Posts Tagged ‘1969 Tasman Series’

(Mr Reithmaier)

I love the build up and tension before the start of a big race; here it’s the grid prior to the start of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe, in the north of NZ’s North Island on 6 January 1968…

Chris Amon readies himself and his Ferrari Dino 246T before the first round of the 1968 Tasman Series, a race in which he wonderfully and deservedly triumphed. Missing on the front row is Jim Clark’s Lotus 49T Ford DFW. Car #2 is Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261, the Mexican is bent over the cockpit of his car but failed to finish with clutch problems. Car #7 is Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8 with chief mechanic Glenn Abbey warming up the one-off car. Lanky Franky Gardner is adjusting his helmet beside the car, it was a good day for Frank, the car was second.

Look closely and you can see a camera crew behind the Brabham which is focusing on 1967 reigning world champion Denny Hulme and his #3 Brabham BT23 Ford FVA F2 car- Denny’s head is obscured by Frank’s body. Hume boofed the ex-Rindt BT23 during the race badly enough for a replacement chassis to be shipped out from the UK.

I’ve always thought these F2/Tasman Ferrari’s amongst the sexiest of sixties single-seaters. The 166 F2 car was not especially successful amongst the hordes of Ford Cosworth Ford FVA engined cars in Euro F2 racing. However, the car formed the basis of a very competitive Tasman 2.5 litre Formula car when fitted with updated variants of the Vittorio Jano designed V6 which first raced in F2 form and then owered the late fifties Grand Prix racing front-engined Ferrari Dino 246. It was in one of these cars that Mike Hawthorn won the 1958 World Drivers Championship.

Amon won the Tasman Series in 1969 with Ferrari Dino 246T chassis #0008 with fellow Kiwi Champion Graeme Lawrence winning in the same car in 1970 against vastly more powerful, if far less developed Formula 5000 cars. The story of those championships is for another time, this article is about Chris’ 1968 Tasman mount and campaign.

Amon hooking his gorgeous Ferrari Dino 246T ‘0004’ into The Viaduct in the dry at Longford 1968. Early ’68, we are in the immediate pre-wing era, and don’t the cars look all the better for it! (oldracephotos.com/D Keep)

In many ways Chris was stiff not to win the ’68 Tasman, a title, the last, won by the late, great Jim Clark…

Ferrari entered only one car that year with chassis #0004 assembled in Maranello by longtime Amon personal mechanic Roger Bailey and tested at Modena in November 1967. It was then freighted by plane to New Zealand where it was assembled by Bruce Wilson in his Hunterville workshop in the south of the North Island.

The cars chassis was Ferrari’s period typical ‘aero monocoque’, a ‘scaled down’ version of the contemporary F1 Ferrari with aluminium sheet riveted to a tubular steel frame forming a very stiff structure. The 166 was launched to the adoring Italian public at the Turin Motor Show in February 1967.

In F2 form the 1596cc, quad cam, chain driven, 18 valve, Lucas injected engine developed circa 200bhp at an ear-splitting 10000 rpm. It is important to note that this F2 engine, designed by Franco Rocchi, and in production form powering the Fiat Dino, Ferrari Dino 206 and 246GT and Lancia Stratos is a different engine family to the Jano designed engines, evolved by Rocchi, used on the Tasman Dino’s.

The F2 166 made its race debut in Jonathon Williams hands at Rouen in July 1967, and whilst it handled and braked well it was around 15bhp down on the Cosworth engined opposition. Whilst the car was tested extensively at Modena, including 24 valve variants, it was not raced again that year.

Amon, who had not raced in the Tasman Series since 1964, could immediately see the potential of the car, suitably re-engined, as a Tasman contender given the success of the small, ex-F1 BRM P261 1.9-2.1 litre V8’s in the 1966 and 1967 Tasman Series. The same approach which worked for the boys from Bourne could also work in Maranello Chris figured. A parts-bin special is way too crass, but you get my drift of a very clever amalgam of existing, proven hardware as a potential winning car.

In fact Ferrari went down this path in 1965 when a Tasman hybrid of a then current F1 chassis was married to a 2417cc variant of the Jano 65 degree V6 for John Surtees to race in the 1966 Tasman. John had Tasman experience in Coventry Climax FPF engined Coopers and Lola’s at the dawn of the sixties and could see the potential of a small Ferrari.

That plan come to nothing when Surtees was very badly injured in a Mosport Can Am accident in his self run Lola T70 Chev in late 1965. This car, Ferrari Aero chassis ‘0006’ played the valuable role of proving Surtees rehabilitation when he completed 50 laps in the car at Modena. It was in the same chassis that Lorenzo Bandini finished 2nd in the 1966 Syracuse and Monaco GP’s as Ferrari sought to get the new 3 litre V12 F1 312 up to speed, Bandini electing to race the Dino on both occasions. He also finished 3rd aboard the car at Spa. The allocation of this more competitive car to Bandini rather than team-leader Surtees was amongst the many issues which lead to the confrontation between John Surtees and team manager Eugenio Dragoni during Le Mans practice and Surtees departure from the team.

