Posts Tagged ‘1969 Bathurst 500’

(DIMIA)

Queensland single-seater pilot Henk Woelders adjusts his helmet, probably Lakeside, 1967…

I was musing online with some ‘Nostalgia Forum’ buddies the other day about the effectiveness of the Castrol liveried brothers Geoghegan racers of the late sixties and early seventies. The commercial message was delivered well because of the elegant simplicity involved.

Woelders, Elfin 600E Ford Waggott, Calder 1971. Engine is a Merv Waggott prepped Lotus-Ford twin-cam (J Lemm)

Henk Woelders’ Elfin 600 liveries are other fine examples of ‘getting it right’.

He raced two of the spaceframe cars, both ANF2 machines, the second to the 1971 Australian Formula 2 Championship, taking four of the six rounds in his Bill Patterson Motors sponsored car. This chassis was a 600E, Garrie’s you beaut late F2 machine which had magnesium front uprights and revised suspension geometry front and rear.

Henk’s cars had Patto’s simple light blue stripe on a white background, Patterson’s own racing colours from his Cooper Gold Star winning days a decade before.

(DIMIA)

 

Sometimes photographs appear from the most unlikely of places, the inspiration for this article was two shots taken by the Australian ‘Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs’- catchy innit?

It seems the DIMIA were running some articles at the time about migrant success stories in Australia, as you may have gathered from the Woelders name he hails from the Netherlands- one of millions who came to The Great Brown Land post-war in a ‘populate or perish’ policy by our national governments. It would be intriguing to know where these photos were first published.

The shots are dated 1967 and refer to Henk with his Lotus Super Seven- which the first opening photo may be but the second most certainly is not. Lotus 20 FJ maybe?- did they have rear drum brakes?, intrigued to know what the car is if one of know what he was racing at the time.

Woelders in his first 600, a 600B chassis ‘6806’ at Calder before the hi-wing ban imposed over the ’69 May Monaco GP weekend. A moveable aerodynamic device too- clever setup has the wing feathered on the straights as here- with incidence created when required- interested to know who engineered this clever setup (B Mills)

What limited information I have indicates Henk was employed by Patterson during the Elfin 600 period, so at some point he moved from Queensland to Melbourne, presumably working at Patterson’s Holden empire based in Ringwood, an outer-eastern Melbourne suburb.

Harry Firth rated him as a driver, Henk and Peter Macrow were the ‘open-wheeler’ duo in the Holden Dealer Team’s first successful, three car 1969 Bathurst 500 assault- Colin Bond and Tony Roberts won, Des West and Peter Brock were with Woelders/Macrow sixth.

Woelders/Macrow HDT Holden HT Monaro GTS350 (R Davies)

Henk’s career seems to have ended after his F2 win but he was reunited with his championship winning 600E ‘7024’ many years later and still retains it, and a very nice car it is too.

Henk and Malcolm Ramsay- in 600E and 600C ‘6908’ get set for the August 1971 Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy Gold Star round at Surfers Paradise. The F2 Championship race was run concurrently with the F5000 cars- Henk won the F2 section finishing 6th and Frank Matich was first outright in his McLaren M10C Repco. Ramsay DNF with a broken throttle cable- both these cars were powered by Merv Waggott built Lotus-Ford twin-cams (S Johnson)

Credits…

Department of Immigration Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, John Lemm, Bruce Mills, Robert Davies, John Stanley, Stewart Johnson

Tailpiece: Woelders, Elfin 600B, Lakeside 1968…

John Stanley’s photo above is of Henk’s first 600 coming out of Lakeside’s Eastern Loop in 1968, he raced this car from 1968 to 1970 before replacing it with the later model.

Elfin 600’s won goodness knows how many F2 races in the hands of drivers like Garrie Cooper, John Walker, Tony Stewart, Ivan Tighe, Maurie Quincey and Australian Championships for Cooper, Woelders and Larry Perkins in Gary Campbell’s 600B/E in 1968 (ANF 1.5 C’ship shared with Max Stewart) 1971 and 1972 respectively.

