I worked with John and Grant O’Neill until 1975- the 1975 Tasman was the last series with John before marrying and travelling around Australia for two years.’

(M Bisset Collection)

Etcetera: The closely related Matich A52 Repco ‘006’…

During 1973, as related in one of the linked articles above, Matich took two A51’s to the US to contest the American F5000 Championship, the ‘L&M Series’, the cars used were chassis ‘005’ and ‘006’- ‘005’ was tested for a day at Warwick Farm before shipping to the states, ‘006’ was not.

The team who travelled to the US were, FM, DK, Chief Mechanic, Chris Miles, Team Manager, Bob Riley, Draftsman and engineering of the car, John Anderson and Leon Jarvis, Mechanics and Ken Symes looking after four Repco V8’s

Derek Kneller recalls ‘The cars did not perform as expected we had a handling problem on the latest spec Goodyear’s and the bumpy nature of the US circuits. The tyres weren’t identical to those we tested before going to the US. FM wasn’t the only driver testing the F5000 tyres, the final production tyres we were presented were different, so we were playing catch-up. The cars were still as fast as any at the Riverside first round mind you’.

‘The biggest problem was engine related. The higher cornering speeds of the US circuits threw up a scavenge problem in the Repco engines, this seemed to get worse as the season went on and at Watkins Glen the crankshaft bearings were damaged in both cars during practice and both were withdrawn from the race after discussion with Repco management in Maidstone the night before the race. This meeting was the first at which we ran the flat-plane crank engines.’

‘If Frank had qualified on the time he did on the Friday we would have been on the front two rows at the Glen. By then Matich had the car sorted on the tyres- this involved changes to shocks/camber and toe to get the loading right. We also moved the battery to the front to load the car up front a bit more.’

‘At the start of the season the A51 was as competitive as the T330 but its development accelerated with so many drivers and teams running and experimenting with the T330’s’.

‘Straight after the race weekend at Watkins Glen chassis ‘006’ was flown back to Sydney with me so that the handling and engine problems could be sorted. Chassis ‘005’ was left in the States with the rest of the team.’

Matich A51 ‘006’ and A51 ‘005’ in the Watkins Glen pitlane, June 1973- A51 ‘006’ rebuilt as an A52 using the same ‘006’ chassis as per text (D Kneller)

‘On returning to Sydney the engine problem was overcome, an additional scavenge pump was added to scavenge oil from above the camshaft. Oil was being retained in the valley above the camshaft in the longer fast corners causing oil starvation in the oil tank, leading to bearing failure.’

After the engine problem was sorted it was decided to redesign the chassis to overcome the handling deficiencies, hence the A52 design…The A52 was built using the A51 ‘006’ chassis and rear end but with a longer engine/gearbox adaptor (bellhousing) giving a 2inch longer (50mm) wheelbase than the A51, this was in line with the Lola T330′.

‘The radiators were moved to the sides of the chassis along with modifications to the engine water pump so that each radiator cooled the opposite side cylinder head and were shrouded with aluminum ductings’.

‘The oil tank was repositioned behind the left-hand radiator (from beside the cars gearbox, outside its wheelbase) and the battery moved from the front of the car to above the bellhousing’.

At the front of the chassis the steering rack was moved from the chassis itself to a heavily redesigned front subframe. The top pick up point for the shock absorber/spring assembly was raised approx 1 1/4 inch (30mm) along with a redesigned lower wishbone and new front uprights. These mods gave an increase in front suspension movement’.

‘To complete the design a chisel shaped nose made from fibre glass was added, the complete car was about 10 Kg lighter than the A51’.

‘The A52 was tested extensively by Frank at Warwick Farm during late July/early August 1973 with a hope of returning to the US series, but a problem with the sponsors in the US prevented this happening’.

FM Matich A52 Repco, ahead of Max Stewart’s Lola T330 Chev, Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, September 1973 (K Payne)

‘We had hoped to be back by Atlanta but we had problems with Carroll Smith and the Earley’s who owed us money. They were a father/son combination who were chiropodists operating their business and workshop in Dover, Ohio. Smith went AWOL at the Glen- non-one could get hold of him, he was bluing with the Earley’s too and then turned up a couple of races later with Graham McRae’ recalled Derek.

‘Frank sent me back to bring all of the cars, spares- the lot, Ken and Ando were still there whilst the other three had already come back to Australia.

