Posts Tagged ‘Australian Motor Racing History’

The Easter Rabbit bounced past me early this year.

‘Me mates Stephen Dalton and Bob King each gave me an Australian Motor Racing Annual; the first 1951 edition and the fourth 1954 edition – who needs more chocolate anyway? Easter reading sorted, thanks muchly blokes!

Like way too much Oz pre-1960 racing publications, these little gems passed me by until a couple of years back but I’d never seen the gizzards of one before, chockers with information as they are.

The first edition covers the history of racing in Australia, a summary of the leading clubs, one-pagers on 80 of our contemporary racing cars, quickies on personalities, beautiful drawings of circuits, a tuning guide by Dicer Doug Whiteford and an article on The Modern Racing Car.

By 1954 the format had evolved to include a summary of the year’s major events and their results, more features while continuing the summary of contemporary racing cars. Great stuff indeed.

By the time I came down the magazine purchasing pike in 1971, Motor Manual, publishers of this summary, produced almost annually from 1951 to 1967, were a distant third in my personal rankings of road car magazines, behind Modern Motor and Wheels.

Mind you, once I discovered Sports Car World I didn’t touch M-M or Wheels for a couple of decades – SCW was the roadie bible of cars which mattered.

When Motor Manual stopped producing their racing annuals, the Australian Motor Racing Annual published by the SCW/Wheels/KG Murray Publishing mob took up the cudgels, this evolved into their sensational Australian Competition Yearbook, an Oz touch of Autocourse. This 200-pager covered each F1 GP and had a season summary, the same format was used for each of the ‘major’ Oz racing categories; F5000, F2, F3, FF, sportscars, rallying, and taxis. Other motorsport copped a couple of pages or so each; hill-climbing, motorkhanas, karting and perhaps the drags.

I still refer to these publications all the time for research purposes, or just coz I always have – sad little unit that I am.

Stan The Man in Maybach 1, Jones suffering from uncharacteristic understeer. I can’t quite make out the artist’s name but would like to know who it is and credit appropriately
Stan Jones winning the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in 1954, Maybach 1
Jack Brabham, RedeX Special, Cooper T23 Bristol. The artist has the ‘Brabham Crouch’ nailed!

In the mid-2000s The Annual Australian Motorsport was fantastic. Perhaps publisher Grant Rowley should have had more steak ‘n chips maxi-taxis to have a sales smash – the 2005 edition devoted only 46 of 218 pages to the big swingin’ V8s while commendably giving all other categories a fair crack of the whip.

Since then no-one has been stupid enough to step up to the annual-summary plate, sadly.

Those Annual Australian Motorsport mags were $20 in 2007. I’d quite happily pay $40-50 for a 200-page annual now, even one with 100 pages of the big shit-fighters – there is the rub, it’s probably got to be that way to flog enough mags to hit break-even print numbers.

Auto Action are probably the only ones who could do it these days. Publisher/owner/editor/cook Bruce Williams is passionate enough, but whether he is that stupid is another thing.

Anyway, if you think an annual is a good idea email him on bruce@autoaction.com.au, he doesn’t believe a word I say. Don’t tell him I sent you, this is an un-sanctioned jolly of my own.

Maybe people-power can get us back something I still miss each January/February.

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(Brabham Family)

Jack and Betty Brabham chillin’ between sessions at Aintree during the July, 1955 British Grand Prix weekend.

Brabham is a very youthful 29, love the Australian Racing Drivers Club badge on his once lily-white overalls-how casual does it look?

It was Jack’s championship debut in a car he built himself, a Cooper T40 Bristol. He qualified 25th and retired after 30 laps with engine trouble. The race was famously won by Stirling Moss’ Mercedes Benz W196.

 

(Cummins Archive)

The car was shipped to Australia for what was to become Jack’s annual summer tour. He scored a lucky AGP win at Port Wakefield, South Australia when front runners Reg Hunt, Maserati A6GCM 2.5 and Stan Jones in Maybach 3, on the front row above, had mechanical dramas. Jack is on the second row alongside Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C

The car stayed in Australia, see articles here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/16/60th-anniversary-of-jacks-first-f1-gp-today-british-gp-16-july-1955-cooper-t40-bristol-by-stephen-dalton/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/04/max-stephens-cooper-t40-bristol/

(unattributed)

Brabham blasting through the flat, grim, saltbush Port Wakefield terrain, 100km north-west of Adelaide. Click here for an article on the race; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/28/battle-of-the-melbourne-motor-dealers/

Credits…

Brabham Family Collection, LAT, News Ltd, Cummins Archive

Tailpiece…

(News Ltd)

To the victor the spoils, and a bit of attention from the chief.

Finito…

(Goldsmith Collection)

Globe Products boss, Dick Bassett, poses in the Mallala paddock on the debut of his new Elfin 400 Ford #BB661, driven by Noel Hurd, on June 13, 1966.

Regular readers will know I’ve slugged away at the Elfin 400, a favourite car, ad-nauseum. See here on the Matich 400 and related; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/ and Bob Jane’s 400; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

It was finding a few shots of the car before and after it took flight at about 140mph going up the hill towards Longford’s Water Tower in March 1967 which piqued my interest again.

The original aero of the four 400s was suss – fatal in Bevan Gibson’s case. Hurd took air at Longford, spinning five times according to onlookers, and miraculously did not damage the car greatly. He was ok but a change of undergarments would have been required. To go off there and not hit a substantial piece of local geography was lucky, to say the least.

Noel Hurd hooks into the Viaduct, Longford 1967. The spot he went off is 700 metes or so back up the road behind him (Y Waite)

 

Longford damage looks superficial but enough to end the weekend early. Changes to body not the work which could be done quickly at the circuit (E French)

After the Longford meeting the car was dropped back to Garrie Cooper. Together with his body specialist John Webb, the front horns were removed and the nose re-profiled and then again tested at Mallala.

When it reappeared at Mallala in June 1967 the machine was powered by the Kevin Drage designed and built Globe-Ford V8.

