Posts Tagged ‘Australian Motor Racing History’

(NAA)

A burly Aussie bloke prepares his model car for a race at the Victorian Model Race Car Club (VMRCC) meeting, Como Park, South Yarra, 1945.

I can find no record of the 1945 meeting, but in 1951 Lee Marget’s 10cc model did better than 100mph over a quarter-mile. Not so sure how my near neighbours in South Yarra would feel about motor racing in their twee-suburb now, olde bean…

The VMRCC had classes for cars, the length of which varied from 10 to 18 inches. Proto were the biggest and fastest, then Proto-Spur, Spur and Might. Proto’s did better than 100mph, the tiny-Might about 70mph.

All were powered by 10cc two-stroke engines fed by a methanol/castor oil brew. Fitted with torch-batteries “The batteries are charged on high-speed rollers, and the cars are then attached to a cable, which revolves around a pole in the centre of the track, and are started by pushing them with a pole for a quarter lap or so.”

“The cars quickly gather speed…when maximum speed is attained…the operator signals the timekeeper to start timing…A midget is timed over 6-laps, 440 yards, and is then stopped by the operator tripping a lever,”

In November 1950 the lap record was held by ‘Juan-Manuel’ Bailem of Maribynong at 116mph.

Clubs then were operating in South Yarra, Maribynong, Geelong and Cowra NSW, as well as clubs in South Australia and Queensland. Some club members imported their racers but most were home-built.

I’ll bet it was fun until CAMS got involved…

Credits…

National Archives of Australia-Sketching naval life: the war art of Rex Julius, Trove,

Tailpiece…

(NAA-R Julius)

W.R.A.N (Womens Royal Austraian Navy) driver standing by her ute (brand folks?) at HMAS Rushcutter, April 2, 1944. Why this? Just coz…

Able Seaman Rex Julius enlisted in 1940, he trained in submarine detection, but when the higher-ups became aware of his pre-war career as a commercial artist, he was appointed an official war artist for the Royal Australian Navy in 1944.

He died of a throat abscess and gangrene in New Guinea the same year – great shame, he was a talented man.

The sketch above is one he made of activity around the naval base, HMAS Rushcutter, Sydney Harbour.

(NAA-R Julius)

This one has a particular resonance. While the blokes have a swim off the side of HMAS Lithgow, on the way to Milne Bay, New Guinea in 1944, “One rating sits under the motor boat with a Tommie Gun in case of sharks.” Only ‘in’ Australia!

Finito…

(Tony Johns-SLV)

Former Austin 7 racer and Bentley historian Tony Johns is a regular visitor to the Victorian State Library, there, he browses newspapers and magazines for Austin 7 and Bentley history. If he comes upon things of interest in the writer’s realm, which is mostly to do with Bugattis, he kindly forwards them.

We are aware that pioneering Bugatti motorist and racer Jack Day made superchargers, but have not previously seen an image of one, let alone the object itself. This despite having owned two of the cars that were one-time fitted with JADAY blowers. We knew that they were of a Roots pattern, but little more, other than that Jack made them in his Ajax Pump factory in South Melbourne.

The cover of The Car magazine for October, 1932 above shows the JADAY supercharger in all its glory, as well as its side-draft Solex carburettor, bolted directly to the blower.

Just call M 2425 and ask for Jack and you can have one for 22 pounds, 10 shillings (Tony Johns-SLV)

John Albert Day of Melbourne was a well-known racing car driver in the twenties, thirties and forties.

Like so many others of the period, he had success on push bikes before taking to four wheels. His first job had been delivering hats on a bicycle when he was 10 years old – suggesting an early entrepreneurial bent. It is not known whether he was related to Syd Day, a pioneering motorist who competed in the Sydney to Melbourne Dunlop Reliability trial of 1905.

Our first record of him in a motoring event is in 1923 when he drove a 2.3-litre SCAT in a Hill Driving Contest at Greensborough. In 1924 he drove a 1100cc Salmson at Malpas Hill, 17 miles North of Melbourne. This event famously crossed the Hume Highway; traffic being stopped for each run.