FM side aspect at Surfers, similarity to A53 clear albeit A53 sidepods were bigger and longer to cover the fuel cells meet the new for 1974 deformable structure regulations (K Payne)

 

Matich off to the side of the circuit at Surfers trying to diagnose his problem- a destroyed battery internals (K Payne)

‘The A52’s only race was the Gold Star race, the ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’ at Surfers Paradise on 2 Sepember 1973 when fitted with a flat plane crank Repco F5000 engine. This gave over 520hp and sounded like a Cosworth DFV on steroids! (the best of the two-plane Repco engines gave circa 495bhp@7000rpm)

‘FM was quick straight away- he knew what the tyres needed, he led the race setting fastest lap before retiring with battery failure, the high frequency vibration from the engine shook the internals of the Varley battery apart.’

‘The car was comprehensively destroyed in a test session at Warwick Farm in late September whilst driven by Bob Muir. The chassis was beyond repair, both the outer and inner skins were damaged. The photos show damage from the car hitting the water-sprinkler system at Warwick Farm, 50mm diameter steel pipes- at great speed’.

‘Frank was not happy as he had just left the circuit after a successful session to visit his wife Joan, who was in hospital- and had let Bob have a steer to get another drivers opinion of the car, Bob had been driving a Lola T330 Chev in the US’.

As a consequence of the death of A52, A53 was born using the last remaining Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation constructed chassis.

(D Kneller)

Photos of the comprehensively damaged A52 ‘006’ back at the Matich workshop in September 1973.

‘The ‘006’ remains stayed at the Matich Military Road workshop and were then moved to the warehouse in Aartarmon and then later Darley Road and were finally junked a week or two before I rejoined Matich in 1989′ said Derek.

‘Frank knew I would want to repair and restore the car which he didn’t want to do so he got rid of it not long before I arrived back to run his Headway Helmets business- I shipped a Mondiale Formula Ford out for Kris (Matich) when I came back to Australia too’ Derek recalled.

(D Kneller)

Photo and Other Credits…

Tony Glenn, Derek Kneller, Peter Hughes, Peter Weaver, David Mellonie, Dale Harvey, Peter Weaver, Alan Radley, Ken Payne via John Payne, Curt Bond, oldracingcars.com, ‘Australian Competition Yearbook’ 1975 Edition

Tailpiece: Muir, ready to rock n’ roll, Oran Park pit lane 1 February 1974…

(T Glenn)

Its all happening above, its the Friday before the meeting.

An obscured Bowin P6F Formula Ford is between the Matich and Brian Foley’s ‘Chesterfield Racing’ XA or XB Ford Falcon Panel Van.

The shapely form in the driving suit holding the helmet in the middle of the shot is Christine Cole/Gibson who ran a Group C ‘105 Series’ Alfa 2000 GTV from 1973 to 1975 in many races including the 1975 Australian Touring Car Championship (which she gave a really good shake!) and Manufacturers Championship- its probably Foley to the left of Cole?

The more you look, the more you see…

Finito…

(D Willis)

Bill Cuncliffe, 22 years of age guides his ex-Snow Sefton Strathpine Ford V8 Spl around the wide open spaces of Lowood in 1956…

Dick Willis shared these wonderful, evocative photographs of Cuncliffe at the ex-RAAF Airfield circuit in Queensland’s Somerset Region 70 Km west of Brisbane.

The mountains (you would call them hills in Europe or North America) are the Great Dividing Range which runs down the east coast of Australia from ‘top to bottom’.

Cuncliffe poses at home after purchase from Sefton, note Dad’s Morrie Minor (D Willis)

The 4.2 litre Ford V8 powered device was quite a formidable machine for a young driver- Bill continued to race into the sixties, he finished eighth in the 1963 Bathurst 500 touring car classic aboard a Ford Cortina GT shared with fellow Queenslander Barry Broomhall.

Built by Snow Sefton at his Lawnton Motors garage in Gympie Road, Strathpine, the Ford V8 Spl contested both the 1949 Leyburn and 1954 Southport Australian Grands Prix.

Sefton on the Leyburn AGP grid 1949. From L>R- #22 George Pearse MG TB Spl, #18 Garry Coghlan MG TC Spl, #17 Dick Cobden MG TC Spl, #7 Alan Larsen Cadillac Spl V8 (Willis/Thallon)

At Leyburn Sefton raced this car, his more conventional ‘Strathpine Spl’ V8 racer ‘having competed elsewhere in Queensland with a Ford V8/Jeep hybrid which allowed a choice of either front drive or four- wheel drive’ Graham Howard wrote in ‘The History of The Australian Grand Prix’.

