Posts Tagged ‘Alan Hamilton’

(P Maslen)

Paul Hawkins appears reasonably fleet of foot, first dude on the left…

And so he should too- the Australian International had far more experience than the locals at Le Mans, run and jump, starts. What great panoramic, colourful, atmospheric photographs these are.

The first few cars lined up in the 3 September 1967 twelve hour enduro are the Hawkins/Jackie Epstein Lola Mk3 Chev, Alan Hamilton/Glynn Scott Porsche 906, Bill Brown/Greg Cusack Ferrari 250LM, Bill Gates/Jim Bertram Lotus Elan and then the Kevin Bartlett/Doug Chivas Alfa Romeo GTA.

Whilst Paul was quick to the car, the task of affixing a Willans six-pointer to his body was tricky when getting his Heavy Chevy started even in the calmness of a paddock, let alone with a schrieking 2 litre Porsche flat-6 blasting past and reinforcing his tardiness. Not that the notion of outrunning the Porsche over twelve hours should have been an issue. The Gates Lotus is also fast away.

(P Maslen)

The last Le Mans 24 Hours with a running start was the 1969 event, when Jacky Ickx famously walked to his John Wyer Ford GT40 before carefully fitting his belt- and winning the race the following day with Jackie Oliver. The tragic irony of Ickx’ protest was that the ‘unbelted’ John Woolfe died in his Porsche 917 in a first lap accident. Safety and seatbelts were the end of that bit of racing spectacle, fair enough too.

Lone ranger, Ickx, Le Mans 1969 (unattributed)

 

David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce 250LM was almost ‘rusted to this race’, it was never the fastest thing entered but it won in 1966- crewed by Jackie Stewart and Andy Buchanan, in 1967 with McKay’s regular team drivers of the day Bill Brown and Greg Cusack at the wheel and in 1968 piloted by the brothers Geoghegan- Leo and Pete. In second behind the Brown/Cusack 250LM in 1967 was the Lola with 468 laps and in third the Porsche 906 with 460- the winners covered 490 laps of reliable, fast Ferrari motoring.

What a blast it would have been to drive a car in one of these Surfers events!

Etcetera…

The Ron Thorp/Ray Strong AC Cobra ahead of the Scuderia Veloce Greg Cusack/Bill Brown Ferrari 250LM (B Williamson)

Credits…

Peter Maslen, oldracephotos.com.au

Tailpieces: Paul Hawkins T70, Surfers…

(oldracephotos)

(unattributed)

Finito…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

John Goss, Tornado Ford, Ross Ambrose, Rennmax Climax and Alan Hamilton, Porsche 906 during the 1967 Tasmanian Sportscar Championship at Symmons Plains on 12 March…

It could only be Australia with that backdrop? Love Don Elliott’s transporter providing the spectator vantage point, devoid of Ford Mustang it makes a mighty fine mini-grandstand. Jaguar Mk1, stark eucalypt tree and the topography of the northern Tasmanian midlands circuit.

The cars are well known too, albeit Hamilton is about to lap the other two cars. Oh, and the drivers are prominent too, Goss and Hamilton Australian Champions- in Ambrose’ case perhaps he is known as much as the father of touring car ace Marcos Ambrose and ‘co-father’ with Ralph Firman of Van Diemen racing cars. No prizes for guessing who suggested the name of that great marque.

I’ve written articles about the John Goss built Tornado, Hamilton’s 906 and tangentially about Ross Ambrose’s car which started life as the Bob Britton built – he of Rennmax fame- Mildren Maserati sportscar driven by Ralph Sach, Frank Gardner and Kevin Bartlett. It then morphed into the ‘Rennmax Climax’. When sold by Alec Mildren to Ross Ambrose he fitted a Coventry Climax 2.2 litre four cylinder FPF engine in place of the Maserati Birdcage T61 motor which blew big-time whilst driven by Frank Gardner in the 1965 Australian Tourist Trophy at Lakeside, the chassis was re-named by Ross with Alecs consent.

