Posts Tagged ‘Bob Muir’

(R MacKenzie)

When shots of a bloke at the same circuit pop up randomly a week apart whilst looking for other stuff its an omen right?…

The photographs of Bob Muir a year apart at Warwick Farm aboard his Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott and Lola T300 Chev (below a bit) say much about his fast ascent during this career phase.

The first shot is during the F5000 Tasman 1971 ‘Warwick Farm 100’ in The Esses- he is on the way to sixth amongst the 500bhp beasties in the little, lithe, nimble 275’ish bhp 2 litre Waggott powered ‘Sub- the speck in the distance is, I think, Ken Goodwin’s Rennmax BN3 Ford DNS, it must be practice as he didn’t race. Frank Gardner won come raceday in his works Lola T192 Chev.

Bob raced a Rennmax Formula Vee initially after a dabble in a road Austin Healey Sprite and after showing immediate pace progressed through a Lotus 23B Ford in 1968/9 to a Rennmax BN3 which was raced with a Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF and later a 2 litre Waggott TC-4V acquired from Alec Mildren as the long time team owner and patron wound down his race operations.

The Waggott was then transferred to the Sub, when he bought it- his first meeting with that motor fitted appears to be the Mallala Gold Star round in 1970.

Jack Bono, Elfin, from Bob Muir, Rennmax and the rest- other drivers and chassis make folks? Warwick Farm 1967 (oldracephotos.com/Phillips)

 

Muir, Lotus 23B Ford, Warwick Farm 1968 (oldracephotos.com/DSimpson)

 

Muir, Rennmax BN3 Waggott, meeting date unclear, Oran Park 1970 (oldracephotos.com/DSimpson)

Money was always tight as Muir’s motor-dealership provided the funds to race, he did so when he could afford to.

Throughout 1970 he ran his Waggott engined BN3 at Warwick Farm and Sandown for strong thirds stepping into the Sub for the first time at Mallala in October and then the AGP at Warwick Farm in November where a blown tyre caused an accident in the race won by Frank Matichs’ McLaren M10B Repco-Holden.

He sensibly did not contest the Kiwi 1971 Tasman rounds as by then the ‘more modern’ F5000’s had eclipsed the 2 litre cars which could still, in the right circumstances, give a good account of themselves the year before- he raced at the Farm for sixth

Contradicting myself, Max Stewart won the 1971 Gold Star in the Mildren Waggott despite Bartlett’s McLaren M10B being demonstrably the quickest car that season- reliability let him down, and Bob would have given Max a shake had he the wherewithal to run the Mildren. His sole GS 1971 appearance was at Oran Park in Ken Goodwin’s BN3 fitted with his Waggott which blew in testing so he didn’t race, by June the Sub was advertised for sale in Racing Car News ‘Sell as is. Needs rebuild, engine repair’- Ray Winter bought it and did very well in it as an ANF2 car fitted with, in time, a Hart 416-B Lotus-Ford twin-cam. The Sub in period only had aces behind the wheel- Gardner, Bartlett, Muir and Winter.

Bob had bigger plans to have a crack at F5000 with a new car rather than the ‘hand me downs’ he had raced hitherto.

Muir’s Lola T300 Chev, DNF battery from 1972 Tasman Champ Graham McRae, Leda GM1 Chev 4th. Matich won from Gardner and Bartlett- Matich A50 Repco, Lola T300 Chev and McLaren M10B Chev (L Hemer)

Niel Allen’s misfortune created an opportunity for Bob.

Allen missed racing after his retirement at the end of the 1971 Tasman so he acquired a new Lola T300, chassis ‘HU-4’.

Whilst testing the car he lost control of the twitchy jigger- quite a different beast to the McLaren M10B had jumped out of twelve or so months before. Muir bought the car when Niel said ‘enough’ and rebuilt it around a new tub- he was ready for the Australian 1972 Tasman rounds where he was immediately quick- Q4 at both Surfers and Warwick Farm.

This was mighty impressive as the competition were ‘match fit’ having done four rounds over the five preceding weeks so the fact that a young fella had jumped right into these thoroughly demanding machines and was immediately on ze pace was a mighty strong effort.