At Southport, Sefton raced ‘basically the same car he had run in the 1949 AGP at Leyburn’ retiring after completing 21 of the 27 lap scratch race won by Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar.

Ray Bell reports that the special was fitted with a more powerful and reliable ohv Cadillac V8 by the end of the fifties.

Snow Sefton in the Strathpine Ford V8 Spl in Gympie Road Strathpine in the late 1940’s, out front of his garage perhaps. Awesome if somewhat noisy road car (B Pritchard)

Sefton was the proprietor of the Lawnton Motors for more than thirty years, he competed at all of the Queensland venues post-war. ‘Snow was always the crowd favourite at the Exhibition Speedway every Saturday night in Brisbane with his black and white 1936 Ford (the No 36). Snow’s sponsorship deal for the 1936 Ford is a classic story in itself and involved some of Brisbane’s biggest Holden Dealers! He was also famous for thrilling country crowds with his staunt driving at shows all over Queensland up until the early 1960’s’ said the CHACC.

Etcetera…

The photographs below are of Bill Cuncliffe during the 1957-1958 period.

(Willis/Thallon)

Cuncliffe at the Samsonvale Hillclimb where he was second fastest time of the day. Samsonvale is 35 Km north of Brisbane. Looks like a wild place, the rugged special well suited to dirt surface.

Assistance with the owner/drivers lined up below welcome. Sid Sakzewski Porsche 356?

(Willis/Thallon)

The photographs below are at the Strathpine Airfield circuit.

That location is 25 Km from Brisbane to the north and was a major Queensland motorsport venue from the end of the war until the opening of Lakeside in 1961.

Snow Sefton is credited as one of the driving forces in establishing Strathpine, he and fellow enthusiasts ‘borrowed the Pine Rivers Shire Council road making machinery’ to finish the track for the first meeting on 11 August 1946.

‘They worked like beavers all weekend, returned the equipment before dark on Sunday night, then wired the fence back up. (Most of the councillors were farmers who lived out of town and would not have heard the racket)’ the CHACC reported.

The color shots just ooze the atmosphere and vibe of the times, we are uncertain of the meeting dates- quite probably more than one meeting, note the missing radiator cowl in one image.

(Willis/Thallon)

Cuncliffe getting some encouragement from his mates before the off by the look of it! Below the radiator cowl is missing- hors de combat or removed for additional cooling I wonder?

(Willis/Thallon)

Photos above and below are taken on the same Strathpine day it seems, sans radiator cowling, Quentin Miles thinks his father Bill took the photo below in 1957.

(B and Q Miles)

It really is a most agreeable looking race venue isn’t it, got a real picnic hamper feel to it?

(Willis/Thallon)

 

Credits…

Dick Willis Collection, Don Thallon Collection, Ray Bell, Bill Miles via Quentin Miles, ‘The History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Others, ‘CHACC’- Classic and Historic Automobile Club of Caboolture magazine article in September 2005

Tailpiece: Cuncliffe, Lowood 1956…

(D Willis)

Finito…

 

(I Liddell)

Earl Davey-Milne lines up his Bugatti Type 37 Chev ‘37104’ at Alexandra, Victorian Quarter Mile Sprint Championship, 24 November 1963…

The car started life as a 1926 model Type 37 four-cylinder Grand Prix Bugatti car which raced on New South Wales speedways and in several Phillip Island Australian Grands Prix before being fitted with a Hudson straight-eight engine- and later a 283 CID Chev V8 after Earl blew the Hudson motor at this very event in 1957.

The Alexandra Branch of the Victorian Sporting Car Club ran meetings here, near Eildon Weir for about a decade. Alex, 130 kilometres north-east of Melbourne is well known to skiers as a gateway town to Victoria’s high country and to the boating set who use Lake Eildon. It is otherwise a quiet farming community and home to around 2600 people.

(C Hyams)

Colin Hyams, Jaguar E Type and Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala 409, which was also shared by Dick Thurston on the day.

Colin ruefully recalled that ‘the meeting was the morning after the assassination of JFK.’ The President’s death at the hands of assailants unknown was on 22 November 1963, which makes the ’63 meeting date Sunday 24 November.

(C Hyams)

 

Bugatti T37 ‘37104’…

Whilst the Brescia and Type 30 were widely used in Australian motorsport ‘…it is the Type 37 that is indelibly linked in the older enthusiasts mind with Bugatti racing success here’ wrote Bob King.