This article was inspired by David Keep’s opening shot, it was only when I sought Rob Barthlomaeus’ help with a race report that he pointed out this was a tragic meeting as one of the contestants, Melbourne’s Wally Mitchell later died as a result of a collision in this event.

Many of the Symmons competitors contested support events during the Longford Tasman round a week before with the fields depleted by the likes of Noel Hurd’s Elfin 400 Ford due to an accident seven days earlier- Hamilton’s 906 made its debut race at Longford and was race favourite with the non-appearance of the powerful Elfin.

Alan was having a good day in the office with a Symmons preliminary win from Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23B Ford and Wally Mitchell’s RM1 Ford. The grid for the 30 lap, 45 mile championship race was derived from the lap times achieved during the earlier event.

Tas sportscar c’ship grid- L>R Mitchell RM1 Chev, Scott Lotus 23B Ford and Hamilton, Porsche 906 (oldracephotos/DKeep)

Hamilton started from pole with Scott and Mitchell alongside with Bruce Ling Lotus 23B Ford and Bob Holden in a Morris Cooper Lwt on row two.

Scott led initially from Hamilton with Mitchell’s circa 350 bhp Chev V8 engined, spaceframe chassis car- built by he and St Kilda, Melbourne engineer/constructor Bill Reynolds, Bill’s cars were named Wren (R-Reynolds M-Mitchell) comprised a mixture of ex-Lex Davison Estate Brabham BT4/Cooper T62 and Wren components- passed by almost the entire field.

After 5 laps Hamilton had a sixty yard lead over Scott and had already lapped tailenders Mawdesley, Lotus Super 7 and Truscott’s Honda.

By lap 7 Hamilton led from Scott, Ling (who later lost 3rd gear) and Bob Wright’s Tasma Climax FPF 2 litre and was continuing to lap the slower cars.

An arcane but interesting sidebar to Bill Reynolds/Wren enthusiasts, and there are quite a few of us in the Australian Formula Ford ranks given the number of FF Wrens Bill constructed, is that the Tasma Climax was initially built by Reynolds as the ANF1/Tasman Formula Wren Climax single-seater- it too fitted with an ex-Davison Estate 2.5 FPF but was only raced several times as such by Brendan Tapp and Wright before Wright widened the chassis and created the Tasma sports-racer. There is a story about both the RM1 and Wren Climax but that is for another time.

Goss spun Tornado at The Hairpin allowing Bob Holden and Kerry Cox’ Jaguar Spl through, the order at this point of the 30 lap journey was Hamilton, Scott, plugging along and hopeful in second, Ling unable to do much with third gear absent without leave, Holden, Cox, Goss, Mitchell, still with a misfiring motor and then the rest.

Wally Mitchell’s car finally chimed onto eight-cylinders and proceeded to make up lost ground over the slower cars hand over fist, he was up to third by lap 15 having passed Ling.

Mitchell’s RM1 Chev in front of Hamilton’s 906, a lap ahead, one lap before Mitchell’s tragic accident. He wore a seat belt, a big tick in 1967 as they were not mandated but it seems his fireproofs were sub-optimal and no balaclava, again, not mandated or universally used at the time (oldracephotos/DKeep)

Tragically at half distance, on that lap, Mitchell lost control of the probably not fully sorted RM1- it was originally fitted with a lightweight aluminium Coventry Climax FPF engine where the 5 litre cast iron Chev by then rested- over Bessant Hump, went onto the grass, slammed into the fence tail first at TNT Corner, then bounced back onto the track. The cars two fuel tanks ruptured with both the car and unfortunate driver engulfed in flames. The badly burned Mitchell released his seat belt eventually and jumped clear but not before suffering burns to eighty-percent of his body.

Whilst poor Wally was attended to ‘The race was restarted at lap 16 as…the gutted RM1 still cast a pall of smoke over the pits’. In the final laps Ambrose passed Ling, and Hamilton had a rod let go in the 906 on lap 26, the car expired at the Hairpin giving the win to Scott from Ling’s similar Lotus 23B Ford and Ambrose in the Rennmax Climax.

