Posts Tagged ‘Bob Jane’

(B Miles)

Edsel Falconer during the first race outing of a Ford Falcon in Australia- Middle Ridge, Toowoomba, Queensland, during the annual ‘Carnival of Flowers’ weekend, 17 September 1960…

This road circuit through the suburbs of Toowoomba was used in 1958, 1960 and 1961 once a year during a local carnival weekend through the beautiful rolling countryside of Queensland’s Darling Downs district.

Whilst researching his book ‘The Toowoomba Auto Club:1950-1965’ author John Evans was able to re-write history by showing that the first Falcon to race was that of Falconer- son of the Dealer Principal of the Toowoomba Ford Dealership of the same name on 17 September rather than as has hitherto been the orthodoxy- the Falcon XK raced by Bob Jane and Lou Molina to third in Class D of the 1960 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island on 20 November 1960. Edsel placed fourth in the Saloon Car Handicap at Middle Ridge, two places ahead of Bill Pitt’s Jaguar, I wonder who won?

Whilst Edsel Falconer may seem a cute ‘Ford’ nom de guerre in fact it is all kosher- Hugh Falconer started the family business in 1919 with Ford, Fiat and Hupmobile agencies and became an official Ford dealership in 1925- Edsel, one of his sons became the Dealer Principal during the 1960s, the family sold the business circa 1980.

A cursory Trove search doesn’t tell us too much about Edsel ‘a well known Toowoomba motorist’ but there are some references in late 1953 of him rallying/trialling a Ford Customline and plenty in the Brisbane Telegraph and Courier Mail social notes of the many weddings attended and family holidays to Surfers Paradise and other such exotic places. It does not seem that Edsel was one of the regular racers in the area, all information will be gratefully received inclusive of how Edsel’s XK performed at Middle Ridge.

In an address to the Toowoomba Rotarians on 14 November 1955, reported in the St George Shire ‘Balonne Beacon’, Edsel, back from a stint at a ‘Ford Motor School’ in Detroit advised his fellow Queenslanders that ‘Australian’s standards of living, ethics and morals were higher than those of Americans…Americans were earning more and spending more than Australians but as far as getting the joy out of living was concerned, Australians were better off.’

In a note of encouragement to the assembled masses he said that ‘Australia could learn a lot from Americans. Americans would not accept anything but the best quality, and they took every measure to ensure they produced the best possible. There were many leads that could be taken from the Americans’ he said ‘One of the main being to “get up and do things”. I always get a giggle of ‘insights’ after a weeks stay in a place, but today’s smart arse prism is not the way to view things 65 years hence. Edsel was a noted and respected pillar of his local community is the point to be taken.

An immaculate period dull-green Falcon XK has moved into my street recently- it’s a young groovster’s daily driver, it lives on the street at the mercy of all of the local Braille-Parking-Mob mind you- this attractive car got me thinking about Ford Australia’s first manufacturing efforts and early Falcon competition exploits.

Ford Australia was incorporated in 1925, its operations based in the Victorian port city of Geelong, the suburb of Norlane to be precise. For the ensuing decades FoMoCo Oz assembled cars locally from CKD packs- ‘completely knocked down’ Model T’s were first, they were initially chucked together on an improvised production line in a disused wool storage warehouse before Norlane was finished. As the latest Fords were built, so local assembly followed and in many cases local bodies were fitted.

The plant was devoted to wartime production and post-war assembled UK sourced Pilots, the Prefect, Anglia, Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac.

In the mid-fifties Ford decided to build cars in Australia and acquired land at Campbellfield on Melbourne’s outskirts. In the same way that generations of Victorians drove past Ford’s Geelong plant, generations of Australians drove past Campbellfield or more colloquially Broadmeadows as the Ford factory- when built the largest automotive plant in the Southern Hemisphere, was on the Hume Highway- the main drag between Melbourne and Sydney.

The ‘contest’ between which bigger Ford would be adapted to local production was won in favour of the US Falcon rather than the UK Zephyr Mk2 when Oz Ford Chief Charlie Smith and some of his senior executives saw the proposed new Falcon on a trip through Dearborn in late 1958.

In period FoMoCo advertising art of the XK Falcon

 

Ford Broadmeadows, Oz built car #1 – VIN# folks?

Without doubt they made the right choice- the Falcon was light-years ahead in appearance over the then Holdens, whose underpinnings went back to those of the 48-215 and the Zephyr, but whilst the Falcon XK- first car built on 28 June 1960 and on sale from 11 September that year looked the goods on paper ‘The Falcon was designed without any consideration whatsoever of Australia’s demanding conditions’ wrote Dr John Wright and Dave Morley.

The call to build the Falcon was a late one and meant the US car did not have the local design input/testing to adapt it to the very tough extremes of local conditions and very quickly support from private and fleet buyers plummeted because of problems with front ball joints which failed without leaving suburbia, rust, transmission and other weaknesses.

68,413 of the XK model were sold between 1960 and 1962 with the XL, released on 4 August 1962 incorporating a new three speed manual gearbox and clutch, a better starter motor and changes to the front sheet-metal to strengthen the front suspension mounts.

Whilst objectively the durability of the Falcon was not a real issue after the XM (released 20 February 1964) nor a perceived one after the XP (released 20 February 1965) the reputational damage in 1960-1961 was such that the competition program had a big part to play in both proving the performance and strength of the big Fords and to provide the production engineers with feedback they could incorporate into future models or routine running production line changes.

In late 1960 two privately entered Falcon XK’s contested the first Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island- on 20 November, a couple of months after Falconer’s Middle Ridge race.

Bob Jane and renowned Melbourne racer/hotelier/restautanteur/raconteur Lou Molina shared one entered by Jane’s ‘Autoland’ dealership with another raced by the equally experienced and credentialed Ron Phillips and Ern Seeliger. Jane and Molina were third in Class D with 161 completed laps despite Lou rolling the car! The first in that class and ‘first outright’ was the John Roxburgh/Frank Coad crewed Vauxhall Cresta with another pair of coming stars- John French and Norm Beechey aboard a Standard Vanguard second in class D. The other XK of Phillips and Seeliger were out early in the race with an overheating engine.

 

Now back on four wheels, the boys set Lou Molina back towards the Pits whilst the restauranteur contemplates a line of patter for car owner and co-driver RF Jane Esq, waiting to greet him. P Island 500 1960, Falcon XK

Harry Firth was already a racer/preparer/engineer of renown by the time Ford’s Competitions Manager, Les Powell first involved him with Ford- that fruitful partnership over the ensuing years yielded countless race and rally wins not least four Bathurst 500’s, 1968 Australian Rally Championship and the prestigious Teams Prize of the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon. Click here for a background piece on Harry; https://primotipo.com/2019/01/29/harry-firths-mg-tc-spl-s-c/

Whether Firth was engaged by Ford prior to the first rally contested by the new Falcon- the 1961 BP Rally centred in the Victorian Alps is unclear but four Falcons and six Anglia 105E’s entered the Light Car Club of Australia’s annual classic event. Amongst Harry’s competition activities at the time Les Powell and Max Ward approached him were race and rallying a Ford Anglia. ‘Unofficially this (’61 BP Rally) was the beginning of Ford’s participation in rallying at a factory level, a participation which was to continue spasmodically for over four decades’ Rallysport Magazine wrote.

The Falcons went very well too- Jack Ellis was second, Ken Harper thirteenth, Doug Hughes nineteenth and Jack Nalder twenty-ninth, on top of that Peter Coffey’s Anglia was third outright.

Powell then threw Firth in at the deep end- the nascent subsidiary of Ford’s Global Empire had decided to have a crack at the East African Safari with no less than five Falcons to be prepared, run and crewed out of Firth’s modest Queens Avenue, Auburn, Melbourne ‘Temple of Speed’.

The whole of the East African Safari Rally 3000 mile route was (and is) run on public roads and involved two legs separated by a 24 hour break out of Nairobi, the start and finishing point. The North Leg took in North Kenya and Uganda whilst the South bit went around South Kenya and Tanzania. The Safari took place over Easter, a time when the rainy-season gets underway with the main cause of retirement usually an abundance of Murrum mud- when dry this brown earth is hard, dusty and bumpy and incredible muddy and sticky when wet.

Given the challenge Harry didn’t think much of the equipment at all.

‘Ford wanted to get into competition to prove its car, the Falcon was capable of handling it…But that first XK Falcon – 144 cubic inch (2.4 litre 90bhp) engine, three speed gearbox was really a terrible car. You could do very little with the engine, the body flexed heavily and it had sloppy springs- all you could do was just set the Armstrong shockers rock-hard. The brakes were just adequate with race linings and the front hubs broke under race conditions. The steering had 5.5 turns lock to lock- just impossible for racing conditions.’

‘We made and tested the five Falcons and sent them off to Africa. We fixed the hubs, made stronger wheels and did some work on the axle shafts and the gearbox. Even then the cars were very fragile. It was the worst type of car you could take to an event like that. We had to virtually carry them around on our backs. We said to ourselves “we’re not going to break it”- if we think its too hard on the car then we’ll back off.’

The five cars were crewed by the following pairings; Harry Firth /Graham Hoinville, Ken Harper/Les Scott, Jack Ellis/Mal McPherson, Doug Hughes/Rex Lewis, Geoff Russell/Dick Collinwood.

