Posts Tagged ‘Australian Motor Racing History’

Alan Bruce poses in the UK on Leaping Lena : Brough Superior J.A.P 1000

Bob King looks at this record and the man who achieved it – Alan Bruce.

To this motor racing historian, motorcycle records were a peripheral issue, at least until I heard Alan Bruce’s story.

Let us start at the finish with an excerpt from the London Daily Mail May 4, 1932:

RECORD BREAKING IN HUNGARY, Alan Bruce, riding the J.A.P. 1000 c.c. machine on which he attained a speed of 200kmh on the Tat road near Budapest, April 30, 1932.

Alan Bruce is the first Australian to hold an officially recognized, WORLD LAND SPEED RECORD, the streamlining is noteworthy.   This reads as a photo caption.

 Another report, this time possibly from an Australian source, is headed:

AUSTRALIA “Knocks it for Six”, Alan Bruce on his now famous “Leaping Lena”, Sidecar outfit at Tat near Budapest, successfully attacked the Worlds (sic) Record for the two-way flying kilometre. His time, 17.88sec, is an average speed of 200.220 kmh, equal to 124.41 mph.

“The Motorcycle”, in another report noted that it improved on the “German figure by 6 mph”. The mention of ‘German Records’ hints at mounting tensions in Europe, which, to a certain extent, would be played out on race tracks and through record breaking.

Records like this do not happen by chance, but are usually preceded by months and possibly years of planning with the expectation that there will be set-backs.  The unusual venue indicates the seriousness of this attempt. At that time the Tát road was thought to be the only suitable stretch of road for record breaking in the whole of Europe. Google maps suggests that the likely venue is a straight stretch of road that runs with no crossroads for approximately 8 kms north-east from Tat to Nyergesüjfal; it borders wide stretches of the Danube and is now known as Route 10, or locally as Kossuth Lajos U.

The team: Keith Horton, Alan Bruce, Phil Irving and Arthur Simcock

Most of my information on ‘Leaping Lena’ comes from Phil Irving’s Autobiography, 1992 (Turton and Armstrong). Phil Irving and Alan Bruce, who were of a similar age, had met at Stillwell and Parry’s in Elizabeth St. Melbourne, where Alan had been tuning racing machines. They shared a passion for motorcycles, particularly AJS, and had a continued friendship for the rest of their lives. Between them they cobbled up an overhead camshaft for an AJS, which was not particularly successful.

It is said that Alan got the notion of setting a Land Speed Record when he saw Paul Anderson take local records on Sellicks Beach, South Australia, in 1925. By 1926 Alan had done a lot of record breaking including the sidecar record for 350 c.c. machines on Bakers Beach in Tasmania. He also set the sidecar record from Hobart to Launceston; his speed exceeded the existing solo record.

By 1930 Alan had found success on the English speedways with a Rudge to which he had added his own modifications to the frame and forks. That year Phil arrived in England as Victorian 350c.c. Sidecar Champion. In 1931 they got together and cooked up a plot to break existing solo and sidecar world records – an ambitious plan for a couple of under-funded Australian battlers. They were joined by Arthur Simcock who was able to bring some Shell sponsorship. He was to ride solo, with Alan on the outfit. Although it was not his core skill, Phil was inveigled into designing a streamlined shell for the bike. The design was an attractive and unusual example of form meets function achieved without access to a wind tunnel. The front of the rig was not faired to avoid the adverse effects of crosswinds; the engine and sidecar were enclosed and the tail of the bike was shaped so that the rider’s backside was encased in a bucket seat.  Eatons of Euston Road were tasked with beating up the shell; they formed the cowling over Arthur Simcock’s helmet. Phil’s involvement was confined to London; he did not go to Hungary.


The chosen machine was a Brough Superior SS100 with a J.A.P. V twin of 996 c.c., supercharged with a Powerplus blower. Alan assembled the power plant meticulously, but did not dyno-test it as its expected 100bhp exceeded the capacity of J.A.P.’s dynamometer. Phil already had a grasp of exhaust tuning; opting for short stubs finishing inside the fairing to avoid loss of charge down a long pipe. Theirs was a private venture with some trade support in the shape of parts as well as Shell fuel and lubricants; quite different from the Reichsmarks being spent elsewhere.

