Posts Tagged ‘Australian Motor Racing History’

Kleinig, not Klienig by the way…

Many of you know I love the language of yesteryear racing reports, so the ‘National Advocate’ Bathurst 8 October report of the 7 October New South Wales Grand Prix is reproduced in full. In the manner of the day the reporters name is not identified, which is a shame as he or she has done a mighty fine job- its all ‘as was’ other than car descriptions where I have been a bit more fulsome with model designations.

The article is a fluke in that I was researching a piece on Frank Kleinig and came upon a batch of staggering photographs recently uploaded by the State Library of New South Wales- they are truly wonderful.

Taken by the staff of ‘Pix’ magazine, a weekly some of you may remember, it’s the first time the photos have been used in high resolution, when published way back they would have been in ‘half-tones’. The racing shots are great but in addition there are ‘people pictures’ of the type important to a magazine such as ‘Pix’ but which a racing snapper generally would not take, these are amazing in terms of conveying the overall vibe and feel of the meeting and times more generally.

Digital scoreboard linked to yer iPhone via the Internet thingy (SLNSW)

 

Najar and Nind at the start, MacLachlan is looking pretty relaxed sans helmet, they were off the same handicap of either 7 or 15 minutes depending upon the source (SLNSW)

Here goes, and remember this event is run to Formula Libre and as a Handicap…

‘Fortunately the racing was not marred by any serious accidents. The only accident occurred during the running of the first race, the under 1500cc Handicap when the young Victorian driver, Wal Feltham crashed at ‘The Quarry’. He was thrown heavily and sustained a fractured collarbone. His car, an MG P Type was badly damaged and he had a miraculous escape. He just managed to jump from the car a few yards before it hurtled over a hillside to crash about 80 feet to be completely wrecked. Feltham was admitted to the district hospital for treament.

It was certainly an afternoon of thrilling races and the scene will long be remembered. The racing circuit throughout the whole length was packed with struggling humanity. All sorts of motor vehicles were there from the first model Ford to the post-war type. As a matter of fact the aggregation of cars was perhaps the greatest ever seen locally and every inch of parking space was taken up.

There were 23 starters in the classic race and it was remarkably free from anything in the nature of a serious accident. Skids there were plenty on the hairpin and ‘S’ bends and though at times the situation looked both ugly and dangerous, the drivers always managed to gain control on their cars at the moment when the wide eyed spectators expected them to overturn.’

Mount Panorama Grandstand 1946 style (SLNSW)

 

Bill MacLachlan’s MG TB Monoposto- twin SU fed Xpag, three bearing four cylinder 1355cc engine (SLNSW)

‘It was on the famous ‘S’ bend, which had been especially noted as one of the most dangerous spots and at which the trials over the weekend that several drivers came to grief, that DA MacLachlan of Sydney had a thrilling experience. His car went into a skid and struck the sandbags on the side with such force that it was hurled across the track to strike the other side and narrowly miss the legs of two girls who were seated on top of the ledge. The car narrowly missed being hurled over the side overlooking a long drop of many feet.

Speaking after the race, the winner, Alf Najar, said that it was a hard race and that fortunately he had a good passage and his car travelled smoothly all the way. He mentioned that the last four winners of the Grand Prix at Bathurst had been tuned and prepared by Rex Marshall of Sydney and to whom he owed much for his success.

He also praised the Bathurst Council for the attention and care given to the track and added that it was because of the work done on the ‘S’ bend during yesterday morning that the drivers were able to negotiate with comparitive safety. The track, he said, was in good order even though it was not capable of holding cars travelling at over 100 miles an hour for any distance.

Speaking generally, yesterday’s race was one of the best of its kind ever run on any Australian circuit. The cars used were all pre-war models and consequently could not be regarded as fast and durable as the later models. In these circumstances the speed attained by the cars was right up to standard.’

A couple of chargers coming down the mountain. Ted Gray in the ex-Mrs JAS Jones Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato by then flathead Ford V8 powered from Kleinigs Hudson Special. Ted Gray was quick from his earliest outings on Victorian Speedways and evolved into one of Australia’s elite drivers in Tornados 1 and 2- with  a little more luck he could have won the 1958 AGP at Bathurst aboard the big, booming Tornado 2 Chev (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch, Delahaye 135CS ahead of Alby Johnson’s MG TC. Crouch won the 1948 AGP at Leyburn aboard the beautiful Delahaye, perhaps one of John Snow’s most astute racing car purchases in terms of suitability for Australian racing of the day if not in outright pace but reliability (SLNSW)

‘High speeds were witnessed in the ‘Con-Rod Straight’ from the bottom of the S-bend to the left-angle turn (Murrays) into the starting straight (Pit Straight).

The officials had chosen a section of the straight solely for the purpose of checking high speeds and this was known as the Flying Quarter. The fastest speed attained was 119mph by John Crouch in the French Delahaye 135CS. His time was taken during three runs and each time he got progressively better. His speeds were 105, 108 and 119mph.

Jack Murray with the powerful Ford-Bugatti was second with 109mph. This car was exceedingly fast but the driver did not seem inclined to take risks. Rather than that he let it out at top speed while climbing the hills and this made up a considerable amount of ground.

Frank Kleinig also attained 109mph over the distance and brought gasps from the crowd by his masterly handling of the car which is really unique in Australian motoring history. It is made up of parts from several other cars. It takes off with a great leaping surge forward and picks up very fast. It travels like a rocket with no spluttering or back-firing usually associated with high powered racing cars.

The weather was almost perfect with no wind to carry the dust high into the air and into the crowd.