Harper/Scott XK Falcon during the Safari, place unknown (unattributed)

 

Before the off at Nairobi- one of the XK Falcons in shot (unattributed)

 

Harper/Scott at roadside, whilst the styling may be pedestrian now it was edgy in period (M Tufte)

Before the rally, the complete route was surveyed using rented Ford Zephyrs, the rally cars having not yet landed from Australia.

All of the cars faced problems of course, first-timers as they were but the Firth/Hoinville combination ran as high as eighth before a rear spring broke dropping them to sixteenth with Ken Harper/Les Scott also finishers but they ran out of late time.

Firth was later quoted as saying that had the car been fitted with the optional 170cid engine and Armstrong shockers (the earlier quote implies they were fitted) ‘we’d have won’ and ‘Graham Hoinville and I were placed seventh only 300 miles from the finish when we broke a main rear spring plate in a competitive section. That dropped us back to 16th but we still finished 25 minutes ahead on the English factory Fords.’

‘The way the cars performed earned me a contract with Ford for competition. This was really the start of my association with Ford and the first step into The Big Time- although I was still doing work for others’ Firth was quoted in an Australian Muscle Car magazine piece on the East African Safari.

Winners of the tough event were the Tommy Fjastad/Bernhard Schmider VW 1200- Ford Australia were pipped in the Australian race-within-a-race in that a locally entered Holden EK driven by HS Sembi/C Mehta finished fourteenth.

In fact the Aussies blazed the trail for the Falcon as a rally machine- within six months Detroit announced that they would mount a three car campaign in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally- Bo Ljungfeldt finished second in an American spec V8 engined two-door Falcon Futura.

Ford Australia were enthusiastic rally competitors for the ensuing early years mainly contesting events in New South Wales and Victoria, the first Australian Rally Championship was not held until 1968- Harry Firth won it in a Lotus Cortina Mk2 (or supercharged Cortina Mk2 or both cars depending upon the reference source) with Graham Hoinville alongside, as usual,

Harry Firth ‘splashing through a wet patch on the track in the Alps…on its way to the Knocker Track, a ten mile stretch of boulder-strewn track which runs down the mountain between Glen Wills and Omeo in Victoria. Used nearly a century ago as a bullock track it has never been used by cars until its inclusion on the route of the BP Rally 1-5 May 1963’

Firth’s Falcon won the May 1963 BP Rally ‘Australias toughest reliability event’ over 2000 miles and in a great weekend Ford won three of the event’s four classes. Using the same car, Frank Kilfoyle partnered by Michael Flanagan won the Melbourne University Car Club’s July 1963 Akademos Trial and a couple of weeks later the Experts Reliability Trial.

Earlier in the year- March, Ford attacked the Begonia Rally, based in the Central Victorian town of Ballarat, with a team of three Cortinas, two Falcons and a 105E Anglia. RallySport wrote in relation to the Cortinas, that ‘Ever on the ball, Firth got the jump on the rest of the world by sourcing a pair of the soon to be released 1500cc motors, six months before official release and fitted them to his own car and that of Geoff Russell’, the cars took the first two placings ‘stunning the rest of the field with their performance. Ford virtually had a car for any occasion- the Cortinas won, Falcons and Anglias filled major placings, and their were five Fords in the top ten and 10 in the first sixteen.’

In 1964 Ford were again successful in the BP Rally when the Ford Falcon driven by Ken Harper/Michael Flanagan triumphed over a big field which included the Firth driven Ford Cortina GT which won the 1963 Bathurst 500 in the hands of Bob Jane and Harry- Firth was fifth outright and second in class after a number of penalties.

At the end of 1962 Firth advised Ford that the Falcon had no hope of winning the new ‘Bathurst 500’  but that they had a ‘ready made’ winner in the Cortina GT. The race had been transferred to the great Mount Panorama track after the Phillip Island surface was destroyed to such an extent that the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club could not afford to repair it. Help arrived in the form of Len Lukey to get the Island re-opened when the club sold the place, but lets not chase that tangent and go back to look at the circuit racing of 1961-1962 where we started, before we headed off to rallying.

Harry Firth and Graham Hoinville in the winning 1964 Ampol Trial Cortina GT- looking like a couple of country squires with their flat-caps, its cold out there (unattributed)

 

Bob Jane and Harry Firth with the 1962 Phillip Island 500 winning Ford Falcon XL. ACL is ‘Automotive Components Ltd’ then a Repco subsidiary making rings, bearings etc

 

The Harper/Fisher/Raeburn Falcon XK during the 1962 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island – great value @ 1065 pounds!

The 1961 Armstrong 500 (as in shock absorbers) was held on 19 November 1961 and was a much smaller affair- 26 cars entered rather than the 45 contestants in 1960 as a consequence of the ‘1961 Credit Squeeze’.

The Australian Government ended import licensing in February 1960 causing the balance of payments crisis predicted by Treasury, in November 1960 Prime Minister Menzies increased sales tax and imposed credit restrictions to bring the economy back into balance causing a credit squeeze and minor recession. The economy stopped abruptly, consumers reacted accordingly and popped their wallets away with plenty of consequences across our society not least in the motor industry when plenty of highly geared businesses ‘went to the wall’ as new and used car sales plummeted. Entries, back on point (!) in the 1961 500 reflected all of this- I did an Economics degree eons ago so this shit interests me. sadly…

Bob Jane had Harry Firth preparing both his Maserati 300S sportscar and Jaguar Mk2 Appendix J tourer at the time, they decided upon a Mercedes Benz 220SE as their weapon of choice for the 1961 Armstrong and with a typically fast, disciplined drive ‘won’ the race completing 167 laps- they were first in Class B and ‘first outright’. Note that the first outright notion was not officially recognised until 1965- until that point, officially at least, the first five 500 mile races at the Island and Bathurst had awards for each class winners.

Only one Falcon XK was entered that year and is described in some sources as a ‘pseudo works entry’- it was actually entered by Ken Harper and co-driven by Syd Fisher and John Raeburn all of whom were or would become ‘Ford works drivers’ in the coming years. It would be interesting to know who prepared this Falcon, presumably Firth.

There was a great class battle between the Ford and an EK Holden crewed by Ian Strachan and John Lanyon (of PIARC and Ansett Team Elfin fame) and entered by Stan Jones Motors Pty Ltd (I wonder why Stanley did not drive- maybe these dull ‘Taxis’ were not his cup of tea?!) – the Holden led until it lost a wheel and was later disqualified because the team cannibalised another car for a wheel rather than use an item from their pit supplies as required by the supplementary regulations- the XK Falcon was second in Class B and seventh ‘outright’.

Despite the depressed state of the Australian economy and the ‘own goals’ Ford Australia faced they pressed on with their motorsport program for 1962 in an ongoing effort to build the Ford brand in Australia.

Sunlight ahead included the XL Falcon due for release on August 4 which (as stated earlier) incorporated changes to the gearbox and clutch and to the front structure of the car which would make it torsionally a bit stiffer and a more powerful ‘Pursuit’ 170cid or 2.8 litre 101bhp six-cylinder OHV engine. In addition the Cortina would soon appear which remained a small car or mid-size hit on the local sales charts until Mazda, Toyota and Datsun progressively gained traction from the mid-sixties.

Whilst the rallying program continued, Ford planned to race a new XL in the 500 at the Island on 21 October and in addition decided, wisely, to contest the ‘Bathurst Six Hour Classic’ to be held only three weeks before on 30 September 1962- the catch was that Ford didn’t want to race the XL at Mount Panorama so Firth set about preparing an XK Falcon for the race which attracted 49 cars across six price based classes or ‘divisions’ ranging from under 900 pounds (Morris 850, Ford Anglia, Datsun Bluebird etc) to under 2000 pounds (Daimler SP 250, Triumph TR4 and MGA twin-cam).

Firth takes up the story in terms of car preparation ‘Having not been to Bathurst for some years, I had to rely on hearsay information like “no, it is not hard on brakes and the circuit has not changed”. I did all the usual things such as a valve grind, compression check, set the camshaft properly, gave the pistons plenty of clearance, deck-heighted the head and put the engine on the dyno.’

‘I fitted a set of heavy Armstrong shockers and some well-worn springs. I made up some Ferodo brake shoes but ended up leaving them at home, thinking they wouldn’t be needed. I drove the car to Bathurst myself. Practice proved two things: the car was the fastest sedan and the brakes were not good enough.’

Jane/Firth Falcon XK being followed by the K John/Peter Caldecoat MGA 1600 DNF- Bathurst 6 Hour 1962

 

Just needs a turret I guess…Firth’s rooted Falcon XK at Bathurst in 1962 (Shannons)

Whilst there was no outright winner of the race (consistent with the line to that effect earlier) up front the Brothers Geoghegan- Leo and Ian rumbled around in their Daimler SP250 V8 to finish first ‘outright’ with 104 laps completed, meanwhile trouble brewed for the Jane/Firth combination in the under 1250 pound Division C inhabited by a Morris Cooper, two Austin Freeways, two Holdens (model unknown), a Peugeot 403 and the works XK Falcon.