At a later Malpas hill climb he drove an Alvis which was also driven in the ladies contest by L. Day. Mrs Day took part in the 1927 Alpine trial in a Riley ‘9’.

Jack Day at the wheel of his Type 37, 37145 (Bob King Collection)

His first appearance in a Bugatti was in May 1927 when he ran at rural, and nor urban Melbourne, Wheelers Hill.

His 11/2 litre unsupercharged Type 37, chassis number 37145, had been delivered new to Melbourne less than a year before, having been sold via the Bugatti agent Sporting Cars to one of its directors T.E. Barnett for his son Dudley. Later that year the car was owned by Lyster Jackson who, plagued by misfiring, was all too ready to on-sell it. According to Jack in a recorded interview, he bought it when Lyster and he were contesting a hill climb at Lorne as part of the Victorian Light Car Club’s Dependability Trial in October, 1926.

Jack: “Lyster revved and revved and revved, on only about 11/2 cylinders, and I said to him: ‘That will never get up the hill’ and he said, ‘I’ll beat you up.’ So, I had a big-port Alvis, and of course I took the hillclimb away from him”. Lyster said he would sell it and Jack “bought it on the spot.” Jack cured the misfiring by making “special KLG’s” in which he removed the negative electrode, substituting it with platinum “only the thickness of a pin.”

37145 when owned by Dudley Barnett as a new car (Bob King Collection)

Jack entered his now reliable Bugatti in the 1928 100 mile AGP at Phillip Island. He was one of the favourites for the race having won a half mile speed trial in lieu of the rain-postponed race at 84mph.

Unfortunately, early in the race he lost his way in the dust, shooting through a fence and taking considerable time to regain the track. Although noted to be travelling at great speed, he would have been disappointed to finish in sixth place, some 10 minutes behind the winning Austin ‘7’ of Arthur Waite.

A clear demonstration of the dust encountered during the 1928 AGP at Phillip Island – was this the moment Jack ‘lost his way’ (Bob King Collection)

Seeking improved performance, in late 1931, Jack supercharged it with a JADAY supercharger driven from the nose of the crankshaft by a shaft that protruded through the lower part of the radiator.

We have not seen a photograph of this installation, but the blower must have been supported between the dumb irons; the radiator having a piece cut out of the bottom of the core through which the drive-shaft passed.

This radiator with a patch over the blower drive-shaft hole, subsequently found its way on to its sister Type 37,37146, subsequently leading to misidentification of these consecutively numbered cars.

Post-war sister car 37146 was campaigned vigorously by Herb Ford. In this shot taken at Rob Roy, the blower drive cut-out in the radiator can be seen – the radiator had been swapped from 37145 (Bob King Collection)

Jack’s second foray into Bugatti supercharging was with the 1931 Australian Grand Prix winning Type 39, 4607 which he bought in 1933.

The Type 39 was a 1 1/2 litre, normally aspirated straight-eight. He again drove the supercharger from the nose of the crankshaft by means of a long, tapered extension. This shaft remains in the care of the writer – it is his favourite large punch. Jack was not known for his finesse, and this is corroborated by the finish of said shaft, the forward end of which is crudely hack-sawed most of the way through, the last part being snapped-off, leaving a ragged end.

We are unaware of what modifications may have been made to the radiator as this item disappeared after many years fitted to a Brescia Bugatti in lieu of its normal pear-shaped radiator. As the JADAY blown Type 37 and 39 seemed to see very little service, it might be concluded that the modifications were not entirely satisfactory. Could Jack have miscalculated the volume of the necessarily long inlet tract, leading to an unsatisfactory performance?

Day at Phillip Island for the Jubilee Handicap, May 6, 1935 in the Type 39 (Bob King Collection)

As to other JADAY supercharger installations, we have little knowledge. It is possible that one of Jack’s superchargers was fitted to his AL3 Lombard, and it is rumoured that he was involved with the Cozette supercharging of another Lombard AL3 then owned by W.H. Lowe who was the importer of these delightful, petite, 1100cc twin-cam cars.

The patterns for the beautiful finned inlet manifold of this car were certainly of local manufacture – they survived until relatively recent times. Lowe later made his name as the first licenced Ferrari agent outside Italy.

