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(Brier Thomas)

Jackie Stewart leads Jim Clark through Lakeside’s Eastern Loop during the 1967 Tasman round at the fast Queensland circuit on 12 February…

 You can just see that the lightly loaded right-front wheel of Jackie’s 2070cc BRM P261 V8 is off-the-deck. Jim is chasing him in Lotus 33 R14 powered by a 2-litre variant of Coventry Climax’s 1.5-litre FWMV V8 Climax built for Lotus to tide them over pending delivery of the BRM H16 engines they used in the 1966, the first 3-litre GP year. The Ford Cosworth DFV V8 arrived at the ’67 Dutch GP in the back of a Lotus 49 and changed the GP world of course.

Stewart was the reigning Tasman Champion, BRM cleaned up in 1966 winning seven of the eight races – Jackie won four, Graham Hill two and Dickie Attwood one.

It was a lot tougher in 1967.

Lotus put to one side the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder engines they had previously used in their Tasman cars and used the F1 33 powered by the Climax V8, creating a very competitive mount despite giving away 500cc to some of the competition.

Jim finished all eight rounds and won five races including three point-scoring events. Jack Brabham’s Brabham Repco 640 Series V8s driven by he and Denny Hulme were also fast but had poor reliability. Jackie took two wins in 1967 for second in the series but was well behind Jim.

The BRMs were still very competitive in 1967 but the final increase in capacity – and resulting power and torque proved a bit too much for the transmission. BRM suffered gearbox problems in ’67 with the 2070cc variant of the P56/60 V8, they had not experienced with the 1930cc version used the year before.

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(HRCCT)

The photo above shows the pair again, this time with Clark in front of Stewart during the final 1966 Tasman round at Longford, Tasmania on 7 March.

There Jackie won from teammate Graham Hill, Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco third. It was the Brabham Repco V8 combination’s third race, by the early European Grands Prix the 1965 BT19 chassis and Repco 620 Series V8 was finding ultimate race and championship winning pace and reliability.

Clark’s 1966 Tasman Lotus was the 39 Coventry Climax FPF, he took one round win it at Warwick Farm.

I wrote an article a while back about the ’67 Tasman and the seasons of Clark, Stewart and Hulme, see here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/ This article on the P56 BRM V8 may also be of interest; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/05/motori-porno-stackpipe-brm-v8/

Credits…

Brier Thomas, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…

(L Hemer)

Lynton Hemer’s great shot catches the Frank Matich McLaren M10A Chev in the braking area before Creek Corner during practice for the Warwick Farm 100 on February 15, 1970.

Love the ABC TV outside broadcast van and flaggies and other officials cars sprinkled amongst the trees.

The 1970 Tasman was an interesting one in that the 2.5 Tasman cars which were on the way out (sadly) ended up having, just, the pace and the reliability to lift the Tasman Cup one last time over F5000, which was on the way in. Graeme Lawrence took the title with one win in the Ferrari Dino 246T Chris Amon raced to victory the year before, Matich was second in the points score with two wins.

(R Thorncraft)

The Matich crew first raced their M10A in September 1969 and progressively modified the car in many respects to the new M10B specifications- Hewland DG300 gearbox instead of LG600 etcetera, see this epic on Matich here; Frank Matich: Matich F5000 Cars etcetera… | primotipo…

Frank’s car was the quickest of the series, he won the NZ GP at Pukekohe and at Wigram. Only a splash and dash stop for fuel at Surfers gifted Graham McRae that win and engine problems at the Sandown final round- having started from pole – spoiled his Tasman, Niel Allen’s new M10B won that day with Lawrence’ second place enough to give him the series win.

Jaime Gard susses, whilst FM sucks on the sponsors product

Matich started at Warwick Farm from grid two with Graeme Lawrence on pole, he had an early coming together with Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Waggott TC-4V, which Derek Kneller believes was the cause of the broken left-rear upright after 29 of the race’s 45 laps.

In a splendid drive, KB he won the race in the sweetest of racing cars, the Mildren Yellow Submarine, from Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott TC-4V, Graeme Lawrence Ferrari Dino 246T 2.4 V6 and then the first of the F5000s- Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev.

FM talks to Lugsy Adams looking particularly summer-posh in Rothmans Team Matich shorts ‘n long sox whilst Jaime Gard looks altogether more casual – not much they can do at this stage of proceedings.

