Posts Tagged ‘Aston Martin DBR4/250’

(CAN)

Lionel Bulcraig, Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre, eighth and last runner in the ‘Waimate 50’ New Zealand Gold Star round on 21 February 1963…

I popped this image up on Facebook a while back and was never satisfied that the car or driver was correctly identified. I strayed onto Allan Dick’s ‘Classic Auto News’ page and got the answer. He wrote, ‘Having made very good sportscars and won Le Mans (in 1959 with the DBR1), Aston Martin toyed with the idea of getting into Formula 1- but they arrived late in the 2.5 litre formula and were swamped by the rear-engined revolution of 1959.’

Aston Martin pulled the plug on the works F1 program but happily sold cars to Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell in Australia- as i wrote a while back Lex came within a car length of winning the 1960 Australian Grand Prix at Lowood, Queensland in his- Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati just got home in front after a titanic race long arm wrestle.

See here for that encounter; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/ and this one about Lex and Bib’s Aston passion; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/22/aston-martin-db4gt-zagato-2vev-lex-davison-and-bib-stillwell/

‘Stillwell brought his (chassis number DBR4/250 ‘3’) to New Zealand in 1962 for the last GP at Ardmore then sold it to Kawakawa Car Sales owner Lionel Bulcraig. He raced the car infrequently, this is him at Waimate in 1963 where he was the last running finisher in eighth. Its a rare photograph of a rare car’ Allan concludes.

Indeed it is, mystery solved!

(Ardmore)

Bib Stillwell above in the Aston DBR4/250 during the 1962 NZ GP at Ardmore on the occasion of Stirling Moss’ wet-weather Lotus 21 Climax 2.5 racing masterclass.

He lapped the field in the shortened 50 lap race- John Surtees did unlap himself on the penultimate lap with soggy Bib tenth, six laps in arrears and no doubt wishing he was aboard one of his Coopers.

Click here for an article on Moss’s Lotus 21; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

(CAN)

Waimate is a town on the east coast of the South Island 45 km from Timaru, the street circuit was in the local town precinct and 2.25 Km in length.

During that summer of 1963 Bulcraig contested the NZ GP at Pukekohe for Q12 of 17 and DNF in the race won by John Surtees’ Lola Mk4 Climax 2.7 FPF. He DNF at Wigram from mid-grid after colliding with Jim Palmer’s Lotus 20B Ford. He missed the next, Teretonga, round but raced at Waimate for eighth having started from row 2- Palmer won that day.

(CAN)

Several other shots of the 1963 Waimate 50 below.

Tony Shelly, Cooper T45 Climax 2 litre, #27 Ken Sager Lotus 20 Ford, behind him in #20 is John Histed, Lola Mk2 Ford with Arthur Moffat in the Lotus 15 Climax. #44 is Doug Lawrence, Lola Mk1 Ford, #1 is David Young, Cooper T65 Ford FJ.

Allan Dick advises further back is #2 Frank Turpie, Lotus 20 Ford with Barry Cottle’s Lola Mk1 Climax. Cooper T51 Climax #9 is Bill Thomasen, whilst the red car at the rear is Bulcraig’s Aston Martin.

Missing from this wonderful shot is the front row- Jim Palmer, Lotus 20B Ford- the winner, Roly Levis, Cooper T52 Ford and Maurice Stanton, Stanton-Corvette V8.

(CAN)

Tony Shelly has run out of road below, Cooper T45 Climax.

He overshot the corner into the short leg of the main straight. The hay-bales and water-filled drums separated the cars ‘coming and going’ up and down the main street.

(CAN)

Another section of the track with N Cleland’s unidentified mount ahead of WR Baker in a Cooper Norton- it looks like a lot of fun if somewhat perilous!

(CAN)

Credits…

Allan Dick- CAN- ‘Classic Auto News’, Ardmore, NZ Classic Driver

Tailpiece: Len Gilbert, Cooper Bristol, Waimate 1960…

(NZ Classic Driver)

Love this shot of Gilbert’s Cooper Mk 2 Bristol ‘sports’ which rather captures the spirit of the time and place rather well. Len is coming out of Queen Street during the February 1960 meeting.

