Posts Tagged ‘1972 TAA Formula Ford Driver to Europe Series’

(I Smith)

Bob Skelton looking as pleased as punch in the Calder paddock in 1972…

Of course these days there will be some type of law against exploitation of the fine, feminine form in such a gratuitous, crass commercial manner. Now ‘yerd have to equalise things by having some blokes in the mix, somebody of trans-gender not to forgot a blend of souls with a range of colours from around the globe.

Skelton won the 1972 Driver to Europe Series in this Bowin P4A- here he is with car and some TAA ‘hosties’ during one of the Calder rounds.

Australian Formula Ford buffs will recall the days when Australia’s ‘second domestic carrier’ was Trans Australia Airways before it was logically rolled into Qantas whereupon the whole lot was privatised a cuppla decades ago. For a wonderful period TAA sponsored the ‘Driver to Europe Series’ and in the process aided and abetted the overseas careers of drivers including Larry Perkins…

And so it was the ‘hosties’ airline attendants or cabin crew attended meetings particularly the one at which the annual award and ‘kingsized’- in physical dimensions if not the amount of the cheque was handed to the winning driver.

He took his prize and the very first Bowin P6- #P6F-119-72 to England late in the year and contested a couple of meetings including the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in which fellow Aussies- Buzz Buzaglo, Peter Finlay, John Leffler and Larry Perkins all had a run, a story told in an article about the Bowin P6/P8 I will finish soon. In the meantime there is a bit about the 1972 FF Festival in this piece about Buzz Buzaglo;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/08/buzz-buzaglo-australian-international-racing-driver-and-the-eternal-racing-story-of-talent-luck/

Dick Simpson’s shot at Calder during the 21 March 1971 DTE round shows Skello in front of Larry Perkins Bib Stillwell owned Elfin 600 with another 600 all cocked up in the background, perhaps Michael Hall? Larry won the round by the way (oldracephotos.com/D Simpson)

 

 

Bob Skelton in a works MG Midget at Bathurst in 1968 (D Simpson)

Skelton won the 1972 DTE with Bowin P4’s taking the top three placings- Skelton won with 57 points, two points ahead of John Leffler (the 1973 winner aboard a P6F) with Bob Beasley third in the Jack Brabham Ford P4X on 53 points- the best of the Elfins was Enno Buesselmann’s 600 in fourth place.

Out of sportscars, Skelton had his first FF season in 1971 in a Bowin P4- he managed to convince Bryan Byrt who had advertised for sale the car speedway ace Garry Rush had been racing (P4A-106-70) with Byrt Ford support, to hang onto it and allow him to race it rather than sell it managing to finish runner-up to Perkins that year. It was a great performance coming to open-wheelers ‘cold’.

Skelton got more got serious for 1972. He acquired a new P4 from John Joyce (P4A-115-72) and invested in the also new- eligible from that season, Capri XL ‘uprated’ Kent engine- still 1600cc but stronger in certain respects. In fact he was the only driver to use the motor from the seasons outset, but he missed the opening Warwick Farm round due to illness, Bob Beasley won in the Jack Brabham Ford Bowin P4X about which I have written in the past.

Bob made amends at Sandown but Beasley won at Calder and by the fifth round at Hume Weir, John Leffler (P4A), Beasley and Enno Buesselmann (Elfin 600) all had ‘Kents’- Leffo’s was prepped by Bruce Richardson, Beasley and Buesselmann’s engines by racer/engineer Graham ‘Tubby’ Ritter in Melbourne- all these years later Tubby’s son Michael Ritter continues the family Formula Ford preparation tradition!

Despite that, Skelton won at the Weir and Oran Park but throughout the year John Leffler, a very successful Cooper S sports-sedan racer who initially tasted FF in Alan Vincent’s Bowin P4A, was on the march. He had a new P4 of his own and secured Grace Bros sponsorship mid-year which would take him through Formula Ford and ANF2 (Bowin P8) all the way to an F5000 Gold Star win in a Lola T400 Chev in 1976.

Skelton from Enno Buesselmann’s Elfin 600 in one of the two Sandown DTE rounds in 1972 (AMRA)

 

A Bowin front-runner in 1971-1972 was another guy who had come out of sportscars- Clubmans was Bob Beasley, here in the Jack Brabham Ford P4X at Oran Park on 19 September 1971(L Hemer)

 

Leffler won the penultimate Warwick Farm round from Beasley and Skelton setting up a ‘winner takes all’ showdown at the Amaroo Park season-ended where, depending upon where they finished, either Skelton, Beasley or Leffler could win the title.

Further spice was added to the mix by the entry of Larry Perkins in the new side-radiator Elfin 620 Larrikins was shortly to ship to the UK to contest the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton.

Larry was the 1971 FF title winner but took his prize a year later to amass a bit more experience before going ‘over there’, notably aboard Holden Dealer Team circuit and rallycross cars and picking up the 1972 Australian F2 Championship in Gary Campbell’s Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam.¬†For Larry the meeting was valuable race testing and for Elfin’s Garrie Cooper a good run by Perkins would help fill his order for 1973 book which had taken a dent with so much Bowin P4 success.

The pressure showed too- Skelton missed a gear in practice, bending a valve and taking the edge off his engine- without a spare, a standard head was fitted overnight. Larry made Skelton’s job easier by having a huge lose in The Loop taking out Bob Beasley- who, closely following Larry, hit the Elfin head-on. As a consequence Leffler had an easy round win, Skelton took the title- and the trip to the UK, with David Mingay third in Birrana F71- the very first Birrana built by Tony Alcock in Sydney before his partnership with Malcolm Ramsay, this car was first raced by John Goss.

(Wirra)

Amaroo final round with John Leffler’s Bowin P4A in front of an Elfin 600, Enno Buesselmann or Bob Kennedy perhaps? and then Skelton’s P4A.

(Racing Car News)

The first photograph is not on the same lap as the latter two but you can get the drift (sic).

The end result is a rather sick P4X Bowin and perhaps a bit of repair work for Elfins in Edwardstown on the new, very first Elfin 620 before Perkins popped it on a plane to the UK- the 620/620B was a successful series of cars taking Driver to Europe titles in the hands of Terry Perkins in 1974 and Jeff Summers in 1982. I will always have a soft spot for them, my first drive of a racing car was in one of the four Bob Jane-Frank Gardner Race Driving School 620B’s.

Amaroo Park victory parade with the TAA hosties which is about where we came in!

Bob on the XA Falcon GT whilst John Leffler and Bob Beasley make do with Fairlanes…

Other Formula Ford Reading…

On the early days in Australia and Bowin; https://primotipo.com/2018/08/30/bowin-p4a-and-oz-formula-ford-formative/ and Jack Brabham and his Bowin P4X; https://primotipo.com/2019/01/16/jacks-bowin-again/ and the FF Race of Champions at Calder; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/30/calder-formula-ford-race-of-champions-august-1971/ not to forget a bit about Skelton towards the end of this article on Peter Brock; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/01/this-is-hard-work/

Bibliography…

‘AMRA’- Australian Motor Racing Annual 1973′, Paul Newby, Terry Sullivan

Photo Credits…

‘AMRA’, Ian Smith, oldracephotos.com/Dick Simpson, Wirra, Lynton Hemer, Racing Car News

Tailpiece: Skelton, Bowin P4A, Oran Park September 1971…

(L Hemer)

Bob Skelton progressed from Formula Ford to ANF2 in 1973- converting the P6F he raced in England to F2 specifications over that Australian summer, he was mighty quick too, that story told in full in the upcoming P6 piece I mentioned earlier.

Finito…