Posts Tagged ‘Bob Muir’

‘My signature shot, Jim Clark Lotus 49 Ford DFW and Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T. Two of the best drivers of their time. Taken early in my photography journey. Not only is it a record of the 1968 Surfers Tasman race, the pic is pretty well balanced and shows the scenic aspect of the old Surfers Paradise track. I describe in the Tasman book, the trauma experienced in getting to and from the race’ (R MacKenzie)

 

I finally bought the Tasman Cup bible at Sandown a while back, what a ripper book it is!…

 

There are some heavy dudes involved in it. Publisher Tony Loxley has assembled a swag of ‘in period’ talent- journalists, photographers and drivers to contribute, forty in all. I blew my tiny mind when I got it home and penetrated the thick plastic, protective cover to unveil content rich words and images. That Sunday afternoon was completely shot.

At $A95 it’s a snip, nearly 500 pages of beautifully printed and bound hardcover with about ninety percent of the (900’ish) images unfamiliar to me. Mucking around with primotipo I’ve seen plenty of shots in the last four years or so- it was awesome to view a vast array of unseen images, some from the archives of ‘snappers ‘I have met online’ who have kindly allowed me to use their work on my ‘masterpiece’.

Which brings me to Rod MacKenzie’s work.

I’ve used his images before but the material in the Tasman tome is sensational for its compositional artistry. So I gave him a yell and said you choose two photos (Clark and Muir) and I’ll choose two (Gardner and Walker) to showcase the work and support this article. The photo captions are Rod’s, his ‘artists notes’ if you will. We plan some occasional articles going forward, many thanks to Rod.

 

‘Frank Gardner, Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo negotiates Newry Corner at Longford, Tasmania 1968. Perhaps one of the wettest races i have attended. At least i was taking photos, not driving! This pic has its own appeal, i just pressed the button. Frank’s skills were tested and you can see the race was on public roads with spectataors in the most unsafe areas. Fences were barbed wire, no run-off and badly cambered roadway.’ (R MacKenzie)

 

Rod writes about his work…

‘We all have favourites.

In over fifty years of motor racing photography some of my earlier photos remain dear to me.

However, the photos were not quite as important as the spectacle of close racing between highly skilled ‘pilotes’ in competition with their cotemporaries.

They at the time were the source of income to attend the many race circuits and were sold to magazines in Australia and overseas.

Now the photos have become most important.

These photos are now historical records of these men and some women whose exploits have been written about and add reality to reports and clarity to memories.

I also endeavoured to photograph many of the competitors ensuring not only ‘the stars’ were captured.

Without the photos, memories become clouded and distorted. Not by intent, but by the passage of years.

My photos of several Tasman Series spent some time in the proverbial shoebox during a period of having a new family to bring up.

They were revisted to be included in two books (so far) from Tony Loxley of ‘Full Throttle Publishing’ about Formula 5000 and The Tasman Cup and have been included in many other books now. I have released some of the photos on social media and they are still appreciated judging from some of the comments received.

I take pride in my photos as i try to add ‘something’ above and beyond a picture ‘of a car on asphalt somewhere’. A good black and white photo in my view is more difficult to produce than a colour photo and just suits the history of races.

My photos should convey the ‘atmosphere’ of motor sport- the drama, the commitment, the excitement, the humour, the unusual, and the extraordinary when that is possible.

Consequently my shots can be moody and dark, bright and clear, or show incidents capturing moments of drama.

They generally also have content to ensure recognition of the location of the subjects. The content may be from background, the cars, the weather or the occasion.

Together, Mark Bisset and i plan a small series of ‘favourites’ chosen between us from my vast collection.

These random photos will continue to appear as time and subject allow, and i also invite you to sample a few more from my http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/ website and Facebook Group.

Until the next offering, enjoy the photos here’.