This DOHC, twin-cam, two-valve, four Weber-fed 366bhp 289cid Ford V8 replaced the 289 pushrod ‘Cobra’ engine first fitted to the 400. More about this project in an article to be published soon.

(G Matthews)

Adelaide’s Keith Rilstone at Mallala after purchase of BB661 in 1969-1970 – note the changes made to the nose.

Sadly, he acquired the car with the pushrod Ford fitted rather than the DOHC unit.

The patterns of that engine were scrapped by a subsequent Sydney owners widow. The completed engine has disappeared from trace, last known probable locale, West Australia. Do get in touch if you can assist in that regard.

Etcetera…

(F Radman Collection)

Magazine cover shows the start of the 1967 South Australian Tourist Trophy won by Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 Spyder from Hurd’s Elfin 400

BB661 as originally built, at Edwardstown, with Ford ‘Cobra’, four Weber 48IDA 289 V8.

(K Drage)

Rear shot at Mallala in June 1966, showing Hewland LG500 four-speed transaxle.

Big muvva of Can-Am gearbox with this little V8, heavier than the more logical DG300 which was just coming onto the market at this time – by then used by Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney in their F1 Brabham BT19 and Eagle Mk1.

(J Lemm)

Noel Hurd getting the hang of his new mount, Mallala, June 1966. Won on debut, although Bob Jane’s second places Jaguar E Type Lwt was hardly a fair-fight of equals.

Credits…

Greg Matthews, Ellis French, Yaya Waite, John Lemm, Ron Lambert, Kevin Drage

Tailpiece…

(K Drage)

South Australian ingenuity, the Kevin Drage designed Globe-Ford 289 V8.

Ford block with twin, chain-driven camshaft, two-valve aluminium cylinder heads fed by four Weber 48IDA carburettors. One of Oz racing’s great mighta-beens.

Finito…

Seeliger, Itala Ford V8 Spl, Lobethal 1948 (R Edgerton Collection)

The J.A ‘Lex’ Denniston owned Itala V8 Special was built by Ern Seeliger in his modest temple-of-speed in Baker Street, Richmond, early events included Rob Roy’s April and November 1946 meetings.

The cocktail of components comprised a 1930-1932 Itala chassis and steering box (later replaced by a Lancia component) and modified Ford Mercury V8 and gearbox- the talented Bob Baker built the body, his ‘shop, Baker and Tait was closeby in Church Street, Richmond.

Seeliger normally raced it, notable successes were at Rob Roy and at Ballarat, where Ern won the Wendouree Handicap at Ballarat airfield in January 1947.

After this meeting, Seeliger rebuilt it, although he was able to run it sans body at Rob Roy in May. The leaner, meaner machine reappeared at Lobethal twelve months hence on the January 1, 1948 weekend.

Legendary Adelaide engineer Harold Clisby #29, and Ron Edgerton #32, in standard and modified MG TCs respectively (R Edgerton Collection)

Practice passed uneventfully for Seeliger, his first race was the 11.05am Lobethal 100 handicap. The less powerful cars had done two laps by the time our scratch-man, Seeliger set off and gave chase.

After only one completed lap he was baulked by another car at over 100mph- the Itala slid one way, then the other before crashing through trees backwards, demolishing the front of the car en route. Ern, fortunately escaped without injury but the svelte racer was dead. After last rites were performed, its remains were presented to a Lobe farmer.

Jim Gullan, below, won aboard his Ballot Olds Spl from G Harrison’s Phillips Ford Spl and Ron Edgerton’s MG TC Spl, #32. See here for an article on this race; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/11/south-australian-100-1948-jim-gullans-ballot-olds-and-greensborough-hillclimb/

(R Edgerton Collection)

Etcetera…

(G McKaige)

Itala Ford V8 Spl as originally built.

George McKaige took these photographs on November 23, 1946. The car was parked in Orrong Road near the Towers Road, Toorak corner, presumably close to Denniston’s residence.

(G McKaige)

Credits…

Ron Edgerton Collection, ‘Beyond The Lens’ Chester and George McKaige, Stephen Dalton

Finito…

(unattributed)

If the 1938 Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst was our first international event, by virtue of visiting Brits Peter Whitehead and his ERA B Type, and Alan Sinclair, Alta 1,100 s/c, our second international, and first of the modern era, was the South Pacific Championship at Gnoo Blas held in January 1955.

Peter Whitehead liked the place so much he came, saw, and conquered again, just as he did seventeen years before at Mount Panorama, albeit the 1955 field had a bit more depth that of 1938.

Peter and Tony Gaze raced Ferrari 500/625s, Bira a Maserati 250F with the better equipped locals Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 and Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Climax. Kiwi’s John McMillan and Fred Zambucka in Alfa Romeo Tipo B and Maserati 8CM respectively came across the ditch but both cars were too long in the tooth as was Tom Sulman’s Maserati

Non starters were Reg Hunt, short of parts for his new Maserati A6GCM, and Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar

Whitehead won from Brabham and Gaze with Joe Murray, Allard Cadillac, Tom Sulman, Maserati 4CM and Curley Brydon, MG TC Spl in fourth to sixth places, I’ve written a feature in this race here; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/09/1955-south-pacific-championship-gnoo-blas/

(Modern Motor)

This shot isn’t kosher, it was staged for Modern Motor magazine but is still a cracker showing the Whitehead Ferrari, Brabham Cooper off to the left and Jack Robinson’s Jaguar Special aft of Peter. Further back is the unmistakable shape of a Bugatti, perhaps the John Hall Holden engined Type 37.

The grid on Huntley Road. From left, Jack Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, John McMillan, Alfa Romeo Tipo B, Peter Whitehead, Ferrari 500/625 and Jack Robinson, Jaguar Special (unattributed)

 

(unattributed)

This group of wonderful colour photographs were taken by George Causbrook, an Orange electrician who worked at the time for Tom Barrett, owner/driver of the #97 MG TF.