He was sixth in the race won by John Mansel’s Maserati 250F.

Finito…

No less than the South Australian Premier, Sir Thomas Playford opens the Mallala circuit on 19 August 1961…

The marvellous venue is still with us thankfully, most Australian competitors over the years have raced there and experienced the wonderful Mallala hospitality. The track is an easy 55 km from Adelaide in flat, mainly wheat farming countryside between the Adelaide Hills and the sea.

(B Smith)

Bob Jane Jag Mk2 4.1 on pole from the Ern Abbott and Clem Smith Valiant R Types.

This race is the start of the 50 mile 1963 Australian Touring Car Championship held on 15 April and won by Jane from Abbott, Smith and Harry Firth in a factory Ford Cortina.

The South Australian motorsport community had to rustle up a circuit post-haste when CAMS ‘black-balled’ the windswept, scrubby Port Wakefield as unsuitable to hold the 1961 AGP- the South Aussies had been allocated the race that year in the one state at a time rotational system for our premier event which prevailed for decades.

(B Smith)

The photo is the start of the 9 October 1961 Grand Prix- the races ‘bolter’ David McKay is already away and out of shot.

He was pinged for the alleged jumped start which cost him the race won by Lex Davison #4 aboard one of Bib Stillwell’s Cooper T51’s. #9 is Bill Patterson, #19 Doug Whiteford and #6 Bib Stillwell all driving Cooper Climax T51 FPF’s ubiquitous as they were at the time!

Keith Rilstone is in the stunning #8 Zephyr Spl s/c and Murray Trenberth, Alta Holden alongside Keith and behind Patto. The #5 Cooper T51’between the two starters on the stand’ is John Youl, the front engined car a bit further back is, I think, Mel McEwin in the ex-Ted Gray Tornado 2 Chev. Across the road on the track’s outside is John Ampt in the Cooper T39 Jaguar and down the back is Alan Jack’s Cooper T39 Bobtail- still further in the distance are the unmistakable lines of an Elfin Streamliner sporty, entered by Peter Wilkinson.

Lets go back a step and have a look at the background of Mallala.

As with other Australian circuits Lowood and Caversham, the core infrastructure of the facility was created by the Australian Government in the form of a Royal Australian Air Force base, in this case established on land to the north of the town in 1939, and opened in 1941.

The facility operated as the ‘No 6 Service Flying Training School’ providing the next level of training- ‘medium proficiency’, to those who had gained the basics of flying at places like Parafield, to increased their experience before moving on doing more advanced training at a specialist school such as those at Port Pirie or Mount Gambier. (limiting to ourselves to South Australian bases)

Mallala was the biggest base in South Australia, at its peak it had 19 Bellman Hangars with 1900 personnel by 1942 including 285 trainees who learned to fly Ansons, Oxfords, Moth Minors and Tiger Moths. A total of 2257 trainees passed out of the school before the unit ceased to work as No 6 SFTS on 31 December 1945.

From around 1947 RAF Transport Command provided a weekly service from England to Mallala to supply the Woomera Rocket Range using Hastings aircraft- with Bristol Freighters operating a shuttle service between Mallala and Woomera.

In 1951 a Citizens Air Force squadron was formed which trained pilots on Tiger Moths, Wirraways and Mustangs. After 9 years of duty the CMF Air Squadrons were given non-flying roles and simultaneously Mallala was wound down. At about the same time the new RAAF Edinburgh opened at Salisbury in South Australia.

September 1955 Mallala Airshow, Vickers Valiant B1 flyover (Mallala Museum)

Post war migration to Australia was enormous as we took vast numbers of people from the UK and Europe, the culture shock of Australia was enhanced by ‘New Australians’ being located in camps where they were given the basics of English to equip them for work.

A portion of the existing Mallala base was converted for this purpose but ‘There were concerns about the lack of fencing around active runways and landing fields given small children were housed at the camp- the threat of bushfire was also alarming to residents…’. Accordingly the poor souls were relocated.

