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

(Rod MacKenzie)

…in the words of Maxwell Smart, for you aficionados of Mel Brooks’ wonderful sixties TV show ‘Get Smart’.

Kevin Bartlett with an inside wheel off the deck demonstrating the millimetre precision for which he was famous aboard the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa in Warwick Farm’s Esses, September 1969. Rod MacKenzie has opened his shutter at precisely the right moment.

Another inch or so and the talented Sydneysider would have ripped an expensive corner off the front of a car which was so kind to him. I’m not sure of the racer behinds identity. A Lotus 27 or 32 perhaps?

Bartlett inherited the Len Bailey designed, Alan Mann Racing built, Alec Mildren owned car after Frank Gardner raced it in the 1969 Tasman Series.

KB used it to great effect in that years Australian Gold Star Series winning three rounds and the title in it- Symmons Plains, Surfers Paradise and in Bartlett’s Warwick Farm backyard in December.  During a busy season KB and the Sub also won the Macau Grand Prix on 16 November and contested the JAF Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji.

It wasn’t the ‘same car’ by the end of the year though as the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 litre V8 engines with which the chassis was originally designed and built were put to one side and replaced by Merv Waggott’s Sydney built, 2 litre all alloy, DOHC, 4 valve, Lucas injected 275 bhp engine.

The history of my favourite ‘Australian’ racing car is one for another time- it’s a long story as this jewel of a car’s ‘in period’ history starts with 1969 Alfa V8 wins, continues with Waggott engined victories and ends with 1.6 litre Hart 416B success in Australian National F2 form in 1974/5. A fellow named Ray Winter was campaigning this famous car by then.

(Bill Pottinger)

High Speed Precision too…

Bartlett was famous for his tail out style, he was ‘the absolute master of opposite lock’ as Sam Posey described him having raced against KB during the 1973 Tasman Series and in the ‘L&M F5000 Championship’ in the ‘States in 1972/3.

This shot of the car is in ‘neutral to very subtle oversteer’ attitude, a very high speed, delicate drift- was taken by Bill Pottinger whilst Kevin traversed Teretonga’s ‘loop’.

The 1970 Tasman was tough in a 2 litre car, it was the first year of the Tasman F5000 Formula. KB was still quick enough to take 5th at Pukekohe and Teretonga- a second at Surfers Paradise, very much a power circuit was amazing and first at Warwick Farm brilliant but understandable. Bartlett, Matich and Leo Geoghegan were surely the quickest blokes around ‘Gods Own Acre of Motor Racing ‘ out Liverpool way?!

A mighty fine car and a mighty fine driver- thankfully both are still alive and well in Australia, Queensland to be precise…

(Bill Pottinger)

Merv Waggott fettles…

Sydney’s engineering genius Merv Waggott doing a plug change in ‘The Sub’ during the 1970 Teretonga weekend. Alec Mildren had been using Merv’s talents for years and specifically the smaller variants of Waggott’s engines in his other car, the Rennmax Engineering built Brabham BT23 copy ‘Mildren Waggott’ raced by Max Stewart.

When Merv decided to build a bespoke aluminium block to allow a capacity of 2 litres, something the Ford Cortina blocks used hitherto could not, it was an easy decision for Alec to go the more cost effective route with the local engine rather than the 2.5 litre Alfa V8.

The Alfa unit had received no development since first fitted to Mildren’s Brabham BT23D chassis in late 1967. Alfa were focussed on 3 litre engines for both their Tipo 33 Sportscar program and F1.

2 litre Waggotts won Australian Gold Stars for Leo Geoghegan in 1970 (Lotus 59B) and Max Stewart in 1971 (Mildren Waggott)

Photo Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie, Bill Pottinger on The Roaring Season

 

 

 

(Gordon)

Jim Clark’s Lotus 35 Ford Cosworth SCA 1 litre F2 car at rest in the Pau paddock on the 25 April weekend in 1965…

You forget what delicate little flowers these cars were. When I glanced at Ian Gordon’s wonderful shot I initially thought it was a ‘screamer’, a 1 litre F3 of the same era. Not so.

Remember the pantheon of single-seater formulae at the time was 1.5 litre F1 engines giving 205-215’ish bhp, 1 litre pushrod F3’s breathing through a single carburettor choke giving about 100bhp and 1 litre OHC race engine F2’s giving 115 initially towards 150 bhp plus by the formula change to 1.6 litres in 1967.

Jim won at Pau from Dick Attwood’s Lola T60 SCA and Jochen Rindt, also SCA powered in a Brabham BT16.

The engine in Clark’s winning Lotus is Keith Duckworth’s conception based on the production Ford 116E block. The SCA (single cam series A) was the dominant F2 engine of 1965. It won all of the ‘Internationals’- there was no European F2 Championship until 1967, with the exception of the ‘Autocar Trophy’ at Snetterton in May. Graham Hill took that win, BRM P80 powered, aboard a John Coombs Brabham BT16.