FM’s Matich SR3 Repco was owned then by Don O’Sullivan, I imagine Gard was over from Perth and in-situ at the Matich workshops looking after the prep of that car, and totally involved otherwise – he of ‘Gardos’ fame I wrote about a while ago;https://primotipo.com/2017/11/30/dons-party-f5000-party/

Credits…

Lynton Hemer, John Lindsay, Russell Thorncraft, oldracingcars.com

Thanks to Kris Matich and Derek Kneller for assistance with event and people detail

Tailpiece…

FM’s Matich is fitted with an injected Chevvy here having commenced the series in New Zealand with units fitted with Webers. By this stage Matich’ Repco sponsorship was being refocused away from the Matich SR4 sportscar powered by 4.8/5 litre Repco RB760 V8’s in favour of the Repco Holden F5000 engines which were in the early stages of development by Phil Irving, Brian Heard and the rest of the crew in Maidstone.

The early promise of that Repco Holden engine was realised with FM’s Australian Grand Prix win aboard his M10B Repco at the Farm ten months hence

Finito…

Marquis Alfonso de Portago and Edmund Nelson accelerate their Ferrari 335S away from the Rome control, heading north on the homeward leg during the 1957 Mille Miglia on May 12.

At that stage the ill-fated crew were placed fourth. They later crashed only 35km short of the Brescia finish, killing eleven – five of whom were kids – after tyre failure.

I wrote about this race and car some years ago here; Peter Collins: Mille Miglia 1957: Ferrari 335S… | primotipo…

This piece is a pictorial delving into the the Klemantaski/Getty Images archive, remembering an event which changed the face of motor racing, ended the lives of two combatants, nine innocents and the Mille Miglia.

The table of nobles; De Portago along side Wolfgang von Trips during a ‘training camp’ or perhaps more accurately a pre-event briefing and planning session in the weeks before the Mille, held on 11-12 May 1957.

Wonderful Doug Nye piece on De Portago in MotorSport; Ferrari’s fastest playboy: Alfonso de Portago – Motor Sport Magazine

Peter Collins leaves Maranello for a quick blast up the Abetone Road to check that all is good with his 335S- note the bonnet is still to be painted.

The team cars below in the famous factory courtyard are the four 4-cam cars for Piero Taruffi – the winner – Von Trips, De Portago and Collins, with the Collins/Klemantaski machine at left. A blur of activity.

The series of photographs below are at Brescia, the start and finish of the classic event. The shots show the sheer pageantry and grandeur of the event tinged with no shortage of pathos given the events that day which took De Portago, Collins twelve months later aboard a Ferrari Dino 246 during the 1958 German GP at the Nurburgring, at at Monza in 1961 when Von Trips perished in the early laps of the Italian GP aboard a Ferrari 156 along with another group of spectators.

De Portago and Von Trips swapping notes before the off while Taruffi seems a little more focused on the needs of the adoring locals.

Enzo Ferrari with Peter Collins (above) before the start, and De Portago below.

De Portago and Collins shortly before Alfonso’s departure from Brescia, car the ill-fated 335S chassis 0676. Louise Collins is mid-shot.

It was the first time De Portago raced the 4-litre car – the most powerful car he had ever driven. He drove it with skill and seemed set to finish well in this most difficult of races in the world’s fastest sportscar.

De Portago and Nelson departing the Ravenna control – in Emilia-Romagna – a couple of hours into the race.

Piero Taruffi won in a 315S from Von Trips second in another 315S, while the Collins/Klemantaski 335S DNF with driveshaft failure in the fifth hour. The De Portago/Nelson accident happened after five hours, seventeen minutes at 3.30pm near the village of Cavriana 35km from Brescia.

De Portago’s final pitstop was in Montova where he refused a tyre-change to save time, at that stage the crew were fourth, third by some accounts. “This may have caused his car’s tyres to be more susceptible to failure when the Ferrari ran over cat’s eyes at high speed.” The left-front failed at a little over 150mph.

Not too many photos exist of Edmund Gurner Nelson, De Portago’s navigator, friend, confidant, fixer, Bob-sled coach and whatever else, in the car.

Here they are leaving the Ravenna control, the shot gives a sense of immediacy and pressure, note Ed’s sports-blazer casual attire.

Credits…

All photographs Klemantaski Collection/Getty Images, motorsportmemorial.org

Tailpiece…

This moody shot was taken by Louis Klemantaski at high speed during the event alongside Peter Collins in his 335S. 150mph plus is all fine and dandy – even with an enthusiastic Italian crowd encroaching on the road – until something goes wrong. Apologies for the statement of the bleeding obvious…

We should all be thankful the Targa Florio survived in its traditional form for as long as it did given the ’57 Mille.