An unidentified fellow, Jim Clark, Ferrari engineer Gianni Marelli, Chris Amon and Roger Bailey share a joke during the 1968 Longford weekend. Chassis ‘0004’ is fitted with the 24 valve V6 covered in the text. Note the quality of castings, fabrication and finish, inboard discs, sliding spline driveshafts and single plug heads of this very powerful- but less than entirely reliable engine in 1968 form, it’s shortcoming cylinder head seals (oldracephotos.com/Harrison)

The engine of the 166/246T was carried in a tubular subframe attached to the rear of the monocoque which terminated at the drivers bulkhead. The car was fitted with a 5 speed transaxle designed by Ingenere Salvarani and Girling disc brakes.

Suspension was also similar to the contemporary F1 cars in having an front upper rocker and lower wishbone with inboard mounted spring/shocks and conventional outboard suspension at the rear- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, two radius rods and coil spring/shocks.

For the 1968 NZ races- Chris won at Pukekohe after Clark retired and at Levin, leading from flag to flag, was 2nd to Clark at Wigram and 4th at Teretonga- a 3 valve variant (2 inlet, 1 exhaust) of the 65 degree fuel injected V6 was fitted which was said to develop around 285bhp @ 8900rpm from its 2404cc.

Chris crossed the Tasman Sea with a 9 point lead in the Series from Clark and the might of Team Lotus. It was a wonderful effort, whilst Ferrari provided the car free of charge, and took a share of the prize money, the logistics were of Chris’ own small equipe. And here they were serving it up to Gold Leaf Team Lotus with a couple of World Champions on the strength, plenty of spares and support crew.

For the four Australian races a 24 valve version of the engine was shipped from Maranello. Its Lucas injection was located between the engines Vee rather than between the camshafts and had one, rather than two plugs per cylinder. This engine developed 20 bhp more than the 18 valver with Chris promptly putting the car on pole at Surfers Paradise, a power circuit. He won the preliminary race and had a head seal fail whilst challenging Clark in the championship race.

At Warwick Farm he qualified with the 18 valve engine and raced the 24 valver having rebuilt it- they only had one of the motors. He was challenging both Clark and Hill in the race and then spun in avoidance of Hill who was having his own moment…he was 4th on the tight technical Sydney circuit.

At Sandown during the AGP, the pace of the car, and Amon, was proved in an absolute thriller of a race in which he finished 2nd to Clark- let’s not forget the best driver in the world driving the best F1 car of the era powered by the Tasman variant of the greatest GP engine ever- and took fastest lap.

As the team crossed Bass Straight from Port Melbourne on the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ Chris knew he had to win the Longford ‘South Pacific Championship’, with Clark finishing no better than 5th to win the Tasman title.

At Longford, still fitted with the 24 valve engine, which must have been getting a little tired, he qualified a second adrift of Clark and Hill. He finished 7th in a race run in atrocious conditions on the most unforgiving of Australian circuits having initially run 2nd to Clark but then went up the Newry Corner escape road and suffered ignition problems from lap 10.

Piers Courage won in an heroic drive aboard his little McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car that streaming day, in a series which re-ignited his career.

Chris was a busy boy during the Australian Tasman leg as he also drove David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 350 CanAm/P4 in sports car support events at each round in addition to the little Dino.

These races were outstanding as they all involved close dices between Chris and Frank Matich in his self designed and built Matich SR3 powered by 4.4 litre Repco Brabham ‘RB740’ V8’s- with Frank getting the better of him in each of these races. The speed of the Matich was no surprise to Chris though, both had contested rounds of the Can Am Championship only months before the Tasman in the US.

Click here for my article on the Ferrari P4/CanAm 350 #’0858’ Chris raced in Australia;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Amon lines David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am up for Longford’s The Viaduct during the 1968 Longford Tasman meeting. Matich didn’t take the SR4 to Longford so Chris had an easy time of it that weekend. The sight and sound of that car at full song on the Flying Mile at circa 180mph would have been really something! (oldracephotos.com/D Keep)

For the ’69 Tasman Chris applied all he learned in 1968 returning with two cars, the other driven by Derek Bell, four well developed 300bhp 24 valve engines with the logistics taken care of by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce.