Elfin’s Australian F2 dominance is amply demonstrated by the 1971 championship table- the first eleven placegetters raced Elfins- Woelders, Tony Stewart, Jack Bono, John Walker, Ivan Tighe, Garrie Cooper, Vern Hamilton, John Ampt, Ken Hastings, Ross Ambrose, Clive Millis and Don Uebergang!

Of those, all raced 600’s with the exception of Ampt who was aboard a Mono- the monocoque Birranas finally rained on the Elfin F2 parade from 1973…

Finito…

Bernie Haehnle aboard his Rennmax Mk1 Formula Vee on the front row of the grid at Warwick Farm in 1971…

Nice find of a batch of interesting photos- this one of Bernie on the front of the grid, where he typically resided, and the other two which triggered this article are Australian Department of Immigration ‘success stories of migrants in sport’ of whom Bernie was one- he hails from Stuttgart, Germany.

(DIA)

 

(DIA)

 

At the time of the article ( I wonder where it was published?) he had his own automotive business in Lane Cove, Sydney. Haehnle progressed from FV- these Bob Britton built Rennmax Mk1’s were the ‘ducks-guts’ to have, especially in New South Wales, to Formula Ford, racing a Bowin P6F with much elan. As was the case for top open-wheeler racers he usually saddled up in a Series Production car for the annual enduros at Bathurst, Sandown and Surfers. I wonder what he is up to these days?

Bernie, Rennmax Mk1 in the Warwick Farm Esses, November 1971 (L Hemer)

Credits…

Industrial Photography, Department of Immigration Australia, Lynton Hemer, Pictorial History of Racing Cars

What a great way for a young driver to have his profile lifted. As a sponsored driver, these Shell ads were placed in the mainstream motoring magazines of the day, not just niche ones like ‘Australian Hot Rod’.

(Pic History of Racing Cars)

Tailpiece: Just a smidge more, five more minutes…

Bernie was clearly determined and clever!

His disagreement with local real estate occurred at XL (Griffins) Bend during the running of the 1969 Bathurst 500 classic when he ran out of road heading up the mountain.

With his trusty fence post, leverage, push-and-shove and the fall of the land Bernie was able to get the little GH Whitehead entered Mazda R100 back onto its wheels and into the fray after an hour of toil. He drove down the mountain and through a farm before rejoining the blacktop.

It is one of those feats of never-say-die which has gone down in Bathurst folklore- and garnered far more TV coverage than a mid-field class car could have ever dreamed of!

Co-driver Peter Wherrett shared the car with him, the pair retired on lap 31 with PW not getting a drive but watching the drama unfold on the telly in the pits. The car was driveable, a tad second hand, but without a windscreen officialdom stepped in.

(autopics.com.au)

In an historic sidebar it was the first time a rotary engined car raced at the Mountain- in fact it was one of the R100’s first race appearances anywhere in the world.

Whilst the 982cc, twin-rotor, 100bhp cars were very quick in a straight line thanks to a combination of power and light weight.

Haehnle, R100 early in the race (autopics.com.au)

With only 805 kg to cart along, the little coupe did the standing quarter in sub 18 seconds with a top whack of 175 km/h. It wasn’t as flash through the corners though- the R100 was very narrow and tall relative to its length, resulting in lots of body roll and fearful roll oversteer at high speed caused by toe-out on the outside rear wheels due to deflection in the leaf springs. Ask Bernie.

Three R100’s started at Mount Panorama, the quickest of the two remaining finished fifth (Garry Cooke/Geoff Spence) in Class C behind the winning Cooper S, two Fiat 125s and a lone Valiant Pacer. The second R100 was seventh- the Mazdas finished two laps behind the winning Coopers with their superior handling, fuel economy and long track record of motor racing success.

What was impressive was that two standard, off the production line examples of Mazda’s new mass-produced rotary survived 500 miles flat-knacker on one of the world’s most challenging circuits without a drama. Mazda became an important force in Australian touring car racing over the ensuing decade, all of which started with the R100 and test-pilots like Bernie!

Finito…