Great Dick Simpson shot shows Bob hoiking an inside left at Oran Park with Kevin Bartlett’s T300 up his clacker during the 1972 Gold Star round. Bob Q2 behind Matich and DNF tyre/brakes. Matich, A50 Repco won from Bartlett and Max Stewart, Elfin MR5 Repco (oldracephotos.com/DSimpson)

 

Lynton Hemer’s shot of Muir heading thru BP and onto Oran Park’s main straight during the 1972 Gold Star round highlights some key aspects of the T300 design- the F2 T240 derived aluminium monocoque chassis, mid-ship, hip mounted radiators the ducting of which gives this whole series of cars (T300/330/332) their thoroughly sexy look- the cars worked rather well too. 5 litre Chev sits reasonably high, in this case fed by four 48IDA Weber carbs (L Hemer)

He spun at Surfers, had a battery problem at the Farm and an engine failure at Sandown’s AGP from Q5 but a point had been made despite not having the dollars to do the final Adelaide round.

His Gold Star appearances were similarly sporadic- Sandown Q2 and second behind the dominant Frank Matich A50 Repco, Q2 and DNF at Oran Park and that was it apart from some ‘Repco Birthday Series’ events at Calder.

He went jumped up into the big league in 1973 contesting most of the US F5000 ‘L&M Championship’ in a new Lola T330 Chev. The car was bought by Australian Garry Campbell and, a bit like the Allen Lola twelve months before, Campbell crashed in testing at Oran Park- Bob repaired it with the assistance of John Wright, later to be a very fast F5000 driver himself and shipped it to the US with a couple of nice, strong Peter Molloy 5 litre Chevs.

He hooked up with Chuck Jones and Jerry Eisert (the exact nature of the commercial relationship is not entirely clear) and together ‘Jones-Eisert-Racing’ attacked the L&M.

In an amazing run of raw pace Bob qualified fourth at Michigan International on 20 May for third in heat and DNF final, then off to Mid Ohio for Q3 and DNS heat and final and then off to the demanding Watkins Glen, a circuit on which he had not competed before for Q2 behind Jody Scheckter and ahead of Brett Lunger, Brian Redman, Peter Gethin, Mark Donohue, Tony Adamowicz, David Hobbs, Kevin Bartlett, John Walker, Vern Schuppan, Frank Matich and others.

Whilst Jody Scheckter was THE find of the series Bob’s performance was amazing, to say the least

His seasons in the US and the UK in F5000, Formula Pacific and a fleeting but impressive F2 appearance or two- is a story for another time.

Michigan International during the 1973 US L&M F5000 Championship, 20 May. Lola T330 Chev- a Peter Molloy Chevy at that. Scheckter, Trojan T101 Chev won from Derek Bell, Lola T330 Chev and Peter Gethin, Chevron B24 Chev. Muir Q4 3rd in heat and DNS final (M Windecker)

 

Etcetera…

 

(J Lemm)

Still wearing Bartlett’s usual #5, Bob sets to work on the Sub during the October 1970 Mallala Gold Star round- his first meeting in the car. Rare photo semi-nude.

 

‘Racing Car News’ June 1971 read it and weep…

 

(oldracephotos.com/Hammond)

Cruisin’ the Calder paddock during one of the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ (fiftieth) F5000 races during 1972, Lola T300 Chev. KB won this four or so championship rounds title from Frank Matich and Muir- all events held at Calder title.

 

(L Hemer)

Bob during the 1972 Warwick Farm Tasman round, not sure if it was practice or the race which was wet- Lynton has captured the reflections beautifully.

Credits…

Rod MacKenzie, oldracephotos.com/Dick Simpson/Hammond, Lynton Hemer, John Lemm

Tailpiece…

(oldracephotos.com/DSimpson)

The Muirs Sports Cars Mildren Yellow Submarine leads Teddy Pilette, Team VDS McLaren M10B Chev through the Warwick Farm Esses during the 1971 ‘100’ Tasman round- sixth and fifth respectively- a good dice, there were two seconds between the cars at the races end. Gardner won in his works Lola T192 Chev from Chris Amon, Lotus 70 Ford and Bartlett’s Mildren Chev.

