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

(B King Collection)

A C ‘Mick’ Carlton and passenger aboard his Lea-Francis Hyper 1.5 s/c, chassis number #14041 during the sprint meeting at Safety Beach, Dromana on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, Saturday 7 December 1929…

It’s amusing to think that a century ago motorsport took place on land upon which at least two of our Victorian readers have weekenders. Lets deal with the events at Safety Beach first and come back to Mick and Lea-Francis further on.

The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria first ran ‘a long series of motor car contests’ at Safety Beach the year before, Saturday 2 December 1928 on a two mile rectangular, sandy gravel course on the ‘Safety Beach Estate between Mount Martha and Dromana’. Cursory research indicates the venue was used from 1928 to 1932.

About 1,000 spectators attended that day making the long journey by car or steamer from Melbourne to Dromana. No doubt the nascent sport was shown to best effect as the chosen course, held on private property- motor racing on public roads was illegal in most states including Victoria, was placed in a natural ampitheatre of hills including Arthurs Seat and Mount Martha towards which the photograph below was taken.


A familiar view to Victorians from Arthurs Seat across Port Phillip Bay and down towards Dromana and it’s pier- the area to the right before the land starts to rise at Mount Martha is Safety Beach. The settlement in the distance is Mornington- its apex is Snapper Point.

The course was 2 miles 173 yards in length- a nice lap with ‘tests for acceleration over a short run’ and ‘for speed around the full circuit’- more than fifty cars entered.

Prominent competitors included Joan Richmond, Riley and Arthur Terdich in the Bugatti T40 in which he was so quick in the 1928 100 Miles Road Race (the AGP) at Phillip Island in March. Other Phillip Island racers entered included WA Terdich- variously called Bill or Ab, Senechal, Harold Drake-Richmond in the Maurice Shmith owned Fiat 509 and Jack Day’s Bugatti T37 which had been very fast in the latter stages of that first road race in Australia.

Other cars of interest/racers of later prominence included AW Bernadou, Riley, Maurice Shmith in a Bugatti, Herb Beith aboard a Chrysler and Arthur Terdich’s Lancia Lambda, perhaps running his road car in addition his Bugatti.

Ground level’ish view looking from near ‘Anthony’s Nose’, the Point between Dromana and McRae towards the Dromana Pier- a Steamer in attendance, and on towards Safety Beach beyond. The Nepean Highway, then Arthur’s Seat Road is that ‘quiet little track’ in the foreground (Rose)


Harry Cooper’s 4.8 litre Ballot 5/8 LC. Safety Beach, 2 December 1928 (E Adamson photo published in ‘The Argus’ 4 December 1928 via Terry McGrath)

The final event of the day was a five lapper, about 10.5 miles between the fastest car of the day, Harold Cooper’s 4.8 litre straight-eight 1919 Ballot 5/8 LC  ‘Indycar’, which covered the course at an average speed of 59.96 mph, ‘a remarkable performance, in view of the fact that the course was practically a rectangle with four almost right angle turns’, and an aircraft piloted by Keith Farmer.

‘Cooper sped the 10.5 miles, up till the last lap the plane gave the appearance of not been fully extended, but in the run home it speeded up and won. The contest created considerable excitement among the spectators’ The Argus writer concluded.

Other snippets about the meeting were that the serious boys were down the weekend before to test further improvements made in the final week by ‘gravelling and oiling the course’- shades of Phillip Island final preparations between 1928 and 1935.

‘Speedboat racing will be another feature of the programme’ suggests the road was parallel with and very close to the Safety Beach foreshore. The ‘Dromana Progress Association’ looked after the ‘special catering arrangements’ but i doubt ice-cold ‘frothies’ were on the menu.

Noted future Aussie International Joan Richmond made the dailies the following year, 1929 when she overturned her Riley 9 during practice- ‘the car was smashed, but the driver, whilst concussed, and passenger escaped serious injury. Miss Richmond is known as a capable and daring driver.’

Joan Richmond and Mollie Shaw with the Riley 9 Brooklands (the ‘Young Riley’ in Joan-speak) during the 1931 AGP weekend at Phillip Island- fifth outright and second in the 1500cc class. ‘We had to part our hair in the middle to get our helmets on’ Joan quipped. The car was a Riley 9 chassis with ‘a light fabric body made by Mr Thomas of the Elite Motor Body Works’ (unattributed)

Despite the onset of the Great Depression, 3,000 spectators attended Safety Beach again in 1929, the crowd was perhaps bouyed by the two successful Australian Grands Prix held not too far away at the Island in March 1928 and 1929.

Whilst Hope Bartlett’s 2 litre Grand Prix Sunbeam was not entered at Safety Beach, a long way from his Nowra base, there was no shortage of ‘French blue’ exotic racing machines including Alan Cooper’s big, booming Ballot driven so well by brother Harry, as well as the Terdich, Junker, Jenkins, Bedford and Day Bugattis plus Clarrie May’s Austin 7 s/c and Harry Beith’s very quick Chrysler.

By any measure it was a strong entry of cars for the rapidly growing number of racing enthusiasts. The meeting was also a gala social occasion, by the end of the hot summers day the lovely, long cream dresses of the ladies took on the light brownish hue of the dust created by the cars which was readily picked up by the strong onshore breeze. Once may well have been enough for many of the ladies!

The ‘feature event’ late in the day was a lap record contest for the six cars which made the fastest time of the day, who then ran off to attempt to lower the existing lap record of 2: 6.5 seconds.

The Herald’s advance coverage of the race speculated that the final six drivers/cars may include Cooper, Jack Day’s Lombard s/c (not entered), Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti T37A and Harry Beith’s Chrysler Special.

Cooper, in a repeat of his pace the year before won again aboard the ex-Louis Wagner 1919 Indianapolis Ballot doing a time of 2 minutes 5 3/5 seconds, then came Beith’s Chrysler and Sydney Cox’ Bugatti- contrary to some reports it appears this event was not a massed start but rather one machine at a time with each getting a ‘flying start of 20 chains’.

The Melbourne ‘Herald’ put the day in context, ‘In view of the existing ban (which seems to have applied everywhere in Victoria other than the Peoples Republic of Phillip Island, where, bless ’em, the local shire/council basically said ‘up yours’ to Spring Street- the Victorian State Government), and the police suppression of events held on public roads, special interest attaches to the speed contest for motorcars…’

In other words a good clean, problem free event would advance the cause of the sport.

By that stage, as noted above, there had been two Grands Prix on Phillip Island’s 6.5 mile rectangular gravel course, at the time its certainty as a venue was far from guaranteed given the absolute constitutional power of the Victoria Government’s  ‘sovereignty’ over and above that the said Peoples Republic of Phillip Island.

I love the local shire’s up-yours-cocko attitude to State law but the Light Car Club and the Shire of Woolamai (aka the PR of P Island) would have been in a pickle, to say the least, had a vexatious litigant had a crack at ’em in the event something went horribly wrong- an errant car killing some punters in the crowd or some such.

Discussions with racers/restorers/historians/authors Tony Johns and Bob King reveal quite a large, and still growing number of Mornington Peninsula venues being identified including the Balcombe Army Camp between Mornington and Mount Eliza and Safety Beach as sprint venues. Frankston, the Moondah Estate in Grices Road (now Kunyung Road) Mount Eliza, Arthur’s Seat, Cape Schanck and Dromana all held hillclimbs.

Who can add to this list?

Dromana Hotel on what is now the Nepean Highway- grand accomodation for the competitors (Rose)

The bountiful land, streams and blue waters of the bay were the home and playground of Australia’s indigenous people for sixty-thousand years before we whiteys rocked up, it didn’t take too long for entrepeneurship, money and steam power to open up the bay.

Steamer services extending to Frankston, Mornington, Dromana, Sorrento, Queenscliff and other places in addition to railway lines to Frankston, Mornington and Geelong opened the new colony in the 1880s.

In days of yore before car ownership became commonplace post-war (WW2) people stayed in hotels and guest houses on their holidays in country and coastal locales such as those listed above. This is the reason we have still large numbers of grand, if often run-down hotels and guest houses in places like Mornington, Sorrento, Queenscliff, Lorne, Port Fairy, Daylesford, Healesville, Mount Beauty and other places to stick with Victorian examples.

Many such properties were torched in ‘Jewish Stocktakes’ (as my dad in the politically correct (sic) fashion of the day described) in the fifties and sixties as burgeoning car ownership extended the reach of the average citizens holiday horizons beyond many of the towns listed. Many establishments in these places were no longer viable so a surruptitious phone call to ‘Louie da Torch’ and a brown paper bag full of pound notes was not uncommon with insurance assessors not having the forensic services to hand as a defence to the obvious the way they do now. My great-grandfather’s guest house, ‘Montpellier’ in Healesville went up in smoke thanks to Louie’s intervention a decade or so after the family sold it.

Nepean Highway at Dromana looking west towards McRae/Portsea- makes and model folks (unattributed)

The Herald’s December 1929 event coverage very kindly summarises the Supp Regs which are interesting, the deft hand of officialdom was as prevalent then as now- not quite as bad as now perhaps!

There were five classes- stock standard (aka Group E ‘Series Production’!), open, closed car, special and lap record.

The stock standard event was open to any financial member of the club (RACV) whether connected with the trade or not- but sports model cars were ineligible. ‘A stock standard car is one regularly supplied to the public in the usual way of the trade and fitted with standard type body, hoods and guards. The windscreen can be removed and the carburettor and magneto timing adjustments altered.’

‘In the open event, sports models are eligible, but super-sports models, special cars and supercharged cars are ineligible…cars must run in complete touring condition with proper body guards, hood, lamps, efficient silencer and carry a spare wheel, or spare rim with tyre attached.’

‘Women will not be permitted to drive in the event unless they are the bona-fide owner of the entered car.’ In a an interesting twist of logic ‘For the closed car event sports models are prohibited, but women are allowed to drive’- which i guess means if ‘the wife’ drives the family machine down to the shops to Domain Road they can have a crack at the race.

‘The special event is open to any financial member, and cars can compete fitted with superchargers and stripped of guards, screens, hoods, batteries and spares. Lady drivers are ineligible’. Given the differentiation between ‘women’ and ‘ladies’ i wonder if ‘women’ could compete in the special event that ‘ladies’ were specifically excluded from. Hmmm, one for the lawyers.

Whilst the Victorian Light Car Club limited its Australian Grand Prix to cars of a maximum of 2 litres supercharged or otherwise, this event was divided into 850cc, 1100cc, 2200cc, 3300cc and over 3300cc classes, hence the great variety of cars.


(B King Collection)

It’s funny how stuff sometimes happens.

I was over at Bob King’s place raiding his photo archive to do the 1928 Australian Grand Prix magnum-opus a few weeks ago. At the end of that exercise we were talking gobshite and going through some other stuff- Herald-Sun shots Bob rescued from the ‘to be chucked out’ pile.

The Mick Carlton Lea Francis shot, marked ‘Safety Beach 1928’ caught my eye- ‘WTF is that Bob? I’ll have that one please!?’ ‘Safety Beach, well bugger me!’, in the words of the great George Pell, I thought.

So off I go- Trove away and learn some new stuff, happy days and draft most of this piece.

Then I went back to Bob’s for another Covid 19 friendly play-date last week and lo and behold, in amongst a relatively small number of old ‘programmes’, was the program for the meeting- and the results sheet! Sometimes, ya just get lucky.

(B King Collection)


(B King Collection)


(B King Collection)


(B King Collection)



(B King Collection)


(B King Collection)


(B King Collection)

Peoples Republic of Phillip Island Postscript…

I really have been enjoying my ‘Peoples Republic of Phillip Island’ jokes, even if it they were becoming a bit thin.

A quick glance of John Blanden’s ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ 1929 race chapter reveals that constitutional matters were finally in hand and that succession of the smallish island in Westernport from the Commonwealth of Australia was finally rendered unnecessary- the battalion of Lee Enfield 303 toting sheep famers could be stood down.

‘At the (1929 AGP results prize-giving) presentation smoke-night at the RACV Hall in June , Arthur Terdich was presented with first prize, a cutlery cabinet. In addition Wally Robertson received a clock, Noel Langton a silver cup, Reg Brearley a knife chest, Harry Jenkins a pair of binoculars, Jack McCutcheon a manicure set and John Bernadou the RACV trophy.’

Of all the class place-getters only poor old Cyril Dickason and Bill Lowe didn’t get gifts- what a bummer, mind you, given the offerings perhaps they considered themselves the fortunate ones!

To matters more germane.

‘Mr Daly of Phillip Island Council, speaking on behalf of the residents, announced that after negotiations with Brigadier-General Blamey, the Country Roads Board and the Public Works Department, a Bill was to be passed through State Parliament to enable racing to be held on twelve days a year.’

‘Until this time the events had technically been held illegally. However, the authorities had acknowledged the benefits to the island and so the bill had been drafted’ Blanden wrote.

All of the two-bit constitutional lawyers amongst you will advise your clients that a bill does not become law until it passes the two houses of the Victorian State (Tammany Hall) Parliament and gains royal assent- that is the State Governor signs the bill over a gin and tonic or three.

Lets assume though, that the process above was all hunky-dory by 24 March 1930 which makes the 1930 AGP the first held at Phillip Island which was held legally.