Barretts Milk was a successful local business with a factory/depot including an airstrip. Causbrook’s family, the Beasleys, made available the shots to the Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club from whom I have shoplifted them, with thanks!

George had a fine eye, his colour shots of this challenging road course help us understand better its nature sixty years after the final Gnoo Blas meeting.

Ted Gray is shown below fussing over his brand new Lou Abrahams owned Tornado 1 Ford, just finished in Gray’s workshop in Melbourne.

By the October Bathurst meeting the team were starting to get the new beast sorted, but a huge accident in practice destroyed the car and came close to killing its plucky driver who took six months to recover from his injuries. See here for Tornado; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

(unattributed)

 

(unattributed)

T Borrer’s VW Beetle entered in the production car race, October 1954 meeting.

The sportscar race grids (October ’54) seemed to be particularly well supported, with T Jordan’s 2.4-litre Riley-engined Healey Silverstone, Austin Healeys, #90 W Kelly and #104 Robert Page Jaguar XK120s in the shot below.

(unattributed)

 

(unattributed)

The ‘pretty boy’ with the Ray Bans in the XK120 is none other than local Cake Shop proprietor Bill Kelly, he would be as in fashion at an historic meeting in 2020 as he was in 1955!

Clearly there was plenty of money in pies and lamingtons in the fifties.

(unattributed)

The great Eldred Norman’s least favourite car was this 1937 Maserati 6CM 1.5-litre six cylinder Voiturette.

Chassis ‘1542’ was originally raced by Franco Cortese throughout 1937, but the going was tough against the dominant ERAs. The machine then made occasional appearances as part of Ciro Basadonna’s various teams both pre and post-war. It was imported to the UK for Gilbey Engineering in 1947, Colin Murray raced it in the UK throughout 1949 and 1950 then brought it to Australia to contest the Narrogin 1951 AGP before its sale to Norman.

When the engine blew shortly thereafter Norman fabricated a steel block and cast detachable bronze heads then cobbled together Fiat 1500 conrods and BSA pistons when Maserati originals were unavailable. Eldred raced it for a year or so before he sold it to Edward David ‘Ted’ McKinnon who finished fifteenth in the 1953 Albert Park AGP.

‘1542’ then passed to Eddie Thomas briefly, before Albury’s Seaton Brothers bought it in poor shape, they solved the engine reliability issues by fitting a Holden Grey six-cylinder unit. In this form Jack Seaton ran it and Ken Cox raced it on the country tracks of Victoria between 1957-1959.

Stephen Dalton places the above shot as during the October 1954 Gnoo Blas meeting with Tom Sulman the driver. Ted Gray was entered but he has been crossed off Stephen’s program and Sulman substituted- well familiar with Maseratis.

The car went through a variety of hands before passing to Doug Jarvis, then some years later to Alf Blight, a talented engineer who did a great job over a decade with its restoration, it left Australia in the early eighties.

(unattributed)

Tom Barrett, now racing a Triumph TR2 during the January 1956 meeting. I wonder if he caught it?

The fences to catch the wayward or unfortunate at ‘Mrs Muttons Corner’, the intersection of what is now Bloomfield and Huntley Roads, are clear and poignant in the context of Ian Mountain’s fatal accident during January 1955.

Stan Coffey, Cooper T20 Bristol, at Windsock Corner ‘due to the location of the old windsock when the Orange Aerodrome was in Jack Brabham Park during October ’54. The picture is looking towards Applebar/Pybar. The area that is now Leewood is in the background to the right, and in the middle of the background one can see what is now Blowes Road when it was dirt!’

Our friend Tom Barrett in the MG TF ‘at what is now the intersection of Huntley Road and Leewood Drive, where the level crossing now is’ and a special entering, the high speed Connaghans corner.

(unattributed)

Mr Barrett and MG TF.

Credits…

Modern Motor, Stephen Dalton

George Causbrook via Deidre and Brett Beasley and the Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club Facebook page

Tailpiece…

Finito…

Ron Edgerton loomed large in Victorian and Australian motor racing from the thirties to the fifties, make that eighties if one includes his restoration efforts.

He owned a staggering number of exotic road and racing cars including Alfa Romeo Monza, Alta Ford V8, Ballot 5/8 LC ‘Indy’, Bentley 4.5 s/c, Bugatti T37, Cooper T38 Jaguar, Cord, Frazer Nash, Lancia Aurelia, Lotus Cortina, MG, Willys Woody and numerous speedway cars.

The shot above is of Ron and his son Greville in a posed newspaper photograph taken in the mid-late 1950s.

Grev raced also- a Cooper T38 Jaguar and Elfin Mallala Climax. Ron died many years ago but Greville is hale and hearty, still developing commercial properties, and in the middle of restoring a 50-foot huon-pine 1930’s yacht in one of his developments in Moorabbin.

My mate Bob King knows Grev, who very kindly allowed us to scan images from his dad’s album, there are enough of them to keep us going for years. As you will see, some are pro shots he acquired, and some self or family taken happy-snaps.

This first batch are some of the family cars.

I am not going to go berserk with the descriptions throughout this and subsequent posts, together we can flesh out the history of the cars.

Ron and Ken Wylie aboard the Edgerton Bugatti T37 at Aspendale Speedway, a Melbourne southern bayside suburb pre-war.

Meeting date folks? Cashflow to fund Ron’s racing was provided by a printing business. Chassis 37104 is the ex-Russell Taylor/Advanx Tyres car raced by Charlie East. Ron bought it in March 1931 and later fitted a Hudson straight-eight when the delicate block could not be repaired after a decent blow-up at Tooronga.

Earl Davey-Milne has owned the car since the 1940s, see feature here; https://primotipo.com/2019/04/25/alexandra-sprints-and-bugatti-t37-37104/

 

Edgerton was a leading light in early speedway in Australia, research on the #4 Lycoming welcome, similarly about Reynold’s 8/80 JAP.