Bill Lowe in his Lombard at Rob Roy just one week after the Black Friday Bushfires, January 30, 1939 (Spencer Wills)

One last twist in the tail of JADAY superchargers brings us to the early post-war WWII years. Jack Day and Norman Hamilton, also a racing driver and a subsequent Porsche importer, investigated the possibility of adapting their turbine technology for one of the worlds great engineering projects, the nascent Snowy Mountain scheme.

With this in mind, Norman and Jack visited Switzerland to study hydro-electric schemes in 1951. During the course of this visit, Norman’s rented Oldsmobile was rounded up by a low slung, silver missile on the Grossglockner Pass. They came upon car and driver; racing driver and motoring journalist Richard von Frankenberg and his car, a prototype Porsche further up the road at an Inn.

After discussion and inspection of the car, the entrepreneurial Hamilton followed Von Frankenberg back through the Alps to the factory. After a tour of the facilities and a meeting with Ferry Porsche, Hamilton walked away with a hand-shake deal for the Porsche commercial rights in Australia and New Zealand. This led to Hamilton’s being only the second foreign Porsche agents outside Germany (Max Hoffman in the US was the first), somewhat in synchrony with the history of Lowe’s Ferrari dealership.

Ken Harper and Norman Hamilton, Porsche 356 Coupe, prior to the 1953 Redex Trial (PCA)

This was not, however, the end of the Jack Day story. His next modification to the Type 39 Bugatti was much more radical – he removed the fragile Bugatti engine, substituting it with a Ford V8, the first of many Australian specials thus powered.

The success of this car pioneered the ‘quick-fix’ for tired European racing cars – take out the sophisticated aluminium and steel machinery and substitute American black iron.

Jack and his collaborator Reg Nutt had many successes with the car in this form, including ftd at Mitcham and Rob Roy hill climbs (Day). Post-war the car went on many more successes in the hands of the legendary Jack ‘Gelignite’ Murray.

Meanwhile Day reverted to his passion for complicated European machines, importing one of the 1927 Grand Prix Talbot Darracq (a 1500cc straight eight supercharged jewel) in which he shared driving duties with Reg Nutt.

(Bob King Collection)

The Day Special mocked up during the construction phase.

(Bob King Collection)

The ‘Day’ was often driven by Reg Nutt. Here he is seen in action at Lobethal during 1938 South Australian Grand Prix.

(unattributed )

Jack Murray is seen here, on the inside, battling it out with Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol in the Day Special at Mount Druitt.

(Bob King Collection)

Reg Nutt aboard the Talbot Darracq TD700 at Fishermans Bend.

(unattributed)

Jack , in his later years in his Jaguar XK120. He was a founding member of the Victorian Light Car Club (later LCCA), and a life member of the RACV. He died in 1975, aged 86.

Credits…

Bob King and his archive, Tony Johns and his archive, Spencer Wills, Porsche Cars Australia

Finito…

(G Wiseman Collection)

Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F chasing Len Lukey’s Cooper T45 Climax 2-litre FPF through Tannery Corner during the March 1959 Australian Grand Prix at Longford.

Geoff Wiseman uploaded onto social-media this wonderful colour shot from a spot not often used by the pro-snappers. It is a decent walk from Longford village to Tannery. Isn’t it a beauty?

That’s the race for the lead folks – a battle of old vs new technology, thankfully for we Stan-Fans, the tough-nugget from Warrandyte prevailed- Jones it was from Lukey.

Check it out in this piece here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/08/stan-jones-agp-longford-gold-star-series-1959/

The short straight leads to the quick left-hander onto Long Bridge.

(G Wiseman Collection)

This time I’ve cropped the shot a bit. I love the way the photographer has framed the action between the spectators, makes you feel kinda-like you were there.

Etcetera…

If I had known the Lukey/Jones shot was going to be posted when I was at Longford in January and March I would have taken a one from exactly the same locale, but I didn’t!

What I can offer are three shots of a planned, but not yet written, modern ‘drivers eye lap of Longford’.