The sad aftermath of the accident is that the popular East Burwood based Wally died of his burns and related complications of pneumonia on 18 April in a Melbourne hospital.

Mitchell and the RM1 Chev at Symmons 12 March 1967. Nice looking car, I wonder what Wally and Bill took the fibreglass body flop off? Or was it bespoke? (E French)

Related Articles…

Goss Tornado; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/19/john-goss-tornado-ford-longford-1968/

Hamilton 906; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

Ambrose Rennmax/Mildren; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au- David Keep, Ellis French, Rob Bartholomaeus Collection- Racing Car News & Australian Auto Sportsman April 1967 issues, The Nostalgia Forum- Wally Mitchell thread

Tailpiece: Start of the ’67 Tassie Championship from the rear of the grid…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

That’s Gossy to the right and the Peter Truscott Honda whilst up front it’s Hamilton’s white 906 sandwiched by two Lotus 23 Fords and then the Ambrose Rennmax and Mitchell RM1.

Finito…

(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)

(oldracephotos/Harrisson)

Norm Beechey’s Holden Monaro GTS327 V8 leads the field away for the final, deciding round of the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship, Symmons Plains, Tasmania 16 November….

Behind him is Alan Hamilton’s partially obscured Porsche 911T/R, local boy Robin Pare’s Ford Mustang, and then a Melbourne trio- Peter Manton’s Morris Cooper S, Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina Mk2 and Jim Smith’s Morris Cooper S.

I was casting around my ‘stock of photos’ and realised I had quite a few shots of cars raced in the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC), or during other races that year, many by Dick Simpson so it seemed smart to pop some words to go with them.

This season has been done to death in many publications over the years, so treat this as a pictorial with enough words to provide international readers with the context they need rather than anything particularly insightful. For Australian enthusiasts the cars and drivers are well known, force-fed as we are in this country with all things ‘taxis’.

Moffat, Geoghegan and Jane at Calder in 1970. Mustangs a threesome- KarKraft TransAm, locally developed ’67 GTA and Shelby TransAm (unattributed)

What a sensational period for Touring Car racing it was, the ATCC was then run to Group C Improved Production Touring Car rules, there was so much variety from the big V8’s- the Geoghegan, Jane and Moffat Mustangs, Beechey’s HK Holden Monaro 327, Lotus Cortinas and Minis. The perennial giant killing ‘bricks’ driven by Brian Foley, ‘Skinny’ Manton, Phil Barnes amongst others.

That year was very significant, it was the first of the ‘modern era’, in that the championship was decided over a series of races rather than a one race, winner take all format as had been the case since the first title won by David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 at Gnoo Glas, Orange, NSW in 1960.

Brian Foley, Cooper S leads Geoghegan into the Warwick Farm Esses in 1969 (Dick Simpson)

Melbourne’s Alan Hamilton, his family were the Australian Porsche importer for decades, nearly pulled off a huge upset in ’69 coming within a point and five metres of beating Geoghegan to the title in his new 2 litre Porsche 911.

In 1967 after winning the Australian Hillclimb Championship and having on-circuit success with his 906, Hamilton decided to have a crack at the ATCC. I wrote an article about him and his cars a while back, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

A 911R was out of the question as it didn’t comply with the rules but a steel-bodied 911R did.

The new 911T was homologated for Group 3 Grand Touring, Porsche in time honoured tradition developed a new Rallye Kit to cater for racers, offering a range of go-faster goodies and less weight by removing various luxuries.

As always with Porsche you could order whatever you liked, that included the ‘Carrera 6’ engine and running gear from the 911R! Hamilton knew the capabilities of the engine from his 906 Spyder. Two of them actually. The 1991cc six was good for 157kW/206Nm, complete with a lightweight flywheel, slippery diff, competition clutch and other bits a pieces, it turned the Rallye into a very competitive little weapon.