Sunglasses seem to have come into fashion for the summer and a number of girls who tend to forget to bring their sunglasses and hats were noticed wearing mens heavy glasses and sun helmets, while the poor boyfriend stood in the sun and sweltered.’

Pre race pit straight scene with Frank Kleinig’s Hudson Eight Special front and centre, Delahaye alongside? (SLNSW)

Grand Prix…

‘Racing keenly for 25 laps during which time they presented many thrills to the public, Alf Najar (NSW) defeated John Nind (NSW) for major honours in the NSW Grand Prix yesterday. AV Johnson gained third place and defeated FW Gray of Victoria for that position.

Najar and Nind were both driving MG Series TB of 1250cc and 1268cc respectively, started off the 15 minute mark, with DA MacLachlan in a MG Series TA of 1355cc. There has been a friendly rivalry between these three men for many years because of each others good driving and yesterday’s performance demonstated just how good these men are. MacLachlan came only ninth in the race, being handicapped by a faulty cooling system. He was forced to continually call at the pits for water.

At times Najar and Nind fought for minutes at a time trying to wrestle the lead from one another. However, Najar seemed to have the better of the going, for he finished about 600 yards in front of Nind. A remarkable point in the clash between them at the end of the distance- 100 miles is that Najar gained one second in every 3.84 miles.

One of the first to greet Najar after his win of the Grand Prix was his sister, who dashed over to the car as it stopped, threw her arms around him, kissed him and being so elated with the victory, burst into tears.’

Good boy! Alf Najar being congratulated by his mother and sisters after his big win. Looks like a beer to me (SLNSW)

 

Najar returns to the paddock after his win, MG TB Monoposto (SLNSW)

‘Johnson, who gained third place took the lead from L Phillips of Victoria, driving a 747cc Austin, when the latter stopped during lap seven owing to engine trouble. Johnson fought grimly to hold his lead, and did so until the 16th lap when Najar took it from him.

During the next time around he lost second place to Nind, but managed to hold off Gray, of Wangaratta, in a Ford V8 Alfa Romeo, long enough to finish the course. It was a remarkable feat on Johnson’s part, considering that the MG TC he was driving was an almost completely standard machine. He was equipped with lights, mudguards and all equipment to make it roadworthy.

JE Murray, who finished fifth in a 3622cc Ford Bugatti, gained the honour of fastest time by clocking 1hr.26min.24sec. for the entire trip of 100 miles. He drove brilliantly throughout and the car gave him the minimum of trouble. Apart from winning fastest time, the car was also one of the best looking on the track.’

Murray in the ex-Bill Thomson Bugatti T37A AGP winner, chassis ‘37358’ now Ford sidevalve V8 powered. This car and its adventures over its long racing life is a story in itself- still extant and in the process of restoration (SLNSW)

 

Alec Mildren, Mildren Ford V8 Spl and Jack Nind MG TB Spl. Mildren of course became a champion driver, winner of the 1960 Gold Star and AGP at  Lowood aboard his Cooper T51 Maserati. Alec was off 13.36 minutes and DNF (SLNSW)

‘A number of drivers were forced to pull out owing to mechanical trouble. Warwick Pratley, of Peel, one of Bathurst’s hopes, was forced to stop in the fourth lap of the second event- the over 1500cc handicap- after he had held the lead for two laps and looked to possess a chance of winning. Big-end trouble caused his withdrawal.

Norman Tipping, also of Bathurst in a Terraplane Six Special, was driving a most spectacular race, and was actually overhauling the leaders when the gear handle came loose in his hand as he was changing gear in the pit straight. The car pulled up some 100 yards beyond the pits. Tipping was proving a great crowd-pleaser with his spectacular cornering.

Tipping’s car had exceeded all expectations as he had been in difficulty with his engine over the past week or so and there was some doubt as to whether he would start. The final tuning of the locally manufactured Terraplane was not complete until midnight on Sunday night.  However, the car was on the track in time and with his clean, confident driving raised the hopes of Bathurstians each time he passed, being the only local representative left in the race.’

The great Frank Kleinig wearing a kidney belt working, as always, on his steed. This car started life as Wal McIntyre’s Miller 1.5 litre straight-8 engined Kirby Deering Special in 1936- an amalgam of MG Magna chassis, Mathis suspension and gearbox and much more. Fitted with a Hudson straight-8 prior to the 1938 AGP it was then named the Hudson Special or Kleinig Hudson Special, here in single carb format in a formidable machine the development of which never stopped. It’s still extant in Melbourne. Story on Kleinig completed and ready to upload soon (SLNSW)

 

Ron Ewing, Buick Spl. Built by Ewing and first raced at Bathurst in 1940, the clever car was a combination of Buick 8/40 straight-8 engine, Terraplane chassis and Lancia gearbox. Does it survive? (SLNSW)

‘Frank Kleinig, who was driving his own Hudson Eight Special, completed five laps and had to pull up halfway around the track with smoke pouring from his engine. For a moment, it was thought his car was on fire, but the trouble was in the clutch.

Ron Ewing, who was expected to do well in his Buick Special only completed one lap in very poor time and stopped for the same reason as Kleinig. His mechanics had been working vigorously on the car and just made the starting line in time for the start of the big race.

Ron Edgerton had only done four laps when he took his car, a Lycoming Special, powered by a Continental Beacon engine- out of the race with ignition trouble. It had been backfiring for a couple of laps and it was not surprising when his withdrawal was announced.

One of the mystery cars of the race, a monoposto Jeep Special, driven by NJT Andrews, of NSW, did not do as well as expected, and finished in lap five with the engine emitting eruptive noises. Others who did not finish the race included RS Ward’s MG Series TA and W Conoulty’s Austin Comet, both cars were from NSW.’

