Posts Tagged ‘Bob Brown’

John Surtees looking very cheery prior to the 1960 Solitude GP aboard his Rob Walker/works/AFN Porsche 718/2, 24 July 1960…

And so he should, not long before he had won the 500cc motorcycle GP aboard an MV Agusta before jumping into his car for the Formula 2 Grand Prix, his fortunes in that event not so good.

I found this photo randomly on Getty Images, this brief Porsche chapter of the great mans career was not one I was familiar with but a couple of my online buddies identified the event- many thanks to Roger Virtigo and Glenn Ducey.

My initial plan for this article was a quickie on Surtees’ first year in cars but then I became rather enamoured of the Solitude circuit, in particular the significance of the 1960 race for reasons which will become clear when you read the great Denis Jenkinson’s MotorSport account of the weekend.

Whilst still the benchmark in grand prix motorcycle racing – he would retain both his 350cc and 500cc world titles aboard MV’s in 1960 – Surtees at 26 years of age, stepped into cars that year.

Surtees ventures onto Goodwood, Cooper T52 BMC FJ 19 March 1960 (LAT)

Clark from Surtees, Lotus 18 Ford and Cooper T52 BMC, Goodwood, 19 March 1960 (LAT)

His first race on four wheels was in Formula Junior at Goodwood on 19 March. He finished second to rising star Jim Clark’s Lotus 18 Ford during the BARC Members Meeting in a Ken Tyrrell Cooper T52 BMC. Click here for a short article about his debut; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/18/surtees-first-car-races/

Two months later he made his F1 world championship start at the Monaco GP in late May- Q15 and DNF gearbox on lap 17 in the race won by Stirling Moss in Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax FPF.

In Surtees home GP in July, the British at Silverstone, he finished second, an amazing performance, Jack Brabham won on the way to his second World Championship aboard his works Cooper ‘Lowline’ T53 Climax.

Whilst the Lotus 18, Colin Chapman’s first mid-engined design was in many ways the 1960 ‘Car of The Year’ it was still amazing stuff, the transition from two to four wheels never done as smoothly before or since.

Surtees, works Lotus 18 Climax, on the way to 2nd in the 1960 British @ Silverstone-ain’t she chunky but pretty sans roll bar. And fast (unattributed)

It was with his tail up that Surtees headed off to the Solitude Grand Prix, that year an F2 race for cars of 1.5 litres or less in capacity.

The 7.1 mile Solitude circuit, a few miles out of Stuttgart had been in existence for many years- used mainly for motorcycle racing it took its name from Schloss Solitude, an old German castle on top of one of the hills overlooking the valley in which the circuit lay. The circuits narrow width precluded its use for cars until that was addressed, an international Formula Junior race was run in 1959 with the 1960 F2 race appropriate for a circuit Denis Jenkinson, who had raced on it as a motorcycle competitor, rated as one of the best in Europe.

The entry was excellent with the works Porsche, Ferrari and Lotus teams competing, as well as Jack Brabham with a Cooper

Porsche fielded five cars altogether, determined to win on their own proving ground with Bonnier, Hill and Herrmann driving the regular three factory cars. The Rob Walker car had been retrieved, a standard Porsche racing gear-change put back on it and loaned to Surtees, while a brand new car was finished the night before practice and driven by Dan Gurney, so the whole BRM team were being used!

Team Lotus entered three works Lotus 18’s driven by Ireland, Clark and Trevor Taylor, the last two also driving in the Formula Junior race with other 18’s.

Scuderia Ferrari sent two entries, one a normal front-engined 246 with a Dino 156 engine driven by Phil Hill, and the other a new version of the F2/60 rear-engined experimental car, driven by von Trips. ‘This car was basically the rear-engined model (246P) that appeared at Monaco and Zandvoort, but had undergone a lot of modifications. The construction of the wishbones had been altered and also their size and positioning on the chassis, so that although there were still double-wishbones and a coil-spring to each wheel they were of a new pattern. The 1 1/2-litre V6 Dino 156 engine was coupled to the gearbox/final drive unit used on the car at Zandvoort, still with inboard disc brakes, but instead of the clutch-operating mechanism being mounted on the last chassis cross-member it was now on an alloy casting bolted to the rear of the gearbox casing and curving round the left side of the clutch body, which was still exposed. Consequently the chassis tube extensions beyond the gearbox were cut off and the space frame finished under the gearbox. There was no water header tank over the engine and the vertical distributor had been replaced by a horizontal one on the front of the engine, so the high head faring could be done away with and the rear decking was made flat, like a Lotus, with a perspex bubble open at the front over the three downdraught Weber carburetters. The tail of the car ended in an aperture fitted with a grille that would have made a nice radiator cowling for a front-engined car, and two long thin megaphone exhaust pipes stuck out the back, protruding well beyond the extremity of the body. The short, stumpy nose of the car was much as before, with the radiator fed from a typical 1960 Ferrari cowling and the cockpit having a wrap-round screen’.