Hamilton in his 911T/R at Hume Weir in 1969 (oldracephotos,ocm/DSimpson)

The Signal Orange 911T/R arrived Australia in time for the 1968, one race ATCC at Warwick Farm, Sydney on 8 September, a highly technical circuit which placed a premium on handling, brakes and power, Hume Straight was a long one.

Geoghegan’s ’67 Mustang and Norm Beechey’s Chev Camaro 350 were the main threats to Porsche victory with local boy Pete Geoghegan the man most likely.

And so it proved, Pete ran away with the race securing his third title on the trot. Hamilton was as high as second but blew a rear tyre at Creek Corner on the last lap and disappeared into the boonies before recovering to finish third. Darrell King was second and Fred Gibson fourth in Cooper S and Niel Allen’s Mustang respectively.

In 1969 the title was decided over five rounds in five states- Calder on Melbourne’s Western outskirts in Victoria, Mount Panorama, Bathurst in the New South Wales Central Tablelands, Mallala, 60 Km north of Adelaide in South Australia, Surfers Paradise on Queenslands Gold Coast and Symmons Plains, near Launceston, Tasmania. Truly a national title indeed!

New star-cars of ’69- Beechey’s shortlived HK Monaro 327 and Moffat’s long-lived TransAm Mustang, Calder, late 1969 (R Davies)

Hamilton’s Porker was far from the only fresh 1969 ATCC contender…

Allan Moffat’s KarKraft Mustang Trans-Am 302, a sinfully sexy weapon in the hands of the droll, fast Canadian for the following six years was soon on the water and arrived in time for the Mallala round. Click here for the story on this magnificent machine;

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/21/marvin-the-marvels-magic-mustang/

Norm Beechey had thrilled the crowds with a succession of exciting cars- Holden 48-215, Chev Impala, Ford Mustang, Chev Nova, Chev Camaro SS but for 1969 he built, with Holden’s assistance, an HK Monaro GTS powered by a 327 Chev cid V8.

Very early race for the new Beechey HK327 at Warwick Farm in late 1968- already some scars on the door! Car painted Shell blue over the summer- this colour and stripe combo ex-factory standard (R Thomas)

The car was built during ’68 by Norm’s team led by Claude Morton at Beechey’s Brunswick, Melbourne workshop. Whilst it was not completed in time for the ’68 ATCC it did defeat Geoghegan at Calder late that year.

Knocking off Pete in a car which was continually developed by John Sheppard in Sydney was always going to be a big challenge, lack of development time was a barrier, on the other hand the team knew Chev V8’s well, if not the balance of the new cars running gear.

In any event, Norm’s car had towards 500 bhp under the bonnet as the ’69 season approached- and had shown, even at this early stage, the pace to best Pete.

Beechey’s Holden HK Monaro 327 engine bay, circa 500 bhp from the Weber fed V8 (unattributed)

 

Calder Improved Tourer race later in ’69- this is Moffat giving Beechey a ‘love tap’ on the warm up lap! Geoghegan, Hamilton and McKeown follow (autopics)

The championship opened at Calder Park on March 23…

Geoghegan made the most of the freshly resurfaced track to score pole ahead of Bob Jane’s TransAm Mustang with Hamilton fourth behind Beechey’s Monaro. This car was very significant as the first of the Australian ‘Pony Cars’ to take on the American heavy metal which had dominated in Australia since the end of the ‘Jaguar Era’.

Beechey booting his Monaro around one of Calder’s tight corners during the ATCC round. Track only 1 mile long then (unattributed)

In a difficult start to the season Norm popped an engine in practice, decamping back to home base in Brunswick to rebuild the Chev bent-eight overnight.

Beechey led from the start but was passed by Geoghegan before turn one, Melbourne businessman/racer Jane passed Norm on lap 4 and Geoghegan on lap 5. Beechey popped another engine on lap 7!