Bill Reynolds (the Sydney one vs. the St Kilda Wren building one) emigrated to Australia pre-war, having graduated through speedway bikes and then to cars winning World Speedcar Championships in 1939, 1941 and 1958- he won the Australian title  in 1956. He also strayed onto the circuits- a good topic for another time.

 

Australia’s only resident supercharged 4.5-litre Bentley in-period was chassis SM3907.

Yes, much later others were imported. Tom Luxton brought in SM3907 from the UK, Edison Waters famously raced the gas-burner powered car at Bathurst (not for long) over the Easter 1940 weekend. Post-war owners included Lex Davison.

Ron’s caption is ‘Ron, Dawn, Hugh Stewart with blown 4 1/2 Bentley’, quite where those Californian Bungalows are is something to find out. Pre-war is my guess.

 

Edgerton’s Alta Ford V8 at Mitcham Hillclimb in October 1941, interesting that we were still running motorsport events in Australia this late in the war.

It doesn’t seem all that appropriate given the number of blokes having their nuts shot off by this stage – or am I just a limp-wristed-commo-bleeding heart liberal?

Mitcham is a Melbourne outer eastern suburb, housing development of which exploded from the fifties. It looks quite bucolic 15 years or so before.

This car is the ex-Alan Sinclair Alta 1,100 cc s/c chassis 21S, the MI5 Spook brought to Australia in time for the January 1938 South Australian GP at Lobethal, but by this stage Ford V8 engined.

In this form it was a race-winner in Ted Gray’s hands as the Male Special pre-war. Edgerton had rebuilt it by late February 1942 (see shot below). Ron raced it post-war, it then passed back into Gray’s hands who made it sing again, especially when fitted with Lou Abraham’s Ardun-OHV head Ford V8- the car was the immediate precursor of Ted and Lou’s Tornado 1 Ford.

Wind the clock forward another couple of decades and Mount Eliza’s Graeme Lowe reunited the car with its rightful 25S 1,100cc engine and restored it superbly- it took its first bow in 1999. No longer with us, Graeme’s wife still owns it and a 2-litre stablemate.

Epic about the Alta and Sinclair here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/08/the-spook-the-baron-and-the-1938-south-australian-gp-lobethal/

Hillclimb unknown post-war, note the LCCA badge on the scuttle and differences in appearance of the Alta before and after its 1941-2 ‘birthday’

 

‘No 4’ at Greensborough Hillclimb immediately post-war, date folks? Manufacturer of chassis and mechanical components unknown.

More Mount hillclimb action, this time Ron’s Lycoming Special at Mount Tarrengower, the following shot shows the engine bay; https://primotipo.com/2020/08/21/mount-tarrengower-2/

 

 

Edgerton jumped in amongst the big boys with the purchase of the ex-Alf Barrett Alfa Romeo Monza #2211134 from Rupert Steele in 1950

Ron’s caption says ‘Dirt track Charlie (Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl) chasing Racing Ron at Mount Panorama’ during the October 1951 meeting. He was fourth in the over 1500cc Championship Scratch, and third in the Redex 50 Mile Championship race- Whitefords’ Lago Talbot T26C won with Stan Jones second in Maybach 1.

Edgerton was immediately on the pace with it too. More on Ron’s time in this car soon, in the meantime it’s story is told, at length, here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/20/alf-barrett-the-maestro-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

 

Greville had a go too.

Here, his Elfin Mallala Coventry Climax 2-litre FPF is at freeze-yer-nuts-orf Silverstone testing during the winter in 1964. Ron used the Lotus Cortina to get around the UK.

More of Grev’s UK adventures that year soon.

 

Racing Ron’s ex-Louis Wagner 1919 Ballot 5/8LC ‘Indy’ at rest at home in the eighties.

The high-born French aristocrat is in pretty good company amongst Ferrari Dino 246GT, sundry bikes and a racer.

When Alan Cooper’s Ernest Henry designed 4.8-litre, DOHC, four-valve, normally aspirated straight-eight racer arrived in Australia in late 1925, it was the most advanced and one of the quickest racing cars in the country. Chassis #1004 joined a 2-litre Ballot 2LS #15 acquired for Cooper by his patron twelve months before.

It all turned to custard at Maroubra in December 1925. Alan, a relative novice to a car of this performance, ran wide passing his brother Harold in the 2LS and rolled, badly damaging the car and his riding mechanic.

1004 was repaired in Sydney by Don Harkness and then raced very successfully by Harold, a gifted driver. One of the great mighta-beens of early Phillip Island AGPs is Harold racing the 2LS, but he never did.

The 5/8LC passed through many hands before Ron found it on a farm in country Victoria in the seventies. A long, complex restoration followed, Ron enjoyed the fruits of his labours before selling to Peter Briggs as his health failed. The car has been in England for many years.

Credits…

All photographs are from the Ron Edgerton Collection, with thanks to Greville Edgerton

Tailpiece…

The album is very thick.
The degree of scanning difficulty is high, so let’s be thankful for what we have before some of you old women start chookin’ on about the quality of the shots- don’t spose I should say that. Oops.
Finito…

(NAA)

The heavies before the start of the AJC Trophy at Warwick Farm, fifth round of the Australian Touring Car Championship, on July 12, 1970.

Allan Moffat, Mustang Trans-Am, Jim McKeown, 911S, Pete Geoghegan, Mustang, you can just see Brian Foley’s 911S then Bob Jane’s Mustang Shelby Trans-Am on the dummy grid.

Moffat’s Trans-Am started from pole but he lost it in the first corner causing mayhem – Moffat, Geoghegan and Foley were out on the spot. McKeown led, Norm Beechey was up to second but then he lost a wheel gifting second to Bob Jane. It was the first ATCC round win for Porsche. https://primotipo.com/2016/05/11/jim-mckeown-porsche-911s-warwick-farm-1970/

 

The power of the internet continues to amaze, in this case Facebook. The two shots above and below are the earliest I have seen of Frank Matich.