Hewland ratio change in Jacks BT16 in the Pau paddock- there were lots of them as Brabham tried to match ratios to the peaky 1965 variant of Honda’s RA302E engine. Brabham raced much of the ’65 F2 season in SCA powered cars as Honda development continued (Gordon)

Ian Gordon became a well known and respected Australian race mechanic, later working for Alec Mildren Racing and Max Stewart amongst others. He was on a racing holiday in 1965 and snapped these fantastic photos of the ‘F2 Engines of 1965’ during the Pau Grand Prix weekend. The engines are the SCA, BRM P80 and Honda RA302E.

For Jim it was the first of five F2 wins in ’65- that amazing season of Clark domination (F1 World Title, Tasman Championship and Indy 500 win), the others were at Crystal Palace, Rouen, Brands Hatch and the Albi GP late in the season.

The real threat to Cosworth SCA dominance into 1966, not that it was necessarily apparent at the time, were the 1 litre DOHC, injected Honda 4 cylinder engines fitted to various of Jack’s works Brabhams during 1965. The peaky nature of the engines power delivery was the primary issue which was addressed in spades over the winter. Click here for my article on Brabham Honda dominance in 1966.

https://primotipo.com/?s=brabham+honda

Duckworth’s First Cylinder Head Design…

By the beginning of 1963 new F3 and F2 categories were announced, the former to replace Formula Junior to take effect from 1 January 1964.

Duckworth, armed with 17,500 pounds of support from Ford set to work on the new ‘SCA’ engine which would use the Ford 116E block known so well to them.

Sitting atop it would be an aluminium cylinder head with a line of vertical valves, two per cylinder ‘It was really an overhead cam version of the last Formula Junior engine’ Duckworth quipped in Graham Robson’s wonderful ‘Cosworth’ book.

The engine was notable for its bowl in piston combustion chamber or ‘Heron Head’ design. ‘My simple argument was that at the compression ratios we could use, and the valve sizes needed to ensure good breathing, that a bathtub type of chamber ended up masking the valves. It was an awfully long way around their periphery. I argued with myself, that if I put the combustion chamber in the piston, then for most of the time the valves would be out of the way, and that they wouldn’t impede the flow’ Duckworth said.

The steeply aligned inlet port of the SCA owed much to the Mk XVII pushrod 1963 engine engine which was heavily modified by having tubular downdraught inlet ports brazed into the casting. It wasn’t easy to do or cheap to make but improved gasflow. The SCA in some ways mirrored that approach.

KD ‘The SCA was the first cylinder head that I ever designed, and now I think their was quite a lot wrong with it. We had all sorts of trouble with the combustion- we couldn’t make it burn- but it was still good enough to win a lot of F2 races. In the end there was so much spark advance, that it wasn’t reasonable. We ended up with 49 degrees. The SCA chamber suffered from a lack of circumferential swirl’.

Colin Chapman sub-contracted the running of his F2 team to Ron Harris, the two wheels of the car alongside Clark’s Lotus 35 in the opening photo are those of his teammate Brian Hart- Brians 35 is BRM P80 powered and is shown above. The story of BRM’s 4 cylinder P80 F2 engine is one for another time but its vital statistics are an all aluminium, DOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected 998cc (71.88X61.6mm bore/stroke) dry sumped motor giving circa 125 bhp @ 9750 rpm. (Gordon)

Duckworth- ‘It might not have been right, but we had to make it work. It won the F2 Championships of 1964 and 1965…and…until the Honda engine of 1966 with four valves and twin overhead camshafts, tungsten carbide rockers and torsion bar valve springs appeared in Jack Brabham’s cars. We’d run out of breathing at 11,000 rpm so we obviously needed more valve area. That’s what started me thinking about 4-valve heads’.

‘Mike Costin  and I exercised great ingenuity- we had ports that curved around, we had the piston of the week with every kind of shape, dint and odd hole- but the combustion was not good, the mixture never burned properly’.

All the same, the dominant F2 engine of 1964 and 1965 did so producing between 115 bhp @ 8700 rpm in its original Weber 40 IDF carburettor form and ultimate ’66 spec Lucas injected form 143 bhp.

Ford 5 bearing 116E block. Single, (train of seven gears) gear driven overhead camshaft, two valves per cylinder , Cosworth rods and pistons, Laystall steel crank. 997cc- 81mm x 48.35mm bore-stroke.