Luvvit given all of the ‘Pillars of The Establishment’ involved…

A.C. ‘Mick’ or ‘Mike’ Carlton…

I started this article with a shot of Carlton’s Lea-Francis Hyper, remember?

He was a Melbourne Herald ‘muttering rotter’ in the words of the great Australian motoring writer Romsey Quints aka Bill Tuckey (motoring writer). John Blanden records Mick as a journalist with RVA Automobile & General News Service, whatever the case he was a motoring writer.

Carlton used the car from at least 1929 to 1931 extensively in trials, hillclimbs, reliability events, speed events such as Safety Beach and an Australian Grand Prix.

He rode with Harry Jenkins to fourth place in a Bugatti T30 at Phillip Island in the 1929 AGP and then jumped to the other side of a car in 1930- aboard the Lea-Francis. In its pre-event publicity The Herald wrote that Carlton ‘had in this car one of most formidable British entries, in its new very low built form it should prove extremely fast, while it’s strength and comfort should both prove helpful in the long race’ of 200 miles.

Come raceday the little car failed to finish after Mick left the road at ‘Young and Jacksons’ corner on lap 2 where he ploughed through a hedge and damaged a wheel which he replaced with the spare. He restarted but withdrew as the rear axle was damaged in the off, the race was won by Bill Thompson’s Bugatti T37A.

These little Cozette supercharged 1496cc, pushrod OHV Meadows four cylinder powered two-seater ‘Leafs’ would have been a really cost effective ‘all round’ machine for Australian motorsport at the time.

The car below is chassis #14099, this Hyper was owned and raced by Mrs JAS Jones and other drivers on her behalf in New South Wales. Ian Goldingham advises ‘the story of the Australian Hypers is steadily gaining momentum…with at least six, maybe seven Lea-Francis S Type Hypers’ delivered to Australia ‘in period’.

Beach racing of another kind. Mr RG Potts in the JAS Jones owned Hyper on Gerringong’s Seven Mile Beach, NSW on 10 May 1930 (Fairfax)


Vida Jones in her Hyper, date and place unknown (A Patterson)


None of them look happy, a bitter Melbourne winters night during, or perhaps at the start of a trial, Mick Carlton is the guy with the peaked cap looking sideways third from the right. The Lea-Francis was fitted for this event with its touring body (I Goldingham Collection)


Shot as above uncropped- both Hyper and Lancia Lambda are Carlton’s cars. The ‘Metropolitan Ice & Fresh Food Co Pty. Ltd’ was located in North Melbourne and had a ‘storage capacity of 60,000 mutton carcasses’, handy to know- the location is outside their front door it seems. The spot has the feel of an event starting point about it with competitors very well rugged up. Checkout the guy second from left at the back- looks like a crook from central casting- one of Squizzy Taylor’s gang maybe! (I Goldingham Collection)

After publication Kiwi Lea-Francis owner/restorer/historian/enthusiast Ian Goldingham made contact and provided additional photographs and this information from Max Gregory’s ‘Lea-Francis in Australia’.

‘In Victoria both A Charlton and R Whiting used their Hypers competitively, former Bugatti conductor, Mick Carlton being the most notable.’

‘He was a thoroughly dedicated competitor who left nothing to chance in his preparations and had bought the car in chassis form, for which he obtained two bodies, a tourer and a racing monoposto, which were alternated as use dictated.’

‘Mr Phil Smith recalled how he and some Robinsons mechanics served as Carlton’s pit crew for the 1930 Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Unfortunately Mick lost time with an unscheduled pitstop and was attempting to make up ground when raised dust from a spin-out at Young and Jackson’s caused him to take to the ti-tree scrub, bending his axles.’

‘Mr Smith also remembered Carlton entering a fuel economy test sponsored by Commonwealth Oil Refineries (now BP) and his preparations went as far as removing the supercharger and some piston rings and replacing wheel bearing grease with oil. A great deal of fine tuning was done as the car was driven round and round the Albert Park Lake and all to good effect as the car was a clear winner.’

‘A more appropriate victor for the Hyper which came to mind was the climb at Wheelers Hill in 1931. Mr Smith retains a vivid memory of Carlton cresting the hill at a speed of 83 mph from a standing start. Bob Chamberlain also has a keen memory of that day when the existing record was broken three times, as not only did the Hyper make fastest time of the day but the Chamberlain Special, first time out with Norton barrels on the Indian crankcase, and a Bugatti also beat the old record. Mick Carlton late the motoring news for the Herald newspaper in Melbourne’ Max Gregory concluded.

Mick Carlton ‘in the cockpit of his locally bodied car of which we know very little’ wrote Ian Goldingham (I Goldingham Collection)


Utterly Irrelevant and Pointless…

(B Gaica)

Lea Francis of a different sort.

Have i flagrantly glorified the fabulous female form in publishing this beautiful photograph? Yep, guilty as charged, but only in the name of art of course.

The Sydney Dance Company performed Louis Falco’s ‘Black and Blue’, a fabulously vibrant work to the music of Harry Nilsson in 1994.

I’m getting there, the connection is coming my friends.

The stars of that show were Alfred Taahi…and…da dum- Lea Francis!

And I have to say that ‘Leaf’ looked even better in the flesh, every single cell.

Just like the Lea-Francis Hyper…

Reminds me, Nilsson Schmilsson was such a good album, ‘wannit?

Credits and references…

Bob King Collection, The Herald 12 May 1924, The Daily Telegraph Sydney, 14 November 1925, JJ Maher in the Sorting Globe 27 April 1927, Melbourne ‘The Argus’ 3 December 1928, ‘The Herald’ 13 November 1929, Rose Postcards, Dromana Historical Society, ‘Skilful Skidder’ aritcle by Harry Miller in the 2 December 1928 ‘Sporting Globe’, Sporting Globe Melbourne 29 December 1928, Smiths Weekly 23 August 1947, Fairfax Corporation, Branco Gaica, Terry McGrath Motoring Archives, Ian Goldingham Collection including an excerpt from Max Gregory’s ‘Lea-Francis in Australia’, Adrian Patterson



I’m not so sure the pipes would ‘slay the babes’ these days but it is a fun Dromana shot all the same- and yes, there are still heaps of ‘bathing boxes’ today all gayly painted in vivid colours.


(M Tumby)

Talbot-Lago T26C with a swag of teenage fans surrounding it in Queensland we think …

There was a bit of  unresolved mystery about this shot when it was first posted by Mark Tumby on Bob Williamson’s Facebook page a month ago.

The discussion centred around whether it was Ralph Snodgrass in Whiteford’s second arriving in Australia but early chassis- ‘110002’ at Lowood but only if it was before 6 June 1957 when Snodgrass rolled it at Mount Druitt and then popped it under his house for twenty years, as Rob Bailey pointed out. Rob then mused as to whether it was his father, Owen Bailey in Whiteford’s first Lago, chassis ‘110007’ at Lowood, ‘that would make sense as he was running a family business in Noosa at the time’.

Interesting but still foggy at this point.

(M Tumby)

I circulated the first photograph to ‘wise owls’ Stephen Dalton, Bob King and Tony Johns yesterday- the boys quickly identified the car as the 1952 and 1953 AGP winner ‘110007’ by comparative analysis of windscreen and body slots around the grille.

As to the who and when questions, Stephen observed ‘Finding Queensland programs and entry lists is very hard for this era and it tends to be one ex-Bomber runway looking the same as the other. Here though, the trees tend to tell me not Lowood. I’m tending to think Strathpine which had a thin row of trees on each side.’

‘I’m not committing to stone, but i think its the Ken Richardson era, after Rex Taylor, so mid-55’ish. Then you get the problem of some Leyburn meetings in this timeframe too. Ken won a race at the 4 June 1955 Strathpine meeting, the August 1955 issue of ‘Modern Motor’ has a photo but no clear number…’

Stephen suggested a peek on Trove- which i have just done in brief, there are lots of entries for Taylor, tougher pickings for Richardson in the Talbot-Lago at least- plenty of mentions in his Cooper.

At this stage Rob Bailey did a bit more research- see his responses today, including a careful forage through the two volume Talbot-Lago books which reveals that it is Ken Richardson during a Leyburn sprint meeting in 1955.

Dalton, ‘Now that i’ve looked a little harder in my Leyburn file there was an event in July 1955 too, it was very briefly reported in ‘Wheels’ October 1955.’

’Richardson must have been a decent steerer. He was third behind Davison and Pitt’s nimble Coopers with the Lago at the September 1955 Australian Hillclimb Championship on narrow and tight Prince Henry Drive…’

As to all the young blokes in the shots- maybe a local boarding school outing on a Friday or weekend?

I don’t have ‘an article’ on the ‘Talbot-Lago T26C’ but key that into the primotipo search engine and four or five pieces with plenty of photos will pop up.


Mark Tumby, Rob Bailey, Stephen Dalton, Bob King, Tony Johns


(S Dalton Collection)


James Courtney’s Dallara F302 Toyota-Toms races to a good win in the first leg of the Fiftieth Macau Grand Prix on 16 November 2003…

He also led the second leg, and set the weekend’s fastest lap until a puncture eliminated him on the races eleventh lap, Nicholas Lapierre won, and having finished second in the contest’s earlier race won the GP overall- the field included later F1 drivers/test pilots Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nelson Piquet Jnr, Robert Kubica and Ryan Briscoe, a total of thirty contestants in all.

One of the British F3 Championships top runners in 2001 and 2002, James was rebuilding his career after a massive, very high speed shunt at Monza aboard an F1 Jaguar R3 Cosworth came close to ending his life.

That year he was mixing an F3 campaign in Jaguar’s team with Grand Prix car test duties- his F3 season started with a bang- he won the first round of the British F3 Championship.

Courtney, Jaguar R3 Cosworth at Silverstone in 2002 as is the shot below. Malcolm Oastler designed car was launched on 4 January that year

Race drivers for Jaguar in 2002 were Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa, the cars designated R3/R3B were powered by Cosworth CR-3 and CR-4 3 litre 72 degree V10s.

The team were testing at Monza on July 2- the circuit at which James made his F1 test debut the year before when he suffered a rear suspension failure at 10.14 am-  he was on the brakes at 330 kmh when a wishbone pulled away from its gearbox mounting, pitching him into the barriers at 306 kmh- the machine hit the fence so hard that it bounced away from the wall at 70 kmh- the impact was estimated to have a force of 67G, an incredible impact for the body to absorb.

Unconscious, his first sight was Michael Schumacher who was testing his Ferrari at the same time- James freaked out when he found he could not move the right side of his body and was bleeding from his eyes.

He later said ‘It took me a year to recover, i couldn’t walk without getting a migraine- which anything would set off.’ He also said that he could not see for weeks after the accident, and that he decided at that point never to be scared of having a crash again, stating ‘Its over if you are scared. Its all or nothing’ in an amazing exercise of mind over matter.

He did test again the following year but his F1 chance was gone.

The young Australian, born in Penrith between Sydney and the Blue Mountains on 29 June 1980 was amongst the brightest of young kids with the most prodigious of raw ability amongst his generation and the steepest of career trajectories.

In Karting he won locally before finishing second in the 1994 Australian National Kart Championship, at 15 he moved to Italy to pursue a racing career winning the World Junior Karting Championship and CIK International Championship in 1995 and was World Formula A champion in 1997.

Into 1999 he shifted from Italy to England to race cars becoming a member of the works Duckhams Van Diemen Team finishing fifth in the British FF Championship, in fourth was fellow Aussie Marcos Ambrose, the title won by Nicholas Kiesa’s Mygale. In addition he was second in the Formula Ford Festival- he went all the way in 2000  winning the championship aboard a works Van Diemen.

A veritable youth or kid- date and Kart spec welcome? (Aaron Noonan/

Courtney’s skills and Allan Gow’s management bagged him a place in the Jaguar Junior Team for 2001 contesting the British F3 Championship driving a Dallara 301 Mugen-Honda.

Whilst he won at the Silverstone season opener it was consistency which placed him fourth in the title chase won by Taka Sato from Anthony Davidson and Derek Hayes. In a year of dominance Sato won twelve of the twenty-six races- all three of the drivers raced Dallara 301 Mugen Hondas.

British F3 Championhip, last round- Silverstone, 29 September 2001, Dallara F301 Mugen-Honda. A pair of fourths that weekend, Taka Sato the winner of the race and championship (P Spinner-Getty)

Into 2002 Courtney again raced for Carlin Motorsport racing a Dallara 302 Mugen-Honda as did title winner Robbie Kerr- Courtney won four races whilst Kerr won nine and finished ahead of Courtney and Heikki Kovalainen.

The gruelling championship which has produced so many talented drivers down the decades comprised two races at each of thirteen venues, a format which tests prospective future F1 stars thoroughly.

Courtney circa 2002 (Getty)

2003 ended up being a rebuild year noting the physical aspects the Monza accident inflicted upon the young charger.

James chose to do the Japanese F3 Championship racing a Dallara F302 with punchy Toms Toyota 3S-GE engine- Mugen-Honda and various Toyota tuners engines were the most common in Japan with Three Bond Racing using Nissan SR20VE motors.

In another year of dominance James won thirteen races in the ten circuit tour finishing in front of Paolo Montin and Tatsuya Kataoka.

