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

Bevan Wylie flat out in the Fiat Special at Brickmakers Beach, North Western Tasmania in 1959…

It appears both Bevan and Stan Allen ran the car at the beach on that particular day. The car raced widely in Tasmania at all of the local venues including Longford in 1958 and Baskerville as well as Tasmanian ‘climbs- I wonder if it still exists?

Wylie raced a number of cars including a Ford 10 Special in the late fifties, the FBW Special in the early seventies and an Elfin 600 into the late seventies.

The North-West Motor Cycle Club ran many events at Brickmakers, 209 km from Launceston, the ‘capital’ of North Tasmania on a then isolated stretch of coast near Stanley and close to Cowrie from at least 1946 into the fifties.

The events comprised contests, both open and handicap over distances from a quarter mile to five miles.

Car racing is more intriguing- or is it some sort of speed record attempt?

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au

(G Paine)

Lex Davison, excited to win the 1956 ‘Bathurst 100’, Easter 1956…

Any win on the mountain in any era rates highly with drivers, such is the challenge of the place.

Lex took victory aboard his Ferrari 500 3 litre- the famous ex-1952/3 F1 Alberto Ascari/Tony Gaze chassis # 005 from Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F and Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar XKD.

The ‘100’ was a handicap, Formula Libre race. Reg gave Lex a 1 minute 18 second start, Davo eased towards the end to win by exactly a minute from Hunt who made the fastest race time by 18 seconds from Lex.

These professionally taken images are from Glenn Paine’s collection are simply superb, the subtle, monochrome greys grab the eye and ooze period. The portrait is the best of the great driver I have seen.

(G Paine)

By this stage the Victorian was something of a veteran, winner of the Australian Grand Prix at Southport, Queensland in 1954 but his best years were still to come, his career stretched all the way into the mid-sixties.

It would have been easy to crop Glenn’s comments made all those years ago from the shots but they add to the interest and patina bigtime. Wonderful photos, I’d love to know who the photographer is if anyone can pick it?

Ferrari 500 F2 cutaway (P D’Alessio)

The Ferrari 500 was the dominant car of the 1952/3 period in which the world championship was run for what had been 2 litre Formula 2 cars.

Ferrari were ready for the rule change the FIA made due to a probable lack of decent grids of F1 cars as a consequence of the withdrawal of Alfa Romeo from GP racing at the end of 1951. Apart from BRM, an unreliable proposition, promoters were looking at a Ferrari rout over competition comprising out of date or uncompetitive machinery.

The Ferrari 500 made its race debut in the hands of Alberto Ascari at the Grand Prix of Modena on 23 September 1951- he won from the Ferrari 166F2/50 of Froilan Gonzalez and Lance Macklin’s HWM Alta. By the commencement of 1952, the cars were well and truly race ready.

The Aurelio Lampredi designed, utterly conventional, forgiving and reliable powerful cars gave Ascari two champonships on the trot- he won six of the eight qualifying rounds in 1952 and five of nine in 1953.

2 litre Ferrari 500, DOHC, 2 valve gear driven, Weber fed, twin Marelli magneto sparked, two plug four-cylinder engine. In 2 litre guise the capacity was 1984cc- bore/stroke 90x78mm, power circa 185bhp @ 7500rpm. The gearbox was a 4 speeder located at the rear in unit with the differential (G Cavara)

‘005’ was then re-packaged for Tony Gaze use with a 750 Monza engine carrying chassis number ‘0480’ as a Formula Libre car in South Africa and Australasia before sale to Davison. The cars (a twin was built for Peter Whitehead) are usually described as Ferrari 500/625 but were raced at a capacity usually nominated as 2968cc- 3 litres.

In Lex’ hands it became one of the most iconic cars ever in Australian motor racing inclusive of wins in the 1957 and 1958 Australian Grands Prix at Caversham, WA (noting Bill Patterson’s co-drive) and Bathurst respectively, and the Australian Drivers Championship in 1957- the coveted Gold Star, the very first time the title was awarded.

At some time a comprehensive article on this car is something i would like to do, in the meantime the cutaways show the elegant simplicity of the ladder frame chassis, wishbone front and de Dion rear, drum brakes and all aluminium, DOHC, 2 valve, Weber fed, four-cylinder engine.