The two wily Melbourne racers led their class early, but the brakes were progressively showing plenty of signs of stress with the pedal creeping inexorably closer to the floor- Harry took over from Bob after a scheduled stop and then on lap 39 ‘As he braked for Hell Corner, the fronts suddenly over-energised and locked on, the nose dug in and the car rolled’ the roof was crushed making the machine as ‘flat as a shit-carters hat’- Harry was extremely lucky he was not badly hurt- the car had no roll bar or cage of course, the racer exited via a rear window as fuel spilt over the tarmac, but did not ignite.

‘Our race was over…I just kept thinking about the special brake linings I left at home and the lesson i’d just learned that you should never listen to “experts”. All of which, I reckon is a load of crap- Firth knew full well Bathurst hadn’t changed since he last been there and if he had the trick Ferodo brake shoes sitting in Queens Avenue in Melbourne he would have taken them with him…the mistake was his not ‘the experts’- he was the expert for chrissakes. Bob Jane had raced his Maserati 300S in the October 1961 Bathurst meeting, no doubt Harry had plenty of intell from Jane to say the Mount Panorama challenge had remained undiminished since 1938…

For the record, Division C was won by the Bruce McPhee/Barry Mulholland (the 1968 Bathurst 500 winning duo of course) Morris Cooper with 95 laps from the two Austin Freeways whilst second and third outright behind the Geoghegans were the C Lansdowne/Holt Binnie Triumph TR4 on 100 laps and Don Algie/Kingsley Hibbard Studebaker Lark with 99 completed laps.

Upon return from Bathurst Firth completed his preparation of the new XL Falcon Pursuit which was a much more competitive proposition in the price based class structure than its predecessor, the machine was ‘The model as supplied to the police- larger engine, better wheels, otherwise the same as the standard 144’ the body was a lot better ‘So it was vastly improved but still not very good.’

Bob I think- 1962 PI 500, Falcon XL heading past a copse of trees on the run towards Lukey Heights (autopics.com)

 

1962 P Is 500, Le Mans start, the Class B group from left to right- #27 Lott Falcon, #26 Callaway Falcon, the #24 Lex Davison/John Brindley/Phil Trueman Austin Freeway, # 25, #20 and #21 Falcons of Caelli, Harper and Firth respectively (unattributed)

 

Firth/Jane during the ’62 500 and going inside Doug Whiteford/Lou Molina VW1200, a couple of aces, Whiteford thrice AGP winner the -extent of damage to the track surface clear

The race turned out to be the last ‘500’ at the Island such was the state of the circuit at the end of the weekend, the poorly maintained ‘patchwork quilt’ surface took an extra battering due to the large entry of cars and private practice in the week leading up to the race.

The Oz economy had turned to the extent that 42 cars took the start including eight in Class B for cars priced under 1250 pounds including five Falcon XL’s two of which were Ford’s first official works entries crewed by Firth/Jane and Harper/Raeburn/Fisher. In addition privateer entries were raced by Alan Caelli/J Edwards/John Bodinar, John Callaway/Frank Porter/Jim Smith and Kevin Lott/Tom Roddy/Brian Devin. In a race when nothing less than victory would do, Ford also entered a Zephyr Mk3 in Class A (cars less than 2000 pounds) which was driven by Geoff Russell/David Anderson- class winners in the two previous Island 500 contests.

Drama was provided for Firth on either the Thursday or Friday (again accounts differ) when he rolled the car on the perilous surface and had to be taken back to Auburn to be re-shelled overnight! In the event, much more competitive than the two previous years, the Fords rumbled around with great speed and regularity to finish first to fourth in Class B and 1-3-4-6 outright- the Firth car won from the Harper, Caelli and Callaway Falcons.

Somewhat ironically the only spanner in the works could have been provided by the works Zephyr (different class of course) which was of a much nicer, higher specification (power, four speed ‘box, front disc brakes) and potentially the winner but for bonnet latches failing and losing that crew many laps, ultimately a combination of tape and ropes did the trick but not before vast slabs of time were lost. Perhaps Karma kicked in though as Ford needed an emphatic Falcon win so they could ‘promote the shitter out of’ which they duly achieved, and that is what transpired.

From that point Ford’s race competition focus for the next couple of years was on the Cortina GT (1964 Bathurst win to Jane/George Reynolds) and Harry’s ‘homologation special’ Mk1 GT500 (1965 Bathurst win in the hands of Bo Seton/Midge Boswell) before FoMoCo factory missed the 1966 race and returned with a Falcon vengeance from 1967 with Australia’s own first Pony-Car the V8 XR Falcon GT which won at the Mountain in the hands of, you guessed it, Harry Firth and Fred Gibson. This period are stories for other times.

Lets not forget where it all started though- the very basic 144cid, OHV, single carb straight-six, drum braked, 5.5 turns lock to lock, wheezy, floppy XK Falcon the development wrongs of which nearly beached the company before it got outta the water to muddle the metaphors…

Firth teamed up with John Raeburn in the Falcon-Mobil Reliability Run, this red XP Hardtop was fitted with 200cid six ‘Super Pursuit’ engine- car severely damaged by another driver late in the run but was patched up and was still running at the finish (FoMoCo)

Afterthought…

As you Ford buffs well and truly know the blue oval boys were not out of the financial woods in Australia until after the legendary 70,000 mile nine day late April 1965 ‘Falcon-Mobil’ Reliability Run.

This high-speed, ‘big-balls’, all or nothing endurance test idea of new Sales and Marketing Manager and later CEO Bill Bourke involving a veritable football-team of drivers and six XP Falcons (five and a spare) of varying specifications all of which was managed by Les Powell and brought together by the Firth Emporium in Auburn.

It too, is a story for another time, the scene, Ford’s You-Yangs Proving Grounds, 50 km south-west of Melbourne.

All observers noted just how tough the You Yangs course was- the 1 in 4 hill was the trickiest bit at night and at sunset in particular. The climb was started at 80mph and crested at circa 65mph turning sharpish left (FoMoCo)

Wheels magazine said an ‘…average of 72mph on a dreadfully difficult circuit which makes Lakeside look like a roller skating rink’ was a considerable achievement.

The cars were prepared, as noted, by Firth, an army of mechanics were marshalled by John Sheppard (then with the Geoghegan Brothers) and the huge roster of drivers included Harry Firth, John Raeburn, Pete Geoghegan, Kevin Bartlett, Fred Gibson, Bo Seton, Bruce McPhee, Barry Arentz, John Roxburgh, Allan Moffat, Max Volkers, Brian ‘Brique’ Reed, Bill McLachlan, Clive Millis, Max Stahl and many others- Ford called for reinforcements during the nine-day run, the challenge of the course meant driver rotations needed to be relatively short- lets see if we can create a complete list of the steerers folks…

(unattributed)

What next chief? seems to be the communal stance!

 

Etcetera…

 

Ford went into print bigtime after the April 1965 Endurance Run which grabbed heaps of media coverage for a week whilst being run (FoMoCo)

 

Western Herald, Bourke 16 February 1962

Even though this ‘Australia taking on the world’ pursuit must have been a reasonably big deal at the time there seems to have been minimal press about it- a pity as the detail about the destiny of each Falcon in the event would be interesting to know.

 

 

(unattributed)

The Ken Harper/Les Scott XK sets off on an amazing East African adventure.

 

(unattributed)

The Geoff Russell/Dick Collinwood XK and what is probably a reasonable representation of the primary colour of the Murran clay roads of East Africa- car looks ok in this shot to the extent that we can see it but was a DNF.

 

The Firth/Hoinville Falcon XK cruising through the streets of  Nairobi on the way to the serious stuff.

Bibliography…

‘Ford’s Australian Rally History’ in RallySport September 2020, Australian Muscle Car magazine, Wheels July 1965, ‘Shannons’ Falcon XK article by Mark Oastler, ‘Balonne Beacon’ 24 November 1955, various newspapers via Trove

Photo Credits…

Bill Miles via Quentin Miles, Mark Tufte, autopics.com, Bruce Wells, Ian K, Shannons

Tailpiece…

(B Wells)

Firth/Jane Falcon XK on the exit of Hell Corner for the run up Mountain Straight during the 1962 Bathurst 6 Hour Classic- the look of these Series Production cars of the period is only ruined by shitty steel wheels- handsome car.

Finito…

(M de Lang)

No Australian racer comes close to owning and racing as many interesting cars as Bob Jane…

The tough nut from Brunswick developed a used car business initially, and shortly thereafter took on new car franchises before creating ‘specialist tyre retailing’ in this country- Bob Jane T-Marts are as iconic now as they were novel in the late sixties when Jane initially rolled the arm over with what was a new concept here.

Bob was the embodiment of ‘living life to the full’, he did not die guessing. Calder Park’s owner collected wives with as much enthusiasm as he did racing cars but found that they are not as easy to unload as last years Holden, the complications of his various ‘families’ screwed the later decades of his life comprehensively, which was a great shame as someone who gave much to many.

Big hitters. Niel Allen, Bob Jane and Frank Matich in Matich’s Firestone Racing Tyres tent at Sandown, circa 1967/8 at a guess. The vented guard belongs to Bob’s Elfin 400 Repco (M Kyval)

I’m not suggesting the man was perfect i might add, but in a motor racing sense he put far more into the sport than he ever took out.

This series of paintings were commissioned of Martin de Lang to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Bob and Harry Firth’s Ford Cortina GT, Bathurst 500 win in 1963. I’ve set them more or less in the chronological order Bob raced them, there were plenty more Jane owned racing cars than this though, check out the list at the end of the article.

