Dave Walker in the radical Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney, 4WD gas turbine powered F1 car during practice for the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort…

It is just over 50 years since the gritty Aussie raced this radical Lotus – developed and raced at the ’68 Indy 500 then adapted by Chapman and his team for road racin – through the Zandvoort sand dunes.

Perhaps with more practice in the car in advance of the meeting Walker may have made the podium in his famously wet race, instead, he braked too late late and went straight on over the bank behind the pits. He was ok but the car was too badly damaged to continue.

At that point Denis Jenkinson reported that “from the back of the grid he was galloping through the tail enders (armed also with the Firestone wets used by winner Ickx’ Ferrari and the other front-runners), really pleased with the way the smoother torque of the turbine and the 4-wheel drive were dealing with the appalling conditions, and was actually in tenth place at the end of the fifth lap. On the four previous laps he had arrived at the end of the long straight in company with a bunch of cars and they had all braked safely from 150mph, but on lap 5 Walker had gotten away from the others and was on his own and he braked too late, locked up his wheels and went straight on through the fence.”

Jenkinson then goes on to speak about Dave Walker in glowing terms, watch for an article soon.

(autopics.com)

Alec Mildren accepts the plaudits of the crowd after winning the Bathurst 100 Gold Star round over the Easter long weekend in 1960.

He won of the Gold Star rounds in this clever Cooper T51 powered by a 2.5-litre Maserati 250S engine, the story of which is told here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

The Elfin 600 has always been a sinfully sexy racing car

Arguably, in F3 form, as here with factory mag alloy wheels, rather than the steel wheels of an FF and devoid of wings this is about as good as they get in terms of purity of line- Brian Sampson eases into Peters/Torana Corner at Sandown in his 600B Toyota circa 1970.

I think of him as a Cheetah man- he and Brian Shead conquered F3/F2 between them for years in Cheetahs built by Shead, and Toyota Corolla 1.3-litre race motors tuned by Sambo’s Motor Improvements concern in St Kilda. See a feature in the current issue of Auto Action on Sampson, Shead and his Cheetah Mk6; AUTO ACTION 1815 – Auto Action

Sampson with a narrow lead from young whipper-snapper John Bowe at Shell Corner, Sandown in 1979- Cheetah Mk6 Toyota and Elfin 792 VW during the ANF2 1.6 pushrod/single SOHC days (B Jones Collection)

Brian was handy in anything mind you, he had a long history in touring cars and sportscars before he added open-wheelers to his diet at a time he and Shead had Toyota factory support- remember Sampson’s Celica, which he still has. Oh- he did win Bathurst co-driving with Brocky aboard an L34 Torana in 1975.

Sampson has had the VHT franchise in Australia since JC was playing for the Jerusalem thirds. A nice giving back touch is he and Brendan Jones S5000 Series support- great stuff boys.

(S5000)

(A Patterson)

Two eight-cylinder specials front and centre in the Victor Harbor paddock during the 26 December, 1936 Australian Grand Prix.

Car #7 is the WA McIntyre owned, Frank Kleinig driven McIntyre Hudson Spl, DNF and #6 Ossie Cranston’s sixth placed Ford V8 Spl- look at the stylised V8 on the tale of that handsome car. Car #9 is Arthur Terdich’s eleventh placed Bugatti T37A and #12 alongside is George Smith’s Austin 7, DNF.

By the look of the size of the crowd it’s raceday, the handicap event was won by Les Murphy’s MG P Type from Tim Joshua’s similar car Bob Lea-Wright’s Terraplane Special.

Click here for a feature on this race; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/27/south-australian-centenary-grand-prix-26-december-1936-aka-1937-australian-grand-prix/ and here for the stupidity surrounding the naming of the event; https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

The shot below is of the very versatile McIntyre which did trials, hillclimbs, sprints and races of all types including the AGP. It is, happily, still with us in relaxed retirement in the Birdwood Mill museum in the Adelaide Hills.

(A Patterson)

(Hartnett Family Collection)

John Ampt and crew considering the next change to to the wonderful Cooper T38 Jaguar in the Mount Panorama pits in 196?

This car had a wonderful in-period history with Peter Whitehead in Europe inclusive of Le Mans in 1955 before passing through Stan Jones hands in early 1956 before finding plenty of success with Wangaratta’s Ron Phillips, who won the 1959 Australian Tourist Trophy at Lowood in it, before it passed to Ampt and more success.

You can see the old jigger is looking a bit tired in the body but for much of its life in Australia it had been beautifully prepared by Ern Seeliger. I wrote a lengthy feature in Auto Action #1812 AUTO ACTION 1812 – Auto Action

Ampt is still alive and well, on his farm at Rainbow in Victoria, although these days two brothers work the property.

(S5000)

Warwick Brown became an F5000 stalwart.

