Posts Tagged ‘Australian Motor Racing History’

(P Greenfield)

Malcolm Ramsay awaits the start of the ‘Diamond Trophy’ Gold Star race at Oran Park on 28 June 1970…

His car is an Elfin 600C Repco ‘730’ 2.5 litre V8, alongside him you can just see the nose of the cars constructor, Garrie Cooper’s Elfin 600D ‘830’ V8- only three of these Repco V8 engined Elfins were built, John McCormack’s Elfin 600C was the other, and all are ‘Australian Motor Racing Royalty’ to me- about as good as it gets!

The Oran Park round was the third of the 1970 series, a championship which was wide open- reigning champion Kevin Bartlett had finished third in the first Symmons ‘Tasmanian Road Racing Championship’ round behind John Harvey’s old-faithful Brabham BT23E Repco and Leo Geoghegan’s equally venerable Lotus 39 Repco.

Bob Jane, John Harvey, a young Pat Purcell, ? and John Sawyer, side on during the 1970 Symmons round- car wing is BT23E (oldracephotos.com.au)

 

Symmons Plains 1970- changing of the guard- last race for Harvey’s Brabham BT23E Repco, Geoghegan’s white Lotus 39 Repco and almost KB’s last race in the Mildren Yellow Submarine Waggott. Max Stewart in the Mildren Waggott on row 2 (H Ellis)

 

Leo Geoghegan and Garrie Cooper at Symmons in 1970 (oldracephotos)

 

The Mildren Duo- The Sub, Mildren Waggott with Glynn Scott’s blue trailer alongside

At Lakeside for the ‘Governor’s Trophy’ in early June, Max Stewart won from Harvey’s new car, the ‘Jane Repco V8′ built on Bob Britton’s Brabham BT23 jig. It was a modified car with suspension geometry suited to the latest generation of cars and other tweaks. Bartlett DNF’d with ignition problems- and Leo Geoghegan made the championship debut of his Lotus 59B Waggott 2 litre ’59-FB-14’, at long last (or sadly depending upon how you view that wonderful Lotus 39) Leo had a modern car, that 39 had served him so well but had not delivered the Gold Star it was surely capable of- with Repco reliability in 1967 or 1968.

Lakeside, Governor’s Trophy 7 June 1970. Pole-sitter and winner Max Stewart in the Mildren Waggott with Kevin Bartlett in the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott alongside (G Ruckert)

After Lakeside KB jumped on a plane to the ‘States to chance his arm over there in Indy racing- he raced on and off in the US from 1970 to 1973- we must get him to tell us that story.

Garrie Cooper, perhaps the other driver capable of winning the Gold Star that year also had a poor start to the season with his new Repco 830 Series V8 powered Elfin 600D ‘7012’. At Symmons he retired with a flat battery having failed to set a time in practice and at Lakeside he was ninth from Q5 with a misfire for the races duration.

Malcolm Ramsay was a title contender too- if the Repco planets could be aligned, mounted as he was in Cooper’s first Repco engined 600- the 600C ‘6908’ raced by Garrie in Asia and then sold before returning to Oz in late 1969.

GC Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco ‘830’, Oran Park June 1970- oh to have seen an ace in this chassis (oldracephotos)

1970 was an odd year in terms of Gold Star eligibility…

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport made the following naff decisions during 1969 in an attempt to keep the peace with all interested parties- an impossible challenge of course and provide a formula, or formulae to suit the needs of Australian single-seater racing into the future. A summary of the rules for the next couple of years goes a bit like this;

1970 Tasman Series- Tasman 2.5, F5000 and 2 litre cars and under

1970 Gold Star- Tasman 2.5 and 2 litre cars and under

1971 Tasman- Tasman 2.5, F5000 and 2 litre cars and under

1971 Gold Star- F5000 and 2 litre cars and under

1972 Tasman- ditto as per ’71 Gold Star

1972 Gold Star- F5000 and ANF2 (to make up the numbers)

The impact of the above in 1970 was that those fellas who invested in F5000 could not race their cars in Australia- in particular Frank Matich and Niel Allen, both round winners during the 1970 Tasman could not race their McLarens in Gold Star events- a bummer for them and their fans but a bonus for the rest of the elite grid- Bartlett, Matich and Allen were out of the equation in 1970.

The machinations of the change from the Tasman 2.5 to F5000 category are ventilated at length in this article;

https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

Wearing my Repco bias on my sleeve- 1970 was it, the last opportunity for the Maidstone concern to win either a Tasman or Gold Star 2.5 litre title for their beautiful little V8’s!

Max, second on the grid before the off, Mildren Waggott TC4V 2 litre. A jewel of a car and uber successful chassis (P Greenfield)

And so the title protagonists headed in the direction of Narellan on Sydney’s then western outskirts for the Oran Park round…

John Harvey put his stamp on practice with a 43 seconds dead lap in the Jane Repco with Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott two-tenths adrift on a circuit Max knew like the back of his hand.

Its interesting that Max/Alec chose to keep racing the spaceframe car rather than the ‘Sub, a monocoque (after KB went away) but I guess Max wore that car like a glove- an extension of his body and he was never more than a bees-dick away from KB in terms of pace, so why not sell the Sub and keep the little Mildren nee Rennmax Waggott?

John Harvey ahead of one of the Elfin 600’s. Jane nee Rennmax Repco V8 – 830 Series V8. Bob Jane obtained the 830 V8’s used by Jack Brabham in the 1969 Brabham BT31- good works motors (L Hemer)

And as most of you know Mildren commissioned an F5000 car which Bartlett raced in the 1970 AGP and throughout the 1971 Tasman Series before the team was, very sadly, disbanded. But lets not get distracted from Oran Park.

Geoghegan did the same time as Max- he had clearly got to grips with the Lotus chassis and Waggott motors quickly having pedalled Repco V8’s since mid-1967. His Repco 830 would have had a smidge over 300 bhp with the Waggott at that stage of its development circa 265 bhp- albeit the 59B would have been a bit lighter overall than the 39.

Leo raced sans nose wings. Lotus 59B Waggott TC4V- yes please. OP June 1970 (oldracephotos)

Bob Muir demonstrated his growing pace with a 43.6 in his Rennmax BN2/3, at this meeting 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF powered- my guess is this was the best Gold Star FPF performance for a couple of years, by then these motors were no spring-‘chookins at all having taken two World Championships on the trot for Cooper/Jack Brabham in 1959 and 1960.

Bob bought a Waggott TC4V 2 litre engine which he popped into this chassis (in specification it is a BN3 but Bob referred to it as a BN2 ‘in period’) before the following ‘Sam Hordern Trophy’ round at Warwick Farm in early September and then later in the year bought the Mildren Yellow Sub off Alec and put the Waggott into that chassis- and somewhat famously rated his Rennmax BN2/3 the better car of the two. (same chassis as the Mildren Waggott).

Garrie Cooper and Malcolm Ramsay were fifth and sixth with a 44.6 and 45 seconds dead respectively, perhaps more could have been expected of the two V8’s but the dudes in front of them were all ‘locals’- if you can refer to an Orange resident as ‘local’ in Max’s case and Melbourne local for Harves! Harvey did plenty of laps at Oran Park before he emigrated to Mexico (Melbourne) when he started driving for Bob Jane .

John McCormack took the next step in his career when he replaced the ex-Jack Brabham 1962 AGP Caversham Brabham BT4 Climax FPF with an Elfin 600C in time for the 1970 Gold Star.

Fitting it with the FPF from the Brabham was sub-optimal but he was in the process of putting together a lease deal on a 740 Series Repco V8 with Malcolm Preston which would take him a further step along the path towards national championships in the years to come.

One day of The Year- that you can race your F5000 that is. Frank Matich on the way to 1970 AGP victory in his McLaren M10B Repco Holden (N Foote)

Preston and Mac developed a lifelong friendship during the Repco Holden F5000 years- Preston was the General Manager of REDCO, the Repco Engine Development Company which assumed the assets (most of ’em) of Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. and designed, built and maintained the Repco-Holden motors.

That Repco 740 engine was nestled in the spaceframe of Mac’s 600 ‘7011’ by the Hordern Trophy meeting, so he used it at WF, Sandown, Mallala (pole) the AGP at the ‘Farm in November as well as the Warwick Farm Tasman meeting in February 1971.

In 1970 the Australian Grand Prix was a stand alone meeting- not part of the Gold Star or Tasman Series and allowed Tasman 2.5, 2 litres and under- and F5000’s!

Warwick Farm Meister Frank Matich won the race from a strong field in his McLaren M10B Repco Holden- it was the first ‘notch in the belt’ for another world class race engine from the Repco boys, the design of which was led by Phil Irving- he of Vincent and Repco Brabham Engines ‘620 Series’ fame with the assistance of Brian Heard, also ex-RBE.