The first above is about halfway along Tannery Straight – towards the corner above, our feature shots. That’s the old Tannery building on the left, these days a lovely home or accommodation.

Jones would have whistled through this flat-biccie right-kink – yes, there is a kink none of the published maps show – at about 160mph.

By this point he has been in top-gear for a long while, Pub Corner is way, way back behind us. Amongst its many tests, Longford had two, long, top-revs throttle openings. The Flying Mile on Pateena Road is the other.

The next one is very deep into the Tannery braking area.

The corner (right) would have been taken in second gear (of five), I’m guessing a corner speed of 50-60mph. He isn’t quite turning in yet, but would be finishing his final shift and having a glance in the mirror, perhaps, before initiating the turn.

The final one is immediately after exiting Tannery – the straight leads to the now non-existent Long Bridge .

The location of the farmers gate is about where Len Lukey is in our first shot. There is a stile to the right so you can easily enter the property and walk up 400-500 metres to the River Esk waters edge.

I don’t think Jones would approach the following left hander before Long Bridge in top, but mighty quick in fourth.

Credits…

Geoff Wiseman, Mark Bisset

Finito…

(HRCCT)

Greg Cusack exits Newry Corner, Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT6 Lotus-Ford Twin-cam, South Pacific Trophy, Longford, 2 March 1964…

Cusack was the second ANF1.5 car home in the Tasman round, Frank Gardner was ten seconds up the road in Alec Mildren’s similar Brabham- it was a good showing and indicative of his pace.

I wrote an article about the ANF 1.5 class a while back, see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/13/anf-1-5-litre/

(HRCCT)

In a successful weekend for Scuderia Veloce, Graham Hill won the Tasman race in the teams Brabham BT4 Climax IC-1-62 which is shown relaxing in the paddock at left alongside Greg’s BT6 FJ-15-63.

And don’t they look pretty, in fact quite a few of you will be salivating about the ‘Rice’ Trailer too, what about the tow car, wotizzit?

Brabhams galore; Brabham’s BT7A, Hill’s winning BT4 and Matich’ third placed BT7A, all Coventry Climax 2.5FPF powered (unattributed)

IC-1-62 is quite a significant car commercially in the Brabham pantheon. It was Ron Tauranac’s first ‘Intercontinental’ (‘IC’) design which was derived from the F1 BT3 Coventry Climax FWMV.

Built for Jack’s 1962 AGP appearance at Caversham, outside Perth – Brabham led until he and Arnold Glass tripped over each other, the fault more Glass’ than Brabham’s- racing it throughout that summer in Australasia before sale to David McKay, and later Kerry Grant in New Zealand, and then later still to John McCormack in Tasmania on his racing ascent. A UK consortium owned it in 2017.

The point is that the Intercontinental BT4, BT7A and BT11A’s were all ripper cars as race winning tools, and important commercially for the nascent Motor Racing Developments Ltd coz they sold plenty of them, it all started with IC-1-62.

Intercontinental Brabhams here; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

(oldracephotos.com/Smith)

The laurel wreath atop the Hill Brabham proves just what a good weekend they had…

Whose red Jaguar? is that on the transporter behind?

Etcetera…

(D Williams)

The boss awaits his driver- David McKay at far right in the Warwick Farm dummy grid area during the 1964 Warwick Farm 100 meeting. Jack Brabham (I think) offers advice.

Graham Hill had two very happy seasons in Scuderia Veloce Brabham Climaxes. He won one Tasman Cup round in 1964 and 1965. McKay tends to Hill while lanky Spencer Martin stands by the left-rear, Warwick Farm 1964.

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, oldracephotos.com, Dennis Williams

Finito…

Glyn Scott supervises Leo Geoghegan who is about to have a guest steer of Glyn’s P3 at Oran Park in 1968 (Bowin Cars)

When Bowin founder, John Joyce returned to Australia after a four year stint working for Lotus Components, he built this Bowin – P3-101-68 for Glyn Scott.