Finito…

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(Louis Klemantaski)

Froilan Gonzalez launches his BRM V16 Mk1 off the line. 19 July, Silverstone ‘Daily Express Formula Libre Trophy’…

He is slow away on the inside though, Piero Taruffi is quicker off the line in the Thinwall Ferrari on the outside with Ken Wharton in the other #8 BRM, similarly sluggish. Big, heavy beasts that they are, with Gigi Villoresi in the factory Ferrari 375 V12 between the two V16’s.

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‘Get knotted’, hmm, maybe not. ‘Take it easy for two laps’ Raymond Mays seems to be saying to his driver? (Ronald Startup)

2-litre F2 became the World Championship category in 1952, a consequence of there being too little opposition to Ferrari upon Alfa Romeo’s withdrawal from Grand Prix racing at the end of 1951.

BRM’s unreliability in terms of commitment to GP racing forced the issue upon the CSI. The choice was to have Ferrari dominate F1 or potentially open up the fields by running the World Championship to F2 of which their were plenty of manufacturers, ignoring the fact that the Scuderia dominated there anyway.

Despite the change to F2, ten F1 races of substance were held in 1952, but quite a few of them were in reality Formula Libre events, as Silverstone was. Event organisers were keen for the Grand Prix car spectacle, there were plenty of them even if the grids were thin of recent F1 cars.

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The big, brutish, distinctive BRM Type 15 profile. Gonzalez, Silverstone (Louis Klemantaski)

The 35 lap race was won by Piero Taruffi in Tony Vandervell’s Ferrari 375 Thinwall Special from the Scuderia Ferrari 375 of Luigi Villoresi and Chico Landi’s 1951 spec Ferrari 375. Fourth was Australian Tony Gaze in a pre-war Maserati 8CM.

Gonzalez was out on lap eight after an accident, Ken Wharton in the other BRM completed 33 laps before retiring with a gearbox problem. The mixed nature of the grid is indicated by the place-getters below fourth who were Ron Flockhart and Bob Gerard in ERA D and A Types, John Barber in a Cooper T20 Bristol, Graham Whitehead in ERA C Type, and Bira in Maser 4CLT Osca V12 and the rest. There was no shortage of variety in the field which comprised pre and post War, supercharged and normally aspirated, F1 and F2 cars.

Although not GP wins the BRM was finding some form later in the season with victories for Reg Parnell at Turnberry in August and Gonzalez at Goodwood in late September. Gonzalez led home Parnell and Ken Wharton in a BRM 1-2-3 in the 15 lap ‘Daily Graphic Goodwood Trophy’ that day in a grid comprising mainly F2 cars.

If only it’s development were a year or so further advanced at the time…

Credits…

Louis Klemantaski, Ronald Startup

Tailpiece: Gonzalez wowing the Silverstone crowds with the stunning music of 1.5-litres of supercharged BRM V16…

gonz silvers truck

(Louis Klemantaski)

Finito…

Ya gotta be kiddin’ blokes! This thing is rattling my teeth!

Is the look on Jack Brabham’s face aboard his Brabham BT24 Repco in the Mosport pitlane. By the end of the weekend he was a happy-chappy as winner of the first, soggy, 1967 F1 Canadian GP…

These days every Tom, Dick and Harold has a little, lightweight GoPro to capture their every move aboard their kart, board, bike, girlfriend or racer. It was a whole different ballgame in 1967, the state of the art was somewhat more cumbersome.

The interesting thing is where the footage ended up? Perhaps it was quickly consumed by the local TV news audience. I’ve had a fossick on that YouTube thingy but cannot find anything, do let us know the link if you discover its whereabouts.

Jim Clark and Graham Hill were quickest in qualifying aboard Lotus 49 Fords from Chris Amon, Ferrari 312, Dan Gurney, Eagle Mk1 Weslake, Bruce McLaren, McLaren M5A BRM V12, Brabham’s BT24 Repco and Jochen Rindt, Cooper T81 Maserati.