Finito…

Matich A53 ‘007’ front suspension detail- upper and lower wishbones, coil springs and luvverly double-adjustable alloy bodied Koni’s- de-rigueur in F1 and F5000 at the time. Cast magnesium uprights, Melmag wheels, Lockheed calipers grabbing Repco disc rotors. Note the tubular steel subframe which mounts to the aluminium Matich designed but Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation fabricated monocoque chassis- they also cast the Matich steering rack. Pretty lady behind the car on Goodyear duty is unknown, sadly. Derek Kneller is working on the left front, guy with ‘builders cleavage’ is Grant O’Neill. Around the left-rear is Peter Hughes in the white T-Shirt with ‘Lugsy’ Graham Adams in the yellow polo shirt (T Glenn)

Bob Muir settles himself into the cockpit of the new Matich A53 Repco on Friday 1 February, prior to its debut race, the Oran Park Tasman round on 3 February 1974…

Frank and his team had finished the car before the Tasman but Matich was badly hurt in a boating accident the week before the meeting in which he was electrocuted and injured badly.

Bob was chosen by Frank to race the car after he tested it- against doctors orders and satisfied himself that the rigours of a full race weekend, inclusive of the 90 lap race in summer heat were beyond him at that early stage stage of his recovery.

As things transpired Muir raced the A53 only the once at Oran Park before Frank returned to the cockpit at Surfers Paradise a week later- FM did the last three Tasman rounds and soon after retired from racing for good.

Frank Matich tests the A53 early on that Friday before OP- I wonder how many laps he did and how long the task list was after his first test laps?! (D Harvey)

The 1974 Tasman was a beauty.

By the time of the fifth round at Oran Park, there had been four different winners in New Zealand.

John Walker took the opener at Levin on 5 January in his one-of-a-kind Lola T330 Repco Holden, Peter Gethin won at Pukekohe the following weekend in his VDS Chevron B24 Chev- then John McCormack was victorious in the somewhat geriatric, but continually developed Elfin MR5 Repco at Wigram- that year the New Zealand Grand Prix. Max Stewart won the Teretonga round in his mighty fast Lola T330 Chev ‘HU-1’ the very first of the breed, Frank Gardner’s development or prototype car in fact.

Muir aboard at OP. Repco Holden F5000 engine- car fitted with the ‘ultimate spec’ flat-plane crank unit giving circa 520bhp and not losing the mountain of torque for which these units were known in the quest for more power. Note the ‘Varley’ battery behind the Lucas injection unit and coil- no doubt now very well insulated from the ‘good vibrations’ of the engine which ‘shook the shitter’ out of the battery and cost the one race only A52 victory of the Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, Gold Star race at Surfers Paradise on 2 September 1973 (T Glenn)

I wrote at length about Frank and his Formula 5000 designs a while back, click on this link for a comprehensive story and analysis of these wonderful machines, with A53 ‘007’ the last and best; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

This article is about the development of the Repco-Holden F5000 V8; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

(D Kneller)

The photo above is of Matich Chief Mechanic Derek Kneller and Bob Muir consulting during practice at Oran Park, the one below is a fortnight later at Sandown- its FM exiting Peters/Torana Corner and blasting up the back straight in a new ‘small-window’ Bell Star.

Bell together with Goodyear were two of the racing brands for which Matich held the local commercial rights. The helmet is a “Bell 120 (Degree) Full Face Helmet- they retailed at $79.90 at the time…”, quipped Matich employee Rob McDonald.

So, by Oran Park the Matich lads were up against it with their new car- the opposition were race ready off the back of the first four intensely Tasman fought rounds. Mind you, it is fair to say that the A53 was a slightly tidied up and evolved version of the short-lived A52 which met its maker when Muir had a testing shunt in it at Warwick Farm in late September 1973.

(unattributed)

Generally the designers original intent is its most pure, don’t you think?

If i’m critical of the look of the car, a machine which to me was a real honey of a thing, maybe the only element which is not aesthetically pleasing is the way the A50-52 cockpit surround doesn’t integrate well with the nosecone.

The thing was a jet right outta the box mind you- so who gives a shit what I think!