Bill Conoulty makes final adjustments to his Austin 7 Comet before the off. The ex-motor cycle racer, the first to do 100mph on a bike in NSW it’s said, used this car as a test bed for many of the engines he developed, inclusive of an OHV design. At one stage his Sydney business employed over 40 people (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch and his helpers ready the beautiful Delahaye 135CS sportscar, it’s chassis #47190. The car was famously barbequed in a trailer fire whilst Dick Bland and his guys were towing it back to Bathurst upon their return from the 1951 AGP meeting at Narrogin in Western Australia- it was rebuilt/reconstructed a couple of decades ago by Ian Polson and lives in splendid retirement in an American museum. I must get around to writing about John Crouch- a great driver, racing entrepreneur and administrator (SLNSW)

Results

Support Races

The Under 1500cc Handicap was won by John Barraclough’s Bill Nunn owned MG TB 1250cc, the over 1500cc Handicap was taken by Kleinig’s Hudson Spl who ‘drove with such determination and daring that he had overtaken seven cars and was rapidly overhauling the leaders…during one of the Flying Quarters he was clocked at 108mph…Murray’s Ford Bugatti did one better and clocked 109mph over the same distance’.

Grand Prix

Alf S Najar MG TB Monoposto 1250cc first in 1 hour 33 minutes 19 seconds, Jack P Nind MG TB Spl 1268cc second, Alby V Johnson MG TC 1250cc third, Ted Gray Ford V8 Alfa Romeo 3924cc fourth, J Murray MacKellar Special s/c (Bugatti T37A Ford) 3622cc fifth, Walter I Mathieson Jaguar SS100 2663cc sixth, John F Crouch Delahaye 135CS 3555cc seventh, Chas W Whatmore Ford V8 Spl 3917cc eighth and D ‘Bill’ A MacLachlan MG TA 1355cc. Fastest time, J Murray 1.26.24

Belf Jones, Buick Special from MacLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto- does anybody know about the Buick Spl? (SLNSW)

 

Bill Murray, Hudson Spl, DNF after 23 laps, car prepared by Frank Kleinig, not sure if he built it? Alf Najar is credited with renaming Pit Corner ‘Murrays Corner’ after Bill collided with the hay bales. Came back and won the 1947 AGP here at Bathurst in a stripped MG TC (SLNSW)

Alfred Najar…

Alf Najar arrived in Australia aged 8 years old with his parents and four sisters, the family hailed from Tripoli, Lebanon where his father had established a successful tailoring business.

They settled in Sydney and soon established tailoring and dressmaking enterprises in Kingsford and Auburn, this evolved into a small manufacturing business when Alf joined his parents in 1936. Clearly they were profitable, Alf having the income to build and race a car.

The factory was taken over by the government during the war years to produce clothing for the military.

Apart from his NSW GP win Alf was sixth and second in the 1947 and 1948 AGP’s respectively and was the holder of many sprint and hillclimb records inclusive of the 1946 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Bathurst.

He is also credited with starting the sport of water skiing in Australia together with ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray, in 1948 becoming a foundation member of the Australian Water Ski Association. In a lifetime of involvement in sport he was a member of the All Australian Five-Man Skeet Team for 16 years and held Australian and New Zealand titles in clay target shooting.

For many years he ran the family tailoring business including the acquisition of ‘Najar House’ in Campbell Street, Surry Hills- he and his wife retired in 1978 then trading and building property successfully. He died in 2015.

A couple of the Najar girls keeping an eye on big brother (SLNSW)

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

 

(S Dalton Collection)

 

AMS December 1946 (S Dalton Collection)

 

(B Williamson)

Cars pictured in the bucolic, rural, relaxed Mount Panorama paddock include #23, a mystery car!, with Hope Bartlett’s #10 MG TA Spl closeby. #31 is WD Feltham, MG P Type, #22 is Jack Nind’s MG TB Spl, the second #23 in the rear of the shot is Bill McLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto.

‘Monoposto Jeep’ or ‘The Andrews Special’…

The Monoposto Jeep Special our intrepid reporter mentioned piqued my interest, and as he often does, my mate Stephen Dalton came to the rescue with this April 1947 AMS article which explains all about the car- it is an attractive machine, does it still exist?

Its a bit tricky to read- I can manage by blowing it up with my trusty iPad, there is a precis of the salient bits below if you have insurmountable dramas.

(S Dalton Collection)

The car was designed and built by Gordon Stewart for Norman Andrews using many Lea Francis components as a base- chassis, front and rear axles and the gearbox.

The racers first meeting was the 1946 Bathurst event in which it was powered by a 2195cc Willys-Jeep engine which was immediately replaced by a circa 3.5 litre Austin OHV six which was modified in all the usual ways and fed by triple-Amal carbs to give over 130bhp. The Leaf gearbox was replaced by a Wilson pre-selector ‘box when the engine was swapped.

Semi elliptic springs were used front and back and Hartford shock absorbers, wheels were Rudge Whitworth wires and the body was formed in steel sheet.

I am intrigued to know how it performed in the ensuing years- and its fate.

(S Dalton Collection)

Credits…

National Advocate Bathurst Tuesday 8 October 1946, State Library of New South Wales, article by Brian Caldersmith in the HSRCA magazine 16 December 2015, Stephen Dalton Collection- Australian Motor Sports, Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece…

(SLNSW)

‘Flaggie’ 1946 Mount Panorama style, complete with suit, bowler hat and fag to calm the nerves…

Isn’t it a cracker of a shot? Somehow I doubt he has the athleticism of Glen Dix, Australia’s most celebrated practitioner of the flag waving art.