SCB variant 1498cc 175 bhp – 3 engines only built including the Brabham BT21B raced by ex-Brabham mechanic Bob Ilich in Western Australia

SCC variant 1098cc 135 bhp for North American sportscar racing

Bibliography…

‘Cosworth: The Search for Power’ Graham Robson, tentenths.com, F2 Index

Photo Credits…

Ian Gordon, Peter Windsor

Tailpiece: Jim Clark’s Lotus 35 Cosworth SCA on the way to victory in the 80 lap, 221Km Pau GP on 25 April 1965. Its only when you look hard you realise that it is not an F1 Lotus 33!…

(Windsor)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I joined a couple of much younger enthusiasts at Prahran’s ‘The Alps’ for a couple of ‘shandies’ on a warm Spring Sunday last week and was amazed to see them on their ‘duelling’ iPads cackling away to some of Brockbank’s magic…

 I shouldn’t have been surprised though as the work is timeless.

Russell Brockbank died in 1979 so has not been with us for a while. I think the first time I saw his work was in a batch of Pommie magazines my dad had been given by a mate in my early teens. A while ago.

He wasn’t born a Brit though, he was Canadian by birth, born in Niagra Falls in 1913, he was educated there and then went to Chelsea School of Art in London. He left art for industry in 1932 and then industry for art in 1936.

The 1960’s English editor of Automobile Year recalls he was a fairly well known motoring artist when Brockbank asked for his advice on how to break into the automotive business over a post Donington meeting drink. Confronted by such brilliant competition, Gordon Wilkins thought he showed sound sense in deserting art for writing.

Brockbank’s career started in the thirties as a contributor to ‘Speed’ magazine producing scraper images of the racing cars of the time.

Throughout his war service in the Royal Navy he contributed to Punch, Lilliput and The Aeroplane, his art reflecting the state of society then.

By 1949 he was the Art Editor of Punch. His passion and knowledge of cars and motor racing shines through in the technical accuracy of his work as do his characters-Major Upsett with his outmoded ‘tache and clapped out Austin 8. Not to forget the ‘Old Biddy’ haranguing her long-suffering husband, the Rolls driver and Latin racing drivers. Nothing missed his eagle eye.

In England he lived in the country and frequently gave lifts to grannies who had missed the hourly bus. He even thought of starting a ‘100 mph Club’ – ‘Bless their hearts, they chat away at a Porsche ton and don’t know it. The observant few watch the tacho, read 40 and are happy’ he quipped.

He died at the early age of 66.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography…

Automobile Year, Article by Sue Ellis

Credit…

Russell Brockbank, Brockbank Partnership

Tailpiece…

 

 

Frank Feeley, Designer (right) and Aston Martin’s owner David Brown with a clay model of Feeley’s Aston Martin DB3S in the Feltham design studio, 1954…

It would be interesting to know the occasion of this factory PR shot, the DB3S first appeared at Charterhall in May 1953 so it seems unlikely it was about that model Aston. The clay model is also notable, in comparison with the final design, for the distance behind the rear wheel arch which is shorter on the production car than the clay. The DB3 was much more slab-sider than its younger sibling too wasn’t it? The cutaway front arch, such an outstanding feature of the DB3S design is clearly shown. The rendering on the wall behind the two fellows is also intriguing, I wonder what it is?

I wrote an article about one of Aston’s sexiest models, the DB3S, not so long ago, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

Two of Frank Feeley’s designs at Le Mans in 1949. #29 DB1 driven by Lawrie/Parker to 10th and #28 DB2 driven by Marechal/Mathieson DNF. Race won by the Chinetti/Thomson/Selsdon Ferrari 166MM (unattributed)

Feeley is said by some to be a forgotten man of Aston Martin…

 It seems odd really as he shaped all post-war Astons up to but excluding the DB4, most notably the DB3 and DB3S racers.

Feeley, whose father also worked there, joined Lagonda as a teenager at 14, initially he was the office boy under Arthur Thatcher, the assistant works manager.

By 25 he was their ‘Body Designer’, succeeding Walter Buckingham. The commercial viability of Lagonda as an independent firm was weakened when Briggs Motor Bodies exited an agreement to build Lagonda’s bodies to take on more profitable and larger deals with Jowett and Ford. Lagonda had closed their own body shop, with times being tight, Feeley and WO Bentley were shown the door.

David Brown bought Aston Martin, famously spotting a ‘For Sale’ advertisement in ‘The Times’, he paid the princely sum of twenty thousand- five hundred pounds for the business. Shortly thereafter he also bought Lagonda, creating, you guessed it, Aston Martin Lagonda. Needing a body man Brown approached Feeley who took on the role despite some misgivings.

Aston DB2 in 1949. It is the #28 car in the 1949 Le Mans photo above when first built. The car was without brakes for a long period of the race, Pierre Marechal crashed at White House on Sunday, then rolled with the unfortunate driver dying of his injuries the following day. ‘LMA/49/1’ was scrapped, the engine transferred into a DB1 (unattributed)

Feeley’s first work for the nascent AML was a roofless, rebodied Atom which ‘…was a sweeping open tourer derived from his pre-war ideas to modernise the Lagonda V12 and featured a new design of radiator grille. This had a vertically slatted centre section based on the original Aston radiator and a pair of low side grilles flanking it. Fifteen were built with the car retrospectively called the DB1’.