Queenslander Glynn Scott in his brand spankers Elfin 600B Waggott TC4V, DNF (L Hemer)

Meanwhile, back at Oran Park in June…

Glynn Scott was next up, seventh in a brand new Elfin 600B Waggott 2 litre. Glynn was sure to be quick in this car over the next season or two but his time in it was way too short, only a month later he was killed in an awful accident at Lakeside when he and his friend Ivan Tighe collided, Ivan also Elfin 600 mounted.

Waggott engined Elfin 600’s are rare beasts- this (destroyed) chassis ‘7016’, Gary Campbell’s ‘7122’ (the chassis, then powered by a Lotus-Ford twin-cam  in which Larry Perkins won the 1971 ANF2 Championship) and Ramsay’s ‘6908’ were so equipped.

The Goodwins, unrelated were next, Len in the ex-Piers Courage/Niel Allen McLaren M4A ‘M4A/2’ Ford Cosworth FVA, the Pat Burke owned car soon to become an important stepping stone in the career of Warwick Brown who raced it in 1971 before stepping into another ex-Allen McLaren, M10B F5000, for 1972- fame if not fortune followed.

Ken Goodwin’s Rennmax BN3 Ford in the OP paddock June 1970 (K Hyndman)

Ken Goodwin who had come through Formula Vee raced a beautifully self-prepared Rennmax BN3 Lotus-Ford t/c ANF2- its amazing how many guys did well in these beautifully forgiving motor-cars. Ron Tauranac got the Brabham BT23 design spot on and Bob Britton didn’t bugger things up in his translation of same!

The thirteen car grid was rounded out by the ANF2 1.6 cars of Jack Bono, Brabham BT2 Ford t/c, Ian Fergusson, Bowin P3 Ford t/c and Noel Potts Elfin 600 Alfa Romeo 1.5.

Come race-day there were only twelve starters, unfortunately Muir’s Coventry Climax engine had ‘oil leaks’ which could not be remedied.

Stewart’s Mildren sorted before the off- Glenn Abbey and Alec Mildren look on as Derek Kneller at front and Ian Gordon set final tyre pressures. Waggott 2 litre TC4V engine and FT200 Hewland ‘box (K Hyndman)

Gold Star fields in terms of numbers were always tough, other than in the Formula Pacific and Formula Holden ‘peaks during the eighties/nineties- in 1970 the number of starters were; Symmons 11, Lakeside 17, Oran Park 12, Warwick Farm 12, Sandown 18 and Mallala 12- the AGP, not a Gold Star round had 19 starters with F5000 making the difference in the main.

The field was interesting too- all of the top-liners were racing cars with spaceframe chassis, four had Repco 730 or 830 ‘crossflow’ V8’s, three modern as tomorrow Waggott 2 litres started, with one Ford Cosworth FVA, an ‘old school’ Coventry Climax FPF in the back of McCormack’s Elfin 600 and a smattering of Lotus-Ford twin-cam ANF2’s plus Pott’s 1.5 litre twin-cam, long stroke Alfa Romeo.

Look mum, one hand! Stewart shows perfect control and a gaggle of car down OP’s Main Straight (L Hemer)

The 82 lap race was won by Max Stewart by 17 seconds from the similarly engined Lotus 59 of Geoghegan, then the ‘Elfin-GT Harrison Racing’ 600 Repco’s of Garrie Cooper and Malcolm Ramsay.

McCormack was two laps back in his 600 FPF from John Harvey a couple of laps back with problems.

Than came Ian Fergusson’s monocoque Bowin P3 Ford, Noel Potts Elfin 600 Alfa and Glynn Scott with only 50 laps in his 600 Waggott.

As Max Stewart left Oran Park for home in Orange on the Sunday night little did he know the high point of his 1970 Gold Star season had been reached, he took no points at either of the following Warwick Farm (injector problem) or Sandown (bearing) rounds won by Leo Geoghegan and John Harvey respectively.

John Harvey in the Jane Repco V8 in Warwick Farm’s Esses during practice for the Septmeber Gold Star round won by Geoghegan from Cooper and Muir. Harves Q4 and DNF fuel pump (L Hemer)

In fact the difference between Leo and his pursuers that season was a blend of speed and consistency- lessons from his Repco years!

He won two of the six rounds but scored in all but one. Stewart and Harvey both won two rounds as well but scored points in four rounds apiece. Harves went mighty close though, he recalled recently ‘…at the last round of the Gold Star at Mallala I was so far in front of Leo Geoghegan and Max Stewart I thought I had the race and the series in the bag. However, not to be, the left front suspension broke and took me off the road.’

In terms of qualifying performances, often an indicator of outright speed, Harvey took pole on three occasions with Stewart, Geoghegan and McCormack, the latter at Mallala using his Repco V8, to good effect once.

Geoghegan won the championship with 33 points from Stewart 27, Harvey 25, Cooper 16 and Ramsay 9.

Leo’s 59B before the off with Bob Holden’s Escort Twin-Cam sharing the Castrol tent. OP June 1970, car still in Oz (K Hyndman)

Leo Geoghegan- Lotus 59B…

https://primotipo.com/2018/09/17/leos-lotus-59b-waggott/

Max Stewart- Mildren Waggott…

https://primotipo.com/2018/05/29/singapore-sling/

Bob Muir- Rennmax BN3 Waggott…

https://primotipo.com/2018/08/14/rennmax-bn2-waggott/

Garrie Cooper- Elfin 600D Repco…

https://primotipo.com/2018/03/06/garrie-cooper-elfin-600d-repco-v8/

1970 Gold Star Season…

https://www.oldracingcars.com/australia/1970/

Credits…

Peter Greenfield, Harold Ellis, Lynton Hemer, oldracingcars.com.au, Nigel Foote, Ken Hyndman, oldracephotos.com.au, John Harvey, Graham Ruckert

Tailpiece: Harves and Hottie, Maxxie and ‘Yoko Ono’…

(L Hemer)

Finito…

Fantastic cover of Australian Motor Manual’s Yearbook Number 2, 1952…

An article inside features the Autocrat Special, a Ford flathead V8 engined racer which ace engineer/body builder Terry Cornelius advises was bought by his father, Arthur, from Ken Cox in Benalla, Victoria, and raced at Wahgunyah and other ‘outlaw’ (non CAMS certified) tracks until it was sold to a couple of fellas near Albury and never seen again.

Before Arthur took possession of the machine it had passed through the hands of the Stilo brothers and was fitted with a Holden ‘Grey’ six bolted to a Lancia four speed ‘box.

As the page above indicates the car was originally built for Jim Skinner, the chassis made by Melbourne’s Eddie Thomas of ‘Speed Shop’ fame with motive power originally a by way of a Willys Jeep engine which was later replaced by a Ford 60 V8.

See the ‘Border Morning Mail’ article and images of the 1 November 1959 dirt circuit meeting at Hume Weir below.

(C McQuillen)

I had completed the article as above but not uploaded it when Adelaide enthusiast Dean Donovan posted both the magazine cover online and some photos of cars featured in the magazine, including the ‘TS Special’, a superb Australian Special i shared garage space with at Phillip Island in March.

Charlie Mitchell in the TS Special GMC at Phillip Island, he is heading up the rise before the drop into MG (M Williams)

Whilst originally built by the Styles Brothers in Western Australia- Rod Styles was an instructor at the old Carlisle Technical College in Perth, for Syd Taylor and now owned by Sandgroper Charlie Mitchell- it resides in Victoria for the first time in its long life spent in the west. Pat Ryan’s bus depot houses the car with Charlie making regular trips east to race it.

TS Special with original body and Dodge powered, probably Syd Taylor at the wheel (Motor Manual)

Noted West Australian racing historian Ken Devine advises that the car was rebuilt in 1952 taking on the appearance it has now, Ken’s photo below is of Taylor on the Bunbury ‘Round The Houses’ road course in 1960. I wrote an article about Bunbury a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/

The TS Special is now fitted with a highly modified 6 cylinder GMC truck engine- I was speaking to the car’s young engine builder at the Island, I wish I had taken notes!, it has a steel crank, roller cam and highly modified cylinder head. Mitchell and his offsider prepare the car beautifully, and Charlie, who has owned it for some years, drives it very well.

Credits…

Leon Sims, Terry Cornelius Collection, Chris McQuillen, Dean Donovan, Ken Devine, Max Williams

Finito…

(H Federbusch)

Greg Cusack Brabham BT6 Cosworth-Ford, Tim Schenken #16 green Lotus 18 Ford and Phil West, red Lotus 20 Cosworth on the outside. Then Kevin Bartlett, Elfin Catalina Hillman Imp on the inside in the distance and lanky Max Stewart, Rennmax BN1 Ford in the dark coloured car on the outside- Warwick Farm’s Creek Corner on 19 September 1965…

Some pretty handy drivers amongst that lot!, thanks to Rob Bartholomaeus and John Medley as well as Ray Bell for identifying the car/driver combinations.