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Into the first turn at Mosport its Clark Lotus 49, from L>R Stewart BRM P83, Hill Lotus 49, Gurney Mk1 Eagle and Hulme Brabham BT24. That’s Rindt far left Cooper T81, Amon’s Ferrari 312 is in the murk behind Stewart’s left rear and the rest (unattributed)

Rain fell before the race to make things interesting. Clark led from Hulme, who took the lead on lap four, with Jack passing Hill for third. I rather fancy driving the Brabham, with its nice flat, fat torque curve rather than the DFV engined Lotus with its very abrupt power delivery in its earliest days in these conditions.

Bruce McLaren worked his way up thrugh the field, taking Jacks third place, then on lap 22 he took Clark’s second too. Clearly the conditions suited the V12 BRM engined McLaren. As the track dried, Jim and Jack both passed Bruce. Denny was still happily in the lead but Clark’s Lotus was quicker in the dry conditions and soon led, it rained again. Clark kept the lead but then his DFV went kaput. Jack overtook Denny at about the same time and won from Hulme with Gurney a distant third.

At the end of the meeting Denny had a nine point lead in the drivers championship over Jack, but with three GP’s to go; Italy, the US and Mexico City it was well and truly game-on between the buddies and teammates.

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Jack is on the drying line in BT24 so I think its him re-taking McLaren’s M5B third place, rather than Bruce taking Jack earlier on  (R Laymon)

Jack was out-fumbled by John Surtees’ Honda RA300 on the last lap, last corner at Monza with Hulme retiring due to overheating early in the race. At Watkins Glen Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford won from Hill’s with Denny third and Jack a distant fourth. Denny then led the championship from Jack by five points before the final round. It was all down to Mexico where Clark won from Brabham and Hulme. Denny bagged the title from Jack – 51 points to 48 points and Jim third on 41.

The car of the year was undoubtedly the new Lotus 49 Ford in terms of outright speed, but the less powerful, not much slower and more reliable new Brabham BT24 chassis with its new Repco Brabham 740 Series V8 should never be forgotten in the shadow of the sexy Lotus 49, as it always is! It did win the Manufacturers Championship after all.

Credits…

 Ron Laymon Photography

Tailpiece: Winners are Grinners and Jack had a smile which lit a room. Mosport 1967…

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(R Laymon)

Finito…

CS Rolls passing a group of spectators during his winning drive of a Panhard 12HP during the  1000 Mile Trial, 23 April to 12 May 1900…

Charles Stewart Rolls was a pioneer English motorist, an aviator and founding partner of Rolls Royce together with Sir FH Royce in 1906. Prior to founding that iconic company Rolls’ business assembled and sold French cars, including Panhards.

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Rolls, Panhard 12Hp (Getty)

Rolls entered a Panhard in the 1000 Mile Trial which was the first public demonstration of the potential of the car for long distance travel in the UK. 65 vehicles started, 23 finished the course which started in London, headed west to Bristol, then north to Edinburgh before returning to London.

Etcetera: ‘The Motor Car – One Thousand Mile Trial in England’…

From ‘The Brisbane Courier’ (Australia) Saturday 4 August 1900.

It’s very interesting to read this article, published in Australia but clearly written by a journalist on-the-spot in Britain – by whom I know not. Of historic interest are the observations about the evolution from horses and horse-drawn vehicles to motorcars.

‘…The principal object of the organisers was to prove what it was considered the people of this country need to be to be taught-that the motor car is, even in its present state of development, a serious and trustworthy means of locomotion; not a toy dangerous and troublesome alike to the public and its owner, but a vehicle under as perfect control as a Bath chair, capable of accompanying long journeys in all weathers and over every kind of road with ease and safety, destined to take its place with the train and bicycle as a common object of daily life, and as superior to them, in many respects, as they are superior to the horse and cart. In so far as any demonstration ever brings conviction to indifferent or hostile minds the tour must be considered amply to have achieved its object’.

‘The trial, in fact, from the point of view of those who have taken part in it, has been entirely satisfactory. It is a considerable achievement for fifty new-fangled vehicles to have travelled nearly 1100 miles in eleven days through a densely-populated country at a speed seldom, if ever, below the legal limit, with no incident more untoward than the deaths of one dog and one unmanageable horse, whose leg, coming in contact with a passing car, received such injuries that he had to be destroyed’.

‘The mechanical results of the trial have been very much what they were expected to be. That is to say, the established type of machine has proved itself entirely trustworthy, and between the Daimler, Napier, and Panhard motors there has been, in the matter of “staying power,” practically nothing to choose. Of the cars which entered, only four were driven by any other motive power than petroleum spirit.