The significance of the above car, the mid-engined 1.5 litre V6 Ferrari 246P will be clear to most of you, the car referred to above was the prototype of the machines which would dominate grand prix racing in 1961, the commencement of the new 1.5 litre F1. I wrote about this car a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/04/monaco-panorama-1958/

GP gridding up. #22 Gurney Porsche 718/2, #4 Bonnier and #5 Herrmann ditto 718/2, #7 is the mid-engine Ferrari 246P 1.5 of Von Trips and the subject of extensive coverage by Jenkinson above. #6 Hill G Porsche 718/2, #14 Wolfgang Seidel Cooper T45 Climax, #16 Innes Ireland Lotus 18 Climax, #11 Jack Lewis Cooper T45 Climax (unattributed)

Jack Brabham represented Cooper with a 1959 car built up from bits and pieces, either a T43 or T45 and was looked after by his own mechanic- they were still cobbling the car together as practice got underway, whilst the rest of the Coopers were private entries.

‘With rain pouring down during the first session of practice there was little hope of judging how things would go, except that von Trips was outstandingly fast in the rear-engined Ferrari, at one time being 30 sec faster than anyone else and passing the factory Porsches on the winding leg of the circuit and leaving them. Although the car was sliding and slithering about in the wet von Trips seemed quite unconcerned, feeling perfectly safe in the car.’

‘The second session was a lot better…The rear-engined Ferrari was still going well and was soon down below the old sports-car record of 4 min 34.4 sec, and went on to get below 4 min 30 sec. The only driver to challenge von Trips was Jimmy Clark, who was benefiting from double practice, being out with the Formula Junior cars as well as the Formula 2 cars, and as the afternoon wore on he went faster and faster. The only other driver to get below 4 min 30 sec was Hans Herrmann and he was down to 4 min 28.3 sec, but von Trips had done 4 min 24.1 sec, while just as practice finished and the track was at its driest for the day, Clark did 4 min 23.6 sec…Practice took place again for 11/2 hours on Saturday afternoon, but once again rain completely washed things out and everyone’s times were nearer 5 min than 41/2 min.’

The challenges of the road circuit resulted in Australian rider Bob Brown’s death later from head injuries sustained when he fell from his Honda 250-4 during the motorcycle practice session.

The 30 year old, born at Little Plains near Inverell, New South Wales trained as motor mechanic and worked as such and as a taxi-driver in Sydney before local success led to seeking fame in Europe in 1955.

After doing well on privately owned bikes he was picked up by Gilera in 1957. In 1959, riding his private Nortons he was third in both the 350 and 500 World Championships beaten only by the works MV’s. Because of his experience aboard the Gilera fours in 1957 he was offered a works Honda 250-4 in 1960 on a race by race basis. On one of these technically very advanced machines, commented upon by Jenkinson below, he was 4th at the IOM TT becoming the first Western rider to score points on a Japanese bike.

Bob Brown, place and date unknown (AMCN)

Solitude was only a month later, Brown crashed on dirt or grit brought onto the surface by errant cars on the ‘notorious sand pit curve’ on the twisty Mahdenthal section of the course. Another theory has it that he was cruising back to the pits with a misfiring engine which suddenly popped onto all four cylinders- whatever the case he was tossed off his mount sustaining head injuries to which he later succumbed.

Even though he only contested four of the seven 500cc championship rounds in 1960, Brown was still 4th in the championship standings aboard his trusty Norton behind three MV’s- at Assen he was 2nd where he split the MV entries. In an lovely tribute to this little known Australian, Honda in its book ‘The Race for Leadership: 1961 World Championship Road Race’ the company produced to celebrate its maiden World 125/250 titles won by Tom Phillis and Mike Hailwood-Honda wrote that ‘Brown untiringly helped the Japanese riders who were new to the game and actively helped to improve the Honda-Four. Bob Brown was one of the foundations of Honda success’.

GP, the off. Bonnier from Hill and Hermann all Porsche 718/2, then Von Trips Ferrari 246P and to the outside of him Ireland’s Lotus 18, #19 Surtees and #22 Gurney both Porsche 718/2 with Jim Clark’s distinctive Lotus 18 to Gurney’s outside and the rest (Getty)

‘Sunday was happily fine and sunny and a crowd of 250,000 lined the circuit to watch first of all the motorcycle races, then a vast procession of publicity vehicles, and finally, the Formula Junior and Formula 2 car races.

In the 250-cc motorcycle race the outstanding thing was the Japanese Honda machine which finished third, this having a four-cylinder twin-overhead camshaft engine with four valves per cylinder and developing its peak power at 13,500 rpm, while it would safely run up to 16-17,000 rpm.

The technical variety of engine development in the motorcycle-­racing world was something which made the Formula 2 racing world realise that we are stagnating for want of new engine designs. The 250-cc motorcycles had vertical twins, transverse fours, single cylinders, and two-strokes both air- and water-cooled, and there seemed to be no accepted layout which everyone was following.’

Surtees on the way to his 500cc MV Agusta Solitude GP win (unattributed)

‘The 500-cc class saw the usual easy win for John Surtees on the MV Agusta four-cylinder machine, and then we passed to Formula Junior.

The race was a complete sweep for Lotus-Ford cars, the works car of Jimmy Clark having an unchallenged win after Henry Taylor in Tyrell’s Cooper­-BMC had blown up his engine. Trevor Taylor was confidently following Clark in second place and they forgot the opposition so much that they overlooked Ouveroff in another Lotus-Ford, who suddenly closed on them two laps before the end and split their confidence, finishing in second place. Of the first six cars, five were Lotus-Fords, odd man out being Ballisat with Tyrell’s second Cooper-BMC.’