Repco’s Ken Symes and Derek Kneller push FM’s A53 from the Sandown fork up area or dummy grid into pitlane, Shell Corner or more boringly ‘Turn One’ behind. Note the engine oil sump on near side aft of the radiator. Note brake air-scoops since OP (P Weaver)

The A53’s was first completed and wheel-aligned on the ground on 11 January 1974- ‘by that stage the Tasman was already underway but we could have had the car finished easily in time for Pukekohe. Repco didn’t want us to go given the fuel shortage dramas they expected in New Zealand’ recalled Derek Kneller. The first OPEC Oil Embargo or crisis began in October 1973 with New Zealand particularly impacted given 80% of their crude oil needs were provided by Middle Eastern countries.

With hindsight Repco over-reacted, but the net effect of their decision (despite well before renewing Matich’s annual August to August sponsorship agreement through to the end of August 1974) was that Team Matich didn’t race in New Zealand- so the final build of the car was done in relatively relaxed fashion rather than with the pressure of the 5 January first round in mind.

‘Mind you, Frank sent me to the Pukekohe first round race weekend to scout around and report back on the Tasman field on latest developments and what everybody was up’ Derek recalled. No doubt the new Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence Lola T332’s were of particular interest.

When back in Sydney the crew completed the car- the team at that stage comprised FM, DK, Peter Hughes, Grant O’Neill and Leon Jarvis.

A53 was first tested at Oran Park on 24 January, the driving chores shared by Matich and Enno Buesselmann.

Enno had come out of FV and FF and had a strong 1973 driving the Bob and Marj Brown owned ANF2 Birrana 273 Ford-Hart- he was third in the championship that year behind Leo Geoghegan’s dominant, similar, works car. Matich decided to give him some laps in the car.

‘Enno did two stints of 10 laps apiece’ recalls Derek. ‘We didn’t time the first ten given it was his first time in a big car but he got down to a best of 47 seconds dead in the second of his two sessions. With the same setup as Enno FM did a 44.6- and then later in the day a best of 43.6 seconds after some changes were made to the car’.

The team then left the circuit with a decent job list before the Oran Park Tasman round.

‘Frank had a visitor from Repco in Sydney- one of the senior guys, he planned to take him out in his boat, Frank had a home and boat slipway at Clareville. The boat wouldn’t start- the battery was flat. He grabbed a Honda generator and the leads for a battery charger and mistakenly pushed the lead into the 240 volt, rather than 12 volt plug- he then got a big shock from the alligator clip which attached itself to the fleshy part of his hand, burning it badly. Simultaneously he fell forward downwards and over the battery, burning his chest and losing consciousness’.

‘Kris saw some of this from the wharf and jumped into a skiff to help his Dad- who motioned not to come near the live boat- the generator stalled ending the ordeal. Frank had burns to the fleshy piece of his right hand between the thumb and forefinger and chest.’ In addition there was the mental shock related to the whole incident. Most of you are aware the gearshift in a racing car is usually on the right so FM had a considerable challenge in managing 100 miles at Oran Park a few days hence.

Despite the accident Matich had not lost his sense of humour, team machinist/fabricator Peter Hughes recalls Frank saying to him ‘that when he lost consciousness and came around again “I could hear the generator running and thought I’ve died and gone to hell and they have Honda generators here!”, He also told me that he couldn’t grasp the round knob to turn it off and pushed the choke lever up to stall it. Sense of humour and thinking all the time’ concluded Peter.

Despite that setback Matich, heavily bandaged, and no doubt against his medical advice did ten laps of Oran Park on the Friday before the meeting getting down to a best of 42.4 seconds.

The team had dramas in practice at OP, typical teething problems, including  the engine, which meant that Bob started off the back of the grid, his best according to Team Matich records was a 42.8- the result in the race was a DNF after fuel-pump failure.

Max Stewart’s T330 won the ‘Oran Park 100’ race that day, but Peter Gethin again finished- its was his fifth in a row finish, this time in fifth place, ultimately he would win the title with an eight out of eight 1974 Tasman finishing record.

Derek, ‘On the Wednesday (6 February) after the race we went back to Oran Park for some further testing.’

‘We had fitted a new rear suspension crossbeam and also cured the fuel pump problem. During the Oran Park race Frank walked to several corners to observe the A53 on track, and after the race he checked his rear suspension drawing and come up with a new spec for the rear crossbeam, he stood the spring/shock unit more upright by a couple of degrees. After the Wednesday test he was pleased with the change.’