He raced a Brabham and McLaren before graduating to the ex-Alan Hamilton McLaren M10B in 1972, then raced ‘all of the Lolas from T300 to T333’ (all but the T330 and T400 anyway) in a career which yielded much success in Australasia and in the US. From 1977 onwards he raced F5000 ‘in drag’ – central seat 5-litre Can-Am cars.

The shot above is in the Sandown pitlane in 1977 aboard the Team VDS T430 Chev, he boofed it on the warm-up lap but won the Rothmans series, the one below is the following year in a T333/332C Chev. He won this race, one of all four rounds of the Rothmans International he took that summer.

More about WB here; ‘WB for ’73’… | primotipo…

(S5000)

(J Wakely)

Glorious ‘As it Was’ shot of the ‘Boomerang Service Station’ Holden 48-215 raced by Spencer Martin outside the Colonial Motel, Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.

It’s during a Catalina Park meeting in 1963, Spencer made his name with some amazing performances in this car, he was picked up by Scuderia Veloce’s David McKay not too long after this. Spencer progressed with McKay’s Brabhams and Ferrari 250LM, but it was with the Bob Jane owned ex-McKay Brabham BT11A Climax that Spencer won his two Gold Stars, then promptly retired.

Spencer’s not long ago released book is worth a read. See here for a feature on Martin; Spencer Martin: Australian ‘Gold Star’ Champion 1966/7… | primotipo…

(Cummins Archive)

Most of us think of Bryan Thomson as a touring car/sports sedan racer but here he is in the early open-wheeler phase of his long career in a Cooper T51 Climax at Hume Weir on Boxing Day 1962.

His penchant for innovation was on show early in his career too – remember the Chev F5000 engined Volksrolet and four-valve Chev V8 he and Peter Fowler developed in the mid-seventies – the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF engine in a car which was a little dated was supercharged, giving the machine a new lease of life.

Behind him is Wally Mitchell in Brabham Numero-Uno, the ex-Gavin Youl MRD Ford, see here for a piece on car and driver; Merde… | primotipo…

(Cummins Archive)

(G Thomas)

Bib Stillwell with a big smile on his face at Rob Roy on April 20, 1947, MG Magna.

The exhaust system looks impressive, sorta, but I wonder if it cost or enhanced power? At 20 years old Bib is just starting out on a career which took him all the way to the top of Australian motor racing and equal to all of the internationals other than The Gods.

See here; Bib Stillwell: Cooper T49 ‘Monaco’: Warwick Farm, Sydney December 1961… | primotipo… and here; Stillwell’s D Type… | primotipo…

(I Smith)

Ian Smith is a Melbourne photographer who went to Sydney and found an unusual angle on a circuit not noted for atmosphere shots.

As to the cars- a Lola T330 or T332 at left and an Elfin MR5 or Chevron B24 circa 1974. The F5000s are coming off The Dogleg with the Energol spectator mound beyond.

(R Page)

Bob Tanner in his VW ‘Bed Base’ at Lakeview Hillclimb, the Canberra Car Club’s venue in the mid sixties.

Can anybody tell us a bit more about this car?

Larry Perkins from Keke Rosberg, Ralt RT1 and Chevron B45 coming onto Pit Straight at Bay Park, New Zealand in 1978.

Perkins drove the wheels off this self-run Graham Watson/David McKay owned car, but the ex-F1 driver was bested by F1 aspirant Rosberg who won the series in his much better supported Fred Opert ‘works’ car. Click here; Keke Rosberg Attacks the Pukekohe Chicane, New Zealand Grand Prix, January 1978… | primotipo…

Many top young drivers contested the NZ Pacific Series, the 1978 crop included Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, David Oxton, Ken Smith, Richard Melville, Dave McMillan, Steve Millen, Andrew Miedecke and others.

(D Foster)

John French’ Centaur Holden-Waggott at Lakeside on the July 8, 1962 weekend.

A couple of great shots of the very clever Tim Harlock built car powered by the equally clever Merv Waggott built twin-cam, triple Weber Holden 200bhp, 3-litre ‘Grey’ six cylinder engine. See the Waggott-Holden bit within this piece; Repco Holden F5000 V8… | primotipo…

On this weekend the talented Queenslander won the 100 mile, 50 lap Australian GT Championship.

(D Foster)

(R Reid Collection)

Start of the 1958 Australian Grand Prix at Mount Panorama that October 6.

Stan Jones, Ted Gray and Lex Davison- Maserati 250F, Tornado 2 Chev and Ferrari 500/625 and then the Alec Mildren, Cooper T43 Climax and Kiwi, Tom Clark, Ferrari 555 Super Squalo.

(R Reid Collection)

Any of Jones, Gray and Davison had the speed to win but Davo had the reliability, and, perhaps the patience. Stan dropped a valve after 7 laps of clutch-less gear-changes (above) and Ted pushed too hard after a botched fuel stop, boofing a fence.