If there were any doubts about the loss of Courtney’s raw pace in ‘that shunt’ it was well and truly dispelled when all of the stars of the year met at Macau for the F3 ‘Grand Final.’

Macao GP 2003 Dallara F302 Toyota, #32 is Hiroki Yoshimoto

None of the 2002 F3 brigade got F1 seats in 2003- James Courtney, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nelson Piquet Jnr, Robert Kubica and Ryan Briscoe- all would get their chance of course and two of them did, and still do rather well!

Toyota continued to support his career in 2004 and 2005, he contested the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship for sixth and second places respectively aboard Toyota Team TOM’s Supras.

His first appearance ‘back home’ in quite a while was with the Holden Racing Team in 2005  he contested the endurance races partnered by Jim Richards who was perfectly placed to assist the Supercar ‘newbee’ with the nuances of these powerful, heavy, demanding cars.

Courtney aboard the Toyota-Toms Supra during the All Star 200 at Fontana in December 2004, he shared the car with Tatsuya Kataoka (L Miller-LAT)


Courtney at the 2010 Sydney 500- James won the title whilst Jonathon Webb and Lee Holdsworth took the round race wins. Ford FG V8 Supercar- 5 litre pushrod V8 circa 465Kw @ 7,000rpm, 6 speed manual sequential gearbox, 1355Kg (Getty)

Courtney raced for the Stone Brothers Ford operation from 2006 to 2008 taking his first round win at Queensland Raceway in 2008- he won the title aboard a Dick Johnson Racing Ford FG Falcon in 2010 taking five wins and finishing ahead of 2009 champ Jamie Whincup.

In recent Covid 19 times he has been in the news with a shift of team- probably the last spin of the Supercar Roulette Wheel for the soon to be forty year old.

Still, this article isn’t about V8 Supercars- i think its great that a young fella from out west has forged a career of his passion for the better part of thirty and a bit years- his lifestyle on the Gold Coast would be splendid but man what couldaa been but for that testing accident, at that speed, at that circuit- i always thought at the time he really was the goods and looked a good bet to go all the way towards the top of the pyramid…



James Courtney back to his roots at Queensland Raceway in 2015 aboard one of the Karts he had commenced to manufacture and market that year.

Photo Credits…

Aaron Noonan and, Getty Images, P Spinner-LAT, Crash, L Miller-LAT,,


The broken rear wing element of the R3 with Courtney aboard earlier in the year is almost a portent of rear end of the car things to come soon after- Silverstone 2002.


(C Watt)

Captain Arthur Waite raced his supercharged Austin 7 to victory in the 1928 Australian Grand Prix on Victoria’s Phillip Island…

Here ‘The Skipper’ as his boys in the UK called him, on the far side of the car, and his Australian mechanic, Guy Barringer are preparing the racer behind the Isle of Wight Hotel in Cowes during the race weekend, 31 March 1928.

Billed at the time by the promoter, Victoria’s ‘Light Car Club’ as the ‘100 Miles Road Race’, ‘The First In Australia’ the event was run on a dirt-circuit laid out on the Islands roads, it later became recognised as the first Australian Grand Prix- the Victorian Light Car Club named subsequent events held at ‘Island from 1929-1935 as ‘The Australian Grand Prix’.

In more recent times the first AGP has been acknowledged by many as that held on 15 January 1927. It was a knockout speedway event held at the Goulburn, New South Wales horse racing track. The cars didn’t race ‘en masse’ but rather six competitors ran, two at a time in three heats, knockout fashion over 4 laps of a 1 mile and a bit oval track with the final  decided by the fastest two competitors from the heats facing off over 6 laps- Geoff Meredith was the winner in his Bugatti T30. The circumstances around the discovery and recognition of the First Australian Grand Prix are briefly ventilated in this article;

The 1928 ‘Island event was a road race held on a 6.5 mile dirt, rectangular course for cars of less than 2 litres spread across four engine capacity based classes- in two races, each race having two of the classes in it of 100 miles distance.

Twenty six ‘light car’ competitors entered with thirteen classified as finishers. The winner was the fastest overall- as in the competitor with the quickest race time from the two events of 100 miles, Captain Arthur Waite in his ‘works’ Austin 7 s/c won from JO McCutcheon aboard a Morris Cowley and CR Dickason in an Austin 12.

Phillip Island 1928: Les Jennings, Morris Cowley at rear with the Morrie Shmith Fiat 509 in front. The Fiat was a special works racing version of the 509 fitted with a very attractive body, the mechanics seat was set back from the driver us was the case with Fiat’s GP cars of the period. The car was not an exceptional performer ‘limited by poorly chosen gear ratios’ Blanden wrote (C Watt)


Phillip Island 1928. Competitors prepare their cars in the garage area of the Isle of Wight Hotel- winner Arthur Waite’s Austin 7 is the machine ‘top right’ (C Watt)

Historic European Context…

It is timely to look at motorsport in Australia in the context of what was happening globally at the time.

Motor racing commenced in France, the first ‘motoring contest’ took place on July 22, 1894, organised by a Paris newspaper, the Paris-Rouen Rally was 126 km from Paris to Rouen.

Count Jules Albert de Dion was first into Rouen after 6 hours 48 minutes, an average speed of 19 km/h (12 mph). The official winners were Peugeot and Panhard as cars were judged on their speed, handling and safety characteristics- De Dion’s steam car needed a stoker which the judges deemed to be outside their objectives…

And so commenced a period of racing unregulated cars on open roads between cities, this evolved after many deaths, from racing on open to closed road circuits.  During the Paris-Madrid road race of 1903 a number of people, both drivers and pedestrians – including Marcel Renault were killed, as a result the race was stopped by French authorities at Bordeaux- further road based events were banned.

In the US the Gordon Bennett Races for the ‘Gordon Bennett Cup’ funded by American newspaper magnate James Gordon Bennett in commenced in 1900. Its formula was based around similar vehicles competing on closed roads but representation was limited to three teams per country, this disadvantaged France as the largest European motor manufacturer at the time.

When the French proposal to change representation in the 1905 Gordon Bennett failed they used the chance to host the 1906 event, a privilege to the previous years winner, to hold the alternative ‘Grand Prix de l’ACF’. The French Grand Prix was held on 26 June 1906 over a 103 Km roughly triangular road circuit near Sarthe, the winner of the 1238 Km, event, held over 6 laps of the 103 Km course on two days was Hungarian Ferenc Szisz in a Renault.

In the US, William Vanderbilt launched the Vanderbilt Cup at Long Island, New York in 1904.

Races at the time were heavily nationalistic, with a few countries setting up races of their own, but there was no formal championship tying them together. Rules varied from country to country and race to race, and typically centred on maximum (not minimum) weights in an effort to limit power by limiting engine size indirectly. 10–15 litre engines were common, usually with no more than four cylinders and producing less than 50 hp. The cars all had mechanics onboard as well as the driver and no one was allowed to work on the cars during the race except this pair.

In 1904 many national motor clubs combined to form the AIACR ‘Association Interntionale des Automobiles Clubs Reconnus’ to regulate racing, amongst other things.

The American Grand Prix , ‘American Grand Prize’ was first held on a public road course at Savannah, Georgia in 1908. Italy’s first Grand Prix was held on a road course at Brescia in 1921. The first Spanish Grand Prix on 1913 on a road circuit near Madrid, majestic Spa-Francorchamps hosted the first Belgian GP in 1925. Road racing was banned in the UK but the ‘Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix’ was held on the combined Brooklands road/banked circuit in 1926. Some of these events aren’t all continuous mind you, nor were they originally called ‘Grand Prix’ in some cases but you get the drift.

Clearly it is not a big deal to call the 1928 Phillip Island ‘100 Miles Road Race’ the AGP given the first American and British Grand’s Prix weren’t strictly called ‘American or British Grand Prix’ either.

By 1927 and 1928 the period of the AGP i am writing about the essence of International GP rules was as follows;

1927; 1.5 litres supercharged capacity, cars had a minimum weight of 700 Kg, two seater bodies were mandated or monopostos allowed as long as the cockpit was a minimum of 80 cm wide. The events themselves were a minimum of 600 Km in length.

1928; No engine capacity restrictions but a minimum weight of 550 and a maximum of 750 Kg, minimum race distance still 600 Km. This 750 Kg Formula gave birth to the phenomenal ‘Silver’ Arrows’ of the pre-war period of course.

The relevance of these rules in far away Australia with its nascent motor industry, small national ‘car park’ and tiny number of competitors was moot, irrelevant in fact, arguably it was not until the 1955 South Pacific Trophy meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales that we had our first ‘truly International race’, run as it was to Formula Libre.

Phillip Island 1929. Happy chappy, the John Goodall owned Aston Martin- driven by Ed Huon with Bob Horne as mechanic carried #18 in 1928. One of Lionel Martin’s 1923 products with 1.5 litre side-valve Coventry Simplex engine, 4 speed gearbox and big 4 wheel brakes- very expensive but never particularly fast’ wrote John Blanden (C Watt)

Historic Australian Context…

None of our events at the time resembled those in Europe, we had no specialist motorsport governing body- the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (very recently re-named Motorsport Australia) was formed in the mid-fifties. Racing decisions prior to the CAMS existence were made by the Competitions Committee of the Australian Automobile Association, an organisation of each states automobile peak body or club, each of which were naturally primarily concerned with everyday motoring/motorists needs.

The level of car ownership in Australia was low, the number of ‘racing cars’ small and so it naturally followed that our events suited our needs, inclusive of our premier race.

Graham Howard observes in ‘The Fifty Year History of the Australian Grand Prix ‘that intercity records-amazing feats, and of dubious legality as well-were the most consistent form of competitive motoring in Australia until the late 1920s, and produced our first household name drivers and some of our first marque rivalries’.

At 100 miles the 1928 Phillip Island event is ‘pissant’ compared to contemporary European GPs of 600 Km. A 6 mile, 6 lap AGP held on a short oval track between two competitors is outrageous but comparisons cannot really be fairly made with events in Europe and the US at the time.

Jack Day, Bugatti T37 on the start-finish straight. His late race charge was one of the events highlights (B King Collection)

The 1928 100 Miles Road Race aka 1928 Australian Grand Prix, Phillip Island, Victoria…

The difficulties of holding a road race in Australia at the time were great, in most states road races were illegal including Victoria- under the provisions of the ‘Highways and Vehicles Act’ racing on other than enclosed circuits, which at the time consisted only of speedways, was illegal.

The local council, the ‘Phillip Island and Woolamai Shire’ voted to sever the Island’s government from Victoria’s in 1927 thus making racing on the Island a possibility. After a hard fought campaign the ‘Shire of Phillip Island ‘ was created in 1928, the creation of ‘The Peoples Republic of Phillip Island’ really does give me a chuckle, why don’t we secede?- sounds like the sand-gropers (West Australians) today.

A delegation was despatched by the Victorian Motor Cycle Union in Melbourne to Cowes, the Islands ‘capital’ with a view to running ‘bike events.

It was quite a trip in those days involving a drive from Melbourne and sea ferry from Stony Point to Cowes, the bridge allowing road traffic from San Remo on the mainland to Newhaven on the Island wasn’t opened until 1940. The Motor Cycle Union were later joined by a group from the Light Car Club of Victoria, proposing racing events on the island in March 1928.

Ex Sydney Harbour ferry SS Killara between Stony Point and Cowes circa 1931- it moved 7,000 people in a day during a 1937 race meeting (unattributed)


Spectators cars left at Sony Point for the trip on the ferry from the mainland to Phillip Island during the 1928 race meeting weekend (C Watt)


Crowds at Cowes Pier, date unknown (Valentine)

The Phillip Island Shire saw the economic benefits racing would bring to their small rural community so they voted in support of defying the existing Victorian state law and announced a 100 Mile Race for cars to be held on March 26 1928.

Amongst the delegation included Jack Day (and his T37 Bugatti) Bill Scott, and LCCA president and later 1929 AGP winner, Arthur Terdich. After several ‘reccies’, the group retired to the Isle of Wight Hotel which is still keeping competitors refreshed nearly a century later to discuss the event, which seemed impossible given the time available for its preparation given the state of the roads and other logistics.

Jim Scaysbrook in a MotorSport article wrote that ‘Scott suggested the names for the corners; he said that the luncheon gathering reminded him of ‘Young and Jackson’s’, the famous pub opposite Flinders Street Railway Station in Melbourne. ‘Gentle Ann’ was named after a country maid of British folklore, the following narrow cutting christened ‘Needle’s Eye’- ‘Devil’s Slide’ was likened to falling into ‘Hell’, which then became the name for the third corner. Scott admitted to heaving a huge sigh of relief at negotiating the narrow bridge halfway along the next straight, so this became the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ and the final bend, reminding him of peace after torment, became ‘Heaven Corner’.

Terdich’s Bugatti T40 enroute to Phillip Island 1928. The car was a standard T40 fitted with a pointed tail 4-seater body built by the Terdich Bros bodyworks (The Bugatti Trust)


Dick and Roy Anderson in Rolvoy at San Remo circa 1930, Couta boats (Edgar Family)


(C Watt)

Scott measured the circuit, borrowing a horse and cart. He nailed a strip of rubber to the inside of the wheel and counted the number of times it flicked his boot, multiplying this by the wheel circumference produced the figure of 6.569 miles per lap.