Frank drove 27 laps in total and Bob Muir drove 12. The majority of Frank’s were in the 42’s with a quickest of 41.0. Bob’s furst stint was also in the 42’s and his second stint reeled off 5 laps- 41.3, 41.1, 41.3, 41.0 and 41.0. Pole for the race was 39.9. From my working with FM i know there would have been at least 1 second being held back in testing when FM was fighting fit let alone suffering from the injuries from the accident. After this test we were given another work list to complete before setting off for Surfers on Thursday afternoon’ Kneller concluded.

Team Matich then trucked the mighty quick car up to the Gold Coast where Matich was so fast in the A52 not so many months before during the September 1973 Gold Star round.

His time was good enough for fourth on the grid, despite it being his first real go in the car and coping with a broken throttle cable and too much oversteer- he finished third behind the Teddy Pillette and Gethin VDS Chevron B24’s despite knocking off a front wing on lap 15.

FM’s was a mighty fine display of speed amongst all those highly developed cars- not to say personal grit and determination in all the circumstances.

Sandown is a power circuit, Matich put his flat-plane crank 520bhp Repco engine to good use qualifying second on the grid behind Gethin. A crowd of over 20,000 people saw Matich lead for 15 laps before water pump problems- apparent from lap 5, the resultant cooked motor ended his day.

Gethin took the win from Graham McRae’s McRae GM2 Chev- the disappointment of the series in terms of results if not in absolute pace and Walker’s T330 Repco.

A53 at rest in the Adelaide International paddock (C Bond)

 

Matich during his final race appearance- the ‘Adelaide 100’ at Adelaide International on 24 February 1974. FM fourth behind Warwick Brown, Peter Gethin and Graeme Lawrence- Lola T332, Chevron B24 and Lola T332, all Chev powered (D Mellonie)

And so to the final Tasman round, Adelaide International, and as it turned out FM’s final race.

Frank again popped the car second on the grid, the car was fitted with a fresh engine, a tenth shy of Stewart’s T330.

In the race he was running second before spinning on some oil and again worked his way up to second- and challenging Brown hard in the final stages, before he spun four laps from the end when his engine momentarily cut out. He finished fourth, 27 seconds behind winner Warwick Brown.

WB had the honour of taking the very first win for the Lola T332- the first of hundreds of victories for the T332/T332C/T332CS/T333 F5000/Single-Seat Can-Am family of cars! Warwick’s car, or his patron, Pat Burke’s to be more precise, chassis ‘HU-27′, was the very first of the T332’s.

The A53 was a great bit of kit- it won the the 1976 Australian Grand Prix in John Goss’ hands (in chassis A51/3 ‘005’) a couple of years after it’s birth.

If only FM had gone to the US in 1974. It would have been fascinating to see how a 520 bhp, flat-plane-crank Repco V8 powered A53 would have fared amongst a plethora of Lola T332 Chevs. With the lessons learned during the unsuccessful 1973 L&M Series campaign for sure they would have put up quite a fight…

Derek Kneller and Ken Symes fettle the A53 in the Sandown Park paddock (A Radley)

Lets come back to Frank’s retirement, Derek Kneller again picks up the story.

‘We were set up beautifully for 1974.

Repco had renewed the sponsorship arrangement in August 1973, they had allocated us four engines which were powerful, as displayed during the Tasman races we did- and the new car was quick.

Consulting with the Matich Red Books (FM used a series of red hard cover foolscap books as data logs), when he got out of the car at Adelaide he dictated a long job list for the car, all to be done before the next race. Car too low/too much brake on the rear/too much wing?/steering vibration/more roll stiffness at rear/stay with banana wing (Matich at the time had the ‘original Matich wing’ and an ‘American banana’ style)/check bump steer and shocks/rear springs harder/new brake ducts/tyre pressures too high.

When he got out of the car and we left Adelaide he planned to race on.’