Check out this article which has quite a few photos of the car whilst owned by Doug Green in Western Australia; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/

Credits…

Glenn Paine, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Bob Williamson, Giuseppe Cavara, Paolo D’Alessio

Tailpiece: Lex, Ferrari, Hell Corner, Bathurst…

(B Williamson)

Finito…

(D Gordon)

Ron Uffindell on his way to FTD at Adelaide’s Glen Ewin Hillclimb in 1948, MG K3, chassis ‘K3030’. He is applying a bit of opposite lock as he negotiates an early kink in the steep section between the sheds at Glen Ewin shortly after the start line at the bottom of the hill…

MG enthusiast Doug Gordon recalls of Ron that ‘he was an exceptional fellow and built up the Austin 7 Special himself (photo below), it wasn’t the quickest racing car, but was incredibly reliable…he was often the limit man on handicap sometimes starting 20 to 30 minutes behind the scratch-men and would simply grind out the laps till the job was done.’

‘Uffindel was also the custodian of the ex-Bira MG K3 for a while’, he looked after and raced the car when it was owned by the family of Russell Bowes, an Australian RAF and RAAF pilot killed in action in Burma during the war.

‘He was the one who lowered the radiator and bodywork a few inches- a configuration that has endured to this day.’ He also lightened the car and removed the twin fuel filler caps and mounted only one in the top of the tank.’

‘Here is “Uffy” in the K3 taking out FTD at the Glen Ewin Hillclimb just out of Houghton, in the Adelaide Hills in November 1948.’

‘The track was the steep driveway down to the workshops and warehouses at the old Glen Ewin jam factory, owned and operated by the McEwin family since 1844.’

‘Cars raced up to the Lower Hermitage Road and finished on the main (North East) road to Adelaide, which was not closed to general traffic in the early days- an observer at the top would signal down to the starter with a flag that the road was clear for a run!’

‘In later years the road was closed for the hillclimb events run by the Vintage Sports Car Club of South Australia, but the venue closed in December 1951 when car racing on public roads in South Australia was banned by an Act of Parliament- hillclimbing moved to the new venue at Collingrove from 1952.’

‘This very Act had to be revoked to establish the Formula 1 track through the streets of Adelaide!’ in time for the first F1 AGP in 1985.

One the good citizens of Adelaide’s East Terrace, 8.30am Sunday early morning watering being interrupted by an Elfin MR8 Chev driven by Vern Schuppan gathering film footage of the proposed street circuit for discussions with BC Ecclestone & Co. 1983, the move to overturn the ban on racing on South Australia’s roads was underway (CAMS)

Doug’s final quip ‘Note Ron’s bald head- no helmet- bare hands- no gloves. From all reports Glen Ewin was very friendly, more casual, “clubby” type of social event, even though the competition could be quite fierce!’

‘Greg McEwin, son of the old, very conservative owner and patriarch, set up the venue. He owned an HRG and was an early member of the VSCCSA- he was more interested in sportscars and racing than he was in making wine and jam!’

‘His father DID, at one stage. decide to make wine, but later decided that it was a “demon drink” and took to all the barrels with a sledge-hammer and pick-axe and the wine flowed down the gully never to return again! After that it was butter, jam and sauces!’

Bob Williamson’s Australian Motor Racing photos FB page continues to give and give, a whole swag of photos posted by Doug Gordon and Dean Donovan together with the badinage with Australian racer/historian/author John Medley is providing some significant snippets of Australian Motor Racing History- I have simply lifted them from FB to primo to make sure we capture it before it disappears into the FB ether.

Ron Uffindell was a legendary racer and tuner, his exploits during the 1938 Australian Grand Prix weekend involved driving his little special to Mount Panorama and back- and finishing in eighth place behind Peter Whitehead’s victorious ERA R10B Voiturette.

(H Cullen)

The photo above shows Ron racing to victory at Lobethal in 1939.

He won the handicap South Australian GP, one of the support events over the 1939 AGP weekend, that race won in amazing fashion by Alan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c- a story for another time very soon.