Scott raced the 1.6-litre Ford FVA engined car from July 1968 until May 1970, he then ran an Elfin 600 until his untimely, sad death. See here for a story on Glyn; https://primotipo.com/2020/07/24/glyn-scott/

This article is intended to be read in conjunction with my feature about Joyce’s early Bowin years including construction of three P3s published in this fortnight’s Auto Action #1810, published May 6-19, 2021. Click here to buy it; https://autoaction.com.au/issues/auto-action-1810

Editor Bruce Williams will pickle my testicles if I cut-his-lunch. This piece uses extra material relating to Bowin #1 we couldn’t fit in the more general 2,000 word AA piece. Much of the information was provided by Adelaide’s Ian Peters who has owned this marvellous car since 1983.

Merv Waggott engines were very successful in 1969. Glyn Scott had seen first-hand just how potent and reliable they were chasing Max Stewart’s 1.6-litre powered Mildren Waggott, so he ordered a 2-litre TC-4V for his new Elfin 600.

He and Norm Mellor removed the ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA #7044 and FT200 Hewland transaxle from the Bowin and installed them in Glyn’s Lotus 23B. The extra 30bhp or so over and above that of the Lotus-Ford twin-cam fitted to the 23B gave that old beast a useful performance kicker.

P3-101-68 was sold as a roller to Edward Scauster of Annerley, Queensland a fortnight before Glyn’s death – and from him to Wayne Newton in Sydney’s Pennant Hills that October 1970.

Rebuilt as an ANF3 car, he raced it for three years before selling to Taren Points John Crouchley, he raced it for a further two years before moving it on to Burwood Auto Electrics – still in Sydney.

They only hung onto it for a couple of months before P3 became a South Australian in October 1975 – it has resided there ever since. D Manfield of Brooklyn Park raced it for a couple of years, then Home Autotune Services in Prospect from March 1978.

When Ian Peters acquired it the car was fitted with one of Brian Sampson’s Motor Improvements prepared Toyota Corolla F3 engines – one of the top-gun choices during the 1.3-litre F3 days.

P3-101-68 in Burwood Auto Electrics ANF guise (I Peters)
P3-101-68 in Adelaide as purchased by Peters at auction in 1983 (I Peters)

The car wasn’t butchered too much along the way albeit the bodywork was modernised and a rear wing added in the quest for speed.

The nose looks a bit Cheetah Mk6 but is not, the rear wing in its final yellow livery is Birrana 274.

By then the distinctive four-spoke Bowin mag-alloys were gone but “the quality of the car shone through just looking at the beautifully made aluminium tub” recalls Peters after first spotting it amongst the road cars in Kearns Auctions, Prospect, showrooms.

“There was no interest, it needed a lot of work, I bought it well. I didn’t have much money at the time so it was a great project where I could add some value and learn along the way. I’d been club racing a Lotus Elan and a Seven and wanted to get into a racing car.”

“I pulled it down and worked out what I had. The plan was to restore it as an historic Group O car. CAMS were a bit more accommodating then, I was allowed to build it with a Lotus-Ford twin-cam even though P3-101-68 hadn’t raced as such, but Ian Fergusson’s P3 had.”

“It had a four-speed VW box, the wrong wheels and body. The driveshafts with donuts had been replaced by whoofing-big Hooke-type joints. The suspension was original but brutalised, the rear cast uprights were good – the oil tanks were gone and tough to recreate.”

“I got in touch with John Joyce at Bowins, he was delighted the first Bowin was being made-good. I soon had drawings on the way and a body being made by GS Motor Bodies in Brookvale, who had made them in the day. Magnesium technologies cast some new wheels”

“After Glyn’s death, the Lotus 23B, still with Ford FVA fitted, was sold to Alan Ling and Bruce Gowans in Tasmania for Bruce to drive. They later fitted a Waggott engine, in that deal the FVA was traded to Paul England Engineering in Melbourne. My research ended when I discovered the engine had been fitted in a speedboat which sank, the engine was not recovered!”

“The FT200 gearbox was sold at the same time as the engine – it ended up in one of Peter Turnham’s Turnham sporties in Tasmania.”