No doubt Cisitalia and Ferrari influenced the shape of the DB2 which was built on a shortened version of the Claude Hill designed ladder frame chassis- the car was created quickly to run at Le Mans in 1949. ‘We drew the chassis in and I immediately drew up the whole thing around it, the whole shape. Their was no time to change my mind once I had done it’ Feeley recalled.

The DB2 continued the DB1’s three-piece grille form, in a simplified one piece design, which set the template for the Aston grille shape which continues today.

David McKay’s first Aston DB3S ‘102’ in the leafy Sydney North Shore suburbs in the mid-fifties (pallas1970)

The DB3S is favourite car for so many of us such is its purity of curvaceous line. Cutaway front arches were its innovation, the practical element of this approach was to draw heat out of the engine bay. ‘Feeley had got fed up with the chassis engineers never knowing where they were going to put the exhaust pipes, so he decided it for them by running the pipes through the cutaways’. By this stage Frank’s duties extended to managing the body-builders, initially Mulliners of Birmingham and later Tickford in Newport Pagnell, a David Brown acquisition.

But times were changing, John Wyer was instrumental in the rejection of Feeley’s proposal for the coming DB4 in favour of Touring of Milan. This, and the concentration of activity at Newport Pagnell, where the DB4 was to be built, rather than at Feltham near Feeley’s home signalled it was time to leave. He worked in the aircraft industry and continued to live in his native Staines until his death in 1985.

In terms of contribution post-war Feeley is up there with Astons best- Claude Hill, Harold Beach, Ted Cutting, Tadek Marek, John Wyer and David Brown himself. Not a forgotten man at all me-thinks?

The works Aston’s before the off- Le Mans 1949: #27 is the Jones/Haines 7th placed DB2, the #28 DB2 in front of it, then the #19 Johnson/Brackenbury DB2, DNF water pump (unattributed)

Bibliography…

 Article by John Simister in ‘Vantage’ Magazine November 2014, ‘Aston Martin: The Racing Cars’ Anthony Pritchard

 Photo Credits…

 Getty Images, pallas1970

 Tailpiece: It’s a winner I think…

 

 

(Feisst)

Max Stewart looks pretty happy aboard his pristine, new Elfin MR5 Repco, New Zealand Grand Prix, Pukekohe 1972…

He is talking to Elfin works mechanic Dale Koenneke, well known in Australia for his work with Elfins, John McCormack and later K&A Engineering, an enduring partnership in Adelaide he formed with Harry Aust.

Max took to F5000 like a duck to water. His speed in 2 litre cars- he won the 1971 Australian Gold Star series in his trusty Mildren Waggott 2 litre was immediately transferred across to the more demanding 5 litre, 480bhp MR5. The Elfin wasn’t the ‘ducks guts’ of cars albeit John McCormack developed his car to a fine race, and championship winning pitch. But in 1972 Max was the fastest guy aboard an MR5- a quicker driver than Garrie Cooper, McCormack and John Walker. Very soon McCormack and Walker developed ultimate speed whereas Garrie- quick in a Tasman 2.5 car was never more than a journeyman in 5 litre single-seaters.

Stewart booting the MR5 around Warwick Farm during the 1972 ‘Hordern Trophy’ Gold Star round- 3rd behind Frank Matich’s Matich A50 Repco and Kevin Bartlett’s Lola T300 Chev (Aust Motor Racing Annual)

The MR5 looked superb. Even though Alec Mildren abandoned his race team at the end of 1970 Max kept the Mildren yellow team colour on his own cars- both the Mildren Waggott in 1971 and MR5 in 1972. He retained the Seiko and BP sponsorships too. What a sad day for Australian motor-racing it was when Alec finally pulled the pin. He was such a wonderful benefactor/entrant of Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart and others, but those fellas in particular.

The MR5 wasn’t the ‘Silver Hammer’ at all for Max though. That car was undoubtedly the racer which followed, his ex-works Frank Gardner driven development prototype Lola T330 Chev ‘HU1’. It was the very first of that ‘category destroying’! series of dominant T330/332 Lolas. Max made HU1 sing for years and was always competitive with the T332’s. Both the T330 and MR5 ’5722’ are still in Australia, restored and exercised regularly.

Photo Credits…

Mike Feisst Collection on The Roaring Season, Neil Stratton, Australian Motor Racing Annual 1973, Tony Glenn

Tailpiece: Stewart swallowed by his Lola’s schnorkel, Pukekohe paddock 1973…

(Feisst)

Whilst Frank Gardner ‘retired’ from single-seater racing towards the end of the 1972 Tasman Series he continued to test openwheelers in his capacity as Lola’s development engineer/tester. He also raced this chassis, T330 ‘HU1’ once or twice in some end of season European F5000 Championship rounds in 1972 as he developed the production spec 1973 T330 for Eric Broadley.