Rod MacKenzie

 

‘One of those shots that work even when most things are not right for composition. The car is too far away, the foreground is irrelevant, the background does not relate to much. BUT John Walker, Matich A50 Repco, in a 1973 wet Tasman race came undone at the Warwick Farm Causeway, and used the short circuit to recover. The pic shows how lost he seemed to be!’ (R MacKenzie)

 

This weighty addition to my shelves got me tangentially thinking about what ‘The Essential Library of Books on Australian Motor Racing History’ comprises. I reckon its these works, in no particular order…

.‘The Official 50 Race History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard (and others)

.‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

.‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard

.‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay

.‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley

.‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan

.‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’

.‘Jack Brabham Story’ Brabham and Doug Nye

.‘Tasman Cup 1964-1975’ Tony Loxley (and others)

.‘History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard and Stewart Wilson

.’Historic Racing Cars In Australia’ John Blanden

The above books don’t cover the Repco Racing story in anything remotely approaching full. Two that sorta do are Malcolm Preston’s ‘Maybach to Holden‘ and Frank Hallam’s ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ but both have warts. Malcolm’s is good, mind you, my Repco Brabham Engines buddies say it has quite a few errors. Hallam’s book is 70% insight and 30% arrant bullshit, but you need a fair bit of Repco knowledge to separate, page by page, the gold from the crap. I’ve stayed clear of marque specific books- Catford on Elfin and King on Bugatti for example, as I’m trying to get spread of topics from a small number of books not a long list of works…

I’m really interested to hear from you all on additions or deletions to the list.

The debate isn’t ‘my favourite books on Australian motor racing’ but rather the minimum number of books which most thoroughly tells the history of Australian motor racing. What books should a young enthusiast with limited funds buy is perhaps the filter to apply to your thinking?

Whilst the biographies listed may seem specific- they are, but they also cover heaps of related racing stuff over the period of the subjects life, so have great breadth.

Pre-war Oz racing books are thin on the ground, few were written- in that sense Medley’s and Gullan’s books are gold. So too are the relevant chapters of the ‘History of The AGP’ which provide lots of context in addition to the race reports themselves.

Howard, McKay and Medley were/are enthusiasts/racers who have wonderful historic perspective and deep insight that only masters of subject matter have. Bringing all of the threads about a topic together and drawing conclusions is hard, all have that ability.

All of the books listed are out of print except ‘John Snow’ (Medley still has copies) ‘History of the AGP’ and ‘Tasman Cup’, but all can be obtained with patience on eBay. The only one which is a bit on the exy side is Phil Irving’s book, the prices of which are high given huge global Vincent enthusiast demand in addition to us car guys.

In any event, all debate on the topic is invited, and yes, lets hear of your favourite books as well…

Credits…

Rod MacKenzie Collection

Tailpiece: Bob Muir, Lola T300 Chev, Warwick Farm 1972…

 

(R MacKenzie)

‘Action! Getting close to Bob Muir’s Lola T300 in the Esses at Warwick Farm in 1972. This remains my favourite Warwick Farm location although getting it right was really difficult. There were only a few places that were close enough to warrant an uninteresting background.

So we have the best location, best looking Lola, and a great photo that shows Muir’s speed and commitment at the most difficult section of the ‘Farm’.

Finito…

(D Simpson)

Bob Muir punches his Rennmax onto the straight at Oran Park during 1970…

Muir loved this car, it was initially built around a Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF engine and first raced at Oran Park in September 1969 and then through the Australian Tasman rounds and a bit beyond. One of Merv Waggott’s 2 litre, 275 bhp’ish engines was installed later in 1970.

Late that year it was sold to prominent Melbourne racer/engine builder Peter Larner who fitted a Lotus/Ford twin-cam, later still passing through the hands of a couple of other drivers ‘in-period’. It has been in Barry Singleton’s hands since the early 1980’s. With only a dozen or so meetings all up it would be a very yummy thing to have especially with a 2 litre Waggott fitted.

Bob later fitted his Waggott motor to the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ which he raced for a year or so and rated the Rennmax the sweeter car- which is no small statement given the race record of The Sub.

As is well established, Bob Britton/Rennmax built a series of cars based on a jig he created from Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT23-5 which was crashed during the 1968 Tasman Series and given to Britto to repair. The most successful of these ‘BN3’s is Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott, a chassis I have written about. Perversely Muir’s car has always been referred to as a BN2 but it is a BN3 in terms of its specification.

Where is that Rennmax book Ray Bell?!, Bob Britton, his cars and adventures are certainly worthy of a book.

(L Hemer)

Wings ‘n Things…

Lynton Hemer was at Warwick Farm in December 1969 when Bob Muir first fitted wings to this car during the Hordern Trophy Gold Star round in its original Coventry Climax engined form.