It was one of the great AGPs, happy Lex takes the flag to win his third of four AGPs, see here; 1958 Australian Grand Prix, Bathurst… | primotipo…

(S5000)

Bob Jane grabs a breath of air aboard his Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 litre V8 during 1967.

A mighty fine car with a somewhat chequered history, stories about the Elfin 400 and its design are here; Elfin 400/Traco Olds: Frank Matich, Niel Allen and Garrie Cooper… | primotipo…

and about Bob’s car in particular here; Belle of The Ball… | primotipo…

Mark Webber aboard his Red Bull RB3 Renault during the 2007 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

105,000 Australians were keen for a home win but Kimi Raikkonen started from pole in his Ferrari F2007 and won the race at the start of his championship season, Webber Q7 and 13th. A bit about Red Bull and Webber here; Mark Webber: Red Bull RB6 Renault: Singapore Grand Prix 2010… | primotipo…

(AN1Images.com)

‘Yer not takin’ the Kingswood…

But apparently so, Ted Bullpitt would not be best pleased.

Colin Bond flinging around this HQ Holden Kingswood, Holden’s iconic four door family car of the early seventies. Any idea of the gig folks?

Stan Jones at his exuberant best on the streets of Sydney.

Stan The Man is both trying to stay in the seat of Maybach 1 and control its slide at Parramatta Park in 1952- isn’t it a corker of a shot and rare for the period, colour?

And below in the paddock with Reg Robbins leaning on the cockpit. See here for a feature on Jones, with plenty on the Maybachs; Stan Jones: Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix and Gold Star Winner… | primotipo…

(J Mangano)

Tim Mayer with his Bruce McLaren Racing Cooper T70 Climax during the Lakeside 99 Tasman Cup meeting in February 1964.

There is a certain poignancy in this shot- probably a press one taken in the lead up to the race.

The young American had the world at his feet, he had impressed all of those who mattered on that tour with his driving of what were the fastest road-racing single-seaters in the world, and also his demeanour.

Sadly, he made a mistake at Longford a fortnight later and lost his life- a bright light extinguished way before time. See here for a lengthy feature; Tim Mayer: What Might Have Been?… | primotipo…

(S Griffiths)

This shot of the Porsche 550 Spyder has a great moody quality about it taken as it was, late in the day.

Its the Templestowe Hillclimb in Victoria’s outer eastern suburbs in 1963, see here; Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder… | primotipo…

(Brabham Family)

Matt Brabham did two Indycar events in a Dallara Chev in 2016; the Indianapolis Grand Prix, as shown here and the Indy 500 during May.

He was 16th on the road course and thirtieth in the Memorial Day classic.

His father, Geoff Brabham and grandfather Jack ran at Indy many times. Jack’s most important start was his first of course. His Cooper T54 Climax FPF 2.7 finished ninth and showed the Indy establishment the mid-engined path; Jack’s Indy Cooper T54 Climax… | primotipo…

(Indy Museum’

Jack and Geoff Brabham before Geoff’s first Indy 500 start in 1981- twenty years after Jack’s Brickyard debut in a nice bit of symmetry. GB’s car is a Penske PC9 Cosworth, was fifth in the race won by Bobby Unser’s Penske.

(AMS)

An ‘Australian Motor Sports’ Ferodo ad- car featured a circa 1951  HRG ‘Bathurst’ perhaps.

Credits…

B Cahier, Getty Images, Adrian Patterson Collection, Joel Wakely, Brendan Jones Collection, George Thomas via Richard Townley Collection, Ron Page, Terry Marshall, Darren Foster, Ron Reid Collection, John Mangano, AN1Images.com, Stan Griffiths, Brabham Family Collection, Indianapolis Motor Museum

Tailpiece…

The start of the 1975 Australian Grand Prix at Surfers Paradise.

The challenge of driving a 500bhp F5000 car in the teeming rain does not require much imagination, 11 F5000s started the race, and three ANF2.

Bruce Allison started from pole but was outed by ignition dramas, for a while it looked as though John Leffler’s Bowin P8 Chev may take the chequered flag but the Sydneysider’s electrics were drowned too, Max Stewart took top honours in his Lola T400 Chev.

Finito…

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Sandown, 25km from Melbourne, in the south eastern suburb of Springvale was first used for horse racing in the late nineteenth century, but closed in the 1930s.

Resuscitation commenced post World War 2 when the Victorian Amateur Turf Club planned and built a facility for horse racing, the donkeys galloped for the first time in the modern era in 1965. The dish-lickers (greyhounds) were catered for within the complex too, happy days. You have not lived until yerv’ had a night at the doggies, once will do mind you.