Bell recalls the meeting ‘I thought it must be Cusack out front, but the white nose had me tossed. It turns out he borrowed his car back from new owner, Alan Felton, who had put the stripe there. He made a mess of the start and had to work his way through, this scene appears to be when he hit the front…there’s another Lotus 18 ranging up though, probably McCaughey.’

Fifteen competitors contested the title over 34 laps- 76.5 miles of Warwick Farm, Cusack, the reigning champion (he won at Lowood in an Elfin Catalina FJ in 1964) won from pole in his borrowed Brabham Cosworth from Max Stewart’s Rennmax BN1 Ford, Kevin Bartlett in the McGuire Family owned Elfin Imp and Ralph Sach in Alec Mildren’s Brabham.

Other ‘notables’ contesting the event included Ken Shirvington, Lotus 20B Cosworth and Les Howard aboard a Lotus 27 Ford.

Cusack, Brabham BT6 (Bob Williamson)

ANF2 at that time, from 1964 to 1968 was an 1100cc production-engine based class, it embraced what had been in 1962/3 Formula Junior, and engines of 1000cc free design.

Which sort of begs the question of what the single-seater Australian Formulae of the day were in 1965’ish.

I’ve used the ‘Australian National Formula’ or ‘ANF’ descriptor in my narrative which is not to say the CAMS used it at the time, here it is applied to make clear the classes were Australian ones, which in most cases were different to the categories similarly named in Europe. Here goes;

ANF1…

The ‘Tasman’ 2.5 category reigned supreme from 1964 to 1970 inclusive- the Australian Drivers Championship- the Gold Star, was run to this class. It was our best ever premier domestic elite category albeit however blessed were the Tasman grids, once the ‘furriners returned to Europe our domestic fields were not generally flash in quantity.

An anomaly was 1971 when 2.5’s were out, 2 litres were ok, F5000 was the Gold Star class of the next decade- and Max Stewart nicked the title in his reliable, fast 2 litre Waggott TC-4V engined Mildren nee Rennmax BN3 from under the noses of the new 5000’s. Just thought i’d get this in before you sticklers do- this articles ‘limit’ in terms of discussion is circa 1969/70.

Here is a rare ANF2.5 car!

It’s a Wren Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF commissioned from St Kilda’s Bill Reynolds by Tasmanian Brendan Tapp to compete with the other front-running Apple Isle locals- John McCormack in his ex-Jack Brabham 1962 Caversham AGP Brabham BT4 and David Sternberg’s ex-Clark Tasman 1965 Lotus 32B, both 2.5 FPF powered.

(oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

In essence the spaceframe chassis car raced once or twice at Sandown and Symmons Plains in 1969 before being damaged in a towing accident. Bob Wright then acquired it from Tapp, fixed it and raced it as above before using it as the basis of his ‘Tasma Climax’, later Repco 2.5 V8 engined, sportscar. The chassis was widened for this purpose.

ANF1.5…

1964 to 1968. A production based twin-cam, two valve category which de-facto became a class for the Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine, the quickest of which gave 2.5’s driven in ‘average fashion’ a serious run for their money. ANF1.5 was critical to pad out increasingly skinny Gold Star grids throughout this period.

The national championship was a single race affair in 1964, won by Greg Cusack in a Brabham BT6 Ford at Warwick Farm and in 1965 when Bib Stillwell, Brabham BT14 Ford, prevailed at Bathurst. It was then a series of races in 1966, 1967 and 1968 when the winners were John Harvey, ex-Stillwell Brabham BT14 Ford, Max Stewart, Rennmax BN1 Ford and Max Stewart/Garrie Cooper in Rennmax BN1 Ford/Elfin Mono and Elfin 600 Ford respectively.

Its only in recent times that i have appreciated just how important this class was, and what great racing it provided as both a ‘stepping stone’ for young thrusters and as a destination for some single-seater stalwarts.

(oldracephotos.com.au/DKeep)

Another unusual car above is the ex-David Sternberg ANF1.5 Alexis Mk6 Ford t/c raced by Brian Bowe, here being watched over by a couple of fellows including a youthful, bespectacled John Bowe at Symmons Plains in 1968.

I wonder what has become of this little car generally referred to as the ‘Lotus Alexis’ in Tassie at the time?- he did pretty well in it including a third place in the 1967 Symmons Gold Star round behind Greg Cusack’s Brabham BT23A Repco and John McCormack’s Brabham BT4 Climax- both ANF 2.5 cars.

ANF2…

1964 to 1968. Australia recognised Formula Junior for only two brief years as a championship class, as noted above.

In 1962 Frank Matich won the title in an Elfin FJ Ford at Catalina Park, in 1963 Leo Geoghegan won at Warwick Farm aboard a Lotus 22 Ford- in both years the title was decided over one race.

F2 was a class for cars powered by 1100cc production based engines which embraced what had been FJ.

There were plenty of FJ’s around even though Australia was slowish in picking up the class which exploded globally from its European start in 1958. In Oz the cars raced in Formula Libre in 1960, by 1961 FJ only races were being run in Victoria and New South Wales.

In addition F2 allowed 1 litre race engines, not that I think anyone raced such a machine?

Front row L>R Geoghegan Lotus 22, Jim Palmer Elfin Catalina and Greg Cusack Brabham BT6. Thats Kent Price in the other Geoghegan Lotus on row 2 (B Wells)

The photos above and below are of Leo Geoghegan during and after winning the 8 September 1963, 75 mile, Australian Formula Junior Championship at Warwick Farm. Leo’s Lotus 22 Ford won from Greg Cusack, Brabham Ford and Jim Palmer in the ex-Cusack Elfin Catalina Ford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the photo above that’s Kingsley Hibbard losing his Rennmax Ford comprehensively as he goes over the Western Crossing (of the horse-racing track international folks).

Up front Leo leads Jim Palmer, Elfin Catalina Ford, Kent Price in the other Geoghegan Lotus 20 and then perhaps Greg Cusack alongside Hibbard- in a Repco-Brabham Ford, to give the racer the name on the badge of the car at the time!

Look at those packed grandstands!

(oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

Leo’s Lotus 22 Ford won from Greg Cusack, Brabham Ford, Jack Hunnam in a Catalina, David Walker and then Hibbard, who did well to finish fifth after his first lap misdemeanour. Palmer’s car expired after 13 laps.

(oldracephotos.com.au/Phillips)

Many of the FJ drivers fitted Cosworth Ford 1500 pushrod engines to their Elfin FJ/Catalinas, Brabham, Lotus and Lynx chassis and entered Gold Star rounds so equipped, which then made them ANF1.5 cars.

In 1969 and 1970 the ANF2 championship was for cars fitted with 1.6 litre race-engines, so there were two years of the Ford FVA and Waggott TC-4V before the very successful 1970-1977, 1.6 litre DOHC 2 valve production based class. This ‘Lotus-Ford twin-cam’ class was a beaut but it too was in the seventies, not the decade earlier which is our focus.

ANF3…

Apparently from 1964 to 1968 we had European F3- 1000cc production based with overhead camshafts not permitted. How many of these cars did we have ‘in period’, I certainly don’t recall these things rocketing around here in any numbers?

The ‘heyday’ of ANF3 was the 1100cc era from 1969 and especially the 1300cc period from 1972 to 1977- production based and SOHC by then ok. Lets not go there as its outside the sixties period too.

Then there is the 2 litre European F3 period even later when the Gold Star was awarded to ‘Australia’s Champion Driver’, demeaning the award in the process. European F3 as our elite level single-seater category- ya gotta be friggin’ jokin CAMS? Lets not go there either as my blood-pressure tablets are way too light a dose to deal with the angst so caused by such fuck-wittery.

(Stride Family)

Formula Vee…

Formula Vee commenced in Oz in 1965 when ex-VW rallyist and dealer Greg Cusack demonstrated an imported American Formcar whilst Frank Kleinig Jnr is credited as winning the first FV race in Australia at Warwick Farm that December.

However FV historian, John Fabiszewski notes that the first to race Vees were Pat Stride in his Scarab and George Gessophilis 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?).

The photograph above is of the only Vee race ever held at Longford, in its final year, 1968. Winner Pat Stride is coming off Kings Bridge in his Gremlin ahead of Mike Bessant- he was third in his Scarab with Lyn Archer second in an Elfin 500.

(R Thorncraft)

Formula Ford…

FF came a bit later of course, created in England in 1967, it commenced in Australia in 1969 with a race at Sandown that November, its first ‘National Championship’, the ‘Formula Ford National Series’ was run and won in 1970 by Richard Knight in an Elfin 600.

The photograph above is of Richard in his Bib Stillwell Ford Elfin 600 at Creek Corner, Warwick Farm during 1970- in a convincing display he won five of the six championship rounds.