They show his ‘road-registered family car, the Healey 100/4 with LJC Motors bored out 3-litre engine at Huntley’s Hill in 1957’ for the Australian Sports Car Club Wollongong Hillclimb Championship..

‘First Healey bored out to 3-litres. Had a job with the distributor driveshaft. After that the only Healey to offer any opposition was Frank Bennett and that did not last long. Five records in five starts was not real bad’ is the note FM wrote to his friend Alan Cummine, to whom we are indebted for these shots.

Matich’ career is covered in this piece; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

(A Cummine)

 

(Examiner)

We have lift-off. John Bowe and Alfie Costanzo smoke their Goodyears off the line at Symmons Plains at the start of the Gold Star race in 1980.

JB won the race in his Elfin MR8 Chev from Alf’s Lola T430 Chev. Costanzo set a lap record of 50.16 seconds that weekend which stood for forty years until it was broken by Thomas Randle’s Ligier JS3 Ford S5000 on January 25, 2021. He did a 49.864 second lap in the S5000 opener before winning the John McCormack Trophy, Gold Star event.

It was a great, gutsy race win, the 24 year old below had his last chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer on New Years Day.

A bit on John Bowe here; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/10/elfin-light-aircraft/

Thomas Randle delighted with his Symmons Gold Star win (S5000)

 

Randle’s Ligier JS3 Ford on the way to victory at Symmons- crowd limited to 5,000 given Covid restrictions. A magic weekend, was lucky enough to be there, these jiggers are magnificent, spectacular cars (Auto Action)

 

(S Griffiths)

Bob Jane had exquisite taste in racing cars didn’t he? I’ve said it many times. Here are his recently purchased Jaguar D Type and new E Lightweight.

Calder, Australia Day meeting, 26 January 1964. I wonder what the black single-seater is? See this piece on Bob’s various cars; https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

 

(J Manhire)

Can ‘yer grab my helmet Alec- I gotta go. Kevin Bartlett talks to his headless team-chief at Wigram in 1968, it was the first Tasman Cup KB did in full, both Kiwi and Oz races.

That Brabham BT11A Climax was one of his favourite cars, he did pretty well that summer in what was by then an old car amongst all the multi-cylinder exotica. See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/27/kbs-first-bathurst-100mph-lap/

 

(unattributed)

Otto Stone, MG K3 during the January 2, 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa, South Australia.

As adept behind the wheel as he was twidding the tools, he retired from the race after only completing one lap, with engine problems. Nine years later Otto prepared the Maserati 250F Stan Jones raced to AGP victory at Longford.

1950 AGP article here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/10/1950-australian-grand-prix-nuriootpa-south-australia/

 

(C Bottomley)

Marvellous shot of a Holden 48-215 in Bourke Street, Melbourne in 1959.

The post-office building stands, albeit as a retail emporium these days but the rest of the buildings in view copped the kiss-of-death from Whelan the Wrecker or one of Des Whelan’s mates. I wonder if YH-495 is extant? See here for a piece on Holden’s formative years; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/06/general-motors-holden-formative/

 

Triumph TR2 (B Young)

Grant Twining wrote in the marvellous Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’s FB page that ‘The 1956 Mercury Trial (The Mercury is Hobart’s local rag) was a big thing at the time. The Second World War was still in recent memory and Australia was just starting to recover economically from the austere post war years. In little old Tasmania, the well publicised ‘Mercury Trial’ was a significant event and eagerly followed by the public. Bob Young was on hand to capture these images in Salamanca Place’ dockside in Hobart.

All of which is fine and dandy but I’m buggered if I can find any details of the event – not even a piece in the sponsors product! It may be others out there are more patient than I. Do get in touch if you glean some deatails on the events duration, route and winner. Bob Young’s Tassie colour shots I’ve used many times before and just too good to ignore despite a paucity of information.

Humber (B Young)

I wonder if the Salamanca stage of the trial is a speed test or speed and braking? Note all the kegs of something nice. In the fifties this stretch is now filled with lots of wonderful cars, restaurants and places of fun. It is to the left in this mid-sixties shot of Constitution Dock looking towards Hobart CBD. The boats are possibly from a not long finished Sydney-Hobart.

(B Short)

 

(NAA)

I had one of these when I was 18. The car, the Capri.

I had two in my student years actually, a 1600 GT and 3-litre GT V6, the little fella was much the nicer car to drive. I never had an accessory as cute as the one above in either car, sadly. Must have been my Brut 33.

Speaking of which, Moffat’s Cologne Capri was a Capri of a quite different type. Robert Davies’ shot of the car upon debut during the Sandown Tasman meeting in February 1975 is the best shot ever taken of the car. Lacked torque amongst all the big hairy V8 Gorillas but it was yet another of Marve’s imports which so enriched our grids.

Cologne Capris here; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

(R Davies)

 

(Porsche)

Porsche’s PR machine has always blown me away. They do stuff in such an interesting kind of way.

When they put the 919 Hybrid away after several years of sterling service- a few Le Mans and WEC wins they enlisted Mark Webber and Marc Lieb to drive two of the cars 25km from Porker HQ in Weissach to their Museum in Zuffenhausen.

Milking plenty of teev, ‘paper and online coverage. Nice. The shot below is Webber’s 919 at Le Mans in 2014, check out this article; https://primotipo.com/2019/07/18/le-mans-arty-farty/

(Getty Images)

 

Walker with a couple of lovelies on the 1971 Zandvoort F3 grid, Lotus 69 Ford (J Ranger)

Its fifty years ago that one of Australia’s shooting stars had one of the most sensational F3 seasons ever- Dave Walker in his works Gold Leaf Team Lotus, Lotus 69 Ford-Novamotor during 1971.

In addition to winning everything in F3- he also had several F1 drives most notably aboard the incredibly sophisticated, complex, Pratt & Whitney gas-turbine powered, 4WD Lotus 56B.

Who knows, perhaps with some decent test miles under his belt he may have taken a podium finish during the wet Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. The shot below of the 56B is during dry practice.