Fortunately the VATC allowed the Light Car Club of Australia to build a race track as well. The feature race of the first open meeting was the Sandown International Cup in March 1962; fittingly, Jack Brabham won in his Cooper T55 Climax.

With the Sword of Damocles hovering near, if not over a track so dear to many of us, it makes me a bit misty eyed to see this early shot of two-thirds of the circuit, and the design schematic below.

It’s undated, but let’s guess 1960 as an approximation.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The original circuit map below – upside down deliberately, I’ve not imbibed any more giggle-juice than usual – allows an easy view of the differences between the draft above, and the track as used in the first phase of its long life until 1984; these are fundamentally a left-right kink on the way to Dandy Road, and the high speed right-left blast across the Causeway and under Dunlop Bridge.

At the height of the Tasman Cup there was an important bit of commerce to be conducted every year; the assemblage of a great field of cars and the fees to be paid to them by the seven or eight car clubs which owned or leased the tracks upon which the aces raced.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

The negotiations were led by Geoff Sykes (Warwick Farm) and Motor Sport New Zealand’s Ron Frost, on behalf of the Kiwi circuits.

This July 1967 letter (above) from Frost to his buddies in Australia, in this case to the LCCA, is an update on how things were looking. Hopefully you can read his progress on BRM, Ferrari, Lotus and the rest.

Ultimately BRM brought a team comprising the new Len Terry designed and built V12 P126, and old favourite, the V8 engined P261. Drivers were Bruce McLaren (NZ only), Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood. Jim Clark triumphed in a 2.5-litre Cosworth DFW engined Lotus 49.

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Winding back the clock four decades, checkout the table-card for the ‘Smoke Social’ to hand out the prizes for the 1929 200 Mile Road Race (aka the 1929 AGP) held at Phillip Island – which the Victorian Light Car Club organised and promoted – that March.

VLCC committee man, Arthur Terdich won the race aboard a Bugatti Type 37A, and is the subject of the caricature. A significant part of the VSCC Collection is the Terdich Archive, this is Arthur’s own card from a very special night.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

The Poms have their London-Brighton veteran car run each November, the LCCA had their own Melbourne to Brighton event in the 1930s. I wonder when it ceased to be held, or if once was enough?

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Credits…

Vintage Sports Car Club (Victoria) Collection

Tailpieces…

I’ve occasionally wondered what a Competition Licence looked like in ye olden days. Here is that of Forbes Tough for the 1939 calendar year.

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

Finito…

(VSCC Vic Collection)
(VSCC Vic Collection)

I guess Bugatti were one of the first, if not the first to sell customer racing cars in large numbers to those lucky enough to afford them.

So you would expect their communication with clients to have been pretty good.

This January 13, 1931 letter, on the key operational specifications of a Grand Prix Bugatti Type 37, is from Bugatti’s UK agent, Sorel, to Australian customer, Harold Drake Richmond, a regular in the Phillip Island AGP years. His best placing was second in the subject car, in 1930 and 1933, and third in 1931- chassis 37164.

“I’ve seen a lot of these types of letters from Bugatti to their customers,” Bugatti racer/historian Bob King commented.

I love this type of period communication; both the content itself and the formality of the language of the day.

Harold Drake Richmond in his Bugatti Type 37 during a snowy Alpine Trial in the Victorian high country, perhaps November 1930 (VSCC Vic Collection)

This material comes from the Arthur Terdich Collection, part of the Vintage Sports Car Club of Victoria Collection. Terdich was the winner of the 1929 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, prominent local businessman and early Melbourne motoring leader.

Many thanks to me’ mates Bob King and Tony Johns for creating the opportunity to access material seen by few, and to Ashley Tracey, the VSCC librarian, for being so kind with his time to allow Bob and I to pick the eyes out of the content. Over time we will share the material.

All new Bugatti’s delivered to Australia passed through the hands of Sorel, Bugatti’s UK agents. Not necessarily physically – that is delivered to the UK before on-shipment to the colonies – but legally. Why this was so is still a mystery to King, but doubtless was a technique to avoid the worst ravages of the fiscal-fiend (tax office) in France and/or Australia.

Etcetera…

(VSCC Vic Collection)

Credits…

Bob King, Tony Johns, Ash Tracey and the VSCC Victoria

Finito…

(D Simpson)

There is no such thing as too much Alec Mildren Racing; the man himself, the cars and their colour, drivers – the lot…

So, here we go again! I got a chuckle out of the first three photos which were uploaded onto social media within a couple of days of each other a while ago.

The wry amusement was about the car, Mildren’s Frank Gardner and Kevin Bartlett driven Brabham BT23D-1 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8 – particularly its evolution from wingless beauty to appendaged warrior over the period of several months – between Easter and July 1968 to be precise.