Their first visit to Hungary was in April 1931. Records were to be set on the average speed over the measured kilometre in two directions. After Arthur achieved a two-way average of 143 mph (229 kph) his attempt failed when a piston partially seized on a further run and the venture was abandoned until the following year. One can imagine their disappointment after traipsing all the way to Hungary.

Back in the UK, Phil and the team had other things to concern them, as they were also preparing a number of bikes for the forthcoming Isle of Man TT. In 1932 they trundled off to Hungary again with the bike on a truck. This time the record attempt went off without a hitch until Alan aviated the bike at near his maximum of 135 mph causing him to shut off. He then thumped a railway crossing, not realising he had passed the finish timing strip.

Not being across motorcycle records, this bit of Aussie fame had escaped my notice; at least until about 1983 when I had as a patient in my medical practice Alan Bruce’s middle-aged daughter. She told me of her record -breaking father whom she had not seen since before the war. He was shortly to come home for his eightieth birthday and she would like us to meet.

This culminated in a visit from Alan to see my cars and with me attending his birthday party which was also attended by Phil Irving and numerous elderly gentlemen, most of whom had pronounced limps. Alan entertained me with stories of his successful career on European tracks and was justifiably proud of is world land speed record. Seeing my Bugatti, he told me how he had been given a lift from Budapest to Tat for the record attempt with Swiss racing driver Armand Hug in his supercharged eight-cylinder Bugatti; Hug was also after some records. The whole journey was taken flat-out, including through villages, scattering chickens etc. in their wake. Among other achievements, Alan had designed a banking side-car for racing outfits on cinders which was a considerable improvement over Freddie Dixon’s pioneering eight-year-old design. The reason he had stayed overseas after the war was that he had joined the occupation forces in Germany, remaining there after marrying a German fräulein.

Alan’s final word on his record attempt: “Yes, it felt fast alright”.

Alan Bruce, his wife, Erwin Tragatsch, a German Bugatti authority, and Bruce’ son. East Germany in the mid 1980s (B King Collection)

Postscript…

The mention of Ernst Henne in regard to land speed records brought to mind an interesting anecdote told to me by my late, lamented friend Lucien Chabaud.

Lucien had spent his teen years in the Vaucluse, Provence. During the war he and his mates shared a racing Terrot motorcycle that they would start up from time to time, according to the availability of dope with which to fuel it.

One day they were playing with the Terrot in the main street of Orange; Avenue de l’Arc de Triomphr on Route National Sept. Their play was interrupted by the arrival of an imposing German staff car. A German officer stepped down, studied the bike, and asked if he could try it out. Moments later he was streaking up the highway, rounding the triumphal arch at an impressive speed: shortly after reappearing, still flat-strap.

Next day a German army truck arrived and a 200-litre drum of aviation fuel was unloaded, to which was attached a note reading: “Merci, Henne”. At that time Henne was the holder of the World Land Speed Record for a motorcycles at 279.5kph – set in 1937, the record was not broken for another 14 years.

Etcetera…

On location in Tat, Hungary, in Solo format, probably Arthur Simcock.

Sydney ‘Referee’ June 8, 1932
(B King Collection)

‘Fan-card’ shot shows the canted speedway sidecar.

Credits…

Bob King, The Vintagent, Moto Revue Jan-March 1933

Tailpiece…

(Hockenheim Museum Archive)

Stylised machine is a blend of 1930 OEC-Temple-Jap record breaker and the bodywork of Leaping Lena.

Finito…

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines, there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK by ship, it’s destiny and whereabouts unclear to this day.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…

Dave Walker in the radical Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney, 4WD gas turbine powered F1 car during practice for the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort…

It is just over 50 years since the gritty Aussie raced this radical Lotus – developed and raced at the ’68 Indy 500 then adapted by Chapman and his team for road racin – through the Zandvoort sand dunes.

Perhaps with more practice in the car in advance of the meeting Walker may have made the podium in his famously wet race, instead, he braked too late late and went straight on over the bank behind the pits. He was ok but the car was too badly damaged to continue.