The painting at the article’s outset shows Bob’s Maserati 300S in front of his great mate, Lou Molina’s Molina Monza Holden-Repco from Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and then Bill Pitt’s Jaguar D Type at Albert Park on 23 November 1958- Bob and Lou are about to be lapped by the other duo during the 32 lap, circa 100 mile Victorian Tourist Trophy won by Whiteford from Ron Phillips’ Cooper Jaguar and Pitt, Bob was fifth and Lou unplaced.

(K Drage)

In the beginning.

Kevin Drage’s shot of Bob is at Fishermans Bend on the race debut of his ex-works 300S ‘3059’ in October 1958. Doug Whiteford and Jane (in Bob’s case after Reg Smith had it briefly first) acquired the Officine Maserati cars raced by Jean Behra ‘3055’, and Stirling Moss ‘3059’ during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix/Australian Tourist Trophy weekends in late 1956.

Bob was initially rough and ready in it, even inspiring Reg Hunt to move his boat further out into Albert Park Lake to keep it out of harms way- he did get the hang of this racing caper mind you. Stephen Dalton’s first competition outing for Bob Jane, he believes, was in a Ford Customline at Hepburn Springs hillclimb in October 1956. See here for an article on the 300S;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

(B Jane)

Another shot of Bob at Albert Park on the same weekend depicted in the opening painting. In a decade of stunningly beautiful racing cars as curvaceous as Sophia Loren, surely the 300S is up there for the title of the prima-donna sportscar of the fifties?

 

(M de Lang)

Jane’s locally developed Appendix J Jaguar Mk2, ultimately raced at 4.1 litres, won his first couple of Australian Touring Car Championships (ATCC) in the days the title was decided in one race- in 1962 at Longford and 1963 at Mallala.

See the article here about the car; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/20/australian-touring-car-championship1962-longford-tasmania-battle-of-the-jag-mk2s/

Warwick Farm circa 1962 (J Psaros)

 

(M de Lang)

The factory Jaguar E Type Lightweight didn’t make a lot of sense given the way it fitted into our local class structure at the time, and given the lack of endurance events in Australia of the type for which the car was built, but who can argue with the beauty and spectacle it provided all the same. Mind you, Bob did win the one race Australian GT Championship at Calder in December 1963, I rather suspect 10 miles could not really be characterised as an endurance event.

This machine, like Bob’s 300S and D Type, he retained for decades but was ultimately sold, global cars that they are- all left Australia, which is a bummer.

(B Miles)

Spencer Martin with the white helmet in hand, John Sawyer and Bob leaning on the delicate aluminium panels of his car at Lakeside before the start of a heat of the Australian Tourist Trophy in 1965- Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra is on the row behind. See here for a piece on Bob’s E Types, he had a couple, as one does; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/15/perk-and-pert/

 

(M de Lang)

Whilst Jane raced single seaters and won in sportscars he was most formidable in all types of touring cars from Series Production machines such as the Cortina GT in which he won at Bathurst in 1963 together with Harry Firth, through to the animal savagery of the Chev Monza Sports Sedan shown further on.

The Jane/Firth pair won three of these 500 mile production car enduros on the trot, the first was the 1961 Armstong 500 at Phillip Island aboard an ‘Autoland’ Mercedes Benz 220SE-they then followed up in a ‘works’ Ford Falcon XL in 1962.

 

Harry Firth behind the wheel of the winning Cortina GT, Murrays Corner, Mount Panorama 1963- that’s Max Volkers in a FoMoCo Cortina 1500 behind (unattributed)

In 1963 the event moved to Mount Panorama as the ‘Islands track surface was too badly damaged by the ’62 event to continue to stage the race- in fact racing came to an end there until Len Lukey bought the facility circa 1964, reopening it in 1967. At Bathurst they won in a ‘works’ Ford Cortina GT.

In 1964 Jane won again in a ‘works’ Cortina GT but this time shared the drive with George Reynolds- all of these ‘factory Fords’ were prepared by Harry Firth and his team in his ‘Marne Garage’ on the corner of Burke and Toorak Roads, Glen Iris in Melbourne’s twee inner east.

 

(unattributed)

Jane’s first 1965 Ford Mustang was locally developed with plenty of goodies bought over the counter in the US, it met an untimely end at Catalina Park in an accident the young entrepreneur was extremely lucky to walk away from.

The shot above shows it in rude good health at Warwick Farm entering Pit Straight, whereas it is in its death throes in Martin’s painting below, 7 November 1965.

(M de Lang)

 

 

(unattributed)

She is well and truly rooted- the angle from the other side is worse but I don’t have a clear, sharp shot from there to pop up. It was a case of pull all the good bits off and start again- Bob is clear with the white blotch on his head, I think its a flaw in the photo rather than Nurse Ratched gone berserk with bandages.

‘Cripes, its gunner need more than bog to fix this lot!’

RF Jane with Nomex shirt reflects upon the remains of a Mustang which was pristine ten minutes before. Leo Geoghegan looks on from behind whilst Bob Jane Racing Chief John Sawyer ponders gathering up the pile of shrapnel and popping it into the truck before the long trip back to Melbourne.

 

(M de Lang)

Bob certainly had a penchant for Mustangs, this is his second, a 1967 GT fitted with a big-block 390cid V8 and also raced later with small-block engines.

It met its maker when Chris Brauer had a very nasty career ending accident in it at Lakeside in 1970. Bob replaced this one with the 1968 Shelby built Trans-Am factory car, it still exists in the US.

The livery and specifications of this car evolved a lot over a short space of time not least driven by the needs of ever widening tyres with the photograph below in the machines at Warwick Farm in 1967.

(B Williamson)

If any Mustang enthusiast can give me details of the evolution of this car’s specifications from 1967 to 1970 please get in touch and i will add them in.

Jane is blasting across the top of Mount Panorama in de Lang’s photo above at a guess, whereas in the photograph below he is exiting Hell Corner, after a change to Shell colours, circa 1967. Perhaps this photo is a Shell shot given the background. The grille evolved to a simpler, later look too making identification of the car and year tricky, especially in monochrome!

(unattributed)

 

(M de Lang)

Pure touring car sex on wheels. Moffat’s Trans-Am, Foley’s GTaM and this John Sheppard built LC Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 Sports Sedan are my favourite Taxis.

This jigger was brilliant in conception and exquisite in the detail of its execution right down to the ‘standard interior trim’ and an engine compartment which looked as though it was made for a Repco V8 rather than an inline-six. The art shows Bob at Hume Weir circa 1971.

Just brilliant, not to forget the shedload of races Bob and John Harvey won in the thing circa 1970-1972. Bob should be shot for allowing Frank Gardner to commit automotive rape upon the little sweetie when he shoved a 5 litre Chev into it in 1975- although FG did squeeze an extra season up front despite said atrocity…

Warwick Farm, 5 September 1971 (L Hemer)

CAMS took exception to the wing, which was fair enough, it was outside the rules, but didn’t it look even more of a menace in this specification?

Extant but not likely to see the light of day until someone with very deep pockets scoops it up- there is a bit about this car in this article about McCormack’s Charger Repco and Sports Sedans more generally; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

 

(M de Lang)

Didn’t Jane put the cat amongst the pidgeons with this Chev Camaro ZL1 427 ally blocked weapon! The painting depicts the car at Dandenong Road corner, Sandown 1971.

Looking at it reminds me of the spectacle of ‘full on body contact’ between Bob and Allan Moffat’s Mustang Trans-Am in 1971-2. Bob won the ATCC in 1971 with the big fella fitted and when shafted by CAMS, who changed the rules to eliminate the 427 motor, stuck it up the regulator and won again fitted with the ‘liddl 350 cast iron engine in 1972.  ‘Nice one’, i thought at the time, plenty of lawyers improved their billings for the year by being involved in some serious litigation between RF Jane and the CAMS down the decades.

(unattributed)

Ere we go again…

Did Moffat lose it or did Bob give him a Rock Hudson to assist?

With the splendour of Springvale ‘Triple Fronted Brick Vanilla Slices’- 1950’s cream brick-veneer houses of the type I was brought up in, in the background, Moffat and Jane engage in a territorial dispute under brakes into Sandown’s Dandenong Road- meanwhile Graham ‘Tubby’ Ritter takes avoiding action at right. Cooper S pilot folks? Jane won this race.

‘I still don’t know if he hit the Armco?’ quipped Lynton Hemer @ the precision of this particular apex, 9 July 1972 (L Hemer)

 

(M de Lang)

The HQ Holden Monaro GTS 350 started life as an Improved Tourer in late 1972- its race debut was in John Harvey’s hands that year at Surfers Paradise, but morphed into a most formidable Sports Sedan when Group C replaced Improved Touring as the class to which the ATCC was run from 1973- Pat Purcell modified the car further as the Sports Sedan rules allowed.

Another Sheppo built car originally, it raced in Bob’s hands until 1978 and still exists restored to its original form, the art depiction is probably Oran Park whilst noting the signage isn’t correct.

(B Keys)

Nice and close at ‘Torana’ as it then was or ‘Peters’ as it originally was, corner at Sandown circa 1974/5.

Bob has the Monaro tucked inside John Pollard who has given the faster car room in his Holden Torana L34.