“I wanted to fit an FVA but they were hugely expensive, so I gradually began buying bits from about 2007, whenever I saw them advertised or had a lead. I sold the MI Corolla motor and bought the Lotus twin-cam from Bob Holden in Sydney. He claimed it was one of his ex-Bathurst engines and had also been fitted in Peter Hopwood’s race-Elan. The head had Waggott stamped on it, so at some stage Merv ministered to it – it was a good engine. I initially fitted Webers and then mechanical fuel-injection later on.”

“The FT200 box was expensive, there was no easy way out there! By early 1984 I had the car ready to test, first racing it at the Sporting Car Club of South Australia’s Historic meeting at Mallala that Easter.”

P3-101-68 as it is now in Peters’ Adelaide workshop with dummy FVA fitted (I Peters)

“The more I got to know the car and Joyce the more absorbed in all things Bowin I became. Ashley Joyce and I put together the (excellent) Bowin Cars website. Included in the detailed specs of each car section, I added ‘ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA #7044’ in the list. You can imagine my surprise when Perth’s Graham Brown contacted me to say he had the motor! After about twelve months of negotiations I bought the engine.”

“I last raced the P3 in an historic support race during the 1989 Adelaide AGP carnival. I hit the wall when a front upright broke doing enough damage to get Chas Talbot in Melbourne to rebuild the tub.”

“By then I’d decided to progress to an ex-Alan Jones Ralt RT4 Ford BDA Formula Pacific car and then a Reynard 91D Holden Formula Holden. That ex-Birrana Racing machine won me two CAMS Silver Stars in 2003 and 2004. I put it to one side forever ago, but have it for sale at the moment.”

“After that is off my plate I’ll complete the rebuild of the P3 to FVA engined spec. It’s currently fitted with a dummy FVA, but all of the hard work is done so it shouldn’t be too long before it’s all done.”

There was only a tiny number of resident 1.6-litre F2 cars which raced in Australia in period. The only one which was victorious in a Gold Star round was P3-101-68, Glyn triumphed at Sandown in September 1968 on a day the 2.5s fell foul of technical dramas.

This car is a magnificent machine, we Bowin-nutters look forward to its return to the circuits soon.

Look carefully, a Bowin racing car is listed! (I Peters)

Credits...

Many thanks to Ian Peters, Bowin Cars

Tailpiece…

Ian Peters, Reynard 91D #028 Holden circa 2002, circuit unknown (I Peters)

Finito…

(B Jackson)

c’mon Alec won’t even notice, our helmets are much the same. Its gotta be quicker with that Eyetalian V8- lookout ‘yerv fried the left front though FG…

Denny Hulme trying to convince Frank Gardner to give him a few Warwick Farm laps in FG’s new Mildren Racing Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 V8.

The new World Champ raced a Brabham BT23 that summer too- albeit a Ford FVA powered F2 chassis which really didn’t cut the mustard amongst the 2.5s.

Denny was fifth in the 1968 Warwick Farm 100 won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW, while Gardner’s Italian motor busted a camshaft.

That Italian engine: Tipo 33 2.5-litre DOHC, two-valve, twin plug, injected all alloy V8

After Gardner returned to Europe Kevin Bartlett drove BT23D to victory in the 1968 Australian Gold Star Championship, and in winged-form, very competitively in the 1969 Australian Tasman rounds.

The perky rump of FG’s new Brabham (below) on the way to Hordern Trophy victory on the cars race debut in the Warwick Farm Gold Star round in December 1967.

Spencer Martin took the second of his two titles that year after a spirited contest between he and his Brabham BT11A Climax, and the similarly mounted Alec Mildren entry driven by Bartlett.

(unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Brian Jackson via Glenn Paine, The Roaring Season, John Ellacott

Tailpiece: Gardner, Brabham BT23D Alfa, Warwick Farm Tasman, February 1968…

(J Ellacott)

Finito…

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)

Tony John’s research indicates that Denniston was President of the Light Car Club of Australia in 1951-52. This goes some way to explaining why a car which was destroyed in 1948 was on the cover of the program of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, promoted by the LCCA.

Perhaps one of the likely race-winning draw-cards would have been more appropriate…

Credits…

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

Tailpiece…

Amazing, rare colour shot of the Seeliger Itala at Lobethal in 1948.

Finito…