Grid of the FJ race. #1 Clark Lotus 18 Cosworth, black Cooper alongside Keith Ballisat Cooper T52 BMC?, #9 Juan-Manuel Bordeu Lola Mk2 Ford, #3 settling into his car Pater Arundell Lotus 18 Cosworth and the rest (unattributed)

‘Finally we came to the race of the day, with weather conditions perfect and twenty cars lined up on the grid, the only non-starter being de Beaufort, whose Climax engine was beyond repair…The race was to be run over 20 laps, a distance of 228.340 kilo­metres and the start was perfect, with Bonnier just leading the field towards the first corner. At the end of the opening lap the first nine cars were so close that it was relatively unimportant who was leading, though in fact it was Graham Hill in front of Bonnier, with Herrmann, von Trips, Gurney, Ireland, Surtees, Brabham and Clark following.

With the track nice and dry for the first time this little lot were really motor racing, the standing lap being in 4 min 24 sec, and the first flying lap in 4 min 15.1 sec (virtually 100 m.p.h. average). Bonnier led on lap two, von Trips on lap three and Clark on lap four, while the others were nose-to­-tail in varying orders, there being no signs of a procession begin­ning as yet. With the exception of Clark and Taylor, who had just driven in the Junior race, none of the others knew anything about the circuit in the dry, so we were witnessing, in effect, the first really serious practice session, and it was really serious. While Trevor Taylor was a bit out of his depth in this race, only his second with an F2 car, Clark was really profiting from his Junior race and his progress on the first few laps was 9th, 6th, 3rd and 1st, and having got the lead he drew away steadily, driving most beautifully, setting a new lap record at 4 min 08.0 sec.’

Clarks’s Lotus 18 Ford during his victorious run in the FJ race, he won from two other Lotus 18’s- Aussie Steve Ouvaroff  and Lotus teammate Trevor Taylor (unattributed)

‘Meanwhile the rest of the runners were learning the circuit in the dry, and Herrmann led von Trips, Bonnier, Gurney, Graham Hill, Brabham and Ireland, while Surtees was having gear-change trouble and dropping back a bit, to be caught by Phil Hill in the front-engined Ferrari. Then came Lewis all on his own, having outstripped the rest of the private owners, but not quite fast enough to keep up with the works drivers, and already Schlesser had fallen out with crankshaft trouble. On lap six von Trips passed Herrmann once more and Graham Hill passed Gurney, but on the next lap Gurney was in front again, and at the end of the field Bianchi retired with a broken oil pipe and Seidel gave up as he thought his shock-absorbers were not working.’

On lap eight Clark had 1/2 sec lead but Herrmann was back in second place and Phil Hill had moved up a place into ninth position ahead of Surtees, and still the first ten cars were all pressing on at unabated speed. On lap nine Clark began to get worried about rising water temperature, for there had been signs of a head gasket leak on the starting line, while Herrmann and von Trips were now getting into their stride and the Ferrari brought the lap record down to 4 min 07.5 sec, and for the first lap since the start of the race there was no change in the order anywhere through the field. Halfway round lap 10 the leading Porsche and the rear-engined Ferrari were gaining rapidly on the Lotus and as Clark finished his tenth lap he drew into the pits, just as Herrmann and von Trips went by. In a flash the next eight cars were past, while water was poured into the Lotus and Clark restarted in tenth place, for Lewis also drew into the pits to retire with two broken main-bearing caps and a ruined crankcase. Behind the leading bunch came Trintignant, Taylor, Gregory, Gendebien, Laureau, Barth and Cabral in that order but spaced out.

Having got the lead Herrmann really flew and lapped in 4 min 07.0 sec, but von Trips was not giving in and two laps later recorded 4 min 06.4 sec and closed on Herrmann, and the two of them were now leaving Bonnier behind, who was being followed by Graham Hill and Gurney, who were changing positions continuously, and behind them came Phil Hill and Ireland, also chopping and changing places, while some way back Trevor Taylor had got in front of Trintignant. On lap 11 Brab­ham gave up with a split head gasket, never having been in the picture, and Surtees was slowing visibly, his continual gear-­selection trouble having caused missed gears and subsequent bent valves.

On lap 13 von Trips was only a few lengths behind Herrmann’s Porsche, on the next lap he was right on his tail and he stayed like that for two more laps, while the two of them drew 16 sec ahead of Bonnier, but Graham Hill and Gurney were urging each other along and were catching Bonnier. On lap 16 Herrmann did 4 min 06.0 sec, but on lap 17 von Trips replied with 4 min 04.7 sec and sailed by into the lead, and the Ferrari really showed its possibilities by pulling out a 11/2-sec lead over the Porsche. Graham Hill and Gurney were still passing and re-passing and were now up with Bonnier, while Ireland and Phil Hill had not yet settled their battle.

On lap 15 Trevor Taylor had retired at the pits when a cam-­follower had broken and on lap 16 Surtees had run wide on a corner trying to take it in a high gear to save the trouble of sorting the selectors out, and had spun on some loose gravel and stalled. Clark was still running, but a long way back from the leaders, and most of the tail-enders had been lapped. The rear-engined Ferrari was now safely in front and von Trips was making no mistake and he finished the 20 laps nicely ahead of Herrmann, having thoroughly trounced the Porsche team on their own door­step. On lap 19 Graham Hill got into third place, but on the last lap Bonnier got by him down the straight and led him over the line with Gurney right behind them, and a little way back Phil Hill led Ireland on the penultimate lap only to be re-passed yet again on the last lap.