At that point Denis Jenkinson reported that “from the back of the grid he was galloping through the tail enders (armed also with the Firestone wets used by winner Ickx’ Ferrari and the other front-runners), really pleased with the way the smoother torque of the turbine and the 4-wheel drive were dealing with the appalling conditions, and was actually in tenth place at the end of the fifth lap. On the four previous laps he had arrived at the end of the long straight in company with a bunch of cars and they had all braked safely from 150mph, but on lap 5 Walker had gotten away from the others and was on his own and he braked too late, locked up his wheels and went straight on through the fence.”

Jenkinson then goes on to speak about Dave Walker in glowing terms, watch for an article soon.

(autopics.com)

Alec Mildren accepts the plaudits of the crowd after winning the Bathurst 100 Gold Star round over the Easter long weekend in 1960.

He won of the Gold Star rounds in this clever Cooper T51 powered by a 2.5-litre Maserati 250S engine, the story of which is told here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

The Elfin 600 has always been a sinfully sexy racing car

Arguably, in F3 form, as here with factory mag alloy wheels, rather than the steel wheels of an FF and devoid of wings this is about as good as they get in terms of purity of line- Brian Sampson eases into Peters/Torana Corner at Sandown in his 600B Toyota circa 1970.

I think of him as a Cheetah man- he and Brian Shead conquered F3/F2 between them for years in Cheetahs built by Shead, and Toyota Corolla 1.3-litre race motors tuned by Sambo’s Motor Improvements concern in St Kilda. See a feature in the current issue of Auto Action on Sampson, Shead and his Cheetah Mk6; AUTO ACTION 1815 – Auto Action

Sampson with a narrow lead from young whipper-snapper John Bowe at Shell Corner, Sandown in 1979- Cheetah Mk6 Toyota and Elfin 792 VW during the ANF2 1.6 pushrod/single SOHC days (B Jones Collection)

Brian was handy in anything mind you, he had a long history in touring cars and sportscars before he added open-wheelers to his diet at a time he and Shead had Toyota factory support- remember Sampson’s Celica, which he still has. Oh- he did win Bathurst co-driving with Brocky aboard an L34 Torana in 1975.

Sampson has had the VHT franchise in Australia since JC was playing for the Jerusalem thirds. A nice giving back touch is he and Brendan Jones S5000 Series support- great stuff boys.

(S5000)

(A Patterson)

Two eight-cylinder specials front and centre in the Victor Harbor paddock during the 26 December, 1936 Australian Grand Prix.

Car #7 is the WA McIntyre owned, Frank Kleinig driven McIntyre Hudson Spl, DNF and #6 Ossie Cranston’s sixth placed Ford V8 Spl- look at the stylised V8 on the tale of that handsome car. Car #9 is Arthur Terdich’s eleventh placed Bugatti T37A and #12 alongside is George Smith’s Austin 7, DNF.

By the look of the size of the crowd it’s raceday, the handicap event was won by Les Murphy’s MG P Type from Tim Joshua’s similar car Bob Lea-Wright’s Terraplane Special.

Click here for a feature on this race; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/27/south-australian-centenary-grand-prix-26-december-1936-aka-1937-australian-grand-prix/ and here for the stupidity surrounding the naming of the event; https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

The shot below is of the very versatile McIntyre which did trials, hillclimbs, sprints and races of all types including the AGP. It is, happily, still with us in relaxed retirement in the Birdwood Mill museum in the Adelaide Hills.

(A Patterson)

(Hartnett Family Collection)

John Ampt and crew considering the next change to to the wonderful Cooper T38 Jaguar in the Mount Panorama pits in 196?

This car had a wonderful in-period history with Peter Whitehead in Europe inclusive of Le Mans in 1955 before passing through Stan Jones hands in early 1956 before finding plenty of success with Wangaratta’s Ron Phillips, who won the 1959 Australian Tourist Trophy at Lowood in it, before it passed to Ampt and more success.

You can see the old jigger is looking a bit tired in the body but for much of its life in Australia it had been beautifully prepared by Ern Seeliger. I wrote a lengthy feature in Auto Action #1812 AUTO ACTION 1812 – Auto Action

Ampt is still alive and well, on his farm at Rainbow in Victoria, although these days two brothers work the property.

(S5000)

Warwick Brown became an F5000 stalwart.