Geoghegan tried everything to get up to and past Bob Jane at Calder in ’69- here throwing the car around in the manner for which he was famous (oldracephotos)

Jane had a strong lead but Pete came back at him, a passing move under brakes resulted in him running wide. Bob won the race at a circuit he would soon purchase from the Pascoe family who first built the facility in 1962. Geoghegan was second and then Hamilton third, a  lap down.

Bob Jane’s Shelby built Mustang Trans-Am, Bathurst 1969. Q2 and DNF. Bobs fortunes would change with the purchase of a Chev Camaro LT1 soonish (Bob Jane )

The fabulous, challenging Mount Panorama at Bathurst was the venue for round two on April 7…

Geoghegan had a sensational meeting plonking his ‘Stang on pole by 5 seconds and then proceeded to disappear during the race at the rate of ten seconds a lap. Pete was the master of Bathurst click on these links, about his Ferrari 250LM speed;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

and his win in the ’72 Bathurst ATCC round aboard his Super Falcon;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/15/greatest-ever-australian-touring-car-championship-race-bathurst-easter-1972/

Geoghegan, Mustang, Hell Corner, Bathurst 1968 (Dick Simpson)

In a meeting of attrition Jane qualified second but blew an engine on lap 9. Beechey boofed the Monaro in practice and did not start with Hamilton bending his rear suspension against the Forrest Elbow wall, finishing second, miles behind Geoghegan.

Phil Barnes, Cooper S from Mike Savvas Ford Falcon GT XT, Bathurst Esses  ATCC round 1969 (oldracephotos)

Phil Barnes did brilliantly in his Cooper S to finish third on this power circuit with Bob Inglis fourth in a Lotus Cortina.

After two meetings the pattern for the year seemed clear, Geoghegan’s pace, Hamilton in the Porsche finishing races and continually collecting points with the V8’s somewhat more brittle…

Moffat at Mallala in practice ahead of Kevin Farrisey’s Holden FJ (Dick Simpson)

Mallala, ex-RAAF Airfield 16 June…

Alan Moffat’s long-awaited TransAm Mustang was the star attraction, this car surely the most iconic ‘greatest’ touring car ever to race in Oz. Bias hereby declared!

Beechey was again a non-starter with yet another blown engine. The top four grid slots were Jane, Geoghegan, Moffat and Hamilton.

Moffat was the first to go out on lap 2 in what would become a race of attrition, followed by Jane at half distance. Hamilton followed Geoghegan home by a respectable 44 seconds for second with Peter Manton’s Cooper S third.

After a break of a month to prepare their mounts the teams took the long drive north to Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Melbourne’s Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina Mk2, Mallala 1969. Looks a picture in its Minilites (Dick Simpson)

Surfers Paradise on August 31…

Pete again took pole from Beechey and Hamilton who equalled the Monaro V8’s time- pretty amazing on this power circuit.

With Moffat and Jane non-starters, the race had looked like a foregone conclusion until Geoghegan was forced out with a puncture on lap eight, he had run over a piece of exhaust pipe left by one of his fellow competitors on circuit.

Pete returned two laps down but Beechey held on to take his first win of the season- and the first ever ATCC win for Holden with Hamilton second, collecting a bag more of points and Jim McKeown third.

A designers true intent is always shown with the first iteration of a car isn’t it? The ’68/9 HK Monaro a very cohesive design- and in GTS 327 spec a formidable tool in Series Production racing and here as an Improved Tourer. Here, Beechey’s car in the Surfers Paradise dummy grid/form up area. Car sold at the end of ’69 to WA, raced by Peter Briggs for a while and then, when some debts needed to be paid components ‘spread by the wind’. In the hands of a potential ‘restorer’ these days. Beechey focussed on his ’70 title winning, sensational HG GTS350 (unattributed)

The title now went down to the wire. Pete’s woes meant his championship lead was now only three points over the Porsche driver with Peter Manton moving into third in the title chase.

The competition rules provided each driver drop their worst score, the net effect of which was that Hamilton needed to win at Symmons Plains and Pete score no points for Hamilton to take the title.

