Posts Tagged ‘1972 Tasman Series’

(Smith)

I love pit row scenes. Its where it all used to happen before the activities and those allowed to perform them were policed. Occupational health and safety etc…

Here its Saturday practice during the 1972 Sandown Tasman Round, the Australian Grand Prix that year on 19 January. I’ve written an article about this meeting, see the link here;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/

Boy, there is some talent focussed in and around Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott 2 litre.

Big Maxxie towers over the top- its his car, he raced it for Alec Mildren for several years then bought it upon Alec’s retirement from the sport and won the ’71 Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship in it. Max knows every centimetre of that liddl baby.

Up the pitrow is Stewart’s Elfin MR5 Repco. I wrote about this car a short while ago-here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/24/maxwells-silver-hammer/

Max retired the MR5 with engine problems in the AGP the following day.

The short fella with the big arse leaning over the Mildren on the other side is Paul England, a legend. Ex-Repco Research in the Charlie Dean Maybach days, builder of the Ausca Holden Repco sportscar, Cooper T41 competitor in the 1957 German GP, multiple Australian Hillclimb Champion and proprietor of Paul England Engineering in Moonee Ponds- Dame Edna’s Melbourne home suburb of course.

I wonder who the ‘Firestone’ driver is leaning against the (unsighted) pit counter. Fourteen year old me is somehere on that pit counter at this  very moment. I’ve got my eyes on both the cars and marauding Light Car Club officials looking for prats like me who are not ‘sposed to be there.

One of the ‘works’ Elfin MR5 Repco’s with its new Tyrrell nose is blasting past on circuit in 3rd gear making a glorious fuel-injected 90 degree V8 basso-profundo bellow. Not sure if its Garrie Cooper or John McCormack.

The stocky little dude in the blue T-shirt behind Max’s MR5 rear wing is ‘Lugsy’ Adams- then a top mechanic but very soon to be a quick touring car driver, and several years after that an F5000 constructor/driver. Remember the Adams GA1 Chev? Its his driver Warwick Brown he is talking to- WB is in his formative McLaren M10B Chev F5000 days but is soon to be one of its enduring talents in both Australasia and the US.

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Tony Stewart tells the crowd how it was after winning the ’71 Examiner 1000 at Symmons Plains. I think that is his well known engine-builder and father in law Jack Godbehear alongside? (oldracephotos/Harrison)

And the fellow aboard the Mildren Waggott? Its Tony Stewart, no relation to Max…

He was a shooting star, out of Formula Vee, he funded his racing with a series of car yards in the Box Hill area of Melbourne. He progressed to an Elfin 600 Ford F2 car, notably winning a very wet Gold Star event at Symmons Plains in September 1971 ahead of a field of sodden F5000’s and ANF2 cars.

Tony had some races in Paul England’s Dolphin Ford- a BT30/36 Brabham copy and several races circa 1973/4 in an F2 Birrana 273 Ford Hart before disappearing from the scene.

He was one of those guys who had the makings of a champion, I’m intrigued to hear from any of you who know the ‘Tony Stewart Story’. He didn’t stray from the used car trade though. He established ‘Car City’ a massive emporium of competing dealers on a huge former apple orchard site on the Maroondah Highway, Ringwood. He saw the new auto retail approach on a trip to the US and applied it in Melbourne’s outer east. Bumma really, he made his money AFTER his racing stage rather than when he needed it to feed his passion most!?

Tony raced the Mildren Waggott in the all of the Australian Tasman Rounds- Surfers Paradise Q15 13th, Warwick Farm Q12 8th, Sandown Q19 12th and Adelaide Q16, non-classified. It was tough in a 2 litre car by then amongst the 5 litre heavy metal but was still valuable experience in longer races for the young driver.

The more ya look, the more you see in these pitlane shots…

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Paul England makes final adjustments to Tony Stewart’s Elfin 600 Ford before the off at Symmons- he is about to have a great day at the office! (oldracephotos/Harrison)

The 1971 Symmons Plains Gold Star ‘Examiner Trophy’ Round won by Tony Stewart on 26 September…

1971 was a bit of a transitional year between the old 2.5 litre Tasman Formula and F5000. The 5 litre beasties were quicker than the smaller cars but in a year of speed and reliability Max Stewart won the championship with one win and plenty of consistency from to Kevin Bartlett’s three victories in his McLaren M10B Chev.

The Series went down to the wire, to the last round October at Mallala, South Australia. Any of Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart or Gold Star debutant Alan Hamilton could have taken the title, in the end Max did it with third place behind McCormack and Hamilton. KB looked the goods until engine failure intervened late in the race.