The car arrived in Australia in late 1967, seven months before wings first appeared in F1. Ferrari and Brabham were arguably the first over the July 7, 1968 French GP weekend at Rouen. The performance dividend of wings cascaded across the single-seater world. Lets not forget Jim Hall ‘started it’ with his gorgeous Chaparral sports-racers, to give credit where it is due.

Dick Simpson’s ripper shot (above) is Kevin Bartlett traversing Hell Corner at Bathurst during the Easter ’68 Gold Star weekend, as is the one below at Forrests Elbow. The stationary shot is the car in its final 2.5-litre Tasman form during the Warwick Farm Tasman round in 1969 with KB at the wheel in the form-up area/dummy grid.

(P Maslen) 
(K Bartlett)

Treat this piece as a pictorial of BT23D-1’s short life as a front line tool. It was sold after the ’69 Tasman sans engine to Melbourne publisher/motor show promoter Jim Abbott to become his display F5000/hill-climb car. In this form it was fitted with an ex-Frank Matich Oldsmobile V8 and ZF five speed transaxle. Abbott was part of the push to adopt F5000 as the replacement for the Tasman 2.5 ANF1, the modified Brabham was a tool to advance that cause.

Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm, December 1967…

Frank Gardner took a great win upon the cars debut at the December 3 Hordern Trophy Gold Star final round at Warwick Farm, from John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A Climax.

The car didn’t have the ultimate pace during the Tasman Cup of the works Lotus 49s or Chris Amon’s Ferrari 246T.

(AutoSportsman)

Warwick Farm 1968…

When Gardner headed back to Europe, Bartlett stepped into the car having raced Mildren’s Brabham BT11A Climax throughout 1966 and 1967.

In close hand-to-hand-combat with Spencer Martin’s Bob Jane Racing BT11A, KB ran Spencer close, but Martin took the Gold Star honours in those two years.

The shot above is at the Farm after The Esses exit during the July 14, 1968 weekend, BT23D’s last wingless meeting.

“Frank (Gardner) sent us a drawing of a rear-wing from Europe. Alan Stanfield fabricated it for us together with Glenn Abbey. We took the car out to Oran Park to test, it was so such more stabile and quick” Kevin Bartlett recalls.

“That was just before the Gold Star round at Lakeside in July. We raced the car there with the wing fitted and became the first local team to win a race with a rear wing fitted.” KB shared pole with Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco, and comfortably won from Phil West’s Brabham BT23A Repco and Peter Macrow’s McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

Things Go Better With Coke! It seems.

KB’s own shot of his car with its new wing in the Lakeside paddock that July 4 weekend. Lets focus on the wing, not the engine, which is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/30/motori-porno-alfa-romeo-tipo-33-tasman-2-5-litre-v8/

The shape of the wing – via Frank Gardner as noted above – was based on contemporary European practice. The vertical mounts locate on the chassis inner spring mounts. The triangular horizontal stays are simple bits of engineering Lotus chief, Colin Chapman should have had a gander at. Note the pivot atop the roll bar, and simple means of altering the wings angle of attack, or incidence.

Surfers Paradise, Gold Star, August 1968…

(P Maslen)

A month after Lakeside, the circus returned to (or stayed in) Queensland.

Bartlett won the race by over 20 seconds from Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco- it too was the was subject of much aero experimentation by John Sheppard and Geoghegan – and Glyn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA.

(Rod MacKenzie)
(Rod MacKenzie)

Mallala, October 1968…

(Alexis Scott)

Leo has wings too – but not Phil West in the SV Brabham BT23A Repco – behind Geoghegan’s evergreen Lotus 39 Repco.

Leo out-qualified KB by a second and won from the Brabham and Glyn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA. The car alongside West (fifth) is John Walker, a Gold Star and AGP winner a decade and a bit later, in an Elfin Mono Ford, DNF. Glyn Scott is behind Bartlett at the off, he finished third.

Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm, December 1968…

(Rod MacKenzie)

Bartlett won the Hordern Trophy and the Gold Star by 20 seconds from West and Fred Gibson in Niel Allen’s F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

(D Harvey)

Warwick Farm Tasman February 1969…

(R Thorncraft)

Look closely and you can see that KB can’t- see that is. He has put aside, or more precisely pulled down his goggles away from his eyes in an endeavour too see where he is going.

Jochen Rindt won the race in famous fashion- it’s a drive remembered by all who attended that race weekend.

Sandown Park Cup, Tasman Series, February 1969…

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Bartlett’s last race in BT23D-1 was in the final round of the 1969 Tasman, with exhaust problems he was out after five laps in the race won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

Frank Gardner was fourth in the Mildren Alfa Romeo ‘Yellow Submarine’, a car KB would take over after Gardner returned to Europe. The aerodynamic experimentation continued in a car which KB raced to his second Gold Star, and the Macau Grand Prix, a story for another time.

Two hands are for beginners on the exit of Peters Corner, Sandown.