The first couple of shots are those below, he reasoned that they were taken in the morning without wings and engine cover to get a base level time and feel for the car. Between sessions they fitted all of the aerodynamic goodies and then Bob went out with Lynton observing ‘no wonder he had that (grimaced) look on his face, he must have found the car completely different’- as in faster!

An oil seal failed on the car during the race won by Kevin Bartlett- making the race debut of the 2 litre Waggott engine in The Sub- the car Muir would later own. Bob didn’t race the car sans wings ever again…

(L Hemer)

Credits…

Dick Simpson- oldracephotos.com.au, Lynton Hemer, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: In search of a wing…

Homestead Corner, big oil tank, angle on the exhaust dangle unattractive. I wonder who he bought the FPF from? (L Hemer)

Finito…

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Garrie Cooper’s Elfin 600D Ford leads Vern Schuppan’s March 722 Ford through the fast swoops of the challenging Thomson Road circuit and into the hot, dense, green, steamy forests of the island city state during the 1972 Singapore Grand Prix…

Vern was 2nd in his March 722, a good result as he boofed the car early in the 30 March-2 April race weekend. ‘I crashed in qualifying when something broke in the rear suspension – the car was absolutely brand new. Luckily I hadn’t hit anything too solid and so we were able to cobble something together and I started from the back’. This chassis was the same one which, with modifications by Brian Falconer, he raced to victory in Singapore in 1973. Garrie didn’t finish the ’72 race he won in the very first Elfin 600 in 1968. I wrote an article a while back about the 1973 race, the last until the modern era, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2016/04/29/birrana-cars-and-the-1973-singapore-gp/

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Winner of the ’72 Singapore GP Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott Ford with Leo Geoghegan’s Brabham Brabham BT30 Ford right up his chuff and Bob Muir’s yellow Rennmax BN3 Ford in the distance (AOS)

I remember as a kid thinking Asia was a very exotic place…

Australia had, believe it or not, ‘The White Australia Policy’ (progressively dismantled from 1949-73) which kept non-whiteys, Asians included out of the joint, so back then you didn’t see ‘em on the streets. The place was bland, populated as it was by lotsa similar looking Anglos. Thankfully all that is a thing of the long distant past. People from countries to our immediate north have added hugely to the wonderful, disparate melting pot of race, creed and color we have enjoyed here, especially post World War 2.

To me as a kid though, Asia was exotic, different, but not far away like Europe. I read with great interest of the success of Kevin Bartlett in Macau and Leo Geoghegan at Fuji in 1969 when i flicked through the 1970 ‘Australian Motor Racing Annual’, my first road-racing magazine purchase, and marvelled at the circuits.

Two decades later, in 1989-91 I was regularly in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on business. Even though I had it in my mind then to walk as much of the Thomson Road Circuit as I could, I never did make the easy 12 kilometre excursion from central Singapore to do so, it was always too hot to walk the place. Dammit!, its such a wild looking track…

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Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Ford ‘7012’, Singapore GP 1972 (AOS)

Cooper was a popular Singapore visitor having won the race in 1968 in the very first Elfin 600 built. Garrie’s 1972 Singapore car is to me the ‘definitive ultimate’ Elfin 600; chassis 600D ‘7012’ was built as Cooper’s own, works, 2.5 litre Tasman Formula car powered by the ‘definitive’ Repco Tasman engine, the gorgeous little ‘830 Series’, SOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected ‘short block’ V8. Mind you, in that form it didn’t have the ‘fugly’ Tyrrell type nosecone it wears here.

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Garrie Cooper during the 28 June 1970 Gold Star round at Oran Park, 3rd in Elfin 600D Repco ‘7012’. Max Stewart won in the Mildren Waggott from Leo Geoghegan’s similarly engined car, Leo won the Gold Star that year (oldracephotos.com)

The Tasman 2.5 Formula was over as Australia’s ANF1 at the end of 1970 so the Repco in ‘7012’s frame was removed and fitted into an Elfin 360 sportscar. An injected Lotus/Ford twin-cam was then inserted into the spaceframe chassis for ANF2 racing. And for events in South East Asia which changed to a ‘twin-cam, 2 valve’ formula, effectively mandating the venerable, wonderful Lotus/Ford engine which was a mainstay of motor racing globally for the best part of 20 years.