HU1 was then sold to Max to run in the ’73 Tasman with Gardner on hand to advise the lanky Aussie on how to extract the best from the car, which he most certainly did. Here the car is in the Pukekohe paddock twelve months after the shot at this articles outset, both photos taken by the same photographer, Mike Feisst.

Max 5th aboard T330 HU1 during the final, sodden Warwick Farm Tasman in 1973. Steve Thompson won in a Chevron B24 Chev (Tony Glenn)

Postscript: The choice of Elfin/Repco/Lola/Chev…

Stewart didn’t have great reliability from the MR5 in either the ’72 Tasman or the Gold Star- his best results were a 5th and 4th at Pukekohe and Levin in the Tasman and two 3rd places in the Gold Star at his home NSW tracks of Oran Park and Warwick Farm.

The decision to go with Lola was an easy one. He had witnessed at first hand the speed of the T300’s driven by his mate Kevin Bartlett, Bob Muir and others and no doubt Frank Gardner was able to impress upon him the speed of the coming T330. Frank Matich was at the front of the Repco queue- FM was their works driver after all, with perhaps McCormack and Cooper getting the next best customer engines.

Lola Chev was an eminently sensible move which paid off in spades for Max albeit not initially! The story of Stewarts’ success in his Lola’s is one for another time, suffice it to say aboard T330 ‘HU1’ he won the 1974 Teretonga and Oran Park Tasman rounds, the Australian Gold Star Series winning five of the six rounds including the Australian Grand Prix at Oran Park. Quite a season for the popular boy from Orange.

Max Stewart ahead of great friend and rival Kevin Bartlett during the 1974 Gold Star round at Oran Park won by Max. Lola T330 from T332 . KB DNF, Max won from the T332’s of Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence (Stratton)

Finito…

 

(Adelaide Observer)

A couple of years ago I wrote a long piece about the first car race in Australia, the article asserts that momentous event took place at Sandown Park, Melbourne on 12 March 1904. I’m in a constant search to find an earlier race

Whilst not a car race but a ‘demonstration or parade’, what seems to be the first event of this type in Australia was held at Adelaide Oval on Saturday 11 October 1902. More interesting is that the first claimed motor-cycle race in Australia took place on the same day.

The Adelaide meeting was promoted by the ‘League of Wheelmen’ a cycling organisation at no less a temple of sport than the wonderful, picturesque Adelaide Oval, not at all a venue I would have considered as one at which ‘motor racing’ took place.

Located in North Adelaide, Adelaide Oval is the best sporting venue in Australia. That my friends is a huge statement for a Melburnian member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, our ground is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. We Melburnians reckon the MCG is the best bit of sporting dirt on the planet, but good ole Adelaide Oval is better. It doesn’t win in terms of seating capacity, but the location, surroundings, vibe, the hill and scoreboard, the vista of trees towards St Peters Cathedral cannot be matched. And having seen a few stadiums around the world its ‘up there’ with the best globally in character and comfort if not capacity.

That Saturday the League of Wheelmen hosted a day of racing- cycling, motor car demonstrations and the new ‘sport of kings and millionaires’ as the Adelaide Advertiser put it- motor racing. The motor-cycle racing 5 mile event event was ‘the first motor race in Australia’ the paper reported.

The hallowed turf primarily used for cricket and football (Australian Rules) then incorporated a steeply banked track at its outer perimeter which was ideal for cycle racing and ‘admirably adapted for contests between motor cycles and for the establishment of records’ if not so great for motor car racing.

The days program was dominated by cycling events with many interstate competitors taking part. In addition there were 13 contestants of the motor-cycle races in the afternoon with ‘the final’- my god, a championship! to be held the following week, on 18 October.

An interesting part of the program ‘to indicate the growth of the (motor) industry’ was a parade of cars, motor-cycles, quadri-cycles, cycles and velocipedes, the organisers showing a keen sense of history of transport with a focus on the previous thirty or forty years.

The Adelaide Observer reported that the display created a favourable impression. ‘The big cars whirred around the track with surprising velocity, and so easy were they to control and so graceful in their evolutions that their popularity is assured’. It seems fair to say that the success of the demonstration of cars on that October day, and the following weekend provided some type of impetus for the first car race in Australia at Sandown and the first car race in South Australia, at Morphettville two years later.

Parade of motor cars at Adelaide Oval on 11 October 1902 (Observer)

Context is Everything in History?…

We forget sometimes just how far we have come.

The Adelaide Observer of 18 October 1902, in an article entitled ‘How The World Moves’ comments upon how the dreams of Jules Verne were coming true. At the time the voyage to America from the UK had been cut to 124 hours, ‘with only 70 hours at sea’. ‘In rather less than 400 years the record of Magellan in circumnavigation of the globe has been cut from three years to between 50 and sixty days’.