Credits…

Dick Simpson, Kevin Bartlett, Peter Maslen, Alexis Scott, Russell Thorncraft

Finito…

Carlo Massola and riding mechanic aboard his works Diatto Type 20 during the April 1922 Targa Florio weekend. DNF after one of four 67 mile laps. #18 is the nose of Giulio Foresti’s Ballot 2LS – a Maroubra visitor in 1925 (BNF)

Formed by 30-year old Guglielmo Diatto in Turin in 1835 as a coach-builder, Fratelli Diatto later morphed to railway engineering in 1864 before (Vittorio and Pietro Diatto, grandsons of Guglielmo) focusing on new-fangled motor automobiles in collaboration with Adolphe Clément in 1905. Its first cars were licensed Clément-Bayard designs, known as Diatto-Cléments.

After Clement’s 1909 departure, Diatto (Societa Anonima Autoscostruzioni Diatto), a major concern of over 500 employees, made its own cars, the 12/15hp Tipo Unico was its most popular pre-War.

After the conflict Diatto built the Giuseppe Coda designed Tipo 20. Powered by a 2-litre SOHC four, it produced 40bhp and was exported globally. With assistance from the Maserati brothers – Alfieri Maserati split his time between his Bologna factory and Diatto in Turin – Diatto produced the short-wheelbase 2-litre, DOHC, 75bhp Tipo 20S Grand Prix car for the 2-litre formula which commenced that year.

Carlo Massola was a FIAT mechanic and test driver before joining Diatto to fill a similar role. He contested the 1922 Targa Florio in a Tipo 20 (or 20S, accounts vary) but failed to finish, as did Domenico Gamboni in the other works car which started; Giulio Masetti won in a 1918 Mercedes GP 18/100.

At the end of the year Massola emigrated to Australia to join the Ongarello brothers’ Diatto Australian agency, based in Melbourne.

He successfully raced his Targa Diatto, and other marques, at Aspendale amongst other venues from 1923, later still he took Australian citizenship. His son Silvo was a noted racer/engineer post-war; HRG, Bugatti and the M.M. Holden are amongst his race/construction credits.

The Ongarellos sold Diatto Tipo 20A’s in rolling chassis form, the most infamous of which was owned by Melbourne’s Roaring Twenties gangster, Joseph ‘Squizzy’ Taylor who was gunned down in a 1927 Carlton shootout (in a Barkly Street terrace, not the Diatto!).

After a succession of financial reconstructions, Diatto ceased car production in 1927 to manufacture other products. In 2007 the Carrozzeria Zagato revived the brand for a concept car displayed at the 2007 Geneva Motor, the Diatto Ottovù Zagato.

I am in the process of researching an article about Carlo inspired by Bob King with the assistance of the Massola family. Carlo’s race record in Australia is pretty clear, his career in Europe is not.

I am keen to hear from any readers, particularly Italians who may have access to race-records in the decade before 1923, to fill in the gaps. Gimme a yell at mark@bisset.com.au if you can assist, many thanks!

Alfieri Maserati and mechanic, Diatto GP305/20S 3-litre four, DNF oil-tank, during the November 1922 268 mile Coppa Florio. Boillot won on Peugeot 174S. Wonderful action, whites of the eyes shot (Wiki-unattributed)

Credits…

Bibliotheque Nationale de France, ‘Diatto’ Sergio Massaro via Bob King Collection, Wikipedia

Tailpiece…

(S Massaro)

Beautiful drawing from the Massaro book showing a race Diatto 20S long-tail. The light-alloy, holey wheels date from 1923.

Finito…

(D Cooper)

What a cracker of a shot, Symmons Plains Sweeper…

Peter Brock’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1 from Bob Jane’s similar car and Allan Moffat’s Ford Falcon GT351 Hardtop at Symmons Plains during the first 1974 Australian Touring Car Championship round on March 4.

Brock won from Moffat with Tim Smith third in another XU1- Bob was fifth.

Credits…

Dennis Cooper

Tailpiece…

(D Cooper)

Brock won five of the eight ATCC rounds and the title that year with Bob Morris second in an XU1 and Moffat third. It appears Brocks’ door has been given the short back ‘n sides by somebody.

Finito…

(B Thomas)

Kevin Bartlett delicately slides his way around Lakeside’s Eastern Loop during the 13 February 1967 ‘Lakeside 99’ Tasman round, Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5 FPF…

KB posted it on his Facebook page and unsurprisingly cites it as one of his favourite photos of the Alec Mildren owned car which was particularly kind to him. You might say it was the chassis in which he made his name at the top level, if not the car which won him titles.

That weekend he was fifth, second of the Climax engined cars home, and first Australian resident behind his teammate Frank Gardner who raced an F2 based Brabham BT16 FPF to third. Jim Clark won from Jack Brabham in Lotus 33 Climax FWMV V8 2 litre and Brabham BT23A Repco V8 ‘640’ 2.5, with Denny Hulme fourth in another Repco engined Brabham, a BT22.