Finito…

 

 

 

 

 

(B King)

Yes, there is such a place, and a good deal of carnage seems to have befallen this Nar Nar Goon race competitor…

It is a small hamlet of a little over one thousand people 65km east of Melbourne in Gippsland- the name is an Aboriginal expression meaning ‘native bear’ or ‘water rat’ the degree of certainty implied is hardly reassuring on a government website!

The Light Car Club ‘ran a surprisingly successful race meeting on a nine furlong grass track at Nar Nar Goon, 40 miles from Melbourne on Sunday 23 November 1947’ MotorSport reported in its February 1948 issue. It covered both this meeting and the 1947 Australian Hillclimb Championship won by Arthur Wylie’s Ford A Model Special ‘Wyliecar’ at Rob Roy, 75km from Nar Nar Goon on 2 November.

Arthur Wylie in his Ford A Spl, ‘Wyliecar’ at Rob Roy, whether these two shots are during the 1947 Oz Title meeting I’m not sure (L Sims)

 

(L Sims)

Owing to doubtful weather, practically no publicity was given to the Nar Nar Goon meeting, but about 3000 spectators turned up to see thirty competitors. At that time, the local population would have been tiny in an area focussed on timber growing, felling and milling. Ideal for motor racing really- out of harms way and the scrutiny of officialdom!

I’m not suggesting the LCCA were ‘hackers’ in any way at all- they were for decades, lets say 70 or so years, one of the continuously premier motor racing clubs in Australia. At one time or other they owned or operated venues such as Rob Roy, Albert Park, Sandown, Balcombe, Ballarat Airfield and others, including the little known Nar Nar Goon.

It isn’t clear to me how many meetings were run at the villages racecourse but cursory research shows LCCA/Junior Car Club/Light Junior Car Club competitions dated back to at least April 1932 when it appears the owner of the course, a Mr Coombes, first gave consent for cars to use his horse racing facility. By November 1933 a range of cars from the pedestrian to Brescia Bugatti’s were being put to the test.

On the wet grass many of the 1947 entrants had incidents during the time trials which preceded the races, ‘spinning with great abandon on one corner in particular’. No damage occurred and by race-time the track had dried out.

Arthur Wylie, racer and founder of Australian Motor Sports magazine at Nar Nar Goon in a Bugatti T37 ‘#37145’ (A Wylie via L Sims)

‘It was decided to run (love the organisation on the fly, can you imagine that today?) four handicaps, each of two or three heats and a final. At first four competitors were on track at a time, but it was found six was safe, so some events were run with six starters. Finishes were close and spectators were treated to eighteen 5 lap events.

‘The LCCA prides itself on organisation, at this meeting the average period between finishing one race and starting the next was less than five minutes’. Happy days indeed.

The LCCA should rightly be proud of its history of race organisation, I can attest to it as a competitor and spectator during the ‘glory years’ which all came crashing down as a consequence of the financially crippling burden of the two World Endurance Championship events the club ran very unsuccessfully in 1984 and 1985.

Sandown lived on of course thanks to the tenacity and entrepreneurship of racer Jon Davison but the LCCA sadly, was no more. A story for another time, not one I really want to tell when I think about it!

‘Racing Ron’ Edgerton in his ex-Charlie East/Advanx Tyres Bugatti T37 ‘#37104’ at Nar Nar Goon (B King)

Etcetera…

 

 

Bibliography…

MotorSport magazine February 1948, Trove, Leon Sims Collection, Bob King Collection, Arthur Wylie Collection

Tailpiece…

Competitor names and cars folks? The leading car is the one which come to grief in the opening shot.

Finito…

 

(D Cooper)

Antipodian enthusiasts can argue the toss but I think the 1968 Tasman was about as good as it ever got…

Here Clark, Amon and Hill- Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Ferrari Dino 246T and 49. Two Cosworth V8’s and a Maranello V6. There were a swag of Repco V8’s of different configurations, BRM V8’s and V12’s- Len Terry’s new P126 was blooded in the Tasman in advance of the F1 season, Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo using a 2.5 litre variant of the Tipo 33 sports prototype V8, plus cars using the good ole Coventry Climax four cylinder FPF.

As good as it gets in terms of variety of cars and drivers- in addition to the fellas on the front row of the dry, preliminary, Saturday race we had Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren (in NZ), Frank Gardner, Pedro Rodriguez, Piers Courage, Richard Attwood…apart from the local hotshots.

Clark and Hill raced 49’s ‘R2’ and ‘R1’ during their 1968 tour down south.

Hill had mainly raced ‘R1’ since the 49’s race debut at Zandvoort on 4 June 1967. He joined Team Lotus in Australia whereas Jim did the full eight weeks and had almost exclusively raced ‘R2’ from his first up win in the chassis amongst the Dutch dunes. Motors fitted for the Tasman were Cosworth’s 2.5 litre variant of the 3 litre Ford DFV dubbed ‘DFW’.

(D Cooper)

Jimmy has a tyre issue he is sorting with the Firestone man.

The fag packet Gold Leaf Players livery is new- the cars were green and gold at Pukekohe and Levin and red, white and gold at Wigram only a month or so before Longford, as shown in the Wigram front row photograph below. That’s Denny’s F2 Brabham BT23 Ford FVA behind Jim in the Longford pitlane.

(B Wilson)

Clark has won his last championship GP by this stage, the South African at Kyalami on New Years Day, 1 January 1968, he won at Sandown the week before Longford on 25 February taking the Australian Grand Prix, his last, from Chris in a ‘thriller-driller’ of a race which could have gone either way right to the finish line.

Racing’s tectonic plates shifted with his Lotus 48 Ford FVA F2 death in Hockenheim only months hence.