He raced a Brabham and McLaren before graduating to the ex-Alan Hamilton McLaren M10B in 1972, then raced ‘all of the Lolas from T300 to T333’ (all but the T330 and T400 anyway) in a career which yielded much success in Australasia and in the US. From 1977 onwards he raced F5000 ‘in drag’ – central seat 5-litre Can-Am cars.

The shot above is in the Sandown pitlane in 1977 aboard the Team VDS T430 Chev, he boofed it on the warm-up lap but won the Rothmans series, the one below is the following year in a T333/332C Chev. He won this race, one of all four rounds of the Rothmans International he took that summer.

More about WB here; ‘WB for ’73’… | primotipo…

(S5000)

(J Wakely)

Glorious ‘As it Was’ shot of the ‘Boomerang Service Station’ Holden 48-215 raced by Spencer Martin outside the Colonial Motel, Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.

It’s during a Catalina Park meeting in 1963, Spencer made his name with some amazing performances in this car, he was picked up by Scuderia Veloce’s David McKay not too long after this. Spencer progressed with McKay’s Brabhams and Ferrari 250LM, but it was with the Bob Jane owned ex-McKay Brabham BT11A Climax that Spencer won his two Gold Stars, then promptly retired.

Spencer’s not long ago released book is worth a read. See here for a feature on Martin; Spencer Martin: Australian ‘Gold Star’ Champion 1966/7… | primotipo…

(Cummins Archive)

Most of us think of Bryan Thomson as a touring car/sports sedan racer but here he is in the early open-wheeler phase of his long career in a Cooper T51 Climax at Hume Weir on Boxing Day 1962.

His penchant for innovation was on show early in his career too – remember the Chev F5000 engined Volksrolet and four-valve Chev V8 he and Peter Fowler developed in the mid-seventies – the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF engine in a car which was a little dated was supercharged, giving the machine a new lease of life.

Behind him is Wally Mitchell in Brabham Numero-Uno, the ex-Gavin Youl MRD Ford, see here for a piece on car and driver; Merde… | primotipo…

(Cummins Archive)

(G Thomas)

Bib Stillwell with a big smile on his face at Rob Roy on April 20, 1947, MG Magna.

The exhaust system looks impressive, sorta, but I wonder if it cost or enhanced power? At 20 years old Bib is just starting out on a career which took him all the way to the top of Australian motor racing and equal to all of the internationals other than The Gods.

See here; Bib Stillwell: Cooper T49 ‘Monaco’: Warwick Farm, Sydney December 1961… | primotipo… and here; Stillwell’s D Type… | primotipo…

(I Smith)

Ian Smith is a Melbourne photographer who went to Sydney and found an unusual angle on a circuit not noted for atmosphere shots.

As to the cars- a Lola T330 or T332 at left and an Elfin MR5 or Chevron B24 circa 1974. The F5000s are coming off The Dogleg with the Energol spectator mound beyond.

(R Page)

Bob Tanner in his VW ‘Bed Base’ at Lakeview Hillclimb, the Canberra Car Club’s venue in the mid sixties.

Can anybody tell us a bit more about this car?

Larry Perkins from Keke Rosberg, Ralt RT1 and Chevron B45 coming onto Pit Straight at Bay Park, New Zealand in 1978.

Perkins drove the wheels off this self-run Graham Watson/David McKay owned car, but the ex-F1 driver was bested by F1 aspirant Rosberg who won the series in his much better supported Fred Opert ‘works’ car. Click here; Keke Rosberg Attacks the Pukekohe Chicane, New Zealand Grand Prix, January 1978… | primotipo…

Many top young drivers contested the NZ Pacific Series, the 1978 crop included Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, David Oxton, Ken Smith, Richard Melville, Dave McMillan, Steve Millen, Andrew Miedecke and others.

(D Foster)

John French’ Centaur Holden-Waggott at Lakeside on the July 8, 1962 weekend.

A couple of great shots of the very clever Tim Harlock built car powered by the equally clever Merv Waggott built twin-cam, triple Weber Holden 200bhp, 3-litre ‘Grey’ six cylinder engine. See the Waggott-Holden bit within this piece; Repco Holden F5000 V8… | primotipo…

On this weekend the talented Queenslander won the 100 mile, 50 lap Australian GT Championship.