Stay tuned for a feature on David Walker.

 

(T Carwithe)

Dave with Lotus Team Manager Peter Warr at Mallory Park during 1971. Walker was the the most successful of the Gold Leaf Lotus drivers that season. Emerson Fittipaldi and Reine Wisell didn’t win a GP, the first time in about a decade Lotus hadn’t won a championship round. Walker’s ascent to the F! team in 1972 was in part to placate British Tobacco.

The eagle-eyed will have noticed the A.I.R.O transporter behind Warr and Walker. The Australian International Racing Organisation was the rather flash name for the smell of an oily rag operation which ran two Australians in F3- Alan Jones and Brian McGuire.

(N Snowdon)

A.I.R.O. driver Alan Jones at it hammer and tongs with another up-and-comer, James Hunt at Brands Hatch during 1971. Brabham BT28 and March 713M.

Hunt the Shunt jumped out of F3 and into GP racing with Alexander Hesketh’s team in 1973, Jonesy was a year or so after him but no less successful!

Brian McGuire aboard his Williams FW04 Ford during the April 1976 BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone.

Q18 and DNF lost oil/black-flagged in the race won by James Hunt’s McLaren M23 Ford.

The self made Aussie, a mate of Alan Jones, hailed from East Melbourne. He set off for England to race in 1966, paying his own way by dealing in cars and later caravans. He jumped from F3 to F5000 becoming a front-runner in the 1975 Shellsport F5000 Championship racing the ex-Bob Evans 1974 British F5000 Championship winning Lola T332 Chev.

He progressed to an F1 Williams FW04 Ford (aka McGuire BM1). He won a Shellsport 5000 European Championship race in the wet from pole at Thruxton in September 1976 – the first ever win for a Williams. It was in this car he crashed to his death, taking a flaggie with him, after component failure in practice for a Shellsport International Championship race at Brands Hatch on August 29, 1977 .

McGuire, Williams FW04 and crew in the Silverstone pitlane in April 1976 (peter.bryan.org.nz)

 

(NAA)

Soap-box race at Albany, West Australia in 1970.

It’s a shame that bloody Volvo buggered up a great shot.

What was the seventies Oz Volvo joke? ‘Wots the difference between a Volvo and a Porcupine? Answer- the pricks are on the outside of the Porcupine. Boom-boom. More billy-carts; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/10/spitty/

 

(J Barnes)

Some shots from Elsmore Hillclimb, east of Inverell in New South Wales.

The first shot shows John French’ Holden 48-215 at the far left, then the white RAWGS sportscar , the beautiful blue JWF Milano and the Barnes MG TC Spl at far right- thanks to Dick Willis for the IDs. The photographs below are from the carpark looking back up the hill.

(J Barnes)

 

(A Purcell)

A packed crowd at Oran Park for the start of the

From left, John Leffler’s Bowin P8 Hart-Ford ANF2 car alongside Phil Moore, Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden. On row 2 car 8 is John Goss in his just acquired Matich A53 Repco-Holden and on the right John McCormack in the other Ansett Team Elfin car- an MR6 Repco-Leyland.

There were two heats, Max Stewart won both is his Lola T330 Chev- this group are the back couple of rows in one of them. Max won the Gold Star that season.

1974 Australian Grand Prix at Oran Park; https://primotipo.com/2021/01/15/1974-australian-gp-oran-park/

(P Weaver)

Here is the car John Goss raced at Oran Park in the hands of its creator Frank Matich at Sandown Park during the February Tasman Cup meeting. Repco’s Ken Symes and Matich’ chief mechanic Derek Kneller pushing.

The Matich A53 Repco-Holden was the smallest, last and best of the six Matich F5000 cars, it is a great shame FM did not return to the US that year as planned. His boating accident and Joan Matich’ illness meant the time had come to retire.

Goss did well with the car winning the 1976 AGP at Sandown in an A51 updated to A53 specifications. See here for a feature on the Matich F5000 cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Above is Lella Lombardi in the same chassis Goss used to win the AGP at Sandown in 1976, A51 ‘005’.

When Goss used it, the car was converted to side-radiator A53 specifications similar to the shot of FM above. Lella is shown at Sandown’s Dandenong Road during the 1974 Victoria Trophy Gold Star round prior to contesting that years AGP at Oran Park, see here; 1974 Australian Grand Prix at Oran Park; https://primotipo.com/2021/01/15/1974-australian-gp-oran-park/

 

Reg Hunt, Maserati 250F during his successful March 1956, Moomba meeting.

He won both the 50-mile Albert Park Cup and 150-mile Argus Trophy feature from Lex Davison’s just acquired ex-Gaze Ferrari 500/625, Tom Hawkes’ ex-Brabham/Jones Cooper T23 Bristol, Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type and others.

By the end of the year he had been the fastest resident in the AGP, also at Albert Park and retired from racing. His ‘reign at the top’ extended from the arrival of his A6GCM Maserati 2.5-litre in early 1954 to the end of 1956.

Feature on Reg Hunt; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

 

 

(J Fitzpatrick)

Who said Jean Shrimpton was the first to wear a miniskirt in Oz?

Leggy-lass, as we say in polite society, and a chap with quite questionable clothing taste, and Austin Healey 100 outside the Broadbeach Hotel on Queensland’s Gold Coast in 1957.

Have always thought the Goldie a good place to fly over, the Queensland white-shoe brigade got better with their developments as they went progressively north.

 

Michael Andretti had a shocker of an F1 season with McLaren in 1993.

It was never going to be easy with the incredibly gifted and well established Ayrton Senna in the other car. The class was new to Mario’s boy. So too the tracks and the culture of F1. Stupidly, he continued to live in the US rather than camp somewhere close to McLaren in the Thames Valley. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/06/michael-andretti-and-f1/

Indycar was mighty competitive as well. To come back after a season away and win the first race of the season at Surfers Paradise in Malcolm Oastler’s brand new Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard 941 Ford Cosworth XB V8- his first Indycar design, was quite a feat.