For once this had been real motor racing, with the first seven cars all going as hard as they knew how for the whole race, and if this was a foretaste of 1961 Grand Prix racing then no-one is going to be disappointed. Dan Gurney summed up this excellent race very nicely when he said : “I’ve never had to drive so hard in my life just for fifth place”. DSJ.’

Beautiful shot of Surtees Lotus 18 on the cobbled pave of the Oporto streets (LAT)

Surtees further showed his mettle at Oporto, the Portuguese Grand Prix held on 14 August.

In only his third event in 2.5 litre Grand Prix cars he put his Team Lotus 18 on pole on the unfamiliar challenging portside/coastal circuit.

Surtees lost out in the early skirmishes as Dan Gurney’s BRM P48 grabbed the lead, but he soon overcame Stirling Moss, Lotus 18 Climax – returning from injuries sustained at Spa – to run 2nd. The Lotus then closed on Gurney and was poised to challenge for the lead when the BRM hit engine trouble. Moss now moved forward and started applying pressure to Surtees, only to have to pit for a plug change on his Lotus 18. That left Surtees comfortably clear of reigning world champion Jack Brabham.

But Surtees had been battling with a fuel leak and, eventually, his petrol-soaked feet slipped off the pedals. The resulting incident burst the Lotus’s radiator and forced Surtees out of the race, but he looked at home up front of the field, which is rather where he belonged!

Another shot of Surtees on the run at Oporto (B Cahier)

Did you say the motel was to the left or right? Surtees on the road @ Riverside 1960. Lotus 18 Climax (Getty)

With his motorcycle commitments the only other F1 championship appearance for the great Brit that year was at Riverside, site of the 1960 US Grand Prix in late November.

There he qualified his Team Lotus 18 6th but spun and was collected by teammate Clark causing John’s retirement. Clark soldiered on using the nose cone off Surtees car! Stirling Moss won the race in the Walker Lotus 18, the fastest combination of the year- and noting Moss’ monster accident at Spa in June which outed him from mid-June till late November.

Surtees made a huge impact in his first season in cars- he was off to UDT Laystall for 1961 on an inexorable rise which took him via Lola to Ferrari in 1963 and a world title in 1964. Click here for an article on his Ferrari 158 championship year;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/30/john-surtees-world-champion-50-years-ago/

Etcetera: Denis Jenkinson’s description of the wild Solitude road circuit…

‘The starting area is wide and level and a short straight leads into a series of four left-hand bends, they can be taken in one complete arc, to form a very large-radius hairpin, “Glemseck,” turning the direction of the road through 180 degrees. Between the start and the first corner are the pits, intelligently placed at an angle to the main track, the first pit being some 20 feet from the edge of the track and the last one being about 10 feet from the edge, thus allowing everyone in the pits a fairly unobstructed view and making a very large wedge-shaped pit area.

After turning through 180 degrees the road climbs steeply up the side of a hill, round a very tight hairpin to the right, “Hedersback,” and on up the hill on a gradient of nearly 1 in 61/2, levels out a bit on a left curve and then climbs up round a fast right-hand curve to the top of the hillside. Here it takes a long fast left-hand bend over the brow, “Frauenkreuz,” and down the other side, followed by another very fast downhill right-hand curve, and drops over a sharp brow to plunge down into a sharp left-hand corner, in thick woods. As the road levels out here this corner can be taken faster than imagined for the sudden cessation of losing height as you hit the corner means that the car gets a terrific downward thrust from its own weight, helping the cornering power of the tyres. From here the road is more or less level and to all intents and purposes is straight, although in actual fact there are two left-hand curves, but these are flat out. This ends in a very sharp right-hand hairpin that drops downhill to a left­hand hairpin that continues to drop downhill and is followed by a short straight rush down to a lake.

Here the road turns sharp left round the edge of the lake and from here to the start the road runs along the bottom of a valley and is flat, but by no means straight. From the lake to the starting area there is a series of fast and slow corners, running through woods with a high bank on the right. This is the most difficult part of the course, for so many of the corners look alike and all are rather similar as regards surroundings, making them difficult to identify, and for 31/2 kilo­metres after leaving the lake, on this home stretch, there is no straight and the car has to be whipped from one lock to the other. The last of this long series of swerves is a left-hander which brings you out of the woods and onto the short pits straight.

The circuit measures 11.417 kilometres to the lap (approximately seven miles) and contains just about every situation one could wish for in a racing circuit, and the whole thing is on normal public roads, closed for the occasion of racing, and sports cars lapped it at 150 kph (approximately 93 mph).’