In a strange turn of events and happy circumstances for him, Tony Stewart won at a very wet Symmons Plains, the penultimate ’71 Gold Star round.

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Kevin Bartlett aboard his ex-Niel Allen McLaren M10B ‘400-02’, a very successful car in the hands of both top drivers. KB looks thoughtful- he is contemplating the challenge of 500bhp in the wet on slick tyres (oldracephotos/Harrison)

A good field of 17 cars entered for the race at the ‘Apple Isle’ but a grid of only 8 cars started as a consequence of non-appearances and accidents in practice.

John McCormack, Elfin MR5 Repco snatched pole late in the second session ahead of Alan Hamilton, McLaren M10B Chev, the similarly mounted Kevin Bartlett and on equal fourth quickest Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott 2 litre and Colin Hyams Lola T192 Chev.

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No shortage of helpers to get Warwick Brown’s Pat Burke owned McLaren M4A Ford Cosworth FVC 1.8 to the grid. Famous car- Piers Courage’ ’68 Tasman mount, he won the final Longford round in it. Then to Niel Allen who raced it successfully before a huge Lakeside prang. Re-tubbed by Bowin in Sydney- then to Pat Burke. Left Australia many years ago, who owns it now? (oldracingcars/Harrison)

Then came Warwick Brown, McLaren M4A Ford Cosworth FVC 1.8, then Tony Stewart, Henk Woelders Elfin 600E Ford, Jack Bono and Garrie Cooper Elfin 600D Ford who did not practice. The latter three cars were all ANF2 cars- 1.6 litre Lotus/Ford twin-cams.

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Colin Hyams, Lola T192 Chev, before his warm-up off. Ex works/Gardner car purchased by the Melbourne businessman after the ’71 Tasman. He had the car repaired, after its Symmons off, in time for the final Gold Star round at Mallala in October, in which he was 4th (oldracephotos/Harrison)

The start of the race was delayed by heavy rain which had practically flooded the circuit. The weather was so poor the drivers were given a warm-up session to get used to the conditions before the off. KB spun his McLaren on the main straight on dry tyres, he had no wets. Colin Hyams also spun his Lola T192 Chev, down a slope into a clump of trees, bending the ex-Frank Gardner ’71 Tasman Series mounts chassis.

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Start of the very wet ‘Examiner 1000’, Symmons Plains: car at the rear the Cooper Elfin- no sign of Bartlett. At far right is Ross Ambrose’s Elfin 600 Ford who DNP having run bearings on the Friday but clearly started. To Ambrose left is winner Stewart’s Elfin 600 (oldracephotos/Harrison)

Eight cars started the ‘Examiner Trophy’ Gold Star round…

McCormack, Elfin MR5, Bartlett, McLaren M10B, severely hampered without wets but in search of valuable points, Max Stewart, Mildren Waggott, Tony Stewart Elfin 600 Ford, Warwick Brown McLaren M4A Ford FVC, Garrie Cooper Elfin 600D Ford, Jack Bono Elfin 600B Ford and Alan Hamilton’s McLaren. KB elected to start from the back of the grid given the 500bhp/slicks/wet track phenomena he was dealing with.

From the flag Hamilton led, Max Stewart, Brown, Tony Stewart, McCormack, Bono, Cooper with the hapless Bartlett last. Hamilton lapped KB for the first time in two laps.

The Melbourne Porsche importer/dealer drove a strong race in his new McLaren M10B Chev, the chassis was Niel Allen’s spare tub which was assembled and sold upon his retirement from the sport and used by Hamilton in his first single-seater season very effectively.

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Alan Hamilton’s McLaren M10B Chev- the Melbourne businessman jumped out the Porsche 906 Spyder and 911’s he was racing and very quickly adapted to the rigours of 5 litre cars. He came back to the class 6 years later but its a pity he didn’t stay in the category longer when he was younger and as another strong contender at a time Gold Star grids were skinny. Warwick Brown progressed to this chassis in 1972. Hamilton now owns both this car ‘400-19’ and Bartlett’s ex-Allen ‘400-02’ (oldracehotos/Harrison)

With a third of the race completed Hamilton lapped second placed Brown for the second time. Tony Stewart moved into third place as his namesake Max wrestled with a sticking throttle slide- he pitted early, went out again and nearly demolished the car with another spin. With the conditions not improving Bartlett was hamstrung by inappropriate tyres for the races duration.

On lap 38 the races drama continued with Hamilton having an off, drowning his injected Chevy in the process and losing five laps. He pitted, but was out of the running three laps later the engine soaked.