The circuit itself presented a real challenge in that the road was very narrow with a high crown and was extremely dusty- whilst the surface was partially consolidated by blue metal rolled into the gravel it was entirely unsealed.

An inspection of the circuit by 130 Light Car Club members on 4 March revealed a surface in very poor repair. The LCC Committee therefore advised the local council that Commonwealth Oil Refinery and Castrol would provide 5,000 gallons of sump oil to be spread over the track to reduce dust levels. This work was overseen by the COR’s Charlie Watt who found the time to take some of the wonderful photographs spread throughout this article.

Whilst the feature event in 1928 was ‘The 100 Miles Road Race’, when it was discovered that the rights to stage the ‘Australian Grand Prix’, held at Goulburn in 1927, had not been taken up for 1929 the LCC began to apply the AGP term to Phillip Island.

The event was very much an adventure for competitors almost none of whom had road racing experience- their ‘racing’ was variously trials, hillclimbs and in some cases speedway.

Entries closed on 24 February- thirty were received with twenty-six accepted which in the end converted to seventeen starters due to accidents and mechanical mayhem- thirteen cars were manufactured in the UK, eight in France, two in Germany with one apiece from Belgium and Italy.

‘With the exception of one or two entries, the field comprised either standard touring or sports chassis stripped of road equipment and in some instances fitted with narrower and more efficient bodywork…not many modifications were indulged in, other than careful assembly and the polishing of heads and ports and in some instances a slight increase in compression, the use of stronger or double valve springs and the employment of a larger or outside exhaust system’ wrote John Blanden.

Let’s not forget at the time ‘top whack’ of a garden variety Ford, Morris or Citroen was 50-55mph together with a few ‘Hail Marys’ whilst clutching yer St Christopher medallion from father at the wheel.

Plenty of newspaper interest was generated in the ‘big smoke’ (Melbourne) in the lead up to the event with police from later in March turning a blind eye to stripped cars devoid of silencers blasting along the narrow, relatively deserted roads of Melbourne-Frankston-Hastings.

Racing was totally different to today when even production cars are trailered to events. There were no trucks or trailers to take the racers to the meeting, the racing cars were driven by their owners or drivers with spares, consumables and tools loaded into the car- or what wifey, friend or sponsor could carry in a separate vehicle which was then driven to Stony Point and loaded onto the Westernport Shipping Company ferry for the short trip across Westernport.


‘The Melbourne Argus’ Monday 26 March 1928


Shell lap board near the start-finish line, just feel the relaxed vibe- wonderful shot (C Watt)


Four scallywags up to no good- Farmer Brown’s post not too far from the circuit (B King Collection)


(C Watt)

Phillip Island was then a sleepy rural and fishing hamlet with a nascent tourism industry, accommodation was provided by two hotels- The Isle of Wight and Phillip Island Hotel and a swag a boarding houses which filled up very quickly with the influx of thousands of people the likes of which the Island had never experienced before.

Charlie Watt took many photographs at a hotel which appear to be The Isle of Wight, it burned own the 1925 and was rebuilt in the ‘Tudor’ style one can see in many of the shots- my guess is that the garage shots are at the same establishment- the Phillip Island Hotel appears far more modest in comparison.

The challenges of communication back then were so different to today- the local populace knew when the event was taking place via newspapers but the timing of practice was a different thing without a local radio station even if the punters possessed a ‘wireless’ in any event.

It was hoped that word of mouth and notices on public buildings and shops would do the trick but the possibility of wandering sheep or cattle or Farmer Brown aboard his horse-drawn rig ‘on track’ was not beyond the realms of possibility- a job for the solitary local police constable whose number was bolstered by another couple of souls when police HQ in Russell Street realised the scale of the public event being staged in the Peoples Republic of Phillip Island a couple of hours away from Melbourne.

All was set for first practice on Wednesday 21 March, the first casualty was the SC Cox Bugatti T39 which crashed on the home turn onto the straight- Waite lapped at 57 mph ‘his Austin seemingly on rails’. Official practice took place on the Saturday with Cox’ repaired Bug providing more excitement when it shed a tyre at 90 mph and ‘made a sensational skid at the Bridge of Sighs’. Jack Day did 61 mph in his Bugatti T37. Ed Hussey and Phyllis Passmore’s Frazer Nash took off over a hill, as an escape road after brake failure on the approach to Young and Jacksons- the rear axle had moved forward its springs making the cable operated brakes inoperative…

Bill Williamson, Riley 9, twelfth in the Class B/D race after transmission dramas and pit repairs before rejoining the contest (B King Collection)

Bill Williamson’s Riley found a road roller working on the two-mile stretch, skidded and overturned chucking the driver and his passenger out fortunately without injury- the car landed upside down in the bush with radiator, scuttle, tail and steering wheel smashed- by Monday she was ready again to ‘rock and roll’ and looking good as the photograph above shows.

Edward Huon aboard John Goodall’s Aston Martin added to the excitement after shedding a wheel- he too rolled but again the pilot and mechanic, Bob Horne were ok. WH ‘Bill’ Lowe, later importer of Ferrari and Lancia into Australia broke a wheel of his Metallurgique at Heaven Corner whilst Wagner skidded at the same spot after a tyre burst on his Wanderer.

‘Finally Maurice Shmith’s narrow, scarlet Fiat tried to take Young and Jacksons corner too fast, jumped a gutter and plunged through a hedge and a wire fence surrounding a house on the corner. The car was almost immediately shot back onto the roadway by the catapulting effect of the wire fence, fortunately without too much damage to the car and with the passengers only stunned by the suddenness of it all’ John Blanden wrote.

No times from practice are available but doubtless by the end of practice the crews were well aware of the challenges of this simple in some ways, but dangerous and demanding road course.

Unseasonally, the weather gods turned on the Sunday night- raceday was Monday 26 March- the heavens opened completely swamping the course- given the lack of the TV, internet, iPhones, Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram the Light Car Club decided to hold some flying half mile sprints on the highest, driest straight between Heaven and Young and Jacksons to entertain the crowd who poured in from the mainland on the SS Alvina and Killara. Jack Day’s Bugatti was timed at 84 mph which was the quickest, later in the day the sandy soil dried sufficiently to run and some 3 lap races were organised with Cox scoring a win.

The first weekend really was wet on raceday- Arthur Terdich and Bugatti T40 is amongst all of that water (B King Collection)


Les Jennings, Morris Cowley. ‘A specially tuned and bodied version…his car’s beautifully turned out…and intelligently driven’ wrote Blanden. He worked for Lanes Motors, Morris Distributors till the very end of the marque and therefore had access to the workshop facilities and technical knowledge of the company (unattributed)



‘The Australasian’ 7 April 1928 photomontage of the 1928 AGP. Stan King’s Austin 7- not Waite as described at top left three wheeling, Terdich’s Bugatti T40 centre, #25 Dickason’s Austin 12 and bottom right Williamson’s Riley


Barney Dentry, Senechal, winner of Class B and race 1. The Senechal was thought to be the quickest car in its class being exceptionally light and very well prepared by its racer/tuner driver (C Watt)


Barney and Bess Dentry pit stop- same Senechal but 1929 when the husband and wife combo were sixth (B King Collection)


Jack Day, Bugatti T37, Bill Terdich DFP and at right Bill Williamson, Riley Nine (B King Collection)

When the field finally assembled on March 31, 1928, the event didn’t attract the number of spectators who attended on The Eight Hours Day long weekend.

‘Nevertheless, the attendance was regarded as highly satisfactory and the racing, although never close enough to be exciting or fast enough to be really thrilling, attracted so much interest that it is likely that the club will make the race an annual event. It is claimed to be the first 100 mile motor race in Australia, ‘The Argus’ newspaper reported .

Of the 26 cars entered 17 started- the Class A capacity limit was 750cc, Class B to 1100cc, Class C to 1500cc and Class D to 2 litres- competitors had to race on Australian made tyres.

Fancied combinations included Ed H Cooper’s Frazer Nash which burst into flames whilst parked in the main street of Cowes and was utterly destroyed despite attempts to extinguish the blaze. The three Bugattis of Jack Day (Type 37A), Sid Cox (Type 39) and Arthur Terdich (T40)- although Arthur Waite’s supercharged Austin 7 was also seen to be an outside chance.

The morning’s race, for Classes B and D, got under way at 11am, with a maximum of two hours 30 minutes allowed to complete the 16 laps.

Barney Dentry’s Senechal was delayed early with a broken gear lever, Williamson’s Riley 9 led for 5 laps then he had mechanical problems giving Bill Terdich’s DFP the lead.

He stayed in front until valve troubles caused his retirement so Barney Dentry, with his gear lever repaired, won Class B from Williamson’s Riley and Pounds DFP.

In Class D John McCutcheon led from start to finish in his Morris Cowley from Cyril Dickason’s Austin 12 in a time of 1hr 50min 10sec – the mark that the afternoon cars would need to beat to win the contest.

The second heat, for Classes A and C, left the line at 3pm and ‘provided the most thrilling driving of the day’, with Waite making the early running, he had a lead of 100 metres at the first turn only a mile from the start.

‘The turning of the small cars on the corners provided many thrills for the spectators. There were spectacular skids, but the cars were always handled with so much skill that the drivers recovered control without apparent difficulty’ The Argus reported, whilst noting that Waite was not in doubt to win Class A.

For the first 7 laps Waite’s Austin led the field,  gradually the Bugattis of Day and Terdich got into their stride, with the latter taking the lead on lap 8 and was led by nine minutes as it entered the fifteenth lap, only for the French exotic to stop on course seemingly out of fuel.

Terdich hitched a ride to the pits, returning to the track soon after with tins of fuel only to find that his mechanics had retrieved the Bug and coaxed it back into the pits!

Finally Terdich and his car were reunited and refuelled and sped off in pursuit of Waite who had stopped to refuel, having lost 3 minutes. Day was fast after an excursion early in the race had put him through a hedge, but time ran out for the Bugatti despite a series of laps late in the race of over 70mph.

Waite took the flag in 1hr 46min 40sec and was chaired from his ‘Baby Austin’ as ‘The Argus’ described it, to the victory dais by jubilant supporters.

Waite post victory- mechanic Guy Barringer (Waite’s spelling) at right? (B King Collection)


Arthur Terdich, Bugatti T40 (B King Collection)


Les Jennings, Morris Cowley DNF (C Watt)


Jack Day togs up before the off, Bugatti T37 (C Watt)


Arthur Waite and Guy Barringer winning the 1928 100 Miles Road Race in the tiny ‘works’ Austin 7 s/c (B King Collection)

Class A was won by Waite from C May, T Davey and S King all in Austin 7’s, only Waite’s machine was supercharged. In Class B Barney Dentry in his Senechal won from Williamson’s Riley 9 and Les Pound’s DFP. Class C was taken by Terdich’s Bugatti T40 from Day’s Bugatti T37A and the J Hutton Alvis 12/50.

John McCutcheon’s Morris Cowley won Class D despite having more than 21,000 road miles on its odometer! ‘Such performances as these, and that of Mr Hinkler in his British-built light aeroplane, should remove any doubt as to the return of Britain to world leadership in the automotive field’ ‘The Argus’ reported, breathlessly and patriotically- we were a British Dominion then after all!, the Federation of Australia duly noted in 1901. Second in Class D was Cyril Dickason’s Austin 12 and Bill Lowe’s Metallurgique.

‘Probably Waite’s win was due chiefly to his remarkably cool driving throughout and his deliberate stop half way through the race for a methodical refilling  of his tiny supercharged Austin with water, oil and petrol. A similar stop would probably have won the race for Arthur Terdich (Bugatti), who seemingly had the race in hand two laps before the finish. Petrol troubles then stopped his car, and Waite won before Terdich got going again…recorded the Geelong Advertiser. ‘Waite won using Shell spirit and oil and Australian made Perdriau tyres’- it was usually the case that the ‘paper reports of the day recorded this information- early advertorial perhaps.

John McCutcheon, Morris Cowley second overall and winner of the morning race, first in Class D (B King Collection)


Stan King, Austin 7- eleventh (B King Collection)

In a word from the sponsor, the Managing Director and owner of Austin Distributors Pty. Ltd. SA Cheney said that ‘…it is pleasing that our confidence in (the Morris and Austin cars the company distributed) their quality and stamina is being so constantly rewarded in successive reliability trials and road contests.’

‘A notable feature of the race was that every Austin which started finished the race. SV King’s car being one of the only three cars to run non-stop, an honour also gained by McCutcheon’s Morris and Dickason’s Austin 12’ the ‘Tiser concluded.

Five thousand spectators went home covered in dust but happy – the largest influx of people in the island’s history, the Shire’s brave decision to back the race was vindicated, the race became a fixture at the ‘Island until 1935 when the intrinsic nature of the gravel track- without change to a sealed surface had run its course.