He promptly lifted the Tasman Cup in a very successful campaign from Jochen Rindt, Graham Hill and others. With a little more luck, or greater factory commitment in 1968 it may have been two Tasman’s on the trot for the Maranello team and Chris…

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, sergent.com.au, ‘Dino: The Little Ferrari’ Doug Nye

Photo Credits…

Mr Riethmaier, oldracephotos.com, Rod MacKenzie

Tailpiece: Love this moody, foreboding Longford shot by Roderick MacKenzie. Chris has just entered the long ‘Flying Mile’ in the streaming wet conditions during Monday’s ‘South Pacific Trophy’ famously won by Piers Courage little McLaren M4 Ford FVA F2 car. 4 March 1968…

(Rod MacKenzie)

 

 

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(Schlegelmilch)

Silvio Moser’s Brabham BT24 Ford racing with Lancia D50 style pannier tanks during the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix…

He retired from the race won by Graham Hill’s Lotus 49B. Moser is one of those privateers who so enriched GeePee racing in the days when such things were allowed, encouraged even.

Silvio was keen on Brabhams, he raced an ex-works BT20, Denny’s chassis ‘F1-2-6’ in 1968 before buying the car above, BT24/3 after Piers Courage raced it in the 1969 Tasman Series.

bt 20

Silvio is his Charles Vogele Racing Team Brabham BT20/2 Repco. DNF, Daily Mail Race of Champions meeting, Brands Hatch, 17 March 1968. Bruce McLaren won in his M7A Ford (Ed Lacey)

It was the last of the BT24’s built, Jochen Rindt raced the 1967 championship winning design during early season ’68 Grands Prix whilst Jack tried to coax some reliability from the quad cam, 32 valve, powerful but problemmatic ‘860 Series’ Repco V8 engined BT26.

brab rindt

Jochen Rindt’s Brabham BT24/3 Repco, his ’67 spec ‘740 Series’ Repco SOHC V8 powered car beside Jack’s new BT26 powered by the ‘860 Series’ DOHC, 32 valve V8, DNF for both, Monaco 1968. Hill won in a Lotus 49 B Ford (Schlegelmilch)

Dan Gurney also had a steer, the lanky Californian crammed himself into the car at Zandvoort (below) then Kurt Ahrens raced it to 12th in the German GP, the cars only GP finish in 1968.

brab dan

Kurt Ahrens (below)  in BT24/3 during the awfully wet German GP at the Niuburgring, Jackie Stewart triumphed in his Matra MS10 Ford aided by some trick Dunlop wets. Kurt was on Goodyears, finishing 12th in a one off drive on home turf. The cars spec was ever evolving, check out the wing package, the same as that used on the factory 1968 BT26’s, Nurburgring was the only race of the year in which both Jack and Jochen finished a race in the fast but unreliable BT26. Kurt’s cars wing has ‘Fosters Flop’, it’s in full droop mode, the simple support bracket having come adrift on the bumpy Eifel Mountains course.

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(Unattributed)

Frank Williams then bought the car and converted it to Tasman spec by fitting a Ford Cosworth DFW V8, the 2.5 litre variant of the famous DFV. Piers did well in it in the Antipodes, his best result 1st at the Teretonga International on 25 January 1969. Here (below) he is behind Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 DFW and the Ferrari 246 T twins of Chris Amon and Derek Bell, the ‘flash’ grandstands nicely juxtaposed against  the cars. Might be on the warm up lap as Jochen’s driveshaft failed on the line, the cars are in grid order.

puk 1

(Ian Peak)

And below Bell’s Ferrari 246T from Hill’s Lotus 49B and Courage’s BT24/3. Courage won from Hill and Amon. Variety of approaches to wings interesting, checkout that crowd and the el-casual vantage points.

puk 2

(Ian Peak)

Courage had a sensational season driving another ex-works Brabham, a BT26 adapted to accept a DFV, he established himself as an F1 front runner in 1969, 2nd at Watkins Glen to Jochen Rindt the seasons highlight.

Frank Williams popped the BT24 into Autosport after the Tasman to sell it, Silvio the eager purchaser. All the hard work had been done, he bought a DFV and slotted it into the spaceframe whence the DFW had been. He needed more tankage though, Tasman races were 100 miles, GP’s 200 miles, hence the pannier tanks, ok for 1969 but no-go in 1970 when ‘bag tank’ rules came into being.

BT24/3 still exists in Switzerland, there is also a replica tagged 24/3.

dutch

Silvio’s Brabham BT24 DNF engine, about to be swallowed by Amon’s Ferrari 312 3rd, Hulmes McLaren M7A Ford 4th and Brabham’sBrabham BT26 Ford 6th, Zandvoort, Dutch GP June 1969 (unattributed)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Ed Lacey/Popperfoto, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season

oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: Silvio Moser on his way to a great 6th place in his Brabham BT24/3 Ford at Watkins Glen during the 1969 USGP, he is being passed by Jacky Ickx’ latest, works Brabham BT 26 Ford DNF. Rindt won in a Lotus 49B Ford…

ickx

(unattributed)

 

jack

Dick Simpson

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