Among the large machines the more prominent have been the Hon. C. S. Rolls’ racing 12 horse-power Panhard, the 12 horse-power Daimlers owned by the Hon. John Scott-Montagu, M.P., Mr. J. R. Hargreaves, and Mr. J. A. Holder, and Mr. E. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier. In the 6 horse-power class the Daimlers and Panhards have been well represented, and with regard to these it may be said that, apart from special racing machines, the English-built cars have shown themselves to be at least as good as the French, and most people admit that the English workmanship is the better of the two. But it is a regrettable fact that English manufacturers still have to go to France for some of the most essential parts. Our spring and axle builders do not yet appreciate the opening that lies before them.’

 

‘The results of the hill-climbing trials, when published, will prove a better means than any other for comparing the respective merits of the cars from the purchaser’s point of view. To speak generally, the best cars of each class climbed astonishingly well, though there were probably few drivers who had no moments of anxiety on the way from Kendal to Carlisle. The condition of the roads on three out of the four test hills was fortunately good. Indeed, the roads throughout, with the exception of that between Manchester and Preston, which was execrable, have been in a satisfactory state of repair, though often muddy and greasy. There can be no doubt that, if the road authorities were provided out of the rates with solid-tired motor cars instead of horses and traps, the immediate improvement in the roads would be so great as to be well worth the increased cost of the vehicle.’

‘Speed pure and simple is in this country a secondary consideration, but, by way of fully testing all the powers of the cars, an optional trial of speed was carried out on Friday in Welbeck Park. The following speeds were attained by the fastest cars:  Min. Sec. The Hon. C. S. Rolls’s 12 horse-power Panhard . 1 35 3-5 Mr. Ed. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier and Mr. Mark Mayhew’s 8 horse-power Panhard . 2 1 3-5 The Ariel Motor Company’s tricycle, with trailer . 2 2 1-5 Mr. T. A. Holder’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 17 1-5  The Hon. John Scott-Montagu’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 18. The distance was one mile, with flying start and the figures given are the mean of one run over the course in each direction. The road, which had slight gradients, was in good condition.’

‘If I were asked what had chiefly impressed me in the course of this journey of 1000 miles, I should say that it was the certainty that the next few years will see an enormous increase in the use of motor cars. The new method of locomotion has been taken seriously, and the friendly interest in it displayed by the thousands who have witnessed this trial will greatly facilitate its progress. At present good motor cars are somewhat expensive and difficult to procure at a moment’s notice. They also require for their maintenance in working order the services of a professional driver or of a mechanically-minded amateur. But these are difficulties which competition, the first place, and familiarity, in the second, will speedily overcome. There are in the country at this moment far more motor cars than might be supposed-the indifference to them of the horses in many districts, is already very remarkable and it is impossible to believe that, so soon as they become cheaper, their numbers will not largely increase.’

Indeed!

Credits…

Science and Society Picture Library, Getty Images, The Brisbane Courier

Tailpiece…

Unfortunately none of these shots Getty captions indicate the exact locale. A bumma.

Finito…

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Stan Jones wins the 1954 Victoria Trophy at Fishermans Bend in his shortlived, brand new Maybach 2, 21 March 1954…

Regular readers may recall the feature on Stan, Alan’s dad and a champion in his own right a while back. There are not many photos of Maybach 2 as it was only raced briefly before Stanley comprehensively destroyed it after a chassis weld failure, at the ’54 AGP at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

Jones raced Maybach 2 at Easter Bathurst, then Altona, Victoria on May 2 and at Fishermans Bend in October before that fateful November weekend. Still, he was lucky not to lose his life in the high speed trip backwards through the Southport scrub and trees.

The beauty of these online blogs is that you can continually update them as you find new shots, this set are so good I thought it worth a fresh post.

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Davison in his new HWM Jag (VHRR Archive)

Maybach wasn’t ready for the Victoria Trophy preliminary on Saturday, but contested the 64 mile feature event on the airfield circuit in Melbourne’s inner west.

He took the lead from Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar before the first corner. Davos’ original intention was to fit the HWM with the engine from his Alfa Romeo P3, the complexities of that undertaking with the straight-eight, supercharged engines central power take-off were immense! He therefore fitted the HWM with a Jaguar engine topped by a C-Type head, the car was victorious at Southport in November winning the first of Davison’s four AGPs.

It was Jones’ Victorian Trophy though, he lapped the field, leading Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol over the line by three miles.