Uffindell assisted many with their racing, not least Derek Jolly with his 7 Special- this association led to Jolly’s visits to the UK, ultimately, acquisition of a Lotus 15 and Colin Chapman exploiting Ron’s Austin 7 tuning and preparation secrets in his early days. This story is told in this article about Derek here;

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

Credits…

Doug Gordon, John Medley, Hedley Cullen

Finito…

(Malindine)

Kaye Don’s Sunbeam ‘Silver Bullet’ in the UK on 8 January 1934…

Photographer ‘Malindine’ took this wonderful shot after an unsuccessful Land Speed Record attempt at Daytona Beach- ‘despite its streamlined shape and powerful engine, the car only managed a disappointing 190 mph’ the Daily Herald caption records.

The record Don sought to break was that of Malcolm Campbell who set a mark of 272.46 mph in Campbell-Railton Bluebird- 36.7 litres of Rolls Royce supercharged aero V12 provided the power.

One of the things which always intrigues me is the juxtaposition of racing cars- in this case a LSR car, with the more mundane road transport of the day and amongst normal citizenry street scenes rather than at a race track.

How ‘other worldly’ the Silver Bullet must have seemed to the good folks of whatever town or village in which the photo was taken- does anybody happen to know the locale?

Kaye Don aboard the completed car at Sunbeam prior to its trip to Daytona (unattributed)

 

Silver Bullet in build- two compact 50 degree V12’s clear as is the centrifugal supercharger housing (unattributed)

Don’s steed was the final attempt on the LSR by Sunbeam- key team members were Louis Coatalen, Designer, Mr Kay, Draftsman and Hugh Rose the Production Manager created a car which was powered by two specially built 24 litre 50 degree V12 supercharged engines- these featured light alloy construction, roller bearing cranks, DOHC and four valves per cylinder using an oversquare layout, the motors developed a total of about 4000 horsepower ‘but delivering 920 bhp to the road wheels’.

The gearbox used three speeds, the power was delivered to a semi-elliptic sprung rear axle by splayed drive-shafts. Four wheel Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were fitted- the machine, its body tested in the Vickers wind-tunnel, was 31 ft long and weighed 6 tons 14 cwt.

Only two engines were built, the car was beset by problems at Daytona, the fundamental issue amongst hundreds was a design one- ‘the very long induction pipes that fed the engines from the rear mounted supercharger were heating up the mixture before reaching the inlet valves, the resultant back-firing damaged the supercharger casing. This was a virtually incurable defect’ wrote Sunbeam historian Anthony S Heal.

After eighteen unsuccessful runs and much work on the car at Daytona the attempt was abandoned- the car arrived back in the UK on 28 April. Checkout Heal’s fascinating detailed account of the car here;

https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/april-1976/46/inside-story-sunbeam-silver-bullet

Sunbeam went into receivership in 1935, so the opening photograph is not too long before that- I wonder what the public occasion was for the shot?

The equally frigid looking April 1929 photo below is of ‘Major Henry Segrave’s ‘Golden Arrow’ being taken through the streets to Selfridges department store, London on returning from Daytona, after breaking the World Land Speed Record’ on 11 March at 231.362 mph.

(Fox Photos)

The Irving-Napier Special (the cars designer was former Sunbeam Engineer Capt JS Irving) ‘Golden Arrow’ was aero-engined, a Napier-Lion supercharged W12 of 23.9 litres provided the thrust- circa 925 bhp, the car weighed 3.5 tonnes.

120,000 spectators watched Segrave, who did only one practice run, before setting the new benchmark by 23.894 mph over that of Ray Keech in ‘White Triplex’.

Segrave returned to the UK and was knighted for his many motor racing, land and water speed achievements whilst Golden Arrow is preserved in the National Motor Museum with ‘only 18.74 miles on the clock’!

(unattributed)

Credits…

Malindine/Daily Herald, Fox Photos, Tom Pennington, Getty Images, Anthony S Heal article in the April 1976 issue of Motorsport magazine

Tailpiece: Red Bull F1 Rally-Car…

(Tom Pennington)

With the advent of the commercialisation of motor racing came the need for mass media coverage of ones sponsorship dollar, a big promotional splash became an imperative of the flotilla of ad and marketing men.

The contrived justaposition by the Red Bull publicity machine of ride ’em cowboy and the Red Bull RB Renault on a Johnson City cattle-ranch outside Austin, Texas in August 2011 was fun and visually potent if totally naff.