Noel Potts, Elfin Catalina Ford 1.5, Warwick Farm circa 1964 (B Wells)

Etcetera…

Quintessential Australian cars of this period in Formula Junior, 1.5 litre pushrod Ford powered ‘Juniors’ and ANF1.5 per-se are Elfins (bias hereby declared) FJ/Catalina/’Works Replica 275 and 375′, Garrie Cooper’s first spaceframe single-seater design, and the monocoque T100 ‘Mono’ which followed it.

Arguably the best two drivers to come through the Catalina were Frank Matich and Kevin Bartlett- which is cheating really as FM had already ‘arrived’ (in sportscars) when he started to race the FJ/Catalina. So maybe my other choice is Greg Cusack.

Applying the same approach to the two best Mono pilots is a harder as there were plenty built and a lotta good guys raced them. On balance i’ll go with John Walker and Alfie Costanzo, you can’t go too far wrong with a couple of Gold Star champions, and AGP winner in Walker’s case.

I did say arguably, happy to enter into correspondence in relation thereto!

(J Ellacott- G Burford Collection)

To me the Elfin Mono is pretty much single-seater sex on wheels.

They were a very competitive piece of kit from 1964 to the arrival of the 600 replacement and also looked the goods. Garrie Cooper’s ‘eye’ for an attractive car should not be overlooked in any and all of his designs.

They were not without controversy in terms of the effectiveness of the ‘swept back upper wishbone’ rear suspension setup of the early cars- Bob Jane’s Mono Mk1 Ford t/c one such example. Here he is shown at Warwick Farm, probably during the 1966 Tasman meeting. Bob’s cars were always superbly prepared and presented, the Mono is no exception.

Credits…

Heinz Federbusch, Ray Bell, Bruce Wells, Dick Simpson, Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Williamson Collection, John Ellacott via Grant Burford, Stride Family, Russell Thorncraft

Tailpieces…

(B Wells)

Kevin Bartlett clad in a Nomex t-shirt aboard his Lynx BMC from Wally Mitchell’s Lotus 20 Ford during a Formula Junior race at Hume Weir on 23 September 1962. KB was first and third in the two races that day, the other victor was Leo Geoghegan in a Lotus 20.

(D Simpson)

Jack and Ron sold plenty of Brabhams in Australia at the time, surely they were THE manufacturer of ‘small bore’ production racing cars of the sixties.

The photo above is of later ANF2.5 pilot Phil West in a Brabham BT6 (or is it BT2) Ford at Oran Park in 1967, chosen, despite a blemish of age on the negative, as it shows the lines of the car to great effect.

The very first Brabham or MRD and BT2, BT6 and BT14 smaller capacity chassis scored lots of race wins/success/played a part in the success of many careers in Australia including West, Gavin Youl, Greg Cusack, Bib Stillwell, John Harvey, Kevin Bartlett, David Walker, Warwick Brown and others.

Finito…

Australian Champion Speedway Rider Vic Huxley astride his Rudge JAP before the off, Wimbledon, 1933…

The caption notes Huxley as one of ‘the greatest exponents of broad-sliding around the track’.

‘Victor Nelson (Vic) Huxley (1906-1982) was born on 23 September 1906 at Wooloowin, Brisbane and attended Fortitude Valley and Kelvin Grove state schools.

Employed as a battery mechanic, he had been riding motorcycles for three years when a major bike speedway competition was introduced at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground in October 1926- he won the first event on the program, the One-Mile Handicap, and soon became one of the `broadsiding’ stars of the inaugural night races. He also won events at the Toowoomba Showground and Brisbane’s Davies Park.’

22 year old Vic Huxley at Wayville Showgrounds, Adelaide in 1928 (SLSA)

‘It was in these early stages of his career that he was bequeathed the nickname`Broadside’ by his growing number of fans. After success in Australia, including a stint at Adelaide’s Wayville Showground, he left for England in 1928 with a group of other leading speedway riders, including Frank Arthur to introduce the new Australian sport of `dirt-track racing’.

‘Speedway was a huge success in England and at one stage it was the second most popular sport, after horse-racing in the country. For many years London was its heart, and Australians—especially Huxley—were nearly always winners.’

‘To celebrate his victories, the Ogden’s branch of the Imperial Tobacco Co. (of Great Britain & Ireland) Ltd issued a `Vic Huxley’ cigarette card in their 1929 set of `Famous Dirt-Track Riders’. On the card, he was portrayed in his characteristic `broad-siding’ manoeuvre on the track. That year he was the subject of one of a series of articles on `Daredevils of the Speedway’ published in the magazine Modern Boy’.

Billy Lamont and Vic Huxley, Wimbledon, date uncertain (J Chaplin)

‘In June 1930 Huxley led an Australian team to victory in the first official speedway Test match against England. Unbeaten at this meeting, he was to become the most successful rider in Tests in the early 1930s. Captain of the ‘Harringay’ and then the ‘Wimbledon’ speedway teams, he won the Star Championship (forerunner of the world championship) in 1930 and next year became the British open champion.’

’He was almost unbeatable: he broke speedway records all over England; won eight major championships and also set and broke lap records at speedway tracks in Australia and New Zealand. His earnings were over £5000 per year, making him then one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the world. Members of the royal family and T. E. Lawrence were among those who congregated around Huxley’s team at the speedway.’

The two captains- Australia’s Vic Huxley and England’s Harold ‘Tiger’ Stevenson before the First Test at Wembley in June 1933 (Getty)

‘On 23 October 1931 at the register office, St Marylebone, London, Huxley married Sheila Alice Katherine King. He featured in numerous speedway magazine articles and books on speedway riding in England and Australia. When the British Broadcasting Corporation interviewed him in 1934 for its `In Town Tonight’ program, he became the first speedway rider to broadcast on radio. In the same year he won the Australian solo championship after being placed first in every event he entered.’

‘In his eleven years as a speedway rider on a range of different manufacturers’ machines, Huxley had only one serious accident.’

‘He left speedway racing in 1937 and opened the British Motorcycle Co. in Brisbane. Mobilised in the Militia as a lieutenant on 5 August 1941 he trained motorcycle dispatch riders. He was de-mobbed on 5 February 1945 and returned to his motorcycle business, retiring in 1957.’

’He kept few trophies and never sought any publicity. Despite being `bigger than Bradman’ in his day, Huxley remained throughout his life a modest and simple man. Three months after the death of his wife, he died on 24 June 1982 at Kangaroo Point, he was survived by a son.’

Huxley was a major sports celebrity in the UK with plenty of interest from the general press. Here he is cycling with his pooch ‘Raggles’, a Sealeyham Terrier, near his home, Wimbledon, May 1935

Etcetera…

(Getty)

Bill Sharp, Vic Huxley and Gus Kuhn before the start of a practice lap at Wimbledon in March 1935. ‘Huxley was testing his foot was in good enough condition after fracturing it last season’ the photo caption advises.

(Getty)

Vic Martin presents a silver Belisha Beacon to Vic at West Ham Speedway in May 1935. He has just covered a lap at 45 mph beating Tommy Coombs and Tiger Stevenson to the trophy.

For we colonials, a Belisha Beacon is an amber-coloured lamp globe atop a tall black and white pole which marks pedestrian crossing in the UK. Goddit!

(Getty)

Looking quite the man about town- Huxley arrives at Croydon Airport in time for the opening of the 1933 speedway season that April. The caption records travel travails before the age of the Dreamliner- by the liner Otranto from Australia before flying from Toulon to London.

Reference…

All of this article, with the exception of the photographs/captions is sourced from an ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’ entry about Huxley written by Jonathon Richards and comprises either direct quotes or truncated elements of his prose.

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, John Chaplin Collection, State Library of South Australia

Tailpiece: Vic Huxley and Sprouts Elder, Speedway Royal, Wayville, Adelaide 1929…

(SLSA)

Finito…

(oldracephotos.com.au/JEllis)

Frank Gardner leads a twenty-three car field away at the start of the 23 lap, 103 mile 1964 Australian Tourist Trophy, Longford on 29 February…

Gardner is aboard Alec Mildren’s Lotus 23B Ford 1.6 from Bib Stillwell, Cooper Monaco Climax FPF 2.7, Frank Matich, Lotus 19B Climax FPF 2.6 and Bob Jane, Jaguar E Type Lightweight and then in the distance is Frank Coad in the Lotus 15 Climax FPF 1960cc which Derek Jolly raced to win this event at Longford in 1960.

The Lotus was for sale, with Coad in Melbourne, close to potential East Coast potential purchesers, rather than in Adelaide where Jolly lived. ‘Hoot’ Gibson bought it for Bevan to race not so long after this, he drove the wheels off it of course, on the way to a drive with Bob Jane Racing several years down the track.

Matich (Brabham BT7A Climax obscured) and Jane seem to have found a nice bit of concrete on which to base themselves for the weekend. Or is a purpose built bit of ‘wheel alignment’ concrete? (oldracephotos.com.au/Smith)

Bob’s E Type had not long been in Australia, it first raced at Calder in December 1963.