(D Cooper)

In a tour de force of leadership Graham Hill picked up Team Lotus lock, stock and barrel and drove the team forward as Colin Chapman regained his composure and focus after the death of his great colleague and friend.

No seatbelt in Graham’s car above, there would be by seasons end.

No wings either, there would be by mid-season, 1968 was a year of change in so many ways.

Wings here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/12/wings-clipped-lotus-49-monaco-grand-prix-1969/, and in more detail, here; https://primotipo.com/2016/08/19/angle-on-the-dangle/

Chris loads up in the Longford paddock. That’s Denny’s Brabham BT23 Ford FVA F2 atop the Alec Mildren Racing transporter behind (D Cooper)

The Scuderia Ferrari presence, or more precisely Chris Amon’s single Ferrari 246T raced under his own banner raised enormous interest, the great Kiwi did not disappoint either- and of course came back the following year with a two car squad and won.

In Australia we got a double 1968 whammy in that David McKay acquired one of the P4/Can-Am 350 Group 7 cars for Chris to drive in the sports car support races.

Frank Matich served it up to him big-time in one of his Matich SR3 Repco 4.4 litre V8’s, disappointingly Matich did not cross Bass Straight for this meeting so Chris set the fastest ever lap of Longford despite not being pushed by the oh-so-fast Sydneysider.

(D Cooper)

The gleaming Ferrari Can-Am 350 Scuderia Veloce raced all too briefly throughout Australia in 1968 by Chris Amon, and Bill Brown upon the Kiwis departure back to Italy and all points beyond.

(D Cooper)

Auto-erotica.

With the 1967 Manufacturers Championship over Ferrari modified two of the P4’s, this car, chassis ‘0858’ and ‘0860’ to better compete in the Can-Am Championship and naming them ‘350 Can-Am’ to contest the prestigious series in their most important market.

The cars were lightened considerably becoming curvaceous Spiders instead of even more curvaceous Coupes! Weight was reduced from 792Kg wet to 700Kg wet, engine capacity was increased to 4176cc raising the engines power to 480bhp @ 8500rpm.

It wasn’t enough to compete with the McLaren M6A Chevs of Bruce and Denny, that story is told in this article about the Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 and ‘0858’ specifically; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Credits…

Dennis Cooper, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Bruce Wilson

Tailpiece: Look at the crowd…

(D Cooper)

Talk about missing out…

Finito…

(D Simpson)

Ken Cox’ Cooper T53 Ford at Hume Weir’s ‘New Year’ meeting on 29 December 1968…

The wise owls of ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ have determined this Cooper ‘Lowline’ as either ‘F1-4-61’, the ex Yeoman Credit/Reg Parnell Racing 1961 Intercontinental Formula car raced by John Surtees and then Roy Salvadori in Australasia, or ‘F1-7-61’ the ex-Rob Walker car raced by Stirling Moss in F1 and the Australasian Internationals in 1962. Perhaps the latter is more likely Allen Brown surmises on his excellent oldracingcars.com- see the link at the end of this piece. The car still exists in the hands of the Banister Family in Sydney.

Whatever the case isn’t it a fantastic looking car? Dick Simpson has captured it and Ken’s style marvellously!

I can feel and hear the rumble of the 289 Ford small-block bent-eight. Its not Australia’s ‘first F5000’ mind you, that honour goes to Austin Miller’s Geoff Smedley built Cooper T51 Chev which set an Australian Land Speed Record at Bakers Beach in Tasmania in 1961 at 163.94mph or thereabouts.

Cox from Bob Minogue, Elfin Mono Ford, Hume Weir circa 1969 (C Baron)

 

And again out of Scrub- who and what is the third car I wonder (C Baron)

The essentials of the Cox Cooper are as follows, sourced from a ‘Motor Racing Australia’ story written by Ray Bell in September 2001.

Cox raced anything and everything- speedway, dirt tracks and bitumen from the forties onwards. One of his main supporters was a timber-cutter named John Cierpicki, he acquired the Cooper in a sale of Stan Jones’ assets after Stan got into terrible strife off the back of the 1961 Australian recession- the car was extricated from an old chook-shed in Camberwell, Melbourne circa 1966. As a former long time Camberwell resident I am fascinated to know the whereabouts of said chook-shed…

Norm Beechey’s engine man, Claude Morton with assistance from Kerry Luckins at Paul England Engineering in Moonee Ponds soon had a 179 Holden six-cylinder ‘Red Motor’ race-prepped and inserted into the rear of the T53- its said only one frame tube had to be removed in this process, the tube was returned when the Ford engine went in.

The car raced with the Holden engine for a few years, the Colotti gearbox was rebuilt by Claude Morton and adapted to the Holden-six with a bell-housing made by someone long since forgotten.

The 289 had modified heads and a cam, it was fed by a four-barrel carb with ‘the exhausts made by Alan King’s Panel Shop over a dozen VB’s’. Later a 302 bottom end went in and a mismatched installation of 351 heads.

The car first raced in V8 engined form at Hume Weir on the 30 November- 1 December 1968 weekend which makes this meeting surely its second outing? The machine raced at the Weir, Winton, Calder and Phillip Island and ‘took on some minor kind of prominence at a time when the argument was raging about whether or not Australia should adopt F5000’ Bell observes.

Bryan Thomson raced the car at Winton in 1970, Bob Minogue owned it for a bit than Des Lascelles with the car even contesting an F5000 race- the Motor Show Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm in September 1972- it no doubt looked a bit out of place in amongst the T300 Lolas, Elfin MR5’s and McLaren M10’s…

Click here for Allen Browns piece on Cooper T53’s- all you wanted to know but were afraid to ask;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/cooper/t53/

(C Baron)

 

(C Baron)

Doesn’t it look like a great, race long dice between the nimble, light Elfin and big, booming Cooper- Minogue was that impressed, or needing the challenge he bought the car.