More photos here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/08/ride-em-cowboy/

Finito…

(H Federbusch)

Greg Cusack Brabham BT6 Cosworth-Ford, Tim Schenken #16 green Lotus 18 Ford and Phil West, red Lotus 20 Cosworth on the outside. Then Kevin Bartlett, Elfin Catalina Hillman Imp on the inside in the distance and lanky Max Stewart, Rennmax BN1 Ford in the dark coloured car on the outside- Warwick Farm’s Creek Corner on 19 September 1965…

Some pretty handy drivers amongst that lot!, thanks to Rob Bartholomaeus and John Medley as well as Ray Bell for identifying the car/driver combinations.

Bell recalls the meeting ‘I thought it must be Cusack out front, but the white nose had me tossed. It turns out he borrowed his car back from new owner, Alan Felton, who had put the stripe there. He made a mess of the start and had to work his way through, this scene appears to be when he hit the front…there’s another Lotus 18 ranging up though, probably McCaughey.’

Fifteen competitors contested the title over 34 laps- 76.5 miles of Warwick Farm, Cusack, the reigning champion (he won at Lowood in an Elfin Catalina FJ in 1964) won from pole in his borrowed Brabham Cosworth from Max Stewart’s Rennmax BN1 Ford, Kevin Bartlett in the McGuire Family owned Elfin Imp and Ralph Sach in Alec Mildren’s Brabham.

Other ‘notables’ contesting the event included Ken Shirvington, Lotus 20B Cosworth and Les Howard aboard a Lotus 27 Ford.

Cusack, Brabham BT6 (Bob Williamson)

ANF2 at that time, from 1964 to 1968 was an 1100cc production-engine based class, it embraced what had been in 1962/3 Formula Junior, and engines of 1000cc free design.

Which sort of begs the question of what the single-seater Australian Formulae of the day were in 1965’ish.

I’ve used the ‘Australian National Formula’ or ‘ANF’ descriptor in my narrative which is not to say the CAMS used it at the time, here it is applied to make clear the classes were Australian ones, which in most cases were different to the categories similarly named in Europe. Here goes;

ANF1…

The ‘Tasman’ 2.5 category reigned supreme from 1964 to 1970 inclusive- the Australian Drivers Championship- the Gold Star, was run to this class. It was our best ever premier domestic elite category albeit however blessed were the Tasman grids, once the ‘furriners returned to Europe our domestic fields were not generally flash in quantity.

An anomaly was 1971 when 2.5’s were out, 2 litres were ok, F5000 was the Gold Star class of the next decade- and Max Stewart nicked the title in his reliable, fast 2 litre Waggott TC-4V engined Mildren nee Rennmax BN3 from under the noses of the new 5000’s. Just thought i’d get this in before you sticklers do- this articles ‘limit’ in terms of discussion is circa 1969/70.

Here is a rare ANF2.5 car!

It’s a Wren Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF commissioned from St Kilda’s Bill Reynolds by Tasmanian Brendan Tapp to compete with the other front-running Apple Isle locals- John McCormack in his ex-Jack Brabham 1962 Caversham AGP Brabham BT4 and David Sternberg’s ex-Clark Tasman 1965 Lotus 32B, both 2.5 FPF powered.

(oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

In essence the spaceframe chassis car raced once or twice at Sandown and Symmons Plains in 1969 before being damaged in a towing accident. Bob Wright then acquired it from Tapp, fixed it and raced it as above before using it as the basis of his ‘Tasma Climax’, later Repco 2.5 V8 engined, sportscar. The chassis was widened for this purpose.

ANF1.5…

1964 to 1968. A production based twin-cam, two valve category which de-facto became a class for the Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine, the quickest of which gave 2.5’s driven in ‘average fashion’ a serious run for their money. ANF1.5 was critical to pad out increasingly skinny Gold Star grids throughout this period.

The national championship was a single race affair in 1964, won by Greg Cusack in a Brabham BT6 Ford at Warwick Farm and in 1965 when Bib Stillwell, Brabham BT14 Ford, prevailed at Bathurst. It was then a series of races in 1966, 1967 and 1968 when the winners were John Harvey, ex-Stillwell Brabham BT14 Ford, Max Stewart, Rennmax BN1 Ford and Max Stewart/Garrie Cooper in Rennmax BN1 Ford/Elfin Mono and Elfin 600 Ford respectively.