Mildren’s Lotus is a new car whilst the great rivals in ‘outright’ sportscars- and from about then single-seaters too with the Matich acquisition of a Brabham BT7A, Stillwell and Matich are racing well developed cars- the 19B was FM’s second Lotus 19, whereas Bib had been racing the Monaco since September 1961.

(S Dalton)

Who is that pushing the Lotus into position with Matich- Bruce Richardson or Geoff Smedley? Gerry Brown is behind the Stillwell Monaco perhaps- click here for plenty on that wonderful machine; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

(S Dalton)

Whilst the opening photo immediately after the start shows Gardner getting the initial jump, 2.7 litres of Coventry Climax torque cannot be denied with Stillwell running strongly as the field contemplates the run up the hill past the Water Towers to the drivers left.

Gardner is second and Matich third, probably taking it easy off the line in deference to the somewhat fragile gearbox, then Jane and perhaps Greg Cusack’s Ford Cosworth 1.5 pushrod engined Elfin Mallala.

Matich looking for something in the Lotus cockpit- ‘his orange maybe’ as Stephen Dalton wryly observed (S Dalton)

The race was disappointing in that Stillwell and Coad were disqualified for push-starts, neither car was fitted with an operable self-starter- whilst Gardner was a DNF with gearbox problems after completing 23 laps.

Stillwell led from start to finish and had the time to make two stops to argue the toss with officialdom- and still was in front of Matich who stayed with Stillwell early- until Bib was disqualified, then Frank eased back confident he would be adjudged the winner.

FM won in 61.18 minutes at a race average speed of 101.25 miles per hour (fastest lap 2:33.0) with Stillwell protesting that his starter motor was operable but wouldn’t start the engine! Jane was second (2:43.3) and Greg Cusack, Elfin Mallala Ford 1475cc, third, a lap behind (2:48.4).

Les Howard was fourth in his Lotus 23 Ford 1098cc, 2 laps adrift (2:57.9), he had a great scrap throughout with the Coad 2 litre Lotus 15 (disqualified) with Bryan Thompson’s Elfin Mallala Climax fifth and John Edwards- the first Tasmanian home, sixth in his Morgan Plus 6 1998cc (3:15.8) 4 laps behind Matich.

Cusack was timed at 140 mph on ‘The Flying Mile’, Matich 150, Stillwell did 156 mph- as did Jane’s E Type.

Checkout ‘Long Weekend at Longford’, a superb Tasmanian Government film of the 1964 Longford weekend, it has excellent coverage of this race, apart from the rest of it which oozes with the relaxed atmosphere of the times.

Cusack’s Elfin Mallala exiting Newry Corner for the run down The Flying Mile (R Bell)

Greg Cusack was on the climb towards Australian National F1, racing a couple of Elfins- an FJ/WR375 and the Mallala sportscar which was derived from Elfin FJ componentry.

Two Mallalas raced that Longford weekend- Cusack’s Ford powered, third placed car and one driven by Shepparton racer, and later Touring Car/Sports Sedan drawcard, Bryan Thomson. The Thommo car was Coventry Climax powered, that 1.9 litre machine was eighth.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

The Cusack Elfin Mallala at rest in the paddock, I’ve long thought the Mallala was the prettiest of all of Garrie Cooper’s sporties. Five of the cars were built in 1962-3 based on the hardware also used by Cooper in the Elfin FJ single-seaters I wrote about a short time ago- all still exist.

As to the drivers of the ‘Humpy’ Holdens, please let me know.

(S Dalton)

Jane above passing the pit complex. Is that the Kerry Cox driven Paramount Jaguar in pitlane?

Matich on his merry way below- a very successful car with quite a few Brabham suspension components by the time FM and his boys had finished with it.

(S Dalton)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Stephen Dalton Collection, Mr Ramsay, Ray Bell

Etcetera…

(Ramsay)

Bevan and Hoot Gibson going for a blast around the streets of Mansfield in the newly acquired, immaculate Lotus 15 Climax, circa 1964- I love this shot, its just so ‘period’.

The story of the ex-works/Jolly/Gibson Lotus 15 is told here; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Tailpiece…

Matich, Lotus 19B on Kings Bridge- he turns to the right as he leaves the bridge in the direction of Longford village. Note the little boat/yacht trailer in the foreground. If memory serves there is/was a boat club in that part of the track?

The 19B met its maker at Lakeside in July 1965. Matich took the car to a Gold Star round we was contesting in his Brabham as preparation for the ’65 ATT, which was held that November and won by Pete Geoghegan in a Lotus 23B Ford. Matich had an enormous accident in the 19B pretty much destroying it and hospitalising himself.

Related thereto was the loss of his Total, the French oil company sponsorship- the local franchise of Total was acquired by Boral Ltd who were not interested in motor racing. As a consequence Matich went in a new direction- sportscars to the exclusion of single-seaters until 1969, the net effect was the purchase of an Elfin 400 Oldsmobile (aka the ‘Traco Oldsmobile’) with which he won the March 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy back here at Longford.

The Matich Lotus 19 story is here; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/08/bay-of-plenty-road-race-and-the-frank-matich-lotus-19s/

Finito…

 

 

David Sandelson sits happily in Ron Tauranac’s 1965 F3 contender, the Brabham BT15…

The venue is London Olympia, its the Sixth Annual Racing Car show which took place between 22-30 January 1965.

Whether David can stump up the 1400 pounds for the car I am not so sure. In addition he is up for a Cosworth MAE at circa 600 pounds or a Holbay R65 motor at 625 pounds. The specification sheet lists the car as having a wheelbase of 90 inches, a front track of 50 and a rear track of 51 inches. The tyres were 500 x 13 up front and 600 x 13 at the back, the weight of the machine 400 Kg.

The car was very similar to the 1965-1966 Formula Libre BT14 and 1966 F2 BT16. The exact number built- construction of the chassis were outsourced to the famous ‘Arch Motors’ concern, is estimated variously from 26 to 58 cars with oldracingcars Allen Brown writing that ’26 were built in 1965 but Brabham records say that another 32 were built in 1966. This may well be an error, with the 32 1966 BT18A F3 cars being double counted.’

The BT15, Brabham’s second F3 machine (after the 1964 BT9) made the companies name in F3- almost identical to the F2 BT16 it had a spaceframe chassis with conventional outboard suspension- when powered with Cosworth engines the car took a hatful of victories’ according to f3history.co.uk.

The little machine was a simple, chuckable, fast, easy to prepare and set-up car which won lots of friends and set the Brabham marque trend for the balance of the sixties.

In terms of the BT15 roll call of 1965 national European F3 championships, Tony Dean won the BRSCC British title in a BT15 and Roy Pike the BARC title in a BT16. Andrea de Adamich was victorious in Italy with a BT15, also using a Lola T53 whilst Picko Troberg won the Swedish, and Jorgen Elleker the Danish title gathering some points with a Lotus 22 early in the season.

Brabham BT15 ‘F3-3-65’ in build February 1965. Ford Holbay R65 engine, sans undertray but days away from completion perhaps- the car was pretty kind to Jim- it would have been interesting to see what he could have done in 1965 with a Cosworth engine- albeit that queue was a long one (J Sullivan)

‘Australian F3 Gypsy’, Jim Sullivan gets the feel of his brand-spankers Brabham BT15 Ford Holbay R65 ‘F3-3-65’ at Motor Racing Developments in February 1965…

He was the winner of the Australian Automobile Racing Club/Smiths Instruments Scholarship to Europe awarded for his performance in both an Austin Healey Sprite and a later Mk2A in 1963.

‘The scheme is in effect an opportunity to help rather than to provide all that is required for a complete and grandiose ‘Driver to Europe’ but it was essential for the selected driver to be a good ambassador for Australia with a pleasing personality, quite apart from being a skilful, enterprising and successful competitor in this country.’

The press release about the prize award notes that the ‘AARC has full reciprocal rights with the British Automobile Racing Club…He will be assured of full trade support from the Smiths Organisation in respect of Lodge and KLG, and had it not been for the untimely death of Reg Parnell, he too, would have been on hand to advise and guide him in his endeavours.’

It’s interesting that the judges chose a driver of a production sportscar rather than an open-wheeler pilot for this award but perhaps that is just my perception that the prize would be devoted to a practitioner of the purest form of the sport…

Fantastic photo provided by motoring journalist Paul Newby from the Muir Family Archive, Paul wrote ‘Brian Muir was the second recipient of the KLG/Smiths Industries Driver to Europe Scholarship awarded by the AARC in 1965, I don’t think there were any scholarships awarded after that date’ – Lets assume this photo is of Brian and Jim in 1966, no idea where, that year he drove a Brabham BT18 (Muir Family via Paul Newby)

Jim jumped into the deepest of pools and went very well in one of the most intensely competitive championships on the planet.