The winners of the AGP in the Phillip Island era were Bill Thompson in 1930 and 1932 in a Bugatti Type 37 and 1933 aboard a Riley Brooklands. Arthur Terdich won in 1929 in a Bugatti T37A, Carl Junker in 1931 in another Bugatti, a T39, Bob Lea-Wright in a Singer 9 Le Mans in 1934 and finally Les Murphy in an MG P type in 1935. Thompson was second in 1934 and 1935 off scratch and was well and truly the driver of the era, and regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever. Click here for a piece on Thompson;

Jack Day, Bugatti Type 37 sixth (C Watts)



Dickason’s Austin 12 ‘was in effect the good old family tourer, which, apart from being stripped and mildly tuned, had the entire section of the four seater body removed…It must have called for a good deal of determination and skill to not only finish second in D Class but also to record third fastest time’ John Blanden wrote (The Australasian)


Les Pound’s DFP being attended to- note the Light Car Club badge on the radiator. The car was a later version of the model with which WO Bentley was successful at Brooklands and the Isle of Man before setting up his own enterprise. JC Hutton’s Alvis 12/50- eighth place is in the background (C Watt)


The Pound DFP during the race- thirteenth and final classified finisher (B King Collection)


The following piece from the fifty year anniversary meeting program of the then first Australian Grand Prix in 1978, was written by John Williams, a journalist who attended and covered the 1928 race.

Do read it, he paints the most marvellous picture of the times and the meeting.

The end of the Phillip Island AGP Era…

Phillip Island’s eighth and final Australian Grand Prix took place in March 1935, it had been decided to rotate the race amongst the states, the 1936 event moved to Victor Harbour, South Australia- the South Australian Centenary Grand Prix held on 26 December 1936, was later erroneously and incorrectly appropriated as the 1937 Australian Grand Prix.

The loss of ‘their’ event was seen as a crushing blow by the Light Car Club, but it was not entirely unexpected, racing on potholed unsealed roads may have been acceptable in the 1920s, but by 1936 it was out of the question, so was the prospect of sealing the Phillip Island track, the economics simply did not stack up.

A new promoter, the ‘Australian Racing Drivers Club’, conducted racing on a shorter 3.3-mile Phillip Island circuit which used only the original start/finish straight (on Berry’s Beach Road) but by 1938 the cars were gone, although motorcycles ran their annual Tourist Trophy on that layout until 1940.

It would be December 1956 before the island saw motor racing action again, this time at a new purpose-built circuit south west of Cowes.


‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ ‘The Argus’ Dunlop ad Monday 2 April 1928- Australian made tyres mandated for the event


Perhaps the Jack Day Bugatti T37 (C Watt)


Jack Day and mechanic showing the physicality involved in racing of the day! Bugatti T37- sixth (B King Collection)



The roads of the Phillip Island road circuit are still intact…

They were clearly marked after the 50 year anniversary of the AGP held in 1978- what an event that was, one for another time.

Its well worth a visit and a few gentle laps amongst the PI tourist traffic, the place is a popular destination for surfers, holiday makers and tourists seeking koalas and the fairy penguin nightly scuttle from the water to their nests in the sand dunes-and of course bike and car enthusiasts visiting the circuit and its museum.

The start/finish area is located on Berry’s Beach Road, the pits used to be located in a large paddock, which today is still a large paddock.

From the start, the road rises slightly to Heaven Corner, the first of the four right-hand, right-angle bends. From here it’s a flat-out blast along the still-narrow undulating high crowned road, past a small monument which has a map of the original track inset into the stone, to Young and Jackson’s Corner, almost two miles away. On your left, a timber plaque displays the corner name, although the original bend is now a large roundabout. Once this is negotiated, another straight (the main road from Cowes back to Melbourne) takes you to within 400 metres of Gentle Annie Corner.

The highway now swings left, so the approach to Gentle Annie is not the original straightforward 90-degree corner, but is clearly signposted and easily found. From here it’s another two-mile roller-coaster ride over the hillocks and humps, encountering The Needle’s Eye at the halfway point, which is no longer a needle, nor an eye.

Hell Corner has recently been obliterated by a roundabout- once you’re through the maze the road stretches out ahead over more gentle rises, with the former Bridge of Sighs at about half distance and the old pits on the left- and that’s it.

In the 1930s the landscape was more barren, caused by the penchant to denude the landscape of trees to allow the maximum number of sheep per acre, and, of course, the road is fully sealed, unlike the days when vast quantities of black sump oil was laid to ‘kill’ the dust

‘Frankston Hillclimb’ at Moondah Estate Mount Eliza circa 1929-1930 with three Austin 7s lined up before the off. Daryl Burkett at left and Cyril Dickason on the right. Clarrie May is aboard the car in the middle which is the ex-Waite AGP winner by then fitted with headlights- ‘the clues are the standard front axle beam, extension on the top of the radiator cap, the short radiator and the flat exhaust manifold as opposed to the upswept manifold on the Dickason car’ Tony Johns coomented (T Johns)

Captain Arthur Waite and his Austin 7…

As we have just see, the 1928 victor was a ‘Baby Austin’, a prototype of the supercharged ‘Super Sports’ package released that year.

Waite was born in Adelaide on 9 April 1984, he lived and attended school in Norwood before attending the Adelaide School of Mines and was then apprenticed to JH Southcott until the outbreak of the Great War.

He joined up and soon achieved the rank of Second-Lieutenant in the Australian Field Artillery, he then took a reduction in rank to ensure his qualification for overseas service- after training in Egypt he landed in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 also serving in North Africa and France where in 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross

His wife was Irene Austin – daughter of Lord Herbert Austin, founder of Britain’s Austin Motor Company. The pair met during Waite’s War service, he was injured in France and met Irene, a volunteer nurse, during his recovery, they married in 1918 and Waite, an engineer, was introduced into the Austin family business on his twenty-fifth birthday- 9 April 1919.

Waite thought that racing would improve vehicle development and enhance sales, with Herbert Austin’s support he began to develop, build and test racing and sportscars amongst his other responsibilities.

In 1923, together with Alf Depper, foreman of the Experimental and Racing Department the pair drove a 7 to Monza, won the first International Italian Grand Prix for Light Cars on 20 April and then drove home again- success at Brooklands quickly followed when Waite broke all existing 750cc class records.

In 1925 ‘The Skipper’ set up racing ‘shops at Longbridge where work started on the first supercharged 7, this was not initially successful so Austin designed a Roots type blower with three impellers. The blower was mounted on a cradle atop the timing cover utilising magneto drive gear revolving at a quicker engine ratio of 1.25:1- 36 bhp @ 5000 rpm was the result.

Fitted into a 7 foot 3 inch wheelbase chassis with a fabric covered body the car made 92 mph and 86 mph for the two-way flying kilometre. Later that year Waite, with the car bored to 775 cc ran it in the 1100cc class of the 200 Mile Race at Brooklands- along with five other 7s. ‘By the end of 1928 Waite held all the class H (750cc) records’ Bryan Purves wrote

Herbert Austin was keen to broaden his son-in-law’s management experience and shipped him off to Australia to do so, SA Cheney, the owner of Austin Distributors was glad to have him aboard ‘to try and double sales’.

When Waite became aware of the 1928 ‘Island race he requested that his old car be sent to the colonies but unknown to him his supercharged racer, less engine had been sold to Johnny Pares, a Longbridge employee (or dealer depending upon your source), suitably re-engined it raced successfully obtaining the nickname ‘Slippery Anne’ along the way.

Arthur and Irene Waite with Lord and Lady Austin (Making Cars at Longbridge)


Arthur Waite and Alf Depper after winning the 750cc class of the Italian Cyclecar GP, April 1923 (T Johns Collection)


The ex-Waite ‘Slippery Anne’, notes self explanatory (‘Austin Racing History’ via T Johns)

Waite was therefore sent a car which was basically a prototype of the ‘Supercharged Sports’ which was going into production to qualify for the Ulster Tourist Trophy.

The chassis of the car (number unknown) was standard as were the springs but they were cord bound- a straight front axle was also standard along with production friction dampers- the steering column was lowered to suit the longer bonnet Waite had made by a coach-builder in Melbourne.

The engine was supercharged, fitted with a Laystall steel crankshaft and pressure lubricated. The Cozette Number 4 blower created a boost of 5psi drawing air from a Cozette carburettor. All of the alloy castings of the engine were prefixed with the letters ‘SP’- the crankcase had the casting number ‘SP767.’

The inlet manifold was designed to slide over long studs and the exhaust was taken out of the nearside bonnet panel via a three-port exhaust manifold which continued along the side of the body. Its output was 33-35 bhp at 5000 rpm which converted to a top speed on the long Phillip Island straights of about 75 mph.

The gearbox was trick too- it was four rather than three speeds but reverse was omitted to find the requisite space inside the standard case.

Austin Works engineer, team manager and driver Charles Goodacre described the completed Waite car ‘As the most dreadful thing you ever saw, for it looked like an enormous egg and when the driver sat in it his head stuck out of the top. Anyway, the whole thing was put together and tested locally instead of being sent to Brooklands. There was a straight stretch of road from Rubery to Bromsgrove over which a local motorcycle company used to test their TT machines at over 100 mph early in the morning…They went there early in the morning when it was safe…I drove it to carry out the road testing and the car had quite a good performance. It would do 90 mph easily and the engine would tun at about 5500 rpm. It was quite smooth, and it was reliable.’

‘Sir Herbert saw the car in the works on his return from South Africa and asked what it was. When told it was the car that was going to Waite in Australia he asked how they proposed sending it and was told they were making a crate for it. “We’re not wasting, time, wood and money on a crate. It looks like a bath, it will float so let the boat tow it to Australia” Austin quipped!

The bathtub which won the Australian Grand Prix it seems!

Two other similar cars were produced by Longridge which were raced by Sidney Holbrook and Gunnar Poppe- entered at Shelsey Walsh, the pair were knocked off by George Coldicutt in ‘Slippery Anne’.

‘Col Waite as well as his other titles was a Freeman of the City of London and a Life member of the British Racing Drivers Club’ Tony Johns added, Johns suggested the inclusion of Waite’s Foreword from John Blanden’s ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ which is below.

(C Watt)



The three photographs above are the Waite car at the Island- that is the the prototype of the 1928 ‘Super Sports’ albeit fitted with a locally modified bonnet, then below it a standard ‘SS’ in order that you may compere the differences between the cars for yourselves- and a Super Sports engine.
At this point thanks are in order to racer/restorer/historian/authors Tony Johns and Bob King who have contributed all of the photographs in this article from their vast archives, and in Tony’s case an enormous amount of Austin 7 material and race experience.
Of the latter engine photograph Johns observes, ‘The ‘Y-shaped’ inlet manifold is the same as mine (see a bit later on) designed to fit on long studs- look between the centre exhaust pipes and rear pipe. The photo illustrates the longer than standard valve springs to accommodate the 3/8 inch lift camshaft, as well as the location of the Pilgrim pump on the rear of the supercharger to lubricate the vanes- Vane type superchargers such as Shorrock need more lubrication than Roots type where their is no contact between revolving parts. The carburettor is a Cozette- this is a slightly later engine than Waite’s as it has the later inlet manifold designed for shorter studs to make for easier assembly.’
By the 1929 AGP Waite was back in the UK where he was appointed to the Austin Board of Directors.
Amongst his new responsibilities Arthur took over the Austin racing team in 1930, competing along with ‘Freddie’ March and ‘Sammy’ Davis. In the Ards TT Waite was thrown from his Austin into the path of oncoming cars suffering a broken jaw and concussion- engine failures to all but one 7s in this race resulted in the crankcase being extended to below the level of the chassis- the end result was a ten-stud head which was a part of the ‘Ulster’ model specifications. Waite gave up his racing career after the Ards accident.
Back in Australia the driving chores of the 1928 winner were handed to Clarrie May who had a run in the car in the lead up to the AGP at Aspendale Speedway in bayside Melbourne  that January but the car failed to impress the ‘Sporting Globe’ writer, ‘Truto’ who commented that the Clarrie May driven car was one of the most disappointing of the meeting ‘It showed no ginger and is probably a temperamental piece of mechanism’- rather a harsh description of the AGP winner!
Entered in Waite’s name for the 1929 AGP, decades later correspondence between Waite and John Blanden confirmed the car was owned by Austin Distributors Pty. Ltd. not Arthur individually.
The car ran very well as part of the lead bunch until suffering supercharger failure on lap 20 of the 31 lap race won by Arthur Terdich’s Bugatti T37A- he bagged the win in 1929 he in many ways deserved the year before.