Hallmarks of all of Jane’s cars, whoever was Boss Cocky of the team at the time was the immaculate standard of presentation and preparation. I’ve always been fond of the look of HQ’s, surely one of the most harmonious and fully resolved of all of GMH’s styling exercises- lowered and with plenty of wheel and tyre under the ample guards they were/are mighty fine looking road cars with this beast, and Mal Ramsay’s HQ Kingswood Repco visual delights as racing cars.

 

(M de Lang)

One can easily imagine the excitement around the Jane transporter at race meetings circa 1971 with their bit of the paddock occupied by the Camaro, Torana, Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre and this McLaren M6B Repco ‘740’ V8 5 litre- which won a pair of Australian Sportscar Championships in 1971 and 1972.

Excitement around the Bob Jane transporter, or Shell tent anyway, circa 1965. Nose of the Mk2 Jag at left, first Mustang, E Type Lwt and nose of the Elfin Mono at right (M Kyval)

The story of this thing, one of the best looking Can-Am cars ever built, is told here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/16/sex-on-wheels/ ,the art is of Bob at the wheel, circuit who knows, it could be anywhere, whereas the shot below is of Bob giving John Harvey a lift just after Harves won the Symmons Plains round of the 1972 ASCC- and the championship itself.

(E French)

 

Who could ignore Sports Sedans, even as a devout open-wheeler woofda, with savage beasts like this thing providing quite a show.

Watching Bob drive this car was magic, seeing Peter Brock race it after Bob retired was sensational- he teased everything out of Pat Purcell’s magnificent racer, another painting at Sandown’s Dandenong Road corner.

(C Parker)

Chris Parker caught all the heavies on the grid at Calder August 1982- Australian GT Championship round 6, heat 1- Alan Jones won every race of the nine round championship.

Alan Jones is on pole in the Porsche Cars Australia Porsche 935 alongside Peter Brock in Jane’s Monza, on the row two is Jim Richards’ black BMW 318i turbo and alongside him Tony Edmondson’s Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Chev and then the white Colin Bond driven PCA Porsche 944 GTR turbo- on his inside is Rusty French’ Porsche 935. On the back row on the inside is Brad Jones’ Mercedes SLC and on this side the Bob Jolly Holden Commodore. They really were the most exciting grids of things at the time even if the 935’s rained on everybody else’s parade…

Everything about this car was big! Originally built by a team led by Pat Purcell it was raced by Bob from 1980, then rebuilt by Pat and Les Small before being raced by Peter Brock in 1982/3, then Allan Grice raced it in 1984 to an Australian GT Championship and then Bryan Thomson to the title the following year. It morphed into a Toyota Supra in 1989- where is it now? Click here for a summary of the car; http://www.scharch.org/Cars/Monza_Racecars/Cars_MonzaAU_Purcell-Jane.htm

(B Jane)

Peter Brock awaits the start at Calder circa 1983- the formidable size of the car evident in this shot- 6 litre Chev V8 upfront and a transaxle at the rear.

Etcetera…

The list of cars Bob owned and raced, or were raced for him by others is as below. It isn’t complete, it’s out of my head, i am happy to add others to the ‘good stuff’, no road cars only racers he owned…

Sportscars

Maserati 300S, Jaguar D Type, Jaguar E Type 3.8 FHC, Jaguar E Type Lwt, Elfin 400 Repco 4.4, McLaren M6B Repco 5 litre

Single-seaters

Elfin T100 ‘Mono’ Ford twin-cam 1.5, Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5, Brabham BT23E Repco V8 2.5, Jane Repco V8 2.5, Brabham BT36 Waggott TC-4V 2 litre, Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000, Ralt RT4 Ford BDA F Pac, McLaren M26 Chev F5000

Tourers

Ford Customline, Holden ‘Humpys’, Jaguar Mk2 4.1, Mercedes Benz 220SE, Ford Falcon XK, Fiat 2300, Lotus Cortina, Ford Mustangs- three of em- 1965, 1967 and 1968 Shelby Trans-Am, Ford Falcon GT ‘XR’, Chev Camaro ZL1, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco 4.4, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Series Prod/Group C, Holden Monaro GTS 350 Imp Tourer/Sports Sedan, Holden Monaro GTS 350 Series Prod, Chev Monza, BMW 635Csi, Holden Torana L34, Holden Torana A9X, two Mercedes Cosworth 190. In addition there were numerous ‘Thunderdome’ thingies

Not bad is it- in one lifetime.

The ‘Jane Estate’- those two words are a catch-all of ‘Jane Family individuals, corporate entities and trusts’, i think, still own the Brabham BT11A, Ralt RT4 and McLaren M6B. I am happy to take advice from those who have the facts rather than ‘i reckon’…

Image and other Credits…

Martin de Lang- artist, Stephen Dalton

Mike Kyval, Kevin Drage, Bill Miles, Chris Parker, Jock Psaros, Ellis French, Lynton Hemer, Bruce Keys, Bob Williamson Collection, Bob Jane Heritage Collection

Tailpiece…

(M de Lang)

Peter Brock in the Porsche 956 he shared with Larry Perkins at Silverstone and Le Mans in 1983- didn’t this ‘Aussies taking on the world attack’ capture us all at the time.

It symbolises a few things not least Bob’s world view and a couple of blokes in a very long list Jane supported from the early sixties…

Finito…

(R Burnett

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, and we often attached to a particular era, this unique McLaren M6B Repco ‘740’ 5 litre V8 ticks all the boxes for me…

Here it is in repose in the Symmons Plains paddock on 12 November 1972 before John Harvey goes out and bags his second Australian Sportscar Championship on the trot.

Only Harves and car owner Bob Jane ever raced this thing and Bob never sold it- he died a cuppla years ago and it is still owned by his (very messy) deceased estate.

It’s a special jigger too- Bob knew Bruce McLaren well, McLaren built the car for Bob to suit the Repco engine- its a factory built McLaren not a Trojan Cars Ltd customer jobbie- I’m not bagging Trojan just making clear the ‘pedigree’ of a car which is one of Australia’s most iconic racers.

Duncan Fox wrote that ‘Bob’s M6B was an out of sequence car produced late in 1968 at Colnbrook by Bruce as a favour to his long time friend. It is basically an M12 with M6 bodywork that Bob had stylishly reworked. Personally I think it is the prettiest McLaren sportscar in existence. John Harvey told me they did this because he had difficulty seeing the apex over the original front guards.’

‘It was delivered to the Tilbury Docks in London on a car trailer behind the ‘whale’ (the US Ford Station Wagon McLarens had) by Kiwis Chris Charles and Clive Bush who managed on the way to do extensive side damage with the trailer to a gentleman’s Rolls Royce.’

‘It arrived in Australia in CKD (completely knocked down) less engine and transmission on the freighter SS Port St Lawrence sometime early in April 1969. It was invoiced at US$6000 and carried chassis serial number #50-01.’

‘The engine was a Repco Brabham engines #E26 (740 Series) ‘and the dyno chart I have (17/7/71) shows it developed a maximum of 452bhp @ 6500rpm and 405ft/lbs torque @ 5000rpm.’

The fella leaning into the cockpit of the first photo is John Sheppard, Jane’s Chief Mechanic- he said to me a few years back, ‘whenever you are ready lets do another article on the McLaren’. Sheppo was very generous with his time in putting together a detailed feature on the Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39 Climax/Repco which John prepared for Leo before ’emigrating to Mexico’ (Victoria) to take charge at Janes, Brunswick, Melbourne race workshop circa 1970.

I must give him a buzz.

(R Burnett)

 

Bob and Harves after that 1972 win (H Ellis)

The great shame is that the McLaren was not ready to race at the start of 1969, the year Matich crushed all before him in the Matich SR4 ‘760’ 4.8 litre V8, his way too late intended Can-Am contender.

So Bob and John were late to that particular party, but Harves did contest the final 1969 round at Sandown finishing second to Matich. Repco then acquired the SR4 from FM to use as an exhibit and devoted their mutual development and race energies to the Repco-Holden F5000 program. The first of these engines was fitted to FM’s McLaren M10B in mid-1970, the combination won the November 1970 AGP at Warwick Farm.

The perfectly competitive SR4 with a trick, fresh John Mepstead built 5 litre ‘760’ Repco was set aside leaving the way clear for Bob and Harves to ‘mop up’ the ASCC with the M6B. I’m not sure why they didn’t race the thing much in 1970- Harve’s focus on the Gold Star and the new Torana Repco perhaps, but in 1971 John won three of the four rounds and five of the six 1972 rounds before they too put to one side the curvaceous racer. Team sponsor Castrol wanted them to focus on the teams ‘Taxis’ rather than the ‘Racing Cars’ which at that point comprised the Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000 and the McLaren.

Sad but true…

The full story of the M6B is one for another time.

(E French)

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Rob Burnett, Ellis French, Duncan Fox on The Nostalgia Forum, Harold Ellis

Tailpieces…

(R Burnett)

 

(E French)

Finito…

(J Wright)

Competitors assemble for a Queensland Motor Sport Club Currumbin Hillclimb, Monday 12 June 1961…

Most east coasters have holidayed on Queensland’s Gold Coast, visited the Currumbin Bird/Wildlife Sanctuary and no doubt had a surf on the beach close by. Currumbin is 20km from Surfers Paradise and a ‘drop kick’ from Tweed Heads- the Queensland/New South Wales border.