These early 911’s are sex on wheels, Hamilton’s 911T/R as exotic as they came at the time. Still in Oz in the Bowden Family Collection. Clubhouse corner, Mallala 1969 (Dick Simpson)

Symmons Plains, 16 November…

Bob Jane had already withdrawn from the final round to attend overseas business commitments with team driver John Harvey driving his Mustang. Moffat was struggling yet again with engine trouble, the front row therefore comprised Geoghegan, Harvey, Moffat and Beechey with Hamilton back in fifth.

With just one minute to go before the flag, Geoghegan’s Mustang refused to start, leaving his crew little option but to bump start it after the race had begun and doom him to certain disqualification. All Hamilton had to do now was win!

Great arse! Moffats ‘stang has no bad angle. Symmons ’69 DNF typical of the unreliability of the car early on. It never did win the ATCC did it? Sadly. Car still in Oz, in the Bowden Collection of touring car racers (oldracephotos/Harrisson)

Harvey led Moffat until lap seven when the Mustang popped another Windsor 302. Beechey and Hamilton followed. Beechey extended his lead but the Holden started to suffer gearbox problems, he was having to avoid gearchanges, which meant he had to slip the clutch to keep the car mobile at lower speeds. By lap 15 Harvey was out with a puncture.

So near but so far! Beechey, his Holden trailing heaps of smoke from a failing gearbox, boots his Monaro away from Hamilton’s 911, last lap, last corner, last Symmons Plains round of the ATCC ’69 (oldracephotos/Harrisson)

Hamilton closed the gap getting to within a cars length of the Holden in the last corner of the race but Norm was able to boot the big V8, using all of its vast amount of torque, to accelerate away from the 2 litre 911 and win the race from Hamilton and McKeown.

Geoghegan had continued to race on, despite inevitable disqualification, breaking the lap record, making it onto the lead lap. With Hamilton failing to win, Pete won the ATCC title, his last, by one point…

Geoghegan flicking his Mustang thru Warwick Farm’s Northern Crossing in 1969. Pete always polls as Top 5 or 10 in any assessment of Australia’s Greatest Touring Car drivers (Dick Simpson)

‘You know, it’s funny’, chuckled Hamilton in a Unique Cars interview. ‘I’ve never really forgiven Norm (Beechey) for that one. Every time he comes around I like to give him a bit of curry about what happened in that race. You see, he was out of the (championship) running entirely at that point, and his car had all but expired. In fact it actually did expire about 20 metres over the line. It finally just dropped dead! Still, I can’t complain. We did well to get where we did. Unlike the V8s, the Porsche proved to be very reliable. We had a colossal season in ’69, doing hillclimbs and medal races as well as the Touring Cars, but aside from routine servicing we didn’t actually have to do anything to keep it going’.

Etcetera: ATCC Cars of 1969…

Beechey, Hume Weir 1969 (unattributed)

 

One of the earliest appearances of Moffat’s Mustang in Australia, Oran Park, 17 May 1969 (Dick Simpson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phil Barnes, Cooper S at Mallala in 1969. He was 7th in the ’69 title with 5th at Calder and 3rd at Bathurst (Dick Simpson)

 

Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina, Hume Weir 1969 (oldracephotos)

 

Bob Jane and Mustang TransAm at Lakeside’s Karussell in July 1969 (G Ruckert)

 

Alan Hamilton, Porsche 911T/R during 1969 (oldracephotos)

 

Moffat at Peters Corner, to start the run up Sandown’s back straight. Moffat forever a BP man but displaying Ampol allegiance early in the Mustang’s career – May 4 1969 first race meeting? (autopics)

Bibliography…

‘History of the Australian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard and Ors

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, oldracephotos.com, Robert Davies, autopics.com.au, Graham Ruckert, Robert Thomas

Tailpiece: Pete Geoghegan, Mallala 1969- five time ATCC winner in 1964/6/7/8/9…

Geoghegan, Clubhouse Corner, Mallala 1969 (Dick Simpson)