Its only in recent times that i have appreciated just how important this class was, and what great racing it provided as both a ‘stepping stone’ for young thrusters and as a destination for some single-seater stalwarts.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Another unusual car above is the ex-David Sternberg ANF1.5 Alexis Mk6 Ford t/c raced by Brian Bowe, here being watched over by a couple of fellows including a youthful, bespectacled John Bowe at Symmons Plains in 1968.

I wonder what has become of this little car generally referred to as the ‘Lotus Alexis’ in Tassie at the time?- he did pretty well in it including a third place in the 1967 Symmons Gold Star round behind Greg Cusack’s Brabham BT23A Repco and John McCormack’s Brabham BT4 Climax- both ANF 2.5 cars.

ANF2…

1964 to 1968. Australia recognised Formula Junior for only two brief years as a championship class, as noted above.

In 1962 Frank Matich won the title in an Elfin FJ Ford at Catalina Park, in 1963 Leo Geoghegan won at Warwick Farm aboard a Lotus 22 Ford- in both years the title was decided over one race.

F2 was a class for cars powered by 1100cc production based engines which embraced what had been FJ.

There were plenty of FJ’s around even though Australia was slowish in picking up the class which exploded globally from its European start in 1958. In Oz the cars raced in Formula Libre in 1960, by 1961 FJ only races were being run in Victoria and New South Wales.

In addition F2 allowed 1 litre race engines, not that I think anyone raced such a machine?

Front row L>R Geoghegan Lotus 22, Jim Palmer Elfin Catalina and Greg Cusack Brabham BT6. Thats Kent Price in the other Geoghegan Lotus on row 2 (B Wells)

The photos above and below are of Leo Geoghegan during and after winning the 8 September 1963, 75 mile, Australian Formula Junior Championship at Warwick Farm. Leo’s Lotus 22 Ford won from Greg Cusack, Brabham Ford and Jim Palmer in the ex-Cusack Elfin Catalina Ford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the photo above that’s Kingsley Hibbard losing his Rennmax Ford comprehensively as he goes over the Western Crossing (of the horse-racing track international folks).

Up front Leo leads Jim Palmer, Elfin Catalina Ford, Kent Price in the other Geoghegan Lotus 20 and then perhaps Greg Cusack alongside Hibbard- in a Repco-Brabham Ford, to give the racer the name on the badge of the car at the time!

Look at those packed grandstands!

(oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

Leo’s Lotus 22 Ford won from Greg Cusack, Brabham Ford, Jack Hunnam in a Catalina, David Walker and then Hibbard, who did well to finish fifth after his first lap misdemeanour. Palmer’s car expired after 13 laps.

(oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

Many of the FJ drivers fitted Cosworth Ford 1500 pushrod engines to their Elfin FJ/Catalinas, Brabham, Lotus and Lynx chassis and entered Gold Star rounds so equipped, which then made them ANF1.5 cars.

In 1969 and 1970 the ANF2 championship was for cars fitted with 1.6 litre race-engines, so there were two years of the Ford FVA and Waggott TC-4V before the very successful 1970-1977, 1.6 litre DOHC 2 valve production based class. This ‘Lotus-Ford twin-cam’ class was a beaut but it too was in the seventies, not the decade earlier which is our focus.

ANF3…

Apparently from 1964 to 1968 we had European F3- 1000cc production based with overhead camshafts not permitted. How many of these cars did we have ‘in period’, I certainly don’t recall these things rocketing around here in any numbers?

The ‘heyday’ of ANF3 was the 1100cc era from 1969 and especially the 1300cc period from 1972 to 1977- production based and SOHC by then ok. Lets not go there as its outside the sixties period too.

Then there is the 2 litre European F3 period even later when the Gold Star was awarded to ‘Australia’s Champion Driver’, demeaning the award in the process. European F3 as our elite level single-seater category- ya gotta be friggin’ jokin CAMS? Lets not go there either as my blood-pressure tablets are way too light a dose to deal with the angst so caused by such fuck-wittery.

(Stride Family)

Formula Vee…

Formula Vee commenced in Oz in 1965 when ex-VW rallyist and dealer Greg Cusack demonstrated an imported American Formcar whilst Frank Kleinig Jnr is credited as winning the first FV race in Australia at Warwick Farm that December.