Clark and Stewart tussled early but both P261 BRM’s driven by the Scot, and Piers Courage were outted by transmission failures, the bete-noire of the BRMs that Tasman squeezed to 2.1-litres as the little V8’s were.

In part the beauty of the shot is the bucolic background, devoid as it is of signage and spectators or their cars- it’s practice no doubt.

I’ve waxed lyrical about Bartlett’s skills here in the Mildren Alfa’s, https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/, here in the McLaren M10B, https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/ and perhaps most relevantly here about the Brabham BT11A, https://primotipo.com/2018/04/27/kbs-first-bathurst-100mph-lap/

Credit…

Brier Thomas perhaps, none of us are sure. Bruce Wells, Warwick Farm Facebook page

Tailpiece…

(B Wells)

In similar fashion to the shot above but a week later at Warwick Farm’s Esses during the AGP weekend. Sixth in that  race was a great result for the Sydneysider with a broken front roll bar and a gear-lever sans knob. Stewart’s BRM P261 won from Clark and Gardner.

Postscript: The Maestro didn’t always geddit right…

(WFFB)

Warwick Farm 1967 Tasman round practice- magic car and driver.

Finito…

I’ve done this car to death of course, but each time it’s offered for sale the vendor unveils a few more shots, Bonhams are the source of this lot. Shared here coz they are too interesting to waste.

Geordie Anderson checks that her Dunlops are attached securely before the off, XKD526 circa 1956.

The on-circuit shots are at Lowood, and appear to be Ms Anderson too, happy to take your advice as to the meeting date. From memory it will be early after the cars arrival, once Bill Pitt got his hands on it, he kept it to himself. I would have done the same.

See here; https://primotipo.com/2016/03/18/lowood-courier-mail-tt-1957-jaguar-d-type-xkd526-and-bill-pitt/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/11/bill-pitt-frank-matich-and-xkd526-take-two/

Credits…

Bonhams

Tailpiece…

XKD526 during its Appendix K GT days at Warwick Farm circa 1961/2.

As ugly as it is, the conversion from curvaceous sporty to fugly coupe is still one of the better ones of that era.

Finito…

Jack Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm 1963 (J Ellacott)

The airwaves were abuzz last year with the news of Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari.

It seems only yesterday he was the ‘enfant terrible’ giving Mark Webber plenty of stick, a decade or so later, the worm turned for him in the form of Monsieur de Clerc.

Still Seb has been on a motza for a decade or so, resort islands are cheap in the post Covid 19 world, back in ‘the good ole’ days’ the commerce of motor racing was a tad tougher.

(New York Times)
Vettel and Leclerc after a territorial dispute in Brazil 2019

Jack Brabham worked all the angles; he built racing cars with Ron Tauranac, raced cars in F1 via his business Brabham Racing Organisation and raced Coopers for the works and via ‘Ecurie Vitesse’.

Not to forget modified cars via Jack Brabham conversions, columns in magazines which were ghosted for him and the sale of this years car to Australian racers at the end of each summer; the Cooper T40 Bristol in 1955, Cooper T39 Bobtail in 1956, Cooper T41 Climax FWB in 1957 and lordy knows how many T45/51/53s from 1958 onwards.

By the Australian summer of 1962/3, he and Tauranac had built and raced their first F1 Brabham, the BT3 Coventry Climax FWMV V8 from the middle ’62 season. They constructed a Coventry Climax FPF engined variant of that spaceframe design for ‘Intercontinental’ use designated the BT4.

Jack took the first of these machines to Australia for the 1962 AGP at Caversham, outside Perth. He was looking good for a win after a furious dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 when he tangled with Arnold Glass’ BRM P25 Buick V8, Bruce bagged a nice win.

Not to worry, the car made a good impression on the local hotshots, many of whom had bought Coopers from him, or via him. There were the NZ Internationals to contest and several races in Australia in those immediate pre-Tasman Cup years.

Jack started from the front row of the NZ GP at Pukekohe but cooked a head gasket after only 12 laps- John Surtees’ Lola T4A Climax won. He won at Levin from Tony Maggs and Innes Ireland who were Lola T4 Climax and Ferguson P99 Climax mounted. On the Wigram FNZAF Airfield Bruce McLaren won in the Cooper T62, at Teretonga Bruce won again, with Jack fourth albeit he took the lap record- Maggs and Ireland were again second and third.

While the racing was going on so too was the commerce. David McKay purchased Jack’s BT4 after Teretonga, Bib Stillwell ordered one too which was entered at Warwick Farm. A replacement car was air-freighted to Jack for the Australian races, which in time honoured Brabham fashion he would sell to Lex Davison at the end of the summer.