Innes Ireland clipping the grass for the Solitude organisers during his victorious run during the 1961 GP- his works Lotus 21 Climax won from Jo Bonnier’s Porsche 718 and Dan Gurney’s similar car. Here he leads Jack Brabham Cooper T53 Climax not long after the start. The fast, open, wooded terrain of the circuit shown in this marvellous shot (Sutton)

Bibliography…

Solitude GP race report by Denis Jenkinson in MotorSport August 1960, Autosport, oldracingcars.com, Australian Motorcycling News article by Don Cox, ‘Motorcycle GP Racing in The 1960’s’ Chris Pereira, F2 Index

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, LAT, Sutton, Bernard Cahier, Australian Motorcycle news

Tailpiece: Likely Lads- Ireland, Clark, Surtees and Chapman, what an array of talent! Team Lotus, Oporto, Portugal 1960…

Finito…

 

Mrs JAS Jones lines up, left, in her Alfa Romeo 6C1750 SS Zagato prior to the start of a race at Gerringong Beach, New South Wales, 12 May 1930…

Alongside her is the obscured Bugatti T37A of three-time Australian Grand Prix winner Bill Thompson and the Chryslers of E Patterson and #72/14 HJ Beith.

In the politesse of the times Mrs JAS Jones ‘married well’. Her husband Mr John A.S. Jones, ‘Lithgow’s leading businessman’ owned the ‘Zig-Zag Brewery’ and ten hotels. Lithgow is a city in the New South Wales Central Tablelands region 150 Km west of Sydney.

The cashflow of these enterprises provided the means for Mrs Jones ‘…a very congenial hostess who entertains lavishly at her homes in Lithgow and Darling Point, Sydney’ to acquire some wonderful racing cars including the ex-works 1929 Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 6C1750 SS Zagato chassis number ‘0312894’.

This car played a significant part in Australian motor racing into the late 1950’s being much raced, ‘climbed, trialled, crashed, bashed and modified before being ‘rescued’ and restored in the seventies and eighties.

Jones was one of the great pioneers of Australian motor racing- born Nina Vida Harris in 1882, her motoring career started in the family Chandler and then progressed to a Crossley ‘which she raced at Maroubra with a measure of success’.

After a trip to Europe ‘witnessing real motor racing in France and Italy between Bentley, Sunbeam, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Bugatti concerns’, she acquired the Alfa, which was soon shipped to Australia in 1929. It is said she tested the Alfa Romeo model range together with Giulio Ramponi, works driver before choosing the 6C1750 SS, and an astute choice it was for the range of events run in Australia at the time.

Ramponi co-drove the winning 6c 1750 SS in the April 1929 Mille together with Giuseppe Campari. ‘Racing Sports Cars’ in its race results listing offers the tenth placed 6C 1750 SS driven by A Bornigia/Carlo Pintacuda as possibly chassis ‘0312894’ whilst John Blanden in his book suggests the car as ‘reputed to be’ the sixth place Minoia/Marinoni machine.

Jones posing with her new 6C1750 the day after it arrived in Australia (T Forrest)

Jones was immediately competitive in the thoroughbred, over the next few years she was a regular competitor in the large number of ‘Reliability Trials’ which were the staple of New South Wales Royal Automobile Club and Light Car Club events. These contests always included speed tests, typically acceleration test(s) and more often than not a hillclimb.

The 6C1750 was immediately one of the fastest cars in the country, the Bugatti T37A of four-time Australian Grand Prix winner Bill Thompson always gave the Alfa a run for its money whenever it competed in these events. More often than not Jones won her class and occasionally set FTD.

It appears her earliest event was the RACA reliability trial run out of Canberra in August 1929. She contested another of these events in September establishing second fastest time of the day at the grass surface Prospect Hillclimb and another from Sydney to Cattai Creek in December.

The cars 1930 logbook commenced with the Prospect Hillclimb in February and the RACA Sydney to Robertson Reliability Trial.

Disaster was only narrowly averted in her next appearance at Gerringong Beach, in the NSW Illawarra 130 Km to Sydney’s south in May 1930. Car racing was held on the beach during the twenties and into the post-war period.

Travelling last of four in a heat of the Four Mile Handicap at well over 100mph numerous spectators surged forward, the first three cars having passed the finishing post, onto the sand track to see the Alfa take the chequered flag. She hit one man, a Chrysler mechanic, Norman Curley having avoided several other people who had come too far, hurling him into the air and breaking his leg.

Bill Thompson was the star of the day at Gerringong winning several races including the feature event, the Sydney Bicycle and Motor Club Fifty Mile Handicap off the back of his AGP win in the same chassis at Phillip Island on March 24.

In a sequel to the breaking of the mechanic’s leg, Mr Curley took action in the Darlinghurst Court against Jones for alleged negligence for 1000 pounds in damages in June 1931, having spent seven weeks in hospital after the incident. Unsurprisingly, the jury found in favour of Jones, a competitor not an organiser of the meeting and therefore not someone responsible for crowd safety. The matter was not left to chance, Jones was represented by Kings Counsel at some considerable expense to the years racing budget.

Jones and riding mechanic, Gerringong Beach May 1930 Alfa 6C1750 SS (Fairfax)

Gerringong May 1930, competitors unknown (Fairfax)

Nina was said by the Sydney press to be entered in the 1930 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island but did not compete in the race won by Thompson’s Bug T37A.

In June a standing quarter mile competition was held on the Bondi Beach promenade, she did a time of 18.2-5 seconds and beat 64 other competitors in what would have been quite a spectacle. A dog dashed onto the course during one of Jones’ runs whilst the Alfa was flat chat at full speed, disaster was averted by the experienced pilot veering around the frightened hound and applying the brakes ‘causing the car to twirl almost around’.