Clarrie May, and we think, Joan Richmond in the A7 Ulster May raced in 1930 (B King Collection)

In the 1930 AGP May again raced an, Austin, on this occasion an Ulster to a DNF after rolling the car- Bill Thompson won that year in a Bugatti T37A.
1931 saw two supercharged Austin 7s entered driven by CR Dickason and CR May, again Clarrie reputedly racing the ex-Waite car, this year completing 18 of the 30 laps and retired, the best placed Austin 7 was Cyril Dickason’s superbly driven car which finished second outright in the handicap race.
Bill Thomson won again in 1932 with T37A, Clarrie May again ran an Austin 7 but it was a different machine to the year before and not as fast’, Blanden wrote that ‘Clarrie May was also in an Austin as usual. However it was being tipped that this car was not going to be as fast as the one he had driven the previous year’- in the event he was eighth, with Dickason again the best placed Austin 7 in third behind Thompson and the G Disher Salmson.
In his 1931 race piece in ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ Blanden ponders as to whether the car May raced in 1931 was the Waite car- Tony Johns confirms it was not and ‘all efforts to trace to whom the car was sold and its subsequent movements have been in vain’. John published his book in 1981, in 2020 the picture is clearer but still to an extent publicly untold.
The Austin 7 community in Australia are a tight-knit bunch, one of their ‘doyen’ is Tony Johns who will be known to many enthusiasts as an A7 racer, restorer, purveyor of fine books for many years and more recently an author- he and Phillip Schudmak together with Clare Hay and Bob Watson wrote and published ‘Vintage Bentleys in Australia’ about twelve months ago, do get a copy, its a great book, which i promised to review now i think of it…
Tony Johns picks up his Austin story and history, ‘Great Aunt in Brisbane owned an Austin 7 from new, and I would sit in the back seat whenever we were in Queensland for family holidays which usually involved a seaside holiday at Southport on the Gold Coast, quiet as it was in those days. As an aside Bill Pitt (the driver of the Geordie Anderson owned D Type Jaguar i have written about ), the service manager at Anderson Motors looked after both my Grandmother and Aunts motor cars.’
‘This Austin was a 1931 tourer and as it was not Vintage, ie built before December 1930 I rejected the offer to inherit it when my Aunt passed away. However I did claim the original tool kit and still have the screw driver, pliers and grease gun that have n ever been used.’
‘In 1960 I purchased a 1928 Chummy six months before I was eligible to get a driving licence and joined the Austin 7 Club. Not long after, I met Nigel Tait and we were both young and were soon elected to the committee. Nigel started racing a few years before me and I would act as his pit crew at Templestowe, Tarrawingee and in 1964 the South Australian Easter Collingrove Hillclimb and Mallala Races. By 1964 I had collected a modified chassis, and the body from Allan Tyrrell’s racing car- by Easter 1965 my first racing car was ready for the trip to Adelaide with the rest of the Victorian Austin 7 racers.’
‘In 1973 and 1974 i lived in London and used some of that time to locate an Austin 7 Ulster- there were no complete running cars for sale so I ended up buying a restored rolling chassis and a new body. I shipped four of these Stuart Rolt built bodies back to Melbourne. Also in 1974 I was loaned Martin Eyre’s spare Austin to race in UK VSCC events in exchange for building engines, it was then that the challenge was made to prove that our Australian Austins were quicker than their cars- plans for the ‘1981 Raid’ of Australian Austin 7s in the UK were soon underway’ that story we will pick up in the next couple of months.

Equipe Johns at Sandown 26 September 1965- Tony Johns’ Chummy A7 and the A7 Spl he raced from 1965-1980 (T Johns)

‘I was as well connected as anyone in the Austin 7 world and knew the story that the Waite car remained stored at the back of the Austin Distributors building in South Melbourne for some years before it was sold- by then the later Ulster sportscars were faster machines.’

By the seventies the consensus was that the race winning car had been broken up so Victorian A7 man Bill Sheehan built a replica using the correct type of chassis and running gear with the body built with the assistance of Barry Papps.

Whilst Johns was happily racing his 7 in 500 Car Club/A7 events and divisional racing then later still historic racing he was always on the lookout for A7 bits- especially competition parts.

‘My longtime Meteor bodied Austin 7 friend from Sydney, Col Masterton, told me about the supercharged Waite crankcase. He approached the owner in the hope that i may be able to buy it for my unblown Ulster i purchased in pieces and shipped from the UK in 1974.’

‘It was not for sale but the owner also had a 1930s Nippy sports Austin that was missing its crankcase and if i could find one he would do a swap- it was all stops out to locate a suitable crankcase from my UK contacts so that i could complete the deal.’

‘When the crankcase arrived from England and on my next racing weekend in Sydney…i arranged with Colin to complete the swap. That Saturday morning, under a house not sure where in Sydney i saw the Ulster crankcase for the first time. Imagine my surprise and the look on face trying to stay calm when i realised it was a complete engine including the cast alloy inlet manifold and timing chest at the front of the crankcase. Even the steel gear that drives the supercharger was a special Works part that had one less tooth than the standard part in order to increase the supercharger revs- not just the crankcase that was to be the swap. Racing the Austin in Sydney that weekend became less important, i already had achieved the win of a lifetime.’

‘The Waite motor was reunited with the replica Bill Sheehan constructed replica when it was owned by my friend, Graeme Steinfort- i had sold the eight stud Waite crankcase to Graeme in exchange for legal advice.’

‘At the time Graeme was driving an un-supercharged Ulster he had purchased in the UK from former Lotus F1 driver John Miles. The four speed Waite gearbox was purchased by Graeme from another Melbourne Austin 7 enthusiast, Neil Johannesen’ so the replica at that stage had two of the critical original parts from the 1928 AGP winner.

(T Johns)

‘Sydney 1970s when i acquired the Waite engine, unfortunately the spare Blown crankcase was not part of the deal. Note the four bolts on the side face of the crankcase are there to mount the Cozette supercharger. Sydney A7 enthusiast Col Masterton is holding the very rare cast inlet manifold, this differed from later Ulster manifolds as it was designed for the long studs that were used at the time. Note the special 9C numbers that were cast into the non-standard competition parts.’

(T Johns)

‘Above is the Waite crankcase after I stripped and cleaned it- the special inlet manifold is clearly visible as well as the original supercharger driveshaft and coupling.’

‘As to the casting numbers you can see, Mike Costigan checked with all the UK experts in relation to casting numbers on the side of the crankcase. The reply was that they were there for the factory to be able to check which foundry had made the castings in case of faults and are of no importance to us regarding Ulster or Super Sports part numbering.’

‘The shot below shows the same inlet manifold, Cozette carburettor and supercharger fitted to my Ulster as above- the crankcase is now, again, as noted above, fitted to the Waite Replica.’

(T Johns)

At this point a happy confluence of events occurred, Bob King (remember his ‘Werrangourt Archive’ articles on primotipo) had a next door neighbour at Blairgowrie on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula named Reg Sweet who just happened to have owned the Waite car in the late thirties.

‘He was a great bloke, he made a mean home-brew and ensured the whole Blairgowrie experience was bearable. Fascinating too, he had flown as a pilot in Lancasters during the War including sorties over places like Cologne.’

King introduced Sweet to Graeme Steinfort on a Victorian Vintage and Sportscar Club run to Blairgowrie circa 1980, Graeme made typed notes after the meeting- i would scan them and pop them up but they will be too difficult to read hence this transcription in full.

‘Apparently the car had remained in the hands of Austin Distributors in Melbourne for many years after the event (1928 AGP) and was gradually pushed into a corner of their workshop. Reg Sweet at that time was engaged in the motor trade mainly buying and selling Austin 7s, and thus had a lot to do with the people at Austin Distributors. He was onto them for a number of years to sell the car to him, but in those “pre-depreciation” days they said that it was on the books for 200 pounds!’

‘He was called in to Austin Distributors one day in about 1934 and was told that they were clearing out all the old stock and was invited to make an offer on the Waite car if he wished. To this, he requested their suggestion as to what he should offer, and was told “60 pounds”, he offered that amount and acquired the car.’

‘He recalls a lot about the car, the most significant feature which to him, apart from the number 4 Cozette supercharger, was the fact that it would rev quite easily to 7000 rpm in competition. It had the straight front axle and the body on it was quite similar to that constructed by Bill Sheehan (that Graeme owns).

‘Reg proceeded to race the car at Aspendale Speedway (in bayside Melbourne) without success because the days of the Austin 7 in competition were really over, having been overshadowed by the MG P Types and Singer Le Mans which were then the current favourite for light car competition.’

‘However he did have a success in his class at Rob Roy and until recently had a cup to prove it.  That cup he donated to Bob King to give as a trophy for Brescia Bugattis at the Bi-Annual Bugatti Rally. Reg tells me he registered the car during this period and ran it without lights or mudguards, the registration authorities in those days being less stringent than they are today.’

‘Basically, however, he used the car purely for competition disposing of it in about 1938 when the responsibilities of family and the like put an end to his sports motoring at the time. Reg managed to break the crankshaft and replaced it with one purchased from England for 13 pounds. The replacement crank came complete with new pistons, rings, gudgeon pins and rods- all fully prepared to go straight into the motor. He tells me the crankshaft was not an exact fit and he had to do some work on the case, grinding a proportion away to get the crankshaft to fit. Tony Johns reports that these grinding marks are present on the crankcase that he has on his engine.’

Graeme Steinfort concludes an amazing document with the observation that ‘Naturally, Reg remembers the car with some affection and would like to have it back today! I think we join with him in that, and it would be nice to see the complete car in existence.’

Tony did some quick Rob Roy research and indeed Reginald Sweet won class 1, under 750cc, supercharged at Rob Roy Number 5, Cup Day November 1938 with a time of 41.66 seconds- he returned on 30 January 1939 and finished second in class to Derry George, MG J4 who did a 38.74 seconds.

If any of you can fill in the gaps between Reg Sweet’s sale of the Waite car circa 1938 and the acquisition of the car’s engine and gearbox by Messrs Johns and Steinfort in the seventies that would be wonderful, do get in touch.

Austin A7 Waite Replica (G Steinfort)


Graeme Steinfort in the Austin 7 Waite Replica at ‘Speed on Tweed’ September 2007 (G Steinfort)


(T Johns)

Arthur Waite provides his best wishes to the Austin 7 ‘Raid’ racers prior to their trip to the UK in 1981.

Prominent Australian historian/racing journalist Ray Bell provided this shot below which his brother took in the UK in 1987- Ray wrote the 1928 chapter, and others, of ‘The 50 Year History of The Australian Grand Prix’, Bell’s copy of which Arthur is holding.

Ray dispatched his brother to meet with the old racer to sign the 1928 title page of his HAGP copy, when brother Brian knocked on the door and sought an audience, or arrived at the agreed time, the lady who answered the door enquired as to the reason for calling to which Brian responded ‘He won a car race in Australia a long time ago’ at which point the lady interrupted him by saying ‘Yes! And haven’t we all heard enough about that?’

(R Bell Collection)





(B King Collection)

Stan King Austin 7- unusual angle shows the tight packaging of mechanic and driver in the smaller cars- the pair completed the second race for Class A/C cars without a stop, one of few to do 100 miles without pitting.

Good deed of the day award went to this crew who gave Arthur Terdich a lift on the rear of the car as the hapless Melburnian tried to find his Bugatti which had been coaxed back to life by the side of the road and driven back to the pits by his mechanic.


(B King Collection)

John McCutcheon and friends before the off- the second placed and very quick Morris Cowley was never headed once into the lead of the morning’s Class B and D race.



(B King Collection)

The Pound DFP in profile- Les was third in Class B despite a number of tyre blowouts in the morning race, Bill Terdich in the other DFP was a DNF with a broken valve or piston.


(C Watt)

Light Car Club committee members at the Isle of Wight during the 1928 meeting. The fellow on the car side closest to the umbrella pole is Arthur Terdich, Tony believes- any clues on the other characters folks?


(B King Collection)

Arthur Terdich was in many ways the ‘man of the meeting’ having been up to his armpits in the organisation of the event as a LCC Committe member and one of the front runners in the race- he was stiff not to win it.

He returned to the Island many times of course and won in 1929 with a Grand Prix Type 37A Bugatti rather than the modified touring T40 machine he drove so well in 1928.

Terdich was a critical force in Victorian racing for many years, I will circle back to him and have a crack at a profile about him with Bob and Tony’s assistance.

In the sensational photograph below Terdich (left) is plotting the path of the 1926 Alpine Trial, the car is his 3 litre Bentley chassis ‘602’, which was also the official course car during the event, somewhere in the Victorian high country.

(E Adamson)


B King Collection)

Bill Williamson, aboard the Riley 9 owned by Mrs Jack Day.

It was a weekend of drama with a rollover in practice and a class B/D race of perseverance after transmission problems caused a pitstop- during which the problem was fixed, twelfth the result.



(B King Collection)

Barney Dentry does look like a lean, mean fighting machine, despite the fag.

So many of these early racers were middle-aged given the readies required to compete, Barney is a veritable youth in comparison- car is a Senechal.


A Valentine postcard of the Isle of Wight over a race weekend- not much to go on but cars and a date folks?


Gee-whizz, the Phillip Island Hotel looks decidedly low rent, I doubt any of the Light Car Club types stayed there.


(B King Collection)

Les Jennings, Morris Cowley DNF after completing 6 laps- the car blew a cylinder head gasket.

His Lanes Motors supported machines were very well prepared with support from Lanes- and very well driven.


‘Dunlop Grand Prix this way’- Terdich in the drivers seat of a road roller (B King Collection)

‘Dunlop Grand Prix this way’- by this stage of the journey to Cowes the spectators would have been at fever pitch with excitement at the prospect of a spectacle few would have seen before- Terdich behind the wheel of the road roller?


(B King Collection)

Ron Gardner with a touch of the opposites, Alvis 12/50- DNF after completing 8 laps- big end bearing failure.


(B King Collection)

The John Goodall Aston Martin 1.5- Ed Huon the driver and Bob Horne the mechanic- Goodall retired the car with stripped gears having only completed a lap of the afternoon race.


(T Johns Collection)


(T Johns Collection)

Not too many racing cars and drivers have been honoured with an Australian postage stamp- but the Waite Austin 7 s/c is one of them.

The Australia Post researchers got it right too- the other car featured is the ‘if only’ Bugatti T40 of Arthur Terdich.