Mallala was used as an RAAF facility until 1960, it was put up for public auction in 1961 and acquired by a group of racing enthusiasts who recognised the potential of the facility as the new permanent home of motor racing in SA.

The original tracks lap distance of 3.38 km was reduced to 2.601 km in late 1964 when the Bosch Curve was moved closer to the Dunlop Curve Grandstand thus removing the north-eastern leg of the circuit.

The track hosted rounds of the Gold Star from 1961-1971, the Australian Tourist Trophy for sportscars in 1962 and 1968 with the single race Australian Touring Car Championship held there in 1963 and annual rounds from 1969 when the ATCC became a multi-round title.

Keith Williams moved the Mallala tectonic plates when the entrepreneur and Surfers Paradise International Raceway owner built Adelaide International Raceway at Virginia- and sought to maximise its market success by acquiring Mallala and eliminating its use as a racetrack by placing a covenant on the title limiting such future activity. A bumma.

Chrysler Australia, not too far away (70 km) in Tonsley Park and Elfin Sportscars continued to test there with Mallala coming out of the darkness when local businessman/racer Clem Smith bought the track in 1977- the covenant was deemed unenforceable with ‘Mallala Motorsport Park’ reopening in 1982.

In more recent times, May 2017, after Clem Smith’s death, the Peregrine Corporation, owners of Tailem Bend’s new ‘The Bend’ motorsport complex own the facility. Many of the photos in this piece are from Clem’s son Brentons collection circulated on social media in recent months.

In the circuits early days the airfield infrastructure remained and created a wonderful backdrop for photographs such as the one below.

It is a Victorian duel between Norm Beechey and Jim McKeown- Holden 48-215 chasing Jim in the Jewitt Holden around the aptly named Hangar Corner (turn 1). Cars in the background are perhaps Brian Sampson or the Nancarrow brothers Austin Lancer or Wolseley 1500.

(DL Brock)

The hangar was demolished in the late sixties (date would be great folks) with Brenton advising ‘the main part of the hangar was removed leaving only the northern end which was used as a workshop from around 1964. Dad used it to swap an engine between races and then demolished it when he bought the track before it’s re-opening’.

A large concrete skid pad exists where the hangar once was.

(Hawthorn)

Mallala in 1963 would have been about as far as the designers of the oh-so-late to F1 Aston Martin DBR4/250 ever expected their cars to be from the GP tracks of Europe!

Two of these cars came to Australia and were raced by Lex Davison (DBR4/250-4) and Bib Stillwell (DBR4/250-3). This chassis was raced by Lex during during 1960 and 1961 and came oh-so-close, a bees-dick in fact, of winning the 1960 AGP at Lowood in an amazing race long battle with Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati.

Pat Hawthorn raced the car from around March 1963, here the car is on the way to fourth place in the ‘Advertiser Trophy’, the 1963 Gold Star round behind John Youl, Bib Stillwell and Wally Mitchell aboard Cooper T55 Climax, Brabham BT4 Climax and MRD Ford respectively.

(B Smith)

Neptune Racing Team in Mallala attendance.

Peter Manton, Morris Cooper S, Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina and Norm Beechey in his S4 EH Holden circa 1964. The team and drivers individually were huge crowd-pleaders at the time given the professionalism and appearance of the equipe not to forget the speed of the cars.

The SA Touring Car Championship was held over the. Easter break, on 19 April 1965 and won by Norm Beechey’s Mustang here taking an inside line (above) under Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina with Peter Manton Cooper S and Clem Smith, Valiant in hot pursuit.

Norm Beechey from Clem Smith circa 1965 (B Smith)

Clem Smith is of course the very same man who acquired Mallala in 1977 referred to in the text.

(R Lambert)

Formula Libre race during the 1964 Gold Star, October weekend.

The front row comprises a couple of Melburnians- Lex Davison at left in a Brabham BT4 Coventry Climax and Bib Stillwell’s Cooper Monaco at right. Behind Bib is Garrie Cooper’s red Elfin Mono Ford t/c 1.5.