The article addresses ‘The Age of the Engineer’ and notes that the cheaply constructed great Siberian railway being eventually destined to be recognised as one of the great wonders of the railway world, with ‘the Era of the Canals’ taking 1000 miles out of  global journeys. ‘Many ancient landmarks are threatened and many time honoured routes promise to become ways of the past, interesting as the grass grown coach roads of England, but no more frequented by the conveyances one so familiar.’

In addition to the above more macro view of progress, this extract from the Adelaide ‘Chronicle’ of the same day very concisely places the development of the bicycle, motorcycle and motor car in the context of the up till then omnipotent form of personal transport, the horse…

‘The opening day of the League of Wheelman’s October race meeting marked an interesting epoch in the history of cycling. One of the events on the programme was a motor cycle race- the first held in the Southern Hemisphere, and it was to be the introduction of this novelty and an exhibition of motor cars that the large attendance was due’.

The cycling world is one of rapid evolution. Forty years ago velocipedes equal to a speed of six or seven miles an hour were a favourite means of locomotion. They gradually developed into the ordinary high machine, with which it was possible on a good track to ride a mile in three minutes. It is only a little more than a decade since the ‘safety’ chain-driven machine, with pneumatic tyres, made its appearance in the streets of Adelaide, and the ‘ordinary’ disappeared before its more stylish and faster rival.’

‘From the early nineties the safety revolutionised cycle racing, and record succeeded record at a bewildering rate, until it became common for a cyclist behind pace to eclipse the times of the best racehorses the world has ever produced’.

‘The popularity of the sport developed…the League of Wheelmen…at one time promised to become a very wealthy body…but two or three years later the absence of crack riders from the other side of the world and the lack of variety in the sport, coupled with unfavourable weather conditions, resulted in unprofitable meetings’.

‘Now the motor has come to play its part in the sport, and its advent was enthusiastically welcomed on Saturday…the gate receipts…and next Saturdays takings…will all be profit.’

Mix of old and new cycles, Adelaide Oval 11 October 1902 (Observer)

‘The story of the evolution of the motor car was admirably told on Saturday in the exhibition of ancients and modern methods of locomotion…the early form of the bicycle was illustrated by old wooden velocipedes…40 years old…ridden in the old fashioned costume of top hats and black suits with flying coat-tails…Alongside of these were motorcycles ridden by Messrs TP O’Grady, A Allison, W Baulderstone, W Courtney, R Davis, HM Aunger, RW Lewis, FR Burden, EA Gowan, D Bruce and EF Wilksch were shown.’

‘Most interest was shown in the motor cars, of which four were shown. Mr Gordon Ayres brought his car, a very handsome one…but it could not be taken onto the track…with an old set of tyres one of which blew out. Mr H Thomson’s ‘Swift’, which he has just imported attracted considerable notice. The other two cars which raced around the oval were both locally manufactured. One was shown by Mr V Lewis, and driven by Mr H Bernard, and the other was exhibited and driven by Mr J Bullock. In addition to these Messrs J Bullock, H Bernard and the representative of the Massey- Harris Company had motor quadricycles on the track. With all these machines careering round the oval at their best pace the spectacle was in the highest degree interesting. The exhibition was the success of the day, and when the officials of the league saw the impression it made on the spectators they at once resolved to repeat it next Saturday. Mr Ayers car will then be shown in action with all the others.’

TP O’Grady with his ‘works’ Lewis motor-cycle- winner of the first motorbike race in Australia 11 October 1902 (Observer)

‘The other novelty of the meeting was the motor cycle race of 5 miles’. Originally their were 13 entries with the race divided into two heats, with two machines withdrawing from the first heat.

‘TP O’Grady was off scratch, W Courtney 30 seconds, A Allison 50 and W Baulderstone 1 min 5 sec. Baulderstone was away well and had almost completed a lap when O’ Grady was pushed off. Courtney retired early with a mechanical problem. O’ Grady’s machine took a while to get going, but when it did it was soon seen to be the fastest machine on the track. It lapped the others three times in the 15 laps and covered some of the circuits in 32 and 33 seconds. Its fastest pace was at the rate of 1 min 32 sec for the mile, or 30 miles per hour. O’ Grady an old time racing man, who constructed the motor himself at Mr V Lewis cycle works, was loudly cheered as he finished his five miles journey in 9 min 10 secs. Just after he crossed the line the belt of his motor broke. There was an interesting run for second place between Allison and Baulderstone. The latters machine lost the pace with which it started, and Allison was able to keep ahead’.

A story about Vivian Lewis and his nascent cycle, motor-cycle and car company is a story in itself, O’Grady was Works Manager, Works Rider/Driver! and a shareholder in Vivian Lewis Ltd.