‘The association is entirely justified as these 4 cylinder versions of the Grand Prix Bugatti were to win three of the first five Australian Grands Prix with a further victory falling to the visually identical Type 39 of Carl Junker’.

‘It is fortunate and remarkable that these splendid cars had such a high survival rate’ including the much raced ‘37104’.

The car was the fourth T37 built according to King and came to Australia to the order of Russell Taylor who, together with former Australian multiple Olympic medallist swimmer, Frank Beaurepaire, had an international tyre business ‘Advanx Tyres’ based in Sydney.

Whilst owned by Taylor the car was raced for him by Charlie East who had made a name for himself as a tuning wizard whilst apprenticed to, and employed by Phizackerley’s in 1904 at the same time as AV Turner, who later held the Sydney Bugatti franchise.

East evolved from tuning the cars to running in car trials, funding provided by his car hire business- his career in track racing followed.

Charlie East and ‘37104’ outside Advanx headquarters in Sydney with one of his many trophies. Note the road registration, what a supreme road car the Type 37 was, is! (B King)

 

Charlie East at Gerringong Beach, on the New South Wales South Coast circa 1930 (B King)

 

East with a pair of T37’s place unknown. East is leaning against ‘37104’, registered ‘1903’, a plate he used on several cars- the other T37 is Bill Thompson’s 1929 AGP entry ‘37209’. East tuned Thompson’s 1930 AGP winning Type 37A ‘37358’ (B King)

East’s battles with Hope Bartlett in his Bugatti Brescia become a major spectator drawcard for the venue. Charlie had many successes there although Bob notes that by 1927 ‘the handicappers seemed to have the measure of him’. The car was also raced at Penrith- East won the October 1930 ‘World Championship’ for under 1500cc cars on dirt, at Gerringong Beach and in New Zealand during 1929- by that stage owned by East who acquired it from Taylor for the modest sum of 150 pounds. Mates rates indeed!

Whilst East could earn 75 pounds a night at Maroubra, ‘he tired of hurtling around the track and started entering grass hillclimbs with his wife as passenger. He established records at Robertson, Prospect and Kurrajong…’ wrote King.

He sold the car for 500 pounds to Keith Macmeikin of Malvern, Melbourne in in 1933 with King rebutting claims made for a Sydney-Melbourne record time claimed by racer Cec Warren and Clive Smith during the delivery drive south.

The duo claimed a time of 11 hours and 10 minutes for the 575 mile journey ‘but a time of 10 hours 5 minutes had already been recorded by Don Robertson’s Graham Paige in 1930. Nor was it a Light Car Class record which was then held by Jack Clements and Wal Warneford with a Type 30 in 10 hours 53 minutes’ King wrote.

‘37104’ the Sydney-Melbourne record holder, not! Photo believed taken in the rear yard of Sporting Cars, City Road, Melbourne (B King)

The much used racer contested AGP’s at Phillip Island in the hands of Cec Warren in 1933, DNF big-end bolt, JO McCutcheon in 1934, DNF with oiled plugs after making a dash back to Melbourne on the night before the race due to engine trouble in practice.

McCutcheon raced the car quite a lot at the Island including the 1935 AGP where big-end failure intervened. ‘…the car was still highly fancied, being fourth car off in the twelve minute bracket…it’s disappointing performances in the Australian Grand Prix came to an end’ wrote Bob.

It does make you wonder why Taylor and East did not contest some of the earliest AGP’s given Charlie’s skill and the national nature of the Advanx Tyres business and resultant promotional opportunities of any success they may have had.

The Macmeikin clan with the car- Trevor third from the right, Andy at the wheel, place unknown- (A Macmeikin via B King)

David Macmeikin, who bought the car from his brother in 1934, hill climbed it at Rob Roy in 1938, selling to Jim McDonnell of East Kew in July 1939.

He contested the Interstate Cup or Grand Prix at Albury in 1940, one of the last racing events held in Australia in wartime- the motor blew, Jim died of injuries during the conflict.

(B King)

Ron Edgerton was the next owner, buying the car in 1941- the racer was still in Victoria, Glen Iris, here he is at the wheel, probably during Nar Nar Goon Speed Trials at the local racecourse. Who is alongside him I wonder?

There were a number of meetings organised by the Light Car Club of Australia, and other car clubs on a grass course outside the little village in the thirties and forties.

Nar Nar Goon is an aboriginal expression meaning ‘native bear’ and is on the Gippsland railway line 65 kilometres east of Melbourne.