Frank and Joan Matich in the Warwick Farm form up area poor to the 1973 Tasman round- Matich A50 Repco ‘001’. Note the neck brace Joan is wearing

‘In Adelaide he spun twice, once on oil and the second time he couldn’t work out why. He had constant ringing in the ears as a result of the boating incident and just felt at 39 he could not concentrate as he had always been able to before so he felt it was perhaps time. At the same time FM’s wife Joan was having severe ongoing problems with her neck including surgery. So it was a combination of factors as a consequence of the accident and the need to focus on Joan and the rest of the family that led to the decision to retire, sell the racing cars but otherwise remain in business including the racing franchises such as Goodyear and Bell’ Kneller said.

No doubt Matich indicating he wanted to retire made the decision for Repco to withdraw from racing easier given the global competitive pressures upon them in the increasingly difficult economic situation of the time- oil shocks, the progressive lowering of Australian Tariffs and global ‘stagflation’.

Derek Kneller returned to the UK (there are some great stories there to be told when his book is finished!, c’mon Derek lots of us are waiting for that little baby!) with Peter Hughes the last of the race team to leave, he ‘worked with Tony Simmons for a while then when John Goss finally bought the A53 I worked with John and Grant O’Neill until 1975- the 1975 Tasman was the last series with John before marrying and travelling around Australia for two years.’

(M Bisset Collection)

Etcetera: The closely related Matich A52 Repco ‘006’…

During 1973, as related in one of the linked articles above, Matich took two A51’s to the US to contest the American F5000 Championship, the ‘L&M Series’, the cars used were chassis ‘005’ and ‘006’- ‘005’ was tested for a day at Warwick Farm before shipping to the states, ‘006’ was not.

The team who travelled to the US were, FM, DK, Chief Mechanic, Chris Miles, Team Manager, Bob Riley, Draftsman and engineering of the car, John Anderson and Leon Jarvis, Mechanics and Ken Symes looking after four Repco V8’s

Derek Kneller recalls ‘The cars did not perform as expected we had a handling problem on the latest spec Goodyear’s and the bumpy nature of the US circuits. The tyres weren’t identical to those we tested before going to the US. FM wasn’t the only driver testing the F5000 tyres, the final production tyres we were presented were different, so we were playing catch-up. The cars were still as fast as any at the Riverside first round mind you’.

‘The biggest problem was engine related. The higher cornering speeds of the US circuits threw up a scavenge problem in the Repco engines, this seemed to get worse as the season went on and at Watkins Glen the crankshaft bearings were damaged in both cars during practice and both were withdrawn from the race after discussion with Repco management in Maidstone the night before the race. This meeting was the first at which we ran the flat-plane crank engines.’

‘If Frank had qualified on the time he did on the Friday we would have been on the front two rows at the Glen. By then Matich had the car sorted on the tyres- this involved changes to shocks/camber and toe to get the loading right. We also moved the battery to the front to load the car up front a bit more.’

‘At the start of the season the A51 was as competitive as the T330 but its development accelerated with so many drivers and teams running and experimenting with the T330’s’.

‘Straight after the race weekend at Watkins Glen chassis ‘006’ was flown back to Sydney with me so that the handling and engine problems could be sorted. Chassis ‘005’ was left in the States with the rest of the team.’

Matich A51 ‘006’ and A51 ‘005’ in the Watkins Glen pitlane, June 1973- A51 ‘006’ rebuilt as an A52 using the same ‘006’ chassis as per text (D Kneller)

‘On returning to Sydney the engine problem was overcome, an additional scavenge pump was added to scavenge oil from above the camshaft. Oil was being retained in the valley above the camshaft in the longer fast corners causing oil starvation in the oil tank, leading to bearing failure.’

After the engine problem was sorted it was decided to redesign the chassis to overcome the handling deficiencies, hence the A52 design…The A52 was built using the A51 ‘006’ chassis and rear end but with a longer engine/gearbox adaptor (bellhousing) giving a 2inch longer (50mm) wheelbase than the A51, this was in line with the Lola T330′.

‘The radiators were moved to the sides of the chassis along with modifications to the engine water pump so that each radiator cooled the opposite side cylinder head and were shrouded with aluminum ductings’.

‘The oil tank was repositioned behind the left-hand radiator (from beside the cars gearbox, outside its wheelbase) and the battery moved from the front of the car to above the bellhousing’.