Credits…

Dick Simpson, oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum, Ray Bell, Charles Baron

Finito…

(unattributed)

The Frank Matich/Glynn Scott Matich SR3 Repco (DNF) homes in on the Phil West/George Reynolds Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti during the 1 September 1968 Surfers Paradise 6 Hour…

As usual, the race was won by the SV Ferrari 250LM, that year driven by the brothers Geoghegan, click on this link for an article about that car inclusive of Surfers wins; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

In a race a bit light on entries- and reduced from twelve to six hours, the Geoghegans won having covered 249 laps from the Bill Gates/Jim Bertram Lotus Elan, 237 and Doug Whiteford/John Roxburgh/Frank Coad Datsun 2000 on 230. Other than David McKay’s ‘Old Red Lady’ 250LM the other fancied sports-racers all retired- the Matich/Scott Matich SR3 Repco, Palmer/Brown Ferrari P4/Can-Am350 and O’Sullivan/Baltzer/Bassett Lola T70 Chev.

I hadn’t realised the significance of this Ferrari 275 GTB as one of three RHD ‘Competizione Clienti’ specification 275’s of a total 1965 production run of ten. The addition to the nose of the car appears to be a camera- I would love to see the footage if it exists?

Chassis #07545, the seventh of the ten cars, was ordered by Britain’s Maranello Concessionaires, it was intended as their Le Mans reserve car- their entries that year comprised a P2 raced by Jo Bonnier and David Piper and a 250LM steered by Mauro Bianchi and Mike Salmon, both cars failed to finish.

The GTB wasn’t completed in time for the 24 hour classic but starred as an exhibit at the 42nd International IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt that September. Maranello sold it in October 1965 to Paddy McNally, then a respected journalist later to make a motza as an equity-holder in Allsport Ltd along with Bernie The Unbelievable (Ecclestone).

SV 250LM goes under its stablemate at Surfers (unattributed)

 

Frank Gardner circa 1966, probably in Australia during the Tasman. Where folks? (Repco Collection)

The GTB featured in an Autosport feature, McNally waxed lyrical about driving the car on the fast uncluttered roads of Europe inclusive of the Col des Mosses in Switzerland. ‘Even at close to 6000 pounds…the Ferrari represents excellent value and it is quite the best car that i have ever driven.’ McNally’s enthusiasm for these machines was genuine, he later acquired #09027 and raced it at Montlhery in the Paris 1000km.

Ford race team boss Alan Mann was the next owner two years hence, along the way he returned it to the factory where the bumpers were removed and big fog-lights installed and then sold it to one of his stars- Frank Gardner.

FG used the car to commute to his race commitments across the UK and Europe- these were many and varied inclusive of Touring Cars, World Manufacturers Championship Prototypes and Sportscars, F2 and the occasional F1 event. It would be intiguing to know just how many km’s the ultra fast GT did in Frank’s short ownership.

The Australian International then brought the car to Australia in the summer of 1967/8 to take up his usual Tasman drive with Alec Mildren, that year he raced the Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8. He sold it to Gallaher International, a British cigarette company- sponsor of the 500 mile Bathurst enduro in 1966 and 1967, who used it as a promotional tool.

Scuderia Veloce team driver Bill Brown bought it next, it was during his ownership that Phil West/George Reynolds raced it to eighth outright and first in class (the only car in the class) at Surfers in 1968. It seems this was the machines only race in period.

Melbourne motor racing entrepreneur/hill-climber Jim Abbott was the next owner, I dare say he gave it a run up Lakeland once or twice on the way to its garage at home- after his death it passed to Daryl Rigg and then to Ray Delaney who owned it for seven or so years using the car extensively. So too did Max Lane including contesting Targa Tasmania in 1993- the car left Australia many years ago as the global investment grade commodity it is.

#07545 in recent years (Talacrest)

Competizione 275 GTB’s…

The competition variants of one of Ferrari’s most sought after Grand Turismo’s was born of Enzo’s swifty in attempting to homologate his 1963 250P sports-prototype ‘in drag’- the 250LM as a GT car to replace the revered GTO. The FIA could see  the 3.3 litre LM- a larger capacity 250P with a roof for what it was and refused to homologate it.

Even as a GT the 250LM won Le Mans of course. Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt flogged their NART entry to death- but not quite and won in 1965 after the more fancied Ferrari P2 and Ford GT40 Mk2 prototypes fell by the wayside with all manner of problems.

As a consequence, needing a GT racer, Ferrari set to modifying the just released in 1964 GTB whose baseline specifications included a sophisticated ‘Tipo 563’ chassis, independent suspension front and rear, aerodynamic bodywork, four-wheel disc brakes, five-speed rear mounted transaxle and the well proven ‘Tipo 213’ Colombo V12- in this car SOHC, two-valve and 3.3 litres (3286cc- 77 x 58.8mm bore and stroke) in capacity.

275GTB prototype and first car built #06003 during the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally crewed by Giorgio Pianta and Roberto Lippi, DNF driveline (unattributed)

Depending upon your source there are either three or four distinct series or phases of build of competition 275’s.

The first are the relatively mild modifications to chassis #06003 and #06021.

#06003 is the prototype, very first 275GTB built in 1964, it was retained by the factory for testing purposes throughout 1965, then modified and entered in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally. #06021- is ‘the third GTB built and the prototype for the 1965 customer competition cars’ according to Peter Sachs who owned it twice. Its first custodian was a Roman, Antonio Maglione who contested at least four Hillclimb events in it in June/July 1965 having acquired it that April.