This photograph has proved a bit of a mystery though.

I popped an article on Lakeside circuit up last week but was uncertain about the photograph above given the wise owls of The Nostalgia Forum could not reach a consensus on where it was- a very rare occurrence i might add. I then uploaded the photograph onto the primotipo and Old Australian Motor Racing Photographs- Australia Facebook pages, the Lakeside article is here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/23/lakeside-early-days/

After four or five days and 8,027 FB hits/views Quentin Miles is the ‘winner’ with photographic evidence to back up his nomination of place- Currumbin.

Porsche 356 on full assault. Note the corner marshal in safety overalls and the sea in the distance (B Miles)

 

(B Miles)

Information about the venue is scarce- do get in touch if you know about the interesting venue or ran there, it would be great to identify the stretch of road used. Racer/restorer Dick Willis believes the roads used were created for a housing estate and that the Gold Coast club got some events in before the influx of residents precluded further motorsport use. Brian Lear has found records of events run in December 1958, 1960 and 1962 and Stephen Dalton’s discoveries indicate the strip of bitumen used was 750 yards in length with Ivan Tighe the record-holder in 1959, he did a time of 47.5 seconds in his Vincent Special.

In Quentin’s case his father Bill attended a meeting and took these shots- its not the first time i have used the late Bill’s great material.

Several folks have identified the red ‘Rice’ trailer in the opening shot as ‘Autoland’- one of Bob Janes enterprises- contained therein is Bob’s voluptuous Maserati 300S. Its a long way from Melbourne to Currumbin to contest a club ‘climb though. My theory is that Bob would have been racing not too far away, at Lowood and did the Currumbin event whilst in the ‘hood.

Roll forward to June 2020 and Andrew Lake, a Queensland MG Car Club member emailed to advise the meeting was the 12 June 1961 Queensland Hillclimb Championship, ‘As identified it is Bob Jane’s trailer…he competed in the event in his Maserati 300S and also his Jaguar sedan…Stan Jones did FTD with a time of 45.22 seconds in his Cooper T51 Climax.’

Some further work by Stephen Dalton established that Stan contested the Lowood Gold Star round, the Queensland Road Racing Championship the day before- Bill Patterson won from Alec Mildren and then Stan all driving Cooper T51s.

Anyway, many thanks to Quentin and his late father Bill, Stephen, Dick, Brian, Terry and now Andrew- a team effort indeed!

Etcetera…

(T McGrath)

Terry McGrath tells us there was a hillclimb closeby on the Gold Coast at Burleigh Heads or Waters held on a short stretch of road with times of between 50 and 56 seconds recorded. The Dick Hamilton Jaguar XK120 is shown in full flight on 30 December 1956.

Andrew Lake advises hillclimbs were held on the Gold Coast as follows;

Burleigh Heads

  • 01/01/1956
  • 22/04/1956
  • 17/06/1956
  • 30/12/1956
  • 21/04/1957

Terranora

  • 29/12/1957

Currumbin

  • 28/12/1958
  • 15/11/1959
  • 27/12/1959
  • 14/08/1960
  • 26/12/1960
  • 12/06/1961

Credits…

Quentin Miles and the late Bill Miles, John Wright, Stephen Dalton, Dick Willis, Brian Lear, The Nostalgia Forum, Terry McGrath, Andrew Lake

Tailpiece…

Wolseley 1500 attacking the downhill right-hander, tyres mark the apex (B Miles)

Finito…

(T Watts)

4.4 litres of Repco-Brabham V8 grunt trumps 2 litres of Porsche flat-6 off the line at least, maybe not…

Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 and Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 on the front row of the Longford grid in March 1967.

Bob Jane won the Saturday race from Noel Hurd’s Globe Products Elfin 400 Ford and Hamilton whereas in the Monday event Bob won from Wally Mitchell’s RM1 Chev and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23B Ford. Noel Hurd and Alan Hamilton were DNF’s, the latter running out of fuel on the last lap.

‘Tasmanian enthusiasts would recognise the Gorringe pedestrian bridge, the same bridge that now allows pedestrian access to Baskerville…’ Grant Twining noted.

I’ve written features about both these cars, so initially thought I would pop the photos into the existing articles but they are too good to ‘lose’ by so doing.

They are sourced from the ‘Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’ Facebook page which I raid every now and again- so far Grant has not cracked the shits about me doing that- do suss the page if you are a Facebooker, if not you are missing out.

In terms of articles the Elfin 400 is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/. Bob’s Elfin 400 here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/, and Hamilton’s Porsche 906 and other cars here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

(T Watts)

Jane nose up and under power past the Longford pits.

Such a brutally pretty thing, but the aerodynamics of the 400’s were never fully resolved, this car, as many of you know, took flight over the Conrod Humps at Bathurst during the Easter 1969 meeting killing Bevan Gibson in the process.

To that very point Rob Bartholomaeus reminded me Noel Hurd was a non-starter in the Monday Longford sportscar race after a hair-raising off at around 140mph induced by the Elfin 400’s aero package. He was ok, and the car was not badly damaged but the nose was changed thereafter.

Bob’s eyes will be looking up the rise towards the Water Tower to the tracks left before pursuading his beast into the fast right hander at the top of the hill and plunge towards The Viaduct. Click here for a ‘Lap of Longford’ piece; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

The shot of Alan below is taken on the same stretch. If the car looks a bit odd its because Australia’s Porsche importer has chopped the Coupe roof off to create a Spyder given he was and is a big, tall unit and wanted to be comfy.

(T Watts)

Longford was a demanding circuit in any car but particularly so in a fast, powerful one given the inherent nature of the layout with its culverts, trees, bridge supports, Esk River (scuba divers were always at the ready in dinghies afloat) light poles and other similar immovable objects, the circuit width and its undulations or bumps.

Jane and Hamilton raced most of their cars here- sports and touring cars and in Bob’s case his Elfin Mono single-seater ANF1.5. For Hamilton it was the race debut of the 906- a daunting place for any cars first meeting however well sorted the ex-factory Porsche package undoubtedly was!

Jane raced his Elfin 400 at Longford in 1967 and Ian Cook took the wheel in 1968- Alan raced the 906 here in 1967 only. The ‘ring in’ is the photo below of Alan at Symmons Plains in 1967, its probably the ‘Tasmanian Sportscar Championship’ meeting the week after Longford on 12 March.

Click here for an article on that tragic event, Hamilton’s well-used engine (it had been in the 904-8 he had just stepped out of before fitment to the 906) had a con-rod break so he did not finish; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/17/1967-tasmanian-sportscar-championship/

(HRCCT)

Credits…

Tim Watts, Dennis Cooper, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Rob Bartholomaeus

Tailpiece…

(D Cooper)

The Longford Shell tent in 1968.

Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina Mk2 alongside the Bob Jane Racing 400 raced at this meeting by Victorian Ian Cook. The class of the field in that, final Longford year was Chris Amon who set the outright lap record in David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari Can-Am 350 machine. Here tis; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Note the aluminium spoiler above the radiator outlet in a quest for more downforce. 1968 was ‘the year of the wing in F1’ remember, mind you, by this stage Jim Hall and the crew from Rattlesnake Raceway in Texas had provided plenty of Chaparral mobile ‘tutorials’ on what could be applied aerodynamically to Group 7 cars like the Elfin to assist in keeping them on terra firma.

Finito…

(oldracephotos.com.au/JEllis)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(S Dalton)

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

(S Dalton)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(oldracephotos.com.au)

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

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

(S Dalton)

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

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

(S Dalton)

Credits…

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

Etcetera…

(Ramsay)

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

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

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Tailpiece…

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

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

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

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

Finito…

 

 

(W Byers)

Bob Jane, Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 entering KLG Corner, racer Ross Burbidge tells us, 12 February 1967…

It’s a very early race for Bob in his brand new Elfin, this car notable in several ways not least for the fact that it was the first to be fitted with a customer Repco Brabham engine V8- I’ve written a feature on it so let’s not repeat ourselves;

https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

What struck me about William Byers’s photo and the unusual angle and locale in which it is taken is the degree of difficulty in sighting these big Group 7 sportscars through the corners. Admittedly Bob was a ‘short-arse’- mind you there was plenty of bounce in every ounce- but I bet the problem was the same for tall fellas like Dan Gurney.

Who won the sportscar races that day- had Matich debuted the SR3 at this point?, it certainly raced at the Farm and Sandown Tasman rounds that summer- Frank would certainly have given Bob a run for his money if present.

(W Byers)

The top-guns of the meeting were the Tasman 2.5’s of course.

We have photos of second placed Jack Brabham, Brabham BT23A Repco ‘640’, (above and below) Denny Hulme’s similarly engined fourth placed Brabham BT22, sixth placed John Harvey in the 1.65 litre Ford twin-cam powered ex-Stillwell Brabham BT14, and Spencer Martin’s Bob Jane owned Brabham BT11A Climax but not Jim Clark’s victorious Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8- he won five of the eight Tasman rounds that year. A pity, but hey, let’s be thankful for some marvellous photos.

(W Byers)

 

(B Thomas)

1967 was the Tasman Series Repco had a red-hot go to win, two cars, one each for Denny and Jack with both drivers contesting all eight rounds- but the might of the F1 World Championship winning team did not triumph over Jim Clark and the very reliable, fast, special 2 litre FWMV Coventry Climax engined Lotus 33 of the Scottish ace.