The Australian Grand Prix was held at Warwick Farm that year on February 10. Brabham BT4s dominated the results sheet; Jack won in his new ‘IC-2-62’, David McKay was fourth in Jack’s ‘old’ ‘IC-1-61’ and Bib Stillwell was fifth in his new ‘IC-3-’62’. Interlopers were Surtees and McLaren – second and third in Lola Mk4A and Cooper T62 respectively.

It wasn’t an easy win for Jack mind you, the ship carrying the new car arrived late so it had to be flown from Melbourne to Sydney, finally arriving late on the Friday night.

As Jack recalled in Doug Nye’s book, instead of Tim Wall having days to prepare the car, he had ten hours. The car was at the Farm early, but lost the first of the early sessions with an electrical short. During second practice, Jack scrubbed in tyres and got the engine running properly, by the end of the day he was happy with the car despite starting from the rear of the grid.

In the race Brabham ‘sliced clean through the field’, then Surtees spun out of the lead on lap 31 of 45, allowing Jack to close right in and slipstream past on Hume Straight into Creek Corner. The resident bugler did his thing and crowd went nuts! (two shots below)

From Sydney, the circus headed north to Brisbane’s Lakeside where Surtees won from Hill, Stillwell and Chris Amon in David McKay’s old Cooper T53. It was one of a series of great performances that summer which saw him scooped up by the Parnell team and taken to Europe.

The teams then had a two week break to prepare the cars and transport them to Melbourne and across Bass Straight for the South Pacific Championship held over the Labour Day long weekend in early March.

Bruce McLaren won from pole, equally impressive was Bib’s second place only a second adrift of the Kiwi international and then local boy John Youl third in his Cooper T55- both the guys in front of him ran 2.7 FPFs, Youl’s was a 2.5.

Then it was back across Bass Straight for the opening Sandown meeting (above). There Bruce was again on pole from Jack, and won from Maggs and McKay with Jack a DNF engine a lap before the finish.

While Jack did a roaring trade in Brabham BT4s there is little doubt that had there been a Tasman Cup in 1963 Bruce would have won it, a feat he managed in ‘the first McLaren’ – a Cooper T70 – Climax the following year.

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, autopics.com, Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece…

img_5785

(K Devine)

Brabham’s brand new BT4 Climax during the 1962 AGP weekend at Caversham, ain’t she sweet.

Finito…

(NAA)

A burly Aussie bloke prepares his model car for a race at the Victorian Model Race Car Club (VMRCC) meeting, Como Park, South Yarra, 1945.

I can find no record of the 1945 meeting, but in 1951 Lee Marget’s 10cc model did better than 100mph over a quarter-mile. Not so sure how my near neighbours in South Yarra would feel about motor racing in their twee-suburb now, olde bean…

The VMRCC had classes for cars, the length of which varied from 10 to 18 inches. Proto were the biggest and fastest, then Proto-Spur, Spur and Might. Proto’s did better than 100mph, the tiny-Might about 70mph.

All were powered by 10cc two-stroke engines fed by a methanol/castor oil brew. Fitted with torch-batteries “The batteries are charged on high-speed rollers, and the cars are then attached to a cable, which revolves around a pole in the centre of the track, and are started by pushing them with a pole for a quarter lap or so.”

“The cars quickly gather speed…when maximum speed is attained…the operator signals the timekeeper to start timing…A midget is timed over 6-laps, 440 yards, and is then stopped by the operator tripping a lever,”

In November 1950 the lap record was held by ‘Juan-Manuel’ Bailem of Maribynong at 116mph.

Clubs then were operating in South Yarra, Maribynong, Geelong and Cowra NSW, as well as clubs in South Australia and Queensland. Some club members imported their racers but most were home-built.

I’ll bet it was fun until CAMS got involved…

Credits…

National Archives of Australia-Sketching naval life: the war art of Rex Julius, Trove,

Tailpiece…

(NAA-R Julius)

W.R.A.N (Womens Royal Austraian Navy) driver standing by her ute (brand folks?) at HMAS Rushcutter, April 2, 1944. Why this? Just coz…

Able Seaman Rex Julius enlisted in 1940, he trained in submarine detection, but when the higher-ups became aware of his pre-war career as a commercial artist, he was appointed an official war artist for the Royal Australian Navy in 1944.

He died of a throat abscess and gangrene in New Guinea the same year – great shame, he was a talented man.

The sketch above is one he made of activity around the naval base, HMAS Rushcutter, Sydney Harbour.

(NAA-R Julius)

This one has a particular resonance. While the blokes have a swim off the side of HMAS Lithgow, on the way to Milne Bay, New Guinea in 1944, “One rating sits under the motor boat with a Tommie Gun in case of sharks.” Only ‘in’ Australia!

Finito…