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Cooper leads the rest of the 1968 GP grid on lap 1 into the Thomson Mile chicane, Elfin 600 Ford. Advice on following car ID’s gratefully accepted (AOS)

I’m in the middle of drafting an article on the Repco engined Elfin 600’s at the moment, all three of them, so will leave that topic for now. ‘7012’ was bought by Col Allison for his lad Bruce at the end of Garrie’s Asian tour, the speedy Queenslander was showing promise in a 600FF back home, steering ‘7012’ around Lakeside and Surfers Paradise was another step in Bruce’s rise to prominence and success overseas.

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Lovely side profile shot of Max Stewart and his winning Mildren in 1972 (AOS)

The winner of the 1972 GP was Max Stewart who took his final big win in the Mildren Waggott which had given him so much success over the years.

The big, ultimately fast, country-boy from Orange in New South Wales literally knew every nut and bolt in this long-lived cars frame. His most recent success in it was the 1971 Australian Gold Star series when he ‘nicked’ the title from his great mate Kevin Bartlett. KB’s F5000 McLaren M10B Chev had the speed in the first year the Gold Star was run to F5000, but Max had enough speed, better handling and much more reliability from his Waggott 2 litre, DOHC, 4 valve, circa 275bhp motor.

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Stewart from Geoghegan in the Circus Hairpin (AOS)

Max was racing an F5000 Elfin MR5 Repco in 1972 Tasman and Gold Star events, but no doubt victorious transition back to the little Mildren was as easy and sweet as a ‘booty call’ with a recent girlfriend!

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Max accepts his trophy. Neat scoreboard; #6 Stewart Mildren Ford, #129 Schuppan March 722 Ford, #7 Muir Rennmax BN3 Ford and #1 Rajah March 712M Ford (AOS)

max-plaudits

MS garlanded in the victorious Mildren Waggott. For this race it was fitted with 1.6 litre Lotus/Ford twin cam on Webers rather than the Waggott DOHC, 4 valve, injected engines of 1600/1860/2000cc capacity with which the car mainly raced over its long life. Brabham magnesium uprights clear in shot, interesting are the rubber bushed type spherical joints used. This very successful car was restored by Greg Smith in Elwood, Melbourne some years back with further work done in more recent times by Max Pearson who owns and keeps it, and Max’ 1972 Elfin MR5 Repco F5000, in amazingly fine fettle. Both are familiar cars to historic racing enthusiasts in Oz (AOS)

Missing from the ’72 Singapore GP grid was three times (1969-71) winner, Kiwi champion Graeme Lawrence…

Who had an horrific shunt during the opening lap of the 1972 New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe in January which destroyed his brand new Lola T300, badly injured himself and killed Bryan Falloon, whose Rennmax/Stanton Porsche, Graeme collided with.

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Geoghegan, Brabham BT30 (AOS)

One of Lawrence’s many Australian friends Leo Geoghegan raced Graeme’s Brabham BT30, the 1970 Australian Gold Star champion finished 5th in the unfamiliar, but oh-so-forgiving Ron Tauranac designed chassis.

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Leo Geoghegan in Graeme Lawrence’s Brabham BT30 Ford, advice gratefully received on what part of the circuit many of these photos are, and a race report if anyone has one (AOS)

Ostensibly retired from open-wheeler competition, Leo was lured back in 1972 by Birrana Engineering boss Malcolm Ramsay, Malcolm a South East Asia regular competitor. The exploits of these two are well covered in the ’73 Singapore GP article referenced above.

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Vern tested the BRM P153B, the P153 the Bourne concerns 1970 challenger, during Belgian GP practice at Nivelles in 1972, the car was raced by Helmut Marko to 10th. Emerson Fittipaldi won in a Lotus 72D Ford (unattributed)

Vern would see a lot of his countrymen in the years to come in F5000 competition but it was the first time he had raced against Cooper, Stewart, Geoghegan, Muir, Bartlett and Kiwi, Lawrence.

Schuppan left South Australia’s Flinders Ranges town, Booleroo Centre, with some karting experience in Australia and via Formula Ford success in the UK, won the first British F Atlantic title in 1971 in a works Palliser.

He was very much a coming-man at the time of the Singapore GP, having a BRM contract in his pocket for 1972. BRM had more drivers than hot dinners that season, the Aussies only races were the non-championship May, Oulton Park ‘Gold Cup’ and October, Brands Hatch ‘Victory Race’ in which he finished 4th and 5th respectively.