(S Dalton Collection)


(S Dalton Collection)


(S Dalton Collection)


As reported in period by ‘The Car’…









(A Waite Collection via D Howe)

The Austin Distributors Pty. Ltd. Melbourne dealership with all staff on deck by the look of it out front of 460 Bourke Street just before the race.

We are not sure if this shot was taken in 1928 or 1929 but it’s not so much the date as the vibe.


‘The Austin Seven Source Book’ Bryan Purves, Bill Sheehan, Austin 7 Club Australia website, Jim Scaysbrook article in MotorSport magazine February 2008,, The Nostalgia Forum, The ‘Goulburn Evening Penny Post’ 17 January 1927, ‘The Sydney Sportsman’ 22 November 1927, ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ John Blanden, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, Tony Johns recollections, ‘The Advertiser’ Geelong 3 April 1928, article by Philip Turner about Charles Goodacre in Motor- 17 February 1973 issue, ‘Vintage Bentleys in Australia’ P Schudmak, T Johns and others, ‘The Car’ article via T Johns Collection, Arthur Waite Collection via David Howe

(C Watt)

Photo Credits and notes…

Tony Johns, Tony Johns Collection, Bob King Collection, Graeme Steinfort, MotorSport, Edwin Adamson, ‘Austin Racing History’ Roland Harrison, Edgar Family, The Bugatti Trust, Stephen Dalton Collection, Ray Bell Collection, ‘Making Cars at Longbridge’ Bardsley and Corke

Charlie Watt provided many of the photographs in this article via Tony Johns who comments as follows, ‘In the early sixties i met Charles ‘Charlie’ Watt of Brighton, Melbourne who had a lathe in his garage and helped with some machining on my Austin.’

’He worked for COR and was very pleased to pass his photos on to a young enthusiast, several of the photos (in this piece) have been published under others names- it would make me feel better if Charlie finally received some acknowledgment for his work.’

‘Charlie was also responsible for the COR scoreboard above. He damaged his hand with its construction and still had issues with it in 1960. His son Bruce built a special, named after his girlfriend and later raced a Valiant or Falcon on gas in a Sandown endurance race- the Bruce Watt of Benalla Auto Club fame?’

Many thanks to the late Charlie Watt for his photos and to Tony for sharing them.

It was amusing sitting down with Bob King at his place in Brighton earlier in the week and learning that Ray Bell, a mate who wrote the 1928 AGP chapter in HAGP, sat beside Bob in the same study circa 1984 whilst Ray made his choice of photographs from Bob’s Collection which was largely accumulated in the long research process of writing various Bugatti books- i can imagine Ray sitting there twisting from buttock to buttock, frustrated trying to work out which of the over forty shots to use with a page count limit to work to- as you have probably worked out i have no such restrictions!

The end I think.


(C Watts)

The Castrol depot at the Island in 1928- car folks?



(B Jackson)

Alec Mildren Racing prepare their steeds prior to the 1968 ‘Warwick Farm 100’ Tasman round held on 18 February 1968…

That’s Kevin Bartlett steering his Brabham BT11A Climax through the dummy grid area back into the paddock- the car in the distance is Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo.

35,000 people attended the meeting on a glorious Sydney summers day during which Jim Clark led from pole and won from his teammate Graham Hill aboard Team Lotus Lotus 49 Ford DFWs- I’ve done this meeting to death already here;

and here;

but these photographs uploaded by enthusiast Glenn Paine on behalf of the late ‘snapper, Brian Jackson were too good to waste.

(B Jackson)


Bartlett and Mildren plotting the next chassis adjustment (B Jackson)

As most of you know, KB graduated to the BT11A after ‘Frank had finished with it’- and went like a jet in it, click here for a story about that;

The one-off Brabham BT23D Alfa was Alec Mildren’s response to the growth of multi-cylinder engines, as in more than four, in the Tasman Cup, as an Alfa Romeo Dealer Autodelta were more than happy to build some special 2.5 litre versions of their Tipo 33 sportscar V8- that engine story is here;

FG looks happy enough, note the ‘Buco’ helmet and driving gloves, Glenn Abbey is the lanky chap attending to the car. BT23D was a one-off but built on Ron Tauranac’s F2 BT23 spaceframe chassis jig. Conventional outboard suspension front and year, no belts- they would become common throughout this year though (B Jackson)


Business end- Hewland FG200 five speed transaxle and twin distributors to fire two plugs per cylinder in amongst the shade (B Jackson)

There are not too many folks around at all- perhaps its the Thursday prior to the meeting. A quick look at the Australian Motor Racing Annual race report covers plenty of tyre drama pre-race as a shipment of Goodyears had not arrived in Australia which meant that Goodyear contracted drivers such as FG and Jack Brabham plumped for Firestones come raceday. Both the Mildren cars are fitted with Goodyears in these shots but that delay left ‘Bartlett and Hulme as the only Goodyear equipped cars’.

It wasn’t a great race for the team- KB started from row five with Geoghegan, Lotus 39 Repco and Attwood, BRM P126 V12 and retired with half-shaft failure at Polo on lap 34 whereas FG started from row three alongside Greg Cusack, Brabham BT23A Repco and John Harvey, Brabham BT11A Repco, and, having run as high as fifth retired on lap 40 ‘with a very oily-looking rear end’.

Abbey and BT23D, Mildren were a BP sponsored team throughout, nice Holden EH- it’ll be either light brown or light green with that white roof Holden fans? (B Jackson)


(B Jackson)

KB swapping notes with Jim Clark and Graham Hill with his back to us- is that Rana Bartlett at right? The Team Lotus duo raced Lotus 49s fitted with Ford Cosworth 2.5 litre ‘DFW’ engines that summer.


Brian Jackson

(B Jackson)

These engines were very successful for Mildren- they never took a Tasman round victory but Bartlett won the Gold Star in the BT23D in 1968 and the Mildren Yellow Submarine in 1969- albeit that year the Waggott TC-4V engine also chipped into the pointscore- not to forget KB’s 1969 Macau GP win.

All alloy 90 degree, Lucas fuel injected 2.5 V8 with twin, chain driven overhead camshafts per bank and two valves per cylinder, twin plugs per cylinder fired by Marelli distributors. Note the oil filter, very tricky pipe work to get the exhausts to the right length and clear the frame tubes and tachometer drive off the end of the camshaft.


(B Jackson)



The inaugural Southern Cross Rally held from October 6th to 9th 1966 brought international rallying to Australia and attracted European stars Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen both of whom ran Morris Cooper S…

The event covered 4,000 km and ran from Sydney to Melbourne and return- Roselands Shopping Centre was the end point 17 km from Sydney’s CBD.

The Barry Ferguson/Tony Denham VW Beetle 1600 took the lead on the second night and set a fast pace until an exchange with a tree ended their great run 360 km from Sydney, this allowed the works Harry Firth/Graham Hoinville Cortina GT to win from the Greg Garard/Frank Goulburn Holden HR and Ian and Roger Vaughan Cortina GT in third place.

The opening photograph was taken at Huthwaite’s Shell Service Station in Edward Street Wagga Wagga- isn’t it a beauty?, but its also a mystery as to the crew. #2 is not on the entry list below nor does it appear to be a ‘missing number’ GT but rather a poverty pack Cortina of some sort- ideas folks?!


The Firth/Hoinville Cortina takes centre stage alongside the #15 Garard/Goulburn Holden HR X2 and #17 Vaughan Brothers Cortina GT at Roselands.

The HR to the left behind is the Reg Lunn/Geoff Thomas ‘Dustings of Burwood’ (Melbourne) entry and the #14 Max Winkless/A Smith Volvo 122S to the right- rear centre is the distinctive Alec Mildren entered Alfa Romeo Giulia Super run by the versatile Doug Chivas and Lindsay Adcock.


Rauno Aaltonen and Roy Denny during the night on day 3 north at Cooma in the New South Wales sub-Alpine country. Click here for the full story of this event on the marvellous Southern Cross Rally website;

On balance Rauno had a pretty good month in Australia, whilst ‘in town’ he took in the 2 October Bathurst 500 enduro sharing a car with Bob Holden to an historic win in front of eight other Cooper S’!- they were a lap clear of the Fred Gibson/Bill Stanley and Bruce McPhee/Barry Mulholland machines.


(S Charlton)

The upper photograph is Rauno on his own at Mount Panorama, the lower one is Aaltonen chasing the BMC works Cooper S #28 of Paddy Hopkirk and Brian Foley, DNF after 28 laps.

Etcetera: Firth/Hoinville works Ford Cortina Mk1 GT…

Firth’s car was one of the 110 GT500s Harry and his crew in Queens Avenue, Auburn built prior to the 1965 Bathurst 500- this run of cars was a very successful ‘homologation special’ with Bo Seton and Midge Boswell winning the classic that year.

Whilst the Melbourne pairing of good friends and great engineers were lucky to benefit from Ferguson’s misfortune in the Southern Cross, so that is almost always the case- the ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’ adage holds good.

Meritorious was that Harry had competed in the Bathurst 500 together with quite a few other ‘Cross runners the week before and immediately prior to that had returned from the US where he contested two Trans-Am rounds- on 10 September, the Green Valley 6 Hour for ninth place and 18 September Riverside 4 hours- seventh in a Lotus Cortina with Allan Moffat- Moff ran selected rounds of the series that year amongst his primary program the ‘1966 Central Division (Cendiv) Touring Car Series starting in May in the American Midwest.

Moffat said of Firth in his autobiography written with John Smailes ‘Harry Firth was fantastic. The race was half day, half night and, when darkness fell, he drove like the rally star he was. He pulled back four of the six laps i’d lost and brought us up to second in class behind Kwech’s Alfa. Then a throttle cable fell off and he dropped another six laps and had to start again. This time he got into ‘man possessed’ mode. On a track with questionable grip, in the pitch dark, he set a new under 2 litre lap record. We finished fourth in class and ninth outright. Ray Parsons with Jon Leighton was third in class and seventh outright.’

A week later the team were 2,200 km away in Riverside, again Moffat sang Harry’s praises- ‘…Harry surprised us again. He removed the cylinder heads from both our cars and took them to a local machine shop where he performed some magic. Its not that I didn’t want the details but Harry wasn’t called The Fox for nothing. All I needed to know was that the work was legal and quicker. He assured me it was. Harry came down with the flu that weekend so I dove solo. My job, if I could, was to spoil Horst Kwech. For four hours we raced like crazy for second in class, while Frank Gardner sprinted ahead to score Alan Mann’s only victory of the series’ John Smailes recorded.

The Bo Seton/Midge Bosworth Ford Cortina GT500 en-route to Bathurst victory in 1965


‘The Canberra Times’ 11 October 1966

The piece above is interesting- Harry was multi-talented as all you Australian enthusiasts well know.
He was a great preparer/builder of race and rally cars, an elite level rally and production-sedan driver not to forget his abilities to develop competitive performance car packages with manufacturers (Ford and Holden). After his own driving career he was a great talent spotter (mind you he nurtured talent whilst still driving too) and team manager of people, budgets, builds and race-day strategy- he schmoozed sponsors and manufacturers as well.

He really was rather an amazing hombre, consistent with Ken Blair’s thesis in the article above Harry also won the first Australian Rally Championship in 1968 in either/and/or a Lotus Cortina Mk2/Cortina Mk2 supercharged- perhaps one of you rally nutters can set me straight- he was fifty then by the way.


‘SCB’-, Getty Images, Stuart Charlton, ‘Allan Moffat: Climbing The Mountain’ Allan Moffat with John Smailes



GT500 out front of Ford’s Australian headquarters on the Hume Highway, Broadmeadows in 1965, I wonder if JFF-368 was the factory press car, and whether it still exists.


Jack Brabham’s tiny Cooper T41 Climax takes on the big Ferrari 555 Super Squalo’s of Peter Whitehead #5 and Reg Parnell #4- to the right is Syd Jensen in another T41, Ardmore, New Zealand Grand Prix 1957…

Jack’s ‘slingshot’ didn’t topple the big guys that weekend but Stirling Moss ‘put the writing on the wall’ with his Argentinian GP Cooper win twelve months hence and by 1959 it was all over-red rover for the big front-engined glorious Grand Prix cars.

Brabham built this car at Coopers late in 1956 racing racing it twice in the UK before shipment to Australia- in the 22 September Oulton Park Gold Cup, DNF, the race won by teammate, Roy Salvadori’s T41, and then the BRSCC F2 race at Brands Hatch on October 14 where he again failed to finish with piston failure, again a T41 headed the field, Tony Brooks was at the wheel of Rob Walker’s car.

Off to the Antipodes he contested the NZ Internationals, the AGP at Caversham in March, and then the Victorian Trophy at Albert Park the following weekend- he then returned to Europe at the end of the summer having sold the car to Alec Mildren.

T41 chassis number ‘F2/P/56′ was fitted with a 1476cc Coventry Climax FWB sohc, two valve engine which gave circa 100 bhp @ 6500 rpm- it was a trend-setter in that it was the first of many, very many Climax engined Coopers to come to Australia. The design and construction progression of these Coopers (T41-T53) is covered in detail here;

Despite giving away 2 litres in engine capacity to the Ferraris, Brabham was third at Ardmore until lap 100 of the 120 lap race when his engine temperature soared and he retired with a burst radiator hose which had fried the Climax engines cylinder head gasket- Parnell won from Whitehead and Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F.