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Davison #3 HWM Jag, Ted Gray #8 Alta Ford V8 and Brabham’s obscured Cooper T23 Bristol. Fishermans Bend 1954 (VHRR Archive)

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Arthur Wylie in the Wylie Javelin ahead of Brabham’s Cooper Bristol. Victorian Trophy 1954 (VHRR Archive)

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Silvio Massola’s HRG, Fishermans Bend 1954 (unattributed)

Etcetera…

(The Age)

Stan won in 1953 too.

Here he is, two happy chaps Ern Seeliger at left, again at Fishos, on this occasion Ern had prepared Maybach. But he was also a racer as well as an engineer, famously adapting Maybach 3 to accept a Chev V8 creating, you guessed it, Maybach 4.

A very talented man, little has been written about him and the products of his Richmond workshop, a great future topic.

Photo Credits…

Victorian Historic Racing Register archive

Finito…

Alan Bruce poses in the UK on Leaping Lena : Brough Superior J.A.P 1000

Bob King looks at this record and the man who achieved it – Alan Bruce.

To this motor racing historian, motorcycle records were a peripheral issue, at least until I heard Alan Bruce’s story.

Let us start at the finish with an excerpt from the London Daily Mail May 4, 1932:

RECORD BREAKING IN HUNGARY, Alan Bruce, riding the J.A.P. 1000 c.c. machine on which he attained a speed of 200kmh on the Tat road near Budapest, April 30, 1932.

Alan Bruce is the first Australian to hold an officially recognized, WORLD LAND SPEED RECORD, the streamlining is noteworthy.   This reads as a photo caption.

 Another report, this time possibly from an Australian source, is headed:

AUSTRALIA “Knocks it for Six”, Alan Bruce on his now famous “Leaping Lena”, Sidecar outfit at Tat near Budapest, successfully attacked the Worlds (sic) Record for the two-way flying kilometre. His time, 17.88sec, is an average speed of 200.220 kmh, equal to 124.41 mph.

“The Motorcycle”, in another report noted that it improved on the “German figure by 6 mph”. The mention of ‘German Records’ hints at mounting tensions in Europe, which, to a certain extent, would be played out on race tracks and through record breaking.

Records like this do not happen by chance, but are usually preceded by months and possibly years of planning with the expectation that there will be set-backs.  The unusual venue indicates the seriousness of this attempt. At that time the Tát road was thought to be the only suitable stretch of road for record breaking in the whole of Europe. Google maps suggests that the likely venue is a straight stretch of road that runs with no crossroads for approximately 8 kms north-east from Tat to Nyergesüjfal; it borders wide stretches of the Danube and is now known as Route 10, or locally as Kossuth Lajos U.

The team: Keith Horton, Alan Bruce, Phil Irving and Arthur Simcock

Most of my information on ‘Leaping Lena’ comes from Phil Irving’s Autobiography, 1992 (Turton and Armstrong). Phil Irving and Alan Bruce, who were of a similar age, had met at Stillwell and Parry’s in Elizabeth St. Melbourne, where Alan had been tuning racing machines. They shared a passion for motorcycles, particularly AJS, and had a continued friendship for the rest of their lives. Between them they cobbled up an overhead camshaft for an AJS, which was not particularly successful.

It is said that Alan got the notion of setting a Land Speed Record when he saw Paul Anderson take local records on Sellicks Beach, South Australia, in 1925. By 1926 Alan had done a lot of record breaking including the sidecar record for 350 c.c. machines on Bakers Beach in Tasmania. He also set the sidecar record from Hobart to Launceston; his speed exceeded the existing solo record.

By 1930 Alan had found success on the English speedways with a Rudge to which he had added his own modifications to the frame and forks. That year Phil arrived in England as Victorian 350c.c. Sidecar Champion. In 1931 they got together and cooked up a plot to break existing solo and sidecar world records – an ambitious plan for a couple of under-funded Australian battlers. They were joined by Arthur Simcock who was able to bring some Shell sponsorship. He was to ride solo, with Alan on the outfit. Although it was not his core skill, Phil was inveigled into designing a streamlined shell for the bike. The design was an attractive and unusual example of form meets function achieved without access to a wind tunnel. The front of the rig was not faired to avoid the adverse effects of crosswinds; the engine and sidecar were enclosed and the tail of the bike was shaped so that the rider’s backside was encased in a bucket seat.  Eatons of Euston Road were tasked with beating up the shell; they formed the cowling over Arthur Simcock’s helmet. Phil’s involvement was confined to London; he did not go to Hungary.