(D Foster)

(R Reid Collection)

Start of the 1958 Australian Grand Prix at Mount Panorama that October 6.

Stan Jones, Ted Gray and Lex Davison- Maserati 250F, Tornado 2 Chev and Ferrari 500/625 and then the Alec Mildren, Cooper T43 Climax and Kiwi, Tom Clark, Ferrari 555 Super Squalo.

(R Reid Collection)

Any of Jones, Gray and Davison had the speed to win but Davo had the reliability, and, perhaps the patience. Stan dropped a valve after 7 laps of clutch-less gear-changes (above) and Ted pushed too hard after a botched fuel stop, boofing a fence.

It was one of the great AGPs, happy Lex takes the flag to win his third of four AGPs, see here; 1958 Australian Grand Prix, Bathurst… | primotipo…

(S5000)

Bob Jane grabs a breath of air aboard his Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 litre V8 during 1967.

A mighty fine car with a somewhat chequered history, stories about the Elfin 400 and its design are here; Elfin 400/Traco Olds: Frank Matich, Niel Allen and Garrie Cooper… | primotipo…

and about Bob’s car in particular here; Belle of The Ball… | primotipo…

Mark Webber aboard his Red Bull RB3 Renault during the 2007 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

105,000 Australians were keen for a home win but Kimi Raikkonen started from pole in his Ferrari F2007 and won the race at the start of his championship season, Webber Q7 and 13th. A bit about Red Bull and Webber here; Mark Webber: Red Bull RB6 Renault: Singapore Grand Prix 2010… | primotipo…

(AN1Images.com)

‘Yer not takin’ the Kingswood…

But apparently so, Ted Bullpitt would not be best pleased.

Colin Bond flinging around this HQ Holden Kingswood, Holden’s iconic four door family car of the early seventies. Any idea of the gig folks?

Stan Jones at his exuberant best on the streets of Sydney.

Stan The Man is both trying to stay in the seat of Maybach 1 and control its slide at Parramatta Park in 1952- isn’t it a corker of a shot and rare for the period, colour?

And below in the paddock with Reg Robbins leaning on the cockpit. See here for a feature on Jones, with plenty on the Maybachs; Stan Jones: Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix and Gold Star Winner… | primotipo…

(J Mangano)

Tim Mayer with his Bruce McLaren Racing Cooper T70 Climax during the Lakeside 99 Tasman Cup meeting in February 1964.

There is a certain poignancy in this shot- probably a press one taken in the lead up to the race.

The young American had the world at his feet, he had impressed all of those who mattered on that tour with his driving of what were the fastest road-racing single-seaters in the world, and also his demeanour.

Sadly, he made a mistake at Longford a fortnight later and lost his life- a bright light extinguished way before time. See here for a lengthy feature; Tim Mayer: What Might Have Been?… | primotipo…

(S Griffiths)

This shot of the Porsche 550 Spyder has a great moody quality about it taken as it was, late in the day.

Its the Templestowe Hillclimb in Victoria’s outer eastern suburbs in 1963, see here; Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder… | primotipo…

(Brabham Family)

Matt Brabham did two Indycar events in a Dallara Chev in 2016; the Indianapolis Grand Prix, as shown here and the Indy 500 during May.

He was 16th on the road course and thirtieth in the Memorial Day classic.

His father, Geoff Brabham and grandfather Jack ran at Indy many times. Jack’s most important start was his first of course. His Cooper T54 Climax FPF 2.7 finished ninth and showed the Indy establishment the mid-engined path; Jack’s Indy Cooper T54 Climax… | primotipo…

(Indy Museum’

Jack and Geoff Brabham before Geoff’s first Indy 500 start in 1981- twenty years after Jack’s Brickyard debut in a nice bit of symmetry. GB’s car is a Penske PC9 Cosworth, was fifth in the race won by Bobby Unser’s Penske.

(AMS)

An ‘Australian Motor Sports’ Ferodo ad- car featured a circa 1951  HRG ‘Bathurst’ perhaps.