Emerson Fittipaldi was second in the new Penske PC23 while Mario Andretti was third aboard his Lola T94/00 Ford in his final season- it was the great all-rounders final podium.

(unattributed)

Credits…

National Archives Australia, Auto Action, Stan Griffiths, Bob Young, Ben Short, Robert Davies, Getty Images, Janathan Ranger, Tony Carwithe, Nigel Snowden, MotorSport, peter.bryan.org.nz, John Barnes, Clive Bottomley, National Archives of Australia, Jim Fitzpatrick

Tailpiece…

(LAT)

Vern Schuppan, Mirage GR8 Ford on the way to third place at Le Mans in 1975.

He shared the car with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx won in another Mirage.

Finito…

(NAA)

Launceston artist, gallery owner and teacher, Mary Jolliffe, aboard her Gremlin Formula Vee in 1968.

The shot made me chuckle. I wish I had one of my grandmothers pose for a shot in my Venom Vee a decade later. My old man ‘useter say there were only two brands of the the new-fangled radial tyres to buy, Michelin X and Pirelli Cinturato- these are Cints.

Launceston boy, Pat Stride, ex-RAF pilot, by day an air-traffic controller, built a number of Gremlins during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, both single-seaters and sportscars.

Jolliffe, one of Tasmania’s best known water colourists, opened the Mary Jolliffe Art Gallery- a gallery, studio and art school, at 118 St John Street, Launceston in 1965. A decade later she was an immensely popular teacher at the Kalori Marist Brothers College in Burnie.

One of Pat’s former work colleagues wrote this brief piece about him when he died in 2014. ‘Pat Stride arrived in Australia on November 1st, 1963, along with 21 other hopeful  ATC recruits  who were destined to become short term course 22, the first of many  Australian ATC courses comprising personnel  recruited overseas, mainly in the UK.  Pat was accompanied by his wife, Wendy, and three children under 10 years of age, Trish, Jeremy and Andrew. Prior to his emigration Pat had been a pilot in the RAF, flying  Vampires, Meteors and Sabres, mainly in Germany.’

Kings Bridge, Longford during the final, 1968 meeting. The only Vee race held at Longford was won by Pat, here in the Gremlin ahead of Lynn Archer in Brian Roberts’ Elfin 500 and Mike Bessant’s Scarab. For we Longford nutters it’s an interesting and unusual shot as it gives us a great view of the approach to Kings- in the distance, well behind the final car is the Viaduct (Stride Family)

‘Having passed the theoretical ATC training he commenced field training in Melbourne and completed this in Launceston where he went on to be rated in both aerodrome and approach control. Being of an entrepreneurial nature, when an opportunity arose to establish a caravan park situated at the Tasmanian terminal of the catamaran service from Welshpool in Victoria he and Wendy embraced it with enthusiasm.  After 9 successful years they were shattered to learn the catamaran service was about to be withdrawn and chose this time to retire.

Pat had one enduring passion, other than for his family, and that was for speed. He was an avid racing car driver, building and competing in his own cars with a significant degree of success. This continued well into his eighties and his last road car was a Mazda MX5 sports.’

The Australian Government’s Department of Immigration was after migrant success stories in sport, the arts and entertainment for PR purposes. It is in that context that Mary and Pat, both Brits, were sought, photographed and doubtless an article was written and published somewhere.

I quite randomly found other photographs of the same ilk of Bernie Haehnle; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/13/bernie-haehnle-rennmax-mk1-fv/ and Henk Woelders; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/30/henk-woelders/

How the connection between Mary and Pat was made, who knows, Launceston is a small place now let alone in the mid-sixties. Mary owned the car built and raced by Pat.

Credits…

National Archives of Australia, Stride Family, Stride tribute piece from Rob Tanner via Geoff Harris

Tailpiece…

(NAA)

Same locale as the opening shot, Pat’s home in suburban Lonny seems about it. Low res (bumma) shot of Pat at the wheel of ‘the Formula Vee Scarab Gremlin he designed, built and drove for Mary Jolliffe.’ I wonder what the correct name for the car is? Andrew and Jeremy Stride do the brmmm-brmmmmm thing with Dad.

Great stuff, a quintessential Oz outer-burbs sixties shot many of us can relate to!

In an earlier article I wrote ‘FV Historian John Fabiszewski notes that the first to race Vees (in Australia) were Pat Stride in his Scarab and George Geshopulous (later Geshos) in a Nota, in Formula Libre races in Tasmania (what circuit folks?) and Oran Park respectively on the same weekend in September 1965 (what date folks?).

Finito…

 

One of my favourite Facebook pages is the Repco-Brabham one Jay Bondini started for us Repco nutters yonks ago.

It’s chock full of good stuff, much of it contributed by the boys who produced the RBE V8 magic at Maidstone in the day- it has cred you might say!

This shot gave me a chuckle.

The works Repco billy-cart is poised on Bendigo’s View Street hill during the 1954’ish Easter Fair. The team’s #1 driver aboard the exotic machine is Les Holt. His old-man, Arthur Holt, worked at Repco Bendigo.

Then I thought, in the words of the great George Pell, bugger-me! that’s Mac’s machine. I’m sure I’ve seen it before somewhere!

Sure enough there is later Elfin/McLaren triple Gold Star champion John McCormack aboard the same missile at Burnie, Tasmania at roughly the same time. Dunno if he won but it seems a reasonable assumption.

You will all be pleased to know John is in great shape, sharp as a tack. I had a good chat to him at Baskerville a fortnight ago, all was good until I asked about the MR6, which was not his favourite car…

(M Preston)

 

McCormack’s MR6 Repco-Holden hooks into Sandown’s Shell Corner during the 1975 Sandown Park Cup- second behind John Goss’ Matich A53 Repco (I Smith)

It begs the question of course. Why?

The MR5 may have been getting a bit long in the tooth by the ‘74 Tasman but it was very successful in McCormacks hands – the 1973 Gold Star and 1973-4 NZ GPs at Pukekohe are the most notable of the combinations victories.