The Adelaide Observer had this to say about O’Grady’s performance. Thomas Patrick ‘Tom’ O’Grady ‘carried off the honours’ covering the 5 miles in a time of 9 minutes 10 seconds ‘at times he travelled at the rate of 39 miles an hour’. Some of the laps of 612 yards were covered in 33.25 seconds with one mile timed at 1min 33 seconds. It was the first occasion on which the machine had been tested, it was not completed until the Saturday morning, the average of 1min 50 seconds per mile ‘must be considered gratifying, particularly as a strong wind had to be contended with’.

There were six starters in the second heat which was run at a lower pace with interest being lost when R Davis’ belt broke with 3 laps to go when he was overhauling the leaders. J Bullock won from FH Burden, RW Lewis, EF Wilksch and Davis. ‘The final between the first three in each heat will be run next Saturday’.

In a full program of bicycle racing many of the motorised racers jumped onto their normal racing cycles.

The Chronicle concluded its report by commenting favourably on the performance of ‘The Locomotive Band’, which gave a fine rendition of the march ‘Colonels Parade’, that there were no accidents during the day which ‘was well managed in every respect’.

In keeping with the mood of the week a novel race on the road was also advised, this comprised, ‘…a contest between B Thompson’s 4.5 hp car and the Broken Hill Express train ‘in a scamper to the Burra, the chauffeur and the engine driver to shake hands at the Adelaide Railway Station before starting’! Logistically this would have been easy as Adelaide Station is only several hundred metres from Adelaide Oval.

So. What do we take from all of the wonderful prose about the days activities on 11 October?…

Firstly, the claim that the first motor-cycle race in the Southern Hemisphere was run at Adelaide Oval on 11 October 1902 and won by TP O’Grady on a local Lewis machine.

It seems clear the first motor-cycle racers were graduates of bicycle racing.It makes sense doesn’t it in terms of the balance, competitiveness and the need for more speed required!

It also seems the case that the ‘League of Wheelmen’ saw motor cycle racing- and especially car competition which appears from the report to be the most popular event or motorised display on that October day, keys to future commercial success. To turn around their flagging gates.

Of course the bike and car racers would soon go their own separate ways probably when a greater number of venues became available to them both on public roads and specialist, speedway, closed circuits. But for the moment the would be motorised racers needed venues and the cyclists had them, and ‘in good nick’ too.

(Observer)

The 18 October meeting was run in splendid Adelaide spring weather with much expected from the motorised events but mechanical mayhem somewhat ruined the motor-cycle racing program…

The organisers changed the spectator amenities during the week by allowing better viewing of the cars, perhaps by allowing the punters to get closer to the action. His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor conferred his patronage to the carnival. ‘Visiting officers of the Australian Squadron have accepted the Leagues invitation to be present’ the Evening Journal notes in an article published on the day of the race. Its interesting in these modern times to see what was regarded as relevant then but now is very much ‘who gives a rats’ stuff. Similarly the language of the day is wonderful in its eloquence, the prose of times gone by I enjoy I must admit. Long-winded sometimes but enjoyable nonetheless!

O’Grady’s ‘brilliant run’ of the week before stamped him as a certainty for the final, with many returning spectators expecting him to lap the field twice aboard his Lewis over the five mile duration of the final.

The contemporary newspapers reported upon the riders but not the machines, sadly. So, in the main, we don’t have details of the bikes ridden on that important occasion. The final was a race between five competitors with TP O’Grady off scratch, A Allison 50 seconds, VR Burden and W Baulderstone off 1 minute 5 seconds and the limit-man J Bullock on 1 minute 20 seconds.

A warm up for the bikes was provided during the cycle and motor parade which was also a feature of that days events. The competitors for the race had a trouble free run during this morning event.

During the later stages of the afternoon, just before the feature cycling event ‘The Australasian Ten Miles’, won by Victorian DJ ‘Don’ Walker, the ‘Motor Race’ commenced.

Bullock, Baulderstone, Burden and Allison completed a lap before O’Grady was pushed off from the start. There was general disappointment as the locally built Lewis bike was pulled onto the grass by its driver, the engine not firing properly. With 7 laps to go Burden passed the stationary O’ Grady, his ‘machine going splendidly’.

2 laps later Burden lapped Allison and with 4 to go caught Baulderstone again, with whom he had started. With 2 laps to run Burden passed Allison and finished an easy winner in 9 minutes 15 seconds. His time was 5 seconds slower than O’Grady’s over the same distance the week before. Bullock was 2nd in 9 mins 34 seconds and Baulderstone 3rd in 10 min 23 secs. Prize money for the race was ten, three and two pounds from first to third places.