The British F3 fields in 1965 included the likes of Piers Courage, Roy Pike, Tony Lanfranchi, Harry Stiller, Derek Bell, Jonathon Williams, Peter Gethin, John Miles, Brian Hart, Alan Rollinson, Mo Nunn, Chris Irwin, Tony Dean and others.

These days the marvellous ‘F2 Index’ seems to have lost some of the results for the minor British race meetings but Jim contested at least twelve meetings in 1965. His bests were a win at a BRSCC Rufforth on 17 July and second places at BARC Silverstone on 19 June and at the AMOC Martini Meeting on 24 July behind Piers Courage and in front of Pike, Irwin, Gethin and Stiller.

Also noteworthy was a sixth at the Silverstone British GP meeting in July behind, amongst others, Pike, Gethin and Dean. In a year of consistency, seven of his twelve meetings were top six finishes with only one DNF at Silverstone in the second meeting he seems to have contested at Silverstone on 20 March- for the record his first event appears to be on 13 March at Goodwood for sixth.

Jim raced on into 1966 in a Team Promecom Brabham BT18, but again without the all important Cosworth MAE engine. He did eight meetings in April and May his best result a win in a Castle Combe clubby on 23 April. Three thirds at Brands, Goodwood and Snetterton from 24 April to 1 May was impressive- and with that it seems he returned home to Australia to a few Bathurst 500 appearances into the early seventies.

Of interest (maybe!?) is that Dave Walker had his first (?) steer in a car in the UK at the 19 June 1966 Les Leston round in a Team Promecom BT16- a DNF.

Another couple of Australians lobbed late in 1966 too- Wal Donnelly was immediately on the pace with a Team Promecom BT18 whilst Barry Collerson made do with a Cooper T76 Ford Holbay, not exactly the best bit of kit perhaps…but he was there. I must buy his book too.

Clearly Jim Sullivan did enough to attract some factory support but as we know F3 is and always was an intensely competitive class where the cream rises to the top but not necessarily the cream which most deserves to.

Jim Sullivan, Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Colin Chapman contest a Scalextric GP at a BRDC dinner at Grosvenor House London in 1965 (J Sullivan)

When Sullivan returned to Australia he worked in public relations, newspapers and magazines as a writer.

It appears that his final appearances in motor racing were as a co-driver during the annual Bathurst production car enduros in 1968, 1971 and 1974.

Whilst in 1968 Bathurst was the year of the Holden Monaro- GTS327’s were the first three cars home, Sullivan shared a much less exotic Holden Kingswood 186S with Sib Petralia, the duo finished in 28th place. The other car in the photo below is the Japanese crewed Datsun 1600 of Talahashi/Sunago which finished in 21st place.

(unattributed)

Whilst the Ford Cortina Mk1’s were at the front of the field at Bathurst from 1963 to 1965, Sullivan had the honour of co-driving the last Cortina (below) to compete in the Bathurst 500 sharing a TC Cortina L 2 litre with Geoff Westbury to 35th place in 1971.

(unattributed)

Sullivan’s final Bathurst outing was sharing a Klosters Ford, Newcastle, sponsored Ford Escort Mk1 Twin-Cam to 16th place with Ian White in 1974- they were fifth in the 1300-2000cc class.

Jim was also involved in rallying a Klosters sponsored Escort Twin-Cam in the 1970’s together with Murray Finley- an NBN newsreader colleague of Sullivan.

Sullivan was hired by NBN TV (Nine Network) Newcastle, New South Wales as a reporter in 1977 covering a range of stories and producing a number of documentaries including the Logie winning (Australian National annual TV awards) ‘A Day In Jail’ aimed at young offenders.

He was appointed News Director in 1985 and is credited with expanding NBN’s Hunter Valley news service into the Northern NSW market from the Hawkesbury to the Gold Coast and as far west as Lightning Ridge.

Whilst responsible for all aspects of the NBN News service his main personal focus was, unsurprisingly, on motoring journalism which was reflected in ‘Drive Alive’, a driver safety initiative and ‘Project Restart’ promoting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

He retired from NBN in 2007 and these days is an independent writing and editing professional living near Lake Macquarie

He has been in the news in recent years taking on a local issues- the pollution left by the former Pasminco lead and zinc smelting operation at Boolaroo which has caused soil contamination in northern Lake Macquarie.

Brabham BT15 F3-3-65…

Brabham racer/historian Denis Lupton’s notes have it that Jim Sullivan raced the car in 1965 and Dave Walker in 1966, it then passed to Geoff Oliver and Fred Opert and thence to Joe Bosworth in the US circa 1970.

Joe Bosworth wrote via Denis Lupton that ‘Sullivan ran under the umbrella of the Jim Balfour owned ‘Team Promecon’, the car’s build sheets show it was constructed from February 7 to 25 1965′, so it most definitely is not the car at the Racing Car Show!

‘Back in 1970 I bought ‘F3-3-65’…from Fred Opert, who….seemed to handle most of the Brabhams to enter the US in those days. I have a memory of asking Fred where the car came from and he said France.’

Bosworth converted the car to FF spec and ran it as such in FF’s early days in the US…’thereafter (with a Quicksilver professionally built rather than home built engine) the BT15 was as good as any FF in the US until the side-radiator cars started to come in…’

The car was sold by Bosworth to Graham Dell in Australia in 2011- who owns it now?

Click here to oldracingcars.com Allen Brown’s Brabham cars type number- click into the BT15 link for the mysteries of individual chassis histories; https://www.oldracingcars.com/brabham/

Credits…

Getty Images, Jim Sullivan Collection, F2 Index, Denis Lupton, Ten-Tenths Brabham BT15 thread, NBN TV

Tailpiece: Sullivan’s Brabham being assaulted at Castle Combe, date unknown…

(J Sullivan)

Am intrigued to know the name of the aviator, his craft and the date of the meeting.

Finito…

Matich A53 ‘007’ front suspension detail- upper and lower wishbones, coil springs and luvverly double-adjustable alloy bodied Koni’s- de-rigueur in F1 and F5000 at the time. Cast magnesium uprights, Melmag wheels, Lockheed calipers grabbing Repco disc rotors. Note the tubular steel subframe which mounts to the aluminium Matich designed but Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation fabricated monocoque chassis- they also cast the Matich steering rack. Pretty lady behind the car on Goodyear duty is unknown, sadly. Derek Kneller is working on the left front, guy with ‘builders cleavage’ is Grant O’Neill. Around the left-rear is Peter Hughes in the white T-Shirt with ‘Lugsy’ Graham Adams in the yellow polo shirt (T Glenn)

Bob Muir settles himself into the cockpit of the new Matich A53 Repco on Friday 1 February, prior to its debut race, the Oran Park Tasman round on 3 February 1974…

Frank and his team had finished the car before the Tasman but Matich was badly hurt in a boating accident the week before the meeting in which he was electrocuted and injured badly.

Bob was chosen by Frank to race the car after he tested it- against doctors orders and satisfied himself that the rigours of a full race weekend, inclusive of the 90 lap race in summer heat were beyond him at that early stage stage of his recovery.

As things transpired Muir raced the A53 only the once at Oran Park before Frank returned to the cockpit at Surfers Paradise a week later- FM did the last three Tasman rounds and soon after retired from racing for good.

Frank Matich tests the A53 early on that Friday before OP- I wonder how many laps he did and how long the task list was after his first test laps?! (D Harvey)

The 1974 Tasman was a beauty.

By the time of the fifth round at Oran Park, there had been four different winners in New Zealand.

John Walker took the opener at Levin on 5 January in his one-of-a-kind Lola T330 Repco Holden, Peter Gethin won at Pukekohe the following weekend in his VDS Chevron B24 Chev- then John McCormack was victorious in the somewhat geriatric, but continually developed Elfin MR5 Repco at Wigram- that year the New Zealand Grand Prix. Max Stewart won the Teretonga round in his mighty fast Lola T330 Chev ‘HU-1’ the very first of the breed, Frank Gardner’s development or prototype car in fact.

Muir aboard at OP. Repco Holden F5000 engine- car fitted with the ‘ultimate spec’ flat-plane crank unit giving circa 520bhp and not losing the mountain of torque for which these units were known in the quest for more power. Note the ‘Varley’ battery behind the Lucas injection unit and coil- no doubt now very well insulated from the ‘good vibrations’ of the engine which ‘shook the shitter’ out of the battery and cost the one race only A52 victory of the Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, Gold Star race at Surfers Paradise on 2 September 1973 (T Glenn)

I wrote at length about Frank and his Formula 5000 designs a while back, click on this link for a comprehensive story and analysis of these wonderful machines, with A53 ‘007’ the last and best; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

This article is about the development of the Repco-Holden F5000 V8; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

(D Kneller)

The photo above is of Matich Chief Mechanic Derek Kneller and Bob Muir consulting during practice at Oran Park, the one below is a fortnight later at Sandown- its FM exiting Peters/Torana Corner and blasting up the back straight in a new ‘small-window’ Bell Star.