Despite that, he impressed BRM boss Lou Stanley enough and signed a contract to drive alongside temporary Ferrari escapee Clay Regazzoni in 1973. Stanley’s hiring of Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Niki Lauda’s schillings sidelined him. ‘I knew that I had to be in F1 with a good team by the time I was 30 – and so I thought I’d cracked it. But when I arrived back in Australia for Christmas and picked up a Daily Express at the airport, there it was: Lauda Signs for BRM. I attended races with the team and did a lot of testing, something I always enjoyed – but it was a disappointment’ said Vern in a recent MotorSport interview.

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Sonny Rajah (above) was a Malaysian character who won a lot of friends in Australia in 1974… 

He contested our Van Heusen Australian F2 Championship. Sonny raced all of the eight round championship with the exception of the first race at Hume Weir for a best place of third at Symmons Plains.

He used the same March chassis albeit fitted with a later nose- the ex-Ronnie Petersen 1971 European F2 Championship winning 712M, he drove to 4th place in Singapore, the misfiring March finished between Schuppan and Geoghegan.

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Muir from Cooper and Schuppan at Circus Hairpin (AOS)

Rennmax BN3 Ford: Kevin Bartlett and Bob Muir…

Amongst the most numerous cars from one marque were Rennmax BN3’s, these cars raced by Stewart (nee Mildren) as well as his F5000 buddies Kevin Bartlett and Bob ‘Skinny’ Muir.

Regular readers may recall that these cars were built by Sydney’s Bob Britton on the Brabham BT23 jig he created to repair Denny Hulme’s works BT23 damaged in New Zealand during the ’68 Tasman Series.

Bob Muir’s car was, I think, Ken Goodwin’s chassis raced by Bob in Australia during 1971, notably at the Hordern Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm. Muir had a very competitive run in Singapore finishing 3rd in the yellow car.

KB leased Sydney driver Doug Heasman’s car and recalls the weekend well‘…unfortunately I had a DNF result after an off, due to slight damage to the suspension. Fire marshalls had inexplicably placed a fire hose across the road on a blind corner to douse a crashed car, I bounced off the road when the wheels hit it. There was no flag signal of the situation at the flag point before, which caused the problem’ recalled KB recently.

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Kevin Bartlett typically sideways, Rennmax BN3 Ford (AOS)

As to the Thomson Road circuit he related that ‘I quite liked the layout as a real road circuit. It had jungle like bush in many parts, with huge drainage ditches to one side in many places and virtually nil runoffs, certainly it was a challenging place.’

‘I remember leading for all but the last few laps one year (1970) from Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari’ (ex-Amon 1969 Tasman winning Ferrari Dino 246T in which Graeme also won the 1970 Tasman) with a DNF in the Mildren Alfa V8 ‘Yellow Sub’ the car in which KB won the 1969 Macau Grand Prix and Australian Gold Star Series.

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(AOS)

Kevin Bartlett and Graeme Lawrence (above) on the front row of the grid for the 1970 Singapore GP, start/finish straight- relatively narrow.

KB #5 in Alec Mildren’s Len Bailey designed, Alan Mann Racing built Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa Romeo, here in its ‘definitive’ Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 litre V8 form, as it was originally designed.

It was quicker when fitted with the 2 litre Waggott but always ‘sexier’ with the Alfa engine- for me it defines everything that was great about the Tasman 2.5 Formula. GL is in his equally lustworthy, and victorious, ex-Amon Ferrari 246T. #66 is Albert Poon’s Brabham BT30 FVA, the car alongside, I think is John McDonald’s Brabham BT23 FVA.

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(AOS)

Bartlett (above) leads the field on lap 1 of the 1970 GP into the Thomson Road chicane, Graeme Lawrence is almost obscured he is so close to KB’s FT200 Hewland.

Then its Stewart in the Mildren Waggott #6 and McDonald’s Brabham BT23 FVA #16 and the rest.

Bartlett won the preliminary 20 lapper on Friday and led the 40 lap GP, in a very spirited close race with Lawrence until lap 37 when a valve spring in the little V8 broke, dropping an inlet valve, KB recalls. The field was small, only 10 cars due to mechanical mishaps in the preliminary, 12 cars took to the grid in the GP but 2 crashed on the warm up lap! so 10 started.