The earliest reported event in 1931 is the June LCC Trial from Sydney to Avon Dam, she won her class acceleration test. In May she set a speed record for women at 93.264 mph over a measured half mile at Richmond and was disappointed with the result, her run in was too short she felt.

Jones did another of these trials in July and in August- this time from Sydney to Wisemans Ferry where she did the fastest times for supercharged cars. In October the Alfa was pointed to the Razorback where the combination were quickest in both the subsidiary acceleration tests and the hillclimb.

Mr A Hunter competed in the car at Maroubra after it was reopened in July 1932 in a weird event comprising a series of acceleration, braking and parking tests.

The following month Jones ‘threw the keys’ of the Alfa to the great Bill Thompson who had a steer of it in an LCC acceleration test event. It would be interesting to know his ‘compare and contrast’ thoughts of the six-cylinder supercharged Alfa Romeo Sportscar with his four-cylinder supercharged Bugatti Grand Prix machine.

In a famous 1933 incident recounted down the decades Jones had her first big accident.

A convoy of ‘ten of the fastest sportscars in Australia’ set out from Sydney to Melbourne and thence down to the Westernport Bay to witness the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island- the drivers turning the journey into a race and ‘thundering down the Hume Highway at near Grand Prix speeds’.

Jones with her daughter Vida as passenger, having easily outdistanced the rest of the group, when cornering at over 100 mph near Albury had a nail puncture a rear tyre causing the car to roll whereupon Vittorio Jano’s greatest caught fire and was substantially damaged.

‘Travelling around the corner the next man along, John Sherwood (a racer of considerable aplomb)…found the two women practically unhurt but dismally watching their car crackling furiously. The Alfa was burnt right out after unsuccessful efforts were made to put out the flames’.

To add further to the family woes, the patriarch, John AS Jones died in May 1933.

The Alfa was rebuilt by local artisans in Sydney with parts imported from Italy, making its post rebuild competition debut at Bar Beach Hillclimb, Newcastle in August 1934. In another disaster, Jones son Jack, also a racer, after his own run in the Alfa, took his mother up as passenger, lost control, crashed, overturned and hit a telegraph pole gifting his mother a broken thigh and six weeks in hospital.

This second incident, with no doubt her husbands death on her mind, determined the lady racer to retire, she still occasionally drove the 1750 but the more ‘intense’ of events were contested by personal friends driving the car.

Jones did not lose her pace however, as late as April 1937 she won her class FTD at Waterfall Hillclimb in the exotic supercharged machine. Son James won the local River Lett Hillclimb near Lithgow in July 1937.

The Jones family finally parted with the much loved and well used car in 1938. John Blanden records the March 1938 advertisement in ‘The Car’ claiming ‘0312894’ to be completely overhauled and in perfect mechanical condition. The reported cost of the Alfa when landed in Australia was 1750 pounds. Claims were made for hillclimb records at Waterfall, Robertson and Kurrajong in NSW and Mount Tarrengower, Maldon, Victoria.

John Barraclough Sporting Cars of Sydney handled the sale with Barraclough, an ace of the time, racing the car at Penrith Speedway in April ’38 to keep the car in the eye of potential purchasers. Graham Howard’s biography of Lex Davison records that Lex’ father AA Davison at one stage considered buying the ‘crashed 1750 Zagato Alfa’ but perhaps this was after one of the earlier accidents not in 1938. Barraclough entered the car in the April 1938 Australian Grand Prix won by Peter Whitehead’s ERA R10B at Bathurst but the car did not start- whether John practiced or did not appear because of the cars sale, or some other reason, is unclear. After the car was advertised for a short time ‘Racing Ron’ Edgerton purchased it.

Ted Gray, Alfa Ford V8, during the October 1946 New South Wales Grand Prix at Bathurst. He was fourth in the handicap race aboard ‘0312894’ won by Alf Najar’s MG TB monoposto. The car still looks a picture at this stage (postcard from The Tom Woolnough Collection)

In a disastrous, expensive start to his ownership the engine ingested a loose part of the carburettor and comprehensively destroyed itself on the way down the Hume Highway from Sydney to Edgerton’s home in Melbourne. He rebuilt the engine, I have unearthed no record of the cars competition in his ownership, the car was sold post-war to Wangaratta, Victoria businessman/racer Ted Gray in 1944. Edgerton later raced an even more exotic Jano Alfa Romeo, the ex-Alf Barrett Monza, chassis #2211134 which he acquired in 1950.

Gray cut his teeth on Victorian speedways and became one of Australia’s fastest drivers in the fifties. He first came to prominence at Aspendale in October 1938 when he gave Peter Whitehead and his ERA a run for his money in the Alan Male owned Midget- and then did it again at Rob Roy Hillclimb when Ted was only 0.8 seconds slower than Whitehead’s record for the hill. I wrote about Gray’s career in an article about the Tornado Chev, a car he raced with great skill, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Ted Gray and passenger at what is believed to be Rob Roy Hillclimb to Melbourne’s outer east, date uncertain (T Forrest)

Gray, very attached to modified V8 engines having competed with the Alan Male owned Alta Ford V8 special pre-war, soon replaced the Alfa engine and gearbox with Ford components, in this form he raced the car extensively for the next few years. A Ford rear axle was also fitted. The work was performed in the workshop Ted and Bert Cox had in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. The orginal engine and gearbox were not cast aside but put to use in a Singer chassis’d hillclimb special! John Blanden records that none of the major Alfa components were lost as the car was continually modified, which became important once the cars racing career was over twenty years hence and restoration commenced.