Brabham was Q3 and second at Wigram behind Whitehead, started from pole in the Dunedin Road Race this time finishing second to Parnell and then retired after completing 9 laps of the wild Southland Road Race at Ryal Bush where Peter Whitehead again prevailed.

Brabham at Oulton Park during the Gold Cup weekend, Cooper T41 Climax FWB (MotorSport)


Brabham during the 1957 AGP at Caversham in March 1957- behind him is the Fred Coxon driven Amilcar Holden Spl DNF (K Devine)


Caversham AGP start 1957- Brabham, Cooper T41 Climax, Davison, Ferrari 500/625, Lukey, Cooper T23 Bristol and Jones Maserati 250F. Car #12 Syd Anderson, Alta GP2, #14 Syd Taylor, TS GMC Special, #8 Tom Hawkes, Cooper T23 Holden- behind him is Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S, #6 Alec Mildren, Cooper T20 Bristol and #5 Jack Myers, Cooper T20 Holden (K Devine)

Off to Perth for the 4 March AGP Jack was third in the scorching hot event behind the 3 litre Ferrari 500/625 of Lex Davison and Bill Patterson and Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F which did that event with its 300S motor.

Then it was back across the continent for the Moomba meeting at Albert Park where the little car contested the 32 lap 100 mile Victorian Trophy Gold Star round finishing second behind Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 and in front of Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S.

Jack then returned to Europe but not before, Graham Howard wrote, driving Ron Tauranac’s new Ralt Vincent at Mount Druitt- i wonder who has a shot of that test day?

Alec Mildren raced the T41 only briefly ‘finding that the chassis kept breaking due to it being too light’ John Blanden wrote- in short order the car was owned and raced by Arthur Griffiths and John Roxburgh before passing to Lyn Archer in Tasmania who raced it very successfully, ultimately with a highly modified Hillman Imp engine, he sold it to buy an Elfin Catalina Ford, a machine he raced for years and is still owned by his family.

The T41 passed through many hands in the decades which followed before Tom Roberts acquired it with David Rapley heading up the restoration of the car, which made its debut at the 2003 Albert Park AGP.


Australian colours aren’t they?- green with the gold nose, lovely profile shot by racer/photographer David Van Dal at Caversham, ditto below in the paddock.


(K Devine)


Jack aboard a Cooper T43 Climax FPF 1.5 at Brands Hatch, 8 August weekend 1957, he won both heats of the Rochester Trophy F2 event (unattributed)


‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, ‘Glory Days: Albert Park 1953-58’ Barry Green, ‘Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden,, Ken Devine Collection, David Van Dal, MotorSport, F2 Index



Lets go back to where we started, Ardmore 1957, and another cracker of a shot, this time just after the start.

Up front it’s all Ferraris- Ron Roycroft’s 375 V12 from the two four cylinder Super Squalos of Whitehead and Parnell. Then out wide on the left is Jack’s Cooper, the Peter Whitehead owned, fourth placed #18 Ferrari 750 Monza driven by Ross Jensen and far right the HWM Alta I wrote about not so long ago being driven by Tom Clark.

The Cooper T39 Climax Bobtail is Ronnie Moores- to the right of him is the Talbot Lago T26C of Allan Freeman, and then, perhaps, Horace Gould’s #2 250F, whilst in the middle of the pack the unmistakable, regal lines of the Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 raced by John McMillan, the almost as ancient Maserati 4CLT-48 of Pat Hoare is out to the right- alongside him is the Jones 250F. I’ll take advice on the rest…

Click here for an article on the Super Squalo; and here for the HWM Alta;


(R Dalwood)

This shot at Baskerville, Tasmania on 4 December 1966 gave me a chuckle…

The race bike and it’s ‘Gunter-Wagen’ tow car frames John Goss’ brand new Tornado Ford, still without its rather attractive self built bodywork in the scrutineering bay.

One wag questioned whether the Beetle was towing the Suzuki or whether the 50cc two-stroke was pushing Wolfsburg’s finest.

I have written about the car which launched JG onto the mainland and subsequent fame in tourers and F5000 a couple of times before, checkout the link here; , and here;

(R Dalwood)

What a youngster! At 24 years of age Goss has constructed a very clever sports racer which became a competitive car and as fast as all but the big-buck cars at the very front of the fields- those raced by Matich, Allen, Jane, Hamilton and co.

(R Dalwood)

Look closely, the photo above shows the Tornado Ford’s initial VW front end which evolved to a more sophisticated wishbone set-up in the years to come.

(R Dalwood)

Gossy going around the inside of Allan Robertson’s Peugeot 203 that December weekend. One of the reasons I love these photos is because of the relaxed nature of a race meeting at a venue I’ve not been to.

Wonderful aren’t they?

(R Dalwood)

The crowd below are looking at the new Tornado Ford- it is the same group of people clustered around the car shown in the opening photograph but from a different angle.

(R Dalwood)

It would be interesting to know the intrepid pilot’s impressions of his handiwork after the first weekend of competition. I’m betting the little racer felt like a precise jet compared with the Customline and FJ Holden which preceded it- a mighty fine driver of Big Cars did John Goss become.

(R Dalwood)


Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania- Reg Dalwood Collection


(R Dalwood)

The way it was…


(I Smith)

Bob Skelton looking as pleased as punch in the Calder paddock in 1972…

Of course these days there will be some type of law against exploitation of the fine, feminine form in such a gratuitous, crass commercial manner. Now ‘yerd have to equalise things by having some blokes in the mix, somebody of trans-gender not to forgot a blend of souls with a range of colours from around the globe.

Skelton won the 1972 Driver to Europe Series in this Bowin P4A- here he is with car and some TAA ‘hosties’ during one of the Calder rounds.

Australian Formula Ford buffs will recall the days when Australia’s ‘second domestic carrier’ was Trans Australia Airways before it was logically rolled into Qantas whereupon the whole lot was privatised a cuppla decades ago. For a wonderful period TAA sponsored the ‘Driver to Europe Series’ and in the process aided and abetted the overseas careers of drivers including Larry Perkins…

And so it was the ‘hosties’ airline attendants or cabin crew attended meetings particularly the one at which the annual award and ‘kingsized’- in physical dimensions if not the amount of the cheque was handed to the winning driver.

He took his prize and the very first Bowin P6- #P6F-119-72 to England late in the year and contested a couple of meetings including the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in which fellow Aussies- Buzz Buzaglo, Peter Finlay, John Leffler and Larry Perkins all had a run, a story told in an article about the Bowin P6/P8 I will finish soon. In the meantime there is a bit about the 1972 FF Festival in this piece about Buzz Buzaglo;

Dick Simpson’s shot at Calder during the 21 March 1971 DTE round shows Skello in front of Larry Perkins Bib Stillwell owned Elfin 600 with another 600 all cocked up in the background, perhaps Michael Hall? Larry won the round by the way ( Simpson)



Bob Skelton in a works MG Midget at Bathurst in 1968 (D Simpson)

Skelton won the 1972 DTE with Bowin P4’s taking the top three placings- Skelton won with 57 points, two points ahead of John Leffler (the 1973 winner aboard a P6F) with Bob Beasley third in the Jack Brabham Ford P4X on 53 points- the best of the Elfins was Enno Buesselmann’s 600 in fourth place.

Out of sportscars, Skelton had his first FF season in 1971 in a Bowin P4- he managed to convince Bryan Byrt who had advertised for sale the car speedway ace Garry Rush had been racing (P4A-106-70) with Byrt Ford support, to hang onto it and allow him to race it rather than sell it managing to finish runner-up to Perkins that year. It was a great performance coming to open-wheelers ‘cold’.

Skelton got more got serious for 1972. He acquired a new P4 from John Joyce (P4A-115-72) and invested in the also new- eligible from that season, Capri XL ‘uprated’ Kent engine- still 1600cc but stronger in certain respects. In fact he was the only driver to use the motor from the seasons outset, but he missed the opening Warwick Farm round due to illness, Bob Beasley won in the Jack Brabham Ford Bowin P4X about which I have written in the past.

Bob made amends at Sandown but Beasley won at Calder and by the fifth round at Hume Weir, John Leffler (P4A), Beasley and Enno Buesselmann (Elfin 600) all had ‘Kents’- Leffo’s was prepped by Bruce Richardson, Beasley and Buesselmann’s engines by racer/engineer Graham ‘Tubby’ Ritter in Melbourne- all these years later Tubby’s son Michael Ritter continues the family Formula Ford preparation tradition!

Despite that, Skelton won at the Weir and Oran Park but throughout the year John Leffler, a very successful Cooper S sports-sedan racer who initially tasted FF in Alan Vincent’s Bowin P4A, was on the march. He had a new P4 of his own and secured Grace Bros sponsorship mid-year which would take him through Formula Ford and ANF2 (Bowin P8) all the way to an F5000 Gold Star win in a Lola T400 Chev in 1976.

Skelton from Enno Buesselmann’s Elfin 600 in one of the two Sandown DTE rounds in 1972 (AMRA)


A Bowin front-runner in 1971-1972 was another guy who had come out of sportscars- Clubmans was Bob Beasley, here in the Jack Brabham Ford P4X at Oran Park on 19 September 1971(L Hemer)


Leffler won the penultimate Warwick Farm round from Beasley and Skelton setting up a ‘winner takes all’ showdown at the Amaroo Park season-ended where, depending upon where they finished, either Skelton, Beasley or Leffler could win the title.

Further spice was added to the mix by the entry of Larry Perkins in the new side-radiator Elfin 620 Larrikins was shortly to ship to the UK to contest the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton.

Larry was the 1971 FF title winner but took his prize a year later to amass a bit more experience before going ‘over there’, notably aboard Holden Dealer Team circuit and rallycross cars and picking up the 1972 Australian F2 Championship in Gary Campbell’s Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam. For Larry the meeting was valuable race testing and for Elfin’s Garrie Cooper a good run by Perkins would help fill his order for 1973 book which had taken a dent with so much Bowin P4 success.

The pressure showed too- Skelton missed a gear in practice, bending a valve and taking the edge off his engine- without a spare, a standard head was fitted overnight. Larry made Skelton’s job easier by having a huge lose in The Loop taking out Bob Beasley- who, closely following Larry, hit the Elfin head-on. As a consequence Leffler had an easy round win, Skelton took the title- and the trip to the UK, with David Mingay third in Birrana F71- the very first Birrana built by Tony Alcock in Sydney before his partnership with Malcolm Ramsay, this car was first raced by John Goss.


Amaroo final round with John Leffler’s Bowin P4A in front of an Elfin 600, Enno Buesselmann or Bob Kennedy perhaps? and then Skelton’s P4A.

(Racing Car News)

The first photograph is not on the same lap as the latter two but you can get the drift (sic).

The end result is a rather sick P4X Bowin and perhaps a bit of repair work for Elfins in Edwardstown on the new, very first Elfin 620 before Perkins popped it on a plane to the UK- the 620/620B was a successful series of cars taking Driver to Europe titles in the hands of Terry Perkins in 1974 and Jeff Summers in 1982. I will always have a soft spot for them, my first drive of a racing car was in one of the four Bob Jane-Frank Gardner Race Driving School 620B’s.

Amaroo Park victory parade with the TAA hosties which is about where we came in!

Bob on the XA Falcon GT whilst John Leffler and Bob Beasley make do with Fairlanes…

Other Formula Ford Reading…

On the early days in Australia and Bowin; and Jack Brabham and his Bowin P4X; and the FF Race of Champions at Calder; not to forget a bit about Skelton towards the end of this article on Peter Brock;


‘AMRA’- Australian Motor Racing Annual 1973′, Paul Newby, Terry Sullivan

Photo Credits…

‘AMRA’, Ian Smith, Simpson, Wirra, Lynton Hemer, Racing Car News

Tailpiece: Skelton, Bowin P4A, Oran Park September 1971…

(L Hemer)

Bob Skelton progressed from Formula Ford to ANF2 in 1973- converting the P6F he raced in England to F2 specifications over that Australian summer, he was mighty quick too, that story told in full in the upcoming P6 piece I mentioned earlier.



Posted: March 23, 2020 in Who,What,Where & When...?

Guggenheim Bilbao (M Bisset)

About the only funny aspect of the Coronavirus is the various the adaptations of The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ to ‘My Corona’ but otherwise its a long, hard haul we are all engaged in.

We primotipo mob are a global lot with lots of our readership buddies in Spain and Italy- our hearts and thoughts are particularly with you guys and your families at the moment.

I was lucky enough to visit Spain again in mid 2018 and had another two week blast through Italy last July. My partner is Italian and still has family in Montebelluna and Treviso in the Northern Italy ‘lock-down zone’, it is very distressing talking to these older folks at the moment and to see the scenes on television.

Here in Australia the progress of the virus is a little behind in its ‘maturity’ but we have gone from a business trip- Melbourne to Brisbane on 12-15 March to the Australian borders closure and most of our state borders closed or announced to be so from tomorrow.

We are now working, if we can at all, remotely, from home, its great to see the Italian toll decline for the first time overnight- anyway, thinking of you guys, we are in it together, the Chinese Wet Markets must be eliminated to avoid the next global killer.

Stay well my friends…

Varenna, Lake Como (M Bisset)