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(AOS)

Muir (above) ahead of Bartlett’s red Rennmax BN3 on the Thomson Mile with John McDonald’s ex-Rondel Racing white Brabham BT36 Ford.

Back home these two Sydneysiders raced Lola T300’s in the domestic Gold Star Series with Muir immediately on the pace when he started racing F5000 during the 1972 Australian Tasman rounds.

KB was the driver who well and truly served it up to Matich when he took delivery of his T300 during the ’72 Gold Star, which Frank won in his A50 Repco

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(AOS)

Garrie Cooper (above) in his brand new Elfin at the Circus Hairpin, Singapore GP 1968.

Great looking cars the Elfin 600’s, the only marginal change to the body over its production life of 1968 to 1972, which made the things even sweeter was a ‘wedgier’ element or shape to the radiator cowl, you can see it in the shot earlier of Cooper’s 600D Repco at Oran Park up earlier in the article

Singapore GP 1968, Garrie Cooper and Elfin 600 ‘6801’…

Garrie’s win in the Elfin 600 prototype ‘6801’ was pretty handy commercially for the likable, talented South Aussie and his band of gifted artisans at Edwardstown, an inner south-western Adelaide suburb.

Elfin 600’s won in FF, F3, F2 and ANF1; no other car in Australia (the world?) ever had that ‘bandwidth’.

Critically the car was built in relatively large numbers and exported providing valuable cashflow, the lifeblood of any business especially a small one financed, as they are typically in Oz, by a mortgage over the business owners home.

600’s were cars which helped launched a swag of careers not least Larry Perkins who won Australian titles in FF and F2 aboard a 600FF and 600B/E.

The following, less successful model, the 620/2/3 (FF/F2/F3) were evolutions of the 600 spaceframe design and also sold well. By then the level of local competition had increased with the likes of Bowin and Birrana building cars in number and as well the propensity of locals to buy imports increased especially in F2.

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‘6801’ in the Thomson Road paddock 1968, mechanical details as per text. The caption notes driver and shortly Elfin 600 customer Henkie Iriawan seated at far left with the car being fettled by the Elfin boys and Loh Yap Ting in white. So impressed was Iriawan that he bought ‘6801’ at the end of the race meeting, and later a 600B to which he fitted a Ford FVA engine. Local ‘shops who looked after the visiting teams were Federated Motors and Borneo Motors, both the preferred facilities (AOS)

Cooper and his team finished ‘6801’, raced it at Calder, Victoria in March and then shipped it to South East Asia. These shots show the beautifully fabricated steel spaceframe chassis, Lotus/Ford Weber fed, DOHC engine, a good 1600 twinc good for circa 170bhp at the time. Gearbox here is a Hewland HD5, production cars usually used Hewland Mk8/9 or FT200 dependent upon application.

The cars first race on its Asian tour was the Selangor GP at Shah Alam, Malaysia on the 6/7 April weekend, Garrie didn’t complete his heat with a broken crown wheel and pinion.

In the Singapore GP, Allan Grice had the gearbox problem, the case of the ex-Mildren/Gardner/Bartlett Brabham BT11A’s Hewland ‘box split causing the end of a good dice between Cooper and Grice. Jan Bussell’s Brabham BT14 Ford was 2nd and Steve Holland’s Lotus 47 Ford sportscar, the event was run to Formula Libre, was 3rd.

‘6801’ was still giving a good account of itself in ANF2 in 1973/4 in Paul Hamilton’s hands amongst all the modern Birrana, March and Bowin monocoques and is still raced by him in historic racing. It always brings a smile to my face whenever I see the little red, immaculate machine given its Elfin historic significance.

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Cooper accelerates out of Circus Hairpin on the way to his ’68 GP win. He is ahead of Allan Grice, later Australian Touring Car ace in a Brabham BT11A Climax and Albert Poon’s Brabham BT21 Alfa. Garrie led from lap 5, Poon retired on lap 10 with a damaged wheel (AOS)

Etcetera…

cooper-nose

(AOS)

Cooper (above) in the 600D Ford ‘7012’, Singapore 1972. He really did make a beautiful car as ‘ugly as a hat full of arseholes’ didn’t he?, no doubt it was effective though. Tyrrell started this F1 trend at the ’71 French GP.

These Elfin 600D experiments flowed directly into the modified noses of the MR5 F5000 cars which Cooper fitted to his, and John McCormack’s car during the Australian Tasman rounds in 1972. See photo below.