(B King)

Edgerton at Rob Roy Hillclimb in outer Melbourne’s Christmas Hills with ‘37104’ still, seemingly Bugatti engined, perhaps one of you Rob Roy experts can tell us the probable date of this meeting. By the end of its competitive career the car would have been able to ascend the climb on its own given the number of times it raced there.

There is an article to be written on ‘Racing Ron’ given the truly vast number of racing and high performance cars the man owned in a lifetime of competition. I’ve a list somewhere!

Not the least of his racers is the ex-Alf Barrett Alfa Romeo Monza I wrote about some years ago which Ron sold to Earl Davey-Milne in 1951- another car the family retains albeit in unrestored, but complete, original state.

 

(B King)

A damp, soggy road event for the occupants- Edgerton and passenger probably during a Melbourne-Geelong Road speed trial- note the missing headlight.

‘Geelong Road’ events official- run ‘just off the Geelong Road (where exactly?) were run by the Australian Motor Sports Club and unofficial events went on for decades, most of us of a certain age may have done a top-speed run in a car or two in the very early hours of the morning along the Geelong Road whilst Mr Plod was hopefully tucked up in his Werribee bed!

I would love to know what is going on here! It’s Aspendale Speedway in Melbourne’s bayside- probably a promotional ‘race’ to extol the virtues of the ‘Males Gas Producer’- so we are immediately before or perhaps just after the start of WW2. What are the other two cars with Edgerton’s T37?- Ron McCallum thinks the big car is possibly an American ‘REO’ and Bob King suggests the open tourer is a Terraplane? From 1938 to 1940 these gas producers cost between 45 to 70 pounds per unit at a time the new price of small Austin was 250 pounds and a big Buick 525 pounds- these ‘Producer Gas’ units were a response to wartime petrol rationing. For those with a technical interest in the topic, see the fascinating article link at this pieces duration (B King)

After the engine was blown again during speed trials in Tooronga Park, opposite Scotch College, Hawthorn, Melborne Edgerton fitted a Hudson eight cylinder motor having failed in attempts to weld the delicate Bug block which had distorted from extensive competition use and previous repairs.

William Sinclair of St Kilda owned it in 1941-1942, nothing is known of his use of the old stager.

Speedway racer ‘Stud’ Beasley, who, together with father Arthur or ‘Pop’, and brother Alf were the ‘first family’ of speedway racing into the late fifties- then acquired the car in 1942, fitting the Willys ‘Winfield’ speedcar motor from his Midget after the Hudson continually boiled using the standard Bugatti radiator. It would be intriguing to know where Beasley raced the car.

Bugatti T37 Hudson, note the Ford radiator and ‘Davey Milne Special’ badge (Dacre Stubbs)

 

Note the chrome ‘up and over’ exhausts, fuel tanks are ex-Liberator bomber as are the seats, cable brakes still fitted (Dacre Stubbs)

Davey-Milne bought it in January 1943, sans Willys motor and soon re-fitted the Hudson 8 which was fed by Amal carburettors, mating it to a Lancia Lambda gearbox. It would be interesting to know the artisans who worked on the car.

The car was always notable for its immaculate preparation and presentation, first appearing- as it always did, in chassis only form at a Cape Schanck Hillclimb on the Victorian Mornington Peninsula in September 1946 where it set fastest time of the day. The car then competed regularly at hillclimbs and sprints well into the early seventies.

At the 1957 Alexandra meeting Earl had completed a 16 second pass only to have two connecting rods protrude through the side of the Hudson block in a most un-welcome fashion. Whilst the Hudson 8 was a cost-effective ‘specials’ motor a decade before the equivalent then was the small-block Chev V8 which had not so long before made its appearance in the Corvette.

(Dacre Stubbs)

After fitting the Chev V8 the car recorded a standing quarter time of 12.06 seconds which won him the Victorian Sprint Championship at Alex in 1964.

Other significant performances at the time were a class win during the Australian Hillclimb Championship at Silverdale, New South Wales and the Horsham, Victoria, Speed Trials in 1963 at 12 seconds.

Note that after fitting the Chev engine, Bob King wrote that the Bugatti steering box was replaced with one from an Alvis 12/50 due to lack of space.

Charlie East had reset the front axle to suit the particular needs of Maroubra’s banking in the twenties with Cec Warren replacing that original fitment with a hollow axle in 1933. Earl’s sprint demands bent that axle under braking at Geelong’s Eastern Beach Sprints in 1965- a Type 35C unit was fitted in 1966.