In 1966, 1968 and 1969 Repco had limited Tasman campaigns, 1967 was the one they should have won, you might say, I’ve covered this series before, so no point repeating the many problems which cost the Maidstone outfit dearly.

Arguably the most important aspect of the Tasman for Repco was to blood their new for 1967 F1 engine- the 740 Series V8- in advance of the GP season, than win the series itself. In the event Repco’s Norm Wilson designed 700 Series block was not quite ready so Jack and Denny raced with ‘640 Series’ motors- the new 40 Series exhaust between the Vee two-valve heads and 600 Series (Oldsmobile F85 modified) blocks.

(W Byers)

Denny had a rather successful 1967 season didn’t he!, taking the F1 drivers title and finishing second to Bruce in the Can-Am Championship aboard one of McLaren’s M6A Chev papaya coloured machines.

The car above, a BT22, is essentially a BT11 frame fitted with BT19 suspension- Allen Brown writes that ‘F1-1-64’ was used by BRO until Denny’s F1 car for 1966 BT20 was ready. Fitted with a Repco-Brabham V8, it was raced by Denny in the Tasman and then sold to Rorstan Racing, who fitted a Coventry Climax FPF 2.5 and ran Aussie Paul Bolton in it, it’s present whereabouts is unknown.

Jack’s BT23A was built on the redoubtable BT23 F2 jig/frame.

BT23A has never left Australia thank goodness, and been very much in the news in the last twelve months with its acquisition by the National Motor Museum from Peter Simms who restored and then raced the car for decades.

It’s post Brabham race record was with Scuderia Veloce, the car driven by Greg Cusack and Phil West before being sold to Brian Page.

(W Byers)

John Harvey (above) drove the wheels off this ex-Bib Stillwell car, the first BT14 raced ‘FL-1-65’, then owned by Sydney car dealer Ron Phillips in 1966.

Prepared by Peter Molloy, the Brabham BT14’s Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine progressively got bigger and not too long after this shot the car was given ‘a birthday’, it was the recipient of a Repco-Brabham 640 Series 2.5 litre V8 fitted with the assistance of Rennmax’s Bob Britton, allowing Harves to run with the ‘big boys’.

In fact the combination is sorta related to Spencer Martin’s Brabham BT11A shown below.

(W Byers)

The very gifted Sydneysider won both the 1966 and 1967 Gold Stars aboard this Bob Jane owned Brabham BT11A ‘IC-4-64’ Coventry Climax FPF- his dices with the similarly mounted Kevin Bartlett in Alec Mildren’s car were highlights of racing for enthusiasts of the period.

When Spencer decided to retire at the end of the 1967 Gold Star campaign Jane offered Harves the ride, and acquired the Brabham BT14 from Phillips. It’s 640 engine was fitted into the BT11A- like the BT14 it was not designed for a V8 motor, and raced by John in the 1968 Australian Tasman rounds.

Harvey in the Bob Jane Racing Brabham BT11A Repco during the 1968 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round (unattributed)

 

Nice overhead shot from the Longford pits of the Repco 640 or 740 Series V8 installation in the BT11A

Jane then bought Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount, the BT23E at the series end for John to race in ’68 with Harvey very lucky to survive a huge shunt at Easter Bathurst in that car after a rear upright failure.

Harvey and Molloy had largely sorted the BT14 Repco by the end of the ’67 Gold Star, he had won a feature race in it at Oran Park. It does make you wonder why Bob didn’t race that car as it was rather than do the engine swap they did and develop the BT11A afresh- no doubt it all made sense at the time?!

The Jane Estate owns BT11A, the BT14, re-engined with a Ford/Lotus twin-cam is i think still in Peter Harburg’s hands in Australia.

William’s camera also captured some other interesting cars during that meeting.

(W Byers)

Bill Gates superb Lotus Elan 26R, Ross Burbidge tells us Gates raced both this car and an Elan Series 1, both of which are still alive and well in Australia. Ex-Geoghegan car originally?

Queenslanders will know the story better than I but its said that race promoter Bill Goode had the Bee Gees, the Gibbs brothers, performing between events at his Redcliffe Speedway and introduced them to Bill who promoted them on his radio show on 4BH Brisbane thereby assisting them in their climb to global success.

(W Byers)

Ross Burbidge says this is the last time Pete Geoghegan ran his first Mustang at Lakeside.

He won the 1967 one-race Australian Touring Car Championship in the Australian, John Sheppard built, Mustang ‘GTA’ back at Lakeside on 30 July 1967 from the Brian Foley and Peter Manton Cooper S’s after various of the other V8’s fell by the wayside with mechanical dramas. The shot above is on the entry to ‘Hungry’ or then KLG corner.

Great Scots: Lakeside 1967, winner Clark Lotus 33 Climax chases Stewart BRM P261 (Tasman Book)

Hulme, Clark and Stewart, Tasman 1967…

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/

Photo Credits…

William Byers, oldracephotos.com.au, ‘Tasman Cup’ Tony Loxley and Others, Brier Thomas

References…

Ross Burbidge, oldracingcars.com.au

Tailpiece: Bob Holden, Improved Touring Morris Cooper S…

(W Byers)

Bob Holden won the 1966 Bathurst 500 in a Series Production Cooper S, co-driving the works BMC Australia car with rally-ace Rauno Aaltonen.

In a year of dominance the Cooper S took the first nine placings in the race! This car, not the same machine, is built to Improved Touring rules, the category to which the Australian Touring Car Championship was held at the time- mind you Bob didn’t return that July to contest the title race. He is still racing…

In the background Denny’s Brabham BT22 is being pushed past with perhaps the light coloured car Frank Gardner’s Mildren Racing Brabham BT16 Climax?

Finito…

Frank Matich in his new Elfin 400 Olds nee ‘Traco Olds’ at Warwick Farm during the 1966 Tasman Meeting (Russell Thorncraft)

The very best of the seasons greetings to you all, wherever you may be. May all of us get the luck we deserve in addition to a healthy, wealthy, wise and generous 2019…

It was May 2014 when I first started fiddling around with what has become somewhat of an obsession, I have promised myself I will re-commence racing my Van Diemen RF86 Formula Ford in 2019- ‘doing it’ rather than just writing about it!

I have no strategy with primotipo other than writing about what interests me, the article ideas are generated by a photograph and it is in that context that the direction of the thing has shifted much more to an Australian bias this past year.

DIY Davo: Jon Davison looking after a wheel or pressures in the Oran Park pitlane prior to the 1977 AGP. Car is his ex-Walker Matich A50 Repco. Davo become a mighty fine F5000 driver with the purchase of an ex-Teddy Yip/Alan Jones Lola T332 Chev 12 months hence. Behind Jon are the Team VDS entries of race winner, Warwick Brown, Lola T430 Chev and Peter Gethin Chevron B37 Chev (Adam Thurgar)

A limiting factor until recently has been access to lots of interesting Australian photographs. This has changed in that Bob Williamson’s ‘Old Motor Racing Photographs-Australia’ and the ‘Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’s’ Facebook pages and meeting Bob King and Ken Devine in recent times has allowed me to explore topics I never would have contemplated without the visual stimulation of ideas provided by their archive/collections.

So special thanks to those organisations/fellows in addition to the photographers who have been very supportive right from the get-go. John Ellacott, Rod MacKenzie, Lindsay Ross, Dick Simpson, Lynton Hemer, Kevin Drage and Dale Harvey. Terry Marshall’s New Zealand work gets a regular run too.

Len Lukey’s Lukey Bristol chases Bib Stillwell, Maserati 250F, Melbourne Grand Prix, Albert Park 1958. Stirling Moss won in a Cooper T45 Climax- Len was 5th and Bib 4th (Simon Wills via Bob King Collection)

Bob King’s ‘Words from Werrangourt’ articles have been very popular, Rod MacKenzie’s and Bruce Polain’s pieces were beauties, and I have unpublished manuscripts from Peter Finlay and Ray Bell to pop up in the coming months- thanks to you all.

Ray, Stephen Dalton and Rob Bartholomaeus have been great ‘sub-editors’ in advising errors post-upload of articles which has helped the accuracy of primotipo big-time. Stephen and Rob have also provided research material which has given me ‘reach’ beyond my own collection. The collective global wisdom of The Nostalgia Forum is also an ongoing source of nuanced information which goes way beyond the books we all have.

Stan Jones and Cooper T51 Climax at Caversham, West Australia in October 1959. WA Road Racing Championships Gold Star round. Len Lukey won the race in the green Cooper T45 alongside, Stan was 2nd. He won the AGP at Longford in March aboard his Maserati 250F (Ken Devine)

The readership has increased nicely again by over 30% with the Australian readership now 30% of the total compared with 17-20% of the last two years. So, it seems you International folks aren’t turned off by the greater Australian content. The top ten countries in terms of readership in order are Australia, US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands and Brazil. Exactly the same as last year actually, albeit the order was a smidge different.

Last, but far from least, thanks for reading it!

The balance of this piece are some randomly chosen photographs from the sources above I’ve not published before…

(Chris Robinson)

Bob Skelton contesting the Symmons Plains round of the Australian Formula 2 Championship in September 1973.