The second group of three works cars (plus a fourth built to this spec in 1966) designated ‘Competition Speciale’ were extensively modified by a team led by Mauro Forghieri with lightweight tube frames based on the standard Tipo 563 chassis.

The motors were six-Weber carb, dry-sumped Tipo 213 engines to 250LM spec giving 290-305 bhp and had 330 LM Berlinetta style noses with an air-scoop atop the long bonnets.

Other modifications included holes in interior panels, plexiglass windows and the use of magnesium castings for some engine and transmission parts. These cars, also designated 275 GTB/C Speciale, the bodies of which were of course designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti are said by some to be the most direct successors to the 250GTO.

After a DNF at Targa and third in class at the Nürburgring 1000km #06885 was sold by Scuderia Ferrari to Ecurie Francorchamps who raced it at Le Mans in 1965 achieving first in class and third outright- stunning for a GT. The reputation of these ‘275 GTB/C’s was underway.

Ferrari 275 GTB cutaway, specifications as per text (unattributed)

 

Scuderia Veloce line up before the 1968 Surfers 6 hour with Pete Geoghegan’s stout frame back to us. The #17 Ferrari Can-Am 350 DNF in the hands of Jim Palmer and Bill Brown. The West/Reynolds GTB is alongside and victorious Leo and Pete Geoghegan 250LM to the left (Rod MacKenzie)

Gardner’s #07545 was one of ten cars designated 275 ‘Competizione Clienti’ or ‘GTB/C Series 1′, which were built as dual purpose customer road/racers between May and August 1965- they were constructed in parallel with the works cars mentioned above and delivered only to privateers.

The specifications of this batch, very close to production cars included short nose bodies and six Weber DCN3 carbs, rather than the standard three, feeding essentially a standard wet sump Tipo 213 engine. The fuel tank was 140 litres rather than the standard 94 litre jobbie, the spare sat vertically aft of the tank. A higher rear shelf is a visual difference with three air vents in each rear guard a signal of menace. No two cars were identical but most had lightweight alloy bodies.

The final run of twelve cars, the ‘9000 series chassis’ were super-trick, schmick jiggers and are variously described as ‘275 GTB Berlinetta Competizione’ or ‘275 GTB/C’.

They have lightweight long-nose bodies built by Scaglietti which were half the thickness of the 250GTO’s and a specially designed steel and aluminium Tipo 590A chassis which was lighter and stiffer than the standard unit. The suspension and hubs were reinforced, clutch upgraded and a different steering box fitted.

The dry sumped Tipo 213 V12- which allowed the engine to be mounted lower in the frame, was tuned to 250LM specifications with some Electron components incorporated- sump, cam cover, timing chain casing and bell-housing- power was circa 275-282bhp @ 7700rpm. The three big Weber 40 DF13 carbs were a design unique to the car and fitted due to a clerical stuff up by Ferrari who had not homologated the six-carb Weber option.

Out and out racers, these were the only cars referred to by the factory as 275 GTB/C and were the last competition GT’s fettled in Maranello- the Daytona GTB/4 racers were modified in Modena.

Le Mans Esses 1967. The second placed Ferrari P4 of Scarfiotti/Parkes ahead of eleventh placed and first in class Filipinetti Ferrari 275GTB/C #09079 driven by Steinemann/Spoerry (LAT)

 

Ray Delaney in GTB #07545 at Amaroo Park, Sydney in 1981

Credits…

Jaguar Magazine, Repco Collection via Nigel Tait, Rod MacKenzie, Ray Delaney, Talacrest, barchetta.cc, LAT, Stephen Dalton

Tailpiece: 1968 Surfers 6 Hour…

(unattributed)

Borrani’s at the front and Campagnolo’s up the back, ain’t she sweet…

Finito…

(B Young)

The Bob Young Aston Martin Ulster, Fred Hamilton Triumph TR2 and John Youl’s Porsche 356 at Baskerville in May 1958…

I know none of us get prints anymore but why can’t the ‘chemical compound’ of the photographic process today get this kind of sharp but soft and ‘true’ colours- if you get my drift? It is a beautiful shot of bucolic Australia contrasted by the bright and dull colours of the cars.

That’s the Mick Watt built Prefect Special driven by Ralph King on row 2, now and for many decades owned by Ian Tate, alongside Robin Bessant in the ex-Warwick Hine MG TC.

Geoff Smedley picks up the Aston Martin thread, ‘I had my eye on that Aston, it was brought to Tasmania by an English guy who was an Engineer who had joined Comalco in Georgetown. The owner frequently visited our family engineering business as much of Comalco’s work was done there, and of course i fell in love with the Ulster. I had been promised first offer on the car but within months it went to Bob Young which was sad as it was far too valuable to be treated like it was but that is history!’

Customer cars were built after the success of the team 1 1/2 cars in the 1934 Ulster Tourist Trophy- first to third place class victory won Aston Martin the Team Prize.

The Faulkner/Clarke 8th placed Aston Martin Ulster at Le Mans in 1935. Winner the Hindmarsh/Fontes Lagonda Rapide M45

 

1935 Ulster TT- Charles Brackenbury Aston Martin 1 1/2 leads the Tim-Rose Richards Ulster- 4th and 11th in the race won by Freddie Dixon, Riley TT Sprite (LAT)

Released at the October 1934 London Olympia motor show as ‘a replica of the three team cars which ran so successfully in the 1934 TT’, the machines were built on the shorter of the two Mk2 Aston Martin ladder frame chassis.