Bell together with Goodyear were two of the racing brands for which Matich held the local commercial rights. The helmet is a “Bell 120 (Degree) Full Face Helmet- they retailed at $79.90 at the time…”, quipped Matich employee Rob McDonald.

So, by Oran Park the Matich lads were up against it with their new car- the opposition were race ready off the back of the first four intensely Tasman fought rounds. Mind you, it is fair to say that the A53 was a slightly tidied up and evolved version of the short-lived A52 which met its maker when Muir had a testing shunt in it at Warwick Farm in late September 1973.

(unattributed)

Generally the designers original intent is its most pure, don’t you think?

If i’m critical of the look of the car, a machine which to me was a real honey of a thing, maybe the only element which is not aesthetically pleasing is the way the A50-52 cockpit surround doesn’t integrate well with the nosecone.

The thing was a jet right outta the box mind you- so who gives a shit what I think!

Repco’s Ken Symes and Derek Kneller push FM’s A53 from the Sandown fork up area or dummy grid into pitlane, Shell Corner or more boringly ‘Turn One’ behind. Note the engine oil sump on near side aft of the radiator. Note brake air-scoops since OP (P Weaver)

The A53’s was first completed and wheel-aligned on the ground on 11 January 1974- ‘by that stage the Tasman was already underway but we could have had the car finished easily in time for Pukekohe. Repco didn’t want us to go given the fuel shortage dramas they expected in New Zealand’ recalled Derek Kneller. The first OPEC Oil Embargo or crisis began in October 1973 with New Zealand particularly impacted given 80% of their crude oil needs were provided by Middle Eastern countries.

With hindsight Repco over-reacted, but the net effect of their decision (despite well before renewing Matich’s annual August to August sponsorship agreement through to the end of August 1974) was that Team Matich didn’t race in New Zealand- so the final build of the car was done in relatively relaxed fashion rather than with the pressure of the 5 January first round in mind.

‘Mind you, Frank sent me to the Pukekohe first round race weekend to scout around and report back on the Tasman field on latest developments and what everybody was up’ Derek recalled. No doubt the new Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence Lola T332’s were of particular interest.

When back in Sydney the crew completed the car- the team at that stage comprised FM, DK, Peter Hughes, Grant O’Neill and Leon Jarvis.

A53 was first tested at Oran Park on 24 January, the driving chores shared by Matich and Enno Buesselmann.

Enno had come out of FV and FF and had a strong 1973 driving the Bob and Marj Brown owned ANF2 Birrana 273 Ford-Hart- he was third in the championship that year behind Leo Geoghegan’s dominant, similar, works car. Matich decided to give him some laps in the car.

‘Enno did two stints of 10 laps apiece’ recalls Derek. ‘We didn’t time the first ten given it was his first time in a big car but he got down to a best of 47 seconds dead in the second of his two sessions. With the same setup as Enno FM did a 44.6- and then later in the day a best of 43.6 seconds after some changes were made to the car’.

The team then left the circuit with a decent job list before the Oran Park Tasman round.

‘Frank had a visitor from Repco in Sydney- one of the senior guys, he planned to take him out in his boat, Frank had a home and boat slipway at Clareville. The boat wouldn’t start- the battery was flat. He grabbed a Honda generator and the leads for a battery charger and mistakenly pushed the lead into the 240 volt, rather than 12 volt plug- he then got a big shock from the alligator clip which attached itself to the fleshy part of his hand, burning it badly. Simultaneously he fell forward downwards and over the battery, burning his chest and losing consciousness’.

‘Kris saw some of this from the wharf and jumped into a skiff to help his Dad- who motioned not to come near the live boat- the generator stalled ending the ordeal. Frank had burns to the fleshy piece of his right hand between the thumb and forefinger and chest.’ In addition there was the mental shock related to the whole incident. Most of you are aware the gearshift in a racing car is usually on the right so FM had a considerable challenge in managing 100 miles at Oran Park a few days hence.

Despite the accident Matich had not lost his sense of humour, team machinist/fabricator Peter Hughes recalls Frank saying to him ‘that when he lost consciousness and came around again “I could hear the generator running and thought I’ve died and gone to hell and they have Honda generators here!”, He also told me that he couldn’t grasp the round knob to turn it off and pushed the choke lever up to stall it. Sense of humour and thinking all the time’ concluded Peter.

Despite that setback Matich, heavily bandaged, and no doubt against his medical advice did ten laps of Oran Park on the Friday before the meeting getting down to a best of 42.4 seconds.

The team had dramas in practice at OP, typical teething problems, including  the engine, which meant that Bob started off the back of the grid, his best according to Team Matich records was a 42.8- the result in the race was a DNF after fuel-pump failure.

Max Stewart’s T330 won the ‘Oran Park 100’ race that day, but Peter Gethin again finished- its was his fifth in a row finish, this time in fifth place, ultimately he would win the title with an eight out of eight 1974 Tasman finishing record.

Derek, ‘On the Wednesday (6 February) after the race we went back to Oran Park for some further testing.’

‘We had fitted a new rear suspension crossbeam and also cured the fuel pump problem. During the Oran Park race Frank walked to several corners to observe the A53 on track, and after the race he checked his rear suspension drawing and come up with a new spec for the rear crossbeam, he stood the spring/shock unit more upright by a couple of degrees. After the Wednesday test he was pleased with the change.’

Frank drove 27 laps in total and Bob Muir drove 12. The majority of Frank’s were in the 42’s with a quickest of 41.0. Bob’s furst stint was also in the 42’s and his second stint reeled off 5 laps- 41.3, 41.1, 41.3, 41.0 and 41.0. Pole for the race was 39.9. From my working with FM i know there would have been at least 1 second being held back in testing when FM was fighting fit let alone suffering from the injuries from the accident. After this test we were given another work list to complete before setting off for Surfers on Thursday afternoon’ Kneller concluded.

Team Matich then trucked the mighty quick car up to the Gold Coast where Matich was so fast in the A52 not so many months before during the September 1973 Gold Star round.

His time was good enough for fourth on the grid, despite it being his first real go in the car and coping with a broken throttle cable and too much oversteer- he finished third behind the Teddy Pillette and Gethin VDS Chevron B24’s despite knocking off a front wing on lap 15.

FM’s was a mighty fine display of speed amongst all those highly developed cars- not to say personal grit and determination in all the circumstances.

Sandown is a power circuit, Matich put his flat-plane crank 520bhp Repco engine to good use qualifying second on the grid behind Gethin. A crowd of over 20,000 people saw Matich lead for 15 laps before water pump problems- apparent from lap 5, the resultant cooked motor ended his day.

Gethin took the win from Graham McRae’s McRae GM2 Chev- the disappointment of the series in terms of results if not in absolute pace and Walker’s T330 Repco.

A53 at rest in the Adelaide International paddock (C Bond)

 

Matich during his final race appearance- the ‘Adelaide 100’ at Adelaide International on 24 February 1974. FM fourth behind Warwick Brown, Peter Gethin and Graeme Lawrence- Lola T332, Chevron B24 and Lola T332, all Chev powered (D Mellonie)

And so to the final Tasman round, Adelaide International, and as it turned out FM’s final race.

Frank again popped the car second on the grid, the car was fitted with a fresh engine, a tenth shy of Stewart’s T330.

In the race he was running second before spinning on some oil and again worked his way up to second- and challenging Brown hard in the final stages, before he spun four laps from the end when his engine momentarily cut out. He finished fourth, 27 seconds behind winner Warwick Brown.

WB had the honour of taking the very first win for the Lola T332- the first of hundreds of victories for the T332/T332C/T332CS/T333 F5000/Single-Seat Can-Am family of cars! Warwick’s car, or his patron, Pat Burke’s to be more precise, chassis ‘HU-27′, was the very first of the T332’s.

The A53 was a great bit of kit- it won the the 1976 Australian Grand Prix in John Goss’ hands (in chassis A51/3 ‘005’) a couple of years after it’s birth.

If only FM had gone to the US in 1974. It would have been fascinating to see how a 520 bhp, flat-plane-crank Repco V8 powered A53 would have fared amongst a plethora of Lola T332 Chevs. With the lessons learned during the unsuccessful 1973 L&M Series campaign for sure they would have put up quite a fight…

Derek Kneller and Ken Symes fettle the A53 in the Sandown Park paddock (A Radley)

Lets come back to Frank’s retirement, Derek Kneller again picks up the story.

‘We were set up beautifully for 1974.

Repco had renewed the sponsorship arrangement in August 1973, they had allocated us four engines which were powerful, as displayed during the Tasman races we did- and the new car was quick.