King notes ‘37104’s gearbox is now fitted to ‘37145’ and the sump of the original engine, number ’15’, is in Dean Smoker’s Type 37A replica.

(Dacre Stubbs)

In Chev engined form the car achieved 25 fastest times of the day from 34 starts- not bad in 1970 for a car which started its life at Molsheim in 1926.

The photographs above are of the car outside its Toorak home, the sight of Earl squirting the car around Melbourne’s most twee suburb startling the local squires and matrons would have been amusing. I am reliably informed that these occasional Toorak test sessions still take place, I must ask Troy Davey-Milne for an invitation to one of these early morning pre-Rob Roy blasts!

The fuel tanks started life as water tanks in a Liberator Bomber, the not particularly comfy looking seats are from the same source.

Eastern Beach, Geelong- best time there 13 seconds, on that occasion bested only by Lex Davison’s Formula Libre Brabham BT4 Climax 2.7 FPF, 1964? (Dacre Stubbs)

 

We have lift off. Earl grabs second gear at Geelong‘s Eastern Beach in 1964 (Davey-Milne)

 

An Earl fried tyre and wire wheel detail (B King)

 

Calder 1970, note the Bugatti badge on the dash (B King)

The car is a most significant Australian racer in its various forms with a continuous competition history from 1926 to the early-seventies. Earl is still alive, the Davey-Milne’s still own the car, I’ve a feeling it’s last outing was during the 2000 AGP meeting at Albert Park when Lindon D-M gave it a gallop- an awesome sight it was too!

Etcetera: 1964 Alexandra Sprint Meeting Program Excerpts…

 

 

Bibliography…

‘Bugattis in Australasia’ Bob King, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Ron Simmonds, Dick Denvil

Wartime ‘Producer Gas’ powered cars…

http://www.consuleng.com.au/Producer%20Gas%20&%20the%20Aussie%20Motorist%201939-45.pdf

Photo and Research Credits…

Ian Liddell, Davey-Milne Collection, Dacre-Stubbs Archive, Colin Hyams Collection via Stephen Dalton, Graham Edney Collection, Bob King Collection

Whereizzit?…

The sprint site stretch of road will only be of interest to we Victorians I guess.

Dick Denvil picks up the locale, ‘The track was a leftover piece of road created when the Eildon Weir pondage dam wall was put in.’

‘It was the continuation of the original road straight north-east towards the cross bridge into Eildon (from the bottom left corner- the side road which ends at a T-intersection and which then ran on to Bourke Street) The main road as seen above, then moved east away from the Goulburn River course to higher ground.’

Dick Simmonds lived in the area for a while, ‘You can still see part of the track which is now on a private property just past Thornton going towards Eildon…I looked at running a revival meeting, the owners of the land were ok, but the O,H & S issues got in the way of it…if only!?’

Dick concludes ‘The honour boards of the Victorian Sporting Car Club Alexandra Branch are in a building used by the Lapidiary Club within the Alexandra Railway Yards’ if you are passing by and want to have a look.

Tailpiece: Rob Roy, 24 July 1960…

(G Edney)

Lets finish as we started, with a rare colour photograph of this marvellous Australian Special- the first competition outing of the Bugatti in its Chev engined form- note the dual rear wheels.

Earl won his class that cool Victorian day with a run of 29.73 seconds from a Lancia-Austin on 30.41 secs.

Finito…

(D Lupton)

Denis Lupton’s ‘Team Devione’ Lotus 11 Ford Rep at Calder, ‘whilst the circuit was still being built, marked on the slide is 1960’…

Racer, engineer and mechanic Lupton and ace welder Hedley Thompson met at the Australian Motor Sports Club and soon developed a strong friendship.

Thompson was a foreman in aircraft maintenance at TAA- Trans Australian Airlines was one of two large domestic Australian airlines, Ansett the other. He was regarded by many, including Reg Hunt, as one of the finest, if not the best welder in Australia.

Regular trips to the likes of Boeing kept him up to speed with the latest aviation techniques which of course flowed through to his motor racing sideline. Pat Ryan mused that ‘it would be interesting to know how many cars came out of the nightshift at TAA?!’

Lupton and Thompson saw an opportunity to build some Lotus 11 replicas, the ex-Jon Leighton Lotus 11 Series 1 (chassis 198) provided the car from which to create a jig and working drawings when the pair rebuilt it.

(D Lupton)

Brian Devlin’s genuine Lotus 11, ex-Jon Leighton with Denis Lupton at the wheel, above, Fishermans Bend, Melbourne in 1959.