This left Warwick Brown 20 seconds ahead of Tony Stewart but the McLaren was overheating, it was losing water, ironic given the conditions. So, Tony Stewart was in the lead.

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John McCormack ahead of his Elfin teammate, Garrie Cooper. Mac’s MR5 ‘5711’ is the first MR5 completed, Coopers 600D ‘7012’ started life as his Repco ‘730/830’ V8 engined 2.5 litre 1970 Gold Star mount and was, with the ANF1 formula change, converted to an ANF2 car- he raced it in Asia in ’71 then sold it to Bruce Allison- an important stepping stone for the speedy Queenslander (oldracephotos/Harrison)

Tasmanian, John McCormack adapted steadily to the conditions and started putting on the pressure in his new Elfin MR5- a combination which proved very competitive over the following three or so years, and took 2nd place as Brown spun in the final stages, Warwick recovered quickly to fill 3rd place.

So, in a drive of speed and consistency Tony Stewart’s ANF2 Elfin 600 Ford won from McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco, Brown, McLaren M4A Ford Cosworth FVC, Elfin boss Garrie Cooper’s Elfin 600D ANF2, Jack Bono, Elfin 600 Ford ANF2 and Max Stewart Mildren Waggott. Max had only completed 55 of the 68 laps but the soggy one point gained won him the Gold Star!

It was the last time an ANF2 car won a Gold Star round- a splendid drive by a driver of considerable finesse in the most trying of conditions.

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Tony Stewart on the way to a speedy but lucky win, Elfin 600 chassis ‘6806’ an early build 600, I wonder who owns it now? (oldracephotos/Harrison)

Photo Credits…

Ian Smith, oldracephotos.com/Geoff Harrison

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, Australian Motor Racing Year 1972

Tailpiece: Max Stewart in the soggy, Symmons pits…

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The famous Mildren Waggott soon to win the ’71 Gold Star, that’s Bartlett’s McLaren M10B behind (oldracephotos/Harrison)

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Kevin Bartlett eases his McLaren M10B Chev into Torana corner, Sandown, February 1972

My First Race Meeting…Sandown Tasman F5000 Meeting February 20 1972…

We can all recall the meeting or event which hooked us on the sport, right?

For me it was the 1972 Sandown Tasman Meeting, the Australian Grand Prix no less, contested by Formula 5000 cars.

I was up for it mind you, one of my friends, Simon Roberts’ father Ron worked for Castrol and amongst his responsibilities was the racing budget in some shape or form.

Critically, he went to race meetings and gave me Castrols’ copy of ‘Racing Car News’ each month after it had done the rounds of their execs. It was always a month or so outta date and well thumbed by the time I got it, but I lapped up every word.

Finally i was invited to my first meeting.

We cruised out to Sandown from North Balwyn in Rons’ metallic brown Valiant with the big ‘265 Hemi’…not a bad ‘Dad Car’ at the time. The Val joined the endless stream of weekend traffic on Warrigal and Dandenong Roads, my excitement building seeing lots of performance cars of the day; GTR’s, XU1’s, GT’s, GTV’s, Monaro’s and plenty of souped up EH’s and HR’s ‘chromies’ gleaming in the sun amongst the other weekend warriors heading to a Mornington Peninsula beach on that hot summers day.

Reading RCN didn’t prepare me for the sheer visceral thrill, excitement, speed and ground shaking, gutterall thunder of the 5 Litre 500 BHP V8’s.

In those days the paddock was in the infield, inside Shell Corner, or turn 1 and extended across the track to the inside of Peters or Torana Corner, now turn 3, or the Corner onto the back straight. It was lower than the surrounding infield and was like a private little Mecca for racers and enthusiasts alike.

I recall 2 things vividly from that weekend all these years later.

The first was walking from the carpark behind the grandstand, the excitement building hearing cars being warmed up in the distance and crossing the track into the dusty, gravel paddock area and seeing Bob Muirs beautiful, exotic, automotively erotic, concours, gleaming blue Lola T300 just about to enter the scrutineering bay.

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Bob Muirs ‘concours’ Lola T300 having the tyre temps taken, lanky Max Stewart about to board his yellow Elfin MR5 behind with Robbie Francevics’ McLaren M10A Chev being pushed towards the pit lane exit. (stupix)

I was stunned, gob-smacked. I couldn’t move I was so awed by its amazing combination of wedge shape, curves, fibre-glass, chrome tipped exhausts, scoops, ducts, wings and oh-so-wide tyres! It was immaculate, yellow pinstriping contrasting the blue bodywork, the finish of the racer a ‘Von Dutch’ work of art.