By this stage Bib’s Cooper was powered by the ex-Scarab/Daigh Traco Buick V8- my money is on Bib for the win- who won though folks?

(B Smith)

Mallala was Elfin country of course! The cars were built in Edwardstown and first tested by Garrie Cooper at Mallala so they tended to be quick in their backyard.

Mel McEwin #16 Elfin Ford 1500 passes Andy Brown #41 Elfin FJ Ford in the photo above during the GT Harrison Trophy, a support race over the 1963 ATCC meeting weekend. The abandoned #14 car is the BBM2 Mercedes of D Dansie.

The Trophy race was won by Keith Rilstone’s amazing Eldred Norman built fifties front-engined Zephyr Spl s/c from Wally Mitchell MRD Ford, McEwin and Garrie Cooper’s Elfin Ford 1500.

(B Smith)

Bob Jane’s E Type leads the field from the grid and provides a great panorama of the track into Hangar Corner. Flat country tends to be the norm for airfield circuits for fairly obvious reasons…

(J Lemm)

The original Officers Mess (in the background above) was re-purposed as the Clubhouse and of course the corner closeby assumed that name. As Brenton Smith observed the clubhouse existed until ‘the white ants ate it’!

Malcolm Ramsay goes through Clubhouse in his sweet Elfin 600C Repco 2.5 V8 during the October 1970 Gold Star round on the way to fourth place- Leo Geoghegan won the day and the Gold Star that year in a Lotus 59B Waggott 2 litre TC4V.

Mustangs…

Commonwealth CA-18 Mustang 23 (P51D) manufactured by the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory in Fishermans Bend, Melbourne. Aircraft are of the No 24 ‘City of Adelaide’ Squadron at Mallala in 1956.

(D Simpson)

Pete Geoghegan during the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship meeting. He won the race on 16 June- and the championship held over five rounds.

Credits…

Brenton Smith, DL Brock, John Neddy Needs, John Lemm, Hawthorn Family, Frank Finney, Dick Simpson, oldracingcars.com, Rob Bartholomaeus for caption assistance

Tailpiece: Avro 694 Lincoln, Mallala Air Show 1956…

Government Aircraft Factory built Avro 694 Lincoln Mk30A, one of 73 built, A73-34, this plane was delivered in 1948 (F Finney)

Finito…

 

(K Drage)

Falls mainly on Warwick Farm, at least at its first open meeting it did, 18 December 1960…

Sydneysiders heap plenty of shite on Melburnians given our ‘four seasons in one day’ weather which does present its challenges to the ladies every now and again. Whilst I am a Mexican (Victorian) I am a Sydneysider by inclination having lived ‘in the guts’ of the place for nine wonderful years, in Observatory Hill/Millers Point. As a local when it does rain up there it can be sub-tropical in its intensity, it absolutely chucks it down in Cairns like fashion, as it did during the ‘Farms opening meeting- all of it.

Making like a duck in Kevin Drage’s opening shot is Derek Jolly, the wealthy Penfolds Wines heir’s equipe of Jaguar XK 140 Coupe and ex-works Lotus 15 Climax is behind him. Not sure how he fared in the Sportscar events, click hear for a feature I wrote about him and the Lotus a little while back;

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

(K Drage)

The photo above in the form-up area is #9 Bill Patterson’s Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2, #21 Doug Whiteford’s Bib Stillwell owned Cooper T51 FPF 2 litre, then Stillwell’s red Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.5 and Austin Miller’s yellow Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2. Bill didn’t start the ‘Warwick Farm Trophy’ feature race so this is the lineup for the preliminary or before the Victorian Holden dealer pulled the pin.

The ‘Warwick Farm Trophy’ was watched by 12,020 soggy spectators and was won by Bib Stillwell’s T51 2.5 from John Youl’s 2.2 litre variant, then Austin Miller and Lex Davison’s big-bellowing six-cylinder Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre. In the following four years, when held in glorious weather, Warwick Farm attracted between 23,000 and 36,021 (1962) to its annual International Meetings- strong numbers to see the F1 stars of the day. It was most unfortunate to have such poor weather for the circuits first big meeting but it was not at all a portent of what was to come for ‘Gods Little Acre of Motor Racing’ for the next thirteen years.