Little is known of the car’s early history other than that it was bought to Australia when Leighton emigrated here in 1958- first competing at the Hepburn Springs Hillclimb in November 1958, for a class win, Brian Devlin acquired it in 1960.

Between Thompson and Lupton the pair had the requisite skills to build racing cars. The little machine was stripped in the workshop behind Thompson’s home in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburb of Deepdene, (‘down the drop in Whitehorse Road from Burke Road till when it flattens and then in on the left’). When it was a bare chassis Denis took all the measurements and made a set of drawings.

Denis and Hedley made the chassis whilst the aluminium work was done by close friend of Lupton’s and noted racer Ian Cook and Frank Esposito. Whilst the standard Lotus bodies were aluminium, a buck/moulds were taken from the Devlin car with painter Jim Jewitt producing fibreglass bodywork.

Word travelled quickly of course that some beautifully built cars were coming together and the orders quickly flowed in.

This article is very much a ‘work in progress’ from Denis records of the cars, if you can help with the history of an individual chassis please get in touch.

Histories of the cars…

Don Ashton, Hepburn Springs Hillclimb in Victoria’s Goldfields or Spa Country (D Lupton)

No.1 Don Ashton, Gnat  BMC 750cc. ‘A’ type sleeved down

John Partridge, 1100cc BMC A type

Warwick De Rose, 1100cc BMC A type

Ken Hastings,  Atom, 1100cc BMC S/C

???

John Lambert, Current owner

Don Ashton in front of his Ballan, Victoria, garage (D Lupton)

No.2 Alan Coleman, Ford 105E Anglia engine

Shifted from Melbourne to Perth

Stuart Campbell, Car finished off and competed in Perth.

Bruce Campbell, Perth.

 

No.3 Jim Jewitt,

Julian Coker

Dick O’Keefe,  BMC ‘A’ type S/C, currently  active in Historic Racing

Dennis at Calder (D Lupton)

No. 4 Denis Lupton, Ford 100E with Elva cylinder head

Then fitted with 1500cc Cortina GT engine, close ratio gearbox,  disc brakes and wide wheels.

Dr. Les Mendel

Steve Gifford

Colin Dane, Current owner

 

No.5 Bellair Brothers- Mike & Terry

Lindsay Urquhart

Alistair Scholl                                          Graham Hail

Chris Ralph                                              Gavin Sala

Bruce McGeehan                                   Rowan Carter

Joe Farmer                                              John Blackburn (Qld)

 

No.6 Ian McDonald,  Tarquin TC

Wes Nalder, Horsham  fitted with 1500cc Hillman engine

????

Terry Cornelius, Seaspray, (son Rowan) current  owner, Longford, Tas

 

No.7 Geoff Aarons, Hillman Minx engine

R.Slaney, Sebring Motors, 123 Bridge Rd, Richmond.

???

 

No.8 Nev McKay, BMC ‘A’ type  S/C

???

Russell McKenzie,   Ballarat,  current owner.  C/o Redan Motors, Ballarat

 

No.9 Neville Ham, Ford Consul  engine

????

 

No.10 Ian Munro, Ford 100E engine

???

Ed Flannery as it was with Alan Bail with Climax FWB motor (D Lupton)

 

No.11 Ed Flannery, MG TC engine and Gearbox

Syd Fisher, fitted Alfa Romeo engine and gearbox, then Peugeot engine.

Alan Bail, fitted 1500cc FWB Climax, very successful.

Graham Vaughan, Queensland, current owner.

 

No.12 Hedley Thompson, Lola Mk 1 copy.

Ford 1500cc engine.

Geoff Robbins

Ian Wells

???

Bruce Polain

Ray Kenny, NSW,   to Barry Bates   QLD  current owner 2019.

David McKay raced his Lola Mk1 Climax at the Ballarat International meeting in February 1961. During the meeting a radius rod mount pulled out, Hedley was engaged to repair the car, again a jig was made and drawings of the chassis taken.

Long time racer David Crabtree was the first to drive the Lola ‘around Deepdene after we finished the car.’

‘In one of those “I thought you did moments” between us we hadn’t filled the diff with oil, so I took it back to my parents house in Malvern, and cobbled together a repair with all the Austin A30 bits I had.’

These days Crabby has a large successful aircraft maintenance business at Melbourne’s Essendon Airport, back then he was a young TAA apprentice, ‘I used to catch the tram up Glenferrie Road from Malvern and Hedley would scoop me up on the Cotham Road corner, not too far from his place and he would drive me out to the airport. He was a terrific bloke, immensely talented, he taught me how to weld. I did help in the build of the little Lola’.