Gray raced the car at the NSW Grand Prix meeting, the first post-war Bathurst in October 1946, he was fourth in the handicap race won by Alf Najar’s MG TB. Despite the lack of circuits in Victoria, perhaps his focus was on speedway Midgets at the time, he didn’t race further in the Alfa at Bathurst but did contest the NSW Racing Car Championships held at RAAF Nowra in April 1947. Tom Lancey won that handicap in an MG TC, with Ted a DNF due to overheating problems with the big V8 after seven laps.

Ted Gray perhaps in the white overalls refuels ‘0321894’, flathead Ford V8 sits well back in the chassis. Dude in the Brylcreem is Doug Whiteford, later three-time AGP winner. Venue is Ballarat Airfield, Victoria on 27 January 1947. Car, sadly entered as ‘Mercury Spl’ (G Thomas)

AMS cover of the same meeting as the photo above, Ballarat Airfield January 1947 with Ted’s 6C V8 being rounded up by Alf Barrett’s straight-8 Alfa Monza- Vittorio Jano designs both of course (S Dalton Collection)

Bob Brown of Adelaide bought the car in 1949, he raced both locally and in Western Australia and Victoria including a big trip across the Nullarbor Pain to contesting the 1951 WA Hillclimb Championship in which he was tenth. A week later  he also competed in the ’51 Australian Grand Prix at the round-the-houses street circuit at Narrogin, a small farming town 200 Km to the south of Perth. He failed to finish, lasting only 3 laps in the race won by Warwick Pratley in the Sydney built Ford V8 engined ‘George Reed Special’. It was the last AGP win for a ‘traditional Australian Special’.

Its interesting that the only AGP the car contested was in 1951, noting the cars entry but non-start in the ’38 race at Bathurst. It’s intriguing as to why Jones did not race the car herself, or enter it for someone else during her period of ownership. Nor did Ted Gray, a most accomplished driver enter the car in the countries premier event during his time with it. They were Formula Libre handicap races after all, the beast in whatever form would have been welcome and a handicap determined appropriate to the the car spec/driver combination at the time.

The car competed in an early Port Wakefield, South Australia meeting in May 1951 doing a 17.4 second standing quarter and recording 100 mph for the flying quarter mile.

Adelaide’s Gavin Sandford-Morgan, owner, racer and restorer of many fine cars over the years was the next owner in 1952. He ‘refurbished and repainted’ the car in time to run it at the opening Collingrove Hillclimb meeting at Angaston in the Barossa Valley in March 1952. He was 2nd in the over 1500cc class. Gavin soon sold the car to Bob Jervies of Broken Hill, he raced it in local events and at Collingrove and Port Wakefield.

Going back a step, in 1950, when the car was owned by Bob Brown, Ross Lindsay left the road at the Woodside road circuit in the Adelaide Hills, hitting a stump, damaging the rear axle housing and a rear spring. More ‘butchery’ or keeping the car competitive to apply the perspective of a racer in period, occurred during Jervies ownership with replacement of the crashed, bashed, bruised and abused! Alfa chassis by a Fiat unit. An SS Jaguar front axle with Douglas aircraft brakes replaced the Alfa originals. At this point there was obviously little left of the car which left Milan in 1929, but again, the chassis was put to one side, not destroyed or trashed.

In the late fifties or early sixties South Australian Tony Cullen bought the car running it in local events before it was acquired in partnership by Melbourne Alfista John Lawson and Terry Valmorbida in 1971. And so, the next period of this significant cars life began- it’s restoration phase.

Car with Ford V8, just doesn’t look the part at all does it!? Mount Tarrengower circa 1975 (J Lloyd)

‘0312894’ at Mt Tarrengower in 1977, headlights not quite right, car more butch, racy and attractive to my mind in this form- the way it arrived in Oz ex-factory as against the way it was built originally- car could quite reasonably have been restored in either form (Blanden)

Lawson and Valmorbida acquired the cars original engine and ‘box. The much used and abused factory original Alfa chassis was saved by Ian Polson and sold by Noel Robson, who had kept it stored for many years, to Lawson, by then the sole owner of the car for $A20. Lawson also located the original front axle, steering box and brakes. The cars appearance was now original but unrestored.

Whilst the original engine’s rebuild was completed a 6C2300 unsupercharged Alfa engine was fitted, in this form the car made regular appearances in historic events including the Mount Tarrengower Hillclimb and at Phillip Island in 1977 and 1978. Many of us remember with glee the cars re-emergence then, as a young Uni student I officiated at Tarrengower and well remember the car at that, hot, dusty meeting.

‘Re-restoration’ process at Historic Vintage Restorations in 2010. ‘…a re-restoration, as over ten years the previous owner Diana Gaze restored it sensitively, retaining and rebuilding pretty well every major original component. The chassis rails and body were then deemed beyond economic repair and retained with the car for provenance although the original crossmembers were riveted to the new rails. These decisions were made in 1990 but times have changed so we have refreshed the mechanical bits and added originality. Photos here are before the re-restoration with the replica body (T Forrest photos and quote)

Diana Gaze, nee Davison, another great Alfista given the cars she and Lex owned and raced, acquired the car in 1983 and commenced a long restoration which involved Bob Williams and Mark Rye in Castlemaine- they were responsible for the chassis and reproduction body respectively. David Rapley took on the engine and later was given the whole project at ‘mock up’ stage. Kew Ward painted it and Grant White made the upholstery.