Credits…

B Cahier, Getty Images, Adrian Patterson Collection, Joel Wakely, Brendan Jones Collection, George Thomas via Richard Townley Collection, Ron Page, Terry Marshall, Darren Foster, Ron Reid Collection, John Mangano, AN1Images.com, Stan Griffiths, Brabham Family Collection, Indianapolis Motor Museum

Tailpiece…

The start of the 1975 Australian Grand Prix at Surfers Paradise.

The challenge of driving a 500bhp F5000 car in the teeming rain does not require much imagination, 11 F5000s started the race, and three ANF2.

Bruce Allison started from pole but was outed by ignition dramas, for a while it looked as though John Leffler’s Bowin P8 Chev may take the chequered flag but the Sydneysider’s electrics were drowned too, Max Stewart took top honours in his Lola T400 Chev.

Finito…

(D Cooper)

What a cracker of a shot, Symmons Plains Sweeper…

Peter Brock’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1 from Bob Jane’s similar car and Allan Moffat’s Ford Falcon GT351 Hardtop at Symmons Plains during the first 1974 Australian Touring Car Championship round on March 4.

Brock won from Moffat with Tim Smith third in another XU1- Bob was fifth.

Credits…

Dennis Cooper

Tailpiece…

(D Cooper)

Brock won five of the eight ATCC rounds and the title that year with Bob Morris second in an XU1 and Moffat third. It appears Brocks’ door has been given the short back ‘n sides by somebody.

Finito…

(B Thomas)

Kevin Bartlett delicately slides his way around Lakeside’s Eastern Loop during the 13 February 1967 ‘Lakeside 99’ Tasman round, Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5 FPF…

KB posted it on his Facebook page and unsurprisingly cites it as one of his favourite photos of the Alec Mildren owned car which was particularly kind to him. You might say it was the chassis in which he made his name at the top level, if not the car which won him titles.

That weekend he was fifth, second of the Climax engined cars home, and first Australian resident behind his teammate Frank Gardner who raced an F2 based Brabham BT16 FPF to third. Jim Clark won from Jack Brabham in Lotus 33 Climax FWMV V8 2 litre and Brabham BT23A Repco V8 ‘640’ 2.5, with Denny Hulme fourth in another Repco engined Brabham, a BT22.

Clark and Stewart tussled early but both P261 BRM’s driven by the Scot, and Piers Courage were outted by transmission failures, the bete-noire of the BRMs that Tasman squeezed to 2.1-litres as the little V8’s were.

In part the beauty of the shot is the bucolic background, devoid as it is of signage and spectators or their cars- it’s practice no doubt.

I’ve waxed lyrical about Bartlett’s skills here in the Mildren Alfa’s, https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/, here in the McLaren M10B, https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/ and perhaps most relevantly here about the Brabham BT11A, https://primotipo.com/2018/04/27/kbs-first-bathurst-100mph-lap/

Credit…

Brier Thomas perhaps, none of us are sure. Bruce Wells, Warwick Farm Facebook page

Tailpiece…

(B Wells)

In similar fashion to the shot above but a week later at Warwick Farm’s Esses during the AGP weekend. Sixth in that  race was a great result for the Sydneysider with a broken front roll bar and a gear-lever sans knob. Stewart’s BRM P261 won from Clark and Gardner.

Postscript: The Maestro didn’t always geddit right…

(WFFB)

Warwick Farm 1967 Tasman round practice- magic car and driver.

Finito…

I’ve done this car to death of course, but each time it’s offered for sale the vendor unveils a few more shots, Bonhams are the source of this lot. Shared here coz they are too interesting to waste.

Geordie Anderson checks that her Dunlops are attached securely before the off, XKD526 circa 1956.

The on-circuit shots are at Lowood, and appear to be Ms Anderson too, happy to take your advice as to the meeting date. From memory it will be early after the cars arrival, once Bill Pitt got his hands on it, he kept it to himself. I would have done the same.

See here; https://primotipo.com/2016/03/18/lowood-courier-mail-tt-1957-jaguar-d-type-xkd526-and-bill-pitt/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/11/bill-pitt-frank-matich-and-xkd526-take-two/

Credits…

Bonhams

Tailpiece…

XKD526 during its Appendix K GT days at Warwick Farm circa 1961/2.

As ugly as it is, the conversion from curvaceous sporty to fugly coupe is still one of the better ones of that era.

Finito…

(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…