Postscript…

Within a couple of hours of uploading this article my friend and historian Stephen Dalton raided his collection of magazines and emailed ‘…the history of Lotus 11 Replicas may have been somewhat different had Jon Leighton sold his Scuderia Birchwood Lotus in England. The 13 June 1958 Autosport ran his advert ”Scuderia Birchwood’s Lotus XI Sports, full 1172 trim, extras, enthusiast maintained, very fast, engine now dismantled, 850 pounds ono- Twyford 5 (evenings)”.

‘Devione’: the name?…

Denis advises the background to the names of his cars- ‘My lady wife is a Francophile, she says “Devione” is French for a “variation from a main theme” and I know better than to argue with her!’

‘So my cars were called ‘Devione’, and I built a few more for people, so we hoped to all race as a team so “Team Devione” was suggested. But people got married, or went sailing or found aircraft, or whatever, so it never got off the ground, pity!’

Credits…

Denis Lupton, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, David Crabtree, Doug Eagar, Stephen Dalton Collection

Etcetera: Denis Lupton, Devione LC2 Ford, Calder circa 1970…

(D Eagar)

Denis is rather a modest fellow, the next Devione piece will be about the Brabham BT23 inspired Devione LC2 Ford Twin-Cam 1.6 ANF2 car built by Denis- the ‘L’ and Ian Cook- the ‘C’, and raced successfully by the pair from 1969 to 1972. A car owned and being restored by Grant Twining in Hobart.

Finito…

 

The Benowa/Southport road circuit taking in 5.7 miles of Gold Coast hinterland was shortlived…

The November 1954 Formula Libre Australian Grand Prix for cars was run and won there by Lex Davison in an HWM Jaguar after Stan Jones massive accident due to chassis failure of Maybach 2 gifted his fellow Melburnian the win.

https://primotipo.com/2018/03/01/1954-australian-grand-prix-southport-qld/

 

 

The Oz Motorcycle Tourist Trophy was contested on the 16 October weekend in 1955 and won by Eric Hinton, see here for a summary of his career; https://amcn.com.au/editorial/erichinton1/

These two photos are uber-rare colour shots of the circuit and capture the nature and flavour of the place marvellously.

The ‘bike is an AJS 7R, the name the rider is D Fletcher from WA- a long journey from WA to Queensland’s Gold Coast then- thanks to enthusiast Peter Shannon for providing the competitor details. Checkout the scene- plenty of ciggies, hats and trousers which date the photograph- whereas colourful white hatted ‘cool dude’ in centre shot would fit right in at Burleigh Heads now. Similarly, the fellow in the dark T-Shirt, perhaps one of the riders, looks contemporary.

Hazell and Moore (the truck) were importers and distributors of motorcycles and operated their business in most of the Australian States, what company were they absorbed into I wonder?

 

 

Shannon advises the race start above appears to be the Australian Senior TT race.

Number 25 is R Richardson Norton 500 (NSW), #26 Edwards on his AJS, #1 J Godfrey AJS 359 (NSW), #2 is Hinton on the winning Norton 500. Number 5 is B Hodgkinson, Norton 500 (NSW) Peter points out is listed in the race program as #4 and #5 in the Junior TT with his assumption that the rider didn’t change numbers between the races.

Benowa was soon replaced as Queensland’s main racetrack by the Lowood Airfield- you can still drive the Benowa/Southport roads but the built-up urban nature of the Gold Coast, now a major growth corridor, bares absolutely no resemblance to these scenes. Mind you, it was sixty plus years ago.

There is a bit about Lowood towards the end of this article; https://primotipo.com/2016/03/18/lowood-courier-mail-tt-1957-jaguar-d-type-xkd526-and-bill-pitt/

 

Right hander near the Nerang River with the Golf Course entrance on the left. Perils of the road track readily apparent (Fisher/Pearson)

 

Credits…

I’ve managed to lose the photo credits in my excitement, perhaps one of you citizens of Bob Williamson’s Old Australian Race Photos Facebook page can set me straight. Peter Shannon for getting in touch with competitor details.  Speedway and Road Race History, Alec Fisher/Maurice Pearson Collection

 

Tailpiece: Morry Minor, Miss Coolangatta Glenys Wood and Eric Hinton on 1955 victory parade lap…

 

(Fisher/Pearson)

 

Finito…