Stillwell’s Rice Trailer behind Lex, the ‘Ringwood’ Rice is Patto’s (K Drage)

Lex’ Aston, chassis DBR4/250 number ‘4’ was powered by a 3 litre Aston DBR1 sportscar engine- Astons won the 1959 Le Mans and Manufacturers Championship with these wonderful cars.

Lex popped the front-engined car on pole- he came sooo close to winning the 1960 Australian Grand Prix at Lowood in it from Alec Mildren’s terribly clever Cooper T51 Maserati in June. Then Davo ‘crossed the fence to the dark side’ and raced a Cooper T51 to a somewhat lucky win in the ’61 AGP at Mallala.

Must get around to doing an article about these Aston’s in Australia, were there two or three?…

(J Ellacott)

John Ellacott’s grid shot above comprises Patterson, Davison and Whiteford (red), then Miller and Stillwell (red) . On row three is John Youl Cooper T51 FPF 2.2, Stan Jones blue Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.3 and Jon Leighton Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre (this side) A row further back Arnold Glass sits on his lonesome in a Cooper T51 Maserati 250S 2.5 then there is John Roxburgh Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre, Noel Hall Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2 and Jack Robinson’s Jaguar Spl XK120 3.4 litre and at the rear Alwyn Rose in the Dalro Jaguar 2 XK120 3.4 litre. As I said earlier the results I have say Patterson did not start so perhaps we lost him on the warm-up lap

David McKay’s Morgan Plus 4 #71 in the Sportscar race which he wins…

(J Ellacott)

Love this anecdote sent to me by journalist Ray Bell- ‘The first race ever at Warwick Farm was for sportscars and you have that pic of the Austin Healey leading McKay in the Morgan off the grid.

McKay dogged the Healey driven by Bob Cutler, until Cutler spun. McKay won, Cutler came in second. Later in the pits McKay went up to him and said, “You were never going to win that race, boy!”. And Cutler asked why.

“See his here” McKay said, pointing to the tiny service sticker on the window of the Healey (you know the ones, oil change due at x miles, with the oil brand or the servo name on it), “That’s advertising, I would have protested!”

Some people’.

For international readers, advertising as it also was in Europe, was banned on racing cars at the time.

Photo Credits…

Kevin Drage, John Ellacott

Special Thanks…

Ray Bell

Tailpiece…I don’t wanna get my feet wet! Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax and ‘plug box contemplating a day for the ducks, and a damp practice session…

(K Drage)

Finito…

 

lex aintree

2VEV Chassis # 0183/R…

‘2 VEV’ chassis # 0183/R was registered to John Ogier’s ‘Essex Wire Racing Team’ on 19 May 1961, the famous car was raced by Aussies Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell at Le Mans in 1961 alongside ‘1VEV’ driven by Jack Fairman and Bernard Consten.

The cars had factory support but the race was a disaster with both failing to finish due to head studs which had been insufficiently ‘torqued’, they had run as high as 15th and 17th behind the open Aston DBR1’s.

le mans start

Le Mans 1961 start;#1 Dewez/Kerguen DB4Z , #2 Fairman/Consten DB4Z, #3 Davison/Stillwell DB4Z, #4 Salvadori/Maggs Aston DBR1, #5 Clark/Flockhart Aston DBR1 all DNF! Race won by the Gendebien/Phil Hill Ferrari 250TR. (unattributed)

Both Davison and Stillwell, Australian multiple champions both, had immaculate Aston Martin connections, they raced GP Aston DBR4’s in Australia, Lex came within feet of winning the 1960 AGP in his at Lowood, Queensland, being pipped on the line by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati after a thrilling race long dice…the closest any of these wonderful but outdated cars came to a GP win. Lex also contested a few ‘Intercontinental’ races in the DBR4 for old 2.5 litre F1 cars in the UK in 1961.