The chosen machine was a Brough Superior SS100 with a J.A.P. V twin of 996 c.c., supercharged with a Powerplus blower. Alan assembled the power plant meticulously, but did not dyno-test it as its expected 100bhp exceeded the capacity of J.A.P.’s dynamometer. Phil already had a grasp of exhaust tuning; opting for short stubs finishing inside the fairing to avoid loss of charge down a long pipe. Theirs was a private venture with some trade support in the shape of parts as well as Shell fuel and lubricants; quite different from the Reichsmarks being spent elsewhere.

Their first visit to Hungary was in April 1931. Records were to be set on the average speed over the measured kilometre in two directions. After Arthur achieved a two-way average of 143 mph (229 kph) his attempt failed when a piston partially seized on a further run and the venture was abandoned until the following year. One can imagine their disappointment after traipsing all the way to Hungary.

Back in the UK, Phil and the team had other things to concern them, as they were also preparing a number of bikes for the forthcoming Isle of Man TT. In 1932 they trundled off to Hungary again with the bike on a truck. This time the record attempt went off without a hitch until Alan aviated the bike at near his maximum of 135 mph causing him to shut off. He then thumped a railway crossing, not realising he had passed the finish timing strip.

Not being across motorcycle records, this bit of Aussie fame had escaped my notice; at least until about 1983 when I had as a patient in my medical practice Alan Bruce’s middle-aged daughter. She told me of her record -breaking father whom she had not seen since before the war. He was shortly to come home for his eightieth birthday and she would like us to meet.

This culminated in a visit from Alan to see my cars and with me attending his birthday party which was also attended by Phil Irving and numerous elderly gentlemen, most of whom had pronounced limps. Alan entertained me with stories of his successful career on European tracks and was justifiably proud of is world land speed record. Seeing my Bugatti, he told me how he had been given a lift from Budapest to Tat for the record attempt with Swiss racing driver Armand Hug in his supercharged eight-cylinder Bugatti; Hug was also after some records. The whole journey was taken flat-out, including through villages, scattering chickens etc. in their wake. Among other achievements, Alan had designed a banking side-car for racing outfits on cinders which was a considerable improvement over Freddie Dixon’s pioneering eight-year-old design. The reason he had stayed overseas after the war was that he had joined the occupation forces in Germany, remaining there after marrying a German fräulein.

Alan’s final word on his record attempt: “Yes, it felt fast alright”.

Alan Bruce, his wife, Erwin Tragatsch, a German Bugatti authority, and Bruce’ son. East Germany in the mid 1980s (B King Collection)

Postscript…

The mention of Ernst Henne in regard to land speed records brought to mind an interesting anecdote told to me by my late, lamented friend Lucien Chabaud.

Lucien had spent his teen years in the Vaucluse, Provence. During the war he and his mates shared a racing Terrot motorcycle that they would start up from time to time, according to the availability of dope with which to fuel it.

One day they were playing with the Terrot in the main street of Orange; Avenue de l’Arc de Triomphr on Route National Sept. Their play was interrupted by the arrival of an imposing German staff car. A German officer stepped down, studied the bike, and asked if he could try it out. Moments later he was streaking up the highway, rounding the triumphal arch at an impressive speed: shortly after reappearing, still flat-strap.

Next day a German army truck arrived and a 200-litre drum of aviation fuel was unloaded, to which was attached a note reading: “Merci, Henne”. At that time Henne was the holder of the World Land Speed Record for a motorcycles at 279.5kph – set in 1937, the record was not broken for another 14 years.

Etcetera…

On location in Tat, Hungary, in Solo format, probably Arthur Simcock.

Sydney ‘Referee’ June 8, 1932
(B King Collection)

‘Fan-card’ shot shows the canted speedway sidecar.

Credits…

Bob King, The Vintagent, Moto Revue Jan-March 1933

Tailpiece…

(Hockenheim Museum Archive)

Stylised machine is a blend of 1930 OEC-Temple-Jap record breaker and the bodywork of Leaping Lena.

Finito…

I guess most of us have marvelled at technology which has recently allowed the colourisation of monochrome images from the earliest days of racing to more recent times.

Adam Gawliczek is one of the better practitioners of the art, his early stuff was a bit how’s-yer-father, but like everything, practice makes perfect.

I’ve chosen a few shots of Australian relevance, checkout Adam’s Facebook page Colorize Auto Moto archive, there is enough to keep you going for days.