Ansett Team Elfin’s ‘unfair advantage’ was to have been the Repco-Leyland aluminium V8 fitted to a new, compact chassis designated MR6. This gave a lighter car than the opposition and handling balance those using cast-iron Chevs and Holdens could only dream of. That all turned to custard when Repco withdrew from racing in mid-1974, pretty much leaving Leyland Australia and Ansett Team Elfin high and dry.

The P76 V8 (P38 was the joke of the day ‘wannit- the P76 was only half a car) block was structurally weak, the standard nodular crank was junk for racing purposes and the ports were a poor shape which limited flow, and therefore power. Ignoring the fact the block probably couldn’t handle any extra mumbo anyway. Most of this would have been fixed had Repco applied their full engineering armoury to the problems but that was not the case. So the thing was slow and unreliable throughout the 1974 Gold Star.

On top of the engine issues Garrie Cooper repeated some of the MR5’s chassis shortcomings in his new MR6. The front bulkhead was weak, the car had bulk understeer as the front suspension geometry was sub-optimal and the critical engine to monocoque attachment wasn’t stiff enough so the whole package flexed- inspiring little confidence in its intrepid pilot.

MR6 Repco-Holden, perhaps Surfers Paradise 1975 (autopics.com)

 

Bruce Allison, Lola T332 Chev, McCormack’s MR6 Repco-Holden to the left and Vern Schuppan, Elfin MR8 Chev to the right. Calder ‘Soccerpools’ F5000 race, March 14, 1976. Max Stewart won both heats. Significant shot as it’s Vern’s first race drive of the MR8, having tested it at Adelaide International in early March (unattributed)

Mac and his crew, Dale Koenneke and Simon Aram fixed the chassis problems step by step. The engine dramas were solved by removing the light, gutless, unreliable Leyland and bolting in the heavy, potent, reliable Holden. Putting the smart-arse line to one side, the Repco-Holden had by then five years of development under its rocker-covers, the best of them gave a good 520bhp. The Leyland unit was a babe in the woods in terms of comparative development.

So equipped, McCormack finished fourth in the 1975 Tasman Cup behind the very quick Lola T332s of Warwick Brown, Graeme Lawrence and John Walker. He was second at Wigram, Teretonga and Sandown finishing seven of the eight rounds. At home he won the Gold Star taking victories at Oran Park and Calder. John Walker was second and Max Stewart third, both in Lola’s, again the MR6 was reliable, finishing four of the five rounds.

McCormack contested both the 1976 NZ GP and Australian Rothmans Series that summer, but the combo was off the pace of the fast boys at the very pointy end.

Mac had fallen out of love with the MR6 and Elfin more generally. He acquired a 1973 F1 McLaren M23 sans 3-litre Ford Cosworth DFV V8 from Dave Charlton in South Africa. Into that engine bay John, Dale and Simon very skillfully fitted the Leyland V8 which McCormack had not given up on!

After much test and development work from McCormack and Phil Irving, including new cylinder heads, the circa-435bhp M23 Leyland won its first Gold Star round at Calder in October 1976. He was victorious in the 1977 championship from John Leffler’s Lola T400 Chev.

The MR6 became a display car before its sale while the M23 raced on in F5000 and had a trip to the US where McCormack ran in a couple of races as a central-seat Can-Am car. See here for a feature article on the MR6 and particularly the M23; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/24/macs-mclaren-peter-revson-dave-charlton-and-john-mccormacks-mclaren-m232/

McCormack’s McLaren M23 Leyland from Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8 Chev and Dave Powell, Matich A50/51 Repco at Dandenong Road, Sandown International Cup 1977. Max Stewart’s Lola T400 won, Cooper third, Powell fourth and Mac fifth (autopics.com)

Credits…

Gary Nichols and Robert Reid for the Bendigo information, ‘From Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, Ian Smith, autopics.com, oldracingcars.com, Repco

Tailpiece…

(Repco)

Repco publicity shot of their Repco-Leyland F5000 engine in its original form as fitted to the Elfin MR6 in 1975. See the McLaren M23 link above for engine specifications and the changes made as it evolved when fitted to the McLaren.

Finito…

(D Lupton)

Rocky Tresise’ Lotus 18 Ford with Mike Ide’s Riley Special behind during an Australian Motor Sports Club meeting at Calder circa 1964.

Every now and again Melbourne enthusiast/racer/Brabham historian Denis Lupton sends me a great colour shot or two, these are his latest, grazia Denis.

Rocky commenced racing his road-going MGA, progressing to this Lotus, chassis ’18-J-797′ in January 1963. The car was one of a batch of three imported by Sydney’s Paul Samuels in 1960. The car was featured on the Lotus stand at the Melbourne Motor Show in April 1961 before being acquired by Jack Hunnam who was very quick in it. He scored first in class results in the 1962 Sandown Cup and Victorian Road Race Championships.

Tresise raced it throughout 1963, his best result on his climb to a Tasman 2.5 drive with Lex Davison’s Ecurie Australie was fifth in the Victorian Road Racing Championship. The sad Rocky story is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Three likely Melbourne lads- Rocky Tresise, MGA with Tim Schenken’s Austin A30 on the outside and Allan Moffat’s Triumph TR3A at Calder on February 24, 1963 (M Carr)

Tim Schenken was the next purchaser, racing the outdated machine to many firsts before he sold it a year or so later to jump a ship to the UK and international racing success.

The car passed through Don Baker, Bob Minogue and two others hands before its arrival in historic racing with Gavin Sala in 1972. Kim Shearn has owned it for a couple of decades.

The other Calder Lotus 18 shot is ‘three of the five Birchwood race school cars, four were green, the spare in the workshop was white.’ I know little about Jon Leighton’s operation, it would be great to speak to a graduate or former employee to flesh this out.

(D Lupton)

Credits…

Denis Lupton, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Mychael Carr via Graham White

Finito…