Those noses became the ‘definitive spec’ MR5’s- in detail they evolved over the following seasons, the treatment was also applied to the subsequent MR6 F5000. It was only at the very end of the MR5’s long life that Garrie tried a ‘chisel nose’ and side radiators on his MR5 when he was assessing the body shape and profiles to be fitted to his 1976 MR8 F5000- those too a very successful series of, this time, Chevrolet engined cars.

cooper-mr5

(Hemer)

This 1972 Oran Park shot above shows the MR5 ‘before and after’.

John Walker’s car in front with the original 1971 ‘blade’ front wing and Cooper’s car further back with the ‘Tyrrell’ type nose, both MR5’s are Repco powered.

That’s Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott’s nose shoved up John’s clacker by the way. Interesting that he was racing the little 2 litre car rather than his MR5 at this meeting. What meeting is it folks, its not a Gold Star round, one of you Sydneysiders will know?

leo-nose

(AOS)

Leo has had an argument with the local geography and lost, ‘sorry Graeme, it was like this…’, no damage to the rest of the little BT30 mind you.

Bibliography…

MotorSport ‘The Forgotten Singapore Grands Prix’ by Paul Fearnley September 2016, The Nostalgia Forum, Kevin Bartlett

Photo Credits…

National Archive of Singapore (AOS), Lynton Hemer

Tailpiece: Cooper accepts the plaudits of the crowd and the victors garland in 1968, neat rear cowl of the  Elfin 600 clear and a feature on all the production cars…

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(AOS)

Finito…

 

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Kevin Bartlett eases his McLaren M10B Chev into Torana corner, Sandown, February 1972

My First Race Meeting…Sandown Tasman F5000 Meeting February 20 1972…

We can all recall the meeting or event which hooked us on the sport, right?

For me it was the 1972 Sandown Tasman Meeting, the Australian Grand Prix no less, contested by Formula 5000 cars.

I was up for it mind you, one of my friends, Simon Roberts’ father Ron worked for Castrol and amongst his responsibilities was the racing budget in some shape or form.

Critically, he went to race meetings and gave me Castrols’ copy of ‘Racing Car News’ each month after it had done the rounds of their execs. It was always a month or so outta date and well thumbed by the time I got it, but I lapped up every word.

Finally i was invited to my first meeting.

We cruised out to Sandown from North Balwyn in Rons’ metallic brown Valiant with the big ‘265 Hemi’…not a bad ‘Dad Car’ at the time. The Val joined the endless stream of weekend traffic on Warrigal and Dandenong Roads, my excitement building seeing lots of performance cars of the day; GTR’s, XU1’s, GT’s, GTV’s, Monaro’s and plenty of souped up EH’s and HR’s ‘chromies’ gleaming in the sun amongst the other weekend warriors heading to a Mornington Peninsula beach on that hot summers day.

Reading RCN didn’t prepare me for the sheer visceral thrill, excitement, speed and ground shaking, gutterall thunder of the 5 Litre 500 BHP V8’s.

In those days the paddock was in the infield, inside Shell Corner, or turn 1 and extended across the track to the inside of Peters or Torana Corner, now turn 3, or the Corner onto the back straight. It was lower than the surrounding infield and was like a private little Mecca for racers and enthusiasts alike.

I recall 2 things vividly from that weekend all these years later.

The first was walking from the carpark behind the grandstand, the excitement building hearing cars being warmed up in the distance and crossing the track into the dusty, gravel paddock area and seeing Bob Muirs beautiful, exotic, automotively erotic, concours, gleaming blue Lola T300 just about to enter the scrutineering bay.

muir sandown

Bob Muirs ‘concours’ Lola T300 having the tyre temps taken, lanky Max Stewart about to board his yellow Elfin MR5 behind with Robbie Francevics’ McLaren M10A Chev being pushed towards the pit lane exit. (stupix)

I was stunned, gob-smacked. I couldn’t move I was so awed by its amazing combination of wedge shape, curves, fibre-glass, chrome tipped exhausts, scoops, ducts, wings and oh-so-wide tyres! It was immaculate, yellow pinstriping contrasting the blue bodywork, the finish of the racer a ‘Von Dutch’ work of art.

Lola was as curvaceous as Raquel Welch who adorned my bedroom wall. Her appeal was far more carnal, but the compound curvature of both car and screen siren was undeniable.