With a weight of 940kg, two-seater body and a tuned SOHC, 2-valve, twin-SU fed four cylinder 1481cc, circa 85bhp engine and Laycock four speed gearbox the cars were ‘guaranteed to reach 100mph’.

They weren’t light in comparison to the contemporary competition- Riley, MG Magnette and Frazer Nash ‘but the cars had stamina and handling which won respect of enthusiasts all over the world’ wrote Inman Hunter.

The slinky little machines were (an expensive) 750 pounds in 1934-1935, the period in which the twenty-one customer cars were built. There were initially the 3 ‘Team Cars’ and a further 7 built in 1934-5. Evidently all of the cars are extant- I am intrigued to know the history of this one before and after its time in Australia.

Etcetera…

 

Clarke/Faulkner Aston Martin 1 1/2 during the 1936 Mille Miglia, DNF in the race won by the Brivio/Ongaro Alfa Romeo 8C2900A. The only British car amongst the Italians! In fact the only foreign car amongst the Italian hordes…

Credits…

Bob Young Collection, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Geoff Smedley, ‘Aston Martin 1913-1947’ Inman Hunter

Finito…

(HRCCT)

Michael ‘Moose’ Warner, Holden 48-215 leads Tony Edmondson, BMW 1602 Repco at Symmons Plains circa 1974…

Touring Cars (a ‘Sports Sedan’ in this case) are not my thing but that BMW is powered by a Repco Brabham 4.4 litre ‘620 Series’ V8 so by definition it’s of interest!

The Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania continues to post wonderful photographs on its Facebook page- just pop the name into the FB search engine and have a look. Grab a beer before you do so, you cannot do the job properly in less than two or three hours.

(B Smart)

 

(B Smart)

Edmondson, who started racing a Ford Cortina GT with a good deal of pace in his native Tasmania circa 1970 was the latest in a long list of drivers whose career was aided and abetted by Tasmanian businessman Don Elliott- others include Robin Pare, John Walker and Mark McLaughlin.

The pair raced this BMW, then the ex-McCormack Valiant Charger Repco-Holden F5000 V8 and later still the two K&A Engineering built Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Chev V8’s- he had a really nasty accident in the first of these at Surfers Paradise.

Later still, in the mid-eighties, they acquired Elfin Sportscars, bless ’em- after Garrie Cooper’s untimely death and built some fantastic FV, ANF2 and one Formula Holden before the economic realities finally caught up with them and the business changed hands to become a builder of road/race cars rather than racing cars. (i’m truncating)

Edmondson and Grice top of The Esses at Baskerville in 1978 looking as though it could turn to tears at any moment’ indeed Grant Twining, but did it!? (K Midgley)

I always admired Edmondson’s aggression, pace and mechanical ability- another guy wasted on Sports Sedans I thought, if he handles 5 litres so well why not jump aboard the ‘real F5000 deal’…

I do recall the BMW, not that I ever saw it race in Victoria- did it ever race on the ‘Big Island’ i wonder? No doubt it did.

The Baskerville photos, circa 1973, are great, particularly Tony’s cavalier disregard for his racegear- perhaps he was ‘just tootling around’ on a day of testing.

Bruce Smart, the photographer advises that is exactly what the team were doing ‘I took the photos in mid-1973 on the main straight at Baskerville. It was a private test day and they were the only ones there. The Repco BMW was still being developed and they were having issues with cooling. It had a boot mounted radiator, you can see the hastily cut vents in the rear guards which were made to enhance airflow.’

‘Tony was only driving slowly, hence no helmet, in fact it was barely fast enough to get a speeding ticket in the Hobart CBD. They would do a couple of laps, return to the pits and scratch their heads, then do a few more laps. Eventually the cooling was sorted.’

I’m very interested to know who did the engine installation- presumably a Borg Warner four-speeder is attached to the back of the RBE V8 but i’m just guessing. Which particular RBE 620 izzit, where did it come from and where is it now? Where is the BMW shell too I guess, although that is of less interest. The Holden ‘was one of the best Humpy’s going around, unfortunately it fell over one day and was binned’ wrote the HRCCT’s Grant Twining.

Lindsay Ross advises Don Elliott is about 90 years old and that Tony Edmondson still works for his ‘Elliots Self Storage’ business in Hobart. He also recalls the ‘Repco 4.4 gave them so much grief with cracking blocks.’

Correspondence welcome!

Don Elliott supervises proceedings at Baskerville, hungry Lucas mouths atop RBE620 (B Smart)

 

oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

Top shot above is of Edmondson a few months later with the car now complete at Baskerville, 1973.

Credits…

Bruce Smart via Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Keith Midgely

Etcetera…

 

(B Smart)

‘Its not too noisy, no cops about, how bout we swing past mums on the way back to Hobart’, or some such. As I say, very interested to find out and publish the fullest technical specifications of this car we can come up with.

Social media suggests the car ended up in Western Australia at some point?

(HRCCT)

That’s not Edmondson in the ‘Fastman’ race suit- he is almost fully obscured by blue-cardigan man- who is the other racer?

Tailpiece: Turn-in is real noice…

(B Smart)

‘Hmm, maybe time to put my fire-proofs on’ is perhaps the drivers thoughts. And ‘Shit! This thing gets up and boogies.’

Note the Mawer Engineering wheels and ‘well back’ location of the engine. Intriguing to know the difference in weight between the cast iron block, alloy head BMW four and all alloy Repco V8.

This conversion is a ‘well-travelled path’ in the sense that the 1970 similarly engined Bob Jane Racing, John Sheppard built, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 ‘620’ 4.4 V8 showed just how quick this combination of compact car and very light ‘racing’ V8 could be.

Click here for a piece in part about this car, the Charger Repco and Corvair Chev; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

Finito…