The distance between Adelaide Oval and the fringe of Victoria Park, site of the first Formula One Australian Grand Prix in 1985 is small, 1.5 Km, but the performance difference between the cars displayed and Keke Rosberg’s victorious 900bhp Williams FW10 Honda is immense. In their wildest dreams, a spectator present on that glorious October 1902 day who also attended the AGP on a similarly wonderful, hot day in November 1985 could not have conceived of cars of such vastly different performance and sophistication within their own lifetime?

The Adelaide built Lewis car number 1, the first car built in South Australia on display/parade at Adelaide Oval on 11 October 1902, driver H Bernard. In 1902 form the car was powered by a water cooled 5HP, petrol, single-cylinder engine with ‘electric ignition’. The transmission had belt drive to a countershaft behind the rear axle from where spur gears drove the wheels. The Adelaide Oval event was one of the last public appearances of the first Lewis- motor car design was progressing rapidly and the 2 year old car was becoming dated. Lewis did build a few more cars but the future for the company was importing rather than manufacture, within a few years the business was distributing Napier, de Dion, Talbot and Star brands (unattributed)

Photo Credits…

 State Library of South Australia, Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide Observer

 Bibliography…

Adelaide Advertiser 11, 17, 20 October 1902, The Daily Telegraph Sydney 13 October 1902, Adelaide Observer 18, 25 October 1902, The Adelaide Register 20 October 1902, earlymotor.com

Tailpiece: Be There on 18 October 1902…

 

 

 

 

 

2017 works Spectrum 015 FF driven by Jayden Ojeda (Borland)

Australia’s ‘Auto Action’ magazine has an ‘Under The Skin’ section of its online publication which analyses the design and engineering of racing cars in some detail, its worth keeping an eye on…

 A short while ago AA interviewed Mike Borland about his latest Formula Ford design, the Spectrum 015, the article is also of interest in relation to the general health of FF in Australia.

All Australian enthusiasts will be well aware of Mike’s facility in Melbourne’s Braeside, down by Port Phillip Bay on the cities southern outskirts. Mind you, Borland Racing Developments have had plenty of success in the UK, the US and New Zealand with both Formula Ford and Ford 2000, the latter in the ‘States. So Spectrum are hardly an unknown marque globally these days.

Mike is the nephew of Brian Shead, designer, builder and racer of the very successful series of Cheetah racing cars so the desire to build cars was almost a natural part of his growing up process. Borland’s business originally prepared and ran ANF2 cars for customers in 1984 but soon morphed into construction of FF and F Vee racers. By the time I first met him in 1996 he was on the cusp of national FF success, Jason Bargwanna placed 2nd in the ’96 Australian FF Championship in a Spectrum 05C with Adam Macrow and Christian, son of Alan, Jones taking first and second in the 1998 championship aboard the 06 model.

In 2006 a Spectrum 011 raced to victory at Brands Hatch and more recently the company has had ongoing success in both Formula Ford and Ford 2000 in the US in addition to its position as market leader in Australia. Historic racers know the business for its restoration work and project engineering skills recently deployed on programs like Chris Lambden’s ‘Thunder 5000’, the prospective Australian National Formula 1 category/car.

Salutory is that Borlands have outlived all of the well known racing single-seater and sportscar marques of Australia with the exception of Elfin- and there is little doubt Mike will achieve that in the coming years. Mind you, at eighty Bob Britton is still working, Rennmax Engineering lives on, that business was started in the early sixties or perhaps even a little earlier. Bob Britton and Mike Borland, we salute you!

Australia does of course have vast engineering resources devoted to ‘Taxis’- V8 Supercars and Sports-Sedans to a lesser extent, and its great that large numbers of people can make a living out of the sport/business. But it is galling how small the engineering aspects of the purist end of the sport are, perhaps a global trend given the proliferation of one-make categories these days.

Click here for the Spectrum 015 Ford Duratec FF article;

https://autoaction.com.au/2017/06/20/skin-formula-ford-australia-world

Slinky, sexy, cost-effective and fast Spectrum 014 Ford 2000 160bhp car at Phillip Island in March 2017 running in the ‘Trophy’ class amongst an F3 field, Paul Zsidy up (Borland)

Postscript: On racing car production numbers in Australia…

I am not suggesting above that Elfin exists as a going concern still building racing cars, but rather that Elfin in its various guises inclusive of the Garrie Cooper period had a longer life than Borlands so far. Michael has eclipsed the lifespan and production numbers of Asp, Birrana, Bolwell, Bowin, Cheetah, Elwyn, Farrell, Hardman, Hustler, JMW, Kaditcha, Malmark-Elfin, Matich, Richards, Shrike, Spectre, Turnham, Welsor, Wren.

There are many others but these are constructors who have built five’ish cars or more off the top of my head. I dips me hat to anyone who can make a living out of building racing cars over time. I’ve been in small and medium sized businesses all of my working life and know just how hard it is- I can think of few markets more difficult than racecar manufacture in which to make a dollar!

Borland Racing Developments…

https://borlandracing.com/