Fairly soon a poster of Lola was alongside Raquel. Dad related to Raquels’ charms, more than once we compared and contrasted her ‘on screen’ attributes with Sophia Loren but to me she was too old, I took his point all the same. He did find the car thing more of a challenge than babes.

Eventually I regained my senses and did a slow lap of  Lola taking in every bit of it. ‘Drinking’ visually every feature. The T300 was a new design, none of my old RCN’s had pictured it. Most racing cars then were still cigar shaped, Lola took her cues from the radical 1970 F1 Lotus 72, not the cars of the 60’s.

raquel

Raquel, no comment required or appropriate…

We wandered off to the Castrol tent meeting Peter Brock and Colin Bond and whilst the Touring Cars were of interest they didn’t really float my boat. Moffat’s Mustang raced that weekend, it was and still is impressive. Surely the best looking ‘taxi’ of all time?. With an honorable mention to Brian Foley’s Alfa GTAm.

The beauty of the old Sandown setup was that you could see most of what you wanted within a 500 metre walk. Watch the cars coming down the main straight and into Shell Corner on either the inside or outside of the track. This was a great spot to watch braking manoeuvres and hear and work out the best practitioners of the ‘heel’n toe art’.

old Sandown circuit map

My other favourite spot was coming into or exiting Torana/Peters from the inside of the circuit. This was the place to watch and hear the cars accelerate away from you, always impressive to watch an F5000 doing that on its own bellowing up through the gears on it’s way up towards ‘Marlboro Country’, the fast combination of corners into ‘Dandy Road’, it was and still is a great part of the track to drive.

Access and egress from the Paddock was via a pit pass or jumping the fence for the impecunious. The Light Car Club guys always turned a blind eye to this teenage activity, proper chaps those blokes.

My preferred locale though, was in the paddock. You could wander around seeing as much as you liked, talk to the drivers and get an autograph if you picked your moment, watch the cars form up on the dummy grid, see them take off, and watch them from the pit counter, on circuit until told to ‘piss-orf matey’ by the ever polite LCCA officials.

It was from that pit counter that the second indelible memory of the weekend took place.

bartlett in pits

Kevin Bartlett in the Sandown pits. M10B McLaren, the other car further back and to the left is David Hobbs, M22 McLaren, 3rd in the race. The pit counter was a good place to watch, the approach was alternately to either ‘look like you owned the joint’ or ‘duck in and out as the LCCA officials came and went’. It was a wonderful spot to spend the weekend, you could see all that was worth seeing within about 500 metres

We watched the cars grumble, crackle, spit back through their intake trumpets and ‘pig-root’ their way past us… down the pitlane, the exotic sound of Hewland gear whine audible and onto the circuit, the pack disappearing in one massive rumble of fuel injected thunder as they accelerated up to The Rise and down into Dandenong Road.

The first car to approach us exiting Shell was yellow.

It was Kevin Bartlett in his McLaren M10B, he kicked the car sideways…teasing the thing on the throttle, the engine note changing minutely but perceptibly as he balanced the beasts sticky, wide Goodyears with throttle and steering. I was stunned, it looked and sounded so fast and spectacular and easy. It wasn’t of course, but he did it lap after lap in this third gear corner. To see the thing accelerating hard past us and then almost as quickly the wonderful sound of the big Chev on the down-change into ‘Torana’ all too much.

I was in sensory overload, Raquel did that to me as well mind you, but in a different kinda way.

But I was hooked as a Bartlett, F5000 and race fan for life.

I don’t remember too much of the race itself but Graham McRae in his own car (Leda aka McRae GM1 designed by the recently deceased Len Terry) won the AGP from Frank Gardner’s Lola T300 and David Hobbs in a McLaren M22. KB and Bob Muir were both retirements with gearbox and engine maladies respectively.

But the race didn’t matter to me, i lived that wonderful weekend for months, I had found my lifelong interest and passion, it’s been my sport as a competitor and fan ever since.

muir sandown 2

DNF for Bob Muir, the Lolas’ Chev engine failing on lap 19. This shot also Torana corner, still exists as the corner onto the back straight, whatever its called this week…

Etcetera…From my scrapbook all those years ago

babe and lola

sandown 3

sandown psoter

Photo Credits…

Thanks to Chris Parker and his archive for some of the shots, Stupix

Finito…