At the front of the chassis the steering rack was moved from the chassis itself to a heavily redesigned front subframe. The top pick up point for the shock absorber/spring assembly was raised approx 1 1/4 inch (30mm) along with a redesigned lower wishbone and new front uprights. These mods gave an increase in front suspension movement’.

‘To complete the design a chisel shaped nose made from fibre glass was added, the complete car was about 10 Kg lighter than the A51’.

‘The A52 was tested extensively by Frank at Warwick Farm during late July/early August 1973 with a hope of returning to the US series, but a problem with the sponsors in the US prevented this happening’.

FM Matich A52 Repco, ahead of Max Stewart’s Lola T330 Chev, Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, September 1973 (K Payne)

‘We had hoped to be back by Atlanta but we had problems with Carroll Smith and the Earley’s who owed us money. They were a father/son combination who were chiropodists operating their business and workshop in Dover, Ohio. Smith went AWOL at the Glen- non-one could get hold of him, he was bluing with the Earley’s too and then turned up a couple of races later with Graham McRae’ recalled Derek.

‘Frank sent me back to bring all of the cars, spares- the lot, Ken and Ando were still there whilst the other three had already come back to Australia.

FM side aspect at Surfers, similarity to A53 clear albeit A53 sidepods were bigger and longer to cover the fuel cells meet the new for 1974 deformable structure regulations (K Payne)

 

Matich off to the side of the circuit at Surfers trying to diagnose his problem- a destroyed battery internals (K Payne)

‘The A52’s only race was the Gold Star race, the ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’ at Surfers Paradise on 2 Sepember 1973 when fitted with a flat plane crank Repco F5000 engine. This gave over 520hp and sounded like a Cosworth DFV on steroids! (the best of the two-plane Repco engines gave circa 495bhp@7000rpm)

‘FM was quick straight away- he knew what the tyres needed, he led the race setting fastest lap before retiring with battery failure, the high frequency vibration from the engine shook the internals of the Varley battery apart.’

‘The car was comprehensively destroyed in a test session at Warwick Farm in late September whilst driven by Bob Muir. The chassis was beyond repair, both the outer and inner skins were damaged. The photos show damage from the car hitting the water-sprinkler system at Warwick Farm, 50mm diameter steel pipes- at great speed’.

‘Frank was not happy as he had just left the circuit after a successful session to visit his wife Joan, who was in hospital- and had let Bob have a steer to get another drivers opinion of the car, Bob had been driving a Lola T330 Chev in the US’.

As a consequence of the death of A52, A53 was born using the last remaining Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation constructed chassis.

(D Kneller)

Photos of the comprehensively damaged A52 ‘006’ back at the Matich workshop in September 1973.

‘The ‘006’ remains stayed at the Matich Military Road workshop and were then moved to the warehouse in Aartarmon and then later Darley Road and were finally junked a week or two before I rejoined Matich in 1989′ said Derek.

‘Frank knew I would want to repair and restore the car which he didn’t want to do so he got rid of it not long before I arrived back to run his Headway Helmets business- I shipped a Mondiale Formula Ford out for Kris (Matich) when I came back to Australia too’ Derek recalled.

(D Kneller)

Photo and Other Credits…

Tony Glenn, Derek Kneller, Peter Hughes, Peter Weaver, David Mellonie, Dale Harvey, Peter Weaver, Alan Radley, Ken Payne via John Payne, Curt Bond, oldracingcars.com, ‘Australian Competition Yearbook’ 1975 Edition.

Click here for Allen Brown’s great summary of the Matich F5000 cars;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/f5000/matich/

Tailpiece: Muir, ready to rock n’ roll, Oran Park pit lane 1 February 1974…

(T Glenn)

Its all happening above, its the Friday before the meeting.

An obscured Bowin P6F Formula Ford is between the Matich and Brian Foley’s ‘Chesterfield Racing’ XA or XB Ford Falcon Panel Van.

The shapely form in the driving suit holding the helmet in the middle of the shot is Christine Cole/Gibson who ran a Group C ‘105 Series’ Alfa 2000 GTV from 1973 to 1975 in many races including the 1975 Australian Touring Car Championship (which she gave a really good shake!) and Manufacturers Championship- its probably Foley to the left of Cole?

The more you look, the more you see…

Finito…

‘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/

max-from-leo

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.

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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…