davo

Lex Davison contesting an Intercontinental Formula race at Brands Hatch in his bruised Aston DBR4/250 ‘4’ in 1961. The car, 3 litre DBR1 powered came within feet of winning the Australian Grand Prix at Lowood, Queensland in June 1960. (unattributed)

Back in the Zagato, Lex Davison contested the 51 Mile GT Race at Aintree in July, winning the race after a battle with Jack Sears Jag E Type. He took the lead on the last lap and recorded the cars only race win ‘in period’. ‘Motor’ magazine reported that Davison ‘looked like the prosperous middle aged businessman that he is, rather than a dashing man about town’. In fact he was a champion middle aged racing driver…bloody poms, a four times winner of the Australian Grand Prix no less!

Jim Clark contested the 1961 TT at Goodwood in August, but the Ferrari 250’s were too quick, Salvadori and Clark taking 3rd and 4th respectively in ‘VEV1 and 2’.

‘2 VEV’ was lent to Equipe National Belge to race in the 1962 GP of Spa for GT cars. Lucien Bianchi led the race before losing the car and ‘totalling it’. In 5 weeks the car was rebuilt by the factory around a new chassis the car featuring a lower, flatter roofline, longer nose and tail and wider rear wheel arches than a standard DB4Z.

clarc

Oh So famous Goodwood shot of Jim Clark in Aston DB4 Zagato ‘2VEV’ Goodwood TT 1962. (unattributed)

Clark raced the car at the Goodwood TT in 1962 and was running 4th, he spun inexplicably whilst being lapped by Surtees, taking then both out and requiring more works surgery to ‘2VEV’. The car raced again in Clark’s hands in the Paris 1000km, but failed whilst driven by John Whitmore.

calrk and surtees

Surtees Ferrari 250GTO and Jim Clark’s Aston DB4 Zagato Goodwood TT 1962. Clrak spun taking John out, lap 62. Race won by the Innes Ireland Ferrari 250GTO. (unattributed)

The car then ran in minor events in Ogier’s ownership till 1964, it raced on into the late sixties and historic racing after that. ‘2VEV’ was damaged in a road accident in 1993 and was restored/rebuilt to its 1962 specifications, the car has had ‘more hits than Elvis’ as the saying goes…

goodwood start

1962 Goodwood TT start; Clark the bolter in his DB4Z,#15 winning Ireland 250GTO, #6 Surtees ill fated GTO, #5 Mike Parkes GTO, #8 David Piper GTO, #25 Trevor Taylor/Gil Baird Lotus Elite. (unattributed)

longford

Australia’s only DB4Z was owned by Sydney’s Laurie O’Neill. Here the car is pictured in the Longford paddock in 1962, it was raced in a support event by multiple AGP Winner Doug Whiteford. (Ron Lambert Collection)

The DB4 Zagato…
The Aston Martin DB4 GTZ was introduced in October 1960 at the London Motor Show. It was effectively a DB4 GT improved by Zagato in Italy, Ercole Spada is the designer credited with the work. It was smaller, more aerodynamic and lighter than the DB4GT. The Zagato’s engine produced 314 bhp 12 more than the DB4GT giving it a top speed of 154 mph.

Initially the factory planned to build 25 cars, but demand wasn’t strong, only 19 cars were built, although 23 chassis numbers were allocated. 4 modern ‘Sanction 2 Coupes’ were built on DB4 rolling chassis by Zagato in a project sanctioned by the factory in 1987 and completed in 1991.

The first competition outing of a DB4 GT Zagato was during the Goodwood Easter meeting in 1961. Driven by Stirling Moss the car finished 3rd behind an Aston Martin DB4GT and the winning Ferrari 250 GT.

motor show

1960 London Motor Show launch for the DB4GT Zagato.

Etcetera…

le mans paddock

John Ogier’s 2 Aston DB4 Zagato’s at Le Mans 1961 #3 Davison/Stillwell #2 Fairman/Consten(unattributed)

bernard reeves

Painting of the Davison/Stillwell DB4Z at Le Mans 1961. (Bernard Reeves)

Credits…

Ron Bert Collection, Bernard Reeves