Consulting with the Matich Red Books (FM used a series of red hard cover foolscap books as data logs), when he got out of the car at Adelaide he dictated a long job list for the car, all to be done before the next race. Car too low/too much brake on the rear/too much wing?/steering vibration/more roll stiffness at rear/stay with banana wing (Matich at the time had the ‘original Matich wing’ and an ‘American banana’ style)/check bump steer and shocks/rear springs harder/new brake ducts/tyre pressures too high.

When he got out of the car and we left Adelaide he planned to race on.’

Frank and Joan Matich in the Warwick Farm form up area poor to the 1973 Tasman round- Matich A50 Repco ‘001’. Note the neck brace Joan is wearing

‘In Adelaide he spun twice, once on oil and the second time he couldn’t work out why. He had constant ringing in the ears as a result of the boating incident and just felt at 39 he could not concentrate as he had always been able to before so he felt it was perhaps time. At the same time FM’s wife Joan was having severe ongoing problems with her neck including surgery. So it was a combination of factors as a consequence of the accident and the need to focus on Joan and the rest of the family that led to the decision to retire, sell the racing cars but otherwise remain in business including the racing franchises such as Goodyear and Bell’ Kneller said.

No doubt Matich indicating he wanted to retire made the decision for Repco to withdraw from racing easier given the global competitive pressures upon them in the increasingly difficult economic situation of the time- oil shocks, the progressive lowering of Australian Tariffs and global ‘stagflation’.

Derek Kneller returned to the UK (there are some great stories there to be told when his book is finished!, c’mon Derek lots of us are waiting for that little baby!) with Peter Hughes the last of the race team to leave, he ‘worked with Tony Simmons for a while then when John Goss finally bought the A53 I worked with John and Grant O’Neill until 1975- the 1975 Tasman was the last series with John before marrying and travelling around Australia for two years.’

(M Bisset Collection)

Etcetera: The closely related Matich A52 Repco ‘006’…

During 1973, as related in one of the linked articles above, Matich took two A51’s to the US to contest the American F5000 Championship, the ‘L&M Series’, the cars used were chassis ‘005’ and ‘006’- ‘005’ was tested for a day at Warwick Farm before shipping to the states, ‘006’ was not.

The team who travelled to the US were, FM, DK, Chief Mechanic, Chris Miles, Team Manager, Bob Riley, Draftsman and engineering of the car, John Anderson and Leon Jarvis, Mechanics and Ken Symes looking after four Repco V8’s

Derek Kneller recalls ‘The cars did not perform as expected we had a handling problem on the latest spec Goodyear’s and the bumpy nature of the US circuits. The tyres weren’t identical to those we tested before going to the US. FM wasn’t the only driver testing the F5000 tyres, the final production tyres we were presented were different, so we were playing catch-up. The cars were still as fast as any at the Riverside first round mind you’.

‘The biggest problem was engine related. The higher cornering speeds of the US circuits threw up a scavenge problem in the Repco engines, this seemed to get worse as the season went on and at Watkins Glen the crankshaft bearings were damaged in both cars during practice and both were withdrawn from the race after discussion with Repco management in Maidstone the night before the race. This meeting was the first at which we ran the flat-plane crank engines.’

‘If Frank had qualified on the time he did on the Friday we would have been on the front two rows at the Glen. By then Matich had the car sorted on the tyres- this involved changes to shocks/camber and toe to get the loading right. We also moved the battery to the front to load the car up front a bit more.’

‘At the start of the season the A51 was as competitive as the T330 but its development accelerated with so many drivers and teams running and experimenting with the T330’s’.

‘Straight after the race weekend at Watkins Glen chassis ‘006’ was flown back to Sydney with me so that the handling and engine problems could be sorted. Chassis ‘005’ was left in the States with the rest of the team.’

Matich A51 ‘006’ and A51 ‘005’ in the Watkins Glen pitlane, June 1973- A51 ‘006’ rebuilt as an A52 using the same ‘006’ chassis as per text (D Kneller)

‘On returning to Sydney the engine problem was overcome, an additional scavenge pump was added to scavenge oil from above the camshaft. Oil was being retained in the valley above the camshaft in the longer fast corners causing oil starvation in the oil tank, leading to bearing failure.’

After the engine problem was sorted it was decided to redesign the chassis to overcome the handling deficiencies, hence the A52 design…The A52 was built using the A51 ‘006’ chassis and rear end but with a longer engine/gearbox adaptor (bellhousing) giving a 2inch longer (50mm) wheelbase than the A51, this was in line with the Lola T330′.

‘The radiators were moved to the sides of the chassis along with modifications to the engine water pump so that each radiator cooled the opposite side cylinder head and were shrouded with aluminum ductings’.

‘The oil tank was repositioned behind the left-hand radiator (from beside the cars gearbox, outside its wheelbase) and the battery moved from the front of the car to above the bellhousing’.

At the front of the chassis the steering rack was moved from the chassis itself to a heavily redesigned front subframe. The top pick up point for the shock absorber/spring assembly was raised approx 1 1/4 inch (30mm) along with a redesigned lower wishbone and new front uprights. These mods gave an increase in front suspension movement’.

‘To complete the design a chisel shaped nose made from fibre glass was added, the complete car was about 10 Kg lighter than the A51’.

‘The A52 was tested extensively by Frank at Warwick Farm during late July/early August 1973 with a hope of returning to the US series, but a problem with the sponsors in the US prevented this happening’.

FM Matich A52 Repco, ahead of Max Stewart’s Lola T330 Chev, Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, September 1973 (K Payne)

‘We had hoped to be back by Atlanta but we had problems with Carroll Smith and the Earley’s who owed us money. They were a father/son combination who were chiropodists operating their business and workshop in Dover, Ohio. Smith went AWOL at the Glen- non-one could get hold of him, he was bluing with the Earley’s too and then turned up a couple of races later with Graham McRae’ recalled Derek.

‘Frank sent me back to bring all of the cars, spares- the lot, Ken and Ando were still there whilst the other three had already come back to Australia.

FM side aspect at Surfers, similarity to A53 clear albeit A53 sidepods were bigger and longer to cover the fuel cells meet the new for 1974 deformable structure regulations (K Payne)

 

Matich off to the side of the circuit at Surfers trying to diagnose his problem- a destroyed battery internals (K Payne)

‘The A52’s only race was the Gold Star race, the ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’ at Surfers Paradise on 2 Sepember 1973 when fitted with a flat plane crank Repco F5000 engine. This gave over 520hp and sounded like a Cosworth DFV on steroids! (the best of the two-plane Repco engines gave circa 495bhp@7000rpm)

‘FM was quick straight away- he knew what the tyres needed, he led the race setting fastest lap before retiring with battery failure, the high frequency vibration from the engine shook the internals of the Varley battery apart.’

‘The car was comprehensively destroyed in a test session at Warwick Farm in late September whilst driven by Bob Muir. The chassis was beyond repair, both the outer and inner skins were damaged. The photos show damage from the car hitting the water-sprinkler system at Warwick Farm, 50mm diameter steel pipes- at great speed’.

‘Frank was not happy as he had just left the circuit after a successful session to visit his wife Joan, who was in hospital- and had let Bob have a steer to get another drivers opinion of the car, Bob had been driving a Lola T330 Chev in the US’.

As a consequence of the death of A52, A53 was born using the last remaining Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation constructed chassis.

(D Kneller)

Photos of the comprehensively damaged A52 ‘006’ back at the Matich workshop in September 1973.

‘The ‘006’ remains stayed at the Matich Military Road workshop and were then moved to the warehouse in Aartarmon and then later Darley Road and were finally junked a week or two before I rejoined Matich in 1989′ said Derek.

‘Frank knew I would want to repair and restore the car which he didn’t want to do so he got rid of it not long before I arrived back to run his Headway Helmets business- I shipped a Mondiale Formula Ford out for Kris (Matich) when I came back to Australia too’ Derek recalled.

(D Kneller)

Photo and Other Credits…

Tony Glenn, Derek Kneller, Peter Hughes, Peter Weaver, David Mellonie, Dale Harvey, Peter Weaver, Alan Radley, Ken Payne via John Payne, Curt Bond, oldracingcars.com, ‘Australian Competition Yearbook’ 1975 Edition.

Click here for Allen Brown’s great summary of the Matich F5000 cars;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/f5000/matich/

Tailpiece: Muir, ready to rock n’ roll, Oran Park pit lane 1 February 1974…

(T Glenn)

Its all happening above, its the Friday before the meeting.

An obscured Bowin P6F Formula Ford is between the Matich and Brian Foley’s ‘Chesterfield Racing’ XA or XB Ford Falcon Panel Van.

The shapely form in the driving suit holding the helmet in the middle of the shot is Christine Cole/Gibson who ran a Group C ‘105 Series’ Alfa 2000 GTV from 1973 to 1975 in many races including the 1975 Australian Touring Car Championship (which she gave a really good shake!) and Manufacturers Championship- its probably Foley to the left of Cole?

The more you look, the more you see…

Finito…