Lola was as curvaceous as Raquel Welch who adorned my bedroom wall. Her appeal was far more carnal, but the compound curvature of both car and screen siren was undeniable.

Fairly soon a poster of Lola was alongside Raquel. Dad related to Raquels’ charms, more than once we compared and contrasted her ‘on screen’ attributes with Sophia Loren but to me she was too old, I took his point all the same. He did find the car thing more of a challenge than babes.

Eventually I regained my senses and did a slow lap of  Lola taking in every bit of it. ‘Drinking’ visually every feature. The T300 was a new design, none of my old RCN’s had pictured it. Most racing cars then were still cigar shaped, Lola took her cues from the radical 1970 F1 Lotus 72, not the cars of the 60’s.

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Raquel, no comment required or appropriate…

We wandered off to the Castrol tent meeting Peter Brock and Colin Bond and whilst the Touring Cars were of interest they didn’t really float my boat. Moffat’s Mustang raced that weekend, it was and still is impressive. Surely the best looking ‘taxi’ of all time?. With an honorable mention to Brian Foley’s Alfa GTAm.

The beauty of the old Sandown setup was that you could see most of what you wanted within a 500 metre walk. Watch the cars coming down the main straight and into Shell Corner on either the inside or outside of the track. This was a great spot to watch braking manoeuvres and hear and work out the best practitioners of the ‘heel’n toe art’.

old Sandown circuit map

My other favourite spot was coming into or exiting Torana/Peters from the inside of the circuit. This was the place to watch and hear the cars accelerate away from you, always impressive to watch an F5000 doing that on its own bellowing up through the gears on it’s way up towards ‘Marlboro Country’, the fast combination of corners into ‘Dandy Road’, it was and still is a great part of the track to drive.

Access and egress from the Paddock was via a pit pass or jumping the fence for the impecunious. The Light Car Club guys always turned a blind eye to this teenage activity, proper chaps those blokes.

My preferred locale though, was in the paddock. You could wander around seeing as much as you liked, talk to the drivers and get an autograph if you picked your moment, watch the cars form up on the dummy grid, see them take off, and watch them from the pit counter, on circuit until told to ‘piss-orf matey’ by the ever polite LCCA officials.

It was from that pit counter that the second indelible memory of the weekend took place.

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Kevin Bartlett in the Sandown pits. M10B McLaren, the other car further back and to the left is David Hobbs, M22 McLaren, 3rd in the race. The pit counter was a good place to watch, the approach was alternately to either ‘look like you owned the joint’ or ‘duck in and out as the LCCA officials came and went’. It was a wonderful spot to spend the weekend, you could see all that was worth seeing within about 500 metres

We watched the cars grumble, crackle, spit back through their intake trumpets and ‘pig-root’ their way past us… down the pitlane, the exotic sound of Hewland gear whine audible and onto the circuit, the pack disappearing in one massive rumble of fuel injected thunder as they accelerated up to The Rise and down into Dandenong Road.

The first car to approach us exiting Shell was yellow.

It was Kevin Bartlett in his McLaren M10B, he kicked the car sideways…teasing the thing on the throttle, the engine note changing minutely but perceptibly as he balanced the beasts sticky, wide Goodyears with throttle and steering. I was stunned, it looked and sounded so fast and spectacular and easy. It wasn’t of course, but he did it lap after lap in this third gear corner. To see the thing accelerating hard past us and then almost as quickly the wonderful sound of the big Chev on the down-change into ‘Torana’ all too much.

I was in sensory overload, Raquel did that to me as well mind you, but in a different kinda way.

But I was hooked as a Bartlett, F5000 and race fan for life.

I don’t remember too much of the race itself but Graham McRae in his own car (Leda aka McRae GM1 designed by the recently deceased Len Terry) won the AGP from Frank Gardner’s Lola T300 and David Hobbs in a McLaren M22. KB and Bob Muir were both retirements with gearbox and engine maladies respectively.

But the race didn’t matter to me, i lived that wonderful weekend for months, I had found my lifelong interest and passion, it’s been my sport as a competitor and fan ever since.

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DNF for Bob Muir, the Lolas’ Chev engine failing on lap 19. This shot also Torana corner, still exists as the corner onto the back straight, whatever its called this week…

Etcetera…From my scrapbook all those years ago

babe and lola

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sandown psoter

Photo Credits…

Thanks to Chris Parker and his archive for some of the shots, Stupix

Finito…