However FV historian, John Fabiszewski notes that the first to race Vees were Pat Stride in his Scarab and George Gessophilis in a Nota, in Formula Libre races in Tasmania (what circuit folks?) and Oran Park respectively on the same weekend in September 1965 (what date folks?).

The photograph above is of the only Vee race ever held at Longford, in its final year, 1968. Winner Pat Stride is coming off Kings Bridge in his Gremlin ahead of Mike Bessant- he was third in his Scarab with Lyn Archer second in an Elfin 500.

(R Thorncraft)

Formula Ford…

FF came a bit later of course, created in England in 1967, it commenced in Australia in 1969 with a race at Sandown that November, its first ‘National Championship’, the ‘Formula Ford National Series’ was run and won in 1970 by Richard Knight in an Elfin 600.

The photograph above is of Richard in his Bib Stillwell Ford Elfin 600 at Creek Corner, Warwick Farm during 1970- in a convincing display he won five of the six championship rounds.

Noel Potts, Elfin Catalina Ford 1.5, Warwick Farm circa 1964 (B Wells)

Etcetera…

Quintessential Australian cars of this period in Formula Junior, 1.5 litre pushrod Ford powered ‘Juniors’ and ANF1.5 per-se are Elfins (bias hereby declared) FJ/Catalina/’Works Replica 275 and 375′, Garrie Cooper’s first spaceframe single-seater design, and the monocoque T100 ‘Mono’ which followed it.

Arguably the best two drivers to come through the Catalina were Frank Matich and Kevin Bartlett- which is cheating really as FM had already ‘arrived’ (in sportscars) when he started to race the FJ/Catalina. So maybe my other choice is Greg Cusack.

Applying the same approach to the two best Mono pilots is a harder as there were plenty built and a lotta good guys raced them. On balance i’ll go with John Walker and Alfie Costanzo, you can’t go too far wrong with a couple of Gold Star champions, and AGP winner in Walker’s case.

I did say arguably, happy to enter into correspondence in relation thereto!

(J Ellacott- G Burford Collection)

To me the Elfin Mono is pretty much single-seater sex on wheels.

They were a very competitive piece of kit from 1964 to the arrival of the 600 replacement and also looked the goods. Garrie Cooper’s ‘eye’ for an attractive car should not be overlooked in any and all of his designs.

They were not without controversy in terms of the effectiveness of the ‘swept back upper wishbone’ rear suspension setup of the early cars- Bob Jane’s Mono Mk1 Ford t/c one such example. Here he is shown at Warwick Farm, probably during the 1966 Tasman meeting. Bob’s cars were always superbly prepared and presented, the Mono is no exception.

Credits…

Heinz Federbusch, Ray Bell, Bruce Wells, Dick Simpson, Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Williamson Collection, John Ellacott via Grant Burford, Stride Family, Russell Thorncraft

Tailpieces…

(B Wells)

Kevin Bartlett clad in a Nomex t-shirt aboard his Lynx BMC from Wally Mitchell’s Lotus 20 Ford during a Formula Junior race at Hume Weir on 23 September 1962. KB was first and third in the two races that day, the other victor was Leo Geoghegan in a Lotus 20.

(D Simpson)

Jack and Ron sold plenty of Brabhams in Australia at the time, surely they were THE manufacturer of ‘small bore’ production racing cars of the sixties.

The photo above is of later ANF2.5 pilot Phil West in a Brabham BT6 (or is it BT2) Ford at Oran Park in 1967, chosen, despite a blemish of age on the negative, as it shows the lines of the car to great effect.

The very first Brabham or MRD and BT2, BT6 and BT14 smaller capacity chassis scored lots of race wins/success/played a part in the success of many careers in Australia including West, Gavin Youl, Greg Cusack, Bib Stillwell, John Harvey, Kevin Bartlett, David Walker, Warwick Brown and others.

Finito…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etcetera…

(Getty)

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

(Getty)

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

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

(Getty)

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

Reference…

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

Photo Credits…

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

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

(SLSA)

Finito…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(unattributed)

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

(unattributed)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brabham BT15 F3-3-65…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits…

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

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

(J Sullivan)

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

Finito…