Terry Forest and Alfa at Phillip Island in 2007, after ‘first’ restoration (T Forrest)

Pretty as a picture, some of Vittorio Jano’s finest work technical details of car as per text below. 2007 shot after ‘first’ restoration (T Forrest)

Diana Gaze sold the car after its restoration, the new owner then had the car ‘re-restored’ some seven or eight years ago with the mechanical components ‘freshened’. The original body and chassis rails were incorporated this time- a decade before these were deemed beyond economic repair but were retained with the completed car and incorporated into the last rebuild as befitting a car now worth in excess of $A4 million.

The results of both restorations were quite stunning- Mrs JAS Jones would have been best pleased. Mind you, I expect she would have very quickly climbed aboard and set off at great speed rather than waste her time with the way the car looked…

1930 Alfa 6C1750 GS cutaway- not an SS but essential elements the same (unattributed)

The Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato…

‘The 1750, and for that matter the 1500… must be among the finest ever made both from the point of view of engineering and driver satisfaction.’ – Michael Frostick, ‘Alfa-Romeo-Milano’.

Enzo Ferrari persuaded Vittorio Jano to leave FIAT’s racing department and join him at Alfa Romeo. Jano was one of the greatest car engineers of the twentieth century with a career that spanned the decades right through to his revolutionary Lancia D50 Grand Prix car of 1954- the 1956 Lancia-Ferrari or Ferrari 801 won the drivers and manufacturers championships that year.

Jano designed both Alfa Romeo’s grands-prix and road cars. As a consequence these ‘roadies’ emerged, influenced as they were by their more exotic brethren, as some of the most exciting and sophisticated of their day, establishing the Milanese marque’s reputation for producing sporting driver’s cars arguably unmatched at the time.

Jano arrived at Alfa in 1923. By the following year he had designed, and Alfa built the legendary P2. The P2 GP car achieved much race success and also provided the basis for Jano’s first production model- the 6C 1500 of 1927.

The car was designed as a fast touring machine combining light weight with sparkling performance by use of a 1,487cc inline six-cylinder engine based on the P2’s straight eight, it produced 44bhp in single-overhead-camshaft ‘Normale’ form.

The beautifully balanced machine had an engine mainly made of aluminium alloys of monobloc construction with gear driven camshaft(s) and five main bearings. The electrics were by Bosch with coil ignition. The multiplate clutch and gearbox drove the rear axle via a torque tube. Suspension was by half-elliptics all around, brakes were mechanical, rod operated and fully compensated. The front axle was of C-section, the front springs passed through holes in the beam. Small rods forming part of the front actuation passed upwards and through the centre of the king-pins.

Twin-overhead-camshaft ‘Sport’ and supercharged ‘Super Sport’ models followed, the latter being the first of its type to feature the classic open two-seater coachwork by Zagato forever associated with sporting vintage Alfas.

Production of the 6C 1500 ceased in 1929 upon the introduction of the 6C 1750.

(unattributed)

The 6C 1750 (1929-33) boasted a derivative of the 1500’s six-cylinder engine enlarged to 1,752cc. Built in single-cam Turismo and twin-cam Sport (later renamed Gran Turismo) variants it was an exciting, fast, touring car combining light weight with sparkling performance by the standards of the day, more than 120km/h (75mph) was achieved depending upon the coachwork fitted.

Aimed at gentleman racing drivers, or gentlewoman racing drivers in the case of ‘#0312894’!, there was also a limited edition Super Sport, or ‘SS’, version, which later evolved into the Gran Sport.

Produced only during 1929, the SS was available with or without a Roots-type supercharger fed by a Memini carburettor, the production split being 52/60 (blown/un-blown). Most of the cars carried coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato or Touring with James Young bodying the majority of cars imported into the UK.

The 6C 1750 SS was one of the most popular and successful sports-racing cars of its day. Twenty Alfas competed in the 1929 Mille Miglia, with seven in the top ten. The race was won, for the second consecutive year, by Giuseppe Campari and Giulio Ramponi. Other high profile victories for model included the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, Grand Prix of Ireland and the 12 Hours of San Sebastian – all in 1929 – plus the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps and the RAC Tourist Trophy in 1930. The 1750’s sporting career, aided by its mechanical longevity, extended far beyond its production, which ceased in 1933.

Mrs Jones’ cars competitive life extended well beyond 1933 of course, I doubt any of the 6C1750’s built were used in anger longer than this car!

Bibliography…

Lithgow Mercury 22 March 1954, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, various newspaper articles via Trove 1929-37, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, Bonhams, article by Sir Anthony Stamer in MotorSport December 1961, contributions on the Alfa BB Forum especially Terry Forrest, Racing Sports Cars, Stephen Dalton

Photo Credits…

Fairfax Media, Tom Woolnough Collection, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Terry Forrest Collection, John Lloyd, Stephen Dalton Collection

Finito…