Good ‘ole Adam slaps his watermark on the images to indicate his work (ok) but he is the usual intellectual property thief otherwise; no acknowledgement of the original photographer to respect his/her art anywhere. I recognise some as Getty Images material, some will be out of copyright of course, but it’s still good form oulde bean to acknowledge the snapper I reckon. Not saying I get it right all the time either. End of rant.

The first shot above is Doug Whiteford on the way to winning his second Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst in 1952, car is the first of his two Talbot Lago T26C’s. The trees are a bit euro-green rather than Oz blue-green but let’s not get too pernickety, I think Byron Gunther took this shot. ‘Fill Her Up Matey’: Talbot-Lago T26C, Melbourne 1957… | primotipo…

From Stephen Dalton pointing out that Motor Manual had a crack at hand colouring this photograph in the mid-fifties

The shot above is of a 1.5-litre, straight-eight Grand Prix Talbot Darracq 700 taking shape in the Suresnes, Paris, factory in 1926, read about ‘Australias’ example here; ‘Australia’s’ Talbot Darracq 700: 1926/7 GP car… | primotipo…

TD 700 chassis #3 was brought to Australia by Jack Day in May 1949.

Two of the more exciting cars raced in Australia during the 1920s and 1930s were the 2-litre Ballot 2LS and 4.8-litre straight-eight 5/8 LC raced by Alan and Harold Cooper (and later others) in New South Wales and Victoria. The shot above shows Jules Goux’ 2LS during the French Grand Prix weekend at Le Mans in July 1921.

He finished an amazing third in the 2-litre, DOHC, 16-valve Ernest Henry designed machine behind Jimmy Murphy’s Duesenberg and Ralph de Palma’s 3/8 LC Ballot – both 3-litre cars; I’m not suggesting this 2LS came to Australia.

Peter Whitehead had a several successful visits to Australia in the thirties and fifties including a win in the ’38 AGP at Bathurst in his ERA B-Type, and the South Pacific Trophy at Gnoo Blas in a Ferrari 500/625 in 1955.

This beautiful shot shows Peter on his way to third place in his supercharged Ferrari 125 V12 during the 1951 GP International de Rouen.

Chassis #114 was sold to Aussie, Dick Cobden, and raced by him for a bit, fitted with a Chev V8, it was an early acquisition by Tom Wheatcroft’s Donington Collection. 1955 South Pacific Championship, Gnoo Blas… | primotipo…

Lex Davison (in blue above) beside his Aston Martin DBR4 3-litre in the Longford paddock during the 1961 March long-weekend.

He was fifth in the Longford Trophy won by Roy Salvadori’s Cooper T51 Climax. One of Adam’s earlier efforts, the colour of the racer isn’t close nor is the Holden behind, but better than nothing.

See here for the DBR4; Lex’ Aston Martin DBR4/250’s… | primotipo…

One of the more exotic cars to reach these shores in the fifties was Bira’s Maserati 4CLT-48 Osca 4.45-litre V12 – quite a mouthful.

He brought it as a spare for his Maserati 250F on his Summer of ’55 NZ-Oz Tour. Both were tired shit-heaps, poor Alf Harvey bought the Maser, he had a couple of runs in it between bouts of complex mechanical carnage. I’d love to see a decent shot of that car in action in Australia if any of you has one.

The photograph of the Thai Prince is on the Richmond Trophy grid at Goodwood in 1951. He won the 12 lap race from two ERA B-Types of Brian Shawe and Duncan Hamilton #28. Car #34, another ERA, isn’t listed on either of the results sites I use.

(Twitter)

Another regretful purchase was Jack Brabham’s acquisition of Peter Whitehead’s Cooper T24 Alta (above) when he arrived in England in 1955. He was later to say he would have been far better to have taken his highly-developed Cooper T23 Bristol with him from Australia.

The shot above shows Whitehead at Goodwood in April 1954 – he only completed a lap of the Lavant Cup before throttle problems intervened. More on the Cooper Bristol here; The Cooper T23, its Bristol/BMW engine and Spaceframe chassis… | primotipo…

Credits…

Photographers unknown, Stephen Dalton Collection

Tailpiece…

French derriere to finish. Louis Wagner’s Ballot 3/8 LC at Le Mans during the 1921 French GP weekend – seventh. One of the most beautiful racing cars ever built.

Finito…

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines, there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK by ship, it’s destiny and whereabouts unclear to this day.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…