He was second to Leo Geoghegan’s works Birrana 273 Ford Hart that weekend and was third in the seven round series behind Geoghegan and Enno Buesselmann in another 273.

Skello first raced this chassis- the very first Bowin P6 built, in the 1972 Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in the UK before returning home and ditching the Ford 711M Kent motor and Hewland Mk9 gearbox in favour of a Brian Hart built 1.6 litre Lotus-Ford, Lucas ‘416B’ injected engine and five-speed Hewland FT200 ‘box as well as wings and slicks etc.

He did well in 1973, it was a shame he did not race on in the Finnie Ford supported car- without doubt the 1972 FF Driver to Europe Winner (Bowin P4A) had talent aplenty.

Ex-Lotus engineer, Bowin Designs John Joyce’s spaceframe P6 and monocoque P8 designs bristled with innovation having the Lotus 56/72 wedge shape and hip-mounted radiators and JJ’s own very clever variable or rising rate suspension front and rear. Whilst the P6F won an FF title in John Leffler’s hands in 1973, F2 and F5000 Championship success eluded these wonderful cars.

 

(Matt Liersch)

Stirling Moss and minder wander down the new Sandown pitlane with ‘Peters Corner’, the left-hander onto the Back Straight behind them. Notice the kerb, trees and lack of Armco on the outside of Pit Straight and between the circuit and pitlane.

The March 1962 ‘Sandown Park International’ was the track’s first meeting with Moss fifth his Rob Walker Lotus 21. Jack Brabham won from John Surtees and Bruce McLaren- in Coopers T55, T53, and T53- all powered by Coventry Climax 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ FPFs.

(Matt Liersch)

Jack Brabham either pulling into or out of pitlane in the Cooper T55 Climax which was then acquired by John Youl and raced by he and engineer Geoff Smedley with great success over the next couple of years.

(Matt Liersch)

Melburnian’s of a certain age will remember Channel 9 sports broadcaster Tony Charlton here getting the story from Moss and Brabham. He was more a cricket and footy kinda-guy but did a workmanlike job whatever the sport.

https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

 

(Brian Caldersmith)

Maybach 3 was Charlie Dean’s Repco Research built cars definitive specification in six-cylinder Maybach engine form- Maybach 4 was this chassis modified by Ern Seeliger in various ways inclusive of fitment of a Chev 283 cid small-block V8.

Here the car is showing off its Phil Irving developed fuel injection at Gnoo Blas, Orange during the January 1956 South Pacific Championship weekend.

(Brian Caldersmith)

 

(Brian Caldersmith)

Stan Jones was running well in second position behind Reg Hunt’s new Maserati 250F, and ahead of Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol in third when the Maybach motor let go in the biggest possible way on lap 23, an errant rod broke causing the car to spin down the road.

With little in the way of spares now remaining- and the speed of Hunt’s Maseratis (A6GCM and 250F) apparent Jones ordered a 250F and Maybach 3 was put to one side until Seeliger’s mechanical magic was worked upon it.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

(Chris O’Connor)

Cheetah as a marque all too often slips under the radar, a bit like the car’s designer, builder and driver Brian Shead- he won the 1979 Australian F2 Championship in a Cheetah Mk6 Toyota.

Shead built ANF3 and 2 cars, two Clubmans and a Formula Holden, well over forty cars in all in his small Mordialloc, outer Melbourne bayside workshop. ‘The Two Brians’ Shead and Sampson (above) dominated ANF3 in the mid-seventies, the 1975 Bathurst 1000 winner (together with Peter Brock in a Holden Torana L34) is on the downhill plunge into Dandenong Road corner at Sandown in 1973 or 1974.

The car is a Cheetah Mk4- a spaceframe chassis powered by a pushrod, OHV, ‘Motor Improvements’ modded Toyota Corolla 1.3 litre, twin-42 DCOE carbed 135 bhp engine. Motor Improvements was Sambo’s business in the Nepean Higway St Kilda, at the time ANF3 was a 1300cc OHV/SOHC category.

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/26/anf3/

(Dennis Cooper)

Clark, Amon, Hill: Lotus 49 Ford DFW by two and a lone Ferrari Dino 246T, Longford 1968.

Not the South Pacific Championship Tasman race mind you- that was held in the pissin’ rain and won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA. This is the dry Saturday preliminary which was won by Clark.

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Credits…

Russell Thorncraft, Quentin Miles, Adam Thurgar, Simon Wills- Bob King Collection, Brian Caldersmith, Matt Liersch, Chris Robinson, Ken Devine Collection, Dennis Cooper, Chris O’Connor

oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: Bob Janes and Jaguar E Type Lightweight, Lakeside circa 1965…

(Quentin Miles)

Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra is on the second row, it looks hot so perhaps its the summer Tasman meeting.

The Jag was an interesting choice, it was never going to be an outright machine in the sportscar sprint events which predominated in Australia at the time. The Bib Stillwell Cooper Monaco, Frank Gardner/Ralph Sach/Kevin Bartlett Mildren Maserati, Lotus 23’s and increasingly V8 mid-engined cars ruled the roost.

Nonetheless the E was a welcome addition to the local scene and a car Bob retained in his collection for decades- it shared garage space with a Maserati 300S, Jag D Type, Brabham BT11A Climax, McLaren M6B Repco, Ralt RT4 Ford, Chev Camaro ZL1 and various other bits of mouth-watering kit.

Finito…

(M Bishop)

Bryan Thomson’s VW Chev V8 ‘Volksrolet’ at Hume Weir in 1975…

I love photographer Mark Bishop’s wit in relation to this mega-shot-‘Look closely- proof even Doctor Who went to Hume Weir Raceway to watch Bryan Thomson’. It’s the marshalls communications phone box, PMG issue at the time behind Bryan- Post Master General’s department, the precursor of Australia Post and Telstra.

Check out Thommo’s form as he tips the McLaren M10B F5000 ‘parts-bin’ Volksrolet sideways into Pit Straight with the right-front pawing the air. What an iconic, awesome and tricky beast it was, tamed so well by Shepparton’s finest.

Thommo this time hiking the front left at Calder’s ‘Tin Shed’, in front of the landlord, Bob Jane’s Holden Monaro GTS350 in December 1974 (B Keys)

Photo Credits…

Mark Bishop, Bruce Keys

Tailpiece: Thomson and Jim McKeown, Porsche 911 Turbo, Hume Weir 1975…

John Mann’s Cortina Repco Holden and Mike Stillwell’s Escort BDG in the distance (M Bishop)

Finito…

Holden LJ Torana ad-shoot at Sandown Park circa 1972…

The Tommy Torana is of no interest other than that GMH are promoting a mid-spec Torana-Six rather than the huffin’ and puffin’ 202 GTR-XU1, surely one of Australia’s finest all-round touring-car racers on tarmac and dirt?

Two of Bob Jane’s cars form the backdrop- the Tasman Formula Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre and McLaren M6B Repco 5 litre ‘740’ V8 sports-racer. John Harvey raced the Brabham and both Harves and Jano shared the one of a kind, Repco powered McLaren- albeit it was with John at the wheel that the car won the 1971 and 1972 Australian Sportscar Championships.

John Harvey, McLaren M6B Repco, Warwick Farm Esses 1972 (oldracephotos)

Both cars are superb jiggers and still extant, the McLaren still in Australia and owned by Bob (ongoing family litigation duly noted). Jane’s taste in racing cars down the decades has been flawless, his machines included but are far from limited to a Maserati 300S, Jag XKD, Jag E Lwt, Elfin Type 100 ‘Mono’ Ford, Brabham BT11A Climax, Elfin 400 Repco, Brabham BT23E Repco, the Rennmax built Jane Repco, Bowin P8 Repco, Ralt RT4 Ford plus twenty or so touring cars/sports sedans the most mouth watering of which were the Shelby built Ford Mustang, John Sheppard built Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco and Holden Monaro GTS350 and Pat Purcell constructed Chevy Monza. Lets not forget the Porsche 956 tho it was a lease deal not a car he owned. I’ve lost touch with exactly which cars he retains but I think the scorecard includes the Brabham BT11A, Ralt RT4, McLaren, Monaro and a 635 CSI BMW rings a bell- be great to hear from those who know.

Many other fellas raced these cars other than Jane- the uber successful businessman put way more into racing than he ever extracted- the tabloid family stoushes of recent decades are a sad final chapter in a great mans life.

Sandown old-timers know this bit of real estate rather well. The racers are facing the wrong way in the pitlane, the models are standing more or less on the spot, depending upon your car, that brakes and a downshift or two into second gear would be considered for the ‘Peters’ or ‘Torana’ (depending upon your era) left-hander and then the blast up the back straight.

Harvey again, Brabham BT36 Waggott, into the WF Esses 1972 Tasman round (unattributed)

Etcetera: Bob Jane Racing brochure circa 1971 from Murray Thomas’ Collection…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credits…

Greg Feltham Collection, Murray Thomas Collection

Tailpiece…

 

 

 

 

 

‘When You’re Hot- You’re Hot’ absolutely captured the performance variants of the Torana at the time- the GTR ‘poverty pack’ and ‘ducks-guts’ GTR-XU1. But, at fourteen years old at the time, overall I thought ‘Going Ford Was The Going Thing’! Fords ‘Total Performance’ approach to motor racing globally was intoxicating for a teenaged racing nut- this one anyway!

Finito…